Editor’s Note: This is a guest post on viral content from Ong Si Quan, Content Marketing Manager at CandyBar, a digital loyalty card app.
In the live challenge on his website Grow and Convert, Benji Hyam realized that most companies suffer from a very specific problem when it comes to content marketing:
Not getting enough traffic.
That kinda sucks.
If you’re using content marketing to generate leads, but you’re only getting less than what is ideal, your content marketing needs reworking. Fortunately, generating traffic to your blog is not something reserved only for the successful bloggers. You just have to follow these exact steps:
- Choose The Topic
- Create A Tentative Headline
- Identify Industry Experts and Influencers
- Email The Influencers
- Write The Article
- Promote The Article
We used this formula at ReferralCandy to generate 5,228 visitors to our latest blog post, “How To Go Viral On LinkedIn,” in only 14 days.
Keep reading to learn exactly how we did it.
Step 1: Choose The Topic
Before you begin, you should know who you’re trying to target.
Who would be an ideal reader? Who is your ideal customer?
Pro-Tip: Read this article if you need help with building a customer persona.
Once you know who you’re trying to target, you should find out what they are looking out for.
What kind of content do they read? What would they want to read? What do they want to learn?
Fortunately, this information isn’t shrouded in secrecy. Here’s how to find the topics your audience is hungry for:
1. Find questions/topics on Reddit
Reddit is heaven for content marketers. This social media platform allows you to find groups–or “subreddits”–dedicated to specific topics or interests.
Use target keywords to search for relevant subreddits (you can use MetaReddit or SearchReddit). Look out for highly upvoted discussions–these are an indicator of popular topics you should be writing about.
Pro-Tip: Read more here about how to take advantage of Reddit.
2. Find questions/topics in Facebook Groups
Similar to Reddit, Facebook Groups are communities where people create public and private groups around a shared interest hobby, skill, or people they follow.
To discover their most discussed topics, simply search for a target keyword in Facebook’s search bar, then hit ‘join’ on groups that look promising.
3. Find questions and topics on Quora
As the largest question and answer site in the world, Quora is another content marketing goldmine.
Search for a target keyword, identify relevant topics then take note of popular questions (these are questions with a high number of followers.)
Pro-Tip: Read more here about how to leverage Quora here.
4. Send Surveys
You can learn a lot about your customers if you do surveys. One of the best books to read about this topic is the book “Ask” by marketing expert Ryan Levesque, who has built a successful marketing agency with surveys.
Here are some methods for surveying your audience:
Google Forms and Typeform are free survey creation tools that you can sign up for, and design your own surveys. Get survey respondents by emailing the survey to your customer list/email list or putting it on your website.
Social Media Polls
Run polls in Facebook Groups and see what the audience is interested in.
Instagram has also released a new function recently where you can poll your audience using Stories. All you have to do is to take a photo/video on your Story, then add the “Poll” sticker option.
You can also look at leveraging Twitter Polls. Click on the “Add Poll” option before you tweet, and you can create your own 4-option poll.
Pro-Tip: Looking for a killer survey question? Try this question suggested by Ryan Levesque: “When it comes to X, what is the biggest challenge, frustration, obstacle, or hurdle you run into?”
5. Talk to your potential customers face-to-face
“The key to startup success? Get out of the building.” – Steve Blank
If you want to truly understand your customer, what they need help with and how you can help them, you need to talk to them face-to-face.
That means getting out there and interviewing them. This is crucial. There is no substituting face-to-face interviews where you can experience what they’re feeling.
Pro-Tip: If you’re looking for a list of questions to ask, check out this list.
Do the relevant research and find out what frustrations and problems your customers have. This
will help inform the topic you should write about.
Step 2: Create A Tentative Headline
Once you’ve chosen your topic, you should next choose a tentative headline.
Two main reasons:
- You want the headline to inform and influence the type of questions you want to ask.
- However, you want to be flexible. You want to be able to rework the article when you’ve included more in-depth research.
It’s okay to change course once you’ve done the research, but you want to make sure you know where you are going first.
Your tentative headline doesn’t have to be perfect.
Create your tentative headline now. Understand that this is merely an angle you might use to attack the topic.
Step 3: Identify Industry Experts and Influencers
There is a way to make your content stand out without putting in the extra effort to read all the top Amazon books or listen to a gazillion podcasts about the subject.
Interview industry experts and influencers.
It’s a win-win situation–the influencer gets a platform to voice his opinions and expertise, while you get their expert tips and insights that will help your content stand out. Moreover, since the influencer is now involved in creating the content, he or she will be more likely to share that piece of content.
Once you’ve identified the influencers, you need to ask them good questions.
Here are the questions I used for my LinkedIn post:
- What are the biggest mistakes and myths you see happening on LinkedIn? What are the biggest wastes of time?
- If you had 12 weeks to train me to get 1,000,000 views on LinkedIn and had a million dollars on the line, what would the training look like? What if I had only 8 weeks?
- What are your key principles for marketing or writing content on LinkedIn?
- What unknown / little-known strategies are you using for LinkedIn that aren’t actively taught or shared by most people?
- Who do you follow on LinkedIn? What are some of the commonalities among the best (including yourself)?
I found these questions from Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans and modeled them for my interview with these influencers.
Set some time out to craft the questions you wish to ask. You can model using my questions, but don’t do it blindly. Make sure you are asking questions relevant to what you eventually want to produce.
Step 4: Email The Influencers
With a list of contacts you want to reach out to and the questions you’ve prepared, now you should contact those influencers.
To see better open and response rates from your email, you should warm them up first.
This means engaging with them on social media, leaving a comment on their blog, or attending their webinars.
Whatever it is, make your name known to them.
Before I began writing the post, I already interacted with several influencers on LinkedIn. As a result, they remembered my name, and were more inclined to respond.
After that, send them an email.
This was the email I sent:
Hey [first name],
My name is Si Quan from ReferralCandy, and we run one of the Internet’s leading blog on word-of-mouth marketing (DA of 62, and we get about 90,000 visitors/month.)
I am planning to write an article tentatively titled “How To Generate Word-of-Mouth By Going Viral On LinkedIn” and I would love for you to contribute some expert insights about LinkedIn.
I’ll be putting ReferralCandy’s marketing muscle behind the post – I’ll be sharing it with our email list of 20,000+ people + distributing it across multiple platforms like GrowthHackers, Reddit, Facebook Groups & so on (and of course adding a link back to your site.)
All I need is for you to answer some specific questions about LinkedIn via email (it’ll probably only take you 5 – 10 minutes to answer).
What do you think?
Here’s why I think the email worked:
- I fully explained the benefit for them (our Domain Authority of 62 can boost their search engine rankings, our 90,000 blog visitors can generate extra traffic to their site, and using ReferralCandy’s marketing muscle means additional exposure on multiple platforms).
- I made liberal use of my company’s name, ReferralCandy, as it’s a pretty established name in the SaaS field, so people are more willing to contribute.
- I told them the interview would be short and easy to do, since influencers are often busy. If you tell them the interview needs an hour, most people will pass.
- I used the “Ramit’s 1-2 Punch” technique for cold emails. Basically, don’t email people asking for a favor straight away; instead, ask for permission to send the favor. Psychologically, this creates a sense of “commitment and consistency”, i.e if they respond to the first email, they are more likely to commit further by answering the question.
Spend time crafting a good email pitch. Make sure you state why they should contribute and what benefits they would receive.
Step 5: Write The Article
When you’ve collected their responses, it’s finally time to write your article!
Here are some tips I can give for writing a piece of content:
- Make it epic. I use the word ‘epic’ (and not long) because people tend to think long equals good, but that’s not always the case. Some people can fill 3,000-word articles with a lot of mumbo-jambo and make no sense. Think of how you can write an article that answers almost every question the reader will have.
- Only focus on one key idea. With answers from so many influencers, you may feel the pull to include all the ideas. Instead, stick to one key idea and include the answers that thoroughly answer the question.
Look at your tentative headline. Is it still what you want to write or has the idea morphed a little? *
- Pivoting is fine, but make sure to update to post title to reflect that change.
- Outline your article before writing. Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had 6 hours to cut a tree, I’ll spend the first 4 hours sharpening my ax.” The same goes for writing. You can finish long articles in a short time with good an outline. I finished writing my 6,000-word LinkedIn article in less than two days because I had an outline.
- Make it fun to read. When appropriate, use conversational language, and add engaging visuals.
- Quote the influencers’ answers. Following their responses, include their full name and job title.
- Use examples to explain complex topics and ideas.
Outline your article, sit down, and write. Alternatively, you can hire a freelancer to write it for you.
Step 6: Promote The Article
Articles don’t go viral on its own.
You won’t get 5,000+ views on your article simply because you hit ‘Publish’. If your article is good, it will go viral. But you need to help give it a push.
This is where content promotion comes in. Here’s how to promote your article:
Email The Influencers You Interviewed And Featured
Everyone loves seeing their names on articles. Let them know that your article is live and ask them to share it with their following.
Share It On All Your Social Media Channels
You’d probably already know this, but in case you forget, you should share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Share It In Facebook Groups
Facebook Groups are the best place to promote articles to, as they are likely to contain all your target customers.
Pro-Tip: Make sure you participate in the group before you share. Don’t be a spammer.
Share It To Relevant Communities
Share It To Reddit
Reddit has been historically difficult for marketers to understand, but a well-done Reddit post has the ability to drive thousands and thousands of page views.
Pro-Tip: Read this guide on how to conquer Reddit.
Answer Quora Questions
If there is a specific question that fits the topic of your posts, you can share it as an answer.
Since you’ve already done the work to create an epic article, don’t waste it all. Use the research to create other blog posts, which you can post on other blogs as guest posts.
I converted the interview answers I’ve received into expert roundup posts, which I then published as guest posts elsewhere.
There are some blogs that take syndicated articles. If those blogs happen to take republished articles in your niche, then pitch them for republishing.
This is what I did when I re-published my LinkedIn post on TechInAsia.
Now, Your Turn
With a good outline in hand, I took about 2 days to finish the entire article, and used the rest of the time to promote it heavily.
(Treat your article like a product launch — if you’ve spent all the time creating the content, you’ll want to make sure the content lasts.)
I made sure to concentrate all the efforts in promoting the content in the first 2 days. After I hit ‘publish’ on the content, I immediately emailed all the influencers who participated, and they kindly shared it on all their social media channels for me. Then, I launched it across my own social media channels, and made sure to share it in some relevant communities (while wary of not spamming.)
Across the next few days, I shared it in several groups, answered Quora questions, posted on Reddit and started emailing people to see if they would be interested in a guest post about LinkedIn.
The result after 14 days?
5,000+ visits, and ranking as the 2nd search result on Page 1 for “viral on linkedin.”
Creating an article and generating more than 5,000 visitors in 14 days isn’t magical or something reserved for the best.
There is a process you can follow.
Follow my exact process and watch your article generate valuable traffic for you.