Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hooray for Cross-Promotion!

My last couple entries represented a fairly big step for me in the world of blogging - I made my first attempts at cross-promotion, and the results were much better than I expected. By posting two links on my own Facebook wall, I'm still only taking baby steps at this point, but that is an improvement, right? One thing I'm learning through this experience is why brands are often so hesitant to try something new. It is much easier to recommend to a team that they change their brand or execute a strategic modification than it is to do the same for your own. As this blog represents my personal brand, I was a bit afraid of what promoting it might do. The internet makes actions seem ultra permanent, because once you put something out there, you can never really take it back. What if no one liked my blog? That is why up until this point, I was happy writing in my blog even though virtually no one was reading it. However, through the experience I had the last few days, I can understand why cross-promoting is an essential on-line practice for brands.

Before I posted my first link to an entry on Facebook, this blog had achieved a total of maybe 20 views with no real signs of improvement. I had been sure to include keyword tags with each entry so that people searching those topics might find me, but my guess is that Google put me at the bottom of a LOOONG list of search results, so those alone were not driving traffic to the site. After I wrote about my experience making blue velvet cupcakes though, I was feeling brave enough to share the post with my social network of 900+ people. The change I saw was almost instant. I received 58 page views in just a few hours and I gained one follower who also texted me about how she planned to make an infinity scarf of her own (shout out to Helaina! :).

After seeing those results, I was feeling more comfortable sharing my posts, so I did the same thing with the Pumpkins and Power Tools post only with a small twist. I have to admit I did not do this consciously (I was just excited to share the cool pumpkin carving with my friends), but before I wrote and subsequently posted a Facebook link with the entry, I shared a picture of the Blackhawks pumpkin we had carved. Acting as a sort of teaser, I think that made more people interested in reading about how we had made the pumpkin. I was already getting more site views the second time around when something amazing happen - I got my first brand advocate! Yay!

With zero prompting from yours truly, my sister posted a link to my first entry on her own Facebook. Suddenly my audience had expanded from 900+ to include an additional 400+ (we have 80 friends in common) and I received my first comment and hit 154 page views in less than 24 hours! I think that is pretty good considering that came from two little links.

If I could generate that traffic with my own social network, I can only imagine the potential cross-promotion has for brands. Even though I had already learned as much through my undergraduate studies, this gave me some first hand experience with the power of strategically using social media.

My challenge for the next time is to do better than 154 views, and there are a few steps I plan to take in the future to accomplish that:

  1. Include other sites - at this point, I posted the link on Facebook alone. Hopefully by including Twitter, I could reach another audience.
  2. Encourage my brand advocates to post for me as well... If you liked this post, please share it with your friends! :)
  3. Work on joining on-line communities - there are sites like Wanelo.com where users share projects like the ones I have blogged about. If I can participate in the right conversations, there is no limit to the audience I might reach. 
Now that I have overcome my reticence to cross-promote, perhaps it is time for me to think about monetizing the site...

I know that the possibilities of cross-promotion are endless and that I surely have not thought of them all... What other tactics do you think I could use to drive traffic?

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