How to fail at guest blogging in three easy steps

man-reading-touchscreen-blog
via Pixabay

Guest blogging can be a terrific potential opportunity for you to shine – all while conveniently directing traffic to your own website – but only if you know what you’re doing.

Here are three ways a guest blogger can fail – and three ways you can make that post a smash hit instead.

Mistake #1: You haven’t done your research about your target website

Dear Sir. Dear Madam. To Whom It May Concern. These are all awful phrases to begin a pitch. Take a few seconds to personalize your pitch. Visit the site’s “About” section. Learn who’s running the show and learn about the types of content the site publishes. Your content must align with the site you’re pitching. If you’re proposing a piece about sports nutrition and you’re pitching a site about dog breeds, then you are surely barking up the wrong tree. (Sorry.) (But you won’t forget this tip now, will you?)

Mistake #2: You don’t read the guidelines for guest bloggers

If a website accepts pitches for guest bloggers – which you should know if you have done your research and successfully avoided Mistake #1 – read the guidelines if they are provided. Then follow them. Some site owners may prefer you submit dozens of ideas, while others may just want one solid comprehensive piece.

Mistake #3: Your content is terrible

I know. You may think you’re the World’s Best Writer®, but before you submit, enlist another pair of eyes: a friend, a subject matter expert, a corporate communications agency (ahem). These resources can tell you if the content will benefit an audience (which is really the only thing a site owner wants from a guest blog). Is it interesting? Informative? Easy to understand?

Three tips for success

I wouldn’t leave you hanging, dear blogger. Three bonus tips to help you on your way to success:

  1. Start with small sites to build your portfolio. You’ll have better luck pitching minor sites and increase your number of published pieces faster.
  2. Sell yourself in your pitch. What makes your content special? What will the audience learn?
  3. Include a call to action. Your pitch was successful. Your post will be published. But wait – don’t just link to your blog in your author bio. Give your readers an intriguing reason to visit before providing the link. “Want to learn the best way to train for a marathon?”/”What’s a surefire way to get an upgraded room when checking into a hotel?”/”Find out why millennials like avocado toast so much.” Isn’t that better? Just make sure your call to action matches up with your content.

 

Sixty Things You Should Know About Social Media in Travel

Via Tnooz, by Julie McNamee from Webnwords.

Here’s a selection of mostly social media tips that I picked up from World Travel Market in London this week.

Social media’s “Dirty Little Secret” (Social data)

Sarah Kennedy Ellis – Sabre Labs

1) Instagram is the place to be for brands – people engage with brands 40 times more on that platform than they do on Twitter, and 20 times more than Facebook. Great for brand engagement.

2) Photos aid conversion – another good reason for making use of Instagram.

3) According to Sabre Labs research, more men submitted photos with their check-ins on FourSquare than women.

4) 60% of smiley faces and exclamation marks were used by women on check ins.

5) Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a great research tool, eg for analysing the subject matter of a large number of photographs.

6) Small companies with small budgets can access 10% of Twitter’s feed for research purposes.

7) A good way of searching Instagram is by hashtag #.

Facebook – Future of travel marketing

Lee McCabe – Facebook

8) Facebook marketing is all about:

  • Efficiency
  • Multi-channel (across devices)
  • Identity

9) Facebook tools include Facebook Exchange – re-targeting within one hour of leaving the website.

10) Facebook Connect – for increased conversion rate with easy one-click logging in, plus lots of profile information.

11) The travel journey includes and is helped by Facebook:

  • Dreaming – is kicked off by viewing friends’ photos
  • Planning
  • Booking
  • The experience – is shared with updates and photo sharing
  • Reflecting – the photos kick off friends’ dreaming

12) Mobile’s is clearly where it’s at – an increasingly so in the future

13) 45% of the world’s population are forecast to have a smartphone by 2015.

14) For the first time, digital media consumption has overtaken TV in the US – driven by mobile.

15) There are 874 million mobile daily active users of Facebook.

16) Match the people on your CRM database with their Facebook profiles to find out more about them and connect with them.

17) Graph search is getting better at targeting hotels and restaurants that you really might like (with the help of friend recommendations).

How travel bloggers impact the booking funnel

Debbie Hindle – Four bgb

18) The traditional marketing funnel is: Awareness – Interest – Desire – Action

19) The new marketing funnel (c/o Xavier Blanc) is:

  • Reach
  • Engage
  • Activate
  • Nurture

20) Your customers don’t care about you as a brand. They care about themselves.

21) Content marketing = creating the information your customers are passionate about.

22) Example of an effective campaign is the #Feelmorealive campaign by adventure travel company Exodus – blog posts, photos, videos – lots of content by bloggers and lots of shares.

exodus

23) Another is the Liming Appreciation Society for St Vincent and the Grenadines – a group of bloggers invited to provide posts, imagery and video. 60% of searchers have viewed one of the videos before booking. The most popular post was shared 2,000 times.

24) Traditional marketing is about telling the world what a rockstar you are. Content marketing is showing the world what a rockstar you are.

Travel blogging

Keith Jenkins – Velvet Escape

25) The value of bloggers? Niche experts, personal experience, immediacy and an audience.

26) The booking funnel is:

  • Inspiration
  • Influence
  • The Final Nudge

27) As a blogger, one photo Jenkins posted (of ice floating) was viewed 2,000 times and resulted in four bookings for a travel company overnight.

28) Bloggers are good for giving tips and sharing ideas on where to go/what to do.

29) The feedback from people who have taken their advice is invaluable for the company concerned.

30) When engaging a blogger, have specific objectives in mind. What do you want out of the relationship?:

  • Brand exposure?
  • Online content?
  • To drive engagement?
  • To grow your social media followers?
  • To make sales?

31) Monitor the results of your blogging campaign by

  • Using tracking codes
  • Using vouchers or downloads
  • Using tracking systems
  • Keeping track of blogger posts

32) Agree the number of posts, tweets etc with the blogger before you start.

Nicholas Montemaggi – Emilia Romagna Tourism Board

33) Needed a way to make people more aware of Emilia Romagna, so came up with the idea of Blogville – providing an apartment for the use of bloggers from all over the world. The tag line was “Eat, feel and live like a local in Italy”.

blogville

34) Only cost to the tourist board was for the apartment – bloggers paid their way.

35) Master of the house present at all times to help and advise the bloggers.

36) Campaign carried out over 2 years – 120 bloggers and 500 blog posts, 3.8 million Twitter users reached and 700,000 visitors later…

37) Example direct benefit – a Chinese blogger went on a cooking course and wrote a post with lots of photos. The organisation who ran the course reported 2 bookings from China overnight!

38) Important: Spaghetti bolognese isn’t a real dish – it’s tagliatelle ragu! :)

Lee Stuart – Caliber

39) Bloggers bring authenticity and honesty.

40) Brands and PR companies should look for focused blogs – not necessarily big blogs.

41) Look at the kind of keywords the bloggers rank for – there’ll be a ready-made audience for your product if it fits that keyword.

42) Bloggers are hyper-local.

43) They can act as guides to your destination.

Are you mobile?

44) The cost of marketing an app is going to be much more (and much more important) than building the app.

45) Tip for the future – we’re going to be seeing mobile-only companies in future.

Social media masterclass 2013

Alan Young – TrustYou

46) 81% of online reviews are positive (according to TrustYou stats).

47) In the UK, 49% of online travel reviews are on Booking.com, 37% on TripAdvisor.

48) The more reviews you have the more likely you are to benefit from them.

Debbie Hindle – Four BGB

49) Kuoni has wifi in its shops so people can check TripAdvisor when they’re discussing booking a holiday.

50) When coming up with your new holiday campaign, think about you want your customers to feel. Eg, how did you feel on your first holiday?

51) Viator have pages worth of information on each of the locations they feature. They have lots of useful stuff to keep visitors on your site and make it more likely you’ll book with them. They also reward customers with treats and rewards and have conversations with them.

Google and travel: Sharing best practice

Sarah McDonald – Google head of travel

52) Airbnb has a great guide to Brixton that gives lots of authentic, interesting information about the area.

brixton airbnb

53) The questions everyone asks themselves when choosing something.

  • Is this product what it says it is?
  • Is it right for me?
  • Is it at the right price?

54) Video can address some of these questions. For example it can give a street view from inside the hotel and a better feel for what your hotel is and where it is.

55) YouTube isn’t as good as Twitter and Facebook at helping consumers find relevant material. Brands should take not and learn to optimise videos.

56) An excellent site is Visit Brasil – consumers can make their own wishlists on what they want to hear about and the site will give hand back relevant information.

57) Have a common experience across all channels.

58) Use relevancy and urgency like the big hotel booking sites do.

59) The journey isn’t just online or offline – there are touch-points on both for a lot of people.

60) 89% of social media users share holidays photos while away – even if they don’t share the rest of the year. Connect with them when they do it and continue to talk to them when they come back. Reach out at every stage.

NB: This is a contributed article by Julie McNamee from Webnwords. Follow McNamee on Twitter.

Social media tips & tricks, part II

image via carleton.edu

Have you caught up with last week’s Social Media Tips & Tricks, part I? Guess you’re ready for part II! Read on to discover more ways to synergize your social media presence and increase your influence:

  • Demonstrate your social media clout by boosting your Klout score and highlighting your numbers of followers
  • Provide an RSS button on your blog; each new post will automatically queue up on subscribers’ Google Readers
  • Make your LinkedIn profile public
  • Identify power players in your industry and follow their social media accounts to stay on top of the latest trends
  • Frequently comment upon, retweet, and at-reply (@ on Twitter) your industry colleagues’ social media content – the more people see your name (and your intelligent input), the better name recognition you’ll receive
  • When uploading photos in a blog post, include several appropriate keywords to boost the “searchability” of the post
  • Write a short direct message (or create an amusing automatic direct message) welcoming new Twitter followers, mentioning what you bring to the table
  • Ask questions to engage your audience and increase the likelihood of responses
  • Include a “share” button at the bottom of each blog post so readers can share your (hopefully fascinating) posts with the click of a button
  • Provide a subscription button on your blog – if your readers sign up, they’ll be notified via email every time you publish your latest post

Above all, make your content interesting – that’s the absolute BEST way to ensure your brand’s continued growth and influence.

Social media tips & tricks, part I

image via thoughtpick.com

The world of social media can be overwhelming in its vastness. There are millions of people online right now, and they all have the attention span of a kid fueled by Pixy Stix. How, you may ask yourself, can you possibly get your ideas/products/brand noticed in all that noise?

Check out some of the following social media basic tips and tricks and keep an eye on this site – this post will be a two-parter!

  • Use hash tags to keep your topic searchable on Twitter (i.e. #socialmedia or #publicity), allowing potential audience members to find you
  • Provide a service for your audience, free of charge – an instructional video on YouTube, a PDF of practical industry info, etc., all relating to your profession
  • Use a social media management dashboard like Hootsuite; you can preset your posts and tweets to send at certain times and access your audience numbers for each post, helping to determine the most popular topics
  • Tweet and post on Facebook several times a day to reach all time zones
  • Link together all your social media accounts (blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) so that when you post to one, you post to all, saving you time and increasing audience eyeballs.
  • Add a Facebook or Twitter feature to your blog
  • Link to each of your social media sites so your fans can follow you on multiple platforms
  • Host a competition on your social media platforms (i.e. telling your audience to retweet a message and picking one of them as a winner)
  • Respond to social media messages in a friendly, conversational tone
  • Craft compelling headlines AND compelling content – keep ’em coming back for more!

Now I’m about to keep you coming back for more and tell you to STAY TUNED… part II is coming your way soon.