As a guest blogger, you want to make an impression. The purpose of a guest blog post is to shake things up from regular programming, so engaging readers is of the utmost importance—you don’t want them clicking away before the full text even loads. So, how can you engage readers without resorting to misleading headlines or racy pictures?
Simple: Leverage social media. There are many ways you can use social media to give some life to your blog posts and make them a centerpiece for conversation. Here are just four:
1. Start a conversation before you blog.
Guest bloggers are often writing for communities they’re familiar with, even if the venue is different. So, if you’re a guest blogger, you’re likely a member of related communities on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.
One way to shake things up is to start talking to your peers and friends before you construct your blog post. Run some ideas by them. Pose a question on Facebook. Tweet at fellow community members to get their thoughts. You never know when a lively debate will spring up.
Bottom line: Instead of pushing out content first and hoping for a discussion, base your blog on an ongoing discussion that’s gaining steam on one of your social media outlets. People will already be interested, and your guest post could add a unique insight to the conversation—a great recipe for engagement.
2. Take a poll.
Polling is a tool that works especially well for guest bloggers with a recurring gig, and social media makes gathering this information quick and easy, particularly Facebook, which has built-in polling features.
One way to set yourself up for your next post is to include a poll in your current one. You can always collect answers via the comment section, but if your posts are promoted on social media you can easily direct readers to a poll in that venue. Make the question a thoughtful one, and you can use the answers to inspire your next post. People will check back to see how things turned out, so you’re boosting engagement twofold.
3. Promote your posts with intelligent framing.
When your guest blogs get published, it’s always a fantastic idea to post the links to your own social media accounts so that friends and peers can check them out. That’s pretty basic. One way to kick generic link sharing up a notch is to say something about it.
How often do we see links posted with a tag like, “Check this out!” or a sentiment that doesn’t leave much room for discussion? Next time, include a call to action or a little analysis along with the link. Encourage people to respond to the post, whether they love it or hate it. Include an insider tidbit about what it was like to create the post. If you’re blogging about an issue, ask if someone else has a different solution.
This can be a little harder on a forum like Twitter, but you may find that a short query might be more effective than just the title of your blog post. The @replies will let you know!
4. Follow the trends.
Some writers decry social media as a time-waster, but you can use social media to write posts that people will be interested in. How do you know? Check out the trends.
Cultivate a diverse group of contacts on social media outlets, and then check in regularly. You’ll soon see memes developing in response to everything from real-world events to reality TV. Not every meme can frame a blog post, but some can—especially if you inject your own wit. If you can capitalize on popular memes (but beware, the life span of memes can be very short) people will come for the meme … and they just might stay for your content.
Guest bloggers are in a unique position to write broadly about their areas of expertise in a wide variety of venues. If you’re a guest blogger, you can combine this advantage with social media tools to bring new readers to different blogs or sites, start conversations, and make a name for yourself—even if you don’t have your own website. Log in and give it a shot.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Dragana Gerasimoski