Randall Craig has founded several successful start-ups, held a long-time position at a “big-four” consulting firm, and was an executive at an American public company.  He has been intimately involved in Internet strategy since 1994, when he put the Toronto Star online (as well as over 100 other major organizations since then.)

Randall is the president of 108 ideaspace, lectures at the Schulich School of Business, blogs for the Huffington Post, and hosts Professionally Speaking TV.  Randall is the author of seven books including the Online PR and Social Media seriesSocial Media for Business and the just-released Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business. He has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows, and has been profiled in all national media.

Randall serves on the National Board of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, and has earned a CFA, MBA, and CMC.

Back in the early 1990s there was no such thing as “Social Media”.  There were bulletin board systems, newsgroups, and email.  Yet, the problems that we see today – how to engage stakeholders, how to develop and promote brand, and ultimately how to monetize a community – were exactly the same as what we have today.  The websites that I have been responsible for bringing to market – from some of the world’s first major market newspapers, to some of the world’s largest financial institutions – all had these challenges in common.  When the public social networks first made their appearance, it was clear that these would be another critical channel, both for development of community, but also for direct, two-way communication.

Why do I stay in the Social Media?  One of the challenges of this space is the so-called “shiny object syndrome”, where every organization rushes to embrace the latest new Social Media venue that appears on the web.  While the silliness of this approach should be obvious, it is hard to resist the urge to be an early adopter and win that first-mover advantage.  Furthermore, too little time is spent on Social Media risk, and too little time is spent on Social Media beyond marketing and sales.  The core of the work that we do – and all of our analytical models – are designed to build outwards from prospects, clients, suppliers and candidates on one side, and then leverage and extend an organization’s strategy on the other.   I’ve tried to do this in my firm’s consulting, in my books, and as a speaker.

The most important practice in Social Media is to move beyond the broadcast, and seek to engage.  Yet how many organizations are disappointed with the engagement levels in their blogs?  Here are 17 ways to drive more users to your blog, and increase their engagement with it:

  1. Write great content.  If you write poorly, or have uninteresting, uninsightful posts, people will never return.
  2. Focus your topic.  You will attract a more loyal following if your topic is keyed to your target audience.
  3. Be consistent.  Write using the same style, length, posting frequency, and posting date/time.  (If you like this post, there are 350 more at http://budurl.com/bmrm)
  4. Be controversial. Very few people are interested in commenting on a dry (or vanilla) post.
  5. Move beyond words.  Embed pictures and video within the blog itself.  It looks more interesting, and research shows that people are more apt to read a post with picture(s).
  6. Team blogs.  Sharing a blog with a colleague is a great way to generate some variety. It also means that two people are promoting the blog.  A secondary benefit is that each team member can respond (like/share/comment), providing an “instant” base level of activity.
  7. Tweet a value-added Headline.  If there really is value in the Tweet, then it will be retweeted.  And it will draw people to your blog
  8. Use your email list.  Send an email talking about the post with an intriguing click-through link.  Send a direct message to your LinkedIn and Facebook contacts as well.
  9. User your groups.  Post a summary of the blog in relevant LinkedIn groups.  If you post in irrelevant ones, you’ll get instant disengagement – and worse.
  10. Auto-syndicate Connect your blog to LinkedIn and Facebook, so that your blog appears on your profiles.  Users will participate on those platforms directly, as well as on your blog.
  11. Empower others to syndicate.  At the bottom of every post, let people syndicate the content through to their favourite social sites.  (AddThis.com and ShareThis.com)
  12. Hold a contest.  Nothing like a little competition to drive activity.
  13. Share your stage:  Ask others to be a guest blogger, taking your spot from time to time.  They’ll pull their readers with them, exposing your blog to a completely new set of people.
  14. Share others’ stages.  Ask to be a guest blogger on someone else’s blog. You will pull these new readers back to your blog, if you are relevant enough.
  15. Connection/integration with overall marketing plan.  The blog – and all social initiatives – shouldn’t stand alone, but should be integrated with all of your other marketing activities to achieve a specific goal.  More at
  16. Improve your Search Engine Ranking.  Ensure that people can find your blog when they search for it, by ensuring that each post contains the right mix of keywords.
  17. Ask for comments.  Don’t end your post with a conclusion – ask your readers what they think, what their experience has been, or whether they agree.

 

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Vishal Pindoriya

Vishal Pindoriya is a social media enthusiast, strategist and writer. He lives in London, England and is particularly interested in the proliferation of social media around the world.

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