“A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.” – Sean Ellis
Ever created content that you thought would rock the world, and it totally bombed?
We’ve all been there.
The platitudes are simple: “Create content your readers love, and they’ll share it everywhere!”
The reality is much tougher to face: Creating content people love isn’t simple at all. You can pour your heart and soul into your writing, and wind up being totally ignored. You’d find more noise in a Cistercian monastery compared to the response you receive.
What do you really want from your blog?
More readers? More social media shares? More viral content? More customers?
“More” is the keyword here. Whatever stage your blog is at, I’m betting you want it to grow.
You no longer want to be ignored. You long to be heard. Listened to. Engaged with. You want to become a voice that matters.
That’s where growth hacking come in.
Growth hacking is a set of techniques startup entrepreneurs use to rocket launch their businesses on a shoestring budget. The techniques are relatively easy-to-follow, yet it’s only recently that they’ve been applied to content creation.
In the words of Ryan Holiday, growth hacking happens…
“..when a product generates rave reviews purely by its own awesomeness, when every time a someone uses a product, they want to broadcast their love for it, and when a product truly resonates with an audience”.
There’s a ton of work that goes on behind the scenes to create a product that is this sharable. Let’s look at how that work can be applied to content marketing…
Step 1: Test Your Content Ideas Before You Write Them
Growth hackers only create products that people need.
You’re thinking: “Surely that’s always been the case?” Unfortunately, not so. In the past, big businesses relied on their marketing budget to shift products, and didn’t care whether people wanted or needed them.
Growth hackers rely on word of mouth to market their products. So they’re forced to only create products people actually want. This means they have to spent time getting to know their potential customers, and digging into customer needs.
As a content creator, how can you apply this?
First, get to know your audience. Spend time with them on Twitter and Facebook. Encourage people to comment on your blog. Read the comments, and take time to reply to them. The more you know your audience, the easier you’ll find it to come up with ideas that are relevant and interesting.
That’s only the first part of this step. The second part is way more important when it comes to applying the growth hacker mindset to your content. What is this step?
Test your content ideas before you write them – or at least before you publish them to your blog.
James Altucher does this by posting lots of articles to Facebook and Quora. Then, he sees which articles get the most likes or comments. If an article receives lots of engagement, he then posts it to his blog.
Andrew Chen, meanwhile, follows an even simpler process, using Twitter to check which ideas have potential. Here’s how he does it:
- Tweet an insight, idea, or quote.
- See how many people retweet it.
- If it catches, then I write a blog post elaborating on the topic.
Does it sound like a tough gig to condense a blog post idea into a Tweet? Here’s what Chen says about that:
If you can express the core of your idea in a short, pithy tweet, then that’s a good test for whether the underlying blog post will be interesting as well. Great tweets are often provocative insights or mesmerizing quotes, and there’s a lot to say by examining the issues more deeply.
Step 2: Write a “Beta Version” of Your Article
You’ve found an idea that’s taken off on social media. As such, you know it’s got potential as a blog post.
What’s the next step? Expand the idea into a blog post. Flesh it out.
As your readers interacted well with the social media post, you’ll know the questions, problems and issues they have on the topic. Addressing these means you’ll be hitting the hot buttons of your audience.
Make this article as awesome as you can, using the time you have available. That means if you’ve got two hours to write the article, spend that two hours making it the best you can. Remember, you’re aiming for this to rock your readers’ world.
At the same time, know that this is a beta version. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to cover every angle. It just has to be good enough for you to believe that people will instantly want to share it.
Once you’re done (and you’ve checked the spelling and grammar), it’s time to make your content live. Hit publish.
Step 3: Track the Shares of Your Content
This step’s relatively simple. It involves two parts:
- Knowing the typical social share count for content on your blog.
- Looking out for content that gets more shares that usual.
What’s next? If an article gets an average number of shares, leave it as it is. On the other hand, if it gets more attention than usual, go onto the next step.
Step 4: Upgrade Your Top-Performing Beta-Content
You’ve discovered your best performers. Now you’re going to invest in these. Your job is to take them from good to freakin’ amazeballs.
This can mean doing any (or all) of the following:
- Doing in-depth research to back up the points you make. This adds to your credibility and the depth of your writing.
- Reaching out to relevant influencers and experts to get their opinion on the article topic. You’ll have a solid foundation to ask for their input. Your article is already being widely shared, so if they add their $0.02, they’ll get lots of exposure. Even better, once you’ve added their quote to your article, you can ask them to share it. That means even more exposure (and yes, more credibility too).
- Adding images and infographics that reinforce the main points in your article. Images are perfect for adding a wow-factor, and making articles more arresting.
- Expanding what you’ve written to pull in ideas from other articles on your blog. This shines a light on your less popular content, but you should only feature content that adds value to the main article.
- Jazzing up your writing style. Inject extra sass!
How to Create Content Your Readers Love
In this article we’ve shown you, step-by-step, how to create content your readers will love by following in the footsteps of growth hackers.
Give it a try, and let us know how you get on in the comments, below. Any questions? Add those as comments too.