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How to Make Money Blogging

You can make money by having yourself and your employees use social media.

Nicole Crampton

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Businesses are turning their attention to how to make money blogging. Blogging may have once been an online journaling platform, but businesses are identifying the unique benefit of not only informing their audiences about their products but also using it as a platform to engage with potential customers.

Related: Competitive Edge with Company Blogs

Blogging specifically can help you to share your vision with customers and should become the foundation of your marketing strategy. This marketing strategy will show you how to make money blogging as well as giving your business a platform to communicate directly with your customers.

What is a blog?

Blogging began as a type of online journal which enabled users a quick and easy way of writing, publishing and distributing their opinions. Entries appear in a chronological order which promotes the idea of a type of online diary.

How blogging has evolved?

Blogging are now more comparable to a website which has become very effective communication and marketing tools for businesses. Each blog post about your business will archive on your blog and become another resource for your customers.

Successful businesses have positioned their blogs as highly informative, positioning the business as a thought leader in their space, building trust in their expertise. Your business blog should be the centre element of your online marketing strategy.

Types of blogscreating-a-blog

Blogs can be used in every field and for any purpose. These will give you a starting point of what type of business blog your business could use. These are the 5 most common types of blogs:

1. Thought leadership blog

Blogging from the perspective of the CEO/Founder. Can also be the voice of senior leaders from within their areas of expertise or from the perspective of their roles and responsibilities. These types of blog posts can have a big impact because it’s coming from the source of influence in the business.

This is quite a powerful perspective for your customers to be exposed to. These types of blogs are few and far between making them a rare and precious gem.

Challenges: The leaders in your business might not have enough time to post consistently or regularly. This could hurt the blogs potential.

Opportunities: Invite experts in their field to contribute to your blog. This will not only build your own networks but will also build audience trust of your content.

2. Company blog, several contributors

This is when you have general blogging with one or more contributors. These can sometimes be a full-time position in a company or a group of key leaders within the organisation will rotate publishing responsibilities. This offers a well-rounded perspective of your business. It also helps distribute the responsibility of publishing consistently.

This type of business blog works particularly well for smaller companies with fewer staff members but can also work for larger companies. This type of business blog can be a good starting point as well as a place to test the waters with your blog posts as part of your social communication strategy.

3. Department or team blog

This is an interesting option if your company is big enough to have a dedicated department that writes your business blogs. These blogs can then be specific to what each department is responsible for. Examples of this are:

  • The IT department having a blog expressing their opinions on infrastructure and data management
  • The software development team discussing their method and difficulties with shipping their product.
  • The HR department could discuss their strategy of how they hire well.
  • Customer service department have an open line of communication with customers. Possibly receiving feedback from the comments feature.

Challenges: Some departments may have excellent sector specific expertise but lack the ability to write well. It will be important to set guidelines and the business orientated writing for your blog so that your teams adhere to the same editorial style and your businesses tone remains uniform.

Opportunities: Involve your employees in the content of the blog creates ‘brand ambassadors’ out of your teams. Your staff will have a vested interest in your business growth.

4. Product, service or marketing specific blog

This type of blog strategically focuses on products, specifically a flagship product. This business blog would then be devoted to communicating the details of the product, the team of creators, the difficulties, the updates as well as a behind the scenes look. Very good business blogs use this as a marketing tool by work in soft-marketing strategies to lure new customers.

Challenges: if you punt your products to much you could lose your customers interest. Make sure to write it in a way that doesn’t sell products directly to your customers but rather helps them engage with you brands.

Opportunities: You will receive instant customer feedback on your products. You will easily be able to identify which products are preferred by users and what there “pain points” are with your products.

Related: Why your Employees Should Be Writing Your Blog

5. Employee blogs

Employee blogs or even a network of business blogs powered by individual employees. This can be a blog which is company branded or an independent blog which became the voice of the business.

If employees understand their responsibility to your business and are made aware of what the detailed expectations are, then this can work very well.

Challenges: Difficult to control what your employees are posting as well as maintaining a business perspective and not letting it turn into your employee’s journal. When staff leave their blogs must be taken over by another employee preferably the one who takes over their position.

Opportunities: This helps your employees become brand ambassadors and makes them feel like they are uniquely involved in the marketing of your business.

How blogging can benefit your businessbusiness-man_new-year's-resolution

Customers:

  • This platform allows you to communicate and connect directly with your customers
  • Blogging creates a conversation between you and your customers, potential investors and industry partners. This platform encourages interactions and feedback. How else will you know where you’re falling short if you don’t see your feedback?
  • You can use this platform to introduce new products and services to your customers. You could also comment on significant new events or market trends. Share your businesses behind the scenes initiatives. A business blog give your business a voice and personality, potential customers can now get to know your business.

 Marketing tools:

  • Businesses should use all free marketing tools at their disposal and a business blog allows you to build both brand awareness and brand trust.
  • Your blog analytics will allow you to determine who your audience is, when they prefer to visit your site and which entries are the most popular.
  • Cost-effective marketing investments. Every entry you publish becomes a long-term asset which will help with brand awareness as well as promote your expertise, products and services.

Business specific benefits:

  • To have a successful blog you need to keep up to date with news, trends and what your competitors are doing. This helps you stay on top of your industry and helps you to be a leader in your industry.
  • With blogging you can tell your businesses story. You can offer more insight into your business, your philosophy, employees and ideas.
  • It is great PR. Journalists will often interview business bloggers as industry experts.
  • Allows you to share your experiences and introduce yourself as an expert in your field and perhaps even a thought leader in your sector.

Ways to make money directly from blogging

  • Advertise and selling your own products
    • You can sell or advertise directly through your business blog and you’ll get paid directly. No need to outsource or get anyone else involved. Make sure to have a polished product before putting it on your blog. Make sure that the blog is correctly targeted for the product.
  • Paid for reviews
    • You can be compensated for putting a comprehensive review on your business blog. Make sure that the review isn’t completely irrelevant to your business.
  • Affiliate marketing
    • You can sell or recommend connected products on your business blog. You’ll receive a commission when a visitor to your blog clicks on the affiliated link and buys the product.
    • Commission is usually 30% – 70% of the product/service price.
  • Sponsors
    • You can earn money by setting up a donation button or asking readers for additional funds. Make sure to tell your readers what you will be spending the donations on for example: Product creation, researching costs.
  • Selling advertising space
    • You sell the space around your business blog at a certain price every month. The price will depend on the amount of traffic your blog gets and you will get paid upfront every month

How to create a blogemployee-creating-a-blog

 1. Choosing your platform

  • Which platform is the most popular?
    • WordPress is home to over 72 million bloggers
      • It doesn’t require HTML or code knowledge
      • It offers a choice of 3000+ free themes and templates
      • Offers a host of 1000’s of plugins which can add different features such as newsletters or photo galleries
      • With so many people using it, there is a vast community who will assist you if you get stuck.
    • Why free blogging platforms are traps
      • They control your content
      • They can shut you down
      • They can prevent you from making money for any reason they decide
      • With a blog in your own domain you are in charge of the content, you are not limited by branding or monetization
      • Because the software is open source, free blogging platforms are vulnerable to being hacked

 2. Creating a name for your blog

The web address is called a domain name. This is where your blog will be found. Choose a name which is:

  • Memorable
    • If you choose a made-up name, something that is difficult to spell or is too complicated, it won’t stay with your potential customers. Choose a name that is:
      • Short
      • Catchy and memorable – if you can’t remember it how will your customers?
      • Easy to pronounce
      • Easy to spell
      • Isn’t similar to your competitors domain names
      • Doesn’t violate some else’s trademark
    • Out of the ordinary
      • Your name needs to reflect who you are and what is important to you.
      • Be creative, your name should excite you
    • Trustworthy
      • Avoid using domain extensions like “.rocks” or “.biz” because they are less well known and will not inspire trust. Rather stick with the well-known options like “co.za”, “.com”, “.org” or “.net”.

3. Hosting your blog

  • Requirements for a good host are:
    • Support: Help options in understandable English. With various contact techniques like chatting, email or phone
    • User-friendly control options: Beginner orientated way to manage your blog
    • Consistent Uptime: Your site should be consistently up for 99.9% of the time.
    • Reasonably priced: Find a balanced host, you don’t need to spend a lot. But cheap isn’t always good.

Related: Stumped? 4 Innovative Ways to Come Up With Blog Topics

What to avoid when blogging writing-a-blog

1) Being inconsistent with your blog posts

  • When writing a blog your publishing schedule should be consistent.
  • Create an editorial calendar for your blog writing. This will help you stay on track.
  • Readers will not continue to visit your blog if they don’t know when you will be publishing a new blog post.

2) Not staying on point

  • Your blog posts need to provide value to readers who either are customers or may potentially be customers.
  • You need to answer their questions and tell them how you can help them.

3) Weak appearance

  • Make sure you have a strong, interesting and creative blog title
  • Include good relevant images which will catch your audience’s attention

4) Ignoring comments and questions

  • Readers want you to respond to their comments and questions. You need to keep your audience engaged and feeling connected to you and your business.

These blogging tips will help your businesses image and connect you to more potential customers which will essentially mean you will make money online. You can also use the direct money making techniques to make money blogging.

Social media marketing can result in more customers, more traffic and more conversations about you and your business. These are fun, create ways how to make money blogging.

Nicole Crampton is an online writer for Entrepreneur Magazine. She has studied a BA Journalism at Monash South Africa. Nicole has also completed several courses in writing and online marketing.

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The Best Conversion Rate Optimisation Tips To Help You Grow Your Business

Whether you’re the owner of a company, or an online blogger, knowing conversion rate optimisation techniques will help you immensely.

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Conversion rate optimisation, otherwise known as CRO, is a 21st-century way to turn visitors to your website or blog into followers of your information or customers of your product or service.

Therefore, whether you’re the owner of a company, or an online blogger, knowing conversion rate optimisation techniques will help you immensely.

What Is Conversion Rate Optimisation or CRO?

Internet marketing, or what some people call online marketing, is promoting your product or service on the Internet through the digital channels available. Driving traffic is to your website or blog is hard, but it’s something you need to do in order to sell your product or service, so the last thing you want is to leave money on the table.

Traditionally, from the traffic you drive to your blog or website, a percentage of that traffic will become your customers or followers.

CRO is conversion optimisation strategies that puts a focus on your blog or website to determine what small or big changes need to be made to convert as many of your visitors as possible.

It’s the classic case of not working harder, but smarter.

Changes such as a new headline, new sales copy, a different coloured CTA (Call-to-Action) button, and more, are tested for effectiveness. This helps you take out all the guesswork and make changes that are proven to convert more sales.

Techniques such as A/B testing, where you create two different landing pages and send the same amount of traffic to each, is one example.

At the end of the day, the version that receives the most conversion is the one you would choose. A site with significant traffic may successfully test over a shorter time. On the other hand, in order to get accurate data, a site with a smaller amount of traffic will likely need more time than a larger one for testing.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

What Happens When You Convert More Visitors Into Customers?

It’s a no brainer, when you convert visitors into clients and customers, your sales increase, and that’s the number one goal of any company or business. CRO can help you grow your business by receiving the same amount of traffic that you’re currently receiving.

Technically that means that you can make more sales without having to spend more money on marketing.

That also means that you’re not focused on the number of traffic you pull in with a mind on percentages, but rather focused on making the most of the traffic you currently have which makes the most of your marketing efforts.

Not Utilising CRO Means You Are Leaving Money on The Table

money-on-tableLet’s say you’re a small company with a goal of R50,000 a month in revenue. Your job is to turn a percentage of your visitors into customers. Without the correct conversion rate optimisation strategies, you’re looking strictly at numbers. You find that 1,000 visitors turn into 50 customers with a revenue of R20,000, which is R30,000 away from your goal.

Without the correct CRO strategies in place, you would work to increase the number of visitors to your site. However, with CRO, you implement e-commerce CRO tips that result in those 1,000 visitors turning into 125 customers.  That brings you to your R50,000 goal.  Without performing conversion rate optimisation, you’ve left R30,000 on the table.

Now that you’ve reduced your cost per acquisition, or what you pay per sale or click or form submit, you can either invest more in advertising or just bank the profits. Now that you understand what conversion rate optimisation is all about, let’s have a look at some of the best strategies that can help you take your business to a whole new level.

20 Of The Best CRO Strategies

You can spend loads of money on a fancy website or blog, but if it isn’t converting correctly, you’re losing customers and sales. That’s why conversion rate optimisation is becoming the number one priority with websites and blogs in the 21st-century.

1. Create an Effective Headline

If you are trying to convert visitors into followers or customers from a specific post, then your headline is one of the most important elements. It’s not there for a hard sell; it’s there to draw your potential customers to your site so that they’ll check out your product or service.

Your headline must show people what benefit they will receive from using what you have to offer.

Keep changing up those headlines till you find a strategy that works.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 2)

2. Reduce Huge Blocks of Text with Bullet Points

The way you present the content on your website is crucial. Give a potential customer too much information, and they’ll leave your site with eyes glazed over. Any material you present should be not only easy to understand but short and to the point.  One of the best ways to do that is with bullet points.

Bullet points create an organised presentation that keeps potential customers interested.

3. Include Your Contact Information

Significant changes can be done to your website or blog to increase conversions, but so can small ones. Include your contact information on your site or blog. This shows that you’re accountable and don’t mind being contacted, which can lead to customer trust and eventually sales. Include your phone number, email address, and even your mailing address.

4. Replace Phony Stock Photos

Stock PhotosYou know what a phony stock photo looks like. It’s the kind that you purchase from stock photo sites, and they’re the kind that you often see at more than one website. These types of photos look phony, and they reduce your credibility. Replace fake-looking stock photos with professional, unique photos or good quality photos that you’ve taken.

For example, instead of using a stock photo model with a cheesy grin, use a picture of one of your employees.

5. Use a Pop-Up Form

One effective way to convert visitors into followers and subscribers is a pop-up form. When visitors come to your side, a form pops up that encourages them to leave their name and email address, or just their email address, to become a subscriber. When you have a list of subscribers, you can then turn them into customers through newsletters, emails, etc.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 3)

6. Eliminate Unneeded Form Fields

A website or blog that is not user-friendly when it comes to form fields may not translate to customer conversion. A form field is where your customers type in their information.  What is the bare minimum of customer information that you need? You ask for the name, but do you also need the company name, for example, or can you do without having a customer type that in?

7. Remove Automatic Image Sliders

Images that flash before your eyes automatically may look attractive, but automatic image sliders have been proven to create banner blindness and therefore, reduce conversion. Use static images instead.

8. Include Videos

Videos have proven to be effective in drawing visitors and turning them into customers. If your site sells fishing products, for example, include a video of an expert fisherman using one of your fishing poles. Make sure the video is no more than two to three minutes long and be sure to put one on your landing page.

9. Make Your Call-To-Action Button Pop

Here is another strategy that seems small but that may prove to be very effective. Alter your call-to-action or CTA button. For example, is it more efficient for your button to say “Download Now” rather than “Buy Now”?  Is it better for your CTA button to be a bright red rather than a navy blue? By testing changes to your call-to-action button, you can determine if such a change will be effective.

10. Limit Your Call-To-Actions

If you have one call-to-action button on your website, that’s a wise choice. Too many call-to-actions can confuse potential customers and turn them off from your site. Put your focus on one effective call-to-action.

11. Have You Included the Word “Free”?

If there’s one thing that people love, it’s free stuff. What can you offer potential customers that are free?

For example, let’s say you sell psychic readings. Offer your potential clients a 10-minute free reading and display the offer prominently on the front page of your site. Chances are you’ll get a lot of conversions for your niche. Once you’ve drawn in customers with the free deal, you can better bring them to your paid services.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 4)

12. Match Your Landing Page to Your Ad

When your ad matches your landing page, the colour co-ordination and organisation can translate to conversions. In addition to the colour, the copy you use on your ad should match, in some way, with your landing page. So, when you draw potential customers to your ad, you gently move them to your landing page with no sharp differences.

13. Incorporate Trust Seals on Your Checkout Page

If there’s one thing that draws customers to a product or service, it’s trust. Incorporating trust seals on your checkout page and other places on your website is an excellent way to show that you are legitimate and to increase conversions.

For example, if you are offering dental products, a seal from a trusted dental association helps with customer trust.

14. Convey a Sense of Urgency

When you are promoting a product or service letting your potential customers know that a particular price will end soon, or that a product or service will only be offered for a limited, time greatly helps with conversion.

For example, let’s say yours is a site that sells cookware and you’re providing a crock-pot at a temporarily discounted price.

You would display on your blog or website a photo of the crock pot, along with content and possibly a video, and you would show the price and when the price ends.

15. Give Them a Money-Back Guarantee

There will always be a percentage of customers who are on the fence about your product or service. So how do you get them over that hump and create a conversion?  One way is to offer a money-back guarantee and to display it where it can be seen.

Keep in mind that it’s good to put a time limit on the money-back guarantee to something like 30 days or 60 days.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 5)

16. Include Live Chats

live-chatsMany companies are adding live chat prominently on their websites to answer customer’s questions in real-time. This is an effective solution that can lead to conversions. It allows you to take care of all a client’s issues to lead them into a sale. Many companies utilise chat apps to help with this process.

17. Retarget Your Ads

There are large and small changes that can be made to your website to increase conversions, but changes to the way you’re handling your ads could be done as well. Retargeting customers, can help increase conversions period.

When visitors come to your site, you create a customised targeted ad to get to them as soon as they leave.

If a visitor has come to your cosmetic store looking for an eye shadow, when they leave your site you target them with an ad for a different eye shadow in your line. The goal is to keep a visitor engaged with your product or service while staying top of mind.

18. Give Them Free Shipping

Shipping costs for a product can often make or break a sale. So, if there’s one thing that can contribute to conversion, it’s free shipping. Let your customers know that shipping is not a cost that they have to concern themselves with.

If free shipping seems unaffordable for your company, work with ways to cover shipping costs with your product prices.

19. Include Real Testimonials With Photos

One of the best ways to instill confidence in your product or service is with real testimonials. Have customers write testimonials of 50 to 100 words about your product or service and include a photo of the customers next to their testimonials. Include their full name with their picture.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 6)

20. Get Customers to Share Their Purchases on Social Media

These days, almost all of your clients are likely to be on at least one social media site. Encourage them to share the purchases they’ve made of your products on social media, such as Instagram.

Every time a customer buys one of your products or your services, automatically give them an opportunity to share and talk about what they’ve bought with a user-friendly share process included on your site.

The sooner you work on conversion rate optimisation tips on your blog or website, the sooner you’ll be bringing in customers in the most efficient way.

Customers translate to profits and profits translate to a successful company or business. CRO takes time, but with patience, your website or blog will see vast improvement in conversions.

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Implementing 2 Advanced Google AdWords Strategies

Find out how Dynamic Search Ads and Call-Only Campaigns can give you that competitive edge you need on Google AdWords.

Perry Marshall

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Let’s explore two advanced Google AdWords campaign types: Dynamic Search Ads and Call-Only campaigns. Give these two campaign types a try. They’ll let you squeeze even more from your AdWords account.

Dynamic search ads (DSAS)

Dynamic search ads are magical keys to reaching your customers. And the best part? Using them is easy once you master the setup.

What Are DSAs?

Google knows it’s hard to keep your campaigns perfectly in sync with your website. If you have an e-commerce site with thousands of products changing regularly, it’s a chore to be constantly creating new keywords, new ad groups and new ads inside your AdWords account.

DSAs were created to fill this gap. They let you show ads to excellent prospects who might be searching for items you sell on your site even if you don’t have a corresponding keyword for them in your account.

Related: The Secret to Building A Profitable AdWords Campaign

Why should you set up a DSA?

As long as you set a low cost-per-click, dynamic search ads typically have a decent CPA and provide additional relevant traffic. They’re also great for research as you get to uncover new search terms that people are using to find your site. (You can use this intelligence after the fact to add new keywords to your account.)

Let’s say you’ve just started selling wrought-iron fire pits on your e-commerce site but you don’t have the keywords for them yet in your AdWords account. A new prospect – we’ll call her Kim – is currently online searching for this by name. Kim types it in verbatim: “wrought iron fire pits.”

If you have a DSA campaign set up, you’re in luck: Google instantly recognises that you sell these but don’t yet have keywords for the purpose. Thankfully, you don’t miss a beat with Kim – Google shows her your Dynamic ad, then she clicks, comes to your website and makes a purchase.

How do they work?

It starts with Google regularly scanning your website and keeping an index of all its pages. When you’re starting out, you can choose to point Google to your entire site – we recommend this for your first DSA campaign – although later on you can target specific categories within your site.

Google knows what keywords are in your account and, more importantly, what keywords are not there. This means they can make accurate judgments about when to step in and show your DSA ads.

When setting up DSAs, Google creates the headline and you write the description. They choose the final URL and you set the bid.

Related: 7 Questions To Ask Before Hiring An Adwords Agency

Here’s how to set up a DSA:

  • Create a new campaign. One of the options you’ll see is to create a DSA campaign. We suggest not using that as it would limit your options further along. Instead, create a new Search campaign with “all features.” Your plan will be to only use DSAs inside that campaign.
  • You’ll need at least one ad group to hold your DSAs, and one is typically enough if you’re just starting out.
  • You still want to be split-testing, even though Google chooses your headline for you. So, create two different DSA ads with different body copy in each.
  • Choose the target. Start with the “all webpages” default. Save the advanced target­ing for later.
  • Add in ad extensions just as you would for a regular campaign.

Ongoing management of your DSA

dynamic-search-ads

Review your data. Keep an eye on the search queries Google chooses, particularly in the first few days. This lets you add any new negative keywords that you don’t want your ads shown for. And it’s a good way to identify and add new keywords you hadn’t yet thought of for other functioning campaigns. (You can add these new keywords as negatives in your DSA campaign, which forces that keyword traffic over to new campaigns in your account. Your DSA campaigns won’t be affected.)

Call-only campaigns

These allow you to create search ads where Google shows your phone number rather than a headline. As such, they only show on mobile devices capable of making calls.

A person clicks on your ad, which starts the process of calling your business directly from their mobile, rather than taking them to your site.

Related: 3 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Google Adwords

Why use call-only?

Call-only campaigns force people to call your phone number rather than visit your site. If generating more phone calls is high priority for your business, call-only campaigns are worth testing.

How to set up call-only campaigns

Setup is simple. You can create a new campaign from scratch or just copy your existing search campaigns and change the ad type. Replace regular ads with call-only ads.

Tip: Google wants to see individual ad groups with a reasonable number of impressions at the ad group level. So a small number of ad groups with more keywords in each one – generating more impressions per ad group – will work better for call-only campaigns.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com

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The 5 Characteristics Of Social Media Websites That Go Viral

There is no formula for a site that goes viral but you can see what’s missing from those that don’t.

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With the advent of the web 2.0 comes a shift from simple and bland web pages to dynamic and interactive web platforms. It is now possible to create a social media site that does not only attract new businesses, but also foster relationships and create opportunities for other people.

The possibilities are endless and the barrier to entry is becoming ever thinner that one has no other choice than to key in to the new phase. Or rather, the new craze.

Every day, we see another social media site popup with the claim to become the new Facebook or the new Instagram. Even more, we are bombarded with jargon such as likes, comments, shares and viral content – words previously that never had any significance in the grand scheme of things.

But internet entrepreneurs are not giving up on the dream to create their own social networks using newer ideas and strategies. According to get2growth, there are about 472 million entrepreneurs worldwide running 305 million start-ups annually, out of which 1.35 million are internet based.

Some of these entrepreneurs, who run social media networks, have found that the proven path to success is to have an intuitive idea plugged into a quick go-to-market strategy. Nevertheless, most importantly, finding the sweet spot between what’s important for the customer and what intrigues them is an important trigger for virility.

Related: 4 Ways You Can Use Social Media As A Customer Engagement Tool

That is why the easiest way to create a social media website or forum today is to create a platform that is positioned to go viral. So, how do you go about that? This article provides some useful tips.

1Know what’s important to the users

What the user needs is the first consideration when you want to create a social media website that goes viral. Without fulfilling this need, there will be no need to create an online community in the first place.

That is why the first question to ask is, why should people use your site instead of the other available platforms? How do you create a unique social media site so that users will always have a reason to come back?

Think of it this way: Will a user become so excited about a feature or tool on your site that they encourage their friends to use it too? Or will your site help the user connect with their friends in a way other social networks do not?

If you can find the things that are important to the users and create your site around those things, then you would have a community that others will really want to be a part of.

2Integrate features that encourage interactions

Online interactions are the fuel on which online communities thrive. The desire to interact is why there will are forums and social networking sites, so it’s important that you integrate features that foster interactions and encourage users to create exciting content.

A good way to do this is to use a platform that provides powerful tools for creating beautiful social networks. Here you have two options: Use white-label social network creators; Ready-to-go solution like Ning; or build-it-yourself frameworks like Django (Python) or CakePHP (PHP).

The most important features to consider are the site layout, community building options (such as forums, pages and groups), call-to-actions, and the site navigation. The plan is to intuitively provide users the freedom to choose how they want to interact.

Related: A Guide to Optimising Your Business’ Social Media Usage

3Provide powerful visual and creative tools

social-media-marketing-visual-elements

Users make the rules when it comes to what is shared or recommended online, so it’s wise that social networking sites provide the tools to encourage required users’ behaviours.

For example, users tend to spend more time on sites that encourage some creative activity. If that activity produces a visual result and the option to share, the user will be more likely to share it with a friend.

A survey published on Adweek revealed that users are more engaged on Instagram than on Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. Instagram is cozy. This lends credence to the claim that visuals and creative tools can help keep social network users engaged and even more willing to recommend content.

As you may know, Instagram allows more visuals than all the other platforms, with users sharing full-size landscape and portrait photos that may fill the whole of a viewers screen. This gives more content visibility and increase in user engagement and sharing, which is no surprise seeing the immense growth recorded by the platform even before it was acquired by Facebook.

4Push notification is a must-have

Creating a social media site that goes viral requires keeping users updated on the activities happening in their network. You never know which notification about something a user cares about will trigger an engaging discussion with potential to go viral.

Push notification provides real-time access to content on devices, especially mobile, and encourages return visits and more on-site activity, which are useful metrics for the growth of social media sites and any other site type for that matter.

Not incidentally, users tend to value push notifications more when the content delivered is useful. According to this survey, 70 percent of users were happy to enable push notifications on their favorite apps. This reportedly doubled click through rates when compared to email notifications and a higher response rate compared to when notification was not deployed.

Activities such as these improve the chances of making a social network go viral and quickly increase user growth.

5Create the set-up with “shareability” in mind

Building a successful social network requires that the end is considered right from the beginning. All functionalities must be planned according to the user behaviors anticipated. A social network set up to go viral will therefore, have to consider shareability right from the beginning.

The site setup should include layouts that allow users to easily access, interact, and share content. Features such as sharing buttons, call-to-actions, tagging, image size, and site layout can encourage sharing among groups and help position content in places where they are more visible.

The better user-interface, the easier it is for users to navigate through the site and access more useful content, which increases user engagement and shareability. However, do not forget to analyse and measure your social activity – the Holy Grail of engagement.

So, what plans do you have?

Creating a social media site that goes viral is never an easy task, but if you know what you are doing from the beginning and have a workable plan, you should be able to find some success.

You just need to come up with a strong idea that your users believe in. Something like a unique selling proposition that actually feels a need for the majority of users.

A simple change in the way a user report a story, tag photos or share their passion can be enough to make your social network the rave of the moment. But you need to have a unique plan to take you from zero to hero.

So, what is your plan?

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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