Micro-blogging is exactly what it sounds like – micro, or small, posts that are blasted out more frequently. Typically, they are blasted through micro-blogging sites like Twitter or Facebook, but for the purposes of this article, we are going to look at using them on your own blog from time to time as well.
The posts are called “micro-posts”. Busy business owners are finding that they don’t always have time to post lengthier articles, especially smaller businesses that are one-person ventures. However, posting quickly, timely, short posts can make keeping up with a blog more manageable and can bring your site new visitors. If you’re familiar with Facebook, the short snippets posted on there are similar in nature to how you would micro-blog on your own site.
Advantage of Speed
According the the research group Nielsen Norman, the “average page visit lasts a little less than a minute”.
Because those browsing the Internet are often doing so in the spare moments of their day, they want a quick burst of information. The same study above came to the conclusion that the first 10 seconds a visitor is on a website are the most critical. If you can hook your visitor in those 10 seconds, provide a short snippet of info, then you’ve made a connection and given her what she’s looking for.
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Keep in mind, too, that many users today are accessing the Internet through their mobile devices. In a May 2013 report, Pew Research Center found that “63% of adult cell owners use their phones to go online” and that isn’t even counting those using iPads or tablets to access the Internet.
In my recent article, Top Lessons you Can Learn from Google’s New Hummingbird Algorithm Changes, I took a look at why making sure your website is mobile user friendly is vital with the new face of Google and changes to the way people use the Internet. Micro-blogs are fast reads by their very nature, so you may gain new readers who are on the go and just need quick info. Consider adding plugins to your blog such as SMSer, which sends out an SMS message when you post to your blog to make sure you reach those mobile users.
Rules of Thumb for Micro-Blogging
Since micro-posts are likely a foreign animal to bloggers who are used to producing longer, better researched pieces, there are some general rules of thumb that will make micro-blogging easier for you.
Take Some Hints from Infographics
Infographics are quite popular these days because they offer visual images that readers can digest easily and the text is in short, easy-to-digest pieces.
Take your cue from infographics by:
- Pulling out an interesting statistic and encouraging the reader to visit the site for the full infographic.
- Micro-blogging a graphic that offers information as well.
- Tapping into what people are most interested in and what is trending.
Keep It SUPER Short
Think of the many micro-blogging sites out there. For example, Twitter is limited to 140 characters (that includes spaces and punctuation), but Gina Lemos over on Get Reel blog mentions that shorter posts that are to the point tend to be retweeted. Since your goal is to drive traffic to your website, you’ll want people to share your micro-posts.
Also, check out my article on using IFTTT for time management and learn how to automatically cross-post your micro-posts on micro-blogging sites like Facebook and Twitter.
How often should you send out posts? It depends on a lot of factors, but keep in mind that people are saturated with information overload these days. We see commercials on television, in the movie theater, hear them on the radio, receive them in our e-mail inboxes and get inundated by them each time we visit a site. Even Facebook is using new advertising technology to target you based on your past browsing history. Have you noticed that if you visit a site, Facebook then advertises items for that site or a similar one? This isn’t by accident.
As Chris Martin said on SmartBlogs “Remember: Microblogging is a two-way street.” Don’t just post endless notes about your business without interacting with a few of your followers and offering valid discussion on their blogs or social media sites. Invite some of them to guest blog (in micro-style, of course).
Is a Traditional Blog Necessary?
Although most of our posts here on WHSR are for those who already have their own blogs on their business or personal websites, the truth is that you don’t necessarily have to have a blog to micro-blog.
Let’s say your business website is built, you don’t have time to keep up with a blog and you don’t want to figure out how to set one up. No problem, you can use any of the many micro-blogging platforms out there (or use them all) to get your message out. In addition, you’ll get a built-in audience with these sites because they get massive amounts of traffic on their own.
Remember Your Brand Image
Because of the informal nature of micro-blogging, it can be easy to get caught up in cutesy one-liners. Before sending out any short post, always think through whether it represents your brand image in the way you want. For example, a joke that you find funny may be read the wrong way, fall flat and cause backlash to your company.
Don’t Forget Your Longer Blog Posts
Basically, you do need to be everything to everyone if you want to win at the website traffic game. Even though adding micro-blogging to your reportoire as a blogger is beneficial, you still want to post the more in-depth, well-researched pieces that not only gains you visitors but causes them to bookmark your site. So, while you might post an interesting statistic in micro-format, you definitely want to follow-up with a longer post that digs into the topic and explains it completely to the reader.
Although people want short bursts of info most of the time, if they take the time to go on to your website, they want to know that you’ve covered the topic from every angle possible and that you have more to offer than the other Google results winners out there. Also, use too many micro-posts on your traditional blog and you may run into Google algorithm issues that make your site’s rank take a hit. This is why some blog owners use micro-blog specific social media for these posts and then place longer articles on their blogs.
Micro-blogs shouldn’t be too self-promoting.
You are providing something of value to people. If you do that without worrying about what it will bring to you, you will gain site visitors looking for info and once you gain those site visitors, you can hook them with your excellent conversion methods. If you’re not yet sure about conversion rates on your site, check out Jerry Low’s 20 Ways to Boost Website Conversion Rates for a little help in this area.
Consider Micro-Blogging on a Specific Topic
One thing that is effective is micro-blogging about one of the topics your blog already covers. For example, over on The Social Media Hat, they have a micro-blog of quick marketing tips. The tips go up on their website and many are featured on social media as well. This is good time manageable and cost effective promotion for this business.
They offer a good model for how to do micro-blogging effectively. For example, one of their Tweets on Twitter would read:
“Make sure that your Facebook Page profile is complete”
If the user clicked on the related link, they would see a more in-depth tip, but one that is still only two sentences long. Quick, easy to digest info that can also be posted on social media. This is micro-blogging at its smartest.
Another site that presents a good example of micro-blogging is Daily Writing Tips. This site offers some micro-blog type snippets on the home page, or you could call them intros, I suppose. For example:
Itch vs. Scratch – Confusion as to whether to use scratch or itch is evident on the web. For example, the video of a cat scratching its own back has the label, “Cat itches his own back.”
What works best with the Daily Writing Tips model is that you can click on the title “Itch vs. Scratch” and you get a very detailed explanation of each of the words, samples of where to use each and a grammar lesson that you’ll never forget. This same model could be used with any type of website on a product, advice on a hobby or even tips on a hobby. In addition, Daily Writing Tips posts short snippets to Twitter with a hyperlink to the more in-depth info on that topic. As of December, 2013, they had 28, 835 followers, so they must be doing something right.
What area of your site could you micro-blog about and then expand those topics into full articles?
Mhairi Petrovic suggests micro-blogging and linking up new regular sized posts on micro-blogs like Twitter. She writes, “By linking or announcing new articles or changes to your site from a microblog you can drive more traffic to your site. Twitter is now the 4th largest driver of traffic to the Out-Smarts blog.”
Deciding if Micro-Blogging is Right for You
Keep in mind that you will need these mini-posts more frequently. However, they are so short, that you can most certainly schedule them ahead of time or post them on the run from your mobile device. They say that knowledge is power. Now that you know a bit more about micro-blogging, only you can determine if it is the best fit for your business.