After podcasting for a full year, I finally felt ready to join several Facebook groups that welcome podcasters and bloggers to share links to their content.
I lurked in these groups for a while. When I felt as if I understood the culture of the group, I began interacting with other members, encouraging them, and offering the occasional tip.
Then came the part that required me to be brave: I began sharing promotional posts that linked to my latest podcast episodes (many groups set aside a specific day of the week or a specific thread for people to link to their content).
What I discovered:
When crafted thoughtfully, promotional social media posts really do work. I see the results through:
- Likes and comments on my posts inside the Facebook groups.
- Members of these groups subscribing to my email list.
- A steady increase in the number of weekly “listens” to my podcast.
There is a way of structuring promotional posts that works – and a way that definitely does not work.
The outline below is a condensed version of the 13 tips I introduce you to during the episode. While many of the examples I reference are for podcasts, you can easily adapt these tips for your blog, or for other content you want to link to.
3 things NOT to do
1. Insert the raw link only, with no explanatory text
This is an example of a raw link:
People scrolling through their feed generally won’t click on a stand-alone link to discover what your topic-of-the-day is. Don’t make them think. Don’t make them work. Give them context.
2. Write a vague caption that encompasses a worldwide audience.
“This is a fantastic interview with [insert name of guest].”
“You’ll love this informative conversation with [insert name of guest].”
“This is a great post for women of all ages [insert link].”
Don’t call your own blog post or podcast episode or interview great, amazing, wonderful, fantastic, life-changing, or powerful. We lean on these “crutch phrases” when we’re limping along and can’t quickly think of a more creative description.
All podcasts and blogs should deliver “great” or “informative” conversations (otherwise, what’s the point in listening or reading?).
Going back to our third example, above, “women of all ages” is too general of an audience. Very few blog posts or podcast episodes will equally interest that range of ages.
Massive Action Step
- Who is my audience? (get specific)
- What, specifically, makes this piece of content great, amazing, or life-changing?
Show, don’t tell. Take the extra time to craft a message that shows the reader the benefits of clicking the link.
3. Write a generic caption.
“My latest post!!! [insert link].”
Putting an exclamation point (or two, or three) at the end of your generic caption artificially inflates its importance.
“The latest episode of [insert title of podcast or blog]! [insert link].”
Instead of telling us the name of your publication/broadcast, at least tell us the title of the post or episode.
“New episode featuring [insert name of your guest] [insert link].”
Many readers and listeners, even if they’re active in your niche, have probably not heard of your guest, even if the guest is relatively famous. Give the user context. Tack on an identifier or two:
“[Insert guest’s name], USA Today best-selling author of 30 books.”
“[Insert guest’s name], powerhouse Latina leader in Georgia.”
“Literary agent, [insert guest’s name].”
“Style expert and CEO, [insert guest’s name].”
“Writing coach, [insert guest’s name].”
10 Things TO do
1. Nurture an emotional connection.
Ask a rhetorical question that helps the reader reminisce.
(All of the examples that follow are excerpts from real promos that podcasters post in Facebook groups):
“Remember the summer vacations of your youth?”
“When you get a compliment do you say things like: ‘I just got lucky;’ ‘We did so well on that project because Jane was running it;’ ‘I’m not really a good mom – I’ve got a lot of help.’ Then you may have Imposter Syndrome.”
“Is ‘ambition’ a dirty word?”
2. Highlight the benefits of reading/listening.
“Numerous unexplained health issues could be related to Lyme disease or co-infections. I interview a woman who got a Lyme diagnosis 22 years after her symptoms came on. And we discuss the ways she biohacked her way back to vibrant health.”
“If you enjoy classical music and getting to know the musicians, this episode features international concert pianist and host of the award-winning film series…”
“Price vs. value: What does that mean when it comes to hiring a team for your business? We are talking about hiring overseas contract workers, the difference between a virtual assistant and a tech virtual assistant, and make suggestions for other team members to hire in order to round out your team.”
3. Include a call-to-action (CTA).
Often, this is a simple invitation of what you want them to do next.
“Listen to my guest’s story now.”
“Click here to learn more about this topic.”
“Read the full post now.”
Here’s how I structured the CTA in the promo for episode 64:
What’s it like to migrate from writing for the Christian market to a ‘Big 5’ general market publisher? Susan Meissner, a USA Today bestselling author, shares her evolution as a writer and reveals how she “raises the bar” for each new story. Listen in: [insert link to episode]
4. Tell them what they’re going to get (especially if length is a factor).
If your content will be significantly longer or shorter than normal, alert your readers/listeners:
- A short episode
- A 2-minute episode
- In three short paragraphs, you’ll learn…
- In 250 words, I’ll show you how to…
- In this definitive guide…
- We talk for a full hour about…
5. Write conversationally.
Your promos should sound like you talking.
First-Person Point of View (POV) – The “I” POV
This promo is a combo of first-person singular and first-person plural:
“Too often I try to be perfect. But, this leads to not allowing people into my life when I need them the most. Our lives don’t have to be perfect to let people in. What if we owned our mess? There is beauty in the mess, we learn and grow from the mess.”
First-Person Plural POV – the “we” POV, where the narrator is a member of a group that acts as a unit.
“This week, we are finishing the series for teen girls…”
Second-Person POV – The “you” POV
“Have you ever stopped to think about what you’ll need to accomplish your goals and dreams?”
Third-Person POV – The “he/she/they” narrative POV
“From being a colonel in the Army to becoming a speaker, coach and author, [guest’s name] shares his journey of being a leader in the military to growing leaders of the entrepreneurial world.”
Massive Action Step:
Practice writing promos from different points of view.
- First-person is the most informal, and very conversational, but can sound overly self-promotional unless you’re careful.
- Second-person is used in “rhetorical question” promos: “Have you ever wondered?”
- Second-person is often combined with first or third-person. Start with the “you” question, then move to either first-person, “In this post, I’ll show you…” or third person, “This episode features Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympic gold medalist of all time…”
6. Define unfamiliar terms and acronyms.
“Have you heard about the college student who is biking across the continental United States for FASD awareness?!!”
I had to look up FASD because I wasn’t quite sure what the acronym stood for, and the author didn’t define the acronym the first time they used it.
Even people familiar with your niche will not know every “insider” acronym. The first time you use an acronym, write out the full term and put the acronym in parentheses following the term.
“Have you heard about the college student who is biking across the continental United States for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) awareness?”
7. Proofread before posting!
“I interview [insert name of interviewee] who is an enterpreneur…”
I’ve seen (and heard) this word mangled more often than not (entrepeneur, enterpenuer) If you don’t know how to pronounce it or spell it, use a word you can pronounce or spell.
By the way, it’s spelled entrepreneur.
Massive Action Step
- Compose your social media promos in Word and run them through the spell/grammar checker.
- Then read them aloud, which will help you catch missing or repeated words.
8. Mention the title of your blog/podcast in the caption.
The “promote your creation” Facebook groups I’m in usually have thousands of members. Only a handful of the members know me. Also, my website URL (bloggingbistro.com), my podcast title (“The Professional Writer”), and my name (Laura Christianson) are all different. Letting people know the title of my show gives them useful information to help them decide whether to click through.
Since I number my episodes, I also mention the episode number instead of saying the generic and not-helpful, “in the latest episode.”
Think about it. If someone spots your Facebook promo a week or two down the line, you’ll have published additional content by then, which means that “the latest episode” will no longer apply to that promotion.
Here’s an example of how I identified the title and episode number:
How can you make a name for yourself when so many others do what you do? By doing business intentionally. In episode 61 of The Professional Writer podcast, brand strategist Britney Gardner and I discuss finding your best client, selecting brand photos, developing marketing messages, and filtering the wrong subscribers off your email list [insert link to episode].
9. Let people know other places they can find you and your podcast/blog.
In addition to linking directly to your podcast episode, let people know if your show is available on their favorite podcast listening app. Many people prefer following podcasts via an app such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Pandora, and various smart speakers.
You’ll help a larger audience discover your podcast if you register it with the major apps. Then, in your social promos, mention several listening options.
If you want to “borrow” my list of the major podcasting apps, you’ll see 15 options listed directly below the player on this page.
10. Tweak promos for each social network.
Some marketers advise us to write separate promos for each social network. I think that’s a waste of time. Yes, you’ll need to keep things brief for Twitter’s 280-character limit, but most of the other social networks are generous with their length allowances.
Take care to use (and not use) hashtags appropriately.
- On Twitter, one-to-three hashtags is the norm.
- On Instagram, you can use up to 30 hashtags in posts and Reels.
- Do not copy your Instagram post directly into Facebook (with all the hashtags and @username references). Facebook users get irritated when they notice that you’re too lazy to take 15 seconds to remove the hashtags and @ references. And believe me, they will notice. Hashtags are not popular on Facebook. You can usually get away with one or two, but don’t push your luck.
The ‘effort’ factor
You’ve invested lots of time creating your blog post or podcast episode. Don’t let that content you labored over live in a void, in hopes that people will stumble across it.
Put as much effort into regularly promoting the content you create as you do in writing and publishing it.
Whenever I publish a new blog post or podcast episode, I craft four or five versions of a social media promo for that piece of content.
- I post the first promo to my social media channels the day the content is published.
- I publish another promo a week or two later.
- I schedule them monthly for 6 months after that.
Often, people who follow my social media channels miss the first, second, or third promo, but they spot the fourth or fifth one. It’s fun to see a surge of readers or listeners for a piece of content I published eight months ago.
Massive Action Step
Craft five variations of a promotional social media post for your next podcast episode or blog post. Schedule them over the next few months (I use Buffer to schedule my social updates).
Join The Professional Writer Podcast Community – our private Facebook group for listeners – and share your five variations with us. Group members will give you honest and kind feedback.
Let’s sharpen our skills together!
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