The Value of SMO: How to Get Subscribers While You Sleep

Do you know I have picked up 50 new subscribers during previous two weeks?

That’s probably not very interesting. What’s interesting is that I haven’t posted anything in the past two weeks! (because of illness)

I bet now I’ve got your attention, eh?

What’s even more exciting is that my traffic has mostly come from social media sites. Considering the bad reputation of social media traffic in the blogosphere, this indeed is some milestone.

Social media traffic is not entirely useless. In fact, without social media sites, many blogs wouldn’t have reached the level of authority and credibility they now enjoy. And many new bloggers wouldn’t have the motivation to continue blogging.

To make use of social media traffic, you have to understand your social media visitors. You have to go beyond what you know about attention grabbing content in the off-line and even the rest of the online world.

Know your social media visitors

Although web usability researchers have told us that web surfers read content entirely differently from how we are used to in the real world, many of the web content creators don’t seem to pay any heed. Or, it seems, they can’t help but get influenced by the ways content is created and read in the print world.

Web surfers, we are told (and we know that from experience) don’t read. They scan. They don’t read even if the content to be read is a few links, buttons, and small images on the entire page. They hurriedly scan everything and make a quick decision regarding their next action.

Since blogs are about text, content, and reading, and reading requires your visitors to make a commitment, this puts you in an even worse situation; you have to get people not only to stop by your page long enough to scan it, but also read what you have written, and subscribe to your feed in order to come back and read more of it in future.

As if this weren’t hard enough, as a blogger you have to rely mostly on social media traffic that is ruthless enough to skip your blog if it takes only slightly longer to load.

Ah, now you know the hopelessness of the situation you are in!

But worry not! See the positive side of things. Regardless of how difficult to please your potential readers are, they are at your blog because they are interested in your content.

They may not know if your content solves their problem, entertains them, or informs them, the topics you cover are the reason why they have arrived at your blog. Now it’s up to you if you can convince them to stick around or not.

If you ask me how to retain your social media visitors at your blog long enough to read your content, my answer is, keep it clean and simple, your content will do the rest.

However, since this is such a vague answer, below are some steps you can take to maximize the conversion rate of your social media traffic (or all traffic for that matter).

1. Host your blog on a fast server – If your blog doesn’t load in a fraction of a second, there is no chance you’ll even get to say hi to many of your social media visitors.

2. Keep graphics to minimum – Even if your host is fast, heavy graphics may still drown you. Keeping graphics to the bare minimum will ensure that your blog loads fast. Also, make sure the graphics you use are optimized for use on web.

3. Have plenty of white space – White space is the empty space in between different sections of your blog’s layout. If there isn’t enough white space to keep things apart, it may look too crowded and congested, resulting in confusing and putting off your visitors.

4. Keep the header small – A big header will push the content down the page where it is not instantly noticeable to your new visitors. So keep the header size small so as to bring your main content to front.

5. Have as few links in the navigation bar as possible – If you have a vertical navigation bar, don’t overcrowd it. Don’t list every non-post page in the navigation. For example, if you have a privacy policy page, its link can go in the footer. And if your logo or blog name is linked to the main blog page, there is no need to put an extra ‘home’ link in the navigation.

6. Keep your home page clean – Your social media buttons, related posts links, and all other bits and pieces are better off on the single post page. Since there is already too much stuff going on at the home page – lots of post title, excerpts, and images – this extra clutter will make matters worse for the readability of your posts.

7. Make sure your post headings stand out – Not only the headings should be attention grabbing, but they should also stand out from the rest of the content for them to be noticeable. Keeping the headings fairly large and colored differently from the normal text would help in this regard.

8. Strip your sidebar to bare essentials – Unless you want your visitors to notice and explore your sidebar first, you should remove every button and link from the sidebar that doesn’t serve any purpose. Keep only what’s most important.

9. Start your posts with one sentence paragraphs – that are also attention-grabbing, surprising, or strange. This helps in building your newly arrived visitors’ interest.

10. Keep your paragraphs as short as possible – Whether you write long posts or not, keep the paragraphs very very short. If a paragraph exceeds three lines, break it down to two or more separate paragraphs. In short, the smaller the better.

And I’ll say it again. Keep it simple.

Your thoughts?

Any tips you want to share with us to retain a visitor’s (and especially a social media visitor’s) interest for longer?

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