The difference between a popular blog post (one that drives traffic, social shares and comments) and an unpopular blog post (one that does not drive traffic, social shares and comments) can often be a mystery.
That’s right, many bloggers couldn’t tell you why some of their posts are extremely popular while others are not, a fact that holds true even for some of the most successful folks writing online.
Does This Sound Familiar?
This mystery is the foundation of one of the most common stories I hear told by both clients and fellow bloggers, “The Little Post that Could”. Here’s how it goes:
So I wrote this post on “xxx” topic. It was nothing unusual – just my usual type of post on my usual topic.
From the moment it went live, that post was popular. It got tons of traffic and comments and people were sharing it all over social media.
In fact, even though I wrote this post a year ago, it’s still the most viewed post on my site today!
Man, I wish I could write another one like that…
Has this happened to you? It has certainly happened to me.
In fact, it just happened over at my small business blog, www.mattaboutbusiness.com.
You see, last week, I wrote a blog post called, “Is This the Beginning of the End for LinkedIn Groups?“. Within an hour of the post going live, it was pulling traffic like crazy.
Not only that, people started sharing the post on social media and, even better, many folks left lengthy comments on the blog post’s page.
I found myself wondering, “Why this post? What made it so popular?”.
So I decided to figure it out.
Uncovering The Secret
I started by coming up with two questions:
- What made this post so popular?
- How could I repeat that success again and again?
Questions in hand, I was off to study last week’s post. Here’s what I figured out:
First off, the post was a personal one and that made it hard for me to write. I’ve always tried to keep my posts friendly, informational and usable while avoiding posts that lean more on my feelings and opinions. It’s just the way I roll.
The LinkedIn post however, was full of my passion, angst and concern. I have always loved LinkedIn, but they betrayed me – heavy stuff.
Second, the post was fairly confrontational. No matter how I softened my argument, this post was a barb aimed straight at LinkedIn.
Now, I’m no softie and confrontation suits me just fine, but I usually keep it off the web and out of the public eye.
This post definitely had me out of my comfort zone. I mean, I was so nervous that I kept adding supporting evidence up to moment I published it to the world.
I had butterflies in my stomach.
As I mentioned above, this post went popular very soon after it went live. I was both pleased and grateful for the amount of support and positive comments that I received both in the comments section and on LinkedIn.
Let’s go to the questions:
- What made this post so popular?
I believe this post became popular because I left my comfort zone.
First, I opened up and let my personal opinions and feelings come through. My readers were able to relate and empathize with my experience. They were able to put themselves in my shoes and that engaged them with the post and made them feel invested.
Second, I was confrontational. When a fight happens, people like to come and watch. I believe that was the case here.
- How can I repeat this success again and again?
Based on the answer to the first question, I’ve concluded that one of the secrets to creating a popular post is to include your own feelings and personal opinions in the content. Popularity will only come when you engage your readers with your true self.
Looking back at other popular posts on my site, I found that each and every one of them followed the same pattern.
I need to get more comfortable with putting my real self out there. I mean, I’m out there in spades, but not my inner self, my feelings and opinions. Don’t worry, I won’t get mushy on you, I’m just going to say what I’m really thinking more often.
As for the confrontational element, I think I’m going to work that one in more often as well. I’m not talking about going all out on the attack, but I believe that some tension adds to the popularity of a post.
One way I’m thinking of doing this is by challenging established online business practices and beliefs – a great way to both heat people up and increase the popularity of my posts. It’s time to mix things up a bit.
The butterflies are still there and I’m sure that they’ll still be there each time I hit that publish button, at least for a while.
But I feel good about my conclusion. I like to push my limits, so challenging myself to open up more and to throw in some tension when writing will hopefully make popular posts like last week’s more of a regular occurrence.
How About You?
Have you ever hesitated before hitting the “Publish” button with butterflies in your stomach?
If you have, what happened next?
- Did you publish the post or not?
- If you did, what was the reaction from your readers?
- If you didn’t, do you have any regrets? Do you think you’ll hit the “Publish” button on that post someday in the future?
Please share your stories with us in the comments section below!