5 Unique Social Media and Blogging Tips that Helped Us Reach $1 Million in Revenue

I am on sabbatical for the next few weeks. While I am gone, I have asked some of my favorite bloggers to stand in for me. This is a guest post by Leo Widrich. He is the Co-founder of BufferApp, a Twitter app I use daily and can’t live without. You can read his blog and follow him on Twitter.

A little over two years ago, I jumped into an epic adventure while still in college. My friend, Joel, had just launched a small app to help him post better on Twitter. Joel had called it “Bfffr.” He quickly changed the name to “Buffer” a few weeks later, after he realized, that was much easier to spell.

5 Unique Social Media and Blogging Tips that Helped Us Reach $1 Million in Revenue

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/ugurhan

Fast forward two years into today. We were incredibly lucky to see Buffer thrive. Just this month, we crossed 650,000 users and $100,000 in monthly recurring revenues.

When we published our latest numbers, I got an influx of emails from people all around the world. They asked, “How do you go about marketing, especially social media? What is your strategy for getting new users?”

I often replied with a few bullets and tried to jump on a few Skype calls to help budding business owners with their marketing strategies. And yet, nothing seemed to quite paint the full picture.

So I thought, What if I could share my best tips on here?

So, without further ado, here are the five most important blogging and social media marketing tactics we used to help grow Buffer to more than one million dollars in revenue over the past two years.

  1. Make use of smart images and scientific studies (blogging). Around one year ago, we significantly changed our approach to blogging. We started to publish and share articles that were a lot more science-driven. Any argument we would mention was backed up by actual, reputable academic research.

    Derek Halpern, one of the most famous conversion gurus out there first encouraged me to do this. He uncovers how adding the right images to any claim add credibility and make sharing an article or other piece of content easier:

    PIC 1

    Since then, we’ve started to find the right images for each article we’ve written. Here are some examples, where adding the right images was immensely powerful:

    • Talking about body language: showing the actual poses to perform:

      PIC 2

    • Talking about social media studies: Featuring the actual graphs:

      PIC 3

    • Talking about neuro-science: Featuring brain scans:

      PIC 4

    Now, of course, the key question that comes in next is, where do you find all these studies? Here are my top three ways to find relevant studies for any type of article I write:

    1. The Reddit Science section: They have a huge amount of well-curated, high-quality scientific insights you won’t find anywhere else.
    2. Add “brain,” “study” or “research” to your Google searches: This is the most obvious, but seems to have helped the most people that asked me. Whatever it is, simply adding those terms helps to get to the right content fast.
    3. For Social Media content: The best sites I’ve found with great studies and research are AdWeek, Dan Zarrella’s blog and Brian Solis’ blog.

    The result for us was that we tripled the average social share amount per article from 250 to 1,000.

    Adding better images and backing up your arguments with real science, makes a huge difference to how content gets spread.

  2. Recycle Facebook posts in different formats: links, images or just text (social media)

    The general idea about posting to Facebook is that you can post a link only once. And I think that’s generally true.

    What we’ve found and what helped us to significantly increase our Facebook engagement on articles is to use different formats on the same type of content.

    Especially since the shelf-life of a link being posted to Facebook is only three hours, there is no way that all your fans will see it. In fact, only a small fraction of them—around 10%—will ever see your post.

    The way we go about this is to tear up the article into different, smaller stories and post them individually to Facebook:

    • First, we post the actual link:

      PIC 5

    • Then we go and post only one image to explain part of the post:

      PIC 6
      This way you can get double or even triple the amount of engagement by highlighting different elements of the post with each picture.

  3. Utilize the power of guest posting: quantity over quality (blogging)

    This is probably my most controversial piece of advice that has helped us the most to grow and scale Buffer.

    Especially when you are getting started, there is nothing better than going for quantity over quality.

    This quote from Ira Glass puts it best:

    The most important, possible thing you could do is to do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap

    In order to scale your guest blogging, there is one key lesson I’ve learned. You need to send more pitches than you will have accepted for posts. In my case, I arrived at a 30–40% ratio. Out of ten emails for guest posts I had sent, around three to four would get accepted.

    In terms of outline of the pitch, there are three important elements:

    • Opening: Make it clear to the blog owner that you know their blog and audience (first two lines)
    • Pitch: Have a clear pitch for a post that you’ve already thought out and drafted (second two lines)
    • Social proof: Show them articles that received lots of traction before (last two lines)

    Here is an example of a real pitch I’ve used in the past:

    PIC 7

  4. Leverage the power of social reading services (social media)

    Here is something very new and recent that I’ve seen emerging. Most of the articles you write won’t be read on your blog. Instead, most of them will be read by the emergence of new social reading services.

    Here are some examples where the Buffer blog received most traffic from in terms of social readers:

    • Feedly
    • Pulse
    • Prismatic
    • Pocket

    This means that no matter how well your blog is optimized for conversion, there is no way for any of your visitors to convert.

    To solve this, we’ve recently started to experiment with in-text calls to action to capture more readers who aren’t reading directly on your blog.

    Here is an example of this from our recent article:

    PIC 8

    Most importantly, track each of these links with services like bitly.com, so you can have quick experiments letting you know if it worked. In our case, we confirmed exactly what we thought would happen. People clicked on the link who weren’t reading articles on the actual blog:

    Feedly and email make up the biggest chunk:

    PIC 9

  5. Study how to write great headlines—the techniques we use (blogging)
  6. Here is the last tip I have for you. This is something I learned from one of the best bloggers I know, Andrew Chen.

    His strategy for writing the best headline and for even validating whether an idea will work out is simple:

    • Tweet an insight, idea, or quote.
    • See how many people retweet it (or engage with it).
    • If it catches, then write a blog post elaborating on the topic.

    I found that this is the best way to validate an idea, before you spend hours producing a post that no one wants to read. Here is a graphic from Andrew Chen how he used this technique to validate one of his most popular articles:

    PIC 10

    On top of this, even after an article is live, you can still test the headline using Twitter. Here is how:

    • Tweet out the article three times throughout a day with a different title each time.
    • Measure the engagement and reactions.
    • Change the title of the actual post to the one that spread the farthest.

    I really love this technique! It’s a great way to combat writer’s block where you might be paralyzed of what they should title the post. Just go with your gut and then test out a few different ideas.

    For a recent article we wrote, this was absolute gold and helped us turn the post into the most popular on the Buffer blog. This was the headline after testing multiple ones that worked the best:

    PIC 11

For this article, I wanted to really dig out some of the lesser known tips and tricks for you to make your blogging and social media strategy work. After all, these are the key tactics that really moved the needle for us at Buffer.

Question: Over to you now! What are your best, little-known tools, tips and tricks that you like to use every day? I’d love your thoughts on this. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://www.WishListMember.com Stu McLaren

    Great tips – thanks for sharing Leo.

    One thing that I’ve found to be effective is to regularly schedule tweets and Facebook messages for older posts on my site. Like you mentioned above, most of our audience will never see the initial post so this has proven to be effective to keep the conversation going around those posts (and is a great way to also get your content in front of people who may not have been following you when the post was initially released).

    Question – For your guest posts, do you ever recycle these posts on your blog? If so, do you rewrite them or use them as is?

    • LeoWid

      Hi Stu, thanks for stopping by here! And yes, I completely agree, that is a very good thing to do, either over a longer period of time to repost/reschedule on Twitter/Facebook like a few months or even within a few days after a post goes live!

      Actually, I never recycle guestposts on my own blog – I feel that if you produce something great, and then give to someone else for their blog it wouldn’t feel right to me to later on use it again on my blog, if that makes sense?

  • http://convergenceinthecommons.com/ Deborah Owen

    This is terrific, thanks Leo. While there are a few blogs I follow for marketing and business ideas, my top 3 for basic life info are yours, Michael’s, and Derek’s (even though they are for business!). I love your blog; I use it for ideas and refer to it often when I write my own blog posts, geared to the education community. They are highly credible (great idea from Derek; thanks for sharing your sources because I will definitely be checking them out!), and extremely relevant to many points in life. And I love Buffer too!!! :-)

    • LeoWid

      Hi Deborah, thanks so much for stopping by and what an honor to hear that you’re looking towards our blog for inspiration, that is so fantastic!

      And so glad you like Buffer too! :)

  • http://www.networlding.com Melissa Giovagnoli

    My best success comes when I read a book and take 30 excerpts to use, each, 5 times a day for 30 days. I use the #newbook hashtag and create a tiny URL to the book’s buy page on Amazon. I get more than 1000 click throughs on average for this work.

    Also, just so I go on record this one of the best blog posts I have ever read! Thanks so much!

    • LeoWid

      Hi Melissa, thanks so much for the kind words and so glad this is a post you enjoyed! :)

      And that is one interesting Amazon strategy there too!

      • http://www.finishyourproject.com Eric Johnson MBA

        Great insight Melissa. Thanks for sharing! Just told a friend about your website and what you do. All the best, Eric

  • rabbimoffic

    Wow! This article is so full of useful insight and suggestions. I think I could use a separate post on how to implement these ideas. Thanks Leo for the knowledge and inspiration.

    • LeoWid

      Thanks so much for the kind words! Really humbled that this was helpful and I think you’re absolutely right. And yes, that’s a great suggestion, I might just have to follow up with a post about how to implement these ideas! :)

  • http://www.mikekim.tv/ Mike Kim

    Leo, great tips. Thanks for the hint on Facebook engagement; that’s something I’ve been looking into recently for many solopreneur marketing clients that aren’t sure how to distinguish between their personal profiles and pages.

    I also LOVE the idea of the neuro and science support; my wife is in research and I’ve never thought of linking our two fields until this post! We were fortunate this past year to break six-digits for consulting and trying to facilitate the upward trend. Thanks for this helpful piece!

    Oh, and I love Buffer!

    • LeoWid

      Hi Mike, thanks for stopping by and fantastic to see that you dig the tips and that you’re a Buffer fan too! :)

  • http://www.betterblogimages.com/ Joseph Michael

    One of the most helpful posts I’ve read in a long time! I love the tip about making use of smart images. That makes so much sense but too few of us actually do it. A little trick I’ve found to double my traffic and get more social shares is to simply add a text overlay on my images. Sometimes I’ll put the headline text on the image or text that just explains the image better. Once people see text on an image they can’t help but read it. This really helps to get your images seen on sites like Pinterest too. It takes a little extra time but it has really paid off for me.

    • LeoWid

      Thanks for the wonderful words Joseph. And I love the idea of adding the headline onto the image and posting it then – something I’ve found to work very well too!

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    As an aspiring marketer who has just started a blog (aspiringmarketer.wordpress.com), your tips are extremely useful! :-)

    • LeoWid

      Appreciate it Krithika!

  • John Rampton

    Um… this is pretty much brilliant! Coming from a person that runs a big blog I think this is amazing and hits very valid points on getting more traffic. I also love your quality vs quantity….something I need to be much better at! Time to have more data!

    • LeoWid

      Hi there, so glad this was helpful and yes, you’re right, data is the key for anything you want to improve! :)

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    Great tips. I use all of these strategies to an extent, but am also constantly considering ways to improve.

    • LeoWid

      thanks Dan, glad it was helpful! :)

  • http://JoshBrahm.com/ Josh Brahm

    I love the idea of posting the article on Facebook a second time using an image. Thanks, Leo!

    • LeoWid

      Hi Josh, yes, give it a shot and let me know how it goes! :)

  • http://www.empoweringthe80percent.com/ Ellory Wells

    Leo, great content here! I’ve followed the Buffer blog for a while and really appreciate the content you and your team share. I really need to do better at the a/b testing.

    Thanks Leo!

    • LeoWid

      Hi Ellory, thanks so much for following along, really appreciate your support here and on Twitter so enthusiastically! :)

  • rayfilwong

    thanks for the post + congrats on your success. For one of our site The Brave Unicorn, we set up a Pinterest filled with funny memes and we send daily repins.

  • Kacey

    Interesting ideas! I’d never thought about changing my blog post titles. The ones from my early days of blogging–more cutesy than actually giving people an idea of what the posts were about. I thought I was stuck with them but now I’m thinking I should just change them instead.

  • http://justincarper.com/ Justin Carper

    So I’m sitting here trying to figure out how where I’m supposed to pay for everything I just read. What amazingly rich content. I’m new to the blogging, and this post just rocked my world. Thank you so much!

    I saw that you mentioned posting an article more than once to Twitter. I know with Facebook one time seems to be the limit. How many times would you recommend posting the same blog to Twitter?

  • http://shalonpalmer.tv/ Shalon Palmer

    I love feeling smarter after I read an article, and you sure made that happen Leo. Thanks for a great post!

    • LeoWid

      Thanks a bunch Shalon, really glad this was useful!

  • http://www.sheepdressedlikewolves.com/ Andy Mort

    Absolutely wonderful advice, Leo – thanks for such a well thought through and richly practical post. So much great stuff to try out. Love the Ira Glass quote. With this sort of stuff the only way to carve out the quality is to up the quantity. Like mining for gem stones, you’ve got to be in the right place, but once you’re there you’re probably going to have to do a lot of work if you want to find some sparkly stuff.

  • http://www.wpbeginner.com/ Syed Balkhi

    Totally awesome post. I saw this in my feed and automatically knew I had to read the entire thing.

    I totally agree about recycling posts in different format. We have had a lot of success by taking snippets out of the post, turning it into an image and then sharing it. It’s attention grabbing, and you can bring more attention to your content.

    P.S. I’m going to try out your post title technique and see how that works.

    • LeoWid

      Hi Syed, thanks for stopping by and so glad the article was useful.

      For sure, definitely give that technique a go and let me know how it went! :)

  • http://www.darrenherbold.com/ darrenherbold

    Joel, just wanted to say, from a marketing perspective, this has been one of the most useful articles I have read all year! Nice work!

    • LeoWid

      Amazing to hear this Darren, so glad it was helpful! :)

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com womenlivingwell

    Wow! Those were excellent tips. After 5 years of blogging, most posts I read with tips for social media –I’ve already tried. There is rarely anything new in them. But this twitter idea in point 5 – brilliance – love it! Thank you SO much!!!
    Courtney :)

    • LeoWid

      Hi Courtney, thanks for stopping by and so glad I could go beyond the usual 5 tips and you’ve found it helpful! :)

  • http://www.simplelifecorp.com/simplelifeblog/ Patti

    These tips are great, thank you so much. I did not realize that the useful life of a Twitter or Facebook post was so short. That information is really helpful and I can use it immediately. In fact, every one of these tips is a powerhouse by itself. I’m going to read them again and take notes so I can start implementing them.

  • http://www.quipmissionaries.com/ Michael Pratt

    This is packed with great content. Thanks to Michael and Leo.

  • LisaMarie123

    Thanks for these useful tips.Really these are helpful and important things.
    We should need to follow these steps to be success in our work.

  • LenOx

    Currently digging into Platform and decided to stop by. Pleasantly greeted with this post. Furious note taking and numerous ideas sparked. Thanks for a great post. Looking forward to applying immediately.

  • http://www.japhethobare.blogspot.com/ Japhethoo

    Awesome tips Leo. Thanks for sharing. In blogging, one has to be open to constantly learn new ideas and then try them out!

  • http://inpursuitofhappiness.net/blog Miss Britt

    WOW! I’m amazed at how much info – and most of it stuff I haven’t read before – you managed to pack into this article. Thanks!

  • http://theindiechicks.com/ Chiara Mazzucco

    Of the hundreds of thousands of articles offering growth advice, this has got to be one of the most helpful, refreshing and enlightening posts I’ve read in a while. My ambition thanks you for that, since I’ll never stop re-reading the same crap.

    Such valid points.. Love the scientific backing to increase credibility … And I feel like the past year has been spent navigating FB’s tricky algorithm, when the answer is so simple: Just keep posting so more people see t and post it differently so they don’t get annoyed! Bam. Brilliance.

    Thank you for the refreshing insight and congratulations on making it happen for yourself.

  • Samuel Lam

    Your first image was a little confusing. You say “left-handed statement was more believable” because it has an image. But the left-handed statement didn’t have an image.

  • Ava Cristi

    This article shows the role of images in our campaign.You have to use images to convey what and who your business is. Show people what you stand for, your values and how important their business and loyalty is to your business. A few good images are well worth many thousands of words in online marketing.

  • http://www.trainersonsite.com/ Robert Foster

    Hi there,

    I am trying to grow my followers like most on Twitter. The expert advice I was given was to spread good content throughout the day. In comes Buffer. The only problem I have is – is it working? I love the tool but are people clicking my buffered links or RT’ing or sharing? The stats say no. Is this because the Buffer URL/links look spammy or disguised? I also heard that twitter links should be descriptive and look normal so people trust them to click on them? Any advice? Thx

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I use my own custom short domain link: mhyatt.us. That works great for me.

      • http://www.trainersonsite.com/ Robert Foster

        Is that the same as buffer? On page 174 of your book btw. I really think it is the most useful business book I have read in a while!

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Thanks for your kind words.

          I use my custom short link within Buffer. I use Buffer has one of my primary tools.

          • http://www.trainersonsite.com/ Robert Foster

            Thx Michael

      • http://www.trainersonsite.com/ Robert Foster

        I am not sure who is moderating this but I have one VERY important question I have been struggling with and I would sooooooo appreciate an experts advice on (Pls, it’s driving me crazy). Is google ppc dead? Is it better to grow your business through the marketing channel of blogging with useful content while using social media or spend a couple thousand / month through PPC management companies/google adwords and pray people click on your high ranking ads (to a squeeze page or landing page with a free low barrier entry offer). I really respect Michael’s opinion and expert advice. Clearly I know he knows this answer and I will be forever greatful. Pls, it’s driving me nuts!!!

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Personally, I spend almost no money on PPC. I probably should, but I can’t keep up with my growth now.
          Nothing drives traffic like good content. Nothing.

          • http://www.trainersonsite.com/ Robert Foster

            I appreciate that, Thx for your quick response. In regards to you not spending money on PPC, you have built obviously a big enough “Platform” to allow you to do this. However, from a newer entrepreneur without a large following – how does one get leads for his/her service based business? I have tried guerilla marketing, car decals, flyer drops, organic seo, joint ventures, referral programs…We have no brick and mortar store so, its tough. Anyhow, I just want to say thx

          • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

            Robert, have a look at this post by Casey Graham and see if it doesn’t give you some ideas.

          • http://www.trainersonsite.com/ Robert Foster

            You, are amazing sir!

            Could I ask a question about your book? Blog Post titles…Should we have a title that is catchy and intriguing like the book you recommend (Advertising headlines…) or like Marcus Sheridan and pose it as a question like someone would search? “How Much Does Personal Training Cost?”
            Or both…?
            Thx, I respect your opinion and advice

          • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

            Yes, both can work. This is where you just have to test, test, test.

          • http://www.trainersonsite.com/ Robert Foster

            Thx, appreciate that

  • http://www.jeremyqbutler.com/ Jeremy Q. Butler

    GREAT Read! I love Leo’s insights!

  • http://bloggersideas.com/ jitendra vaswani

    Thnx for sharing wonderful news, Buffer app is definitely an blazing app. I really love that app. I can post my content while sleeping also.

  • http://bloggersideas.com/ jitendra vaswani

    I am aspiring Blogger(http://www.bloggersideas.com/), My journey has just begin

  • Suhel Sayyad

    Bounce Rate is a metric which is ignored by many bloggers. I consider it to be an important factor to make your blog a good one.

  • http://www.lefrois.com/construction-safety.aspx Developer ny

    Thanks …very well written content..

  • http://www.brendenvalks.com/ Brenden Valks

    Hi Michael, As an aspiring marketing man and ad man, I love articles like this. With regards to point 5 about testing what works on twitter, I have a modest amount of followers but due to extenuating circumstances my engagement has been poor. Do you think that this is a good way to test still, even possibly good to build engagement? Maybe the community has thoughts as well, Thanks for all you do!