How Not To Launch Your Blog
This is an opinion article about how easy it is to fall into the trap of sounding boring when (re)launching a new website or blog. Sarcasm is employed liberally, apologies for all pictured individuals and organizations (sourced from public Twitter search results).
The Art of Hiding The Art
If you study Art History (apologies to the scientists and engineers who had to do real work at school!) you'll come across the Latin phrase: ars celare artem - The art of hiding the art... which is to say that your art creations don't work so well if your construction techniques are obvious. Your creations must seem like an integrated, convincing, lifelike... natural thing.
Which brings us to content marketing: surely the best approach is to appear natural... by avoiding the realization from your audience that you are "marketing to them" and that the stuff they found interesting/useful/entertaining is in fact no more than deliberately constructed "content".
This especially applies to launches and announcements because really there is no way that an announcement serves any purpose except marketing promotion. If you actually use the words "launch" and/or "announcement" it is doubly blatant that you are just a marketer asking for attention, rather than providing any value.
On a micro scale this means you can instantly make any blog post sound boring by calling attention to the fact that it is a new blog post:
But the worst trap is in big announcements where you want people to appreciate your launch for the sake of your hard work... like they would really care.
Nobody wants to hear how long and difficult it was for you
In your office, the work on building a new website (or website section, or content project) feels like hard work and so the "launch"... usually overdue... will be accompanied mostly by emotions of relief at completion, if not frustration and a sense of getting rid of a burden of extra work.
This absolutely works against you if the emotions cross over to the way you present the announcements of your news.
If you say things like "finally launched"... "at last"... "after many long weeks"... "better late than never"... and so on, this projects boredom and introspection (we, us, our, corporate, cubicles, content marketing goals)... the opposite of the interest and reason to click which you should be communicating to your prospective audience.
Avoid the following cliches...
- Do not say "our website" or "our blog" -- focus instead on its title, which should communicate what it is about, or even better WHY it is supposed to be interesting
- Do not talk about a "launch" or "relaunch" -- see ars celare artem above... the content is supposed to be what matters, not the medium, let alone the design or technology
- Avoid cliched words that mean launch such as "introducing", "announcing", "presenting", "say hello to", or "welcome to"
- Avoid hype like "excited", "great news", "breaking", "fresh", -- because this only serves to make your reader more aware she is yawning
- Do not tell people to "take a look", "check it out", "let us know what you think" etc... This is acceptable in precisely one situation: newborn baby photos. Business content marketing is way at the other end of the interest spectrum and so you need to think of a reason (i.e. the topic or the value) for people to click the link, and promote on that basis
Perhaps the only acceptable "woot!" / "yay!" kind of message is where you do it to thank your team or congratulate particular contributors. But still, that is not your main way of announcing things to your audience.
"News" or "Blog"?
When publishing a website with recent articles sections (commonly, the 'posts' in WordPress), you'll often find yourself making the decision whether to call the section "News" or "Blog".
But both of those are a bit of a turn-off, aren't they?
- Don't say "news" unless you plan on having lots of news of your own, i.e. things that are actually newsworthy and not just a string of product announcements or offers
- If you are curating industry / topic-related news then maybe "news" is OK
- Definitely avoid having any "news" link that leads to a dead or infrequently updated list of articles, especially if these have visible post dates on them!
- In general avoid "blog" completely, because who wants to read a blog?
- Probably the only relevant way for an organization to say it has a blog is if there actually is a residential blogger or series of team members REGULARLY adding posts in a way that is actually web-log-like, for example informal commentary as an adjunct to official company events and announcements, on-the-ground coverage, personal musings which are not deliberate content marketing, project progress reports (e.g. crowd funding)
- General interest articles, opinion, FAQs, guides, reviews, news (qv), and newsletter posts all do not qualify as a "blog"!
- An alternative for navigation is to pick the main categories of your blog section and link straight to those, i.e. using the topic for navigation, which allows people to go to what sounds interesting/relevant, instead of 'blog' which sounds instantly boring even if there might be good stuff there...
The above points may seem overly critical, but remember that your audience are never going to be as stoked as you want them to be: this is the reality of attention in the digital age, and attention spans are only getting shorter...
Here are some positive suggestions for marketing a product launch:
- Don't have a virtual champagne-popping launch, just get on with it... as soon as you can... over a prolonged period... according to a defined plan... but don't make it seem like you are doing a prolonged and planned launch!
- You can still have an 'official' launch schedule to satisfy management and put dates on press releases
- Provide different copy / ads for different audience segments for different topics and landing pages that are relevant and interesting to those people - avoid one size fits all or speaking as if to a large undifferentiated audience
- Define what's new in terms of why it is interesting / entertaining / useful etc, not the technical aspects whic probably preoccupied you in getting there
- Since you are launching based on interest and originality not on a launch being interesting for its own sake, you can and should announce repeatedly in several different media over several different times, with variations of the message (relevant to your audience, see 3)
- Allocate a budget for your launch because you have to pay for attention nowadays
- Don't expect a tidal wave of excitement and engagement, unless you already have an enormous following where a small percentage of it is enough to make that wave... set goals based on longer term pick-up
- Target launch announcements (but not called that...) to key influencers / partners, which is something you should plan ahead of time... but also continue with for a while after the launch date, because if people haven't seen something before, it still qualifies as new
- It is acceptable to create pre-launch "leaks" and "teasers" content so long as you don't expect masses of people actually to react with Apple-fan-like wild anticipation
- Because of the 2nd Law Of All Marketing, people are not interested in your launch statistics, but they might be interested in the views and reviews of other users, so build proactive feedback gathering (again, why should people offer their views, not just "because it's new") and add this social proof to your launch (without calling attention to it being deliberate social proof).
KnowledgePower is a Digital Marketing Consultancy with a sense of humour, some might say snark.