We're finishing up our series today on how to quickly drive traffic to a blog post, by talking about polls. As we discussed on Monday, people just LOVE to give their opinions. This is good for you, because (hopefully), you want to hear their opinions, at least as they relate to your business. So if you have a blog post that you want to promote quickly, one way to to it is to post a link to it to your various social networks, and ask for people to vote or comment on a specific question. Here are some quick and easy ways to do that.
If you want to use an actual "poll," where people vote yes/no or choose from a list of options, and you have a Web Revelation Website, Tim can help you set up a poll on the main page of your site (contact). If you're using blogging software, inserting a blog post may be one of the features available to you. Or you can use one of many free poll widgets available on the web (I like PollDaddy).
The good thing about this type of poll is that it's quick and easy for potential readers, and you're likely to get a lot of hits - especially on a controversial topic. If you can key into current events, you're likely to get more traffic on your poll. I remember for one of my group blogs, leading up to the 2008 elections, we could guarantee several hundred extra hits any time we ran a poll with the name "Ron Paul" in it. it didn't even matter what the question was. You'll want to be careful about being TOO controversial, however, because if you attract readers who are extremely passionate about the topic, they will occassionally spread the word about your poll to so many websites that it'll crash your servers, and you don't want that. Think carefully about whether the readers you're likely to attract with your question will actually be potential customers for you.
The bad thing about the above type of poll is that you only get "clicks" and you still never really hear from your new readers, personally. If personal interaction is important, you might instead include a question at the end of your post, which asks readers whether they agree or disagree and why. Or you might ask if they have a suggestion for improvement for something specific. You'll want to promote it to your social networks, making it clear that you are asking for opinions. If you do this right, you'll end up with some good discussion among your readers, that will encourage return readership, and reader loyalty.
Another way to solicit reader opinions, and drive traffic is to periodically host an "open thread." This is an alternative to a discussion forum, and gives readers a place to air their views. It's usually a good idea to set a topic, but then not to monitor the thread too closely (except to delete any vulgar or abusive comments). On some blogs, this can be a very good way to build community, and give newbies a place to "jump in."
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.