Buffer is a great resource for content creators and curators. In addition to their product which allows for scheduling and tracking social media posts, their blog (http://blog.bufferapp.com/) offers great tips on writing content. They offer high quality insight in edible bits backed by research and numbers. Having looked to them as a source for good advice on writing blogs and content creation in general, we decided to count down 10 of our favorite tips from Buffer.
Best Buffer Content Tip #1
Writing the “Perfect” Headline
The “Ultimate Headline Formula” from Buffer article “The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post: The Data on Headlines, Length, Images and More” advises the following formula:
Number + Adjective + Keyword + Rationale + Promise
So for example we named this blog “10 Great Buffer Tips to Improve Your Writing!”
There are countless ways to write a headline and this is by far our favorite. While headlines are often adjusted and reworked for different audiences (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.), we use this formula as our “bread and butter” format. Most likely the most beneficial part of this formula is that it narrows our choices and frees us from the paralysis of creating the “perfect” headline. Remember that headlines can be changed later on after you test them out. Off on a tangent but here is a great Ted Talk on “The Paradox of Choices” – how having too many can paralyze us from making decisions.
Best Buffer Content Tip #2
Test Your Headline Might
Don’t be afraid to experiment with headlines. You can essentially get endless re-dos; why not get a little crazy and a lot creative with headlines. Let your audience choose what sticks.
Remember that differentiation is important in content.
If you have the same content as everyone else, why should we read yours?
Buffer makes a great argument on sharing the same content multiple times. We won’t go into detail as we want to focus on creating great content rather than curating it. The big takeaway for us however is that you can “ask” your audience what headline they prefer. Simple A/B testing can be performed freely when researched data shows positive outcomes for sharing the same content multiple times.
Best Buffer Content Tip #3
Buffer has shown that you get more clicks, retweets and favorites when posting to twitter with a photo in this article “How Twitter’s Expanded Images Increase Clicks, Retweets and Favorites“. A good picture that represents your content well will draw in readers. With most internet users being “skimmers” of content, an attention grabbing photo is well needed.
Expensive stock photo websites got you down?
Here’s 53+ Free Image sources from Buffer.
Something we like to do personally (not backed with research data) is alter stock photos when we use them. There’s something cold and lifeless about stock photos in our opinion. We recommend altering images to make them your own, whether it be adding text or effect. While we don’t have extensive research of its benefits, it does help us sleep at night knowing there’s not another clone picture on the internet.
Best Buffer Content Tip #4
Is There a Perfect Post Length?
Here’s our disclaimer: Good content is good content regardless of length. With that said however, it has shown that blog posts within a “sweet spot” in length get the most return. Too much content can be daunting and too little content can be shallow.
Blog posts that are around 1,600 words get the best readership.
Highlighted here in Buffer’s post “The Ideal Length of Everything Online, Backed by Research“, a 7 minute read with around 1,600 word seems to be the perfect amount of content per post. While we believe (and probably does Buffer too) that the focus should be on great content rather than efficiency, knowing an optimal post size does help us organize and plan our writing.
Best Buffer Content Tip #5
Links Are Loved
Buffer shows research from Blogpros that a study from the 100 highest ranking blog posts have an average of nearly 10 links in them. While conventional SEO (page-rank) and “business logic” often dictate that sending readers/customers elsewhere is a bad idea, we believe putting the users first.
Don’t be afraid to link outbound. If you’re content is good then users will come back.
Afraid of losing page-rank and SEO value? Here is an encouraging video response from Google’s head of search quality, Matt Cutts, saying links will eventually lose their importance in ranking as Google becomes better at deciphering quality content. Our view on this matter is that if content is good enough for you to reference for your users, why not give the writers a much deserved backlink? Links help both content creators and readers.
Best Buffer Content Tip #6
Create a Content Calendar
Creating a content calendar is probably something a causal blogger doesn’t do. We’re fairly guilty sometimes when it comes to scheduling but Buffer argues that a content calendar doesn’t confine you to strict deadlines – it instead makes writing content more manageable.
Content calendars makes writing easier by breaking large assignments into smaller pieces while giving you a broader view of what direction your blog is going.
Buffer has compiled a list of how top companies plan their content in this blog post “The Complete Guide to Choosing a Content Calendar: Tools, Templates, Tips, and More” . While we don’t like to make a yearly plan and stay flexible. Creating a monthly plan has definitely helped the writing process. Our experience is that content calendars give us time to relax and find inspiration where as we were feeling pressure to create something everyday before.
Best Buffer Content Tip #7
Experiment with Your Writing Process
In Belle Beth Cooper’s last post here “How I Cut My Writing Time From 2 Days to 4 Hours“, she recommends experimenting with your writing process. Most of us work a job from 9-5 and we write when possible. Few of us (myself included) haven’t had the time or determination to actually change and test what works best for our creative process. We are all unique people with habits and preferences; there is no “perfect” workflow process that fits all of us.
Experiment with your writing and creative process to find out what works for you!
It is time consuming and sometimes frustration to change up your daily routine. However, just as you test blogs, headlines, and even hobbies, you should test out different work schedules to see what works for you. We’re still in the process of figuring out what works best for us, and we’ve found so far that we write better when were happy. By calling some friends or just hanging out before jumping into a blog post, we become more excited to take on the challenge and view it less as “work”.
Best Buffer Content Tip #8
Be Inspired by Others Content
We are lovers of content first and writers second. We believe that there are so many sources of news, creative blogs, and websites that make us completely re-think how we should be making content. Here is a Buffer post on “17 Unique Places to Find Great Content to Share”. We use lists like this to find inspiration not only on what content to write next, but how to write it.
Seek out great content to improve your own writing!
We even come back to edit our posts when we see a better format for writing them. One example is the addition of divider lines between our list of numbers. We use to write our top 10 lists as a whole long paragraph, but upon seeing top sites implement dividers (and creating a better look for users), we came back and sharpened our content.
Best Buffer Content Tip #9
Measure Progress and Goals
How do you know you’re writing content that is wanted and/or good? While results aren’t everything, they are a good indicator of whether or not your writing resonates with your audience. Content that is shared more often is a clear indication that what you’ve created is interesting. Setting a goal for yourself also keeps you on track and helps you adjust when you either surpass or fall below your expectations.
Setting a goal and measuring progress allows you to adjust and improve your content strategies!
Here is a post from Buffer on “How to Measure Progress in Your Personal Goals: Daily, Weekly and Monthly”. They outline tools and strategies to help you track your progress and meet your goals.
Best Buffer Content Tip #10
Interact with Your Readers
In this early buffer post “3 secretly taught blogging tips from Irene O’Leary” by Leo Widrich, he recommends answering every comment. Additionally he advises that you can let your readers drive the conversation from time to time too such as asking them what they think is best.
Listen and reply to your readers. They are an excellent source of feed back and insight.
We can tell you that this has been a huge factor for us. On one of our early posts about the Best Final Fantasy Moments, we posted it to Google+ communities. One reader politely disagreed with our list and stated a very strong argument why. After debating back and forth with community in a thread lasting over 50 comments, we conceded that his stance was far stronger than ours. We love gaming and discussion and while it was a heated argument, everyone was happy to partake. As a result of the discussion, we changed a section on our post and gave recognition to all the individuals who contributed along with a backlink to the Google+ community. We showed our readers we cared their opinion, and we ended up creating better content as a result!
There are many more great tips on content creation and sharing from Buffer. This is just a short list of post we have found incredibly helpful, especially when we were beginners at writing content. A special thanks to all the authors whose content I have
stolen compiled for you =) They include: Belle Beth Cooper, Courtney Seiter, Leo Widrich, Kevan Lee.
I hope you are happy today.