Ryan Welton

Sports + Digital + Music + Life

Tag Archives: social media

The future of ryanwelton.com, aka: Using data to decide what to blog about

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Anybody who knows me knows that I love the digital game. I love the process of creating content, promoting it and growing something from nothing to a lot. In this post, I want to talk about my current efforts and the notion of going wide versus deep.

First, I’ve been posting pretty much everything I do to ryanwelton.com. I have been posting sports columns and recipes, travel photos and personal essays. This is what’s known as going wide, touching many bases in hopes of growing as broad of an audience as possible. This strategy looks for quantity of audience and not necessarily quality. Where that can be valuable is when your business is judged by quantity of people, such as in TV. Sure, there are some demographics that are preferred to others, but at the end of the day, Station A wants to have more people watching than Station B.

The problem with this strategy is that you get a whole bunch of people one day and a whole bunch of people the next, and it’s possible that the first audience and the second are completely different. The people who sampled your product on the first day didn’t come back the second. In my case, the people who read by Oklahoma Sooners blog posts probably didn’t come back when I posted my potato soup recipe — and vice-versa.

At the point where you want to turn visitors into repeat content customers, you have to go deep.

In the news world, that might mean delving deep into a topic such as education, health or politics. Many local TV news stations have a “consumer beat” where the reporter works to right wrongs in the community. That type of deeper coverage can prompt a consumer to come back night after night. In the blog world, this strategy is all about the niche — and niche content and niche marketing are super powerful these days because people have proven to be willing to come back time after time when a topic interests them.

I’m also a YouTuber (http://www.youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic), and creators who teach YouTube channel growth are pretty adamant about only going deep. I heard one self-proclaimed expert say that there are no “variety shows” on YouTube.

Go deep or go home.

Going deep means longer posts. Higher-quality information. Varied types of content, e.g., written word, video and audio.

However, you have to be satisfied with having a smaller audience, reminding yourself that what you really have is the “right audience.” If you’re doing anything like Ad Sense or Amazon Associates affiliate marketing, a niche audience has a higher likelihood of moving the needle than a broad audience.

Why? Because you’re dependent upon each and every blog to convert.

Going deep allows you to suck the user into a rabbit hole of sorts, which translates into an appreciation from the reader and a higher chance of conversion.

Believe it or not, many content trends in 2018 are headed back to 2008. Take email for example: Gathering emails from your readers is probably the most important thing you can do from a marketing perspective because, if they opt-in to receiving a newsletter, you can use that to induce all sorts of sales opportunities.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never solicited email addresses because that’s not ever been my style. It makes me uneasy to do that. However, I should if I ever want to turn a blog into something that makes money.

And let’s talk about that for a second because the reality is you have to be selling something that is super-high-dollar or creating your own product to expect to make much of anything. I’m a musician; perhaps I could move some Korg keyboards through my site.

Not likely.

If I had just kept my original ryanwelton.com around from the early 2000s, who knows where I could have taken it. I used to write about American Idol and Big Brother and other reality shows, and I was getting terrific traffic.

ryanwelton-2008

Since restarting my site, the growth has been slow although it really jumped right about the time Mom died and I penned the tribute to her. That gave me some momentum, and you need that. Here’s a look at my stats for this year so far per month:

blog-stats-2018

However, what that chart doesn’t show you is that I only get decent engagement when I write about certain topics such as food, travel and health. My posts about the Oklahoma Sooners or Cleveland Browns only get consumed; nobody follows, comments or reacts.

This is key.

People are much more willing to follow a blog if it’s about a single topic of interest to them. Although food, travel and health are different topics, they do fall generally under lifestyle — and when the information comes from a certain demo, such as a man approaching 50, it has the potential to attract a certain audience.

So, if you’re interested in starting a blog, how do you choose a topic? You do keyword research, and my current favorite tool for keyword research is Keywords Everywhere. What you want to do is import some keywords for topics you’re interested in and see what the monthly average search volume is like.

keywords-everywhere-2

Ideally, you want to blog about a topic that somebody searches for, and you don’t want it to be so competitive that you’d never be able to break through the noise. There is a sweet spot to be had, and a tool like Keywords Everywhere can help you feel it out. It’s a process that I’ve gone through the past couple of nights in fact in hopes of moving away from a ryanwelton.com blog that is about everything.

Because when your blog is truly about everything, then it’s about nothing.

Focus is needed.

I narrowed my search somewhat based on search volume and competition stats. Keywords Everywhere measures a keyword phrase on a scale of 0 to 1 based on how aggressively advertisers pursue it. You’ll notice here that for whatever reason, the term “Cleveland Browns” gets ridiculous search volume but is also wide-open competitively. Based on what I see here, a person could break through on that term.

keywords-everywhere-3

However, more goes into it than this. Do I really want to start and cultivate an entire blog about the Cleveland Browns? I mean, really, the reason all of us Okies are such fans of the team now is because of the great Baker Reagan Mayfield.

I’m truly all-in at this point, but it’s possible I get bored at some point down the road. Alas, the thing that makes us love Mayfield so much is that he was a great Sooner — and that’s why I’m reviving thenormanfiles.com, which was a hyper-local blog of sorts that I tried to get going back in 2013, soon after I left KOCO.

Take a look at these keyword stats below:

keywords-everywhere-4

That indicates to me that there is enough global search volume between the Oklahoma Sooners, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Oklahoma basketball, football and even the Oklahoma City Dodgers to make thenormanfiles.com a worthwhile-go as a sports-centric blog on topics that would be of interest to people in Oklahoma.

But what else?

I already have beamediacompany,com, where I write about digital communications, social media and trends in the industry as it relates to 21st Century public relations and corporate communications. A post like this one here would ideally go there.

I’ve also revived my 80s music blog, but with a new URL: http://www.1980s.blog. Before I solidified the dot-blog top-level domain, I did some Google SEO research to see how Mother Google felt about non-dot-coms as TLDs — and what I found is that they don’t really care.

It’s the content, stupid.

And my thought was that in a mobile world, it’s about URL length, so 1980s.blog as a domain name really appealed to me.

I also have outandaboutokc.com as a blog that Kristi and I have talked about working on together with a focus on what businesses have available for families, for example: play areas and kids menus, vegetarian options and parking situations.

Just tonight I created two more: bunnygap.com and crazyforcaps.com. The former is a reference to the phrase, “The Rabbit Hole,” except that on this blog, I’d take the reader simply down a li’l bunny gap, not the full-on rabbit hole. I’ll write about YouTube and audio, movies and TV. It’s basically a pop culture site.

The latter is a site that would capture my obsession with baseball caps, and not just caps from baseball teams but all kinds of caps and, really, hats. Let’s go back to the keyword analysis here:

keywords-everywhere-3

Notice that both the term “baseball cap” and cap(s) are scored as ‘1’s. There is decent search volume for both, but advertisers attack it hard, which means that a person would have to really stand out — and my thought is that I could do that by taking a “Uni-Watch” approach to headwear, especially as it pertains to sports teams.

Boy, that sounds like a lot of work, right?

Well, one does have to create opportunities for efficiencies, and I study the subject pretty religiously. Plus, I’ve always been one to let the data drive the bus, meaning that if one of the sites really took off, there I’d focus.

All of this serves as a scratch to the itch that is for me ‘mass communication’ through digital. Well before social media came along, I preferred the blog. As I develop each of these new ones and re-tinker with the old ones, I’m going to have to think long and hard about social amplification.

  • Do I need separate Facebook and Twitter sites for each of these?
  • Or do I use the blogs to build more of an audience for my own Facebook and Twitter pages?
  • This doesn’t even consider Linked In, where a post like this must definitely live!

The tactical strategy end of this should never trump the formula that will never steer you wrong, and that’s to serve an audience. If you’re going to write about 80s music, make sure it goes deep and appeals to the geekiest of the geeky 80s children. And if you’re going to write about digital strategy or ball caps, delve into as much detail as you can, either taking the consumer down the proverbial rabbit hole or giving them something they can take away and use for real.

You might get a reaction, a comment or a new follower.

And that’s when going deep can help you build that big audience to which you can communicate wide. If any of these blogs in particular will be of interest to you, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Appreciate you reading!

Instagram growth sparked by the simplest of routines

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One of my digital goals for 2018 has been to grow my Instagram channel. With everything I’ve got going on between work, volunteering and social obligations, this hasn’t gone so well so far.

I need a gimmick. I need a routine.

And I think I came up with one. I’ll take a photo outside each and every morning that details the temperature and the expected high and weather conditions, not a full forecast just a brief summary. It’s useful. It’s visual, and it’s something I could do each and every day. At a minimum, this gives me one post per day.

instagram-april-21-a

I need to come up with more of these ideas, well, beyond just taking photos of food.

Why? Because Instagram has 813M users as of April 2018. It’s an incredible platform for brand building and storytelling. In the past couple of weeks, I converted my channel to a business profile, @ryanweltonmusic. The primary thing this gets me is Instagram analytics and the ability to run ads. You can add a contact button to your account, and I think you can even add a hyperlink.

For the moment, I have a pretty big caveat: My channel only has 354 followers.

I’ve got a long way to go.

You’d think with a name like @ryanweltonmusic, my channel would be all about music or would have more video snippets of me playing. Alas, no. I’ve mostly used my channel for unfocused personal nonsense.

That doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you at least post consistently, which I don’t and haven’t. The goal is 4-5 posts per day, but I’d settle for a consistent one daily. Here are a few of my weather photo posts:

It stayed chilly most of the day Saturday.

The night before was gorgeous, so much so that I took two photos that day.

Likewise, I forgot to post in Tulsa on Friday, when we all got together for the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters (OAB). If this is going to be a new social media habit for me, I need consistency — and that means every day.

Strategically, I believe that brands and people both can be posting on Instagram way more often. Up to 4-5 times a day with the full allotment of 30 tags. At some point after I get a bunch of posts into the Instagram analytics system, I’ll do a post that compares my posts and how they rank in terms of impressions.

But for now, know that my weather-image strategy has netted me six new followers in four days.

 

YouTube channel update: The YouTube growth struggle is real.

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A few days ago, somebody noted that they enjoyed seeing me play the piano online, and I gave a jumbled nonsensical reply about trying to master YouTube, which is at once the truth but not nearly as effective as just saying, “Why, thank you!

Everything I’ve been doing over the past 4-6 months online, personally, has been about trying to figure out which platforms I could possible master, which I’d want to master and which I should just forget about, personally, not professionally. With work, there are platforms such as Instagram and Twitter that I need to conquer for work purposes, but I’m especially passionate about YouTube.

But, damn, is it a grind these days.

When I started in 2007, it took me a while, and then it kind of blew up. And then I stopped making videos after YouTube started cracking down on cover songs. It’s like my willingness to execute is never matched by a vision for where the platform is going — and in this case, as of March 18, 2018, I’m convinced that YouTube is the new gold rush.

It’s where stars will be made.

It’s where businesses will be made.

It’s where experts will be made.

Even beyond FaceTwitaGram, YouTube is the platform where I’d tell an ambitious person to start their quest. It’s important to do the others to the extent that you can, but YouTube has the biggest upside. Just my opinion.

But I sure have gone nowhere the past six months, although it’s not for lack of trying.

I tried vlogging some piano tutorials.

I tried vlogging about Big Brother.

And I’ve tried doing some personal vlogs.

Oh, and I’ve done more covers of pop songs, old 80s songs and whatever I can knock out pretty quickly, trying to replicate some success I had last year with The Weeknd’s “I Feel It Coming,” which garnered me 13,000-plus views and probably accounted for most of the 100 or so new subscribers I’ve gotten over the past year.

Branching out hasn’t been the answer so far.

So I’m returning to the original niche that propelled me in the late 2000s: smooth jazz or contemporary (c-jazz). When I uploaded “Step To It” in 2007, I had no idea it would soon exceed 160,000 views. Of course, I attribute that mostly to the great sax work of Oklahoma City’s own Chris Hicks. However, I’ve had a modicum of success with other instrumentals.

And I go back to what Gary Vaynerchuck always says about documenting the journey. Well, this is my journey, kind of back to square one in terms of narrowing my scope of YouTube production back to smooth jazz, some covers and personal vlogs, most of which will probably have something to do with music.

I also decided to put a little money behind what I’m doing, so I set up a few $1-per-day ads on four of my most popular songs. I’m not that well versed on what makes a particularly successful AdWords campaign, and the AdWords system doesn’t let me target nearly as narrow as I’d like. For this campaign, which stretches over four songs, I’m only able to target “music lovers.” There is no “likes smooth jazz” selection, although I might be able to associate some demographics with that tendency.

For now, I’m just gathering data and telling you what I’m doing.

Oh, and I figured out how to add a watermark to all the videos on my channel. That was pretty easy, although I’m not sure how effective it will be. And last but not least, here are the songs I’ve put money against. We’ll see how they do after a couple weeks.

And I’ll report back.

“Step To It” by Ryan Welton featuring Chris Hicks


“Nocturnal” by Ryan Welton featuring Chris Hicks


“Cool Like Kelsey” by Ryan Welton


“Vibe” by Ryan Welton featuring Eric Montgomery

 

 

5 tactics for small businesses to survive changes in the Facebook news feed

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The Facebook news feed has been all the rage the past few weeks as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has let the world know that changes are coming. Brand pages and publishers will be seen less in the news feed as Facebook aims to reward value-driven content that produces meaningful engagement.

If you haven’t read Zuck’s declaration, click here to read it. Here’s the sentence that businesses need to pay attention to the most:

(Several weeks ago) I announced a major change to encourage meaningful social interactions with family and friends over passive consumption. As a result, you’ll see less public content, including news, video, and posts from brands.

Passive consumption means reading your articles or watching your videos or viewing your posts-that-are-really-ads without commenting, reacting or sharing. What Facebook is trying to encourage more isn’t merely engagement as we know it but a true back-and-forth among people that goes beyond the polarizing and brings us together.

Ever since my agency days in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I’ve been saying that businesses have to behave like media companies. I remember being at a project meeting at the agency I worked at in Dallas back in 2003 or so, and everybody was bemoaning having to wait on the client for content.

My response was, “How does the Wall Street Journal manage to put out an entire newspaper every damned day, and we can’t get an article from a company with 100 employees?” The solution wasn’t merely that we should have waited on the company either, but somebody needed to get to writin’.

Because that’s what media companies do. At their core, media companies produce all sorts of content.

How can your small business make a name for itself on Facebook in an ocean of companies that are just like yours? How can you survive the changes to the Facebook news feed? More than ever, you have to behave like a media company.

Here are five ways you can survive any change to the Facebook news feed:

1. Create content constantly.

That means articles and videos, and that means becoming comfortable with live video whether it be on Facebook or YouTube. If you’re a CEO who isn’t very adept technologically, hire somebody to oversee your digital. That person should have a journalism background.

This could include graphics and photography, and it most definitely should include audio and content for devices like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home. You don’t have to do it all today, but from here forward, you’re in the content business.

There is no other marketing in 2018.

2. Start posting on all platforms.

In the era of the new Facebook news feed, the last thing you want to do is have all your digital content eggs in one platform basket. That means the best way to survive the Facebook news feed changes is to not only be on Facebook.

YouTube has 1.5 billion users.

Instagram has 800 million users.

Twitter has 300 million users.

Reddit, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Flickr, Tumblr and more constitute hundreds of millions more users.

And this doesn’t even count the number of people who listen to podcasts or still read blogs. Heck, Google is still the mother of all content platforms, which means if you think a blog is a remnant of the early-2000s, think again. I remember encouraging my last company to start a blog, and their biggest concern was how the organization would be able to get a post out there every week.

My thought was, “Every week? Why not every day.”

If I teach you nothing else on this blog, it’s that creating content is neither difficult nor a mystery. It’s words + art + voice + video in all sorts of varied combos. And perfection is the enemy of progress.

But you might want to hire somebody. If I may do so, I’d recommend somebody with a journalism background and a photographer’s eye. Musicians are particularly good for content roles. Maybe that’s a personal bias on my part seeing how I am one.

A clever digital assistant will know how to re-purpose all the content he or she creates for different platforms, complete with verbiage in various voices that comes across authentically to its audience. This is the equivalent of throwing digital spaghetti against the wall, but serendipity in this era requires some experimentation and a willingness to go thin before you go deep.

Quality is important. Quantity is the secret sauce.

3. Go live.

Do it often, daily even. It doesn’t have to be just you and a camera, talking blindly into the ether and answering questions. It could be a camera set up at your front desk or in the break room or the lobby. It could be a Facebook Live during a meeting.

Go live. People interact with each other on live videos, and that’s precisely the type of result Facebook is going to reward. In fact, if you understand nothing else, know that the meaningful interaction that live video produces is precisely the type of result that Facebook is going to reward in its news feed going forward.

If I’m a business owner, I go live every day at a certain time and talk to my audience, no matter how big or small it is.

4. Interact with everybody.

Like Facebook comments. Answer their questions. Let them hit you up on Messenger, and comb through old posts to see who has commented recently. Your interactions with people on your Facebook page not only help your standing in the news feed, they’ll help to encourage other people to interact with you as well because they’ll see that you’re the type of business that interacts.

And do it in a timely manner.

5. Have a paid plan.

You don’t have to spend millions or even thousands. Hundreds might do the trick, but it’s imperative that you learn the Facebook ads platform. It’s imperative that you take it seriously. Posting content onto Facebook with no intention of moving beyond organic reach is an incredible waste of time and is marketing malpractice. First, Facebook is still grossly under-priced as a place to do targeted advertising. Second, it over-delivers compared to every other advertising platform on the planet as of today.

What if I told you that you could start with $20 tomorrow on Facebook? Spend $100 this month, and see what happens.

You don’t have to spend a mint. But you have to get into the game to have any shot of being a player on the platform. Go to Google or YouTube and look up content on how to get the most out of Facebook’s advertising platform.

If you enjoyed this article, I’d love it if you followed me on Twitter, @ryanwelton, or subscribed to my YouTube channel @RyanWeltonMusic.

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