It was an overcast Monday in (normally) sunny California. It started innocently enough.
I sat down at my desk, sucked down the last of my French press coffee, and said good morning to my co-worker, friend, and person I share a garbage can with, Carra Manahan.
Then it began.
Carra: “Don’t you hate when you can’t find the social sharing buttons on a blog post?”
Me: “Tell me about it. You know what I hate? Comment captchas.”
Carra: “Ugh. I know! You know what else drives me nuts?”
And this blog post was born.
So, without further ado, here is our list of five things you need to stop doing on your blog…NOW.
1. Hard-to-Find Social Sharing Buttons
In general, hard-to-find anything on your blog, website, email, or other marketing medium is bad. If you want someone to take action (read, share, click, etc.), make it easy and make it obvious. If I read a valuable piece of content, I want to tell my network about it. Don’t make me pull a “Where’s Waldo” (get it?) and search for the pinstripes! DO NOT DO IT!
Instead: Put your social sharing icons right at the top (and/or side, and/or bottom) of your blog posts. There a many free plugins that make this really easy to do. Most are customizable, in case you want to add a bit of pizzazz, like we do at Marketo (see below).
2. Comment Captchas
Don’t make me work for a blog comment! I’ve just finished reading your (amazing) blog post. I want to tell you how (amazing) it was. I want to add my thoughts—my “two cents”, if you will. So I fill out the form with my name, email address, comment, and then BAM! Captcha. Doh! DO NOT DO IT!
Is it the end of the world? No. But it’s annoying. It’s unnecessary. At least this one above is decipherable (vustudra … right?)
Instead: If you are worried about bots or spam, consider one of the many anti-spam plugins. Or, if you have the resources, manually approve every blog comment. Sure, it can be tedious, but that’s the best way to prevent unwanted comments.
3. Not Optimizing for Mobile
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (one without an internet connection), you know that mobile is hot. More and more people are reading emails and consuming other content on their mobile devices. There is nothing worse than having to “pinch and zoom” to read a blog post – or any content for that matter – on your phone. DO NOT DO IT!
Instead: Consider responsive design! See how the Marketo blog looks on an iPhone (below). Ensure your readers have the optimal viewing experience no matter what device they are reading your content on. Further reading? Download our ebook: Get Ahead of the Mobile Herd: 5 Best Practices for Mobile-Optimized Marketing.
4. Ignored Blog Comments
Imagine the following scenario. You’ve just finished giving an incredible talk to a packed room of 200+ marketers. As you get off the stage, someone walks up to you and says, “Great presentation. I was really impressed by…” You walk past them. Another person approaches you, saying, “I liked what you said, but I’m not sure I agree with…” You do a 180 and turn the other way.
This is the equivalent of ignoring comments on your blog. DO NOT DO IT!
Instead: If someone takes the time to comment on a blog post you—or your company—has written, take a few minutes to acknowledge it! Sure, I realize it takes time. I realize it takes resources. At a minimum, it’s common courtesy. At best, it’s an opportunity to further the conversation, develop a deeper relationship, and maybe—just maybe—nudge someone to become an advocate (or customer!). That being said, blog comments are not for everyone. Read more about how Copyblogger removed them from its very popular blog. And be sure to read this excellent reaction post by Mark Schaefer (as well as the 138+ comments!).
5. Stock Photos
I’m a big believer in being more human with all of your marketing content. Stock photos are the opposite of human. They are boring, dull, and overused. If I see this handshake (slide 11) one more time … GAH! DO NOT DO IT!
Full Transparency: Okay, we admit it. We’ve been guilty of using stock photos on our blog in the past (Four years ago! The “infamous” dirt/plant). No!
Instead: Search for images on Creative Commons or grab a creative commons licensed image on Flickr. There are also plenty of images you can buy online that are not “stock/boring” pictures. Better yet, use your own employees, like Ibex does on its 404 page.
Do these blog “things” drive you bonkers as well or is it just Carra and me? What else should marketers stop doing on their blogs right now? Share in our captcha-free, mobile-optimized, non-stock photo blog post comments below. We’ll be sure to comment back. Oh, and you can also (easily) share this blog post.