Janet AronicaThis is a guest post from Janet Aronica, Head of Marketing for Shareaholic, creator of personalized content tools like social sharingrelated content and content analytics

Most content sucks. And the fact that it sucks, sucks. Because you know what they say – the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We went all digital to avoid the noise of TV ads, direct mail and other garbage that we taught ourselves to filter out with Tivo, “do not mail” lists and other pre-historic methods of unsubscribing. We wanted to engage readers, but ended up creating just as much noise for their newsfeeds and inboxes.  Most of us, heaven forbid, are doing it wrong.

If the past was push, and the present is pull – the future is all about personalization. And the right tools can help.

Work smart, not hard: Check your analytics first

Most people say to do this step last. That’s dumb. A lot of folks are already blogging. So see how it’s going before you take one single step further. Using a content analytics plugin you can identify what your top performing content is – what gets shared the most and what gets the most pageviews. Use that intelligence to make a plan of attack on how to replicate that successful content for your audience over and over. I recommend organizing this plan in an editorial calendar. Now you’re rocking.

Get to know your audience again

You never have an excuse for not having any blog post ideas when sitting right there in front of you in Tweetdeck are thousands of shares of articles you should be writing. (Besides, you could probably write that post even better than that other guy!)

The plethora of ways to schedule Tweets, and then Tweets of content, has lead to noisy, automated Twitter accounts. It completely defeats the purpose of what the platform was made for.  I challenge you to actually talk to your audience and learn about them. See what else they are reading – yes, besides your blog. Monitor what is getting shared, and let analytics help you do this efficiently. And remember – work smart, not hard. Tools like the Top Sharers report in Shareaholic Analytics make it easy to see who is sharing your content, and then for you to drill down to their Twitter account and learn more about them by seeing what other content they share. That’s information you can act on.

Make your site work for you, not against you

Content isn’t just about the words on the page – it’s the entire site experience. So seriously ask yourself: How many social sharing buttons do you need? How many pop-ups, sidebar widgets and digital chotskies do you really need, all with their own call-to-action – Share me! Subscribe to me! Click me! No, click ME!

That noise is confusing to your readers, and all that garbage slows down your site. Readers get antsy on slow websites, and Google takes notice when they start leaving after a few seconds. Choose a multi-feature plugin that offers technology that speaks to each other and works it the optimal way for your site. Choose the features that really drive results, like social sharing buttons to bring in new readers, related content to engage every reader, and email subscriptions to nurture those readers beyond the first post.

Above all else: Think like a content consumer

One of my favorite blog posts recently was from marketing pro Greg Verdino, who advises that every expert should become a beginner. The main takeaway here is that you’ve got to be able to walk a mile in your readers’ shoes and see the content from their perspective. Be a content consumer first, last, and always. Consume content to fuel the inspiration you need to write posts that actually matter to your readers, and consider what makes you tick in the content you love to read and share. Example: What made this “Best of Prom 2012” article from Buzzfeed so, well, amazing? Identify the best qualities in the content you love, and think about how you can replicate that wonderful content consumption experience for your own readers.

Shareaholic creates personalized content tools like social sharing, related content and content analytics tools for more than 200,000 websites, reaching 300 million people each month. You can learn more about creating the best content possible and keep up with Shareaholic on the Shareaholic blog