Digital marketing – Socialmedia.biz http://socialmedia.biz Social media business strategies blog Fri, 29 Dec 2017 08:16:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How digital marketing is supplanting traditional advertising http://socialmedia.biz/2016/10/13/how-digital-marketing-is-supplanting-traditional-advertising/ Thu, 13 Oct 2016 09:35:49 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=28679 Continue reading ]]> social-media-jigsaw
greyweed / Creative Commons BY

Behind the huge shift toward social & online media

Target audience: Businesses, brands, digital marketers, advertising agencies, SEO specialists, entrepreneurs, educators, journalists, Web publishers

Post by Megan Totka
ChamberofCommerce.com

MeganTotkaThe world of advertising has undergone a seismic shift over the past two decades. The arrival of widespread Internet access, high-speed connections and an explosion in smartphone use has seen spending on online advertising (including social media campaigns) go through the roof.

In a recent report, eMarketer said digital marketing is expected overtake TV advertising in total dollar spending in 2017 for the first time, with recent and future growth fueled mainly by mobile and video sectors.

The picture is less sunny for traditional advertising methods. Market share of radio, billboards, print advertisements and TV has been shrinking for years, and will continue to slip in an increasingly digital world.

The impact of e-commerce

We live in an interconnected, 24-hour world. While in the past “shopping” consisted of visiting a physical store during open hours, consumers of today can easily research and purchase anything they want, whenever they want, from just about anywhere on the planet.

The growth of online shopping, from an ill-trusted, niche pastime 20 years ago to an entirely mainstream activity today, gives buyers more choice than ever before.

The sellers of today are in competition not just with their local rivals, but with companies on the other side of the country, and even the other side of the world. And this battle is not being fought on the street — it’s being played out in the digital world.

In that environment, online marketing has a huge advantage over traditional forms. A consumer sees an ad, and a click sends her straight to the vendor’s website where a purchase — impulsive or otherwise — can be made in seconds.

Traditional marketing still has its uses — it can still create interest and desire, reach them when they’re not plugged in, and influence brand perception.

There’s a reason Amazon, eBay, Microsoft and countless others continue to use traditional media to complement their online presence — because it still works. It just doesn’t work quite as well, or in the same way, as online methods.

Technology has opened new doors

Online advertising was possible as soon as the general public gained access to the fledgling Internet, but technology limited what marketers could do.

The rise of social media and messaging has spawned a whole host of innovative new ways to connect with, talk to and listen to consumers

A graphic designer could knock together a pretty static banner, but that was about it — file sizes had to be kept to a minimum because connection speeds were so slow.

Pop-up advertising was also possible, if the user’s creaky desktop computer and whopping 4 megs of RAM could handle the trauma of another browser window opening. Life for online marketers was tough; eye-catching, ear-catching or attention-grabbing was easier with traditional methods and tried-and-true methods were what businesses trusted.

That rapidly changed. Today’s connections are fast, devices are powerful and technology has evolved to allow online marketers to grab the attention of consumers in ways rivals clinging to traditional methods simply cannot match.

Video, in particular, has become a runaway success, due in large part to the increased use of mobile devices. On-the-move access has also made it easier for online marketers to tempt consumers into physical stores while they’re out and about.

Meanwhile, the rise of social media and messaging has spawned a whole host of innovative new ways to connect with, talk to and listen to consumers.

Traditional marketing, by contrast, is still a one-way conversation.

Habits have changed

Pew Research reveals 21% of American adults report being online “almost constantly,” and a further 42% log on several times per day. The figure for the 18-29 demographic is higher still — a total of 86% use the internet multiple times each day. In teenagers, it’s 92%.

Furthermore, it’s those with higher incomes — consumers most able to buy — who spend the most time online.

People are living big chunks of their lives online and we have enough experience to know they pay attention to advertising when they’re there, so it’s little wonder marketers are increasingly targeting their efforts to this sector.

That doesn’t mean “old school” marketing should be written off. It’s not like the whole population has stopped watching TV, listening to the radio or reading print media.

Though use of traditional media is declining, it’s still strong enough to make older forms of advertising relevant and attractive — especially to businesses targeting their products at the over-65s.

In this age group, only 30% are online more than once per day.

The changing way consumers behave has created a strong perception of online being the future, the growth market, the way forward, and savvy marketers can successfully sell themselves to businesses with this positive outlook and highly effective data-driven targeting. By getting to know customers, marketers have an opportunity to personalize ads and offerings that traditional methods will never match.

Meanwhile, traditional advertising media has been forced into an almost defensive method of promoting itself: “Hey, don’t ignore us, we can still do it!”

They can, of course — for now. But as technology continues to advance and habits continue to change, traditional marketing will become less and less relevant to businesses.

There may even come a time when it no longer matters at all.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Megan has several years of experience on the topics of small business marketing, copywriting, SEO, online conversions and social media. Megan spends much of her time establishing new relationships for ChamberofCommerce.com, publishing weekly newsletters educating small business on the importance of web presence, and contributing to a number of publications on the web. Megan can be reached at megan@chamberofcommerce.com.
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Direct reach: The emerging new model in social media http://socialmedia.biz/2016/02/03/direct-reach-the-emerging-new-model-in-social-media/ Thu, 04 Feb 2016 00:10:25 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=28419 Continue reading ]]> Tel Aviv Startup City
Tel Aviv Startup City is one of the collaborative communities enabled by Memeni.

Brands start to adjust to changing social media landscape, seek to form deeper relationships with users

Ayelet NoffWhen it first came on to the scene, social media was like an innocent child — full of promise, potential, and positivity. Well, social media has definitely entered its teenage years and it’s brought with it a certain amount of the rebelliousness, bitterness, and cynicism that we tend to associate with young adults.

What does that mean in practical terms? It means that social media has already seen multiple iterations, with companies rising up to lead for a while and then falling behind as others supplant them as leaders. Beyond that, we have seen whole ecosystems emerge and then fall to the wayside. Just think of the turbulence facing developers building apps for social platforms.

Of course, all of this is natural for any industry. Change is bound to happen, an industry will evolve in new and unexpected ways, and certain preconceptions that people had will be replaced with a new reality.

This was definitely the case when it came to the possibilities that brands saw in popular social platforms. For them, social media represented an opportunity to build a direct and free conduit to their customers and users. Back in the day, brands could rely on organic reach to speak directly to the community they had built. Now, organic reach on social platforms is limited – brands need to turn to paid media to reach their key audiences.

This trend was highlighted by Scott Galloway in a presentation captured on video (begins at 7:03). He criticized the industry calling the transition to paid reach as a “bait and switch.” Of course, this transition should be expected, after all these platforms need to monetize. Yet, the change has ruffled feathers amongst companies that invested considerable resources in building communities.

Brands turning to community building

Of course, new platforms have been a long time coming to challenge this model. One such company, Memeni, is aiming to build a white-label solution that brands can use to build their own communities (full disclosure: Memeni is a Blonde 2.0 client). Memeni is aiming to give companies a platform where they can create a community that they own and control, and that will be allowed to grow organically.

Using Memeni, organizations build social communities around issues that are important to their customers and stakeholders, all under their brand’s domain

Using Memeni, organizations build social communities around issues that are important to their customers and stakeholders, all under their brand’s domain. For instance, an outdoor apparel brand can use Memeni to create a dedicated community for nature enthusiasts on their site, to share hiking tips, camping spots, and conservation drives. Community members would gain value from these discussions, as well as from tailored messaging sent from the brand, based on users shared interests and discussions.

The key difference here is that Memeni is offering this platform along a SaaS model. It’s upfront with the costs and its pitch to brands hinges on the fact that once they have invested the time and effort to build the community, they can speak directly to their users. This value can’t be overrated, and it seems likely that many brands will jump at the opportunity to create a home where their users can interact with each other, and with the brand itself.

We wouldn’t treat a teenager or young adult like a child, so why should we treat social media with kid gloves? It’s time for brands to adapt to the new reality of social media marketing, and look to innovative ways to expand their reach.

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Why promoting a brand takes perseverance http://socialmedia.biz/2014/03/26/why-promoting-a-brand-takes-perseverance/ Wed, 26 Mar 2014 12:01:42 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=27204 Continue reading ]]> persistence

Target audience: Marketing professionals, PR pros, brand managers, SEO specialists, businesses.

Chris AbrahamIf you want to be heard above the din of the Internet, you need to speak clearly and with persistence. It’s not uncommon for someone at a loud bar not to hear you the first time, or even twice. If you assume someone isn’t interested in getting to know you better just because they don’t hear you the first or second time, then you’re doomed. The Internet is the busiest, loudest, most distracting place ever created. It’s global and impersonal and often anonymous. Plus, there’s no accountability.

At least in a bar, you can sit right next to the someone you want to meet and then just bide your time until there’s a lull in the noise or you can catch an eye. The Internet’s just not like that. Social media is loud and tends to be an insider’s club. We resonate with people we already know, be it in our in-boxes, our rivers of news, or our walls, we tend to tune out unknowns. And, in social media marketing, most of us are unknowns, most brands are unknown, and most services, too.

not_your_type_mainIn order to score the digits in content marketing, you need three things: confidence, conviction, and stay-with-it-ness. One of the reasons why people are so coy online when it comes to engaging folks online about brands, promotions, events, products, and services is because they feel like they’re in some way doing something that’s dodgy. That selling is an ignoble pursuit. That what you’re doing – engaging people online in order to have them read, share, write, review, and buy – is sleazy and that what you’re pushing is snake oil.

When singles talk about being attracted to confidence, what they’re saying is that they’re attracted to transparency and authenticity. Confidence conveys a deep belief that what you’re pitching has integrity, be it yourself, when it comes to the art of seduction, or your brand, when it comes to the art of content marketing. Like the dweeb approaching the supermodel, it’s not that nice guys finish last, it’s that folks who don’t really believe they belong doing what they’re doing, pitching what they’re pitching, saying what they’re saying, and being what they purport to be, finish last.

women-in-bar-rejecting-a-manWhat separates winning content marketing campaigns from the losers? Persistence. From my experience, too many new media marketing campaigns lack bravery, boldness, confidence, and persistence. They do the messaging equivalent of “ahem, excuse me, if you would be so kind, ahem, I don’t mean to bother you or anything, ahem” rather than “hello, my name is Chris Abraham, damned glad to meet you.”

It’s understandable, really. Brands are afraid of the online world, especially earned media, where anything that a brand says and does can be used against it. So, over time, shell-shocked from seeing everyone around them being shot down and rejected; and, after repeatedly being warned by the media and by social media gurus as to how much of a mine field blogger outreach is, once-bitten, twice shy.

If you want to be successful in search marketing, earned media marketing, and content marketing, you’ll need to reach out not once, twice, but three times. We have learned this from direct mail and email marketing, especially when it came to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaigns: if you’re aggressive and email your core demographic repeatedly, you may make a few enemies and suffer a few humiliations – but you’ll probably also raise

Earn that respect a little bit at a time

170100012_homeAccording to Jose Antonio Vargas of the Washington Post, “3 million donors made a total of 6.5 million donations online adding up to more than $500 million. Of those 6.5 million donations, 6 million were in increments of $100 or less. The average online donation was $80, and the average Obama donor gave more than once.” Also, according to Joshua Green in his Bloomberg Business Week article, The Science Behind Those Obama Campaign E-Mails, “Most of the $690 million Obama raised online came from fundraising e-mails.”

It’s true. Bloggers are generally more libertarian rugged individualist than sycophantic people pleasers. And, most brands aren’t used to being challenged. “How dare they, those pissants, they’re merely bloggers.” I personally thought that this belief perished by 2010; however, the fear, indignity, and confusion persists. What it’s turned into in many ways, is the world of sponsored posts, native advertising, and guest blogging schemes. These are considered much safer as these bloggers are surely sycophantic people pleasers and are much more predictable than bloggers and journalists who may be willing to be engaged by you, informed by you, and then converted by you to become bona fide brand ambassadors through earned respect.

Go well beyond the A-listers

When it comes to my strategy for blogger outreach, I am committed to reach out to as many bloggers as possible, from the rarefied air the A-listers and celebrities breathe all the way down the long tail to the hobbyists, the passion-players, and committed content nerds and geeks. What I do is collect lists of thousand of bloggers who meet a minimum requirement for interest in whatever I am promoting.

When I promoted Mizuno running shoes, my minimum requirement was that the blogger had, at some point, discussed running, jogging, fitness, or getting in shape. Very broad. This resulted in 100 A-list bloggers, all of whom my associate, Sally Falkow, and I engaged by hand; and then around eight-thousand bloggers who received a mail-merge-personalized email offering them first access to Mizuno’s Mezamashii project as well as lots of opportunities to test Mizuno shoes, to be considered for Mizuno sponsorship, and to be taken into the Mizuno communications and marketing fold. In many ways, it was a corporate olly-olly-oxen-free; and, it was an easy sell: top-quality product, sleeper brand, and who doesn’t like to try out new shoes, eh? It was funny, though, as many of the A-listers were already contractually sponsored by other shoe brands. It was the long tail that really paid off as many of them “had never been kissed” before by brands, though they all winsomely hoped that some day their prince would come, bearing cool shoes and athletic gear for them to try out and review. And, for many of them that day had come.

Even with the deck stacked, we still needed to be persistent. Upon receipt of the first email offer pitch, many of the bloggers assumed it was spam. It rang the “too good to be true” and “who, me?” buttons. It wasn’t until the second outreach when a flood of responses came in with, “yes, please.” And, to make sure we had herded all of the strays, we did a final outreach, a third, to make certain every one of those 8,000 bloggers had an opportunity for first refusal. Mizuno earned hundreds of earned-media-mentions and thousands of registrations for their Mezamashii Running Community – and all of that activation in the space of four weeks.

In the Internet age, it’s no longer enough to be the best looking or most interesting, you really must be the most brave. You need to get your pretty self up off of that bar stool and get right over and start meeting people. The world has become flat, thanks to the Internet, and if you just wait until your Prince Charming comes to you on his palomino horse, then you’ll really only get what you get, and that might be nothing.

(Special Thanks to DC Robbery Lawyer Jason Kalafat for his contributions to this site)

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The Law of Large Numbers is the digital marketer’s friend http://socialmedia.biz/2014/03/05/the-law-of-large-numbers-is-the-digital-marketers-friend/ http://socialmedia.biz/2014/03/05/the-law-of-large-numbers-is-the-digital-marketers-friend/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 13:03:36 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=27115 Continue reading ]]> large-numbers

Target audience: Digital marketers, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers.

Chris AbrahamHere’s the most poorly kept secret in the marketing, PR, sales, and religion world: Conversion is a numbers game. Whether it’s getting into the New York Times or going viral on YouTube, getting retweeted by @katyperry, or appearing on the 4th hour with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, numbers matter.

We depend not only on the generosity of strangers to keep the lights on, we also depend on the law of large numbers to make sure we reach enough people in general through our ads, our mentions, and reviews to make our end-of-month, quarter, and yearly numbers so that we secure that sweet bonus and the pool we promised the family. Eyeballs, viewers, readership, ratings — it’s all about getting in front of as many of the right people as humanly possible. Right?

Why would it be any different when it comes to blogger and influencer outreach marketing? The conventional approach in outreach marketing and PR relies on converting just a handful of highly influential journalists, online writers, and bloggers who have a well-established popularity and readership. The strategy here is to cajole, seduce, and woo between one and 25 blogger-journalists to report and write on your behalf and in their favor.

The idea is that if you’re able to influence a top influencer and thus garner her influence to earn the support of your product, mission, ministry, or message, then you will win direct, endorsed access to the impossibly large number of readers, followers, fans, and friends who hang on their every word. The expectation is thus: the reputation of the A-lister will rub off on the messaging, bringing with it a (tacit) endorsement and then unfettered access to a fan base that often does base a lot of their decisions on what the most popular reviewers are saying. If I can get someone like the esteemed and popular Mr. John Brownlee to blog about my cool new designerly products, who knows how many people will queue up to place an order. And they just might. I know I would, if John Brownlee thought it was cool.

Are you able to cut through the noise?

But there are a number of catches to this perfect world: 1) How much time do you have? 2) How many A-listers do you already know? 3) How awesome is your product? 4) How compelling is your news? 5) How generous is your “gift”?  6) What is your goal?  and 7) Is it OK to fail, to fall flat on your face with a couple snake eyes?

OK, if you’re going to do a top-down outreach where the goal is to influence top influencers, you’ll need some time, especially if you aren’t already in bed with the top influencers in your industry already. Dropping a tip, cold, into the tips@ drawer at Mashable is not the way this business works. There are exceptions, but all the top A-list successes I have had have always been warm and hot calls.

So, how many A-listers do you know and when do you need to launch the grand announcement? I mean, everything relies on not only the quality of your produce or message but also whether it’s newsworthy. And, if it is newsworthy, what’s in it for me, for the blogger, for the reader? Will the post or article lend prestige or bragging rights to the author of the piece? Are you Aston Martin and did you lend your blogger a 2014 V12 Zagato sports coupe? Or, are you just trying to get someone to notice your new Android app; and, if that’s the case, are you prepared to ship out a bunch of prepaid Nexus 5s with that app already installed for their testing pleasure? That V12 Zagato’s a pretty generous gift, even if it’s just a day at a local Aston Martin dealership and test drive (or maybe even a ride).

Remember there’s a lot of money, a lot of power, and a lot of big brands and global agencies vying for your limited time

Also, remember that there’s a lot of money, a lot of power, and a lot of big brands and global agencies vying for that limited time. Can you compete? Are you able to get through all the noise? Do you have the chutzpah? Besides, what’s your goal? Are you trying to drive brand awareness? Are you trying to drive sales? Or — be honest — are you doing it for SEO and link-building (there are a lot of you guys hiding there in the shadows). OK, finally, it is OK to fail?

The numbers game goes both ways. The fewer the bloggers you pitch the lower the chance that anyone at all with pick up your story. There’s a chance that if you don’t have an in, you’ll come up with goose eggs at the end of your campaign. I know you’ll still cash the check — it’s not your fault, right?, it’s the fault of the product, the campaign, the messaging, the client, the timing, the jerks at Gizmodo who just don’t get it or the folks at Mashable who have doubled-down on Native Advertising and are so done with earned media and greedily have their advertising hands out (totally uncool). You’re on your way to losing your shirt, campaign, your client, and your reputation! Oh, what to do?

While I call the alternative to top-down, A-list blogger outreach “Long-Tail Blogger Outreach,” “B-Z-List Blogger Outreach,” the “Bottom-Up Approach,” and “Doing the Full Cluetrain,” — I really need a better title for this sort of blogger outreach (how about just “Blogger Outreach?”).

How does this address the problems? Well, it turns everything around. Instead of 1-25 powerful gatekeepers barring you from accessing their hundreds of thousands of potential eyeballs, you instead discover, collect, and message thousands of weak gatekeepers who are only barring you from accessing hundreds of their friends, families, and sometimes thousands of followers and readers. There’s this thing called Internet Rule 34 I like to quote, “If it exists, there is porn of it.” Same was with blogs: if it exists, there’re blogs, bloggers, and passionate readers — no matter what the topic may well be. Be assured of it.

And, when you do find them, there are probably hundreds or thousands of them — and their associated hundreds or thousands of followers, readers, friends. And, since they are, generally-speaking, a lot further down the totem pole, a lot less used to corporate or brand-attention, and probably have been playing the lottery known as blogging in the slim but motivating hope that some day someone would notice their blog and validate them through appreciation, engagement, and attention. Come on, every fashion blogger would love to be tapped by Gucci or Hermès to review their bags, every tech blogger wants to be tapped to test out Google Glass.

Taking the bottom-up approach

All bloggers want to be discovered, and when you take the bottom-up approach, where you reach out to multiple-thousands of bloggers, most of whom are too low-caste to ever have been kissed by a single brand manager or social media team, many of whom haven’t yet been “ruined” by a blogger conference that brainwashed them into believing that their nascent blog is mature and profitable enough to not accept earned media pitches but only paid media and paid posting (it seems the be happening more and more). If you get deep enough into the vox populi — the voice of people, the many instead of the few, the real citizen journalists — then you can find the people who are really exploring their own passions, interests, hobbies, sports, and obsessions.

I collect as many bloggers’ names as possible, but only the blogs and bloggers who are germane to the outreach, to the campaign

The way I do it is simple. I collect as many as possible, but only the blogs and bloggers who are germane to the outreach, to the campaign. And only those bloggers who want to be engaged. I assume that if a blogger wants to be contacted, he or she’ll have his or her name and email somewhere on the blog. So, I personally reach out via email pitch, and I often pitch upwards of four-, five-, six-, seven-, even eight-thousand bloggers in one go. While I generally earn between seventy and three-hundred blog posts when I reach out with this method, I also earn hundreds of tweets, retweets, Facebook and Google+ posts, and also having had message upwards of eight-thousand bloggers who will have personally been messaged by you, your brand, your client, your offer, product, service, news, and whatnot.

And, what’s more, is the secondary effect, which is in organic search AKA SEO. Earned media mentions makes Google very happy. Having several hundred earned media mentions discussing your product, service, brand — you — will have magical effects not only on where you rank on Google (like a unicorn, and actually white hat version of link farming) but also when it comes to defending your reputation online. All of these blog posts and mentions can really seize control of your first couple pages of Google, pushing out all the negative and irrelevant content.

What’s more, you can use a long-tail blogger outreach campaign to insure against the A-list goose egg, the celebrity snake eyes, the all-your-eggs-in-one-basket fiasco of striking out with the top blogs. Even if you fail with the big boys, you surely can’t loose with the B-Z-listers, even if all of your multiple media mentions are deep in the D-Z instead of the A-C. Coming up empty is way worse the coming up a little light, believe me.

And, in my experience, if you can get a buzz started deep down in the feeders, the farm teams, the minor leagues, you can actually reach the attention of the heavy hitters from down below. Newsmakers are always doing the 2014 equivalent of keeping up what’s coming over the news wire, and that’s often what’s flowing down their Facebook wall, their Twitter stream, their Feedly feed, or their Flipboard magazine. Journalists and A-list bloggers are generally curators of deeper news.

If you can get to the deeper news sources by starting the buzz amongst the people then there’s a good chance that you could well be the earthquake that (incidentally) resulted in a tidal wave. The equivalent of starting a wildfire of gossip through your own whispers. In my experience, priming the pump by reaching out to B-Z bloggers through a long-tail blogger outreach can then bubble up so that when you do reach out to John Brownlee, Om Malik, Robert Scoble, or Guy Kawasaki, they may well do a cursory Google or Twitter search and see they they’re quite a bit behind the wave (that you created by seeding that groundswell).

Pretty cool, right? You bet your ass it is!

The law of large numbers is our friend when it comes to bringing people around to your way of thinking.

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How to build a content marketing strategy http://socialmedia.biz/2013/10/28/how-to-build-a-content-marketing-strategy/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/10/28/how-to-build-a-content-marketing-strategy/#comments Mon, 28 Oct 2013 12:01:05 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25391 Continue reading ]]> photoexhibition

Establish brand awareness with a solid content marketing strategy framework

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists. This article originally appeared at Moz and is republished with permission.

By Stephanie Chang
SEO Consultant, Distilled

stephaniechangLink building has fundamentally changed. Many types of link building activities that have previously been effective are now either short-term strategies or no longer considered best SEO practice. As a result, companies and clients alike are seeking to understand how certain forms of link building can be translated into longer-term content marketing campaigns. The purpose of this post is to help you develop a framework on how to start building a content marketing strategy for your brand or your client’s site.

Why should you care about content marketing?

According to a Content Marketing Institute (CMI) 2013 Survey, 86% of B2C (business to consumer) companies are planning to keep or increase their current content marketing spending this year. 54% of B2B (business to business) companies are planning to increase their content marketing spending. Knowing that the demand for content marketing is increasing, it’s worth investing resources to start researching and learning more about the opportunities content marketing can bring to a site.

b2c

b2c2

The growth of content marketing is also a concept that Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures agrees with. Content marketing continues to see growth because it is the future of online marketing. He likes to think of content marketing as “moving the message from a banner to your brand and changing the engagement from a view to a conversation.”

Furthermore, Google’s algorithm is continuously changing, meaning this pretty much guarantees that the quick win strategies that may have worked in the past will no longer work in the future. For instance, Google has announced that in the future, they will no longer be announcing/confirming Panda updates because it will be integrated into the search engine’s existing algorithm (i.e. Panda is here to stay indefinitely). We’ve also seen the dangers of garnering links from paid advertorials (even on respected, high domain authority websites), a tactic considered as “buying links” in Google’s perspective.

Now is definitely the time to develop a new type of strategy to garner links and traffic.

Inspirational examples of phenomenal content

Below are some examples of companies that have created phenomenal pieces of content. Hopefully this provides ample motivation to take your site/client’s site to the level!

Shopify’s Pinterest infographic and their new E-commerce University: Content that is effectively targeted toward their demographic and developing their brand as the E-commerce authority on the Web.

shopify

shopify2

Airbnb Neighborhood Guides: A visually stimulating take on neighborhood guides, which differentiates them from competitors’ guides.

airbnb

The content marketing strategy framework

adriaI’ve been fortunate enough to work closely with Distilled’s Head of Outreach, Adria Saracino, who’s been absolutely instrumental in defining the content marketing strategy framework outlined below for a number of my clients (and has, subsequently, inspired my passion for content marketing). Adria has also written a great piece on how to get buy-in from your company to invest in content marketing.

Below is the content strategy framework that Adria and I have implemented together for our clients. We’ve learned that this process isn’t a quick win and that our most successful content marketing strategies have relied on dedicating at least three months to just research – market research, site audits, content audits, customer surveys, and customer interviews to name just a few. In addition, I’ll also showcase a few specific examples of how we’ve built out each step of the content strategy process.

Step 1: Researching the company

The first step in developing a content strategy framework is understanding the company. The type of questions we ask our clients before we even commence the strategy is to identify the following:

  • The company’s business model
    • How does the company bring in revenue?
    • What products bring in the most revenue? Why do these products bring in the most revenue (high profit margin, high demand, branding considerations)?
    • How is the sales team structured? What metrics are they measured on?
  • The existing customer base
    • Who are the company’s existing customers?
    • How does the company currently attract customers?
    • If the company’s marketing team has already done a market research survey, ask to see the results.
  • Marketing considerations
    • Understanding the existing content process
      • What are the editorial guidelines (if there are any)? What is the internal process to get content approved?
      • Who decides what type of content to produce?
      • What types of content does the team currently produce?
      • What are the company’s brand considerations?

Step 2: Data collection (and lots of it)

The more we understand about the site and the customers, the more we’re able to make informed, strategic decisions about the type of content we want to produce

I believe in utilizing the data that we have available to make informed decisions. This applies specifically to content. The more we understand about the site and the customers, the more we are able to make informed and strategic decisions to the type(s) of content we want to produce. In order to do this, it’s important to gather relevant data. This data can come from a variety of the following sources:

  • Competitor analysis
    • What types of content are your competitors putting together?
    • How are users engaging with the content?
    • Comparing/contrasting SEO metrics (DA, PA, external links, etc.)
  • Keyword research
    • What keywords bring traffic to the traffic (excluding not provided)?
    • What are the landing pages for those keywords?
    • What type of metrics does the keyword research and landing page combination currently bring to the site?
  • Market research and customer surveys
    • The surveys may vary depending on whether the company is b2b or b2c.
    • Traditionally, some of the survey questions we’ve asked b2b clients include:
      • Demographic-related questions like occupation, industry, job title, age, and gender.
      • How long have you been a customer?
      • How likely are you to recommend our services, products, etc.
      • Specific product/service-related questions
    • The survey questions we’ve asked b2c clients are very similar, but often contain more demographic questions like: highest level of education obtained, marital status, number of kids, household salary range, and occupation.
      • We also include specific product questions, like:
        • How often do you purchase our product?
        • Why do you purchase the product?

Test first, then act on the learnings from your survey

Important note: Be sure to test out your survey using other individuals unrelated to the survey before releasing it. This ensures that there are no ambiguous questions or that any questions have been framed in a way that would lead to biased answers.

SurveyMonkey has also produced a variety of survey templates to at least help you gain some understanding of the type of questions you might want to ask your target audience depending on your goals for the survey.

surveymonkey2

Having these sample surveys is an excellent content strategy technique that SurveyMonkey has employed.

Not only are the survey questions themselves important, but the email you send out in conjunction with the survey is a big indicator of your survey’s success. Ideally, the more data you have accessible, the more likely the survey will become statistically significant. As a result, you want to make sure that the email template catches the audience’s attention and also creates an incentive for them to fill out your survey.

Below is an actual survey template that we’ve used for a client, which has generated 917 responses or approximately 50% of the client’s email list.

customerresearch

  • gatekeeperPhone Interviews with Existing Customers
    • As you can see from the survey template above, individuals voluntarily opt for phone interviews because there is a guaranteed prize incentive.
    • Questions asked in the phone interview are much more detailed (allowing us to eventually use this information for target audience persona development). Fundamentally, the type of questions you ask in the interview must help you:
      • Identify the person’s day-to-day responsibilities, likes/dislikes, frustrations/pressures, needs, concerns, and function they play in the purchasing process.
  • The function they play in the purchasing process is based on the following roles:
    • Initiator: identifies the need to purchase the product
    • Influencer: evokes influence on the individuals who can make the decision to purchase the product
    • Decision-maker: decides whether or not to purchase the product
    • Buyer: selects who to buy from and the agreements that come alongside that
    • User: utilizes the product
    • Gatekeeper: has access or supplies information to both the decision maker and/or the influencer

Step 3: Preparation and assessment

Now that new data has been collected from various channels, it’s important to assess/analyze the data that has just been collected and see how it correlates with the data that you already have on-hand. During this stage, it’s also critical to take a step back and make sure that the goals for the content have been clearly defined.

  • Create a benchmark audit using analytics
    • This provides an opportunity to compare/contrast results before and after the creation of the content
    • Important analytics to include are:
      • Traffic
      • Pageviews
      • Pages per visit
      • Average time on site
      • Entrances/exits
      • Conversion rate
      • Bounce rate
      • Linking root domains
      • Page authority
      • Rankings
  • content auditPutting together a content audit
    • ​The purpose of the content audit is evaluate how previous content on the site has performed, as well as organize the existing content on the site to determine additional opportunities.
    • For one of my clients, Adria and I analyzed the top 500 landing pages on the client’s site and took a look at the content from three distinct lenses:
      • Analytics metrics: engagement (bounce rate, time on site) and number of visits (to identify potential keyword opportunities)
      • SEO metrics: linking root domains, page authority, etc.
      • Content perspective: is this useful for a user? What type of user would it attract?
        • We individually analyze each content page and determine where it sits on the content funnel.
          • Awareness: Content created for this part of the funnel is designed to target an audience that hasn’t even begun to consider the company’s product/services.
          • Trigger: Content created for this part of the funnel is when a user has become aware of the product/service and has started thinking about the possibility of needing it.
          • Search: User has decided to research the product/service in-more depth.
          • Consideration: User has decided to convert, but hasn’t decided which brand to choose.
          • Buy: User decides to convert to the company’s product/service.
          • Stay: Content targeted towards retaining clients, ensuring they remain a loyal customer/brand advocate.

Targeting more content higher up the funnel

The purpose of labeling what stage of the funnel each piece of content is associated with is to ultimately assess the distribution of content on a site and determine if there are any gaps. For instance, this particular site had 180 unique content pages and the distribution of the site’s content looked like this:

In this specific case, it is apparent that a majority of the site’s content sits at the bottom of the funnel. As a result, we recommended to the client that they create more content that targets higher up the funnel. However, it is also important to bear in mind that a site is not necessarily looking for an even distribution of content at each stage of the funnel. The amount needed is determined by various factors, like keyword research and an iterative approach in which content is built that targets a specific stage of the funnel. Afterwards, these pieces of content are analyzed to determine if they proved value based on the site’s pre-determined content goals and KPIs. This closely ties into our next point, which is:

  • Clarify the goals for this content strategy. Goals should be general like:
    • Increase in conversions
    • Increase in organic traffic to the site
    • Increase in audience engagement
    • increase in brand awareness
  • However, goals/metrics should also be specifically correlated to where that content sits in the content funnel:
    • This great article by Jay Baer explains it in more depth:
      • Consumption metrics: How many views/downloads did your content receive?
      • Sharing metrics: How often does your content get shared? (Tweets, Likes…etc)
      • Lead generation metrics: How often do the consumers turn into leads?
      • Sales metrics: How often do the consumers turn into sales?
    • Ideally, the consumption metrics would be correlated to content higher up in the funnel and the sales metrics correlated to content located further down the funnel. See diagram below:

consumption metrics

  • Develop persona buckets
    • In order to achieve this, combine all the data that was derived from the content audit, customer surveys, and customer interviews. Once you’ve done so, segment individuals into different categories, like this:

persona
Image Courtesy of Kissmetrics

  • Solidify the editorial process for the company
    • Who needs to be included in the content development and implementation phase? When do they need to be included?
    • Have a clear understanding of the dependencies (i.e. how long does it typically take to get sign off from relevant departments?)
    • Determine the site’s style guide/tone of voice/engagement standards
  • Define the content strategy
    • What types of content will be produced on the site?
    • Where does this content sit in the funnel?
    • Where would they sit on the site? In a separate category on an existing category?
    • What keywords would the content target?

Going through this detailed, research-intensive process allows a company to clearly see the opportunities at hand from a high-level perspective. When we go through this process, we identify ways to improve not only the company’s organizational structure and create standardizations on how content and pages are released onto the site (static URLs, keyword targeting, content tone of voice/length). It’s also through this process that we’ve been able to engage/integrate multiple departments and define ways to work together seamlessly.

Furthermore, we also gain a concrete understanding of the big opportunities for the site. It’s impossible to go through this much research and not be able to discern multiple opportunities related to CRO, information architecture, keyword targeting, and analytics, to name a few.

Step 4: Prospecting

This phase of the process is identifying individuals/sites who would be interested in the type of content the company will produce and engaging them at multiple points with the goal to develop relationships with key influencers.

  • Identify and reach out to influencers
  • Keep on top of industry news
  • Keep on top of the content that competitors are creating

Step 5: Create and promote the content

In this step, the “go” is to now create the pieces of content and follow both the internal protocols and sign off processes that were established in step three of the process. Ensure that editorial standards are being followed and assess that the content being created is actually phenomenal.

  • Create the content and consistently reassess to make sure it is meeting the following checklist:
    • Is the content credible?
    • Is the content informative?
    • Is the content easy to understand?
    • Is the content useful?
    • Is the content exceptional?
  • Promote and outreach the content to key influencers

Step 6: Assess content performance

After the content has been released and promoted, it’s time to assess how the content has performed and any other learnings that can be taken away from the process, including:

  • How has the piece performed?
  • What learnings were taken away from it? Any changes that need to be made to the process?
  • What data have we received from the piece of content?

The long-term vision is that the content is able to fulfill the original goals of the content marketing strategy. Overtime, each piece of content produced should systematically become easier and easier, as learnings are developed and iterated each time. Although, the process appears very resource-intensive in the beginning, overtime, the goal is that producing effective and meaningful content becomes a crucial entity for the company.

In conclusion, the most valuable benefits of having a content strategy for your site is that, from a business standpoint, your site is no longer creating content for “content’s sake” or to build “link bait.” Moving forward, the site now has a framework of creating content that serves multiple purposes: to engage with current and future customers; to establish brand awareness and authority within the industry; and to consequently garner more traffic, conversions, and links to your site.

Furthermore, by integrating multiple individuals into the development of a site’s content strategy, it automatically provides the groundwork of integrating SEO seamlessly into the other online marketing activities of the site, such as CRO, social media, and PR.

Stephanie Chang is an SEO Consultant at the Distilled NYC office. You can find her on Twitter at @stephpchang. Moz is not affiliated with Socialmedia.biz. Moz pro­vides the Web’s best SEO tools and resources.
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PR pros: How to use Twitter in smarter ways http://socialmedia.biz/2013/07/31/pr-pros-how-to-use-twitter-in-smarter-ways/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/07/31/pr-pros-how-to-use-twitter-in-smarter-ways/#comments Wed, 31 Jul 2013 12:02:38 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25694 Continue reading ]]> pr-twitter
Photo by lululemon athletica

Go beyond the standard practices when representing a client

Target audience: Public relations professionals, marketing professionals, agencies.

Shonali BurkePeople have been using Twitter for public relations for some time. It’s one of the favorite tools in journalist toolboxes, and therefore it’s one of the favorite tools in the toolboxes of PR pros.

But here is where the typical use of Twitter for PR begins and ends:

1. Publicizing news, blog posts, videos — basically, any kind of content. A lot of companies still share only their own content on Twitter. (My take? You should be paying much more attention to others’ content than your own.)

2. Retweeting what other people have said about their own companies (or about them personally) ad nauseam. You know, the ones that go: “RT @{original tweeter}: You’re such a rockstar, @{person being talked about}.”

3. Participating in #followfriday, doing a reply-all on Twitter that includes that hashtag (as well as possibly people you really don’t know), or RTing a Follow Friday tweet you’ve been included in. (Not good.)

4. Live-tweeting from events, using a hashtag that has been set up for the event, or creating one from scratch. (This can be really useful.)

5. Pitching journalists on Twitter. (But when you see a person’s timeline filled with @ messages to journalists/bloggers, all with the same query/pitch, it’s a bit much.)

Taking Twitter in some smart new directions

These activities are pretty standard. But there’s a lot more you can do to use Twitter for PR in a smart way. Here are some additional tips:

6. Use Twitter lists smartly.

You can make these lists public or private, but depending on the nature of your work, set up any number of lists to track what specific people/companies are saying. People like being added to lists, so you’re both giving them an ego boost, as well as making it easier for yourself to find relevant content. Once you’ve done this, you can:

  • Keep tabs on what specific groups of people – who are important to your business or organization for a variety of reasons – are saying, and @ reply them regularly, to start building that R word that is so critical for our profession (nowadays people are calling this “influencer engagement”);
  • Monitor the needs of target journalists & bloggers, since often they will field queries on Twitter;
  • Learn who could be potential evangelizers, community leaders and influencers for your field by keeping tabs on who regularly, and appropriately, participates in conversations around specific keywords/keyword phrases.

Joan Stewart, who calls herself the “publicity hound,” has some more ideas.

7. Stop using Twitter’s web interface, and balance scheduled and real-time tweets.

I’m still surprised at the number of people who don’t use a dashboard such as HootSuite, my dashboard of choice. You can monitor lists, schedule tweets, and participate in so many social networks from that one place, that if you’re not, I truly believe you’re making more work for yourself than you need to.

It doesn’t have to be HootSuite. I tend to use HootSuite for day-to-day activity and Buffer for curation (I’ve written extensively about Buffer before, as well as other tools I use and recommend). Figure out what works for you (Ian Cleary has some nice tips on scheduling tools for multiple tweets here).

8. Actively participate in Twitter chats.

Readers may know that I created the hashtag #measurePR and founded and curate a chat of the same name, focused on PR (and social media) measurement. Before I did that, however, I participated in quite a few other chats, notably #soloPR (exactly what it sounds like) and #journchat (the first Twitter chat ever, I believe).

This helped me get to know several of my peers better, and vice versa. Add in #measurePR, and the requests for guest blog posts, “appearances” on other Twitter chats, as well as offline queries from prospective clients and speaking opportunities steadily grew. Those first two are nothing if not “PR,” and the latter are exactly what I hope for on the business front as I grow my social PR consulting business.

Integration and all that jazz

Obviously you can also use Twitter for PR by integrating photo sharing via Instagram, tweeting out pins from Pinterest, etc. The point of this post is not to list all the ways there are to promote content via Twitter, because that’s where most people start — and stop.

The point is to go beyond that, so that you can really start to use a platform that has truly revolutionized how we communicate, and that is still pretty simple to use, to make better, and mutually beneficial, connections with people for better business results.

Because that’s what public relations is really about.

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Attract customers to your community with content http://socialmedia.biz/2013/05/21/attract-customers-to-your-community-with-content/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/05/21/attract-customers-to-your-community-with-content/#comments Tue, 21 May 2013 12:11:17 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=24902 Continue reading ]]> Patagonia

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists. This article was originally published at SEOmoz and is republished with permission.

By Mackenzie Fogelson
SEOmoz.com

mackenzie Everybody is talking about content. And everybody’s writing content. Social media specialists, agencies, marketing departments, probably even your mom. And a lot of it isn’t pretty.

Hopefully, by now, you got the memo that if you want your content to grow your business, it should be good. And hopefully you’re ready to do something about it.

There is a very tiny yet very significant theme to keep in mind — a shift in perspective — that is important to embody when you’re generating content for your website, blog, and social media outlets (oh, and offline, too):

It’s not about you. It’s just not.

Even though you may be one of your company’s biggest fans, you are not your target audience. If you want to attract customers to your brand and your community, your content needs to reflect the fact that you understand your customer. That you’ve actually thought about and considered the challenges they face which make your product or service a necessity in their lives.

And you need to do all that without making it about you.

Try using foundational and community building content

In general, there are two types of content that you need on your website. We call them foundational content and community building content.

Foundational content is the important stuff that permanently lives on your website. It’s the inherently self-promotional stuff that explains who you are and what you do. It’s your about page, your sales pages (products or services), and it tends to be (but isn’t always) fairly static. Foundational content is the stuff that’s pretty much impossible not to make about you because it is, in fact, about you. As a result, in order to attract customers to your community with your foundational content, you’ve got to pack it full of value.

Community building content is less about what you do and more about what you know. It usually lives on your blog, is dynamic, and indirectly promotes your brand (and earns links). It’s what bolsters your online reputation as an expert. It builds trust, establishes credibility, and naturally attracts people to you. Community building content is most effective when it’s not self-promotional. It doesn’t need to say your company name. Instead, it needs to be completely focused on your customer and the value that you can provide or point them toward.

Patagonia is a good example of providing value in both types of content. Whether it’s foundational or community building, they focus on the customer, their needs, and the experience. Let’s take a look at some examples.

Packing value into foundational content

In Patagonia’s foundational content, they focus their message not just on how cool their product looks or even how functional it is (though they don’t hide those things), but also on the broader concerns of their target audience.

This is an email marketing promotion that my husband recently received about the Encapsil Parka:

Patagonia

Notice how instead of just bragging about the fact that this is the best down parka ever made (all about them), Patagonia is also going to show you what they mean by providing value through video (all about the customer).

If you click through to the video, the content boasts “how little is used” to make the jacket, something that is important to consumers who respect (and are drawn to) the Patagonia brand. Patagonia is balancing self-promotion with something that is useful and enhances the experience.

Patagonia2

Even though Patagonia’s intention is to sell this product, they are committed to integrating value into their foundational content so that they are serving their customer. The page is also packed with additional videos, details, social proof, customer testimonials, and the opportunity to live chat. All. Kinds. Of. Value.

What community building content looks like

About a week later, my husband also received this email from Patagonia:

Patagonia3

This is Tommy. He climbs rocks for a living. He’s a Patagonia Ambassador (that’s code for bad-ass rock climber).

This email marketing promotion clicks through to a post on the Patagonia blog about Tommy. Even though it lives on the Patagonia blog, it doesn’t plug Patagonia products, it doesn’t even link to any associated Patagonia rock climbing gear. It’s all about Tommy, his kind of scary adventures, and his drive to be a stand-up guy.

Patagonia4

This is community building content — and it probably attracts a lot of links, too. It’s indirectly self-promotional. It speaks to the kind of people that Patagonia wants to attract to their community. My guess (and presumably Patagonia’s guess, too) is that people who like guys like Tommy resonate with what Patagonia stands for as a company and they want to be a part of what they’re doing (which means buy their products and join their community).

You can do this with a content strategy

You don’t have to be a ginormous brand like Patagonia to generate the kinds of content that will attract customers to your community. You just need to have a content strategy that will get you from where you are to where you’d like to be.

An ideal content strategy aligns the goals of your business with the expectations of your target audience. If you want to build a thriving community around your company, you’ve got to have a strategy that considers the people who are going to be reading your content and the experience that you want them to have.

The best place to start is with a content audit of your existing content. If you want to attract people to your community with your content, you’ve got to make it worth reading. That means over the first several months (and possibly beyond), you’re going to need to spend some time transforming what exists: improve what’s worth revising and ditch the rest.

content-audit-john-mccrory

Reworking your foundational content

When you’re auditing your foundational content, pay attention to whether it has any value or if it’s all about you. Certainly your content is going to be self-promotional (it is, after all, your website), but you can communicate what you do or sell and still be focused on the customer and their experience.

Even with your About or Policy pages, you can use creative ways to improve the experience and add more value. You should also put some thought into the following:

  • Your why

    Have you figured out your why yet? Focus on your passion and what makes you unique in your space. Why are you different from your competition? What is it that you like to do? Get very clear about what you do well and why and then make that what you’re all about.
  • Your customer

    Who exactly are you targeting? (Remember, the whole world is not your customer.) Develop a persona around them. Get to know your semi-fictional audience members and keep them in mind as you manipulate your content.
  • Their challenges

    What challenges does your audience have? Define their pain points and then make sure your content addresses them.
  • Where they’re coming from

    At what level in the conversion funnel might your customer be visiting this page? In order to provide the best experience possible, your content should reflect this.

Balance the “all about me” in your foundational content with the value that better serves your customer. Instead of having a page with a couple paragraphs of text and some bullets like this:

safebuilt

Supplement the textual information with things like video, blog posts, case studies, infographics, and testimonials:

safebuilt2

Making these simple changes can make a big difference in your lift:

safebuiltgrah

Integrating value into your foundational content is really about two things:

  1. Satisfying user intent

    The purpose of your foundational content is to convert. If you don’t provide anything but a couple of paragraphs that give your 30 second elevator speech, you’ve just lost the opportunity for a sale.
  2. User experience
    Making sure that you’re providing the best user experience and that it’s consistent across your website, blog, and social media outlets, as well as your offline efforts.

The more value you provide with your foundational content, the more desirable you become, the more trust you build, the more you appeal to the person who is on the other side of that search. Again, anything that is going to make it less about you and more about them.

The key is to balance all of your foundational content with some community building content and then you’ve won the internet.

The angle on community building content

First things first. Just because you have a blog doesn’t mean you always have to write about the stuff you sell (remember the 80/20 rule?). Same goes for your social media outlets. That gets old quick and can be pretty limiting in terms of the audience you can engage. It’s OK to promote your products or services on your blog, but work to keep that to 20% of the time.

Focus on developing community building content on your blog. It’s the powerhouse that can help you reach the objectives you have for your business, and also attract (the right) customers to your community. But again, same thing applies: lay off the self-promotion.

Community building content can be blog posts like this one from SimpliSafe or infographics like this one that SEOgadget lovingly created for one of their clients:

greenleaders

The bottom line with your community building content is that the focus needs to be on your customer. It’s not meant to directly promote your company.

The bottom line with your community building content is that the focus needs to be on your customer. It’s not meant to directly promote your company. You want to generate content that indirectly communicates your strengths and illustrates your expertise and knowledge. If your customers can find alignment with what they’re searching for and the content you’re providing, chances are, they will be more inclined to not only be part of your community, but also purchase your products and services.

Before you write your community building content, consider things like:

  • The goals of your (potential) customer
    You know what your goals are for your business, but what about the goals of your target audience? What are their intentions with your content?
  • Depth in your content
    What can you help them learn or better understand? Can you change their mind about an industry misconception or challenge their beliefs on a particular subject?
  • Satisfying a need
    How can you serve their needs? Can you provide advice, ideas, instructions, suggestions, a guide? Your goal is to focus on providing quality content that that people really want (and are searching for).

As you’re creating community building content, consider following the 70/20/10 principle like Ian Lurie, Tom Cruise, and the dude from Coke do.

70-20-10

The basic gist is within your content strategy should look like this: 70% of your content should be a mix of mainstream stuff (knowledge, advice, and how-to type content); 20% goes along the same lines as the 70%, but with a little risk taking (controversial or attempting to attract a new audience); and 10% is the super cool stuff that may completely bomb but showcases your innovative side.

The thing about this approach is that it will help you to challenge the direction of your community building content so that you avoid just creating the same kind of stuff over and over (which will provide a more exciting experience for your users). It will both satisfy your existing customers and community members and attract new people who resonate with what you’re putting out there.

Even more importantly, the 70/20/10 principle will push who you are as a company which is really important when you’re growing a community. Your community building content needs to make a statement about your brand, showing your community what you’re capable of and what you believe in. All stuff that will attract them to you (and keep them there).

Some final pointers

Three final things to keep in mind:

  1. There is no magic formula
    It’s really important to have a content strategy that will assist you in working toward goals for your business. And it’s also really important that you create an execution plan that will help translate all of the stuff you want to accomplish into actionable, chewable pieces. But keep in mind that there is no magic number of posts that will attract customers to your business and your community. It’s the quality of your business, your content, and you. As you work to develop strong content, keep in mind that this is an ongoing process that involves constant iteration. Don’t plan an execution calendar for any longer than a few months. Let your strategy drive, but listen to your content. Allow the freedom to be agile and change course based on what happens when your content is actually released.
  2. Bring it back to your goals

    Allow your content to take you on unexpected journeys. Be open to new ideas, consider the feedback you’re getting in blog comments and from people who provide input in real life. If a topic in your strategy suddenly becomes urgent, move it up in your execution plan. Be flexible. Just always make sure that you bring it back to your goals. 

When you ensure that your content is always in alignment with your business objectives and what your customers need, you’re clearing the noise. You’re staying focused on producing what’s important which helps to reduce anxiety, workload, and keeps you on track.
  3. Good content is an investment in your business
    Quality content is an asset that builds value in your business. Whether it’s a blog post, guide, whitepaper, case study, infographic, or video, your content is going to attract people to your business and your community (ongoing). Creating content that’s valuable is not always a quick and easy task. Whether you’re committing to this for your own business or you’re an agency assisting a client with content, it’s going to take some time. Start small. We’ve found with our clients that committing to two small (quality) posts a month is a realistic frequency, but it really depends on your goals and your strategy. If you’re developing content that’s more extensive like an in-depth guide or an infographic, reduce the frequency that month. Instead of spreading yourself thin on two, put all of your energy into one heavy hitter and give it the attention it deserves. After all, it’s an investment in your business.

Your content is meant to serve a purpose

Building and growing a community around your business can be done with an investment in a good strategy, content, outreach, and a lot of hard work. But keep in mind that your content isn’t just meant to rank, it’s intended to serve a purpose. Draw people in with your community building content, and then pack your foundational content so full of value that making the sale is the natural next step.

What interesting ways are you integrating value into your content, or have you seen other companies doing? I’d love for you to share your experiences in the comments below.

Mackenzie Fogelson is the owner of Mack Web Solutions and has been in the SEO and web design industry for 10 years. SEO­moz is not affil­i­ated with Socialmedia.biz and has not reviewed this trans­la­tion. SEO­moz pro­vides the Web’s best SEO tools and resources.

Related

• The power of content marketing for business (Socialmedia.biz)

• Lean content marketing: How to do it right (Socialmedia.biz)

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Facebook paid sponsored content meets you only halfway http://socialmedia.biz/2013/03/14/facebook-paid-sponsored-content-gets-you-halfway/ Thu, 14 Mar 2013 12:11:17 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=24353 Continue reading ]]> PromotedPost
Photo courtesy of diTii (Creative Commons)

Increase your breadth and depth for greater marketing power

Chris AbrahamAfter reading Disruptions: As User Interaction on Facebook Drops, Sharing Comes at a Cost by Nick Bilton in the New York Times (and Facebook‘s detailed fact check), I thought I would spend $21 for your amusement. I would sponsor three Facebook posts.

For my first, I sponsored a post rather spontaneously and organically to see if anyone might want to join my virtual rowing team, Team Grotto, and join a virtual regatta, the 2013 World Erg Challenge. Why not, right?

Right afterward, I was alerted that my latest piece was posted on The Huffington Post — Children Naturally Want to Show What They Know — about my experience co-teaching, co-learning, and collaborating with high school students when I co-taught one of the first accredited online creative writing courses.

So, what the heck: I dropped $7 to sponsor that one, too.

Broad appeal: education, kids, learning, and something I personally wrote on the Huffington Post.

bigBump-300x339Finally, I became postmodern and wrote a sponsored post about writing a sponsored post. I pointedly asked if anyone saw this “nothing-sandwich” of a post just because it was sponsored on Facebook.

Well, it turns out, after a few hours, that while sponsorship is surely a big dose of steroids to the Facebook system, the sponsorship model only meets you halfway — you can blood dope as much as you want but if you don’t put in the training, Facebook sponsorship is not going to win you the Tour de France or hit 70 home runs in one season.

My first sponsored post on rowing had zero traction. The focus was too narrow and, even though I had an ask, the ask wasn’t appealing to anyone except my hyper-athletic friend Raman Frey.

In fact, the traction was so slick that Facebook didn’t even offer me a pop-up bragging about how much the sponsorship garnered for me.

My second sponsored Facebook from my Huffington Post article knocked it out of the park, garnering 10 times as many views from sponsorship than organically. However, the broad appeal of the engagement might well have performed well anyway. Though I know for sure that sponsored posts do tend to bubble to the top, the appeal was relatively universal.

The link was external with an auto-populated image.

The link went off to the Huffington Post, a super-popular site. And, since the post was mine, and I have 4,734 friends and an additional 439 subscribers, I can safely assume that these 5,173 folks are at best batting for me and at worst are my allies.

Finally, when I went PoMo, I wrote, “I just promoted three Facebook posts today, just to see what happens. Let’s see what this nothing-sandwich post does if it’s promoted, shall we?”

By its nature, this sponsored post is a little bombastic, disruptive, and tantalizing. It calls folks out to engage and comment and contribute — even though there’s no link and no image — two very important aspect of organic EdgeRank.

Sponsorship is not enough

comments

I was trying to come up with a conclusion that wrapped up nicely into a “the first was too hard, the second was too soft, and the third was just right,” but it doesn’t work because the second one received the biggest sponsorship bump. Being realistic, the second one was, in fact, too soft: Most content marketing isn’t so perfect.

The Huffington Post sponsored wall post was like playing T-ball.

Most folks don’t have a globally recognized and promoted platform like the Huffington Post. The content has a broad appeal and has nothing to do with my work per se.

Maybe the lesson is that you need to be willing to extend your brand and your voice well past your single-minded brand promotion strategy and that giving more than you receive (or being perceived to) is more important than shameless self-promotion.

Maybe work on your depth and breadth a little bit — spend some of your valuable content-generating time revealing something about your past, your passions, your interests, your process.

If being causing disruption is your deal, then own it — but if you’re just doing it for attention, you’ll eventually burn people out and drive them away

And maybe “just right” can be boiled down to knowing and engaging your audience, perfectly. Being open, earnest, curious, present, and interested.

Baiting does work a few times but it always ends up sounding like crying wolf: Are you being bombastic, disruptive, confrontational, and controversial because you care or because you enjoy stirring up the crowd?

If being causing disruption is your deal, then own it — but if you’re just doing it for attention, you’ll eventually burn people out and drive them away. If that’s your M.O., you’d better be really funny, interesting, compelling or smart-as-hell. If you rely on acerbic, you’d better be cooking with gas.

Anyway, let me know what you think about my little experiment — I look forward to chatting about this in the comments.

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5 apps that do the marketing work for you http://socialmedia.biz/2013/03/12/top-marketing-apps/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/03/12/top-marketing-apps/#comments Tue, 12 Mar 2013 12:11:04 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=24343 Continue reading ]]> bufferapp
Photo courtesy of noeliamarejo via Creative Commons

Reach a broader audience with the help of these marketing apps

Guest post by Megan Totka

MeganTotkaDeveloping and executing strong marketing campaigns takes a lot of work. In large corporations, entire departments are devoted to this task. For small businesses and sole proprietors, marketing tasks often fall on employees or business owners that wear other hats, too. There is literally not enough time in the workday to accomplish all the promotional tasks that large and small companies wish they could achieve, especially considering the vast outreach opportunities the Internet age presents.

What if I told you that there is a way to do less work but actually reach more people with your company news, products and services? Interested? While I can’t advise you on the best ways to find more money in your budget, I can offer some suggestions developed by others that will give your business a smart marketing advantage.

Here are five leading apps that will market your business on your behalf, or at least give you some shortcuts to doing it more efficiently yourself:

perch app

Perch: Stay tuned into the competition

1Market research sucks precious time and money from company budgets but is necessary for development of effective marketing plans. The Perch app keeps an eye on local competitors for you through social media posts, online directory review sites and official website offerings. Businesses can see what others are saying about competitors and also be alerted of competing sales or special offers. Getting these little tips can mean the difference between proactive or reactionary approaches to competitor strategies.

postrocket

PostRocket: Facebook scheduling made easy

2In a nutshell, PostRocket is Buffer for Facebook. The app analyzes your Facebook page insights and picks optimal times to post your content with auto scheduler option. PostRocket offers optimization analysis that is easy to follow and more streamlined than basic Facebook Insights results. There is also a “SmartLink Converter” tool that posts your link in a photo format for greater visual engagement. PostRocket cuts down on the valuable time marketers devote to Facebook analysis and does some of the actual posting work too.

Tweetwally

TweetWally: Convert tweets to blog posts

3For companies that use blogging as a form of marketing, TweetWally literally does the writing. This app collects Tweets from company followers and formats them into a blog post on a particular topic or news event. This is helpful for hot, trending topics as well as the ones that traditionally hit home with customers or clients. A TweetWally blog post also provides a different dynamic to a blog that may have a standard look or style which makes it more engaging and fresh to visitors.

buffer

Buffer: Schedule your tweets

4Does your company have a schedule for posting Tweets each day to avoid overwhelming followers with too many links at a time? Or do you post everything all at once so that you do not forget later on? Perhaps you do not even have a Tweet-posting schedule or any idea what time of day is optimal based on your followers. The Twitter-specific app Buffer takes the guesswork out of posting frequency and completely eliminates the need to log in several times each day to update Tweets. Users can pre-write their updates, choose a customized schedule and go grab a cup of coffee while the app does the posting work.

TwilertApp

Twilert: Google Alerts meet Twitter

5Signing up for Google Alerts is a smart way to get a summary of the topics trending in your industry on a consistent basis. Twilert combines this helpful tool with information from Twitter in order to gather user-specific information in one concise email. With a quick glance, marketing decision-makers can develop a real-time plan based on trending topics on Twitter. Forget going to several different sites to find the information you need for effective Twitter postings – just check your email for Twilert’s data.

To save your business time and money in the long term, it is better to spend a little energy upfront and sign up for these inexpensive, and even free, apps. Existing technology is making it easier to take advantage of digital marketing. Let these apps work on your behalf and free up your staff for other more meaningful marketing tasks.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes in the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. This article originally appeared at Biznology.com.

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11 ideas for taking your digital marketing in new directions http://socialmedia.biz/2013/01/09/digital-marketing-new-directions/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/01/09/digital-marketing-new-directions/#comments Wed, 09 Jan 2013 13:31:10 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=23775 Continue reading ]]>
Photo courtesy of marketspan via Creative Commons

Flipboard, Foursquare, Instagram, memes & more ideas!

Chris AbrahamOK, we’re in the second week of January, but most of us are just settling back into work. So now’s a good time to think about where you want to take your digital marketing efforts for the rest of 2013.

Take what you want, leave the rest and let me know in the comments where you agree or (especially) disagree.

Start a blog

1I know what you may be thinking: Blogging is dead. However, if you’ll notice, most of what folks are sharing online via TwitterFacebookPinterest, Tumblr, and Google+ are articles via links. The only real way of creating and providing content that can easily be shared everywhere is via a blog or some other kind of bloggish platform.

With a blog-based platform, whether it’s your personal or professional site, sharing your content from a Web application you own and control is a no-brainer. A blog offers built-in RSS and the ability to easily hook right in to Google Webmaster Tools via a dynamically created sitemap. You can add plug-ins that automagically optimize your site for search as well reduce the friction associated with sharing by dropping share buttons into your content from Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and even Google’s +1. And as each of your favorite “forever for now” social networking service fades and dies, you won’t lose any of your best content but will be able to maintain your own database of everything you have ever written.

Listen more online

2In our mad rush to create content every day, and with all of our impending blog post due dates rushing in, it’s hard to spend some time reading the tweets of your followers, the posts of your Facebook friends, the blogs of people in your space, and their latest videos and memes on YouTube, Slideshare, Pinterest, and Flickr. But you need to spend some of that time. I was overwhelmed until I adopted Flipboard (see below). It’s worth it, and I will tell you why shortly.

Become way more visual

3The biggest changes over the last year, 2012, were in how people consume new content and new posts online. More and more platforms search for an illustrative photo or graphic. Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon have always done this; however, now it’s even in the way we view our content on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and especially Flipboard (see below). So, you need to make sure every post, every article, and every column you publish always has a “cover shot” because in the content war, the spoils too often go to the book with the prettiest cover.

Start a meme

4While you shouldn’t set out to make a viral video, you can start thinking in memes. Not every meme will become a meme to say nothing of reaching MEME status. However, there are several things you can do to pre-package a bit of visual, informational, or video in such a way that you’ll maximize its chance of going viral and becoming a proper meme: 1) keep it short; 2) choose one thing, one message; 3) use both image and text; 4) make sure each meme is 100% self-referential and self-contained: to misquote Jacques Derrida, there’s nothing beyond the meme. By their very nature, memes want to mutate and as in poetry, you cannot control how your reader interprets your poem so you had better make it as explicit and clear as possible.

Make sure it includes source(s), creator(s), and its home URL. Make sure you don’t put all that stuff in a description because memes always leave the original platform behind. If you don’t make completely certain you have done everything you possibly can to not leave anything to chance then your meme will surely mutate most grotesquely a la The Island of Doctor Moreau. Even if your meme is completely self-referential, the more successful your meme is, the more it will want to mutate. However, if the Internet has decided your meme is popular enough to copy, corrupt, or mock, then you’ve batted a thousand.

Explore Flipboard

Photo by Johan Larsson via  Creative Commons

5If you think the idea of reading all the banal and self-indulgent chaff your sundry followers, friends, and fans churn into the world is overwhelming, then you need to try out Flipboard. Flipboard is the best-in-breed social newsreader. It allows you to plug in your credentials for all of your social platforms, including Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Google Reader, and then it allows you to browse through other content based on category and subject — and, when you’re sorted out, it lets you browse, read, and share all of that content seamlessly using a very beautiful, visual, and easy-to-navigate interface from your iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet. I have basically replaced all the content sources on my phone with Flipboard as all the best of them are being fed through the News portion of Flipboard already.

Engage a blog

6I was going to write ‘Read a Blog’ but reading is only one part. Commmenting, counter-blogging, reblogging, and befriending the bloggers is maybe even more important than keeping tabs and reading. Bloggers and most journalists are no longer untouchable; rather, we’re very accessible and quite amazingly stoked by any and all attention that we receive based on our writing and insights. The best way to become a colleague, acquaintance, and then friend of the people who are writing, blogging, and influencing in your space is to engage with them — with us — online in the comments, via email, or on the social networks we haunt. Internalize it — every single one of the folks listed in the AdAge Power 150 are completely accessible to you right now — go get ‘em!

Listen to a podcast

7The best thing about Flipboard is that you can listen to podcasts and watch videos through it too, though I don’t. I am not that good at listening to “real” podcasts but I surely do get all my content from the CBC and NPR via podcast. However, though I am being quite a hypocrite here, I do know that there are loads of podcasters out there who act as industry aggregators, reporters, and curators. The best example is For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report. Listening to relevant podcasts is a good way of passively keeping in the loop, especially if you’re not ravenously curious as to what’s going on every day online in your space. Listening to podcasts is similar to reading blogs: consider them your very own industry journals. The most modern of interpretations of the professional journal.

Finally figure out Pinterest

8It’s not rocket science and I am certain that I don’t use it well enough. I often forget even to share stuff to Pinterest. All I know is that whenever I share something from any one of my blogs via a nice image to my Pinterest, along with a cross-post to Twitter, a compelling image, and a link back to the blogs (happens by default) I get the most traffic back to my post from Pinterest. I don’t know why that is but there’s something amazing going on there. Again, I am a hypocrite here as well. I don’t spend much time at all on there except to always share everything I can there. Please make sure that your sites and blogs always include a Pinterest share button in addition to your typical +1s, Like, and Retweets. And I think I will take my own advice and spend more time both listening to industry-focused podcasts, blogs, and surely get to know Pinterest a lot better.

Give Foursquare another try

9It seems like folks are trying to call time of death on Foursquare but I believe they’re premature. Unlike Blackberry’s RIM, the reports of Foursquare’s death is greatly exaggerated. Although it has taken a while, I am seeing more incentives for checking in to Foursquare outside of just bragvertising your amazing life. My local Mexican restaurant offers 50% off my food bill every time I check in — every time (excepting happy hour and adult beverages). Over the last three years, since its inception, restaurants and stores have not rewarded everyone who checks in well enough to be enough of an incentive to encourage doing it every time; and, the badges have gotten stale and are harder to get. Restaurants and stores haven’t really even offered their Mayors very nice rewards — it was pretty pathetic. The only reason I still check in to Foursquare is because FS does a darn good job of linking up with other applications such as GetGlue and Instagram — so I tend to only use Foursquare via GetGlue and Instagram these days — until I realized that I am missing out, especially when it comes to checking in to restaurants and other venues where there may very well be worthwhile perks — such as the 50% discount I get at Taqueria el Poblano on Columbia Pike.

Check-in to movies and TV

IntoNow allows you to let your device listen to and identify a show and the episode — sort of like Shazam does with music

10I must admit that I watch too much TV and love movies. And I must further admit that there’s a lot going on in the world of the second screen where the first screen is the TV and the second screen is the PC, tablet, or smart phone. I have been using GetGlue for movies and Yahoo’s IntoNow for TV whenever I am watching. IntoNow’s pretty interesting because it allows you to do two interesting things: 1) it allows you to let your device listen to and identify a show and the episode — sort of like Shazam does with music and 2) it allows you to create visual memes through application-aided and time-stamped screen captures directly from television that you’re encouraged to share on your social media stream. It’s all very interesting and very compelling and also a very good way to create content to your social media stream even when you’re kicking back and relaxing. Give it a whirl, it’s surely worth a couple evenings of prime time.

Figure out why Instagram is so hot

11There are three reasons I use Instagram, in order of importance: 1) Instagram is a gorgeous photographic community all on its own, even better than Flickr ever was; 2) Instagram shares directly and seamlessly with other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, and 3) Instagram has the second best filters nex to Hipstamatic’s — and while Hipstamatic may well have better filters, the resulting images are small and it doesn’t have Instagram’s gorgeous community — and there’s the rub: Technology is one thing, but community is another and in 2013, technology is not nearly enough.

I surely hope that’s a good list for you to start with — like I said, take what you like and leave the rest. Please let me know what you think and what I missed as we forge ahead through the social media landscape in 2013!

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