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5 Ways to Get The Most Out of Your Social Media Marketing This Year

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from our newest team member – Alex Boyer– Enjoy!

photo credit: shutterstock

You have always been told your business needs a presence on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, but you have yet to see tangible results. Don’t give up! Here are five simple steps to kick-start your social media this year.

Set a Goal

You should set a basic goal for your social media activities for the year. This can be something simple like “increase participation in specials or sales,” “interact with existing customers and strengthen brand loyalty,” or something more complex like “Create a personality for your brand.” Every social media post for the year should in some way help you achieve that goal.

For example, take two popular restaurants in the Kansas City area: Grunauer (@grunauerKC) and Blanc Burgers and Bottles (@BlancBurgers). Blanc uses social media to remind their customers of daily and nightly specials, and release photos of new burger creations. Gurnauer forgoes the daily specials and instead uses their Twitter account to create personality for the restaurant, cheering for local sports teams and commenting on news stories. Both restaurants have significant social media following and every post from both fulfill their respective goals.

Draft a plan

Now that you have a goal to achieve, it is time to draft a plan for your social media year. You should start by creating an editorial calendar. Use your calendar to list your yearly sales events, local events (such as high-profile concerts or local festivals) and holidays. Keep an eye out for obscure holidays like “Talk like a pirate day” or “National Cheeseburger day,” as these are very popular on social media. You can even pre-draft social media posts for each of these events for use later.  If you ever reach a point in the year where you don’t know what to post, use this calendar for ideas.

You can even use the editorial calendar to plan “messages of the week,” content themes that you can use for a week or month at a time. For example, you can have your blog posts for a month focus on sales strategy. That way, you have a uniform starting point for each of your posts.

Social Specials

Give your customers a reason to interact with your social media by giving them “Social Specials”. These can include giveaways or discounts in store. Ask your fans to “Like this post for 10% off this week” or “Retweet for a chance to win.” In the case of discounts, you can even ask customers who come into your storefront if they have social media, and then tell them they can get a discount if they like your page. This will not only expand your social media following, but also engage users that are already customers. Plus, posting promotions on social media is cheaper than printing coupons in the newspaper.

Create a Dialogue

Social media platforms shouldn’t be used simply to distribute your messages, they should be a 2-way street between you and your customers. Use Twitter, Facebook, and your blog as a customer service tool as well. Allow your customers to come to you with their complaints, and address them promptly. Also, thank supporters for their kind words and share their positive reviews.  This gives your customers reason to interact with your social media pages, and creates a sense of community around your company.

Never Stop Creating Content

Finally, the most important step to getting the most out of your social media is to create content. You need to continue to create engaging, exciting content to draw new fans and keep your current fans’ attention.  You cannot forget about social media and must post regularly. The steps above should help you keep a steady flow of content for your supporters, but it is ultimately up to you and your team to keep executing. Your social media following cannot grow without content.

Social media marketing should be an important part of your marketing plan. Follow these five simple steps, and your social media presence is sure to grow over the next year.


Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. It is his job to create and scour the internet for the best content for small businesses. In addition, he will continue to grow the Duct Tape Marketing community through interaction with clients and consultants in the Duct Tape Consultant Network on our website and through Social Media. Alex has a background in political marketing, where in-depth opposition and messaging research is critical to a successful campaign. He is focused on taking those tactics and using them to help your small business grow and reach more potential customers.

How to Promote Every Piece of Content You Create

You’ve written a series of useful blog posts and done everything you’ve told to optimize that content for your most important keyword phrases. Now it’s time to post it to your social media profiles and sit back and enjoy the rush of traffic.

Several years ago this scenario may have been true, but today content marketing has become so competitive that you must include significant promotion as a core element of your editorial process.

Buffer Scheduler

Yes, of course, tweet your blog posts several times (I love using the Buffer Scheduler as you can add a tweet now, in 10 hours, in a day and in a week all at the same time.) Add Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ posts that highlight why someone might want to read your posts and then go to work on getting your posts in front of other people’s targeted audiences.

When we build content plans for our clients today we always include what we call an influencer program that over time can help us significantly increase the reach, traffic, engagement and leads from the content our clients produce.

Below are five steps we take in building an influencer program

Find Influencers

Step one, of course, is to find the Influencers we want to target. By Influencer, we loosely mean other content producers in our chosen industry who we believe to have a following in our ideal client pool.

There are a variety of tools you can employ to find such folks. Currently, I’m quite fond of BuzzSumo’s influence ranking tool but I also employ Topsy and Followerwonk to help validate and expand my list of potential partners. (Inkybee and BlogDash offer powerful paid plans as well.)

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo shows me what kind of content Jim Connely – a small business influencer – shares so I can know what he reads and where he likes to get his information.

Segment Influencers by customer persona

Next we build a spreadsheet of influencers segmented by our client’s differing market segments or personas. Many businesses seek to gain influence with different levels of stakeholders. For example, a company might need to interact with the CFO and the purchasing agent, and we need to create profiles of influencers for both. This is true as well for businesses that serve significantly different industries of market demographics.

We add as much social information as possible to the spreadsheet as well as relevant notes. This process can be automated to some extent using a CRM with unified communications and social built in. Tools like Nimble are very powerful for this purpose.

Build relationships first

Now that have our list we go to work on building relationships. We never pitch story ideas or ask for links or tweets until we’ve established relationship based on value. One of the first things we do in most cases is to follow every member on our list by putting them in Twitter lists and Google+ Circles. We also subscribe to their blog feed using Feedly, as well as their newsletters and other forms of content. Obviously if you want to build a relationship you must take the time to get to know their content habits, behaviors, and needs.

Next we begin the practice of sharing their content with our follower, posting relevant and useful comments on their content and, where appropriate, featuring their content in our own blog posts, emails, and newsletters.

All of this effort is aimed at gaining some recognition and building a relationship based on mutual content goals. At this point, we may reach out and directly share something that we think they might find extremely relevant – hopefully something they might want to blog about or use as a data point in an upcoming post.

Add guest blogging to your editorial plan

In addition to our targeted Influencers, we also build a list of potential guest blog post opportunities. We are looking both for places that we can post and potential writers that may have great content to share on our blog. The reason this is such an important element is that we can often find blogs that won’t respond to covering some topic, but would love a well thought out blog post.

In addition, when we add guest posts to the mix of content on our own blog we often find that our content is more diverse and we start to build relationships with bloggers who wish to promote their content featured on our site. Of course, we also vigorously promote our guest posts run on other blogs.

You may find there is some cross over here from your influencer list, but we also use keyword searches on BuzzSumo and Topsy adding the term “guest post” to help build our guest post plan.

TopsySearching Topsy to turn up guest post possibilities for my chosen topic.

Expand with strategic partnerships

Finally, we look to blow up one or two significant pieces of content every so often. We’ve found that one of the best ways to do this is through collaboration and cobranding.

Our first approach is to take an eBook, tip sheet or case study and offer to let a strategic partner or Influencer cobrand the already proven content to share with their audience. This often allows us to gain introduction to large groups of prospects and is welcomed by partners who know they should be producing more content.

Another approach is to jointly create a long form post, infographic of even eBook with a strategic partner. Quite often one partner may have big data to share while another wants to showcase their killer graphic design skills and collaboration creates an impressive end product that just may get picked up by numerous blogs and influencers as you co-promote with your partner or partners.

Yes, content marketing is work, but it is the most effective way to generate leads for any business that wants to compete on expertise and authority rather than price.

How and Why to Conduct a Meaningful Content Audit

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Liz O’Neil Dennison – Enjoy!

Content AuditYou’ve probably heard that a content audit is essential for driving engagement and revenue with content. But what is it, exactly? Why do you need one? And how do you do begin to tackle such a laborious task?

Read on.

What Is a Content Audit?

A content audit is a qualitative analysis of all the content your company has ever published online. It exposes where your content actually lives, how it’s performing, and where the thematic gaps are.

Before you can audit your content, you need to create a content inventory, a comprehensive list of the name, location, and description of each asset published by your brand.

Why Conduct a Content Audit?

If you don’t know what content you have, and how it’s performing, you can’t improve. The key to driving more leads, traffic and revenue through your content marketing is by identifying holes in your content deliverables.

With the content audit, you can understand which buyer personas and buying stages are poorly resourced, find and share content internally, access historical performance data, and identify what content should be archived or removed entirely.

Despite the clear values of the content audit, very few marketers actually conduct one. That’s because auditing content is a notoriously painful process. It can take weeks, or even months, to find, analyze, and document each asset your company has ever published online. But it doesn’t have to.

How to Conduct a Content Audit without Pulling Your Hair Out

Auditing your content isn’t rocket science. But there are critical steps all marketers must take to ensure their audit will be actually be useful. Here are the top five:

Step 1. Create Your Inventory

Before analyzing your content, you need a comprehensive list of it. Perform an inventory of all of your content across all of your brand domains, including social. If you’re going about this manually, document the name, URL, and description of each content asset in a spreadsheet.

If you have a significant body of content to manage, you’re better off just typing your brand URLs into a tool like The Content Auditor, which will automate this inventory process for you.

Step 2. Identify What Content Categories Matter Most

Get the most out of your audit by understanding what content categories are most important, both internally and externally. Your audit should provide a map of those attributes across your entire content library so you can see where the holes are.

For example, tagging content to buyer personas allows you to see what personas you’re ignoring. Tagging content to your buying cycle tells you if you need to dedicate more resources to building top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel, or bottom-of-funnel content. Common content categories to tag include:

  • Author
  • Publish date
  • Persona
  • Buying Stage
  • Theme
  • Buyer-centric or product-centric
  • Product line
  • Blog category
  • Keywords
  • Content type
  • Competitor
  • Primary call to action
  • Content pillar
  • Social shares
  • Comments
  • Redundant, outdated, or trivial (ROT)

Include these categories in your excel spreadsheet and tag each asset appropriately or, if you’re using an automated tool, scroll through your online inventory to tag content.

Step 3. Map Your Content

When you’ve tagged all of your assets, you’ll end up with a pretty cool content map. You’ll be able to see which personas, buying stages, and themes you’re serving with content, and where you need to step up.

Sift through your content map and identify where the holes are. Then, brainstorm easy ways you can fill those gaps. Perhaps there’s a whitepaper or eBook you can repurpose to serve a different audience. Or you can plan to ramp up your social promotion to feed the top of your sales funnel.

Content Audit

photo creditcontentauditor.com

Step 4. Analyze the Performance of Your Content

What content is performing well, and what isn’t? Your audit should include key content KPIs so you can see what themes, content types, and messages are resonating with your target audience.

Track metrics like social shares, traffic, leads, and revenue. And align your findings around four key areas: production, engagement, performance, and content scoring. This way, you can make informed decisions about future content marketing efforts.

Step 5: Present Your Findings

Once you map your content through your audit, present your findings in a coherent way.

Don’t just include the data from your audit. Suggest what that data means for your company’s future marketing strategy.

Expose the content holes in your major themes, personas, and buying stages. Suggest how you’ll fill these gaps by repurposing existing content, archiving or removing irrelevant content, and producing more of the kinds of content that have proved successful. Propose new processes to support these changes.

Get Auditing

You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you are. And with tools like The Content Auditor, marketers no longer have an excuse for avoiding what Rebecca Lieb calls “the cornerstone of content strategy.” What you don’t know can kill you. Stop living in the dark, and get auditing.

Content Audit AuthorAbout Liz O’Neil Dennison – Liz is content marketing manager at Kapost, a software that allows marketers to develop, manage, distribute and analyze their content from one place. Prior to Kapost, she advised big brands like AT&T on their content strategy at Location3 Media, a digital marketing agency. And before that, she spearheaded global marketing campaigns for ONE, an anti-poverty advocacy organization co-founded by Bono. She loves beekeeping, running and exploring the mountains with her dog. Follow her at @lizkoneill

Be Everywhere: Connecting Social Media to the Real World

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Jeremy Miller – Enjoy!

duct-tape-be-everywhere

photo credit: flickr

Social media is a powerful set of tools for marketers to connect with prospects and clients, but social media has its limitations.

Not all of your customers are active on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. And not all of your customers are allowing social media to affect their buying decisions.

Go beyond social media. Engage your customers on all fronts, and create the impression that your brand is everywhere.

Make your brand highly visible

Marketing sets the condition for the sale to happen.

As John Jantsch says, “Marketing is essentially getting someone that has a need to know, like and trust you. Of course then you must turn that know, like, and trust into try, buy, repeat and refer.” This is what he calls the Marketing Hourglass.

Moving a customer through the Marketing Hourglass is accelerated and enhanced with repeat exposure. An experience with your sales team can be heightened and reinforced with social media, and vice versa. Each interaction with your brand builds upon itself and moves the customer through the seven stages of the Hourglass.

Create the impression your brand is everywhere

Let’s move beyond theory and consider a company example from my upcoming book, Sticky Branding.

Brilliant is a rapidly growing staffing firm with offices in Chicago and Southern Florida. The company specializes in recruiting accounting, finance, and IT professionals for mid-sized companies.

The firm’s marketing strategy is to be everywhere. Jim Wong, CEO of Brilliant, says, “I want us to be everywhere, or I want people to think we’re everywhere.”

To create the impression the brand is everywhere, the firm employs three core programs to engage its customers:

  1. Sponsorship: Brilliant sponsors events and associations that serve small- and mid-sized companies in its geographic markets.
  2. Content Marketing: Brilliant publishes weekly email newsletters that are tailored for its audiences. The company has four business units, and each one has corresponding email programs.
  3. Social Media: Brilliant places the most emphasis on Facebook and LinkedIn, because these are the social networks that both employers and job seekers are actively involved in.

Sponsorship is Brilliant’s primary vehicle for participating and supporting its communities, while content marketing and social media are designed to reinforce and enhance that investment.

Jim says, “It builds confidence in our brand. It’s like, ‘I saw them online, and then I saw them sponsoring our conference last month. They’re everywhere.’ Popping up everywhere leads prospects back to us, and it sets the condition for a sale.”

Promote with purpose

To move customers through the seven stages of the Marketing Hourglass — know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, refer — requires marketing with purpose.

The question, or the challenge for your business, is what else can you do?

Where can you engage your customers with purpose? Facebook and LinkedIn are a great way to engage your clients online. What about in person?

Like Brilliant, develop three to five recurring programs that engage your customers over and over again to create the impression your brand is everywhere.

When your customers see your brand again and again they will think of it first when they have a need. And being considered first is a powerful position for your brand.

JeremyMiller_150x150Jeremy Miller is a Brand Builder, Keynote Speaker, and president of Sticky Branding — a brand building agency. After rebranding his family’s business, Jeremy embarked on a decade long study of how small- and mid-sized companies grow incredible brands. He knows what it takes to grow a Sticky Brand and how you can do it too. His upcoming book, Sticky Branding: 12.5 Principles to Stand Out, Attract Customers and Grow an Incredible Brand, will be published in January 2015.

Social Selling and Content Marketing: A White-Hot Combination

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Robert Rosenthal & Natasha Sekkat – Enjoy!

Social Selling

photo credit: canva

“Social selling” and “content marketing” sound like trendy terms you’d hear at a cool conference. But we’ve never cared much about what’s fashionable in marketing and sales. It comes down to what works. And the combination we’re about to describe has the potential to change almost everything.

First, a couple of quick definitions: Social selling is about building your personal and business brand through social media. Content marketing is the use of educational and even entertaining content in marketing.

Traditional Sales and Marketing No Longer Cut It

You may have noticed buyers don’t behave the way they did a generation ago. One reason: the explosion in easily accessible information. By the time you walk into a dealer to buy a car, you’ve most likely done research online. Car buyers are no longer at the dealer’s mercy.

When your parents needed a new refrigerator, they probably headed to a local appliance store. But these days, you might jump on Facebook, ask for recommendations, and receive five suggestions from friends in as many minutes.

Power has indeed shifted from seller to buyer. They want less of a pitch and more value from you. They have an ocean of information at their fingertips, so you’d better know your stuff. And with the opportunity to quickly research prospects online, there’s no excuse to pump out generalized messages.

Traditional marketing may be summed up in three words: sell, sell, sell. But product pitches often perform far worse than presentations that contribute more value. Great marketing is less self-centered and more buyer-centric.

Not Your Father’s Sales and Marketing Approach

When 20th century sales reps called new prospects, buyers generally knew nothing about the reps. Today prospects look them up on LinkedIn in seconds. Buyers ask themselves, “Is this someone I want to do business with?” It’s a whole new level of transparency.

Traditional sales reps were known for aggressiveness – and a willingness to repeat a pitch. Constantly. But that won’t work (and may even backfire) in social selling. If you keep posting comments like, “This (product name) is the best thing ever,” you’ll be ignored – or worse.

It’s better to proactively share advice or respond to a prospect’s post with a mention of a white paper on how others have addressed a similar issue. Or even provide a link to your company’s position on a particular topic. Your response should feel like community service and be adapted to your personal brand.

Content quality and quantity is key. Excellent content is super-relevant and informative. Even fascinating. Reps doing social selling regularly work the top and bottom of the funnel – and points in between. Marketing content needs to help prospects at every funnel point. It should never be, “Here’s our latest propaganda,” posted in the same manner to every prospect by every sales rep.

Of course, you can’t keep offering the same stuff. That’s why the best content marketers figure out how to regularly produce lots of high-quality content that fulfills prospect needs and business objectives. Your content should be strategic.

And remember, the best marketers tend to be the best testers, so be prepared to experiment in your content marketing and social selling. Think trial and error.

Listening for Opportunities

Here’s a potential game-changer. On LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and countless other sites, prospects tap into their networks by posting comments on what they’re researching and buying. They often use predictable words and phrases: triggers that could indicate a potential purchase. Naturally, you want to optimize your site accordingly for search engines, But if you efficiently sift through the noise on other sites to identify fresh prospects, you may have more opportunities than you’re able to handle. You may want to use Google Alerts or another tool to have these posts appear in your in-box as soon as they’re available, or focus on a small number of message boards or other sites.

Whatever you do, don’t get overly aggressive. Be consultative. And don’t overload prospects with information. Content that gets consumed most often tends to be concise: short videos, infographics, or other quick but useful presentations.

This is your chance to position yourselves as thought leaders. Or as an excellent content curator. Social selling is also about building your personal brand. It’s important to add your own touch to what you publish. Sometimes that simply means playing matchmaker and connecting people who may be useful to each other.

By all means, bring your personal life into your posts. That’s right – mix industry, product, and personal information. Show your kid’s artwork if you’re in the mood. Give prospects a chance to really know you and build a connection.

Commitment Is Key

The hip and highly profitable stuff we’ve described – social selling and content marketing – require commitment from the top. You can’t drop it into a dial-for-dollars or batch-and-blast culture and expect it to take hold. New technology is often needed, and if the team won’t use it, you may be unable to move forward. So get commitment for all this – along with the budget and time to make it work – from the top of your organization.

Now get out there and rock the world.

Robert Rosenthal Head Shot Arms Folded Igor Pic 5-2-14Robert Rosenthal is President of Contenteurs, a content marketing agency that has developed dozens of record-breaking marketing campaigns. Robert is author of Optimarketing: Marketing Optimization to Electrify Your Business – recently the #2 marketing book in Amazon’s Kindle Store. Robert holds a B.S. degree in marketing from California State University, Northridge.

 

 

Natasha Sekkat 150-150Natasha Sekkat is Global Director, Inside Sales Centers of Excellence at EMC, with 15 years’ experience in technology sales and sales management. She’s a graduate of UPenn and Wharton, with an MBA from Boston College. Natasha lives in Sudbury, MA with her two young children.

 

Why You Must Change Your Content Marketing Approach

Now that pretty much everyone on the planet gets the importance of content marketing it’s time to throw a wrench in the works. To remain effective with your content marketing efforts you must constantly evaluate, change and evolve!

I know you may not want to hear that, but content only provides value when it’s useful and the consumer always determines what useful looks like. As more and more content marketers experiment with content form, length, frequency, mode, delivery, and style the consumer pallet for content continues to mature and evolve and you must do so with it. content marketing

I’ve been participating in content marketing for about fifteen years now, long before we called it that, but I’ve always tried to stay in touch with the wants and needs of the reader.

My first efforts were articles placed in directories and shared in an ezine. (How’s that for some nostalgia) In 2003 I started blogging here and that’s driven a great deal of my growth for over a decade.

Over the years my email newsletter has become more of a place to filter, aggregate and share other people’s content in snack sized versions. I produced my first eBook in 2004 or so and now feature ten, including some I’ve licensed from other writers.

We now feature guest blog post two and sometimes three times a week and I contribute blog style articles to about a dozen publications on a regular basis. Social media has obviously opened new doors in terms of sharing and generating new forms of content.

I believe the future of content marketing, however, rests in our ability to evolve to a more personalized form of creation and delivery where the end reader participates in the curation and creation of the content they request from marketers.

This next step will require even more from content marketers if they are to continue to deliver value in an saturated field of more and more content. I reached out to some well-known content marketers and asked them to share how their content marketing thoughts had evolved over the last few years.

Their responses are both fascinating and informative.

Enjoy!

Online content strategy has changed over the last couple of years. The focus is still on providing value, but this has been honed even further. I see businesses being more strategic about the type of content they publish online, to build the communities they want. There’s more long term strategy in the content they produce. I see businesses blogging less often but with deeper content to create strong evergreen content relevant to their business. I see others sharing more thoughtful pieces of content to connect with the right people. A few years ago providing value might have been enough to get traction to impact your business, but it’s also very important to create the type of coherent online visibility you need to establish relationships. Combining the two is essential today. There’s just too much noise, too many people publishing the same thing. And of course you need a visual marketing strategy to go hand in hand with your written content if you want to really take advantage of social media reach today.

Cindy King
Director of Editorial
Social Media Examiner

Different people in your target audience (whomever that audience may be) have varying preferences for content format, platform, approach, etc. I always knew this to be true, but in the past two years I’ve really embraced the concept that there is no such thing as all-powerful content. No magic bullet. No reliable home runs. Consequently, I’m striving to create more and more content types native to more and more content platforms, so that there is something from me in the style and format that’s preferable to each person in my tribe. That’s why I’m doing more podcasting, videos, ebooks, slideshare and just about everything else. Instead of trying to do one thing extraordinarily well, I’m trying to do many things very good. It’s not easy, but content can’t fully succeed as the tip of the spear – you need the whole spear.

Jay Baer
Convince and Convert

In the last two years, I have changed my ideas about blogging. I used to do more video posts with tutorials but I’ve switched to posting very long text posts with a lot of screenshots as my primary blog post and then occasionally add in video posts. I’ve found that having a lot of screenshots is great for people who are scanners. Even though my video posts were usually around 3-5 minutes in length, not everyone wants to sit through them. My blog posts are typically between 1000-2000 words which is much longer than I used to write when I had written posts. I’m also focusing this year on posting 2-3 times per week on my blog rather than just 1 time per week. It doesn’t always happen but I do like when I can post more often because it allows me to post a little more variety of content. I can post one in-depth technical post about Facebook or social media, and then also post something slightly different about business motivation or more general marketing or even something more personal about my journey. I’ve found that people have really responded to my personal posts – they don’t always get the biggest amount of traffic but they definitely get the most comments and I think they are great for connecting with your readers.

Andrea Vahl

Over the last two years, I’ve attempted to add more contrast to my content. It has often been said that content is king. However, with so much content out there it can all start to blend together so I’ve been focusing on making contrast king. This way, my readers look forward to what’s coming next. There’s more anticipation and surprise and, as a result, more attention and conversation is produced.

Michael Port
Book Yourself Solid

1. Publishing on weekends – CMI now publishes posts on Saturday and Sunday, as we’ve noticed that the posts get a bit more attention with less competition on those days. 2. Audio/Podcasts – Last year, we launched our first podcast and have seen amazing results. In the anticipation of more opportunities to get access to iTunes (ala Apple CarPlay), we are in the process of launching a podcast network as part of our core content offerings. 3. More In-Person Events – A decade ago, we were under the impression that social media might lead to people less likely to travel to events. Actually, the opposite has happened. With more networking going on via the Internet, people are actually craving more in-person, face-to-face time. So over the past two years we’ve added an event in Asia Pacific, as well as five additional events in North America.

Joe Pulizzi
Content Marketing Institute

We’ve not really changed much at all with regard to our content during the course of the last couple of years. Since launching our corporate blog, we’ve always focused on just one thing: our audience. We try to write content for the blog that is informative, educational and which can help marketers (our audience) do what they do more efficiently, effectively and with fewer headaches. We try to stay on top of trends, tools, and must-know, must-consider things as marketers develop and execute their integrated marketing strategies. Much like you, we understand that relationships today are built with information, and by giving it away (information), people come to trust and rely on us as a go-to source for whatever it is they need. I use just one phrase as a barometer (and I use this when I’m on the road speaking as well): How do you know if you’re doing it right? Ask yourself just one questions: Is it good for people. If so, then you’re doing it right. I believe that applies to every facet of your content marketing and lead gen initiatives: website, landing page campaigns, blog, social, email, and is applicable both online and off.

Shelly Kramer
V3 Integrated Marketing

“At Social Media Examiner our approach to content has not fundamentally changed in the last five years with two exceptions. We still publish 1000+ word articles that are extensively edited by a team of at least 6 editors. However, the first major change is the use of images. We custom design Facebook open graph and Twitter card images for our high profile articles to help them appear better in social. This means we have a designer create a nice image with words that will compel more clicks and shares. Secondly, we have upped the frequency of our original content from six times a week to ten. This means publishing two articles per day on most days.”

Mike Stelzner
Social Media Examiner

The last two years have been a time when we’ve experimented a fair bit with our content on numerous fronts including: 1. we’ve seen our longer form content do very well so have experimented with what we internally refer to as ‘mega-posts’ that are more comprehensive guides to larger topics. These posts are generally 2000+ words (and have gone as high as over 5000 words). While this isn’t what we publish every day we’ve tried to throw them into the mix ever few weeks and have been rewarded with great sharing, traffic and comments. 2. I’ve experimented increasingly with repurposing posts in different mediums. This has included using content previously published on the blog as slideshares and republishing older posts on LinkedIn and Google+ (usually with updates). I’ve also done it around the other way by publishing content that was still in a ‘first draft’ format to LinkedIn to get reader reactions before publishing it to the blog. 3. On ProBlogger we’ve also slowed our frequency down slightly and have been experimenting with ‘themed weeks’ where we tackle a larger topic over a series of posts over 5-6 days. This means we’ve been able to dig deeper into topics and build momentum. These theme weeks have been very well received. 4. The other major change for me has been the way I’m sharing content. I’ve put a huge effort into Facebook (on Digital Photography School) where we’ve gone from auto-posing new posts to 5-6 manual updates every day. The results of this have been amazing for us – while others are seeing reduced results with Facebook we’ve seen significant improvements in our organic reach, engagement and traffic driven from Facebook.

Darren Rowse
ProBlogger

I’ve become even more convinced of the power of brevity.

Dan Pink
To Sell Is Human

I just made a change… this week! After 5+ years of writing two posts a week, I’m now publishing content every day. It wasn’t so much that I thought “more is better” — the old way was good for a while, too. But then it became stale and I felt like I wasn’t challenging myself. Just as important, I felt like I wasn’t serving my readers well. The new blog has a lot of more frequent, shorter content, as well as a new series of Reader Stories and Profiles to highlight some of the great people in the community. So far, I’m very happy with the change and I think the readers are too.

Chris Guillebeau
The Art of Non-Conformity

I tend to go to longer content in social media and shorter content in blogs and direct response. I’m not sure why other than I use stories in social media and those tend to go longer. I don’t know that I’m using content for just education about ‘how to’ — but education about who I am and how I serve, how I live and how I see the world.

Carrie Wilkerson
Barefoot Executive

I stopped sending newsletters monthly that were long and had multiple subjects to it. I found that they were not getting read. Now I send brief single subject emails weekly with very enticing titles to get open, click thrus and shares. This has resulted in much better open rates and easier content generation.

Barry Moltz
barrymoltz.com

More Long Form Content We are gravitating away from shorter more informal “blog” posts and are investing much more in creating lengthier, more authoritative articles. There’s a glut of blog content of the short style, and while it may be shared on social media widely, it also tends to have a short shelf life. Longer, more in-depth pieces on evergreen topics tend to deliver a better ROI on the investment (time or money) in an article. In other words, if you’re going to write an article, you might as well make the extra effort to make it rich in detail and fantastic! It’s not unusual for Small Business Trends to publish pieces I’ve personally written or we’ve commissioned from others, at 1,500 – 2,000 words each, several times per week. (We publish around 50 articles per week, since we are an online magazine.) We don’t have a steady diet of long pieces, but we do a greater percentage of them today than two years ago. Here is why we do more long-form content. We find that people AND search engines tend to favor well-written, in-depth pieces. For instance, Google recognizes Schema markup for in-depth articles. But even if you don’t know what Schema markup is or don’t want to bother with it, you may just find that longer content helps your site’s engagement because (a) people tend to spend more time on your site reading longer pieces stuffed with useful information; and (b) they are more likely to explore the rest of your site, not just consume a short snack and immediately go away. Also, a page with a lot of quality content on a specific topic tends to naturally rank well in search because of the sheer quantity of information for the search engine spiders. That means more people may find your article — and your site — via search. And perhaps hire you or buy from you. However, everybody has their own style, and every site is different. There’s no one-size-fits-all. I recommend that people experiment. See if long-form content works for you.

Anita Campbell
CEO and Publisher
Small Business Trends

My approach is much different now than in years past. When I first started out with my blog in 2006, I posted ten to twelve times per week, then a few years later, I brought on contributors in order to scale the blog, while I focused on writing for business media outlets. Now, I rarely publish on social networks and only write articles six times each year when I have new research I want to push out to the marketplace. Part of this is because I believe the marketplace is changing and part of this is because I burned out from posting so much. I have so much going on now that I would rather focus my content production when I need to get something out there rather than random articles.

Dan Schawbel
Author of Promote Yourself

The biggest change for me has been that there are more outlets to share my content on. Specifically I think of Instagram. In the past the only way to share what I was seeing out in the world was in a blog post. Flickr has always been around as someplace to upload photos, but that is where it ended. There was no real community. But, using Instagram I can take a photo, tag the location and then write as little or much as I want and share it out to all other channels. I love having that flexibility and functionality right in my pocket anywhere in the world. I no longer have to take out my laptop to create and share.

C.C. Chapman

“Social media has changed the way I approach the content I create. Twitter, Facebook, et al have reduced our attention spans and at the same time increased the amount of “noise” we have to wade through, in order to get to the “signal.” As a result, I am creating more visuals and making any written content more succinct. I’m using images to gain attention, graphics to convey my message, and even my new book, Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation, is just 194 pages, spread out over 30+ concise chapters. In short, less truly is more.”

Andy Beal
CEO of Trackur

I’ve changed it all. I write once a week or so for chrisbrogan.com, instead of once or twice a day. Instead, I write my newsletter once a week, and write for private communities multiple times a day. I’m sharing a peek from outside, but only the faithful gets the payload.

Chris Brogan
Publisher of Owner Magazine

So, if you’ve made it to this point why not share thoughts on how your content marketing is evolving!

8 Ways to Amplify Your Content on Mobile

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Dave Landry – Enjoy!

photo credit: shutterstock

Mobile is becoming a powerful, driving engine in the content world. The January 2014 Mobile Technology Fact Sheet shows that 63% of adult cell phone owners use their phones to go online, while 34% of cell phone Internet users go online using only their phone rather than any other device.

Mobile content is distinct because of the idiosyncratic and curious ways users interact with it. A Rumble study from 2013 found that while certain mobile app user behaviors were similar, most of those interacting with mobile content exhibited unique behavior.

Apps account for 86% of the average US consumer’s time on a mobile device, while time spent on the mobile web declined. How can marketers make their content stand out in such a crowded mobile marketplace?

Here are eight ways marketers can amplify content on mobile:

1. Be mobile-friendly.

You must optimize for the device as well as the way that users will interact with your site’s content. Mobile users NEED simple sites with easy navigation. Utilize the principles of responsive design to ensure that your content will display correctly for all users on all devices.

2. Build a community.

You can amplify your reputation by being helpful and relevant to your audience. When you build trust, you also build a community – and this community will be vital when it comes to amplifying content. The cultivation of long-standing relationships is key to having your content amplified. Even if you’re not posting undeniably quotable and shareable content all day every day, your base community of followers with whom you regularly engage with will still have your back and interact.

3. Develop a mobile app.

With so many users trading in time spent on the mobile web for time in apps, it’s easy to see why it’s beneficial to develop your own app to deliver content to users. The added bonus is that you can further target content for the segment of users that download and use your mobile app. Enable all possible sharing options to allow users to share content with their network.

4. Make mobile a part of your overall strategy.

Keep your business and marketing goals in mind as you consider your mobile campaigns. Don’t make the mistake of treating mobile as something separate from your marketing strategy, as it should be integrated into the rest of your initiatives. Do not silo mobile because it will likely affect other aspects of your organization and marketing. Understanding where mobile falls into your overall strategy allows you to drive sales activities.

5. Consider real-time video.

In May 2014, Grabyo, a company specializing in real-time video, released a report stating that 72% of the traffic on their platform came from mobile. The company found that live TV clips generate exceptional levels of engagement on Facebook and Twitter. Content creators can sponsor these mobile clips to reach new members of their target audience. Content creators interested in amplifying content on mobile should consider paid sponsorship and advertising opportunities. With targeted advertising you will be able to measure exact analytics.

6. Don’t just think social – think branded.

Mobile users are almost twice as likely to share content on social media sites. A study from the video technology company Unruly showed that branded Vines are four times more likely to be shared than branded videos. Brands like PepsiCo, AT&T, and General Electric are already taking advantage of consumers’ love for bite-size content and use it to boost their overall content marketing strategies.

7. Add SMS to the mix.

comScore’s January 2014 report showed that 159.8 million people in the United States owned smartphones, making up only 66.8% of the mobile market penetration. The majority of devices on today’s market are SMS enabled. SMS messaging is affordable and provides a sizable ROI for marketers, as 90% of SMS text messages are read in the first 4-6 minutes of delivery.

8. Always analyze.

Perform a thorough analysis to help you understand what campaigns are working and which need to be adjusted. Take your newfound data and apply it to your next round of marketing. Your collected data and improved campaigns will be critical to amplifying future content.

Successful content amplification is rooted in providing your audience with engaging, valuable content. With creative power and vision, marketers can take advantage of the wealth of opportunities that mobile opens up for them.

Dave Landry Jr.Dave Landry Jr. is a journalist and business owner who enjoy creating graphic and written content on his downtime. He hope you enjoy this article.

Just Work the Program

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Justin Belmont – Enjoy!
Work The Program

Photo Credit: Barber Chair

Many barbershops go beyond a simple haircut to treat customers to a grooming extravaganza. A haircut may come with a beer, great conversation, hairstyling tips, full shampoo and conditioning with top-notch men’s hair products, and a massage chair. A repeat customer will likely expect a repeat performance. Yet, if the barber falls short on the friendly conversation, if he forgets to offer a beer, or even if the massage chair is out of order, the customer may not return.

While any of these mistakes is forgivable, the customer has come to expect a certain type of haircut. As the owner of a new luxury barbershop, you would need to set the standard of service and stick to it.

Marketing is no different. Patience may be difficult in the midst of a marketing program, but if you lay out a plan and follow it consistently, you build customer confidence in your brand.

Work The Program

Photo Credit: Maplay out a plan and follow it consistently, you build customer confidence in your brand.

For example, if your social media campaign begins with three tweets per day and you begin to build an audience on this strategy, that audience is going to expect to find tweets three times a day. Along the same lines, if you only tweet once or twice a week, you may build an audience that prefers a sparse style. If you start to ramp up your daily tweets, this audience may un-follow you.

In either case, decide on a consistent strategy that is appropriate for your brand before execution. If your social media ship has already set sail without a consist heading, reevaluate the program. Start anew, but be faithful to the new program. In some ways, correcting course on a social media program may be easier than on other marketing platforms. Format is fairly standardized, making frequency the primary consideration. As long as you supply relevant content, there are relatively few corrections to be made. Traditional marketing campaigns, such as pitching media or running online advertising, may require more work to recover.

Work The Program

Photo Credit: Marketing

Whether the business is a barber shop or a new real estate investment firm, the rules are the same for any small venture. Consistency is key. The logo on social media pages should be the same as the logo on emails signatures and on the bandit signs posted around town. If you want to build consumer confidence that your business is legitimate, maintain branding across platforms to establish recognition. For example, the Nike “swoosh” branding is so recognizable that Nike no longer needs to supplement it with the brand name. The logo speaks for itself.

Inconsistencies are a red flag to audiences that something is amiss. Sloppy marketing may indicate that the product cuts corners as well. Audiences may think your company can’t handle the work, either because distractions have let the marketing program fall to the wayside or because the company cannot afford proper business promotion. No matter the cause, inconsistent marketing will elicit shaky confidence, which in turn will make customers disappear.

 

Justin BelmontJustin Belmont is the founder and editor-in-chief of Prose Media (prosemedia.com), a writing service that creates high-quality content for brands–from blog posts and newsletters to web copy and white papers. Prose (@prose) employs top professional journalists and copywriters with expertise in a variety of industries.

With a background in corporate communications, Belmont has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and was formerly an editor at Google.