5 Ways to Produce Eye-Catching Content Without a Designer

photo credit: kaboompics

photo credit: kaboompics

There’s nothing like great content. I create it for work. I create it for fun. Crazy? Perhaps. Especially since creating good, visually appealing content is a huge challenge faced by many.

There is no rule that says you have to hire a pricey graphic designer in order to generate beautiful, design-rich content.  Of course, design specialists are a great resource to have on a team – but, for many earlier-stage businesses, increased costs and headcount may not be ideal.

Luckily, a universe of tools exist that enable quick content creation for even the non-designers among us – whether it’s as simple as a quick meme or as elaborate as an ebook. Slim, bootstrapping teams could wear a designer hat and produce the rich content quickly and inexpensively by enlisting some of these fantastic content-producing tools:

Capture the moment with Skitch

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.32.16 PMSkitch is a great app that helps brands tell a visual story – and it’s free! Grab a quick screenshot on your device and mark it up with arrows, boxes, text and more. Skitch lets you mark up images, digital assets, PDFs, and other files with arrows, callout boxes, text, and more.

I find that at least once a day I use Skitch’s “Screen Snap” function to grab all or part of my screen for use in content. I don’t need to plug my captured image into another program for further cropping and other editing since the all-in-one features of Skitch enable me to do so right in their app. A great time saver and useful tool for supporting your talking points with a rich visual design.

Skitch is owned by Evernote but does not require an Evernote account to start using. Try it out and screengrab to your heart’s content.

Don’t use any old font, use Dafont

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.32.42 PMSick of using Times and Ariel in your creative. Aren’t we all? Luckily, resources like Google Fonts, Font Squirrel and more offer a wealth of wonderfully designed, open-source fonts to add a little character to your characters.

I like Dafont for its abundance of options that range from general purpose to highly specialized. Each font is well-tagged so the site’s great search function could pull up just what you’re looking for. Simply download, install and use a desired font in graphics, presentations, ebooks and more – just make sure to check for any attribution requirements.

Pound out a quick infographic with Piktochart

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.33.07 PMThere’s nothing like a good infographic to capture an audience and teach them something new. When it’s simple to create in just minutes and free, it’s all the more reason to inject them into a content strategy.

Piktochart is quick and simple for anyone to create professional-looking infographics, reports, banners, and presentations. An intuitive interface and simple drag-and-drop features help a designer-less team fake it until they make it.

Get instant access and “start creating in 30 seconds,” as the site’s homepage describes. Start yours from scratch, choose from customizable free templates or step up to Pro for some more options.

Along with the vast library of templates, you can find over four thousand graphics to really spruce things up, or get more custom and create your very own images. When generating visual creations to represent your brand, avoid a clunky MS Paint design and make them look professionally mastered at low commitment.

Become an author with Guides.co

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.33.14 PMHave what it takes to write an informative eBook but lack the design skill to bring into fruition? Guide.co offers the perfect solution.

We’ve all experienced the power of eBooks, in educating an audience, adding credibility and thought leadership status to a brand and capturing more qualified leads. But the more comprehensive the piece of content the more time and budget it consumes.

Guides.co provides a useful, plug-and-lay model to take on the burden creating an attractive body for your killer copy. Like Piktochart, Guides.co offers multiple templates to kick off your design – and easy-to-use customizing features help to guide your guide to fit your brand.

Guides.co even goes the extra mile and hosts your content on their site for the world to discover!

Get interactive and think ThingLink

ThingLink adds a totally new form to social media that brings life to your content. The tool makes interactive visual graphics easy to make and void of the premium price tag.

The site integrates with others like YouTube, SoundCloud, and Vimeo to pull in sounds and videos to add to your graphic.

Register for free or get a few other advantages with a membership – but you might not need to spend the extra cash. The tools basic features enable users to design quite rich, interactive videos and images to incorporate into a content marketing strategy.

Even better, once completed, ThingLink lets you tag your piece and share with your social network along with their own community. Interact with other creative ThingLink users for ideas, inspiration and feedback.

Go forth and design

Designing is not easy. Supplementing the talent of an experienced designer will save costs but could indeed reduce the effectiveness of a content strategy. However, since more basic content is better than no content at all, getting your engine running with intuitive and affordable tools is key.  Helpful apps that enable the everyday entrepreneur or busy marketing generalist to design without breaking the bank or eating up your time is lifesaving.

Have any questions about improving your content strategy? Contact me! 

VinceVince is a passionate digital marketing specialist with a track record of evangelizing technology to modernize business development and brand building in the startup through enterprise levels. Skilled in strategic data-driven campaign management, Vince focuses on demand generation programs that influence growth, including marketing automation, social media, digital advertising, search engine optimization, blogging, public relations, video and event marketing.? Vince is a well-established Twitter influencer under @vince_tech and Founder of Boom Digital, a boutique digital marketing agency specializing in supporting the growth of early-stage startup companies through social media, content marketing, and design.

 

Why MORE Marketing Isn’t What You Need

photo credit: Unsplash

photo credit: Unsplash

Your marketing isn’t quite getting the results you want. In fact, it seems like the latest “thing” is taking far too long to work.

So you decide that what you really need to do is add another tactic to the mix because it just may be the thing that helps you reach your goals. As a small business owner or entrepreneur, does this scenario seem familiar?

You’re not alone. We’ve all been conditioned to believe that more is better. More marketing must equal bigger results. Right?

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Trying to be everywhere and continuously adding to our lineup of marketing tactics is likely working against you. When the focus is simply on adding more marketing to the mix, often it’s simply adding to the noise instead of cutting through to reach your ideal clients.

What if instead we decided to try a different approach to our marketing?

After coaching thousands of solo-preneurs, I realized the ‘be everywhere’ mindset of more marketing was backfiring for my clients. They were completely overwhelmed with the unending list of marketing tactics and frustrated that instead of doing what they loved, they were spending all their time marketing!

Our solution? Do less and do it better. By focusing in on their business sweet spot, we can determine the right marketing strategy for their business. When your marketing is in alignment with your business sweet spot, suddenly you’re playing to your strengths. It’s a “lean” approach to marketing mashed up with leveraging your zone of genius.

Here are a few ways to help you cut the marketing that’s not working and find your business sweet spot:

#1. Assess What’s Really Driving Results in Your Marketing

The average small business owner uses multiple social media channels, along with any combination of email marketing, blogging, podcasting, video, search engine optimization, and the list goes on and on. The reality is that few of us can do all of these things well, and we’re diluting our results when we’re spread too thin across strategies.

Take some time and make a master list of everything that you’re focusing on in your marketing. Then look at each one with a critical eye to determine if they are working for you. Keep this objective! Can you tie your strategy back to a measurable result? Having a large follower count on Facebook doesn’t matter if you aren’t able to convert that number into relationships and ultimately, sales.

One of my favorite ways to check in with my marketing strategy is to think through your top clients from the past 6 months. Simply making a list of your top 10 clients, then asking “how did they find me?” can cut through the confusion quickly! In fact, despite being an online business, I’m amazed that over 50% of my private consulting clients come from a personal referral. Now I spend more time focusing on nurturing referral relationships!

When reviewing your list, see if you can cut it down to the three most effective things. Then assess if you can let the rest go. You may quickly find ways to trim the fat or at least open up your eyes to gauge the real ROI on your marketing activities.

#2. Discover Where You Truly Shine

We all come to the table as business owners with our own unique set of skills, experiences, and personality traits. Some of us are at our very best in the maven role where we can build a large platform and shine on stage. Others may do their best in more intimate small group or one-on-one situations where they facilitate meaningful change and mentor clients.

There is no one-size-fits-all marketing strategy.

As a complete introvert, I’ve found that attending large events or conferences completely stress me out. Instead of feeling excited, I feel depleted. It takes days for me to recover! Not the best strategy for me – my marketing is much more effective when I leverage my strengths as a writer and teacher.

On the other hand, one of my colleagues adores attending events. She always makes great connections and walks away with new clients for her corporate consulting work. But spending most of her time behind a screen? Just the idea of an editorial calendar makes her feel restricted.

Not sure where you shine? Think about what your clients and community most thank you for. Alternatively, consider where you are most energized and what type of work you most enjoy. By tapping into that information, you can find clues that tell you how to best focus your marketing.

#3. Simplify and Streamline Your Marketing Strategy

Look at where you shine. Compare it to what’s working. You’ll likely find a clear pattern connecting the two – that’s your Sweet Spot! That’s where you should focus the bulk of your marketing time and energy to get the most powerful results.

By working in your sweet spot, you can jump off the marketing hamster wheel and say yes only to those marketing activities that are most aligned with what best works for you and your business.

What things have you found that are in your marketing sweet spot? What activities is it time to let go of? Share in the comments below.

RachealCookSquare-150Racheal Cook, MBA is an award-winning business strategist who believes entrepreneurs can grow their dream business while living their dream life, right now. You can connect with Rachael and get more of her mindful marketing advice by joining the Fired Up + Focused Challenge.

 

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Defining Your Marketing Strategy

Today’s guest post comes from the newest member of the Duct Tape Marketing team Kala Linck – Enjoy!

It’s February already! That means another year of customers, products, and sales. What are you doing to reach your customers, promote your products and improve sales? Did you set goals for the upcoming year? How are you going to reach them?

Photo Credit: From TyrrellMarketing.co.uk

Photo Credit: From TyrrellMarketing.co.uk

This is where your marketing strategy comes in. What is a marketing strategy? How do you create one? Don’t worry, that’s what I’m here to help with.

A marketing strategy combines all of an organization’s marketing goals into one comprehensive plan. The goal of a marketing strategy is to increase business and grow awareness of your organization. There are several pieces of information you’ll need in order to create this strategy.

First, what are your sales goals? At the end of the year, you’ll need to have something to determine that your marketing efforts were effective.

Do you want to increase sales by 10 percent? Would you like to sell more of a certain product or service? At the end of the year, what numbers will tell you that you’ve had a successful year?

Second, what marketing efforts do you currently have in place? You will use this to ensure that current marketing efforts are being utilized and consistent throughout the year, and to determine which you would like to add or take away.

Do you have a website? Do you participate in social media? Have you purchased radio ads or a billboard? Have you noticed that some of these are more effective than others?

Third, what is your target audience? This will help determine the channel you use to distribute your message, what your message is, and even where to focus sales!

Who buys your products? Where do they hear about your company? What needs do they have that your products or services meet?

Last, what are your key messages? These messages should align your products and services with your target audience. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your organization.

What needs improvement; what is being improved? What are customers saying about your organization? How do your products and services meet the needs of your target audience? What products and services do you offer?

As you start to flush out what your organization offers, to whom, and how you can best reach your audience to meet your goals, your marketing strategy will start to unfold.

When you begin putting this together, focus on the big picture first and then later, the specific tactics you will use to accomplish these big picture plans. Your marketing strategy statements should look something like this; “We will make our target audience aware of our improved customer service for returns to increase online sales by 5 percent.”

Need some help putting together a marketing strategy and then creating tactics to meet your goals in 2015? Talk to a Duct Tape Marketing consultant.

profKala is a specialist in digital marketing, who loves nothing more than picking up a newspaper and tuning into the local stations. She’s worked with clients spanning a variety of industries and knows that people are the heart of a successful business. Currently enrolled at the Kansas City Art Institute to receive a certificate of integrated design, she believes in continuous learning. She loves to travel and try new foods, and documents her travels in her blog. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

Using Large Business Tactics on a Small Business Budget

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from Jesse Aaron – Enjoy!

You won’t find your local pizza shop in the Super Bowl advertising line-up, but you will find Papa John’s there. You won’t find your local shoe store sponsoring an Olympic team, but you will Nike there. However, there’s a strong chance the regional Papa John’s and Nike outlets have not heard of the local charity run or annual Turkey bowl.  Although their brand presence and marketing budgets are vast, they don’t always have their finger on the pulse of local events – but small businesses do. They’re engrained in the fabric of communities and they can use that to their advantage.

Small businesses have these advantages manifest as we convert the marketing tactics and campaigns of large businesses into a smaller formula. Let’s explore a few of them.

Strategic Branding Opportunities

Red Bull has molded their brand image to offer shareable and engaging media channels. Think of Felix Baumgartner and his record-breaking free-fall from 128,000 feet above the Earth’s surface. His most prominent sponsor was Red Bull. What they’ve done is affiliate their brand with various stunts and events that are complete media magnets. Even if nobody is paying close attention to the brand and sponsor information, these televised events will be shared for years to come and because of that it’s next to impossible for the brand to go overlooked.

Now, there’s absolutely no way that a small business could hope to match that kind of media coverage, at least not right away. That said, it’s entirely possible to create something highly shareable and engaging that spreads like wildfire, or becomes a social phenomenon so-to-speak. That shouldn’t be your focus or goal, however.

A small business can adopt a similar strategy by sponsoring local events and charities. Attending talent shows at neighboring schools and featuring one of the local acts is a great way to simultaneously promote localization and attract eyeballs. Who knows, they might be the next Felix Baumgartner.

Take Advantage of Emerging and Real-Time Marketing Opportunities

oreo

photo credit: Oreo’s Twitter Feed

This doesn’t pertain to any one brand, but instead several. Ever notice how the big names always seem to tie their marketing and advertising campaigns into real-time events and opportunities? For example, just take a look at how Coca-Cola and Oreo have tied their brand messages into the Super Bowl.

Along a similar vein of tied-in-branding, small businesses can hop on any relevant trends that sprout on social media. Remember the ice bucket challenge? Everyone and their cat posted a video of that, but the playing field was open to everyone. Countless brands and individuals of all sizes were scoring views and traffic due to their creative take on the challenge.

Create Content Based on Popular and Relevant Search Terms

Another playing field that can be a bit more forgiving than traditional advertising is the results page for search terms. Google factors in locations so when someone starts looking for pizza both local and chains will show up. Pizza Hut will never be able to compete with a locally renowned pizza shop.

When we start looking at the most popular and relevant search terms about our business we uncover paths to content. For example, if we sell mice traps and we notice many people are searching for tips on how to trap mice humanely, we could make both physical and digital cards to send out to customers and friends.

For small businesses with a creative team, we can reimagine search terms as visual content. I came across a great example of this recently with an infographic showing how much Americans spend on cars.  I was searching for the average price someone spends on a car and this was just a small auto-parts shop, but they effectively turned a popular search term into an engaging piece of content.

Flex and Flaunt Expertise

Famous brands consistently try to market themselves as the best, the brightest, and the biggest. Almost every hot tech company today can fuel that initiative because they attract the best and the brightest – but not of all of it.

According to a survey commissioned by the Freelancers Union, 34% of the American workforce freelances. The small web design shops and creative studios can easily home talent on part with the largest businesses. Think about the local mechanic or barber who has dedicated their life to the trade. We’re accustomed to seeing slogans like “#1 practice” or “top-rated in the area” and while this is definitely effective branding, more can be done to actually show expertise.

Blogs and video channels open the door to create educational materials such as tutorials and guides that can help convert potential customers. Local events also present opportunities to demo products or teach classes. Universities are also constantly on the lookout for experts of various industries to give lectures and in-class speeches, which can open your own business to fresh talent.

Jesse AaronJesse Aaron is a community manager and freelancer writer. He runs a blog and forums about social media marketing on Mashbout.

 

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from Jolynn Oblak – Enjoy!

Leveraging inbound marketing strategies can help small business grow their customer base and save money. There are two basic types of marketing – inbound and outbound. The focus of each is different and they involve different strategies and techniques.

What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing, also referred to as interruption marketing, involves getting your marketing message to the largest number of people possible through advertising, cold calling, direct mail and other aggressive techniques that interrupt people in their daily lives. Seth Godin writes extensively about interruption marketing in his book, Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers. Outbound marketing is a marketing model that requires a lot of marketing messages to be pushed out through various channels in the hope that the right message makes it to the right person. This is an expensive marketing model.  So what options exist today that are cost-effective and deliver results for small businesses?  In Hubspot’s 2014 state of inbound report, we find evidence to support the position that inbound marketing has the potential to deliver better results than outbound marketing.

“Half of marketers across B2B, B2C, and nonprofit sectors ranked inbound as their primary lead source, exceeding the average (42%) of all other channels combined.”

Here are 4 key reasons that inbound marketing is the right investment for small businesses who are looking for an effective marketing method for customer acquisition.

1. The Price of Inbound vs. Outbound

Outbound marketing is a very expensive endeavor.  The average cost per lead in North America is significantly less when using inbound marketing strategies. [Source: Hubspot state of inbound report, 2014].

hubspot cost per lead b2b

photo credit: State of Inbound 2014

The costs associated with outbound marketing often involves printing and mailing materials or spreading your message through television, radio or other media, making it out of reach for smaller businesses. Inbound marketing is less expensive and anyone with the right skills can do it. You create your website and blog with content that is targeted to your primary market and with a good content marketing strategy, you can attract prospects to you. You do most of the work on the front end building your site, optimizing with SEO and building a website traffic strategy. Social media is a relatively inexpensive way to find your target market compared to traditional advertising and print media.  According to Hubspot, over the last 6 months, companies are relying more on Social Media, Blogging, Email Marketing and SEO for lead generation than traditional, outbound marketing [Source: Hubspot state of inbound report, 2014].

The diagram below from, Moz compares the benefits and tactics of interruption. With so many marketing messages thrust into our daily lives, it’s no wonder that consumers are ignoring these constant messages.

Interruption marketing and inbound marketing

photo credit: Moz

2. It Offers Better Two-Way Communication

One huge advantage of inbound marketing is that it’s a form of two-way communication where the customer interacts with the business in a dialog. They post on the company’s Facebook wall, comment on business blogs, or take part in contests. When they participate, they become invested and engaged. People want to be in control of the information they get and this makes them more receptive to your message. A great example of a successful inbound marketing campaign that illustrated this beautifully is the Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign which was unprecedented in its use of social media to engage, motivate and respond to voter’s needs.

3. People Won’t Tune out your messages. Period!

Outbound marketing means putting your message in front of people whether they want to hear it or not. As a result, its techniques are often intrusive and annoying. People have begun to tune it out. Inbound marketing puts your message in front of your target market and if you employ the right content marketing strategy, they will be compelled by their own curiosity to see what you have to offer. In fact, blogging can yield 13 times increased ROI over a year [Source: Hubspot state of inbound report, 2014] and B2B marketers who use blogs generate 67% more leads per month than those who do not. [Source: Social Media B2B].

4. Inbound Marketing for Non-Marketers

Inbound marketing doesn’t feel like marketing. To market traditionally through direct mail or cold calling takes a certain amount of aggressiveness and sales skill. With inbound marketing, you provide valuable content like whitepapers, infographics and blog posts that help attract your ideal customer. It’s not “selling” in the traditional sense, so it’s more appealing to those who hate the image of the pushy salesman and may feel uncomfortable pushing their message.

Clearly, small businesses can benefit in many ways by adopting an inbound marketing strategy. Think of inbound marketing as the magnet to acquire the right customer and start today with a plan for how your small business can leverage it in 2015.

tbITPFIpJolynn Oblak operates Oblak Marketing & Consulting, a marketing consultancy that offers digital training products that help entrepreneurs to grow their business by leveraging inbound marketing strategies. Jolynn brings more than a decade of direct & inbound marketing success to help businesses drive their products and services to a larger clientele by developing effective sales funnels and marketing plans that will turn prospects into customers and customers into lifelong fans. She shares actionable tips on business blogging, social media marketing and more via her blog. You can get in touch with Jolynn via her website at www.jolynnoblak.com or via Facebook or Twitter

12 Simple Ways to Improve your Small Business Blog

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

angry man with computer

photo credit: Anton

As a business owner, you’re always keen to try new things. So when you heard that blogging was a great way to improve website traffic and brand awareness, you thought you’d give it a go.

Sadly your business blog hasn’t produced the results you wanted. Hardly anyone is visiting, no one is commenting, and you are losing the motivation to keep up with your regular posts. So what do you do if your blog is tired, stagnant, or you feel as if the content isn’t reaching the right audience?

Before you give up on your blog, here are 12 tips to kickstart your stagnant business blog and ensure all your hard work pays off:

  1. Have you gotten started on your blog? If you’ve been thinking about blogging for your business more than you’ve actually been blogging about your business, it’s time to get started. I love the free get started blogging guide at First Site Guide for simple, image-based direction for getting your blog up-and-running.
  2. Are you using social media to help grow your audience and promote your blog content? Perhaps it’s time you started. Don’t head straight for Facebook, though – think about where your audience is most likely to hang out and what they might be interested in. Pinterest and Instagram are growing social sites that love visual content and how-to tutorials.
  3. If you’re writing product tutorials (or any kind of tutorial), include images, videos, diagrams and other visual content. Not only is your piece more likely to be useful if it contains visual guides, but the images themselves will be shared on social media, expanding your reach.
  4. Ditch the “blog” moniker. Many people don’t actually read “blogs” and will assume your blog content is all company and product updates, even if you’re writing fun and useful articles. Call your blog tab “Articles” or “How-to guides” instead.
  5. With every Google update, guest blogging is becoming an obsolete form of generating backlinks. However, guest blogging is still a powerful way to grow your audience, as long as you aim for quality over quantity. Write a post on a lifestyle blog related to your industry; for example, if you’re a tourism company, create some content for a travel blog.
  6. Do you have an old blog post that still pulls in decent traffic? Update the post with new information and better images, tighten up the prose, and republish it with a strong call-to-action.
  7. Use an editorial calendar to plan your posts weeks and months in advance. This editorial calendar should be part of your company’s marketing calendar because you’ll need to plan content around your various campaigns.
  8. Create a top-ten list associated with your industry or product. For example, if you make and sell scented candles, compile a list of the top ten scents for getting rid of a bad mood.
  9. You don’t have to “create” all your content yourself – compile posts of “curated” images, quotes and videos related to a single subject. As long as you attribute all the creators, you can republish their content and create a picture resource for your readers. For example, if you’re an interior designer, you could compile a post of 25 beautiful rustic kitchen designs to help your clients dream up ideas for their kitchen.
  10. Create a playlist in Spotify for an occasion associated with your business. For example, if you’re a wedding planner, you could create a romantic wedding playlist. Publish this list on your blog and share it on other music websites.
  11. Create a list of popular books in your industry. Choose books by popular industry leaders, and focus on interesting titles that cover a range of abilities. For example, if you were a fashion designer, you might include books on sewing techniques, on the fashion industry, and biographies of famous designers. You could even use Amazon affiliate links to make a bit of extra money when someone clicks through to buy a book.
  12. Have fun! Blogging for your business is a lot better than researching keywords for search, or sending out hundreds of press releases in the hope of getting coverage. Embrace it!

Do you have a business blog that just isn’t working? How are you going to turn things around?

author pictureSteff is the author, blogger and heavy metal maiden behind steffmetal.com, a blog about loud music, alternative subcultures and her adventures living off-grid in rural New Zealand. Steff writes dark fantasy fiction for adults; her latest book, The Sunken, a dark steampunk fantasy set in Georgian London, is now available on Amazon. Sign up for her author newsletter and receive a FREE short story.

 

How to Turn a New Fan into a Lifelong Follower

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

photo credit: Anna L. Schiller via photopin cc

photo credit: Anna L. Schiller via photopin cc

Taking those curious new social media followers and turning them into lifelong fans that are engaged with your brand takes work. The journey from “My pal RT’d one of your tweets,” to “I now follow everything you post!” does not happen instantly.

Read on to learn how to turn that first like, share, or retweet, into a lifelong follower. The key takeaway will be around creating a strong community – and I’m not talking about one built on group hugs – these a real social media community building tactics.

Make sure that the content is platform appropriate

Every social media platform offers something different to users. You have to use the unique features of each one to truly engage with your community and new followers:

  • Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are visual content starved. Social Bakers found that Facebook posts with images get 93-96% more attention. New followers are going to look through your social profiles – make sure you have lots of images for them.
  • LinkedIn is mostly set up for B2B. This formal atmosphere requires in-depth professional content. Cracking jokes doesn’t work: I’ve tried!
  • Twitter is free form, provided you stay within the 140 character limit. It will work best if you comment on events in the moment they are happening.
  • YouTube is the King of Video Content – we all know that. In a business context, that video content is best presented with a familiar and regular host that your fans will connect with – no one wants to be friends with a faceless company.

Take the time to read and view what your competition has done. You can use their most successful content on each platform as a template for your efforts to get new fans following you.

Have regular giveaways and special promotions on your social media accounts

Regular giveaways, promotions and contests are the type of things that old fans love, and love to share. They are also what can really get new followers interested. A majority of the business social profiles I follow came my way from a friend sharing it with me.

For proof, a Nielsen study on Twitter users found that those who follow business accounts on the platform are doing so 52% of the time to be notified of giveaways, promotions, and contests.

Post consistently and have a schedule

Nothing builds a community like a social profile where users know when to show up. Having long and irregular delays between updates leads to more chances that followers, especially those new followers, will forget you.

Remember that a consistent schedule is not a CONSTANT schedule. I’ve used the term “tweet flooding” to describe a Twitter user who posts new tweets nearly non-stop, or in sudden bursts of four or more. This activity destroys a social profile and community.

Tools like Hootsuite are popular for help with consistency. You can sit down one day and plan out the content you’ll send out for a week or longer, schedule it, and never forget to post again.

Find them before they find you with your scheduling tool’s search function

A bonus aspect of a tool like Hootsuite is that it can be a community building tool for those who haven’t found you yet – you find them. Hootsuite has a search function which automatically finds certain keywords. That keyword can easily be your:

  • Brand name for those who mention you but don’t use your account profile.
  • Competitors name so you can monitor opportunities to engage with these fans.
  • Industry specific keywords and phrases.

Your scheduling tool can do more than just schedule – it can help you reach out to new people to include in your community who haven’t met you yet!

Talk to your new fans

You can not forget the ‘social’ part of ‘social media.’ Having one on one conversations with your new fans help to build a community. Even a simple “Hello to @newfollowers” can help welcome them and build that relationship as it builds your community.

newprofileNot only will these small acts increase brand loyalty, but they also show that you’re open to really talking – not just broadcasting a socially masked marketing message.
Matthew is the writer over on the Devumi.com Social Media Blog. You can find him there every Friday posting about increasing your Twitter followers, getting more YouTube subscribers, and commenting on other social media related news. He focuses on Twitter, YouTube, Google, Vimeo, SoundCloud, and Pinterest.

How to Add Serious Value to Your Online Community

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

According to research carried out by social media experts, Socialnomics, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, whereas only 14% trust advertisements. Perhaps that’s why online communities are so good at generating business referrals?

Developing an online community is all about engagement. As a small business owner, you want people to participate in your forum discussions, leave comments on your blog posts and recommend your products and services to other people. But how exactly do you go about achieving this?

The answer lies in the value that you add to your members. Here’s how you can inspire your online community and create a small army of brand catalysts.

Encourage Press Release Sharing

According to press release experts, PR Web, 80 million of us read our news online every day and amongst those 80 million people are your community. If you’re not already in the B2B marketplace, get other businesses in your industry involved in your community by encouraging them to share their press releases on your site. Not only will this improve your brand authority but it’ll also add huge value to your existing community members as they’ll be able to keep up to date with the latest movements in the marketplace without having to look elsewhere.

Create a Classifieds Board

In the same way that Gumtree enables people to post classified ads in their local area, enabling people to promote their services within your industry is a great way to add value to your community. A classifieds board will encourage people to visit your website regularly to see what promotions and offers are available. Consider allowing other businesses to post job vacancies on your site too as this can help improve your authority in the marketplace and establish your brand as a market leader. This in turn, will add value to your community as your members will associate themselves as being part of a successful network.

Initiate Collaborations

‘Hi Linda, have you met John?’ Much like a business version of Match.com, your website can become a hub for people in your industry to find collaborators with whom to create new projects. Actively promote new members who join your community and encourage existing members to introduce themselves. By creating business opportunities within your community, you’ll add significant value and encourage people to increase their presence on your website.

Develop a Forum Thread Specifically for Beginners

We all had to start our business careers somewhere, right? Why not make your online forum the place that those new to the market go to for advice on getting started in your industry? Developing a thread specifically for newcomers will help expand your community and recruit new members. It’ll also give more experienced users the opportunity to share their wisdom with others. Your thread may even lead to successful mentorships for your members.

Review Related Products and Services

The chances are that your industry isn’t limited to the types of products and services that your business offers. One way to add value to your community is to review related services that your website visitors will find useful. This can help establish your business as a trusted brand and will expand your community out with your own particular niche. Writing reviews will encourage people from all corners of the marketplace to visit your site for impartial information about the latest products in your industry.

Adding value to your online community will help you retain existing community members, attract new users and position your business in such a way that you’ll benefit from having an army of loyal fans spreading the word about your brand.

 

Jamie ThomsonJamie Thomson is a freelance copywriter at Brand New Copy where he writes about small business and content marketing on his copywriting blog. He’s also the founder of The Tutor Website, an online hub for small business owners in the private tutoring industry.