Research consistently shows that more content means more traffic, which means more leads.
There is obvious logic behind this. The web has become a ravenous consumer of content. The more content you generate, the more searchable data is available and the more material to feed social media conversations. Social media has become an incredibly noisy online cocktail party where you have to shout louder to get someone’s attention. Consider that every minute:
- Facebook users share more than 2.5 million pieces of content.
- Twitter users generate nearly 300,000 tweets.
- Instagram users post nearly 220,000 new photos.
- YouTube users upload 72 hours of fresh video content.
- Apple users download nearly 50,000 apps.
- Email users send over 200 million messages.
- Amazon generates over $80,000 in online sales.
Those organizations generating fresh content on a regular basis are the ones that are getting the attention, or are they?
Content only matters if it’s relevant to your audience. Posting irrelevant or poorly executed content generates noise, not conversation, and will have an adverse affect on your online traffic over time. The Web has become a very noisy place, and web consumers aren’t going to waste time reading drivel. If you have something relevant to say that adds to the conversation or promotes new thinking, then by all means share it. However, just posting for the sake of posting won’t help build your brand.
It should never about how much content you post, but about the quality of the content. You need to have something relevant to say that is interesting and promotes interaction.
Here are three criteria to consider when generating material for your content marketing campaign;
- Quality counts – Don’t worry about how much content you post but about how good it is. Is it effective? Does it meet its goals? You should understand what your content objectives are before you start so when assessing content, ask yourself if it does the job to promote connections, build brand, or promote new business?
- Be concise – You don’t have to tell your entire autobiography in a single blog post, or impart the history of your latest new product. The web was designed to handle shorter bits of information. Attention spans are brief, and you need to get your point across quickly and in a compelling manner.
- Measure the results – Keep track of your content traffic and determine what approach suits your target channels. You need to adapt you content for the channel, so measure the response and refine the message accordinglyh.
- Consider your audience – Thinking about the needs and interests of the target reader is something many marketers often overlook. Have a clear understanding of who your target audience is and develop content specific to that group. Your objective is to cut through the online noise and speak to your target audience using a compelling story that will engage them, and have them coming back for more.
So while it is important to feed the machine, you should feed it with better quality content rather than just more content. A lean and well-thought-out content marketing program will outperform a program that uses poor content to generate more noise. The proof is in the results, so have your metrics ready before you begin.
Wondering why you aren’t getting more shares from your Facebook posts and blogs and re-tweets on Twitter? Maybe despite all your efforts to engage with customers, your content is missing the mark. After all, it’s not always easy to understand exactly what motivates followers when some of the most popular social media content involves cats and bacon, according to Marketo. The marketing automation firm estimates that there are 30,400,000 searches for cats each month on Google and 6, 120,000 for bacon – the sizzling kind not the actor.
However tempting it might be to populate your social media with lots of cute cats and bacon recipes, they aren’t going to do much to increase your sales over the long run, unless you’re Friskies or Hormel. You need to understand what motivates followers to share. A study conducted by the New York Times of 2500 medium/heavy online sharers indicated that:
- 49 percent say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action.
- 94 percent consider how the information they share will be useful to the recipient
- 68 percent share to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
- 73 percent share information because it helps them connect with others who share their interests
- 78 percent share information online because it lets them stay connect3ed to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with
- 69 percent share information because it makes them feel more involved in the world
- 84 percent share because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about
Now that you know what motivates followers to share, put your content plan in place. Start by knowing exactly who your audience is and what they find of interest. Don’t make assumptions. Check out some of your competitor’s sites, if necessary, to see what they are posting and how well it’s being received.
Create an editorial calendar for content and stick with it. You can supplement scheduled posts with other content as it becomes available – news or market reports for example. Also don’t spread yourself too thin. If you don’t have time to populate every social media channel with content, pick the ones that are most popular with your targets.
Take stock of interactions. Your followers will tell you what is meaningful to them by commenting and asking questions.
So many small business owners and entrepreneurs don’t think they need a blog. Blogging takes time and energy that would be better spent focusing on operational concerns or building the business, right? Wrong! The fact is, blogging is one of the least expensive and most effective marketing tools at your disposal
Whether you are selling B2C goods or B2B services, blogging will help you build your business. If nothing else, blogging gives you focus. The blog can become a focal point for your entire marketing program, forcing you to consider brand positioning and customer commitment as you tell your story in each blog post. Blogging keeps your brand fresh for prospects, customers, and employees.
Here are just a few of the reasons your business needs a blog:
- Promote your online brand – You can use the company blog as the launch pad for your online marketing program. A well-thought-out blog can support your inbound marketing campaign and your SEO strategy. It also gives you content you can reuse to feed social media channels, LinkedIn groups, Pinterest, and other social media channels. You can even use it in company newsletters and other customer communications.
- Establish your market credentials – The company blog is the perfect forum to talk about issues relating to your business and your market, and show the world what you know and why they should do business with you and not the competition. The blog is a soap box you can use to show your expertise about trends, challenges, regulations, and other issues that are important to your customers.
- Offer customer support – The company blog also is your forum to engage with customers. You can use the blog to explain what’s going on with the company, share good news, and bad, or to apologize for a problem. It provides a place where you can talk to customers in a more personal way, and show that the company cares in a very public way.
- Lead generation – You never want to use a blog as an overt advertising platform, but you can use it to engage with customers and talk about innovations, new products, and new trends. If you can engage with customers without a sales pitch, they will continue to follow you until they are ready to become customers.
- Build brand trust – Blogging promotes engagement with customers and interaction builds familiarity, and trust. By talking to your target market regularly you are building an online relationship; you become familiar. So when the time comes to making a buying decision, consumers will remember that relationship when they buy. They think first about brands they know and trust.
We know that blogging can be time consuming, and many executives don’t like to write. So just outsource it – that’s why we’re here. We can help you create a warm and friendly blog that puts the right face forward for your company, and engages with consumers so they keep coming back. Let us help you tell your story and show you how to make the most of a corporate blog.
According to HubSpot’s 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report, 34percent of all sales leads last year were generated by inbound marketing sources, delivering 54percent more leads into the sales funnel that outbound marketing efforts through advertising, sales calls, etc. And more than 82percent of marketers who blog see real ROI from blogging for inbound marketing. Of those marketers surveyed, 43percent said they generated a customer from blogging during the year.
Overall, 79 percent of companies who maintain a blog reported positive ROI for inbound marketing compared to 20 percent without a blog. And 82 percent of marketers who blog daily said they acquired a customer as opposed to 57 percent who blog monthly.
Clearly blogging builds business, but successful business blogging has specific guidelines you need to follow:
- Know your audience – Before you start blogging, have a clear idea of who you are writing for. Create marketing personas to help you identify your target customer and audience, and identify their areas of interest and their problems. What information can you share in a blog that will make their lives easier?
- Deliver quality content – An informative and entertaining blog can be your best tool for inbound lead generation. The secret is to keep your audience engaged. You want the information you share to be different, interesting, and valuable.
- Mix up your format – Use different subjects and approaches to keep your blog fresh. Talk about common problems. Interview other experts. Cite interesting statistics. Use different techniques so your readers always get something fresh.
- Never sell – Most business bloggers make the mistake of making their blog all about them and their products. People don’t care about their products; they care about how those products improve their lives. Talk about the customers’ problems and challenges and provide information that is helpful. In fact, don’t even mention your products but just provide expertise. The soft sell is more effective in blogging.
- Remember, design matters – Appearance matters just as much as readability. Use a crisp, clean design that is easy to read, and break up the text with subheads, bullet lists, and graphics. Artwork is particularly important. Pictures give you blog life and make it more visible on social media – just make sure you don’t violate the copyright for any images you share.
- Include a call to action – Every online post should include some call to action, or rather a call to engage further. I can be a call for comments, or the offer of a white paper, case study, or more information. Ultimately, you want blog followers to contact you about becoming customers. Make it easy for them to reach you by email, with a simple form, or other means.
- Be prolific and be consistent – It’s proven that the more you blog, the higher your lead conversion rate. Commit to whatever frequency you can manage – daily, weekly, monthly – but remember the more you blog the better your chances for lead conversion. Try to post at the same time each day or week so your followers can look forward to hearing from you.
- Make your blog easy to share – Of course, you are pushing your own blog content out through social media. Make it easy for your blog followers to share as well with social media links. Getting your followers to share is the best way to attract more followers.
These are just eight ways to improve your blogging strategy. Whatever you do, don’t be boring and don’t plagiarize. But do start blogging and blog often. And if you need assistance with your blog, then by all means, call on us. We’re here to help.
If you are looking to increase your Facebook following, you might want to talk to Ava Gardner. Not THE Ava Gardner who stole Ol’ Blue Eyes heart. This Ava Gardner is a cat whose enormous popularity supports the belief held by many that cats rule the Internet. Ava Gardner the Cat’s Facebook page has managed to attract a following of 326,000 fans – and she’s not even Grumpy.
Ava’s popularity even confounds owner Susie Newton. Two years ago, she got the idea to put up a Facebook page for her Tuxedo cat that was found stray in 2011 in the San Francisco Bay Area and turned over to a cat welfare group. Ten months later, Newton and her family adopted Ava. What followed once Ava’s page went up is the stuff of Facebook legends. Her popularity just took off and today the 12-year old kitty basks in the adoration of her thousands of fans.
Newton, who claims no social media marketing experience, soon saw the potential in her social media darling to save the lives of other cats in need. A volunteer with several Bay Area cat rescue groups, Newton began including posts about other homeless cats on Ava’s page. The posts, which she consistently updated three to four times a week, boosted Ava’s popularity and helped other rescued cats find homes.
Last July, Newton began volunteering with Maine Coon Adoptions (MCA), a highly regarded San Francisco area rescue group. Among her primary activities, Newton took over managing MCA’s Facebook page, which had already attracted about 4500 loyal fans. Newton began re-posting MCA Facebook posts on Ava’s page. By the end of the year, the social partnership proved to be hugely successful. MCA’s following tripled to 15,000, and continues to climb, and Ava’s fame spread even further
Newton actively posts for the MCA page about four to five times a day and tracks what posts are the most popular. She varies the posts between adoptable cats featured on MCA’s website, upcoming events, and special fundraisers. But the posts that get the most likes and shares are the ones about adopted cats living the good life in their new homes. As Netwton puts it, ‘Everyone loves to see the cats living happily ever.”
Ava Gardner the Cat and Maine Coon Adoptions highlight the value of establishing a social partnership to help grow your follower base. Ask an affiliate or partner to mention your company or organization in their blog, share your posts on their Facebook page or give you a re-tweet, and return the favor.
Ava was a rescued cat who now is sharing her limelight to help other cats in need. You can’t get much more social than that.
Are you coming up short on ideas for your content strategy? Having a calendar of content about your company’s activities and products and services – press releases, white papers, case studies, articles, videos – helps to fill the pipeline. Still to maintain an active presence on social media channels requires having content daily or at least several times a week to keep followers engaged. Let’s face it; it’s not easy to be brilliant, witty, insightful and interesting all the time – for most of us anyway.
So just how do you keep content following to all your necessary content channels without causing yourself undo stress? You could hire a muse (run an ad on LinkedIn), get some cats (seemed to work for Hemingway) or you could repurpose existing content and you should. You can get a lot of mileage by taking your best content and turning it into something new and different and fresh to use on your various social channels.
The benefits of repurposing, in addition to getting more out of your content investment, are:
Reach a broader audience. People absorb information differently. Some are more visual and like images and charts and graphs; others are auditory learners and respond better to videos or podcasts. And then of course there are those of who like the written word. By repurposing your content, you can appeal to a wide range of followers. You can take a white paper and turn it into an Infographic or turn a video into a blog post. The same message in different formats attracts a wider audience.
Improve your SEO: You have more content assets to attract more traffic from those who are searching for the information you provide. You help to boost SEO by cross-linking your content. For example, you can create a blog post and encourage your visitors to check out a podcast that provides more information on the topic or includes an interview with an industry authority.
Explore new angles: As you repurpose your content, you may find a new angle. A blog post on how to implement a flexible work policy could spawn a white paper on creating office policies for remote workers.
Repurposing best practices
· Research: Understand your audience and what is important to them. Choose a topic that has several angles that you can repurpose into different content assets.
· Evergreen: As you are developing your content, aim for topics that are evergreen – will never become dated – to drive traffic to your site for a long time.
· Get creative: Determine the platforms you plan to use – blog, social media posts, YouTube or email campaigns – and then repurpose the content to get the maximum results from each.
· Add value: As you repurpose your content for different platforms, aim to add value each time.
Good luck repurposing. And if you still have problems coming up with fresh content, see if getting a cat inspires you.
Everybody is blogging and posting content to Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, but do you know your target customer? Do you have a clear idea of who your desired audience is and where they hang out online? Is your content attracting the right readers to promote your online brand?
Before embarking on a content marketing program, you should have a firm understanding of who you are trying to reach, what their interests are, and where to reach them.
- First, remember that you are not the customer. This may seem obvious, but too often marketing professionals inject too much of their own wants and desires into their perception of their customer. Put your own biases aside and think like your customer. Ask yourself what they want from your product or service. What are their points of pain? What does your customer want from your product or service? Once you answer those questions you will be in a better position to offer content that addresses customers’ desires and needs.
- Don’t try to sell to everyone. There is no way you can deliver content that everyone will love, or even like, so don’t try. Instead, find your market niche and stay focused. The more you focus on your target audience , the more successful you will be. It’s always better to use a laser-focused approach to hit your target than trying to cast a wider net. If you can pinpoint your target use a personalized approach, you will get greater returns from more loyal followers.
- Create a customer persona. The best way to make sure you are targeting the right customer is create an audience persona. This is a detailed profile of your audience/customer, including demographics (gender, age, income, etc.) and their behavioral patterns (expectations, concerns, what they expect from your brand, etc.). You want to create a clear portrait of who you want to reach, including shared pain points and concerns.
The more you understand about your audience, the easier it is to create content that speaks to them. If you can project yourself into your audience’s needs, wants, concerns, and desires, then you can promote a more meaningful online conversation.
If you are using content to generate sale leads (and who isn’t?), then see if you can project yourself into the customer’s journey through the buying process. What motivates their initial demand for your product or service? Where do they look for it? What criteria do they apply in making a buying decision? What makes your offering more or less attractive? Answers to these questions should give you some ideas of what to address through your online content, and where to post that content to get the right attention.
Now you can engage. Offer content that addresses concerns raised during the buyer’s journey. Talk about industry issues or approaches that make your company stand out over the competition. Offer case studies, using points that parallel customer concerns or challenges. If you strike the right chord, you will not only promote loyalty in your online following but you’ll enlist some brand evangelists who will comment, repost, and share the good word about you and your company.
Did you know that social signals increasingly are influencing search? In “Relationship Status: Social Signals and SEO are Officially an Item,” marketing strategist Janessa Magone writes “….there is now proof that social presence is essential when it comes to search engine optimization. Sites with a strong social presence and a high amount of social user engagement rank higher. The more likes, comments, and tweets you have on a site, the more powerful your SEO becomes.”
News outlet Bit Rebels also writes that “It’s not a secret that Google is implementing more and more influence into the number of plus ones, Facebook likes and shares, and Twitter retweets in their way of determining the influence and popularity of content.”. As more people like and share your content, the higher it will rank in search.
Create shareable content
As you develop your content strategy, consider the following content types that have proven to be ‘highly shareable.”
News: In addition posting news about your company, share news about your market or industry with your followers. Let’s face it, there’s so much being reported no one can keep up to date with all of the news. Help your followers by reporting on major announcements that impact them.
Case studies: Case studies are one of the best ways to show how others are using your products and services. They make your products “come alive.” Be sure to turn case studies into an interesting and entertaining story.
Videos: What better way to inform and entertain than video. To show how powerful video can be, consider these statistics from Social Times about the value of video:
- Customers who watch videos of products or services are 85 percent more likely to make a purchase.
- 68 percent of viewers share video links.
- The average user’s visit to a text and image-based website lasts only 43 seconds; for a website with video, the average visit lasts 5 minutes and 50 seconds.
Images: Nothing capture our attention more than an image. Make sure you use visually compelling images that resonate with your followers and encourage them to share and add comments.
How-to-guides: We all turn to the Web for how-to information. Contribute to the cause with an easy to follow step-by-step guide. You’ll win lots of fans and shares.
Top 10 Lists: It’s not only David Letterman who attracts viewers to his top ten lists. Everybody loves ‘top 10s’ since they make things easy or easier to remember and can be quickly scanned.
Interviews: Boost your standing and credibility by interviewing an acknowledged expert in an area that is trending on social media channels and of importance to your followers.
Surveys or polls: Everyone has an opinion and loves to share it. Include surveys or polls in your content strategy to find out what your followers are thinking about your offerings or others.
Infographics: Transform a report into an engaging Infographic to make it easy for followers to digest your information.
SlideShare presentations: Turn any presentation into a SlideShare to add to your blog or other social media channels. A SlideShare presentation provides a good way to advance your thought leadership position and share your expertise; and it provides an easy way to get feedback.
Ensure content is likeable
If you want your content to pass the likeability test, make sure it’s:
- Valuable to your audience and not just something you find interesting or that is overly promotional about your products and services;
- Unique in offering a viewpoint or an opinion that challenges the status quo;
- Engaging so that your audience asks a questions, makes a comment or adds more insight; and
- Varied to maintain audience interest.
Remember, quality content will increase your search rankings in more ways than one.
The New Year is always a good time for new beginnings, including an assessment of what you can do to improve your content marketing program. Here is a short list of New Year’s Resolutions for your content campaign:
- Create Regular Content – This is one that we plan to adopt here at Write On Content. You will note we have been sporadic in our blogging (like the shoemaker’s children, we seem to leave our own marketing needs to deal with later). Resolve to create a schedule and feed your content channels regularly. Consistency is the only way to build a following.
- Engage – Be sure your content is not only compelling, but engages your followers and encourages interaction. Resolve to promote a dialogue with your followers through whatever channels you use. Content should be the conversation starter, but the dialogue shouldn’t’ stop there.
- Mind Your Channels – Using the right outlets to reach your target audience is an ongoing effort. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn are probably on your radar. But are you using Quora, Reddit, or Pinterest? Are you just posting, or are you monitoring and commenting as well? Make a resolution to be more active where it counts in the year to come.
- Measure – Don’t rely on “gut feel” alone to determine how well your content marketing program is doing. Measure the results. Keep track of comments, Likes, and clickthroughs. Determine what topics have appeal for your audience and which channels get the most traction.
- Innovate – Successful content marketing campaigns are built around the concept of “rinse and repeat”; determine what works, refine it, and then keep using it. That doesn’t mean you should stop there. Continue to push the envelope and experiment with new content ideas, new engagement strategies, and new channels. Experiment so you can expand your content marketing palette and have more resources to draw from in the future.
Here’s wishing you a prosperous and successful 2014 filled with lots of followers and lots of leads.
I have been receiving a lot of spam messages lately from hucksters offering to sell me Facebook “Likes.” The most common come-on is $60 for 600 Likes:
Addition of 600 REAL Worldwide Facebook Fans’ “Likes” for $60
- All Likes/Fans Will Be a Mix Of Male And Female Real random Worldwide People.
- Likes/Fans come from real active people from our Facebook applications(~400) and websites(~200).
So is your online loyalty worth a dime? I think it’s worth more than just $0.10.
True online followers want to read what you have to say, and comment. They are engaged because you have given them something interesting and informative and entertaining that keeps them coming back for more. Your followers are putting a degree of trust in the online experience they will get from following you, which means you need to work to honor that trust by providing content worth reading.
Of course, lead generation and revenue generation have to be a priority for any social media campaign, but if you use hard-selling content, you won’t attract many followers, and you won’t keep the ones you have already acquired. You need to give followers a reason to follow you; you want to attract prospects and nurture them until they are ready to buy from you. Remember that no one is sold a product, but they will buy a solution that solves their problem.
Why is social media so valuable for lead generation for a number of reasons:
- It’s basically free
- Your prospects are self-selecting; you are attracting pre-interested parties.
- It’s viral. Like attracts like, so your followers are likely to share with their followers so you social media base could start growing geometrically (if you entice them with interesting content).
- It’s intimate. Social media gives you an opportunity to get closer to your prospects than direct mail, advertising, or any other vehicle. You can see what they respond to, talk to them directly through comments and Likes, and get a true understanding of where their interest lie.
How do you convert social media fans into paying customers?
Not all Facebook followers are created equal. Some are qualified prospects who ultimately will buy from you. Others may know qualified customers. Still others are just interested fans, but you never know who they know. So how do you convert followers into customers?
- Understand where social media falls in your sales process. If you are using content correctly, then you are using Facebook and other channels to herd followers into your sales process. To do that you need to understand how social media generates leads. Do you need to offer a gift of coupon for a trial? Do you need to get them to a webinar? What mechanisms do you need to apply to incite your followers to become active prospects?
- Remove any obstacles to lead conversion. Don’t make it hard to go from social media to a more direct interaction. Use easy to complete landing pages, e-book downloads, white papers, case studies, and other mechanisms that make it easy to ask for more information, and ultimately a sales call.
- Offer baby steps for soft conversion. Don’t use a full-court press to convert followers. Let them get to know you better at their own pace. Offer softer conversion mechanisms, such as giving up an email and no more. Maintain the trust you nurtured through social media throughout the sales process.
- Treat your fans with greater respect than traditional leads. Your followers are used to valuable content from you. Respect that and continue to provide value and insightful information that directs them to a buying decision. Be prepared to engage, answer questions, overcome objections, and convert the fan to a lead, without hitting them over the head with a sales message. They will tell you when they are ready to migrate into the traditional sales channel.
- Measure the results and refine the program. Determine what content and social media channels are working for you. Specific messages and social media outlets will yield better quality results and remove barriers to entry into the sales process faster. Identify them and measure them.
Starting with quality content to help prospects make a decision to become followers is the first step. Once they become followers you have the opportunity to talk to them, nurture them, and persuade them to become customers. And no matter who your followers are, they all have value because you never know why they are following you, or who they might know. And treat your social media followers like gold, because that’s what they’re really worth, not just a measly dime.