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Don’t be a copycat to boost social media shares

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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

Plan ahead

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.

 

 

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Written by Barbara Kohn

March 19th, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Know Thy Customer – Targeting Your Audience for Meaningful Conversation

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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Written by Tom Woolf

January 23rd, 2014 at 4:44 pm

My Content Marketing Resolutions for 2014

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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Written by Tom Woolf

January 9th, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Create engaging content from your offline events

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Looking for a great source of content? Don’t overlook offline events. That’s the suggestion of Mykel Nahorniak, CEO of online event calendar company Localist, He offers “8 Ways to Transform Events into Powerful Content Marketing” in a recent post on the Content Marketing Institute.

Among his suggestions:

  • Engage with attendees before and after your event: Start with a press release about your event. Create a blog post and a series of posts for your social media platforms. Create a hashtag specific to your event and use it to communicate with attendees ahead of the date
  • Keep the conversation going: Encourage attendees to blog about their experience and post photos of the event on their social media networks. On your part, re-tweet, like and share the content that your attendees create. Designate someone to monitor mentions of your event on social media platforms and engage with those who are posting.
  • Employ email: Develop engaging emails about the event as reminders. Also prominently place information about the event in your email content. From the information, direct readers to other event-related content such as your blog posts or hashtags.
  • Create an app: Create a mobile calendar app so that attendees can access event details.

Read all the Nahorniak’s suggestions to leverage your event into engaging content

Here are a few other things to keep in mind about leveraging your events for your content marketing program:

  • Plan your content: Identify certain aspects of the event to build content around. After the event, create a series of blog posts, articles, SlideShare presentations or white papers around these issues for posting on your website.
  • Plan something special: Apart from usual speeches, panel discussions or exhibits, plan something at your event that is fun or memorable to motivate attendees to get behind promoting your event.
  • Have reliable WiFi: Considering the explosion in the use of mobile devices, don’t be surprised if attendees show up with smartphones and tablets. That can put a lot of demand on a WiFi connection. Make sure to account for a potentially high volume of usage during your event planning.

How have you used an event as part of your content marketing campaign?

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Written by Barbara Kohn

May 9th, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Content Headlines: Write Headlines That Click With Your Readers

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Is the day of the great headline over? Here’s one of my favorites: “Crapper honored for flushing toilet.” It ran many years ago in a Chicago newspaper; and as the copy editors intended, cracked me up. The article was my introduction to Sir Thomas Crapper, the 19th Century plumber credited with inventing the flushing toilet. Turns out Sir Crapper’s claim to fame was a bit more myth than reality. He actually didn’t invent the modern convenience. He did, however, increase its popularity (sounds like a pretty easy marketing job) and improve upon the original model, according to Wikipedia.

Sir Thomas aside, the pursuit of web rankings has resulted in a lot of pretty forgettable headlines. There’s nothing memorable about “Ten Ways to Poach an Egg” but it just might show up in a Google Search on poached eggs. Localize it and your chances of it moving up the Google food chain are even better – “Ten Ways to Poach an Egg in Poughkeepsie.”

Still, the goal of a headline remains the same as it always has – to get someone to read your content. Today, you also want to be found by search engines.  The goals are not mutually exclusive.

Here are six tips for writing effective headlines:

  1. Figure out what works: Whether it’s your blog or other online content, track which headlines and posts get the most page views, time on site and bounce rate. Maybe it’s the topic, keywords or headlines. You should be able to get some idea what resonates with your audience.
  2. Be clear: Don’t expect the reader to look at your content if they don’t know what it’s about. Make sure you headline clearly indicates what the copy is about.
  3. Keywords count:  To make sure you optimize search, include the appropriate keyword or phrase.
  4. Size matters: Keep your headline short. Around 55 to 70 characters is optimum to ensure search engines don’t cut off your titles because they exceed the maximum length.
  5. Use powerful language: You don’t have a lot of characters, so use them wisely. Use the most powerful words you can and cut extras.
  6. Use catchy adjectives. Keywords and short headlines don’t preclude catchy.  Try to use bold adjectives to amp up your headlines.
  7. Tried and true: Headlines that drive readership often:
  • Ask or answer a question: What would you do with a million dollars?
  • Are controversial: Five reasons cold calls don’t work anymore
  • Convey a benefit: Tablets boost small business productivity
  • Use statistics:  50 percent of small business owners don’t take vacations
  • Include a number as in in ‘Ten ways to poach an egg with great results every time”

Great headlines take time. Don’t rush them. Do them right and you’ll be flush with readers. (You knew that was coming, right?)

 

 

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Written by Barbara Kohn

April 1st, 2013 at 12:15 am

How to make sure your call to action gets results

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Are you wondering why your website traffic is high but visitors aren’t clicking on your call to action? You may be experiencing a similar situation with your email marketing – good open rate but a weak click through on the call to action to download a white paper or sign up for a webinar.

The problem may not be your offering; it may be that your call to action isn’t clear or conveying the right message to encourage your customers and prospects to click through. In order to achieve the marketing results you want, a call to action needs to motivate your targets to act immediately on whatever you are inviting them to do.

An effective call to action needs:

Strong words: There should be no confusion or misunderstanding about what you want your audience to do and what they will get by clicking. Language that inspires action includes:

  • Book now
  • Buy now
  • Download white paper
  • Sign up for presentations

Value:  The call to action is about what your customers and prospects gain by acting; it’s not about what your business does.  “Always on surveillance safeguards your home 24/7 – learn more.” is more powerful than “Learn about our about our new home video security system.”

Immediacy:  Create a sense of urgency to inspire your audience to click on the call to action as soon as they see it.  “Prevent cyber criminals from taking your business down. Find out how” creates a greater sense of urgency than “Find out how to  protect your company’s data.”

Design: Make sure your call to action is clearly visible. You don’t want your call to action to dominate the page, but it should be big enough to be easily noticed. Contrasting colors also can help your call to action stand out from the rest of your copy.

Web page location: Try to place your call to action at or near the top of your web page. Your audience may miss it If you place the call to action at the bottom.

Link to landing page: Create a separate landing page for your offer. This makes it easy for your audience to find the information they need.

When you create a call to action that clicks with your audience, they will respond in kind.

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Written by Barbara Kohn

March 12th, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Content Overload: How Much is Too Much?

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One of the most hotly debated topics in direct marketing is how often do you touch your customers and prospects? Do you send out a weekly direct mail piece? Monthly? How often do you blog? Daily? Weekly? How often do your prospects and customers want to hear from you? When does what you have to say stop being valid and start being spam?

There is no simple answer to this question. The flippant answer is, as long as your content is interesting and relevant, your audience will pay attention. But you don’t want to be the boor at the social media party and try to hog the floor. You can’t. There are too many competitors for your audience’s attention. So no matter how valuable the information you have to share, be judicious.

For many marketers, the number of touches dictates the amount of content they need to develop. That means how much budget do you need to commit, and how do you measure ROI. Assessing the ROI of an intangible such as engagement is tough, but it’s easy to overdo it.

Let’s look at an interesting statistic from Lab42, which conducted a survey on “Frequency of Posts, Unwanted Contact Discourage Brand Likes On Facebook”. What they found was that the more often a brand posts, the more of a turnoff it can be for Facebook followers. Of those surveyed:

  • 47% did not want to be contacted by brands on Facebook at all
  • 73% stated they had unliked or unfollowed brands for posting too frequently on Facebook
  • 1% of users who ‘Like’ a major brand actually engage with the Brand or purchase the product

Extrapolating from this survey, your online followers want to hear from you, but not too often. If you post updates too frequently or offer new information too frequently, it will actually turn people off. I know in my own experience, I get daily emails from certain brands and services and I have learned to ignore them; in fact I delete them without reading them. Those emails that get my attention are from brand I follow that send an email every week, or every few weeks; I can spare a minute to find out what’s new if I don’t have to do it every day.

So when developing a content marketing campaign, consider both quantity and quality. Do you have an awesome white paper with lots of great information? Why not break it up into bite-sized chunks you can offer over time, at intervals to promote interest. Or send out a monthly newsletter with information that provides a service for your audience and has value. If you can find that magic combination of delivering interesting information at the right intervals, you will be able to build a loyal following that really wants to hear what you have to share.

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Written by Tom Woolf

March 7th, 2013 at 3:27 pm

How a book can boost your content marketing

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There was a time when the idea of writing a book and getting it published would have seemed like a pipe dream; but that’s no longer the case. Self-publishing platforms and eBooks in particular have turned the publishing world upside down and given rise to thousands of titles on a host of topics for even the most niche audiences.

So why don’t you write a book? I’m not talking about the Great American Novel. I’m referring to a book about your business, which no one knows better than you; or your marketplace or some new development on the horizon impacting your industry.

Customers and prospects, partners, suppliers, investors and even prospective employees could benefit from your knowledge and experience. Your book also can help you land speaking engagements. Trade show and conference coordinators consider authors prime candidates for featured speakers or panel members.

Make your eBook a key piece of your content marketing strategy. For starters, offer your eBook to your target audiences to introduce your products and/or services. Blog about it on your own blog or in guest posts. Share excerpts in Tweets and Facebook posts. Post questions on LinkedIn to your groups referencing sections in your book.

Choose your topic

There are many tips on writing your eBook from choosing a title to research to publishing platforms. For now, here are some tips to help you choose your topic. We’ll explore the other topics in future blog posts.

  • What keeps your customers up at night: Consider what problems your customers face in running their business. What topic would be most helpful to them?
  • Research what’s written: Check blogs, magazines and books to see what’s already been written and what’s missing? What question has yet to be explored in depth? Also if you write a blog, analyze what posts get the most traffic. That can tell you what topics are of most interest to your audience. Do the same with other blogs in your industry.
  • Use Google keyword search: Try keywords and phrases to see what terms are most often searched. For example, try something like 50 ideas for small business marketing if your expertise is marketing or 10 ways to move your business to the clouds if you an IT consultant or have a cloud-based offering.
  • Check your website analytics: Where are people going on your site and what keywords are they using to find you.
  • Lessons learned: What lessons have you learned from others or on your own about running your business you want to impart.
  • What matters to you:  Do you have a passion for something you want to share? Can you instill that passion in others or teach them how to do something?

As the saying goes, “there’s a book inside everyone.” Now just might be the time for you to write yours.

 

 

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Written by Barbara Kohn

February 28th, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Posted in Marketing

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Content Curation: It’s About Quality, Not Quantity

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In the world of content marketing, you hear a lot about content curation. Curation typically means acting as a curator or conservationist, preserving history for the future. In a digital sense curation can mean the preservation and management of digital assets. However, in the context of content marketing curation really means organizing and distilling relevant information so your readership gets the best of the best.

Effective content marketing is really about delivering meaningful, quality information that demonstrates your expertise and reinforces your brand value. Consider the exabytes of information that is being pushed out over Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and other inline forums. It’s too much data to sift through. Curation organizes the information in a way that makes it manageable, provides meaning, and focus. You want your message to be crisp, concise, and relevant. Curation helps cut through the clutter.

Beth Kanter, who advises non-profits about social media, recommends using the three S’s – Seek, Sense, Share – as part of your social media strategy. The same three S’s form the foundation of a good curation strategy:

  1. Seek out the most relevant content for your audience.
  2. Make sense of that content and help your audience interpret it. You can use blog content, annotations, comments, and other means to overlay relevant meaning on content.
  3. Share the content through the channels that are most meaningful to your audience, sharing the data points that are most relevant.

When considering the process of content curation, like any marketing undertaking, you need to have a goal in mind, and then you can find topics that support your goal. Once you have a cadre of relevant topics, then you can apply the three S’s – seek out the topics, make sense of them for your audience, and share.

By using an organized, considered approach, you can cultivate vetted content from relevant sources, repackaged and reinterpreted so it’s more relevant to your message and your audience. Your content is of higher quality and greater value because you took the time and attention to distill it to make it relevant, focused, and meaningful.

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Written by Tom Woolf

February 21st, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Ten content tips to drive engagement on Facebook

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Spark the conversation with Facebook and drive visitors to your website       

“Think of social sites as trade show booths. They’re excellent places to spark conversation, find new leads, and spread the word about what you do. But you still have an office where the main work gets done. That’s your primary site. Keep it …well primary.”

That’s how Copyblogger describes the value of Facebook as part of your content strategy. While Facebook is a great place to engage with your customers and prospects, get feedback on your products and services and share your company’s personality and brand value, you get the most out of it when your posts bring followers back to your web site. There you want to build the engagement with quality content – articles, blog, videos, and infographics – to keep visitors on your site longer and keep them coming back.

Get more Facebook likes and followers

So if you are going to use Facebook to attract more visitors to your website, here are 10 ways to get more likes and more followers:

  • Post often: Data from SocialBakers, a social media analytics platform, indicates that the ideal number for brands is 5 to 10 posts per week. You may find different figures, but posting once a week is definitely not going to build an engagement.
  • Keep posts brief: According to Facebook, posts less than 250 characters generate more interaction and 60% more likes, comments and shares than posts greater than 250 characters.
  • Vary your data: It’s a cliché but variety is the spice of life. That applies to social media engagement as well. Mix up your posts with text, links, images (followers like images; use lots of them), products and even graphs and video to maintain follower interest.
  • Offer relevant and shareable content:  Focus on more than your products and services. Be a reliable source about what’s happening in your market and industry. That includes breaking news on your Facebook page that is relevant to followers or featuring quotes and comments from other industry sources, including your customers/clients and partners.
  • Like other pages: As part of being a resource, like other pages related to your business or industry.
  • Provide tips: Ask someone from the industry or choose an expert on your team provide a weekly tip or suggestion via text or video.
  • Ask questions and ask for opinions: Get your followers more involved in your business. Ask them about new products/services they’d like to see. Ask them how they feel about developments in your market. Get their opinions on events or developments in your marketplace.
  • Guest posts: Ask clients and customers to contribute notable items and photos or interview an industry expert.
  • Employee stories: Let your followers know what your company is all about. Share photos from staff events; post videos to showcase staff expertise; celebrate promotions and other events in the lives of your staff.
  • Surveys: Ask fan to vote on something or conduct a survey. You also can share most commonly asked questions.

These are just some content ideas to grow your Facebook followers and keep them engaged. What content have you found effective in getting and keeping more Facebook?

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Written by Barbara Kohn

February 19th, 2013 at 3:08 pm