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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

Repurpose your content to get more mileage

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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.

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Written by Barbara Kohn

February 2nd, 2014 at 10:33 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

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

How an editorial calendar helps your content marketing

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Think like a publisher and plan ahead to ensure fresh content

If content marketing is important to your marketing effort then you need to start thinking like a publisher. Creating fresh content on a regular basis requires planning to ensure you  feed your social media channels, turn up in search and nurture customers and prospects through each stage of the sales cycle.

An editorial content calendar helps you manage your content marketing process. It ensures that your content  – press releases, white papers, case studies, articles, blog posts, videos, and more – are ready when you need them for maximum impact.

Determine your annual content needs

Plan your calendar with a year-long view. Consider the following dates or milestones as you plan the content you need:

  • Product or service offering launches: Figure out what content you’ll need to reach targets with your new offerings. You might need a mix of press releases, blog announcements, updates to your website, videos, a white paper and more to support the launch.
  • Company events: Factor in your attendance at trade shows or conferences.
  • Selling cycle: Determine if you need to disseminate specific information to support selling cycles in your industry.
  • Industry announcements: Decide if you need content timed to counteract competitors’ planned launches or coincide with the release of annual research.
  • Be opportunistic: In addition to the above, allow for developments within your industry that might create a need for new content.

Create and manage your calendar

To ensure you stay on top of your calendar and that the content supports your marketing objectives:

  1. Appoint a calendar coordinator: Put one person in charge of the calendar to keep it up to date and ensure content creation meets goals and deadlines.
  2. Assign responsibilities: Each piece of content needs a producer who is responsible for seeing the content through to development and, if necessary, design.
  3. Identify audience: Align your content with the appropriate audience(s) based on their need for information to furthering the engagement and/or the buying process.
  4. Determine distribution: Determine the best channels for distributing your content and re-purposing it for other materials. A blog post should also be targeted for appropriate social media channels and bookmarking sites and can be included in an email marketing campaign or newsletter.
  5. Set metrics: Establish metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of your content in meeting objectives.

You can create your own calendar; content calendar templates also are available from a number of sources online. Once your calendar is complete, make it available to your team on your company server or in the clouds. Used properly, your editorial calendar is an invaluable tool to keep you on track to provide content that connects with your audiences.

 

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Written by Barbara Kohn

February 12th, 2013 at 1:52 am

Getting down to brass tacks about content marketing

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Short and sweet answers to 24 top content marketing questions

Despite all the discussion online and off about content marketing, are you still wondering where to begin and why? Maybe you haven’t yet come to terms with the concept of giving away your company knowledge free of charge to win over customers and prospects?

Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, addresses 24 of the top content marketing questions he routinely gets. He doesn’t wax philosophical.  He cuts to the chase in (generally) fewer characters than a Tweet.

Not that content marketing is so simple that you can learn everything you need to know from just 24 questions and answers.  Still, I think Pulizzi does a great job of addressing the basics, which could be quite valuable to those of you still at the starting gate and not off and running down the content marketing track.

Here are a few of my favorites among Pulizzi’s top 24:

How do I create more content?

You most likely have enough content. First look at stopping some things that aren’t working and reallocating those resources to quality content initiatives.

But my content is not in story-ready form?

True, most companies have content assets, but they aren’t in a compelling form. Hire or contract out a journalist, editor, or natural storyteller to help get those assets into shape.

Should I insource or outsource my content?

Most companies do both (content marketing research here). It doesn’t have to be either or, and there is no silver bullet. Find the resources necessary to get the job done. It will never be perfect, so don’t wait.

What is the difference between content and content marketing?

Content marketing must work to enhance or change a behavior. If it doesn’t, it’s just content.

Read them all in “24 Top Content Marketing Questions Answered in Less than 140 Characters”

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Written by Barbara Kohn

February 5th, 2013 at 4:18 pm

What Is the value of a case study?

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Customers are risk-averse.  They want a proof of value before they buy

Case studies are one of the most effective forms of marketing content. People feel more confident about a  product or service when they can see demonstrable results from someone who ‘was there before them.”. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Paint a picture or tell a story about a customer success, and you reinforce your marketing messages and brand image.

Customer testimonials and success stories have been a component of marketing for centuries. No matter what your brand promise, no one wants to be the first to step forward and try something unproven. Even the earliest of early adopters don’t want to pay to be guinea pigs for something unproven. Case studies provide a degree of assurance, demonstrating the potential value of a solution, with the understanding that “your mileage may vary.”

I always think of Geoffrey Moore of the Chasm Group and author of Crossing the Chasm, and his model of the technology adoption cycle. There have to be a few brave souls who are the innovators and are willing to try something new. Once you have proven value for your product or service from the innovators and early adopters, the majority of your customers will follow.

Buyers want reassurance before making a buying decision. A Forrester Research survey shows that 90 percent of buying decisions begin online, and 71 percent of buyers base their decisions on trust and believability. Unbiased, informative content helps establish immediate reliability, and relating other customers’ positive experiences help build trust and credibility. That’s why sellers scores on eBay, Yelp! evaluations, and Amazon reader reviews have become so important to potential customers; prospects want reassurance and validation before making a buying decision.

A well-crafted case study demonstrates why happy customers love your company and its products and help build empathy with other customers and online visitors. They can be one of the most effective tools in your marketing program, and they are very easy to craft.

In future blog posts, we will discuss the elements that go into a winning case study, and ways to use case studies to convey your brand value and build sales.

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Written by Tom Woolf

January 31st, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Give your customers the content they want

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Content needs to address customer’s basic needs

Is your content giving your customers and prospects what they want? Considering the competitive content landscape – two million blog posts are written each day – you can’t afford to miss the content mark. Content that connects addresses four basic needs:

  • Solves a problem
  • Educates,  informs or offers insight
  • Answers a question
  • Entertains

Content that connects also might ask a thought provoking question or introduce a new concept or idea. Here’s one that shatters the groupthink myth: Is Brainstorming Brain Dead?

Engage on an emotional level

Fortunately it’s unlikely the demand for knowledge will end anytime soon. That means your content, if it addresses the above and engages the reader in some emotional way,  (James Blute online marketer advises you tap into the customer’s emotional psyche) can help build a bond and inspire customers and prospects to take the action you want.

Get to know your customers

Start by asking questions. Use face time to ask questions and listen rather than pitch your products or services. Ask thoughtful questions to get the insight you need.  You’ll find out a lot more if you ask how does your company use cloud computing than are you planning to expand the cloud services you use?

Consider a survey: If you do, keep questions brief and easy; focus on one objective (customer satisfaction, purchasing plans, expansion); avoid open ended questions and try to be entertaining.

Leverage social media:  Post questions and comments on your social media channels — Facebook, Twitter,  and LinkedIn — to find out what your customers are thinking and want. Even when someone hits like on a post on your page or shares you are getting valuable insight. Review your blog stats.

Check in with other sites: Check out companies that offer products similar to yours. See what is working in terms of comments and shares.

Once you know what your customers want, you can begin to develop the content that matters to them.

 

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Written by Barbara Kohn

January 24th, 2013 at 4:38 am