The Art of Content Curation and Making it Work for Your Brand

What Is Content Curation

Content is king, right? But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write every word of it. After writing blog post after blog post and article after article, with an eBook or white paper thrown in, you may feel as if you’re penning the Great American novel rather than marketing your business. The good news is you don’t have to type until your fingers fall off. Original content is certainly good, but content curation helps get the job done too.

What Is Content Curation?

In its simplest terms, content curation is the art and science of finding and sharing quality content on a particular topic. It means sorting through topical content on the web and then presenting the highest-quality posts in an organized and meaningful way. You save your audience from having to wade through the tons of available content themselves, and you’re rewarded in terms of engaged audience members who pay attention to what you post and share.

Think about an art gallery and the collections of art on display – those collections are carefully manicured and presented in the best possible light. The concept of content curation is similar in that you pick a common thread (a theme or topic) and collect, or curate, the items you want to showcase. In this case, we’re showcasing articles, blog posts, video, photos, podcasts, and infographics, instead of painting and sculptures.

Is Content Curation the Same as Content Aggregation?

It’s easy to think that content curation and aggregation are the same things but for your reader, it’s the difference between being presented with only the most useful, relevant content versus the 12,343,244 results returned on a Google search. Using our art gallery example, if you were walking into an exhibit on contemporary surrealism, you’d expect to see only the best pieces from the best artists, not every scratch and doodle ever posted on the web. That’s what you are doing for your readers: presenting them with the best of the best.

Does Content Curation Mean Creating Content?

While, technically, content curation doesn’t mean content creation, it doesn’t mean that the opportunity to create content doesn’t exist. And, in fact, if you’re not creating some content around the items you curate, you are missing the all of the best benefits, and so are your readers.

Remember, you are gathering content from a variety of sources and then presenting it in a thoughtful and organized way. “Presenting” is the key word, here. This is your opportunity to create content.

Again, thinking of a collection of art: walking through a museum, you are presented with more than a piece of art to study. You are given information about the artist, the inspiration for the piece, the medium used and sometimes even more. Use this same approach when presenting the content you’ve curated. Let your readers know what the article is about, who wrote it and why it’s important or relevant.

How Do You Use Content Curation?

This is the fun part! Once you’ve collected the “best of the best,” how will you present these articles for your readers, fans and followers? Three options include:

1. Weekly Blog Posts

You can keep your blog both relevant and helpful with weekly posts that curate other people and companies’ content from around the Web. Each post could be on a theme: For a food blog, one week could be all about asparagus recipes, another week about peach recipes. Alternately, you could round up what you consider to be the best or most important news of the week within your topic area into a blog post with links to those news items.

2. Email Newsletters

Like your weekly blog posts, this type of curated content helps your readers save the time they would have to spend finding great Web content. Want to see an example of this in action? We curate content for our weekly newsletter on social media and content marketing topics.

3. Social Media

Include curated content directly into your social streams alongside a mix of personal updates, brand mentions, and other content you already share.

Whatever format you choose to deliver your curated articles to your readers, keep in mind that it’s important to not only write your take on the piece, but also credit the original author. Not doing so could potentially violate the author’s copyright on the article.

How Brands Can Benefit From Content Curation

When done the right way, content curation can fit into your marketing efforts in a variety of ways. Many brands use curation as part of their content strategy with positive results.

How exactly can your brand benefit from content curation? Here are five important ways:

1. Establishing Credibility and Trust

We all love recommendations from people we trust, such as friends and peers. But we also desire information from reliable sources that take the time to explain how these recommendations will help us achieve our goals as well as make our lives easier. Curators carefully select content based on their understanding of the audience, even making the pieces easier to relate to if needed. You do this for your audience, giving it to them short and sweet, so they don’t have to struggle to tame the mountain of information out there.

2. Telling Your Brand’s Story

Every article, picture, message and video you curate provides a window for your customers to look in and learn about your ideas, interests and work ethic. This can enhance the public perception of your brand. People buy products from brands they think have personality. Dull Davids don’t win here.

3. Keeping Customers Engaged

Content curation is a great way to remain engaged with your customers after the sale. Sending news clips or other relevant information to your audience not only keeps them informed but also builds goodwill. And let’s face it: customers can be forgetful. If you’re not right out there talking to them and giving them a reason to think of you, they just may forget to buy from you the next time they need something. With a steady supply of quality content to provide, you can keep yourself fresh on their minds.

4. Keeping Your Blog Fresh and Relevant

A key to maintaining a successful blog is to publish posts on a regular basis. While creating great, original content on a daily basis can be a challenge; you can complement your own original work with the curated copy. No blogging blues or splitting headaches because you have to write yet another post! A good mix original and curated content will help you maintain your audience’s interest and your sanity.

5. Avoiding Self-Promotion Pitfalls

Too much self-promotion will just turn your audience off, and it doesn’t drive conversions anyway. According to a study by Argyle Social, content curation beats self-promotion five days a week and twice on Sunday.

So, let’s address the big question on everyone’s minds right now: Does content curation mean you don’t need to create original content? Sorry, but no. There’s always a need for high-quality, original content. Instead of viewing content curation as a replacement for what you’ve been doing, look at it as a valuable addition to bolstering your current marketing mix.

You can never have too many tools in your content marketing arsenal, and content curation is one you definitely don’t want to overlook. Use it to provide more quality content, increase exposure, and help drive engagement.

10 Common Content Marketing Mistakes

10 Common Content Marketing Mistakes was co-authored by Sharon Hurley Hall and Christina Strickland.

10 common content marketing mistakes

Promoting your business with content is an excellent strategy for raising awareness of your brand and getting your customers’ attention. But some businesses don’t get the benefits they should, because of easily avoidable errors. Here are some common content marketing mistakes you should avoid.

10 Common Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

 

Common Content Marketing Mistake #1: No Strategy

Believe it or not, some companies approach content marketing piecemeal and don’t have a strategic game plan. Newsflash! No matter how much content marketing you are doing and how many pieces of the puzzle you have in place, you won’t get the benefit unless you know:

  • What you want to achieve with content marketing
  • How content marketing fits into your overall business strategy

That’s why the starting point for content marketing is working out how content can serve your key business goals. Only then can you start to work out who your audience is and what types of content will suit them best.

Common Content Marketing Mistake #2: No USP

As part of your strategy, think about what you bring to the table that’s completely new – your unique selling point or sales proposition (USP). Identify yours and you have a focus for your content marketing strategy. Think about the problem you set up your business to solve and how your approach is different from that of your competitors.

Common Content Marketing Mistake #3: Thinking a Blog is Enough

Similarly, some businesses buy into the “blog it and they will come” myth. In other words, if you have a company blog, that means you have a complete content marketing strategy. It’s true that companies that blog get better web traffic, leads and ROI, but they still need to be strategic to be successful.

How can you use your blog strategically? Here are a few ideas:

  • Think of the questions your customers usually ask and answer them on the blog.
  • Repurpose your blog content for different media, creating everything from podcasts to presentations.
  • Share and discuss your blog content anywhere your customers are likely to hang out (forums, social media sites and more).

Do this, and your blog will fulfill its potential and start to work to market your business.

Common Content Marketing Mistake #4: You’re Only Broadcasting

We get it – it can be hard to move out of the old marketing mindset, where you created information and sent it out, without getting much back. But those days are gone and your audience expects to interact with you. Broadcasting is out; communication is in.

Instead of making it all about you, include discussion starters for social media sites in your content marketing plan. Take part in Twitter chats. Create some images for Pinterest and Instagram and get to know the value of hashtags. Do some social listening to figure out what your customers really want instead of what you think they want. Put it all together by being responsive – it will transform your business (in a good way!)

Common Content Marketing Mistake #5: No Personality

You business may not interest everyone, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Stuffy corporate voices are offputting and unrelatable, but find the spark you can focus on and you can make your content marketing truly special. Don’t believe me? General Electric has got creative in showcasing its business, and shipping company Maersk has made a big splash (not literally) on social media. Somehow, those companies have found the fun which helps them connect with customers. You can too.

Common Content Marketing Mistake #6: You’re Not Mobile

When was the last time you checked your content to see how it looked on mobile devices? There are more people using mobile devices than desktop computers, so you can’t ignore this sector. And with Google’s April 2015 mobile algorithm update, mobile friendliness has become an SEO ranking signal for mobile devices users. In other words, if your content isn’t mobile-friendly, people may not even be able to find it. Find out how to integrate mobile into your marketing mix here.

Common Content Marketing Mistake #7: Not Enough Content

You may hear a good deal of debate about just how often you should post content for your business, especially blog posts. Some people are of the mind that it really doesn’t matter how often you post as long as you do so regularly. For example, these people believe your readers need to know when to expect new material from you, such as every Wednesday or every other Wednesday. Others assert that you’ll get the best results by posting several times each week. For example, some research shows that posting 20 times a month to your blog will get you significantly more traffic and leads. However, for Facebook, posting more than once per day seems to put a bit of a damper on engagement, according to Track Social.

Common Content Marketing Mistake #8: No Variety

Since your readers are only human, they can get bored. And though you work to provide meaty, interesting content, seeing the same types of posts all the time can get to be monotonous for your audience. You can liven things up by adding other types of posts to the mix, such as videos, webinars, and infographics. Slideshows and tutorial posts can add variety and make your content much more interesting as well. Of course, you’ll still want to create traditional posts. Just mix things up a little.

Common Content Marketing Mistake #9: Omitting the Call to Action

Content marketing may fall a bit flat if you don’t remember to include calls to action. While you don’t want to make your content too salesy, you do want to nudge your readers in a particular direction. As such, it’s important to include a call to action. This could be a call to action for requesting your informational content, as your readers are interested in what you have to say already. This means they’re apt to take an interest in your free eBook, webinar, or newsletter. It can also mean including premium offers that help move your readers along towards making a decision and taking advantage of the solutions or products you provide.

Common Content Marketing Mistake #10: It’s an Afterthought

Finally, one of the biggest content marketing mistakes there is, is to make it an afterthought. You’d be surprised how many people create a strategy but don’t take the time or allocate the resources to execute it so they get real ROI. The right content allows your customers to see you as an expert with a human personality rather than a faceless company. That’s even more important as millennials become a more influential consumer segment.

Don’t make these mistakes. If you need help with your creating and delivering a content marketing strategy, get in touch with the Crackerjack Marketing team.

10 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic

Co-Authored by Sharon Hurley Hall and Christina Strickland

10 ways to increase blog traffic

Creating blog content is one of the best investments you can make in promoting your business. The stats are clear:

  • Brands that create 15 new posts monthly average 1200 new leads each month.
  • Blogs increase the number of pages in the search engine index by 437%.
  • You’ll get 55% more visitors by having a company blog.
  • Whichever way you look at it, blogging for business is a good thing.

Many brands build a blog and expect the traffic to roll in simply because it’s a super awesome piece of web real estate. They’re in for a rude awakening when their launch day comes and goes with hardly a couple of stragglers stopping by to read what you’ve written.

Then comes the million-dollar question: How can I increase blog traffic?

If you’ve got your system down and producing a steady stream of content, take note of these ten things you can do to increase blog traffic, up your game and get more from your content marketing efforts.

10 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic

1. Go for Visual Appeal

An interesting graphic or video encourages blog readers to share. And this, of course, is what you want. The more your readers share, the more traffic you can expect. Some good ideas include infographics that provide valuable information and appeal to the eye. A well-crafted, visually appealing video may stimulate your readers to share as well. Creating those how-to posts? Mark each step with clear, helpful photos. Without question, visual content is king online. Still not convinced? Here are 37 reasons why you should be incorporating visual content where you can (including your blog!).

2. Go to Your Audience

Instead of waiting for your audience to come looking for you, go ahead and go to it. Seek out online communities in which your audience gathers. Once you find a few that are very active, don’t commit the sin of drive-by posting or link dropping. Instead, become an active participant. Start and join real conversations. Show interest and provide valuable information. Leave your links as allowed by the online community. Include links to relevant information (available on your blog) when it pertains to the discussion at hand and will provide real value to the community. Many communities also allow a signature link, and you can usually provide information about your blog in your profile. Simply put, you have to be social, so kick your inner introvert to the curb for a bit.

3. Incorporate Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking is more than just a good excuse to indulge your OCD tendencies. It’s also an avenue to engaging your audience, building your network and sharing your content. How does it work? Essentially, you use social bookmarking sites to organize and share links you consider valuable. Here are some suggestions, just to get you started: Digg, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, and Reddit.

The major benefits of using social bookmarking for your business include the following:

  • You benefit from the social bookmarking website’s credibility. A link from a social website can significantly help your search engine ranking.
  • When your content is bookmarked and shared, you get a boost in credibility, which can draw more customers to your business. Building an image as an industry leader is a good thing.
  • Put all your good stuff in one place. All those awesome reviews and testimonials you get? Make sure interested parties can find them via your social bookmarking site profile. This way, anyone looking can easily find all the reasons you’re so great.

One more thing, and this is important: Always read the rules of the site before you post, and avoid behavior that marks you a spammer. Share other people’s stuff, not just your own, and be social! Finally, keep in mind that it’s even better when others bookmark your content; add social sharing buttons to your blog to make it easy for readers to do so.

4. Try Question-and-Answer Sites

Who cares what you have to say? The people asking questions, that’s who. A high-quality question-and-answer site may have a large audience interested in the types of answers you can provide. Answering their questions in an engaging and interesting manner can help you establish yourself as an expert in your field. You’ll also get to insert links that draw traffic to your blog.
Here’s a handy dandy shortlist of question and answer sites to try:

5. Write Guest Posts

Creating content for a website that is not your own may seem like a counter-intuitive method to increase blog traffic, but it really can work! How? You write an interesting, compelling post relevant to your business and the particular blog. The blog owner posts it and you get to include your bio and a link back to your site, maybe even a line or two about your business.

Tip: Make your links count. Link back to a page (yes, one on your blog) that provides more information about the topic you covered, answers burning questions your reader is sure to have or gives something away for free. Read this post to get all the details on how to get the most out of guest blogging.

6. Present It on Slideshare

One easy tactic to increase blog traffic is to use your content to create presentations on LinkedIn Slideshare. The site has more than 60 million users and is widely used within the business community. To use it effectively, you need to marry the best points from your content, with stunning design and the right tags. If you get it right, your presentation could be featured by Slideshare, which will bring a lot of people back to your blog. Learn more about using the site effectively from this Kissmetrics guide to Slideshare.

7. Publish a Book

It’s also simple to use your blog to create a book or eBook. Spend some time up front thinking about a topic you want to cover in depth, then make each sub-topic an individual post. Not only will you get feedback as a you go (blog comments and social shares can tell you a lot about how people will respond to the content) but you’ll only need to add an introduction and conclusion to finalize your book. Invest in professional editing so that the book of your blog reads like a book instead of a loose collection of posts. Then publish it everywhere, including Amazon, iBooks, and Smashwords. Get it right and you could reach an audience who might never have seen your blog.

8. Syndicate Your Blog

Did you know that Amazon has a tool called Kindle Publishing for Blogs? It’s been around for a while, though it’s still in beta. Add your blog’s RSS feed and a title image and then Kindle users can subscribe to it via Amazon. In our experiences, this won’t net you a huge audience, but it will reach the people who do all their reading on Kindle.

9. Reuse the Stats

If your blog content includes stats, then you have the basis for a compelling infographic. This strategy will work best if you do a lot of research. Well researched and attractive infographics are immensely popular. It’s another way to repurpose blog content and reach a wider audience.

10. Put it on Audio and Video

While you’re pulling data from your blog post, consider two more options for reusing the content. Many people love to consume content on the go and would rather listen than read. For those people, a podcast version of your blog content is ideal. And then there are the people who love watching videos (such as mobile device users). Convert your post to a short video and you’ll get more attention.

These tips will help increase blog traffic and get more eyes on the content you originally created for your blog. As a result, your company can reap the benefits of more attention, more leads and more sales.

memes for marketing

Memes for Marketing: Should You Use Them?

 

memes for marketing

Is it possible to go a whole day online without seeing a meme? Wherever you look on social media, you find those amusing combinations of images and text sending a short, sharp message.

Originally a meme was simply “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture” (Merriam-Webster) but now it can be a piece of content – usually visual – that spreads quickly and may even go viral. A case in point: all the memes around Donald Trump, many of which focus on his hair.

Getting Started with Memes

Using memes in your marketing can show that you’re in touch with what your customers are talking about. They can also give your brand some personality. For example, Grammarly has built an audience of more than 7 million by using images with grammar on Facebook and other social media channels. Several of these tap into popular memes.

Hubspot believes that memejacking is a great strategy for brands. That means hijacking a meme that you already know is popular and putting your own spin on it. That allows you to ride the trend while gaining more attention.

One tip: make sure you really understand what the meme is all about. Get it wrong and you could really hurt your image. Check out Mismeme on Reddit for some more examples.

Seven Tips on Using Memes for Marketing

So, how do you use memes effectively in your marketing strategy? Here are some tips:

  1. Check to see what’s already popular. There are several great sources of meme intel including Know Your Meme and Memebase. Use those to see whether your planned meme is hot – or not!
  2. Keep an eye on your social media streams. If you’re repeatedly seeing versions of the same image , that’s sure sign that a meme is on the rise.
  3. Check out trending topics on your favorite social media site and see if there are any particular images that go along with them.
  4. Keep tabs on current events that lend themselves to humor.
  5. Decide on the idea and brainstorm some possible takes on it.
  6. Use an online meme generator (try this Google search) to help you create it.
  7. Be selective! Be sure that the meme is aligned with your brand. And, remember, in this case too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Too many memes can have a negative impact on your brand in social.

Tips for Meme Success

When creating memes, be careful about the copyright of the original images. If it’s not clear who owns them, you’d be better off creating your own. In fact, the Success Kid meme started when a photographer uploaded an image of her 11 month old son in 2007. People are still using this image for new memes today.

The final element you need for meme success is social sharing. Share your meme everywhere: on the main social media profiles and within groups. Don’t be afraid to share a meme more than once. The only exception is LinkedIn, where people generally expect more serious, business-related content. Other than that, use your normal content marketing workflow to help your memes to achieve their potential.

Used well, memes can be a useful part of your content marketing strategy so don’t be afraid to try them out.

5 Ways to Get More Eyes on Your Blog Content

eyes_blog_content

Creating blog content is one of the best investments you can make in promoting your business. The stats are clear:

  • Brands that create 15 new posts monthly average 1200 new leads each month.
  • Blogs increase the number of pages in the search engine index by 437%.
  • You’ll get 55% more visitors with a company blog.

Whichever way you look at it, blogging for business is a good thing. But not everyone will read your blog, so to get more from content marketing, use your blog content in other ways so that more people will see it and interact with your company.

1. Present It on Slideshare

One easy fix is to use your blog content to create presentations on LinkedIn Slideshare. The site has more than 60 million users and is widely used within the business community. To use it effectively, you need to marry the best points from your content, with stunning design and the right tags. If you get it right, your presentation could be featured by Slideshare, which will bring a lot of people back to your blog. Learn more about using the site effectively from this Kissmetrics guide to Slideshare.

2. Publish a Book

It’s also simple to use your blog to create a book or eBook. Spend some time up front thinking about a topic you want to cover in depth, then make each sub-topic an individual post. Not only will you get feedback as a you go (blog comments and social shares can tell you a lot about how people will respond to the content) but you’ll only need to add an introduction and conclusion to finalize your book. Invest in professional editing so that the book of your blog reads like a book instead of a loose collection of posts. Then publish it everywhere, including Amazon, iBooks, and Smashwords. Get it right and you could reach an audience who might never have seen your blog.

3. Syndicate Your Blog

Did you know that Amazon has a tool called Kindle Publishing for Blogs? It’s been around for a while, though it’s still in beta. Add your blog’s RSS feed and a title image and then Kindle users can subscribe to it via Amazon. From my own experience, this won’t net you a huge audience, but it will reach the people who do all their reading on Kindle. When I tried it with my writing blog, I had about 100 people who subscribed this way.

4. Reuse the Stats

If your blog content includes stats, then you have the basis for a compelling infographic. This strategy will work best if you do a lot of research. Well researched and attractive infographics are immensely popular. It’s another way to repurpose blog content and reach a wider audience.

5. Put it on Audio and Video

While you’re pulling data from your blog post, consider two more options for reusing the content. Many people love to consume content on the go and would rather listen than read. For those people, a podcast version of your blog content is ideal. And then there are the people who love watching videos (such as mobile device users). Convert your post to a short video and you’ll get more attention.

These 5 tips will help get more eyes on the content you originally created for your blog. As a result, your company can reap the benefits of more attention, more leads and more sales. Look out for Crackerjack Marketing’s coming ebook on other ways to attract your audience.

d467ce9b-de90-4a5f-a575-846789f89cb0

content marketing value

How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck with Content Marketing

 

content marketing value

Everybody wants a magic bullet. And if you’re using content marketing to promote your business you may want it more than most. There are so many sites and types of content out there, so how do you find out what really works to you get great performance and return on investment, and content marketing value for your efforts?

The good news is, you don’t have to look far to find the answer, because Buzzsumo and Fractl have done it for you, analyzing 220,000 articles over a 6 month period from June to November 2014. The infographic is published on Hubspot. Here are some of the key findings, along with the lessons to learn about your content strategy.

1. Find the Right Content Type

The study identifies five main types of content: how to, lists, what posts, why posts and videos. Of those types, lists got the most social engagement at 22.45%. Does that mean that you should only publish list posts from now on? Of course not, because the study shows differences depending on the niche. Unsurprisingly, lists work best for travel and entertainment. We’re all fascinated by lists of places to visit or weird memes.

If you’re in a different niche, then consider whether lists are the right content for you. The lesson is to use the content types as a starting point, but do your research (and check your analytics) to see which performs best for you.

2. Figure Out Your Engagement Metrics and Timing

Engagement also changes across the board depending on your niche, with some niches having far more active audiences than others. If you’re in the tech business you’re likely to get a lot of social shares for any content you publish. That also applies to lifestyle, business, education and finance. On the other hand, if you’re in automotive, health and food, you’ll see much lower sharing figures.

Timing also affects engagement. That’s not just about the time of day you publish, but the time of year. October is a great month for almost all types of posts, but especially for what posts, while the summer months of July and August see lower social sharing figures across the board. Hubspot has a great analysis of this. It’s also worth noting, that news and entertainment are high performing sectors for social sharing.

3. Take a Shortcut with the Most Popular Content Types

The big takeaway from this research is that list posts and why posts get the most consistent engagement, so you should definitely include these in your content strategy. Do this by:

  • Using analytics, social media and customer interaction data to figure out the most common questions so you can answer them with posts.
  • Checking out your competitors’ sites for questions their customers ask that you can answer.
  • Collecting helpful resources to form useful lists for your customers.
  • Breaking industry trends or finding an entertaining spin on a key issue.

This will help you create content that is shared over and over again, continuing to promote your business years after the original publication date.

Buzzsumo and Fractl also used the data to produce a social content calendar to guide you as to what content does best in every month. One interesting finding there is that videos did particularly well in August and September.

Related to this, Buzzsumo and Uberflip did additional research on the content people share most. It showed that how to posts remain popular, with an average of 5,200 shares apiece. In addition, quizzes can get millions of shares and image posts get double the number of shares as posts without images.

Putting It Together

So, how do you get more from your content marketing efforts?

  1. Check out the research cited above in detail.
  2. Look at your own customer data and see if it matches up.
  3. Identify a mix of content for your blog and social media (probably how-to and lists for your blog and images for social).
  4. Create, upload and share

What types of content do you find most effective for your audience?

de504f5b-deae-4fb2-8a9d-5eec6949380e

resurrect a blog

Tales From the Crypt: Bringing Your Company Blog Back to Life

 

resurrect a blog

No matter how motivated you were about starting your blog way back when, it’s all too easy to let it slide. It starts with a day of posting missed here or there. Then you start missing weeks, telling yourself it’s no big deal and you’ll get back on track…er…soon. Before you know it, your blog has gasped its laugh breath and you’re faced with deciding whether to bury it or try to perform a modern miracle of resurrection.

Do You Need a Blog?

The first thing to figure out (or remind yourself of) is why you needed a blog in the first place.

Did you need a blog to:

Bring traffic to your website
Aid lead conversion
Improve engagement with your customers/prospects
Increase exposure
Establish yourself as an expert/authority

Whatever your reason for giving life to a blog, ask yourself if that reason still exists or if you have new reasons to maintain a blog.

If the answer is no (highly unlikely), go ahead and let your blog rest in peace. If the answer is yes (much more likely), move on to figuring out why it kicked the bucket.

What Went Wrong?

There are many reasons a blog may go belly up, and examining them can help you figure out how to avoid the dead zone again.

Did you:

  • Lack a strategy

Blogging without a strategy is like setting off on a cross-country drive without a GPS or, at the very least, a map. Don’t start typing before you’ve settled on everything from your blog’s purpose and who your audience is to what your target keywords are and where you will distribute your content. How to Create a Successful Blog Strategy: A Step-by-Step Guide gives you the ins and outs of creating a strategy for your blog.

  • Find it difficult to blog because of your busy schedule

This is a common problem. Crafting high-quality blog posts takes time and energy, and we all run out of both. If this was the reason your blog went caput, you can delegate the responsibility to someone else in your company who has the time and enthusiasm for it, hire a social media professional to take your blog in hand, or seek the services of a ghostwriter. Be sure to check out How To Get Help When You Don’t Have Time To Blog for tips on selecting the right blogger.

  • Lose focus

An editorial calendar is an absolute must for staying on track. A carefully planned calendar will help you plan out your content (so you’re never at a loss for topics), keep your posts in line with your marketing efforts, and hold yourself accountable. Simply put, it’s your ace in a hole for keeping your blog healthy. Check out May the Force be With You: Your Blog Editorial to learn how to use The Force (your editorial calendar) to complete your mission (maintaining an awesome blog).

  • Run out of ideas

This is a true blog killer. Once you run out of ideas, blogging begins to feel like work. Then it begins to feel like torture. You grasp at straws to throw something, anything, up on your blog, but it ends up awful. Then your audience starts to lose interest, because, well, your posts hold little-to-no value for them. The good news is there are numerous ways to get great post ideas. As mentioned in 4 Ways To Get Your Marketing Back On Track, analyzing your audience and making use of social analytic and social listening tools can give you insight into the types of content your audience wants. Additionally, make use of questions your customers ask you and trending topics in your industry to craft relevant posts.

Keep in mind that there are many types of content you can use to make your blog step lively. Create posts around memes or inspirational photos, create series of posts so that each topic builds or expands on the previous one, give interviews, and invite guest bloggers on board. Have theme days and run giveaways on your blog. Mix it up! Editorial Calendar Continued: 9 Ways to Program Out Blog Content shares great ideas for filling your editorial calendar with compelling content.

How Long Should Your Blog Posts Be?

Once you’ve figured out what went wrong with your blog and decided to make the changes to revive it, it’s time to take a look at the simple question of how long to make your posts. Generally, shorter rules when it comes to blogging, but more important than a particular length is whether your posts are tightly focused and if they are easy to scan and absorb. Take a gander at How Long Should a Blog Post Be? to get food for thought on blog length.

It doesn’t matter if your blog was truly dead or merely struggling for its last breath. You can not only revive it but also make it a true content marketing engine. Use the advice above to give your blog a second chance at life.

d467ce9b-de90-4a5f-a575-846789f89cb0

content marketing investment

Why It’s Worth Investing in Content Marketing

 

content marketing investment

Many people don’t trust advertising any more, especially millennials. That’s why you need content marketing. If you create content that speaks directly and personally to your target customers, they are more likely to trust you. And if their friends also recommend your content, you will win their trust and loyalty and they are more likely to buy into your offer.

Content marketing lets you reach your audience in lots of different ways and helps your search rankings and online authority. But to get the benefits, you have to see content marketing as an investment. Not everyone does, even if they should.

As a writer, blogger and professional content creator, I’ve noticed that the people who approach me about writing often fall into two camps: those who want to invest in content and those who want content without the investment. Some freelance marketplaces give the impression that good content is cheap, and if you have a limited budget, that can seem appealing. Don’t fall for that. Failure to invest adequately in content marketing hurts your business. Here’s how.

How Failure to Invest in Content Hurts You

First, you won’t get the right writers to work with you. If you pay peanuts you won’t attract the kind of writers who will enhance your brand. If you want a professional writer, it will cost you. Good content is simply not available at $10 for 600 words; great content has an even higher price tag. Some of the blogs with the best content pay hundreds of dollars per post.

Second, your writer may not stick around. Consistency and reliability help you connect with customers but underpaid content creators soon move on because they need to earn more and there’s no incentive for them to stay. That’s bad for your content marketing strategy because you constantly have to onboard new content creators and you will find it difficult to get a consistent voice for your content and a reliable content flow.

So what do you get if you allocate a decent budget for content creation?

The Benefits of Content Marketing Investment

You get content creators who function as partners, actively working to make sure that content meets your needs. And you get experienced professionals who know when to stick to your style guide or when to inject a little personal flair. You get writers with experience of writing, some industry knowledge and the ability to add value to your content (for example, by creating tweets to accompany a piece of content). You get a level of excellence that makes your brand stand out for your target customers. And you get content that it’s easy to market.

The other reason it pays to invest in content marketing is because of the results you get. Dig deeper into reads, shares, links and referrals in your analytics and social analytics software and you will see the difference that good content makes.

That’s the content part of content marketing, but the marketing element is also important. Once you have nailed content creation, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes activity to ensure that content works for you. For example, the Crackerjack Marketing team ensures that every piece of blog content gets shared multiple times on multiple platforms on a rotating schedule to give as many people as possible the chance to see it.

A marketing firm will help you create shareable graphics to accompany a blog post, craft social media updates and schedule those regularly after working out the best possible timing so people can see and share your content. And the firm can also help you respond quickly when your social connections share and comment on your content.

The bottom line: investing in content marketing is one of the best ways you can promote your business. Ask how the Crackerjack Marketing team can help you.

d467ce9b-de90-4a5f-a575-846789f89cb0

brand voice

Finding Your Brand Voice

brand voice
This is an oldie but goodie and it’s still as useful today as it was when I wrote it for Social Media Explorer. This construct is being referenced by social media smarties everywhere, including Buffer and Kevan Lee writing for Fast Company.

Are you using this in your company? Please tweet me @stephanies if you are!

Oscar winner Colin Firth could be the perfect person to ask about finding his voice – his virtuoso portrayal of a stuttering King George in The King’s Speech so cogently highlighted the frustrations of not having a clear way to communicate with a community. Some brands are equally tongue-tied, unclear about what the brand should sound like, leaving them either silent in social media or sounding haphazard and unrehearsed.

Get over your brand speech impediments by considering the following concepts, all of which play an important role in a well-rounded social media brand voice.

Character/Persona

This is the starting point for the development or furthering of your brand voice: Who does your brand sound like? In order to determine this, you may need to first determine who your customers are, so you can assume a persona for the brand that will resonate with your primary target audience. If you have multiple audiences you may need to have a more flexible brand voice, or you may determine that you need multiple social media channels to reach different audiences. Ideally you will be able to determine character attributes (see diagram) which meet the needs of the majority of your customers or users. If you’re a non-profit which raises awareness of childhood diseases, your character might be a gentle parental type. If you’re a software tools company, you might want to be a bit geeky, just right for the Star Trek crowd.

social-media_brand_voice

Tone

Tone is the underlying vibe that emanates from your brand’s communications. This is where you establish your credibility; place your brand in the past, present or future; and subtly alert fans and followers whether your brand is going to be wide-open or a bit more buttoned up. Be a showoff if your character is something like a street-savvy hip hop artist, but know that humble usually goes farther in generating customer loyalty. Clinical or scientific could be good for a very specific B2B entity or professional services organization.

Language

Although your brand may be the expert in its field, coming off sounding like you’re smarter than your customers could turn people off pretty quickly. Establishing appropriate brand language will give you a foundation for the types of words, phrases and jargon to be used in social media communications. Want to sound very exclusive? Use insider language and acronyms. Want to sound hip? Stay up-to-date on the latest slang. But be careful – if you make a misstep in slang it’ll look like you’re trying too hard.

Purpose

In the end, why are you here? Your brand voice in social media can help customers understand what you want to do with and for them. Are you working to educate your user base? Do you want to delight them, and get them to visit your store or website just because they’re amused by what you’re writing? And even if you do want to sell stuff, what can you give people to help them become engaged by your brand?

Once you’ve brainstormed around these four brand voice attributes, develop a roadmap for your brand’s voice which you can share with everyone who is involved in writing for, or speaking on behalf of, your brand in social media. This roadmap can be a simple as a one-sheeter with your brand voice attributes in writing, or you can craft some examples which front-line engagers can emulate. Add buzzwords – the words which describe your brand and which you want to have used when appropriate; for example, if you’re Disney, your buzzwords are something like: kingdom, magic, magical, family, experience, fun. Then add some “dos and don’ts” guidelines for your engagers so they can get a feel for the types of language and content you expect them to create.

social-media_brand_voice_example

Your brand voice in social media will evolve over time. It would be great to think about undertaking a brand voice development exercise before you open a new Twitter account – but if you’ve already been engaging in social media and feel like your voice needs refinement, take the time to work on it now. Make subtle changes and your fans and followers probably won’t even notice that there was a change – but if you can more closely match your voice to their needs, you may attract even more customers and develop greater engagement and loyalty than you ever have before.

f9756b57-646c-475a-8bdc-1d355f00fa23