Social Media is More than a Part-Time Position

Can you use a part-time social media manager to achieve your online marketing goals? Will hiring a part-time social media manager be enough to acheive your goals?  Isn’t social media marketing simply making announcements to a network of people who have signed on to receive your news and tidbits? Isn’t it simply sharing links, images, and videos you find interesting or inspirational? Or is it all about building relationships and finding ways to engage with your prospects and customers? These things are definitely part of social media marketing, but they don’t tell the whole story.

There is much more to social media than just being social, and doing this type of marketing well requires more than a part-time effort. It requires a strategy, measurement, and constant nurturing. Too often, marketing directors think of social media as a part-time endeavor–something to do whenever time allows, a marketing tool to use whenever inspiration happens to strike, or worst of all, a task that is only performed as an afterthought. When their efforts fail to bring the desired results, they are forced to face one important reality—social media isn’t part time.

What Can an Agency Do that a Part-Time Social Media Manager Can’t?

Our agency dedicates between 30 to 50 hours a week per client, between all of our “hands,” to social media. This includes strategy, consulting, curating content, customer service, campaigns, reporting and more. To ensure that our clients enjoy measurable results, we put in a full-time effort. As with most things that really matter and make a difference in life, you can expect to get out of social media what you take the time to put into it.

Not many brands have an extra 30 to 50 hours worth of internal bandwidth to dedicate to social media marketing.  Many companies outsource their social media, and you can too. But first, you have to understand what it really takes to be successful in this arena. Here are just a few things that our agency does for our clients:

Set social media clear goals and objectives

Without careful, thoughtful goals and objectives, you’re not prepared to go anywhere. Why? Because you have no idea where you really want to go. Sure, you know that you need social media marketing, but you don’t have a clear idea of what you want it to do for you. We work with brands to determine what they need and then evaluate how social media can help meet those needs. Some possible goals can include increasing brand awareness and improving customer loyalty. Next, we set objectives for moving from an unrealized goal to a goal met. All of our objectives are:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Relevant
  5. Time Bound

That’s right! Make they are SMART!

Figure out who your ideal customer is

How? We develop buyer personas to ensure that when we are helping your brand, we are targeting the right people. We try to learn the following about your brand’s ideal customer:

  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Income level
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Challenges
  • Habits
  • Motivations

Choose the right social media platform

We help our clients work smarter, not harder. Avoid help them avoid spreading themselves too thin by attempting to have a presence on every social media network. This will waste valuable time. Instead, we use the buyer personas to figure out where your audience spends most of its time. Then, select a primary and secondary network on which to focus most of our efforts. We keep it simple and smart, making sure your brand is where your ideal customer is.

Develop a social media and content marketing strategy

Save the willy nilly posting for your personal social media accounts. For your business, we create a carefully considered strategy for the type of content (text, images, video, links, funny, serious, inspirational, etc.), a schedule for posting and strategies to drive engagement, encourage new followers, and keep your current followers happy and interested.

An on-point social media manager

CMOs and CEOs are typically far too busy with to spend the time needed to follow up on the follow through of a social media manager. Rather than proceed with far less than what you really need, a solution is to utlize an agency that understands not only the social media landscape and your business but also has the staff and bandwidth to nurture your brand’s community and online presence. All good social media manager should have the following character traits:

Curious: A good social media manager will be interested in how things work, why they work that way, what your audience needs, how to provide it, how to fix issues, and how to do it all better.

Teachable and adaptable: Things are constantly changing in the social media arena. New platforms come into play, certain strategies become more effective, your audience changes, or your competitors change the game. You need a social media manager who is eager to learn and willing to not only roll with changes but also lead the way in some respects.

Experience and skills: While it’s not critical that a social media manager knows everything (it is okay to learn more as he or she goes), you do want someone with skills in multimedia (including images, video, graphics). It’s also critical that a social media manager has experience with, and commitment to, exceptional customer service. Likewise, an understanding of analytics and analytic tools is important. This should include the ability to analyze data beyond basics, such as the number of likes or followers you have or how many times a post has been shared.

 

As you can see, social media success requires a great deal of time, effort, knowledge, and enthusiasm. The good news is you don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) go it alone. Working with an agency can help augment your existing marking team and ensure that your brand’s social media, content and influencer marketing efforts are getting “all hands on deck,” freeing you mind other aspects of your brand marketing.

7 Tips for Creating Marketing Messages that Stick

marketing-messages-that-stick
 
You try to create the most compelling marketing messages. You know how important it is to speak directly to your target audience and share ideas, features, and tips that will capture their attention. But try as you might, it seems like you’re pushing a bunch of boulders up a super-steep uphill. Your messages seem on-point to you, but your audience doesn’t seem to remember them. And if they do, they don’t seem to remember them long enough to buy your products and services. Never fear! You do have options—good options, actually.

Create Marketing Messages that Stick

Creating “sticky” messages can be a lot of fun. The key is to think like your audience thinks. Here are 7 more tips to get you rolling:

Know Your Audience

If you don’t know whom you’re talking to, you are dead in the water. It may seem like a good idea to create marketing messages that appeal to you, but this is simply the wrong way to go. Your target audience is unique, and it is key that your marketing messages speak to its members rather than to you, your friends, or the world at large.

Create Marketing Personas

You’ve probably noticed that your audience consists of more than one type of person. For example, your audience may consist of busy parents, senior citizens who travel a lot, and executives looking for ways to simply their lives. By creating personas, you can better understand the different segments of your target audience and create messages that speak to each segment.

Keep It Simple

Creativity is a good thing, but sometimes businesses create convoluted messages in an effort to be different and creative. Be careful that creating longer, more complicated messages doesn’t dilute your point and confuse your audience. Often, simple and to the point is more memorable and more likely to hit home.

Go for the Surprise Attack

Your audience is made up of people who have one thing in common. They hear the same things every day. They constantly hear that one brand is better than another. Marketing messages constantly tell them that they cannot possibly live without a product or service or that the only way to get superior quality is to choose company B over Company A. Because they hear these messages constantly, they gradually tune them out. There’s nothing new to be learned, so these types of messages become part of the background noise. But if you can surprise your audience, you can capture its members’ attention and then use their focus on you to give details they’ll need to choose you over the competition. Use surprising facts, interesting product uses, historical information, etc. to surprise your audience into listening and remembering your messages.

Get Visual

Today’s audiences are highly visual. Because of this, plain, old text can be seen as, at best, a little dry and, at worst, flat-out boring. If your messages are seen as boring, your audience is far less likely to remember them, at least not in any good way. The good news is you can take a simple message and give it life through mental and visual imagery. First, write out your message as you normally would. Then, add descriptions that help your audience visualize your message. This is great for provoking emotion, increasing interest, and stimulating memory. Now, go ahead and add images or video whenever possible. The combination of these steps will encourage your audience to not only pay attention but also share your message with others.

Engage Them With Show and Tell

Seeing is believing. Your marketing messages may be spot on, but people are always more likely to believe what you show them over what you tell then. Do create your simple, visual, targeted marketing messages. They are important, but don’t stop there. Create a couple of demonstrations as well to help your audience visualize what you’ve been telling them all along and ensure that they remember you and your products and services.

Tell Stories

People like to be entertained. Even when they are learning about something serious, they prefer to learn about it in a way that entertains and intrigues them. Give them what they want by creating stories that share something they didn’t know, highlight how your brand is different, illustrate that you understand them and get where they are coming from, and speak to their pain points. Your stories will provoke emotions in your customers and prospects, not only ensuring that they remember you but also helping them to feel connected to your brand.

It takes effort to create sticky marketing messages, but the rewards of doing so are measurable. Go ahead and try these 7 tips on for size. They’ll help make your marketing messages more memorable and encourage your audience to purchase from you.

Have tips for creating sticky marketing messages? We’d love to hear them! Share your tips in the comments section.

Role of Images in Content Marketing

What Makes Visuals So Crucial to Content Marketing Success?

Role of Images in Content Marketing

There’s no denying that visual content has taken over our generation. With more than 3.7 billion internet users in the world and smartphone users expected to reach 2.32 billion by the end of 2017, from Snapchat to Facebook to Instagram, there is practically no end to our appetite for visual content.

For your business, that means mastering the art and science of images is necessary to remain relevant in today’s digital era.

Is your content marketing campaign falling flat and short on performance? You may need to double down on your visuals right now.

Below is a breakdown of key roles visuals play in different areas of content marketing along with some practical tips on how to make them work for you, and where you can find and create amazing images.

Search Engine Optimization

Yes, images can improve your organic traffic and help you rank better in Google. It’s a lesser-known fact that images generate massive traffic next to text-based search engine results. Benjamin Ling, Product Manager for Google, discloses that Google Images page views add up to more than 1 billion hits daily. So in addition to making your content more engaging, images can give your search rankings and traffic a giant boost. To get a slice of that huge traffic pie, make sure you optimize your images for search engines. Start with the file name and alt text.

Blogging

Images in your blog can set your content apart from others, or at least make people read it from start to finish. A study from Microsoft claims the abundance of digital content these days combined with easy mobile access make people’s attention span shorter than ever.  If such is the case, big chunks of text would be most likely be unappealing to a modern-day reader.

Kissmetrics advises that splitting your body of text with relevant images will encourage people to finish reading. Buzzsumo studied over one million articles and found out that posts which featured an image every 75-100 words had twice the amount of shares compared to articles with fewer images. And while this formula might not always hold true in certain cases, incorporating several images in your post will more likely improve its engagement rate overall, especially if your blog is not performing as well as it should.

Email Marketing and Newsletters

Similar to blogging, images are indispensable in email campaigns. Images can be used to strengthen branding and therefore, increase conversion.  Perhaps your readers may not click that “link” right away or even remember what was written, but a vivid image will stick around in their minds much longer. However, be warned that overloading emails with images is not the right approach. Regarding layouts, email is a very limited publishing platform compared to a website page. Keeping this in mind, images embedded in emails must not be all over the place. They should be there to boost your email’s performance, to bring the message across and not be a distraction.

The Marketing Bit mentioned some of the ‘don’ts’ of using images in emails and newsletters:

  • Don’t embed important links in image files
  • Don’t include too large image sizes
  • Don’t send an email as one large image

Social Media

The role of images in social media marketing in much more diverse than blogging and email campaigns.  It can also be argued that on social media, the role of images is the strongest. This can be attributed to the fact that social media platforms are designed to showcase a tremendous amount of information with a more intricate layout and design. So for average users with short attention span, it would be harder to sustain their attention using plain text.

Images are the very foundation in which some of the most widely popular social media sites are built on.  On sites like Pinterest, Snapchat, and Instagram, images don’t support a message; they are the message. If you choose these platforms to market, careful attention to curating images is a must.

Other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have joined the bandwagon. Although text-based posts and tweets are still accepted, statistics reveal that posts and tweets with images get more engagement. In some cases, images carry the same weight of importance with the written words on social media.   As a marketer, you can’t give more attention to one over the other. On social media, you can run an entire marketing campaign anchored mainly on images as they are capable of telling a story or invoke powerful emotions at a glance.

Now that I have discussed the roles of images in content marketing let me also share some of the best practices of creating images for more engagement.

Infographics, GIFs, Memes & Emojis – Visual Marketing’s Rising Stars

emoji marketing crackerjack

It’s 2017, and these four visual elements are your game changers.

We see memes and gifs everywhere on our social feeds, and they have evolved into a culture of their own. This immense popularity gave way to a unique opportunity for marketers to connect with their audience. Netflix’s outdoor advertising campaign and Adidas’ “Thug Life” are perfect examples of outstanding marketing built on gifs and memes.

Love them or hate them, emojis have dominated our digital conversations, and here’s data to prove it: Emojis account for a 25.4% increase in engagement on Twitter, and 17% higher interaction rates on Instagram.

Whether you need a content upgrade or looking to repurpose your content, an infographic’s visual appeal is undeniable. MassPlanner says infographics are shared and liked 3x more than any other visual materials available.

If you’re looking to elevate your marketing to a whole different level, be sure to leverage any of these visual materials into your content marketing playbook.

5 Best Practices to Boost Engagement with Images

Tip 1: Image to word ratio

Is your blog suffering from lackluster traffic? Not getting enough clicks and shares? One reason might be you’re not using enough images on your posts. Buzzsumo studied over one million articles and found out that posts which featured an image every 75-100 words had twice the amount of shares compared to articles with fewer images. And while this formula might not always hold true in certain cases, incorporating several images in your post will more likely improve its engagement rate overall, especially if your blog is not performing as well as it should.

Tip 2: Color Psychology

Color psychology is the science of how color influences human behavior. In marketing, it plays a vital role in helping you deliver your message by invoking the right emotions. Colors tell a story. By using the right color scheme in your images, one that runs in parallel with your content, you amplify your message and help ensure a positive response from your audience. This color psychology chart from Inturact illustrates how each color corresponds with different emotions.

colorpsychologywheel

Click to enlarge

Tip 3: Ditch the generic stock image

It’s tacky, it’s boring, and it simply doesn’t work. Your images should convey emotions, or at the very least keep in line with your topic. Try to be more creative and less obvious with your graphics. Visuals add credibility and authority and helps keep your audience glued to your blog post. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words, don’t ruin good content by using bad photos.

Tip 4: Optimize for speed and SEO

A well-optimized image should have its file sized compressed and reduced without compromising a lot on image quality. To achieve this, you can use Photoshop or free tools such as Pixlr or GIMP. Make sure it is also search engine friendly by choosing the right file name, ideally a shortened, keyword-focused version of your blog post title. Equally important is the alt text attribute, which again should be in keyword form related to your blog post headline or topic. Try to keep it under five words. This article from Yoast goes into further detail about optimizing your images for SEO.

Tip 5: Image dimensions

When sharing your blog post across multiple social media platforms, it’s very important to have each image in the correct dimension to maintain proportion and clarity. Use this 2017 social media image sizes cheat sheet from a MakeAWebsiteHub to find out the best image sizes for all major social networks along with the best image types to use for each platform.

Where to Find Your Images

Free

Below are some of my preferred go-to sources for free, quality stock images. All the websites listed here use Creative Commons to license their photos. Although photo attribution is not required, feel free to show your support by thanking them on Twitter or Facebook.

You can also check out this comprehensive list of the best for free stock images from Stephen Jeske of Can I Rank and Crazy Leaf Design’s Harris Roberts

Paid

If you’re looking to ramp up your visual game and take it to the next level, you might want to consider getting a subscription from these top stock photo websites. Each of these platforms carries a massive library of royalty-free content. Browse through millions of images, vectors, and illustrations – you’re sure to find what you need.

6 Tools to Help you Create Stunning Visuals

Final Thought

Content marketing trends are forever evolving, but the compelling nature of images and what it can do to the human brain makes it a powerful marketing asset that will remain a fundamental piece of each and every marketing strategy.

6 Crucial Tactics to Improve Your Facebook Advertising Efforts

6 Crucial Tactics to Improve Your Facebook Advertising Efforts

6 Crucial Tactics to Improve Your Facebook Advertising EffortsFacebook is an excellent place to post ads for your brand. Why, you ask? Though most advertising questions don’t have a simple answer, this one definitely does. Essentially, just about everyone is on Facebook in some capacity or another, so advertising there means more and better chances to reach your audience. Just what do we mean by everyone? Well, upwards of 70 percent of adults spend time on this platform. With well-targeted ads and a good strategy, you can reach a significant portion of your audience, whether you’re targeting a B2C or B2B audience.

Of course, the fact that everyone is on Facebook is really just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also the fact that Facebook really makes it easy to hone in on a particular audience based on locations, demographics, interests, behaviors, and connections. And once you target a particular audience, there is so much you can use Facebook ads for, including boosting likes and engagement and increasing website clicks and conversions. You can do all of this on the budget you set AND use Facebook’s tools to track your progress, so you can easily optimize your ad campaigns.

6 Tips to Improve Facebook Advertising Results

But how do you create an ad that does more than simply look pretty? Here are 6 crucial tactics for successful Facebook advertising:

  1. Keep it short and sweet. Too much text just doesn’t fly in Facebook ads. And besides that, short and sweet wins the race when it comes to promo. No one wants to read a whole book about what you’re offering. Get to the point, and make sure you have a hook to draw them in. Facebook truncates overly long ad text, but even if that wasn’t the case, keeping it short is still a good idea. According to a recent study, ads with 40 characters or less of text get over 80 percent more engagement than longer ads.

Takeaway tip: Make a few catchy ads and try them all out. Figure out which ad texts perform the best and use the same approach with future ads. Be sure to consider different audience groups when you test your ad. One ad may underperform with one age or buying group but soar with another.

  1. Don’t overpower your image with too much on-image text. First of all, Facebook frowns on using more than 20 percent of your ad space on text. Besides that, you might think that adding the maximum allowed text to your image is an easy way to get around tactic number 1, which is all about keeping it short and sweet. Trust us, more text here won’t help you. If your ad includes too much text, it’s likely to have a much lower reach. Or worse, it might not run at all.

           Use the following dimensions for creating your ads:  

           Recommended News Feed image size:  1,200 x 900 pixels

           News Feed image ratio:  4:3

           Right column image size:  254 x 133 pixels

           Right column image ratio:  1.9:

Takeaway tip: Facebook has a handy tool that makes it easy to check if you’ve overdone it on text. Check it out here.

  1. Make it eye-catching. You’ve heard it a million times. A picture is worth a thousand words, and that still rings true on Facebook. For starters, posting an ad that is just all text simply won’t work on Facebook anyway, but even if you could go text crazy on this social media site, you wouldn’t want to. An image catches the eye and makes your viewer want to read your offer and learn more. Make it a good, high-resolution image every time.

Takeaway tip: Make sure your image is easy to understand at a glance, and hone in on the important stuff by taking the time to crop your image.

  1. Create a custom call to action (CTA) button through the ads manager. If you’ve created an effective Facebook ad, your viewers should get the gist of what you want to do, but that doesn’t mean they’ll just automatically do it. Having a call to action button encourages them to take that next step by clicking to perform the action you want. Often, in advertising, you need to tell your audience, and then tell them again (and again) before they actually take action. Custom CTAs can significantly increase your click-through rate. Keep in mind that you won’t have the option of creating a custom call to action button for a boosted or promoted post, but this is an option for website click, website conversion and offer claim ads.

Takeaway tip: When Facebook says it will allow you to customize your CTA button, this really means choosing from a selection of buttons the social media platform has on offer. Select the button that best matches your ad. Choices range from Shop Now, Book Now and Learn More to Watch Now, Donate Now, and Contact Us.

  1. Show more than one image. If a photo is worth a thousand words, how much more, then, are multiple images worth? Using the Facebook carousel format for your ad, you can show not only multiple images but also multiple headlines and calls to action. It works like this: Your audience member sees your awesome ad but doesn’t have to stop there. With just a swipe of his finger or a click of arrows, he can scroll through up to 10 images with accompanying links, headlines, and calls to action. How is that for bang for your bucks?

Takeaway tip: Use the carousel format for your Facebook ad when you want to showcase several offerings, share details that would be otherwise difficult to share with a single image, or use your images to do what you should always try to do—tell a story.

  1. Put Facebook to work for you. Sooner or later, you may run out of ideas for whom to target next. In that case, try this handy trick. Acting as yourself, go ahead and like one of your page’s updates in your home stream. The result? Facebook will recommend pages for you based on the content you’ve liked. Look at the pages it suggests. Since it believes you will be interested in those suggested pages based on liking your own content, it makes sense that fans of those suggested pages will also like your content. Go ahead and target those fans.

Takeaway tip: Make sure you like your page update on your home stream and NOT on your brand’s page.

With Facebook, you can really focus on your unique audience, reaching the demographics most likely to be interested in your products and services. Use the above tips to create the best possible ad, and put this social media giant to work for you.

Tweet Like a Pro

How to Tweet Like a Pro

advanced twitter tips

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you can probably tell we’re all aflutter about Twitter. Even though we wonder why Twitter is so darn difficult for people, we’re big advocates for using Twitter as part of your overall social media strategy.  It’s a powerful tool for building your business.

What do you do when the ideas just don’t flow as readily as you’d like? What can you do when you’re long on enthusiasm but short on compelling ideas for tweets? No worries! We’ve compiled a list of ideas you can use to get you through those difficult times as well as great resources for finding content to share.

Creative Ideas for Compelling Tweets

Once you’ve been tweeting a while, you’ll develop a formula or a style that makes it easier to come up with consistent content many times a day, virtually every day of the week. If your style is primarily content curation, over time you’ll establish a list of trusted sources for finding just the right stuff for your Twitter followers. You’ll get in a groove so that tweeting won’t become a chore. But in the meantime, you may need some prompts.

Here are 12 prompts that will get you thinking about things you can tweet about. Pick a few every day, and change it up from day-to-day. Each of these prompts is good for hundreds of tweets over the course of a few months.

12 Prompts for Quick and Easy Twitter Content

  1. Tweet a link to a blog post you agree with and add a comment (on the post) that mentions one of the points in the post.
  2. Share a photo of something you pass on the street that relates to your business in some way.
  3. Share a link to your own blog post and ask people a question about it.
  4. Pose a question to your followers asking what they think about an issue that’s hot at the moment.
  5. Start a conversation. Respond to a question someone asked or simply comment on something someone said. Then keep the conversation going, back and forth once or twice using @ mentions.
  6. Answer the question, “What’s inspiring you?” (as in, “Today I’m inspired by…”)
  7. Answer the question, “What’s bothering you?” (obviously, keep it relevant).
  8. Share a link to a video that you think might be of interest to your followers.
  9. As you go about your day at work, notice the behind-the-scenes image or story that you can share with your customers, like a work-in-progress.
  10. Tweet an inspiring quotation.
  11. Retweet the best tweets of those you admire.
  12. Share a link to a news story related to your business and comment on it.

Keeping a list like this handy so you can refer to it when you’re having a Twitter writer’s block can help you keep up your Twitter content and make it easy and fun at the same time.

Resources for Links to Share on Twitter

You may only get 140 characters (for now!), but by linking to an article, blog post or website, you open a door to a whole new world of information. Sharing links is one of the best ways to use Twitter for business. It shows that you are a valuable source of information, and by choosing the most useful information for your community, you ensure that people will come to count on you, and respect your knowledge of your field. There is a firehose of information out there, and anyone who can be trusted to find the best of the best will be rewarded with followers and retweets.

Here are several of our favorite resources for finding Twitter content to share, to help build your stream:

  1. Google Alerts is one of the easiest tools to use. Go to the site and choose the subjects you want to know about. Google will email your chosen content from news, the web and blogs based on the frequency you select.
  2. Addictomatic is a fun and, ahem, addicting aggregator to use. Their tagline of “inhale the Web” is fairly true, and they take content one step beyond Google’s results by bringing in information from Yahoo and Bing.
  3. Paper.li is a tool you can use to automatically curate content on a wide range of topics and arrange it in a magazine-style format. The tool is very easy to do and can automatically Tweet your paper and send it via email too!
  4. If you know there are key bloggers whose content is regularly worth sharing, add them to your RSS reader and search them daily for the best posts of your favorite bloggers.
  5. AllTop is a significant help in finding new blogs to add to your reader. Search for topics and AllTop will return results for you.
  6. When you’re feeling short on inspiration, go to listen to a Ted Talk. Not only are you likely to get inspired, you may just find some great content worth sharing.
  7. Of course, there is always your own Twitter feed! Build a list of people you follow that Tweet about the topics you’re interested in. Or, type a term or phrase in the Twitter search box to find new and interesting content to share.

Try some of the above ideas, and then be sure to come back and fill us in on how they worked out for you. Have bright ideas of your own? We want to hear them! Where do you find the best content to share on Twitter? How do you come up with engaging ideas? We’d love to hear your ideas on this topic. Share them with us in the comments section!

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.

3 Ways to Use Mobile to Reach Millennials

3 Ways to Use Mobile to Reach Millennials

3 Ways to Use Mobile to Reach Millennials

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you know a teen or young adult who isn’t tied to their mobile phone? According to Pew Research, 80% of 18-34 year olds own a smartphone – and they’re all using them a lot. If you want your brand to appeal to this audience, implementing an effective mobile marketing strategy is the way to go. But how do you capture the attention of individuals who are always on the go? A good start would be to capitalize on the channels that they always access on their mobile devices.

Social Media

When it comes to mobile marketing, social media is the top channel to reach millennials. Make sure that your social media strategy translates from desktop to mobile; since the layout space for mobile devices are smaller and more compressed, less text and more pictures and graphics can garner more attention and interest from millennials. Promote your brand by sharing relevant yet fun videos and photos on social media networks like Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Other social sharing sites most appealing to the younger generation include Snapchatand Vine.

Email Campaigns

Email campaigns feel old school. but continue to be a golden ticket in the mobile age. A Rosetta Marketing survey reveals that 68% of millennials check their emails hourly;

Millennials love to shop on their mobiles, so use email to promote coupons and showcase products. Announce contests and sweeps via mobile, and promote upcoming events. Another option is to collaborate with email deal providers like Groupon and LivingSocial to promote your product or service for you, or barter emails with other like-minded companies to get in front of a new audience.

Be aware that millennials will delete emails that are not optimized for mobile devices – and make sure that the click-through experience is also optimized for mobile.

Apps

Millennials absolutely love apps; they use them for many purposes, which include entertainment and gaming, social networking, online shopping, and utilities.  One type of app that is proving to be a hit to the younger crowd is instant messaging. This type of apps pose a huge potential when it comes to advertising your brands, because millennials relish the idea of being able to instantly connect with their friends. The immense popularity of this platform convinced Facebook to acquire instant messaging service Whatsapp for an eye-popping $19 billion. Despite critics calling it as one of the most lopsided deals in internet history and other pundits expecting an eventual bust, Facebook believes the acquisition will be worth every penny as they express optimism the number of Whatsapp users will surge to 1 billion within the next few years.

Another effective way of integrating apps into your mobile marketing scheme is to leverage television advertisements to drive mobile engagement as explained in this MediaPost article by Eddie DeGuia.

Should you create your own, branded app? It depends on whether you have enough content to keep it interesting and active. Otherwise find ways to use existing apps, including social networks and text messaging apps.

Final Thoughts

It’s not only important that you engage in mobile marketing to reach millennials, you must also optimize online content for mobile devices. And keep your eyes and ears open for the next new thing, it’s likely millennials got there first.

What other mobile platforms do you use to reach out to millennials? Let us know in the comments below!

 

7 Habits of Top Digital Brands

7 Habits of Top Digital Brands

7 Habits of Top Digital Brands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hear a lot about top digital brands and wonder what sets them apart. It’s not just a lot of luck. It’s not even offering a product or service that no one else sells. Instead, these brands earn this designation through hard work, creativity, and effective strategizing. According to digital agency 360i, there are 7 Habits of Highly Digital Brands – and adhering to most, if not all, of these habits can set a brand far ahead of the pack.
The 7 Habits are:

  1. Being a Skilled Conversationalist: Top digital brands don’t just talk at their audiences. Instead, they are talented at creating and participating in conversation that leverages their content and messages for the building of lasting relationships.
  2. Being Authentic: Top brands identify truths relevant to their audiences and incorporate those truths into their content. As a result, they are able to inspire their audiences.
  3. Being Data Driven: Most brands understand the importance of collecting data, but do they know what to do with it once they have it? The top brands effectively use the data they collect for the optimization of their campaigns as well as to gain insight and inspiration for their efforts going forward.
  4. Being Discoverable: Even the most creative and inspiring of campaigns can fall flat if a brand is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Top digital brands learn where their customers are and position themselves to have a discoverable presence where their customers and prospects spend time online.
  5. Being Relevant: The conversation is currently changing in the digital arena. The brands that excel are those that stay relevant through effective navigation of current conversation.
  6. Being a Content Creator: Content is still king, but in an ever-changing market, brands must strategize and take creative approaches to producing and distributing the right type of content at the right time. Top digital brands do this exceedingly well.
  7. Being Constant: Top digital brands develop and steadfastly maintain core values while remaining constantly alert for new ideas and approaches.

Let’s look at two brands, one old and one new, which exemplify many of these 7 Habits.

Oreo: Reinventing a Classic Brand

Consider Oreo as an example of an oldie but goodie that has reinvented itself through social media. For example, Oreo incorporates fun, attention-grabbing memes and current events into its “Daily Twist” campaign. The real-time Super Bowl 2013 “Dunk in the Dark” campaign was another excellent example of its skill as well as its effective use of top-level marketers to make smart choices. Oreo is also discoverable, doing extremely well on Facebook, where it has over 35 million likes, and on Twitter, where it has over 283,000 followers. Further, its website does a fantastic job of engaging the brand’s audience by allowing its community to share Oreo moments.

7 Habits of Top Digital Brands

Oreo’s best habits: Authentic, Data-Driven, Relevant, Content Creator

Warby Parker: Newcomer Built Digitally

We’ve seen how a venerable brand has reinvented itself digitally, so let’s also consider the relative newcomer, Warby Parker. This brand is not only newer but also an industry disruptor: they sell eyeglasses entirely online for one price point of $95.

Because of its only-online approach, this brand had to prove itself digitally and socially strong right from the very beginning. To this end, the brand provides its customer service socially via Facebook and Twitter. It also encourages engagement and draws attention by asking customers to share videos of themselves trying on Warby Parker glasses and then posting their videos on Facebook. Shoring up its efforts are buzz-generating events, Internet ads and online video campaigns.
7 Habits of Top Digital Brands
Its April Fools campaign is a good example of this brand’s skill. It offered customers doggy eyeglasses via a fake pet eyeglass vertical called Warby Barker. When customers added Fido’s eyeglass choice to their cart, they received an April Fools message! And the photos of doggies wearing stylish eyewear? Simply brilliant, and adorable.

Warby Parker’s best habits: Data-driven (they were born that way), Discoverable, Relevant, Content Creator

Top digital brands recognize how critical social and digital is: it’s the fabric of their companies. But they work very hard at capturing and keeping the attention of their audiences. You can’t go wrong if you strive to make the 7 Habits of Highly Digital Brands the habits of your brand.

 

How To Apologize To Your Customers

How To Apologize To Your Customers

How To Apologize To Your Customers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a right way and a wrong way to handle most things in life, and that includes crises of the technology hacking variety. Two recent hacking crises do an excellent job of illustrating how companies handle crises. One, involving Buffer, occurred in October 2013 and was handled quite well while another, involving Snapchat in January 2014, just wasn’t. One of the major differences between the crisis management demonstrated by these companies? The apology. Customers want to know that the companies they patronize care.

Here’s what Buffer did right:

Buffer acted quickly. No one likes to languish, wondering whether a company is aware of a problem and has definite plans to fix it. Buffer was right on top of things, responding to the problem within about an hour and letting its community know it was pausing posts and working on a fix. This stops people from panicking and speculating about what’s to come.

Buffer apologized—multiple times. There’s nothing worse than a company that just doesn’t seem to care how much it inconveniences its customers. Sometimes, it almost seems as if companies are afraid to admit responsibility. Did Buffer want its accounts hacked? Of course not. But it repeatedly apologized and let its users know it understood their anger and frustration. In fact, the CEO got right out there and apologized again and again.

Buffer provided frequent updates. The waiting is just killer. People want to know when they can expect a resolution. Buffer not only offered frequent, specific updates about what the company was doing to fix the problem, but it also provided these updates on multiple outlets, including its blog, Twitter, and Facebook. This ensured that its customers could easily find the updates without having to dig for them.

Responsiveness counts. Sometimes customers feel like they’re shouting questions to the wind, and nothing annoys a customer faster than feeling ignored. Buffer not only took the time to answer hundreds of tweets during the crisis, but it also continued to respond even after the problem was solved.

Especially by contrast to Buffer, whose breach came before Snapchat’s (thereby giving them a blueprint for superior crisis management!), Snapchat got their response all wrong. Massively wrong. Here’s why:

  • They let a whole week go by before it apologized to its users.
  • Their apology seemed grudging and insincere; it was included at the very bottom of a super-short post explaining how the company planned to prevent hackings going forward.
  • They didn’t encourage users to reach out to them if they had concerns.
  • They failed at keeping users updated on the progress towards a resolution.

To compare and contrast a bit further, here’s Buffer’s apology, direct from their CEO. (Click to enlarge)

buffer apology med

Hopefully you’ll never need to make this kind of apology – but if you do, now you know, there’s a right way and a wrong way!

 

Creating Customer Personas for Inbound Marketing

Creating Customer Personas for Inbound Marketing

Creating Customer Personas for Inbound Marketing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some things just aren’t one-size fits all, and content is one of them. To effectively engage your audience, you’ll need content that caters to the specific types of consumers you are trying to reach. And how can you get that? Start by creating customer personas that fit your audience members, and then tailor content to fit each persona. Essentially, you’ll use these personas to drive your inbound marketing strategies.

What Are Personas?

Your company has ideal customers that are unique to it. A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. Fictional doesn’t mean fairy tale, however. You’ll use real demographics and behavioral data to make each persona a realistic representation of your ideal customer. Of course, your customers are more than just a collection of facts and figures. To make them more human, you add in educated speculation about such things as motivations, backgrounds, preferences and concerns.

Here are the main categories companies often cover when creating personas for marketing purposes:

  • Demographics: This includes basic demographic data, such as age, gender, education level, career or business, etc.
  • Profile: This reveals what the persona does, where she lives, and what she cares about. You might include how much time the persona spends on the Internet and what she does online, what her hobbies are, how much she earns, where she works, what kind of car she drives and whether she is a homeowner. You’ll also want to include what she reads and which kinds of memberships she has.
  • Motivators: What are this persona’s reasons for choosing your brand? For example, does your brand help this persona save time or money? Does this persona choose your brand because of perceived value?
  • Goals: What does this persona hope to achieve?
  • Pain Points: What are the concerns your brand solves for this persona?
  • Behaviors: What are this persona’s behavioral traits?
  • Story: What is your persona’s backstory? Who is she? What does she want? What does she do? What are her needs and concerns? This is a brief fictional account of the customer’s overall traits.

How to Get Information for Personas

You can get the information you need to craft realistic personas via the following:

  • Customer data
  • Surveys
  • Interviews with a sampling of customers
  • Interpretation of data

Creating Your Customer Personas

Once you have the data, plus behavioral data and story, you’ll want to codify each of the different personas into documents you and your team can refer to frequently. This could be a Word document, a Powerpoint, or an online doc which you can update easily. You might even blow up your customer personas poster-sized and hang them on the wall, so you’re constantly surrounded by the people you’re creating content for.

Here’s an example of a persona I’ve developed for a client.

creating customer personas resized 600

Aligning Content to Personas

Once you’ve compiled convincing personas of your ideal customer, it’s time to create content that fits each persona and speaks directly to her. Your goal is to create the right kind of content, but this doesn’t mean the right content for all of your customers. Instead, you want to match each persona with content that will move her through the inbound marketing continuum toward becoming a customer and even a brand promoter.

For example, consider example personas A and B. Persona A is less tech-savvy and needs help understanding the hows and whys of your product while persona B is extremely tech-savvy but more budget conscious. To engage and move persona A through the inbound marketing continuum, you’ll want content that primarily teaches, while persona B may better respond to content that helps him compare choices.

Here’s an example of how you might align content to personas.

persona content alignment resized 600

Ongoing Persona Management

Once you’ve created your main customer personas, you won’t need to do this entire exercise from scratch again. You should, however, look at your personas critically every six months to a year, to determine if you need to adjust them, add or drop personas, or update them with new data.

Although persona creation may seem like a lot of work, it’s work which will ultimately shorten the time it takes you do to many other marketing tasks, as you won’t be guessing (and second-guessing) about who will be on the receiving end of your content and communications.

Have you used customer personas in your marketing? Do you have ideas or strategies to share? Please leave a comment below!

This post is part of a series on how to use inbound marketing in your company marketing efforts. You may also be interested What Is Inbound Marketing, 7 Key Assets for Inbound Marketing, and 4 Steps to Creating a Content Marketing Engine.