8 Simple Ways to Breathe New Life Into Your Content Marketing

8 Simple Ways to Breathe New Life Into Your Content Marketing

8 Simple Ways to Breathe New Life Into Your Content Marketing

8 Simple Ways to Breathe New Life Into Your Content Marketing was authored by Sharon Hurley Hall and Christina Strickland.

If you’ve been at content marketing for any length of time, you’ve discovered that it’s all too easy to become comfortable or even complacent. You know what you’re doing, you’re no longer a newbie, and things are running like clockwork, but are you doing all you can do? Could doing a bit more improve your results?

Yes, you are putting effort into producing compelling content, but there is always room for improvement. Why should you bother? Well, the bottom line is that even small improvements can prevent your audience from growing bored and losing interest while also providing your current followers with a reason to keep coming back for more. And you want new visitors, right? Taking the time to refresh and reinvigorate your content also encourages sharing and helps to draw new visitors in your direction.

8 Content Marketing Ideas for Brands

Take the smart approach to your content marketing efforts. Here are 8 tips to help inspire you:

  1. Manage Your Content

People have to see your content several times before you become top-of-mind, so be sure to fine-tune the actual pieces of content you will produce and work out when they should appear. To do that, you’ll need an editorial calendar and a content management system. The editorial calendar tells you what’s happening when on which platform and who is responsible for producing it. The content management system gets everything scheduled and ensures you have SEO information and images to go along with the content. Sometimes, both work together.

Two options you can use are Crackerjack Marketing’s free editorial calendar template or CoSchedule, an affordable paid option that integrates with WordPress.

  1. Vary Your Content

Often, people become really good at creating text content. The problem is, however, that such content may provide information an audience can use but become a bit dry after a while. Readers may become bored with the same old content style, and mixing things up a bit can refresh their interest. How can you mix things up? Here are some suggestions for varying your content:

  • Add photos–This can help boost readership, sharing and engagement.
  • Create and post slideshows.
  • Create and post video content.
  • Include infographics.
  • Add relevant memes to lighten the mood and capture interest.

Most businesses include blog posts (a proven lead magnet) and social media posts, at minimum. They may also include eBooks, webinars, slideshows and infographics. Learn more about the benefits of these content types in our two-part series on 7 Types of Content to Include in Your Strategy and Why.

  1. Get Inside Your Audience’s Head

It is all too easy to forget whom you are trying to reach with your content. Too frequently, business people/content producers get caught up in what interests them and focus too much of their content on that. When you’re trying to connect with customers, however, it is critical to make your content relevant and interesting for them. This means identifying your target audience, learning how you can reach its members, and then providing content that speaks to its needs. Incorporate how-to and question-and-answer content whenever possible. This type of content is not only helpful for your audience but also highly shareable.

  1. Work With Guest Bloggers

Your audience gets used to your voice and trusts in your expertise and unique perspective. While that is a good thing, you can shake things up a little by inviting thought leaders to guest post on your blog. This provides your audience with a fresh perspective and can translate into more sharing and exposure for both your blog and your guest blogger.

  1. Focus on Your Formatting

Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. While what you have to say is the meat and potatoes of your content, your formatting is the presentation. And many people will pass up even the most hearty content if the presentation is just sloppy. Make your content clear, easy to read and attractive by using the following formatting elements:

  • Subheadings
  • Bulleted lists
  • Relatively short blocks of text
  • Fonts that do not detract from your text but do highlight concepts
  1. Listen to Your Audience

Use analytics tools to figure out who’s already visiting your site and blog and what content they find most interesting. That will help you craft new content to keep them coming back, and hopefully, sharing with others. Many analytics tools also include demographic reports, so you can get fine detail on your target audience. Add social analytics tools and social listening tools to this, and you will get a well-rounded picture of your customers and their interests.

7.    Make Sharing Easy

According to Pew Internet, over 76% of online adults use social networking sites, 64% of American adults have a smartphone and more than 45% own tablets. Your strategy must include content optimized for social sharing from mobile devices. Consider:

  • creating a mobile first website and blog design to make sure all visitors can navigate content easily
  • switching your email newsletter to a mobile first design
  • increasing your activity on the key social sites where your potential customers hang out (this could be LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest or somewhere else depending on your industry)

8. Revisit Your Strategy

Revisit and refine your strategy periodically. This means doing three things:

  • setting realistic goals
  • planning how to execute them
  • deciding how to measure them

Note that your goals have to be realistic. If your business plan has flaws, content marketing isn’t the bandage, and there’s no absolute guarantee of direct sales. What it can do is get more attention for your business and increase conversions, so that you can turn leads into sales.

Isn’t it great when you don’t have to guess at what to do next? Use these 8 smart tips to give your content marketing a boost. Then be sure to come back and share your results with us.

Building and Protecting Your Brand Voice on Social Media

Creating Brand Voice on Social Media

Building and Protecting Your Brand Voice on Social Media

“Building and Protecting Your Brand Voice on Social Media” was co-authored by Stephanie Schwab and Christina Strickland

Every brand needs a strong brand voice. What is brand voice, you ask? Essentially, it’s the tone and style you use when communicating with your audience. Your brand voice not only tells your audience who you are and what you have to offer, but also proves critical in engaging your audience members and motivating them. Your brand voice gives your audience a feel for your brand’s personality, and since the explosion and rapid growth of social media marketing, it’s become more important than ever before.

That Was Then

Years ago, before social media marketing gave us another highly effective way of reaching audiences, businesses broadcast mass marketing messages to consumers through radio, television and magazine ads. Consumers far and wide received the same generic message. That brief message was delivered in a 30 second spot or a half-page ad. Essentially, marketers used a handful of words to reach everyone.

It’s understandable that with those constraints, it was incredibly hard to show personality. Of course, there were ways to make it happen. If you had a large marketing budget to fund a high-end ad agency and lots of media spend, you could make an attempt at telling a story with consistent characters, celebrities, or rarely, a real person from the company (like Dave Thomas from Wendy’s).

The fact of the matter is that many brands simply didn’t have the budget to show personality, but showing personality is critical. Why? Well, think about it. Great brands stand for something, don’t they? You know what to expect when you walk into a McDonald’s, when you buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle, or when you call a customer service representative at Zappos. And when you’re talking to a representative of a brand on Facebook, via Twitter, or watching them in a video, you expect that person to speak with the brand’s voice.

Do you expect the NPR Twitter feed to sound snarky? Of course not! And as for the Gap Facebook page? If their posts came off sounding snooty and intellectual, you’d wonder if you’d somehow clicked into The Twilight Zone.

This Is Now

Today, businesses put lots of different people to work engaging on behalf of their brands on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms, and more often than not, via a blog too. These people are checking in regularly, answering questions, sharing inside stories, personally recognizing individual customers, inspiring their audiences and becoming an integral part of the community they serve. This differs greatly from the radio spots and display ads of yesterday. Each one of these representatives must use their specific brand’s voice every single day.

As an entrepreneur who started a business based on your own passion and interest in your product, service or company, your brand voice is probably part of the natural way you talk to your consumers. It’s easy for you to talk and write in your brand voice. With social media as such an important part of your marketing strategy, however, you need others in your organization to engage with your audience using that same brand voice and do so not only convincingly but also consistently.

Build Your Brand Voice

Every tweet, every Facebook status and every blog post says something about your brand. Everything you post sends a message about who you are, what you care about and how much you care about your fans or followers.

  • Define your brand voice. Your team can’t use it if they don’t know what it is. Is your brand voice bold, inspiring, humble snarky, playful, sassy, loud, or honest? Clearly define your unique brand voice so that your team can speak and write with it.
  • Take a look at the competition and their brand voices. Differentiate your brand voice enough that you stand out from the competition.
  • Listen to your audience members. How do they speak and write? Make sure your brand voice is a good match for them. You don’t want to speak in a highly formal voice if your audience is very casual or playful.
  • Document the words, phrases and tone that you expect your brand voice to sound like. Your team will be much more effective if you provide them with guidelines and examples to follow.
  • Guide your team in writing tweets, social media posts, and blog posts in your unique voice. This will take some work on your part at first, but eventually, your team will begin to think in your brand voice, and writing in it will become second nature. Keep a close eye on their work until you’re fully comfortable that they’re speaking and writing in the right voice for your brand.

Protect Your Brand Voice

It’s critical to both recognize that your brand voice isn’t static and protect your brand voice at the same time. Your brand voice isn’t meant to be perfect and stay exactly the same over the years. It will, and should, evolve with your audience and changes in your goals and strategies. That’s okay and to be expected. What’s not okay is a team that goes off the rails and fails to communicate using your brand voice.

Address and correct mistakes consistently. It’s never a good idea to leave your brand voice in the hands of others without close oversight. People make mistakes, and if you don’t offer constructive feedback, they will continue to make them. Remember, your reputation, and ultimately, your success is at stake, so it’s up to you to keep your team on track.

Establish a Brand Character

For as much as you’re paying attention to brand voice, you’ll also want to project the right brand character, which is an image your audience will have of you based on your brand voice and the way you use social media.

So what’s your brand character and are you moving in the right direction? You can learn a lot from looking through your past updates in each of your social media channels. It doesn’t take long to notice that a pattern begins to develop based on your timing, tone of voice and types of content. Each of these combined together becomes your brand’s character.

Unfortunately, some characters are bound to miss the mark in social media. For example:

The Magician

This character has an amazing disappearing act! He’ll post, maybe even a few days or months in a row, and then ‘poof! He’s gone! You never know when he’ll reappear, but he does at some point.

The Infomercial Guy

You’ve got to buy my stuff! Seriously, have you seen all the great things my stuff can do? You can’t live without my stuff! While those may not be his exact words, that’s the message. His updates are constantly self-promotional and non-stop!

The Motor Mouth

She’s constantly talking and most of the time it’s far off-topic. She’ll tell you what she had for lunch, what the weather is like outside and what her plans are for each moment of the day. Her updates are not well balanced with her brand’s identity.

The Radio Announcer

It’s a one-way conversation with this character. She loves to send out tweets, Facebook updates and blog posts, but don’t expect her to respond. She’s not out for conversation; she only wants to make sure you get his message!

The Right Brand Character

We’ve given you brand characters to avoid, and now, we’ll share the right brand character. This character almost always hits the target, delivering the right message, at the right time. We call her The Mindful Maven.

The Mindful Maven

Her messages are consistent, clear and well-balanced. You’ll find her sending updates about her brand, yes, but not nearly as often as sharing other content she thinks will be interesting and relevant to the fans that follow her brand. And while she’s not detailing out every moment of her day, she wants to chat with you too. You’ll find her responding to comments, answering questions and joining in the conversation.

As you start to create your brand’s identity in the social media space, be sure that your character most closely matches that of Mindful Maven. You should have your own unique personality, but you want to make sure you’re hitting that sweet spot every time!

Building and protecting your brand voice is a critical but ongoing process. Use the advice above to create the right voice for your brand and engage, motivate, and inspire your audience.

Ways to Generate Blog Post Ideas

Surefire Ways to Generate Blog Post Ideas

“Surefire Ways to Generate Blog Post Ideas” was co-authored by Stephanie Schwab and Christina Strickland.

Ways to Generate Blog Post Ideas

Sometimes the hardest thing about having a blog is figuring out what to post on it each week. Maybe you started with a bank of grand ideas, but as you used them up, your blog started to feel, well, a lot less fresh. Perhaps you’ve struggled for ideas since the very beginning. The good news is you can stop liberally applying your forehead to your desk.

Here are some of the best ways to generate blog post ideas:

Answer Questions

No matter what your business, it’s likely that you get a ton of questions each week. And the questions you get represent more than the inquiries of a mere few. They are questions hundreds or thousands of other people have about your products and services. These questions provide an easy way to learn what your customers want to know, so you can provide them with information they need. And since you get all of these questions anyway, why not translate them into blog posts?

Tips:

  1. Answer each question with a brief (or longer) post. You can even put the posts into a Q&A format (put the question at the top, then answer it below).
  2. Get your whole organization involved. Ask everyone in your organization to keep a record of the questions they get.
  3. Pay attention to the questions that come up repeatedly, but don’t ignore those that come up only once. If many people are asking the same question, you can be certain there’s an audience for the answer. So, then, why not just scrap those rare questions? Well, for every person who asks a question, there are many more out there who wonder the same thing.

 

Ask Your Own Questions

When it comes to creating good blog content, you really don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and neither do you need ESP. Stop guessing about what your readers want to read, and just ask them. This is another reason social media is so great. You can use that social contact to ask your followers what they are interested in reading.

What should you ask? Start with the following:

  • What they want to read about next
  • What their burning questions are
  • What they want to read more or less of
  • What they think of your recent content

Tips:

  1. Ask your readers what they’re interested in via the comments. This is the easiest way to get answers.
  2. Create polls. Many people enjoy participating in them, and they are a good way to gauge interest.
  3. Learn from the answers you receive. You will absolutely get blog ideas from asking these sorts of questions, but you may also get something else priceless–feedback! The answers you receive provide insight into what you’ve been doing right and where you’ve been falling short.

Read Your Existing Comments

Haven’t asked for feedback yet? You may already have a source of ideas at your fingertips. Your readers’ comments can give you great insight into what interests them and what they want to read. Notice which blogs and posts generate the most comments, and then read each comment. Often, readers will present a point of view that leads you to your next post.

Tips:

  1. Don’t rely on your readers to know you want comments. Encourage comments and sharing on every post.
  2. If you have some posts that do not get any comments, this doesn’t necessarily mean the topic was way off base. Still, it is revealing if most of your posts do get comments and you have a few with absolutely nothing.

Look for Industry News

Where do your readers go for relevant news about your industry? Why not become a reliable source of the news they seek? By updating your readers on your industry and the products and services you sell, you ensure that you have a ready source of blog topics and give your readers yet another reason to read your content.

Tips:

  1. Keep your readers interested by writing blog posts about changes and improvements not only in your industry but also within your company.
  2. Create behind-the-scenes posts as well. Most people love to read about the goings on at the companies they patronize, and many like to read about the people making it all happen.

Teach Them Something

Some of the best blog posts are those that teach the reader how to do something. These are really useful posts that people tend to save and refer to again and again, sharing them with others as well. Write how-to posts, or create photo and video tutorials, that teach your audience how to use your products or services.

Tips:

  1. Produce life hack posts that demonstrate how your products or services can make your readers’ lives easier, better, and/or more fun.
  2. Produce posts that share how real customers have used/benefited from your products and services (skip the blatant promotion, however). Think more human interest story than an advertisement.

Leverage Expertise

Chances are you have employees that are pretty much experts on some topics. Are those topics relevant to your audience? If yes, get them to writing. Having your employees (or you) cover these topics demonstrates that you are a leader in your industry.

Tips:

  1. Ensure that these posts tackle specific issues and are truly useful. This is not a big chance for the expert to blab about how much he or she knows.
  2. Avoid talking down to your audience or bad mouthing others in the industry. This will only turn your readers off.

Use Tools

You have a bunch of engagement-monitoring tools at your disposal, right?  Well, they’re not just there to look pretty. Use them to drum up blog ideas! All of those shares, likes, retweets, and favorites do more than just say you did a good job. They give you important insight into the type of content that really excites your audience. Use all of this engagement information to figure out which types of content to produce more of and which types you might want to pass up next time.

Which types of tools should you use? Go ahead and try these on for size:

  • Monitoring tools provided by social media sites
  • Site analytic tools
  • URL-shortening services

Tips:

  1. Be sure to analyze your click-throughs as well.
  2. Evaluate click-throughs that lead not only to your site but also to content on third-party sites.

 

With the above advice to hand, coming up with good ideas for your blog needn’t be an exercise in frustration. Just remember to mix up the types of blog posts you publish as too much of even a good thing can get, well, boring. How do you get new post ideas? Share your tips and tricks!

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How to Market Your Brand Using Live Video

how-to-use-live-video-to-marketing-your-brand

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so what does that mean for live video broadcasting via tools like Periscope, Meerkat, Snapchat, Facebook Live, and Blab? I’m going to say live video is worth a million words. Why? Well, as far as content marketing is concerned, we all know how important it is to educate and inform your audience in a way that is also entertaining. We also know how important it is to reach your customers where they spend time and encourage them to connect with your brand. Live video makes this easy.

How to Use Live Video for Marketing

Whether you use Periscope, Facebook Live, or Meerkat, live video allows you to share your brand in real-time. It makes it easier than ever before to provide your audience with a face-to-face experience, even if you’re halfway around the world. It allows you to tell stories, share, support, and teach where and when your audience needs it, offering an undeniably personal appeal and boosting engagement in a way static content never could.

Without question, live video is a big thing in content marketing, and it’s becoming ever more present with each passing month. Audiences are seeing more and more live content from brands, and they will expect you to offer it too. The last thing you’d ever want is to be left behind when your competition is offering loads of great live content, and you’re stuck in the social media dark ages.

Here are some solid ways to use live video as part of your content marketing strategy.

Provide Question and Answer Sessions

Some of the most useful written content answers an audience’s frequently asked questions. And though these written FAQs do come in handy, they can sometimes feel rather dry. Or even worse, it can be hard to make them stand out in the sea of written content out there. Enter the live video, and you have a way to grab your audience’s attention and keep it by providing those all-important answers in real-time. Better yet, live video allows you the opportunity to learn your audience members’ concerns and find out what interests them.

Tips: Do respond to viewers by name. Do answer questions that provide value for your audience. Don’t waste your time with trolls. Ignore and move on.

Let Your Audience Tune-in to Live Events

Is there an upcoming event of interest to your audience? Are you planning to soak it all in and then blog about it for your audience members who couldn’t be there? Why not just take them with you? When you share live events, your audience feels more connected to you and your brand. But that’s not the only benefit. You can also become their go-to person for announcements and news. They don’t have to be there because they know you’ll provide the scoop—live!

Tip: Move about and be sure to capture the most exciting moments and happenings. Your audience will be excited to tune in next time if they know your live video will tell a story and provide something unique and fresh.

Take Them Behind the Scenes

Who doesn’t love a look behind the scene? Use live video to enhance your brand’s story, showing your audience the unique way you do things, what your employees are up to, and even how you manufacture your product or provide your key services. Out in the community making a difference? Show and tell through live video!

Tips: Give your audience insight into things they wouldn’t normally see, and be responsive while doing it. Take the time to read and respond to comments while you’re live. Doing so makes for a much more personal experience.

How-Tos and Training

Is there something your audience needs to learn how to do? Can you teach them how to use your product or even show them other ways to make their lives easier, better, and more productive? Get busy showing them how to do it—live!

Tips: Inject a little personality. Seeing is believing, but there’s little worse than dry, boring accounts of how to get a job done. Keep it peppy and fun; crack jokes. Your audience will thank you for making learning fun.

Interviews

We talk a lot about providing that personal touch, and that’s because it truly is critical. Go ahead and interview key employees and let your audience see the faces and personalities behind the names. But don’t stop there. Interview your customers as well. Think of it as live testimonials for your brand. And don’t be afraid to branch out to interviewing industry experts as well.

Tips: Avoid asking the same tired questions your audience sees in every interview. Work on a unique angle, and research to find out just what your audience really wants to know.

Customer Support

So you already offer customer support by email and by phone? Maybe you even allow customers to reach out via chat as well. Give them that super-personal touch by allowing them to see you while you offer that top-notch support.

Tips: Set specific office hours for providing live customer support each week. Record sessions (respecting privacy, of course) to help other customers with the same issues.

How Are Brands Broadcasting Live Video?

In the past, Periscope was the way to go with live video for brands, but now you have a wealth of options to choose from, including the following:

Periscope: If you want a mobile app that allows you to stream around the world at any time, take a look at this one. Periscope has handy tools for sharing and engaging with your audience.

Meerkat: This app allows you to stream live from your mobile device. Head to Google Play or iTunes to grab it.

Snapchat: This app can be a good choice for quick, live video messages. It’s especially popular with Millennials and marketers marketing to other marketers.

Blab: Think of this one like Periscope—only for groups. Four people can go live at once with this one.

Facebook Live: For most brands, Facebook is an important social media tool. Now you can engage your audience anywhere in the world—live! Your videos are posted to your page for followers who couldn’t catch you live to catch you later.

Give live video a spin, incorporating it into your content marketing mix to grab attention and boost engagement. And be sure to announce when you plan to broadcast. While you can broadcast spontaneously, and there may be situations in which you want to, you’ll have more viewers if you generate some buzz first. Additionally, it can really help to save your broadcasts, when possible, and embed them into blog posts later!

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.
 

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

5 Ways to Get More Eyes on Your Blog Content

5 Ways to Get More Eyes on Your 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.
 

If your blog content includes stats, then you have the basis for a compelling infographic.

 

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.