7 Content Marketing Tips for Pinterest

It’s hard not to agree that there is more to Pinterest than just pretty pictures.

Although at the start it might seem otherwise.

Launched in 2010 this social networking site indeed took the world by storm. But it also took content marketers a while to fully realize its potential.

Today, the site is probably 2nd or 3rd largest social networking site on the planet (depending which sources you check).

And those who still ignore it, miss on some great opportunities.

Because Pinterest may be an ideal tool to promote your brand. With its large following and heavy engagement (a typical visitor spends on average 3 minutes more on the site than Facebook and 12 minutes more than on Twitter), it is a great way to spread the word about your products or services.

It can also help you demonstrate your expertise in your area. Many companies turn their knowledge into visual content and showcase it on Pinterest to build their image of authority.

It increases brand visibility. Pinterest images get shared and forwarded between users. You really never know where your image might end up.

Moreover, Pinterest is an excellent way to showcase your products. After all, an experience of real product is what ecommerce stores lack. Customers can only see images supplied by a producer, often generic ones and revealing very little of the experience of a product in use.

Contrast that with images submitted by actual product users showcasing how it helps them or enhances their lives and you’ll know why the site offers so many possibilities to online retailers.

Lastly, Pinterest can drive traffic to your site too. In fact, some brands report it driving more of it than Twitter or Facebook.

OK, but what exactly is Pinterest?

This relatively new social networking site has indeed taken the world by storm. Launched only couple of years ago (2010), it attracted more than 85 million users in less than three years.

And, it is still growing, fast.

Perhaps part of this success is because the idea behind Pinterest is so simple.

The site allows you to create image posts, called pinboards and share them with other Pinterest users. Moreover, you can organise those images in “boards” and add photos or videos to them. This process is known as “pinning” to the board. And if you thought of a corkboard when reading this description, you are just about right.

But behind all those lovely images Pinterest is a powerful marketing tool, one that brands use to connect and increase engagement with their audience.

Interested in doing the same? Here are some ideas for promoting your brand on Pinterest:

Showcase Images of Your Products in Use

Given the image based nature of Pinterest, it makes sense to use it to showcase your products in use. And there is an unlimited number of things you can do here. You can post images of products in use in clients homes. Or showcase it from their shelf life to being packaged and shipped to a customers. You can then ask your customers to send pictures of them using it to complete the picture. If you sell cake decorations, showcase your clients cakes. Tattoo parlour can showcase the best tattoos they did for their clients and so on. The possibilities are truly endless.

productsinuse

Publish Customer Testimonials

Pinterest is for images only, right? So how could you present an actual testimonial from a client then? It’s all words after all. Well, how about posting a picture of your client with a testimonial? Of course you would have to do it with the clients permission but if you can, these pins could have a very strong impact on how your prospects trust your brand.

testimonials

Highlight a Product’s Feature

Is your product complex to use? Or even to fully communicate all that you could do with it? Why don’t you then highlight its features with images? Kreg does it with their feature highlight series of pins, each highlighting one particular aspect of the product (or offering a super quick tip how to use it).

feature highlight

Make Your Audience Laugh

Your audience rarely uses social media for information. Most people are on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest for entertainment. And if that’s the case, why not giving it to them? Hubspot created a pinboard dedicated to memes, cartoons and other fun online marketing related content.

memes

Teach Them Something Too

Images are worth more than words. In fact, to use, images are worth more than 60000x more than words. That’s how much quicker we humans process visual information compared to text. It comes as no surprise then that so many of us prefer visual tutorials rather than text based manuals.

If you sell products that could be used to create or repair something, posting a visual tutorial how to do it on Pinterest is bound to attract attention. Just check what Liagriffith did with this simple guide:

tutorial

Show Your Company Behind the Scenes

Many customers want to see your real, human side not just the brand image you maintain. Hubspot recognizes this by creating a dedicated behind the scenes pinboard and showing the company’s everyday life.

behind the scenes

Pat Your Clients on the Back

Your marketing should not only be about you. Your customers are equally important to promoting your brand and in such case, why not make put them in the spotlight? Constant Contacts features a pinboard with tips from their customers.

customers

Conclusion

Pinterest users spend on average 3 minutes more on the site than Facebook and 12 minutes more than on Twitter. This is a highly engaged audience seeking entertainment. Such audience offers enormous opportunities for engagement and connection to any brand. And the key to them lies in what content you post.

A Kick-start Guide to Content Marketing on Facebook

It’s a fact – content rocks todays marketing. It costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates 3 times as many leads (DemandMetric). It’s no surprise that according to Content Marketing Institute, 93% of B2B marketers rely on content to promote their brands.

But, given the wealth of different platforms, in order to fully avail of it’s abilities; you need to understand each one and create strategies to best avail of it’s abilities.

Over the last few weeks I outlined basic strategies for content marketing on Twitter and Pinterest. Today I want to tackle the biggest social network of all – Facebook.

What drives Facebook CM?

A wise person once said that just like Pinterest is for creativity, Facebook on the other hand is for communication. And, it seems just about right. In the recent study by Vision Critical, 80% of Pinterest users say the network is useful for generating ideas and projects while 63% of Facebook users say that their network makes them feel connected.

And what else drives connection better than content these days?

After all, it is content that gets Facebook audience to like a post, comment on it or share it. And unlike other social networks, Facebook offers a plethora of options and content types you can use to engage with your audience.

To begin at the beginning, what make a good content for Facebook?

In short, it would be one that relates to the interests of your audience and engages them because it relates to real life. A good content tells stories, asks the audience for their opinion and provokes them to share their personal opinion.

Types of content for Facebook

Before you start planning your content strategy, let’s first discuss different content types you could post on your Facebook Page.

Facebook offers 4 distinct options for those content types:

Single Image

Photos are one of the most engaging content types. They are quick to absorb and digest their meaning. Not to mention that they take up a considerable space on the users news feed, making them highly noticeable and sticking out more than text. By using photos, you can boost the attention your posts receive from users.

Moreover, Facebook images generate 120% more engagement than an average post.

There are different types of images you could post on your Page:

  • Photos
  • Memes
  • Product Images
  • Ads
  • Press clips and many more

Facebook content: single image

Photo Album

Photo albums allow you to post multiple images at once in a single post. Images collected into a specific album are a great way to promote content from events, promotions, product lines and more.

Facebook photo album

Videos

Videos have become one of the most engaging content type today, and to no surprise. 93% of marketers use video for promotion and 52% of them name video as a content type delivering the best ROI (Brainshark) 100 million users watch online videos each day (VideoBrewery)

Video is also a powerful communications tool. A single minute of video can convey the same message as 1.8 million words (VideoBrewery).

It comes to no surprise then that videos are a highly engaging content on Facebook. In fact, videos posted to the site receive 40% higher engagement rate compared to Youtube for instance (SocialBakers). They also account for 93% of the most engaging content on the site (FastCompany).

When posting your video to Facebook, make sure to stick to these rules:

  • Include eye catching default image
  • Make it short
  • Make it simple to absorb and relevant to your audience

Facebook video

Text

Lastly, text based content. Even though Facebook allows posting long content, it’s the short text that gets the most engagement from the site. Updates up to three lines of text see 60% more engagement than any longer content. Cutting your text even shorter, below 80 characters might result in 66% more engagement (FastCompany).

The best text based updates to drive engagement are questions, which receive 100% more engagement than other types of text-based content (Hubspot).

Facebook text post

How to make your content relevant to your audience

Before you start posting to Facebook you should define who you want to engage with on the site and what content themes would achieve this objective.

When defining your audience, don’t just look at their age, location and other demographic factors. When it comes to Facebook, its user base crosses many geographic boundaries, and thus your best bet is to target their interests as well.

To post relevant content, focus on:

  • Focus on your audience’s common interests
  • Target their most common problems
  • Deliver news relevant to them
  • Offer advice on making their lives better
  • Entertain them too, after all, you can’t be serious all the time.

When an how often should you post to you Facebook Page

Timing is everything, fact. Having your post appear on your audiences News Feeds right when they are the most receptive to your message would be ideal. But even though it would be ideal, there is no single ideal time to post to Facebook. Even though there are so many studies on the subject, there is no unified opinion what day and time would generate the most engagement from users.

In spite of that, you can still find your best time to post to the site by doing the following:

Understand your audience. It’s hard to decide on the best time to post if you don’t know who’s on the other side, listening. Define your audience and try to understand their habits.

Think about how their day looks like. Once you know who your audience is, think how their typical day might look like. What are their productive times? When would they be trying to unwind and relax? All these factors will help determine the best time to post.

Post within what you think is their most receptive time during their day. Use the information about your audience to define times you will be posting at. Of course, you should measure and refine your strategy to find the most optimum time.

Posting About Yourself

Even though, as we’ve seen, your content should target your audience and their interests, needs and problems, there will be times when you’ll want to post about yourself. You may have a new product line coming out or will want to promote the company. On Facebook however, there is a fine line between informing users and being overly too promotional. And needless to say, the latter usually moves people away from a brand at an instant.

Facebook fans don’t care about you they care about themselves. Therefore,

  • keep posts about your company to absolute minimum.
  • if you need to post something about your company, try to make it relevant to your audience or at least entertaining
  • when posting about your products, always show them at an angle how they could help the audience

Promoting Your Content

This might come as a surprise but your posts reach only a fraction of your fan base. In fact, according to official data from Facebook, posts on company Pages appear on only 16% of their fans News Feeds.

Therefore, if you want to reach more people, you need to promote your posts.

There are two ways you could do so with:

–       Promoted Posts

–       Promoted Page Posts

Promoted Posts allow you to promote your content directly to your fans’ News Feeds as opposed to the sidebar where the majority of standard Facebook Ads appear.

Promoted Page Posts appear in the sidebar on the site, making them less effective when promoting your content. On the other hand, they allow you to reach people who are not your Page fans yet and be laser focused with what demographics you target with your ads.

Monitoring your actions

One of the greatest advantages of using Facebook for engaging with audience is the ability to gain insights and data to monitor and analyze your actions.

Facebook Insights make it easy to monitor the performance of your content marketing strategies in real time. Thanks to this data you can quickly see which type of content engaged your audience the most (and thus which one you could promote even further to them).

Here are some of the data types you can monitor in Insights:

Reach – the number of unique people who have seen your content,

Organic – the number of people who’ve seen your content in their NewsFeed or on your page.

Paid – the amount of people who’ve seen your post from paid ads.

Viral – the amount of people who’ve seen your content because one of their friends interacted with it in some way (liked it, commented on it or shared it).

How to Promote Your Content to Your Target Audience (An Introduction)

Great content rarely markets itself. To get it in front of your target audience you need to implement a content promotion strategy. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Let’s see if this sounds familiar. You are the content writer for your company. You started strong, writing blog post after blog post, often staying up late and burning midnight oil. But after a while, your traffic data starts waning your excitement off.

It seems that you just can’t get anyone to read what you write.

But wouldn’t it be great if whatever you post would immediately reach your target audience? Sadly, in a world of content overabundance, this won’t happen without any content promotion.

You see, creating content is just half of the story. No matter how great your blog posts, videos, graphics or other content types might be, there is just too much of content out there for you to break through.

For that to happen you need to implement and deliver a content promotion strategy.

There is a number of ways you can promote your content. Some offer almost instantaneous results, while with others you may have to wait for traffic to show up. Nonetheless, you should try to implement all of them in your strategy.

1. SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a long terms strategy of optimising content to be found in search engines. By following certain practices you can ensure the content appears in search results when a reader searches for specific keyphrases your content relates to.

There is a wealth of advice around the web on optimising your content for search discovery. Resources I would recommend include: Content Marketing Institute’s Introduction to Content Optimization for Beginners or the Copybogger’s SEO Copywriting ebook (free).

2. Social Media

Social Media on the other hand offers a more instantaneous results. The advantage of using social media is that you first and foremost promote your content to people who already follow your company.

There are number of social networks on which your company could be engaging with its audience. Each of them offers distinct opportunities for content promotion.

Twitter, given its very conversational and instant nature is ideal for publishing content multiple times, reminding users about it over the course of days and months. Because content posted on Twitter changes so fast, its audience doesn’t mind if you repost your one more than once, as long as this happens in intervals of course.

In his advanced content marketing guide, Neil Patel recommends tweeting about your blog post even up to three times on the publication day. he then recommends to wane the frequency of posting on any subsequent days.

When posting to Twitter, experiment with different messages promoting your content. Start off with a title but consider to also post a quote from your article, make a comment about it, tell your audience what they might benefit from reading your post and so on. The more you differentiate those messages, the greater chance you have to reach different kinds of people.

In contrast, it is better if you submit your content only once on sites like Facebook and Google+, where each post stays relevant for much longer. In fact, users on those networks, might perceive multiple posting of the same content as spamming.

Both Facebook and Google+ allow you to submit your post along with an introductory comment. Use this as an opportunity to tell your followers about your content and what they might benefit from reading it.

promoting content on facebook

Note: A good content promotion strategy is to include a reference to an influencer in your post. By doing so, you add authority to your content but also put it on their radar which might result in them sharing it with their followers, increasing your content’s reach.

To achieve this, make sure that you tag the influencer in your social media promotion. On Twitter, do it by including their @handle in the message. on Google+ by using +GoogleName.

referencing influencer on twitter

Similarly you can use hashtags on all social networks to further define what your content is about. Simple preface the keyword with the # symbol to create a hashtag. If you want to find out more about them, nothing introduces them better than this introduction by Buffer.

3. Newsletter

Your company’s mailing list offers you another opportunity to promote your content. Each time you publish something new, notify your email subscribers about it. There is a number of ways you can handle this:

  • If you post one to two posts a week, email your list every time you publish new content. Many email newsletter systems, like Mailchimp or Aweber offer an option to connect them with your RSS feed to send an automated new content notification every time you post.
  • If you post more than twice a week, sending a weekly or monthly digest with links to latest content might be a better idea. Your company’s subscribers might feel otherwise overwhelmed by the amount of emails coming from you and quickly abandon your list.

4. Outreach

You should also promote your content to influencers in your industry. Many bloggers or journalists for instance constantly look for new content to promote to their audiences or include in roundup posts they often run on their blogs. Therefore, you should reach out to them or other connections you have to let them know about content you publish.

You need to be smart to gain their attention though. Even though you would be promoting your content in hope for them to promote it, you should not reveal your intentions in your outreach.

You shouldn’t email anyone asking for linking or sharing your content. Rather find influencers who might be interested in what you published or have published on similar topic and notify them about your content.

TIP: Find a hook that would interest them to check your content. After all, they most likely get many content notifications like yours each day. But if for instance, they posted on the same topics as well and you are state different points, you can use that to gain their attention. Or perhaps your content is based on in-depth research you conducted or presents a completely unique take on a common industry problem. All this will offer more chances to catch the influencers attention.

When reaching out to influencers use common sense. Naturally you shouldn’t be e-mailing the same people about every content you publish. Instead, build a list of influencers and their favourite topics and only notify them when you post something that will catch their attention.

Is It All Not Tedious?

It might be. Certainly for may of us, myself included, the fun is in creating content. Without promotion however, you risk writing or developing content which not many people will see. So tedious or not, without investing this extra time in promoting, there is simply no chance for your content to achieve its objectives.

8 Tips for Using Google+ For Content Marketing

I can’t deny it, I was very disappointed with Google+ when it first launched.

Too many things seemed wrong with it back then.

– I didn’t understand what it’s for.

– None of my friends were on it.

– I had no time for another network.

I am sure I wasn’t the only one having doubts about Google+. But the social network has changed a lot since the day of its launch. It has managed to find its own competitive edge.

It never beat Facebook in building and maintaining relationships. Or Twitter for up to date news. It becomes evident only now that Google+ was built for something else, content marketing.

What Makes Google+ Ideal for Content Marketing

1. It’s Tightly Integrated with Search.

With the introduction of Search Plus Your World Google Plus became tightly integrated with search. Search results are now enhanced with photos, posts and more coming from your friends.

Authorship is also omnipresent in search results today, allowing users to pick information from people they trust but authors to also gain that authority.

2. It’s Integrated With Other Platforms.

Google plus is hardly just a social network. With a tight integration among various other Google products: Maps, Ads, Reviews, Hangouts, Youtube, Calendar and more, it follows you across every Google product.

3. It’s Better For Building New Relationships.

Unlike other networks who connect you with people you already know, Google+ is ideal to meet new people with whom you share similar interests.

4. It Gives You An Exposure.

Through Authorship Google+ connects your profile or page with any content you publish to give you even greater reach in search and helps you gain exposure while building your personal brand.

8 Tips for Using Google+ For Content Marketing

1. Use +Mentions and #Hashtags to Increase Visibility

hashtags

The reason to use Google+ is to increase visibility and awareness of your brand, company or product. And the network offers two features that can help you with that: mentions and hashtags.

– A mention allows to you to let a particular person or a brand know that you have mentioned them in a post. You may be familiar with a similar feature on Twitter (the @username) or Facebook (tagging people). This is an ideal way to get yourself on their radar in hope that they will share your content with their audience, comment or engage in any other way on your page.

Hashtags are not unique feature to Google+. They have been created to help users follow online conversations. And that’s exactly why you should use them in Google+. The search giant will include your post in any search for hashtags you included in it. This way you can gain attention of people interested in specific conversations or topics.

2. Attract More Viewers with Visual Content.

images

Photos make up for highly attractive content on Google+.  And, for a reason, they are easy to consume. So to make the most of it, include images along with your posts and even build up a dedicated Google+ visual content strategy. Users often scan images in their news feed to assess which posts are worth reading. Use big and descriptive images to stand out for them and get picked from other, competing posts.

3. Segment Your Audience for Better Content Targeting

circles

The ability to segment your audience and feed targeted content to different people is one of the most powerful features of Google+. After all being able to share targeted content with specific audience is an invaluable asset for any content marketer. In Google+ you do this by posting content to specific Circles, segments you can create to divide your users into categories.

4. Grab Readers Attention with Text Formatting

formatting

Readability is a serious issue on the web. Especially in an environment as Google+ News Feed where information changes very fast. It is crucial then that whatever you post stands out from other updates. Proper formatting allows you increase your chances at your content being noticed and read by users.

There are very simple ways to format your content:

  • putting an asterisk before and after a word (*word*) makes it bold.
  • underscore before and after a word (_word_) makes it italic
  • dash before and after (-word-) adds a strikethrough.

5. Breathe New Life into Your Archived Content

The relative newness of Google+ gives you an advantage of being able to promote your archived content, one you’ve already promoted extensively through other social networks. Chances are that your Google+ followers haven’t seen these posts yet and will be happy to receive more advice from you.

6. Use Ripples to Identify and Target Influencers

Ripples are quite unique feature on Google+. In Ripples you can see each time your post gets posted on Google+ or shared directly from your website. What’s more, you can also see who shared your content and view their Google+ profile. This single functionality allows you to:

  • spot your brand ambassadors
  • identify influencers and,
  • measure your social engagement.

7. Engage Your Audience with Hangouts

Image courtesy of Business2Community.com

Even though Facebook offered chat option for a long time, it’s Google+ Hangouts that revolutionised how a brand can engage their audience in real time. With the ability to create a video content, from interviews with important figures in your industry for instance, live events or private presentations, Hangouts should become an important aspect of your content strategy.

8. Build Engagement with Long Form Content in Google+

long content

Lastly, create content specifically for Google+. The site allows you to post long form content which can attract the most engagement from its users. Link to your own blog from it too and use hashtags to make the post more discoverable to increase its reach.

4 Most Common Corporate Blogging Mistakes (with Solutions)

corporate_blog
image via: writerway.com

I gotta say this, to me most corporate blogs suck.

Of course there are some exceptions but the majority are just unreadable. Their authors either talk about the company, write on random topics, often without offering any educational value at all or post blatant sales pitches that only scare their readers away.

But what else to expect however if in majority of corporations, blogging looks like this:

or this:

In other words:

Employees often perceive it as either a nuisance or a forced upon strategy nobody has any interest in.

The result? Lack of enthusiasm, taking shortcuts, confusing the role blogging plays in the marketing process and committing to some really poor blogging strategies, like these most common ones for instance:

Copying the Competition

In a corporate world safer is often better.

And copying someone who has done it already is the safest strategy of all. After all, whatever the competitor has been doing seems to work if they are still doing it.

There are however many underlying problems with this approach:

Your blog will lack originality. How original is your blog going to be if you are only copying someone else’s ideas? Yet for today’s audience, it’s the originality that matters. As a result, your audience will see the two blogs as alike and most likely, will focus towards your competitor, who has already built some reputation in this field.

You could copy bad blogging practices too. After all, who said that what your competitor is doing is right?

You will not inspire enthusiasm in your staff. People want to be creative. Especially those involved in what may feel like a creative pursuit want to be given an opportunity to come up with their own ways to do things. Forcing them to just merely copy someone else is highly unlikely to make them enthusiastic about the project. And this will show.

Alternative Solution:

Create a dedicated content plan for your company. You can use your competitor as a guidance if you have to but develop your own voice, content personas and content strategy. And don’t launch a blog until you have a complete research and ideas for posts for at least the next few months.

Getting Too Many People To Contribute

Not everyone in the company should blog. Not everyone can write well, or has any interest in doing so. Not to mention that to many people, blogging will interfere with their already busy schedule.

Yet many companies try to force all their staff to contribute to the blog. They take the “everyone should blog” for many reasons:

They try to save cost on hiring a dedicated writer. After all, if everyone writes a post a week or even month, there will be no need to hire someone else to do it.

They think this will create a diverse content, since everyone will write on different topics they are interested in. And lastly,

They will quickly build up a massive amount of content. And as they say, it’s good to have a lot of content on your site.

Alternative Solution:

Ask your staff members who’d like to join the project. Simply. Don’t force anyone to blog but offer an opportunity to those who want to.

Having Too Many Decision Makers

Too many chefs spoil the meal. I am sure you heard this old adage before.

Many companies involve too many departments in running the blog. This often results in department wars, ego clashes and people trying to push their ideas forward for the benefit of their departments.

Sales people will perceive a blog as another sales channel and will insist on head on sales messages. PR department will try to use it for announcements and press releases, whereas creative department will try to squeeze in as much of the design and layout for themselves. Online marketing will try to over-optimise post to gain more traffic and so on.

As a result content quality suffers, there is no unity in terms of what information should be posted in the first place and what goals the company must achieve through blogging.

Alternative Solution:

Hand over the responsibility over the blog to a single department only, ideally marketing and let them liase with other departments when the need arises.

Outsourcing

Lastly, some companies decide to buy content at a large scale from sites like oDesk or WriterAccess. There are obviously some benefits of this approach:

This content is dirt cheap.

This approach scalable. You can order anything from 1 to 100 articles and have them delivered relatively fast. Yet even if a number of your employees post to the blog, you will not build content numbers as fast.

This strategy requires very little input. You just need to place the order for your content and let the other company do everything for you.

But there are problems with outsourcing too.

No quality. You can’t expect it if you buy cheap and quickly produced content. In many cases, your content might be outsourced to non-native speakers, college students and non-professional writers who try to write as many posts as possible as quickly as possible too.

No dedication. Moreover, none of those writers your content will be sent to has any interest in your company and building your brand reputation. They just want to churn out the minimum required words as quickly as possible and loosely on topic. This usually result in a cheap voice and content that rather diminishes your brand authority rather than supporting it.

No results. With low quality comes lack of results from your content efforts. Audiences are quickly to spot poor content and usually assign it with the brand.

Alternative Solution:

If you want to outsource your content somewhere, look for reputable places where you can get to know the person who will be writing it. There are a lot of companies that offer blogging services for corporations, assign a writer to you and you work with them at achieving the best results for your blog.

7 Content Marketing Tips for Twitter

Twitter_logo_blue
I guess it’s true, Twitter is confusing.

Originally conceived as a simple way to post quick updates to your friends, the social networking site developed into a powerful marketing tool. But not everyone caught on the transition. Many brands and individual users still think that Twitter is just a tool for merely posting quick messages and responding to customer queries.

Or worse, automatically reposting random content found online.

reposting

(A generic Twitter feed with posting set on auto-pilot. Note lack of any engagement.)

That’s not a way to show personality and build authority, two main precepts of content marketing.

If used correctly however, Twitter offers enormous possibilities to take content marketing to a completely new level.

Here’s how.

Run Twitter Chats

Twitter chat is a live event you can hold on the social network. It is moderated and focused on a specific topic.

All you need to do to run it is pick a hashtag your audience will use to filter out any other conversations. To participate, they need to be on Twitter at a time of the event and follow conversation marked with your hashtag.

It’s that simple.

Twitter chat tips (an example Twitter chat using #contentchat hashtag)

How to Run a Twitter Chat. 

Here is a short guide on setting up your first Twitter chat:

  1. Pick the time. Just like with any other live event, you need to set the time for everyone to join in. Pick the time and let everyone know when the doors will open. Just remember that unlike a physical event, on Twitter you are no longer restricted by location. Your audience may be scattered across different timezones. Therefore schedule your chat for when the majority of them can participate.
  2. Come up with a hashtag. You also need to pick a hashtag you will use for the chat and communicate it to your audience before the event will begin. Your hashtag shouldn’t be too long. With each tweet allowing for 140 characters only, you don’t want a big chunk of it being taken up by the hashtag.
  3. Pick a topic that will engage your audience. It has to be something that will get them to participate. Find the angle that engages your community and focus your chat on it.
  4. Specify the type of your chats. There are different types of chats you could run. You could organise a Q&A session for instance and invite a known figure in your industry to answer questions from the audience. You could also hold a discussion around a specific topic in which everyone can make comments and add to the debate.
  5. Promote the chat ahead of time. Let your audience know about an upcoming chat ahead of the event. This will give them time to make up their mind about participating. Of course the most effective way to promote it is to announce your chat on Twitter. Apart from that, consider emailing your newsletter subscribers about it as well. And mention it to audiences on other social networks you use, chances are they might be on Twitter too.
  6. Capture the Conversation. Lastly, make sure that you capture the whole event. It could become a resource of some invaluable content. You could write a summary post about ideas shared during the chat, present the entire event or turn some of the ideas into posts, Slideshow presentations or even eBooks.

Share Images

Images can engage audience more than words. And, for a reason. Our brains process visual information 60000 times quicker than text. 40% of people will respond better to graphics than text (Hubspot).

It comes no surprise then that tweets with images perform better that those without.

sharing images on Twitter

According to data by Buffer, such tweets on average receive 18% more clicks. Moreover, tweets which contain images receive 89% more favourites. And lastly, they receive 150% more retweets.

Sharing or including visual content in your tweets can result in a much greater audience engagement and reach.

Tweet Your Content More than Once

The same data from Buffer reveals that tweeting your own content more than once offers some benefits too:

  • It gets you more traffic. By sharing your content more than once you increase the chances of more people seeing your posts and clicking back to your site.
  • Allows to target users in different time zones. Similarly, not all of your audience members are in the same timezone. Posting your content a number of times helps you to reach out to users across the globe.
  • Helps to reach new followers. Using hashtags for instance and experimenting with different headlines can help to increase your content’s reach to new audiences.

In his guide to content promotion, Neil Patel suggests to tweet the content three to four times on the day of publication and then slowly reduce the frequency over the next few days until you reach  one a day.

Use Different Headings for Tweets

Your audience might get bored seeing the same message posted over and over again. Similarly, a single headline will attract only one type of your audience members. Using different headlines helps you vary your content a little while experimenting with new ways to gain your audiences attention.

Neil Patel in the aforementioned guide suggests few ideas for headlines:

  • A quote from your content
  • Your thoughts about the content
  • Big benefit of reading your content
  • A comment on your content

Twitter headlines strategy

Ask Questions

According to QuickSprout, people are 21% more likely to respond to question. Therefore, tweet questions relating to issues your audience feels close at heart with.

If you are looking for a guide to asking questions on Twitter, Twitip has some tips.

Ask for Retweets

Whenever you post new content, you want your audience to retweet it. After all, that’s how content spreads. And the more your community members retweets your post, the greater its reach.

Twitter retweets strategy

But most of the time you simply hope they will retweet the content without asking them to it. However, if you do ask, your chances of having people retweeting your content will grow 4 times.

Conclusion

Twitter can be confusing. After all, it was conceived as a personal social network. Today however it is more of a powerful marketing tool than anything else. And for a reason. Twitters offers some invaluable ways to engage your audience with content while showing your personality and building authority, the two key goals of any content strategy.

 

10 Tips for Building Solid Relationships With Your Content

Anyone can create content today. Tools are easy to use, publishing platforms wildly accessible, research materials plenty. Even the expectation of quality isn’t as high as it used to be. And so business after business jump on the content marketing craze, hoping to gain from this new marketing phenomena.

But most of them fail. Miserably.

No reader visits their blogs, videos gain no traction and presentations gather dust in a dark corner of an obscure server somewhere.

All for a simple reason – failure to build relationships with an audience.

Why promote your brand with content.

Content is a powerful tool. It increases your brands visibility, widens your reach and inspires word of mouth.

But that’s not all.

Content can help you engage an audience and grow a customer base. It can position your company or brand as an influencer. And the connection you build through it helps you build a buyers trust.

But none of this will ever happen, unless you build relationship with your audience first. 

When you do so, you turn complete strangers in powerful allies. They’re more likely to pay attention to what you say, stand by your ideals and consider you when looking for products or services.

5 Content Types that Build Relationships

1. Educational Resources

When most people search online, they are looking for answers or information about a specific problem. Moreover, visitors to your site are not interested in your products. They come in search of a solution or answer to a particular problem.

Create a platform to educate people on those issues. By teaching and helping them to overcome those issues you make them see you as a trusted resource. One they will be glad to refer to in the future.

There are two approaches you can take to educate your audience: webinars and online courses.

A webinar is an online version of a typical seminar run at colleges and other educational institutions online. The only difference is that unlike with offline seminar, webinars can be attended by unlimited participants from around the globe.

Webinars happen in real time but once they’re done, that’s it. You can of course repurpose them into other content types but they will always be limited to here and now. Whenever you want to create more permanent and evergreen educational resource, you should consider offering online courses or tutorials accessible online at any time. These courses can focus on a particular issue or teach everything there is to know about the subject. You can make them free or paid as well to better segment your audience.

My friend Chris uses his course teaching how to promote a business with whitepapers to promote his new startup company he’s currently building.

There are some key benefits of engaging users through educational content:

  • it demonstrates your credibility. A person that learnt something from you will always consider you a credible resource.
  • it creates word of mouth. People whom you helped to overcome  problems may be talking about your courses or webinars.
  • it can generate qualified leads. Educational content gives customers a chance to sample your services and set better expectations about you and your service.

2. Graphical Content

Images are easy to consume. Most readers absorb visual data much quicker than written word. According to Zabisco, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. Moreover, 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text (source: Hubspot).

Some of the visual content types that engage audience include:

Infographics. According to AnsonAlex, publishers who use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12% more than those who don’t.

Infographics stand out from other content types because they are a great vehicle to tell a story. This example from mashable  or this one from visua.ly are great examples of brands telling storiesy through images.

The power of Infographics lies in them focusing on a single topic and presenting data about it in a simple and easy to absorb form.

Videos – Videos convey much more than words, it’s a scientifically proven fact. According to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research, a minute of video carries the same value as … 1.8 million words! Moreover, 85% of the US internet audience watches videos online (source: Nielsen). And, 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter every minute (source: Youtube).

Data like this clearly states why videos are a must use content type for engagement.

Slideshare presentations. Slideshare is a popular platform to submit your presentations too. And, it works. It can serve as another PR channel, building your thought-leadership, increase your brand awareness, traffic to the site and needless to say, those presentations are much easier and cheaper to create. You can repurpose old content and even blog posts into successful presentations (here’s my own example of turning a blog post into a presentation).

3. Long Form Content

It can be hard to define long content. For some people it can be anything over 700 words or couple of minutes of video. To others a long form blog post would be one in excess of 2000 words. That’s irrelevant. As the name suggests it has to be a longer content providing more in-depth information.

And, it works. Wordstream noticed that their average time on site tripled after they switched to primarily long form content. They also noticed that long form content formed the majority of posts ranking at number on in Google.

4. Quick Tips

Long content is highly engaging but similarly, a very short, less than 500 words post can make an impact. Kevin Delaney, Editor-in-Chief at a business news site Quartz believes that posts below or over 800 words have the highest likelihood of success.

5. Entertaining Content

Your content shouldn’t be all about educating though. Your audience might need a break from time to time and simply be entertained. After all, entertainment is the second reason people go online, and the first why they go on social media sites.

Therefore, consider using some fun content types too:

Quizzes. Competitions are not only means of promotion. A simple quiz, like this one by SERPs.com, measuring the persons obsession with Google updates can engage your audience while offering some information they might not know in a fun and absorbing way.

The biggest power of quizzes is that they are highly shareable. Not only people will share their results but also talk to their friends about it.

Cartoons and Comic Strips. Often, a single cartoon can tell more than the lengthiest post. And it can also make your audience giggle, like this one I created few months ago.

Games. Everyone likes to play games from time to time. Some of us get even seriously hooked up on them. And I am sure your audience would appreciate a simple game, even though its revolving around your topic of speciality (like this magazine that turned its front cover into a game).

5 More Tips for Building Relationships with Content

6. Be customer centric

Understanding your customers needs and problems is a great start in building relationships. But to make a real impact, try to include your audience in your content. Use customer stories to illustrate your points or show examples of your solutions successes. This will show your audience your dedication and respect for them.

7. Be reliable 

Nothing damages someone’s trust like a broken promise. And content marketing is one way of making promises to your audience. Stick to expectations you set. Publish and deliver whenever and whatever you promised.

8. Never sacrifice the quality

Your audience quickly gets used to your typical level of quality. Yet, it’s easy to sacrifice it and publish a lower quality post just to meet the deadline.

9. Be yourself

Whatever you publish, do it with your own voice. Audiences can tell when someone’s pretending, it shows quite clearly. Instead, stick to your own story, that’s what makes you interesting. And if you don’t know your story yet, consider bringing an external help, a journalist perhaps to observe your work and discover it.

10. Deliver value, every time

Lastly, regardless of what content type you use, focus on delivering value. Don’t publish something only for the sake of meeting the deadline but always put your audience first.

The Quick Guide to Looking Like a Brand

Sometimes you have to fake your brand a little.

Brands are not built in a day. It can take months of thorough research and testing to develop just a compelling brand promise. And that’s only a start of the whole process.

On the other hand, you don’t launch a business in a vacuum. There are already other companies trying to attract a similar audience. And, you may have no time to wait for the branding process to conclude.

Faking your brand might sometimes seem like the only option.

Perhaps your audience won’t accept anything short of a brand. Your competitors had got them used to it and that’s what they expect.  Or you just lack confidence in an incomplete brand and fear it might reduce your chances on the market, regardless of your audience. You may want to present yourself the same way your competitors do.

But, a common mistake many new companies  make is just trying to mimic big brands. Getting your website to look like a brand however takes more than having a logo on the page. It takes an in-depth understanding of what a brand is and which of its elements customers expect to find on your website.

So to begin at the beginning,

What is a Brand?

Even though the official definition by the American Marketing Association states otherwise, there is more to brand than a logo and few other graphic elements.

MJ Lanning, defines brans as a “whole set of experiences, including value for money that an organisation brings to customers”. Stephen Brown, a renowned professor of marketing described a brand as “a collection of all mental states we associate with it.” Whereas another academic, Lisa Woods defined brand as “a primary point of differentiation between competitive offerings”.

It is clear from the definitions above that a brand is more than just graphics but also includes various experience a customer has with your company or a product. This might involve your brand promise, USP, customer service, manuals, the tone of voice, the way you handle customer queries, your marketing message, words you use and many more.

Brand Elements on a Website

Brands are complex. They includes a multitude of elements, many of which which are hard to define. When your only aim however is to make your website look like a brand, these are the elements you should consider including in your design:

1. Logo 

First of all, you should include a logo or a symbol that represents your brand as this is what most customers will expect to see. You don’t need a complex symbol but you should at least have some graphic representation of the brand you are building.

Cornerstone Content

Cornerstone content use a very simple, typography based logo that quickly communicates the name of the brand.

2. Unique Selling Proposition

No business, website or any other corporate entity can exist without a differentiating factor. We are living in times of vast access to information. Today’s customers, regardless of whether they are just news readers or people looking to purchase very specific products, will research many vendors before they settle on one. This works the same for people trying to find their new favourite blog or news site and online shoppers. Therefore, you need to inform your visitors what makes your brand unique on the market.

There is a plethora of information about developing a USP for a business online. Check out this and this article to get started.

Everlane

Everlane state their USP on their home page, clearly revealing the values they stand for and their differentiating factors.

3. Tagline / Slogan

Not every business has a tagline and it may seem that not every one has to have it. But lacking it is missing on a huge branding opportunity. A tagline or a slogan offer a great way for a business that’s not yet well known to communicate their unique selling proposition. You don’t have to use a slogan all the time if you’re not comfortable with it. Consider adding it beside your logo at least until your brand will become more known. Until then, it might be the only way for visitors to know what your brand stands for.

Make it bloom

Make It Bloom are very bold with their tagline (“Expect Awesome”) and, it works!

4. Tone of Voice

Lastly, what you communicate with your readers is as equally important in building your brand as how you do it. When writing copy for your website, from general, static pages to your most up to date content – blog posts, you should at minimum consider what’s the average reading level of your readers. Unless you write for a highly specialised audience, you should aim for an average reading level (grade 6-7).

You should also try to convey the emotional state you want your readers to achieve. If you want them to be excited, happy, sad, anxious, make sure that this feeling comes across through your copy. Lastly, use jargon only if you are sure they will understand it. If you use too much of it, you’ll run into a risk ofturning your readers off as they won’t understand your meaning. However, if you’re building a technical website, using jargon may be one of the required elements that your more advanced readers will expect.

Coloud

Coloud use a vibrant tone of voice that clearly shows what audience they speak to.

Conclusion

It takes a lot of time and work to build a solid brand. Sometimes though you need your website to start communicating brand values straight away. Your audience might expect nothing short of that or you lack confidence to launch a website without a proper brand behind it. Regardless of the reasons, the way out is to fake your brand a little by including some common elements every visitor will expect to see there.

FREE GUIDE: Boost the Value of Your Content

  • More than 6,000 words, 47 pro content marketing tips
  • Improve profitability for your best(and worst) content
  • Actionable steps for more traffic, links and leads from your content

 

6 Content Syndication Tools to Help You Share And Distribute Your Content

Content Syndication
Image via: Flickr.com

Getting your content read is the most important part of content marketing.

No matter how brilliant your blog posts are, you won’t be able to engage your audience and turn them into clients unless they had a chance to read them first.

But sometimes traditional promotion methods, SEO and social media are not enough. You don’t have a large following yet and your site isn’t strong enough for search engines to rank it high in results.

Your other option then is to syndicate your content.

What is Content Syndication

Content syndication is a process in which you allow other websites to republish your content, naturally with a proper attribution to you as the author.

Having your content appearing on other sites gives you a chance to drive more engagement, boost traffic to your site and increase the exposure of your brand or product.

I am sure you’ve probably seen syndicated blog posts already. Sites like CNN, Forbes etc. feature contextual ads at the bottom of the article, often close to “Related Posts” section. Look for the label similar to: “From around the web” or “Similar articles around the web”. These posts have been syndicated from other sites.

content syndication strategy

There is a growing number of content syndication networks, companies which allow you to use their existing network of sites to syndicate your content to. Most of these networks operate on Pay Per Click basis, which means that you specify how much you are willing to pay per each click and are charged only for the actual clicks you receive.

Below I listed the top content syndication networks on the market today.

1. Outbrain

Outbrain

Outbrain is undoubtedly a leader among content syndication networks, priding itself to be dedicated exclusively to the distribution of high quality content only. Outbrain places links to your content on sites like Wall Street Journal, Reuters and many others and allows you to promote blog posts, videos, media reviews, slideshows and mobile optimised content.

From information I gathered around the web, their average CPC is in a region of $0.25 – $0.50 which is pretty good compared to other options on the market.

2. Zemanta

Zemanta

Zemanta is similar to Outbrain. The network syndicates your posts across a number of sites which includes hundreds of thousands of publishers, with popular news sites and blogs among them.

Also just like Outbrain, Zemanta does all the work for you. To get started you need to specify what content you want to promote, titles and URLs. Once done, Zemanta will index your content, optimize it and promote it to their network.

Zemanta also features a handy WordPress Plugin connecting bloggers with relevant content. The plugin recommends content to writers that is suitable for whatever they are writing right now.

3. ARC

ARC

ARC is somewhat different from the two networks mentioned above. it offers a way to send your content across various channels, similarly to PRNewsWire, a service ARC is part of.

In ARC your content assets are assembled together into an interactive branded player of sort and distributed to thousands of media points. Readers can find your player through organic search as well. Other distinct options ARC offers are the ability to include a call to action on your branded player landing page and get various kind of reports on how your branded player performs.

4. Taboola

Taboola

Taboola is yet another syndication network, similar to Outbrain and Zemanta. It syndicates your blog posts, slideshows and videos to a network of publishers and websites. According to their website, Taboola delivers 130 billions monthly recommendations to 350 million unique monthly users  with over a million of content pieces. Publishers using Taboola include Time, USA Today, TMZ and Cracked.

5. nRelate

nRelate

nRelate, just like Outbrain, Taboola and Zemanta surface your content in a form of “Recommended from around the web” contextual ads on websites and news portals around the web. According to their own data, it is serving 4 billion impressions across 100,000 publishers to 500 million unique readers. And just like the other two networks, nRelate operates on Pay Per Click basis allowing you to set your own price and pay only for the clicks you receive.

6. ZergNet

ZergNet

ZergNet, the last network on the list pride themselves at having such clients as College Humor, AOL., MTV and others using their service.

ZergNet is free to use, however, they require you to install their plugin on your site too so when using their service to promote your content, you will also be helping others by promoting theirs.

Since most of these networks operate on the same principles, there is very little difference in how you set up campaign for each of them. To get started, you need to select the content you want to promote and let the network start syndicating it to their partners sites to drive you traffic to your site.

These services will help you deliver content in front of your target audience. Moreover, you will be able to access various metrics and analysis about your campaign performance. This will allow you to find out how your campaigns are performing, what content you should syndicate more but also, what content your audience is looking for and be able to deliver content to their expectations.

What about free syndication tools?

Most of content syndication networks work on Pay Per Click basis. ZergNet is free but you need to include your site in the network in return.

If you want to promote content completely free though, you can submit it to a number of syndication channels like hackernews, inbound.org or scoop.it. You have to learn the nuances of each community before doing so though, otherwise your content and activities might be perceived as spam.

How To Choose The Right Content Type To Turn Visitors Into Customers

contentforcustomers

An abundance of content types allows you to connect with prospective customers. But how do you choose which content types are more suited for achieving certain goals?

Content offers you an opportunity to be a part of a buyers journey. Regardless whether they seek specific answers or to compare alternatives, being where your customers will turn for information gives you a chance to increase brand awareness and likelihood of a purchase.

But is just creating content enough? Does it matter what content type you use? Is a blog, the most popular content type after all, enough to attract new buyers and increase sales?

The answer lies in understanding how people buy online and what motifs drive them to specific content. And then, in mapping different content types to different stages of the buying process.

Understanding Buyer Behavior Online

To plan which content types will work best and you first must understand how customers behave when they shop online. There are 5 distinct stages of a typical buying process:

  1. Need Recognition – this is a stage in which a person realizes a problem or a need.
  2. Information/Solution Search – knowing about a problem, a person starts to gather initial information about its causes as well as available solutions.
  3. Evaluation – next, a person begins to evaluate them to establish which one is the most suitable solution to their problem.
  4. Purchase Decision – this is a stage when the person selects a particular solution and makes a decision to buy it.
  5. Post-Purchase Evaluation (Buyer’s Remorse) – at this stage customers begin to question their purchase decision. This is when they might decide to return an item. It is therefore important to develop systems to reassure customers of their decision.

Those 5 stages of the buying cycle relate to what’s known as buyer intents – objectives every customer has in mind when deciding to search for a specific information.

We distinguish 3 separate buyer intents online.

The Intent to Learn 

Customer with this intent haven’t fully realised the problem they have. They do know there is something wrong but can’t define it yet.

When you create content for this group of customers, your role is to help them to understand their problem, not offer solutions. You need to focus on educating them about their problem, rather suggesting any solutions you may have on offer.

The Intent to Compare

Customers at this level understand their problem and are ready to start evaluating their options. Their buying mood is higher, although they are not ready to make the final decision yet. Therefore content aimed at this group should focus on highlighting benefits of your solution and providing all the information a customer might need to make an informed decision to buy.

The Intent to Order

Lastly, customers with this intent are ready to buy a solution they selected. They already know what they want and are ready to place the order. A content aimed for this group should move them swiftly through the buying process.

What Content Types Work With Each Buyer Intent?


Intent to Learn

Those customers haven’t realized their problem fully, yet. Your job is to educate them about it.

The most effective content types for this include:

  • Blog posts
  • Guides
  • How-to guides
  • Short videos

Intent to Compare

When creating content for this group, you need to focus more on showcasing the benefits of your solution. Ideal content types for this group would include:

  • Videos
  • Presentations
  • Demos
  • Slideshare presentations
  • Testimonials
  • Images of product in use

Intent to Buy

The aim for content targeting this group is to offer the quickest path to purchase. You must use content types that offer almost instantaneous option to buy, before the customer has an opportunity to change their mind. Content types to create for this group:

  • Product pages
  • Sales pages
  • Landing pages

How To Apply This Knowledge To Real Life

Turning this theory into practice, let’s pretend that you run an online store selling smartphones. Your task is to develop content that will engage your audience and will turn them into buying customers. Let’s also pretend that you want to specifically target freelancers and business people who are often on the road and potentially need a solid computer replacement to perform certain tasks while out of the office.

Here is one way to do it:

Content aimed at customers with the Intent to Learn:

  1. Blog post – 10 Ways Smartphones Have Already Replaced Your Laptop at Work
  2. Blog post – Benefits of using smartphones thank computers when on the road
  3. Blog Post – Smartphone Office, Yay or Nay?
  4. Cheat sheet – Things To Pay Attention To When Buying A Smartphone For Work
  5. Cheat sheet – A Typical Smartphone Terminology
  6. Blog post or video – How To Evaluate If A Particular Smartphone Is Good For Me

Customers with the Intent to compare:

  1. Video – A Review Of Two Phones From The Same Range
  2. eBook – What’s Inside My Phone (And Why Knowing This Matters)
  3. Case study – How A Phone Helped This Freelancer Grow Her Business (On Holidays!)
  4. Webinar – Setting Up A Mobile Office In Your Smartphone

Customers with the Intent to buy:

  1. A smartphones product page
  2. Landing Page for a particular line of smartphones
  3. Regular newsletter with new phones, business app reviews as well as tips & tricks and customer stories
  4. In Depth blog post on Samsung Galaxy S4 as a mobile office machine

Conclusion

There is an abundance of content types you can create to be a part of your customers buying journey. Not all of them work on the same stages of the buying cycle. It is imperative though that you educate your customers through appropriate content types mapped to where they are in their journey.