-written by Charlotta Thorbjörnson, contributing blogger on Teaching.Social
Some years ago I had a conversation with a CEO and business owner, who wanted me to assist him with the launch of a product range in a new country. He had a clear opinion about the marketing communication and wanted to apply his current approach for this market as well. Knowing he had never used social media before, I asked him why he would not consider it this time. Especially, as the market was new and no one had ever heard about these products before. He answered, “I know my customers; they do not use social media, we will continue advertising for our online shop in regularly magazines, that has worked in the past”. He continued, “there are no other products similar to ours. I do not have the resources in my company to keep track of social media, and besides that, what do I do with the results?”.
At that time, I had too little knowledge about social media to refute his view. But at heart, I knew there was more to social media.
When I asked friends, who I knew used social media to run own small businesses in B2C markets, I got rather common statements like, “I have a Facebook page with a decent number of followers. I post opening hours and tell my customers about new products in the store or an upcoming event, I think that works fine and once in a while I get some likes”. It seemed like they had applied analogue thinking into digital media and were missing the point of really listening and taking advantage of the possibility to engage and interact with their customers – like in a two-way relationship.
At this point I decided to educate myself about social media.
Today I would have been much better off in a similar conversation with a CEO: “Ok, you know your target audience, but what about potential customers that you are not aware of? What if they are not reading paper magazines? Just because you know your product, it does not mean that customers, influencers and even competitors perceive your product the same way as you, or the way you want them to perceive it. What if your product is used in a different context and would give ideas for product improvements or even new products? What would the cost be for missing out such opportunities?”.
Research, Listen, Analyze
In terms of target audience, I would suggest the CEO to consider demographical, physiographical, geographical and behavioral aspects in order to segment customers and develop customer personas. There are many tools available on the internet to help you do this.
It is commonly known that consumers are no longer passive recipients of marketing messages. Instead, they are highly interactive and want to share their thoughts with other consumers and even influence the businesses. Groundswell and COBRAs (consumers’ online brand-related activities) helps to categorize the different motivators consumers have for social media use. Companies which use this to their advantage are the ones which excel. They listen carefully and use social networks to monitor trends, and get ideas for new products. Would you really want to miss out on that?
Besides doing research on your target audience, it is as important to research your industry and analyze both influencers and competitors. Using social media influencers in your marketing is a way to build relationships with existing and new customers. An influencer can reach consumers via their blogs and social networks that your business may not be able to. Thus, it is worthwhile connect with them to understand what is going on within the industry and what really matters to customers. What is their sentiment? You’d want to identify the most important keywords to be able to continuously keep track of ongoing conversations, become an active listener or even participate in these communities.
Based on this research you formulate your goals and objectives (make sure to formulate them SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely).
The result of that, along with a strong message, makes up a solid social media strategy. Adding the tools for organizing, listening and analyzing enables you to keep track of ROI and cost effectively build, master and advance your social media presence.
For me it is no longer a question if a business should be participating in social media. It is more a question if it understands to maximize its full potential to reach their set goals and objectives and enable the business to grow.
What is your strongest argument for using social media? Or do you still need to be convinced? Please comment or share your thoughts with us here or on twitter @TeachingSM You can also follow Teaching.Social on LinkedIn
NOVEMBER 3, 2016
Content marketing is deceptive in its simplicity; it can be explained, conceptually, in just a couple of sentences, but it takes years to truly master. All you have to do to succeed is write practical, valuable content for a niche audience.
That way, you can start reaping the benefits of higher traffic and more conversions, driving more revenue. But that doesn’t mean that you can start writing immediately and just rake in the cash.
In reality, most content marketers underestimate the complexity required of a content marketing strategy, and end up making crucial mistakes throughout their early campaigns. Alone, most of these mistakes won’t interfere with your long-term potential, but if you aren’t careful, they can accumulate and severely slow your progress.
Regardless of whether you’re a content marketing amateur or a seasoned professional, it pays to be aware of these 50 common mistakes so you can avoid them:
1. Starting without a visionWhat is your content going to cover? Whom are you targeting? How do you see your blog developing over the course of the next several years? These are big, broad questions that you’ll need to answer before you title your blog, come up with headline ideas or start writing.
The technical details of your execution matter, but they’re fully dependent on the strength and course of your vision. Take a minute to cover some market research and competitive research, and familiarize yourself with content marketing best practices, then come up with a general outline for how you plan to start and grow your blog.
2. Not documenting your strategyYou’ve got some of the big questions answered in your head, but how are you going to execute your strategy? Before you claim your blog or start writing any posts, the first thing you need to do is document your strategy. There are a handful of approaches you can take here, but I recommend treating your content strategy like a business plan.
Clearly explain your purpose, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, then delve into the mechanics of how you intend to produce, publish and syndicate your work. This is important because it forces you to solidify your goals and helps keep you accountable to them. It also makes it easier to explain your goals to others you bring on in the future.
3. Writing for too broad an audienceYou need to have a target audience for your content, but many newbies end up writing for an audience that’s too broad or too general. The motivation here is clear, and somewhat logical: the more general you are in your audience-targeting, the larger the audience you’ll target.
For example, writing for “American citizens” yields you a much larger audience than “single fathers in Wyoming.” However, the tradeoff is that any increase in size comes with a decrease in relevance; and in content marketing, you need to maintain as much specific relevance as possible. Cater to a specifically focused niche to start; you can always expand later.
4. Never identifying a brand voiceTwo factors will help you build and maintain a loyal readership more than any others: consistency and uniqueness. Uniqueness tends to draw users in, and consistency makes them stick around. One of the most powerful tools you have to fulfill these needs is your signature brand voice, which is a tone or personality in your writing style that’s unique to your brand (or even you as an individual).
If you don’t have a clearly defined brand voice, your posts may come off as inconsistent, or may fail to appeal to your target audience. So spend some time honing your voice. Are you energetic or calm? Youthful or aged? Stoic or emotional? Friendly or corporate? Politically correct or non-politically correct? Vulgar or kid-friendly?
5. Failing to identify key metrics to measureHow are you going to tell if you’re successful? That seems like an important question, but there’s an even more important one that comes before it: What is “success” to you? Some marketers use content to draw in more traffic, while others use it to convert traffic they’re already getting. Still others use it as a way to achieve higher customer retention, and of course you can blend these goals as you see fit.
But before you move forward, you need to know what goals you’re targeting, and how you’re going to measure them. Otherwise, you won’t be able to define success, let alone achieve it.
Image credit: Curata6.
Not doing keyword researchContent marketing and SEO are tightly interrelated, yet separate strategies; just because you’re engaging in a content campaign doesn’t mean you need to invest in SEO (though you probably should; you’ll be getting peripheral benefits anyway). But even if you’re not interested in an SEO strategy, you should at least dabble in some keyword research before you start writing.
Using tools like SEMRush, UberSuggest and Moz Keyword Explorer, you can generate keyword ideas, measure things like search volume and competition and eventually come up with a list of topics and keywords to focus on that have the most value for your audience.
7. Ignoring on-site search optimizationAgain, even if you’re not pursuing a full-fledged SEO campaign, it’s a good idea to learn the basics of on-site optimization. A simple wording change in your headline can make your post not only more visible in search engines, but also drive more clicks, if you know how to optimize for Google and your audience simultaneously.
You should also know how to optimize your meta tags, any images you choose to include, and your URL structures for visibility.
8. Keyword-stuffing posts for SEOOn the other hand, it’s definitely possible to go too far with optimizing for search engines. It’s a good idea to use target keywords your work, but if you use them too frequently, you’ll be considered engaging in “keyword stuffing,” a practice that could get you penalized in search engines rather than rewarded.
Even if you manage to escape from search engines with your rankings unscathed, your readers will pick up on the unnatural use of keywords in your text, and your overall user experience will decline.
9. Neglecting off-site search optimizationReaping the SEO benefits of content marketing isn’t all about what happens on your site. In fact, one of the most important components of SEO is the quantity and quality of links pointing back to your domain; and the best way to earn those is through guest posts on other sites. If you aren’t trying to earn guest spots on external publications, you could be missing out on better search rankings.
Just be aware: There’s an art to link building, so don’t start spamming links in an effort to increase your visibility. For help getting started with link building, see SEO Link Building: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide.
10. Favoring quantity over qualityEvery post you make is another page for search engines to index, another headline you can promote on social media, and more opportunities to include calls-to-action in your site. It therefore makes sense, on the surface, to create as many posts as you can. The problem is, many amateurs become obsessed with this idea to the point where they forget about the quality of their work.
They crank out post after post in an effort to get more visibility, but because their work is inferior, they end up attracting less attention overall. Your main priority needs to be the quality of your work, even if that means significantly sacrificing your quantity.
Read the rest here: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/284164
Social media can be an incredibly important business tool. But if you’re not analyzing the data behind social, you’re missing out on important insights that can inform important decisions and help you achieve real results. To find those insights, you need to be tracking the right social metrics around your industry, company, products, competition and more. Not sure where to begin?
The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Metrics will provide a blueprint for getting started with social analytics. Download this guide now to:
October 21, 2016 Andrew Hutchinson
Hashtags can play an important role in increasing the organic reach of your posts, but in order to maximize them, you need to know the best practices – i.e. where you should use hashtags and how many you should include. And as with all things social, those optimal strategies keep changing - there was little point using hashtags on LinkedIn, for example, till two months ago, when the platform enabled hashtag functionality within the mobile app.
To help with this, TrackMaven recently analyzed over 65,000 posts across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to determine the current optimal number of hashtags, and the best hashtag length, to improve post performance on each platform. And their results show that hashtag use may be shifting – here’s what they found.
TwitterThe commonly stated best practice for hashtags on Twitter has been two, with research showing that engagement drops significantly once any more than two hashtags are used, on average.
TrackMaven’s data differs from this, with their research showing that tweets with only one hashtag generated the most engagement, averaging 90 interactions per post.
Their results are actually somewhat similar to those aforementioned studies, with a sharp drop in engagement for tweets using any more than two tags, but optimal engagement was generated from tweets with just the one included.
This could reflect a change in attitude towards hashtag use. Over time, hashtags have become an easy way for spammers to hijack popular conversations – a recent report found that a huge amount of traffic generated by hashtags is actually fuelled by bots. As such, it’s possible that users have become more wary about hashtags, and are thus less inclined to use them as a discovery tool – if you knew that the hashtag #socialmedia was consistently filled with junk results, for example, you might be less inclined to check it out, which would reduce the reach potential of that tag.
In terms of hashtag length, TrackMaven found that hashtags with 18 characters perform best on Twitter, followed by tags with three characters.
This is an odd result – as you can see, the in between engagement of those two peaks is clearly far lower, as is the drop off after 18 characters. My suspicion is that there’s a lot of use of longer hashtags in accompaniment with very short ones – for example, when we publish a post, we might use #socialmediamarketing which takes up 20 characters, and then, in that last gap before reaching the 140 character limit, we might throw in #smm with what room we have spare.
TrackMaven’s findings would suggest that we should go with one or the other – and that one would be #smm, given it's only three characters long.
Hashtags are a crucial part of the Instagram eco-system. You can add in up to 30 hashtags per post, and general advice has been that more is better, with 11 being the optimal number.
TrackMaven found that nine hashtags is the optimal amount for boosting engagement on the platform.
This is also similar to previous findings – as you can see, peak Instagram tag performance comes in that nine to twelve bracket, which indicates that you should be looking to utilize more hashtags on the platform to increase your reach.
In terms of length, TrackMaven found that longer hashtags – between 21 and 24 characters – perform best.
Longer hashtags, and more of them, seems to be the way to go for your Instagram posts.
There’s been much debate around the effectiveness of hashtags on Facebook - while you can use them on the platform, they’ve never really caught on in the same way as they have on other networks. We published a report earlier this year in which we noted that posts with hashtags don’t tend to perform as well as those without on Facebook, but there are specific use cases, like events or promotions, where they can be beneficial.
TrackMaven’s data shows that one is the optimal hashtag use on Facebook, with engagement falling dramatically after six are included.
In terms of hashtag length, six is the magic number on The Social Network, with the performance of longer tags (10+ characters) performing fairly well up to around 20.
Again, longer hashtags seem to be the way to go – this could be because longer tags attract more attention or provide more context – a tag like #socialmediamarketing offers more explanation of what the reader can expect when they click on it than #smm, which may not be as easy for a general audience to understand.
Whatever the reason, TrackMaven’s data highlights that it is worth examining your own hashtag practices and testing out longer tags and tag numbers to see whether you can generate more engagement and response with your posts. As always, it comes down to your unique audience, but wider trends can provide an indicative measure to compare against, and re-assess best practices in line with evolving user behaviors.
You can read the full TrackMaven “Hashtag Strategies for Social Media” report here, which includes more in-depth data and research to support the above noted findings.
Check out these simple Facebook tutorials...
by Jessica Mehring 10/3/16
One of the most enjoyable parts of Halloween is getting to dress up. Right?Sure – the candy is great. The old scary movies on TV are a kick. But donning a costume is a special kind of fun.
You get to show the world a little something about you that they might not know – like your favorite superhero is The Tick.
Or put on an outrageous or hilarious outfit that gets you all kinds of attention. Like that time you dressed up as a walking shower.
Or briefly live out that childhood fantasy of being a fireman.
One thing’s for sure. Dressing up for Halloween is never dull.
All eyes are on you. As they should be.
You can get more eyes on your content with a great costume, too.
No, I don’t mean dressing up in a costume to write your next blog post. I mean giving your content a costume. In other words, giving it a theme.
In this post, we’ll cover seven awesome content theme examples, plus four tips on how to implement themes in your own content.
Creating Your Content Around a Theme Does Two Things
Creating content around a theme allows you to get really creative with a motif, and tie the content and design together in fun ways. This can really help your content pop and not only grab, but keep viewer attention.
Creating content around a theme narrows your focus and eliminates a lot of that decision overwhelm.
Use this very post, for example. It has a Halloween theme. Say I wanted to come up with a better word for “strange” or “unusual.” To stay with my theme, the choices are more limited – but much more potent! Nightmarish, creepy, spooky, macabre, ghastly, ghoulish, grim, frightful, eerie … the list goes on – but not forever. I can make a decision pretty easily with my limited selection of theme-appropriate words.
7 Spine-Chilling Content Theme ExamplesLet’s look at costumed content in action, shall we?
I’ve pulled together 7 examples of themed content sure to startle you into creating an enchanting theme for your own content.
1. Spiceworks Playbook: Spicy Marketing Menu
This inspirational lookbook is full of marketing campaigns running in Spiceworks. The theme circles around food, cooking and a restaurant menu. In fact, the table of contents is a menu.
The copy in this piece is heavily themed. Most businesses wouldn’t try something this bold – but with the spirited food-themed design, it makes a big impact without being off-putting.
2. Space Needle Website
The Space Needle website homepage is an interactive content masterpiece. The theme revolves around climbing in altitude and scaling heights, and has a slightly futuristic motif.
Even the way users interact with this homepage is unusual. Instead of scrolling down, you scroll up – like you’re going up the Space Needle and exploring Seattle from the elevator to the top of the world-famous tower.
3. Oracle E-book: Seven Deadly Sins of Content Marketing
Published the day before Halloween two years ago, this e-book is so well-themed, it’s spooky. Not only did Oracle capitalize on the holiday for this supernaturally effective piece of content, but the design of the entire piece is a real treat (not a trick).
The copy doesn’t go as heavy on the themed words as the Spiceworks playbook did, and the graphics aren’t as pointed. That is actually a good thing. The reader can take this content more seriously. Plus, even though there’s a clear theme, that theme doesn’t distract from the point the content is trying to make.
It’s a well-executed piece, and one I’m sure gets a lot of attention every October.
4. Oracle Guide: Demand Gen Pro’s Cookbook
Yes, another food-themed example! In this case, Oracle goes much heavier with the theme. Each interior page is laid out like a recipe card, complete with corny case-study name, ingredients list, prep time, step-by-step directions and expected results.
This piece will clearly be taken less seriously than the Oracle e-book above – but that’s okay. Its purposeis different. This guide is a showcase of Oracle Marketing Cloud case studies, and spicing it up with a heaping spoonful of themed copy and design makes this a lot more palatable to read.
Evidently this content made an impact on me. Because suddenly I find myself using food metaphors instead of Halloween metaphors! Point, Oracle.
5. Everstring Blog: Taco-based Marketing
This taco-themed blog is part of Everstring’s Taco-Based Marketing (TBM) campaign for Account Based Marketing practitioners.
Aren’t you curious how tacos relate to marketing? I sure was. And that’s the point. This content stretches the imagination. You have to read the content to know the answer to the question.
It’s an attention-grabbing theme, for sure.
The theme was part of a larger campaign Everstring was promoting, Taco Tuesday Fiesta:
“Introducing Taco Based Marketing. That’s right, Taco Based Marketing. For those that take the time to see our EverString Audience Platform this quarter, we will send you everything you need for your Taco Tuesday Fiesta. We call it a Fiesta in a Box. What is a Fiesta in a Box, you ask? Think tequila, margarita mix, and basically everything you need to have the perfect Taco Tuesday Fiesta”
BUT – this theme is also handled in an unusual way for their blog. You might expect that each taco ingredient would be correlated to a marketing tactic (or something like that), but Everstring didn’t write it that way. Instead, this blog talks about why we love tacos. So creative!
6. Cross Country Home Infographic: Winter Theme
Here’s an interactive infographic example from Cross Country Home Services. The winter theme for this infographic fits perfectly with the purpose of the content – to help you protect your home against wintertime risks.
Adding interactive elements allows user to actually engage with the theme just like Seattle Space Needle example. You can see snow actively falling in the background, and each of the illustrations in the blue bubbles are clickable. When clicked on, they present the reader with specific information about that area of the home.
This theme combined with the interactive elements is a smart way to make typically boring homeowner tips come alive for readers.
7. Valve Employee Handbook
This is by far the most unusual example I came across. Valve Software’s employee handbook wasn’t originally designed as marketing content – it was internal communications content … but it went viral. And once it went viral, it took on a life of its own and quickly spread the word about the company (like all effective marketing content should do!).
As you can see, it’s designed to look like a children’s book. The copy isn’t childlike, necessarily, but it’s simple. The illustrations are playful yet mature.
Valve has long held the reputation of being an unusual, and some would say extraordinary place to work, and the company has attracted out-of-the-box thinkers because of it. I personally believe this children’s book theme is a great example of the company’s personality.
How to Think Thematically for Your Own ContentFeeling inspired? Great! Here’s how to give your own content a “costume” any time of the year.
You don’t need hocus pocus to come up with a great theme for your content. By getting a new perspective using one (or more) of these 4 tips, you could scare up some great ideas for your content costume!
Social media platforms have bridged the gap between nations, connecting people across the world. But other than the recreational appeal these effective networking sites are now also used for marketing and brand promotion. Yes, social network is an excellent platform for fishing customers! With their fun, interactive, attractive interface and mass appeal, social media is a rising marketing tool for budding web entrepreneurs. Discussed below are the top 7 social media marketing tips to boost your business:
1. Be active on social media forums
The best and most obvious way of reaching more people is by being active on the various social networking sites. Maintaining a strong web presence goes a long way in establishing a solid brand value among customers. From offering lucrative offers on Facebook to encouraging users to subscribe via email you can do it all here! This not only widens your audience base but also helps you manage and channelising the traffic.
Although social media has spread almost everywhere there are countries where it is blocked or banned due to some political or social policies. You can reach the viewers of such countries as well using the various effective VPNs (virtual private network)that ensure a secretive network that cannot be traced.
2. Brevity is smart!
No one has the time or patience to read through lengthy blogs and complicated content. Therefore posting long and heavily worded articles won’t do you any good, the users are looking for impressive short and catchy content that is easy to understand. Present your product as concisely as possible. Networking sites such as Twitter only give you 140 characters to put forth an opinion, also websites such as Tumblr and Instagram support visual content that adds on to your product’s charm.
3. Focus on quality not quantity:
While posting consistently is effective, bombarding your readers with constant updates by the minute can be irritating. Also most of the content is just promotional ads and taglines that compel users to check out your product. The trick is to maintain a delicate balance, don’t overwhelm the readers with too many posts; also consider the quality of the posts before you publish them. A healthy mix of promotional and casual content is better.
4. Create a LinkedIn account:
LinkedIn offers amateur and established businessmen a great marketing opportunities that allow them to target the desired market and take the appropriate steps in connecting with it. By creating your own LinkedIn profile you can expand your enterprise reaching out to the potential customers who now have direct channel to talk to you. Customise the options, add images, videos and increase your following in the virtual world.
5. Fast action on feedback
Social media is just not the hunting ground for prospective customers but also a wonderful platform for getting some valuable feedback. The customer grievances or praises are visible to all in the comments section. This not only provides useful tips and shuns light on the problem areas but also adds on to your brand power. Quick and effective actions on the feedback further strengthen customer relations.
6. Analyse the stats
You can check the stats of your page or website online, tracking your growth and customer reach as well. This helps you estimate future policies for the company and is a much needed boost of confidence for a web entrepreneur. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter provide valuable insights and statistic information that tells you all about what’s working and what isn’t.
7. No time like the present!
The ever-increasing appeal of social media has made it a lucrative platform for web entrepreneurs who want to expand their business and earn more profit. Build solid customer relations and entertain your audience with the engaging but informative content. Don’t be intimated by the intense competition, your uniqueness is your USP!
Advantages of social media marketing:Listed below are some perks of social network marketing.
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