Posts Taged content-marketing

4 Considerations for Contributed Content

Contributed content blog

Cision named contributor marketing as one of the top trends for 2017.  Contributed content is an incredibly useful tool for PR pros—whether you’re looking to raise the profile of your client or your agency. Contributed marketing is creating content then pitching it to appropriate outlets.  The demand for content is rapidly increasing. The Atlantic reported that “The New York Times publishes about 230 pieces of content—stories, graphics, interactives, and blog posts—daily. This number has risen by more than 35 percent this decade.” An increasing number media outlets are turning to contributors for content on their sites. Below are some things to consider when contributing content and some potential beneficial outcomes.

1. Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle Content

Work smarter, not harder. Many companies have their own blog (like the one you’re currently reading) with quality content. Re-using this material is beneficial in two ways. First, it saves you time. If your company blog content is strong, there’s no need to spend the time and energy wracking your brain for new topics. Spending time updating and polishing a blog post is easier than starting from scratch. Secondly, refurbished blogs that are posted elsewhere often point back to the original blog site. This can draw readers back to the first site and result in increased visits.

2. Establish yourself as thought leader + target online outlets

What expertise can you or your clients share? Craft this know-how into blog or article form and offer it to specialized publications. Many outlets have online sites that churn out an incredible volume of content—and also receive considerable viewership on their site. Most will also post recently published articles on social media platforms—another way to reach a larger audience.  CIO outlines some characteristics that indicate strong potential for contributor marketing including:  industries with cycles of innovation, customer problems, specialized information or an established online presence.

collaboration contributed content

3. Collaborate

We say it over and over: PR and earned media is about relationships. Contributed content is a great way to develop them. Bloggers are always on the search for fresh content and ways to draw readers to their site. Guest blogging and collaborating with like-minded, knowledgeable people is mutually beneficial. If the contributed post is successful on their site it’s possible that an established relationship will develop.

4. Research

The only caveat with guest blogging is ensuring the site you’re partnering with is legitimate. No one wants to read an a post (regardless of content quality) on a spammy sight with multiple obnoxious pop-up ads. Take the time to research different outlets to target the best platform for your content. Think about the target audience of each platform and who you’re striving to reach with your content. Do the two match up?

Hopefully these suggestions can help you move forward with a successful contributed content marketing strategy in 2017.

What Thought Leadership is Not

thought leadership

Thought leadership” is often considered a buzzword in the marketing and PR world – little more than a spruced up advertisement for a company. However, if your content marketing pieces fit this description, then you’re not doing thought leadership. Thought leadership can be a strong, useful addition to a content marketing program and goes well beyond stuffing a reused blog full of keywords and hoping a Forbes editor will run it.

To understand what good thought leadership looks like, it can be beneficial to know what bad content looks like. Here’s what thought leadership is not:

Thought Leadership is Not Link Building

The main goal of thought leadership is not boosting your SEO program. That’s not to say these two programs can’t work together – they certainly can. A well-written thought leadership piece placed in a publication important to your business’ audience might also include a link to your website in your author bio. This is a great bonus and can help your company’s SEO results, but this should be considered a plus, not the end goal. Editors are not looking for opportunities to publish links to businesses’ websites, they’re looking to partner with thought leaders who can provide useful, actionable insights for their readers. Draft and pitch your thought leadership ideas with this at the forefront of your mind, and you will have more success in placing your content.

content writing

Thought Leadership is Not About You

Since editors want content that is relevant for their readers, it’s important to remember that this also means your thought leadership content isn’t about you. While it seems counter intuitive to say that a program designed to position yourself as a thought leader is not about you, this concept is the foundation of well-written pieces. Your content can and certainly should involve things you’ve learned and how you’ve built your personal expertise, but you should frame your articles with your readers in mind. What is useful to them? How can you help them on this topic? Your purpose isn’t to highlight your accomplishments and boost your ego. Focusing on your readers first makes an article more relevant, useful, and likely to be published.

Thought Leadership is Not a Chance to Talk About Your Company and Products

It all comes back to your readers – thought leadership isn’t about your company or products, either. While this type of content ultimately boosts your brand image, it isn’t advertising. Many publications outright prohibit contributed pieces that mention the author’s products and business in the text, and will remove links back to your site. Thought leadership requires brainstorming and planning to come up with topics that don’t focus on your products and services. The key is that the topics will be mildly related to, but not centered on what your brand does. It’s also possible for thought leadership pieces to be completely unrelated to the products your company sells. Think of topics your audience is interested in and that you can talk about without using your own products as a case study or solution.

Thought Leadership is Not Copying and Pasting Your Blog Posts

Your blog can be a great starting point for topic ideas for articles. However, you can’t just take a pre-written blog and try to pitch it to an editor as a thought leadership piece. Many publications don’t want material that’s been published elsewhere, blogs included. Your blog posts will also probably need some reworking to become less advertorial and more reader focused. You can write about the same topic or a similar one, but make sure it’s tailored to your audience and the publication you want to see it in.

Good Thought Leadership Is…

Knowing what thought leadership is not provides a jumping off point to a good program. A good thought leadership article is not easy or quick to put together. It will require some research, brainstorming, and drafting. It will require a constant focus on your reader, and putting your own brand in the background. It will also require some patience – you’re probably not going to be published in Forbes right away. But focusing on quality content can lead you to opportunities with publications your readers know and respect, and eventually lead to a stronger brand image overall.

3 Takeaways from Digital Summit Portland 2016

digital summit portland content marketing

This past week, I was able to attend the inaugural Digital Summit Portland at the Portland Art Museum. A meeting of the minds among social media, SEO, content marketing, and UX experts, the conference provided a wealth of information and networking opportunities. Speakers from companies like Pinterest, Microsoft, Facebook, and Uber gave me some inspiration for our clients’ programs. The conference provided a guide on where the digital realm is going in the next few years. For the first year, the conference was very successful, and I’m looking forward to what next year’s event will bring.

Three key takeaways I found during the Summit:

Jump on the Pokemon GO Bandwagon Now

Pokemon GO hasn’t been live even a month yet, and it’s already taking over the digital world. Every single talk I went to mentioned the augmented reality (AR) game. Plenty of conference goers were catching the creatures on their cell phones in between sessions. By day 2 of the conference, the app had surpassed Twitter in daily active users on Android.

Virtual reality and AR are tools we already know will affect communications in the next decade, and Pokemon GO is one of the first wide-spread iterations of this technology. Because the game encourages players to visit real life locations that have been marked as “PokeStops” to collect in game items, savvy businesses have already taken advantage of PokeStops located at or near their stores. Users of any kind can purchase “lures” in the game to drop at PokeStops that will attract Pokemon to the site for a set period of time. If a PokeStop is near a business, the store can purchase lures and drop them during business hours to attract people hoping to catch the Pokemon drawn to the lure. This is a great idea for places like coffee shops and cafes. They come for the Pokemon, they stay for a coffee break.

Businesses will also soon be able to pay to be a Sponsored PokeStop if there’s not one near their location.

Content Marketing is just Marketing

Content marketing sounds like a “buzzy” phrase, but according to the experts at Digital Summit Portland, it’s really just marketing. Content marketing has been around for quite some time, and simply focuses on creating personalized experiences for the individuals in your customer base. Based on the discussions at the conference, content marketing is here to stay and will likely be considered a foundational piece of any marketing program in the next few years.

Influencers aren’t defined by follower number

Influencer marketing is a trendy communications topic right now. Social media lifestyle gurus constantly promoting the latest detox tea, work out gear, and makeup. Brands of all kinds want to see their products on the biggest influencers’ pages. However, according to a few panels I sat in on at Digital Summit, the largest, difficult to land influencers aren’t necessarily the best. Follower number doesn’t make you an expert. The key is to know what influencers exist in your arena, and how you can leverage them to talk to your audience. Whether they have 12,000 followers or 1,200 doesn’t matter. Those 1,200 might be key members of your audience you want to reach, and there may be only 500 members of your target audience in that 12,000.

Were you at Digital Summit last week? I’d love to chat with you about what your highlights were!

Direct Mail is Not Dead — Especially Among the 18-34 Crowd

French mailbox

Despite its reputation as a waning content marketing tool, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that direct mail is still very relevant. In fact, according to a recent study referenced by the SBA, nearly two-thirds of all consumers reported they had purchased something as a result of direct mail in the past year. Among 18-34 year olds who are inundated by spam emails, text messages and banner ads, the SBA suggests that direct mail might even offer a sense of old-school charm that stands out from the rest of the noise. Moreover, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reports that almost 80 percent of consumers will “…act on direct mail immediately, compared to only 45 percent who say they deal with email straightaway.”

One thing is clear—direct mail is showing no signs of becoming obsolete.

While people could easily make the shift to conduct their entire lives online, many people still opt to keep a balanced mix of online and offline interactions. They find virtue in connecting with a brand through a smartly-worded piece of mail that offers them something they value. Product discounts, reminders and packages are among the most coveted items, while pamphlets and customer magazines fare the worst, according to the DMA.

So, what’s the best way for you to market your business using direct mail? It’s important to remember that personalization is key. What might work for a retail store might not work for the nonprofit next door—and certainly not for most large-scale businesses. However, Adobe’s Digital Marketing blog offers some basic, up-to-date tips that can benefit almost anyone starting a direct mail campaign.

Mickael Bentz, product marketing manager at Adobe, recommends the below:

  • Targeting and personalization are crucial. Remember, your goal is to resonate with individuals, not to simply reach the masses.
  • Use direct mail as part of an overall campaign, as opposed to your only tactic.
  • Use clear and compelling calls-to-action. Often, you will need to repeat your call-to-action several times, as most of us skim our mail.
  • Provide multiple ways for readers to respond.
  • On paper, more information is often better. Keep in mind that people spend more time with information on a piece of paper than they do on a screen.

 

What do you want direct mail to accomplish for your business? Contact us to discuss how to make this tactic a supportive part of your overall communications strategy.

5 Associated Press Stylebook changes marketing pros should know

The Associated Press Stylebook isn’t just for journalists. For the best in clarity and consistency, corporations should use AP style in nearly all their written communications materials.

The stylebook is updated year-round based on current usage and feedback from an annual survey. Some changes make headlines: in 2014 when AP said that “over” was an acceptable alternative to “more than” when describing relative amounts, the copywriting community was up in arms. In a critical Washington Post op-ed Alexandra Petri claimed the AP was letting usage win over correct grammar with this change.

The 2015 revised book contains over 300 changes, none of which incited the same response as the “over”/”more than” update. Nonetheless, there are five updates that are most important for those who write or edit for business.

1. New terms.

A new entry has been added regarding suicides and suicide attempts. Overall, AP recommends avoiding detail on the methods used, with the following style change: “Committed suicide” should be avoided except in direct quote from authorities.

It’s also advised to use “Affordable Care Act” sparingly, as not all Americans recognize the law by its formal name. AP suggests using “President Barack Obama’s health care law” or “the health care law” on first reference, and “Obamacare”—in quotation marks—on second reference.

2. Food names and phrases.

The AP made dozens of minor updates to this category. Most relevant: “BLT”—formerly bacon, lettuce and tomato—is now acceptable on first reference. And “craft brewery” should replace the use of “microbrewery.”

3. Social media lingo.

“Favorite” is now an acceptable term for the Twitter button users use to “express approval for a tweet, and/or to bookmark that tweet, and any associated links, for later consumption,” according to the AP Stylebook.

“Favorite” can also be used as a verb, as in: I favorite all the tweets from PR Daily’s Twitter account.

Though social media professionals have used “memes” to increase online interaction with their audiences for a while, it’s now an official AP style term. A “meme” is “a piece of information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that’s shared verbally or transmitted widely, often in social media.”

4. Sports slang and organization names.

AP Stylebook now includes several standardized basketball terms, such as “Elite Eight” and “Final Four,” which are now capitalized.

The AP is also putting the brakes on sports clichés: “A team losing a game is not a “disaster.” Home runs are homers, not “dingers,” “jacks” or “bombs.” A player scored 10 straight points, not 10 “unanswered” points. If a football team scores two touchdowns and the opponent doesn’t come back, say it “never trailed” rather than “never looked back.” In short, avoid hackneyed words and phrases, redundancies and exaggerations.”

5. Index of terms.

Though not a style revision, AP Stylebook has added an 85-page index to its 2015 edition to help users find words more quickly.

What’s your favorite and least favorite AP Stylebook rule?

untitled

3 Digital Marketing Challenges and How to Overcome Them

pexels.com

There are numerous challenges online marketers face in the social media and digital marketing space. Below are 3 common challenges along with tips for overcoming them.

1. Challenge: Effectively Targeting Your Prospective Consumer.

Solution: Establish Your Buyer Personas.

According to Hubspot, it is important to develop a detailed picture of your target audience. Identifying your buyer personas ensures your message resonates with your intended audience and is providing value. You can develop buyer personas with these 3 steps: segment your target consumer by demographics, identify their needs, and develop behavior-based profiles. Ultimately, this will help tailor your content accordingly to your audience.

2. Challenge: Your content doesn’t engage.

Solution: Put the story first.

According to Content Marketing World, content for content’s sake doesn’t work, it’s the story that matters. To create engaging content, marketers need to become storytellers and educators.

How to source your next great idea?

  • Talk to your sales team to find out what are the most common customer queries
  • Research Google Keywords to find out what your customers are searching for
  • Take on a familiar subject with a different angle
  •  Create content your customers can emotionally invest in
  •  Appeal to who your customer’s aspiration
  •  Review my recent blog post for inspiration on content ideas

 

When it comes to crafting social media content, PR Daily advises it’s important to humanize your content by asking the following:

  • Would you be excited to be a member of your social community?
  • Would you share the content you provide?
  • Does the communication from your business come across as personable and trustworthy? Why or why not?

 

Viewing your content as a consumer, rather than a marketer, will help you humanize the voice of your content. In turn, this will increase engagement with your target audience.

3. Challenge: Enhancing Social Engagement Without Noise.

Solution: Build relationships based on customer loyalty and brand value. Don’t over-promote and instead focus on increasing word-of-mouth promotions.

According to Ahrefs’ Blog, many brands fail to realize the difference between pertinent social marketing communications versus noise. Having a relevant reason to engage your audience is key.

A few suggestions on ways to enhance social engagement without coming across as too noisy:

  • Solve consumer problems via social media.
  • Don’t always promote your products or services. Share what the users will love to see.
  • Build relationships between your brand and prospects.
  • Provide a meaningful reason to people to talk about your brand.
  • Enhance your product and customer experience to encourage people to talk positively about your brand.

 

What are some digital marketing challenges you’ve faced and how did you overcome them? Please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

8 Ways to Come Up With Fresh Blog Content

blogging

It’s not always easy to come up with engaging and inspiring content to share with your audience. Maintaining a blog is fundamental to effective content marketing, helping businesses generate traffic to their website, enhance visibility and influence sales. Digital Marketer has come up with a solution to cure your writer’s block – in the form of a neat infographic, where they’ve shared 55 blog ideas, organized into 8 buckets or goals you may want to strive for with your posts. Read on to learn more about ways to generate useful and interesting content:

1. Be Useful

Establish yourself as an expert by sharing how-to’s, guides, present a problem and offer solutions, etc.

2. Be Human

Create posts that inspire others, shares personal experiences, takes readers behind-the-scenes

3. Be Generous

Craft posts that promote the good work of others, profiles influencers in your industry whom you respect

4. Be Promotional

Highlight features and benefits of your product/service, showcase recently completed projects or corporate success stories

5. Be Controversial

Present “What if” scenarios, share Q+A’s from your readers, post a challenge requesting feedback from your audience

6. Be Entertaining

Share a compelling story featured amongst a series of posts, exhibit humor through exaggeration or irony

7. Be Timely

Post content in accordance with current events, issues and trends

8. Be Engaging

Enhance connectivity with your audience by crafting posts which pose questions requesting feedback, encourages your audience to participate in a challenge or shares details about company promotions such as giveaways, contests or freebies

So, the next time you find yourself staring at a blank screen, review this list and try testing out some of these suggestions. Let us know if they work for you!

Blog post ideas

Credit – Digital Marketer

Image – Digital Marketer

An Analysis of Social Media Content – What Gets Shared the Most?

Between June and November 2014, Buzz Stream and Fractl analyzed 220,000 pieces of content from 11 verticals (automotive, education, health, finance, food, business, technology, travel, entertainment, news, and lifestyle) to assess the types of content that get shared the most on social media. The content of articles was divided into five types: how-tos, lists, what-posts, why-posts, and videos:

  • How-tos: Introduces a problem, then offers a step-by-step solution
  • Lists: Based on a particular topic, share several points correlating to that topic
  • What-posts: Provides information about a topic, comparing one option to another
  • Why-posts: Provides reasoning behind a certain topic
  • Videos: Uses visuals to enhance the topic being addressed

A few takeaways from their findings:

  • Depending on the month and industry, performance of social media content types vary.
  • Evergreen content, including lists and “why-posts,” consistently earn the most number of shares
  • Risky formats, which include “what-posts,” are the most fickle form of content, earning the greatest and lowest numbers in shares over a six-month period
  • By vertical, the type of content that performed well reflected behaviors within the specific niche at that specific time

 

According to Andrea Lehr at Fractl, when it comes to posting content, timing and relevancy are critical factors. “A month early or a month late can make your campaign less relevant and affect its overall social traction.” Check out the infographic below and click here to learn more from Andrea about the findings.

 

Social Media Content Infographic

 

 

 

Topping the Search Engines in 2015

medium_5267464508The term “search engine optimization” can be scary to businesses of any size. With up to 64 percent of website traffic coming from search engines, it’s also critical.

Monday’s article by Forbes’ Jason DeMers highlights the top trends for search engine optimization in 2015. So what’s the biggest take away for your business?

Specialization in technical elements of search engine optimization is fading. Instead, content and social media participation are playing an even bigger role in your company’s presence in search engines. This could mean trouble for companies that aren’t focusing on these kinds of marketing.

“Businesses that continue to focus on SEO without having a strong content plan in place will fail, and will need to shift their focus to the creation and distribution of high-quality content in order to achieve significant search engine visibility,” writes DeMers.

A recent study by Contently shows that 56 percent of companies surveyed admit to content marketing making up only a quarter or less of their 2015 marketing budgets.

There are many benefits to providing content for consumers. Putting a face and interactive personality on your company with the use of social media. Providing thoughtful videos and articles showcasing your employees’ expertise. Creating entertaining multimedia to hook in new clients. These can all help to expand your business.

With the news that content and social media will be a big driver of traffic to your website, your company should feel compelled to get in the content marketing game.

photo credit: MoneyBlogNewz via photopin cc