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  1. 5 Tools We Use to Check Our Blog Posts Before Publishing

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    Content marketing requires discipline and consistency in order to generate results, and as most writers know, consistency can be hard to achieve naturally. With every post, you need to ensure that your topic is relevant and valuable to your readers, that your grammar and wording is clear and free of errors, and that your post is formatted in a way that reads easily and catches the attention of your potential readership.

    Thankfully, there are thousands of tools available to help you maximize the efforts of your content marketing strategy. These five are some of the most useful we’ve found for checking, reviewing, and polishing our posts before we publish them:

    1. Google Drive.

    articleimage530Google Drive

    Google Drive is a free tool anybody with a Google account can use to markup and share any document or spreadsheet. If your content marketing strategy relies on more than just one person, this is a near-perfect tool for collaboration.

    Collaborating on written material is difficult when working independently, even with modern word processors. Microsoft word has their reputable “track changes” feature, which can showcase any changes one person makes to an already-existing document and allow for commenting to explain those changes, but it’s limiting for a number of reasons. First, the document needs to be passed back and forth a number of times before reaching its natural, definitive end. Google Drive allows for mutual access at any point, allowing users to keep track of each other’s changes—even as they occur in real time. Second, edits can get messy after a few layers of changes. Determining where one person’s intended phrase ends and another person’s edit begins can grow difficult quickly.

    Before we take a document live, we give it one more round of possible changes from everyone involved in collaborating on it. Even if your writers work independently, it’s still a good idea to pose them to the group for comments and additional thoughts. Plus, Google Drive automatically backs up all your information—so you never have to worry about a hard drive failure.

    2. PopSurvey.

    articleimage530PopSurvey

    The most important factor in your content marketing strategy’s success is your audience, and PopSurvey helps you understand yours. If you’ve ever wondered what your audience thinks about your content marketing strategy, or if you’ve ever wished you could read your customers minds and find out what they want to read—try using PopSurvey to get the answers.

    Think of PopSurvey as your content marketing focus group. Depending on the length and detail of your post, you might want to roll it out to a handful of your users to get their thoughts before publishing it for the masses. With a brief survey, you should be able to capture the thoughts of your readers accurately, and incorporate them into your article. For example, if your test audience finds that your article isn’t helpful because it doesn’t have enough concrete examples, you’ll then have the chance to rework the material in question.

    Obviously, you may not have time to scout for a test audience and send out a survey before every individual blog post, but you can also use them as occasional tests to see how your overall content plan is working. Ask your readers what they like and don’t like in terms of your topic choices, material length, material depth, and stylistic choices.

    3. Grammarly.

    articleimage530grammarly

    While no proofreading tool is completely foolproof, the tool over at Grammarly is pretty thorough. The types of spell checkers found in Microsoft Word and WordPress are great at catching spelling errors and a handful of grammatical errors, like incomplete sentences, but most other syntactical errors slip by, and sometimes these programs will identify mistakes that aren’t actually mistakes.

    Grammarly is no substitute for a human proofreader, but it can save you a lot of time by pinpointing errors that an ordinary word processor might overlook. The best thing about Grammarly is that it explains why each mistake is highlighted; for example, instead of merely highlighting a questionable phrase, Grammarly will explain the grammatical rule in question, and why the specific phrase is violating it. It’s an indispensable tool for new content marketers, as it educates and explains many common errors, but it’s also valuable for seasoned content marketers who just need an extra set of (digital) eyes on a work before publishing it.

    Before we go live with a blog post, we run it through one final check to make sure everything is in line with our quality standards.

    4. Storify.

    Storify is one of the best way to integrate streaming content into your blog—and by that, we don’t mean YouTube videos. We mean actual news and social updates from your users. While we don’t take advantage of this for every blog post, it is a great option to keep in mind, especially when you’re posting news or other time-sensitive content.

    The best feature of Storify is its easy social media integration. Storify works with dozens of social platforms, but one of the easiest and most beneficial for a blog draft is its use with Twitter. A Storify-treated blog can pull in up-to-the-minute tweets featuring a given hashtag or topic, giving your users an added layer of personal engagement and immediacy.

    Storify has other features at an enterprise level, designed specifically to help teams of content collaborators work together in a meaningful way. Not only can you research trends on social media to learn more about what users think of your source material, you can also link together with your fellow writers and reviewers to create the best, most up-to-date pieces for your blog.

    5. PhotoPin.

    PhotoPin is an awesome complementary tool we use to pair great images with our content. All the images found through this search tool come from Creative Commons, and are generally free to use. Simply including an image with your blog posts can increase engagement and click-through rates enormously, so if you’re not already adding an accompanying image with each of your posts, it’s time to start.

    We like PhotoPin because it has one of the most thorough and intuitive search functions on the web. Simply type in whatever you’re looking for, and you’ll immediately be met with hundreds of free photos to peruse at your discretion. Keep in mind that while most images are free to use, some images have restrictions for commercial use—and you’ll also have to give proper attribution out of respect for the image owner.

    Even with those restrictions, PhotoPin remains one of the best image searchers on the web. If you’re in the habit of including images in your blogs regularly, swing by PhotoPin to pick some up before every blog post.

    Every content marketer has unique preferences and a unique system of writing and editing, so if these tools don’t work for you, odds are there are plenty more that can enhance the quality or efficiency of your writing. Become familiar with whichever tools work best for you, and improve your capabilities even further.

    If you need more personal assistance with your content creation, or if you’re interested in partnering with experts on your core strategy, reach out to us, and we’ll work together to find a solution that works for you.

  2. Your Guide to Building a Consistent Brand Voice for Content Marketing

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    By this point, you’ve heard about brand voice and the role it plays in content marketing campaigns. When most people think of a brand, they think of it in visual terms; they think of a logo, a color scheme, a mascot, a font, and other visual cues that represent a company’s identity. But brand voice, the tonal and linguistic choices of a brand’s copy and content, is just as important. Throughout this guide, I’ll explain the mechanics of why brand voice is important, and I’ll show you how you can create your own brand voice—and keep it consistent across every platform.

    Why Is Brand Voice Important?

    articleimage520brandvoice

    A consistent brand voice accomplishes several goals simultaneously:

    • It solidifies your brand identity. By aligning your tone of voice and verbiage with the “personality” of your brand, you’ll strengthen the image people have of your company. In the same way that a logo can give someone an immediate good (or bad) impression, your choice of words can convey a style and set of characteristics that leaves people with a specific feeling.
    • It makes your content more relatable. People want to read content that speaks to them. Consider the lines “Homework is the worst—and this study proves it!” and “New study finds homework inhibits learning potential in adolescents.” These lines could be introducing the exact same article, but one speaks to an adolescent audience, while the other speaks to older, more scientific minds. How you say things matters more than what you say, and with the right brand voice, you can make almost anything work for your target audience.
    • It builds familiarity and encourages repeat readership. Readers are far more likely to return to blogs they feel are familiar. If a reader is introduced to a new voice, or an inconsistent voice, each time they access a blog, they’ll have no familiar foundation and they’ll be less likely to continue reading. A consistent voice keeps them coming back for more.

    Four Questions to Ask

    articleimage520Four Questions to Ask

    Before you can enjoy the benefits of a consistent brand voice, you have to construct one that’s appropriate and valuable for your brand. It’s a tough task, especially for those unacquainted with brand voice or new to the world of writing, so to get you started, consider these questions:

    Who Is Your Target Audience?

    Start by defining your readership. Who is going to be reading your blog? Think of your readers’ personalities and characteristics—are they old or young? Male or female? Highly educated or average? Think about what these types of readers appreciate in their lives. Are they the type of people who prefer complex, professional vocabulary, or the type who prefer simplistic, easy-to-understand language? Would they prefer an emotional draw-in or a logical one? You can get a better idea for this question by reading up on blogs that are also targeted toward your audience, and shaping your voice against theirs.

    What Makes Your Brand Unique Among the Competition?

    This is a critical question that will define your brand as a distinguished enterprise in the landscape of your industry. Take a look at the blogs and social media posts of all your competitors. What characteristics do you see in their brand voices? What makes your brand unique among them? You can certainly draw inspiration from the style of your competitors’ brand voices, but if you want to stand out and win the loyalty of your readers, you’ll need at least a few differentiating factors. Are you more casual? More refined? More personal?

    If Your Brand Was a Person, What Would He/She Be Like?

    This is the key question in determining the shape of your tone, and it’s extremely helpful for new writers who are unfamiliar with creating a brand voice from scratch. Rather than trying to sort out which words to use or what types of phrases to try, put yourself in the mindset of your brand. Your brand should function as your company’s personality and identity, so it’s helpful to imagine what your company would be like if it actually was a person. Is your company male or female? Is he/she relaxed or disciplined? Sharp-dressed or casual? Friendly or formal?

    Why Do People Want to Read Your Material?

    Finally, you’ll want to ask yourself why people want to read your material. You probably already have an idea about the topics you want to cover, but why do people want to read those topics? Are they attracted to the informational element of it, or would they rather be entertained? Are they coming to you because they’re distressed and in need of help, or because they’re bored and need something to occupy their attention? Understanding your readers’ main motivations can help you shape a voice that responds to those needs.

    The answers to these questions should be helpful in establishing the core values and characteristics of your brand voice. But that alone isn’t enough to get you started. Try these exercises to take your new brand voice for a test drive, and start working out the kinks:

    Exercise: Imagine a Conversation

    For the first exercise, you’re going to utilize the characters you invented with the preceding questions. Imagine your brand as a person, leading a conversation, and your ideal customer as another person, responding or listening to the conversation. If you have multiple demographics for your brand, simply choose the one with the most relevance.

    Think of something you’d like to say; it can be the relation of a news item, a how-to explanation, or anything else that could eventually transform into a blog post format. Imagine how your character, the personified version of your brand, would relay that information to your target audience member. Write up a paragraph while thinking in this mindset, as if your character is having his/her words directly transferred to the page. Later, re-read the paragraph, and imagine your “brand” character speaking the words aloud. Does anything seem strange or out of character? Make adjustments accordingly.

    Exercise: A, B, and C Take

    This second exercise is designed to illustrate the differences between different tones of voice. It should help you find the distinguishing factors that make your voice unique, and give insight into how different voices can be constructed.

    Consider our “homework” example earlier. You’re going to build a similar model. Take an idea: it can be the headline for a news story, a sample statistic, a random fact about your industry—anything that can be summarized in one or two sentences. Then, you’ll spin it like an actor, with an “A” take, a “B” take, and a “C” take. Find three different ways to convey the same information: one in line with your brand’s voice, and two that are in line with a different voice. With practice, you’ll become a master at reshaping core content into a brand-appropriate tone.

    Following Up

    articleimage520followup

    Remember that while your brand’s voice should remain relatively consistent from post to post, it’s also going to change as your business grows. Over the course of months and years, you’ll need to update your brand voice to reflect changes to your company’s offerings, core values, leadership, and target audience. Consistency is important to build familiarity, but brand voices cannot remain stagnant when businesses evolve over time.

    Different mediums do require slight alterations to your formatting, but for the most part, your brand’s voice should remain consistent across all platforms. It will take time and practice to master writing in your brand’s style, but in time, you’ll have something recognizable, valuable, and endearing for your brand.

  3. 8 Brainstorming Tactics for New Content Marketing Ideas

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    One of the hardest parts of any content marketing program is coming up with enough new ideas to keep your content engine running. The sheer volume of posts is intimidating enough for some writers, and if you want to see great results, you have to consistently come up with new, exciting ideas. They must be original, to avoid getting lost in a sea of reiterated content, they must be valuable, or else nobody will want to read them, and they must be relevant, which limits your range of topics depending on your industry and the interests of your audience.

    That’s a tall order even for experienced content marketers. Generating great new ideas on a consistent basis is intimidating, but with these brainstorming tactics, you can overcome the hurdles and uncover countless new opportunities for content creation:

    1. Read the News.

    articleimage508readthenews

    Find out what’s happening, on a national and international level as well as within your industry. Simply reading the news might inspire an idea for a new post, or put you in a journalistic mindset. For a specific idea, it’s entirely possible to leverage the power of news posts that already exist. You can “newsjack” a post, writing about a news story and framing it around your company’s perspective on the matter, or you can write a reactionary piece, acknowledging the event but shifting the perspective to the changes you’re making as a result of the announcement. Many content marketers make an effort to read the news on a daily basis as a vehicle for possible content topics—try it out for your brand.

    2. Monitor LinkedIn Discussions.

    articleimage508Monitor LinkedIn Discussions

    Facebook and Twitter have larger user bases and more public conversations, but the discussions you find within LinkedIn Groups are better sources of content inspiration. LinkedIn Groups are small, niche networks that connect similar professionals together to start conversations and exchange ideas. Sign up to be involved with as many Groups that are relevant to you as possible. Check them daily for new discussion threads, new ideas, and random items that individuals within the Group post to one another. LinkedIn Groups are usually ripe with discussion, since many use them as platforms for giving and receiving advice, so you should be able to find at least a handful of potential topics for your content marketing strategy. Consider what people want and need from each other, and stay away from topics that are reposted heavily to avoid seeming unoriginal.

    3. See What Your Competitors Are Up To.

    articleimage508See What Your Competitors Are Up To

    Another way to brainstorm is to see what your competitors are doing. Your competition is one of the best sources of information you have—you’ll be able to see everything they’ve posted to their followers and readers, and how that audience has reacted. Granted, your target audience is probably slightly different from theirs, but you can get a general feel for how readers react to certain topics and certain angles. Look at the content that seems to be the most popular, and think about how you could do it in a way that’s different. Can you take a different angle on the piece? Do you have a different set of data you can present? The key here is to replicate the conditions that made their pieces successful, with enough originality to differentiate your approach.

    4. Revisit Older Pieces.

    You can also look to your own content marketing efforts as a source of inspiration. Chances are, you didn’t start content marketing today. Look back to all the pieces you’ve posted over your tenure, and find one that can be revisited. Look for material that was good enough to warrant a follow-up; one option is to find a piece of content that could be applied to a new realm. For example, if you wrote a “Guide to Marketing on Facebook,” you could follow up with a “Guide to Marketing on Twitter.” You could also visit predictions you made in the past; let’s say in 2012, you wrote a piece claiming that the industry was about to explode. In 2014, you could examine your prediction and the factors that led it to be accurate or inaccurate.

    5. Attend New Webinars and Speaking Events.

    There are countless free webinars available for attendance at any given time, both in and out of your industry. Sign up for one and learn something new, then work those new insights into a blog post. For example, you could attend a webinar going over a new technology rolling out that’s relevant to your industry, then write up a blog post about how you think that technology is going to affect your business. You can also attend in-person conferences and speaking events; these are even more valuable, since you’ll have the chance to interact with other people in your industry and exchange ideas.

    6. Leverage the Power of Teamwork.

    Coming up with ideas on your own can be daunting, but if you combine the brain power of your team, the task should be much easier. Ask your teammates for their input on what would make a good blog topic. This is especially useful if each of you works in a different department, or if you each see different sides of the business on a daily basis. This method is a way to refresh your perspective on the company you work for, and give you new material to experiment with. You can also get a feel for what content your coworkers would like to see, and what they think of your current content strategy—every opinion counts!

    7. Try a New Medium.

    If you feel like you’re up against the wall and you can’t come up with a straightforward blog post for your content campaign, consider experimenting with a medium you haven’t yet tried. For example, if you usually follow the normal rhythm of a weekly blog post with an accompanying image, why not try filming a short video and posting that instead? Or, you could skip a week and instead invest the effort into producing a short whitepaper. Producing content in a new format could be a jumpstart for your creative juices.

    8. Get Ideas From Your Social Followers.

    The last brainstorming idea I’ll leave you with is one of the easiest and most useful. All you have to do is ask your readers and followers directly what they’d like to see in your content marketing campaign. It’s blunt and direct, but it’s going to get you a real answer from your real followers. Who knows what your audience wants to read better than your actual audience? Conduct a poll, or reach out to some of your most vocal followers individually. They’ll be more than happy to give you ideas on what they’d like to see.

    Every content marketer has individual preferences and a unique rhythm for initiating content, so not all of these strategies may work for you. Hopefully, you’ll find at least a few of them beneficial, and you’ll have an easier time coming up with content ideas.

    Of course, if you’re still struggling with creating content that matters to your audience, why not reach out to us here at AudienceBloom? We’re here to give a voice to your brand and deliver a content strategy that works.

  4. The Pros and Cons of Facebook Advertising in 2014

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    Social media marketing can be defined in several different ways. For some companies, that means using social networking sites to build brand awareness and cultivate a community that is endeared to the brand. For some, that means aggressively building a following to promote the brand to new customers and increase their perceived authority. For others, that means leveraging the opportunities of social media to advertise products and services to new and existing customers.

    All of these tactics are valuable for different reasons. As an organic search and inbound marketer, I tend to favor the first option, building brand awareness and brand loyalty as naturally as possible, with high quality content and engaging posts. But that’s not the only way to make use of social media.

    Most social networking platforms have rolled out an advertising wing to businesses and entrepreneurs, offering ad space on users’ news feeds in exchange for money, and Facebook seems to be the most popular due to its massive user base. However, social media advertising is not for everyone, and there are many pros and cons to consider before you pursue a direct advertising campaign on social media. In this article, I’ll go over some of the most important pros and cons of Facebook advertising to keep in mind before making a decision.

    Advantages and Limitations

    Like with any form of traditional advertising, Facebook ads have global advantages and limitations that make them appropriate for some companies in some situations, and inappropriate for others.

    Facebook ads are useful because they can be created entirely from one location. You can create your campaign from scratch in a fairly easy series of steps, and return to that exact same platform to follow up and see how it’s performing. They’re also advantageous because you can set a specific budget and walk away, giving you the ability to fully and accurately set your budget in advance and compare that to the amount of return you eventually receive.

    There are some limitations, however. Facebook advertising is not as targeted as direct advertising, nor is it as efficient as a long-term strategy as a broader content marketing campaign. Like paid search ads, they should only be used as a short-term or complementary strategy, and only when you have a good understanding of your target audience. Without a solid advertising strategy focused on specific demographics, Facebook advertising is almost useless.

    Let’s take a look at some of the specific qualities of Facebook ads, and each of their pros and cons.

    Facebook’s New Ad Campaign Structure

    articleimage480Facebook’s New Ad Campaign Structure

    Facebook introduced a new ad campaign structure back in February, delighting some social media marketers and enraging others. Business can create multiple overarching campaigns, each of which has a specific goal. For example, you could run one campaign designed to bring people to your main website and another campaign designed to send people to a specific landing page. Within campaigns are different ad sets, which are usually split based on your audience or budget. Finally, each ad set is split into different ads, which feature different text, images, and callouts.

    This campaign structure is advantageous because it gives you lots of control and enables the possibility of rigorous A/B testing within a single campaign. However, it will take some time to learn the roles of each category and tailor your campaign to fit them appropriately.

    Ad Types

    articleimage480Ad Types

    There are two main types of ads that Facebook offers: promote page and promote website.

    “Promote page” allows you to build your Facebook audience through advertising designed to attract new likes to your brand. For marketers interested in generating a bigger social audience, this can be useful, but remember that Facebook likes are a superficial means of measuring your impact. Not every “like” corresponds to an interested customer, and even your interested customers will abandon ship if your content marketing strategy doesn’t hold their attention.

    “Promote website” is the better option of the two. It allows you to direct traffic to an external website (presumably, yours), giving you more traffic and more options to convert. Of course, you can also lead them to a specific product page or landing page based on your specific goals.

    Pricing

    articleimage480pricing

    Facebook ad pricing has increased in the past few years, but it’s still reasonable. Paid advertising in search campaigns can range from less than a dollar per click to over a hundred dollars per click. On Facebook, you can set a daily budget—such as $10 per day—that corresponds with a certain number of “average clicks” you can expect—such as 15-32 clicks. It’s no guarantee, since click-through rates are partially dependent on your wording and imagery, but in my experience, it’s been a fairly reliable estimation.

    The pricing also gives you firm insight into your ROI. At the end of your campaign, you’ll be able to see exactly how much you spent and compare that against exactly how many new visitors you attracted as a result. From there, it should be apparent whether the ROI of your campaign is sufficient to justify further campaigns.

    Ad Placement

    Facebook doesn’t allow much wiggle room on ad placement. You can see some examples of where ads run, but you don’t have any control over where and how the ad shows up. That’s a key disadvantage that cannot be easily overcome. Fortunately, Facebook recently announced they would be keeping ad inventory at around five percent of all news feed content. This may drive the price up slightly, but it will also keep ads at an ideal ratio—appearing often enough to be looked at, but not so often that they become white noise to users.

    Targeted Demographics

    One of the biggest advantages of Facebook advertising is the amount of control it gives you over your targeted demographics. Other forms of advertising, like paid search ads, focus on a location rather than on a specific type of person, but Facebook ads help you only advertise to your ideal targets. For example, it’s possible to advertise only to a specific gender, a specific age group, a specific location, and even people with specific interests.

    If you’re running many ads within a campaign, you’ll have the opportunity to experiment and gradually whittle down your target demographic to a very specific type of user. It may seem like an intimidating number of options at first, but that level of control is something you’ll be hard-pressed to find in almost any other advertising medium.

    So is Facebook advertising worth it for an average business? It all depends on your type of business, your budget, and your goals. Conceptually, you should be able to determine whether Facebook ads are worth looking into, but you’ll only know for sure once you experiment. Fortunately, Facebook doesn’t require much ad spend up front, so you can play around with the system without a significant financial investment and then determine whether the ads are worth continuing or scaling.

    Regardless of whether you pursue advertising on Facebook, it’s still a good idea to practice regular community building on your most relevant social platforms. Engaging with your current and potential future customers on social media is one of the best ways to build loyalty, and you don’t need to pay for advertising to do it.

  5. How to Beat Facebook’s New News Feed Algorithm

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    Social media marketers have relied on Facebook as one of their most stable platforms, largely due to the site’s overwhelming popularity and the ease of setting up business pages. In one interface, organizations can easily post, schedule updates, monitor progress, post ads, and view analytics to analyze user data and improve the reach of their content marketing strategies.

    However, over the past few years, Facebook has been gradually introducing new updates and algorithm changes that have interfered with some marketers’ strategies. For example, some of Facebook’s so-called user experience improvements have driven organic reach for brand pages down by nearly 50 percent, with some large brands seeing as little as 2 percent reach.

    What does this mean for your brand’s Facebook presence? It means the posts and updates you publish on your Facebook page aren’t being seen by your followers as often or as visibly as they used to. The news feed algorithm is starting to drift away from brand page updates, so in order to maintain your relevance on the social network, you’ll have to adjust your strategy.

    In this article, I’ll cover some of the ways you can overcome the challenges presented by this new Facebook algorithm.

    Keep Your Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

    articleimage469Keep Your Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

    You’re likely already doing this, but the idea bears repeating. What matters most on Facebook is not the frequency of your posts, but the quality of your posts. Making eight updates a day doesn’t matter if those updates are filler, repeated content, or uninteresting material. It’s better to make one high quality post a day than to spam your users with material of little substance. If you post too often, Facebook will start to ignore most of your updates and only select a few for release in your users’ news feeds. With a quality-focused strategy, you’ll ensure that the posts you do make are more relevant, and are seen by a greater number of users.

    Use More Mediums

    articleimage469Use More Mediums

    There are several mediums available to you, so use a diverse pool of sources to engage your users. Facebook favors posts that contain images and videos, but if you’re making the same type of posts all the time, you might lose priority in the news feed ranks. Facebook specifically looks for content that stands out, so rotate through different mediums to see which ones seem to have the most impact. Videos and images also tend to generate higher click-through rates, so consider using them to attract more people to your website, or to generate more engaging conversations between your users and your brand.

    Leverage the Power of Personal Accounts

    Facebook has actively reduced the news feed relevance of brand pages specifically, not the news feed relevance of individual users. If you’re desperate to get around the brand page nerf, simply take greater advantage of your company’s personal accounts. For example, if an individual user and a brand page post the exact same piece of content, the individual’s post will reach a higher percentage of affiliated users than the brand page. Therefore, if you can, post the same piece of content on multiple personal accounts by asking your coworkers and friends to post it. You won’t be able to see the same analytics insights with an individual account, but you will reach a higher percentage of your user base.

    Give Your Users the Chance to Post Content—and Engage Them!

    Facebook wants content that users can interact with, and as I mentioned in my previous strategy, it favors content posted by individuals over content posted by brands. Instead of taking your brand content and filtering it through an individual account, why not encourage all your individual followers to post their own pieces of content? You can do this by hosting promotional photo contests, or other calls to action that inspire users to post their own content on your brand page. This not only gives you greater visibility in your users’ news feeds; it also gives you another key chance to interact directly with your users and give them a personal brand experience.

    Take Advantage of Exclusive Offers

    articleimage469Take Advantage of Exclusive Offers

    Exclusive offers tend to get more attention than standard Facebook posts. They also have a greater likelihood of getting shared, and as you now know, content shared on individual profiles gets more news feed prevalence than content solely shared on a brand page. Use Facebook as a platform for exclusive deals, such as a discount or a rebate, which users would not be able to find from any other source. Your users will feel grateful for the opportunity, and will be more likely to look out for your posts. They’ll also want to share the wealth with their friends, giving you an immediate, news-feed-circumventing path to greater visibility.

    Favor Your Most Popular Types of Content

    This is another strategy you should already be using, but it’s more important than ever to sustain it. Use Facebook analytics to track exactly which types of posts tend to attract the most attention in terms of likes, shares, and comments. Facebook is likely to emphasize the importance of your posts if you attract a high number of interactions—this is one of the ways the social platform measure the relative “quality” of a post. If you can figure out which types of content are the most popular with your users, such as content focused on a specific topic, you can post more of that type and attract more interactions, thereby getting greater Facebook authority and news feed visibility.

    Give Ads a Shot

    If your standard Facebook-based content marketing strategy starts to fail and you still want to capture a greater share of Facebook users, try using Facebook ads. They’re relatively inexpensive, with options as low as $5 per day, and you can use them on a trial basis to see whether they’re worth it for your brand. They’re also easy to create and manage, so you’ll quickly learn whether your ads are doing a good job of attracting new likes and site visitors. Since Facebook likes to make money (and we can’t blame them), it’s likely that organic news feed visibility will continue to drop in favor of paid ad space. It may or may not be worth it, depending on your audience and budget.

    Experiment with Other Social Networks

    Facebook isn’t the only social option for your brand; there are countless other opportunities, some of which are likely more important for your target demographics. Integrate your other social media profiles, such as Vine or Twitter, with Facebook to double your reach without necessitating an independent posting strategy. Or, start moving your efforts away from Facebook altogether in favor of social platforms that allow you greater visibility and more targeted interactions.

    Facebook will likely continue to decrease or at least change the presence of brand posts in users’ news feeds, so watch your analytics like a hawk to take note of diminished impact or sudden changes. Facebook marketing, like SEO and content marketing as a whole, is a cat-and-mouse style chase that relies on quickly responding to the latest technological changes. Implement these strategies to stay ahead of the curve—at least for the time being—and maximize your chances of showing up in your users’ news feeds.

  6. 5 Types of Content that Make Your Followers Passionate About Your Brand

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    Raising brand awareness is a difficult task, and making users passionate about your brand is even more challenging. Promoting brand visibility is a simple matter of getting your name and brand in front of more people, but in order to win the loyalty or enduring respect of those people, you need to convince them that youare worth it.

    Content marketing in its modern form is all about providing value to your users and increasing your brand’s reputation. But not all types of content yield the same results. Try using these five types of content to encourage passion in your followers:

    1. Instructional guides and how-to articles.

    articleimage459Instructional guides and how-to articles

    When people look for information on how to do something, they’re usually in the middle of a problem. If you can provide them the information they’re looking for, quickly and efficiently, you’ll immediately save them from that problem. Do that a handful of times consistently, and they’ll instantly associate you as a problem solver, falling in love with your brand.

    That doesn’t mean your blog needs to mimic Wiki-how and offer an endless series of step-by-step instructional posts. You can use whatever format you’re most comfortable with. Walk your users through a problem from the beginning with specific micro-steps, or write in broad strokes. The goal is to solve a problem, so make sure you include all the necessary information.

    Incorporate a visual element, such as instructional images, an infographic, or even a helpful video to gain more followers and increase your chances of going viral. The more detailed you can be, and the more you can stand out from your competitors, the better. It’s also a good idea to phrase your article titles in a way that reflects what users will actually be searching, such as “how do I change a car tire?” or “what’s the best way to fry a turkey?”

    2.Case studies and stories.

    articleimage459Case studies and stories

    People love to read stories. There’s something psychologically addicting and compelling about stories that draw in a reader’s attention. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to illustrate a complex topic or demonstrate a multifaceted problem in a way that is straightforward and approachable. This type of content has a kind of immediate resonance with your readership, and if you can consistently execute that level of emotional connection, you can win the long-term loyalty and passion of your followers.

    Case studies, specifically, can be an effective type of story as long as you present it the right way. Like any story, case studies need to have a beginning, middle, and end, with a background, a problem, and an eventual solution. Don’t make your case studies seem salesy, or they’ll turn your followers off. Instead, focus on the logical, practical aspects of the story, and make it as personal and approachable as you can.

    Of course, it’s almost impossible to churn out a case study every week, but there are plenty of other types of stories you can tell. Post an interview with an industry leader, or recount the story of a major breakthrough in your company. The key is to strike an emotion with a narrative.

    3. Content that takes a strong stance.

    Another type of content that generates passion is an article that takes a strong stance. By “strong stance,” I mean that your article undeniably comes down on one side of a complex and divisive issue. Some content marketers are reluctant to make this kind of stance, since it could divide their user base and immediately alienate half of the crowd, but despite these risks, it’s an excellent strategy to earn yourself more company loyalty.

    Fence-sitters tend to play peacekeeping, neutral roles. It keeps them from angering anybody, but it also prevents them from making any new friends. Brands that never take strong stances might have a slightly larger audience than brands that do, but those followers aren’t passionate or loyal. Writing content that takes a firm stance in a familiar debate might alienate a few of your readers, but the rest of them will become enamored with your brand. And in the end, it’s better to have a few dozen customers who care deeply about your brand than a few hundred who couldn’t care less about it.

    Choose an issue that’s relevant to your company and industry, and make sure your article is grounded in verifiable facts and logical reasoning.

    4. Original research and new insights.

    articleimage459originalresearch

    Original research posts take more time and money to develop, but they also get better results. It’s a lot easier to look up information that someone else pulled and spin it into your own presentation than it is to plan, conduct, and analyze the research yourself. But brands that do complete original research are immediately seen as thought leaders, paving the way for their competitors and contemporaries, and introducing brand-new information into the world.

    The same advantages can be had with making new insights in a given industry. Like with taking a strong stance on a divisive issue, this strategy comes with a bit of risk, but it also poises you as a unique player in the field. Coming up with a new idea or a new application for an old idea in the industry is tough, so it might be better to start with a new research effort and build your content around that.

    Start by finding something that hasn’t yet been covered by your competitors. You can look to similar industry blogs for inspiration by acknowledging what topics have already been covered and brainstorming about how to expand that scope.

    5. Customer requested content.

    Nothing makes users passionate about a brand as much as giving them exactly what they want. Some content marketers fret over this idea, insisting that they can’t read their readers’ minds. This is true. But there’s nothing stopping you from asking your users what they’d like to read on your blog directly.

    Get on social media and pose the question regularly: what types of content would you like to see more of on our blog? If you want to be more subtle about it, create a survey or a quick poll that uncovers the interests and intentions of your followers. Observe the trends amongst your user base and customize your strategy to fit their desires and expectations.

    You might not be able to fulfill every request, but you should have enough information to start with. If one follower goes out of their way to let you know about a specific topic, chances are that hundreds of other followers would also like to see it (but didn’t take the time to let you know). Take user requests seriously, and fulfill them whenever you can.

    Simply creating these types of content isn’t enough, however. You need to support this content by posting it regularly, and syndicating it to new readers through your social media channels. Collect feedback at every turn, and think of what your followers would want when it’s time to make a new post or revise an old one. That system of feedback is what makes good content great, and with passion-inspiring content like the examples above, you’ll have a loyal, dedicated audience that grows stronger and larger every day.

  7. 8 Qualities of Content Optimized for Conversions

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    You already have a content marketing strategy, but what is the core intention of your content? Is it intended to engage and inform your readers? Is it intended to prominently display keywords that will help you rank? Or is it optimized for conversions, intended to drive people to buy or express interest in your products and services?

    If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you either haven’t thought much about it, or you’ve tried to make your content an all-around package. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach, but if you aren’t explicitly thinking about how your content can work to convert your readers, you’re missing out on some key opportunities.

    Incoming traffic doesn’t mean much unless you have a high conversion rate to back it up. If you can increase your conversion rate, you’ll instantly get more revenue from the traffic you’re already getting. The key is to optimize your content so that optimization is its primary goal.

    These are the eight most important qualities of content that is written with conversion optimization in mind:

    1. Personal.

    articleimage448Persona

    In order to convert potential readers, your content needs to be friendly and personal. If it reads like a high school science textbook (even if you’re selling high school science textbooks), you’ll come off as robotic, and nobody will want to buy from you. People want to buy from people, and if you present your brand with a personal, interactive voice, you’ll be far more likely to encourage those people to convert. Work on your tone by asking yourself “does this sound like a sentence I would say out loud?” and wondering what you would think of someone who spoke with the same voice as your writing. Keep your brand voice consistent, but it’s also important to give your writing a personal appeal.

    2. Helpful.

    articleimage448helpful

    Entertaining content can do a great job of entertaining, but helpful content is what really sells. When your readers come to your site and find your content, they likely have some kind of problem (whether they realize it at the time or not). If you can find a way to solve that problem with your writing, you’ll instantly win their favor, and they will be more likely to convert. In order to make your content helpful, ask your audience what types of topics they’d like to see, or at least what types of problems they are facing. Then, when you know what to write about, give as many details as possible to make sure your readers have all the information they need. Otherwise, they may seek other sources of information.

    3. Specific.

    It’s tempting to write about a broad topic, or to write to a massive audience, but if conversions are your main goal, it’s better to go specific. It’s like buying one nice car instead of three deteriorating cars. You’re only going to be driving one at a time, so you might as well make that one the best possible experience. Make your content as specific as possible by creating individual posts with a niche focus and a concentrated target demographic. General, fluff-ridden content tends to be seen as white noise, and will be far less likely to encourage readers to return or, more importantly, convert. It’s even better if your specific topics are rarely written about—it means less competition.

    4. Visually Engaging.

    Visual content attracts more visitors than stagnant written content, and in the body of your posts, visual content can keep readers longer. Part of the formula for conversions is keeping your users from “bouncing,” or leaving your posts, and visual content is a form of protection against that possibility. Use visually stunning unique photos to catch your readers’ immediate attentions, and use informative visual pieces like infographics or simple charts to keep their attention as they read the rest of your post. You can also play around with the font and formatting settings of your blog to make sure your written content appears as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Do whatever it takes to keep your readers’ eyes on the page.

    5. Authoritative.

    Nobody wants to buy from somebody who doesn’t know what he/she is talking about. In order to win more conversions, you need to write with a higher level of authority. Being specific is a part of this authority building, as well as using facts and logic whenever possible. Take a firm stance on whatever subject you’re covering, but also be sure to explain and acknowledge all sides of the argument. Do extensive research before every post to make sure all your facts are in order and to stand apart as a new authority on the scene. The more authority you are perceived to have, the more likely it is that your readers will trust you and want to buy from you.

    6. Simple.

    Simple content is effective content. Simple doesn’t mean short, nor does it mean introductory. You can have a long, detailed post on a complex idea and still have it be “simple” at its core. Simple means it doesn’t have anything extraneous that it doesn’t need. The article is focused on a core concept, and covers it concisely yet fully. Simple means that someone completely unfamiliar with the subject matter should be able to read the article and get up to speed. In order to write content that converts, you need to make your material approachable and reduce it to its most effective form.

    7. Shareable.

    articleimage448shareable

    Shareable content also wins more conversions, although not necessarily from the person who first reads it. By writing shareable content, you’ll open yourself up to a higher number of conversions from the fans, followers, and friends of the people sharing your piece. Sharing content automatically gives that content more potential readers, but it also imbues it with a greater authority; because the friends of the sharer trust that sharer, they are more likely to read the content with inherent trust, and are therefore more likely to convert. Make your content shareable by making it surprising, unique, and entertaining in addition to its informative foundation.

    8. Actionable.

    Finally, if your content is to have any hope of converting readers, it needs to be actionable. Most readers will not read a piece and immediately think “I should buy from this person” or “I should give this person my information.” Instead, it is your responsibility to direct that person to another destination. You don’t necessarily want to make a sales pitch, since that defeats the purpose of inbound marketing, but you do want your readers to spend more time on your site. Use links within the body of your content to persuade your users to venture deeper within your site, and help your readers by directing them with phrases like “for more information…” or “if you want to learn more…”

    Writing content with these eight qualities is no guarantee of increasing your conversion rate, but over time, as you perfect your strategy, you should start to see more conversions. Experiment with different content subjects and posting frequencies to see which are the most effective for your client base, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your readers for regular feedback. It won’t take long for you to find a perfect rhythm for your business.

  8. 10 Daily Habits to Improve Your Content Marketing

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    Content marketing is becoming an increasingly competitive field, and marketers everywhere are scrambling to find ways to improve their strategy. In order to be successful, you need to be unique, consistent, and valuable—but you also need to keep raising the bar to increase reader loyalty and keep a positive traffic flow to your blog and social media profiles.

    It’s hard to drive a radical traffic increase without making a radical change to your strategy, but small changes can add up to form an equally substantial impact. Incorporate these 10 habits into your daily routine, and you’ll be amazed at how much the quality of your content will increase:

    1. Read national news.

    Reading the national news on a daily basis is a good idea even if you aren’t into content marketing. But in the content marketing world it will increase your vocabulary, give you broad insights into world developments, and plug you into the topics that people are interested in. Was there a major security breach? Write about how your company protects your users. Is there a new, exciting technology? Write about how your company will use it. Take advantage of the news to generate meaningful, relevant content ideas.

    2. Read your industry’s news.

    If you want to illustrate yourself as a thought leader in the industry, you have to know what’s going on in the industry. Subscribe to news feeds relevant to your industry and make it a point to read new articles on a daily basis. You’ll increase your expertise relevant to the industry and be able to incorporate that knowledge seamlessly into your future posts. Don’t just browse through the headlines; dig deep and read people’s reactions to the news to get the full scope of each announcement.

    3. See what your competitors are posting.

    Keep a running list of your closest competitors, and check up on them on a daily basis to see what they’re coming up with. Some of your competitors won’t post every day, but when they do post, you’ll know about it, and you’ll be able to respond accordingly. That might mean doing a better job of covering a topic they’ve chosen, or it might mean developing a strategy that disrupts theirs with a different angle. Be sure to see how their customers react to that content as well. It can provide clues to how your customers might react to similar content.

    4. Sketch ideas for posts.

    articleimage449sketchyourideas

    Come up with at least two new post ideas every day, even if you don’t ever use them. If you commit to generating new potential article subjects regularly, it will be easier for you to churn out tons of content, and it will give you a better chance at finding great titles. If you have 14 new potential titles every week, you can edit that number down and only work with the most successful candidates. It’s like having a huge chunk of marble to use when you’re creating a sculpture.

    5. Update your editorial calendar.

    Go back to your editorial calendar every day, even if it’s not a high priority. Find something to change in it, whether that means adding a few potential new titles, moving publication dates around, or changing the direction of your strategy. Even small updates will do. Accessing your editorial calendar on a daily basis will help to keep your broader content strategy top-of-mind, and give you a reason to expand that strategy. If you update it slightly every day, you’ll avoid the buildup of making a major update every few weeks.

    6. Shut down.

    articleimage449shutdown

    Set aside time every day to shut down your work station—that means disconnecting from the Internet, shutting down your email, closing your machine, and turning off your phone. Focus on one critical content marketing task that’s facing you, whether that’s outlining a new article or expanding your editorial calendar, and do it on paper, without any distractions. Your focus will skyrocket, and you’ll have a far easier time completing the task without anything else getting in your way. It will also help your mind relax and retain more information.

    7. Talk.

    articleimage449talking

    If you’re stuck in a corner writing content on your own, you’re going to get stuck in a rut. On a daily basis, go out of your way to talk to other people in your company and other people in your industry. It doesn’t take much; just have an open conversation and see what’s on their mind. It’s a great way to get new insights and discover what the people around you are currently dealing with. Thinking outside the box and stepping outside of your comfort zone will make it easier for you to come up with diverse ideas for topics and content types.

    8. Deepen your relationship with your customers.

    Take some time every day to get to know your customers just a little better. One way to do this is to imagine your target customer profile and visualize how you would talk to them about a trending topic. Of course, you could also have a real conversation with a real customer. Create segmented lists on your social media platforms and glance through what they’re talking about, or start a conversation thread and invite your followers to respond. When your target customer is always top of mind, you’ll be able to write more targeted content.

    9. Write.

    This may seem like an obvious choice to any content marketer, but in order to get better at writing, you have to write every day. Set aside at least 20 minutes and use that time to write something, even if you feel underprepared or overwhelmed with other tasks. By writing every day, you’ll not only get a little better at it every day, you’ll also trigger the “Seinfeld productivity trick.” Whatever it is you want to do, keep doing it every day, and don’t break the chain. For as long as that chain remains unbroken, you’ll increase your commitment to your ultimate vision.

    10. Delete.

    It may surprise you, but deleting is just as important as creating in the world of content marketing. For every 10 topic ideas you come up with, you’ll be deleting at least eight. For every 10 pages of content you write, you’ll be deleting at least five (even if it’s just to be rewritten). In order to stand out in the world of content marketing, you have to whittle your ideas down to the best of the best, so take time every day to weed out a few sentences or a few posts that you don’t really need. It will raise your standards and get you used to the idea of letting go of less-than-stellar ideas.

    Improving your content marketing strategy takes commitment and consistency, and these 10 habits will gradually guide you to a better destination. As you start practicing these habits, you may find that some of them work better than others; every content marketer is unique and every business has unique demands, so adjust your daily strategies accordingly. Eventually, you’ll refine your practices to a repeatable, beneficial routine that bolsters the quality and value of your content while fitting in nicely with the rest of your daily responsibilities.

  9. The 10 Top Mistakes of Facebook Marketers

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    When most people think of social media marketing, they immediately think of Facebook. There’s a good reason for it, since Facebook is the largest social network in the world with almost 1.3 billion users, but there’s an inherent problem with Facebook marketers, especially those new to the social media marketing scene: they think of Facebook as a magic customer pool instead of what it is, a content marketing platform.

    Social media marketing started circulating as a gimmick, drawing in thousands of new entrepreneurs because of its novelty and its popularity as a buzzword. But it has matured as a marketing platform, and the research-focused marketer can harness its power to increase web traffic and brand awareness successfully.

    As you begin or continue your Facebook marketing efforts, be sure to avoid these 10 all-too-common mistakes:

    1. Failing to start with a strategy.

    articleimage453Failing to start with a strategy

    You wouldn’t rush into a traditional marketing campaign without thinking through your strategy, would you? Many small business owners have tried—and failed—to use Facebook on a whim, after hearing the promise of increased web traffic and more customer engagements. But before you start posting on Facebook, it’s a good idea to outline your goals. Do some research about your key demographics, look up some case studies of successful Facebook marketers, and develop a game plan that includes both short-term and long-term goals. Follow up by adjusting that strategy gradually as you learn more details about your audience.

    2. Leaving out critical information.

    Facebook business pages have many available fields for you to input your information. Only a handful of them are required in order to take your page live, but you should fill out as many of them as possible. Have an appropriately branded profile image and cover photo, and be as detailed as possible in your summaries and information fields. Many people use Facebook pages to find hours and directions for local businesses, so don’t leave any of that valuable information out. On a related note, it’s a good idea to create your own custom URL so your Facebook URL isn’t just a series of random numbers.

    3. Breaking the rules.

    articleimage453breakingtherules

    Having a Facebook page doesn’t mean you can post whatever you want to your users. You have to play by their rules. Under Facebook’s terms of use, you are not allowed to use a cover photo that contains any pricing information, any calls to action (such as asking users to like your page), or any contact information. If you plan on running contests, there are several strict guidelines you should be aware of; you cannot notify winners through Facebook itself, you cannot ask users to participate using comments, and you must make it clear that your promotion is not affiliated with Facebook directly.

    4. Only measuring success in terms of “likes.”

    articleimage453Only measuring success in terms of likes

    The “like” function lends itself to being overblown. It’s easy to see a post with 200,000 likes and 10,000 shares and think about the possibilities for your own brand if you were to get that kind of attention. But likes are cheap. Your page could have a million likes, but only a handful of true fans, or your page could have only a dozen likes, but all of them coming from hardcore fans. What’s important isn’t the number of likes you get, it’s the number of truly engaged fans you earn.

    5. Using an inconsistent voice.

    Fans of your Facebook page expect some consistency. If you have multiple people running your Facebook campaign, you’re bound to have some tonal dissonance between them because everybody writes in a different voice. However, if you set strict standards for your brand’s voice and make sure all of your posts are consistent, you can avoid this. Posting in a consistent voice helps build your brand and earn your customers’ loyalty. Otherwise, you could alienate your user base with unpredictable—and unprofessional—posts.

    6. Failing to take advantage of Insights.

    Facebook Insights is a data platform that exists solely to provide extensive data to you, the Facebook marketer. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and it’s quite useful, so if you aren’t already taking advantage of it, you’re making a mistake. Facebook Insights is like Google Analytics for your Facebook page. You’ll be able to track and measure the popularity of your page in terms of likes, new fans, comments, shares, and even impressions and interest in your page. With this information, you can experiment and learn more about your target audience. Eventually, you can refine your strategy and increase your ROI, but without that critical information, you’ll be running blind.

    7. Posting constantly.

    Amateur Facebook marketers hear that it’s important to post regularly, and take that advice to the extreme by posting on an almost constant basis. It’s true that posting new content on a regular basis is a good thing, but most Facebook users get annoyed when their news feeds are bombarded with companies’ messages. As a general rule, posting once or twice a day is a safe frequency. If you post any more than that, you better have a good reason for it or your followers will abandon you.

    8. Posting only one type of content.

    While your Facebook page should be consistent, it shouldn’t be entirely predictable. People want to see a variety of content in their news feeds, and you have the ability to give it to them. Post simple observations, links to articles on your website, links to promotions, images, and videos. Use every type of content you can to capture different segments of your target audience and keep your current followers as engaged as possible.

    9. Being too aggressive.

    One of the biggest reasons why marketers use Facebook is the promise of acquiring new customers. In a desperate attempt to get those new users’ attentions, some Facebook marketers go over the top. Reaching out to unfamiliar people, trying too hard to get someone’s attention, tagging people who didn’t ask to be, and following up with extensive comments are all practices that can irritate potential users and turn them off of your brand. Instead of reaching out to people on Facebook, focus on making your page as appealing as possible to bring them to you—it’s inbound marketing, after all.

    10. Ruling out the idea of Facebook ads.

    Some marketers think of Facebook as free advertising (which in some ways, it is), and instantly reject the idea of paying for ad space because of it. This isn’t necessarily a good idea. Facebook ads, when constructed effectively, can do wonders for increasing web traffic and improving your users’ relationships with your brand. They aren’t for everybody, however, and it pays to do your research up front to know exactly what you’re getting into and exactly what your goals are. Nevertheless, Facebook ads are at least worth considering for the majority of businesses with Facebook pages.

    The most important consideration for Facebook marketing is treating it the same way you would any serious marketing campaign. You have to understand the platform, understand your audience, and use facts and research to support your efforts. Only with a long-term commitment to objective results can you achieve a return on your investment and utilize the platform to its full potential.

  10. 10 Takeaways from Mozcon 2014 Thought Leaders

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    MozCon remains one of the biggest, most important conferences in the world for the topics of SEO, social media, content marketing, branding, and community building. Started by Moz founder Rand Fishkin, the annual conference attracts thousands of participants and dozens of innovators and geniuses who present their latest findings in the field. For three solid days of presentations and discussions, thought leaders help spread their dynamic ideas and learn from their fellow experts.

    MozCon 2014 did not disappoint. Check out some of the highlights from these ten innovative conference presenters:

    1. SEO Doesn’t Matter: User Experience Does.

    articleimage427SEO Doesn’t Matter

    It takes a special kind of bravery to denounce the importance of SEO at a conference hosted by a leading SEO authority. Entrepreneur and thought leader Wil Reynolds wasn’t afraid to put his opinion in straightforward terms: “You know what matters more than links? Customers.” Reynolds went on to discuss the importance of understanding what’s important to your business and why, rather than trying to hit some arbitrary metric like a certain number of blog posts or a certain number of links. When all is said and done, what keeps customers coming back is a great overall user experience.

    2. 6-3-5 Brainwriting Will Make Sure You Never Run Out of Ideas.

    articleimage4276-3-5 brainwriting

    Do you ever wish you had a fast, easy way to come up with 100 new ideas for your business or blog? Stacey MacNaught showed us how to accomplish this in half an hour with a technique she called “6-3-5 Brainwriting.” Six people sit down for six rounds of brainstorming, each lasting for five minutes (the 6 and 5 in the equation). At the start of each round, one person writes down three new ideas (the 3 in the equation). These ideas are passed around the table, with each person coming up with three new ideas inspired by the previous three, so by the end of the round you’ll have 18 new ideas. After six rounds of five minutes each, you’ll have spent 30 minutes coming up with 108 new ideas.

    3. Broken Brand Promises Are the Source of  Dissatisfaction.

    Author and educator Kerry Bodine, with her presentation entitled “Broken Brand Promises,” illustrated the importance of quality customer service with a number of statistics—81 percent of all consumers happily pay more for a better experience, and 64 percent of consumers have switched to a competitor after receiving a poor customer experience. Bodine suggests that “broken brand promises” are the root of dissatisfaction. In order to give your customers the best possible experience, you have to deliver exactly what you are expected to deliver.

    4. Save the Best for First.

    articleimage427Save the Best for First

    The phrase “save the best for last” is antiquated, or at least irrelevant to the world of content marketing, according to Dr. Pete Meyers. If you have a great idea, you might be tempted to wait to develop it, in the hopes that you’ll be able to give it the time and attention it truly deserves at some future date or over the course of several weeks and months. However, Meyers argued the longer you wait to write about your “great idea,” the less passionate you’re going to be about it, resulting in an inferior finished product. Instead, work on your greatest ideas first.

    5. Great Communities Need a Sense of Community.

    It sounds painfully obvious, but too many inbound marketers have tried to build a social following that has no interconnected elements that draw people together. As Richard Millington explained, communities can only thrive if people are actively contributing to that community, and people only want to contribute if they feel they can actually influence the group. In order to create a community where people feel that influence, you have to carefully analyze the environment and build a structure that empowers people to influence each other.

    6. Experiment Like a Scientist.

    For search marketers, trying to rank in search engines is like a constant experiment. You never have all the information (because Google keeps its algorithms under lock-and-key), but over time you can develop an idea of how things work. Moz founder Rand Fishkin gave the closing presentation at this year’s conference, describing the importance of “Mad Science Experiments in SEO and Social Media.” According to Fishkin, the best way to learn more about your search marketing environment is to conduct your experiments thoroughly, like a scientist, with all the rigor of the scientific method. That means establishing control groups, repeating your experiments multiple times, and looking at a variety of factors—not just ranks—to form a conclusion.

    7. Tell a Story Instead of Relying on Charts.

    As a search marketer, you’re probably used to thinking of your progress in terms of numbers, charts, and graphs. After all, Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools are incredible resources you can use to retrieve almost any kind of data you need to measure your success objectively. But speaker Marshall Simmonds argued that information can only get you so far; you need to take that information and turn it into a story in order to truly understand how much progress you’ve made, and why you are where you are. Through storytelling, you can have better, higher-level conversations and come up with more abstract ideas on how to improve your performance.

    8. Establish a Period to Loom Over Failure.

    Former Olympic Skier and current entrepreneur Jeremy Bloom spoke about the importance of recovering from failure as a part of any marketer’s career. Failure is a recurring certainty no matter how prepared you are, but Bloom suggested a strategy with how to cope with (and learn from) failure. After a failure, no matter how big or how small, Bloom argued that you should dedicate a specific amount of time to spend considering the outcome, dissecting the factors responsible for it, and planning to prevent such an outcome in the future. After that period of time has passed, whether it’s one hour or three weeks, you have to cut mental ties with the failure and move on.

    9. Find a Methodology for Idea Generation.

    One of the most difficult tasks for any content marketer or entrepreneur is coming up with new ideas. For many professionals, idea creation is an unpredictable, chaotic process, dependent on a random stroke of genius to propel an idea forward. Richard Baxter, CEO and content marketer, argued that the best tactics for idea generation are built around a solid, predictable process. Citing fundamental principles from the landmark work A Technique for Producing Ideas, Baxter explains that methodology is the key to coming up with consistently great new ideas.

    10. Experts Are Key for Stronger Content and Stronger Relationships.

    According to Lexi Mills, contracting independent journalists who are known as experts in their respective fields is one of the best ways to cultivate a dynamic long-term content strategy. These journalists already have the credibility and authority to write engaging, detailed material, and they can easily draw an audience when working on behalf of your company. Over time, you’ll develop a strong network of niche journalists, and you’ll have a veritable army of content creators you can call on when you need expertly written content.

    The scope of content marketing and SEO is always changing, so it pays to stay ahead of the curve. Take these insights to heart as you continue to refine and perfect your inbound marketing strategies.

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