Now you have your business blog humming along. It's helping you help your customers and prospects. You are using your blog to both attract new customers to your website (SEO) as well has using it to help with "assignment selling". Now what should you do?
Time for Social Media
Shockingly, I still get asked by clients, "Don, do we REALLY have to use social media for our business?". With rare exception, the answer is YES!
Whether we like it or not, and whether we are active using it, social media is a powerful communication arena that is here to stay. The statistics about social media use are absolutely staggering. For example, as of the writing of this post:
- Facebook has 1.16 BILLION accounts with 699 million accounts active daily.
- There are 6 BILLION hours of YouTube videos watched each month.
- There are over 1 million LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn has a new member join every 2 seconds.
- 44% of American's report hearing news via Twitter on a daily basis
These stats are just the tip of the iceberg.
Why These Stats Are Important
Sure these numbers are impressive, but what do they really tell us? Simply put, these numbers clearly illustrate social media channels are so mainstream we can't ignore them. People use Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. as a part of their daily lives. According to Edison Research, 60% of Americans check their Facebook status immediately when they wake up (before getting out of bed, using the bathroom or eating). If that isn't mainstream, I'm not sure what is ;-)
The Business Value of Social Media
Social media allows your customers and potential customers to communicate directly with you and your employees online. It also allows valuable and interesting content to be shared quickly. While it often seems like new social media tools launch every day, most businesses really only need to focus on the major players: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, and
LinkedIn. We will dig into each of these tools with tips for beginners. But before you start using the tools to communicate, you should use them to research and learn about your audiences and what the want and needed. Thi sis ofen called Social Media Monitoring.
Getting Started: Monitoring Social Media 101
Listening Is Key to Social Media ROI. If you use social media for only one reason, this should be the reason. Around the clock, conversations are happening online. Many of these conversations are related to your industry. People are sharing their pain points, their wants, their needs and more. These are 24/7 focus groups where you can learn a tremendous amount about how you can help your customers.
So start your social media activities by simply listening to conversations about your industry, products and services as well as your business. This is often overlooked but it's incredibly valuable.
Here are some great FREE tools you can use to easily monitor your business and industry mentions in social media:
- Google Alerts: Set up multiple Google Alerts for your company, brand, products, leaders, industry terms, etc. The alerts will get delivered directly to your email inbox at the frequency you indicate (e.g. daily or as they happen) and is a great way to help you track mentions of your brand and relevant keywords on the web on news sites, in blogs, etc.
- Twitter: Monitor mentions of your brand on Twitter with tools like Twitter Search or HootSuite. CoTweet is also a great tool to help manage multiple users on a corporate Twitter account and allows you to assign particular tweets to the appropriate team member for follow-up.
- Feedly: Set up RSS feeds in Google Reader of
searches of your brand or industry keywords in other popular social
media sites such as Flickr, Digg, Delicious, etc. Scan the results in your
reader daily for mention.
- Facebook Insights: Stay on top of and participate in discussions occurring on your company’s Facebook Fan Page. Use your Fan Page’s Facebook Insights Dashboard (found in the left sidebar when you’re on your page as an admin) to show you stats such as fan growth and page views to gauge your page’s interaction and engagement.
Creating content online has never been easier. Blogging platforms such Wordpress and HubSpot have made it possible for anyone with an idea and a little bit of computer knowledge can become a content publisher. Now that you have a clear understanding of your business’ keywords and optimized your website for search engines, your next step should be to attract more visitors. Blogging and creating other content such as whitepapers, ebooks and webinars are powerful ways to help more of the right people discover your business online.
Why to Think About Business Blogging
Simply put, the goal of your business blog should be to publish articles that are not promotional but instead share industry expertise, much in the way a column or an article in an industry magazine would. This helps position you as an authority who is concerned not just with selling but also with educating customers and potential customers. This also helps immensely with SEO.
The key to successful blogging is to think like your customers. What questions do they have about your product/service/industry? Simply answer them in plain English using keywords they would be searching. Remember you aren't writing an essay for school, you are answering a clients' question. So write like you speak. This can be a bit intimidating for those of use who don't consider ourselves "writers". But this can be done with a little effort and practice.
Setting Up Your Blog: The Choices
While it is important that your blogging software be easy to use, it is more important that the content you create be interesting. If you are looking for a blogging platform for your business, some options include HubSpot, WordPress, TypePad, Drupal, Tumblr and Posterous.
Each of these platforms offer a content management system (CMS) which allows you to easily add content to your blog, without needing to know any HTML code. This enables you to quickly update your site with industry news or other timely information, without having to wait for a webmaster to post your changes.
Key Components of a Great Blog Post
A well-constructed blog post should include several key components:
- An Attention-Grabbing Article Title: Your blog article’s title is the first thing people will see. Make sure the title clearly explains what the article is about, is concise, is keyword-rich (because the header tag is the most important for SEO), and is attention grabbing.
- Well Written & Formatted Text: The body of your article should be well written and formatted in a way that makes it easy to read. Consider using header tags and bulleted lists to break up the content into sections. But don't worry about being perfect. Focusing too much on perfect writing will halt your blog progress.
- Images/Videos: Relevant multimedia content can make a blog article more memorable and easier to read. The more engaging a post, the more likely it is to be read and shared.
- Links: Include in-text links to relevant content. These can also point to landing pages (which we’ll discuss more in Step Five) to help you generate more leads for your content.
- Call-to-Action (CTA): Consider adding a relevant call-to-action at the bottom of the article to help boost lead generation (we will discuss this is more depth in a future post).
Deciding What to Blog About - It's Simple
As Simon Sinek says, Start with Why. Why are you blogging? Are you trying to drive more traffic to your website? Are you trying to build awareness about your business? Are you trying to sell more product? This list can go on and on.
As a FIRST step, we recommend your answer to the "why blog" question includes "to start positioning our business as a great teacher in our industry". Decide what are you trying to teach potential customers about. There are a ton of great examples for niche industries that prove this works.
Perhaps you are trying to teach website visitors the in's and out's of various insurances like the Murray Group does. Or how to purchase refurbished MRI equipment like Block Imaging does. Or you want to teach readers their options for waterproofing their basements like U.S. Waterproofing does. Regardless of the topic, customers appreicate great content that's non-salesy. And so does Google. These three businesses are proof that great teachers who have a passion for sharing quality information succeed.
In today's marketplace, lack of information is not an issue. Lack of trust is. So remember you want to build authentic trust with people who find your business online. In my opinion, teaching via a blog (text, audio and/or video) is the BEST way to do this. Sometimes, our clients will balk at this. To them, it may seem counter-intuitive. Aren't we trying to sell products and services they ask? Yes, you certainly are. However, during the buying process, customers will use the web and check multiple sources to learn about the products and services they want to purchase. Are these consumers more likely to trust content that tries to sell them one type of product or service? Or are they more likely to trust content that teaches them what they need to know to make an intelligent purchasing decision?
We all know the answer to that ... businesses that teach win.
Getting Started with Questions
A great way to start is to think about the 20 most common questions you get asked by prospective new customers and/or current customers. Take each questions and write a short article explaining an answer (or you could shot a video or record audio if you prefer).
Post your answers twice a week for 10 weeks and you have the foundation for a successful blog.
To keep your blog fueled, simply list out every question you and your staff get asked by customers and potential clients. Then answer them on your blog.
Remember, two key points here:
- People use the web as a first source of information. They don't call or stop into offices, they do searches online to gather information
- People search the web 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365.25 days a year. Your sales staff can't be available around the clock (in most cases), but your digital sales staff (your blog) can be.
Remember to let your expertise and passion shine through your blog content and keep some of these business blog best practices in the back of your mind. And note your blog posts can be used more than once. Our clients often put together posts in an eBook, whitepaper or webinar.
Remember Why You Blog From A Strategy Standpoint
In the long run, our goal is to increase website traffic which increases the number of quality leads which in turn results in more sales.
In an upcoming post, you will learn how to create landing pages and calls-to-action (CTAs) to help convert website traffic into sales leads.
So, are you with me? Are you ready to give business blogging a try?
Step 1 is complete. You’ve chosen your keywords so you can increase your website's chances of ranking for those keywords. Search engine optimization (SEO) is about doing just that. With this being said, however, we need to keep in mind we are optimizing for two audiences. Audience #1 is made up of humans. Audience #2 is made up of search engines.
There are many answers to this. For the purposes of this post, we are defining optimizing as getting found via online searches using "white hat" or ethical tactics.
In order to get found, you should aim rank high in search engine results for your keywords and key phrases. Google suggests that you design your website for visitors, and not for search engines. While you should keep this principle in mind, it is worthwhile to learn a bit more about SEO in order to better optimize your site.
What You Should Know About SEO
SEO can be divided into two separate categories: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
On-page SEO refers to how well your website's content is presented to search engines. This can often be improved immediately.
Off-page SEO refers to your site’s overall “authority” on the web, which is determined by what other websites say about your site. This can take time to improve. But don't be discouraged. With consistent attention to off-page SEO, the results can be great.
Even though on-page SEO accounts for only about 25% of how search engines score and rank your website, it’s worth tackling first since it can be improved quickly.
Nine Elements of Successful On-Page SEO
1. Page Title
Page titles are one of the most important on-page SEO factors. Page titles are the text you see at the top of your browser window when viewing a web page.
They are also the title of a page that is presented in search engines. Page titles can be found and edited in your site's HTML. The text that is surrounded with the <title> tag is your page's title.
The following are a few guidelines for coming up with effective page titles:
- Include Keywords
- Use fewer than 70 characters long. Longer page titles will not be see in your web browser or in Google search results. If you make the page title too long, it will also dilute the importance of the keywords mentioned.
- Put keywords as close to the beginning of the title as possible.
- Make it readable for site visitors.
- Include your company name at the end of the page title, unless you are big brand and people search for you through your brand name.
- Use different page titles for each page. Each page is an opportunity to target different keywords.
2. Meta Description
The Sales Lion, Marcus Sheridan, wrote a brilliant post on meta descriptions. It's a must read. But meta data is simply the text that appears beneath a page title in Google search results (see below).
This meta description is an often overlooked opportunity to attract visitors from search.
It is important to note meta descriptions don't directly affect search engine rankings and they won't be visible on your website. So why should you use them? The meta content can attract a potential customer’s attention and indicate if a search result is particularly relevant to them. So, we recommend including keywords in your meta description to draw in visitors. Also, keep them short (150 characters or less).
If you don't include a meta description, search engines such as Google will typcially display part of the content from the page in the search results.
Headings are typically the larger/more prominent text on a web page. You can verify something is a heading by checking the HTML code of your website, and seeing if that text has an <h1>, <h2>, or <h3> tag surrounding it. Ask a developer to help you check this.
Headings are more likely to be read by search engines as keywords than text in the rest of the page. For this reason, it is good to include keywords in your headings whenever possible. <h1> tags are given more value by search engines over <h2> tags. <h2> tags have more weight than <h3> tags. While <h4> and <h5> tags do exist, their influence on keywords is virtually the same as that of regular text.
Including too many headings reduces the value of keywords in other headings, so we recommend using the <h1> tag only once per page. If the page is text-heavy like a blog post, then feel free to use in a few <h2> or <h3> tags your as paragraph titles.
4. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
HTML is the back-end code of your website that search engines read. Search engines extract relevant information from your HTML, such as keywords.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), on the other hand, holds a template for the layout of your page. In the CSS, you define how headings, links, and other visual elements of the text should look.
The takeaway here is simple: use CSS. Putting layout-related information in your HTML can dilute the relevance of the HTML text, which is what you want search engines to read. So make sure your site uses CSS and HTML, not just HTML.
Images on a web page are very valuable and often improve a website visitors' experience. When using images into your website, you should keep in mind the following:
- Don’t use images excessively. More pictures means your page will take longer to load. This has a negative impact both on user experience and search engine optimization.
- Associate text with pictures. Search engines do not ‘read’ images; they read only text. ALT text is an HTML attribute you can add to your picture so search engines replace the image with some associated text.
- Include keywords in your image file name. This will help you draw in relevant traffic from image searches. Separate different keywords in the file name with a dash (-).
6. Domain Info
Search engine rankings favor sites that are registered for a longer period of time. Longer domain registrations indicate a commitment to the site and mean the site has a lower chance of being considered to be spam. Extend your website registration for $10-20 a year for an SEO boost.
7. MOZ Rank
MOZ Rank is a general measure of how much online authority your site has. A higher MOZ rank is better. Note that MOZ Rank factors in both on-page and offpage SEO. Improving your on-page SEO may help improve your rank, but there is much more you can do to improve it. Don't worry, we will get to all this.
8. Google Crawl Date
When Google crawls your site, it updates the information related to it, such as your keywords and other SEO factors. Therefore, you want Google to crawl yoursite as often as possible. The best thing you can do to make Google crawl your site more frequently is to regularly produce fresh content and publish it on your website. We’ll cover this in more detail in Step Three.
9. URL Structure
The URL of a web page is its web address. For example, our website has a URL of http://3rhinomedia.com. The URL structure of a website is about how the different URLs connect with each other.
Unfortunately, improving your URL structure is one of the more difficult aspects of on-page website optimization. The methods of fixing these issues depend entirely on how your website is programmed -- such as your content management system or programming framework. Nevertheless, if you have a competent developer by your side, having him or her tackle these issues can significantly improve your SEO. Your best approach might be to hand your developer the following list.
Principles of Good URL Structure:
- Apply a 301 redirect where required. A 301 redirect forwards an old URL to a new one after it changes. Make sure you do this if you change the URL of a page on your site. A common mistake is not applying a 301 redirect between yoursite.com and www.yoursite.com. This can be quite a problem from an SEO standpoint, because search engines will give separate credit to both versions of your site.
- Avoid pages with deeply nested URLs. Here is an example of what a deeply nested URL would look like:http://yoursite.com/about/management/contact/phone. Deeply nested pages will get less SEO credit. You can fix this problem by improving your overall site design.
- Include keywords in your URLs. If you've already purchased your main URL, then don't worry about buying a new one just for this sake. But you can clean the URLs of your interior pages to include keywords and not look like gibberish.
- For your internal page URLs, separate individual keywords with dashes (-). For example: http://3rhinomedia.com/Inbound-marketing-center/ is a good URL that captures "inbound" and "marketing" and "center" as keywords. Create static URLs, not dynamic ones. This means that the URL for one of your pages should be the same, no matter what. Check if you see different URLs for the same page in your website. If there are, you can look into how to create static URLs with your web server software. Do a Google search on "create static URL" + (name of your server software).
Avoid "Keyword Stuffing"
After reading this, you might think, “Keywords are really important. If having keywords all over my page helps me rank for them, I should just fill my page with these keywords."
Unfortunately, it's not that easy. Overuse of keywords leads to a bad experience for site visitors and search engines are smart enough to detect these behaviors. Trying to 'trick' search engines is not a good SEO strategy, and sacrificing readability for SEO will utimately hurt your digitial strategy.
Improving Off-Page SEO With Inbound Links
If on-page SEO accounts for 25% of your overall search engine ranking, what makes up the remaining 75%? Offpage SEO is based on the authority of your website, or what other websites ‘say’ about yours. Simply put, websites with better or higher authority will rank better than websites with lower authority.
What Influences Website Authority?
Inbound links are a major factor. If another website links to your website or a page on your website (like a blog article), that is called an inbound link. The more inbound links your site has, the better the authority. Also, the more inbound links from websites with high authority themselves, the better (e.g. an inbound link from The New York Times website is much more valuable than an inbound link from a low-trafficked blog with a small readership).
What’s the best way to attract more inbound links (or ‘link love,’ as we like to call it)?
Through content creation! Creating valuable, remarkable content that other websites will naturally want to link to in their own content is a great way to increase your website’s inbound links. In addition, you can improve your chances of attracting inbound links by sharing your content in social media and optimizing it for search results so it can easily be found. We’ll discuss content creation more in Step Three of this ebook and social media promotion in Step Four.
Start at the Beginning
Our first goal is to get found online. The mantra I want you to repeat to yourself is "I first need Traffic, which generates Leads, and will result in Sales". Say it 10 times now. Memorize this to keep you on target and realistic with your goals.
This is obivious, but we must say it to be clear. If you don't get traffic coming to your website, your website cannot help you get quality leads that can eventually become sales. So, while we all want our sites to help us increase sales, we must start at the beginning ... getting more traffic to our websites to help qualify prospects as leads worthy of pursuing for sales.
So how do we start getting traffic and increasing traffic to your website? Start with targeting every piece of content your produce for your website. Every item you produce needs to have a business purpose. To help you know what to write about (or what to target), think KeyWords and KeyPhrases.
What is a KeyWord and a KeyPhrase?
It's really pretty simple. A keyword is nothing more than a word or phrase that a potential customer is likely to enter into a search engine such as Google, Bing or a social media site like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
What is a Keyword and KeyPhrase Strategy?
More and more consumers are learning about products and services by going online and using search engines. The results they receive via search engines heavily influences which business or businesses a consumer will interact with. It's actually pretty unusual for consumers to go past the first or second page of Google search results, right?
So, how do they find these businesses and get their search results? By typing in relevant keywords and phrases into search engines. If they don't get what they want, they simply type in a different set of keywords or phrases.
Fortunately, you can take advantage of this consumer habit by optimizing your website around the keywords that are relevant to your business and which keywords consumers are using to find you online. This will increase your chances of getting found by people searching with those keywords, which will drive more and better quality traffic to your business' website.
While it's difficult to know exactly which keywords will get the most relevant people to find your business online, there are ways to determine the popularity and competitiveness of certain keywords.
You can also test and analyze how effective different keywords are in drawing visitors to your site. As a business professional, you should make sure the right people are finding your business online.
How to Pick KeyWords and KeyPhrases?
Here's the million dollar question: how do you choose which keywords will maximize your potential to draw in relevant traffic from search engines? Here is one of my favorite tips.
One of the best ways to determine key words is to listen to your customers and prospects. What are words or phrases they commonly use? Don't think like yourself, think about the keywords your customer will be searching.
For example, if you are a home builder in Des Moines, Iowa, you don't really want to show up high in Google searches for the keywords "home builders". That's too broad. You're competing against too many companies around the world who are trying to rank for those words.
Sure some prospects might type that into a search, but the reality is users of tools like Google are more savvy and sophisticated than that. Rather than typing in "home builders", the are more likely to type in phrases they would actually use such as "home builders in central Iowa" or "home builders in Des Moines, Iowa". Also, thinking like your customer, you might want to appear for a keyword phrase such as "How to Pick the Right Home Builder" or "How to avoid building homes that go over budget". Making sense?
Keep in my, keyword research is an ongoing process that should be followed closely. It gives valuable insight in terms of industry trends and product demand. Comprehensive keyword research can help a business grow its organic traffic and save you from spending money on pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns such as Google AdWords.
Getting Started with Choosing KeyWords and KeyPhrases
1. Create a list of 3-5 keywords and keyphraes relevant to your business Think like your ideal customer. What keywords and keyword phrases would they be using? Think of words and short phrases that get to the core of what your product or service is about. List some keyword ideas now ...
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2. Choose keywords based on specificity and relevance. Some very general words such as “marketing” or “business” are very competitive, making it harder to rank well for them in search engine results. If you are a small- or medium-sized business, you want to choose less competitive keywords. The more specific they are to your business and industry, the better. When a keyword is commonly used by people, harder it is to rank well in search results.
There are a number of different tools you can use to determine the competitiveness of a specific keyword as well as suggest and help you brainstorm new keyword ideas. These tools include the Google Keyword Planner Tool or our partner HubSpot's Suggest Keywords feature in their Keyword Grader tool.
Another important factor for picking keywords is their relevance to your business. While some obscure terms might be easy to rank for, they might not be relevant to your business. Find a balance between relevance and specificity. We recommend you choose 5 keywords that match your business well.
Note that these keywords do NOT have to be perfect at first. The most successful businesses online treat keyword research like a continual experiment. Try out different ones and see which are most effective. We will discuss this more in-depth in a future post on "Analyze and Refining" your digitial marketing plan.
3. Design and optimize your website around your keywords. Now that you've chosen your keywords, you should incorporate them into your website. We will talk more about this in the upcoming post on website optimization.
If you are a regular reader of my writing, chances are you understand the importance of internet marketing or what I refer to as digital marketing. So I may be preaching to the choir here.
You understand traditional marketing methods (e.g., print and tradeshows) - while still valuable in some scenarios - are becoming increasingly ineffective and expensive. You know if you don't market on the web intelligently, your ignoring what research says - the primary resource people use to learn, gather information about products and services and ultimately make purchasing decisions.
Being an ostrich and ignoring digital marketing simply doesn't work.
As surprising as it may be in the year 2013, many businesses still don't embrace the incredible power of digitial marketing. Sure they have a website and maybe a Facebook page, but they don't use these digital assests to even a small fraction of their potential.
Many of these businesses seem to have the "if you build it, they will come" mentality. In other words, they feel like all they need to do (or can do) is put together a website and a Facebook page, etc. and hope it results in new business leads and sales.
I'm sure you can guess how often this approach results in quality leads and sales.
If you decide you don't need digital marketing or don't have time for it, I can say with absolute confidence, you are missing out on the powerful business results you can achieve with a great, well executed digital marketing plan.
So where do you get started?
As I mentioned in my last post, successful people and businesses know how to focus their efforts on what matters most.
I've been working on the web in one form or another for almost 20 years. I've personally worked with a wide variety of organizations. I help consulted with non-profits who have had budgets of $0 to multi-billion dollar corporations with 7 to 8 figure marketing budgets. I've consulted with a Noble Prize winner, a UN ambassador and presented to companies like Harley-Davidson. I don't say any of this to impress you. I say it to let you know I've worked in the trenches for a long time. And during that time I've become obsessed with discovering what truly works.
8 Simple Steps to Successfully Marketing Online
Whether you are just getting started with internet marketing/digital marketing/social media marketing or you just want to brush up on the basics, I've put together this series of posts (also available as an eBook) where I share what I feel are the most important things to know about marketing online.
In this series I'll cover the basics of:
- keywords and creating a keyword strategy
- optimizing your website for viewers and for search engines
- creating powerful business content people will search for and read
- strategically and effectively using social media
- converting website traffic into sales leads
- nurturing business leads with email marketing
- becoming mobile-friendly
- analyzing and improving your efforts
If you have anythiing you'd like to ask or anything you'd like me to add to this list, just leave a comment or send me an email. I'm here to help you become super successful marketing online.
A key to success in business -- and in marketing -- is to know what to focus on. Focus, or more appropriately, the lack of it, is probably the BIGGEST challenge my clients face. According to Harvard Business Review, this problem isn't unique. And, I must admit, it's a challenge for me too. With the marketing field changing so quickly and so many new options for marketing via social media, mobile technology, etc. it's hard to know what to concentrate on.
HOW TO DECIDE WHERE YOU SHOULD FOCUS
We all have a finite amount of time available, so what should we do with that time? This is where I use the Pareto Principle or the Law of the Vital Few. Most people know it as the 20-80 rule (though many are now saying it should be the 10-90 rule). I LOVE this principle and live by it.
In a nutshell, the principle says 20% of your efforts will produce 80% of your results. Apply the principle in two other ways:
- 20% of your audience will love you/your product/your service and 80% will be lukewarm or not care at all.
- 20% of your customers will make up 80% of your sales revenue (you’ll be amazed at how often this is true).
FOCUS ON THE VITAL FEW OF YOUR CUSTOMERS
So who should we focus on serving? It’s pretty easy to say the 20%. But the reality is the vast majority of people in business don’t spend time (or enough time) figuring out who their 20% is. They don’t identify and speak to the customers that love them, love their product, love their service.
Why not? It’s pretty simple really. We often set an impossible standard. We want EVERYONE to like us. I understand this … who doesn’t want to be liked by everyone? But it’s not smart or realistic.
While we all want to be liked by everyone, we must realize we need to serve the audiences that make up the foundation of success. We must find and serve our 20%.
When I work with clients, one of our first tasks is to identify the 20%. It amazes me how infrequently people DO NOT take the time to do this. It’s not easy to do it but it’s always worth it. It gives you focus, purpose and magnifies your impact.
So, my questions to you ... do you know your 20%? If so, I'd love you to hear how you determine your 20% and serve them.
*This is a Guest Post by friend of 3Rhino Nation, Travis Balinis
You’ve all heard the (overused) phrase “content is king.” While that broken record might be annoying to hear time and time again, there is much truth to it. And, with the recent demise of Google Reader, some of you might be a bit worried about how to get going on finding content to share with your online audiences. I can help.
For the past few years, I’ve worked as an Inbound Marketing Manager and more recently, I moved to be the Product Marketing Manager. In both of these roles, I was tasked with creating, building, and maintaining a social presence for the brands I was representing. One of the best ways to do this is to share awesome, relevant content. You might not have all the time in the world to spend crafting the perfect blog post to truly reflect how wonderful your brand is, but trust me, you don’t have to do as much as you might think.
Now there are a number of tools out there to help you on your way but I’ve found that there is a necessary balance between the human element and 100% automation. What I mean is that while you can easily sign up for something like Paper.li (which I recommend you do), and create an auto-published daily newspaper of content, you might not actually find that everything included in the paper is to your liking. That, and the open rates of your daily Paper.li via Twitter might have no where the potency of some hand picked, well-timed tweets and LinkedIn updates throughout a day. The two tools I’m going to discuss today are Zite and ContentGems.
Zite, according to it’s site, “evaluates millions of new stories every day, looking at the type of article, its key attributes and how it is shared across the web. Zite uses this information to match stories to your personal interests.” Not only that, but it taps directly into your social graphs so the experience is customized daily.
I love Zite. I log in every morning as I have breakfast and essentially earmark my favorite posts from the past 24 hours. Here’s a screenshot of how Zite chose to layout a page from my Marketing category.
As you tap on an article of interest, Zite has figured out a way to perfect optimize most posts for a clean reading experience.
From here, if you tap the little arrow in the bottom right, a box pops up and give you plenty of options of things to do with this, including Evernote, Twitter, Facebook, Instapaper, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pocket. Now personally, I love using Pocket. I’ll send articles I like to my Pocket so when I get to work, I can easily find what I’m looking for.
I’ll open all my articles for the day once I’m at work and add them to Buffer. What Buffer does is simple, elegant, and efficient. I’ll queue up 3-7 posts that I found interesting that morning and share them with my Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn audiences throughout the day. The one down side to Buffer is that it doesn’t (yet) connect to Google+. Fingers crossed they get that built out soon.
Zite is super flexible, personal, and it learns as you read. You can further personalize your content intake experience by connecting your Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader and Pocket accounts.
ContentGems is something I recently came across and it’s quickly jumped to the top of my list. Also, I could not have spelled out better exactly why someone would want to use a content aggregating tool: “ContentGems helps marketers find, curate, and share engaging content so they can build their company’s thought leadership and increase qualified website traffic.” Brilliant. Built my content marketers for content marketers.
What has me intrigued by ContentGems so much is that they have figured out a good way to reincorporate two of the things that I loved so much about the app Summify (before Twitter bought it and killed a good thing). For starters, the amount of content you get is very concentrated. Unlike Zite or Flipboard, etc, ContentGems focuses on narrowing down your manual efforts to find you the best fit matches for your search parameters.
The second thing that I love about CG is the daily email update. It reminds me that they’re already done the work for me AND I can directly push that content to the two things that I use on a regular basis: Buffer and Pocket.
Where CG falls short is on the automation side. The amount of customization I had to do with keywords, “include this,” “Don’t include this,” etc. was exhausting. Not to mention that with only a free version of it, you’re only allowed two “interests.” I’d love to have more to simply experiment with various keyword combinations. You can of course choose a paid plan at anytime, but hey, I’m doing this without a budget.
Questions? Please let me know by commenting below.
In the past 2 months I've been all over the United State speaking to smart, successful and passionate business owners. I've been teaching them about a topic very few of them know about, digital marketing.
Shocked they don't know about digital marketing? To those of us in marketing, yes. But the reality is many business owners and managers are so focused on the day-to-day operations, they don't have the time or energy to devote to learning the ins and outs of marekting online.
One of the most frequently asked questions I've received? How do I get my site found on Google and improve my SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I spent quite a bit of time answering this question again and again so I wanted to share a post on how you should think about SEO and traffic
LET'S START WITH THE BASICS
At it's very core, Google has a very simple purpose ... help people find answers to questions. Put another way, their mission is to help people solve problems.
Here's how it's supposed to work. Someone has a problem, they type in their question into Google and they get presented with a host of great information. Not just any information, but relevant, useful information.
Pretty straight forward, right?
But businesses often mess up their digital marketing because they focus on SEO tactics and forget people are the ones using tools like Google.
HOW DO HUMANS USE GOOGLE (AND SEARCH THE WEB)?
Too often people focused on SEO tactics, changes to this search algorithmes, etc. What gets lost in the technical discussions are the PEOPLE who are using the web to find solutions to their problems.
THINK ABOUT IT FOR A MINUTE, HOW DO YOU USE GOOGLE?
Let's imagine you have a problem. Suppose, for instance, your coffee machine or car starts making a strange noise. You don't want to call a repair tech or go to a mechanic because it's a weekend or after hours or something else. What do you do?
If you're like most people, you go to a computer, tablet or smart phone and open up your web browser and type in Google.com.
Next, you type in your question (e.g. Why is my car making a weird squealing noise?) and you expect you'll get a high quality, useful answer. Does this always happen? No, but Google has worked so well for so many of us, we have come to expect we can type in questions and get quality answers to them.
QUESTIONS ARE THE ANSWER
This has HUGE implications for small to medium-sized business. Why? When we take the time to provide specific, useful answers to our target audience on our website, we can drive quality traffic to our website and position ourselves as industry experts.
Here is our challenge to you. Write out the problems your business solves and specifically who you solve them for. Notice I didn't say "Tell me what you sell". NO. I said tell me what problems you solve and who you solve them for.
Next, begin writing down your answers. Then think of the questions your customers ask. For example, here are some questions I often get asked:
- How can I get more traffic to my website?
- How can I find the time to work on my website marketing?
- Should I be using Facebook or LinkedIn to grow my business online?
People don't hire us because we can create a digital marketing plan for them or create a YouTube presence or something else. They hire us because we help them solve their marketing problems.
So, why should someone hire you?
Facebook announced a pretty significant update to Page Insights yesterday. Although it’s only available to a small group of page administrators at the time, all page owners are expected to have acess by the end of the summer.
What’s New About Page Insights
Modified Metrics: Breaking Out “People Talking About Us” and Swapping “Virality” for “Engagement Rate”
Before, there were two Page Insights metrics that weren’t exactly clear: “People Talking About Us” and “Virality.” Think about it for a second … what do those metrics actually tell us about our marketing? Not much. Lucky for us, Facebook’s new Insights implement a fix for both of these metrics.
Introduced in 2011, “People Talking About Us” (PTAT) measured how many people were Liking, sharing, commenting, or checking in on your page. Basically, a whole lot of interaction data, aggregated into one metric. According to the Facebook announcement, PTAT will be broken out into five different metrics in the new Insights: “Page Likes, People Engaged (the number of unique people who have clicked on, Liked, commented on, or shared your posts), Page Tags and Mentions, Page Checkins, and other interactions on a Page.”
Facebook also updated its "Virality" metric to take clicks into consideration. Before, it measured how many stories were created from one post -- basically, any time someone Liked, commented on, or shared a story. Now, Facebook takes clicks on your post into account as well. To reflect this updated metric, Facebook has renamed it the “Engagement Rate.” You can see the metric in the new dashboard in the bottom right-hand corner.
Consolidated Post-Specific Data
Besides reframing some metrics, Facebook’s new Page Insights now feature consolidated data for individual posts. Before, data about engagement and reach for one post were scattered all over the Insights dashboard -- and some even hidden in the CSV download. Now, you can view reach, engagement, and negative feedback for individual posts all in one place. Here’s what it looks like:
Launched “People Engaged” Analytics
The revamped Page Insights will also feature a brand spankin' new “People Engaged” tab, featuring not only the demographic breakdown (age, gender, country, city, and language) of people you reached, but also who you've engaged. This update enables page admins to more easily identify which content is resonating with which of its audiences, and thus, make smarter decisions about their Facebook content strategy.
What This Means for Marketers: Wave Goodbye to Fluffy Metrics
Besides just being a shiny new toy, these updates are really exciting because they give us marketers what we crave: real, actionable data. With these new definitions and dashboards, you will have a little bit better insight into metrics that can actually drive your business forward.
No longer will you be trying to justify the time or money you spend on Facebook with impression metrics. Instead, you'll be able to choose to examine engagement -- Likes, shares, and now clicks -- in a deep dive into each post or an aggregate of your overall page. While you may need some help tying your Facebook metrics to your bottom line, these engagement metrics are a huge step in the right direction.
With all these new metrics at your disposal, you’ll have a lot more ammo up your sleeve to justify your marketing when your boss comes a knockin’. So get excited!
What do you think of Facebook’s new Page Insights? How would you use them to improve your marketing? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
Facebook Logo Image Credit: cbhdesign / Screenshots Image Credit: Mashable and Facebook
We're excited to announce friend of 3Rhino Media, Nick Westergaard and Brand Driven Digital is coming to Madison June 6th, 2013 to lead a Social Strategy Bootcamp.
Nick was kind enough to join me for a video interview to explain what we'll be doing at the event.
The cost of the event is $115 (which is a bargin) but if you register with the promotional code "FOD" you will receive a $30 discount.
5 FREE TICKETS
I also have 5 free tickets available. If you leave a comment tell me why you should get a ticket, you will be entered into our pool of candidates. We will announce the winners on Monday, June 3rd. Hope to see you there!