What’s your Brand’s Digital Refresh

As you wave goodbye to 2016, and January is hitting you right in the planner, your marketing mind is thinking, ok, what is 2017 for my brand? What can I do this year to take my brand further? How can I make a larger impact? How can the brand break through the clutter and demonstrate it’s our year.

First, you start with Data. If you find the time to invest in collecting the right data, and ensure you then in turn take the time to analyze it properly, you’ll find the data as your gold. It’s the ammunition you need to find what is working, and what you need to do more of.

For example for most brands the bread and butter is google analytics, crm, search and social analytics (in addition to any larger media program learnings).

Here are the main areas to ensure you’re looking at the right data (no matter the brand):

SEO and Paid Search:
– Time on Site
– Referral Traffic
– Content engaged with
– Bounce Rate
– Keyword and campaign performance

These are helpful to see how your overall campaigns are performing, which channels are bringing in the most traffic, what people are searching for in regards to your brand, and in turn what times/days your brand receives the most traffic.

CRM:
– open rates
– click through rates
– a/b test on subject lines

It’s best to find your category for benchmarks so you can see if your rates are below or above average and go from there.

Social:
– Engagement Rate
– Best and Worst performing posts (content types per channel)
– Day/time
– Cost per (View, Click, etc)

Each channel will be a little different, but it’s good to look at each separately for social, but also together to see which channels are best for your investment, especially when boosting posts.

With these mandatories, you can see what is working best for your brand across channels. The best part is you’ll probably seen some synergies across channels. For example a certain type of content may resonate well with your consumers no matter where they are. In turn, some types of content may work better on certain channels.

It’s good to evaluate the above every 3 months, and then every 1-2 months thereafter to ensure you’re getting a full yet also recent picture of your brand.

In turn, after you’ve looked at your data, you want to make sure you move fast with it. Once you see something is working well, churn out that content. Get more up on your blog or website for your consumers to engage with.

Another thing to consider as we go into 2017, is the things that matter to consumers. Consumers are searching on their mobile for things that matter to them at that very moment. In moments like this, it is more likely about being both mobile and local. Ensure your product/brand is accessible on a local basis. For example if you have key markets, ensure your product is available to your consumers via online or in store. If it’s only in store, ensure it’s able to be searched online so the consumer knows where to find it. If it’s online, ensure the purchase process is simple and easy. Whether it’s through a third party or your own site, be sure your consumer feels safe with the purchase, and also finds it convenient. So convenient that they can pay through an app or your website in minutes of finding it.

Lastly, don’t forget to be nimble. Be ready to change your tactics, and try new ones. The brands who fall behind are the ones who are unwilling to change and try. Ensure your success by being the ones who do.

This post was originally written for socialnomics. 

6 Specific Ways You Can Promote Blog Posts to Get More Reach

promote blog posts

You have a dedicated blog for your brand and you are penning thoughtful blog posts on a weekly basis. But then what? How do you make sure that your audience is discovering the blog posts, reading them, and following through on your specific Call to Action?

There are 6 areas where your business can dedicate time as part of your distribution strategy for your blog. The main areas are the organic channels you can use within social, supplemented with some paid support, and last but not least, email.

And one thing to remember, social media doesn’t mean as much without great content, so your blog posts are amazing fodder for it. The key is to ensure that your posts and distribution are in line with one another. Some musts:

  • Using key visuals from the posts
  • Linking directly to the content
  • Making sure there is no teaser content that appears to be bait and switch

Be honest and authentic in your distribution and always a/b test where possible to make sure the content that is working the hardest is the one you spend your time (and money) on.

Facebook (and Facebook Paid) – Assuming your brand uses Facebook to distribute overall brand content, it is a great place to promote your blog posts. Although the channel has become more of a media channel where paid media is necessary nowadays to get more eyeballs on your brand’s content, it is a cost efficient place to spend media dollars. You can a/b test different ads and see which ones work for which target audiences. In addition you can dedicate certain dollars to different audiences in case you have more than one.

Twitter – A place where customers typically go to get news and articles (in real or near time), it is a great way to distribute content related to cultural awareness and topical conversations already occurring in the space through relevant hashtags to your blog post.

Pinterest – A channel known for great referral traffic, your blog posts can go further as long as you supplement them with great visuals to use on the channel. Typically it’s good to use vertical visuals, that really pop in color. In addition, ensure that you link to the blog post that it’s referring to directly, and add the appropriate tags (not hashtags) that will allow people to find it within search. i.e. Make sure you are using regular people speak for the description and tags so it will be found easier.

Instagram – Supplement your blog content with short, succinct, quick digestible content for Instagram. This can be a teaser or in addition to to your blog post. And when people want to learn or read more, make sure the direct link is in the bio for them to click on since Instagram still does not allow links to be clickable within the post.

Paid Search – Like Facebook Ads, paid search opportunities on Google will allow you to drive more traffic to your blog posts. You can use keywords that people already are searching for to drive your paid ads in front of the right audience. It’s typical and suggested to a/b test ads on Google and put more money behind the ones that are working better for your content (i.e. driving click throughs).

Email – Your email is a great place to distribute your blog posts because it allows your brand to directly message people versus hoping they’ll discover it. The key thing here is to test your subject lines, and ensure the most prominent content you want your reader to engage in, can be found at the top and they don’t have to get to it.

Nowadays with the likes of Gmail, most people can preview email content without even opening the actual email. So your subject line, first few lines of your email, and headers have to work extra hard. This doesn’t mean dumping everything at the top, but it does mean placing proper keywords and content that your reader will want is prominent and entices them to open it further.

In addition, remember that not everyone turns visuals on in their email when they’re viewing the email. So, be sure that you have Alt text for your visuals and that you aren’t relying solely on them to do your heavy lifting for consumer interest and conversion. They should be great visuals, but a supplement to your content.

Lastly, it needs to be something they can skim – and skim quickly to get to the parts they care about. So keep it short, succinct, and lead them to the blog post to read more.

And when you’re considering your distribution strategy remember that your customer is interested in your brand and wants content that is valuable to them. Distribute it where they are and where they hope to consume it.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

Why a Seamless Brand Experience is Important

brand expereince

We’ve all been there. You’re on your smartphone swiping through Facebook and you come across an ad. You decide to click through and it leads you to a page or site that isn’t what you wanted. You click out, immediately. Or perhaps you’re debating a purchase through a retail site and when you go to their app you are lead back to their site to check out. Unfortunately there are so many steps and not all are mobile. You get frustrated and click out.

Consumers want instant access to what they want whether it’s content, a purchase, or just discovery. They want it all to be easily available through mobile. They want quick steps, not a drawn out process.

They want it to be easy.

As a brand, you need to provide that experience. You want your customers to be excited and dig in for more. However, if you provide the experience on one channel such as Facebook, and then have your consumer click over to another and it’s not continuing the same experience, the drop off will be fast and brutal.

The brand experience must be seamless.

Here are a few small but important ways your brand can begin to focus on being seamless with your content:

  1. Ensure all landing pages or site experiences are mobile. Once your consumer has a hard time reading or viewing your content, they’ll “x” out, and are less likely to come back.
  2. Avoid bait and switch. Be clear on what your visitor is clicking on in Facebook or Twitter and where it’s leading. If it says “purchase this sweater,” be sure it leads directly to the sweater. When they have to search all over again, a drop off will occur.
  3. If you’re allowing an opportunity to purchase, make sure the steps are minimal and simple through mobile. When visitors are on the go, they want to be able to do everything fast. A few options can help with this including enter credit card, use paypal or similar connected payment option, and/or save for later. If the they choose “save for later”, be sure they can logon to their computer or tablet and continue from there without losing what they wanted to purchase.
  4. Ensure your brand look and feel is consistent from social channels to landing pages. For example, your logos, backgrounds, and font types should be similar. That way the consumer recognizes your brand and doesn’t feel like they are being led elsewhere.
  5. If you have an app or are considering one in the future, ensure the navigation is easy. If your brand sells products, consider allowing purchase within the app experience (i.e. Nordstrom and Banana Republic are great with this as it emulates the web experience but it’s easier to view the items you are browsing).

Whenever you’re in doubt, put yourself in the shoes of your visitor and decide if you’d enjoy the brand experience and come back for more.

Read the full original post on StartupFashion.

Invest in Great Content

Content takes many shapes and forms these days. It can exist in as small as a tweet, to a Snapchat video, to website copy, to a whitepaper. Every brand has different formats and types that work best for them and their audiences in order to reach their marketing and business objectives. However, does a brand always have to invest in creating content themselves? Not necessarily.

Content sourcing for supplemental content is smart and it’s to a brand’s advantage when done well. But what type of supplemental content is right for your brand? That’s the answer you need to determine based on the following criteria:

Gain new audiences

Rather than using paid social or paid media to target new audiences, it helps to find different ways to reach those audiences. For example, partner with other brands/publishers or influencers in the categorical space to create content.

  • Partner with a Brand/Publisher – These days there are so many content houses ruling the content space. They are creating content every minute of every hour in every category – from NY Times to Mashable to Techcrunch to Refinery29 to Vogue. And they have the eyeballs already. These publishing houses are partnering with brands to create content in order to allow access to their audiences – for a cost of course. The difference is, it’s more natural to read an article in Refinery29 that was done through a partnership than check out a banner ad. People are more willing to share this article with their friends and family, too.
  • Partner with Influencers – From the bloggers like Cupcakes and Cashmere to the YouTube stars like Jacklyn Hill to many more…influencers are all around us. They can be bloggers, video stars, journalists, food Instagrammers, or a reputable advocate who has a large voice on Twitter. They aren’t one size fits all, and it takes time to find the right one for your brand (or the right ones). The key is to work with the influencer from discovery through execution. You want to ensure they understand your brand, your product/service, and what your objective is. But be sure that you don’t keep the reigns too tight. Let the influencer keep their voice and allow them to create the content in a way that is going to resonate with their audiences.

Create different content formats

Sometimes your brand doesn’t have the resources or talent to create a type of content – such as Vine videos. Why waste the effort when you can outsource to an expert who can do it much faster…and better. There are three ways to go about this.

1) Have the expert use their name as the creator and let it be in their voice/tone/way. That way you can also gain new audiences and a new format for your brand.

2) Let them ghost-create the content for your brand in your brand’s voice/tone so you have more content in your arsenal.

3) Co-create it so you have it in your tone/voice but also in a way that allows the creator’s name/voice to be shown. And in this case you both can distribute/promote it.

Content…is costly. But it shouldn’t always have to be done by your brand in-house. The best part is when you do co-create and/or create supplemental content through third party resources you create an advantage for your brand.  An advantage of being cutting edge and innovative.

This post was originally written for Socialnomics.

Part 2: Leveraging your brand advocates

brand advocates

In my last post we spoke about how to court your brand advocates, this time we’ll dig a little deeper on how we leverage them to your brand’s and their optimal potential.

As I mentioned before, a brand advocate is “someone who loves your brand and will support it through multiple phases, including but not limited to loyalty in purchase, word of mouth, sharing on social, and encouraging friends and family to convert too.”

That’s a lot of potential, but the key is to harness them in a way that doesn’t alienate them through the “relationship.”

Two great ways to make that happen include

  • Amplifying your brand advocate’s voices
  • Allowing your brand advocates to be more than just one person, to be a part of a larger community

Amplify Their Voices

When one advocate praises your brand and says “I love you and your product,” most brands typically respond with things along the lines of “likes” and “favorites.” Some go further and respond or comment back with a “Hey X, thanks so much for the love. We think you’re great too!” This is important, and shouldn’t be ignored. The small value actions such as likes and favorites are important when done within 24–36 hours. It shows that your brand is paying attention. Commenting matters even more. The sooner your brand can comment in return, the more appreciated that brand advocate will feel about their relationship with your brand. They will feel heard and will want to continue that dialogue.

But there’s an extra step that is not often taken. Amplify the advocate’s voice through your brand’s voice.

Here’s what I mean.

  • Your brand could feature some awesome advocates on your website site. Maybe have a page dedicated to them.
  • You could start a blog series where you spotlight an advocate once a week or twice a month. Interview them- who are they, what are they all about.
  • Repost some of the stuff they post on social media.
  • Or more specifically, “regram” an advocate’s gram when they were featuring a product of yours they may have been wearing. Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack do this well. Nordstrom Rack will see products that people are talking about on Instagram and ask to regram them on the brand’s profile. It is not only super flattering, but sometimes an ultimate sign of brand love. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but it can be. Nordstrom also comments and asks to use Instagram photos within their website experience.

Those are some ways how you can take it a step further with the social and fan integration.

Let Them be a Community

This one is difficult. A community isn’t always brand built, it’s typically consumer led and naturally occurs through mutual affinity for an interest. For example, there is a cult of fans who are obsessed with Converse and will only wear that brand. They show their love through social, and support one another. For example, if one Converse lover sees a pair of kicks that they haven’t before, they are stoked to check them out. Even if they try to literally buy them off another converse lover’s feet at that exact second. It’s happened.

Will every brand be Converse? Probably not. But it doesn’t mean your brand advocates won’t be excited to be a part of a community that shares their interests. Remember, it’s a lifestyle that your brand exemplifies; such as a fitness lifestyle for a yoga clothing line.

Read more on what your brand can do here to let them be a community, be checking out the full post on Startup Fashion.

Part 1: Courting your Brand’s Advocates

brand advocates

A brand advocate is a coveted individual when it comes to brand marketing, especially in the digital media space.

A brand advocate is someone who loves your brand and will support it through multiple phases, including but not limited to loyalty in purchase, word of mouth, sharing on social, and encouraging friends and family to convert too.

A brand advocate is someone you want by your side. It’s a relationship you want to continue to grow and evolve; it’s someone you hope to have in your brand’s life for a long time. This may sound like someone you’re dating, and in truth, it can be quite similar.

It’s a relationship. And good relationships require love and care, loyalty and passion.

That’s great and all, but how exactly do you obtain a brand advocate? How do you find this person or people who not only love your brand but also can’t wait to tell the world about how much they love it?

The Courting Process:

Give Them a Reason to Believe

You need to get good at sharing the purpose and values behind your brand. When you do this, people start to notice. It’s not until a customer or collaborator feels connected to your purpose and values, that they will become true brand advocates. Without that connection, you’re just a brand making more stuff.

Flirt with Them and Show Them All Your Good Sides

What is your business really like? How is it run? What do you make? How do you make it? Become very transparent in what your business does. Let them in.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Wrong

Never be afraid to let your brand be itself and when something goes wrong or isn’t perfect, say so.  This sort of honesty is what meaningful relationships are built on.

Reward Them When They Deserve It

Recognize your customers’ loyalty. Re-gram them, send them discount codes, invite them to events (not via a group email!). Do what you can to make sure that your brand is associated with personalized attention.

Surprise Them When They Least Expect It

Everyone loves a little surprise now and then. Get creative and find ways to put smiles on their faces. It doesn’t have to be free product, it can simply be a something thoughtful that you do to show that you’re paying attention.

Maintain the Flirtation and Build It Into a True Two Way Relationship

Don’t get lazy- that’s a relationship killer if there ever was one. Continue to make sure that they know you appreciate them.

Let Them Come to You

Don’t get pushy and be all like, “Do you wanna be my brand advocate?” after just a few interactions.  No one likes a brand that feels needy.

Continue the Conversation Where They Appreciate It Most

As you work to build these relationships, show them how proud you are to have them as customers. Use social media (where they are) to amplify the relationship in a way that makes them feel like they’re something extra awesome.

This courting process is the basis for creating a brand that attracts real and true advocates.

But listen, there will be tough times. Let me tell you little story…

A brand I once worked on had decreased the availability of a product line thinking it wasn’t a favorite and there were other varieties that were performing better in the market. But of course, the brand advocates who had loved that specific product were outraged. They took to the streets – aka social media – and ranted about their long lost love. They wanted their product back, and they weren’t going quietly. Luckily the brand thought quick on its feet and discussed how to bring the advocates back to the good side. They sent through some extra special care packages to a few of the folks and promised to reconsider the sale of the product in the upcoming year. It wasn’t a permanent solution but it was a good temporary solve until the brand could decide the worth of definitely bringing back the product or not. The lesson here:

CLICK TO TWEET

 Remember, these are brand advocates, not well known influencers.  These are real customers who you haven’t paid (they don’t want your money, they want to be a part of what you’re creating!). They are the most valuable people to have on your side so do what you can to keep them there. 

Once you have them, don’t let them go. Instead use them and amplify their voices as part of your brand. How do we do that? Stay tuned and we’ll discuss some examples in my next article.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. Read more here!

How Social Media Can Increase Traffic to your Brand’s Site

 

website trafficSocial media can be daunting at times, especially when you’re just starting to grow your business and most of the work is on your shoulders. Sometimes, social feels like too much time and you just can’t see how it’s helping your startup grow.

One word: patience.

Great social content takes effort, a great social community takes times to grow. The ROI, such as an increase in web traffic, also takes time.

I sometimes like to equate social media to exercising and being fit. If you want a body that is strong, healthy, and long lasting, you have to put in effort for the long haul. Not just for the day or week or month.

Here are a few tips to get your brand on the right track for that healthy social living:

  • The small tactics: the best practices and simple tactics like ensuring your site URL is associated with all your social accounts is crucial. Make sure it’s in your bio, clickable, and above the fold.
  • Schedule your content: It’s OK to publish content more than once, actually it will help. For example, on Twitter since the life of a tweet is so short, it behooves a brand to publish at least twice (at minimum). Of course, it’s good to spread out your content and publish on multiple days rather than the same day.
  • Link back through posts: When posting on social, ensure that a % of your content links back to your site. Although it’s important to have a good content mix, if a major goal is to drive traffic back to your site, that should take the larger chunk of your posting.
Read more on bloggers and a paid media budget, on our full post on Startup Fashion

For more questions on how to best increase website traffic through social media, reach out in the comments.

 

5 Simple Yet Effective Ways to Promote Your Brand’s Blog

 

Having a blog is awesome. Promoting it’s content is even more awesome, if done well. The below list addresses simple but effective ways for your content distribution strategy.

1. Share, share, share – It seems self-explanatory to say share your blog across your social channels. However, it’s not just about sharing, but it’s about the way you share. Ensure your blog is baked into your social content strategy for weekly and monthly cadence opportunities. Leverage pop culture opportunities to boost the presence of your blog’s content into relevant conversations. And of course, ensure that the blog link is easily available within your bios or social posts.
Example: Equinox blog and their Instagram Account.
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2. Sign ups on your website – The best way to increase referral traffic to your website and blog are by having the two within the same domain. Even if you have a blog hosted on tumblr, you can still have it within your domain too. So when you ask your consumers to sign up for your blog, not only are you getting your blog out to more people, but you’re collecting leads for your brand as a whole.
3. Email and newsletters – Just like you want to ensure you are promoting the awareness of your social channels within emails or newsletters, you want to do the same for you blog. Perhaps the content from your blog is the primary content within your weekly/daily emails. This allows for people to see your brand as not just another brand, but a content source for information, tips, news, and more.
4. Cross promote – Your brand most likely has some partnerships – whether it’s for the brand as a whole or content partnerships. Use those to help cross promote content for them, and in turn for you. It allows your content to get in front of extra eyeballs and hopefully traffic back to you on a regular basis.
5. Guest bloggers – You never have to create all the content on your own. And when you decide to allow guest “expert” bloggers to take a stab at your content – it not only allows extra voices, but a another way to engage new audiences. Not only will these bloggers be writing for you, but they’ll [hopefully] be promoting their pieces on social media and on their own blog. This allows for extra “free” promotion, and in turn traffic to your blog content.
What other ways does your brand like to share?

This post was origially written for social media club – see more here:  http://socialmediaclub.org/blogs/from-the-clubhouse/5-simple-yet-effective-ways-promote-brands-blog#sthash.55kCuOpZ.dpuf

 

Three brands who understand content marketing

It’s easy to focus on the negative, especially when it comes to the news, how we feel about brands who have mistreated us, the person who didn’t hold the door, etc. It’s especially true in the digital world, where marketers are competing for the next big campaign, and looking to see what another brand did wrong. It’s unfortunately too easy to be negative.
Then there are brands who try to bring out the positive, through their campaigns, their messaging, and their spirit. Those are the brands that are tough to talk badly about – mainly because they pull it off so well.
A few I’ve noticed (big and small) of all time and as of late are:
1. Equinox - Yes, a gym, but so much more than that. Their content game includes (but is not limited to) quality image content that is easy to consume on the go, and also highly shareable. Their hashtag, #equinoxmademedoit is enough to make you want to see what they’re about. Their gyms are not just welcoming from a comfort and active level, but their digital content encourages you to give a little more. The brand is making a name (even if it’s smaller than some) to kick your own butt, and keep kicking it. To encourage yourself to be a better fit, healthy you. And I see no problem with that.
2. The Tig - A content site by Meghan Markle, has inspired many females (including myself) to look at myself with a new lens. The content motivates one to appreciate oneself,  love who you are, and what you like in life. In addition, the brand encourages people to be ok with where they are in life – whether it’s married, engaged, having a baby, and/or single, such as in their latest Valentine’s Day post.
3. Dove - Known for it’s encouragement for inner beauty as well as loving your body (whatever shape), has a new campaign called#SpeakBeautiful. Instead of reading “mean tweets” or festering on the negative beauty comments that people are saying about themselves…Dove is helping change the story. The brand wants to inspire others to help “change their story” too.
These three do seem to have something in common. It’s inspiration and owning who you are, and focusing on being a better you. As marketers, we sometimes promote items that aren’t always about “the good,” but when they can be, it’s pretty great. Applauding those who have help put forth such great campaigns who inspire the rest of us to kick it up a knotch.
This post was originally written for socialnomics. 

Launching my Passion Project: Radiate Daily

I’ve been thinking about this for almost a year, planning for months, and now it’s here.  The people who know me realize that I’m always doing something on the side. Something that motivates me, alongside my day-to-day digital marketing career. And it’s usually an extension of it.

This time, I got some help. I had an idea, but I knew I needed a partner in crime to get to where I wanted to go. I sat on my couch one night and thought about the people, the women, in my life who had similar aspirations, likes, and compatible personalities. Randomly, one name came to mind. Lindsey Varney. A friend who I met my first week of college and lived across the hall – 13 years ago. We had been in touch off and on, but it had truly been years since we had hung out. I knew she was also in digital marketing, a day younger than me, loved fashion, and had a fun outlook on life. Someone who would balance my type A planner-ness. Months later, here we are. Partners in a new adventure, called Radiate Daily.

 What is Radiate Daily you ask?

I pondered that question for a long time myself. What do I want this site to be. I didn’t want another fashion tips site. Tips only go so far. I wanted to get to the root of the pain points that people have on a daily basis.

 Confidence. Inspiration.

I want to inspire people to believe in themselves. Help focus on the things that drive who they are, each day of their life, and in turn be proud and confident. Style is something I’ve loved for a long time. It’s not fashion – fashion fades as they say. Style is something we all possess (whether we believe it or not). But confidence in one’s style comes from my places (like my story here). It can be a fitness routine, a quote we read, a compliment from a friend, a story that inspired us, or our careers kicking butt. That confidence shapes the rest of us, including our style. It helps us Radiate Daily.

So join me and Lindsey. Join us in our new adventure to help inspire others every day. Come read the stories, check out the snippets on social, and help us collect more to share. Share yours! And of course, tell me what you think. What helps you #radiatedaily ?

7 Ways to Keep your Blog Content Fresh

fashion business blog

We all go through writers block. Sometimes we’re sitting tapping the keys on our keyboard but nothing is coming to mind. The well is running low and you’ve “run out of things to blog about”.. but is that really true? Maybe you’re just not looking in the right places.

There are some ways to prepare yourself in advance so the well doesn’t run dry. And there are things we can do to keep ourselves motivated for those times we are feeling a little less in the mood to blog for your fashion business.

  • Monthly brainstorms - This may seem abhorrent and like a huge task, but it’s super helpful in the long run. Take a couple hours before the beginning of each month and think about what’s going on culturally for that particular time. What is going through consumer’s mindset. For example in October your consumer may be planning a Halloween party, thinking about Fall shopping, boot season, fall fashion layers, the upcoming holidays, and nostalgia for everything autumn. Then chart out when it would be best to publish each piece so you know what you’re writing about each week.  Best part – when the next year comes around, you’ll have a shell to begin from and tweak.
  • Ask your audience - Seems like a no-brainer but sometimes we forget our largest resource. Our audience! It is who we are writing the blog posts for, after all. Why not put out a poll or question to your audience via your preferred social channels to ask what they want more of, or less of.
  • Read other blogs – Really. Subscribe to as many as possible, whether it’s via email, Twitter, or a reader app like Pulse or Flipboard. It helps to have resources at your fingertips. Read them, and read them daily. They’ll help you feel on top of your game, and give you new ideas on a more frequent basis.
  • Write about what you are passionate about – May seem silly, but when you’re passionate about your topic, it will shine through. Your voice will carry further, and your audience will engage more. No one wants to read a blog post that is lame and boring, written by someone who just pumps out blog posts like a chore. They want their writer to be excited to write to them. So, write about the topics that you care about. You’ll be happier, and so will your audience.

To read about my 3 other tips including formats and curation, check out my full post on Startup Fashion!

FTW: When Brands & Consumers Connect

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Working in digital marketing on a day-to-day basis, it makes me stoked to see when brands and consumers truly connect. When a brand takes a beat and steps back to reflect and understand what their consumers really want. Even cooler, when a brand reinvents part of itself to be with the times. One such brand is Banana Republic. Perhaps I’m biased, because they now sell so many leather oriented clothing, but so what? Here’s what we can learn from BR as of late:

1. They Hired a Kickass Creative Director – one to help reinvent BR and shape it into a new, cooler, fresher brand. Marissa Webb. I salute you. You took BR from being a stuffy, conservative office brand to one that women are excited to wear. The brand now exudes confidence, sex appeal, and best of all, amazing clothes that fit just right.

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2. The advertising fits the new brand – The new ads are edgy and they standout. Best part, Marissa herself touts the clothes, makes personal ads through her instagram (without being an ad), and allows people to connect with the brand in a way people never could before. In a way, (sorry Tory), she’s the new Tory Burch. She is a visionary for the brand. Is that a bold statement? Perhaps.

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3. They are human – By far my favorite characteristic. The brands replies, comments, and favorites posts by its fans. They thank people for purchasing their clothes. Reward them with fun loyalty gifts. And best of all, are just kind and nice. Not to mention, Marissa herself “favorited” my last tweet about the brand. That is huge in my book!

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What brands stand out to you? Which brands make you say – yes, I love this brand?

Note: This post was originally written for Marketing on the Rocks. 

How to: Keep Blogging a Top Marketing Priority

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 11.51.21 AM

I’ve been asked a multitude of times…”How do you find time to blog?” It took me a while to realize how I did find time. And then I realized the answer was quite simple: “I find time.” Blogging, like other marketing objectives, just needs to become a priority that you make time for. Whether it’s your personal blog, a brand you are starting, or a well-established brand that is trying to demonstrate it’s expertise in a particular vertical. We all know the general benefits of blogging – SEO, thought leadership, partnered content, awareness, engagement, etc. And the value to the blogger? Promotion of their personal brand, subject matter expert, social promotion, so on and so forth.

But again…when? how? Let’s lay out some quick wins for tackling your blogging woes:

Your Calendar is your friend

We all know that each week is different and new commitments come up all the time. But that’s no excuse. My way around that is planning ahead. I plan out the posts I need to do a month in advance. That allows me to see what is going on each week and each weekend and when is best to tackle the posts I have in my pipeline. Typically I have on average 8 posts a month. Sounds like a lot, and it can be if you aren’t managing your time. I usually block off one day a week where I can polish off 2 – 3 posts in a morning. Now I will admit, that I have it down to a science and usually have prepared what I’m going to write in advance (see divide and conquer below). And for when life gets in the way? Find a new day that works, but don’t push it to the next week unless absolutely necessary.

 

Divide and conquer

Yes it’s nice if you have a team to divide and conquer your posts, but even when you have a team, you still need to find time for yours. Rather than leaving the ideation, research, creation, and review all in one sitting – split it up! For example when I look at my week ahead on Sunday evening, I usually look to see what blog posts I have to tackle that week. Sometime between Mon – Thurs I tackle a quick topic ideation by surveying what’s popping in culture, any new social media trends that have risen to the top, and/or pain points that people are discussing. Then I find some quick sources that support my thinking and leave it be. I let that stew a little and when I get to the day I plan to write (normally Saturday or Sunday morning before/after the gym) I am primed to just hit the keyboard. Additionally, it helps if you’re not the only editor reviewing your post. And if you don’t have an editor ask a darling friend to take a glance over for any glaring issues that you may have missed.

 

Be Passionate

This is probably the most important. The reason I am less stressed about writing posts each week or month, is because I’m typically passionate about it. Yes not every post is riveting, and I may procrastinate at times, or pour a glass of wine as I debate it. But at least 85% of the time I am excited to write (or will be when I finish) because it’s about something I’m proud to be writing about. I am proud to spread more knowledge into the digital marketing space as well as provide my inspirational rantings around style and confidence (my other blogging adventures). So, please, before you pick up that “pen” think if you’re actually excited about your blogging.

And speaking of that glass of wine…sometimes that helps write a little more creatively too!

Image source: Kikolani

This post was originally written for Marketing on the Rocks. 

Is tumblr the right blogging platform for your brand?

 

tumblr blogging platform

Do you have blog for your brand? I know, you’ve got a lot to do. But blogging is really important for reasons ranging from SEO to customers relationships. When it comes to choosing a a platform for your blog, you may want to go with WordPress, which definitely has it’s advantages. Or you may be considering tumblr.

A lot of brands ask about the benefits and “is tumblr a good blogging platform for a MY brand?”  Here’s one way to look at it.

  • Do you want a blog that people are excited to engage with?
  • Do you want a community that is hungry for your visual content?
  • Do you want a blog that people “re-blog” today, tomorrow, and even 6 months from now?
  • Do you want a blog that allows fun features like polls?
  • Do you want a blog that you can post to on the go?

If you said yes to even a couple of the above questions, then tumblr may be the blogging platform for your brand.

tumblr is not just a blog, but an online community of people who are creating, curating, consuming, and sharing content every minute of every day. Consumers are there for one reason – to find and consume content they are interested in. So why not be where your consumers already are?

tumblr is extremely effective for visual friendly brands such as those in the fashion industry. Brands like NordstromClub Monaco and others have taken full advantage – including letting it be another path to purchase for their brand lovers. Furthermore, influencers in the fashion industry realize it’s another place that an audience will love to check out brand collaborations.

To read more on the benefits of tumblr and why the advantages could be right for your brand, check out my full post on Startup Fashion!

Image via Omarukai

Why you Should Supplement your Content Creation with Guest Bloggers

Guest Blogger Benefits

Creating content is a beast. You heard right. A beast. It can take hours to plan, write, edit, and schedule accordingly. And truthfully most brands have a hard time doing it all themselves.

Some brands need to source out, curate, and/or co-create content in order to supplement the content they create themselves. One way to do this is working with guest bloggers. They can be a real asset as you create your content strategy and calendar

Let’s discuss some of the benefits to your brand and to the guest bloggers who choose to contribute…

Benefits to Your Brand:

  • You have more content resources
  • You have more time to focus on the content your brand is creating
  • You have a new viewpoint that you may not have considered before
  • You begin to create a content arsenal
  • Depending on your content strategy, fans of your brand may be more likely to trust and see value when a third party is writing about it
  • You gain a new audience through the guest blogger’s social amplification
  • You become a trusted resource for content and in turn, your fashion line

Benefits to the Blogger:

  • Growth of your expertise through reputable sources
  • Growth of your personal brand
  • Growth of your audience through cross-promotion
  • Extra money to continue building your personal brand/ business

What are the five things you need to consider as you start down this road? Check out my checklist here on my full post on Startup Fashion!

It’s NOT too late to Clean up your Social Media Marketing this New Year

 

Clean up your social media marketing in 2014

When it comes to the New Year and Q1 of most business plans, we are constantly thinking what we should/could do to revamp our strategies, tactics, and presences online and offline. Where to start? Sometimes it’s about looking back and seeing what worked and didn’t; and other times it’s just about making small tweaks in order to optimize your brand’s performance on social media.

Here are 6 Ways to Clean Up Your Social Media Marketing in the New Year

Profile

Remember when you started on social media and you had to choose that pivotal logo or image to represent your brand? That image may still work, but sometimes you need to tweak your bio in order to describe what your business does today (especially if it’s expanded over the past year).

Tip: Use your google analytics and trends to see what search terms consumers use and look for when it comes to your brand and competition. Use those in your bio so you are easier to find and your description of your product or service is easier to understand by your potential customers. Remember, sometimes it’s not about saying that you provide “x” but using synonyms that your audience may also search for. Think like a consumer.

Follow Back

Over the past year, surely a large amount of people have found you, loved what you have to offer and in turn have liked, shared, tweeted, and followed you because they value you as a brand. Show them how much you value them too! Follow back. It is a two way relationship after all.

Re-evaluate Your Strategy

Your social media strategy is a part of your everyday tactics, each tweet, and each monthly theme. Look back to see which themes, topics, and content formats resonated most with your audience. Even though you may have loved that video of your holiday party you posted, perhaps your audience didn’t care for it. Or perhaps you didn’t post it on a channel where your audience wanted that video.

Tip: Look back and evaluate: (1) topic calendar; (2) content formats; and (3) time/day of posting said content. Start there and see where you land.

Channels

As in #3 above, it’s important to see what works, and what doesn’t. You may love posting fun vine videos, but perhaps your audience is more likely to engage with you on instagram. Be where your audience cares for your content, and where they want to engage with you. You don’t need to be on every channel just to be hip with social media.

To read more on Staffing Up and Thinking Mobile First – Check out my Full Post on Startup Fashion here!

Launch of: “Marketing on the Rocks” by Four Best Friends

So it all began a few years back when the four of us met through mutual friends and networking events around the city. We had social mentors in common, similar career inspirations, shopping habits, healthy living ideals, a love for boston, and most of all a quick love for one another.

Janet Aronica, Kristin Dziadul, Elisabeth Michaud and I are four best friends and four marketers in Boston. We each have a bit of geekiness when it comes to digital marketing, social media, and staying on top of what’s savvy and new. We tried GroupMe during SXSW, we’ve been on Path since before it became cool, we constantly tweet at one another in the midst of Gchatting, and support each other in all of our endeavors. I can’t say enough about how much I trust these girls personally and professionally. And that’s what brought us here today…

Over a couple adult beverages and some inspiration from fellow digital marketers in the space, we decided to work on a marketing project as a team. We brainstormed on what we could offer the Boston community and beyond as we each have diverse backgrounds from working with startups, individual consulting, agencies, big brands, and more. And then we realized – that’s exactly what we can offer. We are experienced in so many different areas and can offer unique advice and strategy because of it. And “Marketing on the Rocks” was born…

Want to learn more, and see what we’re cooking up? Check out the launch of our new site!

www.MarketingontheRocks.com

And feel free to reach out to us anytime for more info:

@pamsahota

@janetaronica

@kristindziadul

@emichaud

Five Visual Tips for your Brand’s Blog Presence

Branding |RedBalloon Advertisers |www.redballoon.in

Starting and maintaing a blog for your brand is a a crucial step when it comes to publishing content for your audience to discover, consume and share.

However, before pumping out all that awesome content, your team needs to determine how that blog will “look and feel” — how it will ladder up to the brand’s image on other owned sites, how the tone and voice will take shape, and how the blog will look visually to the consumer.

This shouldn’t’ be daunting, but it does take time to consider, plan, and strategize appropriately so your blog is a part of your marketing strategy and brand’s arsenal of content publishing.

1. To Theme or Not to Theme

Many blogs, whether it’s WordPress or tumblr offer a variety of custom themes that allow you to work within a set template.

The template allows for color changes, a preferred way to display content whether it’s the new Pinterest pinboard layout, or the gallery look, or keeping it simple with having it article style.

Whatever you choose, you can then add on widgets to allow for further customization such as social feeds, pulling in content from other sites, and even promoting products and services for people to purchase or subscribe to. In the end the theme helps those brands that don’t want to start from scratch, but would rather work from an easier starting place for a “look and feel” that fits the brand.

2. To Brand 

 Even before choosing the theme and the domain, it’s important to determine whether or not the blog will have branding specific to the brand/product/service. For example, some brands have a blog to offer fun entertaining content that has little to no branding; while others completely brand the blog with their name, logo, and more in order to show they are the authority of the blog and/or thought leader on the subject matter they are offering.

There is no right way to go about this, it depends upon the purpose of the blog and the goals of the brand. Both can serve great purposes.

3. To Be Social

If your brand has a large social presence or is trying to build on, it helps to cross promote social content. For example a fashion brand may want to pull in an instagram feed, while another brand may want to pull in a hashtag stream on a campaign they’re running.

I recommend ensuring there are social share buttons for content – more eyeballs, more consumption, more awareness of one’s content and brand.

4. To Provide Tone & Voice

One’s tone and voice is a part of the visual feel of the blog as well.

The tone can be fun and vibrant which goes along with a casual blog visually. Voice may be more instructional which may go along with a more conservative looking blog. Just remember to keep in consideration all the elements of your blog before putting it together.

5. To Provide Imagery

Imagery is essential to getting people to consume the content and share it. For example if it has fun visuals like a short video, comic strip, infographic – people are more likely to move towards it and in turn share with people they think would find it fun or informative.

Note: This post was originally written for social media club and my original post can be found here

 

Ten Things for your Brand to Consider when Starting a tumblr Blog

Why Aren't You Blogging?

When you decide to jump into the sea of blogging, planning is important.

Many brands choose tumblr and there are many great reasons to do so – including the built in community, which already lives on tumblr (not found anywhere else), the ability to discover content easily, and the paid options only available within tumblr.

When choosing tumblr to be your platform of choice there are a few things to check off as you set it up.

The tumblr checklist

  1. Choose a domain: Find one for your brand name of the theme for your tumblr. If you see your brand name is available and no one is actively blogging on it, I would grab that too.
  2. Choose a theme: Depending upon your marketing goals, it’s usually helpful to choose a specific theme to focus your blog around so your consumers understand the focus and know what to come back for.
  3. Set up multiple tumblrs: However, if your brand has a few different themes to pursue, perhaps it’s easier to set up a few different tumblr blogs on different themes. Companies like IBM have done that and it has worked well for them and their origination and curation of content.

  4. Customize your tumblr: There are a multitude of themes on tumblr to choose from for easy set up (free and paid versions). Then you’ll need your dedicated development team to make it your own. The great part about tumblr is you can make the look and feel anything your brand wants.

  5. Include disqus: Disqus (or another commenting tool) will have to be added to your tumblr to allow comments and moderation of those comments.

  6. Listen: Listen through the search bar to discover the conversation already occurring around the topic(s) you are exploring to tumble about. Additionally see who is writing about it or curating content to find the influencers in your category. With time your brand can organically build relationships with them, so with time they will hopefully reblog your content and share with their audiences (more eyeballs for your awesome content!)

  7. Schedule posts: When launching a blog it’s good to be armed with 10 – 20 posts ready to go. Schedule when your team would like to launch them in the first few weeks (perhaps 3 to 4 in the first week).

  8. Be a part of the community: As you launch your posts, don’t just push them out and wait for others to come. Find other content it – like it, comment on it, and consider re-blogging some for curating content.

  9. Activate paid (including analytics): When your brand has the initial budget to do so, consider using some paid media within tumblr to increase eyeballs on your new tumblr. There are a few different options depending upon your needs – for example mobile vs. web in stream ads.

  10. Test and learn posting times, days, tags: Experiment with the best days and times to post your content (as there are no specific best practices and depends upon your content, your brand, and your audience). See which tags work best for getting people to discover your content, consume, and share it.

Do you need inspiration?

Here are 6 tumblr blogs to visit:

Note: This post was originally written for Social Media Club and my full post can also be found here.

Building Community through Storytelling Apps Like Cowbird, YouTube and Tumblr

Many brands today are still figuring out how to tell their story, show the human side of the brand, and connect with their audience on a deeper level than just their products and services. If that isn’t hard enough, there are a myriad of avenues by which to do so…should your brand use Facebook, a blog, YouTube,  Pinterest, none, or all of the above? It’s important for each brand to see where their audience is first, and use the tools that most resonate with their audience and engages them where they prefer to be engaged. However, it doesn’t hurt to try new tools and see if they “fit” the brand’s identity as well as the audience. Test and Learn – great motto.

3 Tools to consider and see if they “fit” and why:

(1) Cowbird - Use photos, text, and/or sound to tell the story of a moment in time, a brand, a product, a service, a person who works there, a consumer, or what have you. Video isn’t available (as of yet), and it’s only a web service (although apparently mobile friendly), but it appears to have a growing community as photos are so easily uploaded and shared. People love to tell “their story” and brands can collaborate with cowbird to tell a “saga” or something more. However there is currently no advertising as they are trying to keep it pure to contributors. Benefit for brands? A community of people who are engrossed in stories and visual content – and ones who will share, and engage with it via “likes” or “re-telling” a story (basically like a re-blog on twitter, which is a high value action on this platform). Also the potential opportunity to partner with Cowbird for feature content.

(2) YouTube: The Archive and the storytelling vehicle that has lasted the test of time. Video like photos are a great tool to tell a brand’s story. It can be used to tell a six second snippet (the “vine” rage) or it can be longer and tell a consumer’s journey, a sneak peek on a product line, the inside scoop on an event, or how and why an employee loves every moment of working for a particular brand. Whatever the video may be – it is a piece of the brand – and it’s story. Not sure how to break into video content? Not sure if you can afford it? Start small; start simple but start with a content strategy on how that video will amplify your current brand’s story and/or revive it from the dead. Did I mention it’s only one of the largest search engine’s on the web? Cough Cough – SEO (huge perk).

Great Example: The Lego Story [Watch The Video]

(3) tumblr - a blogging platform and so much more for brands and consumer alike. From fashion brands like Nordstrom to finance brands like American Express, tumblr has become a place to not just tell a story but allow the consumer to see a different side of the brand; and of course explore and engage with fun, digestible content – from posts to photos to videos and more.

ProTip: when using a platform like tumblr (or your blogging place of choice) always consider the amount of time and amount of content your brand has for both quality and frequency. Your audience will expect fresh, new, engaging content on a consistent basis.

note: this post was originally written for Social Media Club and my original post can be found here.

How to: Take Advantage of Vine Video App for your Fashion Brand

vine video app

Have you encountered Vine yet? This short video app is already being utilized by brands and consumers alike due to its many advantages, two of which are simplicity and ease of use.

As a brand owner, you should think about how Vine could possibly work with your current social media strategy.

Here are 5 advantages Vine has for brand content across the fashion industry:

Short, Digestible Content

Vine takes quick snippets of video content and stitches them together to create a quick 6 second snapshot of video.

The fact that you don’t need continues footage but instead can use 3 snippets stitched together is very cool. It allows a brand to take 3 different views of its new fashion line or fashion show, rather than just one at time. It also allows the consumer to get more than just one view of a product or event.

Utilizing Your Twitter Audience

Since you can sign up through Twitter, it makes it simple to follow any of your twitter followers who are also on vine.

In addition, a brand can easily share Vine content on Twitter once it’s been recorded. It can also be shared on Facebook. The ease of integration is key for content in order to release it just as quickly as it’s recorded.

Ease of Use

The steps to setting up an account, shooting your first video, and sharing are as simple as one, two, three. The process has that same easy flow as Instagram, but makes it possible to share content on other channels.

There are also other Vine tools like VineIt that are being released (not necessarily connected with the Vine team) that help find and view videos, as well as integrate with Tumblr. Since so many fashion brands utilize Tumblr, it’s awesome that Vine can be uploaded or embedded in there too.

To read about key tactics fashion brands can utilize for their Vine videos alongside their digital strategy, read my full post on Startup Fashion. Hint – there are some great examples!

How to: Start Fresh with 2013 Social Media Goals

This post on starting fresh for the new year in social media was originally written for Social Media Club and my original post can also be found here

Now that you have your social media resolutions on your checklist, why not consider some other social media goals to accomplish this year as you “start fresh.”

As we stated in resolution #5 it is important to set reachable goals, such as a greater focus on content. Many consider brands as publishers nowadays, is your brand one of those? Content has been deemed “king” by many, but how does your audience perceive your brand’s content? Do they find it valuable? Useful to their everyday life? Helpful for their needs specific to your brand? Or is it just fun and helps build awareness and create engagement?

Whatever the purpose for your content, it is helpful to create goals around your content strategy for your social media networks.

Here are a few to consider…

1. B.L.O.G.

If your brand doesn’t already have a blog or a part on the website to drive audience to for content, then it may be something to consider in order to demonstrate your brand is the expert voice in a specific arena. For example, if your brand sells fitness apparel, perhaps a blog on fitness, health, and matching apparel to fitness/health could be beneficial to your target audience. Link the content to the needs and wants of your audience through what they search for and consume on a regular basis.

2. Get VisualUnless your marketing team has been living under a rock, it must be pretty obvious that visual content has become more and more prevalent among consumers and brands.

Adding videos and photos to blogs, being on Pinterest (if your brand has fun visual photos), and/or sharing on Facebook can make your brand stand out.

Just look at Oreo - they rock this with fun, shareable nuggets of visual content.

3. Cross Promote

If you have a blog, and visual content – cross promote that amazing goodness. Depending upon where your audience consumes your content, you may want to share your blog posts on Facebook or on Twitter. If your brand is more suited on LinkedIn – share it there. If your brand utilizes the SEO perks of Google Plus – share it there. Just make sure you choose the social networks that work for your audience and your brand type.

Tip: Don’t forget you can cross promote in emails and newsletters too.

4. Personalize and Target It

Some of your audience may want to hear about tips and tricks, while others may want to learn deeper knowledge, and others may want on the surface fun with visual photos and videos that entertain. When you realize which types of content work best on a social network (through testing and learning), target your content to specific social networks more specifically. And to take it a step deeper – target your posts to different regions based on location and weather and events occurring. Another level deeper? In newsletters and emails, you can target your audience down to what they prefer. Personalize it! Make them feel like you are giving them exactly what they want and when they want it – and where they want it!.

5. Unite Offline and Online

Offline experiences have been washed away due to online engagement so we recommend you marry the two when possible for larger impact. For example, a brand likeLululemon uses localized Facebook pages for particular retail locations to promote clothing they have as well as in store events they will be hosting (like Yoga). You get the customer in the store to buy a top, you get them to fan you on Facebook to keep up with the latest news and updates, and then they come back to check out Yoga with their girlfriends and engage with the brand in a more personalized way…then perhaps they buy more clothes? And so do their friends? Awesome.

These are just a few of the goals your brand can consider to amplify your marketing and business goals. Determine the goals that fit your 2013 vision and will help build your brand’s presence and create deeper and more high level involvement with your fans.

Must Have for a Brand’s Blog: Blogging Editorial Guidelines

fashion blog

Your brand is awesome, you have great content, and your blog is off to a great start. But before you started said blog, did your team consider editorial guidelines? The content is crucial but so is maintaining control over how the content is created.

Here are five things to consider when putting together blogging editorial guidelines.  These ideas apply whether you are the only one blogging, you have a team, or you allow for guest posts.

In General: Audience, Topics, Edits/Reviews

It is important to establish specific guidelines for your bloggers to know your particular audience they are writing for. In addition giving them some initial ideas on topics is helpful so they know what is OK to write about and what is not advised. And of course letting them know how the editing and review process will work – for example if your team will review and edit or if the blogger will have to edit the piece until it is complete (or if there are certain amount of review rounds that are acceptable).

Formatting: Pictures, Videos, Bulleting, Headings

In order to make the process more streamlined and efficient it is more important to outline specific formatting procedures. For example how pictures are to be submitted (size, type), if videos can be used, how paragraphs should be written (headings, bullet points, sub headings). Some blogs even have rules on how soon you can have a heading in a blog post and how long paragraphs should be. Word count is also an important item to consider – 300 to 800 words is fairly standard.

To read more and find out my 3 other things to consider for editorial guidelines (plus my bonus item)…check out my full post on Startup Fashion.

 

How to: Optimize your Blog Editorial Calendar

I

editorial calendar

In earlier posts I wrote for the Startup Fashion blog, I talked about the importance of a content strategy and determining which platform is best for your blog: wordpress or tumblr. Once your brand has worked out these important steps, and has decided to create and curate content via a blog, an editorial calendar is a necessary next step in order to stay organized with fresh content on a consistent basis.

Here are 5 tips to get started with an editorial calendar:

Choose a Format

Decide which format would be best for ease of use among the editors and bloggers alike. It can be as simple as a Google spreadsheet, which makes it easy for multiple people to view and edit and have different admin privileges. This is great if you have additional bloggers on contributing to your site.

Schedule Topics Ahead

It is a good idea to plan out at least 1 to 3 months ahead with evergreen topics and allow room for real time topics that pop up due to current events, news, and more.

To read my 3 other tips on planning deadlines, keywords/tags, and managing time – check out my full and original post on the Startup Fashion Blog. Thanks!

Three Tips for your Blog Content Strategy

Blogging Content

Image via janefriedman.com

Publishing is no longer just in the hands of magazines and newspapers; brands have the opportunity (as many have realized) to provide the value of content to consumers through video, blogs, infographics, and much more.

Today the brand is the publisher. When brands start creating and curating content it is normally through a blog or landing page that consumers are directed through to other channels.

Does your brand have a blog? Is it ready to make the investment in writers and quality content to keep loyal fans and accrue new ones?

3 things to consider for your blog content strategy…

Content Buckets
Your blog strategy is dependent on your marketing/business goals so it is important to ensure your content strategy for your blog is in line with those goals. Then, whether you have a 3 person team or a 500 person team you need to do a few things to put out valuable content:

  • Evaluate what your competition is putting out for content and what content buckets they are focused on (is it lifestyle content, industry content, sales content, and what mix?)
  • Evaluate what your audience is clicking on; spending most of their time consuming, and what keywords drive them to your website.
  • Where are the gaps…fill them in.
  • Determine the 2 to 4 buckets your brand can focus on and  test and learn and optimize the content accordingly.
  • Note: your strategy will change with time and so will your content buckets. Be ready and willing to adapt.

To read my other 2 imperative tips for a blog content strategy, please check out my full post on Startup Fashion! Thanks!

 

Five Reasons to Have a Blog for your Brand

Tory Burch blog

The importance of starting a blog as an independent fashion designer is based around a solid way to tell your story, drive traffic to your website, and allow your brand to grow a loyal fan base while allowing for a deeper look into the brand.

Lets take a closer look on why your brand should have a blog…

Create Awareness

Creating regular and consistent content and publishing out to your social channels can create awareness for your brand. The key is to have content that is valuable to your audience whether it be “how-to”, tips, expert advice, highlighting your products through lifestyle content, or a blend of content types.

That awareness will then lead to sharing of content on your fans’ channels for greater awareness, and in turn can drive traffic to your site for your products.

Drive Traffic

Your content, which will be engaging through multi-media such as photos and videos of your lines, can drive traffic through SEO (taking advantage of keywords and tags) as well as from referrals, influencers, and your loyal audience. Your blog can easily become the vehicle that leads traffic right to your products – whether it be your current or future fashion line.

To read the other 3 reasons why your brand should consider a blog, please read my full post on Startup Fashion. Thanks!

4 Features to Consider When Choosing Between Tumblr and WordPress

 

Tumblr vs WordPress

Image: SmartFatBogger.in

Starting a fashion blog is not always as simple as one, two, three – but platforms like Tumblr and WordPress do help in making it a little easier.

Luckily they are both fairly easy to use and provide many options for templates as well as customization. The tough part is choosing which platform fits your needs and wants for the perfect place to host your vivid content.

Cost 

In short, Tumblr is free and WordPress is not.

However, if you care less about having your own domain used then you could use the free wordpress.com site instead of wordpress.org. This is definitely not advised as there are less options for customization and limited features.

With WordPress.org the cost is not for the site, but for the hosting, design and development of customizing it.

Note: Tumblr cannot be hosted elsewhere. The blog would be hosted on Tumblr itself.

Customization

WordPress is scalable and can be customized with widgets and custom CSS to a full blown out website if desired.

WordPress easily supports widgets and plugins which can be added simply without worrying about hard coding, while Tumblr must be custom coded for similar functionality and plugins.

SEO Optimization

To read the rest of the differences (and you definitely want to know about SEO) between WordPress and Tumblr (including my bonus tip), check out my original post for Startup Fashion here

Are you a designer with a blog that supports your brand?  Which platform do you use?  Do you like it?

How to: Establish a Guest Blogging Policy

Content is significant to every brand and their marketing strategy — but content creation takes time, effort, planning, and well-equipped writers. Some brands have the staff to write and whip out content continuously, while others seek outside sources. And some prefer both. When hiring guest bloggers to write for your brand, there are a few things to keep in mind when pulling together a guest blogging policy… 

1. Have a go-to person internally: When you have a blogging staff, there should be a marketing manager (of one form or another) who can manage them, assign content topics, review and edit the posts, and publish accordingly. Most of all they should be there to answer questions and make sure the content is staying on strategy.

2. Set the bar / expectations: The marketing manager should set the expectations from the start regarding content quality expected for the blog on a consistent basis. Perhaps have the guest blogger do the first post as a test post to see if it fits the requirements and meets the bar.

3. Topics: Some content managers may prefer to have a content bank of ideas for writers to choose from or even specific titles per week/month that must be written. While others may prefer to have broader outlines of topics and have the writers choose as long as they are within a certain spectrum. This level of content strictness depends upon the content strategy implemented within the brand and how the relationship between the writers and manager work.

4. Deadlines: As with any marketing and content calendar, an editorial calendar is key in order to set deadlines for each writer. A deadline should be set with plenty of time for review in order to make edits if and when necessary prior to publishing.  

5. Sources: Ensure that each writer sources their content in order to avoid issues of plagiarism and/or questioning of validity. Protecting the brand name is important and any writer would protect their own writing as well through sources. 

6. Photos: All photos should be credited as well in order to ensure credit is given where credit is due — especially if it is not purchased. 

7. Formats: Each blog has their own type of formatting – whether it is subheadings, a thumbnail image, a certain font, or whatever it may be. Ensure you give proper style guide instructions prior to the writer starting so they are aware of all requirements beforehand. 

8. Republication: Determine if you want to allow your bloggers to be allowed to republish their posts. If so – determine if it’s an excerpt, whether they have to link back, and/or if they have to wait a certain amount of time prior to doing so (ex. 14 days or 30 days).

9. Payment: Determine prior to the test post whether and how much you will pay each guest blogger. Payments are normally done per hour or per post (ex. 50/hour vs. 150/post).

10. Disclaimer: What if a blogger goes rogue? What is he/she writes something that becomes questionable? Protect your brand’s “behind” and ensure that each post has a disclaimer that it was authored by a guest blogger. It may still be backed by the brand, but it was not written by the brand.  

Additional Tips: Give your bloggers some incentive and credit:
Allow each blogger to have a chance to be seen.

  • Link to their blog, website, twitter handle, etc.
  • Give them credit upfront through an introduction with their bio.
  • Consider including a photo.
  • Give them credit or recognition via Twitter when promotion the post (or whichever social channel your brand chooses to leverage).

Most of all don’t forget to update as needed – requirements, policies and guidelines change just as content and social media changes. Keep your writers posted of updates and consider asking them for their opinions on how things can be improved.

Note: This post was originally written and posted on Social Media Club. Find my original post here.  

Additional Reading:

http://www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/guidelines.htmlhttp://sportsprblog.com/blog/2009/07/19/tips-developing-a-blogger-policy/
http://menwithpens.ca/how-to-create-guest-post-guidelines/
http://pointblankseo.com/guest-blogging-guidelines
http://www.mediaemerging.com/2011/06/02/what-to-include-in-your-guest-blogger-guidelines/
http://blog.straightnorth.com/how-to-craft-editorial-guidelines-for-a-guest-blogger/

Image Credit: Bigstock Photo

5 Simple Tips for Using Tumblr

Recently I started utilizing my tumblr blog for unique, fun, and classic fashion I love, why I love it, and why it’s more unique through a digital scope. I love the simplicity of the platform and how it’s so convenient to post, even via the iPhone from my beloved instagram app. Lets just say, it’s my new love affair along with Instagram, of course.

1. Find your niche

As with any blog one starts, a focus point is key in order to not have a hodge podge of random topics and items. If you have a specific focus, then people will come to expect your post to be a source for information on that topic and hopefully one day come to trust it as an expert source or one just for fun to peruse. For example, Bergdorf Goodman started a tumblr for a few focus points, which include location, inspiration, visual and the team. It’s a great source to get to know the brand on a more personal level and dive deeper into what Bergdorf has to offer, aside from a retail establishment. It’s a source of iconic fashion, fun design ideas, and more. I especially love the “on location” segment which allows for an inside look into the brand, the models, and what it takes to get things “just right.”

2. Share or not to share

One of the best features (in my opinion) is the fact that you can so easily share your Tumblr blog on your social channels. It’s so smoothly integrated with platforms like Facebook and Twitter. For example, if you are on the go but want to share a quick post, do it from your phone, post, and poof: it’s immediately posted on your Twitter stream and Facebook Timeline. How much simpler could it get? And if you’re into (1) efficiency as well as (2) sharing your cool posts … tumblr makes it that much simpler for you.

3. Comments and Questions

Opt in and allow your blog posts to have comments and questions. Engagement is key when it comes to blog posts being visible and seen past your own computer screen. However, not only should you allow comments/questions, but you should respond in return as well as comment on other people’s blogs. It shows it’s not just about you and your own blog but also about the community of the platform and the people who appreciate the subject matter and people who contribute to it.

4. SEO it up

As with any blogger, you want your blogs to found, read, and shared by your audience. SEO plays a huge part in that, so optimize it to the best of your ability.

  • Keywords: Having rich keywords through your content, title, metadata, and URL are essential in order for those searching for that topic to come across your post. Not sure which keywords are the right ones? Check out Google Adwords keyword tool for some good starting points.
  • Meta Data: Google weights heavily on title tags so make sure your keywords are making it in there.
  • URLs: Your topic and keywords should also be in your URL in order for people to know easier that your post is about what they want to read up on, check out, and share.

5. Have fun – use instagram

I am a huge fan of integrating instagram along with my Tumblr. It makes for cool photography, great visuals, and a quick on the go post, such as me in my old office wearing my fave corduroy Toms shoes…

Check out mine – and tell me what you think. I am always looking for new insights, tips, and tricks. Share what you love about Tumblr in my comments below.