Plan your Brand Voice & Tone with These Five Tips

Do you want to be a brand that is boring and bland on their website, blog, and social media?

I hope not. Instead, ensure that your brand invests some time, resources, and money – so your brand voice and tone across your content efforts is consistent and enjoyable.

Here are five things to consider as you plan your voice and tone and how it will work across your marketing channels:

  1. The Style Guide: When it comes to revising your brand voice and tone or starting from scratch, it’s important to consider a style guide that your company can follow. This allows your team to ensure they are speaking the same language and not telling a different story across channels.
  2. Be Consistent: Having one tone on your website and another on your blog, may be confusing to some. Although there may be a different audience reading your blog, it is important that both audiences can tie the two to your brand and not feel that the two experiences are disconnected.
  3. Relax on Social Media: Channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are much more relaxed. Brands should be human, casual, and talk like you would to your friend when conversing over dinner. It’s not meant to be strict, restrained, and forced. Instead brands should consider using each of these channels as the audience does. As a human, which some brands like Tory Burch do very well.
  4. Tweak as needed: Although it’s important to be less “stodgy” on social media, each channel is different and it’s ok to make tweaks as needed. For example your brand may be more formal on LinkedIn, but more conversational on Facebook. That’s cool. Just keep a consistent voice across each about the type of content you are putting out, and who the brand stands for.
Check out my advice brand tone and voice through community management and read my full post on Social Media Club!

Five Tips to Building your Band of Brand Loyalists

It’s easy to find someone to sponsor your brand and your brand content, but to find someone who will do it without a paycheck, now that’s when you’re in the loyalist category. Loyalists are excited about news from the brand, new content put out, they follow them on social channels, they are advocates on behalf of the brand, and they are current customers. They’re the ones you can count on when shit hits the fan, and some mishap happens, or the brand is being bashed for something that was misunderstood by others. Those loyalists will speak up, they will stand behind the brand, and they will continue to be a customer. In turn, those loyalists will inspire others to consider the brand. Or at minimum, create some awareness that “this brand” is worth checking out.

So how do you create brand loyalists? There is no “follow this checklist” and you’ll have a band of loyalists at your door. It takes time, and it takes effort, and it’s different for each brand. However, there are some things that are important for each brand to consider as they figure out what works best for them.

Here’s a quick list to have in your back pocket at all times (but please don’t be fooled by the word, quick):

1. Transparency - Be transparent and honest about your brand. Either way the consumers will find out the truth, so why not tell it yourself. Brands like Toms may have it easy as their stories inspire others to act, give back, and truly love the brand. Others have it harder, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to tell your story in a way that impacts and connects others.

2. Have the best customer service ever - Customer service can make or break many customer relationships. Brands like Amazon have impeccable customer service to a point that they don’t question when something is wrong, but aim to fix the problem swiftly and make up for it. I remember one time when an item I purchased was delivered to the wrong location, I was so disappointed. Within 12 hours, it was in my hands due to their customer service help. Impressive.

3. Create Connections that Make an Impact - Customers don’t want to be treated as “just another wallet to take from.” They want to be appreciated. It can be as small as remembering their name when they walk into a store, or reaching out to them via a Tweet to say thank you. Nordstrom does a great job at this, when they say thank you whenever their mentioned by their followers on Twitter. It’s a small token, but it’s appreciated nonetheless. Whatever the effort, the effort is worth it to make a connection with your customers.

4. Give Value through Content - Providing value is a key component for any brand. Content is one way to go about that. For example, IBM has over 5 unique tumblr blogs, where they pump out different content on a daily or weekly basis. They are keeping their customers hungry for more – through consistent, quality, and fun content. It’s educational and entertaining – which is no easy feat! Take pointers.

5. Always be there - Your customers aren’t going to go to your website to see what you’re up to (at least not regularly). So be where they are. Be where they with thoughtful value and appreciation for their time. Provide them with content they want, customer service they deserve, a please and a thank you. And having a sale on your products, doesn’t hurt either!

In short, relationships that brands have with consumers are much like regular relationships. They take time to build, and can end quickly. Take the time to build a trustworthy one with true honesty/transparency, keeping in touch, being emotional, and offering true value. With time, that relationship will blossom and become amazing. Some will last a lifetime, others will fade. In the end, it’s better to have build some that lasted a few months than none at all.

This post was originally written for Socialnomics and my full post can also be found here. Thanks!

Influencer Marketing: Avoid These 5 Brand Mistakes

“Influencer Marketing” – the latest buzz phrase in the marketing sphere – but is your brand doing it right? There are multiple pitfalls, which are easy to miss even if they’re right in front of you. So instead of running towards the finish line, tread carefully and strategically for your brand’s benefit and ensure you have chosen the right influencer with the right tone, brand fit, and appropriate audience.

Avoid these pitfalls along the way:

1. Not understanding the definition of an Influencer

First and foremost, what is an influencer? The word means different things to different people and brands, and rightly so. There are different types of influencers, and your brand needs to decide which ones are right for their brand messaging, their target audience, and the unified effort. For example, celebrities are considered influencers due to their large following on social channels and otherwise. And then you have experts, journalists, personal branders, and topic authorities. So which one is right for your brand and your campaign – #2 should help with that.

2. Forgetting to put together an Influencer Strategy

An influencer strategy, like a social media strategy, channel strategy, and/or content strategy — is significant because it allows a brand to determine which influencers are right for the brand, how they will be reached out to, how they will be worked with, and what the goals and learnings will be from the program overall. Without this, you are just tweeting to random people and pulling at straws and may turn up with the short one. And no brand wants that.

3. Missing the brand fit

When you evaluate your list of influencers it’s important to ensure that the ones you’re considering are not opposed to the brand in any way. For example, it would be poor form to choose an influencer which may have spoken badly of the brand, a product of the brand, and/or some partnership/program that the brand was involved in. Additionally, it’s important that the influencer(s) fits the brand image in a way that isn’t too controversial (unless that’s what the brand is hoping for). For example, if the brand’s image is about being conservative, eco-friendly, and about local efforts, than it may help if the influencer has similarities in those areas or strengths that will help influence those areas as well.

4. Only using tools to find an influencer

This is a huge error that can cause the wrong influencer to be chosen. Although there are many tools out there that will help one get a list of influencers that may fit the brand/campaign, the human touch is still necessary. For example, 10 awesome influencers may be brought down from an initial list of 100 or more, which helps with efficiency and time to get down to the ones that mater and could have an impact for the brand. However, it’s important to look back into the person’s history (especially regarding #3 above), check to see the conversation that the person is having on their social channels, and ensure that the tool was accurate in its assessment. For instance, is the audience of that influencer one that matters to the brand? If not their influence is less likely to make an impact and bring awareness, engagement, and/or positive sentiment towards the brand as it had hoped.

5. Lack of authenticity

Since he or she is an influencer, they’re obviously authentic, right? Not, necessarily. For example, if an influencer is being poked by a brand a second, he or she may be writing sponsored content on a regular basis. Then where’s the original content, the content that matters to their audience. It’s important that the influencer has a balance of content that is still their own because without their own, personal, un-biased opinion, the authenticity is lost, and their influence is less valuable.

Looking for more input to ensure your influencer marketing starts off on the right foot? Reach out in the comments below!

This post was originally written for Socialnomics

Best Practices: Email Marketing for your Brand

 

Email Marketing Best Practices

Email marketing, a marketing method most brands use to reach out to their prospective and current customers, can easily become an annoyance customers runaway from. So how do we as brands enable our email marketing to work for us, and not against us?

Let’s look at some email marketing best practices that will help optimize your efforts…

Look and Feel; Think Mobile First

As with websites and social content, it’s important to consider mobile when deciding on your email content, the design, and your messaging. Responsive email design is helpful because it allows your email to be read on both desktop, mobile, and tablet.

However, to ensure that your design works for each device it’s important to test your content. For example, test to ensure your images show up correctly, your headline is able to be read clearly, and the primary messaging is easily scannable, consumable, and shareable.

Use an Editorial Calendar

Your team probably already has an editorial calendar, which allows your brand to schedule out your blog posts, tweets, FB posts, and pins. Adding your email content within this calendar will help see a large-scale view of the content you are putting out, the types of customers who receive it, and what channels are distributing it.

Overall it will keep you organized to know which topics are being published, and in turn which ones do the best. It’s even more helpful the following year when you look back to see what worked the previous year. For example if product sneak peeks were a hit, than the next time around you’ll want to make sure you do it again.

Personalize your Content; Start Simple

Personalizing content for email can go in many directions, especially if your audience is segmented in multiple ways. However, it’s often easier to start simple. Perhaps to do some a/b testing to see which content performs better for different regions of the country, gender, and/or age group for starters. That way you can ensure that Texas is not receiving the same winter content that Maine would get in January.

No customer wants to open up a generic email sent to the masses – it’s always nice to see one that is at least slightly catered to their interests, location, and who they are as a customer to your brand.

Pay Attention to the Details

The details, sometimes overlooked, are key when it comes to email marketing messaging. Your team needs to ensure that the email subject line, headline, first couple sentences (which are seen in a preview), and images are all put together in a way that not only entices the reader to read the email, but spend time with it, and potentially click your call to action – whether it leads them to your website, an offer, or your social media channels.

To read more on measuring results and cross-promotion on Social Media – Check out my Full Post on Startup Fashion!

Nordstrom: A social media case example for any consumer brand

Nordstrom's social media approach

The well known retailer Nordstrom is proving itself to be an expert at engaging with its audience across multiple social channels, as well as connecting both online and offline for continued engagement.

On thing that Nordstrom ensures is that its visual content is available on whichever channel its audience prefers — providing insight into the latest styles available in the store, upcoming sales, and much more.

Let’s take a look at Nordstrom’s Social Media Approach

Twitter and Facebook

Nordstrom uses Facebook and Twitter to provide updates on daily specials and tips through their committed community managers. The community managers are helpful, quick to respond, and always give nice, sweet comments when consumers share their latest Nordstrom finds.

Going the extra mile: When customers have a question for the store, they often use Twitter to ask it.  Nordstrom, unlike a lot of major retailers out there, do actually respond within minutes including direct messages for direct answers needed.

Email Marketing

Frequent (but not too frequent) emails allow consumers to be alerted to the new trends available in store and online, as well as sales occurring at that moment so their customers don’t miss out on a great deal.

Pinterest and Instagram

Nordstrom’s Pinterest and Instagram accounts are always up to date with their latest trends.  They include highlights of bloggers and their best customers wearing styles from the store. When customers tag their latest purchases with Nordstrom handles or hashtags, they are automatically considered for a highlight.

tumblr

Nordstrom’s blog is especially unique because it isn’t just about the products but also gives consumers an inside look at Nordstrom’s take on fashion. This includes street style pictures from the week, which is great for a quick daily inspiration and feels almost like a service that the retailer is offering its customers.

Takeaways and Lessons to Apply to Your Brand

  • Use visual content that highlights your products in a way that the consumer can see the value, be excited to share it, and potentially purchase it.
  • Provide a path to purchase on appropriate channels.
  • The same content doesn’t live on every channel; allow diversity.
  • Allow the audience to be a part of the content; User Generated Content can allow your fans to feel special.
This post was originally written for Startup fashion – for the full list of takeaways and lessons for your brand check out my full post here
 

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

 

Three Things you Need when Hiring a Community Manager for your Brand

Hiring a Community Manager

As your brand grows, your social presence usually becomes larger as well — meaning more social networks to manage and monitor on a daily basis. In the past, we’ve discussed the whether having a social media intern is a good idea.  But what about when you’re ready to hire some help?

Having a dedicated community manager is not only helpful but often mandatory for a brand to listen and engage with its audience regularly and in real time.

How do you hire the right person to manage your social community?

Here are a few factors to consider…

The Technical Chops

It’s important for a community manager not only to be able to understand the mechanics of a tweet, but also the analytics portion of things like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and other tool and platform specific metrics. The ability to decipher what the peaks and valleys mean in regards to the content being shared and the days/times you post is invaluable.

It’s also helpful to ensure that the person is familiar with the tools your brand uses, or at least quick enough to pick up on it in minimum time.

The Human Touch

Most brands especially B2C don’t want someone without a personality managing their social. They become the voice of the brand, and that voice can either increase engagement or halt it. Be sure to get a vibe for their personality and perhaps even get some example tweets or posts to see how they translate digitally.

Also, keep in mind that some people are better at certain platforms like Twitter and not so great at others like Instagram. When hiring a community manager, take the time to think about exactly what the role will entail.  Don’t just dump all your passwords on her and then disappear from the equation.  Confirm what aspects she will manage and what aspects will not fall under her umbrella.

Example: The  DKNY PR girl is a twitter master.  However, the last we heard from her at a conference, she mentioned that she has nothing to do with Facebook.

To read about my last and crucial tip for hiring a community manager, check out my full post on Startup Fashion!

Four Ways for your brand to be more Mobile Friendly

mobile friendly fashion business

As of May, 2013 – over 50% of U.S. mobile users have a smartphone device. Now that is a pretty hefty number to consider when strategizing your content (which includes images, videos, graphics, advertisments) for your target audience.

It’s important to think about how much time your current and potential customers spend on their mobile devices; not just for the content that you post on your website and social media platforms but also for the other ways that your business can be represented.

4 Things to Remember to Make Your Fashion Business Mobile Friendly.

  1. Content - Is your content mobile friendly? Is it quick and easy to consume on the go? The key is to figure out what your audience can do on their phones and what they are willing to consume. For example, not many people will fill out a huge registration form for a site on their phone. On the other hand if you make it two step form, perhaps with a social login, you could avoid that issue pretty easily. Second, is your content visually pleasing? More people are likely to check out photos, videos, graphics and other visuals on the go and read longer form content on their laptop or tablets.

  1. Apps – When selling products, it may be helpful to consider whether a mobile site is enough or if an app may be helpful for a specific purpose. Now, this is not to say everyone should have an app, but if there’s a demand, a need, and the ROI (return on investment) will overcome the cost you put in, then considering the development of an app could be worthwhile. For example, I find it easier to shop on the Nordstrom app when I’m using my phone for quick on the go purchases, rather than going to their mobile site where it’s harder to see the products I may be interested in.

    To read my other two tips on being mobile friendly in today’s marketing world – check out my full post on Startup Fashion!

Facebook Part III: Facebook Graph Search

 

facebook graph search

So, some of us were “cool” enough to be selected into Facebook’s Beta of their Graph Search a few months back. Lucky us. We played around with the options of searching broader topics, friends of friends, images, and other such info. Now the Facebook Graph Search is opening to all users and has even more search options. What does this mean for your fashion business? Let’s break it down…

Consumers Can Now

  • Be connected to a larger network of people for business and pleasure
  • Find more of what friends like and recommend in the categories of music, brands, products, restaurants, places to visit, etc.
  • Find visual content that friends share specific to what users want to see (ex. Photos from a specific event or place)

Brands Care Because

  • Users can find your business on Facebook through their searches
  • Users can find when friends talk about your business
  • Users can find your services or products when searching for a specific want or need

What To Do

  • Ensure your Facebook page is kept up to date including your about section (location, contact info, etc)
  • Ensure your page is fresh with new and consistent content
  • Be visual with your content
  • Keep your images tagged appropriately
  • Ensure your content has search friendly keywords
  • Make it shareable and easy to find

Read more on what your brand should be doing and our prediction for how this affects you in the future on my full post at Startup Fashion

Facebook for your Brand Part 1: Managing Facebook Updates

Facebook for your fashion business

Facebook – a channel, a sandbox, a social network, a place for brands and consumers to share content and engage – is continuously growing and adapting. In turn, brands need to adapt and change their strategy towards the channel as these changes occur – whether it’s the latest and great Hashtags, pictures being allowed in comments, or just another change to the algorithm.

In this 5 part series I will cover various aspects you should consider when using Facebook as a tool for growing your fashion business.

What your brand should keep in mind about Facebook Updates:

Hashtags:

  • User adoption is still just trickling in as hashtags are rolled out to the network audience.
  • Hashtags are not functional on mobile yet.
  • It’s a good time to dip one’s toes in and play around with using them in your posts (especially those that relate to Twitter content for cross promotion on campaigns). You may find that you like them.  You may find that you don’t.
  • Listening through tools will not work yet as this functionality will need to be integrated as it was done with Twitter before.
  • This will undoubtedly increase the ability to leverage a large audience and visibility around content, especially when paid options become available (prediction: down the road).
  • Repeat: Cross Promotion on various platforms is now easier.

Images in Comments:

  • This doesn’t work in mobile yet, but should be rolled out soon
  • Allows for greater sharing of visual content by fans. Think about User Generated Content and how this functinality can really build and grow a conversation within your comments.
  • An increase in monitoring and listening will undoubtedly be needed
  • An obvious movement towards more visual content on Facebook (as with Instagram, tumblr and pinterest)

To delve deeper into the Facebook Algorithm, check out my full post here on Startup Fashion

How To: Use Hashtags in Your Social Media Efforts the Right Way

hashtags

Hashtags continue to grow in popularity, and not just on Twitter. People use them even in common phrases when they speak to one another too!

But what’s the right way to effectively use hashtags in social media for your brand’s campaigns? Let’s take a deeper look:

Why do brands use hashtags

  • To corral conversation around a topic such as a fashion line, an event, or a product/service
  • To continue the conversation online such as from a video, article, or event
  • To join a conversation with a pre-existing hashtag and contribute the valuable content your brand has
  • To bring awareness to the brand/topic/tweet
  • To bring engagement around a topic such as a new fashion line
  • To utilize the second screen / socialize TV such as around an event like the oscars
  • Cross promote content across social channels – ex. email and twitter
  • To corral conversation in Twitter chats and be able to respond and follow more easily

Quick tips on creating tweets with hashtags

  • Use 1 to 2 hashtags in a Tweet (not more or people get lost in all the ###s)
  • CamelCap the hashtag: #dontdothis #DoThis
  • Be sure to keep your hashtag short and easy to remember. By keeping the hashtag brief, you’ll save your audience some room to include more commentary about your content in their RT.

Quick tips on choosing and introducing a new hashtag

  • Jumping Into Conversations: Introduce your hashtag by piggy-backing on trending or relevant hashtags when applicable to the content and/or conversation.
  • Use your social real estate – add your main hashtag in your Twitter Bio and cross promote across social media and other marketing
To read more tips and learn what to avoid when using hashtags and monitoring your conversation – check out my full post on Startup Fashion

LinkedIn & How Fashion Brands can take Advantage

So you know about Facebook and Twitter, but there’s more to social then those two players. Some brands forget that LinkedIn is not just a great resource for individuals and their “online resumes” – but also a great network for you to showcase your brand, boast product offerings, highlight team members, initiate collaboration, and more!

Here are 5 Ways Fashion Brands Can Leverage LinkedIn

  • Products and services tab: the perfect place to show off the great things your brand offers. For example: if your brand has 3 to 5 specific offerings, a new offer, or updates – the tab is a great way to link directly, give teasers, and provide a place for consumers to comment. Tip - consider video content on this tab to make your products more engaging and shareable.

  • Cross Promote:  LinkedIn allows brands to cross promote their other social networks such as Twitter feeds but also their blog rss feeds. Fashion brands that have a great content source such as a rich blog with visuals should always find ways to create awareness for their content and in turn engagement with it – whether it’s through the blog itself or through distribution on social networks.

  • Company Updates: LinkedIn offers a great location to update on what’s happening with the company. Does your company have a new CMO or Intern? Give them the spotlight and show how much you appreciate your team.

    To learn about the other 2 helpful ways fashion brands can leverage LinkedIn (or most brands for that matter) – check out my full post on startup fashion.

    Photo source: http://blog.amsterdamprinting.com/2013/03/07/10-excellent-examples-of-linkedin-cover-images-for-brands/030413_apl_blog_images_post2/

Determining if the “shiny object” is the right social network for your Brand

StartUp FASHION Pinterest

Does your brand get distracted by shiny objects (aka social networks)? Don’t be fooled by a fad; but at the same time don’t dismiss them either. We’ve come a long way since the days of only MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter — there’s a new social network popping up seemingly every day – whether it’s Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, or the next shiny object – each brand needs to evaluate which ones work for them.

Is your brand wondering which social networks to use and which ones to not bother with?

There are two main things to consider for the “shiny object syndrome” when it comes to the latest and possibly greatest social networks:

Does it work for your brand type and does it work with your brand’s marketing and digital strategy?

Fashion works well on sites like Pinterest & Instagram but is LinkedIn right? Video content? Do you have the content or the ability and resources to create said content on a regular and consistent basis? These are all things to consider before diving in. It’s always better to do a few very well than a lot very poorly.

Consider Test and Learn to determine if the channel meets your goals and assists in your overall  marketing strategy.

To check out my examples for engagement, traffic, and sales read my full post on startup fashion. Interested in learning more about determining which social channels are right for your brand? Reach out in the comments below.

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!

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

Five Simple Ways Marketers can take Advantage of Pinterest

So in case you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, just have, or are wondering what all the hype is about, Pinterest is still sizzling. It’s a fun and useful tool that brands can use to their advantage in order to show a more visual side to its consumer market.

Now here’s what’s really important…how to truly capitalize on Pinterest and all it’s glory:

1. Integrate with other social networks: Allow your target market to see you on all the places they play. Share your new pins on your Facebook page or Tweet them out. Consumers don’t always know you are present on the latest social networks, so the more you promote your presence, the more traffic you may receive, even if just for mere curiousity.

2. Show a more visual side to your brand: Take the time to prepare aesthetically pleasing visual content to share. For example if your brand produces blog posts, such as tech, then make sure the pictures which will direct back to those posts are eye-catching. If your brand has consumer products to share, then ensure the photography behind it is something your target market will want to like, comment on, re-pin, and/or follow.

3. Use instagram: Be creative and use fun photography such as instragram to highlight certain boards. Pinterest focuses on visual beauty; the more you can make your pictures exciting to view, the more engagement you may receive from consumers as well as other brands.

4. Ensure the pins are items people will want to re-pin: When you are pinning your items to the different boards, ensure the link goes to something on your website, blog or other social network. It should help drive traffic to your other brand sites, and additionally be something your consumers will want to share their own followers on Pinterest by re-pinning your content.

5. Marketing Campaigns with Pinterest. Brands can utilize Pinterest  (along with Facebook and Twitter) to do creative campaigns which may include…

  • contests: For example, allowing consumers to create images to be featured on the pinterest page
  •  voting: For example, allowing consumers to vote on their favorite item on a specific board, or picking what other boards they would  like featured.
  • how-to: Feature how-to demos, videos, posts, and other items in order to let consumers get better insight into your service or           product.
  • audience-specific: For example having different boards with content specific to different audience groups. This will allow for more targeting rather than just focusing on one consumer group at a time.

Last but not least, make sure your brand doesn’t forget to let the public know you’re there. Use the Pinterest widgets for your website and other channels.

Wish List

Although Pinterest has taken off and many brands have already established their presence…there are always improvements that could be made. In my opinion Pinterest would be even more valuable if it had analytics within it for brands to monitor in order to improve their boards and pins. In the mean time brands can focus on the referral traffic through google analytics, which is helpful to know which pins are really of interest to their consumers.

Sources:

http://sproutsocial.com/insights/2012/02/pinterest-marketing/

http://www.socialnomics.net/2012/01/22/five-brands-engaging-like-pros-on-pinterest/

http://www.inc.com/john-brandon/9-tips-boost-your-business-pinterest.html

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204792404577227542820850590.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

 

10 Branding & Marketing Tips from “Mad Men”

I have recently become obsessed with the show Mad Men and watched Seasons One through Four in about a month. Crazy? No! Dedicated? Yes! While watching the well written, directed, and addicting show, I couldn’t help but relate it to my life and career in marketing. Here are a few of things I took away from the show…

(1) Just because you think the slogan/pitch is awesome, does not mean it is. It takes practice (and many errors) to get things fine-tuned and “awesome.”

(2) Don Draper is the Man.

(3) Having your brand featured on Mad Men is kickass brand exposure and awareness.

(4) Losing a large brand, could potentially lead to losing other brands unless you react and turn the situation around quickly.

(5) If the story is making your brand look bad – change the story.

(6) Traditional Media can still be effective if used well.

(7) “Sex sells.”

(8) How your consumer views your brand may not be the same way you view your brand.

(9) If you are a secretary on Mad Men you will get laid and/or married.

(10) An efficient and creative marketing/Ad team is not only important, but essential.

And did I mention, Don Draper is the Man?!

“Twitter is Stupid?!”

Twitter is Stupid!” was the ignorant comment I received from a classmate during a Q&A (after a presentation on a social media and website plan for a law office). Can you imagine the expression on my face?

It is comments like this, from individuals who have never even dabbled in Twitter, that bother me. I understand if an individual has attempted Twitter, realized what it is used for, but does not believe it is something that works for them or something they want to put the time into. However, those individuals who have looked at Twitter, but failed to actually utilize it, and do not understand the potential it has for brand management – those individuals – I’m sorry folks – ignorance is lame.

I applaud those who have tried it, are confused by it, but do not bash it. I have some law school friends who always ask “what do you tweet?” I love it when people inquire, and truly want to know what is involved in utilizing Twitter to its potential. While some folks may just Tweet personal items such as where they go out, they are still benefiting the places they tweet about. Aka enhancing brand awareness via word of mouth.

So whether you’re tweeting about the burger you ate at X Restaurant, the awesome jeans you bought at Y Store, or just how cool it was to hang out with Z — Twitter is not “stupid” – it is a tool that can be used for great potential, or wasted by “ignorance.”

This is one time when I say…Ignorance is not Bliss.