Know Your Brand Audience and Give Them What They Want

Knowing your brand audience isn’t just an option, it’s a necessity when it comes to marketing well. It allows you to provide value to the audience that matters most, and ensure you can target directly to them.
Three ways to learn a little more about them include:

  1. See what they’re reading – sounds unexpected, but it’s true. Think about the content your brand would put out and see who else is writing similarly. It could be a competitor, or it could be an influencer, or it could be an author. Consider checking out blogs related to yours and see who is leaving comments. What do they have to say. What do they have questions on? What do they feel is most important? What relates to their needs and interests?
  2. Understand their needs – That leads us here. Listen to what they’re saying. Listen to them in social media. Keep listening to what they tweet, post, and comment. Make a list of what it is that they struggle with. What obstacles they’re trying to overcome. How can your brand help? What can your brand offer to fulfill those needs? For example, can your brand offer content or a product to help? If not, canyour brand partner with someone else who can to share the value given?
  3. Learn their interests – By learning what else they like outside of what your product and service, you can potentially offer more value. You can also target them better. For example, Amex learned their audience loved music, and wanted special access to events. What did they do? They gave it to them. They offered them exclusive offers to events, and an ability to have access that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

Once your brand has a grasp of what they’re doing outside of your brand. What their needs and interests are…then what?

  1. Create the content – Create content that can be geared towards your audience. It can be an email campaign, blog posts, and/or social media content. For example if your brand wants to start simple, perhaps it’s through Instagram and Pinterest first. Allowing your brand to be discovered through hashtags and search. Providing short, visual content, that allows your consumer to receive small snippets of value, while building out your arsenal by learning what works and what doesn’t.
  2. Repurpose It – When you create a great piece of content, leverage it further. For example if you have a blog post that is awesome, use some of it in an email. Take  a quote and post it on Pinterest and link back. Share a valuable point through Twitter with a relevant hashtag. Syndicate it on another medium.
  3. Target it – Use the interest targeting and demographics data and target it to the audience you want. If you want awareness, broaden your target a bit, to get more fish.

In the end, your audience is always a moving target. Like any individual they grow, change, and evolve. Their interests and needs change with them. Keep listening, and learning, and in turn test and see what works.

This post was originally written for Socialnomics.
Image source: 98togo

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. 

What to Put on the “About” Pages of Your Website and Social Media Platforms

your about page fashion brand

The About pages of your social channels and website are important. They allow your community the ability to quickly understand what your brand is, what it stands for, and simply put – why they should care. The About page of your website will be more in-depth; a place where you can refer people from social to learn more, as you’ll have less space in social and need to be more succinct and captivating.

Your Website

Your website is where your brand can be as short or as long as you want in order to tell your story. The key here is to remember that while it’s your About page, it’s really meant to convey how your brand can help your potential customer. So when you are writing “about” your brand, make sure that you are not beating around the bush. Start with a strong statement that represents your brand while also making a connection with your customer.

Once you make a connection with your reader, and make them feel as if they are understood and in the right place, then proceed into your story. Your story should have a short summary and then flow into the details; they can read these if they’re interested in learning more.

Allow your reader to choose what they want to learn about with easy sections to navigate. Bold type, sub-headers, and bullet points are all great tools for this.

Finally, make sure there’s a call to action in your About page. What do you want them to do after they read it? If you have a particular campaign or product release you can direct them there. Or maybe you want them to sign up for emails or follow you on social media?  What ever it is, make sure they can navigate to that with ease.

Some tips on content:

  • Tell your story: Allow people to see who your brand is through some creative and inspiring storytelling. Show how your brand came into being, why your product/service was the one you chose, and why it’s so exceptional. Show its unique characteristics, and even get into the details of how your product was formed. Allow people to see your journey, and feel like they could be apart of it.
  • Be human / have a personality: Don’t just speak in industry jargon that the reader may not understand. Be human and personable and use everyday speak to tell your story.
  • Be visual: Use pictures and video to tell a more captivating story. For example, consider graphics to show how your product was made. Use a video to give a tour of your office or factory.
  • Allow people to connect: Give people different opportunities to connect with your brand. Use email to send direct messaging, provide links to your most prominent social channels, and provide easy ways for them to contact you directly in case they have questions or want to learn more (i.e. email address, physical address, phone number).
  • Be memorable: It isn’t easy to be memorable, but using unique ways to demonstrate your “about us” page can allow your brand to stand out a bit more. For example if you use fun marketing content types such as gifs, short video, and or interactive ways for the reader to navigate your content based on their interests.

Facebook

Since Facebook has a longer About section than any other social channel, it’s a good opportunity to leverage it. Use the short description to be pithy and to the point, and the longer description (in case your follower want to read more) to explain a little more about the brand. Consider it the cliff notes to your website About page.

  • Consistent look and feel: Make sure your social channels have a consistent look and feel to your website.
  • Share your story: Share a story that will relate to your community on Facebook and what they will care about.
  • Allow it to be personable: Considering it’s social, you want your brand to be more human and less like a robot (always, but especially here). Allow your brand to speak as if you were talking to your community through a comment or a post.
  • Link back: Link back to your website so they can dig in more, and/or purchase. Use the multiple link sections in order to link back to specific areas of your website and other social channels.

Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest

Since these social channels have very little real estate for your About content, make sure you have a short one liner that will communicate what your brand is about and why the visitor should care (and therefore follow).

  • Be captivating: Be alluring with your short description. Say something that makes them go “Yep!” The goal is to make the visitor feel completely understood and want to be part of a community.
  • Use your #: If you have a brand or campaign hashtag, place it in the bio for more awareness.
  • Call to Action: Make sure to use words that relate to the link below like “Join us”, “Sign Up”, “Shop Now”, etc.
  • Link back: Link back to your website so people can learn more (or directly to your latest campaign, blog post, or opportunity to purchase).

In the end, the main takeaways are to be personable and tell a story. The About page isn’t supposed to be a doctor’s manual. It’s meant to be another way to reach your audience and show them why they should choose your brand to follow, engage with, and in the end, purchase from.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

Facebook Reactions Made Social Media a Little More Emotional

facebook emotional reactions

Last month Facebook released Facebook Reactions. These are additions to the “like” button, allowing consumers to have additional emotional reactions to posts without having to actually comment. The choices range from happy to angry to sad to wow, with 6 in total.

The cool thing is, “when a user thumbs over each of the emoji, they animate like tiny GIFs. For “wow,” the yellow face tilts upwards, its mouth agape. For “haha,” a squinty-eyed emoji tilts its head back in a fit of laughter.” (via Wired)

As of right now, this can only occur on the original post, and not within the comments thread.

But what do the new Facebook reactions mean for brands?

You Can See Some Stats
Right now your only option is to go through Facebook and the native Insights Dashboard and dive into each post detail to see what reactions are occurring for your brand.

Advertising is Weighed the Same
For the short term, Facebook will treat each of the reactions as an equal sentiment to the “like” button. It will allow Facebook to see when users may want to see additional content similar to what they are reacting to.

However, as Facebook’s algorithm becomes smarter and distinguishes between the reactions, the content that is served up to the user will differentiate based upon the reactions and how the user appears to feel.

Illicit a Positive Reaction with a Contest/Giveaway
Brands can do more now. There are some brands like Chevy taking advantage and asking their followers to “show the love.” It can be risky, or it can be bold. Perhaps both.

There are some brands incentivizing their users to show positive reactions in order to win a contest or sweepstakes.

Although it may seem like your brand should try to figure out a way to evoke a positive reaction from each post at all times, it also makes sense (and is more authentic and real) to allow the user to have a real response; allow them to make up their mind.

This post was originally written for startup fashion. 

Mobile: Search and Ease for Consumers and How Brands need to Adapt

 

We’ve seen the importance of convenience transforming our tech, digital, and social media experiences over the past months and years. Consumers, as we know, want things at their fingertips – when they want it, where they want it, and how they want it. They don’t want disruption from what they choose to view, and don’t want inconveniences such as leaving the mobile app they’re in in order to continue a content experience.
Brands are adapting. Advertisers (brands) are adapting. And they have to.
The upcoming ios9  is going to go even further.
The preview supposedly boasts some of the following:
  • the ability to block ads;
  • search within spotlight for finding something within any app or doc on your device versus having to search multiple apps for what you want to
Why does this matter?
Brands will have to work harder. Content needs to work harder. 
Right now it’s hard to tell how this will affect native ad experiences, but as we are seeing with Hulu (letting consumers opt out of ads completely for a higher price point), consumers will have more choices on what they want to view. So your brand’s content needs to be on point. It needs to be valuable and interesting. It needs to entertain or educate. It needs to be something your consumer target deems worth their time as they run from grabbing their latte to their next meeting.
Is this a bad thing for brands?
Not necessarily. It will weed out those who don’t put in as much effort into their content and other will rise.
This post was originally written for Socialnomics. 

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.

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!

5 Ways to Enhance Your Brand’s Search Marketing

Search marketing is fairly complex. It goes beyond the organization of a simple keyword list that would be effective to optimize one’s content. However, each marketer needs to know the basics and how to enhance their search marketing. Let’s dig a little deeper into some of the basics:

1.     Fresh Content: Each site and/or blog needs fresh content to survive – whether it is paid search marketing or organic content. Content allows for keywords to be utilized throughout the site. Meta data can be implemented. Images and videos with alt tags and descriptions add to the value of the content as well. It is also imperative to remember that fresh content should be consistently updated, and posted on a regular, frequent basis. Once a month won’t cut it. Once a week may not even do the trick when starting out. Think, daily when creating fresh content.

Pro Example: Amex Open Forum. This brand with a team of content writers and outside influencers is able to update their content not just daily, but even hourly.

2.     Links, Links, and More Links: Linking back to your own content is always helpful. For example, if you are writing a post on search engine marketing, perhaps link back to a post on content strategy that extends the conversation.

Tip: Ensure that your anchor text is keywords that help build further SEO. For example, use keywords that help readers know where the link will lead (ensuring they do actually work). Additionally the text will help the search engines possibly rank the sites higher due to search and relevancy.

3.     Social Media is a Search booster: There are many ways to distribute your content based upon the type of content and your audience. For example, if your audience is highly digital and found on most social channels, then you can consider the following:

  • Distribute your content across your social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter (assuming your brand has a presence there and your audience engages on these channels).
  • Ask influencers to share with their audience. Note – it will take time and research to find influencers who are a good representation of the brand, have a decent social following, and are willing and excited to talk on the brand’s behalf.
  • Ask your guest bloggers to post and share with their audiences. They are normally happy to do so.
  • If your policy allows guest bloggers to repost- have them link back to your site.

In the end, the more places people can find your SEO friendly URL and content, the better.

4.     Mobile: It starts with making sure your site and content is mobile friendly. Although you can have a mobile site, a responsive design is usually better as it adapts to your device rather than sending you to another version of your sight. Check to see how much of your audience views your content via mobile. (Are they using tablets? smart phones? or just desktop? or all of the above). Then see what you can do to boost that SEO whether it’s by amplifying with mobile ads or increasing content spread on both desktop and mobile. Mobile ads can get expensive, but if your brand has the budget and is willing to experiment, it may be worth the effort to try distribution across mobile via search and ads. Cross screen is the new ‘black’!

5.     Test & Learn: Tried and true, you cannot forget to test keywords to see which ones work for you. Test content; see what your audience likes most. Test your social network distribution and see which content works best where. And most of all just don’t be afraid to test.

Note to remember: There’s not one thing you can do to amplify SEO for search. It’s about testing and learning of course – but all of the pieces above (and more) are apart of the algorithm to help search rankings and referral traffic to one’s site. Remember to utilize to each piece.

Sources:

Note: this post was originally written for Social Media Club and 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.

The Importance of Mobile for Brands Today

Brands realize (or are realizing) the importance of mobile considerations as our society is no longer just consuming content via a desktop of the television or newspaper. In the age of smart phones, tablets, and constantly being “on the go,” brands need to constantly consider how best to distribute content – where, when, and how. Distributing content on a blog, on a website, on Facebook is one thing – but is it mobile friendly? Can someone view easily? Share easily? All things to consider when considering a distribution strategy for content and content consumption by the target audience.

Content varies from blog posts to tweets to video to infographics to…so much more. In the case of video, mobile consumption is growing each year. Currently according to YouTube:

  • 25% of global YouTube views come from mobile devices
  • People watch one billion views a day on YouTube mobile
  • YouTube is available on 400 million devices
  • Traffic from mobile devices tripled in 2011

Video content tells the brand’s story – whether it’s on YouTube or a quick snippet on vine – and of course they’re both shared across social. Both are meant for mobile so it’s important to ensure mobile friendliness when you are embedding on your sites –  check to see that your site is either a mobile site or a responsive web design which adjusts to screens accordingly.

If you aren’t considering mobile – you’re losing audience members, you’re losing engagement, you’re losing the value ofy our content. In one word – Fail.

Rather than losing out – when it comes to video content and focusing on mobile consumption consider the following when strategizing: (1) short and digestible content; (2) uploading 2 hours before the optimal viewing time for your audience; (3) second screen opportunities for engaging your audience when watching TV (ex. extended content or behind the scenes); and of course (4) ensuring your content is easily shareable across your audiences’ preferred social networks.

Questions or Comments on how your brand strategizes for mobile? Let us know in the comments section below.

NOTE: this post was originally written for socialnomics and can also be found here.

Image sources: http://readwrite.com/2012/08/22/youtube-finally-offers-mobile-ads; http://www.midbeam.com/articles/play-youtube-video-streaming-on-mobile-with-2g-slow-speed/

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!

Content, Content, &…more Content

In the days of “content being king” many brands have recognized both the importance and value of content in their marketing strategies. Simply put, marketing without content is like peanut butter without the jelly. Now that would be a sad little sandwich.

Luckily most brands have not forgotten the relevant ingredient.

Created Content

Ok, so content. Check.

But what kind of content are we talking about. Content doesn’t just mean a blog post or a whitepaper per say. Yes, it can be created content such as these, but it also includes items such as a facebook post, a Tweet, a YouTube video, a photo on Instagram, a board on Pinterest, and so on.

Just look at brands like Burberry who realize the need for being on the platforms which their audiences will engage with them on. They provide these consumers the content they want: visual elegance, updates on new items, events, and more. They took note on the content their audience desired, and made it happen.

Without content, your audience will move on, be bored, and feel that you have no true value to offer them.

Curated Content

Not all content must be created from beginning to end. Curation is a helpful tool for things like giving your insight on a topic, sharing great tips by an influencer, giving industry examples, creating a reading list, etc. The key point is to ensure you don’t just share the content and slap it on like it is yours. Give credit, give your opinion, and demonstrate why it was worthy to share in the first place.

A great example are brands who RT and share other brand’s blog posts or opinions because they believe it also valuable for their audience. They are demonstrating they aren’t afraid to share others’ content over their own. It demonstrates that they believe valuable content exists in other brands and companies too. Why not share if their audience will find it valuable?

Branded content

Brands used to slap their name to piece of content and call it theirs. Now it’s about creating content that engages their target audiences — branded content. Brands such as Nike and Dove understood this and made the investment to develop deeper and more meaningful content for their particular audiences.

Content creators are excited to work with big brands such as these in order to create videos, web series, digital experiences, and more, which will not only entertain but also inform and entice consumers to engage with the content. Netflix, Hulu and others which were known just as distributors of content before…now also create. They allow brands to share and tell their stories in a unique and forward-thinking fashion.

Seeing brands go that second and third step is refreshing. It’s not just about that youtube video but about leading the audience to engage during and afterword, whether it’s through an app experience or a content or whatever it may be. That extra step divides the weak from the courageous.

Great Example: Gwenyth Paltrow’s GOOP
Parting Tip
Ensure that all your content is mobile-friendly…especially on social sites. It would be unfortunate if your consumers couldn’t read, enter a site, write a comment, or share your awesome content just because it wasn’t viewable on a smartphone.

Are you prepared in this content-driven world? Strategize now.

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

Additional Sources:
http://www.buddymedia.com/newsroom/2012/03/l2-buddy-media-hospitality-brand-hotel-digital-iq/
http://adage.com/article/guest-columnists/time-marketers-invest-branded-content/228877/
http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/2012/02/coca-colas-content-strategy-lessons-for-marketers/
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/22/fashion/22iht-rbrand22.html
http://www.collings.co.za/2012/01/brands-as-content-curators.html


How To Use Social Media to Generate and Nurture Leads

Generating and nurturing leads is a key part of campaigns and the sales cycle for a business looking to kick butt and make a good profit. But did you think social media would be a great way to nurture those leads? Social media is the key to inbound lead nurturing because it allows people to come to your brand on their own accord. I am not saying you shouldn’t utilize email marketing and other forms, but social media can be a great additional source, and also to use in conjunction with your other avenues for lead generation.

3 key methods to lead generation and nurturing

1. Participate in the Convo

More than likely there is already chatter about your brand on the Internet. The key is to find it, listen often, and participate in it.

Find and Listen: You can utilize a tool as simple as Google Reader (or Feedly) in order to hear what your consumers, competition, and others are saying regarding your brand, product, or service. For example you can take RSS feeds from Topsy, Twitter, Facebook and have them all set up in your Reader. Additionally you can set up keyword alerts for your industry. Way simpler than checking every day on what’s out there or getting a billion email alerts.

Listen more: The key is to find out what the key themes are that your consumers and competitors are talking about on these social platforms and across the web. What are the pain points? Then you have an avenue to talk to them about and engage on a level that they want to be engaged on.

Engage: Don’t talk to, but talk with your consumers. Are the majority wishing they had a service that helped them do X better? Or had tips on how to do Y in a shorter amount of time? Perhaps you already have content on how they can do just that. Provide a link to a source of content to help them, rather than just selling your service right away. In short, this will help build awareness, start a conversation, and lead them through the funnel.

2. Share some Content

From part one you have begun to listen to your consumers regarding what they have to say, what they want, what they don’t want, and what information they could use more of. Now what?

Create Valuable Content: Focus on their pain points and offer content on what will help relieve those pain points. For example, if your brand is a software service and your potential consumers are having a hard time with efficiency, perhaps write some whitepapers, blog posts, or record some webinars which give them tips and tricks to increase efficiency (and of course you can throw in a little plug about how your product is the key to that efficiency).

Provide Valuable Content: So now you have this content, now what?

  1. Join the groups where your target consumers are in Facebook or LinkedIn.
  2. Use the hashtags they are using on Twitter.
  3. Share your content in these groups, on your Facebook Page, through your Twitter stream, and on your LinkedIn group.
  4. Make sure there is a link that leads these consumers directly to this content on your website.
  5. If they keep clicking, and look for more info regarding XYZ, now you know what more to provide these specific consumers. You can nurture these leads further all because you listened first, and engaged second – and on the social media platforms where they like to speak and engage (not where you think they should).

3.  Measure, Measure, and Measure some more

Did someone say the word “measure”? You may be tweeting, commenting, sharing, and chatting online with your consumers, but how much are they engaging with you? How often are they clicking on your links? Are they converting? Key areas to measure to see if you are utilizing social media to truly generate and nurture leads include:

Measure the visitors

  • Analyze how they got to your website or blog. Was it through a bit.ly link used on Twitter? Was it through a Facebook group post? Track your links and see where the majority of your consumers came from.

When did you see the most / least traffic

  • You can see which campaigns on social worked the best or least and repeat and further the better ones, and perhaps drop the lesser ones.

Conversion

  1. How many just perused (and what did they look at)?
  2. How many clicked, and converted? What did they look at and view before they converted. Was it the awesome webinars you record each week? Now you know what works and what doesn’t for your target audience.

Although social media is not going to get your lead to convert by itself every time, it is a great bonus tool to use in your nurturing process. Combine it with your email efforts, and make sure your emails and newsletters all have your social buttons on them for potential and current customers to follow and fan when they wish.

And….don’t forget to also keep in touch after you have converted those leads into customers. There is the after sale process part that is very important. Customers want more information on training, tips and tricks, and more. And if they are avid social media geeks, they may be subscribing to your Facebook feed in order to keep up with the latest and greatest from your company.

 

 

5 Types Of Lead Nurturing Emails You Should Be Sending

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lead nurturing, which helps move your leads down the funnel via email marketing, is essential but not always implemented properly or efficiently. Most companies would like their leads to move down the funnel and become customers. However, converting leads to customers is not just about sending random emails. The content of each email should be relevant, targeted, and communicate value that your company has to offer.

Before you even start, you should strategize a content map, which will allow you to plan out your email campaign for different types of leads, and how it should be changed as they click on items, and move down the funnel.

5 Types Of Lead Nurturing Emails You Should Be Sending

1. Educational Content Email - You could start with some general educational emails that have content demonstrating the value your company can offer (without being “salesy”). For example, you could have 5 different types of educational emails you can provide depending on upon the type of lead they are. You can provide educational content regarding marketing, technology related to your service/product, selling to their customers, managing their business better, etc.
This was an excerpt of my post for Hubspot. Click the link below to read about the other 4 emails you should be sending in my full post!
Read more: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/25494/5-Types-Of-Lead-Nurturing-Emails-You-Should-Be-Sending.aspx#ixzz1YpEITXkm