Use Data to Help Your Engagement Conundrum

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Too many marketers look at content engagement as an art form. They fail to validate their content strategy and content topics against their customers’ needs and wants. LinkedIn’s Jason Miller recently echoed this thought:

“What keeps me up at night is wondering if we are too ahead of our market in our content strategy.”

Content marketing is often conceptualized as the overlap between what the audience is interested in and what the company wants to say. Yet more often than not, marketers measure and value the company  side of this Venn diagram to a much greater extent than the audience side.

idio-Content-Marketing-Venn-diagram

What they end up with is company-centric rather than customer-centric content. How can we as content marketers step up our game to better assess the customer side of the diagram?

You also should cultivate data to truly deliver content that addresses both what your brand wants to say and what your audience is interested in.

Create context and use it

Buyer personas should form the backbone of every content marketing strategy. These prospect profiles enable you to congregate the data related to your audience segments – their specific needs, preferences – with the data related to buying behavior involved in purchasing your product.

Personas are particularly helpful in B2B marketing to remind us that we’re not selling to businesses but that we’re selling to people.

Fortunately, many data sources can help us keep up with individuals’ changing context, including:

  • Demographic data – personal details (name, age, ZIP code, etc.)
  • Firmographic data – professional characteristics (role, organization size, etc.)
  • Social media data  – what they say online and whom they influence
  • Lead scoring – their interactions with your organization
  • Interest data  –  the intent exposed from what they have read on your platforms

There are a range of software platforms and means to collect these insights: A simple lead-capture form with fields including name, company, role, etc., would be sufficient to capture demographic and firmographic data. To understand your audience’s online behaviors, look at social media monitoring tools such as Brandwatch or Hootsuite. Use lead-scoring tools offered in every mainstream marketing automation solution including Pardot, HubSpot, and Marketo. Finally, interest data – the newest source – is something we’re pioneering at idio.

Of course, it’s no good just collecting this stuff – you need to act on it.

  1. Consolidate the information to give your organization a real-time view of key individuals and segments.
  1. Use this insight to optimize your lead generation around the right prospects.
  1. Personalize content and propositions.

Measure and iterate

Kraft’s Director of Data, Content, and Media Julie Fleischer brought this methodology home last year at Content Marketing World. Kraft’s content marketing now generates the equivalent of 1.1 billion ad impressions a year and a four-times-better return on investment than targeted advertising.

These returns are possible because of Kraft’s rigorous commitment to:

  • Collect content performance data
  • Analyze the data for insight (i.e., which content topics resonate with its audiences)
  • Execute its content marketing against the new insight by rapidly iterating the content types and themes

kraft-content-marketing-cycle

The feedback loop created by Kraft’s content engine enables the company to crack the engagement conundrum, while measuring the same traffic, viewership, and engagement metrics as everybody else does.

A data-driven perspective means you can identify which content topics are resonating with your audience, then optimize and iterate your efforts accordingly.

Go intelligent

What members of your audience choose to read is highly indicative of the hopes, fears, dreams, and interests that drive their purchasing decisions. Think about it in your own life: You clicked on this article because you have some interest in the topic of engagement as it relates to content marketing.

Of course, one click isn’t enough to build an accurate picture of you, but if we track your reading arc on CMI we soon could build an increasingly accurate picture of which topics interest you and use that to identify your current concerns and needs (engagement, content marketing, benchmarking, etc.)

Capturing the full picture of your audience’s engagement, like Kraft does, requires you to start before your audience ever sees the content. Using proper metadata, tags, etc., consistently enables your brand to track more than traffic – you can track whether your content strategy delivers what your audience needs and wants.

Tracking readership-based metadata tags and traffic enables you to identify gaps in your content coverage, as well as saturated topics. For example, CMI may find that content with metadata including words such as “benchmarking,” “engagement,” and “content marketing” are popular with its readers, but content tagged with “content audit,” “personalization,” or “WordPress” is less popular. Now, CMI can go back to its content strategy and creation to produce content that better addresses the revelation of the metadata tracking.

Kraft tags its web content and tracks more than 22,000 attributes based on the audience’s behaviors and engagement. With 100 million visitors to its web properties annually, this measurement necessitated the integration of its content and data management platforms.

You can track your database contacts against their URL click activity (and related metadata) to immediately create an interest profile or tag cloud of the most-read topics for each prospect or customer – no need to dig into the in-depth details of each person’s reading profile.

Conclusion

The best content marketing is neither a perfected art nor an exact science, but a combination of both. By always keeping at least one eye on data, you are better positioned to deliver not only what your audience wants but what your brand needs – an engaged audience:

  • Identify data already available to profile your audience segments – Use existing information (yours and others’) to better understand for whom you are developing content.
  • Evaluate metadata to examine the breadth of your content – Gain a global view of the catalog of content you have produced.
  • Analyze traffic under the metadata umbrella to understand what topics are working – Move your insights from anecdotal to data-driven.
  • Measure, measure, measure – Identify which topics are working and double down on them.
  • Make this analysis available across the company Share the insights derived from content consumption to inform activities across the business.

Want to learn more about how to tie data to your strategy? CMI invites you to listen to the webinar, see the slides, or read the transcript – Creating a Content Strategy With Data at the Core.

Cover image by Viktor Hanacek, picjumbo, via pixabay.com

The post Use Data to Help Your Engagement Conundrum appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.


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Facebook Ad Guy Goes From Fantasy Sports To Create Niche Marketing Company

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When it comes to Facebook ads, Jon Loomer has developed a strong brand in this marketing niche. But marketing wasn’t something that came naturally to Jon. In this episode of The Pivot, host Todd Wheatland talks with Jon about his journey from the Midwest where he started in telemarketing sales to his current life in Denver where he runs Jon Loomer Digital. Learn how Jon’s passion for fantasy sports brought him into the world of marketing and why his choice to go tight with his niche has grown his business and his brand.

Listen to Todd’s full interview with Jon here:
(Social Media Marketing World, March 2015, San Diego, CA)

Download this week’s The Pivot episode.

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What may surprise you

  • Jon was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Michigan and Iowa.
  • He was a philosophy major at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.
  • He moved to Denver and worked as an underwriter for an insurance company.
  • Jon started writing for fantasy sports sites and started his own site while continuing his full-time job.
  • He wrote for Rotoworld – a sports website – in 1999.
  • In 2005, Jon was hired by the National Basketball Association as Senior Manager for its fantasy games division.
  • Jon coaches his three sons’ baseball teams every summer and works his professional travel schedule around baseball season.

Jon’s pivot

After his NBA stint, Jon joined a start-up in the fantasy sports arena but was laid off six months later. He went to work at the American Cancer Society as Vice President of Strategic Marketing, West Division, but was laid off again. He then took control of his career and in 2011 launched Jon Loomer Digital, which soon focused on Facebook marketing.

Niched down to niche back up

Jon has gone from being the “Facebook Marketing Guy” to the “Facebook Ads Guy” or even “The Power Editor Guy.” He intentionally focused his brand on a small niche. By putting his attention on something so specific, he has been able to grow his business by being the go-to guy for Facebook marketing.

Now that he has built his brand under this niche – creating a community and proving his expertise – Jon believes he can branch out to other topics.

I’ve niched down, but I also see that eventually I’ll probably want to niche back up in some way. But I think it’s important to niche down in the beginning ’cuz that’s how you stand out. I couldn’t be a jack-of-all-trades and stand out.

For a full list of The Pivot archives, go to the main The Pivot: Marketing Backstories page.

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Cover image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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The Secret Psychology of Facebook: Why We Like, Share, Comment and Keep Coming Back

Whenever I hop onto Facebook to do something specific—find a link I saved for later or see what’s happening on Buffer’s Facebook page, perhaps—something strange happens.

Despite my best intentions to stay on track and accomplish my goal, I get sucked in. Suddenly I’m checking my own notifications, looking at what’s been recently posted and generally forgetting why I came to Facebook in the first place.

This isn’t entirely by accident. There is science and psychology that explains why so many of us are glued to Facebook.

Researchers have discovered trends in the way that we perform every major action on Facebook—liking, posting, sharing, commenting and even lurking.

And there’s a ton of psychology involved in what makes Facebook so attractive in the first place. Here’s a look at the psychology of Facebook: what makes us like, post, share and keep coming back for more.

psychology of facebook

Why we love Facebook so much: It taps the brain’s pleasure center

Lots of studies have worked toward figuring out what exactly goes on in our brains when we’re participating in social media—specifically, Facebook.

A recent one discovered a strong connection between Facebook and the brain’s reward center, called the nucleus accumbens. This area processes rewarding feelings about things like food, sex, money and social acceptance.

When we get positive feedback on Facebook, the feeling lights up this part of our brain. The greater the intensity of our Facebook use, the greater the reward.

Another fascinating study recorded physiological reactions like pupil dilation in volunteers as they looked at their Facebook accounts to find that browsing Facebook can evoke what they call flow state, the feeling you get when you’re totally and happily engrossed in a project or new skill.

Why we “like:” Identity, empathy and practicality

Perhaps the most easily recognized currency of Facebook is the “like.”

According to Facebook:

“Like” is a way to give positive feedback or to connect with things you care about on Facebook. You can like content that your friends post to give them feedback or like a Page that you want to connect with on Facebook.

When the Pew Research Center surveyed thousands of Americans about their social media lives, they discovered that 44% of Facebook users “like” content posted by their friends at least once a day, with 29% doing so several times per day.

So what makes us like, or not like, a particular status, photo or page? Is there a method to liking? Here are some reasons why we like:

It’s a quick and easy nod

Maybe the easiest way to figure out what the like means to us is to stop using it. That’s what Elan Morgan did in a 2-week experiment she chronicled on Medium. Here’s what she discovered:

“The Like is the wordless nod of support in a loud room. It’s the easiest of yesses, I-agrees, and me-toos. I actually felt pangs of guilt over not liking some updates, as though the absence of my particular Like would translate as a disapproval or a withholding of affection. I felt as though my ability to communicate had been somehow hobbled. The Like function has saved me so much comment-typing over the years that I likely could have written a very quippy, War-and-Peace-length novel by now.”

To affirm something about ourselves

One element of Facebook that we may not realize is how often we use the Like to affirm something about ourselves. In a study of more than 58,000 people who made their likes public through a Facebook app, researchers discovered that Likes could predict a number of identification traits that users had not disclosed:

“Feeding people’s “likes” into an algorithm, information hidden in the lists of favorites predicted whether someone was white or African American with 95% accuracy, whether they were a gay male with 88% accuracy, and even identified participants as a Democrat or Republican with 85% accuracy.  The ‘likes’ list predicted gender with 93% accuracy and age could be reliably determined 75% of the time.”

To express virtual empathy

And sometimes we like in order to show solidarity or unity with a friend or acquaintance and their way of thinking. Social media can be a way of gaining “virtual empathy”—and that empathy can have real-world implications.

A study reported in Psychology Today showed that spending more time using social networks and engaging in instant message chats predicted more ability to be virtual empathic and that virtual empathy was a good indicator of being able to express real-world empathy.

Because it’s practical/we’ll get something in return

When it comes to how we choose to like brands and companies, the motivation is a bit simpler. A Syncapse study found that most people seem to make these decision based on practical reasons, like wanting to receive coupons and regular updates from companies they like.

Study explains why we like brands on Facebook

Whereas our reasons for not liking a brand focus on privacy and quality of the social media experience:

Reasons for not liking a brand on Facebook

Marketing takeaway: Likes are the penny of social media currency—spend them freely if you like, but don’t expect too much in return.

Why we comment

The answer to this one may seem kinda obvious—we comment when we have something to say!

One interesting things about receiving comments is how our brains reacts to those as compared to likes. Moira Burke, who is studying 1,200 Facebook users in an ongoing experiment, has found that personal messages are more satisfying to receivers than the one-click communication of likes. She calls them “composed communication:”

“People who received composed communication became less lonely, while people who received one-click communication experienced no change in loneliness,” she said…. Even better than sending a private Facebook message is the semi-public conversation, the kind of back-and-forth in which you half ignore the other people who may be listening in. “People whose friends write to them semi-publicly on Facebook experience decreases in loneliness,” Burke says.

Elan Morgan, mentioned earlier for her experiment in quitting likes for 2 weeks, found an additional benefit to prioritizing commenting over “Liking”—it effectively retrained the Facebook algorithm to give her more of the content she wanted.

“Now that I am commenting more on Facebook and not clicking Like on anything at all, my feed has relaxed and become more conversational. It’s like all the shouty attention-getters were ushered out of the room as soon as I stopped incidentally asking for those kinds of updates by using the Like function.”

Marketing takeaway: Comments are a powerful emotional driver. Make the most of them by engaging often with your Facebook community and replying to fans’ comments to keep the conversation going.

Why we post status updates

A Pew Research study shows that although users “like” their friends’ content and comment on photos relatively frequently, most don’t change their own status that often.

  • 10% of Facebook users change or update their own status on Facebook on a daily basis
  • 4% updating their status several times per day
  • 25% of Facebook users say that they never change or update their own Facebook status

This makes sense, given that the same study showed that “oversharing” was one of Facebook’s biggest annoyances for users:

oversharing is top dislike on Facebok

So why do many of us take the time to update our status on Facebook? What is the motivation, and what are we hoping to get out of the experience? Here’s the science behind posting to Facebook.

Posting makes us feel connected

Researchers at the University of Arizona monitored a group of students and tracked their “loneliness levels” while posting Facebook status updates. The study found that when students updated their Facebook statuses more often, they reported lower levels of loneliness:

loneliness on Facebook study

This was true even if no one liked or commented on their posts! Researcher link the drop in loneliness to an increase in feeling more socially connected.

On the other hand, when people see their social media statuses are not being engaged with as much as their peers, they can begin to feel like they don’t belong, as seen in this experiment.

What stops us from posting? A self-censoring study

Now that we know why we post, what do we know about when we don’t post? Researchers at Facebook conducted a study on self-censorship (that is, the posts you write and never actually publish).

Over 17 days, they tracked the activity of 3.9 million users and saw 71 percent of users type out at least one status or comment they decided not to submit. On average, users changed their mind about 4.52 statuses and 3.2 comments.

Facebook self censorship study
These charts show the number of censored (in red) and published (in blue) comments and posts during the study, and where on Facebook they were made.

Researchers theorize that people are more likely to self-censor when they feel their audience is hard to define. Facebook audiences tend to be quite diverse which makes it hard to appeal to everyone. Users were less likely to censor their comments on someone else’s post because the audience was more concrete.

Marketing takeaway: People engage the most of Facebook when they feel connected to one another and understood by their audience. It’s a bonus if they think they’ll get a response in return. Can you create those conditions on your brand’s Facebook page?

Why we share: A guide to more shareable content

The New York Times did an awesome study on why we share a few years ago that remains one of the most informative on the topic of social media sharing. This study identified five major drivers for sharing:

  • To bring valuable and entertaining content to one another. 49% of respondents say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action.
  • To define ourselves to others.  68% of respondents said they share to give others a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
  • To grow and nourish our relationships. 78% of respondents said they share information online because it enables them to stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with
  • For self-fulfillment. 69% said they share information because it allows them to feel more involved in the world.
  • To get the word out about causes they care about.  84% of respondents share because it is a good way to support causes or issues they care about.

Our friends at CoSchedule put all this into an easy-to-remember infographic:

why people share on social media

Another worldwide poll by Ipsos offers some similar findings, noting that around the globe, people seek primarily:

  • to share interesting things (61%)
  • to share important things (43%)
  • to share funny things (43%)
  • to let others know what I believe in and who I really am (37%)
  • to recommend a product, service, movie, book, etc (30%)
  • to add my support to a cause, an organization or a belief (29%)
  • to share unique things (26%)
  • to let others know what I’m doing (22%)
  • to add to a thread or conversation (20%)
  • to show I’m in the know (10%)

Here’s a cool country-by-country breakdown:

global sharing habits

One more thing we know about what gets shared: High-share content tends to trigger a high-arousal emotion, like amusement, fear or anger, as opposed to a low-arousal emotion like sadness or contentment.

Marketing takeaway: For content that racks up the shares, tap into one of these urges.

  • Create really entertaining or very useful content that will help your audience gain social status by looking smart, cool or “in the know”
  • Create content that helps your audience share more of themselves with others. You can use your brand as a rallying point and identifier or simply help them share a message that taps into who they really are
  • Create content that helps your audience engage with one another and interact together

One last note: What happens when we lurk and don’t participate

Is there a darker side to Facebook? Some of the studies I uncovered worried that Facebook could be making us more lonely, or isolated, or jealous of all the seemingly-perfect lives we see there. This down side of Facebook seems to emerge mostly when we become passive viewers of Facebook and not a part of the experience.

2010 study from Carnegie Mellon found that, when people engaged on Facebook—posting, messaging, Liking, etc.—their feelings of general social capital increased, while loneliness decreased. But when the study participants simply lurked, Facebook acted in the opposite way, increasing their sense of loneliness and isolation.

According to researcher Moira Burke, lurking on Facebook correlates to an increase in depression. “If two women each talk to their friends the same amount of time, but one of them spends more time reading about friends on Facebook as well, the one reading tends to grow slightly more depressed,” Burke says.

Do these findings ring true to you?

It turns out there is psychology behind almost every element of the Facebook experience—and researchers can’t seem to get enough of studying our habits there.

How do these findings fit with your experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook! 

The post The Secret Psychology of Facebook: Why We Like, Share, Comment and Keep Coming Back appeared first on Social.


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5 More Tips on How to Choose a Content Marketing Agency

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About this time last year, I wrote about how to choose a content marketing agency. Revisiting the topic this time, a few things have changed. The seven points are still relevant, but the agency landscape has evolved greatly in the last 12 months.

Spending in the sector has accelerated significantly as the skill set of content marketing seeps into mainstream marketing budgets. We’ve seen budgets transferred from search, PR, digital, and traditional publishers into our coffers, and now we are seeing agencies from those segments race to respond and reform to get their share of the lucrative content marketing dollar.

We’ve also seen mainstream creative, media, and digital agencies jumping on board, so for marketers it’s become even more difficult to get a handle on which agency is best suited to help them with their content marketing programs.

With this in mind, let’s see if we can demystify some of the key points to help you pick a content marketing partner:

1. Look at their strategic capabilities

According to recent CMI across-the-market surveys, many brands do not have a documented content strategy, and this will be reflected in their return on content marketing initiatives.

Therefore, it is critical to find a content marketing agency that has strong strategic capabilities. This means more than just having a head of strategy – the agency should have a consistent approach, a strong methodology, and most importantly, a good track record.

Look at their case studies and get in touch with clients. How have they helped other brands develop successful content strategies? What kind of approach have they taken? How does that translate to how they could help engage your audience, enhance your marketing strategy, and achieve your business goals?

2. Ask which tools they offer and how they can give you actionable outcomes and results

I touched on this last year, and it’s getting more and more important to find a data-driven agency. How will they measure the success of your marketing program and help boost your ROI?

Look specifically at the data and measurement tools, processes, and indicators they have to measure success and identify areas for improvement. As we all know, nothing works well all the time, so how do they identify problems and operate when they need to change course?

3. Look under the hood (so to speak …)

My No. 1 thing is people. You meet the boss, you meet the head of “this” and “that,” and then you sign the deal and you don’t see those guys for dust!

Question whether they have a solid layer of account and project management – smart and experienced people who will be there to communicate effectively with you day in, day out. The sort of people you would hire yourself.

As the market diversifies and more agencies jump in, you must  question whether the people within their agency are the right fit for you and your business. Do they understand your values, motivations, and business goals, and do they have the skill sets to help you live up to them?

Early on, make sure you meet those who could be on your team. Have an idea of what questions you want to ask so that you feel comfortable they are up to the task and will meet the values of your brand.

4. Get a better understanding of the marketing technology the agency has at its disposal and how you will interface with it

Marketing technology is a must-have – it can help you identify new audience segments, measure engagement, and attribute action and revenue to your marketing programs.

If you are using a technology in conjunction with the agency, look carefully at the user interface. If you and your team are using the program daily, you want to ensure it is simple to use and the results are easy to understand.

If you have your own marketing technology platforms that will play a role in measuring or assisting with the work your agency does, ask about its experience with the platform and/or how the agency’s campaign will plug in to or complement it.

In the last 12 months, technology vendors have become involved in the content marketing segment. While there is now a plethora of platforms and marketing automation software, remember that they all require quality content to make them function well.

5. Longevity and retention are key

Do they have a roster of clients that have gone the distance? Over and above a great pitch, can they actually execute over time – managing the ups and downs of a program, remaining agile to address any challenges?

What I’m saying is, can they deliver? You will only gain this knowledge by checking with the agency’s clients, looking at those that have renewed contracts or signed on for additional campaigns. Play the devil’s advocate – find clients who are not listed or provided as references.

So there you have it – another five points to consider as you go through the process of finding a content marketing agency that can work well for you. Good luck.

An excerpt of this article originally appeared in the April issue of  Chief Content Officer. Sign up to receive your free subscription to our bimonthly, print magazine.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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15 Inspiring Entrepreneurs Who Built Careers Around Their Passions Through Social Media

Have you heard this advice before: “Follow your passions!” “Do what you love!”?

And have you thought, what if my passions are my hobbies? Things that I could never be paid for?

For some, the advice to “do what you love” seems possible only if you have a passion for things like finance or accounting or coding. Well, I’ve been happy to find that it’s possible to follow your passions into a career, no matter what those passions may be. With social media, you now have a platform to do what you love—and to make a career out of it.

I found 15 amazing entrepreneurs who built their entire businesses and careers around social media, many earning $100,000 or more. 

I’d love to share their stories with you—and how you can follow their lead to turn your passions into a career, through social media.

new career social media

How to Earn an Income Doing What You Love on Social Media

It sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it?

Posting photographs or tweets a few times each day to launch a lucrative career doing what you love.

And you might be wondering how these social media entrepreneurs make money. Because after all, a career requires an income.

I’ll get into the specific stories of 15 entrepreneurs below. First, I thought I’d share the many number of ways—the specific avenues and channels—that they use to make money on social media.

How to earn an income on social media

1. Sponsorships

Sponsorships are responsible for a lot of the money earned through social media, especially for those just starting off. Brittany Furlan, Caitlin Turner and Shaun McBride all started with sponsorships.

Sponsorships occur when brands pay to be associated with you. When a tourism board pays Instagrammer Lauren Bath to work with them and feature their location, they are sponsoring Lauren.

Podcasts are usually funded through sponsorships as well. The sponsor will pay to be featured on the podcast at some point during the episode.

2. Advertisements

Advertisements are another popular method of monetizing social media. YouTubers like Liz Meghan use ads to make a living through their social media accounts.

Advertisements differ from sponsorships in that there’s usually not a long term relationship with the entrepreneur.

3. Selling products

If you have a product based business like an eCommerce store, this is perfect for you.

Social media can be a great place to sell your products – or, at the least, build up a following and redirect those followers to your website to buy your products.

4. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to work with brands to help them sell their products, earning you a commission each time somebody buys through your affiliate link.

Many social media channels allow affiliate links to be placed within a post, and when the follower clicks on the link and makes a purchase through it, the poster gets a portion of that sale.

5. Promoting services

If a service-based business is more up your alley, you don’t want to look past social media as a marketing channel.

From hair stylists who post their work on Instagram to coaches who use Facebook as a platform to engage with potential clients, there is a lot of opportunity on social media to promote your services.

6. Boosting your visibility as an artist

If you’re an artist, writer, or creative entrepreneur, social media can be an amazing tool to boost your visibility.

Artists like Us the Duo, Grace Ciao, and writer Jeff Goins all have used their social media channels as methods of boosting their visibility to book gigs and sell their art.

Why Social Media Works

Creating social media content every day. Scheduling it at the right times. Analyzing what followers respond to and what they ignore. The time it takes to manage a social media marketing strategy can be significant.

Here are two reasons why the time is well worth it, especially for those looking to build a new career.

1. Social Media Expands Your Reach by 1,000x

How many people visit your website each day?

200? 1,000?

Those aren’t bad numbers. And it may make sense for you to spend time on your own website rather than social media because your website is like your online home.

But think about it:

  • Instagram has 100 million active users
  • Twitter has over 135 million active users
  • Youtube sees over 1 billion active users each month

Even if only 0.1% of the people on those channels are interested in what you’re doing, you’ve still amplified your reach by over 1,000 times by using social media to spread your message and share your passion.

2. Social Media Establishes Your Expertise 

The lifeblood of social media is content.

Even if you’re posting a 6-second video on Vine or a photo on Instagram, you’re posting content.

When you’re consistently posting content about a specific topic, you establish yourself as an expert.

Take, for example, two mathematicians who love numbers. Who establishes herself as an expert?

  • Mathematician A, who loves her work but avoids social media, or
  • Mathematician B, who teaches others how to do math on Youtube and has 200,000 followers?

They’re both experts, but Mathematician B has established herself as an expert. She has built an audience, and provides value to others by demonstrating her knowledge on social media.

15 Entrepreneurs Who Built New Careers Through Social Media

1. Brandon Stanton

The creator of Humans of New York

HONY

In 2010, after losing his job, Brandon Stanton began to take candid photographs of people on the streets of New York and post them to Facebook.

Self-taught, Brandon took photos that reflected his passion, and these photos quickly began to gain traction on Facebook.

Humans of New York now has over 12 million Facebook likes, and it has launched a speaking, photography, philanthropic and media career for Brandon.The revenue generated by HONY prints sold goes directly to charity, and Brandon makes a living from the royalties of books sales and new freelancing opportunities. He went into a bit more detail about the specifics in a Reddit AMA:

How are you able to pay for your daily needs? Does HONY support you financially?

I’ve said publicly that I don’t want to “cash out” or “monetize” HONY. I like to say it publicly because I want my audience to keep me on mission. HONY print sales have raised nearly $500,000 for charity in the past six months. I want to further monetize the site for non-profit ventures. I honestly want to “give” HONY to New York in some way.

Freelancing and book royalties are keeping me afloat now. I get money for collaborations, occasional magazine pieces, occasional speeches, etc. And I signed two book deals which pay the rent. Also, I live cheaply.

2. Jeff Goins

Author and Blogger behind Goins, Writer

about-book@2x

Two years ago, Jeff Goins quit his day job to pursue his passion for writing full-time.

He now has built a tribe of over 100,000 people, and has just launched his fourth book, The Art of Work.

This is all made possible by social media.

Jeff began writing on his blog, Goinswriter.com, and continued to work in his day job. He then began to earn more on his blog doing what he loved part-time than he was in his full-time job.

My blog (which accounted for less than 10 hours per week) was now contributing more income than my full-time job (which took up at least 40 hours per week).

His first product—a $2.99 ebook—earned $1,500 in its first week, convincing Jeff that his hobby could be a business.

His blog gave him a platform to follow his passion and do what he loves.

3. Grace Ciao

Fashion Designer and Artist

grace ciao

Grace Ciao is the ultimate accidental social media entrepreneur.

Since she was a little girl, Grace has had a passion for fashion design, and one day, she noticed a flower a boy had given her was dying. So Grace created a fashion illustration out of the petals of the flower.

She took a photo of her illustration and posted it on Instagram, which quickly became popular.

Grace earns a living as a full-time illustrator, and has used her platform to book engagements for events.

4. Michael and Carissa Alvarado

Husband and Wife Singers, Us The Duo

 

Michael and Carissa Alvarado were making music before they began posting 6-second videos on Vine, but nothing has skyrocketed their careers more than Vine has.

The couple was already trying to gain more traction on Youtube when they decided to put snippets of their covers on Vine, which served them well.

They now have 4.6 million Vine followers, and signed a record deal with Republic Records in 2014, allowing them to follow their passion by getting their start on social media.

5. Rosanna Pansino

Nerd and Baker at Nerdy Nummies

rosanna pansino

If you’ve ever thought the only way to pursue your passion for baking is by opening a bakery or through feeding your family, think again.

Rosanna Pansino built a career on social media centered around her love of baking when she was egged on by friends (pun intended) to start a Youtube channel.

Rosanna’s Youtube Channel, Nerdy Nummies has over 3.6 million subscribers.

6. Justin Halpern

Comedian from Sh!t My Dad Says

Let me guess.

It seems as if every time you open Twitter, you’re instantly barraged with links to mediocre blog posts, pictures of people’s lattes and announcements of what the newest member of oversharers-anonymous is having for lunch that day.

You could never imagine Twitter as a platform to build a career, right?

Well, Justin Halpern did just that.

He took his comedy writing career to the next level by starting the popular Twitter account Sh!t My Dad Says, where he began to Tweet snippets of conversations with his father.

The Twitter account quickly gained traction and morphed into a television series and book.

7. Lain Ehmann

Scrapbooker and Blogger from Layout a Day

If you’ve ever felt as if your interests or hobbies were impossible to build a career from, you may be inspired by Lain Ehmann, who built her career from a blog about scrapbooking.

Yes, you read that right.

She’s built a six figure business around a niche that is traditionally a hobby niche, teaching others how to scrapbook and holding live online events through her blog.

The power of the internet allows us to connect with people who are interested in the things that we’re interested in, and if we can provide enough value to those people, Lain proves that lucrative careers can be built.

8. Shaun McBride

Artist and Snapchatter

shonduras

Shaun McBride learned how to draw by looking at other artists’ drawings and trying his hand out at the craft.

After Snapchatting his drawing/photo mashups, he was featured on some popular websites, which boosted his career.

He now can make tens of thousands of dollars from one advertising deal with a brand through his Snapchat account, according to Forbes, and “several thousand dollars per image”.

9. Shawn Stevenson

Health Enthusiast of The Model Health Show

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If text or images doesn’t interest you when it comes to building a career on social media, maybe audio does.

Shawn Stevenson runs the #1 health podcast on iTunes, the Model Health Show, allowing him to follow his passion for fitness and health through a different medium.

Instead of taking the traditional route of personal training, Shawn interviews guests on his podcast, creating content and giving listeners the tools to live healthy lives.

10. Lauren Bath

Traveller and Professional Instagrammer

lauren bath

Lauren Bath has arguably the best job in the world. Not only is she paid to Instagram, but she also gets paid to travel.

Lauren was the “first professional Instagrammer” of Australia, and quit her job as a chef to pursue her passions for photography and travel.

Lauren works with tourism boards and brands to provide exposure through her huge Instagram account to make a living.

While she doesn’t reveal her rates in interviews, she tells Successful Blogging that she works with brands such as Nikon and Tourism Boards to offer them sponsorships:

Well I can’t talk for others but for me I charge a base rate to travel away from home and that rate includes posting whatever images I like with all content available to the client.

11. Joey Korneman

Animator and Teacher from School of Motion

school of motion

Joey Korneman is the founder of  School of Motion, where he teaches his students through online courses to animate using the principles of motion design.

Most of Joey’s traffic comes from Vimeo, as he tells Pat Flynn’s mastermind group in a recent episode of the Smart Passive Income Podcast.

He has 5,000 followers on Vimeo, which is high for that social media channel, and, as he tells Pat’s mastermind group, “Vimeo is very high-quality traffic for motion design”.

Joey makes a living teaching motion design by directing his Vimeo followers to his website, where he sells courses.

12. Mignon Fogarty

Grammarian and Podcaster at Grammar Girl

grammargirl

Passions come in all shapes and sizes, and Mignon Fogarty’s passion is unique.

Mignon has a passion for grammar, and works full time in the field by teaching grammar principles to her rabid fans of her Grammar Girl podcast.

Through social media, she has been able to build an amazing career around grammar, as she blogs as well.

13. Caitlin Turner

Yogi and Instagrammer GypsetGoddess

Gypset Goddess

Caitlin’s passion for yoga has provided her with the unique opportunity to build an entire career from it – on Instagram.

Catlin’s Instagram account is still relatively new – about three years old – but she still has earned over 220,000 followers.

Caitlin told Yoganonymous that “Instagram has definitely been a huge career chance for me. It’s connected me professionally to different brands and people I wouldn’t have found before because I had no reason to. This is my career now.”

14. Brittany Furlan

Actress and Vine Comedian

Brittany-Furlan-Vine

Social media has helped people like Brittany Furlan launch comedic and acting careers in a way that was never possible before.

Brittany used Vine to launch her career in comedy and acting and now has 8.9 million followers on Vine.

Brittany told The Wrap that she makes a comfortable living through her Vines.

Those videos — which include a repertoire of outlandish characters (“Ghetto Dora De Explora“), quick-to-the-punchline sketches or pranks on the unsuspecting public — are worth between $7,000 and $20,000 to brands targeting Furlan’s massive audience.

She’s now gone on to partner with Seth Green to create a sketch show.

15. Liz Meghan

Youtuber and Makeup Artist

Liz Meghan

Liz Meghan had a passion for makeup, and she channeled that passion into Youtube.

With over 672,000 subscribers on her Youtube channel, Liz makes a living doing what she loves through makeup tutorials and sharing what she’s learned about makeup over the years.

Liz tells the Huffington Post that she makes a living off of her Youtube channel because Youtube pays her to put ads on her videos.

There’s no better time than now to do what you love

As these inspiring entrepreneurs demonstrate, by building a following online using social media, you can:

  • Get paid to do what you love
  • Establish yourself as an expert and
  • Grow a following around your passions.

There’s no excuse to not get out there, pick a social media channel, and start posting.

Have you found success in building a career or a following on social media? Are you inspired by others who have taken this route to follow their dreams? I’d love to hear more about what you’ve experienced and learned in the comments.

Image sources: Pablo, Unsplash, IconFinderHumansofnewyork.comArt of Work BookRyanseacrest.comNewmediarockstars.comShonduras.comiTunesLaurenbath.com,
Vimeo,  Gypsetgoddess.comThewrap.comYoutube.com

The post 15 Inspiring Entrepreneurs Who Built Careers Around Their Passions Through Social Media appeared first on Social.


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Do Larger Brands Really Have It Easier With Content Marketing? [New Research]

2015_ER_Cover_1A few weeks ago, an article on our blog generated a small debate in the comments. The article, by Neil Patel, shared eight content marketing innovations from the world’s best brands. Most of the companies featured were large, which led to a conversation about whether big companies have an advantage over small ones because they have bigger content marketing budgets.

However, our most recent research, B2B Enterprise Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, sponsored by Marketo, shows that large companies are often more challenged when it comes to content marketing. This makes perfect sense because the content marketing process is so much more complex for large enterprises with multiple divisions and product lines. Among the findings:

  • Twenty-eight percent of enterprise marketers consider themselves to be effective, compared with 40% of small-business marketers.
  • Fifteen percent say they successfully track ROI, compared with 25% of small-business marketers.
  • Enterprise marketers are more challenged with nearly every aspect of content marketing when compared with B2B marketers overall.

ER-Challenges-image 1

Read on to discover other key findings from this year’s enterprise research.

Nearly 90% are focused on creating more engaging, higher-quality content

Enterprise marketers create a lot of content: 65% say they are producing more content than they did one year ago, but last year 75% reported they were producing more content than the previous year. How are they spending their time?

The initiative enterprise marketers cite most frequently (89%) is the effort toward creating more engaging, higher-quality content. Other top initiatives include:

  • Organizing website content
  • Developing a better understanding of what content is effective – and what isn’t
  • Creating visual content
  • Repurposing content
  • Measuring content marketing ROI
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: Get tips for every initiative content marketers are working on, including content marketing tactics, strategy, and processes.

 49% have a dedicated content marketing group

Nearly half of enterprise marketers (49%) say their company has a dedicated content marketing group. This percentage increases to 81% if the team has a documented content marketing strategy (which is one of the key factors that differentiates effective content marketers from their less effective peers).

ER-Dedicated-Content-Marketing-Group-Image 2

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: Executive Research: How Enterprises Structure, Scale, and Spend on Content

Enterprises use more content marketing tactics than smaller companies

Of all the categories of marketers we’ve studied, enterprise marketers use the most content marketing tactics (16 on average). In-person events and videos are the tactics used most often (by 93% each). These are also the two tactics enterprise marketers say are most effective.

ER-Content-Marketing-Tactic-Usage-Image 3

Though cited more frequently, paid promotion methods aren’t always most effective

Enterprise marketers use more paid methods (an average of four) to promote content when compared with B2B marketers overall, who use an average of three paid methods. But while 74% of enterprise marketers use traditional online banner ads and 70% use print or other offline promotion, they report better results with search engine marketing, content discovery tools, promoted posts, social ads, and native advertising.

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ER-Effective-Paid-Advertising-Methods-Image 5

Brand awareness continues to be top goal for content marketing

While B2B small-business marketers replaced brand awareness with lead generation as the top goal for content marketing this year, enterprise marketers rank brand awareness as their primary emphasis more frequently: 84% say it is an important goal, followed by engagement (80%), sales (79%), and lead generation (78%).

ER-Organizational-Goals-Image 6

Where do you go from here?

Enterprise marketers continue to embrace content marketing and strive to overcome its challenges. Here are a few suggestions on how to get the most from your investment in content marketing:

  • Document your strategy. (HINT: Get started with our 16-page guide on the essential questions to answer.)
  • Identify what metrics are most important across key groups and relentlessly pursue – and report on – those activities. (HINT: Consider having a single version of the truth.)
  • Remember that buy-in is not a single event. Continue to look for opportunities to share results with key decision-makers and other content marketing stakeholders. (HINT: Think about what is most important to them [e.g., number of leads, quality of leads, revenue, happy customers] and highlight those kinds of successes.)

Want to learn more? The CMI enterprise research report answers many other questions, including:

  • How many enterprise marketers have a content marketing strategy?
  • Which metrics do they use to gauge success?
  • How many audiences do they target?
  • How often do they publish new content?

Do you agree with the findings? What challenges do you face as an enterprise marketer? What advantages do you have if you work for a large brand? Let us know in the comments.

Want to follow the success of enterprise marketers who have a written content marketing strategy? Use our 16-page guide to create your documented marketing strategy.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post Do Larger Brands Really Have It Easier With Content Marketing? [New Research] appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.


Source: content marketing institute

Rohit Bhargava Shares How To Spot Trends in the Non-Obvious

bhargava-trends-podcast-cover

With the launch of Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict The Future, Rohit Bhargava adds his fifth book to the best-seller lists. In this episode of Content Marketing NEXT, Rohit talks about how his Non-Obvious Trends Report, published since 2011, was the catalyst for writing a blueprint on how we can all become better trend spotters.

Listen to Pamela’s full interview with Rohit here:

(Recorded April 2015; Length: 52:41)

Download this week’s Content Marketing NEXT episode.

If you enjoy the Content Marketing NEXT podcast, we would love if you would rate it, or post a review, on iTunes

What’s new, what’s now, what’s next

What’s new:

A big new for Rohit is his book, Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict The Future. In honor of the fifth year for his Non-Obvious Trends Report, he chose to write a book that shares how each of us can become a better trend spotter and use those trends to grow better brands and careers.

He describes a trend as the observation of the accelerating present. What is happening right now that is starting to accelerate? How is that trend changing how we buy, sell, or believe something?

Trend predictors train themselves to be more observant about the patterns and processes in the world that happen every single day – they can start to see what others don’t see. They then can see the trends, predict the future, and win against their competition.

What’s now:

Trend spotters must be able to say “yes” to these three elements of a trend:

  • Is it a quantifiable idea?
  • Is it accelerating?
  • Is it having an impact?

For every single trend, you can derive actionable suggestions or tips. Then apply those tips in your business or career today to take advantage of that trend.

How can content marketers act on a trend? Look at how others are working the trend. Then ask questions on how you as a marketing professional can integrate this trend.

Blog celebrates 10 years

In 2004, Rohit was part of an outreach group to bloggers. To better understand this audience, he decided to start blogging himself. The biggest difference for Rohit in blogging then and blogging now: It used to be all about your blog. Now there are many places to share your written voice such as LinkedIn and Medium.

From his blogging experience, Rohit suggests that content marketers learn to write like a screenwriter or playwright. What those writers put on a page is meant to be read aloud. Writing in a similar style will make your writing sound natural and not too “salesy.”

What’s next:

One trend from the 2015 Non-Obvious Report: The Reluctant Marketer shows the shift toward the value of content marketing and the importance of more significant and useful information.

Marketing’s old-school definition is too promotional. Today, marketing is about storytelling and journalism. Even CMOs wonder if the “M” in their title is still a viable label. Their role and the role of their team now is much more overall brand- and value-oriented.

Another trend Rohit shared is glance-able content – making text easier to digest by creating it in smaller chunks. A danger in using glance-able content is that people may pay more attention to the insubstantial and less attention to substantial text.

Blast the buzzword

Rohit’s buzzword: Content

The word content is being used like packaging inside of a box that you toss away. It’s more than that. Content is something valuable in the world. He believes we should set our sights higher and be more ambitious by telling real stories that are powerful and emotional. The word content sometime minimizes what we are or should be sharing.

In the hot seat

Here’s a recap of Rohit’s hot-seat Q&A:

Content marketers come from incredibly varied backgrounds. What aspect of your background – whether a particular job or an area of study – has been most valuable to you as a content marketer? 

Learning screenwriting, playwriting, and poetry writing is important to my work today. These skills showed me how to say things in beautiful ways that people remember.

What are your three must-read books on content marketing/marketing that you believe marketing professionals should have in their libraries?

The Ten, Make That Nine, Habits of Very Organized People. Make That Ten. The Tweets of Steve Martin by Steve Martin. No matter how gifted and successful you are, this book shows the importance of learning to listen and focus less on yourself.

Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits by Robert Townsend. Written by the former CEO of Avis more than 30 years ago, this book offers great insight into leadership that allows for a more human-oriented business that doesn’t get mired in the organizational structure that can inhibit creativity.

Tell To Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story by Peter Guber. The Hollywood movie producer shares the power of storytelling to sell ideas.

If you could sit down with one person – living or dead – to have a conversation, who would it be?

Isaac Asimov, whom I aspire to be like and whom I quote in my book: “I’m not a speed reader, I’m a speed understander.” He was curious about everything, so much so that he produced knowledge about many things.

BONUS QUESTION: You spoke at Content Marketing World 2014. Why should someone attend Content Marketing World 2015?

You have a chance to be in a room with people who are embracing and doing marketing in a different and more valuable way. In the past, you were marketing to sell more stuff. You weren’t doing marketing to educate and inform people. There is something really cool and powerful about gathering people together who share this philosophy of marketing being something more positive as opposed to more manipulative in the world.

For a full list of archives, go to the main Content Marketing NEXT page.

How do I subscribe?

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Cover image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post Rohit Bhargava Shares How To Spot Trends in the Non-Obvious appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.


Source: content marketing institute

How I Manage a Social Media Platform of Over 11 Million Followers Every Day

Big or small, influencer or newcomer, everyone looking to get more followers and more likes on social media—more engagement, period—seeks out strategies that work.

And what works with a platform of 11 million followers tends to work for platforms with 100, too.

Social media is a moving ocean of posts, images, tools, ideas, and content that flows at a fast pace. You can find success by building your own social media strategy and keeping it fluid by checking and rechecking what’s working.

I’ve had the chance to check and recheck dozens of different social media strategies in managing a social media platform of 11 million. How do I do everything that I do? And what do I do, specifically? Well, I’d love to share the details with you!

scale your strategies social media

My network of 11 million

I’ve had the privilege to assist Guy Kawasaki, chief evangelist at Canva and former evangelist at Apple, on his social media marketing, and I’ve worked on building a social media following for myself.

I manage a huge social media platform across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. I started at zero on all my accounts, just like you, and I’m not a celebrity or household name. This is how I’ve worked to build a great social platform – and you can too!

What I manage:

  • An audience of 10,637,540 for Guy
  • An audience of 935,793 for me

Total: an audience of 11.5 million people

I’ve had the opportunity to take the skills and tricks I’ve learned along the way, managing my own social media platform and applying it to Guy’s social media and for clients we work with, and implement them in some exciting ways. Fortunately, a lot of the strategies have worked! And if things aren’t working, I find a different way to do them.

What is social strategy?

Your social strategy is the plan that’s going to make your social media work.

It’s a combination of content creation, content curation, creativity, and organization.

Random acts of social media won’t do a darn thing to help people find you or to be known for a topic area. To build your authority in your niche, you need to create a solid social strategy that will help people find out who you are, what you do, and most importantly how you can help them.

Answer these questions before you begin the work on your social strategy:

  1. What need will you fill for the people who will follow you?
  2. Why should they follow you?
  3. What will you consistently provide to them?

Let’s use the Buffer blog as an example since their wildly popular blog helped put them on the technology tool map. (Here’s a look back at the blog in late 2013.)

The Buffer blog, circa December 2013

First they created their great product, Buffer, then they started their blog to help get the word out. Leo Widrich started early awareness for Buffer with an extensive guest blogging plan; this was before Buffer had a big team. They’ve since moved to an in-house blogging method with a team of great writers and a social media plan to get their message to as many people as possible.

Their goal was to find people to use Buffer. What they did to achieve that strategy was guest blogging with social media to boost it and they’ve scaled it to match their growth.

You’ll need to be willing to grind it out to make your social media strategy work. Nothing works unless you do.

There are different elements to the social strategy I work with. I’ll go more in depth into each of these:

  1. Content creation
  2. Content curation
  3. Social media amplification
  4. Social media conversations
  5. Social media listening

Content creation & content curation

What is the difference between creation and curation?

Content creation is creating your media in the form of writing, graphics, design work, video, or any combination of these together.

Creating the media to share and express your blog or brand is very important to help build awareness and trust with your targeted audience.

Content curation is finding content that other people have created to share on your social media accounts.

From Buffer’s Complete Guide to Content Curation:

Content curation is sorting through a large amount of web content to find the best, most meaningful bits and presenting these in an organized, valuable way.

You’ll want to find content that matches the message that you’re presenting with your own content creation. Your curated content should boost your created content and work together. This is what you use to feed the content monster every day – a mixture of your own content and your curated content.

If you’re an artist, you might want to share curated content about art, creativity, and being an entrepreneur. The items that you curate and share are woven into your own social message so what you share is as important as what you create.

There are three ways I’ve found to make creation and curation as efficient and effective as possible:

  1. Be organized
  2. Load your tool belt
  3. Automate what you can

1. Be organized

Organization is the most important cog in the wheel of your social strategy – a world of planning means nothing without implementation. Keep this in mind when choosing what to do so you can plan time in your schedule to get it all done. Being realistic in your time, motivations, and ability to implement is key.

2. Load your tool belt

Feedly screenshot

 

This screen shot is from Feedly. I’ve set up my Feedly profile so I can batch process my content curation and easily find content for different accounts. For example, the highlighted accounts show Guy’s LinkedIn. I have RSS feeds set up to go into Guy’s LinkedIn folder based on the appropriate content for his LinkedIn account. You can choose an article, read it in Feedly and quickly send it to Buffer.

feedly

 

One key to great curation is to not share things all at once – let Buffer work for you by filling it in batches and sharing at the most optimal times.

Chrome extensions are invaluable to me. They are quick and efficient allowing you to do more in less time. A few of my must-have extensions:

3. Automate what you can

Using IFTTT or Zapier to streamline repetitive tasks can save you time. Both of these services link other app services together. My favorite IFTTT recipe shares my Instagram photos to Twitter with the image. If you don’t use this to share images from Instagram to Twitter, it will tweet but without the image.

instagram-twitter ifttt recipe

My favorite Zapier zap posts my pins from Pinterest to my Buffer account. Once they are in Buffer, I can edit the description to customize it for a tweet and add a hashtag. I don’t want all my pins to go to Twitter so this gives me a chance to select them or I can edit the Zap to share only pins that I post to a certain board.

Creating your own social media shortcuts with IFTTT or Zapier can save time but make sure that you’re vigilant and check what is being processed on your social media accounts to make sure everything is going smoothly. You don’t want to share suboptimal content to save time. Quality is always important when posting.

Engagement [Social Media Conversations]

The wind beneath your wings for your social content.

A big part of the social media magic happens in the comments and conversations that take place on social media channels. When you post on social media, be prepared to have conversations with people. Scheduling your content frees you up to do other work and provides you with time to respond to tweets and posts.

Automating your content isn’t a free pass to be offline and unavailable. People will notice. While you don’t have to be online all day long unless you’re a social media pro or community manager, make sure that you plan several times a day to check your social media.

When you post new blog content, you want to make sure you’re available at that time to respond especially succinctly to comments or discussions that pop up around your new article.

Typically, I like to respond on each social platform. If you like to streamline tasks further, find a way to see and respond to the comments on each social platform that you use. A few that I like:

Cleaning house [Social Media Comments]

While you’re busy checking your comments, make sure that you take the time to sweep out all the spam comments from your posts. These come in different forms by platform.

  • LinkedIn published posts are being plagued by the LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers) spamming the comments with “invitations to connect.” Remove these comments from your posts to keep it clean for real comments and thoughts.
  • Facebook posts get spam in post comments leaving requests to like their page or some other off-topic link.
  • Instagram spammers leave their messages and requests to visit their page and follow them.

Keeping your community spam and profanity free makes it nice for other people to be there as well as encourages positive commenting. This is a daily, on-going task that shouldn’t be ignored.

Build a reciprocal network [Social Media Amplification]

A big part of my overall social media strategy is to post great content that people will love to share whether I write it or share someone else’s content. I feel that this creates a social media presence that people will love to follow and look to for great content to share.

I don’t advocate begging people to share content or bugging influencers to share your content. Simply share great content and people will find it. I have a solid distribution process for sharing my own content and don’t ask others to share it.

I use the Social Warfare plugin on my blog because how things are shared when I’m not there to do it are important! It takes time to load the images into the plugin but it’s worth it for fantastic social sharing and it reduces the load time of the page since the images are behind the scenes.

This is a little of what I do when I publish new blog content. Guy calls this “Pegging a post.”

How to share a blog post

  1. Create images for social sharing:
    > Pinterest 735 x 1102 pixels
    > Facebook 940 x 788 pixels
    > Twitter 1024 x 512 pixels
    > Instagram 640 x 640
  2. Create blog graphics (560 x 315) for Open graph sharing
  3. Pin blog post on Pinterest first
  4. Share on Twitter with an image
  5. Schedule later in the day for LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+
  6. Schedule tweets to go out on future dates for more traffic
  7. Add relevant hashtags to content based on the social platform and what’s acceptable.
  8. My posts go automatically into Triberr
  9. I also use Comment Luv on my blog so my latest blog post is shared when I comment on blogs.
  10. Add click to tweets into Social Warfare with quotes from the blog post

It’s important to customize the text and style on each social media platform. Dumping a link everywhere at the same time won’t get you social conversation or blog traffic.

Final step: Lather, rinse, repeat.

Being consistent with your social media and blogging is essential to success. I publish once a week on my blog and every day on all the social platforms that I’m active on.

Getting started on social media may seem like a big task but that’s just the beginning. Sticking with it and sharing great content every day is what creates social media platforms worth talking about.

Over to you

I hope this peek into what I do every day gives you some ideas to boost your social media efforts. If you want more, grab a copy of The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users and really get serious.

Have you tried some of these tips with your social media strategy? What would you add to the list here that’s worked for you? It’d be great to hear from you in the comments.

Image sources: Pablo, UnSplash, IconFinder, Wayback Machine

The post How I Manage a Social Media Platform of Over 11 Million Followers Every Day appeared first on Social.


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Large-Scale Content Projects: A Closer Look at Roles and Measurement

large-scale-content-projects-cover

In 5 Steps to Run Effective Large-Scale Content Projects, I mapped the moving parts involved in setting up and running super-sized content initiatives. Astute readers raised thoughtful questions, so I’m circling around to focus more attention on the specific roles each team member plays as well as key performance indicators (KPIs), and measurement of project success.

Project roles

Defining the roles necessary to execute each project is a key component to its success. In smaller engagements, team members usually can chat to resolve confusion about who is doing what. However, when a big project is in motion, inefficiencies, redundancies, and gaps can snowball, and the quality of the content invariably suffers. Clearly defining and communicating roles and expectations are crucial steps toward mitigating potential breakdowns. Here’s an overview of roles that have worked successfully for us.

  • Project leader – Also known as the account executive, senior project manager, or the director of content, this person owns the project as a whole. The buck stops here. The role includes:

    • Interfacing with executives and key project leaders to establish objectives, KPIs, and possible latent needs/concerns
    • Determining the appropriate content and content channels to meet those objectives
    • Setting up overarching work flow and ensuring the appropriate technical resources are available (e.g., a document repository, a team virtual communication tool, a CMS, export system, reporting system, and processes)
    • Setting up budgets and analytics
    • Determining timelines and deadlines (often includes oversight of the editorial calendar)
    • Selecting the project manager
  • Project manager – Also known as the senior editor, this person reports to the project leader and ensures that the project stays on the rails. This person manages the day-to-day operations of the project, often playing air-traffic controller, and is constantly aware of any issues, hiccups, or needs of the team. The role includes:
    • Hiring and training writers and editors
    • Creating the project brief and style guide
    • Creating an editorial calendar
    • Assuring quality
    • Retraining as needed for underperformers who show promise and are committed to the project
    • Terminating underperformers who can’t be remediated; rehiring as needed
    • Identifying and coaching superstars who can serve as leaders on other projects
    • Working with technical problems and troubleshooting
    • Answering questions, providing feedback, acting as support for project editors and writers
  • Editor – Depending on the project size, you might have multiple layers of editors. As a function of keeping small “pods” or teams working toward a mix of efficiency and high-quality writing, many larger projects involve both senior and junior editors who collaborate. The primary duties of an editor include:
    • Creating rapport with a team of writers; managing junior editors, if applicable, and small teams, as well as reporting back to the project manager as agreed
    • Fully understanding the project brief and interpreting the style guide
    • Coaching writers and providing consistent feedback to continue to hone the quality of the work
    • Checking facts and assuring quality
    • Ensuring proper grammar and usage without losing sight of the big-picture organization and focus of content pieces
    • Delivering fully edited, quality content pieces by deadline
  • Writer – The role of writer is where the creativity happens. For a large-scale project to work both in efficiency and in style, the writers must be regarded as the bread and butter of the project. Simply put: Talented writing can be made great with smart editing, but there’s no amount of editing that can fix a terrible base. It’s important that writers:
    • Understand fully the project brief and style guide
    • Research quickly yet thoroughly
    • Write engaging, dynamic content that conforms to project standards
    • Accept feedback and coaching from the editor
    • Create high-quality work while meeting deadlines
  • Proofreader – In many circumstances the project manager serves as a proofer or final checker on a project, but we’ve found it’s often useful to employ an extra layer of security that comes via a dedicated proofreader. This person completes a final quality assurance, focusing less on content (that’s the editor’s job) and more on the nitty-gritty of formatting, grammar, and punctuation. The proofreader is:
    • Well-versed in various grammatical styles, including Chicago and AP
    • Detail-oriented – This person reads, highlights, and knows the style guide well and can translate that knowledge into a thorough check for formatting requirements, typos, comma splices, and misplaced modifiers.

Once you’ve got your teams set up and mobilized, conduct constant checks to ensure the convoy is rolling along as expected – specifically, that quality standards and deadlines are upheld.

Measurement defined

When setting up a large content project, it’s also essential to set up the measurement structure early. When initially scoping the project, the project leader works with the executives to determine that the KPIs are based on the organization’s objectives, and to identify the content strategies and tactics being used. The project leader should also review what the current KPIs and analytics look like to set appropriate benchmarks and projected rates of change. KPIs can include:

  • Website traffic increase
  • Site referral increase
  • Time on page increase
  • Bounce rate decrease
  • Domain/page authority and overall rankings (how the aboutness of a page stands up – see below for an explanation of aboutness)
  • Conversion metrics (e.g., download a form, sign up for a newsletter, request a quote)
  • Social media engagement (e.g., “likes,” clicks, shares, comments)

Social media metrics are a bit tricky because they are sometimes regarded as fuzzy metrics (as in, “Sure, ‘likes’ are great, but are they converting?”). We typically recommend looking at engagement metrics as part of a larger picture, including watching social traffic to the website and seeing how those visitors move through the site (and hopefully convert).

Examine domain/page authority and overall rankings by reviewing and modifying pages for their aboutness, then watching to see how those pages perform. Aboutness refers to the overall content and semantics of a page and a site. It’s not about forcing keywords. It is about the website’s intent: When the content, from on-page copy and links to headers, alt tags, and metadata, tells one consistent, engaging story to the user.

Realistic expectations

It’s important to set realistic measurement strategies. An executive who asks you to create a content project for a new product and says, “Get me the first slot on Google for X term,” is creating an unrealistic KPI. A more realistic goal would be, “Get an X% increase in traffic to the new product’s landing page.” Likewise, looking at current search engine rankings and conducting a thorough optimization project to improve the aboutness (overall content and semantics) of each page will certainly affect rankings. Measuring and reporting on that over time is a smart strategy, as is evaluating site authority.

Sometimes setting measurement goals means stepping back and educating executives early so they have realistic expectations about what content marketing is and what types of results to expect from the large-scale project. Likening content marketing to a marathon as opposed to a sprint is a helpful concept.

Measurement tools

When thinking in terms of performance, think about both the macro- and the micro-conversions. Of course, with a retail product, the end goal is hearing the register ring. But studies show that people research products numerous times before they ever arrive at the register. All that research is considered a micro-conversion, and each is a key part of the buying process. Put in measurements to focus on the value of those micro-conversions as well as the macro. You can measure these by setting up campaigns in Google Analytics or other analytics tools.

Be sure that you take the appropriate amount of time to think about and set up both Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools before you launch content. If you want to learn more about Google Analytics, Google offers a lengthy training course (about five to six hours) that gives you a deep dive into the what and how of Google Analytics.

Proactive analytics communication

The project leader and project manager may collaborate, but there needs to be a primary point of contact for executives who should receive the updates and reporting. Timing of the reporting should be regular (we tend toward once monthly), and recipients need to know when they will be receiving these reports. With expectations set before the project begins and regular communication, the executives are kept in the driver’s seat when it comes to evaluating how the content is performing.

So, that brings up the elephant in the room: What do you do if KPIs aren’t being met? By having good measurements in place and doing regular reporting, you can determine earlier rather than later what content is working and what content isn’t cutting it. This allows you to make recommendations as to what you are seeing and what needs to change. Don’t wait for the executives to spot underperforming content or to get anxious that the KPIs aren’t being met.

Future approval for content projects will be based primarily on the success of large-scale content projects’ KPIs.

Setting up or reorganizing your content marketing team should improve overall efficiency and effectiveness. Learn more by listening to CMI webinar, The Content Marketing Service Bureau: How to Structure and Optimize Your Content Marketing Team.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post Large-Scale Content Projects: A Closer Look at Roles and Measurement appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.


Source: content marketing institute

Google’s New Mobile Breadcrumb URLs: Making the Most of Your Site Name & URL Structure

Google’s New Mobile Breadcrumb URLs: Making the Most of Your Site Name & URL Structure was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Two more changes are coming to Google mobile search results, the search engine announced last week — this time to the way URLs are displayed.

  • Mobile search results no longer show the actual page URL, but instead show a breadcrumbs-like format of the URL structure. This is rolling out worldwide.
  • The breadcrumbs-like information can show the site name in place of the domain name. This is rolling out in the U.S. only for now.

These before and after examples from Google’s announcement post on the Google Webmaster Central blog show what’s changing:

breadcrumb-url-example

URL structure replaced by breadcrumb format in Google mobile search results

The change replaces a SERP result’s URL with a description of the page’s location in a “breadcrumbs-like format.” The exciting part of this announcement for online marketers is that you can control your displayed breadcrumb URLs and site name using Schema.org structured data. Google’s Gary Illyes gave an enthusiastic explanation:

gary-illyes-mobile-url

Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes shares the news.

Change #1: Breadcrumbs Format instead of URL Structure

Google now displays the breadcrumbs-like format instead of URLs in mobile search results, period. The search engine has been testing this formatting for years in web and mobile search, and they’ve decided to implement it worldwide for mobile searches. Therefore, whether your site has marked up its pages with structured data or not, Google shows a breadcrumb format in place of your URL structure.

You can specifically control how the breadcrumb URL appears if you add Schema.org markup to the HTML on your pages. Refer to Schema.org’s breadcrumbs structured data for details; you can also find instructions in Google Developers Help, although at the time of this writing, the page was not up-to-date:

google-breadcrumb-documentation

A Google Developers reference for Breadcrumb structured data markup can be found here: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/breadcrumbs.

But what if you don’t (yet) have schema markup on your site? Without structured URL data to refer to, Google will display whatever structure it feels best represents the way that page fits in your site. Google primarily bases this on:

  • Actual page URL, and/or
  • Breadcrumb navigation on the page

Well Structured URLs for the Win

Google looks for clues starting with the page URL itself. If you have organized your website content in a physical silo structure, with folders arranged in a logical way, then you have a big advantage. Even your naked URLs reveal a lot of information. As a best practice, the directories leading to your page should communicate a clear idea of what your page is about, both to the search engines who crawl your URL path and to visitors who see the URL in their browser address bar.

For example, compare the well-structured URL (top) to the flat directory structure below it:

  • com/engine-parts/cooling/audi-a6-quattro-engine-timing-belt-kit.html
  • com/cooling-audi-a6-quattro-engine-timing-belt-kit.html

Notice how, in the first URL, the folders “engine-parts” and “cooling” provide context for the name of this product page. We know that this product falls within the category of engine parts used for cooling.

A well-structured URL doesn’t have to be many levels deep to communicate what a page is all about. In fact, keeping pages within a few clicks of the home page is a recommended SEO best practice (three to five clicks deep is a good maximum guideline, though very large sites may need more). Flattening your URLs so that everything is on one level, as in the second URL above, creates chaos. There are many reasons to have structured URLs versus a flat directory structure, and Google’s latest announcement adds another reason to the list.

Breadcrumb Navigation Leads to SEO Success

Does your site have breadcrumb navigation links at the top of each page? Those little links help search engines understand your site structure in a powerful way. Breadcrumb links pass link equity within your site to reinforce your silo strategy. Showing a logical breadcrumb path on every page of your site naturally passes link juice up to your main landing pages. It also has a user-friendly benefit, since people can click there to find their way up to broader levels of content.

Now there’s another benefit to implementing breadcrumb navigation, and that’s to give Google a suggested format for a breadcrumb-structured URL.

Note: In cases where a page’s breadcrumbs do not match its structured URL, and there’s no schema markup to follow, we aren’t sure whether the breadcrumbs or URL would take precedence. Knowing Google, we believe the URL algorithm would make a judgment call influenced by the page content and possibly the user’s query. If anyone has real-life examples that shed light on this, please comment below.

Change #2: Site Name instead of Domain

The second part of Google’s announcement was that the new structured URLs could show “the real-world name of the site instead of the domain name.” This change only applies to mobile searches in the U.S. for now, but is likely to be distributed more widely.

Google’s own help topic for including your site name in search results says you can provide one or more names for your website using Schema.org markup on your official home page. If you provide more than one possible name, Google’s algorithm will choose between them for each result. However, specifying just one site name lets you control what is displayed at the beginning of your structured URL breadcrumbs in Google mobile search results. In the examples Google gave, “www.wikipedia.com” and “www.google.com” were simplified:

site-name-breadcrumb

A site name can be specified with structured markup.

Why Specify Your Site Name in New Breadcrumb URLs

The best reason to mark up your site name is for branding. You want people to recognize your business by name, and Google’s giving you another opportunity to be seen. It’s also a cleaner look — if you start your breadcrumbs-style URL with the business name, it allows more space for users to read the words that come next.

It’s easy to see that this shortened breadcrumb URL format will give major brands an advantage. Searchers can see a familiar and trustworthy name more clearly now that it’s not hidden between other characters, and as a result, recognizable brands may see their click-through rates on mobile improve.

Be sure to specify a true and natural name of your business, not anything deceptive. Interestingly, the comments on Google’s announcement post contained many predictions that spammers would take this and run with it. In other words, a small shoe manufacturer might specify the site name “Nike” and try to appear bigger than they are.

According to Google’s guidelines for specifying your site name, the website name (or names) you supply in your markup should meet certain criteria. Your site name must:

  • Be reasonably similar to your domain name
  • Be a natural name used to refer to the site, such as “Google,” rather than “Google, Inc.”
  • Be unique to your site — not used by some other site
  • Not be a misleading description of your site

Google can smell spam a mile away. Don’t be foolish enough to even try deceiving the search engines, or your site rankings will suffer. Instead, follow the guidelines, implement structured breadcrumb URLs your way, specify your site name, and take advantage of opportunities as they appear.

 


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