Much of social media and online marketing can be described as “content marketing”. This is the process of creating informative, helpful, entertaining or engaging “content” as a means to attract prospects to your business, getting those prospects to know, like and trust you, then staying in front of these people until they are ready to buy from you.
What is content?
A blog post (like this one), a video, an audio, photographs, infographics – anything that communicates.
The idea of a social media bomb (a concept created by Dreamgrow Digital) is that you take one great idea and turn it into a variety of media that you spread over a wide range of social tools. This way you reach more people without majorly increasing your workload.
Thanks to www.dreamgrow.com for this great graphic
Blogging and article writing are wonderful marketing tools, particularly for people who are selling their expertise and not a product. It’s a great way to showcase your knowledge.
They are also fabulous for SEO (search engine optimization). If you’re blogging regularly, you have new content for Google to index. By automating sharing your posts with your social media profiles, you can really expand your reach. And if you’re content is great, other people will help spread the word by sharing what you write.
But what happens when the well runs dry? What do you do when you run out of ideas?
I know that was the one idea that held me back from blogging initially. And I’m a writer! So I can easily understand why you worry about the dreaded writer’s block. That’s what this post is for –
Doesn’t matter what your business, you have certain questions that you answer over and over again. Whether it’s from a new client, a prospect or someone you meet at a networking event, people want to know certain things about what you do and how you do it.
Each of those “frequently asked questions” can and should become a blog post. If you write the answers well, and perhaps include them in an FAQ section on your website, you may find prospects have fewer questions when they talk to you.
Write a “How to” Article
Just like this article, having a post called “X ways to do Y” almost writes itself. And people love “how-to” articles. They’re quick to read and often useful.
Read other Blogs
No, I don’t mean plagiarize them. But by reading other blogs in your industry, you will get ideas.
Sometimes you might strongly disagree with the writer. Or you might agree with them but want to go deeper into the topic. In that case, refer to the original article with a link, and then write your own thoughts. It will add interest and authority to your own blog – people will see you’re not just making it all up. Additionally, you may get traffic from the original blog. If they like what they wrote, they may share a link to your article.
I use Google Reader to subscribe to blogs. Then I use the Feedly plugin for my web browers to peruse the blogs I subscribe to. I use Feedly because it makes things look “pretty” so it’s more fun reading article using it.
Are there tools you use that your audience might find useful? For example, I have written a number of articles about various tools for automating posts to social media or plugins for a WordPress blog. You could create a list of your favourite blogs or podcasts from your industry. Include the name of the resource, a paragraph about why you like this resource and where your readers can get the resource.
Do you have a stack of books related to your field sitting in your office? Read one of them and write a review of the book.
Ask What Your Readers Want
Post to Facebook or LinkedIn, asking what people want to know about your industry. You may get enough topics to keep you going for months.
Sometimes things going on in your own life will resonate with your readers. Are you getting married, expecting a child, going to a graduation or winning an award. Share it. It allows your reader to get to know you as a person, not just the business.
Post a white board next to your desk or keep a notepad on it. Get in the habit of recording your blog post ideas on it. At first you won’t have many ideas on the board, but when you get used to writing them down as they occur, you’ll find you’ll never run out of ideas again.
Do you blog as a marketing tool? Leave a comment and share a link to your blog or share one of your tips for keeping the ideas coming.
Many entrepreneurs who are publishing online have questions about copyright. In particular they are often worried about their material being stolen. From a marketing point of view, having your blog posts, videos and slide shows reused by others is useful, as long as you get credit (and a link back to your own site).
That’s where Creative Commons comes in. It allows you, as a content creator, to specify who can use your content, when they can use it and how they can use it.
This past weekend I was at Podcamp London and attended a session about Creative Commons. Rodd Lucier, the presenter, has created this slide show about Creative Commons and how it can be used. While Rodd is presenting from the point of view of an educator, for anyone new to the ideas of copyright and Creative Commons, this slide show (complete with audio) is a useful introduction.
I hope you enjoy this presentation, and more importantly, learn how Creative Commons can be used in your business.
YouTube is now owned by Google so this is yet another way to use Google as a marketing vehicle. With over 100 million U.S. viewers of YouTube (never mind the rest of the world) as of January 2009, clearly YouTube is a way to reach a large number of people.
Why should you add YouTube videos to your marketing plan?
First, search engines are starting to rank video higher than longer articles and blog posts. If you’ve used good keywords in your title and meta tags, your video is more likely to get found by Google and other search engines. Additionally, since you can include a link to your own website, you can further increase the ranking of your site by adding videos to YouTube.
Our eyes naturally go to photos. If your video shows up in a search someone does on Google, the thumbnail of your video is more likely to catch their eye and get clicked than a text only result. This means more traffic for you.
Good videos are “link bait”. YouTube automatically includes a link for views to use to add to their website. If you provide interesting or useful content it is more likely someone will add your video to their website, increasing the number of people who see and hear your message.
You’ll be cutting edge
Even though people are moving to YouTube in droves, the majority of small businesses haven’t tried it yet. If you start using video online today, there’s a good chance you’ll be one of the first ones in your industry to do so. You’ll be seen as cutting edge or just reach people your non-YouTube competitors don’t.
Works well with other social media sites
Social media sites like Facebook are designed to work with YouTube. You can easily and quickly import your YouTube videos and get double duty. Even if someone has never used YouTube before, they can still watch your content.
The rule of seven
YouTube was made for the Rule of Seven. I’ve said it before: people like to do business with those they know, like and trust. And getting to know, like and trust you takes time – at least seven contacts with your marketing message. Video is a great way to let people get to know you: they can see your face and hear your voice. You’re no longer an anonymous entity online but a living, breathing person. If you combine that with interesting and helpful information, video can speed up the process of getting people to feel comfortable enough with you to be willing to open their wallets and purchase your products or services.
Tips for creating a good video
I’m not a videographer so I’m not going to give you tips on how to actually use a video camera. If you need help there, hire someone or find a teenager who knows what she’s doing.
However, there are some tips I can give you to get better results.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. While you don’t what to look completely unprofessional, if your video is too polished viewers may feel like they’re viewing a commercial. Sometimes a slightly homemade quality to the video can make your message more authentic.
The average YouTube viewer spends 2.5 to 3 minutes per video. Keep your video in that range and you’ll likely get more viewers.
Dress professionally. I know I said a homemade quality may sound authentic but that doesn’t mean I think you should create your videos in your pajamas. Unless your personal and business brand is very quirky, dress how you would if you were meeting clients. Clean up your office – if that’s where you’re shooting.
Provide good, useful content. People don’t want a sales pitch. The best format is to talk about a problem your customers have and give them tips on how to solve it.
Don’t forget a subtle sales pitch. If you’ve given useful information, end your video with a soft sell. Include your website address and some sort of call to action – what do you want the viewer to do next. An ideal call to action is send them to a place on your website where they can get more information.
If you haven’t started using video yet, now might be the time to give it a try. Go to YouTube, see how others are viewing the site, get out your video camera and give it a try.
Andrea J. Stenberg
Are you using video and YouTube to market your business? Let us know how it works by leaving a comment. Also, if you know of businesses that are doing a good job with video, leave us links to the best online videos.
Writing a blog has been an interesting experience. While I often include my own personal thoughts and opinions, I also try to include useful information paired with hard data. As a result, when I come across an interesting statistic or a quote by an industry leader, I try to include it in my blog post (complete with a link). This habit comes from my journalism training. Plus I hope it makes the articles more interesting and useful.
The other day I came across a link to an interesting blog post that included a very startling “fact” about social media use by small businesses. It said that 65 percent of small businesses don’t use social media at all. Naturally I clicked the link to the article. It repeated the startling fact and included links to the sources for the statistic. Because I wanted to know more, I clicked the links.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that one of the links wasn’t valid and the other link went to a study that didn’t include the statistic mentioned. In fact, the data mentioned on the study could be interpreted to mean the exact opposite of what was quoted in the blog post. It mentioned that 64 percent of small businesses use social media for answering customer questions. No mention at all of businesses not using social media.
This misrepresentation of the data left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Rather than adding this blogger to my RSS reader and quoting him in this blog, I’ll never trust what he has to say again. By fiddling with the data to create a catchy headline, he lost a reader forever.
I’m all for using surprising or startling facts in your blog posts or headlines. They make for interesting reading. Just make sure that the “facts” are true. Otherwise, you’ll lose me as a reader, customer and referrer.