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The changing face of content marketing

September 11, 2014 by Charlie Phair

The changing face of content marketing{{}}Over the past year, tactical guest posting of duplicate content has become synonymous with bad spammy SEO practice. Google has publicly expressed disdain for the practice and the recent Panda and Penguin algorithm updates have taken further measures to penalise those engaged in bad practices.

Once upon a time, guest posting was an effective system to build links to your website, but as it became more popular we inevitably witnessed a growth in black hat techniques gaining unnatural links at high velocities and unfairly ranking over competitors and effectively demeaning the quality of search queries. The Panda 4.0 website has taken a harsher stance on content aggregator websites, penalising automated and duplicate content with non-existent signs of community engagement.

Where does content marketing stand now?

Pick your subject and delivery carefully

By all means, produce content that expresses the benefits of your products and services but be wary of producing advertorials and promotional content. Online audiences are becoming more resistant to blatant advertising, they know when they are being sold to and they don’t like it — this is why Adblock has become so popular. Always look to engage your audience by targeting their interests and getting creative with your content.

Where 300-400 word articles were the norm, now more comprehensive pieces of 2,000 words or more are in favour. Interactive elements and a focus on visual design are also becoming increasingly prevalent. So don’t be afraid of building the resources for longer-term gains with your content.

Choose your resources carefully

Increasingly, small businesses have to consider the validity of the websites they post to. If a website looks out of date, is unresponsive and unsupported by social media, it is probably not worth your time. If, however, a website does have a modern responsive design and an active community, go for it!

Moz’s Domain Authority has long been the standard metric for deciding whether a website is worth your attention, however traffic and community engagement are become more important and DA largely overlooks these elements.

Follow through

Individual page metrics are becoming more important for Google when it measures what is and what isn’t a good link. Once posted, you need to support your content through social media sharing and outreach to authorities in your field.

The objective of good quality content marketing hasn’t really changed. Never write for the sake of a link and always think about the bigger picture. Create engaging content that is unique to your brand and of real interest to an audience. Then take active steps to support your content on social media in order to create organic discussion.

Copyright © 2014 Charlie Phair, digital marketing executive, The Workplace Depot.

 

Read all about it. Has Twitter become a 21st century newspaper?

July 09, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Twitter{{}}With over 255 million monthly active users sending an average of 500 million tweets a day, it’s no wonder Twitter is the first place many people turn to receive up to date news.

There are over 2.1 billion searches on the site everyday — which means it’s hot on the heels of Google and YouTube. However, unlike the other search engines, Twitter allows any individual to post news that will be immediately positioned in the public eye.

Twitter is often called the “information network” to distinguish it from other traditional social networking sites. And according to Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo, the new Twitter Search site “is complementary to traditional forms like television, because it adds the kind of real-time discussion we associate with the town square”. In other words, Twitter wants to become the ultimate breaking news platform.

Breaking news

It is not just Twitter that can see these benefits — journalists have been using Twitter for years to find breaking news. Now, they are turning to the site to post the news before they have even written the article. Twitter has heightened the competition between media sources to be the first ones to report news.

Twitter allows users to personalise the type of news they receive. By following certain accounts, users can pick and choose what they see in their newsfeed. We’ve all opened a newspaper and had to flick through to find the articles that really interest us. The Twitter List is great for collating news, allowing users to separate the accounts they follow into categories such as sports news or celebrities.

The value of hashtag

In addition to Lists, the almighty hashtag has allowed us to group together tweets from a specific subject, so we can view millions of first hand accounts and traditional news reports on just about any subject. The hashtag allows us to see and share everyone’s opinions. 

Not only can you filter the news you receive but you can also receive it from a variety of sources. By following multiple Twitter accounts you can get a less biased take on a breaking news story.

Citizen journalism

Perhaps the greatest feature that Twitter brings to news reporting is citizen journalism. These 140 characters have given everyone a voice, allowing first hand accounts to be posted as well as traditional news reports. 

The problem with Twitter as a newspaper, however, is that it is a huge rumour mill. Not everything that is tweeted is true. In order to find great nuggets of news on the platform we have to sift through thousands of false accounts and spam.

But can the same not be said for traditional media? As confidence in newspapers wavers, are people increasingly turning to social media for the real first hand accounts from the average Joe?

In an age where the media is grappling for the best headlines and as confidence in newspapers beings to falter, will Twitter becomes the ultimate 21st Century newspaper?

Posted in Internet marketing | Tagged Twitter, news | 0 comments

How to build a brand with words

June 23, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Copywriting{{}}Most of us are pretty clear about the importance of design when brand building, but we are often less sure about which words to choose to bring our brands to life.

But every time you put pen to paper you either engage or disengage your customers. Words matter and brands that tell their stories as well as showing them win hands down. Successful brands like Apple and Volkswagen match the words to the visuals to create a strong voice.

Content marketing and social media

Twitter, instant messaging, texts, online chat — they’re all proof of the power of words. How many times have we heard about people forming long distance relationships online, with only words at their disposal?

And think of how much information we find on the web before purchasing just about anything nowadays. Reviews, descriptions, listings and websites all contribute to our decisions to buy.

So how do you build a brand with words?

  • One way to establish the right tone of voice it to think of your brand as a person — what sort of conversations are they having?
  • Capture your audience’s attention immediately — you have about three seconds for online content and not much longer for offline, so assess your content as if it’s the first time you’ve seen it.
  • Don’t overcomplicate your message — differentiate between things you find interesting and your genuine USPs that will convince customers to buy.
  • Focus on benefits not features. Features have their place but nobody was ever driven to buy a widget because it was only 1cm wide. They were driven to buy it because its slim width is a key advantage.
  • Edit, edit and edit. Revisit and edit again — get the picture? There will be times when your message is muffled by excess wordage. So lose the waffle. Less is more.

Finally, assess your writing capabilities honestly and if writing isn’t your thing, get help. You can keep costs down by doing as much groundwork as possible, putting all the content together in one document. Most copywriters charge by the hour.

Sara Ruber is the director of creative agency Become.

The content conundrum infographic

June 19, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor


Infographic created by JBH Marketing. Sources - Content Marketing Institute.

The SME guide to social customer service

June 12, 2014 by Marc Duke

The SME guide to social customer service/ Unlike red stamp with thumb down{{}}I recently went to the Social Customer Service Summit run by Our Social Times. The event was attended by major brands and technology providers in the social customer service space and looked at all aspects of social customer service in relation to larger organisations.

But if you are a small business or an entrepreneur is this relevant to you?

Let’s assume you have a social media strategy in place. No doubt you have read plenty of hints and tips about social media etiquette; how Facebook and Twitter differ from LinkedIn; how Pinterest, Instagram and Vine will transform your business; and you are up to speed with what you need put on YouTube.

But you may still be wondering if social customer service really is relevant to you and your business. Here are some facts to consider:

  • Radio 4 recently devoted 30 minutes discussing the issue of complaining on Twitter;
  • 53% of people who engage with a brand on Twitter expect a response within one hour or less (Social Media Today);
  • By 2020, 90% of customer service will be done via social media (Gartner);
  • 82% of customers stop doing business with a brand after bad service (Harris Interactive).

So what needs to be done to make social customer service in your business a reality?

Well, it depends on who your customers are and how they behave. As a small business, the chances are you know exactly who they are, whether they are active on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and you also know how they like to interact with you. Some will prefer email, others will prefer to use the phone or they may — lucky them — get the chance to talk to you face-to-face.

Controlling the customer experience

As a small business you can control exactly what sort of customer experience your employees give your customers, and the fact that you treat your customers in such a personalised way is something they value as much as you.

The challenge comes when your business starts to grow. At present you probably use Twitter and Facebook to get the message out and hope that people hear what you have to say. The question of how to deal with customers who complain on Facebook or Twitter probably isn’t front of mind at the moment.

But as your business grows it has to be.

So think ahead to avoid disappointment and consider the following:

  • People. Make sure your employees know your code of conduct on Twitter, Facebook and other social media as soon as they join. You might have to provide training before letting people loose online as you would on the phones or when responding to email.
  • Process. Make sure you have a series of steps in place to deal with a complaint logged on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t ignore it — a person with 3000 Twitter followers who posts something negative equals 3000 complaints.
  • Place. Social media is a public domain. Any good business owner that has a disgruntled customer in their shop will look to deal with the situation in a private and discreet manner. The rules are exactly the same online.
  • Personality. Ultimately, social is an amazing platform that lets you and your business show its personality to the world. Don’t go all corporate — people are expressing their views and feelings, so respond in kind.
  • Plan. Try to plan for a crisis. As the saying goes, we don’t plan to fail but we will if we fail to plan.

Marc Duke is a marketing consultant.

What to do once your content goes live

June 09, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

What to do once your content goes live/ content word{{}}Finding your content on the internet is almost as difficult as looking for a specific star in the Milky Way. It would take you over 340 years to peruse the 2.15 billion actively indexed web pages out there — even if you just spent five seconds on each one.

In short, people aren’t going to simply stumble upon your content. Even though you’ve created an interesting, relevant, high-quality article, you’re still going to have to do some legwork to make the most of it.

Continuing to market and track your content helps deliver reach, targeted delivery and increased credibility. Here are some free ways to increase your content’s exposure after publication.

Free resources to promote your content

If you’re on a budget, there are still lots of ways to get your content in front of relevant audiences — you just need to tap into your networks.

1. LinkedIn Groups

Using your article as a resource in LinkedIn Groups can be effective for sharing your expertise without seeming too promotional. Find like-minded groups and make a habit of joining their discussions before you share your own content. Likewise, don’t overshare and keep it professional.

2. Email signatures

Adding your most recently published article to your email signature functions as an instant credibility badge. I almost always follow a link like this if I want to know more about someone who has emailed me. It demonstrates thought leadership in your industry and it gets your message in front of the people you’re trying to reach.

3. Your company blog

This is a good place to extend the conversation about a published article without duplicating content. Can you follow up on your original blog? What did you learn from the comments on your article? Are there any comments you’d like to respond to? Be sure to include a link to the original article.

Tracking the effectiveness of your content

In addition to getting your content maximum exposure, it’s important to follow the data and use metrics to drive your decisions. With Google Analytics or a similar platform, you can track your leads and conversions by source. If one source stands above the rest, you know you’re effectively reaching your audience, either with your content or the publication.

Tweak your content marketing strategy by immersing yourself in the metrics and making positive changes. Set a goal for your content, whether it’s increasing visits to your site, starting more conversations with prospects or converting more leads that find your site through your content.

Content marketing isn’t a vanity exercise. If you’ve ever done it, you know it takes time, effort and strategy. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your content’s journey ends once it has been published. You’ll be missing out on an opportunity to keep your content working for you.

Mark Hodges is a brand strategist at Influence & Co.

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