42 Content Posting Ideas to Inspire Your Content Marketing Efforts

You know that your brand needs content. But how do you create something more than a status update or sales-y pitch? We’ve got 42 ideas to help you start publishing meaningful, engaging, and – most importantly – human content to your brand’s social channels.

Before we get started, a quick reminder…

The spirit of your content will be more important than the content itself. Just as “The medium is the message,” the approach you take in sharing content is more important than how technically or artistically “good” the content is. Before you post, check your reasons for doing so:

  • Are you trying to share something that will improve and better the lives of your audience?
  • Or are you posting content just to make your brand look put-together/intelligent/funny/etc.?

42 Ideas for Creating Content

Blog Ideas

  1. What are the top 20 FAQs your company gets? Answer them in your first 20 blog posts.
  2. Pick up on current trends using Google Trends.
  3. Ask to trade guest posts with like-minded companies in your area/industry.
  4. Feature/interview an employee or customer.
  5. Share from your experience.
  6. Create an infographic about your industry.
  7. Talk about your mistakes and failures.
  8. Create a listicle. (Here’s How)

Email Ideas

  1. Send out a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter. Celebrate wins; extend offers; invite users to a conversation on social.
  2. Use GIFs in your email to showcase special offers. (Here’s How)
  3. Use GIFs to create mini photo-slideshows from recent events.
  4. Include screenshots of your social accounts in your email so users see what they’re missing out on by not following you.

Video Ideas

  1. Film a simple weekly video blog with your computer’s built-in camera. Update your customers/clients on developments. Post to YouTube.
  2. Screenshot and link to your YouTube video from within your email newsletter.
  3. Share your knowledge on Periscope or Meerkat.
  4. Host a Google Hangout webinar.
  5. Partner with influencers to create video content. (Wendy’s did – so can you.)

Social Media Ideas: Facebook

  1. Post native videos to Facebook. (Here’s Why)
  2. Ask your Page fans what topics they would like to read about on your blog.
  3. Create a Milestone on Facebook.
  4. Publish photo albums from recent events.
  5. Create meme-styled posts.
  6. Instead of taking a screenshot of a graphic, post a photo of a printout to make your brand look more human and less digital/sterile.
  7. Tag other brands and help them promote the good things they’re doing.
  8. Use one of the seven ‘Call to Action’ buttons on your Facebook Page.

Social Media Ideas: Instagram

  1. Use Hyperlapse to create fast, stabilised videos.
  2. Share what’s going on in your office/retail space.
  3. Start a hashtag for your brand.
  4. Use emojis and emoji hashtags.
  5. Share photos from users who post with your hashtag. (Do this with the Repost App.)
  6. Create momentum behind contests/giveaways by having users comment and tag their friends.
  7. Partner with another brand in your contest and cross-promote by asking users to follow both accounts.

Social Media Ideas: Twitter

  1. Autoplay GIFs and videos are new to Twitter. Six seconds to get ‘em to click!
  2. Jump into popular topics with Twitter Trends.
  3. Use other brands’ hashtags. Twitter is all about conversation.
  4. Retweet, Quote Retweet, and Reply. Again… Twitter is all about conversation!
  5. React to what’s happening in your community and industry. While some Twitter content can be scheduled, you have to be there to really be human.
  6. Host a Twitter chat (for larger accounts).
  7. Keep your old (but still relevant!) content alive by auto-scheduling it to Twitter throughout the year.

Audio Ideas

  1. Create a Spotify playlist that relates to a product/event launch.
  2. Start a podcast.
  3. Reach out to other podcasts, and offer yourself as an interviewee. Think about how you will add value for their

The Bottom Line On Content
Remember, bad content takes from an audience. Great content gives to an audience.

 

This article was written by Bob Hutchins from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


#MarketingMinds Chat Insights- Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty is something we should be striving to achieve. As such, we thought it was fitting to host a #MarketingMinds chat based on this subject. Here are key insights from the chat.

Q1. How do you define brand loyalty?

@AdotIdotspace defines brand loyalty as the tendency of repeatedly buying from the same brand.  However, @ThinkSEM and @hdojcinova believe that brand loyalty is more than that, as in some cases our audience do not consider other brands in their peripherals. Meanwhile, @Bokang_zanzu comments that brand loyalty can take the form of brand trust, in particular when the audience trusts an organisations vision and mission and buys from them because of this.

Q2. Why do we become loyal to certain brands?

‏@hdojcinova states that brand loyalty can form due to the quality of offering. Once we come across a product or service that has reached our perceived quality standards, we become loyal… because if its working then why change it? @AdotIdotspace explains that some people are loyal purely because they are afraid of changing. Some think changing takes more effort than they are willing to invest, whilst others are creatures of habit or are afraid to enter uncharted territory due to a lack of reassurance.

Our audience may also show brand loyalty due to customer service or branding that aligns with their lifestyle and values. Moreover, as @ThinkSEM explains, brand reputation and awareness can act as a comfort blanket, with some consumers opting for a certain brand that is pricier because of the fact that it’s well known.

“Ultimate brand loyalty is given to brand that manage to enhance our lives, instead of adding to the clutter of useless information.” @KatarinaWright

Q3. What brand activities can result in us becoming disloyal?

For @ThinkSEM, poor customer service or failure to solve problems are big issues in disturbing brand loyalty. Meanwhile @cvvj’s pet hate is when brands offer extra discounts to a new customer, whilst @akathmadevi considers a compromise in quality as one major issue that results in brand disloyalty. @Spectreoutreach suggests we stay clear of setting a price without aligning this with perceived value. @JanilJean adds that disillusionment of brand perceptions can also contribute to decreased brand loyalty. We can avoid this by constantly monitoring key brand themes using media intelligence platforms to ensure our audience’s perceptions are in line with our brand message.

Q4. How can we find brand advocates?

@ThinkSEM comments that knowing our audience is half the battle. Luckily, with the help of social listening tools, knowing our audience is made that much easier. @akathmadevi and @hdojcinova state that listening tools are a great way to find brand advocates. Meltwater’s Media Intelligence platform allows us to manage our community so that we can take note of our die-hard fans and identify those who could do with a little nurturing. As @simonlp and @cvvj suggest, this can be achieved through pin pointing those who defend our band publicly in times of crisis.

Q5. How can social listening increase brand loyalty?

@akathmadevi explains that social listening helps us to be attentive and when customers appreciate our efforts, they show brand loyalty. @Spectreoutreach agrees expressing that engagement and being proactive with feedback are sure ways of increasing brand loyalty.

@ThinkSEM sums it up: “By listening you can engage. By engaging you can build a relationship. Then you can build brand loyalty.”

What Is a Good Marketing Strategy for New Product Development?

Over and again, I have found that fledgling innovators or entrepreneurs start with the product idea first and link their strategies to it. Campaigns flounder because they start from their vantage point rather than that of their clients. In the end, these individuals may end up pleasing just themselves–or not even themselves because they end up at a loss.

Here’s a far better way to innovate and launch new product development:

Social Listening

Start off by having no idea whatsoever. Watch social media conversations that are relevant to your industry to find pain points and a desire for solutions that don’t exist.

The social media platforms that best fit your needs include Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and blogs. Google+ is slipping, but may still give you something.

In countries outside the U.S, sites such as Bebo, Habbo, Hi5, Zorpia, or Orkut may help you.

Here’s how I used this approach to write a book proposal.

Example:

It is well-known that the most popular, bestselling category is self-help. Yet, self-help also has a reputation for not working. I specified my field of inquiry to limit it: self-help regarding self-development; not spiritualism nor money nor health nor aspects like Zen (etc.). To maximize time, I listed the 12 most popular blogs and groups on Facebook and Twitter and spent two days reading comments of the past two-three months. I came up with an unsolved pain point which had a significant following and twisted an idea around that.

Traditional Market Research

Now’s the time to proceed with polls, focus groups, telephone interviews, A/B testing and other traditional research strategies. There’s a way you can do this while protecting the discovery of your pain point and your hunches.

Example:

The so-called “Mother of Invention,” Patricia Nolan-Brown, who has sold millions of products, holds multiple patents, and has her products regularly featured in national newscasts and magazines, protects her hunches by formatting her survey questions around existent product pain points rather than her idea. So, for instance, she tested her idea of an innovative car seat mirror by asking mothers what bothered them about their baby seats and their wish for a fantasy version, rather than divulging her idea and asking what they thought of it. This helped her not only confirm the validity of the need but also gave her other perspectives.

Competitors

For all you know, one or more of your competitors may have already hit on your idea, or seen the gap and proposed some viable solution. Check their website and PR to make sure you’re the “king of the castle” and not colliding with someone else. It’s ok if someone else has picked up the same need; you may be offering a different solution–one that may even be more effective. The important thing is to make sure your product solution is unique.

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Marketing consultant, Michael J. Hunter mentions an important point. Checking competitors pays off in other ways, too. Your competitors may have unsuccessfully tried to launch product ideas that resemble yours. Learning from competitors’ mistakes helps you not only improve your idea but gives you feedback on which marketing strategies to avoid and which to pursue.

Why not the traditional way?

Most marketers, entrepreneurs, or innovators flip this funnel. They come out with the product idea; then, adopt traditional marketing strategies such as polls or focus groups, to supplement their research. Unfortunately, science shows that this brings skewed results for many reasons that include the fact that you’re approaching your sample with a bias—you want to prove your ideas and are less open to disagreement. Respondents are, also, more likely to tell you what you want to hear, and they respond differently based on social contexts, the way they read the questions, their disinterest, or their mood. A far better way is to start with social listening instead.

Takeaways

“Marketing is what you do when your product is no good,” says Edwin Land, American scientist, and inventor. Unfortunately, most people begin new product development with an already existent idea that they then proceed to market. That doesn’t always work. A far better strategy is to catch pain points and missing solutions and develop a product idea that fills that gap better than any existent solution does. Then, you market accordingly.

The 3 Steps in Short

Campaigns flounder because organizations haven’t put the research into crafting a good marketing strategy for new product development. To avoid this:

  1. Listen to relevant social conversations for pain points and nonexistent solutions.
  2. Conduct your traditional research strategies such as A/B testing, polls, focus groups, and so forth
  3. Check your competition to make sure your idea is unique and to analyze their failures.

By starting with social listening and benchmarking competitors you’ll gain insight into how to approach new product development. To read more, download our ebook, Extracting Media Intelligence to Gain Insights Beyond the Firewall.

 

This article written by Jaime Nacach from Business2Community, originally appeared in Bloominari, and is legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

How Social Media has Changed our Society INFOGRAPHIC

Whether we’re using social media for personal or professional use, I’m sure many of us are guilty of logging into our preferred platform a little too often. Social media has a dedicated role in our daily routine, so much so that it has shaped the way in which we live. Let’s take a look at the influence social media has had on our society.

Can you think of any other ways social media has influenced us? Drop a comment in the box below.

HOW SM CHANGED SOCIETY

Getting the 6 Elements of Persuasion Right

Content that persuades a prospect to take additional action has six distinctive characteristics. It’s no surprise that these features are common to the marketing process and your customer’s journey:

1. Liking

Consumers and businesses alike wish to work with organizations that they admire. Social media demands that we become more transparent in our engagement with our audience or community. To be liked requires revealing details about ourselves beyond our product, logo, or slogan.

2. Reciprocity

The reasons we ask key industry experts (influencers) to work with us on webinars and ebooks isn’t as simple as providing unique and valued content; it’s also that many of those experts reciprocate the opportunity. Those experts often promote the content or introduce us to audiences that may be interested in our product offerings.

3. Consensus

The currency of content isn’t money; it’s trust. As you build trust online, you drive more sales. Mass adoption of strategies happens with consensus. If many in your network utilize PayPal, for example, you’ll most likely be using PayPal. It’s not so much that people wish to be part of the herd, it’s that the risk of going alone may be too high for many.

4. Scarcity

Time constraints, expiring discounts, remaining seats, and contests are all strategies that persuade the audience to move from the current moment to the next. Push too hard, and you can turn off your audience, but be strategic, and you can accelerate the customer journey.

5. Consistency

A percentage of the population wants consistency, even when it no longer serves them. To access this element of persuasion, meet your customers’ expectations. Expectations that you set at the beginning of the relationship. If changes to the customer experience occur, outline when and why those changes need to take place and how the end product, the consistent expectation will remain the same. That the customers can rely on you for a consistent (or possibly improved), end product.

6. Authority

Content that’s shared helps the author or company that’s published it gain recognition in their industry. Industries all have few leaders and plenty of followers. The perception of authority on a topic is a proven characteristic of persuasive content. Authority doesn’t happen overnight, though. Authority is attained over time. Authority requires momentum as the most recent, frequent, and relevant content you’ve produced is shared and recognized.

These six elements of persuasion are from the free ebook, How to Map Your Content to Unpredictable Customer Journeys, download to gain deeper insights into creating content that meets your customer at every point along their journey.

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Sponsored Content: Understand it to Master it

“Yeah, nice” you sigh as you read our previous blog showcasing examples of companies doing sponsored content well. But if you’re now thinking, “How am I personally going to boss sponsored content?” the answer can be found in this post.

Integration, integration, integration

Sponsored content should be integrated into our overall content marketing strategy. We can ensure this by aligning goals and monitoring consistency of messages sent via paid, owned and earned media. Media monitoring tools act as our right hand man when it comes to showing our key message themes. Integration and consistency will help reinforce the sponsored content message and build brand trust whilst doing so.

Be flexible

It is important to be flexible and scalable when it comes to sponsored content. We’re only human and sometimes when we aim for the moon we don’t leave the earth. If our sponsored content doesn’t take off, we can boost success with the help of owned/ paid media. When sponsored content aims for the moon and lands in another galaxy, be sure to cash in on success by scaling the sponsored content up to become an advertising campaign.

Choose the right publication

The brands discussed in our previous blog thought long and hard about the medium that would distribute their sponsored content. By now, we should have our target market well defined and described. The next step is finding the most effective medium to reach them. But how can we decide on the most appropriate platform to use? That’s easy with help from a media intelligence tool, such as Meltwater. By using a tool we can find the most used social platform or widely read publication amongst our target market, from there we have a nice list of hosts for our sponsored content to keep in mind!

Follow the story

Gaining exposure in our preferred publication shouldn’t mark the end of our sponsored content efforts. Now it’s time to follow the story. How was it received? How many people has it reached? Who was it read by? At this stage, a media intelligence tool is not only useful, but actually indispensable.

Measuring sponsored content results isn’t always easy, as goals such as brand awareness can be difficult to trace back to sponsored content. Having said that, a media intelligence tool can help us measure brand differences before and after publishing. For example, have we seen an increase in Facebook likes? Has our share of voice grown compared to our competition? Are we seen in a more positive light? Is our brand now associated with new themes?

Building a Social Media Strategy in 10 Easy Steps [Part 2]

6- Build a community

When it comes to our social following, remember that quality is better than quantity. It can take some time to build a successful community that is both targeted and rich with engagement. We all have to start from somewhere and the below tips may be helpful in picking our social media strategy up off the ground:

  • Use relevant hashtags
  • Share content on targeted groups on LinkedIn
  • Follow those who follow you
  • Interact with industry influencers

All of these things are easier to find with a media intelligence tool (hey, we make one of those) that helps you find exactly what you need to find.

7 – Be social on social

Since the evolution of social media, it’s much easier and faster for our audience to get in touch with us directly. Many of us have technology to hand, whether it’s on our phone, tablet or computer. Accordingly, we should be integrating after sales service into our social media strategy. We can even use social as a focus group as explained in a previous blog, social listening can unearth all kinds of trends to inform our social media strategy. What better way to retain our audience than involving them in decisions.

8 – Use social media to generate leads

Lead generation can also be fulfilled with a well thought social media strategy. That doesn’t mean to say we should be blurting out sales pitches on social. Rather, with the use of media intelligence tools we’re able to find prospects and direct them to landing pages. Certain software solutions can also track folks through our sales funnel.

9 – Measure social media strategy success

So how do we know if our social media strategy is working? By analysing data for example post click-throughs, brand impressions and engagement levels. We can then adjust our social media strategy – if necessary – according to results. One key to social media strategy success is to find the right ingredients and differentiate. Easier said than done? Not necessarily! If we have specific information about our market, its trends and influencers, the mission becomes very achievable!

10 – Take your time

As they say, falling to plan is planning to fail. Building a flourishing media strategy takes time, but if something was easily achieved it wouldn’t be half as valuable, right?  If we are equipped with the best tools, achieving success is ever more possible. But ultimately, what we really need is time, patience and practice.

7 Creative Content Marketing Strategies That Are Absolutely Crushing It

The Nobel Prize isn’t won with a single flash of insight. Those who have achieved it had to experiment with new ideas over time.

The same is true for content marketing. You can have a handful of really great ideas, but it takes experimentation to set you and your company over the top. Over time, I’ve experimented with these ideas and found them to work.

This guide will give you the tools you need to achieve your goals. These seven creative content marketing strategies are already crushing it in the digital world. All you have to do is implement them. Here’s how to get started:

Strategy #1: Use Humor (but Only If You’re Funny)

What we know from content marketing research is that this industry is all about psychology. When you make your customers feel happy, they react in positive ways toward you. That’s why entertaining your users is so important.

There are companies—like Denny’s, believe it or not—that use humor effectively. Their cartoon breakfast foods make me laugh every time I see the ad. As a result, I want to keep coming back to their site for more.

That same concept can work for you, too, but you have to use humor naturally. Don’t force it. If you have a natural comedic personality, use it to your advantage in your content.

Strategy #2: Be Responsive

Your customers want to hear from you, especially when they have questions. So give them as many opportunities to hear from you as possible. Set up an autoresponder for email questions, so they know you’ve heard them and will be in touch.

Bulk up your customer service team to respond to questions either by phone, email or chat. Another innovative and effective idea: Take your customer service to social media. Make it a goal to respond to every question within 24 hours. You’ll keep build deeper connections and keep your customers happy.

Strategy #3: Reinvent the Old

What if you’re an old brand? What if you feel too traditional to change? I’ll tell you this, you can! Old or traditional brands reinvent themselves all the time. How do they do it?

Often, they use contemporary photography to emphasize both the classic feel of an established company and the modern use of its products.

Beautiful, striking photography is important to the success of your marketing, so don’t be afraid to budget for it and reinvent your brand on photo-heavy social sites such as Instagram and Snapchat. The most traditional company can get a new chance at life just by expanding on social.

Strategy #4: Be an Expert in Your Sphere

Customers can see right through phony people. They’ll trust you less if they catch your dishonesty. Instead, be an innovator in your space. Talk about what you know.

Give them helpful advice that only you can give. Set apart your business by making it indispensable. That starts with being an expert in your field.

Strategy #5: Write a Killer Headline

There are a lot of content marketing strategies that fail—but rarely so if there is a killer headline attached to the content. Get in the habit of writing headlines that are intriguing and lead the user to click through.

Remember that you’ll need to follow through on your promise in the headline. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver, but give your user enough to be interested.

Strategy #6: Educate Your Customers

You are selling a lifestyle to your customers. What better way to communicate that than to educate them. Consider blog posts and social media content that acts as a classroom lesson.

This is a great idea for health and food companies, especially, but the strategy extends to all businesses. Invite the user into your personal classroom to learn something about the life they want to lead — all with your help.

Strategy #7: Social Media Takeover

One of my favorite innovations in content marketing is the trend of letting your customers take over your social media account for a day.

This works particularly well on a platform like Snapchat or Instagram. Customers can sign up to participate. You literally give them access to your account, and they begin posting from their vantage point.

This is a fun experiment with loyal customers or your brand ambassador team because they will be more likely to post about your products or services that they use daily.

What’s also effective about this strategy is that it generates excitement and a concept known as FOMO or “Fear of Missing Out.” Everyone will want to participate in your social media takeover to have their photos and lives in the spotlight for a day.

It takes some trust to pull this off, but it can be fun and effective.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it’s always good to shake up your current content marketing strategies and try something new. When you go in a new—even uncomfortable direction—you’ll find new energy and creativity in your efforts.

Not everything will work. In fact, you’re likely to fail at some point in the process. But what is so rewarding about this process is that you’ll learn critical insights about your target audiences that will motivate you in your communication with them.

If you’re ready to watch your audiences grow and to hear how happy your new customers are, then try these seven creative marketing strategies today. Take some risks and reap those rewards!

 

This article was written by Neil Patel from Forbes and legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Three Lessons Marketers Can Learn from College Social Media Successes

With the school year underway and before traditional college rankings are delivered en masse, there’s a new metric that prospective students are considering before casting their applications next fall: Which schools have the highest grades on Twitter? But prospective students aren’t the only ones who should be paying attention; brands can look to university social accounts to improve their social media efforts.

At a time when the world’s leading brands put millions of dollars into improving marketing strategies, a university’s social media score can no longer be ignored. It may seem trivial, but college social media rankings are key to understanding social media savviness in general.

Applying social media analytics to rank the social media scores of the top 150 colleges in the country yielded interesting results. Specifically, how are these schools using Twitter as extensions of their academic profiles and as snapshots of community engagement? Examining how these universities engage with their myriad constituencies provides insight into the best social media practices across all universities (and by extension, brands). After crunching the data, here are the top five:

  1. University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
  2. University of Wisconsin – Madison
  3. Texas A&M University – College Station
  4. University of Texas – Austin
  5. Syracuse University

What accounts for these colleges’ successes digital savvy, and more importantly, what can we as marketers and communications professionals learn from them?

It’s important to take the initiative: Today’s students are tomorrow’s business and thought leaders.

Find Your Zeitgeist

One question to ask is: “Can you tap into the zeitgeist?” Trends that are embraced socially become dominant beliefs and ideas, so making decisions based on these trends is quickly becoming a winning marketing strategy. Trending terms are more than ephemeral; when viewed and analyzed, they predict business and marketing trends.

Tapping into the zeitgeist entails paying close attention to what has happened, what is happening, and the indicators (quantitative and qualitative) that illustrate what is likely to happen. Reactive marketing is a thing of the past. Seizing the marketing moment comes from keenly observing external data points, the business equivalent of playing where the hockey puck is going to be. Colleges that grow large and powerful bodies of social ambassadors don’t tweet ad nauseam; they reply to relevant conversations. They don’t overwhelm social platforms with an abundance of content; they analyze content that resonates and apply that analysis to topics likely to resonate in the future.

UNC took advantage of the zeitgeist when the university leveraged its NCAA Championship win to outperform other schools as a socially trending brand. But even after this event concluded, UNC continued to demonstrate its social media prowess. Throughout the year, UNC curated content with on-brand hashtags, such as #UNCSpring, for students to engage and post photos of their campus and school spirit. UNC’s high-performance social marketing was reflected in its ability to ride the coattails of a successful event, then adjust their focus onto shareable experiences based on what subjects were poised to become trending.

Focus on the Quality of Your Content

A report conducted by BestColleges.com, suggests that Harvard and Stanford are vying for the top spot on the social media totem. The Crimson has four times as many Facebook likes as Yale, and Harvard is neck-and-neck with the Cardinal on Twitter.

Social media accounts are more than reflections of a college’s brand. Great priority is being placed on these social accounts resulting in a steep decline of short posts and reactive tweets.

Harvard demonstrates the new standard of content quality: On Facebook, the Cambridge-based school regularly posts crossword puzzles written by a professor. The thinking here is simple; content that compels engagement has a bigger impact than content distributed sporadically and without focus.

Publishing engaging original content is fundamental, but interacting with followers through retweets and replies is also necessary. Brands that excel at identifying and connecting with their various audiences across myriad platforms do better than those that don’t.

Know How to Scale on Social

Of course, universities generally represent smaller audiences than Fortune 500 brands. Still, curating a dedicated following of engaged users is becoming more and more valuable at scale. Universities aren’t focused on how many visits to their handles and accounts they get. Instead, they’re focused on the right visitors, their students and prospective students. Volume can be interpreted in a couple of ways—noise doesn’t always equal clarity of voice, and high quantity doesn’t mean top quality. So 500 of the right people following and believing in your message is a more desirable metric than 5,000 random people who only hear it, or worse, gloss over it.

With so much overlap between traditional media and social media, the need to cultivate relationships with constituents is the same—it’s the delivery that changes. Social is a natural extension of both marketing and public relations initiatives. The challenge is aligning both efforts and applying social listening to discover opportunities and create content specifically for those audiences.

Strong business and university communications teams have something else in common: When it comes to social media programs, it isn’t the kids’ game anymore.

If you’re interested in benchmarking your brand’s social engagement against those of your competitors, request a demo.

A version of this article was posted on Forbes Community Voice, it is edited and reprinted with permission of the author.

Building a Social Media Strategy in 10 Easy Steps [Part 1]

I don’t know about you, but the word ‘strategy’ used to make me automatically think of something time consuming. Well, wasn’t I wrong! In the first blog post of our 2 part series, we dish out the dirt on how to swiftly build a successful social media strategy in 5 easy steps.

1 – What are our social media strategy goals?

Before laying the first brick to social media strategy success, we need a plan in place. What is our aim? Maybe it’s to grow our community, engagement or promote a new service. Whatever the aim, be sure to keep this at the forefront of the social media strategy going forward. Be realistic when setting a timeline to achieve objectives. It can take a long time to build a large following of relevant followers on social, the keyword relevant. Don’t compromise quality for quantity and remember that good things come to those who wait.

2 – Who is our social media strategy targeting?

We should know our audience inside out. Who are they? Where do they live? What do they like? What’s their favourite publication to read? Meltwater’s Media Intelligence platform allows us to listen on social so that we can see key positive and negative themes talked about by our audience and our industry – we can then tailor our offer and social media strategy to the demand.

After searching the term Asos, we can see those talking about the brand on social media are interested in deals and voucher codes – especially via Unicodes. This suggests that it is students creating a buzz. If we know these kinds of insights we can adapt content for our social media strategy accordingly, for example running more competitions.

3 – Which channel shall we start with?

Don’t be a jack of all trades and a master of none when it comes to choosing a platform, start by concentrating on one or two. Think about which channel’s characteristics are most aligned with our social media strategy goal. If we want to tell our brand story, consider Facebook. If we want to keep a continuous flow of content going, Twitter is the man.

4 – How often should we post?

Frequency of posts really depends on the respective platform we have chosen to execute our social media strategy. On Facebook, it is advisable that we post at least twice a day. We recommend testing your Facebook page using LikeAlyzer; the search analyses the page to offer support on how to improve our social media strategy; frequency being one element of analysis. As mentioned, Twitter is often used to post more frequently; this is due to short life of a tweet and the way in which our newsfeed works. That being said, we should only be posting if we have something valuable to say, but if we know what is valuable to our audience, as shown in the Asos example above, then the sky’s the limit!

5 – What kind of content should we post?

The kind of content we post again depends on the chosen channel for our social media strategy. On Facebook, choose a combination of an image + link or an engaging video. On Twitter, the going gets tough due to the character limit. An image represents 23 characters and a link, 22. This leaves us with only 78 characters to convince our audience to click, hence the importance of a visual treat! As for the content itself, it depends entirely on what interests our audience. Again, the use of a monitoring tool to stay in touch with our target and developing trends proves crucial.

Stay tuned for part 2, where we’ll offer the final 5 steps towards building the yellow brick road towards a successful social media strategy.

5 Characteristics of Effective Content Strategies

Everyone’s creating swarms of content, but how effective is it? In a recent study, marketing intelligence SaaS Beckon found that only 5% of branded content garners 90% of all engagement. That means a very small fraction of your content is doing the lion’s share of the work.

So how do you ensure that your golden 5% has a chance of increasing to 10 or 15? Here are five characteristics of highly effective content strategies (indicators that you’re on the right track).

1. They’re ‘measurement-centric’ and highly iterative.

The Content Marketing Institute found that 33% of B2B marketers and 41% of B2C marketers cited the inability to measure as a significant challenge in their work. In this sense, the content game is still a bit of a mystery to most.

Effective content marketing strategies require continual measurement, iteration, and experimentation. Successful content producers are as excited about what does well and why as they are about seeing their names in (digital) print.

Use data to understand the content that has done well, along with tracking the success of new content topics or forms. Let your findings inform your evolving strategy and strive to complete this “iterative content loop” on a weekly or monthly basis.

Allow the data to inform the types of stories you publish, but leave room for creativity and personalization—the two factors that keep brand-owned media from being stale and formulaic.

2. They leverage ideas and data in multiple places.

Recently, my company published an analysis about whether or not Trump’s prevalence in the news is justified by data. We created two follow-up posts about the topic and I wrote an article for my Forbes column using the data as well. There was a lot to dig into given the scope of the topic, and this allowed us to explore multiple angles without overwhelming readers in one place.

If you’ve invested the time and resources in analyzing topical data, get the most out of it by pitching it to the press, writing about it on your blog, and using it in contributed content. Since each platform has its own audience, you can highlight different aspects of the work you’ve done.

3. Their content solves a problem, and is more of a resource than an opinion.

Sharing a unique point of view or opinion in brand-owned content can be impactful, especially if it inspires shifts in perspective or societal change, but today’s most effective content is often more resource-focused than it is opinion-based. Opinions are fleeting as new insights are revealed, but resource-rich content is long-lasting.

For instance, Home Depot’s blog provides homeowners with evergreen organization ideas for tight spaces and Upwork’s blog provides freelancers with tips for budgeting. These types of “problem-solving” posts sometimes include curated lists of additional resources in their outros where readers can find more information on the topic at hand without further searching.

4. They don’t aim to sell.

Effective content is never about a quick sell; it’s about becoming a trusted source for information, whether that information is filling a specific niche or broad need. Instead of positioning content to answer customer needs in the form of products, effective content is positioned to answer customer needs in the form of information.

While consumers are bombarded with personalized ads that eerily echo their age, sex, and income level, content is an opportunity to demonstrate authenticity and build trust in a way ads can’t. For this reason, effective content strategies don’t include needless self-promotion or sell-speak.

5. They utilize a combo of owned data and sourced news or quotes.

With this much information at our fingertips, you can find perspectives on any topic extremely quickly. But “quoting quotes” takes us further from original sources (a journalism no-no). Effective content strategies have guidelines around appropriate sourcing and encourage balancing out externally gathered information with owned data or original insights.

And there are countless ways to gather reputable, original info quickly, in addition to citing your own data: reach out to an industry leader you admire for a quote, attend or host a webinar, or download studies from a market research firm. It’s okay to frame an article with an industry pundit’s quote, as long as the meat of the article is original and out-proportions the cited information.

We’ve already seen many companies launch entire media wings, but whether this is necessary for every brand or industry is still to be determined. When it comes down to it, the content needs of a business are highly personalized and content marketing efforts should be integrated into a comprehensive communications or marketing plan. It’s this connectivity that content can hook and build trust in the way you want it to.

Getting the right data for your stories by listening to your audience, benchmarking your competitors, and crafting original content will continue to be the foundation of data-driven content marketing. To make an impression with statistics, download our informative webinar, Statistics as a Superpower and the associated ebook, Make Powerful Impressions with Statistics.

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This article was written by Sachin Kamdar from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

5 Important Changes to the B2B PR Rule Book, and Why It Matters

It’s an exciting time to be involved in PR. Yet, the methods for B2B PR have recently changed. Have you been changing with them? Find out how the new rules of PR affect your B2B company.

The ins and outs of a B2B public relations strategy have evolved, and whether we like it or not, we’re in a new age, where the rules have changed and we need to follow suit. Welcome to the new era of PR and B2B content marketing strategy.

Social media and new technology tools have changed the playing field—for the better! Now you’re more in control of your message. Good quality PR doesn’t just get attention, it positions your company to:

  • Change perceptions
  • Shape opinions
  • Drive brand preferences
  • Generate new business opportunities

Are you in? Here’s what you need to do.

1. You’re in the Driver’s Seat of Your Content

B2B PR is far more than creating press releases and throwing them into the reporter pool, waiting for a bite. Not that releases should be avoided. They just need to be effective. To learn what to include in a press release to make it catch fire, click here.

With the decimation of the ranks of many media outlets, an opportunity has emerged. More media outlets want a handcrafted article from you—which demands a dedicated B2B content marketing strategy.

This change puts you in the driver’s seat. Gone are the days of hoping and praying that a staff-written article puts your B2B company in a positive light. This is an opportunity to position your brand as an industry authority. Present new angles for your industry’s challenges, and subtly showcase your company’s solutions without being overtly self-promotional.Remember to include a stimulating visual component to your message, which increases engagement.

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This is still a far cry from the “build it and they will come” philosophy that many companies desire—it requires work even after your content is created. Don’t just expect that people will rush in droves to view your content. Use social media to distribute and build anticipation for your content.

2. Don’t Water It Down

Many B2B companies mistakenly shy away from targeted PR methods because they believe their industry “doesn’t fit,” or “is too complex” to be showcased effectively. Contrary to this belief, your industry’s complexity can be a boon when featured correctly.

In the pre-Internet days, it was tougher to target a specific audience. Thus, companies often diluted their message to appeal to a wider group. That’s no longer necessary. The reality is that you have your own specific audience—feed them with industry-relevant content.

You and your business offer needed value—it’s time to stand out! Sprinkle—not overload—your message with sector-specific jargon and insights that will build credibility and broaden visibility.

This doesn’t mean you should use over-the-top, technical jargon, but it does mean you can show off your industry expertise a little more. We’re not talking fluff terms such as “cutting edge technology” or “industry-leading design,” but solid facts to pique potential buyers’ interest. The overuse of those “fluff’ terms created a bland message that was indistinguishable from other companies.

3. Go Social

Like many today, you may wonder if social media really fits into the B2B field. It absolutely does, and it can play a major role in your PR and B2B content marketing strategy. A whopping 55% of B2B buyers search for information on social media—if you’re not utilizing these tools, you’re neglecting a major component of your PR strategy.

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Discover where your customers are on social media—most B2B companies have succeeded on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook—and get into the mix. Humanize your brand by engaging with your potential buyers on these social networks. Promote your content (blog posts, case studies, white papers) with strong calls to action that motivate your audience to go further.

Then, use metrics to see how your content performs. Monitor your CTRs, retweets, mentions and more to see what works and what doesn’t.

4. Target Your Audience

Remember the old adage, “any press is good press”? Forget about it. It’s not true in B2B PR. Stop chasing people outside of your audience—it boils down to wasted effort. Focus on growing and targeting a relevant audience. If you’re a B2B tech company, for example, selling to IT managers, you won’t get much mileage on a site geared to sales and marketing professionals.

Discover what trade publications—online and print—people in your industry are reading. A good place to start is to simply ask a few customers what publications they read. An impressive 67% of a buyer’s journey is digital, so make online publications a part of your B2B PR. These publications can play a key role in positioning you as an authority, building credibility, and generating brand awareness.

5. Share Your Audience’s Concerns

Your customers like the rest of us have pain points. They worry about what the future will bring. Your PR campaign should reflect this. Companies are concerned about what will grow their bottom line—how will you impact their sales pipeline, footprint, and margin?

Determine which pain points are most pressing for your customers and create messaging and content to reflect that. If you’re not sure, do a quick informal survey asking them what keeps them up at night. What questions and concerns do prospects mention on sales calls?

Once you “feel” your customers and prospects’ pain, design your PR to reflect that. Speak your customers and prospects’ language. Demonstrate your understanding and offer solutions.

Your company’s PR efforts need to have a specific purpose. Whether this purpose is to increase brand awareness, generate new leads, or shorten sales cycles, it gives your PR a focused goal.

Incorporate these five steps into your own B2B PR rule book and you’ll start seeing results. Consider it your rite of passage into B2B PR.

Read more about what makes effective PR in today’s digital world.

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This article originally appeared in The B2B PR Blog, was written by Wendy Marx from Business2Community, and legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Facebook vs. Twitter: Social Media Strategy Differences

During a recent #MarketingMinds chat, participants spoke of the differences between engaging on Facebook compared to Twitter. Although touched upon in the chat, we feel this deserves its own dedicated post. After all, if we know how engagement differs between the two most widely used social media platforms, we know how to adapt our social media strategy to accommodate.

Facebook vs. Twitter: Social Media Strategy Differences #1
Storytelling vs. Short bursts of Information

Facebook’s unlimited character updates make it the perfect channel for brand storytelling. Storytelling is important to feed into our social media strategy as our audience is more likely to buy if we nurture and flirt with them throughout each stage of the purchase funnel. We recently published a post on how flirting is one secret towards a successful social media strategy. When thought of like this, if we storm in and ask if a person would like to go out on a date before engaging they will find us creepy… and nobody likes a creep! The same principles apply to marketing. Facebook is so successful from a sales point of view because it’s the perfect channel for long conversations.

Twitter on the other hand is for short bursts of information. Sheena Cox, Key Account Manager at Meltwater explains, “Whilst all social media content has to tap into the here and now, Twitter is the Usain Bolt of social media channels. 140 characters is the fastest way to spread the word. Whereas Facebook content tends to keep conversations going for longer.” Due to the 140 character limit, we tend to see brands directing the audience to other sites rather than focusing communication purely on the platform. Don’t be afraid to share third party content on Twitter. The hashtag feature is often used by the audience as a social discovery mechanism to follow industry news; therefore our audience expects to see third party content to engage with.

Facebook vs. Twitter: Social Media Strategy Differences #2
Evergreen vs. Real-time content