9 Keys to an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing is a hot topic these days for very good reason. It can be an effective way to introduce your company to new prospects without hitting them over the head with banner ads, spending a ton on advertising, or forcing promotional messages in social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

If your content is interesting, informative or entertaining enough, people will be happy to share it with their contacts, spreading your brand and connecting your company with quality content.

But before you jump in (or if you’re already neck deep), make sure your content marketing efforts aren’t being held back by fundamental issues. Your ROI can be negative if the content you create doesn’t attract any attention or add real value to anyone.

In order to help you think through your content marketing strategy, here are 9 key areas to consider:

1) Focus on Quality First

Companies that focus on volume of content will lose out over companies that focus on quality. High quality posts will get significantly more shares on social media, will get the attention of other industry stakeholders, and will position your company as more of a thought leader, expert or educator. In addition, there’s an overabundance of average to poor content out there. People will gravitate to, follow, and refer providers of quality knowledge. Don’t produce junk!

2) Topics Your Prospects/Customers Care About

When starting out with content marketing, lots of companies take an internally-focused (I call it a “me-centric”) perspective. They think, “how can we get more details out about our products and services via our blog!”. This is the wrong way to think about it.

To really add value and to have success with content marketing, you need to start by putting yourself in the shoes of your prospects and customers. Think about their questions, concerns and “information gaps” that you can address on your website, via your blog in video content and in other places and ways (read this deep dive on customer-focused blog topics).

3) Don’t Ignore SEO

Content marketing is beautiful because it has the ability to combine Content (which can establish your expertise) with Social Media (which can help you exponentially spread your message) with Search (helping you be found via Google, Bing or other search engines).

Some companies limit the “Search” part of the equation by not being knowledgeable about the basics of SEO, by using terms that people don’t use (e.g. internal company jargon vs. commonly used terms) and by not posting enough keyword-rich textual content on their website or blog. A simple example – when embedding a YouTube video in your blog, why not include some of the key points or a full transcript (if not too long) in text below it so Google can pick up on these terms?

4) Think About Variety

When people think about content marketing, they may quickly think that this means a lot of writing. Cranking out text-heavy blog posts, lots of ebooks and various white papers. In reality, creativity and variety will help you stand out more in your industry.

Think about using a variety of media (pictures, videos, infographics, checklists, audio content, webinars and even live events), in addition to written content like blog posts, ebooks and white papers.

Also, variety can extend to what kind of content you create. You can create thought leadership pieces, “behind the scenes” content (e.g. pictures of your product/service being created), customer features, interviews, list of resources and many other types of content. Use your imagination! It will pay off in terms of attention.

5) Build a Social Foundation

Social media is a perfect complement to content marketing. Content is the fuel that keeps the social media “engine” humming as people share and re-share content they’ve discovered or that someone else (in most cases) shared with them.

By building up your connections on the social platforms that other industry influencers and your prospects spend time at (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and many others), you’ll be laying the groundwork for potential sharing of your (great) content! In addition, engaging and sharing other people’s content before you have something to share is another critical part of getting your social foundation built.

6) Get Your Employees to Share

There’s nothing worse than coming to a company blog and seeing “0” or “1” shares for a given post. If you believe in your content, you should share it after you produce it. The next step is to make sure employees are aware of the content and to encourage them to share it on accounts that they manage (or optionally on their personal accounts in some cases).

7) Align Content Marketing and Advertising Efforts

Content marketing should be aligned with all of the marketing you’re doing in your company. In fact, you probably want to do some specific promotions for some of your content – e.g. a new ebook or a webinar are great hooks to pull people in via PPC or Facebook ads.

8) Monitor The Reactions Online

In addition to seeing the numbers of shares in social media, it’s important to see what people are saying about it. This is where social media monitoring comes in. You can use a tool like Meltwater Buzz to monitor brand mentions, specific keywords and industry influencers. Then you can then see which pieces of content or campaigns are working and which are not.

9) Engage With People Who Share and Comment

In addition to monitoring mentions and shares, engaging with people who responded to the content can be a very powerful way to spread your reach and to connect with potential prospects or industry stakeholders.

Content marketing is not just creating content, it’s about sharing and engaging with people who resonate with the content.

Is your content marketing strategy in shape?

Hopefully you’re taking care of these areas in your content strategy. Or maybe there are others that you found to be important. If so, let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Superb Owl XLVIII: Stephen Colbert Wins the Social Marketing Strategy Game

Stephen Colbert has some pretty epic Superbowl coverage this year, and it’s not just guests like Drew Brees and Nate Silver (whose Big Data talk at SXSW last year inspired a series of social listening posts by yours truly) upping the ante.  Colbert has called out the NFL for their old-school trademark mentality, and what it highlights is that the NFL is still suck in an old monologue marketing model – i.e. one in that doesn’t take into account the value of word-of-mouth marketing.

The NFL aggressively punishes anyone using the word “Superbowl” in advertising, which is why we see so much football-themed advertising right now about “The Big Game.”  So, Stephen Colbert did what any good old-fashioned smartass with a team of Intellectual Property lawyers would do: he’s calling his coverage Superb Owl XLVIII, complete with mascot owls.

Here’s a video that explains it:

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

What struck me when I watched this video (other than how much I would really, really love to have drinks with Stephen Colbert) is how much opportunity the NFL is missing by enforcing their trademark this way.  When brand are spending millions of dollars to advertise around an event that you’re throwing, what is there to gain by trying to enforce an old-school licensing model?  Is trying to strong arm people into paying you to use the term “Superbowl” really worth the missed opportunity of earned media that would be gained by having the world “Superbowl” all over the universe via other brands promoting your event?  These smaller brands are, already, getting around the trademark by using “The Big Game,” and most everyone knows that “The Big Game” probably isn’t referring to the Celebrity Cricket match on Sunday.

Good social media strategy leads to social marketing ROI – and the latter is based on the share.  That social share gives brands potentially exponential earned social media on social networks that are based on personal relationships within social communities, and those relationships lead to a sort of attunement that random marketers will seldom get without the introduction from someone within that community.  (And this is why influencer and brand advocacy strategy are so important.)

And so I’m left to shake my head and wonder what the NFL is gaining by discouraging marketers from just using the world “Superbowl” in their advertising.  With so many brands looking to resonate in their Superbowl marketing and crafting legitimate dialogue marketing campaigns with solid social media strategies, one would think that the NFL would be happy to have their event shared, promoted and discussed as much as possible.

As the marketing landscape has shifted to make social conversations the new target message, people like Stephen Colbert understand that getting folks talking about you is a good thing.  It would seem that the NFL, on the other hand, has fumbled the ball on this one.

Insights from the Meltwater Buzz Home Tab

We all know that there’s a lot of data on social media. In fact, Meltwater Buzz pulls in, analyzes and indexes more than 2.5 billion conversations monthly. With all the noise out there, insights pulled from across an online community are often more valuable for marketers than any individual post. The Home tab in Meltwater Buzz provides those insights at-a-glance. It’s the first thing you see when you log in to Buzz and displays an overview of social media results across channels as well as your engagement on Facebook and Twitter from Buzz. The left side of the home tab displays Listen data and the right side displays your engagement. To dive in deeper into any of the metrics, click on the chart to see a more detailed graph on the Listen or Engage tab.

 

Listening Metrics

Conversation Volume – How much buzz is there on a topic? When were there spikes and why? This simple bar graph shows the number of hits per day for the last two weeks.

Conversations by Channel – Where are relevant conversations taking place? This graph gives total hits per channel for the last two weeks.

Conversation Cloud – What are the main themes or topics from a search campaign? The conversation cloud shows the most salient themes from the last two weeks with bigger words representing more prominent themes.

Conversation Sentiment – This graph uses Meltwater’s natural language processing (NLP) technology to estimate the positive, negative or neutral sentiment of results. Use this to understand trends in social media sentiment over time. Social sentiment is also a good indication of consumer sentiment, especially for B2C companies.

 

Engagement Metrics

Account Overview – This chart gives an overview of activity across all connected social media accounts in the last 7 days. For Twitter accounts you’ll see Following, Followers, New Followers and Engagement. For Facebook accounts you’ll see Page Likes, Talking About (People Talking About This, or PTAT), New Page Likes and Engagement.

Engagement Volume – This graph shows the total number of incoming posts to the selected account in the previous two weeks. Click on the arrow to select a different connected account.

Engagement by Channel – This graph displays the percentage all connected accounts contributed to total outbound engagement in the last two weeks. Mouse over slices of the pie chart to see details per account.

Community Total Growth – This graph shows the rise and fall of followers, following on Twitter, and likes on Facebook in the last two weeks. Click on the arrow to select a different connected account.

 

The Home tab is intended to give you a quick view of recent activity on any of your search campaigns and your inbound and outbound engagement. Along with more detailed metrics in the Listen, Engage and Report tabs, it’s a great way to keep tabs on the success of your social programs.

If there are any other topics you’d like to see on the Meltwater Success Blog, or if you’d like to write a guest post, send me an email at chris.dotson@www.meltwater.com.

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PR Pros you Should Follow on Twitter

When I first started at Meltwater last summer, my PR knowledge was fairly limited to what I’d learned being an in-house liason between an agency and the various startups I had worked at previously. Since that time, I’ve worked hard to immerse myself in the industry so that I could better understand my target community – and a large part of that was by surrounding myself (digitally speaking) with the real experts in PR. The following people are the ones I think have been instrumental in growing my PR knowledge, and I’d like to pay it forward by sharing their knowledge with all of you, too. If you’re not already following these PR pros on Twitter, now’s your chance. Please also retweet some of their fantastic content, while you’re at it!

Sam Hosenkamp:

Fluent in Internet-speak, obsessed with Spotify, big running & hiking fan. Social media for @OrganikSEO.

Kate Finley:

CEO at Belle Communications, Paleo-eater, blogger, Christian, half-marathoner. I help specialty food brands and startups THRIVE.

Mark Ragan:

CEO of Ragan Communications. Publisher of @PRDaily, @RaganComms, @RaganHealth, HR Communication.

Deirdre Breakenridge:

CEO of Pure Performance Communications, speaker, author of Social Media and Public Relations & PR 2.0, adjunct professor & co-founder of #PRStudChat.


Paul Roetzer:

PR 20/20 (@pr2020) founder & CEO. Author of The Marketing Agency Blueprint. Creator of Marketing Agency Insider (@agencyin) & Marketing Score (@MKTScore).

Matthew Quint:

Silicon Valley PR expert with emphasis on chips, mobility, digital media, and comm. networks of all kinds.

Judy Gombita:

Senior/hybrid (social) public relations & communication management strategist. Ethics & honesty advocate. Passions: travel, film, theatre, opera, books, food.

Carrie Morgan:

Senior-level digital public relations. Author. Contributor to Convince & Convert, MarketingProfs, PR Daily & Social Media Today. Word nerd. #PRprochat founder.

Elena Verlee:

Technology PR Pro at http://bit.ly/1ceKJOk Award-winning PR blogger. Busy mom with a shoe company celebrities love at http://bit.ly/1aX5Q8k

Tony Arnold:

Influencing media to proclaim the message, handle crisis & strategic communications. Sharing media/culture/ministry/PR news, tips & life’s spiritual adventures.


And, of course, our very own Marc Cowlin:

Director of #PR & #contentmarketing for @meltwater. Formerly PR, #Marketing and #socialmedia for @cafepress & @birkenstockusa.

Who else is missing from this list? Let me know with a comment, and I’ll add them!

To Get More Great Twitter Tips, Follow Us on Twitter!


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Use LinkedIn Showcase Pages to Reach More Targeted Followers [Quick Tip]

LinkedIn Showcase Pages were announced in November of last year, but haven’t had as much chatter as they should have, in my opinion, and I have three guesses as to why that is: 1) nobody knows about them 2) nobody knows what they’d use them for and/or 3) nobody knows how to set one up. So today, I’m going to run through solutions for all three of these issues so you can start strategizing about how to use this feature.

What are LinkedIn Showcase Pages?

According to LinkedIn,

Showcase Pages are extensions of your Company Page, designed for spotlighting a brand, business unit, or initiative. Create a page for aspects of your business with their own messages and audience segments to share with.

In short, it’s a mini LinkedIn page that you can use for a very focused portion of your business, like a product.

How can we use LinkedIn Showcase Pages?

Try to think in terms of what audiences you have on LinkedIn, and which of them you want to reach.

  • Prospects: If you have several different products which each cater to a different audience, you may want to consider using Showcase Pages to highlight each. LinkedIn, for example, has three products which cater to three distinct audiences: HR professionals, marketers and salespeople. HR professionals aren’t usually interested in marketing tips, while salespeople could not care less about employer branding tips. LinkedIn Showcase pages give them the unique opportunity to create separate pages for each of these distinct products and their audiences, so that their community can opt-in to receive only the information they’re interested in.
  • Customers: If you do a good amount of customer marketing, you might want to consider creating a customer Showcase Page for your content that’s only relevant to this particular group. This might include product how-to articles, user guides, referral program information, beta tester requests, and product update announcements.
  • Job Candidates: Many companies use their LinkedIn account to post jobs and share employer brand information from the career tab, but job candidates can’t follow recruitment-related posts only from the career tab. A LinkedIn Showcase Page could be a great solution for employers to share employee success stories, fun company perks, and other job-related information to just the people who want to work there.

Of course, there are many more ways you can use LinkedIn Showcase Pages – so get creative! My only advice: start small and don’t over do it – it’s not worth starting a Showcase Page if you can’t keep it updated with great information. Initially, you can create up to 10, and can ask LinkedIn for more (if you need them).

How do I set up a LinkedIn Showcase Page?

Go to your LinkedIn Company Page, and click the arrow to the right of the Edit button (note: you must be a page admin). Then click Create a Showcase Page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give your Showcase Page a name and add additional administrators (if you’d like).

Then, completely fill out your Showcase Page with:

  • an image (PNG, JPEG, or GIF; max size 2 MB. Image must be 974 x 330 pixels or larger.)
  • page description
  • logos (Standard logo should be PNG, JPEG, or GIF; max size 2 MB; 100×60 pixels. Square logo should be PNG, JPEG, or GIF; max size 2 MB; 50×50 pixels.)
  • featured groups (you can add up to 3, if you are a member or admin of the group)
  • website URL
  • industry

And that’s it! How will you use LinkedIn Showcase Pages?

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