Social Marketing: How to Create Shareable Content

Social Marketing: How to Create Shareable Content

With millions of connected users across the globe, it’s hard to overestimate the power of the social web. Traditional word-of-mouth marketing can’t hold a candle to a viral web story, which is why it’s important to focus on crafting content that captures the attention of the masses. If you’re eager to harness the power of the social web for your business, use the following five tips to gain more followers, create shareable content, expand your brand clout, and ultimately, drive your bottom line upwards.

1. Elicit an Emotional Response

If you’ve ever found yourself crying over a Hallmark commercial, you’ve experienced the power an emotional advertising campaign has on its audience. Research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that good news spreads faster over social media than negative information. Tell a story through your content and aim to tug on the heart strings of your followers to maximize your content’s leverage.

2. Focus on Aesthetic Appeal

Audience perception plays a vital role in the success of your content. Not only should you craft text, photos, and videos that demonstrate authority within your niche, but you also need to ensure visual appearances aren’t neglected. Invest in a quality responsive site theme, or partner with a freelance graphic artist to produce stunning visuals for your content marketing campaign. Content that looks appealing makes a bigger impact.

3. Respond Quickly to Current Events

As stories gain traction online, Facebook and Twitter will often recognize these as trending subjects. Savvy marketers can use these trending topics to catapult their content to new heights. As web users search for information on these events, related content is displayed.

While sharing content tied to current events can result in a dramatic uptick in the popularity of your materials, you should always exercise caution when taking this approach. Too many brands have tried to tie their content to extremely sensitive subjects, in turn incurring the wrath of the blogosphere. Keep your content relevant, appropriate, and respectful to avoid this pitfall.

4. Reshare Old Content

In the current marketing landscape, it isn’t uncommon for a new blog post, video, or ad to be quickly replaced by content from other sources. Don’t craft a long post, publicize it once, and call it a day. Instead, reshare old content frequently, ensuring new followers discover it and those who may have missed it have a chance to see it again. This approach helps conserve marketing dollars and boost the power each piece of content holds.

5. Make it Easy to Share

If you want your readers to share your content, don’t ask them to jump through a million hoops. Instead, provide sharing buttons on your website that make it easy to broadcast your content with the click of the mouse. Plenty of WordPress plugins provide this functionality, helping you ensure your content reaches the largest audience possible.

SEO vs PPC – Working Side-by-Side For Your Business

SEO vs PPC – Working Side-by-Side For Your Business

When it comes to capturing the attention of potential customers, generating traffic for your business site is an important consideration. Many small business owners struggle to determine whether it makes more sense to invest in SEO or PPC, but you shouldn’t think of these tools as competing forms of traffic generation. Instead, PPC and SEO can and should work together harmoniously, transforming your site into a veritable powerhouse.

Using SEO to Grow Your Business

SEO is an umbrella term that applies to the techniques webmasters use to ensure their site meets the best standards and practices of the web’s largest search engines. Don’t be tempted to put SEO and PPC in the same box, because SEO serves a distinct purpose. Using the right SEO approach will certainly boost your traffic, but deploying a thoughtful SEO strategy is meant to establish your site’s authority.

As you create optimized content, search engines will start to prioritize your pages over others. Naturally, this results in more traffic, but it also results in increased brand exposure and name recognition. Both of these factors help a growing business succeed.

Launching a PPC Campaign

Much like a print or television advertising campaign, PPC ads provide a short-term boost for your company. Effective PPC ads target web users who are likely to be interested in your products or services. Because each click of a PPC ad results in a financial charge, most small businesses run PPC campaigns periodically, based on the constraints of their advertising budget.

SEO & PPC: Which is Better?

In a nutshell, SEO is a long-term growth strategy while PPC ads pull in immediate traffic. So, which technique is better? Neither method is inherently better than the other, but consider the following keys when the values of these tools for your business:

● SEO often represents a lower overall cost, simply because it doesn’t carry a direct financial expense like PPC clicks.

● PPC ads generate traffic much more quickly than SEO.

● SEO often represents a higher ROI over the course of a site’s lifetime, since web users are more likely to trust organic search results.

● Effective pay-per-click ads need to be optimized continually, but they’re not subject to changes in the search engine algorithms.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? While it’s certainly a lot to consider, think of it this way: PPC ads are more expensive, but they generate quick, targeted traffic. SEO works in the background and improves with time.

Before you discount one method in favor of another, instead contemplate using both tools together to maximize your site’s effectiveness. The world’s most powerful brands use a combination of SEO techniques and targeted PPC ads to connect with web users. Choose to continually invest in high-quality content that uses SEO appropriately, and deploy PPC when you’re in need of a traffic boost. While there is no perfect equation, juggling both methods will ensure your site connects with the largest audience possible.

Why Your Business Needs a Well-Planned Content Strategy

Why Your Business Needs a Well-Planned Content Strategy

Harnessing the potential of web content can lead to significant returns for businesses of all sizes. Creating content that fosters lead generation, brand loyalty, and an increase in overall clout takes much more than simply slapping a few blogs together, however. To best equip your business with the tools necessary for success, it’s essential to build a well-defined content marketing strategy. Still struggling to grasp the concept? Discover the simple ideas behind creating a content plan that will maximize your business’ impact online.

Ideation: Developing Effective Content Concepts

Many business marketers want to create interesting content for the web, but they feel blocked when it comes to developing new ideas. It’s important to approach brainstorming with a twofold approach. First, consider what value the content will bring in terms of search engine optimization (SEO). Can you use keywords, external links, and social tools to capture the attention of the masses?

In addition to the value, content delivers for traffic acquisition, does your idea provide knowledge or information that your reader wants? To pinpoint great ideas, you need to possess an in-depth understanding of your customer. Holding ideas up to these guidelines will help you weed out the good from the bad.

Content Calendars: Maximizing Your Content Value

Using content as a marketing tool presents some benefits. For one, content creation often costs less than investing in traditional advertising or promotional efforts. Even if you create all of your content in-house, however, you’re still paying for content by investing your time.

Rather than letting that investment go to waste, you need to build a content calendar that will let you wring the most value possible out of your content. Building a game plan for sharing your content multiple times, publishing at the right moment, and making routine updates will help catapult good content to the forefront of your reader’s attention.

Working Towards Business Goals

If you’ve ever drafted a business plan, you understand how important it is to outline short and long term goals. Don’t be tempted to overlook this portion of the content strategy, because well-defined goals will direct your content creation in the appropriate manner. Take the time to work out goals both big and small and then focus on creating content that helps your business obtain those goals. By directing your efforts towards an end destination, you’ll keep your content on track and further boost the power of your promotional efforts.

Building a content marketing plan doesn’t have to feel like a daunting endeavor. Make time regularly to take stock of your current market position, develop goals for your future, and brainstorm content that will take you there. A thorough content strategy will take your ho-hum web content to a whole new level, as you begin to publish content that connects with your audience and builds your profile. With a bit of luck and hard work, your content could revitalize the future of your business online.

10 Best Practices for Online Storytelling

10 Best Practices for Online Storytelling

Carefully crafting your brand narrative serves a number of important purposes. An effective narrative provides context for the services and products you offer. Why, where, and how did your brand get its start and what mission propels your business forward? Prolific marketers use storytelling to highlight a brand’s key selling points without making the business the center of attention. Storytelling on the web should incorporate the fundamentals of great marketing while tailoring your message for a digital audience.

Feeling stuck? Use the following 10 keys to transform your storytelling online.

1. Focus on the Customer
Storytelling shouldn’t serve as a vehicle to talk endlessly about the greatness of your company. Instead, effective storytelling intertwines the customer’s experience with the overarching values of your brand. Capture your reader’s attention from the start by telling a story that expands beyond the confines of your business.

2. Learn How to Write for the Web
Think writing a long-winded blog post serves as a powerful storytelling tool? Think again. Remember, you’re competing for the attention of your readers. Learn how to craft content that connects with your audience effectively. Use headlines, lists, and short sentences to break up your text.

3. Keep Your Message Truthful
It’s tempting to only share a highly polished message with your audience, but consumers connect with brands that are honest and transparent. Quality, sincerity, and brand history are the key governing principles for authenticity, according to the New York Times. Make sure your story lines up with the overall vision of your brand.

4. Mix Up Your Materials
There’s a simple reason we don’t try to read classic novels to young children—they lose interest too quickly. Instead, a children’s book uses short paragraphs of text, just a few pages, and vivid images to capture an infant’s attention. Keep the same idea in mind when telling a story online. Don’t revert to the blog post for every piece of content you publish. Use images and video to keep your audience connected.

5. Don’t Forget Story Structure
Great stories have three key elements: a beginning, middle, and end. Make sure you address every part of the story’s structure, or you could risk confusing your customer. When your customer becomes confused as to how the story relates to your brand, you risk alienating your buyer.

6. Turn to Real People
Customers like to hear stories that feature real people—other customers, employees, or company founders. It’s easier to connect with a story that feels directly tied to the real experiences of everyday people. Consider using your own customers or people in your organization to highlight how your brand connects with them.

7. Steer Clear of Objectivity
You’re extremely biased towards your unique products and services—and that’s okay! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your content needs to be overwhelmingly objective. You’re not a journalist; you’re a marketer. Highlight what makes your brand truly great.

8. Keep the Big Picture in Mind
Yes, your story should have a clearly defined end, but that doesn’t mean that the stories you tell should serve as one-off marketing vehicles. Work to create “mini stories” that fit into an overall theme for your business. Captivate your audience and leave them eager for more.

9. Say Goodbye to Jargon
Using industry jargon or overly salesy language doesn’t generate the results you’re after. Keep your message clear, concise, and easily understood. Your story shouldn’t be complicated.

10. Expand Beyond Your Blog
Of course, your website serves as a great platform for reaching the masses, but don’t restrict yourself to the boundaries of your site. Look to expand beyond your company blog to maximize your brand’s exposure. Continue to tell your story through social media, advertising campaigns, and content published on other sites.

Professional Photography: Why It’s Worth Paying for Photos in Web Design

Professional Photography: Why It’s Worth Paying for Photos in Web Design

Truly effective website design incorporates a number of different elements, including graphics and photography. Many small business owners are tempted to snap a few photos on their smartphone to save money, but paying for professional photography often offers greater benefits. Not only will professional pictures help establish brand credibility, but images play an integral role in evoking an emotional response.

Furthermore, research has continually shown that the presence of photos encourages web users to read blog posts and articles.

Foster Better Conversion Rates

Web marketers spend a lot of time and energy attempting to boost their conversion rates, but photos are an effective way to do so with little effort. 60% of consumers feel more likely to contact a business if it posts photos online. Additionally, blog posts with images receive 94% more views than those without photos. PPC campaigns and aggressive marketing rarely rivals those numbers, all of which can be achieved simply by using professional photos.

Create a Visceral Response

Emotions have always played an important role in marketing, which is why you’ll see countless ad campaigns that attempt to pull on your heartstrings or conjure pleasant memories. Professional photos should go hand-in-hand with an interesting narrative that ties back to your brand’s mission. Together, photos and written content create a potent potion for marketing success.

For businesses in the hospitality industry, stimulating positive emotions will cause potential customers to crave the experience you offer. Plunge your readers into the soft cotton sheets in your hotel’s suites, make readers smell the juices of your freshly grilled steak, cause their tongues to salivate in anticipation for your newest merlot. Stunning photos paired with vivid descriptions will maximize your selling power.

Establish Your Brand Authority

Why should customers choose your company over your competitors? It’s a simple question, but too many small business owners don’t have the right answer. A well-defined company culture and a polished appearance go a long way toward convincing consumers to choose your products or services.

Think of brands within your industry that have catapulted themselves to mass acclaim. Review their marketing materials, and you’ll likely find real people enjoying themselves. Happy customers and courteous staff enjoying the products and services in question. If you want to compete with these brands or even enjoy a small taste of their success one day, it’s worth investing now in photography that connects with your customers in the same manner.

Professional photography doesn’t have to break the bank, but it does represent a significant investment. While you may be tempted to cut corners and use DIY shots or stock imagery, professional photos offer the only effective way to control your brand narrative and ensure you connect with customers in a meaningful way. Consider photography one of those unavoidable expenses and partner with a local photographer who can help bring your brand to life on the page—you may be surprised to see just how useful it ultimately proves for your online marketing efforts.