30 September 2012

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content [Infographic]

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content - Infographic
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How To Create Content

Have you ever gotten stuck for ideas for content for your website or blog?  I recently hit a wall and decided I'd share how I got around it. 
I formulated some rules as to what content must be, such as
relevant to your niche
relevant to your community, yet
With these qualities in mind, content can be found with the aid of:

Google Alerts on your niche for up-to-the-minute news

Article sites such as www.alltop.com, www.ezinearticles.com, www.goarticles.com  and www.articlebase.com will give inspiration.

Google Reader can be used to aggregate and curate blog content on a particular topics.

Ask colleagues and friends. Some may have ideas for a blog post, others may be looking for an opportunity to blog or simply just take relevant pictures that can be shared on Facebook. If you don't have any aspiring film producers in the office, you might need to farm this one out. Just remember video blogs can be made with an iPhone and they can be raw so long as they deliver relevant content.

New Business.  Because of the routine nature of business, we forget that aquiring a new customer here, or delivering a solution there is news.  If you cant give the name of the customer involved for whatever reason, just remember that its the people in your company that make it happen.  Your audience wont know how you do things or what makes you stand out doing what you do, so report it via a blog. 

Charity Or Social Events.  If you are a company that sponsors a charity event make it a condition of sponsorship that someone writes an editorial on the event which can quickly turned into a blog post.  You get great content and the event gets more PR, that's win-win.  If you sponsor a number of charity events to increase your community involvement you need a more structured approach.  You need to map everything out on an event planning calendar.  You'll need to increase engagement before the event and report the success of the events afterwards.  Remember contributors to a charity event wont just want to know how much money was raised but who benefited and how. 

Ask your community what would they like to see future articles covering

Invite a guest blogger to post a blog.  Allow him/her to include a contextual link and agree that you will reciprocate with a guest blog.

Report on trends in your industry.  Statistics always draw interest.  Infographics are a big help here

Review a product or even a book that is of interest to your audience.  Remember to sell "the sizzle not the sausage".

Write a case study.  Sometimes its the application of your product or service that needs to be written about.  This can then be compared with different ways of doing thing.  You can analyse which method gave the best results and why.

Mind Mapping. Map out what you have blogged about so far and then saw what areas you haven't yet covered to tie your blogging message together.  See Tony Buzan's book on "Mind Mapping".

Keep a List.  Just keep adding to a list of blog post ideas as you go along.  If you don't write these titles down as they come to you, they will be lost.

Hope this clears any bloggers' block.

21 September 2012

What To Expect From Social Media

For the social media novice, the prospect of entering into the world of social media for the first time can be daunting. It can be perplexing trying to work out where and how to begin in the labyrinth of available online networks, each boasting mind-boggling numbers of potential new customers for your business. If only you could fathom a way in which to meaningfully engage with them! If, for example, you have never been “poked” or “retweeted”, probing this unknown domain with its unfamiliar vernacular and seemingly odd etiquettes could present a risk to your existing marketing efforts and, if handled incorrectly, may damage your existing online corporate / brand identity.
In this blog post you will find a few basic helpful tips for getting started in this space.  Ultimately you should the confidence to take your first steps into this exciting media, and to start to craft a sustainable social media strategy for your business.

Begin by “listening”
If you currently do not have any, or very little, social media presence, begin by “listening” to existing social media channels / groups that share your organisation’s interests. Open sites, such a Twitter, allow you to search their content streams using such tools as Twitter Search. The Google Alert service enables you to set up regular user-defined email alerts that monitor the internet for new content in a number of formats such a blog entries, videos, discussions and more. In taking this approach, you can start to compile your knowledge base of “who” is posting “what” content on your chosen topic or query, before getting involved yourself.

Taking your first steps
As you become more au fait with the various styles of language and different etiquettes used within social media, create new social media accounts that you feel best serve your business. All social media platforms vary in what they offer and some will provide you with much better access to your target audience than others. Advice about which social media platform best suits your type of business will differ, but ultimately you will get a strong feel for what is and isn’t working fairly quickly. Advice about specific social media platforms and their potential impact is widely available online.

Starting to build your community
As your confidence grows, you will want to build a community around your chosen field of expertise. This involves locating like-minded people / organisations / customers and beginning to interact with them. This may take the form of commenting on other users’ content, inviting them to comment on your content, exchanging ideas / concepts (social media is a great place to ask questions), sharing information / links etcetera. Don’t be afraid to put others in the limelight, share with others what you know, show a human side and always remain courteous, helpful and supportive. Not all comments you receive will be positive or necessarily fair, so be prepared to engage with these conversations and to see them through to an amicable solution where possible. Bear in mind that you are not the only person in the social media space with something interesting to say; it’s not just about you and users can easily tune out! Ultimately you are trying to create a valuable community so remember, it’s a two-way street; if you ask for feedback, be prepared to help others when they ask for yours.

What can your community expect?A social media community will take time to build but don’t get frustrated. From the outset of establishing your social media presence, give your community a strong sense of what your specialist area is and how often they can expect to interact with you. By setting expectation levels, people know what to expect from you but ultimately that means an extra workload on your shoulders too. As your reputation and reach in the social media space grows, so will interest in you and your organisation’s products and services.

Create and plan like a publisher
Inevitably, as your social media efforts gather pace, so will the demand on your resources. The introduction of a weekly blog, for example, involving writing and moderating the content, responding to user comments etcetera will all take regular amounts of time and effort to manage. Add to this a successful spin-off webinar series, regular tweetups and before you know it, interacting with your social media community will become an increasingly time-consuming task. “Success” you may say. Indeed, but you need to schedule in the various workloads and additional resources associated with your social media efforts to ensure they continue to flourish. Keep in mind too that social media can have the effect of disarming even the most seasoned traditional marketer, so don’t assume they are the best suited to help with social media content tasks. By selecting someone already in touch with contemporary blogging styles and techniques, it can save valuable admin time and spare a few blushes. That said, bear in mind that whether it is one or more people sharing the job of managing your social media accounts, you should establish a set of social media guidelines for all staff (templates are readily available online).

Content strategy is key
Alongside your new social media strategy must sit your greater content strategy. This will involve the content that you have available now, together with the content you plan to share with your community in the future. Some of which you will know is in the pipeline, such as content created around an annual event, for example; some of which may come about via your social media endeavours, such as the opportunity to write a guest blog or to present at a virtual event. Either way, embracing the creative drive and editorial planning principles of a publisher will help you and your organisation better deliver good quality, original, authoritative and timely content resulting in maximum impact for your products / brands. At the heart of this will be a “living” editorial calendar that sets out the necessary content inputs by subject, type, author and deadline. This in turn will underpin and inform both your on and off-line content marketing strategy moving forward.

by Martin Maynard, Red Rocket Media

17 September 2012

You Tube Up Close & Personal

You Tube Drives Traffic
You Tube receives 4 billion hits a day.  You Tube is the second largest search engine and the third most visited website that there is.  Currently 72 hours of video footage are uploaded to You Tube every minute (September 2012).   The average visitor spends 23 minutes per day on You Tube while the age demographic ranges from toddler to 54 year old.  The best thing about You Tube is that it shows up in Google searches.  What this means is that you are fifty times more likely to be found on You Tube than a blog post.  Yet a survey of a large audience found that while 82% of the group viewed You Tube in the last 7 days , only 11% had ever put up a video.  So you know what to do.  Its time to start making your own You Tube videos to drive traffic to your website or blog. 

Reasons To Make Your First Video
  1. It draws qualified traffic.
  2. Excellent for branding and showing professionalism.
  3. Establishes you as an author with celebrity status.
  4. Ranks better than articles.
  5. Its free and can work forever.

Where To Start
Look at videos in your niche.  Use the Google Keyword Tool to identify 30 keywords in your niche and build ideas around these keywords.  The types of videos that work well are "how to" videos and music videos. 

Essential Video Ingredients
I wanted to know what makes a good You Tube video and came up with the following list.
  1. Provide value.  For many this means getting your message across in an entertaining way.  Apparently 68% of the audience want entertainment and 28% want information, so the trick is to reach a happy medium.
  2. Be relevant to your video key words.
  3. Short and to the point, ideally in 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Demonstrate what you are saying.  A head and shoulders video of you getting your message out will not work.  The trick here is to able to put your words into a graphical context.  This needs thought but it will make or break the success of your video.  A metaphor here would be to think in terms of visual answers.
  5. Have a call to action.
  6. Get viewers to subscribe and share.
  7. Get viewers to click a link to your website.
  8. Tell your audience what to do, why to do it and how to do it.
  9. Above all be consistant.
The Breakup of a Good Video
So in laying out the storyline for your video you need to achieve the following
Grab attention in 2-6 seconds:
Intro bumper in 4-7 seconds.  This is your logo with music
The content in 1-5 minutes.  Do this, this and this to solve your viewers' problem with call to action
Outro bumper in 4-7seconds. Your branded logo again
Outtakes in 4-7 seconds.  Include your mistakes as they humanise you

My Video Isnt Getting Any Results
If your video fails to drive traffic, it will be for the following reasons:
the video is too boring.  Remember head and shoulders doesnt work.
your video is not optimised for keywords
or you dont understand You Tube etiquette and need more engagement.

Ideally you should have a camera with an external mic jack.  In today's world of HD movie cameras sound if often the limiting factor.  A lapel mcrophone is ideal.  However the best place to start is with what you have.  Many of today's videos are made simply with an iPhone.  The most important thing about lighting is make sure you dont have shadow on the eyes.  This prevents people from seeing your facial expression.  Videos can be edited with iMovies for the Mac or Windows Movie Maker.  The other option is to farm out your video editing to the likes of Odesk.

Whats Important
The most import thing is to make a start and take action.  Your skills will improve with practice.  As your video marketing pays off you can always up scale your camera equipment.  The important thing is to get in the game.


6 September 2012

How To Grow Your Followers On Twitter

If you are like me you can see the value of connecting on Twitter.  By now you know that following someone in the hope that they will follow you back doesnt work.  Also you'll be aware of automated connections and  conversations. And God knows we all need a little self promotion thrown in.
After tireless research I have concluded that the way to stand out on Twitter is to be real and human.  How hard can that be, I hear you say. So 
  1. Focus on others. Paying attention to other peoples content and acknowledging that through retweeting.  This will get you noticed.  There are some expert tweeps out there who retweet about 80% of the time.  Now this not a magic number but it is an indication. Now follow those who retweet your message, can you see a cycle forming.
  2. Connect with purpose.  Make sure you have something in common with your new connection.  Check their profile and past tweets.  Add them to your list, keep an eye on their conversations and find ways to interact.
  3. Ask genuine questions.  Asking a question is the ideal way to start a conversion and get to know your connection.  Learn something new and then share it by retweeting.  Base the conversation around "you" rather than "I".
  4. Use Twitter bait.  This literally is a hook with which to snag a conversation that creates interest.
    To do this create catchy punchlines such as "Twitter saves lives ...." to grab attention and interest. 
    Use metaphors to convey concepts with few words.   Metaphors are easy to relate to as we are familar with them and they often paint images in our minds.
    Use data to make a point.  Current data is always topical.
    Lists of related information keep the conversation going and creates a mental link.
  5. Add value with real content.  Do your best to avoid the temptation of a link as this takes from the conversation.   Instead turn your tweet into a killer punchline.
  6. Use hashtags.  This shows your focus and gets attention.  Tweets with hashtags are seen by tweebs other than just your followers.
  7. Use social sharing buttons.  Make sure your blog or site has social sharing buttons that allow bite size content of your to be tweeted with ease.  This reduces barriers for your tribe to spread your message
  8. Automation does help!
 Its no silver bullet but it helps grow your tribe.  Hope this helps.

4 September 2012

Lead Generation With LinkedIn

This article is a follow on article to "How To Improve Your LinkedIn Profile".  For quite some time I was convinced that there was something wrong with my LinkedIn profile.  After all LinkedIn was a networking tool which generate some people enormous amounts of business. And for some reason I wasn't getting any business leads from the platform.   Then the penny dropped, I was not getting it in front of enough of the right people that mattered.
Please think about the above sentence very carefully.  Like all social media, generating your profile is one thing, but valuable content and connecting with others, is another thing.  It is true that you will expand your network most at its periphery, so this is where you have to go. 
In terms of LinkedIn, this means going through your colleagues connects and connecting with someone you don't know.  After all, if you are connected to one person and you cant get to do business together then you have to move onto the next prospect.  If you cant get an introduction do explain who the link is, that way people get a feel for where you are coming from, "I saw you also know so-and-so".  Obviously it makes sense to connect with someone whose psychographic as well as demographic profile matches your product or service.  Just bare in mind that the connections of one individual will link to the connections of another.  Equally by growing your contacts you are allowing others to grow theirs.  Its a mutual experience.  If you are tempted to ask where is the science in this, the answer is the science is in the sum of the parts.  I have met many who say that you don't need quantity but quality of connections.  The truth is it depends and you never know what leads to new business. 
One thing I learnt about making connection with LinkedIn is that there is a slow lane and there is a fast lane.  There are those who guard their LinkedIn contacts and there are those who would gladly share them.  You have to identify who you are dealing with.  As a group, those who are in the fast lane are the LinkedIn Open Networkers, they want to connect.
Having connected via LinkedIn with a new contact what are the options?  Naturally there is the option of a follow up Skype call or an email but that's not all.  If you want to stand out in someone's mind you will need to have engaged in conversation, discussed a topic, or examined how you could mutually benefit each other in the future.
All of your LinkedIn contacts can be exported to an autoresponder so you can use that contact for email marketing purposes.  Simply go to contacts at the top bar of LinkedIn, then to my connections and then press export to Outlook Express (CSV).  Balancing great content within your email campaign with product offering ensures a following and a higher open rate.  But most of all stay connected.

PS As of February 2013 LinkedIn contacts can no longer be exported.  The only alternative is to use LinkedIn's InMail with which you can contact 50 contacts at a time.

Want to know more, ask me a question.....