Google+ and why you need it for your business

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New Features That Make Google Plus a No Brainer for Business Marketing

 

New-Features-That-Make-Google-Plus-a-No-Brainer-for-Business-Marketing-V3 copy

People ask me all the time why I’m so excited about Google+ as a marketing tool. After all, it doesn’t (yet) have anywhere near the user numbers of social media juggernauts like Facebook or Twitter. Doesn’t it just make sense to go where the numbers are?

When I hear that I stop and wonder if it’s really 2012. Broadcasting to the big numbers was the way to go for the Mad Men of the 60s, but savvy marketers like Seth Godin realize that these days it’s all about the tribes we lead. In other words, if you can connect with a smaller group of people who are passionate about what you’re selling, you don’t need to fire a shotgun at big crowds.

This brings me back to why I’m such a Google+ evangelist. I haven’t seen anything anywhere any time so readily available to anyone and everyone that can help you find and connect to your tribe as powerfully as can G+.

Why? It’s because of the unique and integral connection of G+ with Google search. This is the secret sauce that so many social media gurus out there totally miss when they pass over G+. Maybe it’s because I come to social out of a background steeped in SEO (search engine optimization). I understand that as powerful as social media is for direct communication and engagement, it’s in search that the right new people find you. When people search they are in a state ofintention. Google+ head Vic Gundotra called search “commercial intent.” People are looking for something they want to know/get/acquire/connect-to, and you have the opportunity to get your message right in front of them.

I’ve written elsewhere about the powerful influence of Google+ on Google search. In this post I want to share with you three new features of G+ that will only enhance and expand this ability to reach into and influence search results.

Google Knowledge Graph

Google Knowledge Graph Search Result At the time of writing of this post, this one is hot off the press!

Earlier this week Google announced its latest innovation to its search engine: Google Knowledge Graph. Knowledge Graph is both a new way for Google to find information and a new way to connect searchers to that knowledge. Basically, Google is using advanced semantic and natural language technology to build algorithms that learn from real humans using Google to recognize the connections between things the same way those humans do.

For example, if you search “Eiffel Tower,” the old Google could only connect you to pages that mentioned those exact words, and/or were linked to by pages that did. But Google Knowledge Graph can learn that the Eiffel Tower is a structure, and that it’s in Paris, and that it was built for the 1889 World’s Fair, etc.

More and more when someone searches for something, if Google suspects they are looking for knowledge about that thing, they will see a Knowledge Graph box in the right sidebar (see illustration). The box provides quick facts about the subject and thumbnail links to related searches based on the behaviors of other searchers for the same topic. One thing more though: if the topic can be related to a brand or person on G+, the Knowledge Graph box will also show some of that brand or person’s lastest public posts, along with a link to their profile. If Knowledge Graph is active for you (US only at this writing, but it will expand), try a search for “Barack Obama” to see this in action.

Take away for marketers: Brands and content producers with strong profiles on Google+ will be in a front runner position as Google begins to expand the reach and scope of Knowledge Graph. I firmly believe that recent additions to Google such as author verification will help Google make these Knowledge Graph connections, so those with web content properly connected to a Google+ account will be the first to be indexed and show up. Imagine owning a whole sidebar of Google search!

Enhanced Search Listings

This feature, similar to Knowledge Base, doesn’t have a public name yet, but many are already referring to it as “enhanced listings.” When searching for a brand that has a G+ page, users have started seeing a special result in the right sidebar, with a link to the brand’s page, a “follow” button (to add the page to one’s circles), and a few most recent public posts. Here’s an example for chocolate maker Cadbury:

Cadbury Enhanced Listing Google

Enhanced listings are only showing for a limited number of brands now, but they will certainly be expanded in the future. By the way, the listings show up whether or not the searcher is logged in to Google, so they are not personalized results.

Take away for marketers: Obviously you need to have a G+ brand page to be eligible for these enhanced listings. It is reasonable to assume that the more active and well-followed pages will get the feature activated first. Also, be certain your page is properly verified with Google!

Live Hangouts On Air

Google+ Hangouts have been one of its most popular and highly-praised features. A Hangout is a live video chat for up to nine participants. Even with that limitation (and is it fair to call it a limitation when it is  bigger than most other chat programs?), many brands found ways to make use of Hangouts to give at least small groups of followers that “face time” experience.

Then late last year Google introduced “Hangouts On Air” (HOA). While an HOA is still limited to nine active chatters, it can be broadcast in a G+ stream so that an unlimited number of people can watch it. This enables endless possibilities, such as virtual product demonstrations, panel discussions, and even rock concerts (yes, it’s been done, with huge attendance). And that’s not all, as they say in the infomercials! HOA sessions can be automatically archived as a permanent YouTube video on the person or brand’s YouTube channel. The only sad thing about HOA was that for months it was available to a very limited number of users and brands.

That changed last week when G+ announced that HOA is being rolled out to all users and brands. If you don’t see it yet in your profile, you soon will. You’ll know you have it if when you initiate a Hangout you see an “Enable Hangouts on Air” check box. In a future post I’ll go more into detail about Hangouts, and provide some examples of their effective use by brands on Google+.

Take away for marketers: Hangouts on Air will richly reward those who can come up with creative and enticing ways to connect with their followers and potential customers. For example, some brands have already started Hangout “shows” with a regular panel of experts that are broadcast on a regular schedule, just like a TV program. The auto-archiving to YouTube is where the search connection comes in. Every Hangout On Air you do becomes another “page” on the web where you can be found, especially as YouTube is being increasingly integrated into Google’s social search.

Pro Tip: If you manage multiple pages, getting your Hangout On Air archived on the right YouTube channel can be a little tricky. See “Connecting Your Hangouts On Air to Existing YouTube Accounts” for instructions.

Shared via Maximize Social Business

Social Media Marketing Guru: Are they real or a myth?

Social media has become such an essential tool in today’s business environment, but too many companies have been caught snoozing, having to play catch up. So when someone says they can help you, beware of the social media marketing guru!

Just like when websites first appeared, few people knew what a good website was; therefore, anyone who claimed they could create one was a hero. The result was an Internet full of really bad sites.

Today, many believe if they understand how to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, “… well, that qualifies me to be a social media marketing guru!” They learn the fancy clichés and buzzwords, talk about the technology and, Shazam, the business owner is impressed. Fast-forward several months and there is really no coherent strategy or measurable results and the answer is “… well mister you-know-less-than-I-do, I don’t understand why what works for EVERYONE else isn’t working for you, but if we keep at it… ”

So here are some things you should look for.

When asked, “… what’s the goal of the campaign,” they reply with benefits and NOT goals. While each goal is different (as one goal could be to reduce customer service costs; another may be lead generation; still another may be to remove bad press and complaints from being found online), without asking what YOUR goal is, they jump in with what are the benefits of a well structured and implemented campaign. “To build your following, to increase awareness, to strengthen credibility, etc.”

Granted, these are benefits you want, but they may be gotten using different tactics that support other goals. Since most companies want to generate leads for sales, the goal should be to drive traffic to your website, so you can capture that data and create an asset you own and can use for ongoing marketing. How that will be done is another question!

When asked, “How will you do this,” they reply with the most popular networks and nothing else. While Facebook is the 800 Lbs. gorilla in social media and Twitter is all the craze, there are many more, very useful networks. However, if Facebook and Twitter is all they know, it will be all they offer! There is a wealth of networks that have different focuses and depending on your goal, product or service and demographic, you may be better served with LinkedIn, Biznik, Pinterest, Referral Key (among others) in the mix. And let’s not forget a host of other services and tools needed to manage the campaign and increase the online footprint.

So ask them how they came up with their game plan that only included what they offer?

When asked, “What will my ROI be,” they promise it can be measured and quantified. Social media ROI is a difficult thing to measure, as there are so many dynamics of benefits that are hard to measure. While you can measure certain things, like how many followers, likes, comments, visits to the website, sales, subscribers, etc; there is an added value that cannot be measured.

For example, how do you measure someone who made a buying decision based on all your content and interactions when they bought directly from your website without any human engagement? You see a sale, but do not know what persuaded the customer to buy. Or, how do you measure the increase in credibility and trust that feeds growth and future sales? But, had social media not been in the mix giving you this credibility and trust, you would not know you lost that business, either; since there was no one to measure!

When asked, “What considerations need to be taken on our part,” the answers are all social networking based. What do I mean by this? The typical answer will be about pictures, posts, articles and engaging the followers. Now don’t get me wrong, these ARE considerations, but there are others that only an experienced social media marketer would know to address.

For example, your content must be original; it cannot be regurgitated press releases and articles. Google will look at five-word snippets that will trigger alarms for human inspection of plagiarism. This will hurt you since Google is making an all-out push for websites to be ranked based on authorship and quality content. The frequency of fresh content! Social media is an ongoing part of an overall marketing plan and must be consistent; so weekly articles are crucial.

Another example is your website and blog. As a social media professional, my concern is after I do a proper campaign and drive the traffic, a bad website and blog loses the business, and the campaign is judged by something I have no control over. For this reason, I always look at their website and make recommendations.

So don’t be fooled by techno-speak. Ask proper questions. If they cannot answer them properly and in a way you can understand, remember what Albert Einstein said, “If you cannot explain it simply, you don’t understand it.” Well said! I guess being an (the) Einstein does help.

By   Andrew  Adamson

Build Your Audience on YouTube

A viral video is not a win for a brand. It’s just an amazing video. It’s a unique thing unto itself and has little to do with a brand. If you really want to use YouTube effectively, I recommend that you take the time to cultivate a channel, so your brand will have a personality.

Fundamentally, the principle boils down to regularly educating your audience or customer base on topics they care about. If you focus on consistency, you will build an extremely valuable asset – an audience your brand can rely on in the future.

Optimize for Your Audience, Not Pageviews

You don’t want to generate traffic, you want to build an audience. While the difference may seem subtle, it actually is the defining factor in this strategy. A lot of people want a “viral video” for their brand, but what happens when your viral video isn’t even hosted on your own channel? (It happened to DIRECTV.)

russian guy

Instead of aiming for a viral video, strive to build your channel consistently. The two can go hand in hand, but the first is just generating one-time pageviews and the second involves actually building an audience.

If you have an audience, you can build a brand relationship with them. Volvo built a real audience on YouTube and was able to capitalize on that infrastructure and strategy when their video featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme went viral. The same goes for Roger Federer’s Trick Shot for Gillette.

Even if you do try to create a video for the purpose of going viral, it shouldn’t be completely unrelated to your brand. While I loved the piano staircase video, I struggled to remember the brand behind it. That’s because Volkswagen isn’t the initial brand I associate with such an event. (With that said, I like the theme they’re creating with The Fun Theory initiative, even though they’ve got their work cut out for them.) Your content – viral or not – should always connect your brand to your audience.

There are many benefits of building a channel. If you establish an active community, you will get better results on each new video because the audience will be tuning in ready to watch and share your content.

When you’re gauging success early on, any engagement is good engagement. Your likelihood of getting a subscriber on the first video is not high. You just want people to care enough to make some noise. Remember, as Dave McClure once said, “Hate is closer to love than indifference – you can’t iterate around indifference, but you can around hate.”

While pageviews and subscribers measure fundamentally different things, if I had to choose, I would say measuring subscribers is more important. If you’re ten videos in and not getting any additional traffic to your website, you’re not failing.

There’s an inherent value to brand awareness, even if it’s not on your brand property. When it’s time for a viewer to buy something you sell, they won’t have to search through generic product categories. They will be more inclined to search for your specific brand.

I’ve explained why building an audience is more important than attracting viewers, and I’ve talked a bit about the principles and metrics I focus on. Now I’d like to explore some specific techniques to make your videos more conducive to building an audience than generating pageviews.

Educate Your Viewer

While network programming like TLC prioritizes entertainment first and education second, as a brand, you should flip the script on YouTube. Put education first and entertainment second. Figure out the utility value of the content. In other words, what does the viewer get out of it?

The fundamental rule is to educate your viewer. That’s not to say you don’t have to figure out the entertainment part of it, just that it should serve as the sizzle of the educational steak.

Example 1: Bigcommerce

E-commerce software and shopping cart solution provider Bigcommerce hosts a series of educational videos on YouTube, which they’ve branded the Bigcommerce University and organized into playlists.

The majority of videos are effectively video tutorials to educate users or prospective clients of the platform, but they’ve also got a series that mainly targets marketers who want to learn the basics of SEO and keyword research, and it doesn’t sell Bigcommerce too aggressively.

Although it sounds straightforward, it has proven effective: Bigcommerce has earned over 8,600 subscribers by focusing on education.

Example 2: Beardbrand

Beardbrand is an e-commerce retailer that sells beard grooming products (e.g., oil, grooming kits, etc.). Its YouTube channel is populated with beard-related education, such as the key to finding a suitable beard style or advice on beard washing. It also informs viewers about the products in stock. Over 14,200 YouTube users have subscribed to Beardbrand’s channel because of their educational efforts.

Other best-in-class examples:

HubSpot does a great job educating and informing their audiences on YouTube. Similarly, REI does a good job connecting expert advice to interesting customer stories.

Use Consistent Characters or Themes

Having recurring characters and gags are tried-and-true methods of making content more consistent. For example, Pepsi does a good job with racing champion Jeff Gordon taking unsuspecting car salespeople on wild test drives, and with professional basketball player Kyrie Irving posing as an elderly figure named Uncle Drew schooling other players in real life.

basketball

While these videos are extremely potent in terms of virality, the most important point is the audience naturally becomes more familiar with the characters. This can present a challenge because the characters are, and should remain, just concrete examples of a larger running theme. Brands must strike the right chord when working with these characters, who are usually celebrities.

Visualize for a minute those novelty sets where a person can poke their head through a hole and become the head of a cartoon body and have their picture taken. Basically, this is the same concept. Brands need to plug celebrities into their sets and become the frame around them.

Unfortunately, most brands do the opposite. They attempt to plug themselves into the frame of the celebrity. It just doesn’t work.

Moz does a particularly good job aligning their celebrities (or thought leaders) with the company. Most of their popular videos feature a team member (usually founder Rand Fishkin) in front of a whiteboard explaining something about internet marketing.

Example 1: Free People

Free People is an online swimwear and surf gear retailer. One of its most successful formats on YouTube is the music video themed around “movement.” These videos feature characters that dance to ballet, catch waves, or practice yoga.

They also feature a regular series entitled “Free People Presents Love Stories.” Free People has gained over 26,800 subscribers and earned nearly 3 million views on YouTube.

Example 2: Nasty Gal

A natural theme to consider is a look behind the scenes. It’s been used – usually with pretty decent levels of success – for decades. E-commerce fashion retailer Nasty Gal uses behind-the-scenes videos effectively, in part because founder Sophia Amoruso built a multi-million dollar business that started as an eBay store.

These videos give viewers an opportunity to see how the Nasty Gal team functions and a chance to watch photo shoots and some of the daily operations and activities. Nasty Gal now has over 6,200 subscribers and just over 2 million YouTube views in total.

Example 3: Ecko MMA

When I was developing Ecko MMA’s (a mixed martial arts apparel brand) presence on YouTube and building their audience, I understood that the theme of fighting and martial arts videos usually was fighting and training. Instead, I ran far left with it. I wanted to capture the fighters outside the ring and show the world what they’re like when they’re not fighting.

This worked because Ecko MMA isn’t a technical brand. They don’t make boxing gloves, but rather T-shirts. People wear T-shirts to hang out, not to fight. I wanted to capture Ecko MMA’s fighters as human beings, not purely as fighters.

My belief is that even if someone is 20-30 videos in and never clicks through to the website, they see the T-shirt in the video, and the association is created. Their search process becomes more centered on Ecko MMA when they’re interested in buying new T-shirts

Other best-in-class examples:

Coca-Cola has a larger running theme of happiness. Their videos involve their product connecting people from two nations that never got along or kids having fun. Their greater challenge is capturing happiness, but I think they’ve met the challenge well. Even their Tumblr property is very happiness-centric. As another example: TOMS explains their One for One principle well on their YouTube channel.

Develop a Publishing Cadence: Leverage Economies of Scale

As you may have gathered, quantity is important when it comes to building a channel and an audience on YouTube. When you’re starting off, you most likely have a shoestring budget for testing these ideas and strategies for your brand. That’s totally understandable. Because quantity and cadence are crucial (as is consistent frequency), your strategy should be to compress as many video shoots into as few separate meetings as possible. Compress more shoots into fewer trips in order to reduce fixed costs like setup, travel, hiring, and the like.

Even for low production quality and cost, the videos can be costly. You’ll need to hire a videographer or a video team, a celebrity or a micro-celebrity, stylists, and other staff. Don’t pay $10,000 for a one-minute video. By paying another 10-20%, you can get more than triple the output.

If you’re new to YouTube, you can shoot four short videos every day for three days, which means you will have twelve videos. This is enough to last you once a week for three months, or once a month for a year. I wouldn’t recommend aiming for much more frequency than that until you have a larger budget.

Do something big enough that you believe should work, but small enough that you can try again if it doesn’t. For example, hire a local celebrity instead of bringing one in from out of town. Almost every city in the U.S. has a cool spot. Many video shoots are indoors, so your challenge would be to find a venue and light it up appropriately.

Example: Vocus

Marketing software company Vocus regularly hosts conferences and live events. As a byproduct, they’ve invited industry luminaries such as The Huffington Postco-founder Arianna Huffington and bestselling author Seth Godin to speak.

While most companies would draw the line there, Vocus films these speeches and uploads them to YouTube. Since the event is happening anyway, they just capture the dozen or so speeches throughout the conference and upload them onto YouTube as independent clips.

Similarly, B2B and SaaS companies should shoot videos with thought leaders at conferences. If necessary, negotiate publishing costs as part of the payment package. Vocus now has over 1,600 subscribers and over 400,000 views.

Other best-in-class examples:

Salesforce does this well by filming at their flagship event, Salesforce1.

Spike Interest

When you’re building an audience, you have to be interesting. Some of the best channels and themes that do well on YouTube involve entertainment, sexiness, celebrity, or how-to videos. Combine more than one of these to make them more powerful. For example, Daily HIIT is a combination of how-to and sexiness. Blendtec started off purely with entertainment, but started involving celebrities.

Example 1: NET-A-PORTER

Luxury designer fashion e-commerce retailer NET-A-PORTER has videos featuring celebrities in the fashion world, such as Christian Louboutin, Kate Moss, and Miranda Kerr. It combines these celebrities with education or how-to elements, such as Miranda Kerr sharing the recipe for her morning smoothies.

They’ve used it to great success; the channel has over 42,000 subscribers and will reach 7 million views shortly.

Example 2: Etsy

Online craft marketplace Etsy faces a media landscape saturated with competitive brands publishing many more high-budget promotional videos. Nonetheless, they’ve found an interesting gifting angle with how-to videos. For example, here’s a tutorial that shows the viewer how to create a box out of scrap paper. Etsy has gained over 35,000 subscribers and 6,200,000 views.

Other best-in-class examples:

When you’re figuring out the angle for entertainment value, have a look at videos being done in the industry and what’s working (in terms of subscribers and pageviews). For example, Shopify mixes education with various micro-celebrities (such as bestselling author Tim Ferriss and photographer Chase Jarvis). HootSuite recently newsjacked the new season of Game of Thrones (with much success).

Think within the limitations of what other brands have done successfully. For example, I was doing research on a product for young women. While I can relate to MMA, I had little idea of what’s relevant to teenage girls.

So I talked to my younger cousin, who’s fifteen, and I watched some videos on YouTube. I ended up on instructional dance videos. Immediately, I knew that was an interesting angle for the brand.

That sounds a bit formulaic, but I didn’t want to run far left because I didn’t know enough about the culture. In the future, if the instructional dance stuff works, then I’ll look into crossing different categories; for example, taking a hip hop dancer into classical music or jazz.

As you can see, this is a combination of celebrity, education, and how-to. To hit the ground running, I can start by looking at the people who do those instructional dance videos – the micro-celebrities – and ask them if they are interested in working with this brand, which is consistent with their current demographic of young women.

Use Micro-celebrities for Entertainment and Distribution

Micro-celebrities are people who haven’t been on television, but typically have a pretty significant Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube following, which means you’ll have platforms for distributing your content as soon as it’s out. At the same time, they’re not Britney Spears, so it’s not a million dollars to do a photo shoot.

shower

A funny scenario: conducting a Q&A in the shower

Because micro-celebrities often aren’t actors, I don’t recommend you try to get them to act. (In my case, they were professional athletes; personable and great on camera, but not too great with scripts.)

Instead, just set up scenarios that you – as a viewer – might find entertaining, but where the micro-celebrity can still be himself or herself and naturally be interesting. That also saves you from having to hire a scriptwriter or an editor.

When I was working with Ecko MMA, I put MMA fighter Brendan Schaub in a videowhere his phone got blended by the Blendtec guy (two micro-celebrities). Fighting’s not too difficult, so let’s try something more B2B:

If I were working for a CRM company (like Salesforce.com), I would use the communications platform as a medium for funny things that happen. While this opens up the possibility for a ton of gags, I would personally employ the celebrity or micro-celebrity approach.

Since Salesforce.com is about being organized and managing communications between salespeople and contacts, I would share a narrative where a company decides to hire a celebrity to call their customers. For example, imagine if Salesforce.com hired Michael Jordan to call their customers, but the customers didn’t believe it was Michael Jordan, and we captured their reactions on camera.

Now substitute a micro-celebrity for Michael Jordan. It’s not difficult to work backward here. Find a customer that’s fun and that you’re friendly with, and look over their social media to figure out what sports or TV shows they like. Find out if they follow any micro-celebrities – individuals with anywhere from 250,000 to 1,000,000+ followers on Instagram or Twitter.

When you’re looking for your micro-celebrity, keep in mind the size of the industry. I would happily take 10,000 followers with deep engagement over 1,000,000 followers with light engagement any day. (Look at RTs, Favs, Likes, or Comments as proxies.) Do they write their own social media posts, or do they hire an “intern” to write them? Do they react to their audience and talk or reply to them? Avoid micro-celebrities with negative associations. When in doubt, prioritize quality over quantity in this case.

One more note: when you’re working with micro-celebrities, work only with the people you get along with. I get that this may sound a bit idealistic or bizarre, but keep in mind that you could be seeing a lot of these people. You’ll have to travel with them, eat dinner with them, and hang out with them. You have to have personal chemistry with them because it will also translate into the quality and atmosphere of the video. It’s not petty or personal; it’s good business.

For example, earlier in my career, I thought I was helpful by keeping my mouth shut and playing a passive role in generating video and social content. But I happened to have an idea where a boxer would fight a wrestler and win by pinning him. So when the professional crew took a break, I took a $150 camera and shot a quick clip with these fighters.

While the quality of production was much lower than the other videos, my video did better nearly eightfold. Focus on the quality of content, and people will come running. That’s true even if it’s a commercial. Warby Parker’s on-TV commercials have been among their most popular videos.

Example 1: Rapha

Performance road-wear e-commerce retailer Rapha films their videos with a crew of cyclists known as Team Sky.

Through the behind-the-scenes activities of these micro-celebrities, Rapha shows the viewer what really goes on in the world of cycling and performance on roads. (Here’s a fascinating video on biker physiology.) Rapha has gained over 9,300 subscribers and over 1,180,000 views.

Example 2: Oracle

Larry Ellison, the co-founder of Oracle, is also one of the wealthiest people in the world. He makes a great micro-celebrity for his company, Oracle, and they use that to their advantage. Some of their most popular videos feature Ellison and have been viewed millions of times.

Your company may not be led by Larry Ellison, but still, you can allocate some resources to building the leader’s reputation and developing a sustainable micro-celebrity. Your leader will be less likely to leave the company in the long run, and the thought leadership will pay off for your organization. Oracle has over 21,400 subscribers and just under 12 million views.

Closing Thoughts

The Super Bowl is the event where viewers don’t mind commercials. Heck, they actually enjoy them. Brands know they have to invest in them. When you think about it, many viewers subscribe to channels that are, in essence, commercials. If you choose to put effort and creativity into your work, it’s possible to get people to happily watch the commercial for your product. According to Nielsen, viewers are 200% more likely to remember an ad in an online video than one seen on TV.

Promote your YouTube Channel A-Z

At the end of the day, the best marketing results come to those who stand out from the rest of the crowd. So, when it comes to YouTube, what is it that makes your videos or your channel unique? What value are you providing to the community with your video content? If you can answer these questions, then promoting your channel should become easier for you. But how do you promote yourself and your videos? We show you 47 different ways.

#1 Business Cards

47 Different Ways to Promote Your YouTube ChannelTraditional marketing still works. Business cards are an easy and effective way to market your YouTube channel. For best results, every card should include your YouTube name, URL, and links to your social media pages. You can hand them out at events when networking with others and to those interested in your niche. Also, quality design is important in order to make your cards stick out from others.

#2 T-Shirt Marketing

47 Different Ways to Promote Your YouTube ChannelThanks to t-shirt marketing, you can promote your YouTube channel by wearing a t-shirt that has your channel info. You can create custom t-shirts for your channel on websites like CafePress and Zazzle. Pick a color that makes your t-shirt stand out and include your YouTube name along with the channel url.

Another way to use this form of marketing is to sell or give away your branded t-shirts. You can give them away to family, friends, and those interested. More people wearing your t-shirts will lead to more viewers for your YouTube channel. This is a great way to expand your potential reach.

#3 Branded Accessories

47 Different Ways to Promote Your YouTube ChannelPens, erasers, water bottles, and phone cases are just some accessories that can be branded for your YouTube channel. Just like t-shirts mentioned above, these accessories can be given away for more exposure. Every time someone comes across a person using your branded accessories, they may be interested in checking out your YouTube channel. As always, make sure to include your YouTube name and channel url.

#4 Social Media Profiles

47 Different Ways to Promote Your YouTube ChannelSocial media is one of the best ways to grow your channel. Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus should always be fully utilized for marketing. Instagram is another social media platform that is widely used by YouTubers and vloggers. Building a presence on social media allows you to gain exposure immediately for your videos. Each tweet, status update, and post can lead to more views.
It’s important to create a separate account for your YouTube channel instead of always using your personal profile. This allows you to post updates that are always relevant to your audience. You can even link back to your personal profile if you prefer to do so.

#5 Email Marketing

47 Different Ways to Promote Your YouTube ChannelCollecting email addresses can do wonders for your channel and video brand. It allows you to notify your fans and viewers directly in their email inbox. If interested, you can use a program like Aweber. Email marketing gives you the ability to notify your followers of any new updates and videos whenever you like. You can use this form of marketing to create a newsletter that includes updates and your videos from the past week or month. By sending one email to your subscribers, you could end up receiving thousands of video views.

#6 True View Advertisements

47 Different Ways to Promote Your YouTube ChannelDo you have a budget to promote your videos? If so, you can create video ads for your YouTube channel through the Adwords for video program. These video advertisements are called TrueView ads and are played before a video on YouTube loads (those 15-30 second ads or the ones that allow you to select “skip” after 5 seconds).

You are only charged when someone views the required time for your TrueView ad and can target where you would like them to appear. This is a very effective way to bring awareness to your YouTube channel. Always try to make your first 5 seconds as effective as possible in order to entice viewers to finish watching the rest of the advertisement!

#7 Video Search Engine Optimization

47 Different Ways to Promote Your YouTube ChannelYou can get more views by optimizing your YouTube videos for search engines. SEO, also known as search engine optimization, involves adding relevant keywords and phrases to your videos in order to be found by search engines like Google. These phrases and keywords should be similar to search queries that are relevant to your video. This will help people come across your videos on search engines when searching for a certain topic or keyword.

You can place these keywords/phrases in your title, video description, file name, and as tags. Make sure the keywords are relevant and be careful not to over optimize (placing too many keywords) because this will not do any good.

#8 Blogging

47 Different Ways to Promote Your YouTube ChannelStarting a blog allows you to build a following for your channel outside of YouTube. Every time you create a blog post, it can bring you visitors from search engines. You can then convert these visitors into your viewers. For best results, try placing your YouTube videos at the end of each blog post or on your sidebar. You can do this by using the embed feature on YouTube. Just copy and paste the code wherever you like.

Another tool you can use is the YouTube subscribe widget. This can be found on the Google developers web page. It allows your readers to subscribe to your YouTube with just one click! If you’re running out of blog content ideas, you can even transcribe your videos! This allows you to get visitors who are searching for information that can be found in your videos.

#9 Forums

47 Different Ways to Promote Your YouTube ChannelForums are where discussions happen. Whenever there is a discussion happening that is relevant to your YouTube channel, you should try taking part. By providing quality answers and discussions, other members of the forum will be enticed to visit your channel.

In regards to letting others know about your videos, you never want to spam or post your YouTube links when irrelevant or unhelpful. Most forums allow you to create a custom signature. This is a great place to link to your channel. If allowed, you can even use the name of your channel as your username.

#10 Contests

47 Different Ways to Promote Your YouTube ChannelPeople love contests! By setting up a contest around your YouTube channel with a cool prize, you are sure to garner a lot of interest. For example, the contest could require participants to share your videos on social media, leave a specific comment, or even blog about your channel. This will help spread the word about your YouTube channel and grow your audience.

When it comes to choosing an awesome prize, you do not have to spend money. For example, the winners could receive a mention in your next video or even a personal video thanking them. Just remember to be creative!

#11 Go to VidCon

youtube promotionVidCon is the largest gathering of online video creators and YouTube lovers. By attending VidCon, you can meet and network with creators of other channels as well as those involved in your industry. You may even end up collaborating with another YouTube creator. This is an effective way to expand your audience.

VidCon is also a great place to meet with your viewers and followers. Engaging with those who support you is essential for long term success. Speaker panels hosted at the event allow you to gain knowledge and a better understanding of what it takes to market your YouTube channel.

#12 Meetup Group

youtube promotionStarting a meetup group with YouTube video creators allows you to discuss the latest tips, trends and strategies for growth on YouTube. The group can meetup on a weekly or monthly basis. Every time a new person joins the group, be sure to introduce yourself. Meetup groups provide you the opportunity discuss marketing strategies that are working for others and can also lead to collaboration videos.

#13 Collab Videos

youtube promotionAs mentioned above, collaborating with other YouTube creators is a really effective way to grow your viewership. Collab videos involve 2 or more channel owners producing a video together. The person uploading the collab video to his or her channel usually provides a mention and link to the participants.

Collaborating with YouTube creators allows you create a bigger audience because viewers from other channels will be interested in checking out your videos. One of the best formats for collaborating is to split the collaboration video into 2 or more parts and then each partner can upload a part to their YouTube channel. You can also exchange video mentions with other YouTube creators without even creating a collaboration video.

#14 Speak at Events

youtube promotionSpeaking at events allows you to showcase your expertise. You can apply to become a speaker at an event that is relevant to your YouTube channel. For example, if you create videos on tax tips then you can try becoming a speaker at an event that focuses on taxation. For the best results, speak at events that have an attendance which is similar to your viewership. By showcasing your expertise to those interested, you are creating a pathway to your YouTube channel for when people are looking for similar information.

#15 Video Commenting

youtube promotionLeaving valuable comments under YouTube videos is a good way to let the creator and viewers know about your YouTube channel. Every time you leave some great feedback or a good point, those who agree with you will like your comment and give you a thumbs up. This will make your comment appear higher and can prompt new viewers to visit your profile to which they will find your awesome video content.

#16 Blog Commenting

youtube promotionCommenting on blogs is another way to get the word out about your YouTube channel. You want to follow the same rules as mentioned previously in regards to leaving some great feedback and good points. Most blogs require you to fill out two fields when providing a comment. The 2 fields are usually your name and email. But most of the time there is also an optional field called, “website”. This is where you can place your channel url. Every time someone views your comment and clicks on your name, they will be directed to your YouTube channel. It’s important to comment on blogs that are relevant to the topics of your videos.

#17 Sticker Marketing

youtube promotionThis is a very simple way to market your channel. Sticker marketing involves placing branded stickers in frequently visited places. It’s that simple! The stickers should be branded with your YouTube name, channel url, and a great tagline. You should use a big enough font and avoid putting too much information because the stickers should be easy to read. Your stickers can be placed on doors, bus stops, or even message boards. Be careful not to “sticker spam” and make sure you have permission to place the stickers at the places you prefer.

#18 Advertise on Your Car

youtube promotionHow about using your vehicle as an advertisement? You could place an advertisement for your YouTube channel on the trunk or doors of your car. Every time you go for a drive, you could end up getting new viewers. The advertisement could be a large sticker with your YouTube information. Make sure that the design allows people to read about your channel from a distance.

#19 Write for Magazines

youtube promotionWriting for a magazine allows you to showcase your industry knowledge by providing great content to readers that are relevant to your niche. You can mention your YouTube channel in your author bio with each contribution. It’s important to write for a magazine that provides content similar to yours. This will help transition readers into your viewers.

#20 Get Published in the Press

youtube promotionLike with magazines, you can also write for your local newspaper. If you feel that you have some great information for your community, then you can contact the editor with your proposed content. Another way to get published in the press is to do interviews. Journalists are frequently looking to interview people for their own content. This is a great opportunity for you to participate and get your YouTube channel mentioned in return.

#21 Start a Podcast

youtube promotionPodcasting allows you to build a following separate from your YouTube channel. It also allows you to provide more content to your current YouTube fans and followers. Most importantly, it gives you the ability to convert your listeners into YouTube subscribers.

You could start a podcast on topics similar to your channel. For example, let’s say you make videos on fitness tips and exercises. You could start a weekly podcast on the latest fitness trends, workouts, and diet tips. While doing so, you can mention your channel anytime during the podcast and encourage your listeners to subscribe. ReelSEO’s Tubetalk is an excellent example of a podcast that caters to the topic of video marketing, and promotes the YouTube channels of all contributors.

#22 Email Signature

youtube promotionUse your email account often? If so, you can create a custom signature with your YouTube channel information. You can also include links to your social media pages. Every time you send or reply to an email, your YouTube info will be shown at the bottom of the message.

#23 Guest Blogging

youtube promotionAs mentioned earlier, blogging is a really effective way to promote your videos. Guest blogging allows you to get the same benefits without managing a blog. You can email blogs that are relevant to your YouTube channel to see if they are open to taking a guest post.

Many websites and blogs usually have a guest posting page to let readers know that they are open to guest posts. These pages also include guidelines, so be sure to follow them. At the end of each guest post, authors are allowed to link back to their blog. In your case, you can link back to your YouTube channel.

#24 Rent a Booth

youtube promotionIf you are a brand or have a budget then you can rent a booth at an event or trade show. When people visit your booth, you can giveaway branded merchandise and t-shirts with your YouTube info. The more people that make use of your branded merchandise, the higher your potential viewership will increase.

Renting a booth gives you the chance to network with visitors who may be interested in subscribing to your YouTube channel. You may also be mentioned by the press covering the event.

#25 Host a Workshop

youtube promotionAs mentioned previously, you should establish your YouTube channel or yourself as the authority in your industry. Hosting a workshop lets you do just that! For example, let’s say that you are a beauty vlogger and you make videos on make-up tutorials. In this case, you could host a workshop that covers make-up lessons similar to your YouTube videos. This would make your YouTube channel the go to source when your attendees are searching for similar lessons. Even those who are not able to attend your workshop will still give your channel a closer look.

#26 Google Plus Community

youtube promotionBy starting a Google+ community page, you are creating a place for others to discuss topics similar to your channel. When you are setting up your community page, you can add a link to your YouTube profile.

Post your thoughts and answer questions to get even more exposure for your channel. The community page can be set up as public or private. You can also invite people to join. The community will allow you to brand your channel. Every time someone joins the page, they will be able to see your YouTube link.

#27 YouTube Fan Finder Program

youtube promotionDid you know that YouTube is spending money to help you promote your YouTube channel for free? The YouTube Fan Finder program allows you to submit up to 5 advertisements for your channel. These ads are then shown across different YouTube videos to an audience that is relevant to your channel.

The goal of this program is promote your YouTube channel to viewers that will enjoy and engage with your videos. Your ads should be short video clips that give a preview of what your channel is about. Be sure to make your first 5 seconds really good. Every time a viewer clicks on the channel ad, they are directed to your profile. Fan Finder is a great way to build a bigger audience at no cost to you!

#28 Interact with Your Audience

youtube promotionTaking the time to interact with those that support you is not only the right thing to do but it is important for long term growth. Viewers like to feel appreciated so it’s essential that you engage with them.

One of the best places to interact with your supporters is on Twitter. You can tweet or reply to those who watch your videos. When others on social media see you interacting with your followers, they may be interested in joining the conversation and possibly becoming your newest subscriber.

#29 Compelling YouTube Thumbnails

youtube promotionWhen it comes to search results, images draw a lot of attention. By creating a custom thumbnail that attracts viewers, you can make your videos stand out from others. You can create an attractive thumbnail and upload it for each video. Make sure your font can still be read when reduced to a thumbnail. The image should be relevant to your videos because you want your visitors to stay engaged. Test out different styles to see which ones give you the best click thru rate.

#30 Use Hashtags

youtube promotionYou should always be using hashtags on social media. Google+, Twitter, Facebook and many other social media platforms that allow you to use hashtags. Every time you use a hashtag it increases your potential reach.

Whenever someone searches for your hashtag, they will come across your post. So it’s important to use relevant hashtags when creating a post that is linked to your YouTube video. Someone who makes videos on soccer lessons could use the hashtag #soccer or #soccerlessons. Using hashtags helps you reach potential viewers that are currently not following you.

#31 Allow Embeds

youtube promotionFor your YouTube videos, you have the option to allow embedding or disable it. When you allow your videos to be embedded, it lets others share your content on blogs and web pages. All someone needs to do in order to embed your YouTube video is copy and paste the link under the, “share” tab. Anytime a blogger, webmaster, or journalist comes across your video and want to embed it in their content, it will result in the video getting more exposure.

#32 Encourage Sharing

youtube promotionAsking your viewers to share your YouTube videos is a must. At the end of your videos, you should encourage your viewers to share your content with their friends and on social media. Every time someone shares your YouTube channel, it opens a new doorway to your videos. You can even offer incentives or use a contest as mentioned earlier. By rewarding your viewers for sharing your channel, it will result in more doorways being opened to your videos.

#33 Use Playlists

youtube promotionA playlist is a custom list of videos on YouTube. They should always be used! Whenever someone is watching a video from a playlist, they will be directed to the next video in that list after the current one is finished being viewed.

Try creating a playlist with your recent videos and then send visitors to the playlist instead of just each video. This increases the chances of your viewers watching more than one video. Playlists allow you to group videos together in order to get more channel views.

34 Awesome Titles

youtube promotionYour YouTube videos should have great titles. The title of each video should be catchy, descriptive and have keywords. Be careful not to create irrelevant titles just to get more views because it will lead to less engagement. Your title needs to be intriguing in order to catch a viewer’s attention. It should be descriptive to let people know what to expect. Lastly, it should include keywords that people will search for in order to find your video.

#35 Create Consistent Video Content

youtube promotionThe more videos you create the more pathways to your YouTube channel. It’s good to have as many pathways as possible. If you are not consistent with uploading videos to your channel, people will start to unsubscribe. That is the opposite of what we are trying to do here!

You should create a consistent amount of videos per week and follow a specific schedule to keep your following on good terms. This will allow your viewers to know when to expect your next video. With each video you create, you have the ability to show up in different search results. Over time as you create more content, you will end up noticing a higher total in channel views.

#36 Host a Webinar

youtube promotionWebinars are a very popular way to present information online. They are also a good way to brand your YouTube channel. You can use webinars to interact with your viewers, provide lessons, and build relationships with those interested in your industry. For example, let’s say you create videos on car reviews. In this case, you could start a webinar for car buying tips.
Webinars provide the same benefits of hosting a workshop and are a great way to build a presence around your YouTube channel. At the end of webinars you can engage with your audience by answering any questions they have on the topic. By doing so, you are building a stronger relationship with your following.

#37 Social Bookmarking Sites

youtube promotionReddit, Digg, and StumbleUpon are just a few of the many social bookmarking websites that can make your videos go viral. Social bookmarking sites are filled with communities and users interested in checking out new content.

Every site has a different feel and community, so it’s important to do some research before submitting your content. Doing so will show you where you can find the best results. If users like your video, they will vote for it and as you get more votes, the submitted video will rank higher. Content that is ranked high receives a lot of traffic so there’s a good chance your video will get a ton of views.

#38 YouTube Tags

youtube promotionHave you ever come across videos with phrases like, “Get to know me tag” or “5 Questions Tag”? These videos are based on specific YouTube tags. Most of the time, video creators on YouTube will be using the same tag as everyone else during that time frame. This is because it helps bring extra views from users that are searching for the YouTube tag. Using them can also make your videos appear on the right sidebar when viewers are watching a different video with the same tag. Using trending YouTube tags is an effective marketing strategy.

#39 Question and Answer Videos

youtube promotionIt is important to engage with your viewers for long term growth. One way to do so is by doing question and answer videos. Your viewers ask you questions, and you answer them. To make this work, you can ask your viewers to leave their questions in the comments section for you to answer in the next video. Answering questions shows your audience that you appreciate their support and will help strengthen your following.

#40 Print out Flyers

Yes, this form of marketing still works for many people. Creating flyers about your YouTube channel is a very easy task. All you have to do is create a design on your computer and print it out! After printing out your flyers, you can hand them out or place them in busy areas. Placing your flyers in areas that are visited often is usually the best option because it allows them to be seen by more than one person. Make sure to include your social media links as well!

# 41 Use QR codes

youtube promotionQR (Quick Response) codes can be linked directly to your YouTube channel. They are known as those square shaped barcodes that can be scanned by your smart phone. QR codes have become a popular way to share information. There are tons of QR code generators online that can help you create one that directs people to your YouTube videos. These codes can be placed on your business cards, flyers, and all other promotional materials.

#42 Word of Mouth

youtube promotionOne of the top ways to market your channel is by talking about it. Tell your friends about it and encourage them to do the same. The more people talking about your YouTube channel, the better. Attending networking events allows you to engage with others and mention your YouTube channel. Creating a positive buzz from word of mouth marketing is priceless. Having people recommend your channel is some of the best branding and advertising that you can get.

#43 Public Bulletin Boards

youtube promotionYou can find bulletin boards at libraries, universities and many public locations. They can be used to advertise your channel by posting flyers or other promotional print outs. You can even post information for your podcasts and webinars like we discussed earlier. Research your target age group and use bulletin boards that are visited by that specific age group. Your post should stick out from other messages on the same board.

#44 Partnering with a Brand

youtube promotionA lot of companies and brands are open to partnering with content creators. By partnering with a brand, you would be giving them exposure through your videos. In return, you can get advertising from the brand and their following. It’s important to partner with a company that has a similar target market as yours. This will ensure long term success. As a partner, you could get listed on the company website or mentioned on their social media platforms.

#45 Google Hangouts

youtube promotionMany successful YouTube creators use Google Hangouts to interact with their followers. This is yet another great way to engage with your audience. Instead of making a video to answer questions from your viewers, you can do it live! After finishing the live stream, you can upload the footage to your YouTube channel. You can even use Google Hangouts to provide information and tips on topics related to your industry. This will encourage others to visit your YouTube channel when looking for information on similar topics.

#46 Create a Facebook Group

youtube promotionJust like with Google+ communities, you can establish a place to discuss topics related to your channel by creating a Facebook group. The group can be open or invitational. By starting a Facebook group, you can build a community around your YouTube channel. Having an engaging community who supports your videos is vital for growth. With a Facebook group, you can create just that!

#47 Set Homepages to YouTube Channel

youtube promotionWhen someone uses an internet browser, they start at a homepage. What if that homepage was your YouTube channel? If so, every time someone uses the internet, your channel would be the first thing to load. For starters, you can try seeing if your friends and family would be interested in doing so. After that, you can try negotiating with places like libraries or computer cafes. Your goal should be to scale up the amount of default home pages you can change to your YouTube channel so it’s best to find a place where the internet is being browsed daily.

A Content Marketing Editorial Calendar That Works

A Content Marketing Editorial Calendar That Works

Free Content Marketing Editorial Calendar Worksheets

Content marketing is tough. It really is.

You’re busy, your customers are busy, and you’re trying to create content that isn’t intrusive but instead, catches your customers where they need help. That’s a hard act to maintain. Content marketing done right looks different for each team, but there are three elements they all have in common:

  • Understanding their audience.
  • A solid content foundation.
  • An editorial calendar.

You know who you’re talking to, you understand what they want to hear, and you have a tool that keeps it all in order.

Recommend Reading: What Is Content Marketing?

1. Understanding Your Audience

Traditional marketing runs screaming from the concept of connecting to an audience. Instead, it wants to push its message in front of every face possible, whether they would be interested or not. That doesn’t work anymore.

Why?

Your Audience Is Human

Audiences are made of individual people who don’t want to be treated as an anonymous crowds or mere demographic statistics. The have names, careers, families, interests, and concerns, and those are the things they care about the most. They don’t care about your advertising.

To connect with these people, you create content by focusing on what matters to them, not us. You need to connect with them as specific individuals. The more specific an audience you can identify, the better your content will be. In order to find your audience, you have to:

  1. Get past fear. Stop worrying about excluding people. Not everyone is your audience, and aiming for everyone out of fear of leaving someone out means you water down your content so that no one is interested.
  2. Own what you know best. Our niche is what we know. Our audience are those people who want to hear what we can talk about easily.
  3. Pour back into your audience. It’s easy to get sidetracked even if you’ve done a good job of identifying your audience. Keeping an audience is the same as building your audience. It means you always ask “does this fit my niche?”

know your audience

Your Audience Has Pain Points

Above all else, your content must solve problems.

Every business is in the business of solving problems, but usually we see those problems differently than our customers do. We tend to see these problems through the lens of “features” that our business offers, rather than the benefits they provide. For example, if we sell insoles, we might think we’re solving the problem of sore feet. But what about the problem of an aching back, or being cranky at work?

There are four areas that the solution of pain points can fit into:

1. Fulfill a need. People are motivated to buy something because they need it. When it comes time for them to make a purchase, they will seek out products that best meet those needs.

2. Provide a service. Similarly, they will do the same when they are in need of a professional service. Sometimes services are provided for convenience purposes.

3. Alleviate a frustration. This category includes some of the most common sales triggers, like saving time and money. Customers are motivated to purchase what makes their lives easier.

4. Provide enjoyment. Customers desire to be entertained. These types of purchases don’t reflect upon a person’s needs, but they do fulfill wants and desires. They are often emotionally-based decisions that vary from one person to the next.

Once we understand what “pains” our customer is looking to relieve, we can connect our content to doing just that.

So, how do you understand your audience?

You start seeing them as real people, you figure out what they need and want, and you learn what their pain points are. If you know all of that, you understand your audience and you’re ready to create content for them.

2. Why Are You Creating Content?

Why are you creating content? The answer to that question might be tough to face. Hopefully, you are motivated to gain customer trust. And hopefully, you’re willing to do the one thing it takes in order for that to happen: giving.

Learning To Give

Creating content means you have to be willing to dish. As in, you have to be willing to give some things away in exchange for customer trust. Keeping your best ideas and content for yourself, behind a paywall, won’t inspire customers to try you, much less trust you.

You might not be comfortable giving away your expertise, but let’s look at in different terms to help dissuade your fears:

1. Don’t be afraid of losing. Giving things away sounds crazy. Giving our best talent away could destroy an entire business model, right? No. Stop thinking about abilities as products to sell, and start thinking of them as a trust-building strategy that creates a loyal customer.

2. Be real about marketing costs. Marketing costs in two ways: in time, or in money. With money, we try to buy attention, and that’s pricey. With time, we give away great content in order to gain trust. Which do you think you can sustain: attention you have to keep paying for, or great content your customers come back for on their own?

3. Content is a gateway drug. With your content, you’re not giving away the farm, just starting with a couple of chickens. That convinces your customers to come and visit the farm more often. You might be telling them how to remodel their kitchen, but you’re not giving away lumber. They still need you.

4. Make it easy to approach you. What kind of hoops do customers have to jump through to get to you? Does it involve boring sales copy, web forms, and automated phone systems? Your content is a bit like magazines in the waiting room: give your customers something right now, on their way to see you. Great content makes it easy for them to access you right at the start.

inbound marketing

The Battle Of Inbound vs. Outbound

Outbound marketing focuses on a one-time sale, while inbound marketing focuses on long-tearm loyalty. One pushes out, the other draws in.

Content marketing is completely inbound. You attract, acquire, and engage your target audience, turning them into customers. Not convinced? Let’s take a look.

1. Outbound marketing is throw-away. Direct mail pieces (i.e. “junk mail”) get thrown away almost half of the time. People skip through TV commercials. Ads are blocked on the internet. The worst part of all of that? You had to pay beaucoup dollars for that outbound marketing. It’s like storing your money in the garbage.

2. Inbound marketing is come-hither. Content sources like blogs, ebooks, or social media attract an audience. Lo and behold, where do your customers come from, but your audience? People come to you on their own terms, pay attention to you, and become trusting customers. It’s like storing your money in the bank.

Blogging Is Your Secret Weapon

Have a website? You should have a blog. A blog is a storehouse for words, which are powerful, transformative, and your secret weapon. Blogs put words to work for you, like content mercenaries.

They create that inbound traffic, and they entice Google (and other search engines) to stop by and bring some visitors with them. And, surprise side benefit: blogs help you explore new ideas and challenge our thinking. They make you think as you write, challenging your own expertise and validify your thoughts enough to write them down for the world to read. Blogs are conversation starters, virtual water coolers, and town squares. People gather to talk, and some leave their email address and turn right into a customer before you know it.

You’d be surprised, then, that most blogs only survive three months. Those are either tough odds to beat or a sad statement on how serious people take inbound marketing and the value of a loyal audience.

So, why are you creating content?

Because that content is what brings your audience to you, keeps them with you, and turns them into trusting customers. It might happen through great SEO, social media word-of-mouth, or a referral, but the idea is the same: content brings in people.

3. What Will You Talk About?

Typical marketing tells us to use a kind of ‘corporate voice’, as if we were impersonal beings lording over our audience. Content marketing tips that on end, and gives us permission to talk with our audience like a real person. By doing that, though, you do something incredibly scary, something traditional marketers would run screaming from.

You give up control of the message.

Great content marketing comes with a kind of relief that we stop sounding like a brochure and chase down anyone who takes our words out of our mouth. We can talk to our customers like friends we know and trust. It doesn’t matter if you’re a great and powerful wizard; you have to step out from behind the curtain some time and be real.

“The more I open up and share my real self with the world, the more successful I become.” — Corbet Barr, internet entrepreneur and blogger.

What You Should Say

Now that you’re not hidden behind marketing-speak, what are you going to talk about? It’s not as bad as you think. Actually, it makes perfect sense and you’ll like it much better once you shed the old habits.

1. Talk about your expertise.

What you know best is your expertise.

You don’t have to be the expert, but it’s likely you know more than the average person about your niche topic, otherwise you wouldn’t be in business. So you’re an expert. Let’s put feelings of inferiority aside or you’ll never write a sentence worth anything to your customers.

The beauty of you talking about what you know best is that you create value around your product or service. Would you rather hire a plumber who confidently talks about all things plumbing on his blog, or the guy who just has a website that says “I’m a plumber. Hire me.”

2. Speak your customer’s language.

If you have any empathy for your fellow human beings, leave the jargon at the door, please!

If you’re selling light bulbs, you don’t talk about ohms and electrical resistance and how many electric trade associations you are a member of. You talk about how long the lightbulb will last.

Remember, no more corporate voice, meet your audience’s needs–these core concepts ought to prevent you from using jargon or purposefully trying to shame, confuse, or impress a customer with industry language, but it’s so easy to forget! You rattle off features when you could be telling them about the benefits.

You’re not looking to be the industry expert (unless your audience is business-to-business), but an expert for your customer.

3. Just focus on the bennies.

People don’t buy a toaster based on how hot the heating elements can get, but rather, that it gets their toast done pretty fast in the morning so they aren’t late for work. Heating element = feature, fast toast = benefit.

When you write your content, talk about benefits, not features. People connect to benefits, because they tell them how your product meets their needs. Features only interest the sellers because they make an impressive list for those in the industry. The content you create has to find a way to translate those awesome features into real-world benefits so your audience can say, “Oh, yes, that would be helpful for me.”

4. Yes, you can talk about that.

There’s a lot of peripheral content connected to what you think is your main focus. And yes, you can talk about that.

Let’s say you sell running shoes. You could blog all day about the new shoe styles, shoe sales, shoe trends–you could be very shoe-centric. After all, that’s your gig.

But think about your customer. The guy buying those shoes is…a runner. And, as a runner, he is interested in more than just shoes. He wants to know about running events, training options, the latest running mobile apps, outdoor trails, hydration, knee health… Wouldn’t you sell more shoes if you wrote about all of the things runners are interested in?

Your content should definitely include your core content (in this case, the shoes), but also write about connected content (that other stuff). That’s what your audience wants.

Some Things You Shouldn’t Say

Controversial content is what gets conversation cooking. It’s like adding some hot sauce to your baked potato; you make it more memorable, but too much is just pain.

Don’t shy away from difficult topics and bold statements. Don’t be afraid to stop hedging your bets and go out on a content limb. That’s the stuff that gets conversation going, and that makes for a “sticky” post. People link to it, share it, and it generates buzz.

But.

You shouldn’t say offensive things towards or about people. You shouldn’t slander your competitors. You shouldn’t call down fire from heaven onto your blog with inflammatory or inciting language, because that’s how you kill an audience, not retain them. Get people thinking, but don’t make them leave.

So, what will you say with your content?

In your audience’s vocabulary, focus on what you can do to benefit them and write about that. Write about the content that’s related to your core content. Write memorably, but don’t be a jerk.

4. What Great Content Marketing Looks Like

So, you say you’re a writer. Well, then, let’s start creating that great content. You’ve got the theory behind why you should under your belt. Now it’s time to figure out how.

Before you get into the nitty-gritty details of how to create great content, you should understand what kinds of content you have to choose from.

balanced content marketing

1. You can provide relevant information.

Most of your content will fall into this category. It includes things like industry news, upcoming events, new ideas you have or share from other experts in the field. This will be the easiest content for you to create, because it comes naturally and it doesn’t fall too far into “I’m giving away trade secrets!” territory.

2. You can teach them how to do something.

Tutorials and how-to content is extremely powerful, and often where businesses balk at content marketing. It feels like giving away the farm (but remember, we’re only giving away chickens!). Tutorials do the best job of providing value to your customers, and directly meet their needs.

3. You can start a conversation.

Conversations surround content that intrigues, questions, touches emotions, and pushes. You’re not looking to dive full on into controversy, but it doesn’t hurt to dip your toes into it at the edges. You don’t want to rely on this kind of content too much; you’ll burn out yourself and your audience. When in doubt, make sure it’s more conversational than controversial.

4. You can inspire your readers.

How can you encourage your readers to do more and feel better about themselves? If you can answer that question with the content you create, you nailed it. People want to feel good about themselves, and if you can help them do it, they’ll come back for more. Besides, your audience is made up of real people, and encouraging people is always a good thing.

5. You can entertain your readers.

The world should not be all doom and gloom, and neither should your content. Have some fun without going off the deep edge. Tell a funny anecdote. Share a funny story that happened to you. Entertaining content is great at keeping that human real-person voice.

Tell A Great Story, Above All

“Blah blah blah.”

Never give your reader a chance to sum up your content with those three words. You must tell stories, not push lectures. Stories can be true stories, customer stories, your stories, or anecdotes. They can serve as a metaphor for a complicated topic, further the discussion, or put a face on an idea.

blog post structure

If the internet is a series of tubes, stories are a series of hooks. Stories, from the most complicated to the most basic, work with hooks. The traditional fiction pyramid can still be applied to your blog posts.

1. The headline is the first line of the story.

It really is. It’s the first thing your audience reads, and what convinces them to continue. Bad headline, but great content? Fail. Headlines can lead to the next level below it, or stop the flow altogether.

2. The opening line/paragraph of the story is a sub-headline.

Notice, it’s still like a headline. It has the work of sending the reader on down into your content even further.

3. The first line of every paragraph is like a headline.

Guess what? It’s relentless, this drive to keep readers reading. But that’s a story. It hooks, hooks again, and repeats itself until the end.

“I sell widgets! How do you expect me to write a story about that?!” you might be thinking.

How The Widget Changed The Future As We Know It

It was the 12th century. The monks were under siege, surviving only on their ale. Each day, the anxiously kept watch around their monastery, armies as far as the eye could see. Their vast libraries contained the last copies of many of the classic works we enjoy today, and their downfall meant a tremendous loss of historic knowledge.

And then their ale began to dwindle. The siege dragged on. They needed a widget.

Or…

Where The Widget Came From

Widgets were invented in the 12th century by monks. They used it to make ale. The ale kept them alive during difficult times. The widget has changed little from that time to today, where you can purchase one at our store.

Look at the examples. Which one do you want to read?

In the second example, the opening sentence answers the question the (boring) headline prompted in the reader’s mind. Why read any further? In contrast, the first example doesn’t spill the beans immediately and, in fact, it suggests additional questions that make the reader want to stick around to the end (i.e. who was doing the siege? why? why did the monks have the books? what does ale have to do with it?).

In everything, you can find a story because it is a story. Create mystery, save key details for the end–keep your reader on the line until the last possible moment.

People like stories!

5. Setting Up Your Content Goals

Without a goal, you won’t know if you’ve arrived. In fact, you won’t even know if you’re on the way. Content marketing easily goes off the rails and tumbles down into tangents if you don’t have goals defined.

Mix It Up, And Publish Regularly

So, you take this secret recipe of five great kinds of content, mix them up, and regularly serve on your blog. (In case you missed it, the two most important words in that sentence were “mix” and “regularly.”)

The perfect mix for you is one you figure out over time by paying attention to audience reaction on social media, analytics, and comments. You won’t get it right immediately, but you’ll soon learn what your audience wants to hear.

Then, be regular. Consistent content marketing is the only content marketing there is. Inconsistent content marketing is also known as “that blog that fails in three months.” When it comes to publishing content, consistency wins. No audience shows up at the concert hall if they aren’t certain there will a performance. The same goes for your blog.

Here are the unfun nuts and bolts:

1. Develop a publishing schedule.

Greatness doesn’t accidentally happens, and great content marketing is no exception. Use your editorial calendar to set up a schedule that you (and your team) can handle. Follow it. Decide how many blog posts you’ll publish each week, how many social media posts you’ll post, and how many larger pieces of content you’ll do each month/year (i.e. videos, ebooks, whitepapers, etc.)

Schedules do a couple of amazing things. They force you to not let writer’s block win, and they guard against content gaps.

content marketing schedule

2. Decide where you’ll publish content.

Your blog will get your main content focus, sure, but where else will you publish?

We don’t encourage sharecropping the bulk of your original content, abandoning it to platforms with tricky terms of service and fair use policies that could pull the plug at any moment, but you shouldn’t rule out reworking content to fit appropriate platforms. Social media networks are a perfect example.

Share your blog post on Google+, for instance, and accompany the link with thoughtful commentary or discussion starters. Write about a topic in a different way on Medium, perhaps, and share a link back to your original post under the guise of “further reading.”

Choose places where your audience is likely to frequent. If you’re not sure, look at your competitors. They have an audience. You can piggyback on it by joining in discussions and using the same platforms. Not every platform is a fit, and you don’t want to sign up for every social network. That would be impossible to manage and you’d end up with angry followers who see that you’re ignoring them because you’ve forgotten about that social channel.

3. Plan your peripheral content.

“Complete social media content marketing in just an hour a day!” Sounds gimmicky, but it’s not off. Do you really want to be spending more than an hour on tweets and Facebook posts? No. This plan is a tricky one, but returns great results when you get it right.

Start by figuring out what your audience wants on each network. For example, five tweets an hour might be too much, and no tweeting after 6 pm. Don’t give them an excuse to unfollow you. Know your audience, know the social network’s unwritten etiquette, and use that as your guide.

Then, find tools that shave time off of your plan. Time is money. Use one or two tools instead of five and an extra hour. Find good tools, and spend the money. They’re going to be a workhorse for you and you won’t regret an excellent tool that makes this easier.

With your plan in place, you now know what happens when a blog post is published. It might go something like this:

a) Publish blog post

b) Tweet post immediately with “New Blog Post: [title] [URL]”

c) Share post immediately on Facebook and Google+.

d) Tweet post 2 days later with “[title]”

e) Tweet post a week later. Ask it as a question.

f) Tweet post a month later with “[title]”

g) Share on Facebook two months later.

content marketing editorial calendar

How Will You Measure Your Success?

Success is a tangible thing. It’s not vague. You’re investing time, money, and creativity into content marketing; you’d better be able to measure your success so you know if it’s working.

You can’t measure success unless you define it first. You have to know what it looks like. Success is commonly measured using:

Some of these might be important to you, others not. Figure out which ones are. Put a system in place to measure them. Start a spreadsheet and track the numbers, if you have to. Make a habit out of reviewing those numbers. Change things, do some A/B testing, and see what happens.

Is your content marketing a success? Only you can determine that.

6. Creating Your Editorial Calendar

There is a constant theme that runs all through great content marketing. Have you picked up on it yet? It’s the ultimate four-letter word: plan.

No one stumbles onto having an amazing blog. No one accidently gets great at writing content. No one haphazardly picks up 10,000 Twitter followers. Greatness does not happen in one day. Anyone who swears otherwise is either selling snake oil or just isn’t aware of the planning and work they’ve really been doing on their blog.

This is where an editorial calendar comes into play.

What Is An Editorial Calendar?

An editorial calendar is a tool that helps you plan out your content. You can use it as a solo blogger, or with a team.

Editorial calendars approach your content creation from both sides. They encourage you as you start to see your content as it will be, and they kick you in the pants as you see your content as it should be.

And yes, you need one. Even if it’s just you blogging.

If you’re thinking “my blog isn’t very big, I don’t need an editorial calendar,” the editorial calendar will reply with “that’s why your blog isn’t very big.” Let’s own up to the Catch 22 and hop on board. If you’re serious about your blog, the smaller it is the more you need a tool that helps you focus your content and ups your publishing rate.

How Do I Use An Editorial Calendar?

Editorial calendars can be something as simple as a paper calendar with sticky notes. You can use a collection of apps and tools like spreadsheets. Or, you could use a dedicated editorial calendar app like CoSchedule.

Once you’ve determined what method works best for you, you’ll begin planning your content for the year, and then by month.

Planning for the year.

Getting a full year’s view of your content is the ultimate bird’s-eye-view. You will plan for events and for broad themes, marking them out on your calendar.

Events include holidays, in-house events, or industry events, such as conferences. You will likely want to publish content associated with those events.

Themes include content that is related or connected to each other, such as a blog series. Themes are helpful, because themed content can easily be turned into additional content, like an ebook.

One other thing you’ll want to plan on at a year level is the type of content. For example, you might want to publish an ebook in January, April, and July. You might plan on making a video for September. These are the kinds of content that take more prep and planning, and are a bigger commitment in time and money to create. Get ‘em on our calendar, or they won’t happen.

Planning for each month.

By this time, you’ve learned that you need to decide on how often you’ll publish content, and where you’ll publish it. Great news: you’ve already done the foundational work for this part of the calendar! Now, you just have to plug it into your calendar for each month.

You can organize this any way you’d like, but two common ways people arrange content at a monthly level is by category and by author.

Planning by category only works if you’ve been judicious about keeping your blog’s categories under control. This method works best with four to ten categories.

Planning by author is for team blogs, where you want to be sure each person writes the allotted amount or on the day you have decided will work best.

Let’s give this a dry run.

1. Let’s say you’ve decided you can handle publishing three times a week. Traffic dies off on Fridays, and is highest on Mondays. So, you decide to publish on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

2. You have one other author who can handle writing once a week. This means two of the posts will be yours each week.

3. You have six categories and you’d like to see them evenly covered. So, in a two-week period, you’ll publish a blog post that uses each category.

4. On your calendar, even if you don’t have headlines, you can lay out posts on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. You can note that you’ll write Monday and Thursday and assign Tuesday to your team member. You’ll then note one category on each post in two-week cycles.

What just happened?

You know who will write, when they will write, and what they will write. It’s the end of day-of-blog-post panic.

Using Social Signals To Create More Effective Social Media Ads

How Attraction Works

Each second, your senses are bombarded by over two billion bits of data. The only thing that keeps your brain from being overwhelmed is the reticular activating system[RAS]. This system works like a filter, deciding what data should be passed on to your brain for processing and what should be ignored.

In other words, it decides what you pay attention to.

improve social media ads

Find out how to improve your social media ads using brain science.

Modern advances in neurology and psychology have unlocked some of the key attention triggers that stand out and are picked up by your RAS. These insights hold powerful implications for marketers looking to grab their audience’s attention.

Below I highlight several of those triggers.

#1: Create Motion

Attraction to motion was programmed into humans over thousands of years. In our species’ sub-Saharan days in Africa, we were always on the lookout for predators or for our next meal.

Today we don’t have to dodge danger or track down our next meal, but motion is still a powerful way to capture attention. There are a few ways you can take advantage of that in your social media ads.

Use GIFs or Video

I would bet that as you scroll down this page, the GIF below is the first place your eyes move to. Why? Because GIFs and videos tap directly into your RAS and pull your attention to them.
http://giphy.com/embed/DwBMQ7ZqiE0eY
GIFs are easy to make and draw the eye away from static images.

Google+, Tumblr and Twitter all allow you to use GIFs in ads. I suggest taking the time to create animated GIFs for your most important ads in order to pull the user’s attention to you.

To illustrate how this principle works with video, go to Facebook and scroll through your news feed. Notice where you focus your attention. There’s a good chance you immediately look at the autoplay videos.

Take advantage of that natural reflex and record an Instagram video or Vine to complement your Facebook ads.

Include Images That Imply Motion

If you want to use a social platform that doesn’t support videos or GIFs, there’s another, trickier way to add motion to your campaigns: Use images that show something moving (like the car below).

car in motion shutterstock image 231014191

Catch attention by sharing posts with photos that show motion. Image: Shutterstock.

Pictures that show motion (without actually moving) activate mirror neurons that trigger parts of the brain to react as if the event is actually happening.

The marketing takeaway is that when you aren’t able to actually use anything that produces motion like a video or GIF, images that depict motion can also help catch your audience’s attention.

Implement Motion on Blogs

It’s likely you’ve seen this motion tactic on a blog: As you scroll down a page, certain elements animate. These animated elements could be anything—a spinning graph, a jumping button, a sliding ad, etc.

You can see an example on the AddThis blog. When you’re on their site, scroll down and pay attention to where your eyes move. You’ll likely find yourself being drawn to the animated Suggested Content box as it slides in at the bottom right corner. You can use this same tactic as an ad instead of a content suggestion.

addthis blog popup

AddThis uses a popup on their blog to draw attention to related content.

It’s easy to overuse motion, so remember that less is more. If there’s too much motion, the brain is overwhelmed and blocks it out.

#2: Intrigue With Ambiguity

Our brains love a good mystery or puzzle. Integrating elements of ambiguity, mystery or uncertainty into your marketing greatly increases the chances of hooking your audience’s attention.

Introduce a Mystery

When your brain is presented with something you can’t quite figure out, it locks down your attention so it can focus on how to solve the puzzle. This concept was helpful back when we were trying to figure out how to crack open coconuts for food.

One practical application for marketers is creating a mystery that draws the audience inand the only way they can solve the mystery is to click on your ad.

Another option is to create anticipation. Audi does a phenomenal job of implementing the mystery principle in this teaser video for a car they’re unveiling at the 2015 auto show.

By creating hype and anticipation, Audi enthusiasts are on the edge of their seats and looking forward to the full unveiling of this concept car.

Ask the Mind to Question

Our brains expect to see certain objects in a particular context. When those objects are out of context, the brain has to work to decipher the image.

For example, how the mind perceives blank space is a powerful weapon for winning attention. Objects or pictures that are incomplete in the traditional sense make the viewer’s brain work to understand them.

Or you can take two common items the brain is familiar with and mix them in an unusual way. This cognitive dissonance intrigues the brain and attracts the user.

Below, Heinz 57 takes two things your brain is used to seeing individually—tomatoes and a ketchup bottle—and integrates them in a way that makes your brain question what you’re seeing.

heinz sliced tomato ketchup bottle

Make your audience do a double-take.

You may be saying, “Luke, we don’t want the viewer to have to work at all!” As long as you make the image easy for the brain to solve, the puzzle actually increases the chance of your capturing and holding the viewer’s attention.

#3: Share Neutral Faces

Our brains are naturally attracted to faces. You can take advantage of that by building ambiguity into what emotions your audience is experiencing. The makeup and fashion industries do this particularly well.

For example, look at an advertisement for Sephora, M.A.C., Avon, etc.—there’s a reason their models have a neutral facial expression. A neutral expression has a certain level of ambiguity and causes the viewer to interpret what the model is thinking or feeling.

dolce & gabbana ad image

Something as simple as facial expression can draw your audience in.

However, if you provide too much ambiguity and make your image too difficult to decipher, the brain becomes frustrated and the viewer loses interest. As you develop your ads, I suggest keeping them at a level that a 6-year-old can figure out.

This level of simplicity keeps the element just tricky enough to grab attention, but not too tricky that the viewer loses focus.

Plus, when the audience figures it out, they’ll get a little shot of dopamine (a chemical in the brain that’s released to reward an achievement), which in turn makes them feel good about completing the task.

#4: Find Common Ground

When developing your social advertisements, think about the people you’re targeting. Dig deep to find something that’s dear to their hearts and that they’re familiar with—perhaps a family member or friend, home city or favorite sports team.

The high-end hipster brand, Betabrand, uses familiarity in their social media advertising via campaigns on their website.

On their website, Betabrand offers customers a 10% to 20% discount if they submit pictures of themselves wearing Betabrand clothing. The catch is that customers must log in with their Facebook profile before they load a picture.

betabrand photo upload

Betabrand encourages customers to connect on Facebook.

The company takes the customer’s uploaded picture and uses it in a Facebook social media ad that targets the customer’s friends and followers.

As the user’s friends scroll down their news feed, they’ll see a picture of their good friend and their attention immediately focuses on that image. Using a photo of someone’s friend to advertise? Talk about brilliant product placement!

Conclusion

There’s no doubt the ability to capture and hold attention is a prized skill for marketers. Marketers who understand how the brain works can effectively use that hardwiring to capture attention.

Shared with permission via Social Media

BREAKING: Changes Coming to Facebook Pages’ News Feeds

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Posted by Sara on 19 Nov 2014 /



In case you missed it, Facebook announced another change to the News Feed, but this time it’s Pages that will be affected.

According to a statement posted in Facebook’s newsroom, “A lot of the content people see as too promotional is posts from Pages they like, rather than ads.”

The post went on to state that, “News Feed has controls for the number of ads a person sees and for the quality of those ads (based on engagement, hiding ads, etc.), but those same controls haven’t been as closely monitored for promotional Page posts. Now we’re bringing new volume and content controls for promotional posts, so people see more of what they want from Pages.”

So what qualifies as a post that is “too promotional?”

According to Facebook, it’s one of the following three things:

  1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

Businesses can expect these changes to go into effect starting January 2015.

One way Facebook’s change could affect marketers is they will have limited ability to promote their marketing campaigns. In the past, Facebook was not only a great place to host a campaign but also a great place to promote a campaign.

In January, Pages will need to rethink how they host and promote campaigns.  You’ve probably heard us talk about the benefits of hosting your campaign on your website or on a landing page

Since Facebook has also removed the ability to like-gate and made enoughalgorithm changes that it can no longer be relied on for driving traffic to campaigns, it’s time to come up with new tactics.

If Facebook’s latest changes have you feeling down, don’t worry! We’re here to share five ways you can still see success and interaction from your online audience, without Facebook.

Ready? Here goes!

#1. Use email marketing instead of Facebook to promote your latest products and milestones. 

Email marketing remains the most successful form of organic marketing for businesses. According to SalesForce, 70 percent of people say they always open emails from their favorite companies! 

When we first heard about the like-gate ban we knew it was an important topic of conversation for our audience. Below is an example of the email we sent out about the changes.


Facebook Like-Gate Ban

#2. Host promotions, sweepstakes and other campaigns on your website instead of on Facebook. 

Your website is the one thing that no one can take away from you! It’s hosted by you, run by you, updated by you and its content is all determined by you. You can’t say that about any social networks, especially not Facebook. It makes sense that businesses would use their website as a “hub” for all of their online marketing.

You can do this using a simple embed feature.

ZipCar UK, a car rental service, recently pulled all of their campaigns off of Facebook and began embedding them into their website. After doing a direct comparison of the same campaign on Facebook versus their website, they saw a 717 percent increase in entries into their web-based competition and a 204 percent increase in page visits to their promotion. Those are extraordinary numbers! Did we mention that their overall website visits went up as well? If you send everyone to your website, they’re more likely to click around to other parts of your site once they’ve entered your promotion. If you’re hosting a promotion on Facebook once someone’s entered they’re most likely abandoning your page.


ZipCar UK


#3. Place ads on your website and blog — for free! — instead of relying on Facebook ads.

We’re not going to lie, we are fans of Facebook ads. They work for us, and we believe that if you test them out you’ll discover that they probably work for you too. However, you shouldn’t stop there!

You can run all sorts of free ads on your website and blog, including hello bars, display ads, pop-up notifications, calls-to-action in the footers of blog posts, or graphic announcements on your website.

None of these options cost any advertising dollars to run. You just need your designer to make some ads and your web team to upload them to your website. If you don’t have a designer, there are plenty of tools you can use to create your own graphics;  Canva is one of our favorites but there are many other options.

We’re currently in the process of promoting our 2014 Holiday eBook and here’s a look at a few ways we’ve used our website and blog to do so.

Hello Bars


ShortStack Hello Bar


Socially Stacked HelloBar

Sidebar ads on our blog


Side Bar Ads

Call-to-Action ads at the end of blog posts


more-leads

 

#4. If you’ve been asking your Facebook fans to share your content, marketing campaigns, promotions or other materials, try using share features instead.

Share features give visitors to your marketing campaigns up to six different ways they can share a campaign: via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ LinkedIn or manually.

Did you know that 43 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when they learn about it from their friends or family?

This makes sense. In today’s world, if we need to find a practitioner or buy something we usually ask for our friends’ opinions or read through review sites like Yelp.

Share features are easy to add to any campaign and encourage your entrants and campaign visitors to tell their friends about the cool things you have going on.

Here’s an example from Cambria Inns, a hotel in California. At the bottom of each of their promotions they include links to their other profiles and encourage their audience to “join us.”


Share Widgets

#5. Explore other social networks instead of relying too much on your Facebook Page. 

There’s a great big social world out there and many businesses have pigeonholed themselves in Facebook.

Even if they have a presence other places, all of their efforts may be focused on that one place.

The easiest way to expand your social network horizons is to start where your fans already are.

There’s a good chance your audience is talking about you somewhere besides Facebook. Do a #hashtag search or simple name search on some of the other networks and join the conversation.

A good thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to blanket post across all of your networks. Pick a strategy for each network, and provide a different value for each network. Your audience will be more likely to follow you in different places if your strategy changes!

#6. If you’re using Facebook to make promotional announcements, use traditional media sources as well.

The press release is dead?! We think not!

Each time we have a new feature or resource release we of course let our Facebook fans know about it but we also put out a press release and personally reach out to bloggers and media contacts we’ve built relationships with.

Back in the day we could rely on Facebook to reach enough people to bring enough attention to these sort of announcements, but that’s not the case anymore. Plus, with the latest algorithm changes I would assume that an organic post that says “Try our latest feature!” isn’t going to be liked by Facebook.

When we announced the launch of our Campaign Builder we combined both traditional and non-traditional approaches and it worked perfectly. We were able to attract new people and alert existing users of the exciting news using a variety of platforms including social networks, PR Web, social blogs and our website! Here’s a look at some of our efforts.

Blog Post


Campaign Builder Blog Post

Email 


Campaign Manager Email

Social Posts


Campaign Builder Post


Pinterest Campaign Builder

Landing Page


Campaign Builder Landing Page

Press Release


Campaign Builder Press Release

Media Coverage


Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 3.30.07 PM

 

As you’ve probably put together, the more places in the online universe you talk about what’s happening in your business the more people you’ll reach!

While Facebook remains a valuable communication channel for businesses, this latest announcement further supports the idea that it should not be used as a sales platform, unless you’re willing to pay.

To learn more about Facebook’s latest announcement, read about it on theFacebook Newsroom Blog.

No More Facebook Like-Gating on Facebook

Facebook recently made updates to their API and SDKs, but one of the most impactful changes was buried at the bottom of the announcement:

You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page.

The change went largely unnoticed for the first 24 hours or so. I’ve read responses ranging from “no big deal” to “freak-out mode.” In this post, I’m going to help you understand what this change means and how it will impact you as a Facebook marketer.

What It Means

If you use apps like ShortStack, Heyo, TabSite and many, many more, you may be using a like-gating (also known as “fan-gating”) feature. It works by showing different content to fans and non-fans.

Let’s use a contest for Brand A as an example. To make it work, you need to provide different views whether a user is a fan (“Click to enter!”) or non-fan (“like first to enter!”). When you visit Brand A’s custom app, Facebook will check to see whether or not you are a fan and present the view accordingly.

Well, this is no longer going to work. If you already have an app that is using this functionality, it will continue to like-gate until November 5. After that, the like-gating functionality of the app will stop working.

Like-gating functionality will not work for any new apps created going forward.

Why Facebook Did It

Well, let’s take it straight from Facebook:

To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.

Facebook wants users to like brand pages because they actually “like” them, not because they were promised some freebie or contest entry for doing it.

Ultimately, Facebook says this will improve the experience for both users (they will see content they actually want to see) and advertisers (targeting by interests is more effective).

Why It Makes Sense

Look, I have used like-gating. I constantly run ads to build relevant likes, and one approach I took in the past was offering my free ebook in exchange for a like. I found that to be very effective.

I personally think this approach works. I am giving highly relevant content to people in exchange for a like. If they like that content, they should also like seeing my posts in their News Feed.

Unfortunately, this may be the exception when it comes to like-gating. The majority of brands using like-gating do it in connection to a contest. Many offer prizes (think iPads) that aren’t closely connected to the brand. Or it could be in exchange for coupons or even a contest with a relevant prize.

The main issue with this form of like-gating is that it is not in exchange for content. There is no implied desire to see that brand’s content in their News Feed.

On one hand, like-gating can be compared to website lead magnets where a valuable piece of content is offered in exchange for an email address. In either case, the value of that opt-in may be less than if provided without incentive. But the lead magnet is certainly an effective method of list building.

The difference, though, is that the negative impact of like-gating goes far beyond your number of likes.

Facebook tells us that the average user would see 1,500 stories in a given day. Facebook’s algorithms bring that number down to a more manageable 300. In order for Facebook to be a desirable place for users, the best and most relevant content needs to be surfaced.

Facebook uses many signals to determine what users see. But like-gating confuses those signals. Does a user really want to see content from that brand? It’s not always clear.

This move is aimed at preserving the value of the like. If users are liking pages for the purpose of getting something rather than because they actually want to see the content from that brand, it can harm the user experience. A bad user experience means users spend less time on Facebook.

Less time on Facebook — and fewer users — also negatively impacts advertisers. The implied reason is obvious — advertisers need users to be online to target them.

But preserving the value of the like is extremely important for advertisers as well. If I target users who like Brand B’s page, I do so because I think they have a common interest. But if Brand B built their audience through nothing but contests and giveaways, the value of that targeting is minimized.

That’s why I’ve written before about the “death” of interest targeting. It’s impossible to be 100% confident in the quality of another brand’s fan base. They may have acquired their audience by buying likes, running poorly targeted ads or by constantly running giveaways.

Why It May Be Too Late

This all sounds great, but I can’t help but think Facebook is a few years behind on this change to make much of a difference.

There are well over 1 Billion Facebook users who already like dozens, if not hundreds, of pages. Audiences are well established. Implementing this change will do nothing about the people who were incentivized to like pages in the past.

While this should be a positive change, the increase in quality will be a drop in the bucket. It should hardly be noticeable, particularly for larger pages.

I appreciate the move, and it may actually help the user experience. If a user rarely interacts with a brand, they won’t see that brand’s content anyway. But I doubt it will do much of anything for advertisers.

If I target fans of a particular page, I’m not able to only target “actively engaged” fans. I target all fans, and that will include those who were incentivized to like the page.

But targeting based on activity seems like a pretty darn good idea, doesn’t it??

Likes Still Matter

One common response to this change I’ve read is that it doesn’t matter because you shouldn’t be focused on likes anyway.

I find this to be way off base.

The argument is focused first on the fact that Organic Reach is down for most brands, so the value of a like is diminished. While Organic Reach may be down for some (not all — including me), brands are still reaching a lot of people for free. That remains significant.

Likes still matter.

Additionally, the act of a “like” helps marketers bucket users for more effective targeting. If you build your audience with relevant people, this gives you a highly effective group of people to target when building your email list, driving traffic to your website or selling.

I’ve seen it over and over again: Fans convert at a very high rate. I see this through organic content and with ads. Read this example and this one from my personal experiences.

Now What?

This isn’t the end of the world. Embrace that your fans will be those who care most about your brand. But also accept that it will now be harder to increase those numbers, particularly if you previously thrived with contests and other like-gating.

No matter what the method of increasing your audience, you need to establish a compelling value proposition. Why should someone like your page? The “incentive” may be as simple as providing the most thorough, helpful or entertaining information in your niche.

Don’t panic. Increasing likes still matters. But it may be time to get more creative with your methods.

Additionally, you should still use third party apps to build your email list. So instead of requiring users like your page to get the incentive, you are collecting an email address. This is allowed!

 

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