I typed out my first blog post in 2002 and not long after, hit publish on my first podcast in 2004. Before that, I would spend hours online chatting with strangers from around the globe.
Today, I travel the world speaking and consulting about social good, marketing and creativity.
My first book Content Rules has been translated into fourteen languages and is used in classrooms and offices around the globe. I share this with you, so that you know I'm not just another social media expert/guru/ninja/ rock star who after figuring out Instagram and Snapchat, decided they could make money by selling their 'knowledge' to others.
When I consult, the client's best interests are always first, and any advice I give is from years of experience in the trenches as a content creator across multiple mediums and working on a variety of campaigns for companies of all sizes.
My aim is help you and your organization spend your time and money wisely. The advice that follows is to help you be better with your online efforts.
Yes, you've got great products or services that people would be silly not to pay for, but you are about more than that.
Why did you start your business? Why do you sell what you do?
Consumers need to feel an emotional response in connection to what you create and post online, in both the search AND social settings.
Work with your agency or team to find the heart of your story and then work it into all that you create. Every story is unique and by finding yours, it will help you stand out from your competitors on both search and social.
When it comes to our budgets, we all dream of bigger ones. Even though money is important, I'd argue that your most valuable resource is time. Everyone only has 24 hours a day in which to work, create and do everything else that comes with our busy lives. You can't throw away that time with social efforts that are not going to bring you a return.
Never do something because everyone else is doing it. Remember that bridge our parents always talked to us about jumping off of? You probably don’t need a Pinterest if you are a staffing company. But, you probably DO need a Pinterest if you’re a DIY craft store. Choose your social platforms wisely, otherwise, they’ll rarely be found on search.
Establish a clear social and marketing strategy with measurable goals that you can then develop tactics against. Yes, you should make time to experiment with new tools and opportunities, but never waste your time. By planning out your editorial calendar months ahead of time, you can better protect your resources and use them in the wisest way possible.
Ask anyone who has mastered a skill how they got to that point, and they will tell you through doing it day in and day out.
Companies like Google are heavily investing in monetizing mobile platforms - which is no surprise, given the explosive growth in mobile search. The most important thing to remember is that this area is constantly changing. What's true and effective right at this moment may not be applicable six months from now - as such, mobile marketing strategies must be flexible if they're going to succeed.
If blogging is going to be a big part of your strategy, then start writing. Every other day write a post, and over the course of a few weeks, you’ll find yourself getting more comfortable with it.
Want to understand Instagram? Take an office photo at least once a day. Use the editing tools to give the photos a look you like. At first it will feel awkward and you will question every photo you take, but in no time you’ll be whipping out your phone and taking photos because now you see images to capture and share, rather than having to seek them out. These photos give your audience a personal connection to what your business represents. And don’t forget, you want to be searchable on Instagram. Hashtags are your friends when it comes to optimizing your search strategy.
In the beginning creating content will feel like a chore. The more creating you do the more second nature it’ll become, and you’ll find yourself enjoying it.
It doesn’t matter if it is an informative blog post, a quirky photo or a new product video. Your hope should be to always start a conversation with all you create. The key is that you have to be there when the conversation starts and keep it going.
It is not unheard of for potential customers to ask questions on Instagram to find out where they can buy a product in your photo. And if you begin writing thought leadership pieces on LinkedIn, be prepared for people to challenge your thinking and expect answers.
Please remember one of our Content Rules of “Speak Human.” No one wants to hear your acronyms or fine crafted marketing messages. If they ask a simple question, they expect a simple answer. After all, this is their way of using SOCIAL to SEARCH for their answers. Speak to them as you would if they came into your store or asked you a question at a cocktail party. Just because there is a keyboard between you and them, doesn’t mean you have to act any differently.
There is nothing bad that can come from thanking people for their comments, replying to questions and genuinely talking to anyone who reacts to your content.
In fact, by acting like a human (rather than a brand) you’ll prove to the world that you care about what they have to say. They’ll feel welcomed to keep checking out what you publish because they’ll recognize that you are not just doing it for the Google juice.
A few years ago, all you needed was as many inbound links as possible from any site on the web, all the right keywords on your site and a few other tricks, and you could increase your search engine rankings.
Google, realizing that people were gaming the system and seeing their users quickly becoming unhappy with their search results, changed the game.
The algorithm for how Google decides the order of search results is constantly changing. But, right now they care about several different things including how mobile-friendly your site is, how often new content is published on the site and how many other people are linking to and talking about your content on social media. Your social presence now enhances your Google search results.
Yes, you want to make sure you have relevant keywords in your posts, and your headlines will always be important. But, so many of the tricks that allowed people to put ‘SEO Expert’ on their business cards are behind us.
Your best strategy for showing up on the first page of Google is to create the best content for your topics and keep creating more of it. Don’t forget that Google now shows images and videos in search results, so don’t neglect the visual side of the content coin.
Social media is NOT going away. Every week you can see it evolving and growing beyond what many ever imagined.
Do you know anyone that doesn’t own a smartphone? What about someone that isn’t on any social network? The whole world is getting connected in one form or another, and after they get sick of personality quizzes and the latest BuzzFeed video, they are going to seek out other things.
Customers expect to be able to find, follow and interact with brands not only by using a search engine, but also across social platforms. Over time, this can help you build deep business relationships and trust with them. But, you’ll need to constantly feed the beast and publish new things to continue to grow a social media presence.
Every time you have a new product, special or something that you want your customers to know about, you’ve got to integrate it into your marketing strategy. Social media rarely gives its gold away immediately, and thus you have to always be thinking long-term and ongoing.
Unlike a media campaign where you can pay lots of money to ramp up quickly, today’s marketing world takes time. Unlike that same media campaign that ends as soon as you stop paying money, what you publish today is out there forever. Every blog post, webinar, photo, video and status update lives on for all to find.
So when you are creating social media content, remember – it is also searchable.
Want to be found on both Search and Social?
Follow these basic rules:
- Find your story
2. Establish a clear social and marketing strategy with measurable goals
3. Don’t just post or share something because everyone else is
- The key business objectives/goals should be measured through relevant metrics. Results of an eMarketer survey of 632 marketers revealed the most commonly used metrics for measuring content strategy success were: lead conversions and sales (32%), social shares and “likes” (19%), page views (16%), unique visitors (11%), followers and subscribers (9%), time on site (7%), and other (6%)(eMarketer, 2016).
- Measurement continues to be an area for improvement, as 21% of marketers feel they are successful at tracking ROI (Content Marketing Institute, 2014).
4. Post content that matters to your target audience
- Uniqueness matters. 76% of shoppers felt more positive about a company after consuming custom content (Onboardly, 2015).
5. Spending time creating trumps spending money creating
- More content does not equate to higher traffic. Less than 20% of a website’s content drives more than 90% of traffic. Half of a percent of content drives 50% of traffic (Onboardly, 2015).
- 60-70% of content is never used because the content is not relevant to the target audience (Onboardly, 2015).
7. Use visuals wisely
- Curata surveyed a sample of marketers and found that most content is authored on behalf their own organization (63%), with less being curated (24%) or syndicated (13%) (Curata, 2014)
8. Again, CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT
- Visual display of content is among the most popular tactics among B2B marketers, with 69% using illustrations/photos and 62% using infographics (Content Marketing Institute, 2014).
- 37% increase in user engagement if the content has compelling visuals (Business 2 Community, 2015)
- 40% of users will provide more favorable responses to visual content than text-based content (Business 2 Community, 2015)
9. Social media is not going away – be ready to play the long game
- 91% of companies surveyed by Ragan (2015) use content marketing.
- There will be an estimated 2.29 billion worldwide social media users by 2017 (Statista, 2016).
- 43% of marketers think social media is the most important contributor to marketing success (Gartner, 2014).