Go on, admit it: you do. I do, and I work online all day!
But it seems there’s always more one must do:
- Troll Twitter daily (several times a day) to make sure you don’t miss something great you can re-Tweet.
- Create Facebook ads so that you can drill down and target the perfect niche prospective market.
- Craft the perfect Facebook update for your business’ page.
- Scroll through your page’s feed so that you can reply and/or share great posts from your followers.
- Add at least one fun – and carefully lit – photo on Instagram.
- Scroll through your Pinterest feed to see what to share. Find something Pin-worthy to pin on your own – and make sure it’s something your prospects want to see.
And that doesn’t include possibly creating a YouTube video to share on your social media sites, or a blog post, or a podcast.
Whew! Are you tired just reading and/or thinking about all you must do on social media each and every day? I am.
This, I tell you, is nuts. Plain. And. Simple. NUTS!
What business owner has time for all of this? After all, you’ve a business to run. Prospects to call upon. Services to provide or products to create. Employees to manage. Fires to douse.
Social media management? Just another damn thing on your ever-growing, and never-seems-to-get-done to-do list
Sure, you could have an employee do the social media, but that’s just one more thing on his or her own to-do list!
You could hire a social media manager, but if you’re a small-business owner, do you really have $500, $300 or even “just” $100 a month to spare?
Stop with the too much social media! Just do enough.
What’s enough? How much time spent managing your social media presence is enough?
My friend Diana Mitchell of SimplifiedSocial.com knows and in a few weeks she’ll be launching a program that will teach you exactly what to do – and how much time to spend – building your social media presence so that it actually works for you and builds your business.
She’s going to price her product at about $200. Imagine, you’ll be able to successfully manage your own social media efforts in about just 15 minutes a day (or even every other day) for just $200. No more paying a social media manager. No more spending an hour or more a day yourself and seeing no results.
You’ll save yourself a ton of money and get results from your social media.
I’ll announce here when Diana launches.
Imagine it: minimal but effective social media management tactics. Nirvana!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
But as someone who’s been working as a content writer and marketer since 2008 (the long ago years), I think I’ve something to say – and a bit of wisdom to impart.
So here goes:
When it comes to marketing today, yesterday is….so very yesterday. In fact, things change so quickly that yesterday may be old news even before midnight strikes.
But for right now, content is far more than king, it is emperor. Of the known world.
Pay-per-click (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO), advertising on social media, and so on, are all still viable. Very much so. But without great content, they’ll fail.
So what is content marketing?
Content marketing, which sometimes is referred to as inbound marketing (more on this in a moment), is where a marketer or business owner uses content (blog posts, infographics, white papers, case studies, videos, news releases, podcasts, etc.) to inform and educate – and engage – prospects and clients. It’s a way to get the attention of someone searching for or interested in your product/service to want to learn more about your particular services/products. Once you’ve piqued her interest, you continue to provide great content so that – when she’s ready to buy – she’ll trust your expertise enough to purchase from you (and not one of your ).
Content marketing relates to inbound marketing in that you place this content on various sites – your social media feeds, YouTube, news release distribution – as well as on your website itself, all the while placing a few pertinent keywords in the content (so that the search engine will source it), so that prospects will come to you. That is, click on a link in the content to go to more content or to your site for more information.
In other words, your marketing has prospects coming in to you, rather than you marketing out to them (with newspaper, radio, television, billboard ads, etc.). Thus, the term inbound marketing.
Content marketing is more than just writing blog posts willy nilly. It involves creating a content strategy – a plan that sees you deciding who your best prospects are, what they’re interested in and where they hang out online – and then deciding when to publish your content and where.
Your strategy should have you deciding what actions you want prospects to take. Do you want them to become aware of your services/products? Or are you at the stage where you want them to buy, or are you hoping to create brand loyalty with your current clients?
Always, always, plan your strategy with two very important things in mind: your content must provide useful information and it needs to be engaging, so that it will attract and keep your readers’/viewers’ attention
Content is great, but only if someone can read or view it. So your content plan should include how you will broadcast your content. Will you use your social media feeds, iTunes (for your podcast), YouTube (for your videos)? If providing blog posts, e-books, case studies, white papers on your website, make sure you announce them on your social media and in news releases you distribute, but also make sure they can be downloaded from your website. Visitors will give you their e-mail address in exchange for the free download, thus allowing you to continue to market to them via newsletters in which you provide more valuable content.
Finally, don’t forget to ensure your website is optimized for smartphone and tablet viewing. Google just recently (April 21) changed its algorithm so that sites that aren’t mobile-friendly are penalized in SEO rankings. Conversely, mobile-optimized sites are rewarded with higher search result rankings.
Need help with your content writing? Have no time to blog regularly? Let me help. Seriously. Let. Jean. Do. It.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I feel your pain. After all, it was the novelist and sportswriter Paul Gallico who put it best back in 1946: “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.” (Note: Many people attribute this version of the quote to sportswriter Red Smith, but his was longer. Gallico came up with the succinct quote above.)
But if you’re stuck, if the words just aren’t coming, follow the following three little rules when it comes to writing:
1) Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
2) Tell them.
3) Tell them what you’ve just told them.
This “formula” is particularly helpful when writing articles for distribution, such as how-to articles and the like, but it’s really applicable to just about any type of writing. Or, if not applicable, can get you started quickly. You’ll at least have a great first draft that you can then edit and expand upon. Or not.
For example, in a 500-word article for distribution or blog post, you can write a piece that’s five of 100 words each. Use the first paragraph as an intro (the “tell them what you’re going to tell them”), then write three paragraphs about your topic (the “tell them”). Finish the article with your last paragraph acting as a summary (“tell them what you’ve just told them”).
It’s for the People
Remember to write for humans first and search engines second. After all, search engines may get people to your website, but search engines sure can’t buy your products or services. In fact, writing for readers is even more important since Google changed its algorithm in 2011(and continues to do so) so that good, informative writing is rewarded in search results. (You want to provide what Google calls a “higher-quality site.”)
Short sentences and paragraphs are best.
Don’t be afraid of white space. In fact, embrace the concept of short paragraphs, bullets and boldfaced subheads. The human eye loves white space and, especially on a computer or tablet screen, can metaphorically fall asleep when confronted with a page filled with what looks like a wall of text.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, be sure to write something of real value to your readers. Provide information, tips, advice, facts, and so on. Aim to give your readers something they won’t get anywhere else. True, the old saying that there’s “nothing new under sun” often applies. But that’s no excuse not to offer original, thoughtful and engaging work.
Image courtesy of ponsulak/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
But is inbound marketing just a bunch of hokum?
First some background:
Google has changed the playing field considerably when it comes to getting traffic to your website. It first did so with its massive Panda update to its search algorithm in February 2011 and later with its not-as-huge-but-still-big Penguin update in April 2012. It continues to tweak its algorithm regularly.
No longer can search engine optimization professionals or writers simply focus primarily on specific keywords and placing gobs of those keywords throughout a website. (also known as keyword stuffing).
Instead, what works now is, according to Jill Whalen at HighRankings.com, is “use much more of a variety of words within your content.”
And this is where content/inbound marketing comes in.
What is content marketing? I like the definition offered by the ContentMarketingInstitute.com: when employing content marketing, “instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent.”
The idea behind content marketing is that providing information of use to consumers consistently will result in new and loyal customers.
Content can and does include the text on your website, blog posts, news releases, articles, videos, your social media posts, etc.
Yet inbound marketing when done right can take time before you see meaningful results – often several weeks. What’s more, quality writing doesn’t come cheaply, so an effective content marketing campaign isn’t inexpensive.
The fact that it can take a while to see results also can make inbound marketing come across as something too ephemeral. “Have patience, it takes time,” isn’t solid. A business owner rightly could wonder, “Well, how much time? What kind of quantifiable results can I expect? How much in increased business should I win?”
The Content Marketing Institute again writes in a June 2012 blog post that while paid search marketing (Google, Yahoo and Facebook ads, for example), are the most cost-effective method of online marketing, content marketing “costs 31 percent less than paid search for mid-size organizations and 41 percent less than paid search for large organizations.”
Content/inbound marketing does work. In a nutshell, it’s the kind of online marketing that a company should have been doing from the get-go: providing engaging, useful, information that a consumer can really use to make an intelligent buying decision.
Go forth and market – with content!
If you need help coming up with a great inbound/content marketing plan, or you’d prefer that an experienced content marketer take this important online marketing component off your plate, contact Content Scribes Marketing today.
Image courtesy of ratch0013/FreeDigitalPhotos.net