Monthly Archives - April 2012

Hot Blog Posts

Foolproof Steps to Writing Hot Blog Posts and Other Social Media Content

14 Steps for Writing Effective Blogs

Hot Blog Posts

Do you have a blog? Is it getting the responses and pageviews you wanted? If not, you may be making some common but easily fixed blogging mistakes.

Here are 14 helpful steps for writing effective blog posts:

  1. Be Conversational: It’s called social media for a reason. Eliminate stiff, boring content that lacks personality. The goal is to bring your readers into the conversation. Write in the same tone that you’d use if you were talking face-to-face with your readers. An interactive, personal tone helps generate buzz for your content.
  2. Keep advertisements to a minimum: If you place ads on your blog, keep them separated from the content. Place them in a sidebar or in a banner along the top or bottom of the page. Always make your content the main focus of your blog. And don’t overly promote yourself. Social media users will soon ignore any blog that constantly displays ulterior motives. Make sure you’re adding to your readers’ online experience by being useful and educational.
  3. Use Pictures: Pictures act as a great supplement for your social media content. No matter how great your writing is, few readers want to be greeted with a long block of text when they click on your post. Pictures make your content easier to scan and they add aesthetic value to your post. Plus research shows readers are more likely to read a post that’s accompanied by a picture.
  4. Become a resource: If you want your content to rise to the top of social media sites and to generate inbound links, you need to write pieces that act as a resource. How can you do this? By providing detailed analysis or information that can’t be found anywhere else. Make your blog post a leading resource is by including the tools and links to some hidden gems that others have overlooked. Make your post the place where readers can learn all they need to about a particular subject from.
  5. Be unique: There are now literally thousands of blogs on the Internet and new ones are popping up every day. So, why should I read yours? The best way to stand out from the every growing crowd is to have a unique voice readers can’t find anywhere else. How can you do that? By being your own unique self. Write with a personal voice and be yourself. It’s that simple.
  6. Post frequently: Keeping your readers’ attention is the key to building a loyal following. That’s difficult to do this if you post every few weeks or whenever you get around to it. You probably don’t need to post every day, but post regularly enough to keep your audience’s awareness.
  7. Persevere: Social media marketing requires a long-term commitment. You have to keep writing and posting. Learn from your mistakes and keep tweaking your approach until you hit on a formula that works. It’s a learning experience. Building a successful blog can be a slow process. But with time and perseverance you can achieve something great.
  8. Open things up for conversation: Social media, including blogs, is about creating a dialogue with your readers. Your job as a blogger is to get the conversation started. You do this by expressing a clear opinion on the topics you write about, choosing timely issues, and then asking readers to share their thoughts.
  9. Respond to comments: If a reader leaves a comment he/she expects the writer to respond to it. Knowing the author will respond to comments gives the reader incentive to join the conversation. When your respond, you keep the conversation going and build relationships with your readers.
  10. Add something new to for your readers: Whatever topic you are writing about has probably been covered by someone else. That’s not a problem. But make sure you add a own unique perspective or some info not generally covered to the topic.
  11. Tag and categorize your content: Readers are interested in specific subjects and those subjects are what they want to read about. Categorizing your content makes it easy for readers to find the information they need fast. It’s a simple matter of usability.
  12. Write compelling headlines: A great headline is the first thing readers see of your blog and the foundation of all social media content. If your headline doesn’t grab the readers’ interest, they won’t bother reading the rest of your post.
  13. Link out: Linking out turns your blog into a resource for your readers. When you link out, readers know you’re giving them all the info they need. In addition, linking out captures the attention of other bloggers, helping you build your network.
  14. Optimize your posts for the search engines: If your posts aren’t targeting specific keywords, you’re missing out on long-term search engine traffic. Stick to some SEO basics like keywords in headlines, body content, and back links.

By implementing these 14 steps in your blog posts, you can spread the word and increase your readership.

Content Management Strategy for SEO

Fixing Your Social Media Woes with a Content Strategy

Create Content Strategy for Your Target Audience

content strategy

No business wants to purposely alienate its audience, or to provide useless information by sharing content that their customers don’t want or need. But those are the kinds of mistakes businesses make when they don’t have a real content strategy for their social media.

Businesses just starting out with social media often suffer from one or both of two problems:

  1. They say a lot that has little value
  2. They have no idea what to say

Creating an effective content strategy can help you avoid both of these problems. When you establish a framework for a content strategy it gives you a set approach for your social media opportunities. It reminds you of your identified business goal, making it easier to determine content that your audience will find valuable.

Content strategy for social media is a step-by-step process. It includes the following steps:

• Start by establishing a business goal
• Identify your target audience
• Create the right content
• Measure your results

Let’s further analyze those steps:

Establish a Business Goal

Setting up a social media account isn’t a business goal. Before you can use social media effectively, you have to know what you’d like to achieve. This may take some work and coordination across your entire organization. Issuing directives like “We need a Facebook page!” or “Let’s advertise on LinkedIn!” is not a goal.

But using a Twitter account to reduce response time for customer service queries from days to minutes is; as is using a LinkedIn account to improve your networking or to generate more quality leads.

Identify Your Target Audience

The first step in an effective content strategy is to identify your audience. Know who your content is for and know what social media outlets they are using. Using Twitter for customer service is pointless if your customers don’t use Twitter. If your customers aren’t using Facebook, posting on Facebook is going to prove fruitless and frustrating.

Don’t automatically assume that your organization has a message that your customers want you to share. You’ll probably be disappointed if you do. Find out what information your customers and prospects need. Then meet that need.

Create the Right Content

Everything you say (and everything you don’t say) represents your brand. To stay out of trouble start small. Some ideas:

• Offer a tip of the day, based on customer service questions you’ve recently received.
• You may have other in-house brochures and other materials that you can easily adapt.
• A user training course manual might offer content that would be helpful, if you share it well.
• Maybe customers have told you how they’ve used your product. Their case studies will make other customers’ lives easier.

Make sure that the content you’re sharing isn’t simply self-serving but meets the needs of your audience. Your customers will know immediately if you’re helping them or just pushing product.

Stay ahead of the game. Decide how often you’d like to post on a social network, and get several posts ready, depending on your planned frequency. Then wait and see how your customers respond. They’ll give let you know if you’re doing it right. Just be responsive to their needs.

Measure Your Results

Remember that business goal you set? Were you able to reach it? If you created the right kind of business goal, you should be able to measure the results. Did you decrease your time-to-resolution on customer service queries? Were you able to increase your brand awareness? Have you improved you lead generation or SEO ranking?

The key is to start with a simple strategy and measurable goals. You’ll find that your social content is easier to plan and it’s easier to meet your business goals.

Content is Still What Attracts Visitors and Search Engines

Content Matters

Engage with Content

 

It’s easy for businesses to fall prey to the misconception that websites need to be flashy, colorful and animated to attract and retain visitors. While user interface is important, it pales in importance to the content on your page. Flashy web pages often make your content more difficult to access and read, causing search engine rankings to suffer as a result.

 

Today your business must be fully engaged on all available digital media outlets. Your customer base is more diverse than ever and they like to get their information from a variety of marketing channels and platforms, including websites, blogs, social media, message boards, white papers, and e-books. This makes fresh, unique and relevant content critical. And while this can make your job more difficult, it can also create unprecedented marketing opportunities.

 

Content is what draws in visitors and it’s what keeps them engaged. Fresh, relevant, quality, professionally-written and optimized content is what attracts the attention of the search engines – translating into higher revenues for your business. 

 

Content Checklist

 

  1. Create useful, information rich sites, microposts and posts that clearly add value to the visitor’s experience. The more useful the visitor finds the information. The more likely he/she will pass it on to their friends, followers and connections.
  2. Use text instead of images to display important names, content or links. Search engines can’t read images.
  3. Choose topics which are original, unique and relevant.
  4. Limit page size as much as possible.  If the content must be lengthy to adequately cover a topic, offer a “Table of Contents” and divide the content into user-friendly pages. This makes it easier for the reader and the search engines.
  5. Once you’ve gotten your message across, stop writing. Don’t be verbose just for the sake of increasing the number of your keywords. This will only drive visitors away – not a good thing when you’re trying to build traffic.
  6. Proof-read and spell check; then proof-read and spell check again. Content that is free of typos, grammatical errors and misspelling is a sign to visitors and search engines alike that your content is of research quality.
  7. Make sure the TITLE element for your document is concise and accurate. The page TITLE is used by search engines to display link text as the result of a search.
  8. Ensure that each IMG element includes an ALT attribute.
  9. Provide links to interesting, related content when appropriate, but keep the links on any given page to a reasonable number.
  10. Always reference citations and sources. This indicates to search engines that your content is of research quality.

Spend a little more time and energy into developing fresh, useful, quality content and you’ll get many times the return on your investment.

 

Cause Marketing: Increasing Sales and Profits by Doing Good

Cause Marketing and SalesBusinesses love cause marketing. And what’s not to love? By supporting a good cause, your business gets to help an organization in the community and, in the process, experience stronger sales.

 

Cause marketing is defined as a special relationship between a business and a charity that benefits both. When done right, companies make their customers feel good, get the sale, and promote a worthy cause all at the same time.

 

Developing and executing an effective cause marketing program can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are six tips to make sure your cause marketing program is a success.

 

1. Choose the right cause for you and your customers.

Think of partnerships that are closely connected with your business and aligned to what your consumers and employees care about. What is a hot button issue for you? Does the cause strike a chord with your customers? If young people and their education is a passion for you and your clients feel strongly about it too, giving a corporate gift to support a non-profit’s youth mentoring program shows a commitment to that mission.

2. Do your homework.

The non-profit you support is a reflection of your brand’s reputation. Take a look at several non-profits and causes. Make sure the non-profit you choose has the infrastructure to partner with your business and can handle any increase in donations, inquiries, volunteers and Web traffic without crashing or losing track of funds.

Research their overhead percentages — how much of the money raised actually goes to the people they serve — and the credibility of executive and board members.

It’s also important to make sure their track record is above-board. Nothing can damage your brand more than launching a campaign that turns out to be a scam.

3. Start small and set reasonable, measurable goals.

Keep it simple. If you are a small business, stay away from the huge non-profits. Instead, find a local organization you can get excited about. Choose one or two measurable objectives in the first year. At year’s end, evaluate your progress.

4. Promote your partnership and campaign.

One of the most common mistakes is not spending enough time, money, and energy on promotion. Successful partnerships require a commitment to getting the word out. Cross-promote your campaign with reciprocal website links, blog posts and articles in each other’s newsletters. Your website and blog are great places to promote the partnership. But don’t indiscriminately ask for donations. Cause marketing campaigns are like every other kind of marketing: provide value and you’ll build credibility.

5. Involve your employees.

Your entire team needs to be on board with any cause marketing campaign. Find out the issues that are important to them. Then get them engaged and motivated once you’ve picked a cause. Consider giving employees paid “volunteer” time. For example, allow them an hour each week to volunteer at local charities or with your company’s non-profit partner. Remember, once you’ve made a partnership, the cause is part of your business strategy.

6. If it goes wrong.

Sometimes partnerships don’t work out. If a partnership falls apart, take responsibility and be honest and transparent with customers about what went wrong. If you find out your non-profit partner isn’t performing like they promised, tell your clients. Then vow to find a way to keep supporting the cause. Honesty and transparency is the best and only policy to follow.

 

Cause marketing can be susceptible to an ingrained preconceived notion that brands will use non-profits to get more cash and profits. But when done properly, your partnership can make a real difference.

Improve Your SEO Rankings – Claim Your Free Local Business Listings

Increase and Improve SEO ranking

Nearly every major search engine and internet yellow pages (IYP) offer a free method that allows your company to claim and manage your local business listing data. This includes the Big 3: Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Take advantage of this tool by claiming, optimizing and managing your local business Listings on the local search engines and major IYP’s.

 

In the quest for improved search engine ranking, it’s always in your best interest to manage your local business listing information yourself. Your local business listing data includes such information as category types, business hours and local content; all in an effort to provide maximum relevance to the consumer experience. To effectively update your business data:

 

  1. Claim each local business listing. Add all relevant categories that describe your business offerings that can be easily found when users search for your business’s product or services.
  2. Add operating hours, types of payments accepted and all other business specific information.
  3. Include logos, local store images, coupons and any additional local business content that enhances your listing and delivers more relevant content to your user.
  4. Edit any location specific links that will deliver the user (in one click) directly to any individual store’s local landing pages.