7 Winning Blog Promotion Tips from The Social Media Hat’s Mike Allton

bullhorn_by_lemasneyIf you’re not already familiar with Mike Allton, there’s no better time to get to know him.

Mike is the CMO for SiteSell and lead “Content Marketing Practitioner” at The Social Media Hat, which only last week was voted one of the top ten social media blogs to follow in 2016 by Social Media Examiner.

For our part, we featured his article on blog promotion in the second of our series about conversions-driving content. In fact, so impressed we were with Mike’s guide – and The Social Media Hat blog – that we asked him if he’d agree to share his expertise with us.

Here, Mike offers his insights into strategies and platforms for promoting your blog, as well as for building your business with blog content.

Enjoy!

Before we delve into questions about blog promotion, would you briefly share with us why you refer to yourself as a “Content Marketing Practitioner”?

Sure! While many businesses will use content marketing as an approach to reach and educate their audience, I don’t just use content marketing. I teach it. Experiment with it. Study new tools and techniques. Therefore, I’ve come to refer to myself as a practitioner, someone who is constantly learning and evolving in the study and use of content marketing, and sharing the results with my audience.

That evolution in my thinking has been mirrored in my writing, as I’ve worked to provide more and more detailed articles that reflect my own experiments and findings.

Your relatively recent article on blog promotion describes your most thorough social media sharing process. What would you recommend as an absolute minimum, core promotion strategy?

That’s a great question. At a minimum, every business needs to have at least one social profile and an invitation for site visitors to subscribe to their email list, so that new content can be promoted to at least one social platform and email list. And of course on the content itself, visitors should be able to easily share it to whichever platforms and networks they’re active on, regardless of which network the business selects.

So you begin to drive traffic to your site through a social channel and email marketing, and you allow your readers and prospects to share to other networks, increasing your content’s reach.

Of all the social media platforms you leverage for blog promotion, you clearly favor Google+.  Could you share with us why you prefer it to the other main social networks?

First, let me say that my preference is a personal one. While there are reasons why I enjoy Google+ so much, that’s not to say that other businesses can’t find equal or greater success on different platforms. That truly depends on the business and target audience.

For myself, I found Google+ to be a refreshing place to connect with and engage with my peers. That’s not just lip service. It’s been truly amazing to grow relationships with fantastic people who have helped me and my business tremendously.

Based purely on referral traffic, Twitter is currently my top social platform, yet Google+ remains my favorite, and where I spend the most quality time. That further illustrates to me how important it is for businesses to have a presence on multiple networks, and to develop an understanding how each platform fits into their overall marketing and business plan.

Besides Google+, you’re also a strong proponent of Twitter. How effective is Twitter for blog promotion, relative to the other main social media platforms? 

Twitter is one of the best platforms for blog promotion overall, at least in my own niche and experience. There are far more tools available to help with sharing and resharing, connecting with your targeted audience, and analyzing the success of your efforts.

That said, it’s all about your audience. If you’re targeting a demographic largely comprised of work-at-home moms, you’ll likely find that Pinterest is your best choice, followed by Facebook. Every blogger and business must do their own research and analysis to determine where their audience is active and approachable, and then develop ways to become organically part of their conversations.

There’s been a lot of discussion around Twitter expanding its character count. What do you think about it? Do you subscribe to the argument that it may “ruin” the platform?

Nope. I generally have a more open view when it comes to platform changes and development. Facebook’s newsfeed changes. Google+ going back into beta. Twitter expanding character counts… other than the occasional brief annoyance at losing a feature I found personally valuable (i.e. Google+ Ripples), I recognize the fact that platforms need to change and develop for a variety of user and business reasons. Those reasons sometimes won’t be immediately understood or universally accepted.

But with rare exception, I find it extremely unlikely that any modification to an existing platform could ruin it. A platform used by hundreds of millions of people around the world every month doesn’t fall out of favor overnight. It takes time and generally a series of poor decisions.

What are your thoughts about syndicating content on LinkedIn to increase its reach? 

Personally, I think it’s a great idea, but tend to avoid actual syndication too often. I prefer to push visitors to my original content on my own website, and instead like to use those platforms for original content.

However, as with everything else in digital marketing, opinions can and should easily change with exceptional testing and analysis. This topic, specifically, is one I plan to test this year. However, measurement of success is going to be elusive. As Mark Schaefer has pointed out, it’s next to impossible to measure how much visibility your content gets when it’s published on external properties.

You mention that you use Pinterest (even though your content, as a rule, is primarily text-based). Does it drive significant traffic to your blog?

Pinterest is great for bloggers. And the more niche and specific you can get with your content, the better platforms like Pinterest may prove to be for you.

And while I don’t create a lot of image content, I do make sure that I have at least one branded, feature image for each and every blog post. And for those articles that are more important to me (for any number of reasons), I’ll take the time to create an image specifically for Pinterest (900 x 1100). I’ve added a custom, hidden field to my new blog post form so that I can upload a Pinterest image that the share buttons will see so that anyone can pin it.

What would you say is the more effective blog promotion strategy overall: email or social media?

Email.

Social media is outstanding for creating and developing relationships, and it’s a necessary step toward moving interested people into your email marketing.

But let’s do some basic math here:

Let’s say you’re a small business who has been working on their marketing for 6 months. You’ve created a nice lead generation resource to collect email addresses, which you’ve shared to social media and other distribution channels routinely. With all of the other content you’ve created and your marketing efforts, you’ve built up 1,000 Facebook Page fans and 1,000 email list subscribers.

The average open rate for email marketing is about 18%, with an average click rate of 1.8%, which means that out of 1,000 email subscribers, 180 will likely open the email and 18 will click through to your latest blog post.

Share the same blog post to your Facebook Page and your post will see the typical “Organic Reach” on Facebook which is about 2%. Click rates vary from 0.22% to 2% depending on the page and audience. But no matter how you slice it, it’s likely that a mere 20 of your fans will see that post, and probably half of them will click through.

Facebook is brilliant for reaching a targeted audience in a number of ways, not the least of which is paid advertising, which is the most cost effective in the world. But for promoting a blog post, email is clearly more effective.

What are the top strategies you’d recommend for building a business using blog content?

You’ll read dozens and dozens of different ideas on how to use and promote blog posts to build and promote a business. But there are two things in particular that you can do that are far more effective than anything else.

First, you have to create long-form content. That means really long blog posts… at least 1,500 words, and preferably more than 2,500. Sound like a lot? It is, but don’t let that scare you. You don’t have to write that much every week. In fact, most successful businesses will create one of these posts, what I call a “Pillar Post”,  per quarter on average.

The pillar post isn’t just long, of course, that’s just a byproduct. It’s long because it extensively and exhaustively covers a topic of particular relevance to the business, and of interest to the target audience. It has to be something that thoroughly answers a question, yet is positioned so that it’s likely readers will want more information or assistance even after they’ve read it all.

These kinds of extensive posts get exponentially more shares than shorter posts, and that helps drive traffic which increases the already high ranking factor, bringing even more organic search traffic. Those visitors are just as compelled to share the post, thus continuing to feed the process.

The post should, of course, have a strong call to action for readers to proceed to the next logical step (call you, read about your services, another article, whatever).

But here’s where the second top strategy kicks in.

With a post like this, let’s assume it’s 5,000 words about how to do something integral to your niche. That’s a long post, and would make for a great PDF download. You can put the entire article on your site, and then let interested readers grab a PDF copy for reference. Better yet, come up with a supplemental resource, like a checklist, that boils the topic down into a one-pager and make that available.

To get the digital download, they just complete an email subscribe form on your article and you set it up to auto respond with a link to download. They’re then part of your email marketing (which is an entire topic for discussion another day… how to leverage email automation to create a series of emails, regular newsletters, and more, to lead prospects down a sales funnel).

There are many other tactics and strategies for building and using blog content, and a lot can stem out of these two. So start there!

Connect with Mike on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+

Image thanks: ID 160597642 © lemasney / deviantart.com

 

 

The Digital Marketer’s Guide to Content Promotion

Content Promotion ResourcesLast month, we shared a series of posts on how to create conversions-driving content. We started with proven copywriting formulas and how-tos on writing clickable headlines and email subject lines and ended with what Google can teach us about copywriting.

In the second article, we shared expert strategies for creating powerful landing pages and engaging content, and touched on content promotion. But since content promotion is now so critical for content marketing success, we thought we’d expand on the subject.

So here are the most authoritative and relevant articles, in-depth guides and specific how-tos on content promotion we could find…this time around!

Content Promotion Tips & Best Practices

The All-in-One Content Marketing Playbook for Startups

By Melani Dizon via Copy Hackers

In this intensive content marketing playbook of “seven repeatable, proven steps”, Melani Dizon begins with content creation and ends with content repurposing. Each of the individual steps is detailed, incorporating specific examples and linking out to expert sources.

Step five, “Promote More Than Seems Reasonable”, involves its own three-step process, conveniently laid out for you in a downloadable spreadsheet at the end of the guide.

Dizon recommends first reading through the entire playbook to get a feel for “the big picture” and then return to each step as needed. You’ll want to keep this gem for reference!

How to Promote Your Content Across Owned, Earned, and Paid Media

By Matthew Gratt via Convince & Convert

BuzzStream’s Matthew Gratt emphasizes that before even creating content, you need to determine how you’ll promote it across owned, earned and paid channels. He writes that all three channels should be integrated and fused into your overarching content marketing strategy if it is to be effective.

Gratt delves into precisely what owned, earned and paid media are, and shares specific techniques and platforms for leveraging each.

He notes that of the three, earned media is the most important (and the most difficult to acquire), as it lends credibility to your content and extends its reach through third-party amplification. This provides a smart framework to consult when formulating your content marketing strategy.

Content Promotion: The Difference Between Brands with Fans & Anonymous Content

By Larry Kim via WordStream

Like Matthew Gratt (above), Larry Kim writes that planning for content promotion should come before you even start creating it. He describes WordStream’s content marketing process, which starts with where they’d like media coverage then creating content tailored to its preferences using the appropriate angle.

Kim then outlines the content promotion and distribution strategies they employ, including pitching influencers, creating visual assets, leveraging social media, remarketing, repurposing and syndication. If you’re trying to build your brand, you’ll want to pay attention to this mini case study of how WordStream built theirs.

8 Nonobvious Tips to Promote Content

By Arnie Kuenn via Content Marketing Institute

Noting that most digital marketers are familiar with promotion strategies such as sharing content on social media networks, Arnie Kuenn discusses eight less obvious content promotion and distribution tools and platforms.

First up is live-streaming video content to users’ Twitter feeds with Meerkat or Periscope, allowing for real-time content distribution and engagement. He recommends Flipboard for creating industry- or location-specific digital magazines, writing the platform provides a superior user experience for desktop, mobile and tablet users.

Alternative tools include BuzzStream for discovering influencers and their contact information and BuzzSumo for its vast database and unparalleled analytical insights. Finally, Kuenn suggests distributing content to communities and blog aggregators like Triberr, Blog Engage and Alltop.

17 Advanced Methods for Promoting Your New Piece of Content

By Aaron Agius via Kissmetrics

Aaron Agius writes that while the advanced promotion methods he describes here are routinely employed by the most successful big brands, they’re available and doable for all content creators.

From asking relevant influencers for a “killer quote” for your article to sharing content with communities to paying for promotion services such as (the relatively inexpensive) Outbrain, these strategies are proven to be effective for those who know how to use them properly. To that end, Agius shares tips, recommended tools and links to resources so you can promote your new content like the big boys.

Need to Crush Content Promotion? Love Your Dealers

By Ian Lurie via Portent

Ian Lurie recommends leveraging the networks of content distributors (“dealers”) for your promotion needs, writing “the best dealers are sites that grow through curation of material related to them”. Specifically, he lists content sharing networks, new and growing toolsets, and industry-specific, user-generated content sites and publications.

Lurie considers content sharing networks such as SlideShare and Medium the premium dealers, as they need your fantastic content as much as you need their distribution. They have a respectable “audience oomph” factor and are “very deliberate about promoting the best stuff.”

Throughout, Lurie provides specific dealer features and benefits, as well as tips for using them effectively. This one’s definitely a keeper!

The Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience

By Neil Patel & Aaron Agius via Quick Sprout

This exhaustive guide on blog marketing by Neil Patel and Aaron Agius is divided into 10 chapters, covering all that goes into building blog traffic. It’s specifically designed for readers who are already well versed in how to create content but want to build their brand status and ultimately, generate sales.

Beginning with the basics of building a community and an email list in the first chapter, Patel and Agius go on to more advanced strategies such as SEO, paid search and social ads, content syndication and influencer outreach. If you’re looking to catapult your brand and blog to the next level, then you should find this a valuable resource.

Social Media Platforms, Strategies & Tools for Content Promotion

5 Gospels to Follow on Social Media That are Strategic, Systematic, and Smart

By Jodi Harris via Content Marketing Institute

This article is a useful starting point for thinking about content promotion through social media sharing, providing a savvy lens through which to view and assess your social media strategy. Here, Jodi Harris presents Content Marketing Institute’s Jonathan Crossfield’s acerbic take on using social media via five “gospels”.

When promoting content on social media, he advises caution and details seven guidelines to follow that range from tailoring your message to the medium to adding quality images and the right hashtags. A great resource when mapping out your social media strategy!

Social Media Campaign Planning Guide – The Rocket Formula

By Ian Cleary via RazorSocial

In sharing RazorSocial’s “rocket formula”, Ian Cleary identifies planning as the critical factor in making or breaking a social media campaign. He details nine steps, each with their own component steps, in this extensive guide.

Cleary begins with pre-campaign planning such as selecting the appropriate social platforms, then walks you through the entire process, ending with documenting the results.

He suggests tools to help you with each step and thoroughly explains how to use them. A most helpful guide for content marketers, no matter the size of their budget.

Slideshare Traffic Case Study: From 0 to 243,000 Views in 30 Days

By Ana Hoffman via Traffic Generation Café

Ana Hoffman shares some truly impressive numbers documenting her astonishing success with Slideshare, not the least of which is that the LinkedIn-owned platform is her second largest source of referral traffic.

She details just how she did it, beginning with a five-step process for creating a Slideshare deck. Hoffman then shares seven highly specific tips to fully leverage your presentation, such as optimizing for search and including a call to action.

Finally, she discusses four ways to drive traffic from Slideshare, from being featured in one of its homepage sections to getting it embedded on other sites. An excellent resource you’ll want to bookmark!

13 Instagram Marketing Tips From the Experts

By Cindy King via Social Media Examiner

In her post for Social Media Examiner, the late Cindy King shared Instagram marketing tips and recommended tools from 13 social media experts. Their responses range from the relatively technical (shooting square photos) and analytical (using a custom link shortener to track traffic) to the practical (editorial calendar) and promotional.

Among the promotional tips are partnering with Instagram influencers to expand brand awareness and follower reach, leveraging sponsored ads and taking advantage of trending topics.

Other promotional tips involve strategically using your bio link, whereby you can direct users to a landing page or your most recent content. All of the tips shared are worth investigating!

Your Turn

Hope you find these resources helpful in reaching your content promotion goals! If you know of an actionable guide or article — and yes, that includes your own! — please share it with us in the comments below. Thanks!

Photo thanks: ID 945449 by Unsplash / Pixabay.com

 

 

 

LinkedIn Publishing: Leverage the Power of the Pulse

Pulse LogoYou’ve likely read about publishing on LinkedIn Pulse and perhaps wondered why would you want to write a piece of content to share with your connections.

Maybe you think you’re “just a writer” or business owner, or you simply “don’t do social media.”

But truth be told, LinkedIn Pulse is one of the best sources of authoritative content on the web available and offers a free publishing and distribution platform to assist you with your digital marketing.

As a highly visible media channel, it also offers a way to showcase your professional expertise beyond your LinkedIn profile or company page.

Publishing solid content on Pulse can help you with branding, conversions or even landing your next client.

I Already Have a Blog: Why Should I Publish on Pulse?

Think of Pulse as a platform for you to extend the reach of your blog content. By syndicating your blog content on Pulse, you can increase its visibility far beyond what you could realistically attain with your own on-site blog.

Your on-site blog is a valuable content asset, focusing on a niche topic of your choice that satisfies your readers. And while some of your audience may be fiercely loyal readers, they may not follow you on every social platform.

By broadening or adding a twist to your blog post and syndicating it on Pulse, you can expose both your blog and your brand to a different and larger audience. This translates into a great opportunity to grow your readership!

Get Discovered via Search: Both On & Off LinkedIn

Those of us who are passionate about creating content may not be so passionate about promoting it (myself included). That is where LinkedIn’s Pulse can help. You will spend most of your time composing your content rather than promoting it.

Simply by taking the time to share your content on the Pulse platform, you’ve instantly shared it with your connections. What’s more, you can – and should — tag your posts with keywords. That way anyone with a LinkedIn account doing a search for topics they are interested in may well surface your content.

In addition to users discovering your content with the platform’s search feature, Pulse will suggest content to them based on their industry, influencers and LinkedIn activity.

If all these perks are not enough to get you excited about publishing on Pulse, then I have one more tasty tidbit for you…search engines! Yes, you read that correctly. Like any other content on the web, the content you publish on Pulse will be crawled and indexed by Google, Bing, Yahoo! and many other search engines.

The takeaway here is to keep on creating quality, optimized content and the (search) results will fall into place!

Pulse Analytics: Every Number Tells a Story

Who doesn’t like a good story? This is why analytics data are important. When you post your content on LinkedIn’s Pulse platform you have access to instant stats. These stats date back to a year from when you first published your post, and help you make informed decisions moving forward.

For instance, you may find one of your posts did not perform very well. You can choose to do additional research on the subject to deepen or otherwise tweak the post, or simply let it go and scratch the topic from your editorial calendar altogether.

Besides offering the standard social media stats of likes, shares and number of views, LinkedIn goes a step further and breaks down the data so you can see your viewers by location, industry, job title and traffic sources in terms of percentages. This is some powerful information!

After a few good quality posts you will begin to get an idea of what type of audience is reading your material. Below is a snapshot of data from one of my posts about whether you should consider getting an MBA, a topic that can appeal to almost anyone regardless of their industry.

What I found is the e-Commerce Specialist job title and travel industry were amongst my biggest percentages. Knowing this, I can plan my next post to be related to hospitality and digital marketing.

reader_demographics

The takeaway here is although I specialize in the area of (digital) hospitality, I chose to write about an “off” subject. This is perfectly okay to do!

As a bonus, your article may inspire some readers outside of your industry vertical to connect with you (I picked up three connections from my MBA post). Have fun with the numbers and set goals for them. Broaden your reach and enjoy watching the story unfold!

FAQ: What Should I Write About? For How Long? And When?

Settling on a topic can be one of the toughest things about writing. From my perspective, you should write about things that you are care deeply about. You may need to experiment with a variety of topics before determining which ones work best for you.

The goal for my writing is to be seen as an expert within my field. Ask yourself what your goals are prior to choosing a topic. Defining your goals will assist in finding your topical focus and in tailoring your content to your target audience. At the end of the day, you need to give your intended readers what they are searching for.

As for length, longer is better! LinkedIn readers favor long-form content with an average of 1,900 – 2,000 words according to a 2014 study of the 3,000 most successful LinkedIn posts by Paul Shapiro and Noah Kagan.wordcountShapiro and Kagan’s findings are supported by Buzzsumo’s 2015 research, which found long-form content overall consistently outperformed shorter posts in terms of links and shares.

In terms of views, Shapiro and Kagan’s study found Thursday to be the best day for posting. In terms of shares, Buzzsumo’s analysis found Tuesday to be the best day for LinkedIn publishing. It would be a good suggestion to run your own tests and see which publishing days perform best.

How to Publish on Pulse: Easy as 1-2-3

Now we’ve covered the many reasons why you should post content on LinkedIn’s Pulse, here are the few simple steps it takes:

  1. Navigate to LinkedIn.com and sign into your account
  2. Click on “Publish a Post” just below the quick stats section near the top
  3. Begin using the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor to write your post, including adding media, formatting and category tagging.

I would strongly recommend writing your initial post in Word to avoid loss of content if something were to crash. Again, all of your formatting will be done on LinkedIn. Save often! Remember, you can always make changes after you publish.

LinkedIn Pulse is one of the best social channels through which we can connect with one another, discover new content and allow others to discover ours. Some users are looking for career opportunities, some are seeking to generate business leads, and some are trying to build their brand. Whatever your reason, don’t delay any longer: start sharing your content with the world!

Connect with Brandon on LinkedIn and Google+

Photo thanks: Wikimedia Commons © Alexander Hampson / Wikimedia.org

Expert Copywriting Strategies for Crazy Conversions

Expert Content ResourcesLast week, we shared several evergreen resources for creating conversions-driving content that featured copywriting formulas and how-tos for crafting compelling headlines and email subject lines.

Today, we follow up with expert strategies, tips and tools for writing persuasive web copy, including home and landing pages, as well as engaging, shareable blogs and articles. We also share some great resources for content promotion.

Writing Powerful & Persuasive Website Copy

How to Create Landing Pages That Convert

By Kiera Abbamonte via Kissmetrics

Describing how a manufacturing company increased their conversion rate by a whopping 1250 percent, Kiera Abbamonte credits their landing page redesign.

Specifically, she writes, the company switched out a crowded, confusing web page for a landing page that adhered to “four basic tenets”: doing one thing really well by giving visitors only one option; using visual elements to guide viewers’ eyes to the call-to-action; being reasonable about the amount of information requested of visitors; and finally, focusing on the benefits customers will receive.

Abbamonte lists what should and should not be included on a landing page, as well as a number of best practices. She then offers examples of what successful landing pages look like. Definitely a keeper!

A Practical Marketers Guide to Writing for Conversion

By Joanna Wiebe via Unbounce

If you want to write great copy, swipe it from your visitors, customers and prospects…” writes Joanna Wiebe. The more your website’s home and landing page messages reflect what your customers are thinking, feeling and experiencing when they come to your site, she continues, the more they’ll trust you, believe you’ve created the solution to their problems and buy from you.

Wiebe replicates the five questions she asks when conducting a customer survey, and details how she uses responses to write high-converting landing page copy for her clients. Readers are encouraged to download her free template and follow the four-step process she outlines. It’s an ingenious system that has clearly worked well for Wiebe, right at your fingertips.

8 Ways Your Home Page Is Like A Multiple Choice Test

By Brian Massey via Marketing Land

Your site’s home page should follow the form but not the function of a multiple-choice test, writes Brian Massey (a.k.a., The Conversion Scientist™). Rather than challenge your visitors to select the right choice, your home page should “get the visitor into the site and on the right path – not distract or confuse”. Its job is to answer the question: “why did your visit our website today?”

The “right” answers you provide (with links to your site’s internal pages) are the ones that makes sense, Massey continues, while all other answers (notably, social media links) are distractors. Other multiple-choice test principles that you can apply to optimize your home page include writing the “correct” answer first and providing three to five answer choices (i.e., internal links) for your site visitors. You’ll want to keep this gem handy for reference!

11 Copywriting Tips: How to Turn Marketing Drivel into Serious Sales Copy

By Henneke Duistermaat via Enchanting Marketing

Marketing drivel has its tells, mostly in sounding insincere and sleazy, writes Henneke Duistermaat. She challenges copywriters to eliminate the fluff from their sales content by implementing 11 tips that include using specific numbers, slicing out superlatives and eliminating unnecessary adjectives. Before you hit publish, edit your copy at least once more with Duistermaat’s tips fresh in your mind.

Creating & Promoting Content for a Conversions-Driving Strategy

Generating blog posts or long-form articles is an integral part of most any content marketing strategy, both for B2B and B2C companies. So how do you create content that is “engaging” and “shareable”? And how do you go about promoting it?

Here are eight strategies, tools and other resources for everything from content ideation to promotion:

Content Ideation & Creation: Inspiration & Instruction

Staring at a blank screen while staring down a deadline? Don’t stress out… Here are tips and tools for coming up with ideas, as well as for the nitty-gritty of creating great content.

8 Blog Topic Generators for Blog Post Idea Inspiration

By Megan Marrs via WordStream

In this candid review of content idea generators, Megan Marrs assesses those by familiar sources such as HubSpot and Portent as well as those with names like Link Bait Generator and Content Strategy Helper. She provides examples and tips for when and how you might use each, but concludes they are more the same than different. Try them out to see which best suit your needs!

6 Tools to Help Turn Trends Into Valuable Content

By Ann Smarty via Content Marketing Institute

If you’re looking for timely, newsworthy content ideas, Ann Smarty suggests sources that include Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Trends.

To best leverage each platform, she recommends tools such as IFTTT (If-This-Then-That) recipes for email notifications on relevant Reddit updates, DrumUp for crawling the more traditional social media sites, and WordPress RSS aggregator to combine your favorite content sources into one feed. Smarty provides helpful details about how to best use each tool; you’ll definitely want to investigate them firsthand.

The Single Best Way to Create Hit Content in Record Time

By Demian Farnworth via Copyblogger

Demian Farnworth points out that the most readily available source of excellent content is the high-performing evergreen posts you’ve already created.

He writes that republishing – meaning, updating and polishing an old article for publishing on a new date — is a strategy that reaps several benefits. The five he lists include attracting more links and social shares by exposing old content to a new, larger audience, and punching “Google’s freshness button”.

Farnworth illustrates how to republish in WordPress with screenshots, and shares a checklist of what you should do to breathe new life into your old content. A handy guide to keep around!

How To Go Viral: Lessons From The Most Shared Content of 2015

By Steve Rayson via Buzzsumo

Reporting on Buzzsumo’s analysis of over 1 billion pieces of content published in 2015, Steve Rayson writes that like the previous year, viral posts remain “insightful outliers” and there is “no magic formula”.

However, their analysis (of mostly B2C posts) did reveal four “different elements” frequently found in viral content that may help in creating more engaging and shareable posts. The elements fall under emotional, topical, formatting and content categories. For example, topical elements included health and fitness, emotional elements “surprising” and “shocking”, content elements images and video, etc.

Rayson suggests using combinations of these elements in both content and headlines, and underscores the importance of a composing (and testing) a compelling headline. He further notes that their research indicates that it’s not only the content per se, but its amplification that are key to significant sharing. (For Rayson’s report on the best performing B2B content of 2015, see this related article.)

60 Steps for Your Content Writing Checklist

By Leslie Vos via Convince & Convert

Admittedly, 60 steps to anything seems a bit much until you realize that the author, Leslie Vos, organizes the checklist into three categories. She begins with topic ideation and ends with “content support”, such as responding to reader comments.

In the center “prelaunch” stage, she discusses the heart of the matter for creating your content. Starting with headlines, Vos covers media files (such as images) and copyright, on-page optimization and links, mobile-friendliness, as well as overall content structure.

Her checklist is sprinkled with links to authoritative sources for more information, and definitely worthy of bookmarking for reference.

Content Promotion: Tools & Strategies

As you’ve likely heard more times than you care to remember, it is no longer enough to simply create stellar content. Now, for it to reach your target readers, you have to promote it. The common stat quoted in content marketing discussions is the 80/20 rule: for any given blog post or article, you should spend 20 percent of your time creating it, and the remaining 80 percent promoting it.

Here are tools and strategies to help with content promotion:

Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion

By Mike Allton via The Social Media Hat

Get ready to get educated: Mike Allton’s mega how-to is a thorough schooling in all you need to know about promoting your blog, beginning with “prerequisites” such as social sharing icons, RSS feeds, Rich Pins and Twitter Cards – as well as a discussion of actual blog content.

Allton offers a detailed description of his blog promotion process, complete with the social sharing tools he employs and how he uses them. He discusses alternative social platforms like Blab and Periscope, and promotion techniques such as teasing out an upcoming post on social media and (delicately) notifying Twitter followers about a new post with direct messaging.

Allton also covers paid promotion options and influencer marketing, as well as repurposing and syndicating blog posts. His tutorial is full of links and helpful tips – a rich resource for your how-to library.

Infographic: The Optimal Length for Every Social Media Update and More

By Kevan Lee via Buffer Social

This infographic post by Kevan Lee is accompanied by data-backed text discussing the ideal length of social media updates and the reasoning behind the numbers.

The “more” from the post’s title encompasses most all of the online content you can think of, with optimal word counts for blog posts, headlines, email subject lines, hastags, domain names, SEO title tags and paragraphs (width-wise).

The ambitious post also delves into the ideal length of podcasts, YouTube videos, SlideShare and speaking presentations, and concludes with the ideal image size for Pinterest posts. Yet another great resource to bookmark!

Want More Effective Content Promotion? Choose From These 15 Tools

By Neil Patel via Quick Sprout

Noting that promoting content often consumes more time than creating it, Neil Patel shares 15 tools to help writers “achieve efficiency” in their efforts, as well as better, more consistent results.

The tools he details fall under email, social media, and SEO (linking). They are designed to boost conversions and/or give you analytical insights into relevant data while sparing you from repetitive, mind-numbing tasks.

The six email tools he discusses will help with either improving open rates, saving you time, or increasing conversions (meaning, from views to reads and responses). Patel also shares five social media tools to minimize that time suck, including a nifty image sharer plugin by SumoMe.

Finally, he discusses tools for acquiring more links to your content, four of which are from Citation Labs. Patel describes how to use the tools for checking broken links, link prospecting, and scaling link building via accessing a link database.

All of the content promotion tools he reviews have their own merits, and he notes which ones carry a price tag. You’ll definitely want to explore them and see which ones might work best for your needs.

Your Turn

And that’s a wrap of our review of copywriting resources. As with Part 1, there were a plethora of sources to sift through so if we missed one…or 5…that you’d like to share, please do so in the comments. Thank you!

Photo thanks: ID 4815205632 © Drew Coffman / Flickr.com

10 B2B SEO Copywriting Tips for 2016

Is 2016 the year you take your B2B content writing campaign to the next level?Need some SEO writing tips for your B2B company?

If your answer is, “I don’t have time to take it to the next level. I’m barely holding on as it is,” consider these statistics:

94 percent of B2B companies research online for purchase decisions, according to the Acquity Group. Plus, according to the Corporate Executive Board,

  • 57 percent of the buying journal is digital.
  • 82 percent of companies reviewed at least five pages of site content from the winning vendor.

Upping your B2B SEO copywriting game can provide your business with an incredible ROI. Unfortunately, many companies are still trying to get their SEO content act in gear. These companies may have worked with multiple SEO consultants, all with their own process, best practice tips (many of which are outdated) and tactics. Or, the company tried to DIY without a set plan.

The result is typically a mishmash of old, keyphrase-stuffed pages, writers who are barely keeping up and a patchwork strategy.

This isn’t good.

If this sounds like your company, here are 10 B2B SEO copywriting tips for 2016 that will take your site to the next level.

Create (or revise) your buyer persona

Creating a solid buyer persona should be your first SEO copywriting step. Unfortunately, it’s a step many companies decide to “get to later” — or they may have no idea how to create one. In fact, a study by Tony Zambito found that 60% of respondents, “had no to very little understanding of buyer persona best practices.”

If you haven’t created your buyer persona, do it now. If it’s been awhile (say, over a year) since you checked our your buyer persona document, revise it. Don’t forget to share your new or revised buyer persona with everyone involved in the content generation process (which, yes, may mean sharing with other teams or different departments.) The more everyone is on the same page, the more consistent the brand voice will be.

Understand the core content issues

So, why aren’t you positioning for your main keyphrases? Is it because your content sounds like every other vendor? Is it because your team hasn’t mastered keyphrase research (more on that below.) Or does your company have unrealistic expectations (no, you’re not going to get a #1 position for the keyword SaaS no matter how hard you try.)

Yes, this is a back-to-basics step — but one that’s extremely important. I challenge your B2B company to run an SEO content audit before writing another word. Stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW and run one. If you don’t have time, find a consultant to help. The insights you’ll learn will help you develop a smart, data-driven SEO content process.

It makes sense to review your keyphrase research document and confirm the phrases are still on track. Many companies are still optimizing for old keyphrases that don’t perform, sound clunky in the copy or are otherwise subpar. A keyphrase research refresh can help you find new opportunities and cut out any dead keyphrase weight.

Train your content team

Many in-house writers have little-to-no knowledge of SEO copywriting best practices. For instance, I worked with a B2B publisher who employed super-smart print copywriters — but they didn’t “get” SEO copywriting. Although their content was semantically rich, their Google positions left a lot to be desired. My job was to show the writers the SEO light and bridge the gap between print and online copywriting.

Unfortunately, your writing team isn’t going to magically understand SEO writing without some sort of intervention. Your best course of action is gathering all your writers in the same room, training them on best practices and following up with additional mentoring. I’ve seen remarkable “a-ha” moments when writers received a little keyphrase research training — and those “a-ha” moments transformed their web traffic.

Here’s Eric Enge’s great take on training your in-house team.

Review your analytics

You can learn amazing things from analytics. For instance, I once worked with a company that was extremely proud of a resource-rich page they created. When I checked out the analytics, I found that people were only spending 30 seconds on the page — not enough time to read the page, and far below the company’s usual page metrics of over two minutes.

Why create content in a vacuum when the data is right there? Having just a little analytics knowledge can go a long way. After all, there’s no reason to spend hours creating content your target reader doesn’t want to read.

Be fascinating

People don’t want to read your press releases (your site has a press release section for that.) Nor do they want to read a soft-sell article extolling the virtues of your products. Instead of using your blog as a promotional tool, use it as a way to connect with your prospect. Answer common questions. Provide useful information. Be fascinating.

One company’s most popular blog post was written by their in-house programmer. He scribbled some code on a couple of napkins, took photos of the napkins and wrote a blog post that described the code in-depth. Analytics-wise, this post blew the others away. Why? Because the author (and the company) wasn’t afraid of fascinating content. They knew such a nerdy piece of art would resonate with their audience. And they were right.

Understand how to “write to sell.”

First, let it be said that technical writers should never write sales copy. Ever. You’re not saving money by having your lead programmer write the content. You’re costing yourself conversions (and search positions), instead. Just say no.

Smart sales writing doesn’t sound like a car salesman wearing a plaid suit and a Donald Trump toupee. Instead, it warms your reader up to your product or service and gives them the exact information they want to read. Yes, that involves using some traditional sales-writing tactics. But by doing so, you’re answering your reader’s questions and moving them ever closer to a conversion.

To be clear: having internal subject matter experts (SMEs) write content is a good thing. Having them write sales pages is not. Save the sales writing for someone who specializes in it.

Speaking of SMEs….

Get your SME to contribute…somehow

Your company’s internal subject matter experts are a fantastic source of information. Remember the earlier story about the programmer’s scribbles being the company’s top-trafficked blog post? Your SMEs have a lot to say — and readers typically enjoy their perspective.

But here’s the thing…

Many SME’s aren’t good writers and/or, they don’t like to write. That means your requests like, “please write a blog post about something…anything…” will be ignored. It’s not that your SME doesn’t want to help. It’s because she’s busy — and if she doesn’t enjoy writing, she probably isn’t going to prioritize your post.

One smart solution is to have someone interview the SME, record it and then transcribe the transcript (of course, this could also turn into a podcast, too.) That way, the SME won’t get trapped into a writer’s block dark hole, and you have the great content you want.

As a pro tip: consider editing (sometimes, heavily editing) the transcripts before taking them live. That way, you can smooth out any speaking bumps and make the interview even better.

Be aware of reader overload

Information is good. Including every benefit, technical specification, sales sheet, video, newsletter signup, comparison chart and photo on one page is not.

I type that like it’s a no-brainer, but we ALL know companies that break that rule. Every page makes your eyes bleed. You don’t know where to look or what to do.

If this is what your sales pages sound like, know that analysis paralysis is real. Giving people too many options will cause your readers to overwhelm and do…nothing.

A simple way of conquering overload is to ask yourself if the information needs to be on the page — or could you include it on a supporting page, instead? For instance, the technical specifications could be a downloadable PDF. That way, the information is still on the site. You’re just not making your readers’ eye bleed anymore.

This is a good thing.

Related to this tip is…

Be clear on the desired conversion step

If you want people to sign up for your newsletter, do not put your “newsletter” link at the bottom of your web page (and in 10 point font.) Similarly, do not crowd the page with seven other conversion opportunities like, “download the PDF,” “watch the video,” or vague ad copy asking if a company “wants gains of 212% or more!”

Ask yourself what you want your reader to do. Is it make a purchase? Is it to sign up for a newsletter? Request more information? Make the call-to-action easy to find — and easy to take action.

Create a sustainable editorial calendar

The “experts” will tell you to publish multiple times a week and promote every post. While this is a good solution for a larger company, it’s the content kiss of death for a smaller one. If the content workload isn’t sustainable, your team members won’t hit the deadline — no matter what the editorial calendar says.

As an example, one of my clients is the CEO of a small consulting firm. Like many experts, he travels, he works with clients and he’s the chief SME — so all of the good information is in his head. In a perfect world, we’d create a myriad of content assets every month. Is that workable for his schedule? No (and yes, we’ve tried to make it work.)

Having said that, creating a sustainable editorial calendar has made all the difference. Blog posts are getting written, podcasts are being recorded, and a couple of larger content assets are in play. More importantly, prospects call my client and say, “I keep seeing your information online, and I finally got around to calling you.”

May 2016 be the year that prospects pop out of the woodwork and call you because they “keep seeing your information online.” It’s a very good feeling.

Photo thanks: ID 32073442 © Stuart Miles | Dreamstime.com

 

 

 

Creating Buyer Personas: 3 Simple Steps

Two distinct customer personas

Create distinct buyer personas for targeted marketing content.

Buyer personas are important to every business with an online presence, that’s a fact.

We also know that personas are always evolving and should be updated on a continual basis. Keeping up with your consumers’ interests and needs will prove to be a smart content marketing strategy in the long run.

Think of personas as templates from which you can craft all of your marketing content.

So how do you go about creating a buyer persona for your target customer?

Below are three resources to help you get started.

1. Ask the Sales Department

Enlisting the help of your company’s sales representatives is probably the easiest way to get to know your clients. Sales representatives are often on the front lines when it comes to obtaining new clients, so they routinely field a lot of recurring questions.

Ask the sales representatives for a list of questions they receive most frequently. From there you can take the top five most common questions asked and use them to start a persona.

The sales team can also give you insights about the type of people that call in most frequently: job role, level of education, interests, pain points, etc.

That information is going to be important when building your personas since you need to define precisely who it is you’re targeting.

Pro Tip: This also presents a great opportunity to create content based on the email and phone replies to customers from sales representatives.

2. Use Buzzsumo and Social Media

Buzzsumo is a great (free) tool you can use that will show how many times a particular piece of content in your niche or industry vertical has been shared.

From there, you can take a look at the social media accounts of the people sharing the content.

This will give you direct insight into your target audience and will help you assign a gender, education level and job role to your personas.

Head over to Buzzsumo, then using the “Most Shared” content research option, type in the search term that you’re looking to use to optimize a particular piece of content. Depending on the query, you may be supplied with a lot of results.

The best thing to do next is to sort by Twitter shares. This will allow you to see which piece of content has been shared the most. Then click on “View Sharers”:

view-sharers

 

 

 

You can now see the Twitter handles of the individuals or companies that have shared this particular article:

buzzsumo-twitter

From there you’ll be able to view the profiles of each person, or company, who has shared this content

Pro Tip: Limit the amount of profiles you use as you can spend hours or days on this part. To get started, begin with 3 to 5 profiles.

3. Speak With Customer Service

As with the sales department, the customer service department holds scads of data about your clients beginning with the moment they became customers. Here you can learn about customer likes and dislikes and apply that knowledge to your personas.

The best approach would be to ask each customer service representative the five most frequently asked questions he or she receives and start from there.

This will help you to not only build your personas but to create strategic content for them as well.

After all the information has been collected, take 3 simple steps…

Now that you have a stockpile of info on your existing and target audience, here are the steps you can take to create your personas:

1. Assign a gender and name to each persona.

Doing this will help you in the content creation process as you can write as though you’re speaking to an individual.

2. Give that persona a job title, responsibilities and pain points.

This step is crucial, as you need to know at what stage of the buyer’s journey potential customers are.

Pain points will inform you as to what their specific needs are. Addressing your audience’s pain points is a great way to capture their initial interest and guide them along the buyer’s journey.

3. Add a location.

Geo-targeting your audience is very important, as doing so allows you to generate content that can speak to local events and use the vernacular specific to that region.

To recap, researching buyer personas is a great way for you to get to know your audience. Once built, customer personas can help you create content that can be used to attract a new audience. Finally, keep in mind that once a persona is created, it should be updated to remain relevant.

Connect with Joe on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+

 

Is Your Content Really Failing?

FailDoes your content receive eight shares or less?

If so, your content is “failing,” according to a recent industry study.

I discussed BuzzSumo’s study during last week’s SEO Copywriting Certification training call. The author of the study, Steve Rayson, analyzed over one million posts and noticed a surprising trend. Popular, branded sites such as HubSpot saw a sharp decline in social shares. In fact, 50% of the content saw fewer than eight social shares.

The reason? “Content shock” — the demand for content has gone flat while the amount of content has exploded. The result? Less engagement.

(As a side note, some believe content shock is a myth. Whatever you believe, I think we can all agree that we’re bombarded by new content every. single. day.)

Many writers and marketers (maybe even you) panicked when they read the study. “EIGHT SHARES” they screamed. “Our company is lucky if a post gets retweeted a couple times.”

Sure, some of your content may enjoy a sharing explosion. But I’m guessing some of your content may not. Maybe even the majority of your content.

Does that mean that your content is “failing?”

Maybe. But let’s look a little deeper.

Social sharing is one measurement of content effectiveness. Things that are important (some would say more important,) are:

— Is the content driving conversions or otherwise making you money?

— Are people reading your content? Or are they immediately bouncing off the page?

— Did you match the content to where the customer is in the sales cycle? For instance, do you have high-quality content that helps prospects when they’re in the “research” phase?

— Do you hear, “Hey, I really like your content” from people in your target audience? For instance, I have a client who receives very few social shares (he’s in an industry that doesn’t share content much,) but he receives many “I faithfully read your content every week,” messages.  That’s more important to him than a retweet any day.

— Does the content position? You may have written a fantastic guide that gets some social love initially, but then fades into the background. If it’s still positioning in Google — and prospects are finding you through the content — do you care that you’re not receiving more social shares?

(As a side note, I find it funny that BuzzSumo’s initial Facebook post about the study has only received one share. Would that mean their content was “failing?”)

The reality is: Not all of your content is going to go viral. If you want 100% viral, all the time, specialize in cute cat videos. 

However, being the Steve Rayson fangirl I am, I think he still makes some excellent points. Although I may disagree with the “failing” moniker, I would agree with his other tips:

– Content research is crucial. Research time is a non-negotiable in today’s brave new Google world.  If you’re an end client, know that your writer may need to spend several hours researching your blog post topic. She isn’t padding her time. And yes, this is necessary (and billable.) You can give your writer a great head start by providing her trusted sources, white papers and anything else that will help her write the page.

– Post promotion is almost as important (some would say more so) as post creation (I talked about this in last week’s SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter) Targeting influencers in a nice, non-pushy way is still important. Just know that influencers are being hit by 100 other bloggers asking them to promote their content, so approach them with care.

– It’s smart to leverage trends and be nimble. If you’re writing about a hot topic that happened two weeks ago, you’ve probably already lost the viral battle.

I would add my own tip to this, which is…

– You still need to optimize posts. “Write naturally” is a myth. If your posts aren’t positioning, there is a big disconnect you need to fix.

So, is the issue truly “content shock?” Or are people naturally tuning out content that’s poorly-written, poorly-researched and poorly-timed?

What’s the takeaway?

Whatever you believe around the “content shock” idea, consider this study a wake-up call. No, your content may not be “failing” if it receives eight shares or less. But that doesn’t mean that it’s working, either. If your content isn’t making you money somehow, it’s time for an overhaul.

 

 

 

What to Know About Local SEO: Interview with Andrew Shotland

Local searchSteeped in Local SEO and search for some 13 years, Andrew Shotland is a leading expert in this highly competitive space. He is the proprietor of Local SEO Guide, an SEO and SEM consultancy (and blog) he founded nine years ago. Andrew has also authored Search Engine Land’s monthly local search column since 2009.

Before launching his own business, Andrew headed up business and product development for Insider Pages, a local search startup. As its Chief SEO Officer, he developed an SEO program that attracted over 3 million unique visitors/month to the site.

Here, Andrew answers questions about Local SEO best practices and search trends, as well as the challenges faced by brands competing on a local level. Enjoy!

Could you briefly summarize the essential ways that Local SEO differs from the SEO for big national brands? 

Google, Bing & Yahoo typically show separate local business listings for queries they deem to have significant local intent. The methodologies to compete for rankings in these “local packs” are somewhat different than those you would apply to non-local SEO.

Local SEO also includes appearing well in local-specific search services such as Apple Maps, Facebook Local, Yelp, the Yellow Pages sites and various vertical search engines. It’s a huge, complex space to play in.

If you were to list Local SEO best practices, what would be the top 3? Why?

The Top 3 Local SEO Best Practices in no particular order:

  1. Compete for relevant queries where you have a physical location. It’s hard to show up in the local results without a physical location in the searched city.
  2. Make sure your Google My Business (GMB) and top local search site business profiles (e.g. Yelp, YP.com, etc.) are claimed, up to date and consistent with your N.A.P. (Name, Address & Phone Number) that appears in text on your website.
  3. Don’t ignore the non-Local pack results. These can generate significant traffic. So do all of the typical SEO things to your site to help it rank well: Ensure Googlebot accessibility, use smart keyword/content targeting and get links from other sites.

Last week, Mike Blumenthal (and other local SEO experts) reported that Google had dropped businesses’ G+ pages from its “Places” search results, instead returning URLs from its “Maps” API. Do you think this is just part of Google’s mobile agenda, or is it, as Blumenthal suggested, another indication of the impending “divorce” of local search from G+? What would you say are the implications?

I don’t think this is that big a deal. Google is trying to untangle all of its services from Google+. Google+ for businesses was pretty confusing so perhaps this might end up making Google My Business easier to deal with. I don’t think this changes how we approach Google Local at all. Perhaps this will screw up some services that relied on the API for data, but that’s about it.

In your monthly Search Engine Land (SEL) column, you frequently cite how a well-optimized Google My Business (GMB) page can boost local businesses’ rankings. What specific things would you recommend a Webmaster (or site owner) do to fully leverage their GMB page?

There are a few things you can do to leverage your GMB page:

  • Make sure all of the info is up to date
  • Make sure your business categorization is correct
  • Make sure it links to the most relevant URL on your site (this one is huge)

(Editor’s note: You can view Andrew’s Local SEO Guide GMB page here)

What are some challenges brands face with Local SEO?

Multi-location brands have some of the biggest problems with Local SEO, but some of the biggest opportunities, too. On the problems side, dealing with the data issues involving tens, hundreds and even thousands of locations can be a huge task.

In particular, managing their Google My Business issues requires a lot of well-honed processes to do it at scale. Unfortunately you can’t just use a cookie-cutter approach because the problems you encounter change every day.

On the plus side, when you have scale, you can use that to your advantage once you get the basics right, in terms of content, links, etc. We typically see multi-location brands able to rank for their target queries en masse much easier than single locations, all things being equal.

Given all the Google updates to its Local SEO algo over the past two years that you recently summarized in your September SEL column, what do you see trending for Local SEO and search?

We think two big opportunities at the moment are Facebook Local and iOS Search/Apple Maps. Both of these local search systems are generating huge traffic right now but it seems like most of the Local SEO world is ignoring them. That’s great for our clients 🙂

Any parting words about Local SEO and/or Google’s local algo updates? 

It’s a great business because it’s always changing and it’s one of the biggest markets there is. It’s very satisfying to be able to help both large and small businesses navigate their ways through this ridiculous stuff. Sometimes I have to laugh that this is what I do for a living. It’s certainly fun.

Connect with Andrew on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+

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“Weird, Useful, & Significant”: World Building with Ian Lurie

planet earthAs an online writer and/or digital marketer, at some point you are sure to come across Portent’s CEO of 20 years, Ian Lurie (if you haven’t already). His wicked sense of humor is matched only by his expertise in all things content and internet marketing.

Here, Ian addresses questions about content visibility beyond the blog, world-building (he loathes the term “content marketing”), and creating “entry points into our world: weird, useful, and significant.”

Hope you enjoy Ian’s interview as much as we did!

In your recent ConfluenceCon presentation you covered a lot of digital marketing ground. One of your main points was about making great content visible beyond the on-site blog.

Specifically, you mentioned using the Open Graph (OG) Protocol and Twitter Cards for social visibility. Could you translate what those are in non-techie speak?

Twitter cards and OGP markup improve the way your content is represented out in the world. In terms of world building, they make the entry points more attractive, and make it more likely that customers will take the first step towards interacting with you.

In practical terms, Open Graph Protocol is something Facebook uses when you embed a link in your newsfeed. Sometimes, when you embed a link, the result includes an image, a site name, etc. The site owner can provide that information to the Facebook crawler using Open Graph Protocol. The more information they provide, the more Facebook can enhance the listing.

In nerdier terms, Open Graph Protocol is a markup standard. It’s code you can embed in a web page that provides additional information, just like meta tags. With it, you can define the page’s topic, title, author, a thumbnail image you’d like displayed when the page is cited and a bunch of other information.

There are also specific OGP attributes you can define for music, videos, products and such.

Twitter cards are similar to OGP. They let you specify images, videos and such that can attach to a tweet of a specific web page. You can link to direct download/install of mobile apps, embed videos, audio, images and thumbnails and set properties like titles, descriptions and the linked site.

You also addressed off-site content marketing, citing SlideShare and free Kindle e-books. What are some general tips for content creators to best leverage these platforms?

It’s all about audience. Use the platform that gives you entry into the biggest, most relevant potential audience. That’s the whole reason for doing it. I know – duh. But when you’re leveraging third party sites, you want to be very, very deliberate about it:

  1. Make a really good case to yourself for using this or that site
  2. Understand the upside if your content is super-successful
  3. Understand what super-successful means on each site

Here are a few examples:

Most people visit the SlideShare for business information. If you want to get visual content in front of millions of business professionals, it’s the place to be. If you don’t have visual content, look elsewhere.

On SlideShare, it’s all about being selected “SlideShare of the Day”. That gets you home page placement, mentions on Twitter by @slideshare and all sorts of other publicity.

LinkedIn owns SlideShare. So success on SlideShare may transfer over to LinkedIn because users can easily share your presentations with their connections.

If that happens, you’ll get lots of visibility. But SlideShare also lets you place lead generation forms in those presentations. I’ve seen that generate leads in the past. Finally, you can let readers download your presentation. That puts your content in a person’s hands, which is great – it’s a permanent invitation to spend more time with you.

SlideShare delivers a very strong, clear invitation to enter your world.

You might write for Medium because you have long-form text content. Medium has a huge audience who come to the site expecting to see great writing in longer format. Medium recommends content to users – play your cards right and you can build real visibility.

There’s no direct business benefit, but Medium is niche-independent. I can make a case for using Medium if I have a unique topic, a non-business topic or a long-form piece in mind and no need for direct lead generation. Medium is the place to make a low-key, sincere invitation to the audience to enter your world and look around on their own.

Finally, look at Kindle e-books. Millions of people monitor Amazon for new free e-books. If you can crack any of the top lists, those people will notice. They can download your e-book and read through it. I’ll use Kindle if I have something text-based in long form and want to create a really lasting impression. Kindle is the rulebook – the detailed map for your audience to enter your world, start learning and really dive deep.

An intriguing part of your presentation is how each marketing campaign is a “little community”, and that we create many “entry points into our world: weird, useful, and significant.” How does a content writer find their “weird” and connect those dots?

You might find “weird” purely instinctively: For instance, I’m a cyclist. I know most cyclists are technology nerds. So I might write something about smartwatches, or the best cell phone cameras (for cyclists who want to take snapshots of that long climb they just did).

You can also find “weird” using tools that dig up random affinities: Ideas, likes and wants linked only by the fact that some people like both. That’s all about collaborative filtering tools.

For example, I love using Amazon’s “people who bought also bought” tool. Did you know people who buy cookbooks are really into de-cluttering (ironic)? Sounds obvious now, but I wouldn’t have thought of it. Or that people who buy diet books also read survival stories and books about direct selling?

And, of course, I hit Facebook a lot. You can use their ads tool to test interest categories and see what Facebook suggests. Before I knew Van Diesel played Dungeons and Dragons, I did a search on D&D and his name popped up. That’s pretty random (by the way, my lifetime ambition is to run a game for him). Also, did you know tennis fans like boxing? I wouldn’t have made that connection.

Collaborative filters aren’t always right. Sometimes they’re hilariously wrong. But they’re a great tool for mining the weird.

In regard to content marketing (“whatever that is”, as you said): what content opportunities are you most excited about right now? Why?

Hmmm. As a writer, I tend to always be excited about content J. No matter what the delivery device, it’s about our ability to effectively communicate. I love it.

But you’re going to ask me again, I bet. So… I’m very excited about this ongoing democratization: Sites like Medium and Netflix delivering their own series and increasingly sophisticated social platforms mean we can engage in some really interesting world building.

Real-time information delivery like Google Now is really exciting, too. I can see some real potential for ‘ambient’ content that provides a great user experience. Imagine being able to stand in a location and ask your phone, “What happened here in 1850?” As a history nerd, I find that pretty exciting because we can curate our environments. That may sound creepy, and chances are marketers will completely trash the concept, but a guy can dream.

So how would you define “content marketing”? Do you have a more accurate definition of what we actually do?

I hate the phrase “content marketing” because it’s become a cliché that refers to cranking out dozens of crappy blog posts. I’ve avoided it because the meaning’s been twisted and over-simplified.

What do we actually do? OK, get ready for some seriously trippy metaphysics:

People are surrounded by content. We’re steeped in it, with clumps and clusters of related content forming worlds around, say, our favorite football team, or the car we want to buy, or childcare advice.

Usually, those worlds are pretty random. We see an article here, a social media post there, a blog post in another place, and then we link them together in our minds.

Content marketing – or whatever you call it – deliberately creates worlds around products or ideas. It creates new content and links it to old, or vice versa, or one or the other. Then it creates points of entry – advertising – to bring people into those worlds. It’s intentional, and it’s immensely powerful.

That’s content marketing. Or, as I call it, world building. I don’t expect that term to ever catch on. It’s too geeky. But I like it. So there.

Connect with Ian on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+

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4 Experts Share How They Rock B2B Content Marketing with LinkedIn

LinkedIn logosAre you cultivating relationships with colleagues and potential clients?

Have you built a solid company page?

Are you actively participating and posting your content in key LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry’s vertical?

Have you considered establishing your own LinkedIn group?

If not, you really should: LinkedIn is an ideal platform for B2B content marketing, as well as for boosting your brand’s visibility, forging valuable connections, and generating leads.

Still not convinced? Then read what four expert B2B content marketers have to say about leveraging LinkedIn, in response to this question:

 What’s your favorite way to use LinkedIn for B2B content marketing?

 Miranda Miller

 Miranda Miller (@MirandaM_EComm), Founder of MEDIAau

As a content marketing agency, our clients are other business people, marketers and executives, so LinkedIn is an important tool for us. I syndicate content published on our blog, as well as columns we publish in industry publications, to my personal LinkedIn.

Each of your connections and subscribers receive a notification from LinkedIn letting them know you published a new post, so it’s far more effective than organic Facebook in exposing your content to the people with whom you’ve already connected. It’s also dead simple to use, with easy image uploading and very few formatting options. If you aren’t publishing on LinkedIn, you’re missing out!

 

Tom Pick

Tom Pick (@TomPick), Founder of Webbiquity

The first step to optimizing B2B content marketing efforts on LinkedIn is to build a great company page. LinkedIn actually provides some helpful guidance and resources around best practices for creating an effective company page.

Once you’ve created a great page, promote it and encourage people to follow it from your website, blog, email newsletter, at live events, and any other opportunities that arise. This won’t make your company awesome at B2B content marketing on LinkedIn by itself, but it’s an essential first step.

Next, find, join, and utilize LinkedIn Groups. Precisely “how” this is done is a moving target, as LinkedIn has made significant changes to how groups work over the past 18 months, and it continues to do so.

Just as Google has made changes to its algorithm to minimize spam in search results, so LinkedIn continues to evolve groups to eliminate unwanted, low-value posts.

While groups have traditionally been an excellent place to share content, abuse by some members (e.g., trying to pass off promotion for their upcoming webinar as “news”) has led LinkedIn to clamp down on discussion items’ submissions and exposure.

What’s most important to remember when contributing to groups, or using features like publishing on LinkedIn or integrating SlideShare with your LinkedIn profile, is to focus on adding value. Increasingly, thinly veiled promotion posts will be punished on LinkedIn, while adding value — helping others in your network and groups to do their jobs more effectively — will be rewarded.

 

Steve Rayson

Steve Rayson (@steverayson), Co-Director of Buzzsumo

I find LinkedIn is a great place to build relationships. My tip is to share content from people you respect and make a point of commenting on their posts. It is good relationship building, but I also really enjoy the debate and learn a lot this way. LinkedIn groups also have great potential for discussion but in my view, they work best as small private communities. There is little engagement in many large groups.

In terms of content, I find my LinkedIn audience is very interested in industry news, trends and current issues. In every industry there are points of debate or controversy that generate a lot of engagement. Thus I try to keep many of my posts focused on these issues. Overall I find my posts appear to have greater visibility on LinkedIn. I may have a smaller audience, but I get a lot more engagement on LinkedIn than on other networks.

 

Steve Slaunwhite

Steve Slaunwhite (@steveslaunwhite), Founder of Copywriting Training Center

My favorite way is posting strategically written, highly targeted articles. It’s competitive (there are thousands of articles posted on LinkedIn each day), but pays off big when done right.

An article on LinkedIn can get read by dozens, perhaps hundreds, of new prospects — some of whom will subsequently visit your profile or website. In addition, a well-crafted, optimized article can be repurposed in numerous ways: email newsletter, blog post, printed piece (as a handout), part of an ebook, etc. It’s a winning strategy no matter how you look at it.

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