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Are You Making These Common Social Media Mistakes?


shutterstock 134112389Everyone knows that social media is the place to be to make connections with current and potential customers. Why, then, are so many companies getting it wrong? Maybe they are following bad advice or they just are not sure what to do. Maybe they do not even realize that they are even getting it wrong. If you recognize any of these mistakes, it might be time to go back to the drawing board. 

1. Doing Everything Yourself

While it is great that you have taken the initiative to keep your company's social media accounts up and running, chances are that your interactions would be much better if you worked as part of a team. For one thing, a professional writer should be helping you out with everything you post--even those itty bitty 140-character Twitter posts. At the very least, you should have a second set of eyes to scan your posts for typos, misspellings, and content that could be misunderstood. Second, coming up with fresh ideas and new things to say every day can be impossible, and you could end up on autopilot. If a few other people provide their input, your content is far more likely to be unique and engaging.

2. Failing to Focus 

Even if you have a whole team assembled to work on maintaining your company's social media accounts, you still have to make sure you are focusing on the right ones. The only thing worse than having no social presence at all is to have a thin presence on too many outlets. One sign that you have too many plates in the air is posting the same content to all your channels. While this is not always a bad idea, if that is your only plan, you need to re-prioritize.

3. You Want to Talk About You

The 80/20 Rule applies to more than just sales and business, it applies to social media, too. If you spend more than 20% of your time on social media carrying on about you, your company, or your products and services, people are going to get bored and move along. Instead, look for topics that relate to your industry, and sift through industry news outlets and blogs to find interesting stories. Don't be afraid to add something seemingly irrelevant from time to time, too. The occasional cartoon or joke might help show your human side.

4. You Are Too Wordy

Using too many words and not enough images is deadly on social media. People might stop to read a wordy post from time to time, but the vast majority of people will simply scroll through all those pesky words until an image catches their attention. Then they will go back and see what the associated text is all about. Never post anything to social media without an image or you are wasting your time. The exception, of course, is Twitter. You still have to refrain from being wordy, but resist posting too many pictures as people like to scroll quickly through their updates without too many interruptions.

5. You Have No Follow-Up

Posting a bunch of stuff and hoping for the best might work for your personal Facebook account, but when you are managing a business social media account, you have to follow up with the numbers. Stay on top of the number of followers and fans you have, and check in on how many people are clicking the links you are sharing. If you do not know how well your previous posts have done, it is impossible to know what to keep doing and what to improve.

Social Media is Very Forgiving

One of the most frustrating aspects of social media is the short attention spans of its users. On the other hand, this can be a great asset if you have been falling down on the job. As long as you have not committed a terribly embarrassing blunder, most people will only notice and remember what you are doing right now and will forget about anything that went wrong in the past. It is never too late to start over. If any of these mistakes apply to you, start over today and start seeing results right away.

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Does User Generated Content Have a Place in Your Strategy?


shutterstock 196549964User generated content (UGC) refers to any content created by Internet users that links to your brand. This can be an entire blog post, podcast, or piece of fan art or something smaller, such as a comment on your social media page or a forum, a review, or a video. By combining UGC with your current marketing strategies, you can strengthen your relationship with customers and improve the likelihood that prospects will convert.

Who Can Benefit from User Generated Content?

UGC has a higher success rate in certain types of companies than others, particularly those who have a large customer base of Millennials. With Millennials, UGC is 20 percent more influential on purchasing decisions than other types of media and 35 percent more memorable than branded messages, found Crowdtap. In addition, Huffington Post reports that Millennials spend 30 percent of their media time consuming content created by their peers. With UGC, you can tap into some of that time.

How to Gain User Generated Content

In many cases, UGC for your brand already exists — you just need to find it and receive permission to use it. Here are some examples:

  • Reviews. One of the most effective types of UGC is the review. A Forrester Research study found that 70 percent of consumers use reviews and ratings to choose a product or service and 76 percent are more likely to make a purchase if they see at least 10 positive reviews or ratings. An added bonus is that reviews tend to rank highly in Google search results.
  • Images. Photos of consumers using your products demonstrate your brand’s popularity and show how products will look and work in action. If you find such a picture on a social media site, leave a comment complimenting the user and asking if you can reuse the photo. If you are lucky enough to find something on Twitter, all you need to do is retweet.
  • Emails and comments. Occasionally, you may receive emails thanking you for your service from satisfied customers. This no longer needs to be just an ego boost for your company; you can also share the content (once again, with permission) as a blog post. This can also work for short comments and private messages you receive on your social media pages. Post comments as a list of testimonials on your website and share new ones on social media. These two techniques even B2B companies can use to benefit from UGC.

If you lack readymade content, you can always ask users to create something for you through a competition or just as an opportunity for them to receive visibility. For instance, you could ask customers to share their experience with your brand and feature the best submissions on your website or blog.

Pitfalls of User Generated Content

Of course, UGC is not without its share of disadvantages. Here are a few to consider before deciding to incorporate UGC into your content strategy:

  • No SEO. As users rarely have any knowledge of SEO, content will not be optimized for high rankings in search results (with the notable exception of reviews).
  • Low credibility. Unlike the team who usually creates your content, users of your products and services are not experts and may even distribute inaccurate information or advice. It is important to think about what type of content users are qualified to create for your brand.
  • Low quality. You may struggle to find usable content, as users may lack the skills to write, photograph, or shoot videos that meet your normal quality standards. Editing, if at all possible, can be very time consuming.

User generated content can be a great tool to influence your audience and enable you to gain the trust of new leads. However, adding UGC to your content strategy is more appropriate for some companies than others. Carefully consider if UGC would be a help or hindrance and, furthermore, decide what type of content would be suitable for your brand before getting started.

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The Evolution of Content: Which Types of Content Are Right For Your Clients?


describe the imageWhen content first became a focus for online businesses, the process was typically pretty simple. Putting together a couple of catchy paragraphs that incorporated popular keywords was a successful way to get websites listed on the first pages of search engine results. But nowadays, it takes a variety of different types of content to get a website noticed on the World Wide Web.

Static words just aren't enough to capture the attention of information seekers and problem solvers anymore. It's important to incorporate a variety of methods and techniques if you want your clients' content to stand out from the crowd. Here are a few effective options to consider, and how they'll get you the buzz that you're looking for:


Most people are visually driven, making infographics an awesome accompaniment to written content. Infographics are more likely to be shared on social media networks than basic content without them, which leads to lots of organic links and therefore higher search engines page ranks. If you're creating content that is hard to curate photos for, or your content contains lots of statistics or figures, infographics are an excellent option. Infographics are also a great way to spice up bland or confusing information.

Virtual Podcasts

Podcasts are quickly becoming one of the most prevalent marketing mediums online now that folks can tune into their favorite content on demand, thanks to apps like Stitcher. These apps allow users to sync podcast episodes to their devices while they sleep and when they're on the go, which keeps them engaged and interested. Whether you're outlining the benefits of certain products that you're affiliated with or you are interviewing experts within your industry, giving a voice to the brands you promote is easy to do through podcasting.

Videos and Vlogs

One of the best ways to engage with your audience is through video content. Like infographics, videos provide a unique visual aspect to your content that is memorable and interactive. Video marketing is a powerful tool for gaining notice from those who don't want to take the time to read an article or sift through pages of how-to guides. You can build some trust among current and potential customers and establish authority through videos that focus on current events, keep up with industry trends, and show people how best to use the products and services up for offer.

Surface Scratchers

There's nothing wrong with publishing articles that simply scratch the surface of topics your audience is interested in, but this basic content should be accompanied with resources that make it easy for readers to delve deeper into the topic. Short, succinct articles that touch on a specific subject can be paired with a newsletter that promises more information, a how-to eBook offered at a special discount, or a link to products and services you offer that help to fill in the gaps of your content.

For example if your promoting banner printing services, you could publish an article about the type of content businesses should consider including on their signage and then direct them to signup for a newsletter that offers insight into effective fonts that can be used for their banner content.

In Depth Insights

Of course, no content marketing plan is complete without some in-depth insight to round things out. Your long form content should offer something that your competitors don't – unique insight backed up with obscure statistics and little known facts that is sure to impress even the most discerning of audience members. Your word heavy articles should provide actionable information that readers can use themselves in their every day lives.

Offering valuable information that other may charge for is an awesome way to create trust and reliability within your reader community. Readers shouldn't be able to understand the information provided to them by simply scanning the page. When creating in-depth pieces, it's important to make sure that it is well researched and can stand on it's own as an authoritative industry voice.

Your niche can probably benefit from all of these content options as long as the content is relevant and trending. Even the most mundane of industries can inspire content that is interesting and engaging. Promoting window screens? Show people how to grow seasonal flowers on the window sill, and remind them how important new screens are for keeping bees and other pests out of the house.

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4 Unique Ways to Promote Content on Social Media


shutterstock 189811238Social media has taken the world by storm. It is the new form of word-of-mouth advertising. That is why every business is trying to leverage this communication channel in its marketing strategy. You want to get ahead of the curve in deploying social media resources in your marketing so that you become more effective than your competition in reaching your audience.

Content Marketing and Social Media
Social media marketing works best when used as part of a strategy known as content marketing. Your business creates content that positions you as a valuable information resource for your audience. When people see that you are an expert problem-solver in your field, they will turn to your business when they have a need. Once you create excellent content and post it to your blog, you will need to promote it on social media.

The key question is how to effectively promote your content on social media. To be successful, you are going to have go beyond the basics of just sharing your link with an image. Here are four unique ways to promote your content on social media platforms:

Post Your Content Multiple Times
The more times you post your content, the more likely it is that your audience will see it and share it. Of course, no one wants to see the same thing multiple times, so you want to vary the way you present this content. Here are some things that you can vary:

  • Headlines. You can change the headline of the link that you are sharing. Developing multiple headlines gives you a number of different ways to hook your readers into clicking on your content.

  • Images. You can change the image that accompanies the link. It is no longer enough to have one good image to accompany your link. It is best to find several images and share them in combination with different headlines.

  • Message: You can vary the message that accompanies the link. Different text can highlight different features of the content. Some messages might try to highlight benefits while others might focus on the problem that the content will solve. The more messages you craft, the more ways you can try to appeal to wide variety of readers.

You should also develop a schedule for sharing each piece of content. You might consider sharing three times the first week, two times the second week and once in the third week. Some people recommend sharing even more frequently, so experiment and find out what works best for your audience.

Paid Social Media Advertising
The day of using social media as free advertising are over. The value of relying solely on organic social media is rapidly shrinking. Moving forward, you are going to need to consider paying to promote your content on social media. Here are a few best practices in this area:

  • Use attractive images that show user experience and not just an image of the product. People respond better when you show them what they are going to get.

  • Use clear and direct text. Many social media sites favor ads with images, so keep the text simple.

  • Make sure there is a clear next step. You want to let your audience know what you want them to do.

There is a lot learn about paid social media advertising, so make sure that you are educated before you invest. You need to investigate which social media platform is right for you and what advertising options are available there.

Create Brand Advocates and Ambassadors
One really powerful aspect of social media promotion is that you can harness your social media connections to promote your content. When your employees, customers and other strategic partners come on board to promote your content, you amplify your reach exponentially. There are software tools that help you to manage and reward brand advocates for sharing your content.

Build Relationships with Strategic Partners
Whether you are a blogger or an online retailer, you want to build relationships with strategic partners. You can develop these partnerships with other exerts in your field. Online retailers might find strategic partners in the same niche who are not direct competitors. By identifying these influencers, developing relationships with them and contributing to their marketing, you can win their support. They, in turn, can help you promote your content and expand your audience.

Creating great content is just part of effective content marketing. Creatively promoting your content with social media is an important part of a successful marketing strategy.

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Creating a Better User Experience With Content


shutterstock 197328569Content has always been considered king when it comes to developing and marketing a website. For a long time this meant creating articles, reviews, and product descriptions packed with target keywords that the search engines could pick up on and include in their results pages.

Unfortunately, this tactic would typically overlook the end user, whose experience should be the number one priority if you're trying to build a trustworthy brand and increase your profits. But because of the many updates Google has made to their algorithms in recent years, balancing content that offers a positive user experience and that also gets ranked well in search results is pretty easy to manage.

Sure, you still need to decipher which keywords to base your content off of to give Google and other popular search engines an idea of what your content is about. But whether you're posting on a blog, writing descriptions for your products, or simply trying to introduce your business to the world, you'll also need to create a unique and rewarding user experience for your readers.

The more helpful and engaging your content is, the more likely your readers will be to stick around and read what you have to say. The longer readers stick around, the more often they'll share your content and buy your products and services. And all of these actions are tracked by search engines, indicating to them that your website has something of value to offer – and therefore, your site is more likely to show up on the first page of search results for your chosen key terms.

As you can tell, search engine placement and user experience work hand-in-hand to get your website the attention it needs for success. When users appreciate your content, so do the search engines. When the search engines are happy with your website and rank it well, more readers find your content. And when your website is filled with awesome content, your business looks really good to customers, investors, and competitors! Here's what makes for engaging content that generates an optimal user experience:

Short and Direct Content Development

Create your content as if you are having a conversation with your readers. This ensures an easy-to-read flow that can be quickly digested and easily comprehended by a wide range of audiences. Tell a story with your words, but don't spend an entire paragraph setting up the scene. People shouldn't have to reread sentences to get a firm grasp on your message. Test your content on readers before publishing it on your site.

Actionable Content that Makes a Difference

Your readers should be able to actually put your message to use in their own lives somehow. If you're selling cosmetics and your content is about choosing a fall color for the eyes, tell readers how they can test shades at home with the right lighting, palettes, and mirrors. If you are promoting a clothing line, give readers tips on how to mix and match their old pieces with new ones. Helpful, actionable content helps to position yourself as an authority figure in your industry and demonstrates your experience and enthusiasm for the topics you're talking about.

Clear Credibility Built into the Content

It's important to build credibility within your content so readers know that you've done your research and can trust what you have to say. Anytime statistics or numbers are used, it's a good idea to link to a study or reliable website that backs up your claims. Your ideas, insights, and even your tips and tricks are typically trusted more when authority websites can backup your information.

Adding one or two valuable links to your content can significantly increase your brand's credibility. You can even link to other pieces of content within your own site to show readers that you've spend time covering the topic before.

Clean and Easy to Read Content Structure

Your content's structure is just as important as its words. Readers should be able to scan the content structure to get an idea of what is covered, and to quickly find the aspects that appeal to them. Clear subheadings are important because they break the content down into comprehensive elements, and short paragraphs are needed to keep the content display nice and clean. Adding graphics to the mix is a great way to break the text up and make it more pleasing to the eye.

Implementing these tips and tricks into your quality content is sure to make a positive impact on your success.  

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Content For a Mobile World


shutterstock 101753896As mobile Internet use continues to rise, optimizing content for a mobile world is a must when companies want to stay at the top of search results and maintain high click-through rates when posting content via social media websites. Businesses that have mastered the art of maintaining an online presence using traditional content marketing methods may still be struggling to keep up with the changes that need to be made to optimize content for mobile users. Here are some valuable tips that help your business come out on top when it comes to keeping up with the changing ways that consumers access content.

Add HTML Markup Later

Creating content first and adding in HTML markup later is a best practice when mobile content is so important. Markup could make content unreadable on a mobile device, so it makes sense to focus on the content itself before worrying about layout issues and presentation. The same content can then be used for both mobile and desktop platforms.

Avoid Separate Pages

Mobile users do not want to click "read more" or arrows to get through page after page of content. Instead, mobile users prefer scrollable content that does not require new pages to be loaded over and over again. If separating content into pages is a must, make sure that mobile users are able to swipe to get to the next page instead of having to click a button and wait for the next page to load.

Define Your Audience

Optimizing content for mobile use is difficult to do if you're not sure who your audience is and why they are accessing content through a mobile platform. Figuring out the target audience allows businesses to cater the layout and topics in a way that appeals to the mobile user. For example, a company with a line of food products may offer recipes that are optimized for access on a mobile device to allow readers to keep the recipe handy as a grocery list while at the store.

Choose Graphics Wisely

While clear, high-quality pictures and relevant videos can help boost content views on a computer, these same images would make it difficult for mobile users to access the content at all. When choosing graphics to accompany mobile content, keep in mind the limitations of the average user's mobile device. While visual examples or accompaniments can be used, keep these additions minimal. 

Keep It Simple

Simplify the layout of the website as a whole to help users navigate to the content they want to read. One-column layouts allow mobile users to easily scroll through content and re-size it to their needs.

Do Not Limit Mobile Users

While content should always be optimized for mobile users, give them the option to view content on the full website if they would like to. Some mobile users have high-tech tablets or mobile phones that can handle the added graphics or have bigger screens to easily view content. These users may be frustrated if their access is limited to the mobile version of the website.

While it is important to optimize content for a mobile audience, your company may be struggling to get started. Use these tips to improve the layout, load times and ability of mobile users to access your content to improve number of views and provide consumers with the information that they need to make a purchase decision.





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Metrics That Matter: Gauging Content Effectiveness


shutterstock 131320937You can read all the advice about how to create and promote effective content, but if you do not measure the success of your content, you'll never know if your efforts are paying off. Don't waste another minute focusing on a subject that isn't gaining traction or an outlet where you're not getting readers. Check these metrics regularly so you can focus your efforts where it matters.

1. See Who is Reading

The first place to check the success of your content is to see who is reading it. These numbers are usually very straightforward and measure the volume of simple traffic that your content is getting. For websites and blogs, Google Analytics can tell you how many page views and visitors you're getting and how long the average visitor is spending on your site. You'll also want to keep an eye on how many of your emails are being opened and how many get a click-through.

2. See Who is Sticking Around

Once you get an idea of the total number of clicks and visits you're getting, it's time to take a look at how many of those people are interested enough to stick around. Google Analytics can tell you how many of your website's visitors are repeat guests and how many pages each guest is visiting. It will also provide you with your bounce rate, or the percentage of visitors who leave your website after landing on one page without taking any other action.

You'll also want to check in with your subscribers, fans, and followers. Keep track of how many people subscribe and unsubscribe to your newsletters, and how many new social media followers you have from month to month. 

3. See Who is Spreading the Love

If your content is connecting with your readers, they will be inspired to share it with their friends, family, and professional connections. Tracking this sharing activity can tell you what content is breaking through. There are a variety of tools to use on your website - you've probably seen them while browsing in the form of little icons at the bottom or on the sides of pages. If you're posting links through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, a tool like bitly can help you track clicks and shares, too. 

4. Engagement

Getting reader engagement involves establishing trust and delivering quality, useful content on a consistent basis. Engaged readers will read down to the bottom of the page, click links to find more information, comment on your blog posts and social media posts, and tell their friends about your content. Engagement can be elusive to track because it's an evaluation of trends that become visible in other metrics instead of being a separate number to track.  

If your unsubscribe rates generally hold steady, but have a sudden jump, you might attribute that to an individual message. On the other hand, if your unsubscribe rate is steadily rising over time, you're having a problem with engagement. Similarly, if you have a blog post or two that tank, then you just missed the mark on those two posts. If your blog isn't getting off the ground, or if you're losing traffic on a steady basis, you're lacking engagement. 

5. Lead Generation

If your content is delivering lots of fresh visitors, plenty of repeat visitors, and is engaging readers so that they trust you and want more of your content, you're almost there. Tracking leads is the last piece of the puzzle. The best way to track leads is to use individual landing pages for your offers and signup pages for subscriptions. These pages act as gateways to whatever the visitor is after (ebooks, whitepapers, subscriptions, and actual products) and should collect visitor information before delivering and turn those visitors into countable leads. 

Reaching Your Goals

Measuring the success of your content is a vital part of the content marketing process, and it doesn't have to stop at lead generation. You can continue down the sales funnel to see if those leads become customers so you'll know if you're pulling in the right leads. You can also check in with the search engines to see how your pages are ranking. You can dig as deep as you have the time and resources for, however, sticking with these 5 on a regular basis will ensure that you're always heading in the right direction.

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4 Ways to Improve Engagement With Content


shutterstock 203871028It's not enough to provide informational pieces to your readers in hopes of gaining attention for your brand. Nowadays, brands like yours find success by connecting directly with current and potential customers through popular social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn. But engagement is the key when it comes to getting the results that you want – here are four effective ways to improve engagement for your business through your social media content:

Create Effective Calls-to-Action

An effective call-to-action is important when communicating with followers through social media. If you don't ask people to do what you want them to do, there is no reason to expect them to do it on their own. So don't be afraid to ask people to click "like" or to share your content. You can increase your newsletter roster simply by asking folks to sign up once in awhile.

And when it comes to promoting a new program, eBook, service, or product, it is just a matter of telling your readers to click a link and learn more. You don't have to include a call-to-action in every piece of content you publish through your social media accounts, but it's important to make it a regular effort to maximize your results.

Ask Thought Provoking Questions

People love to take part in coming up with solutions, and gaining feedback from your readers provides you with free insight that can be used to grow your business with customer satisfaction in mind. There is no need to divulge personal company information to create high engagement levels. Instead, come up with interesting topics that are derived around your products and services that can be used to connect with readers.

For instance if you sell above ground swimming pools, you can ask people how they might handle problems with birds taking baths. Or if you run a sign printing company, you may want to ask readers which of a set number of slogans they like best for your new company banner.  The idea is to get people involved with the decision making process when it comes to things like product development and ongoing maintenance.

Put Together Fun Social Media Contests

Social media contests can generate a lot of attention for your business and help to increase your social stats as long as they're done correctly and in good timing. Here's how to ensure that your contests are effective for your business:

  • Target a specific audience to ensure that you aren't only snagging the interest of people who want nothing more than the free prize you are offering.
  • Make sure that the prize you offer is specific to the contest and the products or services you are promoting throughout the contest.
  • Ensure genuine interest in participants by asking for shares instead of offering entries for them.

Perhaps the most important aspect of putting together an effective social media contest strategy is knowing exactly what your end goal is, which needs to be more than simply getting a specific number of "likes" or "follows" through your various social media accounts.

An effective option is to create your contests to conduct research that will provide you with the information you need to convert your leads into actual sales. This can be done by having people fill out a questionnaire as part of the contest entry requirements.

Provide a Unique Spin on the Given Topic

While it's always important to make sure any information or statistics you post can be by a reliable source, it is just as important to make sure that the content you create offers a unique spin that's not found through other commentary that's published on the topic.

Whether it is a personalized perspective, a story crafted of fiction, or a comedic take on a not-so funny topic, choose your topics and angles based on what your current and potential customers are specifically interested in.

These four tips and tricks will help you break through any communication barriers you are experiencing with your social media followers, and they should ultimately help you to improve your bottom line and ensure success in terms of organic business growth.

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Incorporating Visuals Into Your Content


shutterstock 132998138No matter how well you break up your text with subheadings and bullet points, a bunch of text is still a bunch of text. A 2008 study discovered that people are only reading about 20% of the words on an average web page. Getting the written portion of your pages in good shape is important, but visuals also play a key role when it comes to attracting more visitors to your website and convincing more of them to stick around longer. 

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

They are also worth a few more clicks and leads, too. Web sites that include infographics grow traffic 12% faster than those that don't and content that features compelling images average 94% more page views than those without.

Why do visuals get so much more attention than text? For one thing, they are processed 60,000 times faster than text. Compared to reading, that's almost an instant understanding of visual content. Visuals also tug at our emotions, and once a visitor is emotionally connected to your content, they are more likely to stick around and see what you're all about.

How to Get it Right

It doesn't take much convincing to believe that visuals have an impact on visitor behavior. On the other hand, using visuals the right way makes a difference, too. You don't want to just plop down pictures of puppies throughout your article on roofing supplies because people like puppies. Instead, visuals should be relevant to the content they are supporting. 

Here are a few tips for effectively incorporating visuals into your content.

  • Tell a Story. Connect to your visitors' emotional side by sharing an image that tells a story about the rest of your content or speaks about the passion of your company. From pictures of products in realistic settings to candid shots of employees brainstorming, one picture can tell an entire story in an instant.
  • Demonstrate Ideas. Videos are a great way to explain complex ideas and demonstrate products. Instead of four paragraphs of information describing shingles, embed a video that shows what the different types look like on different homes.
  • Break Down Statistics. A few compelling statistics can be summarized with text, however, after the first few the numbers just start blending together. Charts and graphs are perfect for visualizing numbers, and infographics are perfect for organizing a bunch of charts and graphs into a single unit. 
  • Entertain. From cartoons and comics to how-to videos, visual content can help lighten up the information so people stay on the page longer.
  • Grab Attention. Because visuals stand out from a block of words, calls to action and other clickable links always perform better when they are linked visuals rather than linked text. 

Beware of Distractions

Too many visuals and poorly placed visuals can take attention away from your main objective (usually to compel a visitor to follow a call to action). While you want your visuals to get attention, they shouldn't compete or overwhelm your main attraction.

This case study takes a look at the home page of a truck service and evaluates the visual information using a heat map. The original landing page featured a bright red starburst that announced "no fees," but otherwise offered no action to take or direction to follow. That starburst was also hogging all the initial attention while key components of the page were ignored completely. 

The visuals on the page were completely restructured to make the main call to action more prominent, and then tweaked a bit to make them even more compelling and effective. The rest of the important information is still there along with an interesting image of a truck, but none of it competes with the instructions to "Call Now."

Visuals Still Need Backup

Your visual content may lead the way to more page views and more sharing of your content, but only if it is backed up by solid information. Even if people enjoy looking at nice visuals, chances are they came to the page to learn something or to buy something. Always make sure you're delivering what they came for in addition to pleasing visuals. That complete package is what will get you what we're all after: more conversions. 

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Spicing Up a Boring Brand With Content


shutterstock 133482386While all of us would love to work on creative plans for dynamic, contemporary companies with cutting edge styles or technology, the truth is that most consumers spend their money on things that are a little more mundane. From car tires to work boots to accounting services, these companies all need great marketing to get ahead. Finding an exciting angle, on the other hand, can seem a little challenging.

Enter Storytelling

While the obvious product or service might seem boring, to add a little excitement to a brand, you have to stop thinking in terms of advertising the product and move towards selling the company itself. Storytelling lets consumers get to know a company, it takes them on a journey and stirs up emotions. Storytelling makes a connection on a more personal level and gets consumers to feel aligned with a company rather than excited about its brand or its products.

How to Incorporate Stories Using Content

Draw inspiration from all around the company. From the owner who brought the company up from nothing to the kid sorting the mail, everyone has a story to tell. Dig through customer comment cards and online surveys to see if anyone has shared anything that is inspiring. While you're working on your stories, remember these key points:

  • Be Real. Base every story you tell on the reality of the company or brand you're describing. Although your stories can be fictional, they should still maintain some consistency so consumers know what to expect.
  • Create Characters to Cheer For. The heart of every story is a hero or a villain who people can connect with and cheer for or against. Create fictional characters based on the buyer personas you're using for the rest of your content.
  • Be Emotional. Stories are all about emotional connections so be sure to use lots of emotional language and compelling imagery throughout your stories.

Easy on the Branding

One common thread through all these ideas is that none of them include branded content. This type of content can be used successfully as part of a larger marketing plan, but stories usually don't have a place for a bunch of advertisements. It's one thing to share a story of a customer who bought your work boots and include a picture of her with the boots on. It's another thing entirely to create a whole story around how your boots make her life worth living.

4 Examples of Stories that Work

Since storytelling involves a lot of creativity and can't really be broken down into a formula, here's a few examples of successful storytelling in marketing so you can get an idea of how to use it.

  1. Mayhem. This hilarious anti-hero has changed the face of sleepy insurance to something that is completely relatable. Allstate's Mayhem is the physical embodiment of all the things that can go wrong, and he illustrates why insurance is a good thing without actually selling it.
  2. This is Wholesome. Honey Maid Graham Crackers got a lot of attention for this campaign for showcasing diversity while portraying it as simply normal. It is, however, a great way to see storytelling at it's finest. It's just a series of families going about their lives, and they happen to like graham crackers.
  3. Land O' Lakes. This entire website feels like Grandma's Kitchen. You want to get a hot mug of tea and listen to her tell stories while she bakes buttery delights. Every inch of this website has a story to tell. For example, this blog post starts with the writer sharing a story about the dinnertime meltdowns she's working through with her toddler, moves on to a tasty weeknight recipe, and ends with confirmation that said toddler did not melt down over these enchiladas. Brilliant.
  4. GE Reports. "Where does the human end and the machine begin?" This website is dedicated to telling stories from around the world about science and technology while quietly positioning GE as an innovative, thoughtful company. Take a look at this post. The photo alone tells a story, but the post below really hits home. 

Be Inspired

From insurance to butter to washing machines, even the most mundane consumer transactions can be transformed into a meaningful story. Find the story behind the company you're marketing, and see where opportunities lie to make a connection. Show people what there is to laugh about, think about, cry about, or rejoice about, and they will be happy to make the journey with you.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock 

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