Zerysforagencies 160x60

  • Manage all your client content projects from one simple dashboard
  • Plan each clients' content strategy with built-in seo. title suggestion, and editorial calendar tools
  • White label our software and let your clients log-in to review content
  • Build a solid team of reliable writers
  • Get quality, custom content, from professional writers and bloggers

Schedule a Demo!

TwitterFacebookLinkedIndescribe the imageGooglePlusRSS

Zerys for Agencies Blog

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

7 Key Factors For A Successful Website Content Strategy

  
  
  

Unless your client has no online presence whatsoever, they are keenly aware that success in website content strategybusiness today requires more than price, quality and convenience; it requires a comprehensive internet marketing structure built on a foundation of dynamic website content.

If they utilize social media, no matter which format, sooner or later friends/followers will visit their website to see what all the fuss is about. If, when they arrive, these potential customers find uninteresting, outdated or, heaven forbid, inaccurate content, then their website content strategy, to the extent they even had one, has failed. 

So what's the key?  How do you construct a website content strategy that will attract consumers, engage them via a call to action, and convert them into customers for your clients?  There are numerous things you can do and countless sources to turn to depending on whether you're a newbie or technologically savvy (each of which creates its own set of challenges).  For our purposes, we're going to assume that your client already has an established website and that their marketing department uses social media to increase their online presence.  Given those factors, here are some things to consider when you develop a website content strategy for your clients: 

Who are they?  No, really, who are they?  What is the business, what does it stand for, what is it known for?  Identify its purpose and what they intend to accomplish via the site content.  Ask third parties what they like and don't like about the site.  Asking your client's best customers for their input will likely lead to some honest feedback (and may even increase their loyalty to your brand because you've made them feel valued).

Do the math.  Whether you use Google analytics, adobe, webtrends, an analytics measuring tool of your own design, or any one of the many other tools available, utilization will provide you information about the impact of your client's website on its users and enable you to respond to how those visitors interact with the site in order to increase engagement. 

What do they want to say?  Once you've established the online persona you want for the company or organization and conducted your analysis of how many visits your pages receive, how many of them click through or away, and other data your analytics can provide you, you're ready to create content that is responsive to what you've learned.  An effective website content strategy involves more than simply conveying information, its about telling a story, the story of your client's brand, in an informative, engaging way that holds the attention of the reader and calls them to action. Having said that...

It's not about them.  Yes, we know, it's their website and the primary purpose of it is to market their brand. However, your client's website should not be an online ad.  You've got...well...online ads for that.  To be truly effective, a website content strategy should employ writing that goes beyond merely singing the brand's praises. Whenever possible, it should be useful to visitors, beneficial beyond simply helping them make a purchasing decision.  If your website is perceived to be a source of objective, helpful information, visitors are more likely to read what's been written and are also more likely to return because they know your client's site is...

Current! Nothing spells doom for any Internet marketing campaign more than stale content.  If a user returns to your client's site and finds content that hasn't changed from the prior visit, he or she is unlikely to come back soon, if at all. A key component of any successful website content strategy is regular updating to ensure that it contains fresh content. 

Keep it simple.  Don't get us wrong.  We're not saying you should dumb your content down.  We do, however, recommend that whoever writes the content for your client's site do so in clear and concise language that does not require the reader to have more than just general knowledge of the subject matter. We mentioned earlier that content should tell a story.  It should not be a white paper.  For that reason alone, your most competent technical employee may not be the ideal person to write for your client's site. Someone who possesses a passion for talking about it, however, is another matter!

Where are they? Your website content strategy won't be very effective if your client's visitors can't find them through search engines or, once they've clicked on your site, are unable to easily navigate to where you want them to go, get lost, then frustrated, and then disappear.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Brand Building With Custom Publishing

  
  
  

What is Custom Publishing?custom publishing

Custom publishing and content marketing are two terms that are often confused. Joe Pulizzi, content marketing expert and founder of the Content Marketing Institute, wrote in 2010 that both custom publishing and content marketing are terms that mean essentially the same thing: copy intended to promote products or services through education or entertainment, instead of more direct advertisements. Custom publishing was the term first used for this type of marketing since it was mostly produced by publishing houses, but these days you will more frequently hear it referred to as content marketing or branded content.

Regardless of what you call it, custom publishing is very important for today’s businesses: 9 out of 10 organizations are using content to market, and more than three-quarters of all CMOs believe that custom content is the future of marketing. For many business owners, the biggest challenge with content marketing is understanding how to get started with this method of marketing. There are several ways to do so: each one has its pros and cons.

Hiring A Marketing Company

This is the route that many companies today decide to take: the idea is that by hiring marketing experts to handle their content creation and publishing needs, they will save themselves time and maximize their ROI. As a marketing agency, you know that making this option affordable for companies of every size and budget is key.  Also important is to assess the product or service.  As marketing guru Neil Patel points out, if your client does not have a solid product or service, the expertise that marketing companies can provide will not be much help.

Doing it Themselves

Smaller businesses or startups often choose to go this route. The upside of creating content on their own is that they get publishing that matches exactly what they want to convey about their businesses, since it's being written in-house.

The downside of this route is that it takes the largest amount of time, and in order to be successful with content marketing, businesses need to have a consistent stream of new material to help bring in new customers. They can decide to hire a full-time member of their team to handle this task, but that is also a costly endeavor as they will have to pay someone an annual salary.

Using an Agency/Consultant

This option strikes a good balance between hiring a full-blown marketing agency and creating content on their own. An agency can outsourse content to freelance writers with knowledge in their clients' fields for a fraction of the cost of full-service marketing.  An agency can coordinate and review projects, and many freelancers have an expert ability to meet the publishing needs of all types of clients. Companies that find a dependable freelancer have an excellent solution for custom publishing needs. The biggest challenge involved with hiring a freelance writer is finding one that can meet your requirements: you may have to experiment and work with multiple writers or publishers before you can find one that is right.

Curating Existing Content

While some may not consider this an actual form of custom publishing, content curation has become popular in the era of blogging because it is so easy. Many businesses use this strategy to get content for a blog or social media page effortlessly. Curating content from other blogs and web sites may give you a quick way to educate prospects about your client's general industry or products, but it is limited because they are unable to customize the content itself to fit the particular organization.

Whichever way companies decide to go with custom publishing, they should be sure to think carefully about it: this critical facet of their marketing efforts could be the difference between attracting new customers or losing the interest of prospects that come across their content.  Discuss the options available with existing and prospective clients, to find the right fit for them.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

3 Ways B2B Companies Can Provide Value Through Blogging

  
  
  

It’s fairly standard thinking these days that every company should have a blog – it is, after all,business blog strategy one of the cornerstones of a strong content marketing plan. But you may find yourself wondering what exactly should go on that blog. To answer a question with a question: Well, what do your clients' customers want?

The biggest rule of a strong business blog strategy is this: Provide value. Most businesspeople are busy, and their social media streams are already flooded with industry-related content every day. Your client's blog needs to stand out, or it needs to be such an invaluable resource that they come to them.

Here are a few ways you can make that happen.

1. Enrich the Pre-sales Experience

These days, consumers do all the necessary research to make purchasing decisions – or at least narrow the field to a couple options – before they ever make contact with a sales rep. And that’s if they ever make contact with a sales rep. B2B sales are fundamentally no different than consumer purchasing – in fact, 90% of corporate buyers age 18-35 now make their purchases online.

Branded content is, as a result, more important than ever for B2B marketers – by the time that purchaser engages with your company, she will be 57% of the way through the decision-making process. It’s critical to ensure that product information is readily available on your company website – and your business blog strategy can focus on ways to create value beyond your standard sales page.

Don’t worry about broad appeal – write for the people who are already interested in your client's product. Think of ways you can help to give them that extra push. Monitoring social media in your market can help provide additional intel, if you feel uncertain about the true needs of customers – and if you haven’t created customer personas yet, this is a great way to hammer out the customers’ hidden needs.

Create a series of articles highlighting different aspects of your client's product or different ways to use it – you may spark new ideas for potential customers or convince them that the product has superior flexibility. Provide real-world examples and workplace scenarios – you can create a more relatable, personal experience on the blog than on the sales page. And that can be very persuasive.

2. Communicate Industry News and Trends

Things move fast in the digital age, no matter what industry you’re in. Part of demonstrating that you’re worth your salt is keeping up with the trends – and it’s also, fortunately, an endless source of content for your blog.

Some key areas to keep an eye on include:

  • Major industry movers and shakers

  • New techniques and technology

  • Marketplace changes

  • Demographic shifts

  • Industry conventions

Done correctly – without showcasing or driving traffic to direct competitors – this strategy can help your client become a go-to resource for customers when they want to catch up on the latest industry news. Don’t be hit-or-miss in your coverage – become a reliable industry news hub. Then, when your readers have a need for the products or services your client just happen to offer, they'll be organically top-of-mind and well-positioned to capture the sale.

3. Provide Thought Leadership

There’s a fairly big difference between blogging about the latest happenings in your client's industry and creating meaningful, thought-provoking new ideas in areas of expertise. Think of it this way. The trend approach: “Apple creates new wearable device.” The thought-leader approach: “How wearable devices will totally reshape your business in the next five years.”

Cultivating a culture of thought leadership on your client's team and providing ways for their staff to share those ideas – namely, on their blog – will generate buzz and establish the company as one to watch. By consistently demonstrating strong ideas and superior expertise, you will make an impression on potential customers.

You can also make thought-leadership pieces work symbiotically with the business blog strategy by pursuing guest-posting gigs. Many websites allow guest writers to include a bio with their piece, and you can create a backlink to your body of work on the company blog – where the amazing content will lure them in and keep them coming back.

With a little work, a strong business blog strategy will leave you well-positioned to increase your company's mental real estate and capture more sales. Ideally, a combination of the strategies above will ensure a healthy mix of content that creates a compelling experience for readers.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Trends In Website Content: 2014 And Beyond

  
  
  

By now, you probably have at least a basic understanding of the importance of a website forwebsite content your client's business. If not, you certainly should: according to the Content Marketing Institute, 93% of B2B marketers reported that they were using content marketing, and 81% said they were using website articles, making it the second-most common tactic employed by B2B marketers.

Even if you understand the importance of website content, creating a strategy for your client's site is not always simple and easy. To make this task even more difficult, trends and best practices in content marketing are constantly changing. Learning about the trends in website content that we have seen in 2014 will help you tailor your client's website strategy for success in the coming years.

The Importance Of The Mobile Platform

It is easy to witness the rise of mobile devices for yourself: the next time you walk down a busy street, just look around and see how many people are on their smartphones. Want the numbers behind the exponential growth of mobile device usage? 9 out of every 10 American adults own a cell phone. In the coveted 18-29 year old demographic, over 80% of Americans own a smartphone. Most importantly: today’s Americans aren’t just using their phones to talk. Around 58% of consumers have already used their smartphone for store related shopping, while 63% of people expect that they will shop more on their mobile devices over the next few years.

What do these numbers mean for your client's website content? Put simply, you can’t ignore the mobile platform. To have a highly successful website in this era, you must have a page that is responsive, i.e. adapts its layout and interface to the device that your page visitors are using.

Assigning The Responsibility

Another statistic that should provide some key clues for business owners looking to improve their website content relates to business organization: 86% of the most effective marketers have a person in place to oversee content marketing strategy. If your client doesn't have a person or team of people in charge of content already, it will be very valuable over the next few years for them to dole out this responsibility to someone with a good grasp on the principles of website marketing. Titles like “director of content” or “website content strategist” will become more and more common as the number of businesses seriously pursuing content marketing continues to rise.

Quality Over Quantity

This may be the most important aspect of website content strategy. Search engine algorithm updates like Google’s Hummingbird have made high quality web content critical to the success of any company’s online presence. Gone are the days of black hat website strategies like keyword stuffing: today, you need to have a way to publish relevant, timely, customer-centric content on your client's site if you want to succeed in converting leads to customers. If your company doesn’t have the capacity to handle this task in-house, outsourcing your content creation needs is an excellent idea, as long as you can find the right providers.

A Cohesive Online Strategy

A big part of success with website content involves other areas of marketing strategy, like posts on social media pages and newsletter messages. Your marketing tactics must be tied together to form a unified brand message that your prospects will remember. What you put on your web site should have the same overarching message as your Facebook updates, which should in turn have the same message as your Twitter posts. Consistent marketing communications will help your audience better recognize and understand your brand, which is integral for successfully winning new customers.

Stay abreast of trends in online marketing and you will find it much easier to use the power of website content to make your client's business stand out from all of the other companies looking to claim their share of the rapidly-growing online world.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Quality Content: What It Is And Why It Matters

  
  
  

The seemingly endless chain of search engine updates has moved the world of SEO slowly quality contenttoward one fundamental goal - the creation of high quality content.

While the other aspects of search engine optimization like link building and in-depth keyword research are still just as important as they ever were, quality content has taken the stage as the star of the SEO show.  Content is, was, and always will be king, but how can you continue to create quality content in a world so saturated with content that nearly everything seems to be similar to something else?

The Hallmarks of Quality Content

Quality content is usually defined as content that is original, valuable, and engaging.  That definition, however, is as specific as it is vague, and it can often leave someone feeling as though they've entered the Twilight Zone of search engine optimization.  Google has released webmaster guidelines that specific what they believe quality (and quality content) to be, replete with a bullet list of attributes the content should possess.  Google even provides some guidance on their interpretation of content that is empty or devoid of originality.

While any content can be modified to make it original, valuable, and engaging, the true hallmarks of quality content are:

  • Content that possesses value to the reader by imparting information relevant to the reader's wants or needs

  • Content that answers a question, fulfills a desire, meets a need, or solves a problem for the reader (even if it may be a question or problem the reader was unaware of when they began their search)

  • Content that is presented in a unique way or via a fresh perspective, departing from the "same old, same old" rehashing of information found to already exist in countless online locations

Lists Are Typically Not Considered "Quality" Content

Lists are extremely popular in blogs and online articles because they provide information in a format that is easy to read.  This method of delivering information is preferred among many because the majority of online users are scanners; they skim content to find that which appeals to them, is unique in some way, or meets their needs.  With many lists, it is actually the headline itself that grabs the reader's attention and motivates them to examine the list in detail.

Despite the popularity of lists, they are not considered to be quality-infused content for the most obvious reason - they are nothing more than a retelling of information found somewhere else.  While one list may be significantly different from another, the basic data contained within the list is culled from other lists, making it as lacking in originality as possible.  The reader, most often, is looking through the list to find something they've yet to see, which is why the format itself is quite successful.

How To Create Content That "Wins" the Quality Contest

Google provides, in part of their Webmaster Tools, a course module for creating content that is high quality.  While you can follow a specific set of instructions and create content that could be considered rich in quality, it still may fail miserably among your readers.

The first (and most important) way to create content that is quality-rich is to define your audience.  After all, you cannot give them what they want if you don't know who they are.  If you are thinking globally, whittle it down to a more reachable target.  Choose one segment of your desired audience and write for them.  Find out what they want or need, discover a problem that is plaguing them, or learn what questions they have for which they've yet to find answers.

When you have defined your audience, it is much less challenging to create content that will appeal to them, and it also gives you a better definition of what content will appeal to them.  Once you know who you are writing for and what they want to know, the rest is easy by comparison.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

SMB's Can't "Do" Great Content... They Need Your Agency!

  
  
  

We recently came to an important conclusion that has many implications for our own business model, as well as the content marketing industry as a whole:


No matter how simple we make our do-it-yourself Zerys Content Platform, THE AVERAGE SMALL BUSINESS SIMPLY CANNOT MASTER CONTENT MARKETING ON THEIR OWN!

It’s not that smaller marketers aren’t smart enough to do it. They simply don’t have the time and resources to do it in-house.
Content Marketing Stress

This isn’t just my opinion. It’s based on 3 years of observations and data comparing over 8,000 Zerys for Marketers accounts (our do-it-yourself users), with over 3,000 agency clients (companies that hired agencies in our Zerys for Agencies network).


All this data has clearly shown us that, while a few marketers succeed, most give up eventually.

Meanwhile, clients that hire an agency that uses our Zerys for Agencies Platform, stick with content marketing much longer and get far better results when it comes to generating traffic, leads, and sales!


content marketing cloud
How Could Anyone Expect Otherwise?
When you really think about it, how could anyone really expect the average small business to master the art and science of planning, producing, polishing, and publishing great content all on their own? As an agency, you know how challenging content marketing can be. How can we expect the average small business to build a custom content publishing business within their company? They're busy enough just trying to run their own business!


What All This Means for Your Agency
This fact that content is so challenging for marketers has created an incredible opportunity right now for content agencies that learn how to create an efficient content publishing machine within their agency. If content were easy, everyone would be doing it. But since it's hard, marketers need YOU to help them!

Given the sky-rocketing demand for custom content, if your agency can master the process of creating great content for clients (and master our Zerys for Agencies platform), there’s unlimited room for your agency to grow and prosper.

We’ve seen a number of our Zerys for Agencies users scale up their operations to the point where they are now managing hundreds of client content projects and run profitable, multi-million dollar content divisions.
more profits

Let Us Help!
Want to master the art and science of creating extraordinary content for your clients? Use the quick links below to learn more or schedule a support or training session. We truly want to help you succeed!

(... and if you're truly serious about building a multi-million dollar content agency, please reply and let me know. You may qualify for our new premium, personalized agency consulting program. Myself and a few other previous content agency owners will review your current workflow and share what we've learned to help you build a more streamlined, profitable content business.. all for free!)

Quick Links
Log-In to Your Zerys for Agencies Account 
Zerys for Agencies Training
21 Day E-Course
Agency Blog
Content Marketing Learning Center
Schedule a Demo or Training Session

Brand Marketing In The Age Of The Customer

  
  
  

There were no festivals or celebrations to mark its beginning. No one changed their calendar brand marketingor started writing the date differently after it began. In fact, if you are not someone who has been around the marketing world for a long time, you may not even realize that the new age is upon us. The most astute marketing strategists, however, understand that even if you don’t realize it, a new era in business has recently begun: The Age of The Customer.

The Significance Of The Age Of The Customer

What does this new age mean, and why does it have such a big impact on brand marketing? To understand these questions, let’s first take a look at what the Age of the Customer actually represents. Jim Blasingame, a small business consultant, very accurately sums up the Age of the Customer in a recent Forbes article. Blasingame explains the new era by breaking down the three key elements of any market: products, product information, and buying decisions. Traditionally, vendors have controlled all of these elements except the final buying decision, which was left to the customer.

In the Age of the Customer, however, this model has been flipped around. Now that the Internet and the rise of mobile devices has given average consumers the ability to find data instantly about almost any subject, customers control two out of the three market elements: product information as well as buying decisions. This change represents a serious shift in the balance of power from sellers to customers. In order to adapt to such a dramatic change, buyers must also shift the way that they think about brand marketing.

Brand Marketing In The New Age Of Business

How exactly can a company hope to succeed at marketing their brand when the customer has so much control over buying interactions? The Forrester research company says that only companies that become “customer-obsessed” will have any chance at succeeding in this new age of business. From a marketing standpoint, this means that businesses need to show how their brand serves customers. There are several keys to this modern approach to brand marketing:

  • Focus your brand around what your customers want: remember that this is not always a tangible quality that can be found in your products. Consider the case of Apple, one of the biggest private companies in the world and arguably one of the most successful consumer electronics companies to ever exist. Apple was not the first company to develop a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, yet their offerings in these fields continue to be some of the highest-selling products in the world, because their brand focuses on something that customers today value: sleek, attractive products that are user-friendly. Apple’s brand sells this message everywhere, from its simple yet elegant company logo to its all-white, brightly lit retail stores.

  • Interact with customers: another big hallmark of brand marketing in the Age of the Customer is interaction. The best brands are the ones that interact with their customers and prospects: with the prominence of social media, this is easy to do. A good example of brand marketing through interaction can be found from clothing company Urban Hilton Weiner. The South African fashion retailer offered customers a $10 discount for taking a selfie wearing an outfit and posting a picture using the hashtag “#urbanselfie.” Not only does this brand marketing move help make a company’s name more prominent, it also allows them to show the world how passionate they are about hearing from their customers

  • Don’t be what you aren’t: the days of deceiving customers through phony or misleading advertisement tactics, as the tobacco industry tried to do in the early part of the 20th century, are over. The Age of the Customer means customers have the ability to find out whether or not your brand is truthful about its claims and stance in seconds: twisting the truth or lying outright will only hurt your reputation. Instead, pick a single overarching brand message and stick to it honestly with actions as well as words

With these brand marketing tips for the new age of business, your company can build a brand that will increase the amount of positive attention you receive from customers and prospects by showing them that your organization is very in sync with their needs and can provide something that will meet those needs.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Does Content Marketing Have A Future?

  
  
  

There’s been lots of chatter on the web lately about this. With all the hype around content content marketingmarketing over the past few years, you might be wondering how long it can last. And even if it does, what will content marketing look like in the future?

With the growing strength of social media engagement, will blogging become irrelevant? Is there already an overload of information out there? Does anyone even read quality content any more, or is it just for the purpose of indexing in search? 

Ok, if it’s any consolation, you aren’t the only one asking the question. Here are the main trends that seem to be moving to the top:

Trend #1: Independent Content Brands

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) recently held a webinar on the future of the industry, and one of the primary insights from audience participation was that of creating a content “brand” that’s separate from your product or service. By doing so, you build up a reputation as a thought leader in the field and create trust with your target market.

How to do this:

  • Focus on publishing only the highest quality content to drive subscriptions to your material.

  • Make sure everything you post provides value and helps your audience, rather than pitching your product.

  • Think of your content arm as a publisher. Then focus on being the best publisher of information in your industry that you can.

In fact, in some cases it’s prudent to publish commentary that promotes a different course of action than using your product or service!

Trend #2: It’s Impact that Counts

Forget the debate around short, snackable content versus long-form content. In the past, we’ve heard both arguments, but what seems to be the future is the impact. Short content is great for creating a buzz, but long-form, quality content is what drives relationships. Long-form has more impact, delivers more bang for the proverbial buck and—bonus!—works better for search because you can pack more keywords into it without “stuffing” it.

How to do this:

  • Focus on raising awareness and driving engagement with short content.

  • Use long-form content to offer value-adds and promote behavioral changes that result in sales.

By turning your content into valuable information instead of marketing, you’ll fill the need for reliable sources of advice.

Trend #3: Quality Content Reigns Supreme

It’s all about quality. No surprise there, but with the deluge of information coming at users from every angle, the way to differentiate yours is to create quality content that stands out from the rest.

How to do this:

  • Don’t compete for attention by making your content “noisier” than the rest.

  • Focus on running a tight content ship; reduce the quantity and improve the quality.

Whether you publish text, images or video, make sure it’s the best you can produce. Spend extra time ensuring that it’s error-free, optimized and makes use of best Internet practices.

Trend #4: Focus on Niche Instead of Reach

Following the theme of quality content instead of quantity, an overwhelmingly popular prediction is that niche material will dominate. By focusing on reaching the right consumers instead of numbers, you’ll get higher engagement (ergo: better impact), and drive value better.

How to do this:

  • Define your ideal customer very clearly.

  • Segment your target marketing into narrow, specific groups.

  • Create detailed personas for each segment, and focus on one only for each piece of content you publish.

Speak directly to your niche market in language it understands to create rapport with your readers.

Trend #5: Interactivity is Key

The days of one-way, “push” marketing are over. Inbound marketing is built on interactivity, and even quality content needs to be accessible for the user. Even video, which is big news in 2014, is still a one-directional method of communication. This means it’s only as successful as the degree of interactivity that follows it. For your content marketing to survive the changing climate, you need to build interactivity into your team’s deliverables.

How to do this:

  • Conduct marketing research to help identify what drives your target consumer’s behavior.

  • Take account of the right time, mode and context to present your material so it fulfills the right need, at the right time, in the right consumer’s life.

Don’t despair – all the time and money you’ve spent on content marketing isn’t about to be wasted. As long as you can remain agile in your marketing and embrace the trends in a timely way, you’ll have a market for quality content for a long time to come. 

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The Human Element And Its Influence On Social Content Success

  
  
  

A challenge that remains today (just as it did over a decade ago for web designers, online social contentmarketers, and content creators) is understanding the way social content works to enhance marketing strategies and attract site visitors, qualified leads, and online consumers.  

Part of the mystery surrounding social media as a marketing tool may be due to the fact that it is as much in flux as the living and breathing users who proliferate social networking channels.  While social content is by no means "alive" in the most literal sense of the word, it does respond to the ebb and flow of the human counterparts who complete the social media circle.

When an image or body of text becomes an overnight sensation on the Internet and is shared, linked, distributed, and talked about by social media users across the globe, that content is said to have "gone viral."  As much as anyone, public corporation or private individual, would like to create social content that has all the earmarks of an Internet epidemic, there is actually no reliable way to definitively predict the content's viral potential.  

Conversely, however, reasonably accurate predictions can be made regarding page rank success for websites and landing pages that have been designed with all the do's and don't's of search engine optimization (SEO) in mind.  The difference between these two examples, search engine page rank and the likelihood of virulence in social content, is like night and day.  One relies on well-defined algorithms and the other relies on uncontrollable emotions.

How Viral Social Content Gets That Way

Successful social content is successful because it evokes strong emotions in the observer, whether those emotions are positive or negative.  The important factor is that the individual is moved outside their normal range of emotion and compelled to feel strongly about what they are seeing or reading.  Cute kitten pictures don't become viral in the social media sphere because they occasionally evoked a voluntary reaction of, "Hmm, that's cute."  They explode across the Internet like an unstoppable warm and fuzzy juggernaut because they wrenched an involuntary and nearly tearful "Awwww, how adorable!" reaction from those in the social audience.

That's all well and good, you may be saying, but how can I turn my online marketing content into a warm and fuzzy juggernaut?  While there are certain "rules" you should play by when crafting your social content, such as defining your target audience beforehand and selectively choosing social media networks through which to make your online presence known, there are also factors that exist in a more gray area and are therefore harder to define.

Tips for Crafting Attention-Getting Social Content

Perhaps more important than anything else, your content should be utterly original.  If you are producing cookie-cutter content or cutting and pasting the work of others and claiming it as your own, you've already lost the social media marketing battle.  Online users have an extremely short attention span, a few seconds at most, so you have the blink of an eye, literally, to catch their attention.  

You can't do that if you're giving them content they've already seen a dozen times.  Whether you are using images, text, or both in your social content, you should always strive to provide a unique and fresh perspective to your target audience.  Your content should immediately catch their eye and their attention, and it should make them want to follow your links or calls-to-action farther into your sales funnel until they've reached the ending that you've chosen for them.

Giving the User Control

Another element of successful social content is that it moves an online user forward in a way that seems natural rather than pushy or full of overt salesmanship.  Ultimately, you want your visitor to meet your goals and objectives while still feeling as though they've been completely in control of their decision-making process from start to finish.

Above all else, however, social content is social just as people are social.  It uses the human aspect to become something more than just words and pictures, and it is that human aspect that makes it that much more appealing to your human audience.  Putting a label or definition on what, precisely, makes social media content more or less successful than any other online content is a difficult challenge that will continue to remain with us, but there are ways you can whittle down the obstacles to more manageable size if you think in terms of emotion rather than logic.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Developing A Content Strategy Across Social Media Networks

  
  
  

n the earliest days of Internet marketing, companies didn’t need to worry about putting content strategycontent anywhere except on their own web site. Back in those days, Facebook was a distant dream in the mind of a kid at Harvard and a tweet was just a sound made by a bird.

The Rapid Rise Of Social Networks

The meteoric rise of social media over the past five years has changed the way that companies approach their marketing. The statistics speak for themselves: in 2010, Facebook had 400 million users. Just two years later, the site reached more than 1 billion users. In the same period of time, the number of Twitter users doubled from 100 million to 200 million. Because of their huge number of users, these major social networks represent a prime channel for companies to attract new business and satisfy existing clients.

Besides a company web site, social media networks are some of the most common platforms for marketers to use when executing their content strategy. But with new social networks emerging on what seems like a daily basis and company resources under more strain than ever before, how can a marketer maintain a sufficient flow of content to each network? With some effort and planning, it is very possible to use multiple social networks simultaneously to improve the effectiveness of your company’s content strategy.

Narrow Your Focus

One of the first things you should understand about social media networks as they pertain to your client's content strategy is that it is impossible to cover all of them. You will want to decide early on which networks you should concentrate your energy on. Many companies choose Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as these three social networks are the most popular. The sites that you choose for your content marketing campaign should fit in with your goals as well as your customer demographic. For example, if you are targeting products or service towards women, Pinterest is probably a site that you want to be involved with: RJMetrics reported earlier this year that 80% of Pinterest users are women.

Consider Your Timing

What time will your prospects be active on the specific social media network that you are targeting with your content strategy? HubSpot says that Facebook posts are shared most on the weekends, while retweets on Twitter are highest later in the day and week. On the other hand, a network like LinkedIn that is aimed more at business professionals may be better to post on during the workday. Experiment with different timings for your social media posts and you will eventually find the ones that work the best.

Use Hashtags

For a busy marketer responsible for content strategy across multiple platforms, hashtags can be an important metric that binds it all together. Many of the major social media networks including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest support hashtags. What exactly is the function of a hashtag? It allows you to see messages from people that use a certain hashtag in their posts. With hashtags you can see exactly what people are saying about your client's company, event, or products. Try to encourage fans and followers to use your hashtags in their posts, which will increase your social media visibility in a way that you can track.

Don’t Forget About Customer Service

No matter what kind of social network you are using, your goal should be to satisfy your client's customers. There are countless examples of businesses using Twitter to provide excellent customer service. Have you heard the story about Morton’s Steakhouse delivering a steak to a hungry follower who didn’t have time to eat between flights? These are just a few examples of what is possible from a customer service standpoint. While Twitter might be the best social network for immediate customer service, you can address customer issues on almost any social network that you use.

These tips should get you well on your way to establishing a successful content strategy across several social media networks. Above all, make sure that you experiment and constantly tinker with your strategy to find out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to improving your client's company’s standing in the all-important world of social media networks.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

All Posts