• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 18, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • Here is mind game successful bloggers play with each other. “If you had to start over right now, how would you do it?” So here is my answer, an amalgam of stuff that worked and stuff I learned from mistakes I learned along the way. If you are just building a blog from scratch, here are the foundational steps I would take to do it.

    Here is mind game successful bloggers play with each other.

    “If you had to start over right now, how would you do it?”

    So here is my answer, an amalgam of stuff that worked and stuff I learned from mistakes I learned along the way. If you are just building a blog from scratch, here are the foundational steps I would take to do it.

    1. Don’t obsess with a niche

    Let me state plainly that yes … it is important to have a niche. You eventually need to carve out a little place on the web that you can make your own.

    But if you don’t know what that is, don’t let that stop you.

    Maybe you won’t discover your niche until you have blogged for six months, or a year. Maybe you will discover your niche based on an insight from a blog comment, maybe your niche will shift over time.

    When I started my blog I thought I knew my niche and found after six months that I hated it. So I changed it.

    Over years of blogging and 1,500 posts, I learned that my blogging niche is not writing about  Facebook, or strategy or SEO. My niche is me. My niche is the perspective I bring after being in business for more than 30 years. I think that is legitimate but it took me awhile to figure it out.

    2. Stop making excuses

    Everybody gets busy. And when that happens, if blogging is the first thing that drops off the table, you will never, ever become a successful blogger.

    If you write consistently – let’s say two hours a week – blogging will become easier over time. You will find your voice, you will find your audience, your confidence will grow, you will become more efficient. But none of this will happen if you don’t stick with it.

    Carve out at least two hours a week if you are serious about this and never miss.

    3. Spend time building an audience

    It can be pretty depressing to pour your heart into a blog and know that nobody is reading it. I am speaking from experience. I get as many page views in a week that I got in my first 18 months of blogging put together! {grow} was a lonely place for a long time.

    I learned that “Build it and they will come” is a great movie line but a lousy blogging strategy. Blogging is not just about writing. I had to spend time finding and nurturing my audience.

    Here are a few posts with ideas to help you do that:

    25 ideas for your social media network strategy

    Five proven ways to get more people to read your blog

    An insider’s guide to audience connection

    Five essential tools to attract a relevant audience to your blog

    4. Read

    There are about 10 blogs that I read consistently and a lot of other resources like Marketing Profs, Social Media Examiner and Hubspot that I scan for ideas and trends.

    Being an active reader helps you to be a better writer.

    However … don’t try to BE like somebody else. Follow your own path.

    5. Make it look professional

    If you want to grow your blog and maybe even build it into a business, the site should look professional. If you are spending a lot of time on your blog, why put it in a cheap-looking container?

    I often recommend to new businesses that if they only have a little bit of money to spend on marketing, spend it on a great-looking website. It is your front door to the world.

    6. Stick to a schedule

    Whether you decide to blog once a month or once a week, it’s important to be consistent. If you are trying to build an audience, they need to know when to expect something new from you.

    7. Become a blogger, not a writer

    Even if you consider yourself a good writer, that doesn’t mean you are an effective blog writer. There is a big difference in what we might have learned in school and what readers on the web expect.

    So spend a little time learning how to write for the web. Here are some resources to help:

    8 Ways blog writing is unique

    10 Maxims of Successful Blogging

    The book Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, by Ann Handley. 

    8. Be yourself

    To stand out you need to be original. To be original, you have no choice but to be yourself. Does that seem obvious? It’s not. It took me years to figure that out.

    Being yourself takes courage. I am still working on this and probably always will be.

    9. Think about SEO in context

    Optimizing your content for search may not be your top priority. Some people are going to have a twinge of anxiety at this piece of advice because SEO is a sacred cow in our business. But hear me out.

    For some businesses, SEO is essential, especially if you are trying to gain traffic to sell a discreet product like a clock or a computer.

    But what if you are trying to become a thought leader who aims to build loyalty? That doesn’t take “traffic.” That requires an audience. There’s a difference. And to build an audience, you need to serve them consistently with quality content, not necessarily keyword strategies.

    I recently wrote about the goals of different kinds of content (hygiene, hub, hero). The type of content you create and the relative importance of SEO must be in context with your goals as a writer. There needs to be a blend of priorities that fit your strategy.

    10. Know when to pivot

    When I started my blog, I thought that finding a niche meant being “on message.” I was afraid to sway from my core theme. Within a few months, I was bored.

    Everything changed once I allowed myself room to grow … and I am still growing! My blog is different than it was six months ago. It is radically different than it was two years ago.

    Some of this is because I am responding to changes in my audience. Part of the reason is because my interests have changed. But hopefully I am always staying interesting and relevant.

    I don’t see myself stuck in a theme or a niche. I am evolving. I am “pivoting” month by month, year by year.  Once you have found your niche, don’t be afraid to alter it. Don’t be afraid to {grow}!

    Well, those are some things that helped me when I started out and these are ideas I would use to start again. Which of these ideas had an impact on you?

    Illustration courtesy NatalieDee.com

    There are two critical steps to creating a content strategy that helps your brand get noticed and converts: developing buyer personas AND determining what questions they will ask at each stage of the sales cycle.

    If you’re creating content to help market your business, you know there’s a ton of competition for your prospects’ attention.

    So how do you ensure your brand stands out?

    There are two critical steps to creating a content strategy that helps your brand get noticed and converts: developing buyer personas AND determining what questions they will ask at each stage of the sales cycle.

    This post covers the first step … stay tuned for a second article covering the latter.

    What’s a buyer persona?

    A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customers. Marketers develop personas by combining real data with a good dose of educated assumption.

    You get real data by talking to your sales or customer-relations teams – the folks who interact with your customers on a regular basis. It’s also a good idea to survey your customers to get additional feedback straight from the source.

    And don’t just talk to your satisfied customers. Interview some of the people who weren’t so happy with your product or service to get a 360-degree perspective.

    What do buyer personas include?

    Typically, a buyer persona consists of basic demographic information along with defining customer characteristics such as needs, concerns, motivations and pain points.

    Consider Potter Paralegal Inc. This fictional company specializes in debt collection. When a client’s customer doesn’t pay, Potter provides assistance in small claims court. Like many companies, Potter targets a wide customer base. Its clients include bookkeepers, accountants and small-business owners.

    Each of these client segments is made of very different groups of people with distinct concerns and motivations. To be successful in its marketing, Potter must connect with each group in ways that are relevant to that group. To this end, the company has created a set of buyer personas that represent ideal customers in each segment.

    Betty, the book-keeper

    Content strategy for B2C business success

    Potter’s book-keeper persona is Betty. Though Betty assists her clients with collections, she has many other responsibilities, including payables, payroll, receivables and invoicing.

    If a client is unable to collect an invoice, she doesn’t have the expertise to handle small claims court. Nor does she make the decision to hire a paralegal. But she’s definitely an influencer in determining if and when a paralegal is needed.

    Bottom line: Betty wants to look good with her clients.

    Buyer personas

    Allan, the accountant

    Allan is Potter’s accountant persona. He runs an accounting department at a small manufacturing company. If a customer drags out its payables, he’ll have someone else in his department research solutions, but he makes the final decision.

    Bottom line: It’s all about the bottom line for Allan.

    Sam, the small business owner

    Let’s give Potter’s small-business owner persona the name Sam.

    content strategy

    Sam is a roofer. He’s busy installing shingles and doesn’t have time to figure out what to do when someone doesn’t pay. He also would rather not have to deal with it himself. Nonpayment of debts is upsetting for Sam because the money comes right out of his pocket.

    Bottom line: Sam is looking for someone he can trust.

    Creating buyer personas

    By creating buyer personas, Potter has put a human face on customer information that otherwise is largely abstract. This approach helps the company create tailored content for each of its audiences that hits home and encourages action.

    So how can you, like Potter, begin development of a content strategy and create buyer personas representing each of your target groups?

    The first stage of the process is to divide your prospects into relevant segments. There are many ways to do this, and the best approach for your business will depend on your particular situation and the types of customers you’re targeting.

    One method is to segment based on decision-maker status. Recall that Betty the book-keeper is not a decision maker, while Allan the accountant is. This difference had a significant impact on their personal “bottom lines.”

    You can also consider other contact traits. Betty wants to look good with her clients. Allan wants to deliver the bottom line.

    Other factors that can contribute to this process include geographic location, company size, market or industry, ethnicity, age and gender.

    Get a deeper understanding

    Once you’ve segmented your audience, you need to learn more about them. Questions to ask include:

    •  What are their pain points?
    •  What keeps them up at night?
    •  Is there a type of content they prefer?
    • Who do they listen to for advice on the decision you’re concerned about?

    What type of content will convert?

    After you’ve completed the information gathering stage, you need to think about the types of content that will appeal to your different buyer personas.

    At the top of the sales funnel, prospects are researching solutions to their particular problems. Potter’s top-of-the-funnel content strategy might include a different ebook targeting each of its client groups:

    •  For Betty, the bookkeeper: Top 10 Account Collection Suggestions for Bookkeepers
    •  For Allan, the accountant: 21 Tips for Collecting Receivables and Building Your Bottom Line
    •  For Sam, the small business owner: 10 Insider Secrets: What to Do When Customers Don’t Pay

    As prospects move further along the sales cycle, additional content is required to encourage action. Again, by focusing on your buyer personas, you can develop messaging that is highly targeted and relevant to your customers.

    A blend of art and science

    Creating buyer personas is part art and part science. It’s a best-practice skill that takes time to master. If you’re new to creating buyer personas for your business, you might benefit from a handy template I created do just that. Download it for free HERE.

    Though they’re fabrications, buyer personas are effective tools that allow you to be targeted, specific and concrete in your messaging. Content developed without the benefit of buyer personas is likely to be generic. And less likely to engage.

    This post originally appeared on Spin Sucks.

    Photo Credit: Marketing Strategy/shutterstock

    This week we’ve curated our five of the best apps for social media. They’re our favourite apps that all social media managers will love.

    We keep it simple at K.I.S.S, which is why we LOVE apps! From the weird, wonderful and wacky (check out the top 12 weirdest apps here), there’s really an app for everything.

    This week we’ve curated our five ‘o the best apps for social media. They’re our favourite apps that all social media managers will love. Some make your content look sharp and engaging while others, make analysis a whole lot simpler. If you haven’t already, download them so you can love them as much as we do.

    Followers+ (FREE)

    Track your lost/gained followers – perfect for building a quality audience.

    And track the following:

    • Who are your best/worst followers
    • Who isn’t following you back and who you aren’t following back
    • Who posts near by? Far away?
    • Track your Average Likes per Photo (ALP) and Fame Value (FV))

    PicFrame (FREE)

    Before and after photos on social media are very powerful. From hair and beauty to building and construction if you’ve got a before and after visual to share, do it with PicFrame. PicFrame combines multiple photos and videos into amazing looking frames and share them with your audience via Instagram, Facebook, Email, Twitter and more.

    Vintique ($2.49 AUD)

    Visually appealing and engaging content is a must on social media and Vintique is just the thing to help you. They provide awesome vintage filters and powerful image editing tools. Edit your photos with Vintique and boost them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. 

    Fotogramme (FREE)

    This app is great for social media managers with multiple accounts. Fotgramme allows you to access profile information, view pics, like, comment other Instagramers pics, follow, block users and search hashtag and users. The only thing that is not available is the possibility to upload a photos (like all third parties Instagram Api’s), nevertheless, Fotogramme seems to offer the best solution to multiple Instagram account management on an iPhone.

    Feedly (FREE)

    Feedly is our go-to app for discovering new content on the go. It compiles of the information we need to stay ahead of our game – completely tailored to what’s important to you. 

    Over the last few years, online video has proven to be the most engaging and compelling form of content for social media users. Every major social network, from Facebook to Pinterest, has recently developed their own native video services and/or promoted video ads. Let’s go through each social network and learn why marketers should go for video content to boost their 2015 social media campaign.

    Planning your 2015 social media campaign? Need to get some expert advice on the matter?

    Well, in case you haven’t heard, social media is now increasingly turning towards video marketing. Over the last few years, online video has proven to be the most engaging and compelling form of content for social media users who watch and share thousands of them every single minute. Every major social network, from Facebook to Pinterest, has recently developed their own native video services and/or promoted video ads. So we know for a fact that 2015 will be the year that video marketing finally takes over social media!

    Let’s now go through each social network and learn why you should go for video marketing to boost your 2015 social media campaign:

    Facebook

    Facebook

    Plain and simple: Mark Zuckerberg himself has recently announced that Facebook will turn efforts towards video marketing next year.

    Zuckerberg claimed that "most of the content on Facebook is content that people are sharing with their friends and the people around them. And if you look into the future, a lot of the content that people share will be video. It's just very compelling."

    We know that promoting native videos on Facebook is almost impossible nowadays (the Premium Video Ads service runs just for selected advertisers and ranges from 1 to 2.5 million dollars a day). Zuckerberg’s words are great news for brands that are already running video marketing campaigns and those who were skeptical in doing so.

    Twitter

    Twitter

    This micro blogging network has recently launched a beta version of Promoted Video Ads that’s set to go in full swing by 2015. This is a huge step for the world’s 2nd largest social network, and it’s already inspiring and encouraging marketers to get their online videos ready for what’s coming next.

    Twitter has a sharing rate of more than 2,000 tweets that include video links per minute, but they had neither included native video embedding nor native video promotion until now. The Promoted Video switch allows video tweets promotion for the very first time, and offers complete video analytics through a pay-per-click system.

    YouTube

    YouTube

    This video sharing site owned by Google remains the 2nd largest search engine in the world and 3rd largest social network and, as long as it stays on top, you must have your videos running and optimized in your YouTube channel when the next year arrives.

    With 1 billion monthly users, YouTube is the easiest way for any online business to share and promote their brand with marketing videos. And, being a powerful social media channel, it’s a great place to build your video marketing strategy through community engagement by following, commenting and sharing with other brands.

    Pinterest

    Pinterest

    Do you just share images and infographics on Pinterest? Well, this has to change next year, because you’ll learn that Pinterest is also a great social network to share (and soon promote) your marketing videos.

    Videos hosted on YouTube and Vimeo are pinnable and playable on Pinterest and this can definitely widen your videos’ viewership and sharing rates. Just like on YouTube, make sure you choose and eye-catching thumbnail plus wise tags, and all should be fine and dandy. Pinterest now offers great analytics tools and is ready to launch its very own Promoted Pins service in 2015.

    Vine and Instagram

    Vine and Instagram

    That’s right; the two ascending kings of micro-video owned by Twitter and Facebook are heading towards video marketing too!

    Instagram has announced its own Video Ads last month, along with some basic analytics tools which allow target users by age, gender and country. They’re now looking to optimize the service for next year to “avoid spammy feeds”. Likewise, Vine (officially launched less than 2 years ago) is experimenting with 6-second promoted video ads and it has already had great reviews for its compelling branding results.

    That was quite a lot of video marketing information, right?

    But now you’re wondering; how can you better seize all of the video marketing possibilities that social media offers? Well, if you’re not using them already, you should try these great pieces of content:

    Explainer Videos: these under-2-minute marketing videos are made to explain any product or service in an engaging way. They’re usually fun and compelling animated videos, something that generates empathy and trust in a brand. They increase click-through-rates, reduce website bounce rate and can boost conversions by 20% on average. They’re the perfect type of video branding content to use in order to promote online businesses in social media.

    Webinars: these sorts of online video master classes are made to explain new marketing trends, discuss online services and educate the audience along the way. They’re great social media tools because they encourage an open dialogue, which leads to immediate audience engagement, and also labels the webinar speaker as a marketing expert.

    Microvideos: if your brand hasn’t tried Vine’s short looping videos or Instargam’s 15-second videos yet, it’s time to do it. Despite not having the quality or being as visually compelling as animated explainer videos, they’re great branding builders. Microvideos can show a fun sneak-peek of a day at the office or even a sketch of a brand-new project, so they get your brand closer to your target audience on social media.

    Screencast Videos: these kind of corporate videos showcase how your product or service works. They have a more “serious” approach than explainer videos or microvideos, but they are a good option for some online businesses that need to reveal their product’s new features to the online world in a realistic way.

    I hope this post had been useful in order to learn why you should set up your video marketing strategy in your next year’s social media campaign. 

    While the benefits of exploiting your database’s potential are well known, it’s critical that marketers ensure their data is clean, legal and ‘non-aggressive’ in the first place.

    Data is at the heart of everything we do in marketing – it informs every campaign, who it is targeted at and it ultimately dictates the potential rewards. A clean, accurate database can mean the difference between targeting the right set of prospects and a wasteful one-size-fits-all approach that can drive down ROI, offend customers and even land your company in legal hot water. It’s an issue that big businesses are well aware of: $14.2 million is the ammount that organisations believe they are losing annually because of issues with data quality. How do you ensure you don’t fall foul of bad data?

    Dirty Data

    Keeping records up to date is imperative. After all, only…50% of those surveyed by database specialist Market Scan check their customer data is up to date and accurate before launching a campaignven though the rate of database decay is 40% per year. Companies who fail to update and clean their data run the risk of: Clone entries that see you sending out the same campaign to the same person or company time and again because of duplicate records. Weed out clone entries to ensure your ROI isn’t impacted. Missing entries are often down to human error. Plug the holes in your database to ensure you maximise the potential of any campaign. To aid in the process, standardise your entry system and offer full training to employees charged with data entry. Gone-away entries are businesses who have folded, moved premises or individuals who have moved roles. Use suppression files to locate and remove dead leads on a regular basis.

    Take Charge

    It’s essential that someone takes responsibility for the data cleansing process. Research by Capscan revealed that 14.4% of those surveyed thought that the CEO should be responsible for data quality – while 19.2% stated it was the CIO’s responsibility.

    Dangerous Data

    Illegal data can have serious ramifications for your company’s image and bottom line.

    Whether it’s email, social, telemarketing or direct mail, ensure that you have the consent of recipients before sending out marketing missives. Know your territories’ rules and regulations whether it’s the Federal Trade Commission’s in the US or EU legislation including the ‘safe harbor’ agreement. If in doubt about the ins and outs of consumer law in a particular territory, seek out legal advice - or you could find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit for allegedly using EU consumers’ personal data without their consent.

    Offensive Data

    The era of big data and marketing automation has arrived, delivering sometimes astonishing results when deployed effectively. But as marketers are discovering, there is a very real downside emerging among all the success stories – where customers have been left hurt and even grieving by insensitive and inept marketing. Whether it was the parent who found out about his daughter’s pregnancy thanks to a Target mail out, or a grieving father who received an offer from a stationery supplier addressed to ‘Mike Seay, Daughter Killed In Car Crash’, the headline-bating horror stories are becoming all too familiar. Aggressive profiling based on the customer’s journey is a powerful tool, but it’s one that must be used with great responsibility. Companies must not allow themselves to become complacent and expect their marketing automation to take care of itself once set up. Instead, the process must be monitored constantly by a dedicated team with the right data analysis skill set. They must grow your lists organically and be able to vet any third-party data providers that are brought onboard to flesh out your existing database.

    Remember:

    • Cleanse your database on a regular basis to stamp out missing, cloned or gone-away entries.
    • Ensure you have a team or individual in place to deal with maintenance issues.
    • Hire legal experts to educate you about the rules and regulations of the territories you operate in.
    • Put a team in place to ensure your big data and marketing automation don’t run away from you.
    • Ask yourself: “Do I really need a vast database? Or do I need one which is smaller and more focused?”. The answer should be obvious.

    Learn more about how to manage and maintain your database with the eGuide: ‘Modern marketing essentials guide: data management’.