Road with Sunset

Less content is more: 7 tips to successful content marketing

More companies are increasing their content output, leading some experts to say that the growth in the amount of content is leading to content shock. Content shock is where there is more content than we can consume than there is time or interest to consume it.

There are some stats to back up the increase of content production:

  • According to Trackmaven, almost 9,000 brands have increased their content by 78 percent on average over the last two years
  • 56 percent of leading business bloggers are hiring additional resources in the next 12 months, according to Curata

And the content that is being produced is not effective. For example:

  • 51 percent of marketers think their content is average or worse, according to Contently

Are you noticing a theme? More is not always better.

Let’s think differently about our content marketing efforts.

Less content is more.

Successful content marketing will be harder to achieve in 2016, so here are seven tips to help you convert more with less content.

1. Stop producing bad content by answering your clients questions in your content

The biggest threat to content marketing is crap [view the SlideShare]. If the content you produce is not relevant to your clients, don’t produce it. A way to ensure you don’t produce bad content is to create content that answers the questions the clients are asking you. Come up with a list of questions that your customers or clients are asking you and write content to answer those questions. You may want to review your frequently asked questions (FAQ) section of your website and turn those questions into content for your blog or magazine.

Another key to stopping the production of bad content is to avoid talking about your company and producing content that is helpful (not promotional). Read the 6 principles of great content brands. It may be helpful to think of your content like a TV series that has an overall theme and each episode tells the story or theme of the series.

2. Concentrate on one channel for your content

Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, says that marketers should concentrate on one channel such as a blog, a video series or a podcast. He points to how the greatest media brands of all time such as The New York Times, ESPN and The Huffington Post started out by dominating one channel (print, TV, blog) before they launched additional channels. According to Content Marketing Institute research, publish content using 12 tactics with the distribution of their content to an average of five social media networks.

Look at your analytics, what channel is the most successful for you? The digital body language of your customers or clients is probably giving you the answer. You don’t need to be on every channel if your target audience is not on that channel. With limited resources, it is important to concentrate on one or two channels rather than three, four or even five.

3. Be the media; your competition is bigger than you may think

In today’s content marketing world where you can publish directly to your clients or customers without going to traditional media outlets, you are up against more than just your direct competitors. You are up against everyone who is producing content on the same topic – whether that be an indirect competitor, the traditional media such as industry trade outlets or even Wikipedia. That is why it is important to coordinate your content efforts so you act like a newsroom instead of a marketing department.

How do you compete against so many different competitors?

Make sure your team is flexible bur firm so that your team can create consistent, relevant and meaningful content. You will also need to expand the reach of your team beyond just the marketing team so other teams can help contribute and share your content. You may also want to develop a content marketing steering committee or advisory board to include different people from different parts of the business to help you produce the right content for the right audience to meet your company’s goals.

As Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications, says, “don’t beg the media, be the media.” To be the media you should take some tips from professional journalists to create stories that don’t promote a product or service, develop editorial guidelines and validate sources of information. Assemble a diverse content marketing team so you can produce compelling videos, publish articles that are not skimmed and have high-quality photos that are helpful for your customers so that you become the go-to information source instead of going to your competitors. Finally, know and master the fundamentals of content marketing.

4. Optimize your past content

Stop focusing on only new content. Remember that your old content has staying powering. Optimize your old content so it is fresh, up-to-date and can generate even more traffic and conversions. According to HubSpot analysis of their historical data, 76 percent of their monthly blog views come from old posts (published prior to that month) and 92 percent of monthly blog leads also come from old posts. Some of the best content I have produced on this blog, I wrote years ago.

By conducting a content audit using free tools such as these free 5 content audit tools, you can determine what gaps you have in your content, what you need to make your content better and figure out if you have any content archipelagos – a group of content that is rarely visited and doesn’t resonate well with your targeted audience. During this content audit, you may find out that you found a content gem that you didn’t know was so successful.

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Old content has staying power. Optimizing old content is a great way to generate more traffic and figure out what content is resonating with your audience.

5. Add high-quality imagery to all of your content

According to Moz analysis of their content, they found out that posts with images receives more links than posts without images. The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than the time it takes for the brain to decode text. According to HubSpot, content gets 94 percent more views with compelling visual elements and graphics.

Read why visual content is a social media secret weapon. To help you find those quality images, you may want to read 14 free stock photo websites, 25 places to find free photos and 7 websites for free and beautiful stock photos.

6. Create easy to read content with strong headlines and call to actions

It is important to create content that is easy to read. Have you read content that was long winded or used big words? Was it easy to scan and quickly comprehend? Without easy-to-read content, your approach to content marketing will most likely fail.

Readability

Readability is important for search engine optimization (SEO), usability and ensure Google is rating your website high in search results. Use words that the right number of syllables and the right sentence length. The readability of the content impacts how well or poorly your content will perform in the search results. Figure out how well your content reads by using the readability score tool.

Compelling headlines

Beyond just overall readability, it is important that the start and finish of your content guides the reader’s experience. Make sure your headline and sub-headline capture the essence of your content. Analyze your headlines using tools like these 10 free keyword research tools to write compelling headlines.

Call to actions

It is very important to include call to actions in your content, especially your best performing content. A strong call to action (the “what”) encourages and provokes your readers to respond.  One of the actions could be to view the SlideShare content of your article or vice versa. One of the call to actions could be to read the article version of your SlideShare content. Learn how to repurpose your content on SlideShare. Other call to actions could include read related content, download an eBook or white paper or call/email us for help on the topic. If you include your call to action up top and again at the end of the content, you encourage more clicks.

7. Repurpose your content and develop a strategy for types of content

Repurposing content is critical for all of us with tight marketing budgets and to ensure our marketing messages consistently reach our target audiences. Have you used channels like SlideShare to get more out of your content? Read why SlideShare is the perfect vehicle for extending the life of your content.

To ensure you have a strategy for the different types of content you produce and curate, you may want to use a pyramid-based approach. It improves the long-term efficiencies and effectiveness of your content marketing operations and helps you produce more content with less effort. The foundation of this pyramid starts with curated content. Read the five free content curation resources that can save you time.

By using this pyramid when you think about your content, you incorporate the best practices of content marketing. You ensure your audience sees your key marketing messages in several places at different times; your audience sees key messages in multiple shapes and sizes; and it extends your reach beyond your websites.

Bringing it All Together

Don’t take my word for it. Brafton wrote up a case study about how a financial services company wrote fewer articles that were more in-depth. It boosted web traffic and sales. Instead of pumping out tons of content, make sure you have a content marketing strategy where less content can help your bottom line efforts. It is getting harder and harder with more people understanding the power of content marketing so now is a great time to re-think your content marketing efforts so that you can beat the content shock.

What tips would you add to this list to overcome the content shock?

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5 free content curation resources to save you time

To be successful with content marketing and social media, content curation is vital. To grow your influence in today’s world, you need to be a great content resource for others so you can help them filter out all of the noise. Content curation is one of the Cs of a successful social media strategy.

What is content curation?

Content curation is acting like a museum curator where you go out and share the best of other people’s content.

Why should you curate content?

Content curation is an excellent way to help you generate ideas for your own content creation. It is also an easy way to share content because you don’t have to create content from scratch. And it helps you grow your authority on certain subjects such as social media, content marketing or public relations.

People and brands who find the sweet spot of content creation and content curation are successful on social media and with content marketing. According to Curata, more than 50 percent of marketers who curate content enhance their brand visibility, thought leadership, search engine optimization (SEO) and website traffic. If you want to learn more about content curation, you may want to read the beginner’s guide to content curation, a busy person’s guide to the content curation and/or 5 ways to succeed with content curation.

What is the difference between content curation and content aggregation? 

Content curation uses the human touch while content aggregation uses a computer. If you are using a computer you are doing content aggregation through automation and algorithms to find content. Content curation is a process where you hand pick the best content and share it with your audience through social media, your website or blog. You should read how do content curation and content aggregation differ?

5 content curation resources

To help you save time, I provided you with my go-to resources for content curation.

1. SmartBrief Newsletters

These newsletters provide executive summaries each day of the most relevant industry news, keeping busy professionals like you up-to-date with the latest news and information. They have more than 200 niche email newsletters on topics such as business, leadership, enterprise IT, careers, social business, marketing, digital, sales, business travel, etc. The editors cull through more than 10,000 major media outlets and blogs to find the freshest and most relevant information.

Take action: Subscribe to the SmartBrief newsletters.

2. Who’s Blogging What

This email newsletter is a go-to source for marketing and public relations professionals who want to stay current on social media, search marketing, email marketing, digital marketing and web analytics. It provides links to the latest news and developments in digital marketing. The email is sent out every Thursday. The articles include hot topics, new strategies and how-to articles. Their tagline is that they “spot things that digital marketers need to see.” If you are looking to keep yourself up-to-date and sharp in today’s era of digital disruption, this email newsletter is for you.

Take action: Subscribe to the Who’s Blogging What newsletter.

3. LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog

Almost every Friday, Alex Rynne publishes a trending content blog post that summarizes the must-read marketing articles that week. She provides you with the link to the article and provides one to two sentences on why she feels that the article is worthy of your attention.

Take action: Subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog.

4. Convince and Convert Definitive

These newsletters pick the best content from around the web on the topics you want to know and learn more about it. These newsletters are sorted by topic. There are four newsletters produced each week. Monday is digital marketing, Tuesday is social media, Wednesday is content marketing and Thursday is the Convince and Convert blog. You can change the amount of content you want to receive each week.

Take action: Subscribe to the Convince and Convert Definitive newsletters.

5. Quartz Daily Brief

If you are looking to keep up-to-date with the most important and interesting news in the world, the Quartz Daily Brief newsletter is a great content curation resource. This newsletter works nicely across a lot of different platforms (desktop, smartphones, and tablets) because it is a text newsletter that doesn’t have big images. You can choose your time zone (America, Europe or Asia) so it is delivered at the right time.

Take action: Subscribe to the Quartz Daily Brief newsletter.

What would content curation resources would you add to this list?

 

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Top 10 viral YouTube videos of all time

We all love videos so I thought it would be fitting to create a post on the 10 best viral YouTube videos of all time.

In doing research for this post, I saw many other top viral video lists varied based a number of variables and criteria. Basically, the list depends on how you slice and dice it. In other words, these types of posts are very subjective. So what really makes up a viral YouTube video for this list?

Here’s my criteria:

  1. The video needed to reach a large age range
  2. Be a part of pop culture
  3. You can watch it on YouTube
  4. Ranked by number of YouTube views

Here’s my list:

10. Will it Blend? iPad version

Views: 17 million + (note: there are many different versions of “Will It Blend”)

9. Steve Harvey Announces the Wrong Winner of Miss Universe 2015

Views: 22 million +

8. #Hashtag with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake

Views: 30 million +

7. Old Spice – The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Views: 52 million +

6. Miss Teen USA 2007 – South Carolina answers a question

Views: 64 million +

5. Battle at Kruger

Views: 77 million +

4. Evian Babies

Views: 81 million +

3. David after Dentist

Views: 132 million +

2. Evolution of Dance

Views: 294 million +

1. Gangnam Style

Views: 2 billion +

What YouTube videos would you add to this list?

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12 Twitter tools to help you maximize your tweets

How do you get your tweets noticed? How do you get them read? And how do you get re-tweets? These are some of the most-pressing questions that many Twitter users ask. The key is to optimize the timing of your tweets to make sure you reach the greatest number of your followers.

These Twitter tools can help you figure out and maximize the timing of your tweets.

1. WhenToTweet

This tool will help you figure out when most of your followers are online.

2. TweetWhen 

This free tool shows you the best times to tweet based on your past 1,000 tweets.

3. Tweriod 

This free tool looks at you and your Twitter followers’ tweets to provide times on when you should tweet.

4. TweetStats 

This free tool will show you detailed analysis of your best tweeting time.

5. Timely 

This free tool analyzes your past 199 tweets and figures out the best time slots for you to tweet.

6. Tweue 

This free tool is basically a Twitter queue that will evenly space up to 10 tweet from 15 minutes to eight hours apart.

7. TweetReports 

This free tool gathers the stats from your top 25 influential followers and analyzes the times where keywords are talked about the most, and when you may want to participate in these conversations.

8. Lookacross 

This paid tool (30-day free trial) to find the best time to reach people.

9. 14Blocks 

A paid tool ($5-$49/month) that analyzes your followers’ activities to find out the best times to tweet each day of the week.

10. Socialflow 

A paid tool ($1 for first month) publishes your content when it will resonate the most with your Twitter followers.

11. Hootsuite 

A free web-based social media dashboard that allows you to queue up and post updates in a timely fashion.

12. Buffer 

This free app allows you to add articles, photos and videos to it anytime of the day and then it automatically shares them throughout the day.

What Twitter tools would you add to this list?

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15 helpful tools to increase productivity in the workplace

We are all looking for tools to help us save time to complete that important project with a pressing deadline, make sure we can leave work on time, or create an outstanding presentation.

Whether you want to convert PDFs to PowerPoint slides, find out how much time you spend time during the day working on different things, or create cool social media graphics, these tools can help you be more productive.

Here are 15 tools that can help you improve your productivity.

1. PDF To PowerPoint Converter

Creating PowerPoints from scratch are tough, especially when you want to insert PDFs into the slides. With this converter, you can easily change PDFs into PowerPoint slides. Just upload the PDF and the file will be converted online. If you are worried about privacy, all files you upload are deleted from the tool one hour after the conversion. This tool works on all computers.

2. RFP Monkey

This is an automation solution to help you respond faster and better to a request for proposal (RFP) or a request for information (RFI). It helps you reuse, collaborate, categorize, and even search your knowledge base of information. You are able to rack project assignments of team members and see the progress of RFPs or RFIs.

3. Awesome Screenshot

This tools helps you capture screenshots for all or a part of a web page. You can add annotations; put in comments; blur sensitive information; store and organize images by project; get feedback from your colleagues on screenshots and designs; and collaborate with friends and colleagues. You can even add it as an extension to your Chrome web browser.

4. SnagIt

This tool is similar to Awesome Screenshot, SnagIt helps you capture images on your computer with a couple of clicks. You can customize your screen captures with its markup tools. You can also create quick videos by recording your screen and then narrate and trim them. You can get SnagIt on your Android and iOS phone with the Fuse app so you can send photos and videos from your mobile device to your SnagIt editor.

5. Pixlr Express

This online image editor help you re-size and crop images via your web browser. You can apply a quick fix to the image, add creative effects, and add borders.

6. Tomato Timer

This mobile-friendly tool helps you take breaks using the flexible Pomodoro Technique – a time management method to break down work into intervals (typically 25 minutes in length separated by short 5 minute breaks). These intervals are called pomodoros: the Italian word for tomatoes. After four pomodoros, it is suggested you take a longer 10 minute break. With this timer, you have the ability to pause or reset the timer, be notified on your desktop with audio notifications, and change the alert sound and volume. If you are looking to add more breaks to your workday, this is the tool for you.

7. Toggl

This tool is a time tracker application. When you click the Toggl button, the timer begins and you track the time it takes to complete various tasks. It provides you with reports to show you much time you spent on different projects. You can do all of this through your web browser or you can install it on your desktop.

8. Rescue Time

This tools is similar to Toggl but with more bells and whistles. It shows you the hours of the day that are your least/most productive and your best and worst days of the week/month/year. You can install it on your computer to track what programs and websites you spend the most time on.

9. Strengths Test

This tool helps you find out your strengths. Do you know what you do best every day? Most likely, you probably don’t. This test helps you find out your preferred way of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

10. Email Future

This tool helps you send yourself emails in the future. Whether it’s a reminder email in half hour or a message to your future self in 5 or 10 years, it is a great way to remind yourself of important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, sporting events, when concert tickets go on sale, project due dates) or remind yourself to buy things at the grocery store. You can send yourself helpful links you find on the internet or send yourself an email about a list of goals you want to accomplish this year or where you want to be in life in 5, 10 or 15 years from now.

11. Kapost’s Content Audit Tool

A content audit can be time-consuming process but important to knowing what content you have on your website(s). It is a critical part of an effective content marketing strategy. Kapost has simplified and automated the process with this free content audit tool. It crawls your website to categorize content by type, publish date, persona, author, and theme.

12. List.ly

We all love lists. Some people love to create lists of their favorite things. If you are blogger and you want to curate a list, this is the tool for you. It provides you with a list format that is interactive and engaging for your readers.

13. Readability Score

Want to know how well your content reads? This free online readability calculator grades your content on a numerical scale (0 to 100). It tells your character count, syllable count, word count, sentence count, characters per word, syllables per word, and words per sentence. You can paste in the text or add the URL.

14. Canva’s Social Media Graphics

This tool helps you design cool graphics for social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. You get access with more than 100 layouts. Open Canva, choose a layout for a specific social media channel, upload your own photos or stock images, fix the images, edit text, and then save it.

15. Buffer Pablo

Similar to Canva, Pablo is a cool tool to help you create engaging images for social media networks. This tool does not require a sign-in and no design experience is needed. You just type in text (they have 130 inspirational quotes to choose from), an image as a background from your photos or from professionally-looking photos at UnSplash. Then, you can share the image via Twitter or Facebook or add it to your Buffer queue.

What tools would you add to this list?

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The 7 Cs of a successful social media strategy

A lot of people and companies decide, after using social media for a while, that they need a strategy. Of course, that approach is like putting the cart before the horse.

To ensure success, you should think about your social media strategy in the context of the seven Cs.

1. Community

Like all good communication, it is best to start by determining your target audience.

  • Where do they spend time online?
  • What social media channels do they use?
  • How do they communicate on these social media channels?

Before your social media efforts can take shape, you should listen and learn about your community. For example, a B2C consumer goods brand such as Oreo, one of their top social media communities is Facebook. Their salute to the Mars landingwas a huge hit with their Facebook fans. For a job seeker, he or she will most likely find a community on LinkedIn because 93 percent of job recruiters use LinkedIn to find qualified candidates.

Finding out where your community interacts on social media is the first step of a successful social media strategy. It is important to first determine what type of conversations are taking place about your brand and in your industry before engaging in a community or building a community from scratch. If you decide that your brand should build a community from the ground up, you should learn from Mark Ragan, the publisher of the Ragan Communications’ PR Daily andRagan.com.

2. Content

After you figure out how your community engages with social media, you should next figure out what content you are going to share with your followers. For example, if you are looking to grow your personal brand, what articles are you going to share to highlight your expertise about your job or personal interests? If you are a company, how can you show your clients and prospects that you are a thought leader or that you are trying to make their lives easier? To learn more about the importance of content, you may want to read the Content Marketing Institute blog.

3. Curation

You can’t think about content, without mentioning curation. Curation is a way of sharing other people’s content and acting like a museum curatorBeth Kanter in her post Content Curation Primer says content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way. Rohit Bhargava in Manifesto for the Content Curator post defines a content curator as someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content a specific issue. Content curation is one of the easiest ways to share content because you don’t have to create anything. This leads well into the next “C”: creation.

4. Creation

Creation is the act of creating content online, whether it be in the form of text, images or video. If you have posted a blog post, uploaded a video to YouTube or took a picture and posted it to Instagram, you are in the creation business. One of the ways to help you create content is to create an editorial calendar. It may be helpful to use this editorial calendar template. If you don’t like spreadsheets, then you may want to consider using an application such as Divvy. For the more advance content creators, using a content marketing software platform such as Kapost should be something you consider.

What is the sweet spot between creation and curation? According to research, the sweet spot of curation to creation is a 60-40 (60 curation and 40 percent creation). You can always think about as the 4-1-1 ratio.

5. Connection

After you have either curated and/or created content, the next C is the physical act of sharing content. This C is about connecting with your community and getting a deep understanding of what your target audience likes about your social media activities and strategy. Based on measurements and data, what content are your communities attracted to and willing to share with their friends and colleagues?

Many brands today have created buyer personas so they can better understand and connect better with their target audience. In other words, personas are fictional representations of your ideal clients, based on real data about demographics, online behavior, along with educated assumptions about their history, motivations and concerns. On the personal branding side, you may want to use one of these 5 tools to manage your relationships online.

6. Conversation

This C is all about having a conversation with your community. This C is very similar to the community, but the important difference is the actual engagement part of communicating with your communities. To help you with this concept, learn the 3 key social media conversation starters.

7. Conversion

The seventh C is conversion. You can’t talk about social media without having a return on investment (ROI) conversation. The important thing to remember here is that your social media strategy should be tied to your business strategy. To help you get started, you may want to look at the 14 social media ROI metrics.

When thinking about this from the company perspective, it is important to remember to look at it two ways:

  • external view by your clients, prospects and partners
  • internal view by your employees

To develop a successful social media strategy, it is important to communication, convince and most importantly, convert social media into action, both externally and internally.

Whether your social media metrics are at your company, they will boil down to three main categories:

  1. awareness
  2. sales
  3. loyalty

On the personal branding side, social media is a way to help you advance your career—whether it be successfully climbing the corporate ladder or launching a successful business. You can judge the success of your personal social media strategy by whether or not you are top of mind with your network and whether it helps you get that interview or land that perfect job.

One of the ways to maximize conversion with your social media strategy, you may want to learn about the social media maturity model. According to Forrester Research, there are 5 main stages of social media maturity and adoption.

More than 7 C’s

In conclusion, a successful social media strategy should include:

  • finding and engaging your communities and/or building a new community
  • making sure you have the right mix of content curation and creation
  • connecting well with your community
  • having relevant and meaningful conversations
  • converting on your goals

Just like the 4 P’s of marketing has grown to the 9’s P’s of marketing, I am sure there are more C’s than seven.

What C’s would you add to this list?

Some additional resources

You don’t have to take my word for it. There is a lot of great information online about developing a social media strategy.

Some my favorite blog posts on this topic include:

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Optimize your LinkedIn profile: 10 steps you should take

LinkedIn is one of the most professional social media networks. Professionals sign up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two members per second.

As part of my job, I have had the opportunity to LinkedIn to hundreds of Forsythe Technology employees and students at Duke University as a social media instructor.

Here are 10 things every career professional should do to optimize their LinkedIn profile.

1. Update your profile information

Make sure you add all of your basic info such as your full name, title at you company, location, correct industry, and company (linked to your company’s page).

Some key points to remember:

  • Add a custom background. The image should not be distracting and should be at least 1400 x 425 pixels in size.
  • Include a professional photo. Make sure you take the time to get a real professional picture taken by a photographer. Taking it on a white background is the recommended but it is up to you.
  • Your name should ONLY contain your name. Please avoid adding any additional titles, acronyms or credentials. Please keep your name clean and concise.

2. Customize your public profile URL

When customizing your LinkedIn profile, aim to just have your full name without anything else. If you have a more common name (sorry, John Smith) then you might have to resort to a slight modification. If you can’t add your full name consider adding your middle initial or “your company name” at the end of it. If you leave your company, you can always edit it.

3. Add important websites

Add important websites (LinkedIn limits you to three). Make sure you check off “other,” then add the Website title and URL so people quickly understand the website title. It is better to use “Other” than “Company Website” or any other pick list items LinkedIn provides.

4. Add or tweak your Summary section

Ensure your LinkedIn profile Summary section captures your overall career and specifically your current role at your company and how you help others and your company’s clients. This summary section is basically your elevator pitch in written form. Remember, LinkedIn is not your resume so make sure you are always writing in first person.

5. Make sure you have company logos for each of your positions in your Experience section

Go through your Experience section and make sure you have logos for each of your old positions. Please go to “change company” and find the correct company to ensure the company logo is set up. If your company was acquired by another company, find the acquired company, link it to that and then in Edit Display Name, change to XXX (acquired by XXX).

6. Add articles, blog posts, videos or work samples to your LinkedIn profile

Under your Summary section and past positions in Experience, there is the capability to “add a link” to your profile. Go to your Summary and add articles or blog posts you have written. Or you may want to add videos or samples of your career work.

7. Update your Skills and Endorsements page

Take a proactive approach to editing your endorsements by adding skills you want to be known for with your network. For example, you may want to add “Team Leadership” to your skills. You can’t change the order of these endorsements because LinkedIn has them ranked by number of endorsements for particular skills and orders them accordingly.

8. Follow companies to keep up-to-date with your ecosystem

At the top of LinkedIn in the black header, go to the white search bar and find some companies you want to follow. There are four main categories of companies that you should follow: 1) analysts; 2) partners; 3) competitors; and 4) clients.

9. Connect with “People You May Know” to grow your network

Make sure you have at least 501 people but only connect with people you know. LinkedIn will show how many connections you have until you hit 500. Once you reach over 500 connections, LinkedIn will continue to count. It says “500+” connections on your profile. Remember: People like to connect with “connected” people.

10. Update your LinkedIn status at least once a week and/or write via LinkedIn publisher

One of the pillars to social media success is how many people view your profile and sharing content consistency. Be sure to update your LinkedIn status daily or at least once a week with something that provides value to your network. You may want to put a reminder on your calendar to share an article. You should also think about publishing through LinkedIn.

What steps would you add to this list?

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7 ways to avoid common PR campaign pitfalls

Managing a PR campaign takes a lot of hard work and effort.  To ensure success of your PR campaigns, you should avoid these seven common pitfalls or mistakes

1. No integration

A campaign is more than a news release.  Most successful campaigns know how to take advantage of a multi-channel campaign that uses online and offline PR tactics, including developing a media kit, writing a blog post, producing a video and/or podcast or event for key stakeholders.  If all the components of the campaign don’t integrate, the campaign has a lower chance of being successful.

2. Lack of alignment and availability

Think about the key stakeholders in your organization and how they are going to be affected by this PR campaign. Is your key spokespeople who works in another department available to talk at moment’s notice to answer questions on a blog or via traditional media?

3. Lack of proper positioning

There is nothing worse than not understanding how a PR campaign fits into your overall marketing strategy. Marketing positioning is very important for a product, brand or organization.  What is your company’s identity and how will this campaign reinforce an image that has been branded into the minds of your target audience?  How will this campaign help with search engine optimization (SEO)? In other words, does the PR campaign highlight all the keywords that your audience may type into a search?

4. Too self-centered

Make sure that you solve your customer(s) problem(s) with the PR campaign.  Make sure you think about how this will help your target audience.  A journalist is more likely to write about something if the PR campaign can help its audience.

5. No newsworthy components

As a PR pro, you need to put on your journalist hat and think like the media.  Why should anybody care? Or what is in it for me?  Be sure to read: What Makes a Story Newsworthy? It is very important that you read, listen and/or watch the media outlets you are pitching for the PR campaign.

6. Not sustainable

Often times, a PR campaign is great at creating initial buzz but is forgotten months later.  You should create what is called the PR longtail on the Internet. Making sure that the content you write today can still be applicable in some way tomorrow is important for long-term success of the campaign.   Also, make sure the concept of the campaign is created in a way that it can be adapted to many different audiences.

7. Don’t know target audience

Who is the audience for your PR campaign?  Make sure that you not only know what target audience you are trying to reach with the campaign but what media outlets or online influencers would most likely be interested.  Make sure you do your homework.

What would you add to this list?

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10 free keyword research tools for writing compelling headlines

Whether you are writing headlines or copy for your website, blog posts, or news releases, keyword research can help you write better. You will know what words your audience cares about, how they search for things and how they group keywords together. Some of the benefits of optimizing keywords:

  • Increases website traffic
  • Improves visibility in search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo
  • Raises your odds your audience finds it valuable to share via their social networks
  • Generates ideas for future content creation and curation

Keyword research is the foundation of a good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and a key component of your content marketing strategy.

Here are 10 helpful keyword research tools worth exploring:

1. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

This headline analyzer scores your overall headline quality and helps you determine the right amount of words for your headlines. It also make sure you have a balance of emotional and power words to ensure your headlines are readable and compelling. Make sure you read: How To Write The Best Headlines That Will Increase Traffic.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

2. SerpStat.com

This website is so to the point, it doesn’t have a name. It is a free keyword suggestions tool, providing you with search suggestions based on popular keywords in Google searches and the different forms used by people looking for things. It collects and aggregates search suggestions and gives you a free report.

sg.SerpStat

3. WordTracker

This tool reveals the best keywords related to your search term. It shows you how much traffic keywords get and what words you may want to focus on. The one drawback is that it is geared for you to sign up for their paid version with their “continue your research” button after you get the quick analysis.

Wordtracker

4. SEMrush

This website provides you with analytics once you enter in your website, geared toward the digital marketer. You get information about your competitors and individual keywords that are performing well for them. You even get insight into keyword difficulty and backlink information.

SEMRush

5. SpyFu

This website great for an overview of keywords. It provides you with number of monthly searches, ranking difficulty and profitable related keywords. You can enter in a name of a competitor and it provides you with an overview of what keywords, links are working well for them, what their pay per click ads look like and much more.

SpyFu

6. UberSuggest

This tool provides you with helpful keyword suggestions where you can learn about specific topics. It gives you suggestions such as if you add a word that starts with an “a” to your set of keywords. It gives a word for every word of the alphabet to help you with long tail keywords. Make sure you read The Beginners Guide to SEO: Keyword Research.

Ubersuggest

7. Google’s Keyword Planner

This website is the traditional one that most people use. Recently, Google has required you to sign up for a Google AdWords account before you can use it. It is a tool that provides you with keyword idea and traffic estimates.

Google Keyword Planner

8. Bing Keyword Research Tool

If I mentioned Google, the # 1 search engine tool, it would be wrong if I didn’t mention the second most popular search engine: Bing. Here is a list of the most popular search engines.

Bing Keyword Research Tool

9. SEO Chat

This tool shows you how keywords look side by side in sites like Google, Bing, YouTube and Amazon. It is great for brainstorming topics and content and showing how users may search differently on YouTube  for entertainment purposes vs. Amazon for buying purposes.

SEOChat

10. KeywordTool.io

This website allows you to search keywords in Google, Bing, YouTube and the App Store. It generates more than 750 suggestions for every keyword. It is one of the only tools that allows you to search the App Store, according to InternetMarketingNinjas.com.

keywordtool.io

Bonus! 11. Google Trends

This tool can help you explore topics and see how the popularity of certain words have grown such as content marketing.

Google Trends

 

What free tools do you use to ensure you write headlines that command your audience’s attention?

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5 tips for repurposing your content on SlideShare

Recycling existing content into a SlideShare is a great way to get more mileage from content you have already spent the time and effort to create. It is a wonderful medium for presenting information visually.

By the end of 2013, SlideShare averaged 60 million unique visitors a month…215 million page views” and was “among the top 120 most-visited websites in the world, according to its website. SlideShare is the perfect vehicle for extending the life of your content. Adapting existing content into a Slideshare allows you the perfect opportunity to present your information in an exciting, humorous or unexpected light. It provides a platform from which you can inform and educate your viewers about the subject matter.

Consider the following 5 tips as you repurpose your content into a SlideShare.

1. Tell a story

Your content may have been great as a blog post, an article or white paper, but to gain traction on SlideShare it needs to fit the medium. That means using less text than would typically be found in an article and more visuals to engage the viewer. Make sure your presentation frames the problem and conveys to the viewer why they should care about your particular topic (the “why”), outlines the solution and how it will improve the life of the viewer (the “how”), and ends with a strong call to action (the “what”) to encourage and provoke the viewer to respond.

As you begin to adapt your content, it may be helpful to work on paper first before moving to the design of slides. Tease out the theme and key points and think of each slide as a billboard, containing just enough text to get your point across while remaining easily digestible to the viewer.

2. Focus on design and be sure to maintain a consistent visual style throughout

Presentations should be well-designed to gain any sort of traction on SlideShare. Having a captivating title and visually appealing cover slide is of paramount importance if you hope to get featured on the SlideShare homepage. This is so important, in fact, that SlideShare ranks these two tips at the top of its list of guidelines to increase your chances of being featured. Be original. Aim for a title and cover that convey your content but also engage and surprise the viewer.

Remember to keep your colors, type, and placement of images and text consistent throughout the deck. Looking for color inspiration? Check out Colour Lovers for palette ideas.

While it is important to keep a consistent visual style throughout the presentation, it is equally important to complement this style with some well-placed and unexpected surprises throughout. Use a variety of visual tricks to keep your viewers clicking through such as:

  • Vary between light and dark slides
  • Hide part of a slide and promise a reveal later on in the deck
  • Use scale to emphasize a point. Think large text versus small text

3. Think outside the box when it comes to imagery and type

Instead of copying and pasting images you find on the web, there are a few options for sourcing images that are tailored to your presentation. Search for visuals on any number of sites offering beautiful, high-resolution, and free images. Unsplash, picjumbo and flickr creative commons are a few places to look for free images. Or you can also buy images on a stock photo site such as istock or shutterstock. And, if you are feeling ultra-creative, take your own photographs. Many smartphones are equipped with cameras that can produce pictures with an adequate resolution for a slide. Look for images that not only reinforce the information you are trying to convey, but stir an emotion in the viewer.

Play with fonts. Instead of working with the standard fonts installed your computer, check out all the interesting and free fonts available on sites such as fontsquirrel and dafont. Playing with type on your slides allows you to further tailor the mood of your presentation, but don’t go crazy. Stick to two or three different fonts that are readable and well-designed.

SlideShare recognizes commonly used fonts, but if you decide to infuse your slides with a less common set of fonts make sure to upload your slides as a pdf.

4. Keep it short, but not too short

While the majority of presentations on SlideShare fall under 50 slides a piece, you shouldn’t necessarily be concerned about staying under this threshold. If it takes more than 100 slides to communicate your idea, but your slides are well-designed and visually captivating, the viewer won’t mind flipping through.

Limit the number of words on your slides, but make sure the presentation flows and makes sense without your voice. You won’t be there to walk viewers through the content, so the story and supporting information must be complete.

5. Include links and increase your reach

SlideShare allows users uploading content to embed links in presentations and infographics. Don’t forget to include hyperlinks to push traffic back to the original content you are repurposing, your company’s website, or social media sites (think Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter.) It is also a good idea to include links to other pieces of content that support the information you  have presented, thereby increasing your credibility on the subject matter.

What tips would you add to this list?

This post is courtesy of guest blogger Stephanie Meeusen.