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Sophisticated or First Steps: Driving Success at Every Content Marketing Maturity Level

When it comes to content marketing maturity, it seems organizations are stuck. Consider that in 2016, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) reported that content marketing maturity levels were roughly proportionate: approximately one-third of businesses were in the early stages; one-third in the adolescent stage; and one-third in the sophisticated/mature stage. This year, however, CMI reported slightly worse rankings: 28 percent were in the sophisticated/mature stage; 35 percent in the adolescent stage; and 36 percent in the early stages of content marketing.

Marketers should generally become more effective with content marketing as they gain experience, so what’s the reason behind these worsening figures?

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A Fast and Easy Way to Create Your Target Audience

One of the basics of content marketing is this: You’ll never be able to produce relevant, custom content (or deliver it in a way that is meaningful to customers) unless you first know who your customers are. In other words, you can’t create stellar content without first creating your target audience.

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So, how can you go about doing this? I understand that for businesses just venturing into content marketing, this can seem like a daunting task. You may think it requires endless historical, transactional and behavioral data and real-time insights into customer decisions. While it would of course be great to have all of this information on hand, it’s okay to take smaller and more manageable steps towards this goal.

The first step, which is very important, involves understanding who your target audience is. This means having a finger on the pulse of multiple buyer personas within your target audience. It seems complex at surface level, but Adele Revella, CEO, Buyer Persona Institute, explains it quite simply:

“Understand the difference between a profile and a persona. A Profile is the kind of person who would buy your stuff. Persona is insight on how buyers make decisions.” 

It’s critical that you understand who your target audience is, including their wants, needs and challenges. Below is a blueprint to help you identify and expand on your ideal audience. Start by creating three personas within your target audience. Consider the below example for brands competing in the hospitality sector:

  • WHO: Property Manager
  • CHALLENGE(S): Unexpected maintenance; property damage; guest complaints
  • WHAT MATTERS MOST TO THIS PERSON: Ensuring a satisfying experience for hotel visitors, while ensuring priority tasks are efficiently taken care of
  • BOTTOM LINE: WHAT THIS PERSON NEEDS: Better time management; improved communication techniques
  • RESOLUTION: Trusted time management practices; proven customer service strategy

Don’t forget! A percentage of your content should also appeal to readers outside your target audience. This content is very easy to produce—requiring little to no strategic planning—and is the kind of lighter, engaging content that will draw more eyeballs to your site and more attention to your brand. You don’t necessarily need to create personas for this type of content (but you can if you want!)

This simple and easy system should help you lay down the groundwork for a sustainable content marketing plan. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out!

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How to Use LinkedIn for Content Marketing Success

LinkedIn represents massive opportunity for businesses today. Just consider that LinkedIn is the most used social platform by B2B companies (used by 94 percent) and over two-thirds of those companies see quantifiable results from their LinkedIn strategy.

When it comes to your content marketing strategy, you can post your content three different ways using LinkedIn:

  1. Sharing an update
  2. Uploading a photo
  3. Publishing a post
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15 Social Media Statistics Every Company Needs to Know

I’ve been doing a lot of social media work lately—from cleaning up my clients’ social profiles to creating social copy to collaborating on long-term social strategies. Next week, I have a lunch set up with a prospective client to discuss social objectives and game plans.

I absolutely love working on social media projects, and I love to see the progress my clients are making on the social front. But for every company that’s getting social media right, I can’t help but wonder how many more are out there doing it wrong (or worse, doing nothing at all).

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Five Ways to Take Your Content Marketing Strategy to the Next Level

Creating a content marketing strategy may be overwhelming, but finding new ways to keep your strategy fresh and engaging is a real brain buster. The beginning of a company’s content marketing journey is a vast space full of new possibilities and outcomes; however, options and opportunities and seem to dwindle the longer you go at things.

We’re halfway through 2016, making now the perfect time for companies at every stage of content marketing to reevaluate the steps they have taken, as well as what they hope to accomplish by year’s end. For companies on the “mature” end of the content marketing spectrum, finding a way to continuously elevate your strategy—while remaining relevant to your target audience—can be tricky.

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The Easy Way to Get Started with eNewsletters

You’ve established a blogging cadence, have built consistency across your social channels, and have set up a strategy for producing premium additional content (i.e. white papers, videos, case studies) on a regular basis. You’re now ready to begin delivering an eNewsletter to your customers. Congrats! You’re already a few steps ahead of many businesses in terms of content marketing maturity and planning.

You’re on the right track in wanting to create an eNewsletter. Research from the Content Marketing Institute shows that as of this year, 81 percent of B2B marketers and 83 percent of B2C marketers use eNewsletters to achieve their various content marketing goals.

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Three Unusual Lessons Learned by Studying Over 16 million Posts (And 100,000 Brands) on Social Media

This post was originally written for Buffer Social by Ash Read. There is so much valuable information contained in this post, so I had to share. Enjoy!

At Buffer, we love to see new stats and research about how to best share to social media and drive engagement. And as a brand on social media ourselves, we know just how challenging it can be to post engaging content across multiple channels.

To learn more about how brands are tackling social media in 2016, and importantly, to discover what’s working, we decided to study what types of posts brands were sharing the most of on social media.

We examined over 100,000 accounts, which consisted of over 14 million tweets and two million Facebook updates to figure out how brands have been sharing to social media over the past 12 months.

Here’s how it broke down…

How have brands been sharing to social media

Which social networks are brands posting to?

each-network

Facebook and Twitter are still leading the charge

After looking at over 16 million updates over 12 months, covering Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google +, Facebook and Twitter, we found that brands posted primarily to Facebook and Twitter. It makes sense seeing as both social networks have the largest active audiences of the group according to this study.

Here’s the breakdown of percentages:

  • 79.6% of updates were sent to Twitter
  • 13.8% of updates were sent to Facebook
  • 3.6% of updates were sent to Google +
  • 2.3% of updates were sent to LinkedIn
  • .5% of updates were sent to Pinterest

How many times are brands sharing per week

shares-per-week

This data was super-interesting for us as we love to experiment with posting schedules frequencies. We found that brands posted to Twitter more than any other network – which feels about right considering the more real-time feel of Twitter.

I was a little surprised to see that Facebook is the only other network where brands post an average of once per day.

Which types of post are getting the most engagement

type-of-posts

For this part of the study, we looked at how many engagements (clicks, likes, shares) each post a brand shares gets on average across Facebook and Twitter. We found that Facebook video appears to be leading the way here (by a considerable margin, too) and photos are still leading the way on Twitter.

It’s interesting to see that links appear to be driving more engagement than photos on Facebook at the moment. It feels like this could be due to their visual nature, now when you post a link, a large image is displayed, as is meta data from the post, giving brands plenty of opportunities to grab user’s attention as they scroll through their news feeds.

Here’s an example:

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A cool way to potentially further increase the success of links on Facebook could be to create specific headlines and descriptions for your post. Here at Buffer, we use a neat tool called Yoast to choose the image, title, and description that’ll accompany a link when posted to Facebook:

Yoast

Does Twitter have a noise problem?

Twitter have recently made similar adjustments with links pulling meta data into the timeline. Could this lead to a boost in Twitter link engagement? Maybe. But for now, it feels a little like Twitter has a noise problem, with images being one of the few ways to stand out in the timeline.

Twitter-link

 How are brands posting to each network

post-breakdown

Three 🔑 social media lessons we’ve learned from this study

1. Video is largely underutilised

Despite all the excitement surrounding social video, the data shows that video is still underutilised by many brands.

On Facebook, video gets three times as much engagement as any other kind of content, but in the 7 posts that brands share on Facebook per week, far less than 1% are videos. Of the remaining 99%, 80% are links and 19% are photos.

The lesson here could be to experiment with sharing more video on Facebook, especially with Facebook’s new live feature, to see how it affects brand engagement.

2. Links are engaging (but are we sharing too many?)

While brands share links often, on every social network at least 50% of the content is links. For Facebook and LinkedIn over 80% of the content is links, and on Twitter it’s just over 70%.

However, looking at the data around engagement, links are second to Video on Facebook and second to Photos on Twitter for most engaging types of content.

For many of us, driving traffic back to a website via links is a key part of our social media strategy. I’d be curious to see whether mixing up more non-link based content could actually increase the engagement for links when they’re posted. For example, on Facebook, posting more videos could increase engagement and reach meaning more users may see links when we publish them.

3. Brands are missing out on LinkedIn and Pinterest  

According to this 2016 study, 59% of LinkedIn users don’t visit twitter, 83% don’t use Pinterest and 13% don’t use Facebook. Which means that unless you’re capturing them on Facebook, LinkedIn users could be a completely untapped market for you.

According to our study, brands post to LinkedIn only 3 times per week, whereas in this small business guide by LinkedIn, they share that posting 5 times a week, on week days, allows you to reach 60% of your audience.

Pinterest looks like it might be a lost opportunity for some brands as well. According to this recent Shopify study, two million people save product pins every day and 87% of Pinterest users say they have purchased something they found while pinning.

Despite the potential on Pinterest, brands are only posting to Pinterest 4–5 times per week, whereas they could be posting that many times in a day.  Top brands on Pinterest have experienced steady growth by adopting a multiple-times-per-day posting strategy.