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Stop Looking for Mentors: Instead, Find Strong Partnerships

Authored by Guest Blogger, Carrie Majewski

A few years ago, I believed in the power of mentors—of scouring the land for the brightest, most passionate, exceedingly selfless mentors who could impart pearls of career wisdom. As the best-selling business books and keynoters all contend: find mentors, particularly those in your industry, who you believe have the potential to shape, guide and nourish your career. And, above all else, make sure you are mentor worthy.

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10 Ways to Maximize Your One-person Content Marketing Team

When asked how content marketing is structured within their organization, 55 percent of B2B business owners said they have a small (or one-person) content marketing team that serves the entire organization.

I get it. Budget balancing and/or a lack of internal bandwidth can make it exceedingly difficult to support a centralized content marketing team. It’s not easy but, if approached correctly, one dedicated person can have as much content marketing impact as a group. The goal, of course, is to graduate to a larger team structure down the road; however, for the time being, it’s possible for companies to not only survive with a one-person team, but thrive.

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Old Content Piling Up? Here’s What to Do with It

We’ve all been there before. You’re putting together a weekly eNewsletter when you realize you’ve been promoting the same three whitepapers for the last month. The only way to integrate more visuals into your social campaign is to rotate through the same four videos that were produced over a year ago. You have some amazing eBooks that your team created a few quarters ago, but you’ve already exhausted them in every way, shape and form.

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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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Every Content Marketing “How to” You Could Want in One Place

Chances are, you have tons of great ideas for content marketing in 2017. Conceptualizing your brand or visualizing where you’d like to take your business is not necessarily the problem. In your head, you’re imagining sprawling social media campaigns destined to drive engagement. You’re picturing a sleek Web design that’s perfect for capturing leads. You’re envisioning an impressive archive of white papers and case studies that speak to your thought leadership and reputability. In your head, you’ve published dozens of blogs that are custom-tailored to your target audience.

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The challenge is not what you will accomplish, but how. What do you need to do to bring your amazing ideas to life? You’ll need to put in hard work to do so (I recommend partnering with a professional for the best results). In the meantime, if you’re stumped by the “how” of content marketing and need to get your wheels turning, here’s a list of my top 10 “how to” blog posts from 2016. These are my most read, engaged and shared posts throughout the year:

  1. A Fast and Easy Way to Create Your Target Audience
  2. Make the Most of Facebook by Using These New Features
  3. The Easy Way to Get Started with eNewsletters
  4. What’s New with Instagram: Everything You Need to Know
  5. How to Repurpose Content and Maximize Your Marketing Budget
  6. How to Use LinkedIn for Content Marketing Success
  7. How to Master the Content Quickie
  8. Case Studies and Whitepapers: Your Two Greatest Content Weapons
  9. Three Ways to Use Google Analytics to Your Advantage
  10. Three Questions to Ask When Building Your Brand Identity

…ready, set, read!

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Here’s Why 95 Percent of Your Content Doesn’t Matter

Research shows that a very small fraction of a company’s content — just 5 percent of it— accounts for 90 percent of overall customer engagement. That means 95 percent of branded content doesn’t really matter.

With so little brands taking the time to truly nurture their content marketing plans, it’s easy to see this being true. That doesn’t make it any less frightening though (and you thought Halloween was scary).

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This makes me wonder: does content marketing have to be this way? How come every piece of content can’t be completely relevant, engaging and impactful? I think it can, but not without extraordinary effort, hard work and collaboration enterprise-wide.

You read that right: your content marketing efforts must span your entire organization. When you think about it, the traditional roles and responsibilities of marketing have evolved in such a way that they now have a hand in every facet of business. The customer experience is no longer siloed to a phone call a customer has with a sales rep or a contact center agent. Customers are having meaningful conversations with the brands they love over Facebook. They expect brands to reply to their tweets almost instantaneously. They’re using their mobile devices to engage with companies on-the-go. They’re downloading mobile apps for a more seamless user experience. They’re commenting and sharing the blogs your company produces.

Marketing has evolved from a one-way street (print ads, billboards) to a multi-dimensional freeway that’s packed with communication 24×7. Customers have more ways to engage with the brands they love, and companies now have access to more customer data than they ever imagined.

A customer might reach out to a company via Facebook with a billing inquiry, for example. Another may engage in SMS with a brand about a product defect or a service question. Marketing is no longer all about selling, and every business unit is no longer contained to its own segment. Businesses are being challenged to evolve into one cohesive entity in order to thrive. This means HR, finance, sales, support, the supply chain…every aspect of business should have a solid understanding of the role that content and communications play in delivering a truly 360-degree, next-generation customer experience.

The bottom line is this: The content your company produces must be in alignment with every moving part of your business. More importantly, every part of your business must move at the same pace of innovation with the same goals in mind. In the end, the customer experience isn’t (and never will be) siloed to just one or two specific departments.

Your customers are the lifeblood of your organization; they support every part of your company’s body. If your content doesn’t matter to your customers, it won’t matter at all. If your content only targets one or two things that matter to your customers, it will only matter for so long. Content marketing should be an organizational strategy driven by one unified vision that supports the entire customer lifecycle. Until businesses understand this fact, the majority of their content will continue to miss the mark.

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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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Make the Most of Facebook by Using These New Features

facebook3Facebook without question dominates today’s social landscape. In fact, it is the most used social platform among B2C marketers—used by 94 percent. The company continues to introduce innovative new features that give its platform the functionality of 10 social tools in one, making it a powerful resource for business owners of all kinds.

If you’re looking to make the most of Facebook by strategically leveraging its unique features, check out what’s new this year with the platform:

February 24, 2016: Facebook Releases New “Reactions” Feature

What it is: An extension of the iconic “Like” button, offering users a more dynamic way to share their reactions to posts.

Benefits:

  • Improves customer insight: “Reactions” enables professionals to better gauge customers’ likes, preferences and tastes. If a brand’s video, for example, experiences a significantly higher like and share rate than normal, that brand can use “Reactions” to see what attracted customers most to the content. For example, perhaps customers thought the video was funny. Maybe they were shocked at its contents. Brands can also gauge different levels of enjoyment with “Like” and “Love.” All of this enables professionals to more strategically build a targeted marketing campaign.

How it works: To add a reaction, hold down the “Like” button on your mobile device with your finger or hover over the “Like” button using your desktop arrow to see the reaction image options: “Like,” “Love,” “Haha,” “Wow,” “Sad,” or “Angry.” Tap it to display your reaction to a friend (or business’) status update, photo, video, etc.  ______________________________________________________________________________

April 6, 2016: Facebook Launches Facebook Live (and Live features) for Groups and Events

**Not to be mistaken with the launch of Facebook Live for celebrities in 2015**

What it is: A new live streaming feature that enables users to share moments instantly with the people they care about (friends, family and, for businesses, customers). Those using Facebook Live can respond to comments in real-time from those attending the session, as well as see their “Reactions.”

Benefits:

  • Collect, measure and utilize valuable customer data: “Reactions” enables customers to quickly and easily express their feelings to a live event. Professionals can then use this data to improve the quality and effectiveness of future events, as well as their overall marketing strategy. Best of all, live reactions appear and disappear in real-time, meaning the person conducting the event can see how viewers are reacting to the broadcast throughout its entire duration.
  • More deeply engage with customers/fans: Facebook Live encompasses a truly 360-degree user experience that offers something for everyone. For starters, it offers viewers a more engaging experience; in fact, research from Facebook found that people comment over 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos. Additionally, in live event replays—the broadcasts can be accessed and watched later—Facebook replays comments that were broadcast during the initial air. All in all, brands have greater opportunity to engage with customers, and customers have more incentive than ever to engage back.
  • Bolster thought leadership/brand awareness: With the ability to apply exciting new features to live events—such as Live filters (similar to any other photo-enhancing filter) and the ability to doodle during live events—business leaders can further differentiate and professionally express themselves.
  • Expand customer reach: While businesses can (and should) promote live events well in advance, they can send push notifications to contacts during the event, inviting them to join in real-time. Additionally, Facebook’s new dedicated “Live Event” space on its mobile app enables anyone anywhere (in over 60 countries, specifically) to discover videos, both live and non-live, that matter most to them. This exponentially increases business’ customer reach.

Examples:

  • A musician can hold a private concert to promote the release of his newest album.
  • Any company can kick start an immersive live event in order to discuss the methodology behind a specific project, or to make a big announcement and gauge customer interests/reactions in real-time.
  • Professionals can launch a live session while attending a big industry event to give viewers an exclusive, behind-the-scenes experience.

How it works:

  • Live Reactions: This is the same as “Reactions” that are applied to status updates, photos and videos in users’ regular news feeds, but instead they are applied in real-time to live broadcasts.
  • Invite during live event: During a live broadcast, tap on the “Invite” icon and select the friend you want to invite. That individual will then receive a push notification with your invitation.

 

Related videos: https://vimeo.com/161793035

https://www.facebook.com/zuck?fref=ts

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April 7, 2016: Facebook Launches Messenger Codes

What it is: Messenger Codes lets users pull out their phone and scan someone else’s code in order to instantly start a conversation and add them as a contact. The new capability will be extremely useful for Facebook’s nearly 1 billion Messenger users.

Benefits:

  • Quickly and effectively network/engage: Business professionals no longer have to worry about improperly spelled names or inaccurately typed phone numbers when networking with others. All they need to do to establish (and nurture) a new connection is simply scan the individual’s Messenger Code; they don’t need to be Facebook friends with that person in order to get started.
  • Increase brand exposure: The quicker you can add new contacts, the faster you can share your brand’ name, message and unique differentiators. Messenger Codes can be printed onto business cards, added to company websites, included in email signatures or used in-stores. They can be applied virtually anywhere to maximize brand exposure.
  • Position yourself as a thought leader: Brands will establish themselves as forward-thinking in adopting Facebook’s latest form of communication. As Facebook explains, traditional phone books are almost obsolete; therefore, those businesses that embrace modern-day communication/service methods will likely dominate their respective markets.

How it works: No matter where you are, all you have to do is scan someone’s code in order to start a new conversation.

**The company will soon be rolling out other tools as part of its Messenger service—specifically, Messenger Usernames and Messenger Links. Messenger Links are personalized links that users can share anywhere online—similar to how Messenger Codes can be shared—so customers can reach brands quickly using Messenger**

So, are you ready to begin maximizing Facebook? A quick 101 on these newest updates should leave you feeling prepared.

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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