5 effective content marketing habits for success

effective content marketing

Content marketing is gaining traction at many companies, and some may argue that it is now mainstream. According to the 2013 content marketing research reports for B2B and B2C industries by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 91 percent of B2B marketers and 86 percent of B2C marketers are using content marketing. In addition, 54 percent of B2B marketers and 55 percent of B2C marketers will increase their content marketing spend in the next 12 months.

When you see successful content marketers, you may ask yourself: “What are they doing differently?” “What do they know that others don’t?” “What are they consistently doing right?”

Here are five habits that will help you become an effective content marketing pro and help you rise above the competition:

1. Know how to explain content marketing in business terms

Even though marketers understand content marketing, a lot of marketers have trouble making the business case for content marketing to senior leaders in their organization. It is important to have advocates of content marketing in the C-suite, especially your chief marketing officer and chief executive officer.

Companies that successfully demonstrate how content marketing can or will help them meet their business objectives can grow their content marketing budgets. They can also tie their content marketing goals to enterprise-wide business goals. For example, a company’s goal may be to build brand awareness. Content marketing helps by providing authentic and engaging content that helps current and potential customers learn more about the perspectives of a brand.

Another example of a business benefit gained from content marketing is customer loyalty, which can be built and maintained through delivering relevant, useful information to your audience in the form of email and print newsletters, print and online magazines, or live customer or virtual events.

2. Build a strong and integrated content marketing team

You can’t do it alone; it takes a team to be successful. Read “Creating a Content Marketing Team and Workflow Plan,” to learn how to assemble a team and develop your editorial plan:

  • Establish processes that are flexible but firm, so your expert team can develop content that is relevant and meaningful. Furthermore, you will want to expand your reach beyond just the content marketing team, so other parts of your organization can benefit from the content you create.
  • You may also want to develop a content marketing advisory board that includes people from many different parts of the business to ensure you are producing the right content for your audience, and can use your content to address their goals at every point of interaction.

3. Tell compelling stories

This is the part where effective content marketers really shine. As one Copyblogger blog post says, learn how to be interesting. In other words, tell great stories and get your audience hungry for more (read “Brand Storytelling Lessons You Can Steal from Hollywood,” for more tips on how to do this).

It’s also helpful to take a tip or two from professional journalists, who write their content as “must-read” stories (for inspiration, read “6 Ideas B2B Content Marketers Can Take from Professional Journalists“).

Some tips you can take from professional journalists:

  • They create stories that might refer to a specific product or service, but they don’t’ directly promote or endorse them.
  • Journalists follow strong editorial guidelines to ensure the consistency, accuracy, and integrity of their work and the publication they write for. These guidelines also help them determine whether a given article meets the quality standards of their publication.
  • Journalists also know what constitutes a valid, reliable source of information, and how to attribute those sources correctly.

You can also learn to tell compelling stories by learning the key components of journalism and basic storytelling principles.

The first key component: Know the five stages of developing a story. These stages are:

  • Brainstorm
  • Find a source
  • Conduct an interview
  • Draft the article
  • Meet the deadline

The second element is learning how to create different acts (or “mini stories”) within your stories. For example, modern storytelling has a three-act structure. The first act is called exposition, where a writer identifies the main characters, their relationships, and what type of world they live in. The second act is referred to as the rising action, where the main characters can’t resolve their problems because they don’t have the skills or the right state of mind to overcome them. The third act is the story resolution, where questions are answered, problems are solved, and the characters often gain a new sense of themselves.

The third key element is good graphic design, or how imagery and graphic design helps bring out the story. That leads us to the next key component: the importance of combing words and visuals to paint the picture. Basically, this means keeping an eye on how you associate the written word with visuals that help illustrate or enhance the emotion of the story.

The last element is an understanding of how stories can build upon other stories. Journalists are good at reporting the story, but often a story will continue to develop over the course of days, weeks, or even months. Reporters write about what they know at the time, and they report on the story again when the story develops. By building upon the previous report, a larger story begins to develop, and the full story is eventually told. Sometimes, journalists even create a story recap of all the developments over the course of time so you can see the timeline of events.

By understanding these key elements of journalism and storytelling, you can craft an integrated and holistic brand story that will draw your audience in and drive them to take action on behalf of your business.

4. Lead change

Content marketing may require a mindset shift at your company so that you are prepared to create content that tells a compelling story, rather than offering up the same old promotional copy. In order to accomplish this feat, you will need to know how to lead successful change at your organization.

The fable, Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions, illustrates the eight-step process of change. It is an easy-to-read story about penguins that realize their iceberg is melting, and go about making necessary changes to improve the situation. Today, effective content marketers should be more than just storytellers; they should also be agents for change. Why? Because successful organizations that excel at content marketing are able to function almost as if they were a publisher or a media company. That is why content marketing is sometimes called “brand journalism” — because it requires a brand to think in terms of what their readers or viewers are most interested in, rather than what the brand itself wants to talk about.

What do journalists do really well? They pump out a lot of quality content that makes their audience want to come back to them to get their news and information. The same should apply to your company’s content: the information you provide should be considered your product.

But while the information-as-product concept may help you address some of the tactical decisions involved in branded content creation, getting your company to really take a strategic, integrated, and editorial approach to content marketing may require a more significant mindset shift. The most essential step in leading change like this is creating a sense of urgency that such a transformation needs to take place (which takes us back to the first habit: Know how to put content marketing in business terms).

5. Audit and assess content continually

It’s urgent that content marketers have a detailed awareness of what is in their content inventory, and a solid understanding of how each piece of content integrates with their overall content strategy. For example, if you produce an article on a particular topic, do you have a white paper or video that presents a more in-depth perspective on the topic? Is there a way you can use the two pieces together to tell the larger story in a more vivid way?

The ability to slice, dice, separate, and recombine content in new ways is why you may want to consider conducting a content audit, which will show you what stories have been developed, what stories you may need to refresh, and what stories still need to be told on behalf of your brand. It will also help you avoid content archipelagos. Just like an archipelago is a group of islands that is typically uninhabited or rarely visited, this is a group of content that didn’t resonate well with your audience and wasn’t shared at the level you were hoping for. By auditing your content to see what performed to your expectations, you can get valuable insight that will help you decide what content to change and what to create more of.

Content marketing is as much science as it is art. With the availability of marketing automation tools, web analytical tools, and social media tools, there is no shortage of usable data at the content marketer’s fingertips. But what makes successful content experts stand apart is their ability to incorporate the information they gather from the data and use it to improve the content they create and distribute.

For example, if you are seeing that your blog post, “10 tips for topic X” is being read and shared a lot, do you have a plan in place to make sure you recognize its popularity and develop more content on that topic? Do you have a content calendar to keep track of the content you have produced, and what you would like to produce in the future?

It is also just as important that you and your team understand why your most popular content got the increased attention. Did they spend extra time engaging with your article because you included a video or slideshow? Was the topic related to a hot-button issue that drove a lot of conversations in the comments? The more you know about the factors that contributed to the success of a particular piece of content, the easier it will be to deliver the content your audience is looking for.

What do you think successful content marketers do differently? What would you add to this list?

This post originally appeared on the Content Marketing Institute blog.

The A to Z guide to content marketing

Whatever level you are at when it comes to content marketing –- beginner, intermediate or advanced – it is important to know (and master) the fundamentals.

Here is an A to Z guide to content marketing.

Action. Your content should get your audience to take action. When you boil down your content, your message should compel your audience to do something. Read proven formulas of call to actions.

Budget. To grow your content marketing efforts, you will need to grow your budget. While you can still do a lot of innovative content marketing tactics on a shoestring budget, it always helps to have money to add staff and create more original content.

Commitment. There are a lot of C’s when it comes to content marketing: content, creation, curation, choice, and conversion, to name a few. But the biggest C that content marketers should have is: commitment. Content marketing requires taking a commitment mindset not a campaign mindset. Your audience (and the search engines) expects that you or your brand to produce a lot of content.

Different. Your content should be different than you can find anywhere else. Are your perspectives on a topic or topics different than others? Does your content stand out compared to your competitors? To be successful in content marketing, you should be different.

Earned. Content marketing requires that you take the earned media approach. Read defining earned, owned and paid media. It requires a lot of work to build trust from your audience. Through a consistent effort over time, you will earn a reputation as a “go to” place to get useful and relevant content.

Format. It is important to remember that content can take many different forms such as blog posts, videos, images, presentations, and slideshows. Make sure your content has a variety of formats because your audience wants variety. And different formats will attract different audiences.

Gathering. Get your audience coming back for more. Every piece of content you create should help your audience: solve problems, entertain, inform and provoke new ideas.

Helpful. Your content should be helpful not promotional. Don’t talk about yourself too much just like when you go to a networking event you don’t want to get stuck in a conversation with someone who only talks about himself or herself. Read creating talkable and useful content.

Imagery. The saying “a picture paints a thousand words,” fits here. Your story or content should paint a picture by using infographics, photos, slideshows and videos. Read 15 reasons to make your content marketing more visual.

Journalism. Learn from professional journalists and what they do well. Implement those best practices. Read 6 things content marketers can take from professional journalists. Sometimes, content marketing is called brand journalism. Whatever it is called, it is important to tell compelling and relevant stories.

Karaoke. Get your audience to participate with such tactics like encouraging guest blogging, getting them to comment on articles and developing case studies about them. Just like Karaoke encourages you to sing along to songs, your content should encourage your audience to join in.

Lists. People love to read lists. We live in a world where we now scan content. Lists are easy to digest and easy to understand. Read 3 reasons why list stories work.

Measure. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” the old management adage goes. Unless you measure how well your content is doing with your audience, you don’t know how well you are doing or not doing. You don’t have to spend money to do it. Use a free tool like Google Analytics to find out your most popular articles and how much time they spend on an article.

Numbers. People love facts and numbers. Just like the best resumes have numbers included, the same goes for content. For example, 91 percent of B2B marketers are using content marketing and 86 percent of B2C marketers are using content marketing.

Objective. Before you start anything, it is vital that you set goals and develop a plan to know where you want to go. Even though content marketing is becoming a bigger part of the marketing mix, only 38 percent have a content marketing strategy.

Print. Print is NOT dead. Even though the world is going digital, there is still a tremendous opportunity to connect with your audience via print. Read 7 reasons to rethink print.

Quality. With content marketing, quality trumps quantity any day. Read Zen and the art of content marketing.

Recycle. Since we are all doing more with less, it is important to recycle content and put a new angle on it or freshen it up. Read 56 ways to reuse content marketing.

Story. What is your content trying to communicate? Effective content marketing is all about mastering the art of storytelling. Watch this video: Justina Chen and the importance of story-telling.

Team. You can’t create or curate content without a good team. Throughout the content marketing process, make sure your roles are identified and defined. Read creating a content marketing team and workflow plan.

Utility. As Mitch Joel, the author of  Six Pixels of Separation, says marketing today is all about utility marketing or giving your audience something so useful and valuable. It is similar to what Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications, calls refrigerator journalism. It is creating content so compelling, so relevant and so brief that you want to cut it out and stick it on your fridge.

Vision. Content marketing may require a mind shift change at your company. The key is to paint the picture for your team and senior leaders at your organization how your content marketing efforts will impact the bottom line and help your company grow.

Writing. Write, write and write some more. As Copyblogger, says you only way to become a good writer is practice, practice and practice. Read 10 steps to becoming a better writer.

X-ray. Just like an x-ray examines a person, it is important to examine your content. Assess and audit your content so you know what content you need to create, how your content ties together and what content you should produce more or less of.

Year-end. Do you summarize your best content at the end of the year? What better way to close out the year than giving your audience a very accessible snapshot of your best work. You can also do it on a monthly or weekly basis but it should be done at least on a yearly basis.

Zeal. Are you passionate about creating or curating content? How enthusiastic are you? Only those who are have a strong interest and desire for content will be successful.

What words would you suggest as alternatives in this A to Z guide?

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, 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? Before your social media efforts can take shape, you should listen and learn about your community. For example, a B2C consumer goods brand like Oreo, one of their top social media communities is Facebook. Their recent salute to the Mars landing was a huge hit with their 27 million Facebook fans. For a job seeker, he or she will most likely find a community on LinkedIn because according to a recent survey, 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 Gini Dietrich (@ginidietrich) and how she build an engaged community on the popular Spin Sucks blog or you may want to talk to Mark Ragan (@markraganceo), the publisher of the Ragan’s PR Daily.

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. According to Beth Kanter (@kanter) in her post Content Curation Primer, 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 (@rohitbhargava) in his post Manifesto for the Content Curator 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 like Divvy. For the more advance content creators, using a content marketing software platform like Kapost should be something you consider.

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, use 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 these 14 social media ROI metrics.

When thinking about this from the company perspective, it is important to remember to look at it two ways: the external view by your clients and prospects and the 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 be boil down to three main categories: awareness, sales and 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, 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 (according to research, the sweet spot of curation to creation is 60-40); connecting well with your community; having relevant and meaningful conversations; and 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 the post by Amy Porterfield (@amyporterfield) on the Social Media Examiner about the 3 steps to an effective social media strategy, the post by Jay Baer (@jaybaer) on his blog Convince and Convert about how to develop a social media strategy in 7 steps and the post by B.L. Ochman (@whatsnext) on Mashable about the three things you should know about social media strategy.

5 ways to create expert content with limited resources

 

In the world of tighter budgets, less staff and more workflow, who has time to write content?  How much do you have to write to be effective? Why write it at all?

A recent business study showed that 75 percent of buyers are likely to use social media in the purchase process and 55 percent of B2B survey respondents search for information using social sites.  Remember all those social platforms you put up for your company? Better have something to say on them, or better yet, have something to pass along. Content is your currency, make it worth sharing within your target community!

Below are five ideas on how you can create expert content, with limited resources:

1.    Curate

This is the cornerstone of a robust content management program. Similar to a museum curator, you don’t create the artwork; you collect and assemble it into a relevant showpiece. This involves organizing just where you are going to get your content from, and that’s not Wikipedia. A well-organized collection of useful information will motivate your audience not only to read, but also share with others.

Just ask Guy KawasakiHe’s a master curator, employing a staff to help sort through the mountains of information buzzing across the web. In fact he uses Twitter to send folks to his website at Alltop.com by tweeting links to his “online magazine rack,” in other words, the content he has aggregated from original sources.

Trusted, credible sources are key to curating good content. Start by building a go-to list of sites that you rely on regularly. For me, as a social businessperson, a few I subscribe to via email for updates are:

In addition, I use Facebook to like pages such as Mashable.com/tech to get all the technology news by the master curated site on the web.

2.    Crowdsourcing

Here’s yet another way of collecting knowledge from different sources, where the aggregated collection is the value. You’ll want to ask subject matter experts in your network a specific topic based question or two and aggregate your findings. Here’s an example of expert shared tips, which makes for a perfect published piece: Laptop Life Tips: Experts Share 10 Tricks To Make Your Computer Last Longer.

Or you can take a more public poll. Facebook recently added a Poll app called “Ask a Question.” Survey Monkey also allows free surveys and gives you a link to drive traffic to. LinkedIn Answers offers a chance to ask industry professionals for feedback and opinions.

Here’s a question: “What percentage of your marketing budget are you going to use on creating content this year?”

3.    Comment

I just read a story about Big Data and where it’s headed. Well, if I’m a systems architect, I just may have a lot to say about that. I cite the story, and then add my commentary. It’s also good practice to notify its author and build a warm relationship. Follow him/her on their social sites as well, you’re building press credentials for later.

4.    Use Numbers and Lists

Research shows that the highest rated posts on the web organize their content into numerical lists. 5 ways to create content, 3 top server consolidation methods, 7 of your favorite blogs (this one included). A list that is well sourced and has meaning will inspire your readers to comment and engage.  No room for fluff here. Quality is the key as shown in this article by HubSpot, “The Top 10 Qualities of High Quality List Posts.”

5.    Interview

My colleague, Kathy Tito, from New England Sales & Marketing does this very well. In “The Bootstrap” blog, she finds people of interest in technology marketing and interviews them Q and A style in a candid, no-nonsense way. Not only does it make for some great storytelling, but also she has acquired some great business contacts along the way.

What would you add to this list? How are you creating content with limited resources?

This post is courtesy of guest blogger Anita O’Malley, who is a social and marketing business communications expert. She recently curated her own company, Perspectiv3. She can be reached at anitaom@perspectivmarketing.com

When is the best time to tweet?

A typical Deutsche Bahn railway station clock

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We all want our tweets to get noticed, read and retweeted—whether they are your personal tweets or you are tweeting on behalf of a brand.

The purpose of this blog post is to give you some information about what research says about the best time to tweet and show you some tools so you can tailor your tweeting times to your followers’ habits.

Time of Day

According to the Twitter vs. Time infographic produced by the marketing company Lemon.ly referencing Twitter and Sysomos data, the most traffic on Twitter occurs between 9 to 11 a.m. ET and 1 to 3 p.m. ET. According to Hubspot Social Media Scientist Dan Zarrella’s research, the best time to tweet is 5 p.m. ET. The takeaway: Spread your tweets out throughout the day with an emphasis toward later in the day.

Time Zone

Pulling data from Dan Zarrella, the Science of Social Timing infographic created by KISSMetrics, shows that the breakdown of tweets in U.S. 48% of tweets are from the East Coast, 33% of tweets are from the Central time zone and 14% are from the West Coast. It is important to remember that nearly 80% of the general U.S. population is located in the Central and Eastern time zones. The takeaway: Think East Coast time.

Day of the Week

According to Dan Zarrella’s How to Get More Clicks on Twitter, you are more likely to get clicks on your Twitter links toward the end of the week and weekends. From my personal experience, I have been successful with Sunday evenings. In terms of followers clicking on your Twitter links, followers are more likely to do so on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The takeaway: Don’t forget about the weekends.

Tools

Optimizing you or your brand’s daily tweeting habits is important in making sure you reach your followers. I found 13 tools that 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

13. TweetDeck. This free tool allows you to schedule tweets and can help you manage your social media platforms.

Conclusion: Success Lies in Frequency Not Timing

In the end, success on Twitter does not rely on when you tweet but how frequently you tweet. Not too much but not too little. If you post at least 5 times a day, spaced throughout the day, you will mostly likely achieve the maximum impact of your tweets.

The 7 habits of highly effective people on Twitter

Free twitter badge

Image via Wikipedia

A lot of what Stephen Covey writes in his bestselling book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People applies to the habits of the top influential Twitterers. So here are seven behaviors to repeat regularly to increase your influence on Twitter.

Habit #1: Make Each Tweet Count

Mark sure each tweet or update you send is relevant. There is an increasingly amount of noise on Twitter so you need to make sure each tweet you send grabs the attention of your followers. With limited time and lower attention spans, compelling tweets are a must. Hint: try to follow the 9 simple formulas to creating killer headlines.

Habit #2: Know Yourself

Discover and clarify your values and goals. What are your trying to accomplish from Twitter? Think Guy Kawasaki and his Twitter strategy.

Habit #3: Plan Ahead

Plan and execute your tweets for the week ahead. Schedule some tweets using a third-party platform like Hootsuite or TweetDeck (which is now part of Twitter).

Habit #4: Know Your Following

Know your Twitter followers and what they like about your tweets. The third-party platforms mentioned above show you which tweets are the most popular and shows which topics your followers like and don’t like.

Habit #5: Listen

Listen well. Follow trending topics on Twitter, popular hashtags and take advantage that Twitter inherently reports news before traditional media does. Create a reasonably large amount of Twitter lists to better segment your followers so you can better understand your different types of followers.

Habit #6: Grow Your Influence Slowly

Your following won’t dramatically increase overnight. It is a marathon not a sprint. Follow these tips on how to grow your Twitter influence (another post I wrote).

Habit #7: Develop a Sustainable Strategy

Twitter takes a lot of time and effort to be successful. You are only as good as your latest tweet. You have to continually to produce re-tweetable content. Know how to get more retweets by taking advantage of research by social media scientist Dan Zarrella.

What habits would you add to this list?

7 ways social media is changing PR

Social media is a game changer for public relations. It is bringing new challenges and opportunities to the profession and to savvy pros. I have outlined seven ways that social media is changing PR.

  1. Two-way conversation. PR pros can no longer blast out information about their brand or client and expect to succeed. Consumers and journalists have come to expect that they won’t be “spammed” and will be answered quickly and in a personal manner. Timely, two-way communication is the “new normal.” Listening, engagement and thought leadership are now three areas that PR pros manage.
  2. Digital communication. PR pros need to know the latest digital tools, including social media monitoring tools, Twitter, Google Analytics. They need to understand blogging and the tools that come with that. We need to understand the nuance of communication for different online communities. (ie. between communicating on Twitter and/or Facebook.)
  3. Research. The social networks offer a wealth of information to PR pros on target markets, customer service, and media they want to pitch. They can now create new opportunities that may not have been available before without social media.
  4. Journalism is changing. Traditional media is no longer the “go to” source for information. The news can “break” from anywhere and the general public has become citizen journalists. For example, look at the U.S. Airways crash into the Hudson River or Michael Jackson’s death. The consumer no longer relies on big news organizations to be on the scene for news. Companies are, in essence, becoming media companies and their PR pros are becoming publishers. Be sure to read How is Social Media NOT Journalism?
  5. Faster and more visible communications. In our 24/7 customer-centric world, social media has increased the potential for complaints and the visibility of this negative outcry. Since we live in a social network, crises happen faster, and response time must be as well. It is important for PR pros to develop their organization or client online presence BEFORE a crisis happens. Because technology is always changing, the crisis plan needs to become a “living” document that helps give an immediate and well-informed response to the latest information.
  6. Analytics. PR pros need to understand and use math everyday. Social media can better help track the return on investment, including direct costs of staff time spent using the tools, and measurement of the traffic it drives to a company’s website.
  7. Organizational hierarchy change. Internal and external communications have been democratized thanks to social media taking out the extra layers such as a direct line to the CEO if you are an internal or external stakeholder.

What would you add to this list? How do you think social media has changed PR?

This post originally appeared on the blog Spin Sucks.

Top 10 viral YouTube videos of all time

 

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

We all love video. 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

To help create this post, I referenced the YouTube Chart of all-time most viewed videos.

Here’s my list:

10. Lazy Sunday – Saturday Night Live

Views: 5 million +++ (taken down by NBC from YouTube so not sure final count)

9. Evian Babies

Views: 14 million +

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

Views: 30 million +

7. Will it Blend? iPad version

Views: 10 million + (note: many different versions of “Will It Blend” so I ranked this higher)

6. Numa Numa

Views: 41 million +

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

Views: 49 million +

4. Battle at Kruger

Views: 60 million +

3. D&*K in the Box – Saturday Night Live

Views: 24 million + (owned by NBC so numbers are off – most likely tons more than listed on YouTube)

2. David after Dentist

Views: 85 million +

1. Evolution of Dance

Views: 168 million +

What video(s) would you add to this list?

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.

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, organizing a Tweetup or event for key stakeholders.  If all the components of the campaign don’t integrate, the campaign has a lower chance of being successful.

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 on a blog, to traditional media, answer Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn questions?

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? In other words, does the PR campaign highlight all the keywords that your audience may type into a search?

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.

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.

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.

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?

Image courtsey of DoktorSpinn.

Why your organization needs a domain strategy

Creating a domain strategy should be one of the first things you do when developing an overall Internet marketing strategy for your organization.

Organizations should make sure that they purchase multiple top level domains (TLDs) so that they all point to one primary domain name.

What does this mean?  If your company primary domain name has a .com TLD, they should also purchase the domain rights to .org, .net, .mobi, .biz, .jobs and .info.  You should also purchase some misspellings of your original domain name to make sure that your audience gets to your website.  For example, type in yahoo.org, yahoo.biz, yahoo.info into your web browser.  Do they all direct you to yahoo.com?   Yes.  If you type in yahooo.org with the extra ‘o’ do you get directed to yahoo.com?  Yes.  Yahoo is a great example of a company that successfully implements a domain strategy with multiple TLDs.

Why should you care?  One of the best mainstream examples of how a domain issue can affect organizations is the whitehouse.com controversy.  If you are trying to go to the White House website and type in whitehouse.com, you won’t find out about President Obama’s latest press conference.  You’ll need to instead go to whitehouse.gov.  A web page designer purchase whitehouse.com first and made it an adult site.  (It has since been changed to another site.)  CNET’s Whitehouse.com goes porn article summarizes this controversy well.

So do you want your organization’s clients and prospects go to a site that is not affiliated with your organization?  Worse yet, do you want to your audience (who may be young children) to encounter adult content instead of your content?  A cybersquatter took advantage of the popularity of the White House to promote his content.  Do you want your organization to fall victim to this too?

To learn more about the benefits of why your organization should purchase multiple TLDs and point them to one domain, I recommend you visit these two posts: advantages of multiple TLD registrations and why use multiple domain names?

Does your organization have a domain strategy?

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