Creating an Effective Content Strategy

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So, what is a content strategy? It’s a detailed approach to the content you’re going to publish daily, weekly, and monthly. A content strategy takes several key marketing factors into consideration. Let’s take a look at those considerations so you can get started creating an effective content strategy to market and grow your business.

It’s Always About the Audience

Regardless of the goal, marketing channel, or content format, the very first thing that goes into an effective strategy is your audience. Your content needs to speak to them. It needs to grab their attention and inspire them to take some type of action with your business.

What’s the Goal?

Speaking of taking action, what do you want your content reader/viewer/listener to do once they’ve consumed your content? What do you want your content to achieve? Goals, of course, range from list building to sales.

Multipurpose

Your content doesn’t have one path. An article can be clipped and shared as social media posts. A video can be transcribed and reworked into a blog post. Decide what you can do with your content.

Test a Variety of Formats

Consider creating a variety of content and testing what your audience responds to. This includes memes, infographics, video content, webinars, articles and more.

Channels and Integration

We’ve already mentioned repurposing content for a variety of formats and channels. When you’re creating your content calendar, make sure to plan how you’re going to integrate your content into your other marketing initiatives. For example, maybe you’re launching a new product and holding an online webinar to promote the launch. Images from the webinar could be used on Instagram and Facebook. The webinar link can be shared on your blog, and so on.

Creating Your Strategy and Following Through

The key to creating an effective content strategy is to commit to re-evaluating your strategy on a monthly basis. Your content plans and calendar, as well as your audience response and analytics, will likely dictate changes or modifications to your strategy. Additionally, as your business changes and your marketing plan evolves, your content strategy needs to support you.

Create your strategy then create a schedule to follow up, reassess, and adjust as needed. A content strategy is a must for a competitive business. If you’re missing one, then you’re likely missing valuable opportunities to connect, engage, and sell.

10 Up and Coming Influencers to Have Your Eye On in 2019

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There are different categories of influencers and each brings something to the table. There are the influencers who have hundreds of thousands of followers. Although some may be expensive, they’re fantastic because working with them gives your brand a tremendous reach.

There are also influencers who have smaller audiences (micro-influencers), but their audiences are passionate and dedicated, and working with them can cost you less money. Let’s take a look at 10 up and coming influencers to keep your eye on.

#1 Simply Quinoa

Alyssa Rimmer is an influencer in the food and cooking niche. She shows her audience how to eat well and stay healthy and represented several companies, including Blendtec.

#2 Olivia Jeanette

Olivia Jeanette is a fashion influencer and embraces the “fashion-forward” mom look. She shares beauty and lifestyle posts and has worked with brands like American Express and Lenscrafters.

#3 Chachi Gonzales

Chachi is a fashion and lifestyle influencer. She’s also a dancer turned actress with a lot of authenticity and credibility with her audience.  She has partnered with M&Ms, Almay, and Arctic Zero Ice Cream.

#4 Jacklyn Sweet

Fitness influencer, Jacklyn shares content on how to get your workout done, as well as content on her athleisure brand.

#5 Everything Technology

Up and coming technology influencer Victor Kamanga reviews speakers and smartphones and is a trusted resource for tech gear on a budget. He’s most noted for his tests on the sustainability of the product by creating fun experiments.

#6 Emkwan Reviews

Emkwan, winner of Esquire Magazine’s Digital Influencer Award, produces high-quality product reviews on tech products and high end lifestyle items. He’s reviewed items sent to him, including the iPhone X and the Huawei Mate smartphone.

#7 Family Fun Pack

This family and lifestyle influencer posts about fun with their family. Two parents and six kids post content on road trips, toys, food and more.

#8 SweetPotatoSoul

Jenne Claiborne shares quality lifestyle and food content. She offers vegan recipes and discusses topics like ethical fashion and natural beauty.

#9 Coding Blonde

Masha, a former Google employee from Denver, makes tech more accessible, empowers women, and teaches others how to code. She’s partnered with Netgear and eBay in the past.

#10 Canine Life

Three retrievers share content that feature their fun adventures. Among their daily activities, they go camping, to the beach, and to the dog park. They have partnered with Kurgo, Barkbox, and Target.

Social Media Marketing

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Social media marketing is an essential skill for any modern small business to master. With billions of people using the top social media sites in the world, it can be an ideal opportunity to extend the reach of any brand.

What are the top social media sites?

The top social media sites are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Tumblr
  • YouTube

Each has their own “rules of the road” and types of followers. Depending on which niche or industry the business is related to, some will be better than others.

Facebook

Facebook is by far the most successful, with nearly 2 billion registered accounts and 1 billion regular users per month. It might have the reputation of being old-fashioned compared with Instagram and Snapchat, both very popular with the 18 to 30 market, but it is still very active and even the younger demographic will usually have an account to connect with family.

Facebook has a well-developed advertising program which allows users to create ads in different formats, such as for traffic, or for lead generation to get subscribers. Compared with Google Ads, it is easy to use, more affordable and very targeted. The ads are also native, looking like content, rather than an ad.

Twitter

Twitter has similar free and paid marketing opportunities. All you have to do is tweet up to 280 characters. It’s a good way to tell keep your followers updated in your business.

Google+

Google+ is popular with foodies, techies and photographers, so any business with a highly visual product line related to those niches could market well here.

Pinterest

Pinterest is completely image-driven, and dominated by women. These women are also shoppers, with more than 50% buying items they see there. Pinterest pins also last a great deal longer than other social media posts.

Instagram and Snapchat

Instagram and Snapchat are also image-driven. In this case, the image or video stays as a story for 24 hours after your follower sees it, unless you pin it to the top of your account. Instagram is owned by Facebook, and you can cross-post your ads in both systems, which can save time and money. Instagram and Snapchat allow companies to create stores right at the site, so if you sell things of interest to 18 to 30 year olds, you need to set up stores.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is following Facebook’s lead in many respects. The functionality is similar, but the audience is different. LinkedIn is the only major business to business social network, targeting professionals and allowing you to make connections with people in your current job, and past jobs and schools. You can also forge connections based on mutual interests, such as a niche or industry.

Tumblr

Tumblr is similar to Facebook in terms of the different kinds of posts you are allowed to publish, such as images and video. Thus far, it does not run ads. Around one-third of its users are international, so this is a good network to focus on if you want to connect with potential customers overseas.

YouTube

YouTube is the largest video sharing site in the world, and a search engine in its own right. Starting a YouTube channel with useful content related to a specific niche can secure subscribers, sales, and connections with one’s target audience.

How to Grow Your Business Using Instagram Stories

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Some people like to criticize Instagram Stories because they are a direct imitation of Snapchat, but for smart marketers, it is always going to be a case of, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Instagram Stories has led to phenomenal growth for marketers using them, so if you have not started yet, it’s time to get organized.

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories are a little content area separate to your Instagram feed. The stories only last 24 hours unless you pin them to your account. They are a way to highlight interesting content, showcase new products, and give more information about who you are as a company and what you are all about.

As the name suggests, they are also perfect for storytelling marketing, which has become a hot new trend in the last 2 years or so. Every good story has a beginning, middle and end. As children, we love storybooks with pictures. We also love TV shows/videos. Instagram allows you to incorporate all of these elements as you tell your target audience more about how your business got started, or all your new product can do for them.

Instagram Stories are a more immersive experience than just a series of unrelated posts. They have changed the way many people use the Instagram app. Instead of swiping down to see their news feed first, many go to any new story in their interface first. The app will keep showing stories until the user clicks out, so your story can be highly visible compared to a single post on the feed.

1. Behind the scenes

The whole point of social media is to get to know your audience, and for them to feel they know you. Behind the scenes about your company or product creations shows who you are and what your values are.

2. Less formal and curated content

With most news feeds and grids, marketers aim for beauty, even perfection. With stories, the content can be more off the cuff and on the fly, showing a less formal side. You can make your content even more fun with Instagram stickers.

3. Create polls

Get to know your audience better and let them have fun by creating polls. They are not anonymous, so you won’t get a huge response, but it is worth a try so you can test your ideas for new products and more. Note that it will disappear within 24 hours, and Instagram does not save any report about it, so check back before the poll is ending to see your results and note them down in a spreadsheet or other convenient place. Re-use the best ones in the future, as you add more followers to your account.

4. Going live

Going live over the phone or via video can seem pretty daunting at first, but the more you do it, the more natural it starts to feel, and the better you become at it.

5. Sharing your best content from your camera roll

You can now save your images and combine them into a story.

6. Video content and recommendations

You can film people talking about your product, using it, or discussing the problem it solves. How-to videos are hugely popular on YouTube, making up about 75% of the content searched for. Create similar content and post it as stories.

7. Time-sensitive content

Have a time-sensitive announcement like a flash sale that has just started? The story will last for only 24 hours unless you pin it. The fact that it is so prominent on the page, though, will help all your followers see it quickly.

8. Announcements

Have you posted a new article at your blog? Launched a new product? Won an award? Stories are a great place to showcase your news and announcements.

Some of the Best Social Media Marketing Methods

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There are a range of social media marketing methods that have become best practices in the last decade or so since the start of social media. Use them strategically, depending on your goals.

Creating a robust page at each social network that is a good fit for your business

There are some social networks you can consider a must, such as Facebook and Twitter. Others are optional, depending on who your target audience is.

Go where your target audience spends time

Facebook and Twitter are a must because their audience is so large. Other social sites might be a good fit because of their format and/or who spends time there.

For example, Pinterest is a highly visual site, so you need good-quality images of attractive products. Around 90% of users are women. Around 50% of people who use the site have bought something they saw there. You can create pins and publish them on your own pin boards, or shared pin boards. You can add a price and link to buy your items at the site. They will also let you turn your pin into an ad. Of all the sites, Pinterest posts last the longest and are the most widely shared, often months after their original posting.

LinkedIn is the top working site for professionals. If you are more of a business-to-business (B2B) than a business-to-consumer (B2C), LinkedIn could be an ideal place for you to promote your products.

Using all the free methods available

There are free promotional methods at the social sites, and paid ones. In terms of free, post a variety of content regularly, such as written content memes, images, and video. If you get audience engagement, that is, Likes, Comments and Shares, you can grow your brand reach naturally, often referred to as organically.

Using all the paid methods available

There are several ad methods that can help grow your business.

Promoting pages

Once you have a page at Facebook or Twitter, you can promote it in order to increase your followers. Facebook, in particular, can be a good opportunity to market your business more widely because the ads are what are termed native, that is, ads which look like regular content and are delivered in a person’s news feed, not in a separate box off to one side.

Promoting posts

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other sites all allow you to turn your post into an ad. On Facebook, it is termed boosting. Look in your Insights or Analytics area to see which posts have been the most popular. Click the Boost button to start running your ads.

Creating ads from scratch

All of the social networks will also allow you to create ads from scratch. In most cases you will need an attractive image, a good headline, and interesting content which meets the terms of service for each network.

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has become a marketing method in its own right, but it has its basis in social media. With influencer marketing, you can leverage the power of other prominent users on the social networks to market your own business.

There should be several prominent figures with a large following who are working in your niche or industry. Do some research on the networks you use the most. Start to follow them, and observe the kinds of things they post. Interact with their posts in a helpful, not pushy way. Eventually, ask them if they would be willing to share some of your content with their followers.

Social Media Marketing in 2019: Best Practices

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Social media has been around since 2007, and promoting a business on the top networks has grown into a whole new marketing area that small companies struggle with.

Social media marketing is a moving target. Networks are constantly changing, evolving and growing – often in unpredictable ways. What’s trending one moment can vanish in the blink of an eye.

With that being said, a lot of social media marketing practices have emerged that should work well into 2019 and beyond.

Influencer Marketing is on the Rise

Some influencers are celebrities who have tens of millions of followers. Others can be “micro-influencers” who focus on a particular topic, niche or industry. They might not have more over 1 million followers but have built up an audience that respects their opinions and are eager to hear from them.

Business owners can leverage influencers in a number of ways. Following and engaging with their content. If they have sponsored posts, it never hurts to reach out and see if they are willing to work with your brand. Some influencers will charge to do so, but this “ad” can give you a good return on investment because the audience is so targeted.

Knowing Your Audience

Know where your target audience spends its time; is it only Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or a combination of two or all three? Then get to know how users behave on those sites.

Snapchat and Instagram has been very popular with the 18 to 30 demographic, but a growing number of 35 to 45-year-olds have started using Instagram as well.

81% of 30 to 40-year-olds check Twitter once a day, 76% of Facebook users (about 1.5 billion people) visit the site daily and 35% of individuals check Instagram as many as 11 times a day.

Latest Trends

Tools like BuzzSumo allow you to see what is trending and with this you can start engaging with and publishing similar content. You can also set alerts via Google or through third parties such as Newswire’s Media Monitoring feature to ping you on specific keywords, competitor analysis, mentions of your brand, and more.

Trending Hashtags

Hashtags are a popular way to find content and to classify your own content. Branded, unique hashtags allow you to differentiate yourself but also engage with others in your industry.

Go Live

Going live is becoming hugely popular and is the perfect way to interact with your audience. It’s fun, interesting and allows you to give your audience them a behind the scenes look at your business or product creation. Let them ask questions and if anyone misses the live broadcast, you can always save it as a highlight and they can watch it later.

Paid Ads

With startups and small businesses, it’s hard to have a large marketing budget but consider re-investing into paid social ads. These ads are much more ttargets than Google Ads in terms of choosing your audience. You can also cross-promote the ads on thte different social outtlest to get a broader reach.

Finding Influencers to Promote your Business

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There are a number of ways to find social media influencers to help promote your business. It can take time to do the research, but the results can be well worth it in terms of growing your traffic and subscribers, and ultimately making more sales.

Who are social media influencers?

Social media influencers might be celebrities with a huge following, or individuals with a large following who focus on one particular niche or industry. Influencer marketing can help you tap into your target audience in a whole new way, and quickly, too. If you’ve been struggling to get traffic, subscribers and sales, the potential audience size could help you grow your business strategically without spending hours creating and publishing content.

Successful influence marketing starts with finding the right influencers.

Doing your research

Top influencers include niche bloggers and micro-influencers, those who focus on a particular niche. In terms of bloggers, think of the blogs related to your niche that you visit regularly. Do they publish information and/or reviews about particular product and services? Do they accept guest blog posts? Is it a high-quality site that is well-maintained, with fresh new content on a regular basis?

If you answer yes to all these questions, note down in a spreadsheet the URL and contact information of the site owner.

Next, see if these sites or owners have a strong presence on social media. If they do, check their follower numbers. Start to follow them.

Also, check to see if they have a related Facebook Group. If they do, apply to join.

Set a goal

There are a few questions to consider before trying to promote your brand or business through influencer marketing:

Who are you trying to connect with/impress? Think of the ideal customer in your niche. Where do they spend time and what influencers are they connected with?

How can you measure your success to determine whether or not you are getting a good return on your investment?

Some goals that are measurable:
  • Traffic
  • Subscribers
  • Sales
  • Followers

You can look in your various reports to see how the numbers go up.

You might also have less measurable goals:
  • Build brand awareness so your target audience starts to get to know who you are
  • Grow your company’s credibility within your industry, and your client base
  • Grow your own authority as an expert in your niche

Decide who to target

Different social networks have different audiences. Facebook and Twitter are good for older age groups, Instagram and Snapchat with the 18 to 30s. Pinterest is almost 90% women. LinkedIn will connect you with professionals. Decide who your target audience is and plan an influencer campaign on the best platforms.

Use the right tools

There are a number of tools that can help you find the right influencer to work with. They include:

  • Buzzsumo: This tool shows you what is trending and also has detailed influencer data. Try their 7-day free trial to see how useful it is.
  • Followerwonk: A free tool that will help you find Twitter influencers.
  • Hootsuite: This tool is known for helping users post content to all their social media accounts from one single dashboard. But it is also useful for influencer discovery and management. Once you have found influencers and started to work with them, it will offer you reports on your results.
  • Google Alerts: Set alerts related to influencers, your niche, your products and your brand. Each alert will send you links to appropriate content so you can see what’s going on in terms of your marketing and locate more influencers.

Creating a Social Media Marketing Campaign

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Every modern business should have a social media marketing plan. Within that plan, you should create campaigns throughout the year. You might formulate a campaign to help promote a new product you are launching, or to create a seasonal campaign to help you cash in on the holidays.

No matter what the reason for the campaign, you can create one easily, provided you follow a few simple steps.

Decide what to promote

Choose a product or service to focus on so you can match the message to the correct audience, and be able to start gathering useful content for your social media posts.

Decide why you are promoting it

If it is a new product, the reason why will be to help launch it successfully and start earning money from it right out of the starting gate. If it is a holiday sale, try to tie in the product to the holiday in some way, such as end of year resolutions your product will help them with.

Set your goal

The goal of any campaign will ultimately be to make more sales, but you might first wish to start with getting more engagement, or signing up more subscribers to your emails. In this way you can connect with your audience more closely and therefore be able to market to them more effectively.

Setting a goal that is measureable also helps you to track your progress to see if you are achieving it.

Gather your content

It should be based around the product and take various forms, such as:

  • Blog posts/written content
  • High-quality images
  • Memes
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • ebooks
  • Cheat sheets or other useful handouts
  • Audio files
  • and so on.

In this way, you will be offering a range of content that should speak to the needs and preferences of your target audience.

Match the content to the goal

If your goal is to get more subscribers, an ebook or useful handout will be the incentive for them to sign up. If your goal is to get more sales, images and a video of your product in action, with a downloadable quick start guide on how to use it might be ideal.

Brand the content

Be sure the content has your URL on it. Brand your images, ebooks, and so on.

Make sure the content is shareable

The reason for branding the content is that you want it to be shared as widely as possible. Branding it will tell people where that great meme you created originally came from and point them back to you, for more traffic.

Create a new, unique hashtag for the content

This can help you track the success of the campaign.

Use automation tools to deliver your campaign’s content

Use a program like Buffer or HootSuite to queue up your content at each of the social networks you are active at, so you can post regularly, and cross-post. It’s too much work to do manually on the fly every day. Automation will make your life much easier and your campaign more successful because it will be consistent.

Dare to go live with your video

These are becoming increasingly popular on social media. They are a great way to engage with your target audience and get to know them, while they get to know you. Worried no one will turn up? Do your best to market the video prior to going live, but remember, they can always watch a recording of it after the broadcast if they’ve missed it.

Track your success

Use all of the analytics reporting available to see what your winners have been during, and at the end of each campaign. Make a note of the “winners” and see if you can re-use them, or re-formulate them for a new product launch or other campaigns in the future.

Growing Your Instagram Following

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Instagram is one of the hottest social media sites these days. It’s the go-to place for many 18 to 30 year-olds, and now even the older demographic is getting on the trend. Being owned by Facebook, you know Instagram is determined to be successful.  Therefore, it can be an ideal place to market your business if you know the rules of the road when it comes to building an organic (versus paid) following at the site.

An organic, or natural, following develops naturally through your publishing content, which your target audience then sees and interacts with. If they enjoy your content enough, they can Like your page. Once they have done that, each time you post something, they should see it in their newsfeed.

Instagram is rapidly growing to the 500 million users per month mark, so if you are not already marketing there, it is time to start building an organic following.

An aesthetically pleasing page

Optimize your page to make it as interesting for your target audience as possible. Include a mini-biography to tell people why they should follow you and what they can expect.

Consistency

Try to post every day. Some marketers will post more than once a day, but Instagram is a bit different from other networks. It will show every relevant post since the last time you visited your account, so if you post a lot, your followers could get overwhelmed.

24 Hour Rule

Posts last only 24 hours from the time the person visits their account. If you want to save your best content, like an introduction to your company, pin it to your page.

Engage with your followers

Don’t just ignore them. It should be a two-way conversation and interaction. Offer useful information or a perceptive, personalized comment.

Use hashtags, but don’t overdo it

Use hashtags (#) to join in conversations about particular topics, but don’t list so many that users see lines and lines of nothing but hashtags.

Encourage your site visitors to interact with you on Instagram

Provide a link they can click to do so easily.

Cross-promotion

Encourage followers on other sites to check out your unique content on Instagram, such as images, videos and stories.

Encourage followers to share your content

Memes and videos work well.

Use emojis

Emojis are searchable on Instagram, so your content can be found depending on which you use.

Brand your content

Make all of your content look similar. Add an URL to all of your images.

Recycle your best content

At the end of each month, check to see which content got the most engagement. Plan to repost them in the future for the benefit of new followers since the last time you posted that content.

Offer shares in exchange for shares

Agree to share content with others working in your niche in exchange for a share on their account. This will work really well if they are an influencer with a large following and you think your content would be a good fit for their audience.

Run contests and giveaways

Offer good prizes and ask the winner to tag you in a post to show what they have won. This will bring even more followers to your page.

Create interesting memes and quotation graphics

These should be highly shareable with your target audience.

Don’t be afraid to promote others

It shows you know your niche, and they might also be willing to return the favor.

Establishing Credibility & Expertise as an Influencer

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Becoming an influencer can be a good way to build your business or to add income to your business. In fact, “social media influencer” has become its own business model. You can get paid to represent relevant brands and products on social media. However, before you begin to earn money as an influencer, you have to earn the right.

Establishing Credibility

99% of the time, establishing credibility requires forethought. It takes some time to figure out your topic, your audience, and how you’re going to approach social media. If your goal is to become an influencer, it’s imperative that you begin with a plan. You cannot establish credibility, at least not quickly or easily, if you haven’t put some thought into your content first.

What is Your Niche?

What topic are you speaking about online? This is important; it’s very easy to be vague or general online. However, when you do this, you’re competing with everyone rather than a focused group of experts. For example, you can talk about “parenting” or you can talk about “Parenting college-age males.” There are literally thousands of people posting on social media about parenting, but far fewer talking about parenting college-age males. So find your niche.

Who is Your Audience?

The next question is to ask yourself who wants your information? This is important because you if you want to establish credibility with your content, it needs to speak directly to them. It needs to solve their problems and attract them. So figure out who wants/needs your information, and learn as much about them as possible. Look for their demographics, as well as their habits and values.

What Do You Know?

The last question, when it comes to credibility and expertise, is what do you know? What are you the expert in? Start there. Yes, you may learn as you go and that’s fantastic, share that knowledge. However, when you’re just getting started, start with what you know. What can you do today to help your audience?

Share and Share Often

When striving to become a social media influencer, it’s probably not enough to post daily. You want to post and you want to post often. You want to get your content out there and in front of your audience so that you begin to build a following. Strive to post at least daily.

Engage and Engage Often

Comment, engage, share, and connect with people in your niche and in relevant niches. Start networking online and sharing your knowledge. The more other people share your content and engage with you, the faster your influence and credibility will grow.

Create Your Plan

Create a content plan. Decide what you’re publishing and when you’re publishing it. Create a list of people that you want to build relationships online with, and start engaging with them. And decide how you’re going to track and measure success. Once you learn what your audience responds to, you can then tweak your content plan to fit demand.

Becoming a social media influencer and getting to the point where you can earn money doing it takes a bit of time, patience, and persistence. Start off strong by knowing who you’re talking to and what you’re talking about.