Avoid PR Disasters with the Perfect Social Media Policy

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Belgrade - May 07, 2014 Facebook, Twitter And Other Popular Soci

Do your employees know which countries giraffes reside in? Have they ever heard of the Challenger disaster? While these questions may seem pointless and completely unrelated to social media, they have actually been the cause of several PR disasters. During the 2014 World Cup Championship, Delta Air Lines congratulated Team USA on their victory over Ghana by tweeting a picture of the Statue of Liberty for the U.S. and a giraffe for Ghana. Twitter users quickly pointed out that there are no giraffes in Ghana.

That was a relatively minor slip up compared to a month later, when American Apparel posted a picture of the space shuttle Challenger explosion on their Tumblr. According to their official apology, their social media manager was born after the disaster and was unaware of it.

This doesn’t mean that all of your marketers should receive history and geography lessons. The dozens of other PR disasters that happen on social media every year occur for any number of reasons. What it does mean is that your organization needs a social media policy to prevent PR mistakes and to mitigate the damage if any potentially harmful messages are released.

Preventing Social PR Disasters

The best way to prevent social media blunders is to only allow company messages to come from one person and one social media account. Unfortunately, that’s not the best way to receive any real engagement on your social channels.

Social media messages that are shared by employees reach 561% further than those shared by official company channels.

Using employee social advocacy safely and successfully requires that you and your employees have a clear understanding of what messages are encouraged and which should be avoided.

Build a Strategy and Social Media Policy to Guide Your Employee Advocacy

If you have a social media strategy, share it with your employees. Giving them an understanding of what your social goals and positioning are will show them how their networks can best support the brand. In addition to strategy, a clear social media policy should also define what employees can and cannot do online.

Establish Guidelines for Posting

Avoid sending your employees a 50-page document of Social Media Don’ts. Your guidelines should encourage sharing! Make your guidelines simple and based on common sense. Most of the information will be better communicated through training, but it will be valuable to have an official document in case any incidents occur.

Train Your Employees on Social Media

53% of salespeople say they’d like social media training. Despite this fact, 93% of them have received no formal training from their company.

Look to Dell for an example of an excellent social media training program. Over the past 5 years, Dell’s Social Media and Community University has trained over 15,000 of their employees on social media best practices. The benefits they’ve seen extend to all areas of their business:

  • Sales via social media has seen a 69% year-over-year increase.
  • With 4,000 customer service cases a week on social media, they hold a 98% first-time resolution rate.
  • 89% increase in the number of external hires coming from employee social referrals.

Provide Employees with Social Media Content to Share

Supplying employees with suggested social media content is another way to increase advocacy while also controlling the messages being sent out. You can send out regular post suggestions or for certain salespeople and brand advocates you can post on their behalf through a social media lead generation tool like Socedo. This is particularly valuable for sales reps who need to regularly share messages to leads in a timely and relevant manner.

Responding to Social PR Disasters

No matter how well trained and informed your employees are, eventually a social media crisis will strike your company. However, that doesn’t need to spell disaster for your brand. Many companies have been applauded for how well they handled a PR disaster.

Two companies that prove this fact are DiGiorno and Entenmann’s. Both companies received backlash after unintentionally leveraging trending hashtags that were related to sensitive issues. Entenmann’s tweeted using the #NotGuilty hashtag related to the Casey Anthony murder verdict while DiGiorno used the #WhyIStayed hashtag related to domestic violence.

Entenmann’s responded by avoiding Twitter for years until they had lived down the crisis. On the other side, DiGiorno personally responded to offended Twitter users and went to great lengths to own their mistake.

Because of their response, DiGiorno was able to limit the damage done to their brand and continue to use Twitter as a valuable channel.

Create a Social Media PR Disaster Plan

In addition to your social media policy, you should have a formal plan in place that defines what a social media crisis means to your brand and what actions you will take in the event of one. Some incidents may require personal apologies to every offended customer, like in DiGiorno’s example. Some incidents may require you to put out a press release or issue a formal statement. Understanding what is required in various situations and having the resources in place to respond quickly will greatly reduce the damage a social media PR incident can have on your brand.

Monitor Your Online Reputation

Responding to PR disasters and regular customer complaints in a timely manner requires that you actually know about them. While users reference brands on Twitter all the time, less than 3% directly @mention the brand when they do. Monitoring real-time keywords can help you identify potential disasters the moment they occur so your response can be quick and effective.

Social media PR disasters happen. However, if you create clear guidelines so you and your employees can be authentic and communicate with honesty, you can limit the potential for major incidents and limit the damage they will have on your brand.

This article was originally featured on Duct Tape Marketing Network 

Teena ThachTeena Thach is Socedo’s social media and marketing specialist. Socedo is a demand generation system that empowers marketers to discover, engage with and qualify prospects through social media to generate revenue at scale.

The biggest security concerns startups face

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The following post was written by Jeremy Sutter, a tech and business writer, the original article was posted on PitchBook and can be found here 

Cybersecurity is quickly emerging as one of the most important threats to businesses in 2015 and beyond. The last few years have seen a massive rise in the utilization of Big Data, automated software tools, cloud storage, and other techniques and systems that involve harvesting customer data. These are lucrative, especially for marketing, but they also have created a whole new set of risks. All of that customer data is valuable for identity theft and similar unscrupulous uses. Hacker groups dedicate their time and resources to attempting to steal customer data. This poses an especially grave threat to startups, who typically have less resources of their own to dedicate to security. In this post, we'll outline three major forms of attacks and why they are so dangerous.

Direct Attack

Some hacking groups try to target businesses directly and breach their security. They might be obvious or subtle, but their goal is the same—to break into the company's network and find any valuable data or software around. That data could be anything from industrial secrets to credit card records or social security numbers—it need not be customer data, although that is the most common target. Direct attacks pit the ingenuity and dedication of hackers against that of the startup, and the greater experience of the hackers means they can frequently find some kind of hole. On the other hand, they are in it for the money, so if they can't locate an opening easily, they are likely to move on to a softer target.

Social Engineering

Sometimes it doesn't take a real breach to get access to sensitive data. Hacker groups frequently use social engineering to get passwords or permissions. This involves manipulating employees by, for example, posing as an IT worker and asking for a password to verify an account. They might also try calling up the ISP of the startup and try to obtain some information that way. Social engineering is easy to do, as well as cheap, so a hacker can spend their time sending emails or making calls instead of coding. It is faster and frequently just as effective, because they only need to find one link. The best way to defeat social engineering is to have strong security policies and ensure everyone follows them. That includes things like never putting passwords in emails, always verifying the identity of anyone purporting to be from IT, creating new passwords frequently, and conducting regular internal tests to probe for weaknesses.

Vendor Software

One of the biggest problems for startups is that they cannot control all of the software they use. Every business relies to a greater or lesser extent on external vendors. If the vendor becomes compromised, all of their clients are also at risk. It is common for hackers to target vendors first and then use corrupted vendor software as a springboard for getting into bigger targets, like banks and retailers. It is difficult to completely vet all vendor software, because the whole point of using a vendor is the convenience and speed compared to internal development.

This last point especially is leading to major changes in cybersecurity. There are growing calls for laws governing liability for breaches, both for companies in charge of data and the vendors that supply them. In addition, the market for insurance that covers data breaches is growing. More and more startups are getting business insurance quotesonline for policies that pay off if they are hacked, lessening the expected risk of such a breach. The fallout from an attack can be severe. The loss of customer trust and negative publicity is enough to doom a startup, to say nothing of any damage to the network or loss of essential data. Worse, some hackers slip in quietly and stay within a company for months or years, siphoning off data. The growing complexity and scale of the cybersecurity threat means that startups are finding it worthwhile to invest in insurance rather than try to go head to head with the hackers. It is hard to do when resources and time are already stretched thin moving the business forward.

Content Curation Tools to Make Your Content Rock

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Belgrade - May 07, 2014 Facebook, Twitter And Other Popular Soci

You might have heard that you should write your own posts so to get the attention of your audience and search engines. That it will increase your sales and keep your customers coming back to your website or blog. And yes, this is true. But it doesn’t mean that this strategy is the only one available, as publishing curated content can also help you to achieve the same goals and in a much more practical way.

You can actually write an entirely new article just by listing the best influencers’ ideas in your industry, for example. And your target audience will love it  –  nothing better than a perfectly organized list so that you can get to know what you want without having to go through tons of pages. But where can you find the best content related to your niche so to curate them wisely? This is where these 15 content curation tools below will help you out.

  1. Storify

Storify brings several cool features to your curated content. It will allow you to build a social newsroom so that multiple editors can add content from different locations through real-time collaboration. They also offer a great app with a drag-and-drop option, and you can search for photos and videos, not only texts.

  1. Feedly

If you miss Google Reader, you will love Feedly. You just need to type a couple of keywords to have access to news, blog posts, YouTube channels, and more, using their powerful RSS feed reader. You can also secure private content, organize everything into collections, tag stories and URLs (so you can read them later) and share your content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or by email. And as if it wasn’t enough, Feedly can be integrated with Hootsuite, Buffer, Evernote, Pocket and Instapaper as well.

  1. Triberr

Tribber put together content shared by communities of bloggers and influencers. So if you are in need of fresh ideas, just search their categories, and find out which groups are more related to your industry or to your favourite topics – and you can also share your own content there.

  1. Trap.It

Proud of their over 100,000 sources, Trap.It offers a content library focused on social selling and employee advocacy. The first time that you use it, you will search for whatever you want and storage it to read later. But the best thing comes next: based on your choices, the tool will learn, look for related content, and leave it nicely organized in folders for you.

  1. Quora

Quora is a great option for those who want to hear opinions and insights about any topic. And if you think that is a bit tricky to find out the accuracy of some answers, just check the upvote/downvote ranking. You can also write your own questions there and wait for the best answers.

Digital Marketing Branding Strategy Online Media Concept

  1. Scoop.It

With just one click, the content that you create on Scoop.it can be shared on social media, added to your website or blog, or used on email newsletters - they have partnerships with MailChimp, Hootsuite, WordPress, Wix, and more, so to make it happen. Plus, you can create you own digital magazine there and let other users follow your curated content.

  1. SlideShare

SlideShare is the place for you to go if you are looking for presentations. And quality won’t be a concern as over 70 million professionals, experts included, share their content there. We are talking about over 18 million slides distributed into 40 categories at your disposal -  and you can also upload your own files there.

  1. Quuu

Looking for curated content that you can share it directly on social media? Then you should try Quuu. With this tool, you can select your favourite categories; receive hand-curated content straight to your Buffer account; manually edit it; and share it with you followers. The free version provides you with 2 posts per day while the paid one will deliver 10 posts per day.

  1. Pinterest

Pinterest is a great social network platform to curate content. You just have to search it by keywords or categories and save your pins in your boards – so when you happen to need them, you will have great ideas of content waiting for you.

  1. Trust my Paper

Trust My Paper is a curation tool (and not only for papers!) with which you can ask professional copywriters to curate and create content for you. They also provide proofreading, editing, plagiarism-check and rewriting help for those in need. Their website also has plenty of relevant information about content writing.

  1. Pressly

With Pressly, you can put all your content in one place, share it with your team or community, and even insert call-to-actions. You can also add RSS feeds and social media networks, or simply use their bookmarklet or apps.

  1. Learnist

Search Learnist's categories and create boards, so to get your curated content organized there. It is also possible to use keywords instead, but the best thing here is that their content is always fresh and collected from niche leaders in their industries.

  1. MyCurator for WordPress

WordPress also has its own curated content solution. With this plugin, you will receive content filtered by your chosen keywords, and it will pre-fills the post with an image, attribution link, and an excerpt, so you can customize it as you wish.

 14.  Content Gems

Content Gems allows you to monitor and search through their 200,000+ RSS feeds or your own sources. You will be able to add different kinds of filters, such as keywords or social signals. These two things together will create a stream of curated content for you, so then you can share it on social media, or add it to emails, newsletters, apps, websites, intranets, and more.

   15.  Curata

Thanks to its self-learning software, more often you use Curata, faster it will improve itself and give you better search results back. You will also be able to organize everything you find after just a few clicks, so then you can publish it anywhere anytime.

 

Wrapping it up

Content curation can be a life-saver. It will provide you with fresh ideas related to your industry, so you can quickly write posts just by organizing them and adding your personal touch. But with so much information been published daily on the internet, it is understandable that you will need a powerful tool to make this task easier, such as those mentioned above.
So test each one of them, and see which one is the best fit for your needs. Even though they have the same goal, they will deliver it on their own particular style. So take your time with them, and don’t forget to make the most of any free extra resources that you can put your hands on.

The Most Common Mistakes on B2B Websites

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Shaking hands and business team in business a hall ** Note: Shallow depth of field

Marketing in the B2C (Business to Consumer) space is very different than marketing in the B2B (Business to Business) space. B2B marketing is unique for a lot of reasons. In the B2B market, the sales cycle tends to be longer, multiple decision makers are typically involved, the partnerships are often long-term, and the products or services carry a higher price tag than many B2C products and services.

Approaching B2B marketing the same way one would approach B2C marketing is a huge mistake. Organizations need a website and digital strategy geared towards their unique B2B customers. Read on to learn what common mistakes that marketers make when designing websites for a B2B firms.

Going for the Close Right Away

Traditional B2B industries covers a broad range of industries including, but not limited to: medical devices, recruiting services, manufacturing products and financial services. One of the few things most B2B industries have in common is a long sales cycle. These sales cycles tend to be 6 months or longer, often spanning to nearly a year.

A major mistake that marketers make in designing a B2B website is going for the close right away. Asking a prospect for their contact information before they’ve gotten the opportunity to learn more about the product and services a firm is a huge turn off. This is particularly true in our new age of information, where a person’s name and e-mail address are coveted. And generally, B2B companies aren’t offering low value widgets that a consumer can return if they decide they don’t like it. B2B products and services ten to have price points in the tens of thousand, and products and services that require a lot more thought and consideration before a commitment is made.

Instead

Instead of going for the close right away, a B2B website should tell a story, draw the prospect in, and educate him or her on why the firm’s products and services are of value to them. Calls-to-action should be clearly placed and encourage the website visitor to take the next step, such as Read Our Blog, Download Our White Paper, Learn More, etc. A well-designed B2B website nurtures a lead through the sales funnel, often over an extended period of time.

Lack of Helpful Information

A bare bones website works for a variety of B2C companies that offer a quick experience with a service or an inexpensive product. However, in the B2B space a bare bones website lacks credibility and the information a prospect needs to make a decision.

An all-too-common mistake we see with B2B websites is a lack of actionable or educational information about a company’s service or product offerings. Services and products in the B2B space have a tendency to be detailed, customized, and/or complicated. As such, prospects need as much information as possible to make a well-informed decision. Firms that are able to provide helpful information to prospects set themselves apart from their competition and establish themselves as a true resource and authority in their field.

Rather

We often see B2B firms who have a plethora of offline marketing materials but very few materials available online. Rather than keeping all these great, educational materials in only print format, we encourage B2B companies to digitize these materials by adding them as pages on the website, creating case studies online, writing blogs about how to use their products or services, or create other content marketing materials that can be housed on their website.

Content Isn’t Accessible

Accessibility. It has a lot of definitions, but for marketers and those of us in the B2B space, accessibility translates into whether or not out content is available and easy to comprehend for our intended audience. We live in the age of information where everything we want to know ia at our fingertips. To continue to compete in this landscape, it is important to have information that is easy to find and to understand. If you’re not saying it, someone else is, and that someone is likely taking your traffic.

Content For All Decision Makers

A pervasive issue on B2B websites is that content isn’t accessible for all of the decision makers. A firm’s main prospect may be an engineer, but the engineer may have to get the approval of a CTO or a CFO before moving forward with a deal. If all the content on the website is aimed at the engineer, the firm isn’t providing tools that make it easy for the engineer to convince the CTO or CFO that the products or services are necessary.

Alternative

An alternative to creating content just for one client persona is to create content for each of the decision makers in the target organization. This sounds like a lot of extra work, but with the right planning, it’s quite simple to integrate into a website. For example, a CFO may be more interested in the financial costs and benefits of a particular service, whereas the engineer is likely interested in the technical aspects. Creating accessible content for the CFO, such as case studies or cost savings comparison sheets, and for the engineer, like spec sheets or technical guides, that are both hosted on the website worthwhile. While often overlooked, it’s an easy solution to effectively communicate with multiple decision makers.

Few Credibility Elements

In most industries, there are more than a few players. Competition can often be dense. However, most B2B firms have a unique value proposition that sets them apart from their competition. A firm may not be the cheapest or fastest, but there is a lot of value in being the most thorough or the best at something specific.

This issue is that they often don’t clearly communicate their value proposition clearly. Many B2B websites lack the credibility elements that build their case for the value they offer and why prospects should trust them. Long-term partnerships are founded on trust, respect, and added value. In the B2B space, this is true for almost all partnerships. As such, a B2B website and digital presence absolutely must engender trust and build confidence in a firm’s products or services.

Try This

There are so many ways to build credibility with a website. Instead of a firm saying they are better, faster, or more compliant, they should try showing they are better, faster, or more compliant. This can be done through client testimonials, industry awards, before and after demonstrations, a portfolio of work, and case studies. How the website performs (page speed, ease of navigation, imagery, etc.) should also uphold the value proposition and credibility assertion.

There is rhetoric out in the marketing world that there is no B2B or B2C, that it’s all the same type of marketing. However, it’s simply not true. Building and designing a B2B website according to the same principles used in B2C marketing is designing for failure. Having an understanding of what makes the B2B audience different enables a firm to create messaging, content, and a digital presence that accommodates, nurtures, and compels that audience.

Promote Your New Blog Post Like a Pro: An 8 Step Checklist for Small Business Owners

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Who’s been here?

Someone – maybe a friend, coworker, or blogger – planted a tiny seed in your mind. That seed:

Wouldn't it be great to start a company blog?

The benefits to your business would be enormous. It would skyrocket traffic, leads, and sales. The idea was so appealing that the seed finally grew into action. You slaved away with what little free time you had. You navigated the complicated blog setup process and settled on a design.

Once everything was in place, you started creating content. It seemed simple enough. Content is king, right?

But there was a problem.

Once you hit publish, nothing happened. Your traffic never took off. Those leads never appeared. Sales haven't changed.

What’s worse, you’re not even sure how to promote your content or where to start.

Sound familiar?

I promise you’re not alone. Many business owners struggle with this same problem.

Today, I’ll share a step-by-step process you can use to promote new blog posts like a seasoned pro.

Why Hitting Publish Is Not Enough

In case you didn’t get the memo , publishing content in 2016 is no longer enough.

There are upwards of 2 million blog posts published every day. Most people are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of content presented to them daily.

Aside from writing long form content and using an arsenal of other tactics to stand out, you still need to promote your content. Otherwise, chances are good no one will see it.

In other words:

You need to promote your content like crazy. But not like a crazy person.

You want to avoid haphazard promotion and a lack of clear planning. Small business owners need to make the most of what little time we have.

Instead, I'll show you how to implement a strategic plan and turn it into a company-wide process to follow. This will help you achieve the success you’ve been hoping for since the beginning.

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Internal Linking

Here's the first step to take after you hit publish:

Link to your new content from other, more powerful pages on your website. Sales pages, product pages, or other blog posts… it doesn't matter.

Why? The reasons are twofold:

  1. Navigational – We’re creating more places website visitors can discover your content.
  2. SEO – Internal linking is a great way to get more traffic to a new post. It’s also a great way to give it a rankings boost. Strategic linking from older, established, and more trusted pages on your website to a new page helps funnel authority.

Just make sure you’re linking from relevant pages. Take a moment to find the places where it makes the most sense to link to your new blog post. Write them down, and add them after reading this article.

Step 2: Social Media Scheduling

Next, you’ll want to share your new blog post on social media channels.

The most productive way to do this is through social media scheduling. For this, consider tools like Buffer or Hootsuite.

How many times should you share a new blog post? Check out this handy visual for some guidelines:

Now, you might think: "This is useless. I have no followers or fans.”

That may be! But if you want to grow your social following, you have to start somewhere. That means sharing content.

You can’t expect other people to share and link to your content if you’re not willing to promote it yourself. Don’t expect others to do the heavy lifting for you. Be a voice for yourself, first. Allow your ambition and enthusiasm to be contagious, and others will follow suit.

Step 3: Find Relevant Social Sharing Sites & Niche Specific Social Networks

Consider options outside of the major social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and Instagram.

Untapped traffic sources can include social sharing and bookmarking sites, like Reddit and Stumbleupon.

Not sure how to use either? No need to worry. There are tons of online marketing guides that address these platforms, like this one and this one.

Another great idea is a niche-specific social network. While there may not be a specific social network for every industry, these can prove to be a gold mine for your business.

Here's an example:

Pack Dog is a social network for dog owners. If you were in the pet business, joining Pack Dog would be a great move. You could share photos of your dog and links that interest you and other dog owners. Your new blog post about dogs would fit right in!

Perform a few Google searches to see if you can identify any relevant niche-specific social media channels or social sharing sites that could bring you more traffic. Once you've found sites that are a good match, create an account and become a member. This will allow you to share your content with hyper-targeted groups of people.

Just make sure to become an active participant in these communities. Avoid spamming by only sharing content that promotes your business. That is a quick way to lose goodwill (and possibly get banned).

When in doubt, follow the 80/20 rule: 20% promotional content and 80% non promotional.

Step 4: Share With Your Email Subscribers

If you’ve been building and grooming an email list, don’t forget about these super-important people!

Why? They’re your biggest fans!

Anyone who's opted in to receive email, news, and information from you should never be ignored.

Create an email campaign to let subscribers know about new content, and encourage them to check it out. Provide a strong call to action, inviting them to share it with friends or leave a comment.

This is a great way to generate early buzz and engagement on your post.

Step 5: Contact Weak Ties

Despite what you might think, everyone has what’s called “weak ties.” These are people who will happily promote your content.

Who are these people? Brian Dean refers to them as people in your professional network, or even acquaintances. But I think they can go beyond that. Maybe it’s your mom, your partner, close friends or family.

Don’t be afraid to approach them. Now’s not the time to be shy or proud. Ask for a social share.

Weak ties may also be old colleagues, people within your company or department, or even your employees. Chances are you’re both on the same team, or work within the same industry. Most people will want to promote their profession and see their place of business succeed. Many will be more than happy to lend a hand.

Most importantly, don’t view this as begging for help. This is a strategic marketing move to generate buzz.

Don't be afraid to get out there and hustle!

Step 6: Reach out to Previous Linkers

This is one of my top link-building secrets.

When you perform any kind of email outreach or link development campaign, you should keep track of your efforts. This means recording:

  • Whom you contacted
  • When you reached out
  • For what reason
  • Responses

Think of this as your little black book of recurring link prospects. When you’re working on something new, comb through your records for what I like to call “previous linkers.”

These are people who linked to you in the past, and with whom you’ve built up a rapport. Often, you can count on them again for a link or social share.

Be careful not to ruin these relationships by spamming.

Only reach out if you have something they may be interested in or something that's relevant. If so, reach out again.

You'll be surprised at just how effective of a tactic this is.

Step 7: Contact Brands or Influencers Mentioned in the Post

Next, review your content for any mentions of brands or influencers, even if you didn't mention anyone directly. Did you share an idea, tip, tactic, or strategy of theirs?

If you have, contact these people! Shoot them a quick email letting them know they were referenced in your article. Gently ask for, or suggest, a social share.

While you won’t get a response from everyone, this is a valuable tactic. It uses a share trigger called social currency.

People want to share content that proves their position or makes them look good. If you featured their work in a positive light, they'll want to share that with their audience.

Most brands or influencers will likely have a larger social following than you. This type of strategic promotion will send you traffic, increase social shares and engagement, and possibly open the doors to new potential customers.

Give credit where credit is due, and reap the rewards.


Step 8: Conduct an Email Outreach Campaign

By now, we’ve done a good deal of legwork to generate early buzz and acquire quick links.

This is crucial. We've created what's called social proof. We're now going to leverage this in the rest of our outreach efforts. If we can show other people are engaging with our content, it makes other prospects more likely to do the same.

Basically, we have people talking, and now we're going after the big fish.

This is where you begin an email outreach campaign. The type of campaign and tactics you'll employ will depend on the topic and type of content you created.

The ultimate goal is to find other people, blogs, and publications that are likely to share your content, and reach out to them to make them aware of it.

If you're unsure of where to start, I would read Moz's How to Start a Link Building Campaign. Another gem is Neil Patel's The Link Builder's Guide to Email Outreach (complete with email templates and all).

Now, get out there and get started!

Recap

Content promotion takes time and effort. But it’s critical to content marketing success.

Even the busiest of people can find the time to implement at least a few of these suggestions. At the very least, getting organized and following a strategic, step-by-step plan will increase your chances of success.

Again, the 8-step process goes like this:

  1. Add internal links
  2. Schedule social media posts
  3. Utilize social sharing sites and niche-specific social media networks
  4. Share with email subscribers
  5. Ask “weak ties” for help
  6. Reach out to previous linkers
  7. Contact brands or influencers referenced within content
  8. Conduct an email outreach campaign

Give this 8-step content promotion process a try, and leave a comment letting us know how it worked out for your business!

A link to said memo might be great here?

I didn't cut this line, because I was on the fence about it, but I think it's prime for cutting. It doesn't seem strongly implied elsewhere that the reader will immediately take to their new blog post after reading this article.

How to Establish Credibility With Your Content Marketing Strategy

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Establishing credibility in your industry is an absolute must when it comes to sculpting a successful brand. The more efficiently that you can demonstrate to the public why you are an authority in your field, the more trust you’ll naturally build between your company and potential consumers.

One of the best areas to work on showcasing your worth is through your content marketing strategy. By now, it’s hard to find anyone in the professional sphere who hasn’t heard the infamous saying, “content is king”, and utilizing this crucial marketing element the correct way will help you easily communicate to your readers why your brand is reputable.

All this being said, here’s how to develop your brand’s credibility with your content:

Pay Attention to What Types of Content Work Best for Your Readers

When you’re trying to build trust through content, it’s important to be aware of what formats and topics will resonate best with your target client base. You can discover this simply by paying attention to what blogs seem to attract the heftiest readership, but there are also tools out there (such as this one) that highlight what content performs the best based on social media metrics.

It’s easy; you enter a keyword that relates to your industry, and the database will bring up which articles under that category have the most shares, likes, comments, and retweets. You can use this information to develop an impressive content marketing strategy.

Also, you’ll want to create various pieces of content to attract readers who are in different stages of your buying cycle. For example, those who are just learning about your brand (the awareness stage) will respond better to something that is more informative and straightforward, whereas you can get away with a slightly more salesly approach with a reader who has already invested in what you offer. Ideally, your content strategy will be diverse enough to speak to anyone, no matter where they’re coming from.

Provide Thorough Advice

If you only use your content platforms as outlets to give sales presentations, it will be difficult for you to connect with the public on a beneficial level. While the sales aspect should still be a fundamental part of any marketing strategy, you’ll have a better chance of convincing your audience that you are worth your weight in gold if you showcase your expertise by giving them something useful to work with. After all, any brand out there can say that they are the be-all and end-all, but it’s when you can show off your knowledge and skills that people might start to believe those statements are accurate.

It’s true; over half of business-to-business buyers reported that they would respond better to brands’ content strategies if they eased up on the sales spiels.

So, if you shouldn’t solely brag about how your brand is the best option around, what should you write about?

At the end of the day, you should focus on drafting content that can be called valuable, purposeful, actionable, etc. You want to provide your audience members with tips and tricks that they can aptly put into use, or put together opinion pieces that help them understand an industry topic in a more meaningful way.  

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Opinion pieces (e.g. Do you think a current trend in your niche is overrated?)
  • Reviews of other (non-competitive) products/services that relate to your niche
  • How-to-style video and/or blog tutorials
  • Advice on common issues that pop up in your industry
  • Podcasts where you discuss current news and affairs

Highlight Case Studies and Link to Statistics

Whenever possible, it’s best to back up your statements using statistics or case studies, as doing so allows the public to trust that what you’re saying is valid. Anyone can say anything on the internet these days, and your content will be significantly more impactful if you show visible evidence of why your points hold merit.

While citing any case study or statistic that supports a claim you’re making will do the trick, it’s also immeasurably valuable to have your own case study highlighted on your website so that you can reference it in your blogs, link to it when publishing your videos, etc.

Creating your own breakdown of why your products/services will give prospective clientele what they’re looking for will help you reel in those hard sells much more effectively than if you had no tangible proof of the results you provide.

Guest Post on Authoritative Websites

A simple and free way to help yourself grow into an industry leader is to guest blog on authoritative websites related to your offerings.

An authoritative website can be summed up as any website that embodies most or all of the following characteristics:

  • Ranks highly in search engines
  • Is consistently updated with high quality content
  • Has a large following (many comments on blogs, shares on social media, etc.)
  • Has a favorable domain authority

Getting your article published on a well-known website that clearly relates to your brand is an excellent resource to utilize when you’re trying to gain brand exposure, and additionally, when the public sees that other respected professionals in your niche endorse you, they’ll immediately be more comfortable giving your brand a chance.

Turn Consumer-Engagement Into Content

Customer service is a critical determining factor when evaluating a brand’s level of trustworthiness, and unfortunately, it’s one many brands are quick to brush off.  

When consumers fail to feel appreciated and listened to, their trust for the company-in-question diminishes dramatically, and they are quick to find someone new to conduct business with. On the contrary, in order to build up your clientele’s faith in you, you need to offer top-notch service, and you should reflect this concept back into your content marketing strategy.

You can do this by paying attention to the consumer-engagement that is happening on your published content, whether it be videos, blogs, webinars, etc. You can utilize this information to help steer your content marketing campaign in a successful direction.

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Are there any overlapping questions commenters are asking? If so, answer these questions in your next blog post or podcast.
  • Do you have any requests for videos or blogs? Many online users will make suggestions on what topics they’d prefer to see covered next, so take a few minutes per day to get caught up on the new wave of comments.
  • What posts seem to be the most popular? Use the pieces of content with the most comments and shares as a blueprint for future material.

Closing Up

Hopefully the above advice gives you a solid starting point if you’re looking to strengthen your content with credibility. Trust is a delicate, necessary element of effectively marketing your brand to consumers. Without it, no amount of marketing magic will help the conversions take place, so always be sure to prioritize your relationship with the public above all else.

 

24 Of the Best Local SEO Posts for 2015

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Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 1.26.02 PM2016 is going to be an exciting time for digital marketing. The new year is sure to usher in new ideas, trends and strategies with itself.

Don't be surprised if you find Web marketers increasing their focus on creating high-quality content, along with optimizing for SEO to boost rankings. That's right, SEO is here to stay. And if you thought local SEO has lost its spark, the following list of posts will dispel that notion in no time.

Mentioned ahead are some of the best local SEO posts of 2015, which also throw light on what this year has in store. We got in touch with a few local SEO experts and asked them questions related to local SEO. We have included the answers of those who responded to our query.

Local SEO Area

1. Local SEO Competition Analysis
2. Local SEO Statistics
3. Local SEO Infographics
4. Local Search Ranking Factors
5. Social Networks for Local SEO
6. Google Local SEO Updates
7. Why Local SEO is Important
8. Local SEO on a Budget
9. Local SEO Site Audit
10. Local SEO Citation Audit
11. Mobile & Local SEO
12. Local SEO Strategy
13. Local SEO Tips & Advice By Expert
14. Local SEO Tools
15. Local SEO Guide
16. Local SEO with Google+
17. Local SEO News & Trends
18. Reviews For Local SEO
19. Advanced Local SEO Presentation
20. Local SEO Content Marketing
21. The Local Link Building
22. Local SEO Questions Answered
23. Local Paid Search
24. Multi-Location Local SEO

How to Create an Opt In Funnel

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Hand drawing Lead Generation Business Funnel concept with white chalk on blackboard.

Marketing your business can be overwhelming. As SEO becomes increasingly complex and Social Media becomes increasingly time-consuming, nothing could be more important or effective than spending time mapping out your very own opt-in funnel.

Having a great opt-in funnel can help you easily and effectively build your email list. Email marketing is still the #1 most effective digital marketing method. It should be comforting to know that the easiest marketing activity – creating and sending email – is still the most effective!

Unlike most other marketing activities, building an opt-in funnel is actually a very simple and straightforward process. Together we’ll go through each step so that you can feel confident building your very own.

In the past to accomplish this you would need to

  • Hire a developer to create you a new landing page
  • Embed a form and wire it to a CRM
  • Create a thank you page on your website
  • Create an email make it automatically send when your form is submitted

Thankfully technology has advanced and now anyone can create an opt-in funnel with a few clicks.

To create your opt-in funnel you’ll need 3 items:

  1. A landing page with a form for your traffic to submit to.
  2. A thank you page to thank your new visitor for their interest.
  3. An Automatic responder email to immediately verify validity and deliverability of the new email address.

1. Choose a great landing page

2. Attach a great thank you page.

3. Automatically send your email.

An Automatic responder email will immediately verify validity and deliverability of the new email address, this keeps your email list clean. Immediately contacting your new subscriber is the “how you doing?” to their “hello”. Keep the conversation flowing and your business in their mind.

After you’ve chosen your landing page, your thank you page and your email you’re ready to tie them all together.

That’s it! Now that you know how to create an opt in funnel, head over to buildmytribez.com and make you own. You can create a complete funnel following our easy step by step video tutorials. No credit card required. Click here to check it out.

Why Your Next Blog Topic Should Come From Sales

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business, people and technology concept - close up of creative t

When it comes to content ideation, there is often a collective moan and groan. Coming up with topic ideas for your firm’s next blog topic, content piece, or marketing collateral can be draining and exhausting, especially if you’ve been creating content for a while. All ideas can seem tired, have already been done, or seem worthless.

 

This is very common, so don’t fret or lose hope. So where do you turn when you feel like you’ve written about everything and don’t have any more good ideas? It’s not a popular idea in the digital marketing world – but the sales team might have your next great blog topic.

 

Tension Between Sales & Marketing

 

As an experienced marketer, digital marketer, and business development professional, I have witnessed a strange tension between the sales and marketing departments in many companies across a variety of industries. While there may be deeper issues causing the tension – it doesn’t mean that marketing shouldn’t tap the sales team as a great resource for content topics. In fact, there are a variety of reasons why your online marketing team should turn to sales from time to time to get that next great blog or content topic.

 

Why Consult Sales For Your Next Blog Topic?

 

You may be reticent to ask the sales team for your next blog topic, but there is a host of reasons why they can be a great internal resource for material.

 

  • They talk to potential and existing clients every day

 

Whether you have an outside or inside sales team, they are communicating with potential and current clients every single day. As an online marketing professional, you likely have less day-to-day contact with your firm’s prospects and clients. Hence, it’s a good idea to check in with the sales team from time to time to check the health of the leads you are driving, find out what clients are saying, and learn what prospects are saying as well.

 

  • They know common questions

 

Any sales person worth their salt can list 5 – 10 questions they get every day from current and potential clients. Typically, these questions are about pricing, product and service delivery, processes, etc. Asking your sales team about the common questions they receive enables you to build a list of frequently asked questions. Your next blog is now an FAQ about your industry, products, services, or process.

 

  • They know typical objections to overcome

 

Sales people have to overcome objections on a daily basis. Did you know that it takes at least five continuous follow up efforts before a customer says yes? (Source: MarketingDonut) Not only does that require a lot of persistence, it requires overcoming objections. The next blog or digital content piece you create can help your sales team overcome those objections early on and shorten a sales cycle. That’s a win-win.

 

  • They are on the frontlines representing your brand, services, products

 

Prospective and existing clients may only have experience with your sales team and your website. That means your sales team is the representative for your brand, services, or products. Chatting with the sales team enables you to gain insight to how they are representing the brand and gives you the opportunity to help them better represent the brand with the right online marketing tools and blogs.

 

  • They can use content to nurture leads and close deals

 

Typically, sales people have to follow up several times before they can get a prospect on the phone or close a deal. As you likely know, content is a great way to explain benefits, differentiate you from your competitors, and provide solutions for your prospects. Simply asking your sales team what they need to nurture a lead and close a deal could inspire your next blog piece. For example, not all the prospects we work with understand why we build websites in WordPress. Rather than continually explain the benefits, our Creative Director drafted a blog on 4 Reasons to Use WordPress in Your Website Design. This blog is now a useful tool for nurturing and educating potential clients.

 

  • They know what sells

 

Your sales team knows what sells and what doesn’t sell – just ask them. If you are trying to boost sales for a particular product or service, your sales team can provide insight on what sells and more importantly WHY! As an online marketing professional, you can’t develop new products, but you can learn new ways to position existing products or services. This insight can help to determine new angles and topics to discuss on your next blog.

 

Your sales team is a great resource for determining content for your online marketing efforts. While we don’t suggest they lead the online marketing strategy, we have found that sales can offer new, fresh ideas that provide valuable, helpful information for improving ROI of your content strategy.

 

 

The Golden Rules of Neuro-Marketing: What It Is & How It Works

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There was a time when the fact that the Hershey’s Kisses logo had an actual ‘Kiss’ nestled between the ‘K’ and the ‘I’ was cause enough for great speculation. Subliminal influence was a topic of debate and there was a clear divide in the masses. Some believed that slipping in provocative images and connotations beneath the conscious radar resulted in a greater proclivity for certain products while others rubbished the suggestion.

Since then neuro-marketing emerged as a valid science, bolstered by the efforts of prestigious research teams, and marketing as a practice was changed forever.

What is Neuro-Marketing?

It sounds complicated and positively evil. But neuro-marketing is something quite logical and progressive. It simply stands for analyzing the decision making process in human beings and then using the findings to boost the effectiveness of promotional campaigns.

FMRI scans have shown conclusive evidence that different factors influence how and why we choose to espouse particular brands and purchase their products even at a higher price than those of competitors. And unfortunately, logic and rational thinking have little to do with it.

Human beings are visceral creatures and they react to how a particular stimulus makes them “feel.”

Remember the Frito Lays campaign where Chester Cheetah encouraged people to commit subversive “Random Acts of Cheetos” with the snack? Well, that seemingly childish decision was based on hard facts. Neuroimaging of Cheetos fanatics showed that the orange dust from the puffs that smeared their fingers and their clothes caused them to relive childhood memories where they were reprimanded for being messy and simultaneously gave them the satisfaction of knowing that there was no “authority figure” to comment on their clumsiness this time around. The 30-second spots reinforced this independent guilty pleasure capitalizing on an emotion that was already causing sales spikes.

candy animals

And it won the 2009 Grand Ogilvy Award from the Advertising Research Foundation.

While it is not feasible or financially viable for every brand to bring in buyers and prospects for neuro imaging, there are a few ground rules of neuro-marketing that have been spotted as a common thread across multiple experiments. These triggers are known as “cognitive biases” and they pre-dispose us to acting in a certain way when exposed to certain stimuli.

The Biggest Tenet of Neuro-Marketing

Even if businesses disregard everything else neuro-marketing propounds, they need to keep one truth in mind: Emotions trump logic. Especially in today’s fast paced world of information overload.

Buyers and prospects struggle with similar problems of dwindling attention spans. There are too many demands being made on the mental resources of an individual and unable to cope with this onslaught, people delegate more and more decisions to the infinitely powerful subconscious (which, by the way, can process 40 million bits of information in a second compared to the 40 bits that the logical brain supports).

But here’s the catch: the subconscious is not persuaded by statistics or arguments. It has a knee-jerk reaction to inputs and responds strongly to emotions of all kinds. Persuasion marketer Bushra Azhar calls these emotions the “8 Persuasion Switches” and they include Prestige, Urgency, Curiosity, Believability and Relatability among others.

If an advertisement can reach and touch any of these persuasion switches in a way that is direct and simple, yet powerful, then closing a deal or pushing the lead towards conversion becomes child’s play. This hypothesis has been extensively tested and confirmed by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. In fact, emotional campaigns have an effectiveness quotient of 31% while logic centered promotions score a low 16%.

neuro chart

Image attributed to Neuromarketing by Roger Dooley

Shaky About Diving In? Give Personalization a Shot.

Some marketers might be in two minds about diving straight into neuro-marketing. If you’re in this category, a small taste of the benefits can come in the form of personalization. Personalization is the process of tailoring generic content so that it appeals to specific users or user groups and flips the relatability switch for greater interest and engagement.

It can be something as simple and effective as using triggered emails to offer a discount on items in an abandoned shopping cart or as complex as tailoring the whole homepage to visitors’ preferences according to their buyer personas. The former can be done using an email marketing platform like GetResponse that allows for behavior-based list segmentation and the setup of emails auto initiated for particular events/actions while the latter is the specialty of suites like Personyze, which offers customized search, product recommendations, layouts sorted and filtered in real-time, and other advanced options.

Some Obvious-But-Clever Neuro-Marketing Tricks

Both B2B and B2C marketers can see a potentially tremendous difference in their campaign results and content engagement if they can apply the following techniques smartly and ethically:

Video Content

A picture speaks a thousand words; a video, a million. It’s no secret that the human brain processes visual content 60,000 times faster than dry text; if that content is primed to deliver a powerful subliminal message, then it’s a match made in heaven.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s re-election campaign was a testament to this fact. It showed advertising visuals running backwards and drove home the futility of bringing in recalled governor Gray Davis who would simply regress California to more trying times. There were no numbers screaming the sincerity of Schwarzenegger’s efforts. Nor was there any mudslinging involved. The promotional team simply captured the worry in the hearts of Californians and gave it voice (and eyeballs).

Anchoring Bias

We humans are hardwired to believe and set store by the first bit of information that we encounter. We take it as the foundation to base our future opinions on. This is why it is important to carefully “screen” the thoughts and beliefs that children (and shoppers) develop over their formative years because the inputs they assimilate contribute to their personality in a big way.

Marketers already leverage anchoring bias to price their products. Astute business owners always display their most expensive package first to condition prospects into believing that the other bundles are more affordable! Setting a reference point is essential, because it has the potential to positively affect what comes later by making it seem better, more lucrative, and more efficient than it actually is.

price

In the image above, the monthly option is actually not as cost effective as the yearly payment. But the 9.95 seems insignificant compared to the 95.50, which brings in a 20% saving, yet is disregarded by prospective clients.

Social Proof (with video)

Social proof is everywhere. It has the potential to "drive" the bandwagon effect.

bandwagon

But very few marketers manage to get it right. Social proof is not a Facebook Like button. Although Facebook is an integral part of our lives, it hasn’t yet grown a pull and familiarity that we subconsciously relate to.

The best kind of social proof is a video testimonial. Because humans are unerringly drawn to other human faces. As a matter of fact, WebDAM has found that video testimonials boost conversions by close to 86%. Statistics show that 4 to 7 video snippets can tip the emotions of a buyer strongly in favor of the featured product; their mere presence is a game changer.

Thus, it’s a no-brainer for businesses to ditch phony text testimonials and like-gathering for real video recommendations from actual customers – that’s what lends real credibility and trust.

Marketo does an amazing job of utilizing the bandwagon effect in the form of video proof. In fact, they mix this potent bias with influencer marketing to score a home run.

marketo

Choice-Supportive Bias

When an individual invests a large sum of money (or any personal resource like time or effort) somewhere, he or she often goes to great lengths to uphold the validity of the decision, even at the cost of losing better service or more affordable pricing from other providers.

In persuasion language, the “prestige” switch flipped by the acquisition of the costly product refuses to shut down. It is difficult to look beyond the glamor and the exclusivity of the item and consider practical pros and cons. Under such circumstances, if an iteration of that same product with purportedly better features hits the market, the evangelists are compelled to upgrade, even if their conscious mind is well aware of the limitations of doing so.

Is anyone else reminded of Apple’s strategy and how well it fits this curve? As a marketer, you’d do well to embrace the pro-innovation bias, which Steve Jobs was probably afflicted by.

Over to You

Neuro-marketing will soon be ubiquitous as businesses realize there is a lot to gain by appealing to culturally and societally pre-programmed biases. Are you ready to ace your competition?