“We all would like to know more and, at the same time, to receive less information. In fact, the problem of a worker in today's knowledge industry is not the scarcity of information but its excess,” philosopher Mario Augusto Bunge once said. As the years have progressed, this statement increasingly rings true. In fact, people create an estimated 571 new websites every minute, tweet 175 million times per day, and upload 48 hours of new video each minute. With information growing at such an exponential rate, today's workers need a way to find the relevant in an unceasing stream of the irrelevant.
Enter content curation. Mashable aptly defines a content curator as one who “ingests, analyzes and contextualizes web content and information of a particular nature onto a platform or into a format we can understand. In other words, a curator is like that person at the beach with the metal detector, surfacing items and relics of perceived value. Only, a web curator shares those gems of content with their online audiences.”
Today, every marketer needs to don the hat of a web content curator. After all, with so much content proliferating the web, what makes a company stand out from the crowd is how that content is located and presented to their niche audience. In other words, marketers need to have the ability to tailor content for consumers. This specific type of curation not only requires patience and resourcefulness, but also a knack for detail, organization, and structure, as well as a keen understanding of the company's consumer demographic.
Thankfully, marketers can have a multitude of content curating websites they can add to their professional tool belts. These sites filter through the noise to find relevant articles, blog posts, and social media tidbits. Here are a few of the best:
Scoop.it, the largest curation publishing platform for professionals, gathers content from niche magazines around the web. This platform enables marketers, consultants, and entrepreneurs to increase their online visibility and share valuable ideas. Here's how it works: Users select a topic to follow and then begin streamlining content surrounding the topic to their account. Scoop.it also allows users to view collections on the same topic created by other people.
More than just another social media network, Pinterest is a visually-rich site that provides great fuel for curation projects. The site is “where you go to discover new things and collect stuff you love.” It allows users to share noteworthy items found on the web or another user's board.
Storify helps making sense of what people post on social media by turning voices – aka comments, posts, and tweets – into into stories. It also helps users track the impact of each piece of published content, providing valuable insight on what resonates with a target audience. This tool can particularly assist social marketers in creating highly relevant blog posts, videos, and images.
Lists have never been so popular, and it's easy to understand why – Lists help organize thoughts, ideas, and plans, and give structure to daily life. Now marketers can amplify their brand and capitalize on list-making by embedding lists into blog posts via List.ly. The lists are then published on the curation site, driving more traffic and engagement to the brand or company that created it. List.ly also has a “trending lists” section on the front page of its website to further increase exposure on creative list-making brands.
Zemanta is a plugin for Wordpress that allows users to find related posts and interests based on their current blog posts. The tool also allows users to add images – with attribution credentials included – based on suggestions it offers in the sidebar. Also, if a user links to another blog post, Zemanta will recommend that user's posts on other subscriber's sidebars.
… Do you use content curation tools? If so, which are your favorites? We'd love to hear your thoughts! Let us know at @AccoladesPR.
“The more high tech we create, the more high touch we will want.”
– Futurist John Naisbitt in Megatrends
While placing an ad on TV, in a magazine, or on a billboard was once enough to drive consumers to a company's storefront, these techniques have become less and less effective in today's digital age. Because consumers have tuned out and consequently shut down the traditional marketing world, businesses need to attract, acquire, and engage their target demographic using high-quality content. Essentially, today's consumers want more high-touch, personable marketing – also known as content marketing – that invokes emotion, educates, or entertains.
In many ways, storytelling is the backbone of content marketing. One of humanity's oldest art forms, storytelling is now also one of the most simple yet effective tools to communicate the value of a company's brand. It's also gained a lot of hype in recent years, rendering the web abuzz with ways businesses large and small can benefit from this “new” marketing method. The three c's of business storytelling, according to small business expert Jim Blasingame are:
Connect – Use stories to connect with prospects and convert them into customers.
Convey – Use stories to convey your expertise, relevance, humanity and values.
Create – Use stories to create customer memories that compel them to come back.
However, according to True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business author Ty Montague, storytelling is only part of a the business and marketing world's evolutionary process to successfully engage consumers. While having and knowing a story are crucial for a business's success, he argues storydoing is actually more effective and powerful. Storydoing companies advance their narrative through action rather than communication. Companies leading the way in this new marketing trend include Red Bull, TOMS shoes, Warby Parker, and Tory Burch.
“Storydoing companies ... emphasize the creation of compelling and useful experiences — new products, new services, and new tools that advance their narrative by lighting up the medium of people,” Montague says. “What I mean by this is that when people encounter a storydoing company they often want to tell all their friends about it. Storydoing companies create fierce loyalty and evangelism in their customers. Their stories are told primarily via word of mouth, and are amplified by social media tools.”
Storydoing companies have a few key characteristics. First, their story is part of a larger ambition to make the world or people's lives better – It transcends commercial interests. That story is embraced not only by those selling it, but also by senior leadership outside of a company's marketing department. Furthermore, the story is used to drive tangible action throughout the company (product development, HR policies, compensation, etc.). Customers, clients, and the broader community are all then motivated and inspired to engage with the story and re-tell it to others.
Co:collective, a storydoing collective that helps re-invent businesses, brands, and products, conducted a recent study to statistically prove the value of storydoing. The study showed that storydoing companies acquired more positive social media mentions, spent a smaller percentage of their annual revenue on advertising, saw a higher annual revenue growth rate, and a high annual share price growth rate.
So while storytelling has its merits, storydoing just may have even more. Use both the foundational concepts of storytelling and the key principles of storydoing, and you'll be on your way to implementing a more successful, high-touch content marketing plan. Also be sure to check out the flow chart below from co:collective to help ascertain where you should focus your team's efforts first.
… Has your company embraced storytelling or storydoing? What do you plan to do differently in the future? Let us know below, or tweet your thoughts to @AccoladesPR!
What is social selling? If you're in the marketing world, it's likely you've heard this popular new term mentioned everywhere from conference rooms to the water cooler. But beyond its new ubiquity as a buzzword, social selling can have a tangible, positive impact on marketers and companies. In fact, because it's centered around using content to elicit emotions and tell stories, social selling helps convey a company's personal brand to the public, as well as establish all-important trust with potential customers.
Social media is an especially significant part of social selling, as it increases the amount of exposure to a company's personal brand, and further communicates the characteristics that makes that brand unique. As a result, a resounding 86 percent of marketers say social media is important for their business.
Because social media plays such an important role in social selling – and by extension, a company's success – time spent on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn during the workday is not time wasted. On the contrary, when done correctly, social media can be used as a tool to share valuable content, grow social networks, and nurture relationships with future customers. Marketers using social media especially need to keep the main principles of content marketing in mind – That means not being overly promotional, telling engaging stories, and staying creative. Check out a past blog post we wrote for more information on how to build your brand's story through content marketing.
Essentially, successful social selling consists of both sharing great content and building your network through social media. Here are a few more specific tips on how to start building social success:
Identify your target audience and key influencers
First and foremost, identify who you are trying to reach by studying your consumer demographics – Thoroughly research and understand what type of content they're interested in consuming. Also, engage and connect with key influencers of this demographic by reading and commenting on their blog, or reaching out to them on Twitter. Ask them questions about the content or websites they find inspiring and/or informative.
Reach out to form new connections
Set a goal to form a specific number of new connections daily. Use Klout for more information about who influences your target audience, and use LinkedIn's suggested connections feature to create a larger network. Make sure you keep it personal, however – That means you shouldn't settle for the automatic messages generated on LinkedIn when reaching out to new connections. Instead, craft a short introductory message to each new potential contact.
Keep on top of your company's social media sites – That means making sure you create engaging content daily, respond to your fans on Twitter and Facebook, and that you keep the conversation going with key influencers. Though the activities may sound time-consuming, they don't have to be – Invest your time in small increments each day, and over the course of a month or year, you'll find you have dozens of new connections and potentially big payoffs. For more insight on staying social, read these tips on making more time for social media from Michael Brenner, SAP's Vice President of Global Marketing.
Share your insights
Share what you've read, and what you find useful, informative, interesting, thought-provoking, or even entertaining – You'll find your audience will challenge you with questions, or build off of what you've shared with their own unique perspectives, which may spark even more new ideas for you, and new content for your readers. And after all, sharing ideas and content is what being social – and social selling – is all about.
… How has your company embraced social selling? What do you plan to do differently in the future? Let us know below, or tweet your thoughts to @AccoladesPR!
Also check out the infographic below for more information on how companies are using social media to build success:
Source: Selling Social: How Companies Are Connecting with Social Media
We kicked off last month and the new year by giving you tips on new media resolutions to get your strategic marketing game plan off to a great start in 2013. Topping that list was to “become a content producing guru” this year and beyond to build your fan and customer base. And tip number one on the path to becoming a content-producing guru was to:
“Blog at least once a week. There's no better way to generate leads and build a reputation as an industry thought leader.”
So you just need to sit down and let all your business knowledge flow to paper, and viola, you're an industry thought leader? Not quite. We all know that in both new media and real life, turning those resolutions into realities requires digging a bit further and creating a step-by-step plan. And if you're like most people, that blinking cursor on a blank Word document can be more than a little intimidating.
Essentially, blogging regularly, like any positive habit, is a lot easier said than done. That's why we're kicking off this month by taking a closer look at the “how” behind this all-important item so you can really meet your resolutions this year … Or at least one of them!
Here are a few more helpful tips to beat the blinking cursor:
Allow creativity to flow
Readers can always sense when content is forced and uninspired. While you can never really count on elusive inspiration to hit when you most need it, you can write about what tends to inspire you – Your excitement, even if it isn't particularly eloquent, will translate to your readers and ultimately bring them back for more.
Mix it up a bit
Sometimes allowing your creativity to flow means finding ways outside of words to articulate yourself. Integrate pictures, videos, and infographics into the text of your blog to further illustrate your point.
Have another set of eyes
We all make mistakes, especially when writing quickly or during less-than-optimal hours. That's why proofreading and editing is writing's essential counterpart. Not only does it polish your piece of work, but it also lends credibility that could potentially be lost with a simple grammar mistake. Moreover, it's especially crucial to catch those little errors when your message will be reaching a large audience – Which is almost always the case in today's Internet age. Be sure to check on the accuracy of facts and style consistency as well!
Get time on your side
This is what Hubspot refers to as “newsjacking,” a term originally coined by author David Meerman Scott that refers to developing a unique angle or idea about a breaking news story in order to generate media exposure, inbound links, and site traffic to your company's website. They've even developed a useful diagram to help you understand when to best take advantage of this new media phenomenon:
Create an editorial calendar
Lack of organization and preparation can hinder even the best blogging efforts. An editorial calendar can help you become a better time manager by outlining what you want to accomplish, organizing your content and its authors, ensuring that content is developed before deadlines, and tracking those all-important keywords and calls-to-action. Adding structure doesn't have to mean subtracting creativity, however. In fact, planning ahead may enhance your ability to be flexible and add stories at the last minute – With the security of knowing you have a backup plan just in case.
… Have you been implementing these five goals in your blogging efforts? How else do you plan on beating the blinking cursor this year? Continue the conversation below, or tweet your ideas to @AccoladesPR.
With change as the mantra of the 21stcentury, it's not a news flash that traditional media is constantly transforming to meet ever-growing, high-tech trends. The appetite for instant, engaging, and visually-appealing content is also increasing proportionately. Now over 61 percent of the U.S. population gets its news online. That's why journalists need to be adaptable, versatile, and skilled - not only in print production, but also in photography, videography, and social media.
What is oftentimes overlooked is the fact that businesses need to follow the same new media trends in order to stay relevant. With the average person exposed to an estimated 1,500 to 3,000 advertisements in one day, business professionals often feel as though they are clamoring for attention in a chaotic crowd. So just how do you stand out and tell YOUR story in this content-saturated marketplace?
First and foremost, businesses need to view the transformation to new media as a great opportunity to spread the word about their product or service on a scale that was never before possible. As Sally Falkow states in “2013 Digital Media Relations Trends – A special report,” “Multimedia trends opens the door to opportunities for businesses and organizations: brands can become a content resource for the media (earned media), publish their own news (owned media/brand journalism), and purchase space for branded content on news and social sites (paid media).”
Businesses can further tap into these trends and gain visibility by developing a new media strategy that involves the following key steps:
• Pay attention to search.
According to SCORE, a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, “Search is the great democratizer.” And they're right – Understanding SEO and knowing which key words and phrases to utilize in your content will help you come out on top of search results, thereby reaching a vast audience and making you a leading resource in your industry.
• Introduce yourself to DAO, or Digital Asset Optimization, the newest acronym in the optimization family.
While SEO relies on text, DAO relies on images, video, and audio content. You can leverage the power of DAO by using keyword-rich file names and tags; placing videos and podcasts on their own landing pages and providing summaries or transcripts with interspersed keywords; and optimizing PDFs, Microsoft Office Documents, and other files.
• Utilize social media to connect
Network and develop professional relationships with reporters, editors and other influencers in the media sphere. Use Twitter to connect with journalists and pitch stories. A survey conducted in 2009 showed that more than half of all journalists turn to social media sites like Twitter to get stories (That number is likely even higher now).
• Tell stories visually
You probably wouldn't purchase something online without seeing it first – And the same holds true for your audience. Using multimedia can not only add legitimacy to your product or service, but also interest and attention. And after all, as the aphorism says, “It pays to tell, not sell.”
• Create brand journalism
Your business has a story. Don't be afraid to tell it! Show the human side of your business and create a blog or vlog that features employees and customers. Your audience will be better able to connect with you.
… Or think of some original ideas to engage your audience on your own! Either way, you won't regret fostering an innovative, adaptive, and tech-savvy environment in your corporation. The one thing we can be sure of in social media is change.
Have you noticed your Facebook posts aren't going as far as they used to?
It's not you – It's Facebook. In September, the social networking site altered its EdgeRank algorithm, which controls the posts that end up in fans' news feeds. According to Jeff Doak, a prominent social media marketing executive, the change has resulted in pages losing up to 40-50 percent of their organic reach.
“I pulled data from a number of pages I have access to, and all of them show a sudden decrease in reach starting on September 21, ranging anywhere from a 24% to a 63% decrease (averaging out to around 45%) in average organic reach when compared to the previous two months,” Doak wrote in a recent blog post. “And that page that had a 24% decrease has a huge fan base, so that percentage translates into 100,000 fewer fans, on average, seeing each post.”
In response to backlash from the alteration, Facebook stated that it wants to optimize the news feed by reducing the number of posts from marketers. However, if a fan interacts with a page's content by “liking” or commenting on a post, he or she will receive more content from that page on the news feed.
“This aligns with our vision that all content should be as engaging as the posts you see from friends and family,” the company stated in a press release.
Undoubtedly, the change is driven by economic incentive as well. Before the modifications were made to the EdgeRank algorithm, 80 percent of content in the newsfeed was organic, while 20 percent was paid advertisement. To compensate for the recent ratio change, more companies will need to invest in advertisement to maintain the same online presence as before.
So what else does this mean for companies, besides doom and gloom in the form of more dollars? Simply put, you must tailor your strategy. Adaptability will ensure that you can still reach and engage as many – or more – fans and customers. Here's how:
• Create content fans want – Invest more time into understanding what your audience enjoys and appreciates – Analyze your metrics to see which posts get the most “likes” and interactions. Chances are you'll see videos, photos, and infographics garner more attention than text-heavy posts and non-visually appealing material. That doesn't necessarily mean you should give up your text-heavy posts, but you should find ways to incorporate richer, more engaging content as well.
• Focus on key players and keywords – Studies show that most pages typically have a small following of highly interactive and responsive fans. Think of them as your brand ambassadors – And then study what engages them.
Also, analyze your metrics for the most-clicked keywords. Frame your message around the following of users you already have by continuing to utilize your keywords creatively and effectively.
• Revamp your content strategy – Try to build viral reach by paying close attention to what works and what doesn't. For instance, maybe you're not getting any interest in content posted at a certain time of day, but the same content could gain more attention earlier or later.
As aptly stated in Simply Measured, a business data and analytics website, “You should think of your reach as a row of dominoes. You can’t knock the last one over unless you’re focused on getting that first one to fall in the right direction. Your audience is the same way. In order to get your message to their friends, you have to plan the best time to engage the people who are already lined up.”
• Invest financially – Although it's certainly not ideal, it's possible there may be a few more advantages to advertising on Facebook now. As organic reach has decreased, the power of paid media has increased. As Matthew Wurst, director of digital communities at 360i, noted, “If the news feed has become a traffic jam of content, paid media has become the HOV lane that lets a select few speed ahead.”
So what's the bottom line? This change doesn't necessarily have to be negative! Make the most of it by refreshing your content and re-inventing your strategy. In the end, your customers will likely thank you – And “like” you.
Visual Content vs. Plain Text
This is a tough one to award a winner for. Pinterest is nothing but images so users already expect visual content. There is no opportunity to respond “better” or “worse” because there is nothing to compare the visual content to. It is possible, though, that Pinterest’s image-only platform makes it more desirable to use than Facebook.
Facebook, on the other hand, provides a combination of both text and images. In a SEA of text and links, images/visual content catch interest and Facebook users do have the opportunity to respond “better” upon seeing the image.
So the question here is… does being exposed exclusively to images (Pinterest) mean positive user responses all the time? Or does combined exposure to text and images (Facebook) produce a more amplified positive response to images?
Video is also visual content, people! According to Internet Retailer Internet Retailer, viewers are 85 percent more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video. For starters, this is an important reminder that video should not be forgotten, and with such a high statistic, we highly encourage utilizing video content for your business if you don’t already.
Not only do Facebook and Pinterest both allow you to upload video content, but they also both allow users to watch the content directly from that platform without redirecting them to another site. While it seems they have the important basics covered, both platforms still have their disadvantages. On Pinterest, videos pop open occupying the entire page and you can’t continue to navigate through the site without closing the video. Facebook’s videos play directly from the business page and allow you to continue throughout the site without disruption. Pinterest, though, allows you to pause/play and watch the video as many times as you want, while Facebook’s videos redirect you to YouTube after the first initial play, interrupting the user’s experience.
There are advantages and disadvantages to using both Pinterest and Facebook for visual content placement but the key to making that decision is to evaluate what you want to achieve. If there is a small, specific demographic you want to target, infographics on Pinterest might be your best bet. If you’re looking to get a lot of feedback and two-way communication from your audience, you should go with Facebook. Either platform is a great tool to use; the best decision depends upon your preferences. What is your experience using visual content?
Is Visual Content Most Effective on Facebook or Pinterest? Part 2
Just like pie charts and bar graphs, infographics are visual representations that quickly and clearly display information or data and tell a story. They are much easier for people to read and comprehend, and people prefer infographics to heavy text. According to AnsonAlex, publishers who use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12 percent more than those who don’t. Given the statistic, infographics could certainly make a dent in visual social networks like Pinterest and Facebook.
As you can see from Facebook’s new Timeline feature, Facebook caters to horizontal and square images. Given that most infographics online have a vertical flow, Facebook’s settings wouldn’t provide for a clean vertical image on your business page or news feed. Squeezing an infographic onto your page would decrease its size, making it nearly impossible to read. Most marketers often resort to posting links or a cropped version of the infographic.
On Pinterest, however, you can upload as many infographics as you want and users can see them perfectly just the way they are. Users can pin and re-pin without a problem and don’t have to follow any links to outside sources or use a magnifying glass to see the whole image. In fact, people enjoy infographics so much on Pinterest that there is an entire board dedicated to infographics!
Research has shown that images on social networks receive much more engagement from users than posts. They are more likely to be shared, Liked and commented on, and the more your images are shared across social networks, the more people there are that get exposed to your brand.
Although Pinterest allows users to Like and comment on pins, that engagement doesn’t work in your business’ favor like it would on Facebook. Pinterest’s “news feed” consists strictly of re-pins, and that is the only way content is shared.
However, Facebook content that receives Likes, comments and shares will appear in more user news feeds and increase brand visibility across a diverse audience. Facebook provides greater opportunity for visual content to spread while Pinterest is limited to re-pinning.
So far, it appears as though Facebook and Pinterest are tied. We’ll share our final comparisons next week so stay tuned. For now, what kind of conclusions are you drawing from the comparisons so far?
The most recent and biggest trend to come to social media is the dominance of visual content. Our brains can consume and process an image much quicker than text, and businesses are taking advantage of this trend. With so many social networks and new ones being created each day, it is the question of where to put this visual content. Currently Pinterest is widely known as one of the most visual social networks out there, and Pinterest’s rapid growth has only justified the visual content trend. Facebook, on the other hand, could surpass Pinterest’s reputation by launching the recent Collections feature. Collections are a Pinterest-style feature that allows Facebook users to add products to a wishlist. Now, with two primary social networks competing for visual content, which one should you use? With the help from HubSpot, over the next few weeks we will be comparing the good and the bad of visual content with Pinterest and Facebook to help you make that decision.
Facebook, with over 900 million active users, clearly has a much larger audience than Pinterest, who has a little over 10 million users. And 98 percent of those Pinterest users already have a Facebook account. Facebook’s large user base comprises of a wide variety of people, whereas Pinterest’s users are typically grouped into more specific demographics and psychographic categories. Therefore, Facebook’s reach is much greater and more diversified than Pinterest, and a business’ visual content would receive greater visibility on Facebook.
At the end of the day, the reason we are strategizing how and where to use these visuals is to find the most effective way to introduce people to our brand and ultimately drive them to take further action with our business.
If users on Pinterest see something they like, all it requires is a click on the image and they are taken directly to the business’ website where they can take further action and, ideally, make a purchase.
According to a new infographic by Boticca, Pinterest influences 10 percent of transactions while Facebook influences only 7 percent. Although Facebook hasn’t driven sales quite like Pinterest has, its new Collections feature could change that statistic. The new Facebook feature allows users to “collect” products from a Facebook business page and put them into a wishlist, or shopping cart – a feature that Pinterest lacks.
For now, Pinterest takes the lead in this challenge but depending on the performance of Facebook’s Collections, we could have a new winner soon. Stay tuned!
Businesses, organizations and individuals the world over have turned to social media to stay in the proverbial loop. In fact, these days it almost seems crucial to have a social media presence, especially for businesses. Still, not everyone is adept at creating compelling social content that is quick, concise and relevant year-round.
Whether it’s on a Facebook page or on Twitter, any content posted must fit the needs of the audience. Frankly, this is the most important part of any social media strategy. The way users share content on Twitter is different from the way it is shared on Facebook. so your messages must be valuable to the group and fit the format of the communication channel.
Stimulate, Don’t Saturate
- Stand out among the flood of tweets with personal engagement and relevance such as retweets, mentions, new blog posts, contest giveaways, special offers and event updates.
- One report revealed that more than one tweet an hour actually hurts click-through ratings by more than 200 percent. Too many posts make an account seem fraudulent and drive followers away.
- Use a tool like Hootsuite to pre-schedule Facebook and Twitter updates at a later time but separate scheduled posts by at least an hour, duplicating as little as possible.
- Facebook pages must be maintained with more frequency than Twitter but without overkill. Facebook measures how many and how often users interact with a page, and how often a company updates their status so take advantage and provide at least four updates a day with new and engaging information.
- Tweets should be short, to the point and as genuine as possible.
- Tweeted links should be shortened and include a brief description. (Sites like bit.ly are great for shortening links and can often track the number of clicks per link.)
(Here is Part 2 of this blog post on optimizing social content for maximum results.)
- Spelling, grammar and punctuation are not scrutinized so much on Twitter. Use the extra space for links to new blog posts, photos, and allow for retweets from other users.
- Facebook includes a ‘See More’ link after 3-4 lines of content. As convenient as that sounds, status updates should not be a short story. Three lines or less is a good rule of thumb.
- A recent study shows Facebook posts containing less than 80 characters had increased interaction by 27 percent. The same study shows that full-length URLs on Facebook have better reception than shortened links.