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Your Brand Needs To Stop Celebrating Random Holidays… seriously.

There is nothing wrong with brands celebrating holidays, but when you are celebrating holidays simply because they exist, it’s time to re-consider your marketing strategy.

Father’s Day has just gone by, and obviously your social media manager was scrambling around to find a cheesy image of a father and a son walking on the beach. Your brand makes knitting needles, so it went something like “Fathers are what make a close knit family”. Cute. But how many consumers see that on their feed and want to go out and buy your knitting needles?

Lets take this further, you are a consumer and for whatever reason you enjoy crocheting (that’s a kind of knitting right?) so you see this post and what do you think? Im guessing you are just bored by the 2861763162316 father’s day posts you have already seen on your feed, or if you do engage with it, it just feels kind of flat. That indifference is because you know intrinsically that it is being done, just because. It means nothing. It stands for nothing. All it means is you have less data now.

SEE SOME CAUTIONARY TALES HERE: http://www.inc.com/will-yakowicz/the-top-social-media-fails-2015.html

So how do you create the kind of content that capitalises on public holidays without all that cheese? Firstly, stand for something, be authentic. Like the famous David Ogilvy quote: “The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife”. The average person consumes enough media, they can tell the difference between a gimmick and a clever brand push – they don’t mind smart marketing, they mind bad marketing. So do it well.

Secondly, choose the holidays that make sense for your brand. You don’t have to have presence at every opportunity, only the ones that matter. Consumers remember clever, quality content not the fact that you have put out a tweet on every major holiday.

Thirdly, just take a step back. It’s so easy to think so much about your brand that you forget that you are also a consumer. Always try to think of situations as though you are the the target market. Would you like to see that content on your social media? Would you care about the message? Is the message appropriate?

SEE SOME BRANDS THAT GOT IT RIGHT : http://www.linkdex.com/en-us/inked/fathers-day-marketing-2015/

Lastly, time and place. Sometimes your brand has a really cool concept, but the delivery just doesn’t land. Ask the right questions, Is this something that is mostly visual (Instagram) or do I want this content to start a conversation (twitter)? Which is the best place to reach my target market? Am I using the correct words?

When in doubt, just think about whether its worth the data we have to spend to view it.

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We’re looking for a Social Media Manager

What we want

Experience – first and foremost. A Social Media Manager who can plan, execute and nurture brand relationships across various social platforms for an array of Apex Media clients, working in a cross-functional team.

Who you are

A specialist. Seriously. We’re a team of T-shaped storytellers and communicators, who shift between the content, creative and strategic space. We’re looking for someone to dip in and share strategic recommendations, but whose POV is focused on social media, paid and analytics – with an eye to campaigns and the long-term commitment of community management. You must have experience working in a digital agency or editorial space, and must be proficient in the paid/online advertising space (Twitter, Facebook, Ad Words and YouTube).

What you will do

  • Work independently and with the content and creative team
  • Develop social media strategy, editorial planning and calendars alongside the content team for roll out on social media across a range of campaigns and clients
  • Plan and buy Twitter, Facebook and YouTube ads
  • Build and maintain relationships with key influencers, manage as required in a long-term or on a campaigns basis
  • Launch and maintain brand presences on key social media platforms as and when required
  • Co-develop content ideas for social channels
  • Monitor, analyse, manage and report on social media activity using different analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, Hootsuite, Radian6, and others.
  • Work closely with the Managing Partners to continuously ensure best practice within the agency and build out the social department.

If this sounds like your kind of job, we look forward to hearing from you. Please send a cv and covering letter (or link – it is 2016 after all) to work@apexmedia.co.za

SEO-at-Mango-Fusion

5 crazy SEO mistakes not to make in WordPress

There’s a nasty rumor going around that WordPress is beautifully set up for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) “out of the box.” Now don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge fan of WordPress – but the core software does need a little nudge in the right direction when it comes to SEO. Tom Ewer from ManageWP.

There’s a nasty rumor going around that WordPress is beautifully set up for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) “out of the box.” Now don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge fan of WordPress – but the core software does need a little nudge in the right direction when it comes to SEO. Tom Ewer from ManageWP.

In reality, if your idea of optimizing your WordPress stops at hitting Publish on your latest post, you’re missing out on a lot of potential. But even those of you who feel that you are doing quite a lot in terms of onsite optimization are probably making at least one of the following mistakes (I know I certainly have done in the past).

So take a few moments to digest the following common SEO mistakes made by WordPress users – I’ll be offering straightforward solutions to each one!

1) Not Providing an XML Sitemap

Sitemaps are a way to tell Google about pages on your site we might not otherwise discover.
Google

I have a simple rule of thumb when it comes to learning new SEO strategies – if I hear it on the grapevine I take it with a hefty pinch of salt, but if I hear it from Google I take it as gospel. That’s why my position regarding sitemaps is simple: if Google says it helps them to find pages on your site that they may not otherwise discover, I’m going to give them one.

But that’s not all there is to sitemaps. They can also be used to supply additional information about your website (such as how often you expect pages to be updated) and meta data relating to specific media types (such as the running time of a video). And if you are running a new site or one with only a handful backlinks pointing towards it, a sitemap can make a big difference in enabling Google to discover and index all of the relevant pages on your website.

In simple terms, a sitemap is simply a specifically formatted list of the pages on your site that you would like to be indexed by the search engines. You could create one manually if you like carrying out jobs that can be automated with ease. Otherwise I have a couple of suggestions:

Google XML Sitemaps: with over ten million downloads and an average rating of 4.7 out of 5, you can rest assured that this free plugin gets the job done.

WordPress SEO by Yoast: this free plugin has a number of SEO-related functions, one of which is an excellent XML sitemap generator.

The process of building an updating a sitemap is almost entirely automated. You set a few options as you see fit then let the plugin do the rest. Google says that “[most] webmasters will benefit from sitemap submission, and in no case will you be penalized for it.” With that in mind, why wouldn’t you create a sitemap for your WordPress website?

2) Poor Categorization and Tagging

Few things bug me more than sites that do not utilize categories and tags (sometimes referred to collectively as taxonomies) properly. The simple fact is that categories and tags offer opportunities for increased engagement and traffic, but the bigger issue at hand is that poor use of categories and tags can actually persuade a visitor to leave your site.

This is what you need to know about WordPress taxonomies: if categories are your table of contents, tags are your index When people try to tell me that tags are useless, I ask them of how many non-fiction books they have read that don’thave an index (I just checked five on my bookshelf and discovered that only one of them doesn’t).

Conscientious categorization and tagging of your posts will not only make it easier for visitors to find what they want (assuming of course you create an Archives page that makes accessing categories and tags simple) but it will also boost your onsite SEO. While Google may not rank category and tag pages high in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) (although it certainly does happen), it will be able to get a much better grasp on the keywords that are most relevant to your site by examining them.

Let me give you an example. Say for instance you run a site about zoo animals which has a particular focus on llamas. If you have a tag page for llamas that links to various pages and has various pages linking back to it, that is a strong indicator to Google that llamas are kind of a big deal on your site.

If you want to know more about how to categorize and tag effectively, click here

3) Not Defining Canonical URLs

If you have never heard about canonicalization before then brace yourself – it can be a slightly confusing concept. In order to define it effectively I will turn to Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Search:

Canonicalization is the process of picking the best URL when there are several choices, and it usually refers to home pages. For example, most people would consider these the same urls:

  • www.example.com
  • example.com/
  • www.example.com/index.html
  • example.com/home.asp

But technically all of these URLs are different. A web server could return completely different content for all them. When Google “canonicalizes” a URL, we try to pick the one that seems like the best representative from that set.

Put simply, if you don’t tell Google and friends which version of a page to index and rank, they’re going to try to figure it out themselves. The last thing you want is search engines having to pick from multiple instances what is essentially the exact same page. The solution is to provide them with a canonical URL.

This is essentially a three step process:

  • Tell WordPress how to present your site (i.e. http://www.yoursite.com/ or http://yoursite.com/).
  • Tell Google (using Webmaster Tools) which URL type you want them to use.
  • Use a plugin (such as the aforementioned WordPress SEO by Yoast) to ensure that canonical URLs are defined on each page of your site.

That may sound complicated but in reality it’s a piece of cake. You can find a complete guide to canonicalization in WordPress here.

4) Not Optimizing Your Site for Google+ Authorship

Like it or not, Google+ is here to stay. You may be surprised to know that it is the second biggest social network behind Facebook, beating the likes of YouTube and Twitter.

But I’m not here to talk about social media strategization. Instead I want to focus on the concept of Google+ authorship and how it can be utilized to strengthen your position in the SERPs and boost click through rates.

If you’ve not heard of Google+ authorship before, you’ve almost certainly seen it. Every search result in Google that incorporates a profile photo of the author is an example. Astonishingly, that little photo has been proven to boost clickthrough rates in the SERPs by 150%. Further, an experiment by Cyrus Shepard from Mozresulted in an additional 56% increase in clickthroughs. In short, by incorporating Google+ authorship on your site, you can attract more search engine traffic with the same rankings.

Getting Google to verify your authorship is not an entirely straightforward process but it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes and will subsequently offer you ongoing benefits. In short, it’s well worth doing. My favorite tutorial is by WPBeginner

5) Not Optimizing How Your Posts Look in the SERPs

This mistake is similar to the previous one regarding Google+ authorship, as it relates to your clickthrough rate in the SERPs.

It is borne out of an ignorance of the importance of what searchers see on Google as opposed to simply where they see it. Although the placement of a website on the SERPs (ie, 1 – 10) is a key factor, people can often be drawn to lower rankings if the titles and/or descriptions are compelling. That is why you should optimize each of your posts to give yourself the best possible chance of attracting a good clickthrough rate.

There are two things that you should concern yourself with:

  • The Meta Title: this is what will display on the SERPs in place of any headline you choose for the post onsite.
  • The Meta Description: Google may choose to use this in place of an excerpt from your post (which can often be nothing more than a confusing mass of words).

By default there is no way to define these in WordPress – you need a plugin to get the job done. You can either choose a standalone plugin (for which my recommendation would be Add Meta Tags) or a plugin that incorporates multiple SEO features (such as the aforementioned WordPress SEO by Yoast).

What Mistakes Have You Made?

Let’s face it – we’re not perfect. If you haven’t made a few SEO blunders in your time then you’re simply not trying hard enough. In reality, this post could be called, “Top 5 SEO Mistakes I Have Made With WordPress.”

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Why Kevin Spacey Deserves a Content Marketing Award

Any good marketing conference has at least one compelling keynote speaker that offers sage, relevant counsel to the crowd. The key ingredient here is relevancy. We crave new thinking, but we also seek application of that thinking to our own lives. Deanna Lazzaroni reports on LinkedIn Marketing

When I tell you that Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey presented recently at a marketing conference — no, the largest content marketing conference — you may question the relevancy of his keynote address to such a crowd. I did. He did, in fact, asking himself this very question as he opened his presentation at Content Marketing World last week.

What followed I believe deserves a content marketing award.

In Kevin Spacey’s mind, the connection between his world and ours as marketers is the fact that we all have audiences, and those audiences demand great stories. It is our job to tell stories, better stories, and to do so by incorporating three main ingredients.

The Simple, Yet Powerful Ingredients of a Truly Great Story
Simply put, Spacey explained that what makes a great story is conflict, authenticity and, most importantly, the audience itself.

He went on to detail how each ingredient played a pivotal part in the narrative, providing relevant examples of his own experience as well as marketing examples for us to establish a relevant connection. Spacey, the seasoned storyteller, knew his audience.

Why Creating Conflict is a Good Thing
“A great story creates tension,” he proclaimed. “Without it, there’s no driving force, no passion, no involvement.” When we think about the great advertising campaigns of our time, a tension is embraced and often relaxed through the brand’s effort. Spacey gave the example of Nike, a company that has built its brand around our ambitions to be better, faster, stronger. Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign also comes to mind; a campaign that embraces the tension women hold within themselves, fueled by the pressures we put on ourselves and on society, and lifts that tension by tapping into our emotions and creating a positive impression.

“Our stories become richer and far more interesting when they go against the settled order of things,” Spacey professed. When we challenge the status quo, when we refuse to accept things for what they are and choose to be part of a movement for change, we build great stories. Presenting at Content Marketing World was certainly not norm for Spacey, but he had a message to deliver and a compelling story to tell.

Winning with Authenticity
What I believe won the audience over at Content Marketing World wasn’t the story itself, but the fact that Kevin Spacey delivered it as only he could. He played an authentic role. He spoke with conviction… He also worked in three perfectly placed quotes by Frank Underwood, his character in the acclaimed series House of Cards. Again, the man knows his audience.

“There’s no better way to overpower a trickle of doubt than with a flood of naked truth,” he spoke in the tone of Underwood. The takeaway for marketers: “Stay true to your brand and true to your voice and audiences will respond to that authenticity with enthusiasm and passion.” Spacey gave the advertising example of Volkswagen’s 1960’s campaign, when the brand embraced who it was and delivered the message “Think Small” even while large, over-priced American-made vehicles were all the rage. Volkswagen’s new Beetle stood out against the Ford’s of the world, and it served them well. Like Spacey, the automotive brand had something unique to offer its audience and played that card to its advantage.

Give the People What They Want
Kevin Spacey’s third sage lesson for the group was to stop making content for content’s sake. Instead, he commanded us to give the people what they want, when they want it, and at a reasonable price. The reality is that today the speed of the internet and advancement of platforms has had a major impact on the creative industry – and today, as Spacey put it, “anyone with a camera and an idea can create an audience.” People no longer have to wait for brands and entertainment giants to deliver great stories; they are finding them and creating them.

Today, Hollywood is partnering with Internet stars to produce and market content; brands are co-creating with their audiences; and new talent and new companies that enable this collaboration economy are rising to the top. “Get your minds to work,” Spacey urged us, “for the risk takers are rewarded.” And, quoting Frank Underwood again he reminded us, “There is but one rule: Hunt or be hunted.”

It may not have been what I expected. But by embracing the conflict of this content marketing keynote, delivering his authentic self, and giving his audience of marketers exactly what we wanted, Kevin Spacey demonstrated his own best example of a well-told story. And that, to me, is award-worthy content.

Image source: Cleveland.com

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Successful content marketers do five things differently

Content marketing plays a mission critical role in the growth story of a business, Pratik Dholakiya investigates,

With survey after survey reporting companies will spend more on content marketing than ever before, content marketers need to pull out all the stops to ensure this tactic delivers solid ROI.

There is just one problem, though. Not all content marketing strategies work and content marketers have only themselves to blame. If a content marketing campaign doesn’t deliver results, it means the people in charge have made a hash of it.

Why do some campaigns fail, while others score? What do successful content marketers do differently?

The popular perception is that their skill sets and proficiency make the difference but, more than that, it is their attitude and approach. Two campaigns using similar tactics can throw up contrasting results purely because content marketers behind the really profitable campaign view the same tactic through different eyes.

Successful content marketers do five things differently:

1. They respect content. I know you might be thinking, “Respect! I mean c’mon, where does respect enter the picture?” But that’s what the truly astute marketers do. They respect the potential content has to build brand reputation. They are extremely selective about content. Before content is pushed out, they thoroughly evaluate the potential for it to generate interest, provide an actionable solution, trigger user engagement and go viral.

That respect ensures a particular brand is only associated with high-quality content that adds value to the lives of its target audience at some level or other.

2. They explore content formats. One reason why some content marketers get left behind is their inability to use a variety of content formats.

There is a limit to the returns content will deliver over time. There is range of effective content formats that can be leveraged for marketing, yet ineffective content marketers choose not to explore them.

The best content marketers know how to tell a brand’s story in the best way possible. They find the ideal format to get the message across. They might go the visual route with infographics or videos. They might even take the on-demand talk-radio route a.k.a. podcasting.

They are fearless in their pursuit of customer attention. They know what it takes to deliver the brand message with impact.

3. They accept accountability. Successful content marketers know the buck stops with them. They are in charge. If a content strategy fails to deliver results, they can’t pin the blame on somebody else. A content marketing campaign that fails to deliver is their failure, nobody else’s.

This guarantees they stay away from frivolous decision making. Each strategy is seen from the ROI prism and every outcome of the content strategy is scrutinized for tangible deliverables. It allows them to weed out elements that are not performing and focus on core elements that deliver results.

4. They view content marketing as a cog in the larger marketing wheel. Content marketing is as much a part of your integrated online marketing strategy as is SEO, social media marketing, PPC etc. Smart content marketers ensure the tactics they utilize seamlessly integrate with other marketing strategies to become a single, immensely powerful growth engine for their business. For them, marketing convergence is as important as the success of their content marketing strategy.

5. They have no rule book. The fundamental rule of content marketing is that there are no rules. Successful content marketers experiment and keep pushing the limits of their ingenuity to ensure they promote content that the target audience will welcome. Content marketing, by its very nature, gives you the opportunity to fully vent your imagination. The best marketers use this to their advantage.

Successful content marketers are knowledgeable in detail about their craft. They view content not as a commodity to be sold but as a value-added solution they are responsible for delivering effectively to the intended audience.

John-Oliver

What @iamjohnoliver’s Twitter Rant Can Teach Social Marketers

 

 

 

HBO television host and Daily Show alum John Oliver took some pointed shots at brands on Twitter this Sunday, criticizing several specific brands, and Corporate America in general, for trying to cash in on touchy trending topics. Kevin Shively explores this topic futher.

It’s become common practice for brand marketers on Twitter to “newsjack” popular topics and hashtags, cashing in on the influx of traffic, even when it isn’t appropriate.

Oliver condemned this type of marketing, calling for more responsibility from brands, telling corporations that Twitter is “a cocktail party” and that they don’t belong there, so they should act responsibly. He even provided a “pledge” for brands who agreed with his sentiment.

You can watch the video clip here. Please note excessive swearing and controversial content.

That was Oliver’s point. There are many ways to engage and grow your audience on Twitter. Trying to leverage these more serious conversations has more potential to backfire than the good it presents.

Look companies, your silence is never going to be controversial. No one will ever go, ‘I can’t believe it. Skittles didn’t tweet about 9-11 yesterday, they must support terrorism. I’m never eating them again.’

–   John Oliver, Last Week Tonight

What Oliver’s Segment Can Teach Us

It would be easy for a brand marketer to get upset by Oliver’s lecture, but that misses the underlying value of his rant. Oliver and his team brilliantly pulled off a strategic Twitter campaign as a brand without appearing inauthentic, disrespectful, or tacky.

As marketers, it’s our job to think this way. We may not have TV shows to kick off our campaigns, but we’re in this line of work because we’re creative and resourceful. Piggybacking on tragic, difficult, and personal conversations is a risky tactic that doesn’t add a lot of value.

Meanwhile, Last Week Tonight created a unique experience that encouraged other high profile users to help promote for them. As a brand, this should be the focus, and a basic sense of logic should be used when interacting with a topic.

On Twitter, we follow and engage with brands for the experience they provide (and because we love their products), not because they’re able to jump into every random conversation on the web. Focus on your brand experience, and always be cautious when an organic opportunity presents itself. You’re responsible for protecting your entire brand image, and maintaining your audience’s trust. Don’t take that lightly.

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Visual Content Campaigns That We Find Inspirational

 

Jodi Harris from Content Marketing Institute looks at a couple of inspiring visual content that just hit the target with their campaigns.

Over the last several weeks, we’ve had a chance to get recommendations on a lot of aspects of the content marketing process — from ways to find great content creators (both internally and externally), to the latest tools and techniques for executing on and measuring the impact of a content marketing strategy, to ways to infuse content with a higher purpose.

But successful content marketing doesn’t just involve writing and technology decisions. The images that go along with a story work just as hard to convey your business’s value and message. In fact, as videos, infographics, and photo-centric social networks like Instagram and Pinterest continue to gain favour, visual content is increasingly being leveraged to engage and inform an audience in uniquely compelling ways.

For the last collaborative post in our latest series, we asked our panel of CMI blog contributors, Online Training instructors, and Content Marketing World speakers for their answers to the question, “What’s the most innovative or interesting example you’ve seen of visual content marketing?” Following are some of the efforts that stood out in their minds:

The infographic is evolving. I’m seeing animated GIF infographics and fancy web pages designed to look like infographics, but with CSS animations and embedded video. Here’s an example from Intuit. These would be hard to make and can’t be embedded, but they are really compelling.

intuit-technology-infographic

        Death of office-infographic

Visual content dominates the social streams. It might not be innovative, but it’s still very effective to make feature images for blogs with the headline overlaid on top, Canva-style. Eventually, it may become standard to put a headline, quote, or statistic right into the featured images for all blog posts. —Andy Crestodina, Principal, Strategic Director, Orbit Media | @crestodina

[At our office] we all loved GQ’s Who Wants to Shoot An Elephant. —Gini Dietrich, CEO, Arment Dietrich, Inc. | @ginidietrich

GQ-shoot-an-elephant-graphic

 Impressionistic elephant image

One interesting piece of visual content marketing is an infographic made by Ginny Soskey of HubSpot called The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Image Dimensions. This extensive infographic has the correct image dimensions for every common social media platform, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. For marketers that use — or could potentially use — HubSpot’s product, this is incredibly valuable. Soskey has created a one-stop destination for people to turn to when creating social media images. This is noteworthy because although visual content usually catches a reader’s attention, this piece of content actually keeps readers on and coming back to the page. —Pawan Deshpande, Founder and CEO, Curata | @TweetsFromPawan

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Infographic-social media design blueprint

Chipotle’s The Scarecrow is brilliant! —Scott P. Abel, Content Marketing Strategist, The Content Wrangler, Inc. | @scottabel

Joe Chernov and Ripetungi’s Shark Attack infographic is powerful, showing that you don’t need to cram tons of data into one graphic. Two statistics will do if they’re compelling enough. —Doug Kessler, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Velocity Partners | @dougkessler

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Shark attack infographic

I thought the Volvo Trucks ad, The Epic Split Feat with Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits between two Volvo tractors was a great example of visual content marketing. It was entertaining, interesting, and it made one say “wow.” I was engaged and, if I were a person who purchased (or influenced the purchase) of over-the-road tractors, Volvo Trucks would be top of mind and have credibility because of the video. —Bruce McDuffee, Interim Content Director at Boeing Digital Aviation Marketing consultant, Knowledge Marketing for Industry (KMI) | @brucemcduffee

I really like what LUSH Digital in Australia is doing with their LTV series. They’ve created high-quality interviews with leaders from a wide variety of industries, including government, technology, healthcare, and sports. There’s no pitch, just really great information that keeps me hanging out for the new episode published every two weeks.

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Optimize Your Online Content: Quick Tips You Haven’t Thought of Yet

Consumers demand multiple sharing options

One of the biggest oversights brands make is offering only Facebook and Twitter sharing options, assuming consumers only want to share content or products on the largest social sites. In reality, today’s audiences are continuing to shift to new social networks, fragmenting their social and web activity across multiple channels. By offering only major social sharing buttons, brands dramatically limit new user acquisition and page views. Our data — based on access to share and click-back data for hundreds of thousands of websites — indicate that websites giving users a minimum of five choices generate the largest volume of sharing.

Less mainstream share buttons such as email, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+ (among others) are still effective in drawing in a larger audience. And using a third-party sharing widget that consolidates multiple sharing channels into one JavaScript tag is a smart choice to simultaneously limit downward drag on page load time and increase sharing of your content. Don’t leave valuable click-backs (i.e., free users!) on the table.

Let your users promote the value of your content

Another content optimization technique is including counters to show share volumes. You can display one universal counter that tallies all of your shares across channels, or show individual counters beside each sharing channel. Websites with counters see an average boost of 8 to 20 percent in sharing volume within one month, according to our data. Visual indicators of sharing volume add credibility and affirm the popularity of the content. Digital consumers, like it or not, follow the herd, paying more attention to content with higher shares.

Don’t overlook the number one way people share

Facebook and Twitter get a lot of buzz, but in reality, 80 to 82 percent of all shares on the web occur from users copying and pasting text. This activity is often referred to as “dark social” since marketers and publishers don’t have an easy way to track it unless they use a third-party tool like Po.st. Advanced sharing platforms can track not only how many users are sharing text from certain articles or product pages, but also which keywords they are sharing. This keyword information can help inform your SEO and SEM efforts in addition to offering unique consumer insights.

Another strategy to gain access to dark social activity is to include a link-back to the page where the text originated, driving users back to your website. This way, when the content is shared by the copy-and-paste method, friends who see the shared text know that it came from your owned or earned media.

Leverage social analytics and virality to boost results

While all marketers want their content to be shared and even go viral, we find there’s often an over-emphasis on outbound performance versus the inbound acquisition results.

Let’s take a look at an example: Say a content marketer looks at the analytics dashboard and sees that Video A drove 2,000 Facebook “likes,” while Video B had 800 Facebook shares, 500 tweets, and 200 Tumblr shares. The content marketer may consider Video A a bigger win because it earned more “likes” than the combined number of shares for Video B. However, looking back at the click-back volume, Video A only drove 150 new viewers to the video, whereas Video B drove 400 new viewers. So Video B actually performed better overall — even though the team was initially more excited about 2,000 “likes.” (And creating and promoting more pieces of content similar to Video B will likely drive more new traffic for the brand.)

Virality is an important indicator of successful user acquisition, reflected by the number of click-backs derived per shared piece of content. When we dug into data from the past year, we found several interesting insights about virality trends:

  • Technology, news, humor, and entertainment content has higher virality.
  • Travel, business, and food content has lower virality.
  • Facebook and StumbleUpon have a short time lapse between the share and click-back.
  • Tumblr, Google+, and blogging platforms have a longer time lapse between the share and click-back.
  • Reddit, Twitter, and Tumblr provide the most click-backs per one share.

The bottom line: Simple tweaks, all of which are free, to your owned media pages can drive an immediate boost in content viewership and user acquisition. By executing the approaches mentioned above, you’ll be on your way to increasing your content marketing’s ROI.

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7 Thoughts That Will Change Your Content Marketing Strategy

1. Take “best of breed” seriously

Ninety-nine percent of companies don’t do this. In my third book, Epic Content Marketing, I talk about six principles that are essential to epic content marketing. The sixth, and perhaps most important, is setting a goal/mission to be the “best of breed” informational provider for your industry niche — i.e., to truly be the leading informational resource for your industry.

This is critical to making content marketing work for you. If your content marketing isn’t eagerly anticipated and truly necessary, at some point, your audience will see through the façade and ignore you.

Ask yourself this: If your content marketing disappeared from the planet, would anyone miss it?

If no one would miss your information, you’ve got work to do. Start by setting your goal, then set up the processes and invest in the people you need to reach that goal.

2. Go 6 months without mentioning your product

When I was doing research for the book, I compared CMI’s informational/educational posts to posts that mentioned our products and/or services. The posts that talked about us received about 25 percent of the total unique visitors that a regular, educational post did. At the same time, we received virtually no additional subscribers on our sales-related posts, while our regular posts brought in between 35 and 75 subscribers.

The point is this: The more you talk about yourself, the more you’ll negatively impact your content marketing efforts. Keep the offers outside the content, and watch your program flourish.

3. Follow the “3-legged-stool” model

Almost every successful media company in the world leverages the “3-Legged-Stool” model: creating content for digital, print (print magazine or newsletter), and in-person (customer event or series of customer meetings). I believe that if your brand doesn’t leverage all three channels in a meaningful way, you cannot truly be an industry-leading informational source.

Beyond that, there is a huge opportunity in leveraging print channels, specifically. Just think of it like the value of a trade show where all your customers are in attendance, but none of your competition showed up. That’s the value print content marketing currently represents. I smell opportunity.

4. Leverage native advertising while you can

In a recent LinkedIn native advertising post, I wrote the following:

Publishers are using native to survive and grow. Brands are using native to steal audience from the publisher. It’s that simple.

I’m not sure how long publishers in your industry will offer native advertising opportunities. If I’m a brand, I’m going to want to go all-in on leveraging native to steal as much audience as possible. Look into it.

5. Forget real-time marketing

Some of the real-time marketing examples surrounding the tragic death of Robin Williams will make you sick to your stomach. Brands and publishers alike are tripping over themselves to leverage breaking news for business gain.

The only situation in which you should be considering real-time marketing is if your content marketing strategy is near perfect. Only then will you be well prepared enough to tackle the risks of real-time (and reap the potential rewards).

Focus on consistent, valuable information… become the expert… get the process in place… be patient.

6. Kill a channel

Here’s a publishing truth: It’s likely that, with each new channel you add to your content marketing plan, the other channels you are already using will take a small hit in quality and focus. I’ve seen this time and again as our concentration goes wider and our relevance gets broader.

I’d like to challenge you to kill a channel (or two) and put a renewed focus on the channels that are most worthy of your time and attention. Be amazing: Be great at distributing content through three channels; use another three to heavily promote that content; and forget the rest… at least for a while. Then check the results.

7. Begin with the end in mind

If you’ve read Stephen Covey’s long-time best-selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, you’ll recognize this one as the second habit: Begin with the End in Mind. In Covey’s words:

It focuses on what you want to be and do. It is your plan for success. It reaffirms who you are, puts your goals in focus, and moves your ideas into the real world.

If you don’t know what you want to be, in terms of your content marketing, when you grow up, how will you know if you are on the right path?

Things to do:

  • Create your content marketing mission statement.
  • Set a subscriber goal for your content.
  • Decide what you ultimately want subscribers to do.
  • Answer the question, “How Will We Know We Are Succeeding?“

Do you have a major issue that is driving your success, or stopping you from succeeding? Please let me know in the comments below.
Want more insight on how to manage today’s biggest content marketing challenges? Sign up for the Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification program. Access over 35 courses, taught by experts from Google, Mashable, SAP, and more.

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Content Marketing in 2014: The State of the Enterprise

Professor Kotler concluded the book with a section called “Transformational Marketing,” in which he discussed how the field would change with the “new age of electronic marketing.” In the coming decade, Kotler wrote, “marketing will be re-engineered from A to Z. Marketing will need to rethink fundamentally the processes by which they identify, communicate, and deliver customer value.”

There’s only one problem: Fifteen years have passed, and this vital transformation hasn’t happened yet.

Consumers have changed, marketing operations haven’t

In case you haven’t noticed, almost every marketing conference you attend these days starts with the same four or five requisite slides. Consumers are now empowered by digital technology… they are becoming more aware… they are researching, engaging, buying, and staying loyal to brands in ways that have fundamentally changed… Yes, we get it. Consumer behavior in the age of the social and mobile web is different than it was before.

In fact, maybe it’s actually more accurate to say “is changing” and “will continue to fundamentally change,” as content’s continual evolution shows no sign of slowing. The challenge is that marketing operations in enterprise companies have largely remained just as they were when Kotler wrote his book — i.e., they are still working from mid- to late-20th century hierarchies, strategies, and processes.

Continue the article here