6 Ways to Understand Your Social Media Customers

Posted by Sharon Hurley Hall on Nov 12, 2015 8:00:00 AM

With 74% of online adults using social networking sites, it's no surprise that social media marketing has become such an important part of doing business online. Despite that, many people fail to understand who their social audiences are and what they want. That's unnecessary, since the information and data companies need is all out there. Here's where you can find it and what you can learn.

1. Use Google Analytics

Before you begin, check that you have installed analytics software. Most people use Google Analytics, but there are other options too. If you are using Google Analytics, check out your social media statistics. Go to Acquisition - Social to find out which social networks are bringing traffic to your site, how users finding you via social media navigate through your site and much more. That information alone will help you focus your social media strategy.

2. Check Social Analytics

Next, look at the analytics provided by all the social media sites where you are active. Twitter Analytics, Facebook Insights, and Pinterest Analytics all provide information on your social audience. The depth of this information depends on the site, but you can usually see where your audience is located, what their background and interest are and which social media updates made them respond and share. Once you know that, it's easy to replicate those when you're deciding on social media content.

3. Identify Your Followers

If you want a holistic picture of your social media audience, then you'll need an external dashboard tool. There are dozens to choose from at various price points. See if the data you collect matches your existing customer personas. If there's a mismatch, then it's time to revisit your marketing strategy. If there isn't, then congratulations! That means you're probably getting it right.

4. Find Their Influencers

One important thing to understand is who influences your social audience because you can also target those influencers for greater reach when you want to share your content and message.  A good tool for finding influencers is Klear (formerly Twtrland) which allows you to see who your followers listen to. You can also find social media influencers with a Buzzsumo Pro account.

5. Listen to Your Fans

Use social listening software to find out when your fans and followers mention your brand and what they say about you. You can also discover what their hot button topics are and weave those into your social media strategy. Use tools like Buzzsumo to find hot content and Klout to find shareable content on the topics that interest them.

6. Pay Attention to Mobile Stats Too

Did you know that more than half of all Facebook users only access the site from mobile devices? Keep an eye on mobile analytics on all sites so you don't miss the moment when most of your customers go mobile too. That's bound to happen at some point which means that your social strategy will have to include mobile-friendly content.

Finally, put all the data together for a comprehensive overview of your social media customers' interests and preoccupations. This will help you be more responsive and engaged, which is something your customers will love.

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Topics: Social Media Marketing

Why You Should Avoid Digital Sharecropping

Posted by Sharon Hurley Hall on Oct 29, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Using social media is now a fact of life, but there's one key mistake business owners have to avoid. If you have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or whatever social media is best for your business, that's fantastic, but you must avoid the perils of digital sharecropping. What is it? It's where you put your eggs in a social media basket and have no web presence of your own.

A lot of small business owners who are starting out ask whether, instead of a website, they can set up a Facebook page. I always tell them no. The thing is, you may spend hours creating the perfect Facebook profile, tricking out your timeline, and making sure that it reflects your branding and personality, but it doesn't actually belong to you.

No-one ever reads the fine print, but take it from me - any time Facebook, Twitter or any social media site thinks you have contravened their terms of service, they can shut you down. And they do - and that's definitely not good for your brand.

Getting Banned on Social Media

It's also worth knowing that you don't have to do anything to be shut down; they just have to think you have. Here are a couple of examples.

A few months ago, I tried to log into my own Twitter account to find that it had been limited because they thought the account had exhibited spamming behavior. That meant I could read my Twitter stream but couldn't interact with it - no tweets, retweets, mentions or DMs.

I checked to see if someone had hacked the account (they hadn't) or if I had sent any unexplained tweets or DMs (I hadn't). I thought maybe the cause was one of my IFTTT sharing recipes, so I switched them off for a while.

I contacted Twitter and asked them to look at it again. When they did, they said that on reflection my account was OK and had just got caught up in one of their spam sweeps. No real harm done, in my case, as it was sorted out in just over a day. But if you were providing customer service on Twitter, then a one-day lockout could be a disaster.

This happens on Facebook too, and the shut down targets aren't always because of questionable content. This Arizona couple got banned because Facebook took exception to their last name - Avatar.

Most social media sites ban first and ask questions later, leaving you to prove you're not violating their TOS. And that's the danger of digital sharecropping. If you're building a presence on someone else's virtual patch, then if you're banned or shut down, even if it's not your fault, you lose everything you have been working for. As Copyblogger points out, landlords are fickle.

A Better Social Media Strategy

So what's the answer? The answer is to see social media for what it is: a necessary tool in your overall marketing strategy but not the place where you expend most of your energy. As we've said before, Facebook is not your website.

Instead, spend some time putting your own content on your own site. Sure, things happen to websites too, but if you're all paid up with your domain name and hosting, then generally your piece of cyberspace belongs to you.  And that's a better foundation for your online business presence.

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Topics: content & inbound marketing

Memes for Marketing: Should You Use Them?

Posted by Sharon Hurley Hall on Oct 22, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Is it possible to go a whole day online without seeing a meme? Wherever you look on social media, you find those amusing combinations of images and text sending a short, sharp message.

Originally a meme was simply "an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture" (Merriam-Webster) but now it can be a piece of content - usually visual - that spreads quickly and may even go viral.  A case in point: all the memes around Donald Trump, many of which focus on his hair.

Getting Started with Memes

Using memes in your marketing can show that you're in touch with what your customers are talking about. They can also give your brand some personality. For example, Grammarly has built an audience of more than 7 million by using images with grammar on Facebook and other social media channels. Several of these tap into popular memes.

Hubspot believes that memejacking is a great strategy for brands. That means hijacking a meme that you already know is popular and putting your own spin on it. That allows you to ride the trend while gaining more attention.

One tip: make sure you really understand what the meme is all about. Get it wrong and you could really hurt your image. Check out Mismeme on Reddit for some more examples.

Seven Tips on Using Memes for Marketing

So, how do you use memes effectively in your marketing strategy? Here are some tips:

  1. Check to see what's already popular. There are several great sources of meme intel including Know Your Meme and Memebase. Use those to see whether your planned meme is hot - or not!
  2. Keep an eye on your social media streams. If you're repeatedly seeing versions of the same image , that's sure sign that a meme is on the rise.
  3. Check out trending topics on your favorite social media site and see if there are any particular images that go along with them.
  4. Keep tabs on current events that lend themselves to humor.
  5. Decide on the idea and brainstorm some possible takes on it.
  6. Use an online meme generator (try this Google search) to help you create it.
  7. Be selective! Be sure that the meme is aligned with your brand. And, remember, in this case too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Too many memes can have a negative impact on your brand in social.

Tips for Meme Success

When creating memes, be careful about the copyright of the original images. If it's not clear who owns them, you'd be better off creating your own. In fact, the Success Kid meme started when a photographer uploaded an image of her 11 month old son in 2007. People are still using this image for new memes today.

The final element you need for meme success is social sharing. Share your meme everywhere: on the main social media profiles and within groups. Don't be afraid to share a meme more than once. The only exception is LinkedIn, where people generally expect more serious, business-related content.  Other than that, use your normal content marketing workflow to help your memes to achieve their potential.

Used well, memes can be a useful part of your content marketing strategy so don't be afraid to try them out.

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Topics: content & inbound marketing

5 Ways to Get More Eyes on Your Blog Content

Posted by Sharon Hurley Hall on Oct 15, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Creating blog content is one of the best investments you can make in promoting your business. The stats are clear:

  • Brands that create 15 new posts monthly average 1200 new leads each month.
  • Blogs increase the number of pages in the search engine index by 437%.
  • You'll get 55% more visitors with a company blog.

Whichever way you look at it, blogging for business is a good thing. But not everyone will read your blog, so to get more from content marketing, use your blog content in other ways so that more people will see it and interact with your company.

       1. Present It on Slideshare

One easy fix is to use your blog content to create presentations on LinkedIn Slideshare. The site has more than 60 million users and is widely used within the business community. To use it effectively, you need to marry the best points from your content, with stunning design and the right tags. If you get it right, your presentation could be featured by Slideshare, which will bring a lot of people back to your blog. Learn more about using the site effectively from this Kissmetrics guide to Slideshare.

       2. Publish a Book

It's also simple to use your blog to create a book or eBook. Spend some time up front thinking about a topic you want to cover in depth, then make each sub-topic an individual post. Not only will you get feedback as a you go (blog comments and social shares can tell you a lot about how people will respond to the content) but you'll only need to add an introduction and conclusion to finalize your book. Invest in professional editing so that the book of your blog reads like a book instead of a loose collection of posts. Then publish it everywhere, including Amazon, iBooks, and Smashwords. Get it right and you could reach an audience who might never have seen your blog.

       3. Syndicate Your Blog

Did you know that Amazon has a tool called Kindle Publishing for Blogs? It's been around for a while, though it's still in beta. Add your blog's RSS feed and a title image and then Kindle users can subscribe to it via Amazon. From my own experience, this won't net you a huge audience, but it will reach the people who do all their reading on Kindle. When I tried it with my writing blog, I had about 100 people who subscribed this way.

       4. Reuse the Stats

If your blog content includes stats, then you have the basis for a compelling infographic. This strategy will work best if you do a lot of research. Well researched and attractive infographics are immensely popular. It's another way to repurpose blog content and reach a wider audience.

       5. Put it on Audio and Video

While you're pulling data from your blog post, consider two more options for reusing the content. Many people love to consume content on the go and would rather listen than read. For those people, a podcast version of your blog content is ideal. And then there are the people who love watching videos (such as mobile device users). Convert your post to a short video and you'll get more attention.

These 5 tips will help get more eyes on the content you originally created for your blog. As a result, your company can reap the benefits of more attention, more leads and more sales. Look out for Crackerjack Marketing's coming ebook on other ways to attract your audience.

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Topics: content & inbound marketing

Why Twitter's New Moments Feature Matters to Brands

Posted by Christina Strickland on Oct 8, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Did you notice something different over on Twitter recently? Twitter unrolled its new, and, quite possibly, most important feature called “Moments.” Moments takes what everyone is talking about and puts it into a tidy place for the user to find. Now we don’t have to jump in and get lost, mid-conversation. This is a great way to check out and interact with what’s going on on Twitter, before you dip your toes fully into the stream.


What EXACTLY is this “Moments”?

Essentially, Moments makes trending stories have a longer life. It yanks it from the rapids of the Twitter river and sticks some stuff into a calm little pond, where it waits patiently to be fished out. With the click of that neat little lightning bolt icon, a list of important highlights, along with live tweets, awaits. You’ll never have to wonder what’s happening on Twitter, ever again!


How does Moments work?

It’s quite simple, really. Well, no, it isn’t, but we’ll make it simple. We mentioned the lightning bolt icon already. You click it, which then brings you into the Moment app. What you see on that neat, magazine-like screen is a list of new and emerging stories that are popular in your network. If what’s going on doesn’t strike your fancy, you can click on “Sports” or “Entertainment” and catch up on what’s been going on over there.


How will it affect my own Twitter stream?

It’s supposed to affect your Twitter stream! Moments and your stream are new besties. They don’t go anywhere without the other. Moments tells Stream everything, and vice versa. Together, they are supposed to make a more robust, enriching, newsworthy experience. As Moments grows and learns how the user, well, uses Twitter, the content in Moments will be more individualized, tailoring itself to your own, personal likes.


How can Moments benefit brands?

Twitter is a cultural zeitgeist. As a brand on Twitter, you need to be aware - no, ahead - of the trends. Currently, we can stay on top of trends by staying really active on Twitter, checking out trending hashtags and using Twitter lists. Twitter’s new Moments feature now gives you another way to keep your finger on the pulse of the Twitter sphere.

As a brand, it’s not enough to settle for not being left behind the conversation, you want to be the leader. Imagine if your content was selected to be part of the curated collection!

At the moment, “Moments” (see what I did just there?) are only curated by a couple of Twitter partners but Twitter will be opening Moments up to more users in the future which, in turn, could present huge opportunities for creative thinking brands to set trends!

Twitter created a game-changer with Moments. Unlike some other features that Twitter has played around with in the past, this one is going to last a lot longer than…a moment.


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Topics: social media

5 Tips for Brands Using Periscope

Posted by Christina Strickland on Oct 1, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Getting acquainted with Periscope and learning what it does was an important first step. Now, however, you have to figure out how to use this innovative new social media tool for your brand. Don’t worry. We have you covered with five tips brands can use to make the most of Periscope:

        1. Promote

Promote your broadcast before, during, and after your event. The more you promote, the more people will actually view your broadcast, and even better, share it. Use all of your social media accounts to let your audience know what you have planned. Shout it from the rooftops while you’re live too, even if this means assigning someone else to promote or schedule posts/tweets in advance. And once your broadcast has ended, it would be a mistake to fall silent. Your broadcast will remain available for 24 hours, so make sure your audience members know they haven’t missed out, even if they couldn’t tune in when you were live.

        2. Vary Content

There’s nothing worse than all promo, all the time. While you do want to promote your awesome products and services some of the time, you don’t want to turn your audience off by trying to sell your brand at every turn. Fortunately, Periscope lends itself to such varied content as educational videos, tutorials, FAQs, announcements, interviews, focus groups, and surveys as well. You can even use it to provide VIP access, customer support, and product demonstrations.

        3. Engage

Just because it’s a different type of social media doesn’t mean all of the best practices you’ve learned fly out the window. Your attention-grabbing broadcast is a great start, but you still need to bring it home by engaging your audience. Post questions on Twitter to get your audience not only thinking about your content but also talking about it. Get involved in discussions about your broadcast and take the time to respond to comments.

        4. Share Reviews

Without question, great reviews can work wonders for your brand. According to a study by Dimensional Research, a whopping 90 percent of purchase decisions are influenced by online reviews. Now, combine that with the appeal of not just video, but live video. Use Periscope to ask your customers for feedback and use it again to share live video reviews—good reviews, of course. You can’t lose!

        5. Build Trust

Consumers are much more likely to buy from and return to brands they trust. Use Periscope to provide a new level of transparency by allowing your customers to see your face (or your employees’ faces) and listen to your voice as you answer questions about your brand and products. And as much as possible, keep it unscripted so that your message comes across as natural and genuine while showing off a bit of your personality.

Periscope isn’t just the latest hot thing. It’s a valuable tool for reaching your target audience, getting its attention, and boosting engagement. Use the above tips to incorporate Periscope into your brand’s marketing plans. 

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Topics: Social Media Marketing

5 Reasons Your Brand Should Be on Periscope

Posted by Christina Strickland on Sep 24, 2015 8:00:00 AM

No brand can afford to rest on its laurels, thinking last year’s, last week’s or yesterday’s marketing is enough to keep its audience interested and engaged. You have to continually market, finding new ways to gain exposure and get the right people paying attention. One exciting new way to do that is with Periscope.

What is Periscope?

In February 2015, Twitter made a bold move by purchasing a live video streaming mobile app called Periscope. Twitter launched the app in late March, and it’s been hot, hot, hot ever since. It’s still a fairly new tool, which lends quite a bit to its hotness, and it’s an excellent way to gain more exposure for your brand.  Fresh out of the gate, Periscope had a cool million users just 10 days post launch. By August, it boasted 10 million active users. And guess what else? It’s still growing.

 Here’s why you need it for your brand:

        1. You Can Reach Your Audience Live

Periscope allows you to use your mobile device to do something fabulous—broadcast live. This means you can allow your audience to join your broadcast, tuning in to your live streaming video and audio from virtually anywhere. And with Periscope, you aren’t limited to just seconds in which to get your message across. You can not only say everything you need to say, but also give your audience a much better experience.

        2. Your Audience Can View It Now and Later

Your audience can view your broadcast message the moment you make it and up to 24 hours later, replaying it and commenting as often as desired. It’s real-time marketing at its best. And as if that’s not enough, you also get access to all kinds of useful data, providing insight into such things as how many viewers watched your broadcast and for how long.

        3. Amazing Communication Options

You’ve probably heard a great deal about FaceTime, and maybe you’ve even used it to communicate one-on-one with your friends and family members. Periscope allows you to communicate directly with a potentially huge audience.  It’s taken an intimate type of communication and transformed it so you can communicate with everyone.

        4. It’s Social

Social media is a critical part of any marketing plan. With nearly 80 percent of Internet users considering social media content when making purchasing decisions, your brand needs to be where your audience gets social. Periscope provides yet another social avenue for reaching your audience and not only makes social sharing through Twitter simple and easy but also helps stimulate discussions and encourage feedback. It even includes location and notification features.

        5. Access to More of Your Target Audience

You know the deal. If a large percentage of your audience is on a particular social media platform, you want to be there too. If your audience goes looking and only finds your competition, don’t expect that to help your bottom line. In fact, Periscope could even provide access to a demographic you haven’t reached before. Keep in mind, too, that Periscope is a new, innovative tool. Those who aren’t there now will likely use it later as more and more people learn what it can do and how to use it.


As a brand, you have to keep up with marketing trends in order to effectively reach your audience. By doing so, you demonstrate that you care about communicating with your audience while dramatically increasing your exposure. Periscope is a fantastic way to do just that.

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Topics: social media

How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck with Content Marketing

Posted by Sharon Hurley Hall on Sep 17, 2015 8:00:00 AM


Everybody wants a magic bullet. And if you're using content marketing to promote your business you may want it more than most. There are so many sites and types of content out there, so how do you find out what really works to you get great performance and return on investment?

The good news is, you don't have to look far to find the answer, because Buzzsumo and Fractl have done it for you, analyzing 220,000 articles over a 6 month period from June to November 2014. The infographic is published on Hubspot. Here are some of the key findings, along with the lessons to learn about your content strategy.

        1. Find the Right Content Type

The study identifies five main types of content: how to, lists, what posts, why posts and videos. Of those types, lists got the most social engagement at 22.45%. Does that mean that you should only publish list posts from now on? Of course not, because the study shows differences depending on the niche. Unsurprisingly, lists work best for travel and entertainment. We're all fascinated by lists of places to visit or weird memes.

If you're in a different niche, then consider whether lists are the right content for you. The lesson is to use the content types as a starting point, but do your research (and check your analytics) to see which performs best for you.

        2. Figure Out Your Engagement Metrics and Timing

Engagement also changes across the board depending on your niche, with some niches having far more active audiences than others.  If you're in the tech business you're likely to get a lot of social shares for any content you publish. That also applies to lifestyle, business, education and finance. On the other hand, if you're in automotive, health and food, you'll see much lower sharing figures.

Timing also affects engagement. That's not just about the time of day you publish, but the time of year. October is a great month for almost all types of posts, but especially for what posts, while the summer months of July and August see lower social sharing figures across the board. Hubspot has a great analysis of this. It's also worth noting, that news and entertainment are high performing sectors for social sharing.

        3. Take a Shortcut with the Most Popular Content Types

The big takeaway from this research is that list posts and why posts get the most consistent engagement, so you should definitely include these in your content strategy. Do this by:

  • Using analytics, social media and customer interaction data to figure out the most common questions so you can answer them with posts.
  • Checking out your competitors' sites for questions their customers ask that you can answer.
  • Collecting helpful resources to form useful lists for your customers.
  • Breaking industry trends or finding an entertaining spin on a key issue.

This will help you create content that is shared over and over again, continuing to promote your business years after the original publication date.

Buzzsumo and Fractl also used the data to produce a social content calendar to guide you as to what content does best in every month. One interesting finding there is that videos did particularly well in August and September.

Related to this, Buzzsumo and Uberflip did additional research on the content people share most. It showed that how to posts remain popular, with an average of 5,200 shares apiece. In addition, quizzes can get millions of shares and image posts get double the number of shares as posts without images.

Putting It Together

So, how do you get more from your content marketing efforts?

  1. Check out the research cited above in detail.
  2. Look at your own customer data and see if it matches up.
  3. Identify a mix of content for your blog and social media (probably how-to and lists for your blog and images for social).
  4. Create, upload and share

What types of content do you find most effective for your audience?

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Topics: content & inbound marketing

Tales From the Crypt: Bringing Your Company Blog Back to Life

Posted by Christina Strickland on Sep 10, 2015 8:00:00 AM

No matter how motivated you were about starting your blog way back when, it’s all too easy to let it slide. It starts with a day of posting missed here or there. Then you start missing weeks, telling yourself it’s no big deal and you’ll get back on track…er…soon. Before you know it, your blog has gasped its laugh breath and you’re faced with deciding whether to bury it or try to perform a modern miracle of resurrection.

Do You Need a Blog?

The first thing to figure out (or remind yourself of) is why you needed a blog in the first place.

Did you need a blog to:

  • Bring traffic to your website
  • Aid lead conversion
  • Improve engagement with your customers/prospects
  • Increase exposure
  • Establish yourself as an expert/authority

Whatever your reason for giving life to a blog, ask yourself if that reason still exists or if you have new reasons to maintain a blog.

If the answer is no (highly unlikely), go ahead and let your blog rest in peace. If the answer is yes (much more likely), move on to figuring out why it kicked the bucket.

What Went Wrong?

There are many reasons a blog may go belly up, and examining them can help you figure out how to avoid the dead zone again.

Did you:

  • Lack a strategy

Blogging without a strategy is like setting off on a cross-country drive without a GPS or, at the very least, a map. Don’t start typing before you’ve settled on everything from your blog’s purpose and who your audience is to what your target keywords are and where you will distribute your content. How to Create a Successful Blog Strategy: A Step-by-Step Guide gives you the ins and outs of creating a strategy for your blog.

  • Find it difficult to blog because of your busy schedule

This is a common problem. Crafting high-quality blog posts takes time and energy, and we all run out of both.  If this was the reason your blog went caput, you can delegate the responsibility to someone else in your company who has the time and enthusiasm for it, hire a social media professional to take your blog in hand, or seek the services of a ghostwriter. Be sure to check out How To Get Help When You Don't Have Time To Blog for tips on selecting the right blogger.

  • Lose focus

An editorial calendar is an absolute must for staying on track. A carefully planned calendar will help you plan out your content (so you’re never at a loss for topics), keep your posts in line with your marketing efforts, and hold yourself accountable. Simply put, it’s your ace in a hole for keeping your blog healthy. Check out May the Force be With You: Your Blog Editorial to learn how to use The Force (your editorial calendar) to complete your mission (maintaining an awesome blog).

  • Run out of ideas

This is a true blog killer. Once you run out of ideas, blogging begins to feel like work. Then it begins to feel like torture. You grasp at straws to throw something, anything, up on your blog, but it ends up awful. Then your audience starts to lose interest, because, well, your posts hold little-to-no value for them.  The good news is there are numerous ways to get great post ideas. As mentioned in http://www.crackerjackmarketing.com/blog/4-ways-to-get-your-content-marketing-back-on-track, analyzing your audience and making use of social analytic and social listening tools can give you insight into the types of content your audience wants. Additionally, make use of questions your customers ask you and trending topics in your industry to craft relevant posts.

Keep in mind that there are many types of content you can use to make your blog step lively. Create posts around memes or inspirational photos, create series of posts so that each topic builds or expands on the previous one, give interviews, and invite guest bloggers on board. Have theme days and run giveaways on your blog. Mix it up! Editorial Calendar Continued: 9 Ways to Program Out Blog Content shares great ideas for filling your editorial calendar with compelling content.

How Long Should Your Blog Posts Be?

Once you’ve figured out what went wrong with your blog and decided to make the changes to revive it, it’s time to take a look at the simple question of how long to make your posts. Generally, shorter rules when it comes to blogging, but more important than a particular length is whether your posts are tightly focused and if they are easy to scan and absorb. Take a gander at How Long Should a Blog Post Be? to get food for thought on blog length.

It doesn’t matter if your blog was truly dead or merely struggling for its last breath. You can not only revive it but also make it a true content marketing engine. Use the advice above to give your blog a second chance at life.

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Topics: content & inbound marketing

Using Google Docs for Content Collaboration

Posted by Sharon Hurley Hall on Sep 3, 2015 8:00:00 AM


As you get to know me better, you'll learn that I tend to be an early adopter (well, early-ish, anyway).  :) That means I've been using Google Docs pretty much since it came out in February 2007. However, it's only in the last couple of years that I've moved from seeing it as a nice toy to considering it an essential part of doing business online. That's partly because Google keeps adding new features, which means it's not that different from the market leading Microsoft Office equivalents.

There are even some things you can do BETTER in Google Docs. For example, the Crackerjack Marketing team uses it a lot for client collaboration on content marketing campaigns. Here are some of the tips for success I've learned over the years.

1. Organize, Organize, Organize

By default, Google adds every document you create to the main Google Drive folder. While the search features are excellent, as you would expect from Google, it soon gets tiresome navigating down a long list of documents. That's why it makes sense to create separate folders for each client or each project.

Folders can be nested so if you're doing several projects for the same person you can create a client folder, with sub-folders for each project.  I also find it useful to navigate to the folder where I want to store a document before creating a new one. That automatically puts the document in the right folder, though it's easy enough to move if you forget.

Something I've carried over from offline file storage is to add the name or initials of the client to filenames. It's another way to easily find anything that relates to a particular project or client.

2. Share with Care

Google Docs (in fact, all of Google's online apps) have three levels of sharing. Collaborators can view, comment or edit depending on what you select when you hit the big blue "share" button. Do that and you get a shareable link that you can paste into an email. One thing I've noticed is that I often get a pop-up message and have to reconfirm the sharing settings when sending the link by email. You also have the option to share your document in different formats (such as PDF or HTML) and to email it directly to collaborators.


To comment on something in a document, the viewer has to select and highlight text, then right click. Comments will appear next to the appropriate section and people have the option to reply to or resolve comments. Resolved comments disappear from view, but you can still see them by hitting the "comments" button at the top of the screen. The way I use this is to tag specific people (say an editor or someone with approval rights) by using the @ sign to bring up their name. They get an email and know there's something to resolve.

4. Using Live Chat

Multiple people can work on the same document at the same time, and you'll see avatars at the top of the screen that indicate who's there. Each avatar has a different color, which matches the insertion point, making it easy to see which user is making changes in a document. In line chat also lets you have real-time conversations as you work on a document, enabling real-time editing and collaboration.

5. Offline Work

Not everyone likes to work online, and Google Docs now has offline modes for desktop, web and mobile apps. For the mobile version of Google Drive, you have to choose which documents will be available online. Just tap in the appropriate place in the document properties to make this happen. Make a change offline and it's synced back to the document when you're next online.

All these features make Google Docs (and other Google apps) a great way to enable collaboration with customers. Typically, I will share a spreadsheet with customers for tracking content and deliverables, and share individual documents for pieces of content. 

I also advise checking out the wide range of add-ons which make Google Docs a useful alternative to other word processing applications. How do you use Google Docs in your business?

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Topics: content & inbound marketing