Why It's Worth Investing in Content Marketing

Posted by Sharon Hurley Hall on Aug 27, 2015 8:00:00 AM

investing-in-content-marketing

Many people don't trust advertising any more, especially millennials. That's why you need content marketing. If you create content that speaks directly and personally to your target customers, they are more likely to trust you. And if their friends also recommend your content, you will win their trust and loyalty and they are more likely to buy into your offer.  

Content marketing lets you reach your audience in lots of different ways and helps your search rankings and online authority. But to get the benefits, you have to see content marketing as an investment. Not everyone does, even if they should.

As a writer, blogger and professional content creator, I've noticed that the people who approach me about writing often fall into two camps: those who want to invest in content and those who want content without the investment. Some freelance marketplaces give the impression that good content is cheap, and if you have a limited budget, that can seem appealing. Don't fall for that. Failure to invest adequately in content marketing hurts your business. Here's how.

How Failure to Invest in Content Hurts You

First, you won't get the right writers to work with you. If you pay peanuts you won't attract the kind of writers who will enhance your brand. If you want a professional writer, it will cost you. Good content is simply not available at $10 for 600 words; great content has an even higher price tag. Some of the blogs with the best content pay hundreds of dollars per post.

Second, your writer may not stick around. Consistency and reliability help you connect with customers but underpaid content creators soon move on because they need to earn more and there's no incentive for them to stay. That's bad for your content marketing strategy because you constantly have to onboard new content creators and you will find it difficult to get a consistent voice for your content and a reliable content flow.

So what do you get if you allocate a decent budget for content creation?

The Benefits of Content Marketing Investment

You get content creators who function as partners, actively working to make sure that content meets your needs. And you get experienced professionals who know when to stick to your style guide or when to inject a little personal flair. You get writers with experience of writing, some industry knowledge and the ability to add value to your content (for example, by creating tweets to accompany a piece of content). You get a level of excellence that makes your brand stand out for your target customers. And you get content that it's easy to market.

The other reason it pays to invest in content marketing is because of the results you get. Dig deeper into reads, shares, links and referrals in your analytics and social analytics software and you will see the difference that good content makes.

That's the content part of content marketing, but the marketing element is also important. Once you have nailed content creation, there's a lot of behind-the-scenes activity to ensure that content works for you. For example, the Crackerjack Marketing team ensures that every piece of blog content gets shared multiple times on multiple platforms on a rotating schedule to give as many people as possible the chance to see it. 

A marketing firm will help you create shareable graphics to accompany a blog post, craft social media updates and schedule those regularly after working out the best possible timing so people can see and share your content. And the firm can also help you respond quickly when your social connections share and comment on your content.

The bottom line: investing in content marketing is one of the best ways you can promote your business. Ask how the Crackerjack Marketing team can help you.

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Topics: content & inbound marketing

How to Build Your Brand’s Instagram Following

Posted by Christina Strickland on Aug 20, 2015 8:00:00 AM

instagram-following

Now that you’ve optimized your profile and planned your content, it’s time to start building your following. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have any followers yet. If you’re sharing great images, creating calls to action and being social, the followers will come.  In the meantime, here are a few quick tips to get the ball rolling:

How to Build Your Brand's Instagram Following

Whom Do You Know?

The smartest place to start is with the people who already know you and have some interest in the type of content you share. And who’s that? Your customers and contacts, of course. These people are your warm audience. You don’t have to sell them on following you. All you have to do is let them know you’re there.

Make it easy for your loyal customers to find you on Instagram by announcing your presence there to your email list, website and blog. If you have other social media accounts (and you definitely should), go ahead and make the announcement there too. But don’t stop with these usual suspects. If you have an email newsletter, announce it there, and if you have an office or a store, don’t let another day pass without posting a sign with your Instagram address and logo on it.

Keep in mind that some of your customers and contacts may not know much about Instagram. Though it’s growing in popularity, many people are still more familiar with Facebook and Twitter. Take some time to fill your audience in on what Instagram is and why they should be there. Then provide your Instagram link and ask them to give you a follow.

Use What You Have to Get What You Want

You don’t have to look far for a platform from which to reach your audience. Using your website and blog to get attention to your Instagram account is as simple as posting your Instagram logo. Post it on any other web domains you have as well.

You know how priceless a carefully crafted call to action can be, right? Go ahead and create calls to action to draw people to Instagram, and then post them to your other social media accounts. Yes, Facebook and Twitter can feed your Instagram account.

Don’t forget about user-generated content.  Share your user-generated content to your other social media accounts or use the best of it in your blog posts.

Hashtags: Not Just for Twitter Anymore

Make it easy for your audience to find the types of content that peaks their interest by adding hashtags to your photos.  If your audience is interested in photos of bacon candy and your hashtags are #bacon #chocolate, this helps you in a couple of ways. First, it ensures your audience can find your awesome photos, view them, and share them with others. Second, once you’ve captured their attention, they’re sure to come back for more, especially since you make it so easy to find the photos they want.

Tag your Instagram photos according to location, topic/subject, event, or theme. Just avoid hashtag abuse. Though you can use up to 30, stick to 10 or fewer to avoid the spammy/desperate feel.

Who Doesn’t Love a Giveaway?

If you want them to come, create a contest that will capture your audience’s interest. Then, don’t be shy about it. Promote it not only on Instagram but also on all of your other social media accounts. With the right contest as an enticement, you can bet that some of your audience on other platforms will jump right over to following you on Instagram. Just be careful because, yes, too many promotions can hurt your brand so use this tatic strategically.

  • Don’t forget the value of hashtags. Create a unique hashtag for each Instagram contest you set up.
  • As for the sweepstakes or contests you create, you must have official terms and conditions. Add these before you promote your contest and you’ll stay out of the social media version of hot water. Here’s an example of the types of terms and conditions you might create for your giveaway.

Creating an Instagram account and setting up your profile is only half the battle. And posting attention-grabbing photos is only a piece of the puzzle. If you want your Instagram to be all it can be, apply the above tips! Wait… Are you still reading? Go get busy!

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Topics: Social Media Marketing

10 Instagram Hacks for Brands

Posted by Christina Strickland on Aug 13, 2015 8:00:00 AM

10-instagram-hacks-for-brands

According to Forbes, more than a third of American Internet Users are on Instagram now. You need a presence there too. With more people getting hooked every day, you can’t afford to have your audience go looking for you and not find you there. The question is, how do you get started and make Instagram work for your brand? We have the answers:

10 Instagram Hacks for Brands

Optimize Your Instagram Profile

1.    Choose a Killer Avatar

Your avatar is like the face of your Instagram account, and anyone who follows you or even looks you up will see a lot of it. You want it to be three things: an on-point representation of your brand, eye-catching, and memorable. Many brands use their logos, but photos of a featured product can work well too and help stimulate sales. No matter what you choose, keep in mind that your avatar has to look clear and enticing on all types of devices, including mobile phones and tablets. Check it via your smartphone, tablet and desktop to make sure it’s still clear and visually attractive. Ask friends with other devices to check too.

2.    Don’t Be a Quitter--Complete Your Bio

Often, people get lazy when it comes to their bios. They quickly type something in, almost as a placeholder, and tell themselves they’ll go back and spruce it up later. This is a mistake. You need a good bio right away to give your target audience a reason to bother following you. Instagram gives you 150 characters in which to create bio magic, so make it count.  The 10 Best Instagram Profile Bio Ideas to Inspire You shows off some well-crafted bios. Want to get fancy and really wow your audience? Take PostPlanner’s suggestion and incorporate symbols before you add your bio to your account. 

3.    Go Public

If you want to stay in stealth mode with your personal account, no problem. But your brand account should be set to public so your audience can easily find you and see what you’re posting. Yes, it sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised to hear how many people forget and end up posting to absolutely no one.

Your profile is ready to rock, right? Now it’s time to figure out the what and when of posting on Instagram.

 

Instagram Strategy

4.    You Promised, Now Deliver

You wrote a short but dynamic bio that gave people a reason to follow you. Now it’s time to deliver the goods. Your audience wants content that entertains and informs them, making their lives better in some way. Focus on posting useful content that makes your audience want to pay attention to you. And don’t be tempted to post photos of your plate. Unless your business is food-related, nobody cares.

Sometimes you just need a little help coming up with post idea. No worries; we’ve all been there.  Read Instagram Content Ideas for Brands to get your hands on creative ideas for posting to Instagram. 

5.    What’s Your Story?

While you need to post content that your audience will find appealing, there’s more to it than just that. Your content should also give your audience insight into your brand. Every photo counts, so don’t slack off here. Make sure each photo you post is not only attractive, funny, or fun but also spot-on for your brand’s unique flavor. As far as the blatant marketing is concerned, save it for someplace else. Using Instagram for obvious marketing is like begging your target audience to unfollow you.

6.    Plan for Success

By now you probably know us here at Crackerjack Marketing, and you can probably guess what comes next. That’s right. You need an editorial calendar that has your schedule for posting to Instagram as well as details about the content you will post. It will not only keep you on track and stop you from pulling your hair out because you don’t know what’s up next, but also keep you accountable. Remember, however, that this doesn’t mean you can’t post spontaneously too. Go ahead and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. Just use your calendar to make sure you’re never at a loss for putting out quality content.

7.    Never Stop

When you’re building your presence on Instagram, you have to keep going. This really isn’t a once-a-week type of thing. Since the Instagram feed shows the latest content, you need to post every day. On the other hand, too much posting and you become annoying. Stay on your followers’ good side by posting no more than four times daily. And if you’re thinking of posting some so-so content to get up to four posts, don’t do it. Your followers want quality content. Give them crap and they’ll be quick to drop you.

Now that you have your amazing profile and your awesome content strategy, you’re done, right? Wrong. You still need to go for that all-important audience interaction.

 

Engage Like a Boss

8.    It’s Social Media! Socialize!

There’s a whole give-and-take thing that goes on with Instagrammers. If you follow them, there’s a pretty good chance that most of them are going to follow you back. Like and comment on other people’s content too. Just be sure your comments are thoughtful and really say something of value. Otherwise, they’ll come off as spammy, and no one likes that. 

9.    Sharing Is Caring

The share is a big part of engaging and interacting via social platforms, but Instagram doesn’t have built-in share capabilities like some other platforms do. Good news, though: there are many, many mobile applications that allow you to share other Instagrammers’ content for absolutely free. Also, don’t forget to repost user-generated content that shows off your products. Just be sure to properly attribute the shared content. Want some fantastic ideas for using user-generated content to tell your brand story? Pop on over to read How User-Generated Content Can Tell Your Brand Story to get the skinny.

10. Call Them to Action

No, you don’t want to go for the big sale in your Instagram content, but that doesn’t mean you should skip out on the calls to action. Include a call to action in each of your posts. For example, it only takes a second to ask your followers to “like” your post if you’ve wowed them or they agree with something you’ve posted. And asking them to tag friends who might be interested can really increase your reach.

 

Want a pro tip? You can never have too many, right? Here’s one you don’t want to miss, from Chalene Johnson: Tag your own Instagram profile in the comments section and encourage people to follow the link in your profile to sign up for your newsletter or take advantage of a special offer.

Example: Click here ->@InstagramName and sign up to receive more great tips!

Instagram can be a powerful tool in telling your brand’s story, increasing your exposure, and getting your fans to engage. However, it’s only as powerful as the effort you put into it. Use the above tips and strategies to get the most out of Instagram for your brand.

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Topics: Social Media Marketing

Instagram Content Ideas for Brands

Posted by Christina Strickland on Aug 7, 2015 7:00:00 AM

Visual content is king, and Instagram is its court. More than any other social media platform, Instagram provides your audience with a way to visually connect with your brand, taking a virtual look inside your business. Of course, any social media platform is only as good as the content you post on it. To put Instagram to work for your business, post images that are not only creative, beautiful, inspirational, or fun but also accurate representations of your brand and the subject matter you find important. Above all, aim for fun and interesting, taking care to avoid obvious marketing.

 Instagram_Content_Ideas_for_brands-v2

Need some help figuring out what to post to reach your audience? Here are 10 Instagram content ideas you can use:

  • Behind-the-Scenes Photos: It may be the everyday grind to you, but your customers want to see what goes on behind the scenes. Show off a little here, giving your audience an insider’s look into how you do things.
  • Photos of Your Business Location: Your audience wants to see where you make the magic that consists of your products and service. Show off the best or most creative images of your business.
  • Photos of the Surrounding Community: The community you do business in can add quite a bit to your brand’s unique flavor. Show off parts of the community that mean something to you, beautiful spaces, and anything that is unique to your area.
  • Images of Events: People love photos of company events, parties, seminars, and the like. Just be sure you share the photos of people smiling and laughing. If it looks like a snooze fest, it’s not a good choice for social media.
  • Photos That Feature Key (and Photogenic) Employees: We all like to put a face to a name. Post attractive photos of your employees that demonstrate their winning personalities and show off their great smiles. Don’t be afraid to post images of them hard at work too. Your audience will enjoy seeing them in the act of producing your company’s products and services.
  • Fun Scenes From the Breakroom, Holiday Parties, and Interesting Employee Cubicles: Let your audience see you and your employees having a great time. These sorts of photos help your customers see you and your employees as real people, and they encourage a connection with your brand.
  • Photographs of Various Parts of the Manufacturing Process or Your Service in Action: Don’t we all want to know how things work? This is your chance to give your audience an insider’s look and help them feel more connected to your brand.
  • Images of Your Product in Use: Post photos of customers using your products. This can work as a visual recommendation, encouraging your audience to give them a try. Likewise, such photos may give your customers ideas on other ways to use your products.
  • Photos of Contest/Giveaway Prizes: A picture is worth a thousand words. When you post photos of contest/giveaway prizes, you generate excitement, stimulate your followers to enter for the chance to win, and encourage sharing.
  • Reposts of Fan-Generated Content: Fan-generated content can be an important part of your social marketing campaign, influencing your prospects’ purchasing decisions, driving engagement, and serving as a complement to your other marketing efforts.

 

Anyone can create an Instagram account. It takes effort to build a presence that increases exposure, engagement, and even sales. Use the above tips to not only reach your customers and contacts but also to connect with them.

 

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Topics: social media

How to Decide Which Social Network is Right for Your Business

Posted by Sharon Hurley Hall on Jul 30, 2015 8:00:00 AM

social-network

There are already more social networks than we know what to do with. In addition to those trying to fix social networking, like Ello, there are networks for almost every niche. So how do you pick the ones your business should spend time on.

Let's be clear: it's almost impossible to do several social networks well on your own. If you're a small business without an individual or team dedicated to social media, you'll find it hard to handle all the social media marketing tasks for every network. Unless you're planning to hire a marketing agency you have to pick a place to start, whether that's Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn or another network.

Here are some of the questions to ask to help you make the decision.

1. What does the research tell you?

A good starting point is the demographics of each social media site. If you have a breakdown of the age, gender, education, income and interests for the different sites, you can pick the site or sites where the profile best matches your own customer personas. (Google Analytics includes demographic data in its reporting, so it's easy to check for similarities.) You can probably guess that if you're marketing to business, LinkedIn is a good place to start, and if you are trying to attract teens, then Snapchat is a better bet for your marketing focus. Check out research reports like this one from Pew Internet and this recent roundup from Sprout Social to help you decide.

2. Where are your customers?

After doing the research, see if it matches where your customers are. You're probably already collecting data to help with this. Use analytics software to see where people were before they came to your site or blog, and to check out their path through your site.

Pay particular attention to the social media reports which show which social sites bring the most visitors to you and which social sites most of your visitors use to share your content. Sometimes the data might surprise you. For example, I discovered that people were sharing my content on Stumbleupon even though I didn't have a button for it.

Add to your knowledge store by using a social media analytics tool to get detailed information on where your customers are. A dashboard aggregator like SumAll or Cyfe will help you to view this data across multiple platforms.

Between them, these should help you narrow down some social media starting points, but there's another aspect to consider.

3. Where are your competitors?

You already know who your key competitors are, but do you know what they're doing on social media? If you're targeting the same customer base, then it's helpful to know which social media sites they favor, who they are talking to (and who's talking to them), what kind of engagement they are getting and how you can improve on that with your own social media strategy. Check out Swellpath's guide to social media competitive analysis to help with this.

4. What kind of content do you have available?

If you already have content, then you could use that to determine where you're going to make a social media splash. If you're already creating appealing graphics, then Instagram could be good for you. And if you're selling products to a mostly female demographic, putting product images on Pinterest is a good strategy. The research you did in steps 1 and 2 will help you match demographics, online presence and content for the best outcome.  

Taking a Shortcut

Of course, if you want to take a shortcut and start with a single social media site, then that shortcut has to be Facebook. The Pew Internet research linked earlier shows that 71% of adults are active Facebook users. Sure, it might be difficult to advertise there, but if you want to be social and don't mind a crowd, it's a place where you can share videos, images, short updates, long updates, news - almost anything. No matter what you do in creating your social media strategy, you won't escape the lure of the huge Facebook audience, so consider making that your starting point while you do your research and choose your next social media target.

Which social media site did you create a business presence on first?

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Topics: social media

Finding Your Brand Voice

Posted by Stephanie Schwab on Jul 27, 2015 10:29:00 AM

This is an oldie but goodie and it's still as useful today as it was when I wrote it for Social Media Explorer. This construct is being referenced by social media smarties everywhere, including Buffer and Kevan Lee writing for Fast Company.

Are you using this in your company? Please tweet me @stephanies if you are!

Finding_Your_Brand_Voice

Oscar winner Colin Firth could be the perfect person to ask about finding his voice – his virtuoso portrayal of a stuttering King George in The King’s Speech so cogently highlighted the frustrations of not having a clear way to communicate with a community. Some brands are equally tongue-tied, unclear about what the brand should sound like, leaving them either silent in social media or sounding haphazard and unrehearsed.

Get over your brand speech impediments by considering the following concepts, all of which play an important role in a well-rounded social media brand voice.

Character/Persona

This is the starting point for the development or furthering of your brand voice: Who does your brand sound like? In order to determine this, you may need to first determine who your customers are, so you can assume a persona for the brand that will resonate with your primary target audience. If you have multiple audiences you may need to have a more flexible brand voice, or you may determine that you need multiple social media channels to reach different audiences. Ideally you will be able to determine character attributes (see diagram) which meet the needs of the majority of your customers or users. If you’re a non-profit which raises awareness of childhood diseases, your character might be a gentle parental type. If you’re a software tools company, you might want to be a bit geeky, just right for the Star Trek crowd. 

social-media_brand_voice

 

Tone

Tone is the underlying vibe that emanates from your brand’s communications. This is where you establish your credibility; place your brand in the past, present or future; and subtly alert fans and followers whether your brand is going to be wide-open or a bit more buttoned up. Be a showoff if your character is something like a street-savvy hip hop artist, but know that humble usually goes farther in generating customer loyalty. Clinical or scientific could be good for a very specific B2B entity or professional services organization.

Language

Although your brand may be the expert in its field, coming off sounding like you’re smarter than your customers could turn people off pretty quickly. Establishing appropriate brand language will give you a foundation for the types of words, phrases and jargon to be used in social media communications. Want to sound very exclusive? Use insider language and acronyms. Want to sound hip? Stay up-to-date on the latest slang. But be careful – if you make a misstep in slang it’ll look like you’re trying too hard.

Purpose

In the end, why are you here? Your brand voice in social media can help customers understand what you want to do with and for them. Are you working to educate your user base? Do you want to delight them, and get them to visit your store or website just because they’re amused by what you’re writing? And even if you do want to sell stuff, what can you give people to help them become engaged by your brand?

Once you’ve brainstormed around these four brand voice attributes, develop a roadmap for your brand’s voice which you can share with everyone who is involved in writing for, or speaking on behalf of, your brand in social media. This roadmap can be a simple as a one-sheeter with your brand voice attributes in writing, or you can craft some examples which front-line engagers can emulate. Add buzzwords – the words which describe your brand and which you want to have used when appropriate; for example, if you’re Disney, your buzzwords are something like: kingdom, magic, magical, family, experience, fun. Then add some “dos and don’ts” guidelines for your engagers so they can get a feel for the types of language and content you expect them to create. 

social-media_brand_voice_example

Your brand voice in social media will evolve over time. It would be great to think about undertaking a brand voice development exercise before you open a new Twitter account – but if you’ve already been engaging in social media and feel like your voice needs refinement, take the time to work on it now. Make subtle changes and your fans and followers probably won’t even notice that there was a change – but if you can more closely match your voice to their needs, you may attract even more customers and develop greater engagement and loyalty than you ever have before.

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Topics: social media, marketing strategy, content & inbound marketing, Social Media Marketing

Negative Comments About Your Brand? Make Them Work for You

Posted by Christina Strickland on Jul 23, 2015 8:00:00 AM

negative-feedback

It’s never pleasant to receive negative comments and reviews. You work hard to deliver your very best products and services, and bad feedback stings. However, every business receives negative feedback from time to time. It’s how you handle it that sets you apart and keeps your customers coming back to you despite one less-than-stellar experience. And it’s how you respond that influences new customers to give you a chance, despite any negative reviews. The most important thing to remember is that social media is a public forum. Your audience (current and potential customers) will be paying attention to how you handle criticism and complaints.

So how should you respond? Here’s a list of 6 best practices for dealing with negative reviews:

1. Check Your Ego at the Door

Criticism hurts no matter how tough you are or how long you’ve been in business, but suck it up, butter cup. It’s not about you, and usually, it’s not personal. The feedback you receive is all about your customer’s experience. You can’t change what’s already happened. The good news is, you can influence what happens next.

2. Respond Promptly

There’s little worse than letting negative feedback sit and fester because you don’t want to deal with it at the moment. Treat online feedback the way you would in-person complaints. If someone were to complain to a staff member onsite, how would you expect your employee to respond? Promptly, right? Respond to negative feedback you receive online with the same attention and speed you would give a customer standing right in front of you. Also, keep in mind that others will view your lack of response as an attempt to ignore the issue. If you already have an angry customer, expect the lack of response to make matters much, much worse.

3. Acknowledge the Complaint

It’s important to genuinely acknowledge the complaint. Don’t be defensive or use sarcasm. How do you want others to perceive your brand? You want to appear not only competent, but also interested in your customers. You want to demonstrate with every response that you care about customer experience. Don’t brush the problem off, make excuses, or attempt to minimize the customer’s complaint. Tell the customer you appreciate and value his feedback. Remember, it’s not necessarily what the complaint is about—it’s how you handle it that can make the biggest difference.

4. Follow Up

If the negative feedback was the result of a genuine problem with your products or services, take steps to fix the issue promptly. Then, invite your customer to try your product or service again, giving her incentive to do so. For example, you might offer a free meal or provide a discount on a future purchase.

5. Respond Publicly and Privately

In addition to responding to your customer’s comments publically, contact him privately to address his concerns. Let him know you are genuinely sorry and want to make the issue right. Handling the issue in private demonstrates that you are truly committed to customer satisfaction and provides a personal touch customers appreciate.

6. Ask Your Customer to Remove the Negative Feedback

Once you are sure you have resolved the issues to your customer’s 100-percent satisfaction, ask her to remove the negative feedback or update it with her positive reaction to your attempts to fix the problem. Your customer may not fully understand how important positive feedback is to your business, but if asked, she may be willing to report how prompt and caring you were in resolving the issue.

Getting negative feedback isn’t the end of the world, especially if you handle it well. Use the above best practices to handle social media complaints the right way.

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Topics: social media

Social Media: The KonMari Way

Posted by Christina Strickland on Jul 16, 2015 8:00:00 AM

konmari-method

The KonMari Method is taking closets everywhere by storm. If you haven't heard of it yet, it's a system of decluttering that focuses on keeping only the items that spark joy in your life. And though the book that reveals the system, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, is all about organizing your belongings at home, you can use it for social media too. Here's how to organize your social media the KonMari way:

Purge

One of the basics of the KonMari Method is the purge. You are to ruthlessly discard what is unnecessary before you start organizing anything. Take no prisoners. All those sites you bookmarked (because maybe someday you would need them) but have never actually cared to visit? Delete them. The groups you joined because you thought they might be helpful (but they weren’t)? Remove yourself. Those lists of links you thought you might share with your audience (but they kind of sucked)? Delete them. Apps that seemed useful but just clutter up your devices? Uninstall them. Getting notifications from a million pages you don't actually want to follow anymore? Unfollow them. And last but not least, drop the social media platforms you joined just because everyone else did. If your audience isn’t there and it won’t yield the kind of exposure you need, it’s just taking up space. Drop it like a bad habit.

Make Sure It Sparks Joy

Once you’ve discarded a bunch of the social media clutter that’s been inhabiting your online space, take some more time to evaluate what you have left. With the KonMari Method, you’re supposed to discard anything that doesn’t bring you joy. In this case, not only should your content bring you joy, it should bring joy to the people that follow you. Everything you keep should do one of the following:

  • Help you better reach your audience
  • Help you demonstrate skill and knowledge relevant to your industry
  • Make it easier for you to provide your audience with valuable content
  • Help or inspire your audience
  • Enable you to be better at your job
  • Connect you with people likely to help you reach your goals

Organize

With the KonMari Method, you don’t organize one entire room and then move on to the next. Instead, you organize by category, something you can do with social media as well. Here are some smart ways to organize your social media:

  • Create an editorial calendar, organized by type of content, topic, and date. Include categories for images and links, so you always know at a glance what you’re posting, and when. You don't need several different calendars (one for each social media platform) either. Use one calendar to cover them all.
  • Use your editorial calendar as a guide to schedule posts ahead of time, in bulk. This can be a huge time-saver and make publishing social media content less of a hassle.
  • Create a file to store all of your links and notes for content resources. When you need to post timely, relevant content for your audience to enjoy, you shouldn’t have to waste time searching for it.
  • Use an RSS reader to stay on top of the latest news and content from multiple blogs.
  • Create a folder to house images for an entire campaign. Let’s say you’re implementing a campaign across several different platforms. Creating the campaign images ahead of time and keeping them organized in a single folder can work wonders for your efficiency.
  • Create a uniform identity across all of your social media networks. This means branding with the same or similar handle/username and using the same logo and colors on all your accounts to ensure that you are easily recognizable (and memorable). Likewise, it’s important to have the same professional profile image across all of your platforms. This give you a single, credible identity.
  • Use a social media aggregator, such as HootSuite or TweetDeck to see content from your social media feeds in a single place rather than going from site to site to see the latest activity.
  • Create a social media folder for your email. Keep your social media notifications, promotion information, comments, content others send to you to share, etc. in this folder to ensure that the information is right at your fingertips when you need it.

Appreciate Your Social Media Tools and Resources

How you care for your belongings is also important with the KonMari Method. In keeping with this system, take the time to back up your files and maintain your blogs, websites, and social media accounts with up-to-date information.

We can all use a little KonMari in our social media. It's a system that makes simplicity and joy paramount. Use it to get your social media organized and keep it that way.

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Topics: Social Media Marketing

7 Common Content Marketing Mistakes

Posted by Sharon Hurley Hall on Jul 9, 2015 8:00:00 AM

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Promoting your business with content is an excellent strategy for raising awareness of your brand and getting your customers' attention. But some businesses don't get the benefits they should, because of easily avoidable errors. Here are some common content marketing mistakes you should avoid.

#1 No Strategy

Believe it or not, some companies approach content marketing piecemeal and don't have a strategic game plan. Newsflash! No matter how much content marketing you are doing and how many pieces of the puzzle you have in place, you won't get the benefit unless you know:

  • What you want to achieve with content marketing

  • How content marketing fits into your overall business strategy

That's why the starting point for content marketing is working out how content can serve your key business goals. Only then can you start to work out who your audience is and what types of content will suit them best.

#2 No USP

As part of your strategy, think about what you bring to the table that's completely new - your unique selling point or sales proposition (USP). Identify yours and you have a focus for your content marketing strategy. Think about the problem you set up your business to solve and how your approach is different from that of your competitors.  

#3 A Blog is Enough

Similarly, some businesses buy into the "blog it and they will come" myth. In other words, if you have a company blog, that means you have a complete content marketing strategy. It's true that companies that blog get better web traffic, leads and ROI, but they still need to be strategic to be successful.

How can you use your blog strategically? Here are a few ideas:

  • Think of the questions your customers usually ask and answer them on the blog.

  • Repurpose your blog content for different media, creating everything from podcasts to presentations.

  • Share and discuss your blog content anywhere your customers are likely to hang out (forums, social media sites and more).

Do this, and your blog will fulfill its potential and start to work to market your business.

#4 You're Only Broadcasting

We get it - it can be hard to move out of the old marketing mindset, where you created information and sent it out, without getting much back. But those days are gone and your audience expects to interact with you. Broadcasting is out; communication is in.

Instead of making it all about you, include discussion starters for social media sites in your content marketing plan. Take part in Twitter chats. Create some images for Pinterest and Instagram and get to know the value of hashtags. Do some social listening to figure out what your customers really want instead of what you think they want. Put it all together by being responsive - it will transform your business (in a good way!)

#5 No Personality

You business may not interest everyone, but that doesn't mean it has to be boring. Stuffy corporate voices are offputting and unrelatable, but find the spark you can focus on and you can make your content marketing truly special. Don't believe me? General Electric has got creative in showcasing its business, and shipping company Maersk has made a big splash (not literally) on social media. Somehow, those companies have found the fun which helps them connect with customers. You can too.

#6 You're Not Mobile

When was the last time you checked your content to see how it looked on mobile devices? There are more people using mobile devices than desktop computers, so you can't ignore this sector. And with Google's April 2015 mobile algorithm update, mobile friendliness has become an SEO ranking signal for mobile devices users. In other words, if your content isn't mobile-friendly, people may not even be able to find it. Find out how to integrate mobile into your marketing mix here.

#7 It's an Afterthought

Finally, one of the biggest content marketing mistakes there is, is to make it an afterthought. You'd be surprised how many people create a strategy but don't take the time or allocate the resources to execute it so they get real ROI. The right content allows your customers to see you as an expert with a human personality rather than a faceless company. That's even more important as millennials become a more influential consumer segment.

Don't make these mistakes. If you need help with your creating and delivering a content marketing strategy, get in touch with the Crackerjack Marketing team.


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Topics: content & inbound marketing

How User-Generated Content Can Tell Your Brand Story

Posted by Christina Strickland on Jun 18, 2015 7:37:00 AM

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Your brand story is so much more than a collection of facts about your business. It’s even much more than how you feel about your company and what makes it tick. It’s a unique, complex combination of the facts about your brand blended with the emotions your brand stimulates in its customers. Essentially, it’s a human-to-human representation of your business.

As a business owner, you work to create a compelling brand story that speaks to the heart and soul of your business—your customers. And what better way to create a compelling story than by having your customers tell it for you? Think about it. Brand evangelists can be a marketer’s best friend. You spend time liking their photos and positive comments about your brand or product, but you could use their content for so much more.

Share UGR Content

When your customers post photos or videos of themselves using your products or services, don’t just like their content. Share it far and wide. These are the people that are living the lifestyle your brand represents, and they are the perfect people to tell your brand story visually.

People love the opportunity to genuinely engage with a brand. What’s more flattering than having your favorite brand re-share your photo or comment to its community?  This can often lead to inspiring more people to post their own pictures, and you might be surprised at how good they are. 

Burberry did this well with its Art of Trench website, but you can do this with just about any business. It can be as simple as sharing user-generated content across your social media sites or as focused as building a website designed just for this type of sharing.

Don’t forget to share positive comments, too. If your customers are tweeting praises about your brand, a thank you and a re-tweet can go a long way.

Create UGR Contests

When done well, contests are a great way to get customers and prospects engaged and keep your brand on their minds. Create a contest with an amazing prize and make the entry user-generated content. For example, you might have them submit videos or photo collages that demonstrate how they use your products and what your products mean to them. You can share the submissions via social media and even incorporate them into your marketing campaigns.

Chobani, the Greek yogurt brand, managed to increase its revenues by more than 200 percent by running a contest that asked customers to tell their personal stories about eating the brand’s yogurt.

Build Emotional Connections With Personal Stories

Remember, it’s not only about videos and photos (though visuals are always helpful online). Your target audience can be won over by your customer’s personal stories. Personal stories help create a shared experience, stimulate customers to get involved and interact, and help create an emotional connection to your brand.

Don’t Forget the Reviews

Good feedback naturally helps sell your product. Many people who shop online read reviews before they click to buy. However, that’s not the only way reviews can help you. Take the time to read them and use them as constructive feedback. Take what you identify as most important to your customers (from their reviews) and use it in your next marketing campaign.

How important are reviews? Consider this: In a survey by Dimensional Research, almost 90 percent of those polled said online reviews influenced their purchasing choices.

Let Your Customers Do the Selling

How better to sell your product than with words, photos, or other creatives directly from your customers? Adding user-generated content to your product pages is an excellent way to give your customers and prospects a break from the norm and showcase what people who are actually buying from you think of what you have to offer.

It makes sense to let your customers tell your brand story. It’s the most genuine and authentic story that could be told. Put user-generated content to work for you.


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Topics: content & inbound marketing