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Got content?

It’s time to stop pretending that your content is achieving results because it’s AWESOME, and start listening.

First listen to the business; figure out what it needs to say, and who it needs to talk to. Listen to your intended audience, find out where they are and what they’re already talking about. The very best content campaigns are designed to move seamlessly into existing conversations, so you need to know what these conversations are before you get creative.

There are dozens of applications designed precisely for this purpose, from Radian 6 and Simply Measured, to BuzzNumbers and Sprout Social, not to mention the backend social analytics systems Facebook, Twitter and Google offer. You can track all kinds of behaviours from the number of return website visitors, to positive brand mentions online. You can measure net promoter scores, customer satisfaction rates, leads and sales, visitors, subscribers, inquiries and closed deals. Most importantly you can increasingly follow conversations to find out what people are saying, as well as knowing where they’re saying it.

It’s always worth taking the time to get to know your audience; who they are, where they are and what they’re saying. This data provides you with the base to measure your progress and evaluate your success, and empowers you develop content with a clear purpose with results you can track. If you want your content approach to stand the test of time you need to ensure it’s backed up with a strong audience-focused strategy that can be measured and reported on.

And it’s not enough anymore to talk about hits and eyeballs – if your audience isn’t engaging, your content is missing the mark.

People used to sit in front of the TV and read the newspaper when it was the only option. It was a passive kind of content consumption where people expected to be entertained, with humour, shock or excellent storytelling – but they never expected to talk back. When these same people go online they expect something slightly different; they want to be involved and informed. No one really goes online to sit back and laugh at your ad, they want to lean in, enjoy the content, and then comment or share it with others.

Traditional media is about ‘leaning back’ and passively receiving information and entertainment, new media is about ‘leaning in’ and actively engaging with content, which brings us back to the importance of listening. Content is no longer broadcast – it’s conversational and iterative – and needs to have feedback integrated into the creative process; listen, create, repeat – and you won’t go wrong.

 

 

 

 

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Content Development on Twitter

Compelling content will help you attract new followers and keep them engaged over time. There’s no right or wrong number of times you should Tweet each day, or when. Instead, focus on creating a regular cadence of content that’s relevant to your target audience and authentic to your business.

Need some inspiration? Here are five best practices to help you create Tweets that spark conversations and keep your audience engaged.

Keep it short

A concise Tweet makes an impact. Keep each Tweet focused on one specific message rather than trying to communicate multiple things. You can include a link to a blog post or website if you have a longer message to convey.

Use visuals in your Tweets

Adding a bold image, video, or GIF to your Tweets adds a touch of personality, and leads to higher Tweet engagement rates. In fact, people are three times more likely to engage with Tweets that contain videos and photos.* Can’t decide which photo to use? You can attach up to four photos to a single Tweet.

Incorporate relevant hashtags

Hashtags are a powerful tool that allow you to expand your reach and tap into relevant conversations. Focus on keywords that are relevant to your business. Best practices recommend using no more than 2 hashtags per Tweet.

One simple way to incorporate hashtags is by identifying popular events to which you can link your business in an authentic way. Remember, these can be everyday, personal events like meals or commutes, as well as wider cultural events, like Valentine’s Day or Chinese New Year.

Ask questions and run polls

Asking questions is an effective way to interact with your audience, bring readers into the conversation, and understand people’s opinions. Tweet open-ended questions or use Twitter polls to survey on specific responses.

Curate and connect with Retweets and replies

Retweeting relevant content and replying to Tweets are great ways to maintain a robust Twitter presence. Positive customer feedback, helpful articles, and messages that align with your business’s authentic voice are all impactful content to Retweet. When in doubt, remember this rule of thumb: your Retweets reflect back on your business and should align with your purpose and values.

People love to talk to businesses directly on Twitter. Be responsive to any questions, comments, and criticisms that come your way. To avoid long exchanges, switch to Direct Messages to resolve any complex issues. You can now include a deep link in a Tweet that displays a ‘Send a private message’ call-to-action button to enable customers to send you a Direct Message.

Your Sister in Success,

Philisha Mack

 

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Content Santa Is Here

 

There are more than 2 billion children on this planet. For North Pole dwellers both tall and short, this means one thing: filling every stocking is a tall task to accomplish in one night. According to some basic math, Santa Claus himself would have to visit more than 132 million homes on Christmas Eve, crossing 24 time zones and 135 million land miles to deliver toys to every child. Beyond figuring out how to make room for milk and cookies at every house, there’s one major hurdle big enough to puzzle St. Nick: How does he know exactly what every child wants?

As content marketers, we can relate. With more than 27 million pieces of content being shared on a daily basis and an estimated $18 billion spent on content marketing last year, our industry too is tasked with reaching and pleasing audiences across the world with varying tastes. Between understanding consumer demand, scaling globally and pleasing audiences, there are some serious areas of overlap between content marketers and Santa himself. In fact, we might stand to learn a thing or two from the man’s holiday approach all year round.

With Christmas just around the corner, take these lessons from Santa’s workshop to heart in the New Year.

The world is your market

Crossing borders and expanding to new territories is no big deal for Father Christmas, as long as he understands what toys are right for different children. Santa knows the importance of understanding every audience’s demands — and he does so in spades.

Whether or not your brand has offices around the globe, you can’t afford to neglect consumers outside your main hub of operation. After all, 95 percent of the world’s consumers are outside of the U.S. While it might seem daunting, scaling your content-marketing program internationally starts with understanding consumer demand: what they want and need in each market. The best way to this is by testing, frequently and carefully. Push out different forms of media to your audiences both locally and around the world, and make sure you’re measuring success and gathering a pool of data to evaluate. From there, you can focus on the nuances, and diversify your strategy for varying markets. But don’t drain resources trying every tactic in the book. Focus on what works well for each market and stick to it. As market demand fluctuates at differing rates, keeping tabs on what consumers want — and how it changes — is crucial for your bottom line.

The modern Christmas list has arrived

While many children still send wish lists to Santa, the days of handwritten correspondence are long gone. My kids now email their Christmas lists to the North Pole, and I wouldn’t put it past them to send a tweet or two from their mobile phones with some gift suggestions. We live in an omni-channel world, where knowledge is shared across devices, social channels and personal networks — and that affects how content marketers, including Santa, understand demand.

For your brand, today’s multi-channel reality means one thing: more opportunities to engage. Ninety percent of multiple device owners switch screens to complete tasks, so if your marketing strategy doesn’t cover all bases, you’re undoubtedly missing out. From an international standpoint, monitoring channels becomes even more important. Many countries, like China, boast more mobile users than PC users, so your content-marketing strategy should naturally shift to favor mobile. Twitter offers precious glimpses into how conversations vary by community and country: Millennial interests might contrast older generations, and consumers in different regions of the world may discuss region-specific events or pop culture topics. Look at how Taco Bell chimes into local discussions on Twitter or how Starbucks’ mobile app engages customers via SMS. Big or small, your brand’s content marketing approach must leverage all opportunities to connect with consumers, no matter the channel.

Christmas wasn’t built in a day

Everyone knows that Christmas Eve is Santa’s night to shine. But what we often forget is how much planning and strategy go into making that night a major success. Santa takes an entire year to perfect his strategy, and, as marketers, we could use the reminder: a good campaign takes serious planning. A solid content-marketing strategy takes time to develop, especially if you’re taking time to evaluate performance along the way (which you should be).

Even more, as campaigns build and strategies come to fruition, things can change — it’s only natural. After all, no kid knows what they want for Christmas in January, right? Being willing to reinvent yourself, make adjustments and try new ideas is the key to longevity in content marketing. Consumer demand can — and will — change with seasons, big events and holidays, so being nimble enough to absorb new directions will prove a boon for your brand’s ability to connect with consumers.

No matter your company’s size or reach, you’ve got just as many consumers to delight as Santa — and if he can do it, so can we. With the holidays in full swing, understanding consumer demand for all audiences is more important than ever. If we can learn to engage our consumers like Santa has perfected, we’ll be well on our way to major content marketing success.

Your Sister in Success,

Philisha Mack

 

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Gratitude and Business

Truth is, without gratitude, we would have no sustained growth. Short bursts of success often fire up with no gratitude attached, but they fail in time from an absence of good values at the foundation. Without gratitude, core teams fall away, culture diminishes and becomes stagnated and undesirable, innovation ceases and followers unfollow. Through history, we’ve seen shallow-seeded greatness fall for the lack of gratitude and respect time and time again. For teams to thrive, for people to connect and for the mind to be open to learning, we must practice and show thankfulness. Our business and personal lives collide, like it or not, and one affects the other. The ability to be grateful is key to life balance and happiness, and this transcends into business. If you haven’t considered the value of gratitude in your day-to-day I encourage you to give it some thought.

Gratitude is at the core of vital principles needed for effective personal and business growth. Many are gracious people, some more than others, and show appreciation often. It’s just that gratitude isn’t top of mind as the engine that powers positive career and life development. If we gave it more thought and made it a practice to show gratitude in the workplace and life in general, I would contend that the benefit would reach from head to heart to pocketbook to the foundation we stand upon.

When your heart is full of gratitude and you put forth effort to show your gratitude, a few really great things happen:

  • You feel absolutely awesome.
  • When someone knows you are genuinely thankful for them, they feel absolutely awesome.
  • When appreciation is shown to people or teams, they are motivated to do more of the same thing that created gratitude in the first place.
  • You will feel inspired to grow, reach and do.
  • You begin to become keenly aware of other things to be gracious for.
  • You feel and show respect for purpose, people and position.

All of these things have a positive reciprocal effect on others, you, business and life. Good makes good. Yes, being grateful typically falls into Zen teaching and not so much business education. Times are changing, business is personal and happiness is serious business. If we learn to tap into the values that create good, solid people and bring a sense of life balance and happiness to work, we’ll see business success follow. By showing gratitude, you encourage others to do the same. Go ahead, it’s easy; show thanks for someone or something today and watch what happens.

Your Sister in Success,

Philisha Mack