How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy across Paid, Earned and Owned Media

To effectively market your content, you must have a strategy that includes the use of paid, earned and owned media. Bombarding your target audience with only paid advertising or relying solely on your owned media such as your website or social media to spread the word creates major blind spots in your overall marketing plan. It also leaves a lot of missed opportunities on the table where you could have reached a broader audience if you had spread your efforts out into all three types of media.Promotion Plan

Before you can sit down and build content marketing strategies using paid, earned and owned media, you must first understand the differences among the three. Let’s take a closer look at what each type of media brings to your marketing strategy.

Paid Media

Most obviously, you can purchase advertising through almost every social media platform. Facebook provides the ability to create highly-targeted ads that appear either in users’ newsfeeds or on the sidebar. You can also promote your tweets or buy clicks on StumbleUpon or Reddit. Carefully consider your target audience and the type of social media that they are most likely to use.

Aside from social media, you might choose to use Google AdWords to boost your SEO or pay for placement on another website or blog. Using all of these tactics can be quite costly to implement. Determine your budget for this piece of your marketing strategy and do you research on what form of paid media will give you the highest ROI.

Earned Media

Out of the three categories, earned media can be the trickiest piece to implement successfully. The simplest reason for this is because you are really not in control. You are asking for other people to share your content because they find it to be of value, but you are not paying them to do so.

Some options for earned media include submitting your content as a guest contributor to a blog or website that’s relevant to your target audience. You should also share the content multiple times and in various ways on social media (sites like StumbleUpon, Reddit, Linkedin and Pinterest are especially effective) encouraging readers to share with their networks. You can also attempt to spark discussion (and sharing) in Linkedin groups. You can also pitch your article to a blogger or professional writer who may be interested in featuring a review or op-ed piece of the article.

Owned Media

Finally and most obviously is promoting your content on the media that you already own and control. This includes your social media, email lists, website and blog to name just a few common assets. This is low hanging fruit that you should always take advantage of as part of your ongoing marketing strategy.

For example, if you publish an article, create a home for this content on your website and publish it on your blog. Then promote these links on your social media accounts (for Linkedin you may consider publishing the entire article on your profile as well). Finally, incorporate some of the content of this article into an email blast to your lists to offer valuable and relevant information tailored to what is likely to interest them. By consistently marketing your content across owned media, you will maximize its impact and fuel your website and social media with fresh, high-quality content that will increase your SEO.

Now that you have a better understanding of the different ways you can promote your content across paid, earned and owned media, now is the time to get started creating your own diverse strategy that uses a little bit of each. Most importantly, remember that even the best marketing strategy still needs high quality content in order to be successful. Provide valuable information and give your readers every opportunity to find it!

How have you build an effective media campaign including paid, earned and owned media? Share your experience by commenting below!

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Filed under Branding, Business Strategy, Marketing, Pinterest, PPC, Reddit, Sales, Search Engine Marketing, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media, Twitter

How to Profit from Content Writing in 2015 (What’s Changed?)

Content writing is an ever changing, rapidly expanding profession. How do you profit midst the competition and changes? Influenced by search engine optimization and an audience which has become used to accessing large volumes of content on an instant basis, the content writing market will continue to evolve in 2015. Understanding what makes content useful for customers will help one to profit, additionally knowing technological changes will allow a content writer to adapt to these changes and become more marketable.money

Quality Opposed to Quantity

Today content marketing is about writing high-quality informative pieces. With a seemingly unlimited number of sources and endless possibilities for information persons, searching the internet are looking for something useful, informative, and of a high-quality. Gone are the days where the sheer amount of content written with the right amount of keywords alone would drive someone to your site, or service. In today’s market, it is about finding a balance between a solid body of content of high quality and quantity. Content writers as such should shift focus from how much they write to the overall quality of writing. Offering one or two high-quality pieces will further add to a portfolio while at the same time will result in a customer receiving higher benefits than four or five lower quality pieces.

Target Audience: Personal as Opposed to Mechanical

Once upon a time search engines only looked for key words. Content was used to drive people to your website and built solely around a select number of words that the search engines would be able to find. As search engines have evolved, so has the content needed to achieve the same results. In today’s market with ongoing development and sophistication of algorithms that search engines employ, writing with an audience in mind is essential. Experts mainly agree that as search engine optimization changes into 2015 content writing will need to continue to become aimed at the audience as opposed to the list of keywords used historically.  Writing informative informational content with the reader in mind will help guide search engines to the content being created.

Link to Social Media

Ignoring social media would be akin to writing and not hitting spell check.  Social media has an influence on not only search engine results but also is a viable way for a content writer to network, and expand writing into new markets. Often persons hiring a content writer also may need someone to manage social media accounts, by offering your social media as an example you can and will find writing work managing others social media accounts. When it comes to driving search engine results to your site social media is essential to increase ratings. As content is shared, tagged, and liked on social media search engine results are increased.  Social media will continue to drive the content market in 2015 as sites such as Facebook integrate search features, and in app searching becomes used more and more often.

Consistency and Themes

When writing a blog focusing on one or two themes is essential for not only the search engines but also to build an audience. When you are a trusted source for consistent information on a single theme, your blog is visited more often, and you build a customer and audience base. When you shift topics or themes, your audience loses interest or finds you less organized decreasing returning visits.

Staying Up To Date

Content writers in 2015 will need to continue to be aware of mobile optimization and app writing. As more and more apps are created writing for these apps evolves. Reading and searching on a cell phone screen appears different than a computer monitor. When using voice search on mobile devices a person interacts more personally than a traditional web search. Finally, being aware of how users will read your content can help you to create the high-quality, user-friendly, informative pieces necessary. Large words, or sentences often will not translate well onto mobile devices. Being aware of technological changes and how your content will be viewed becomes more and more essential in 2015.  ~Jenny

Do you think content writing will be more or less profitable in 2015? Why or why not?

Other Articles:

Making a Living Writing Website Content

How do I Become a Writer?

Ten Organizations for Women with Careers in Writing

 

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Filed under Resumes, Web Writers, Writing Careers

Twitter’s 6 Distinct Communication Networks and How to Utilize Them

While Twitter is considered a social media network, many people think of it as another version of Facebook, simply a place to “follow” people and “like” things. However, Twitter is becoming more useful for information, news, business, and politics. Twitter is definitely more than “just another Facebook,” as people are starting to use it in political fields, to get a specific message out to followers, as a means of networking, and as a way for businesses to reach out to and communicate with their customers.

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Graph courtesy of Pew Research

As a whole, Twitter is one large social media network. However, it can be broken down into six different communication networks, each with a specific purpose. Many people can easily fit into multiple categories, as the communication networks are so diverse. According to Pew Research, they break down into six separate networks that require a bit of explanation: divided, unified, fragmented, clustered, in-hub and spoke, and out-hub and spoke.

  1. Divided or Polarized Crowds: This communication network breaks down to two large groups, typically made up for different opinions or opposing viewpoints. Usually, group members of the divided communication network focus on topics such as politics that operate with separate “echo chamber” structures. More often than not, these “polarized crowds” function not by arguing, but by simply ignoring one another. In terms of politics, the best way to utilize the divided communication network is as a sort of platform. While their communication network is not a close reflection of the whole U.S. population, they are able to reach out to their followers (and occasionally their opposition) by use of hashtags within their tweets.
  2. Unified or Tight Crowds: This communication network is made up for two to six medium-sized groups. The unified communication network focuses more on hobbies and professional topics, with little to no involvement from outsiders. The participants in the tight crowds are much more interactive with each other and often encourage the introduction of new members. They follow one another (and frequently encourage their followers to follow others in their groups) and interact more with one another than those in the divided communication network. The best way to utilize the tight crowds of the unified communication network (whichever group you may be involved in) is simply to be active. Tweet using hashtags, respond to tweets, and follow people within the network.
  3. Fragmented or Brand Clusters: The fragmented communication network is made up of many small groups, focusing on brands, popular subjects, or big events. When topics this large are tweeted about, the groups involved are large but the participants in the groups are much more isolated from one another. For example, if two Twitter users mention the same even or celebrity, it’s likely that they have no other connection to one another. The utilization of this network is simply the passage of ideas from one person to another, with very little connection otherwise.
  4. Clustered or Community Clusters: The clustered communication network is made up of many small or medium-sized groups and circulates around larger events. A good example of community clusters is a global news story being reported by any of the major news stations. Each news station has their own followers; those followers make up the community clusters specific to each news station. It’s similar with the more sensationalized celebrity news, radio stations, and even sports teams. Each has a specific version of the message to get across, but the followers of each can be broken into separate, clustered groups of followers.
  5. In-Hub and Spoke or Broadcast Networks: The in-hub and spoke communication network is often made up of one large group and some secondary groups. This communication network is largely based on repeating and retweeting what is posted by media organizations and news stations. The “hub and spoke” structure is the media or news outlets (the hub) that originally posts the information or content and the followers (the spokes) who retweet the messages to their followers. The majority of the utilization and involvement in this communication network is from the spoke angle, those who repeat the message given out by the hubs.
  6. Out-hub and Spoke or Support Networks: Similar to broadcast networks, support networks are made up of one large group and other secondary groups. In support networks, however, the hub replies to the spokes, creating the opposite hub-and-spoke structure of the broadcast networks. In both networks, the spokes are the very disconnected secondary groups, while the hubs are the large groups. A good example of support networks are the customer service departments of some major businesses.

By first deciding how you want others to perceive you on social media, you begin to identify which communication network(s) you will likely become a part of. Any one person can be involved in more than one network, but it depends on how you want to use your profile—some become active to get information about politics, some view it as the news at their fingertips, some use it to get more involved with causes they believe in, other use it to connect with people than share their interest. By deciding your profile early and utilizing the communication networks you are part of, you set the tone for any future connections. ~Holly

 

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Create Better Content for SlideShare

SlideShare has become a key distribution channel and a powerful content marketing tool – and businesses worldwide have taken note! With its 60 million monthly unique visitors and 215 million page views, SlideShare has launched into the top 120 most-visited websites in the world. It’s also now the world’s largest community for sharing presentations and other professional content.Content for Slide Share

What this means for content marketers or any business who wishes to enhance their marketing efforts, is that SlideShare could be a relevant tool to incorporate as part of your strategy. However, just like any other content you share on the web, it must provide value and insight to your viewers in order to really have an impact. Let’s take a look at 7 different ways you can create a quality SlideShare presentation and effectively market it to their vast audience and to your own target audience.

  1. Understand the difference between SlideShare and PowerPoint

Foremost, it’s important to understand the differences that exist between SlideShare and PowerPoint. With a PowerPoint presentation, you are often in the room with your audience, giving a speech along with your PowerPoint slides. This is why your slides don’t have to (and shouldn’t) convey every small point to your audience. You are doing this verbally.

For a SlideShare presentation that’s standing alone out on the web, you don’t have the benefit of being in the same room as your audience explaining or clarifying those details. These essential differences mean that your SlideShare presentation needs to communicate a complete message that can stand alone and doesn’t need anyone else there to explain to the viewer what they are looking at.

  1. Choose large and appealing graphics

Unless you want to bore your audience to death with page after page of white slides filled with content, you will want to put a special effort into making your presentation visually appealing with graphics and colors. Choose large and vibrant images that complement your text. Or consider inserting some infographics and video clips to convey your main points through different types of media.

  1. Appeal to a broad audience

Once you upload your SlideShare file to their vast community of users, it’s floating freely in the world where anyone can click and view your materials. For this reason, you want to make sure your content is written in such a way that is appeals to a broad audience and can be easily understood by people of various backgrounds and education levels. Anything that is too technical or lacking important details won’t resonate with the larger audience.

  1. Use font size and style to highlight important points

Since SlideShare is designed to be a standalone marketing tool, you won’t have your voice or hand gestures to emphasize the most important ideas to your audience. You can still achieve this by using different sizes and styles of font to highlight what you want people to remember. A bold, larger font from all the rest will be seen as a heading or a main point and will alert viewers that this is something they should note. Using different sizes and styles of font will also to create an aesthetically appealing presentation with visual interest.

  1. Make the information easy to digest

At some point in our life we can all remember have to read a terribly boring text book or article that is filled with endless paragraphs of black font on white paper. Without even headings or chapters to break up the ideas, it felt like one big blob of words. Chances are you tuned out before you really absorbed the main points. Avoid falling into this pitfall with your SlideShare content but separating your ideas into small, easily digestible bites and spreading them out over different slides. It’s better to have more slides with less content per slide than the opposite.

  1. Turn it into a PDF

Once you’ve put the final touches on your SlideShare, you’ll want to publish it in a format that gives viewers a high quality version and is compatible across many platforms. A PDF is the most recommended way to achieve this. The PDF will lock in your style and formatting so that your SlideShare looks the same to all viewers regardless of how they are accessing the content.

  1. Harness the power of SEO

Finally and most importantly, keep search engine optimization (SEO) top of mind when you are selecting the topics and content to include within your SlideShare. Because this content is hosted on the web and accessible to a vast audience, SEO plays an important role in how your SlideShare will get found. Research all the keyword options for your topic and focus on the ones that are most popular or most frequently searched.

What other tips and tricks do you have for creating better content for SlideShare? Share your ideas by commenting below!

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Filed under Brochures, Content, Infographics & Memes, Self-Publishing

What Are the Projected Benefits and Drawbacks to the New Google Penguin Update?

This October will be the one year anniversary since the release of the fifth update to Google’s Penguin algorithm. In case you’re not already familiar with Penguin, this update was created to improve Google’s ability to catch websites that were spamming its search results. For example, websites that buy links or obtain them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings.Penguin Update

The reason why so many websites are anxiously awaiting this update is because when a new Penguin update is released, sites that have taken action to remove bad links may regain some of their rankings. For any business that heavily relies upon web traffic and SEO to draw in customers, this can be the difference between success and failure.

So what can we expect from Penguin 3.0 and will this update offer a substantial improvement over the last version? Here are a few highlights as to what the experts are saying.

The Benefits

Penguin 3.0 is expected to make major changes to the algorithm with the main goal being to make it capable of running more frequently so that those whose websites were impacted wouldn’t have to wait so long to see a refresh. Cue sighs of relief from businesses everywhere.

Google has admitted to the fact that their current algorithms don’t reflect webmasters efforts to clean up the issues that caused them to be penalized by Penguin in a reasonable time. It’s expected that the new update will attempt to resolve this issue. With Penguin 3.0, Google claims that websites that have “sanitized” their backlink profile and replaced spam links with real links will finally see a lift in SERPs.

The Drawbacks

While this update will certainly have its benefits, it also brings several drawbacks and concerns of which you should be aware. Just as previous updates jarring and jolting to thousands upon thousands of websites, we should expect the changes associated with this new update to be just as significant. If you’ve taken the effort to clean up your bad links, this is good news, but if you have not, this could mean even more penalties and negative impact on your SEO. Additionally, over the past year Google has been working on improving their ability to catch “spammy” link and many that may have flown below the radar of the last Penguin update are once again at risk of getting caught.

One final concern to keep in mind is even if your own website doesn’t get caught in the Penguin filter, other “spammy” websites can still negatively impact your SEO by linking to your website. Google’s official position on negative SEO is that “Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages.” Essentially, it’s on you to resolve this issue with the other website, which can be no easy task. Worse yet, you may not even know these links back to your website exist until it’s already hurt your SEO.

How to Bounce Back From Penguin 3.0

If your site has been hit by Penguin, you should immediately perform a link audit to be sure that each and every backlink in your profile conforms to Google Webmaster Guidelines. It’s a small price to pay now compared to getting caught by the new Penguin update. If you do, you may need to wait another year before until a new update provides a chance to recover.

Additionally, if your site hasn’t been hit by a past Penguin update, you are still not safe. If you have any “spammy” links in your profile, remove them now. If you have done any automated link-building or hired shady, offshore link-building services, you are likely at. Non-penalized sites should still perform a thorough link audit to be safe. Failing to do so will make you the next website anxiously awaiting a Penguin refresh.

Once you have sanitized your backlink profile, it is time to permanently end the bad practices that may worked well in the past, but represent risk, today. Instead, focus on post-penalty marketing activities that conform to Webmaster Guidelines.

Just because you are under penalty, doesn’t mean that you have to wait for a Penguin rerun to get organic traffic. In addition to replacing the bad links with good ones, you should spend time and resources on generating traffic that does not require Google organic search- possibly through creative marketing services.

The final takeaway is that every single website should perform a link audit on their website. If you have any bad links, now is the time to correct them – before Penguin 3.0 is unveiled. Furthermore, end the bad practices with spam links one and for all and conform to webmaster guidelines. Also focus some of your marketing efforts on various other tactics that do not involve Google organic search just to be safe. Finally, keep a keen eye on other websites that link back to yours to ensure they are not negatively impacting your SEO. ~Stephanie

What are you most looking forward to or are worried about when it comes to Google’s Penguin 3.0? Share your thought and insights by commenting below!

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Filed under Algorithms, Penguin, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

The Process of Switching to Https – Why? When? And How?

Ever since Google made the announcement that secure webpages would be given a small SEO boost businesses are beginning to upgrade from HTTP to HTTPS. But what do these letters even mean and why should you want to make the switch? Let’s first start with a brief background on the difference between the two.https

“HTTP” is an acronym for “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol” and this is the format that the vast majority of websites use for their protocol. “HTTPS” stands for “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure.”  This means that information exchanged between the user and a HTTPS web site is encrypted and cannot be hijacked to allow someone to electronically eavesdrop on the information the user provides, such as credit card numbers, passwords, or social security numbers.

This “secure” element becomes most important for ecommerce websites, but nearly all businesses can find several good reasons to also make the switch and provide a more secure online environment for their users.

Why?

On August 6, 2014, Google published on their Webmaster Central Blog that HTTPS will now be considered as a ranking signal as an effort to increase internet safety and reward websites that use HTTPS. It’s important to note that this will be a “lightweight signal” that will affect less than 1 percent of global queries. Google has indicated that, in the future, this signal’s ranking weight will increase.

Additionally, HTTPS will allow more people to access your site from various locations. Many businesses have installed firewalls blocking employees from viewing non-HTTPS sites as precautionary measures. Your blog in HTTP might be blocked from office internet, creating a roadblock between you and your readers.

Now that Internet users are becoming more aware of the meanings of HTTPS and the lock symbols on websites, more trust is being placed in websites with this level of security. Users feel more confident when they see HTTPS on your domain. It builds trust and security not only with your website, but with your entire brand.

When?

Now that the longstanding fear that the switch would hurt your SEO rankings has been addressed by Google, there’s really been no better time to jump on the bandwagon to make the switch.

Users are informed and aware of the difference between the two and appreciate the added security. Even if the SEO ranking signal is modest, there is still an added benefit to making the switch. The answer to “when” is the sooner the better! While the process for how to do so can be a bit more technical, it’s not any more complex than the effort it took to first develop your site or update it.

How?

First and foremost, you will need to buy a Secure Socket Layer Encryption (SSL) Certificate and have it installed on your website. According to Verisign, a provider of Internet infrastructure services, SSL is a technology that enables encryption of sensitive information during online transactions. Each SSL Certificate contains unique, authenticated information about the certificate owner. A certificate authority then verifies the identity of the certificate owner when it is issued.

All links on your webpages will have to link to the HTTPS area or your website will have a caution sign instead of a green closed lock. If you are using a content management system (CMS), all of the dynamic links created by the CMS will adjust accordingly. Links created by the user (ones that are copy and pasted from somewhere else) will need to be manually updated. Finally, if you use any libraries from other websites (such as for hosting your graphics or logos), you will need to ensure that these are linked from an HTTPS link as well to ensure the green closed lock –  a sign of a fully secure site.

A note of caution: a website that uses SSL encryption does not safeguard users from phishing and other schemes.  When visiting websites that accept financial information online, it is always smart to make sure the online company is legitimate, has a good reputation in customer service and uses SSL encryption in their transactions.

Have you made the switch to Https? Share your insights and experience by commenting below!

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Filed under Algorithms, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

5 Tips for Creating a Killer Twitter Bio

Twitter is a complex social media platform that pushes out content faster than the blink of an eye (or the flap of a wing). This is where you can connect with anyone from your neighbor down the street to a celebrity across the globe. To be able to standout in such a large network, you must first begin with a profile that grabs people’s attention and makes them want to connect with you.Twitter bio

While a Twitter profile is fairly simple and straightforward, people often miss out on this valuable opportunity to enhance their brand images by representing their skills and interests. Let’s take a look at five tips for creating a creative and quality twitter profile to make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of content.

  1. Make the Most of 160 Characters

Your Twitter profile allows for just 160 characters of content. Although this is a “generous” 20 characters more than what you are allowed in a tweet, it is still and incredibly short amount of space into which you must cram everything that makes you special. The key is to strategically pick what aspects of your brand you wish to highlight.

Think of the qualities that will most appeal to the people you are trying to connect with. Is it your job title, an accomplishment like publishing a book or some snarky humor that will draw in target followers? Choose 1-3 of the most powerful aspects of your brand and make these the forefront of your Twitter profile content. All the rest of the stuff people can find by clicking on the link to your website or blog (more on that later).

  1. Pick Your Voice

You can go several directions with the voice of your Twitter profile. Do you want it to be first person or third person? Do you want to sound professional or personable? Think about what is going to represent you most accurately and speak to your target audience. The voice of your Twitter profile will set the tone for your conversations moving forward.

  1. Get Personal with Interests, Hobbies or Humor

Once you’ve listed your job and accomplishments, be sure to save (even just a little bit of) room for your interests, hobbies and personality. What do you do outside of work? Maybe this is a mention of your favorite physical activity, type of food or a shout out to your family. Use this final sentence as a way to define yourself by more than just your job title.

  1. Incorporate #Hashtags

Include hashtags in your Twitter profile, especially ones that you use often. Maybe this is your own unique hashtag that helps store, say, all of your motivational quotes in one stream. Or maybe you list a few popular hashtags that reflect your hobbies and interests. Limit these to just several of the most relevant topics that define your brand.

  1. Include a Link

Finally, be sure to take advantage of including a link in your Twitter profile. What should this link to? It depends! It could be your website, blog, Linkedin profile or other social media profile. What do you use most often and where do you want to direct people to learn more about you? No matter what link you choose to use, be sure that it is active and that it leads to updated and professional content that will leave a good first impression with your Twitter followers.

What other strategies have you found to be effective when creating a Twitter profile? Share your insights by commenting below!

~Stephanie

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Filed under Social Media, Twitter