Posts Tagged ‘Lee Odden’
Though the use of social media and social networks for marketing is now nearly ubiquitous, and 78% of companies have dedicated social media teams, many marketers sill struggle with certain aspects of social marketing, such as formalizing strategies and measuring results.
Yet as buyers make increasing use of social media to evaluate the offerings of and engage with vendors, expectations will inevitably increase. Basic presence and listening tactics will no longer suffice, and certainly won’t differentiate brands.
What trends and changes in social media do marketers need to stay on top of? How are social media marketing best practices evolving? How can marketers make the best use of visual content? Which metrics are most valuable in evaluating tactical success?
Find the answers to these questions and more here in some of the best guides to social media marketing and measurement of the past year.
Social Media Marketing Guides
5 Social Media Trends for 2014: New Research by Social Media Examiner
Though published last February, this post from Patricia Redsicker remains timely. Key trends she identifies for 2014 (which will remain important in 2015) include the importance of social listening (though “only 31% of marketers think their social listening is fully effective”) and increasing use of social advertising (57% of marketers used social ads in 2013 and another 23% are [were] expected to start using ads in 2014″).
6 social media network updates that you missed by iMedia Connection
Hopefully you’ve caught up to these by now, but just in case, this post from Trevor LaTorre-Couch details (fairly) recent design and functionality changes from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and explaining for each change the benefit(s) of each change for marketers.
10 Steps Using Social Media For Business Development by Soulati-TUDE
Jayme Soulati walks readers through 10 steps for “good old-fashioned networking” on social media to fuel business development, starting with setting goals (e.g., elevating your personal brand or asking for a meeting) and proceeding through characterizing your buyers, social sharing, engaging, and showing personality.
Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism Catalogs The Best Social Platforms by Search Engine Journal
***** 5 STARS
Kelsey Jones shares a fantastic “a visual map of the social media landscape” created by Brian Solis and JESS3 (see image at top of this post). The image calls out many of the top tools and platforms across the realms of social listening, learning, and adapting, further broken out into more specific groupings like video, social curation, and service networking.
10 Reasons Why Small Business Can’t Ignore Social Media by Marketing Technology Blog
The benefits of social media marketing are no longer questioned much, but for those still dealing with skeptics and doubters, Jason Squires has put together this excellent infographic showcasing its utility, supported with statistics, facts, and mini case studies.
52 Unique Ways to Create Social Media Magic by Rebekah Radice
Frequent best-of honorees Rebekah Radice and Peg Fitzpatrick team up to offer more than four dozen tips to optimize business results from social media, from joining Google+ communities and using a social media management tool to telling “your brand story with Pinterest boards” and using third-party apps to grow your Twitter following.
Jake Parent shares a dozen useful tips for being more engaging (and not a jerk) on social media, among them asking questions, complimenting people, and always giving more than you take: “always offer more value to people than you ask of them. In other words (be) on the lookout for problems to solve for people.”
24 Social Media Tips For The DIY Social Media Marketer In 2014 by Idea Girl Marketing
Keri Jaehnig details two dozen tips and tools for planning, productivity, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, image editing (e.g., PicMonkey – an “easy online image editing tool”) and more. The self-promotion is a tad thick in spots but the tips and links are helpful.
Frequest best-of honoree Belle Beth Cooper reports on research showing the best times of the day and week to post updates on Facebook and Twitter; to send marketing emails; and to publish blog posts. She notes however that results vary between men and women, B2C vs. B2B audiences, and sometimes even significantly between different studies.
12 Ways Social Media Could Leave You Needing A Lawyer by Louder Online
Aaron Agius details a dozen social blunders to avoid, at risks ranging from embarrassment to winding up in court, such as using vulgar language, getting political, using auto-responses, or “insensitivity to personal struggles” (a particularly relevant but wince-inducing example).
Carrie Keenan has brilliantly compiled 10 of the dumbest (but sadly, far from most uncommon) questions asked of social media managers, among them “Hey, I use Facebook. I would be so good at your job!,” “What do you do all day?,” and the gawdawful “Can’t I have an intern/my son/my granddaughter, etc. do that for me?”
B2B Social Media Marketing Guides
A Key Secret to Jazzing UpYour B2B Content’s Visual Appeal by B2B PR Sense Blog
Writing that “Today B2B marketing departments are developing more visual content such as images, web video, infographics and Slideshare presentations,” Jonathan Pavoni demonstrates how to use Slideshare to “repurpose content, capture prospects’ attention, and drive additional leads into the sales funnel.”
Frameworks for smart content marketing programs by i-SCOOP
***** 5 STARS
While more than 90% of companies have adopted content marketing practices, many still struggle with effectiveness. To help, J-P De Clerck looks at several strategic content marketing frameworks, including the seven “building blocks” framework from Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose and the 4-step content marketing framework for startups from Lee Odden.
11 secrets of good B2B social media by Potion
Though primarily aimed at beginners / entry level social media marketers, this post is worth at least a quick scan by more experienced social pros as well. It helpfully lays out the key components of the social marketing process, from developing and sharing content through tagging, measuring, and showing personality: “people like interacting with people. What’s your brand personality going to be?”
Five Fantastic Examples of B2B Social Media Marketing by j+ Media Solutions
While B2B marketers often focus on being professional in communications and not overly personal, this post from Jennifer G. Hanford reminds readers that whether B2B or B2C, all marketing is ultimately P2P (person to person). It presents snapshots of a handful of successful B2B social media efforts, including use of YouTube, Facebook, and even Pinterest (who knew Constant Contact maintains 100+ Pinterest boards?).
Guides to Social Media Metrics and Measures
Metrics to Measure YouTube Marketing by distilled
Phil Nottingham contends that most marketers don’t understand how to quantify social media marketing success on YouTube, and aims to fix that with this post. “‘Going viral’ isn’t a business goal, neither is having a million video views…With YouTube, your goal should always be some form of increased brand awareness.”
What to measure: ROI or KPIs? by iMedia Connection
The brilliant Rebecca Lieb makes the case for defining and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) for social media marketing efforts rather than trying to force measures of return on investment (ROI), noting that “Measuring message amplification (or brand metrics such as purchase intent, favorability, or consideration) isn’t unrelated to ROI. All are steps along the journey — critical steps.”
what’s the right metric? by bowden2bowden blog
Randy Bowden shares his thoughts on the ROI-vs-KPIs debate introduced above. He explains how each metric works and suggests that both are important, though conceding that “you can’t measure your ROI with social media totally…(and, ultimately) ROI is not black and white.”
7 Multi-Platform Social Media Analytics Tools by RazorSocial
***** 5 STARS
Ian Cleary reviews seven “very useful social media analytics tools.” He provides a brief description of each tool as well as explaining how much it costs, the main features, how it works, and an “overll opinion” of the tool’s strengths, limitations, and ideal application.
Guides to Marketing with Tumblr and Triberr
Is Tumblr Right for My Business? by QuickBooks
While noting that not every business can make use of Tumblr, Brenda Barron outlines three questions for marketers to ask to determine if the platform may be helpful to their brand, starting with how visual your business is: “Tumblr is intrinsically image-based, much like Pinterest. This makes it the perfect avenue for…businesses in industries with a visual focus.”
Writing that “Tumblr is one of those social networks which is often overlooked, but which has tremendous potential for SEO and social media marketing,” Takeshi Young explains how Tumblr works, its benefits compared to other social networks, and how to use Tumblr for online marketing (including four types of content that “perform extremely well” there).
Tumblr Tips To Help Grow Your Blog and Social Mentions by Inspire To Thrive
Lisa Buben offers more tips for content distribution success on Tumblr, such as loving content (“The little heart ? can go a long way on Tumblr. Spread the love around”), reblogging, commenting, using hashtags (yes, “Hashtags are big on Tumblr!”), and how to gain followers.
This Triberr strategy can increase your distribution now by leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal
For those unfamiliar with Triberr, Jim Dougherty explains its a platform that “allows bloggers to increase their distribution by creating tribes that can (potentially) pool their collective social audiences.” For those interesting in trying it out–or already using it but perhaps not getting the results hoped for–he prescribes a three-strep strategy for increasing the reach of your blog content.
As marketing becomes more data-driven, it’s vital to use data to keep up with trends, competitor strategies, and developments in your market. To that end, 94.7% of all marketers love blog posts about marketing statistics.
For example, 93% of marketers use social media for business. But how do marketers and consumers view social media differently? How do top executives use social media? Small businesses? Rapidly growing companies? B2b vendors? What are the best days and times for Facebook updates? What’s the average click-through rate of a link shared on Twitter? What tactic do 92% of SEO professionals view as effective? What percentage of queries on Google each day are new to the world (i.e., won’t show up in keyword research tools)?
Find the answers to these questions and many, many more here in 101 vital social and digital marketing stats for (the rest of) 2013.
Social Media Facts and Statistics
93% of marketers use social media for business. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
Social media has reached middle age(d). The fastest growing segment of social media users is now adults aged 45-54%. 55% of this age group now have a profile on at least one social network. (State of Search)
Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are the most popular social networks with search engine marketers. The second-most popular tier includes YouTube, blogging and LinkedIn. The least popular major networks are Flickr, Tumblr and StumbleUpon. (B2B Infographics)
Marketers aren’t like ordinary people. (A pause here while you absorb the shock of that statement). While 86% of marketing professionals have “liked” at least one brand on Facebook, just 58% of consumers have done so. And the gap is even more dramatic on Twitter, where 61% of marketers but just 12% of consumers follow at least one brand. (Thought Reach)
Furthermore–75% of social media users “object to major companies and platforms using their personal information for commercial purposes.” And just 12% admit to having their purchases influenced by Facebook “Likes” or Google “+1s”.(Relevanza)
How big are these networks? As of January 2013, the five largest social networks based on active monthly users were: Facebook (1 billion), YouTube (800 million) and Google+ (343 million) followed by Twitter and LinkedIn with 200 million active monthly users each. (TECHi)
Social media users are more social than non-social-media-using-internet-users in real life too: social networkers are 18% more likely to work out at a gym or health club, 19% more likely to attend a sporting event, and 26% more likely to give their opinion about politics and current events. (TECHi)
Half of all social media users under age 35 follow their online friends’ product and service recommendations. (TECHi)
Three-fourths of marketers planned to increase strategic efforts on social media and social networking sites this year, with 68% also focusing more on SEO and 63% on blogs. (eMarketer)
One in five married couples met online. But…20% of all divorces are blamed on Facebook. Coincidence? Hmm. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
As universal as business use of social media can seem to be, 26% of companies still block access to social media sites in their workplaces. 31% have no social media policy in place. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
54% of consumers say that “smaller communities have greater influence on a topic than larger ones.” (MarketingProfs)
Social media…to engage or to advertise? Turns out agencies are slightly more likely than in-house marketers (81% vs. 75%) to advertise on social networks, while corporate marketers are significantly more likely to utilize “free” social media tools (89% vs. 71%). (Heidi Cohen)
70% of brand marketers (and 60% of agency professionals) view social media advertising as more valuable for building brand awareness than for driving direct response. (Heidi Cohen)
But–contradicting the statistic above–66% of brand advertisers want to see a measurable sales bump from social media advertising. (Heidi Cohen)
How C-Level Executives Use Social Media
82% of buyers say they trust a company more when its CEO and senior leadership team are active in social media. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
77% of buyers are more likely to buy from a company if its CEO uses social media. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
And yet – 36% of executives say their CEO “either does not care, or cares little, about the company’s reputation in social media.” (Polaris B)
It helps having a woman at the top. Female small business CEOs are 78% more likely to say social media is highly valuable to their firm’s growth (20.8% vs. 11.6%), and 43% less likely to say it isn’t valuable (14.2% vs. 25%). (Marketing Charts)
Email is still the most effective way to reach top executives; 90% say they check their inboxes regularly. 64% use LinkedIn on a regular basis, while 55% say the same for Facebook. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
How the Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Companies Use Social Media
Only one-third of the companies in the Inc. 500 say they can adequately determine ROI for the social media spending. (Relevanza)
Yet 35% of marketers say ROI is the most important measure of inbound marketing success. 24% say marketing’s influence on sales and 16% cite conversion rate as the key metrics. (Marketing Charts)
90% of Inc. 500 companies use at least one major social media platform. And 62% say social media is either “somewhat” or “very” necessary to their growth. (Heidi Cohen)
But just 44% of Inc. 500 companies maintain a blog. “This low number is a surprise since blogs drive social media, content marketing and search.” (Heidi Cohen)
How Small to Midsized Businesses (SMBs) Use Social Media
21% of small businesses plan to increase spending on social media advertising this year. (eMarketer)
92% of small businesses say that social media is an effective marketing technology tool. They are evenly split on the effectiveness of social media for attracting new customers vs. engaging existing customers. (e-Strategy Trends)
A whopping 95% of small businesses view blogging as an effective marketing technology tool–second only to email marketing. 15% say blogging is most effective at engaging existing customers; 11% value it more for attracting new customers; and 69% say blogging is equally effective for both objectives. (e-Strategy Trends)
Facebook Facts and Statistics
Obsession? 23% of Facebook users check their accounts five or more times every day. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
But it’s vital for businesses to have a Facebook presence: 80% of Faceook users prefer to connect with brands on Facebook. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
47% of Americans say that Facebook has a greater impact on their purchasing behavior than any other social network. (State of Search)
Facebook = mobile. More than half of all Facebook members have used the social network via a smartphone, and 33% use a phone as their primary means of Facebook access. (State of Search)
67% of b2c marketers have generated leads through Facebook. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
33% of milennial consumers are more likely to buy from a company if it has a Facebook page. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
The best time and day for Facebook postings? Saturdays at noon. To maximize sharing, post to Facebook 3-4 times per week. (Visual.ly)
56% of Facebook users check in at least daily. 7% say they would check a message “during an intimate moment.” Awk-ward. (TECHi)
Half of all mobile web traffic in the U.K. goes to Facebook. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
48% of consumers who follow brands on Facebook do so in order to take advantage of sweepstakes and promotions. 18% follow to complain about a product or service. (MarketingProfs)
67% of the Inc 500 use Facebook, a decline of 7 percentage points from 2011. Facebook “demands dedicated resources” but doesn’t always show a comensurate return. (Heidi Cohen)
While 75% of internet users over age 45 prefer to share information using email, 60% of those under 30 say the same for Facebook. (Relevanza)
LinkedIn Facts and Statistics
97% of business executives have used LinkedIn. (Search Engine Journal)
LinkedIn rules for business owners. Asked which social media tool had the greatest potential to help their firms, 41% of small business owners chose LinkedIn. More CEOs chose LinkedIn than chose Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest combined. (Marketing Charts)
LinkedIn is the “social platform of choice” for companies in the Inc. 500, the index of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. 81% of these firms use LinkedIn, compared to 67% on both Facebook and Twitter. (Relevanza)
80% of LinkedIn users are at least 30 years old. (Relevanza)
Twitter Facts and Statistics
On Twitter, frequency (and quality) matter: 71% of all tweets are ignored. Just 23% generate a reply. (Search Engine Journal)
Worse, 56% of customer tweets to companies are ignored. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
69% of follows are based on recommendations from friends. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
34% of marketers say they have generated leads using Twitter. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
53% of Twitter users have been using it for less than one year. (State of Search)
50% of Twitter users are more likely to purchase from brands they follow. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
The average click-through rate (CTR) for a link shared on Twitter is about 1.6%, BUT—the average CTR drops as one’s number of Twitter followers increases. Accounts with 50-1,000 followers generate a better-than-6% average CTR; the rate drops to less than 0.5% on average for accounts with 10,000 or more followers. (Bit Rebels)
During the work week, Tuesday has the highest CTR (1.8%) and Friday the lowest (under 1.5%). (Bit Rebels)
During the day, CTRs are highest between 8:00-10:00 am and 4:00-6:00 pm. (Bit Rebels)
When planning timing of tweets, keep in mind that almost half of the U.S. population lives in the eastern time zone, and 80% of Americans live on eastern or central time. (Visual.ly)
Maximum CTR on tweets occurs between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. Unless you are particating in a Twitter chat, there’s no point in tweeting more than four times per hour. (Visual.ly)
Nearly 40% of top executives say they check Twitter regularly. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
67% of the Inc 500 use Twitter. Though valuable for content marketing and customer service, it is labor-intensive. (Heidi Cohen)
Pinterest Facts and Statistics
Women still constitute 80% of Pinterest users. (Search Engine Journal)
50% of users are parents. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
80% of pins are repins. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
Pinterest and Tumblr are among the “stickiest” social media sites, each accounting for, on average, 89 minutes of time spent per month per user. That compares to 21 minutes monthly on average spent on Twitter, 17 minutes on LinkedIn, and just three minutes on Google+. (TECHi)
25% of all female internet users in the U.S. use Pinterest–compared to just 5% male web users. (eMarketer)
Google+ Facts and Statistics
Google+ has attracted users, but not engagement. Non-mobile users spend an average of just three minutes per month on the site, and 30% of users who make a public post never make another one. (Search Engine Journal)
40% of marketers use Google+. Two-thirds plan to increase activity there over the coming year. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
This doesn’t count as an official statistic, but in the process of collecting 100+ social media stats and facts, only the two above related specifically to Google+. For whatever that’s worth.
Blogging Facts and Statistics
B2b companies that maintain blogs generate, on average, 67% more leads per month than non-blogging firms. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
57% of marketers have acquired customers via their blogs, and 52% of consumers say blogs have impacted their purchasing decisions. (B2B Infographics)
Just 44% of Inc. 500 companies blogs – but that is up from 2011. (Relevanza)
Blogs are rated by consumers as the third-most influential category of sites influencing purchasing behavior (after retail sites and brand sites) – yet they garner just 10% of social media budgets (comnpared to 57% for Facebook). (Pamorama)
Blogs are the fifth-most trustworthy source overall for online information (ahead of Google+, forums, online magazines, brand sites, Twitter and Pinterest). (Pamorama)
86% of “influencers” blog. (Pamorama)
23% of top executives say they read blogs regularly. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
Content Marketing Facts and Statistics
Content marketing works. 70% of marketers say that content marketing has increased their brand awareness; 59% believe it supports sales growth; and 45% say it has reduced their advertising costs. (iMedia Connection)
92% of SEO practitioners say content creation is an effective SEO tactic, and 76% regularly invest in content creation. (B2B Infographics)
Marketers spend most of their time producing blog posts, article and guides, social media updates, e-newletters, and news releases; they spend the least on podcasts, polls and surveys. (B2B Infographics)
While 90% of companies are engaged in some form of content marketing [http://webbiquity.com/book-reviews/book-review-content-rules/], just 36% believe their efforts are highly effective. (Polaris B)
Images are (important!) content too: 94% more total views on average are attracted by content containing compelling images than content without images. Using photos provides a 37% increase in Facebook engagement and 14% increase in news release pageviews. (Heidi Cohen)
B2B Marketing Statistics and Facts
Social matters in b2b. 53% of b2b buyers follow social discussions about vendors they are considering. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
The role of sales has changed. 67% of the typical “b2b buyer’s journey” is now done digitally. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
Google accounts for 90% of search traffic to b2b websites. (MediaPost)
Average conversion rates for different types of b2b web traffic: 1.60% overall; 2.89% for email; 1.04% for referral visits; 1.96% for paid search; 1.80% for branded search; 1.65% for direct visits; 1.45% for non-brand organic search; and 1.22% for social media. (MediaPost)
The biggest challenges for b2b content marketers? 64% struggle to produce enough content, while just over half (52%) find production of “engaging” content a challenge. (imFORZA)
More than 80% of b2b marketers use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to distribute content. 61% use YouTube and 39% Google+. The least popular channels (all with single-digit percentage use) are Foursquare, Instagram, Tumblr and Quora. (Polaris B)
SEO is for traffic, social is for leads? Organic search accounts for, on average, 41% of traffic to SMB b2b websites, but just 27% of leads. Social media, in contrast, supplies just 2% of visits but 5% leads. And email accounts for just 1% of web traffic on average, but 9% of leads. (eMarketer)
Breaking that social traffic down one level, Facebook accounts for 54% of b2b website social media visits, but just 9% of leads; Twitter, on the other hand, provides less than a third of social visits but a whopping 82% of social leads. (Really?) (eMarketer)
SEO Statistics and Facts
Search produces quality traffic. SEO leads have a 14.6% sales close rate on average, compared to 1.7% for outbound leads (e.g., from direct mail or print advertising). (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
Search is the top traffic driver to content-oriented websites, producing on average nearly four times the traffic of social media (41% from search, 11% from social). (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
Another study found an even more dramatic advantage for search, with organic search supplying 40% of all traffic (and Google alone accounting for 36% of visits) to b2b websites, while social media accounted for just 5% of traffic. (Forbes)
Keyword research only goes so far: 16% of daily Google searches, on average, have never been seen before. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
Remeber when Google first started “hiding” the exact keywords used in organic search, and promised this would only affect a small percentage of search traffic? It now hides, on average, keyword data for 41% of all organic searches. (MediaPost)
For b2b websites, on average, the split between branded and non-brand search traffic is 31%/69%. (MediaPost)
6 of 10 organizations plan to increase SEO spending this year. (imFORZA)
One-third of searches are location based. (imFORZA)
71% of marketers say that content marketing has helped inprove their site’s ranking in organic search, and 77% say it has increased website traffic. (iMedia Connection)
Nearly a quarter of U.S. small businesses plan to spend more on their web presence this year–as well they should. As of early 2013, “More than 60% lacked an address on their homepage, and nearly 50% did not provide a contact number…47% were not present on Google Places, and 35% did not have a Bing Local presence.” (eMarketer)
Don’t forget to optimize videos for search. YouTube is the second-largest “search engine” by volume of searches. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
Top brands spend, on average, 19% of their digital marketing budgets on search, vs. 14% on video content and 10% on social media. But the largest share (41%) goes to display advertising. (MarketingProfs)
Mobile Marketing Statistics and Facts
25% of all internet searches last year were made on mobile devices. And 25% of all U.S. internet users are mobile only (includes tablets). (imFORZA)
More than three-quarters (77%) of mobile users use their smartphones and tablets for searching and social networking. (imFORZA)
While mobile marketing is by no means unimportant, it may not justify quite the attention it gets. Marketers have a disorted view of the market because while 90% of marketing professionals own smartphones, but half of consumers do. And while 41% of marketing professionals say they have made a purchase based on information on Facebook, less than a third of consumers with smartphones–and just 12% of consumers without smartphones–have done so. (Thought Reach)
Forget the app, just use email. 33% of consumers say the email is the most effective tool for building loyalty, vs. 26% of marketers. On the other hand, 23% of marketing pros believe that custom apps are most effective at loyalty building; just 7% of consumers agree. (Thought Reach)
Asked how their marketing strategies would change in 2013, the largest percentage of marketers (82%) planned to increase their focus on mobile media. The largest decreases were expected in newspaper and magazine advertising. (eMarketer)
One of the greatest attributes of social media is its ability to connect people with similar interests across the globe. We’ve connected with Twitterers interested in b2b marketing, PR, web presence optimization and digital marketing topics everywhere from the U.K., South Africa, Israel, and Australia, to Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Chile, Canada and New Zealand.
It’s also valuable however for making new connections in your own backyard. “Tweetups” and other networking events are excellent places to meet new social media connections and to meet existing connections in real life, extending the relationship beyond the web.
Here are a couple of dozen of the most engaging Minnesotans we’ve met on, through, or because of Twitter over the past five years. Got any additions to the list? Recommendations are welcome!
Despite the occasional “death of blogging” pronouncements (often made, ironically, in blog posts), blogs remain the core of a robust social media strategy. The proliferation of themes, tools and plugins have transformed blogs from mere online text collections to powerful interactive, rich-media sites that can attract, engage and educate your potential buyers.
Particularly with Google’s emphasis in its recent Panda and Penguin algorithm updates on content that is fresh, compelling, unique, social, and naturally linked to, blogs have become even more essential to SEO strategies.
For those who still aren’t convinced of the value of business blogging (as well as those who need to convince others), the “why blog” posts below provide compelling evidence. Those getting started or already active in blogging will discover how to:
- • grow blog traffic,
- • make content more valuable to readers,
- • increase blogging productivity,
- • generate more comments and social shares,
- • find royalty-free images,
- • promote your blog, and
more here in 30 of the best business blogging guides and resources of the past year.
Why You Want To Be the Last Blog Standing by Outspoken Media
Reporting that “the number of Inc. 500 companies maintaining corporate blogs has dropped for the first time since 2007. Did you hear that? IT DROPPED! According to Dartmouth’s research, just 37 percent of companies interviewed said they had a corporate blog, down from 50 percent in 2010,” frequent best-of honoree Lisa Barone advises readers to “let your blog be the last blog standing because while sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may be effective and sexy all in their own right, they don’t hold a candle to the sexiness and superpowers possessed by your blog,” and backs it up with 10 reasons and tactics to beat your competition through blogging.
Kristina Weis provides a baker’s dozen reasons for creating a corporate blog, from demonstrating your expertise (“If [prospective customers] can easily find some articles written by you and/or your staff that show your company’s expertise, they’re going to feel a lot more confident about spending their time or money [or both] with you”) and increasing website traffic to helping with customer support and generating new product ideas.
Past, Present and Future of Blogging: 3 Infographics by jeffbullas.com
Jeff Bullas shares a wealth of fascinating blogging facts and stats here, such as that 27 of the top 100 blogs are built on WordPress, with 16 on TypePad. 43% of U.S. companies now maintain blogs. And more than half of all social media-driven blog traffic comes from Facebook (28%) and Twitter (26%) combined.
7 Tips for Blogging – Maybe Your Most Important Social Media Activity for Business by SocialSteve’s Blog
Contending that “Everyone always jumps onto Facebook and Twitter as one of their first social media activities. I recommend you think about blogging first. No other endeavor can be better to promote you or your brand as a subject matter expert,” Steve Goldner offers seven tips for blogging success, such as utilizing your passion, speaking (writing) naturally, and posting on a consistent basis.
Dozens of reasons why corporate blogs still matter in B2B marketing by Content Marketing Experience
J-P De Clerck makes a comprehensive case for corporate blogging—as long as it isn’t done the “wrong” way: “It’s traditional PR in a new package: corporate blogs as a way to shout how great they are.” Done right, blogs serve as the hub of a company’s social media strategy, a magnet for search traffic, and an opportunity to speak to prospective customers on a more informal, human level. He points out that 57% of companies with blogs have acquired at least one customer through blogging; that blogs make it easy to share multiple types of information; and that they make it easy (and even inviting) for customers and prospects to provide feedback.
Blogging Tips and Guides
Frequent best-of author Heidi Cohen offers nearly three dozen ideas “to help you efficiently leverage resources in seven of the areas where many bloggers typically need support,” such as content block (one idea: “Answer customer questions…Collect the questions prospects and customers ask from sales and customer service; then answer them”), lack of creative resources, and disappointing blog traffic.
20 Ways to Improve Your Blog by TribalCafe
Reporting that “28% of brands that (didn’t previously) publish a blog (planned) to do so in 2012—bringing the percentage of brands that publish a blog to 85%,” Gary Fox lists 20 ways to attract more readers and generate better business results from blogging, among them using strong visuals, varying blog topics, and making your content SEO-friendly (“focus on a keyword [phrase] for each blog post and try to not venture too far” from it).
5 Tips to Becoming a Top Blog in Your Industry by Social Media Examiner
Michael Stelzner shares a handful of techniques he used to make Social Media Examiner a big success, such as surveying the interests of your audience (“When you know precisely what content your readers crave, it’s much easier to create posts that are widely read and shared on social channels”) and spinning a single hot topic into multiple posts from different perspectives (e.g., a beginner’s guide, biggest myths or misconceptions, case studies, etc.).
Five Tips to Make Company Blogs Worth Reading by Marketing Profs
Muhammad Yasin offers a handful of helpful recommendations for making your company blog a success, including focusing on expert tips: “If you are not an expert yourself in a particular field, find experts and learn from them. See what they are writing about, absorb their knowledge, and share their tips. Better yet, invite those experts to share their knowledge on your blog as guest bloggers. Allowing independent experts to write for your blog can provide a much needed fresh perspective and may result in their recommending your products or services.”
Fixing The Social Media Plateau by Soulati Media
The delightful Jayme Soulati identifies 10 signs that “may be an indication it’s time to step up your game, take it to the next level, and grow or remain complacent” in terms of your social media practices, such as “Learning new things becomes more rare; another 20 ways to use Pinterest blog post isn’t providing new insight over what you know now,” and tips to get un-stuck (e.g., “Reduce the time spent on the channels that don’t return much to you. That way, you’re not spread as thin”).
10 Valuable Ideas to Help You Find Time to Blog by MyBeak Social Media
Writing that “Creating content and finding the time to do it are the biggest obstacles entrepreneurs and small business owners face when marketing their business,” Laura-Lee Walker presents helpful ideas for generating more content in less time, among them inviting guest bloggers, repurposing existing material, and using mobile phone apps like Dragon Dictator: “You don’t have time to write down all your ideas or blog posts…simply use an application…that will translate your voice to text. (They are) not perfect but will give you a head start and reduce the time you spend on typing your blog articles.”
21 Business Blogging Tips From the Pros by Social Media Examiner
The impeccably discerning Cindy King curates an outstanding collection of blogging tips from pros like Leo Widrich (“A product is only useful if you know others want it. Validate an idea for a blog post in the same way”), Heidi Cohen (“Understand prospects, customers and the public are on your blog to get answers to their questions and accomplish their goals, not yours”), and Stephanie Sammons (“Work to develop a blogging style that is unique to you. What’s your angle? What’s your view? How can you differentiate yourself from others who are blogging in your niche?”).
Guest Blogging: Seven Tips for Success by Spin Sucks
PR expert and author Gini Dietrich offers several excellent tips for expanding your reach by publishing guest posts on other influential blogs. My favorite tip is her first, on how to gauge authority (and corresponding effort) of a blog: “Go to Open Site Explorer and type in the URL for the blog for which you’d like to submit content. I’ll do it for Wood Street…You’ll see the site authority is 48/100. If the authority is 40-70, it’s worth pursuing. If it’s higher than 70, you’ll have a tougher time getting your content on the site, so you’ll need to be extremely patient, but persistent. If it’s between 90 and 100, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get something placed there without the help of a communications professional.”
Noting that “the majority of blogs starting every year end up failing,” Wendy Marx offers 16 tips in this infographic to beating the odds, such as “Be consistent: Whether you keep an editorial calendar or not, it’s important to continue to publish content on your blog because that consistency brings in more traffic” (amen!) and (perhaps most importantly), “Have fun with it: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun with the process and enjoy every minute as your grow your audience and build your business.”
Guest post: 7 powerful headline techniques to skyrocket your blog traffic by Creative Ramblings
Reminding us all that “in the online world, your headline is the single most important part of your content…instead of reading every blog post, people scan for information. They look for headlines that capture their interest, and only click on the ones they feel are worthy of their time,” Lillian Leon details seven techniques for crafting headlines that grab attention, including “Fear: Identify the one thing your readers fear the most, and you’ll have yourself a headline that’s pretty much impossible to ignore.”
10 Additional Ideas to Generate Comments and Shares by Spin Sucks
Following up on an earlier post on the same topic, Gini Dietrich (again) offers 10 more ideas to increase engagement on your blog, from writing book reviews and rants to covering the latest trends and answering questions commonly heard by your sales force or customer service reps.
Content Development and Writing Tips
26 Tips for Writing Great Blog Posts by Social Media Examiner
In her own unique and highly creative style, Debbie Hemley presents “26 tips, from A-Z, to help you create optimal blog posts every time you sit down to write,” beginning with A for Anatomically Correct: every blog post should contain the “six parts of the anatomy of a lead-generating blog post” such as an eye-catching title, calls to action, and social sharing buttons.
Peg Fitzpatrick passes along content curation tips from Guy Kawasaki in this post showcasing the top dozen places to find shareworthy content, starting with your own network and including both popular sharing sites (like StumbleUpon and AllTop) and less obvious choices (e.g., Futurity, TED and NPR).
How to find photos you can legally use anywhere by CBS MoneyWatch
Observing that “No matter what you publish — a blog, updates to the company website, project reports, or even the venerable tri-fold — you no doubt need artwork to complement it,” but just haphazardly reusing artwork found online can lead to legal troubles, Dave Johnson recommends two easy methods for finding photos that are usable under the Creative Commons license.
29 Free Blog Images Sources: Where to Get Royalty Free Photos by Directory Journal
***** 5 STARS
In case Dave’s recommendations above don’t quite meet your needs, Gail Gardner provides a massive list of sites where you can find free or reasonably priced images, as well as resources for comparing prices across different image sites, selling your photos, identifying trademarked images, adding images to blog posts, and more.
5 of the Most Important Content & Social Media Tips For A Successful Business Blog by TopRank Online Marketing Blog
Lee Odden writes that “If I were only to give 5 content marketing tips to a company that wanted to get the most for and from its customers through blogging, here are the tips I’d give.” Among his top five tips? Focus on the problems your audience faces—but don’t forget to tell them how you can solve those problems. Create an editorial plan. And measure results to support continual improvement.
How to Differentiate Your Content by Geoff Livingston’s Blog
Geoff Livingston lays out four steps to becoming an “A-list” blogger in your niche subject area. Given Geoff’s success, I won’t argue with his methodology—though it’s not for everyone. But if you’ve got the time, intestinal fortitude and financial backing or wherewithal to pursue his program, go for it.
The Nine Ingredients That Make Great Content by KISSmetrics
Contending that “In order to boost SEO rankings, gain traffic and/or leads, you need to have great content on your blog or website,” Zach Bulygo shares nine tips for producing stand-out content (such as making your content actionable: “The best content gives the user a sense of how to apply the information…Many times, just writing well about a topic will spark some ideas for readers,”) then follows up with half a dozen examples of sites that consistently provide remarkable content.
Blog Promotion Tips and Tactics
6 Tips For Building a High Quality Blog Following by Fearless Competitor
Shane Snow channels Jeff Ogden and Brian Clark in this post, providing “six tips to attracting readers who stick around longer than the click of a StumbleUpon button,” such as speaking to a specific audience, guest blogging and publishing guest bloggers, and encouraging loyalty through consistency: “taking an editorial stand for what you believe in, rather than watering things down to avoid offending anyone. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to try to be controversial. In this day and age, simply taking a position and standing behind it will bring people who agree, and people who don’t.”
Want Your Blog Noticed? (Hint: It’s Not Just Content!) by Heidi Cohen
Heidi Cohen (again) supplies 23 tips for growing awareness of your blog, such as integrating your blog’s brand into related content and activities (“As a media entity, your blog deserves its own brand. If it’s a corporate brand, it should be adapted for the blog”), referencing and linking to sources, and guest blogging.
Want to Increase Blog Traffic? Some Fab Tips for Success by Positively Peggy
The ebullient Peg Fitzpatrick (again) serves up five tips for growing blog traffic, such as sharing your content at optimal times: “Buffer App helps you not only share at the optimal times based on your followers being online but also evenly distributes your amazing content throughout the day so you don’t annoy your followers with a huge spurt of brilliance and then lose them with silence later.”
How Bloggers Can Grow Each Others Readership by The @Steveology Blog
Steve Farnsworth recommends Triberr as a tool for increasing the reach of your blog posts, and explains in detail how Triberr works and how to get the most out of it (e.g., by starting your own tribe, joining other tribes, and “dating around”). While the tool is a great concept and has potential, its ongoing technical issues are frustrating.
How to Effectively Promote Your Blog Posts by MyBeak Social Media
***** 5 STARS
Beyond the big social networks and Triberr, Laura-Lee Walker (again) presents an infographic illustrating 30 ways to promote your blog content using social media, social bookmarking sites (does anyone still use Digg?), your contacts, other blogs, and 10 top syndication sites.
5 ways to promote your blog by commenting on others by Creative Ramblings
Cendrine Marrouat explains why commenting on blogs is beneficial (chief among the rewards: “You get to connect and build relationships with other bloggers”) and how to do it well (e.g., add value to the conversation, share relevant links, and comment regularly on the same blogs).
30 Ways to Promote Your Blog Posts by Listly
***** 5 STARS
Ted Rubin shares a bookmark-worthy list of tactics for sharing and promoting blog posts, including Facebook (“Add it on your personal & business pages, groups and through ads”), Pinterest (“Create a board specifically for all your blog posts and pin each post to it”) and through AllTop.com (“syndicates content in every category, from autos and food to business and sports”).
The old days when SEO meant writing key-stuffed copy and then begging for or buying as many links as possible, from any willing website, are long gone. That’s clearly good for searchers, as search engine results have become more relevant and useful. But it’s also good for marketers, as it forces a focus on understanding buyers and providing them with value rather than manipulative gaming of search algorithms.
In Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing, Lee Odden provides the definitive guide to SEO and its extension into social and content marketing for the new, more sophisticated world of search and web presence optimization.
Divided into three sections—Planning (tactics, audience research, content), Implementation (persona development, keyword research, content optimization, measurement) and Scale—the book provides a comprehensive roadmap for using integrated digital marketing tactics to drive business results.
Among the specific pieces of wisdom Lee shares in the book are:
- • Search is a moving target. “Search results have evolved from 10 blue links to situationally dependent mixed-media results that vary according to your geographic location, web history, social influence and social ratings…at any given time, there are from 50 to 200 different versions of Google’s core algorithm in the wild, so the notion of optimizing for a consistently predictable direct cause and effect is long gone.”
- • You need to know where you are before you can know where you’re going. “Audits are a key part of search engine optimization, allowing marketers to access the current state of the website in ways that identify any conflicts or inefficiencies for search engines.” Audits also help establish baselines—the starting points from which progress can be measured.
- • Five different types of SEO audits are vital for establishing baselines: keyword research, content audit (“a website must be the best resource for a topic, and content optimization takes inventory of all content and digital assets that could be a potential entry point vis search and recommends SEO copywriting tactics to showcase those pages as most relevant”), technical SEO audit (making sure the site is easy for search engines to crawl), link footprint and social SEO audit.
- • PR is now a vital component of SEO. “The public relations function within a company often produces nearly as much content as marketing in the form of a corporate newsroom with media coverage, press releases, images, video, case studies, white papers, and other resources…Each of those assets is an opportunity for journalists to discover the brand story through search engines or social referrals…Companies that optimize and socialize their press releases give new life and extended reach to their news by making it easy for bloggers and end consumers to find and share press release content.”
- • Content isn’t just the job of marketing and PR. It’s also crucial to optimize content produced by customer service (FAQ’s, common how-to guides), HR, and subject matter experts in field consulting, engineering and sales for search. Marketing may have to scrub and polish some of this content for public consumption, but it’s vital to tap expertise across the organization.
- • Your online competitors aren’t always your real-life competitors. “In the search and social media marketing world, the competition isn’t always who you think. Companies need to understand that online competition isn’t just made up of companies competing for market share in the business world, but also information and content published from a variety of sources that compete for search engine and social media users’ attention.” It’s not unusual for university websites, government agency sites, and reference sites like Wikipedia to “compete” with a company in search.
- • Monitor search results to spot new opportunities. “A trending story may cause news or blog results to appear high on the page, which might prompt you to comment on a high-ranking story or reach out to a journalist or blogger to offer your point of view…When you notice that the search engine tends to favor certain media, such as video, for one of your target keyword phrases, it may prompt you to focus on video content and optimization for a particular target keyword phrase.”
- • It’s vital for a business to “be seen” in different places. “48% of consumers are led to make a purchase through a combination of search and social media influences.”
- • Search visibility isn’t important only for prospective customers. “95% of journalists use search engines…89% of journalists use blogs and 65% use social networks for story research.”
- • Develop content for your prospects, not for search engines. “Write down some of the high-level characteristics of your best customers. What motivates them? What do they care about?” I would add “what keeps them awake at night?” and “what will compel them to take action” to this list. The answers to those questions will be crucial in developing your content strategy.
- • Make fact-based, data-driven decisions. “Keyword research tools are designed to override the false assumptions often provided by the two most flawed tools that you can access—your gut and your brain.” It isn’t that you aren’t smart, but rather the words used inside of your company and those that your prospective customers use to describe the same product or service are often very different.
- • Think about blog post topics from a variety of angles to keep it interesting. “Typical categories for an editorial calendar can include breaking headlines, industry news, ongoing series, feature stories, in-depth product or service reports, polls, special promotions, events, tips, lists…the important thing is to be relevant: to your customers, your brand, and to search engines and social communities.”
- • You don’t have to do it all yourself; content curation is as important as creation. “Pure creation is demanding. Pure automation doesn’t engage. Curating content can provide the best of both.”
And there’s much more, including several useful lists such as analytics tools, “20 different content types” and “sources of news to curate.”
Even in books I really find valuable, I usually find at least a few points of contention, or things the author just plain got wrong. But even though I wore out a red pen highlighting passages in this book, I didn’t find a single point where I think Lee missed the mark.
The only thing I would add is an over-arching framework to fit all of this into. “SEO, social media and content marketing” is descriptive, but a mouthful. Add PR and online advertising to the mix, and it gets really awkward without that model. Optimize fundamentally provides an excellent how-to primer for utilizing the web presence optimization framework. As Lee notes:
“If a company doesn’t see the bigger-picture synergy of how to break social media, content, and SEO efforts out of departmental silos and approach Internet marketing and public relations holistically, how can they grow and remain competitive?…Integrating social media marketing and engagement with search, content marketing, email, and other types of online marketing tactics can results in substantial benefits.” But “For many companies, it can be very difficult and complex to implement a holistic content marketing and search optimization program.”