Monthly Archives: November 2016

Tips to Create a Winning Content Promotion Plan

Many content marketers view “promotion” as a phase that begins once content goes live. The truth is, promotion should begin much earlier than that, running parallel to production, and most of the promotion work should be completed before launch. Here’s a plan framework you can use for your next content campaign.

Planning

A good promotion plan begins with audience research and the development of targeted messaging.

Audience Research

If you have the time and budget, doing research like survey analysis is really helpful. At BuzzStream, we’re a bit more informal. Our planning stage usually involves a discussion of who we’re creating the content for and what their needs are. We use analytics data from previous pieces, information about what we’ve seen performing well on Twitter, and insight from conversations we’ve had with customers.

We segment our audiences based on the value they’ll get from the content. For example, one group might be new to online marketing and would use the guide to level up their skills. Another group might be people in charge of outreach teams who could incorporate our guide into their training materials. A third group might be influencers who don’t really need to learn anything new but who appreciate good outreach content to share with their followers. These segments become the foundation for influencer lists and outreach messaging.

Messaging

Before beginning content creation, you should spend some time thinking about what you want to communicate to each of your audience segments. (Developing personas can be really helpful here.) Think about what benefit each segment will get from consuming your content. Ask yourself what will motivate people to share it, and then spend some time thinking about reasons why people might choose not to share.

If you’re a team of one, this process can be more of a mental exercise than a physical document. If you have a team, creating a shared doc that everyone can refer back to is extremely useful.

Here’s an example of some of the questions you’ll want to ask during this stage:

Once you nail your audience segments and messaging, you can be more confident about content creation. You’ll know exactly how and why you’re benefitting the groups of people who are most important to your business, and that knowledge can guide you as you make important decisions about the piece.

2+ Weeks Before Launch

As you’re developing the actual content, you should also develop a list of people and websites that you want to share it. The earlier work you did on audience development can is your foundation here. For each segment, create a list of top-tier and mid-tier influencers.

As you go, make note of what medium you want to use to reach each of the influencers (email, social, etc.) You should also figure out whether a cold pitch will work or if you’ll need a relationship first.

List Size

To figure out how big your influencer lists should be, think about what your coverage or sharing goals are. How many people do you expect to write about you? Take that number and divide it by your usual outreach response rate. That’s how many people you’ll need to send outreach to.

Good content marketers often begin with long lists influencers and then narrow them down to only the most relevant, targeted prospects for outreach. It’s a time-consuming but worthwhile process. If you want to work this way, your initial list length should be about 5X the length of your ideal outreach list.

Engaging Before Launch

Next, take your influencer lists and make a goal to engage with each person or website on that list at least once before you pitch your content.

For those influencers that you think would be okay with a cold pitch, you can do something simple like a tweet a post and @ mention them. This will at least get your name on their radar.

Influencers who you want more of a relationship with will require more involved engagement. Begin monitoring them via Twitter lists or Feed.ly and look for opportunities to provide commentary on something they’ve written or shared. A single @ mention on Twitter isn’t enough. Try to reply to a tweet and spark a conversation or consider leaving a thoughtful comment on one of their blog posts. If you have the time and resources, look for opportunities to meet them in real life at conferences and events.

Week Before Launch

The week before your content goes live should be a very busy one. This is when you’ll need to draft all of your social media posts, outreach emails, and customer messages. You may want to queue up social media ads and plan targeting, as well.

Pretest Content

One of the best things you can do before your content goes live is pretest it with influencers. You get the benefit of their buy-in and their good advice about ways to improve your content or messaging before you share it with the world.

You can be really strategic and send your content to a subset of influencers who you want to target, but we’ve honestly seen a lot of success just by asking for volunteers.

However you go about it, be sure to give the influencers enough time to actually look over your content and provide feedback.

Outreach Emails

You should plan to write at least two email templates for each of your audience segments. (If you have three segments, that’s at least six templates total.) The template variations should test elements like subject line or CTA. They should also leave room for personalization.

Your most important influencers (the top 5 or 10 people and websites on your list) should get completely custom messages. To save yourself time on the day of launch, write them in advance. Hopefully by this point you’ve chatted or engaged at least a few times, so that personalization can refer back to previous conversations you’ve had.

Day of Launch

The day your post goes live, your goal is to share it as much as you can. This means post it to social media, put your ads live, and begin outreach.

Outreach

As you work through your outreach list and begin sending messages you’ll start to see patterns in the results. Certain templates will perform better than others. When this happens, kill the bad ones, go with the good ones, and then maybe even create a new variation to try.

You’ll also often find that you’re connecting with some groups better than others. If this is the case, invest more deeply in the segment that’s working. Expand your influencer lists and try more outreach to that group.

Moderate & Respond

Make yourself available to moderate comments on what you’ve shared, retweet the nice things other people have said, and reply to any questions that come up. This will help you build stronger relationships with the audiences you care about and give you opportunity to further amplify your content.

Week of Launch

The initial buzz your content created will likely begin to fade out as the week continues. Use this time to do more of what’s working and claim some of the easy victories.

Paid Social

Look to see which of your paid social media campaigns performed the best on day one. Invest more heavily in those channels and that messaging. If you find that everything has flopped, try again with a different headline or different targeting criteria.

Social Media

Continue to share and retweet the nice things people have said about your content. Pay special attention to major influencers who say nice things during off-peak hours. A well-timed retweet could provide a nice traffic spike.

Easy Wins

Make sure you take the time to submit your articles to email newsletters and weekly roundups. Be sure it’s been shared within relevant subreddits and social bookmarking sites. These are simple things to do that can bring nice, qualified traffic to your content.

Reclaim Links

If your content went even a little bit viral, there’s a good chance people shared it without crediting you. Use reverse image search, tools like Fresh Web Explorer, and other link reclamation tactics to find all of those instances and secure the link.

On-going Opportunities

As things wind down, don’t close the door on your content. Keep a Tweetdeck search running in the background so you’ll catch when people share it. Be sure to send a genuine thank you when they do.

Use the twitter and feedly lists you created to continue to engage with influencers. Odds are that if they were important to this campaign, they’ll be important in the future, too. The more you can do to build relationships, the better.

Monitor social media, email services like HARO, and the web in general for opportunities to repurpose or reshare your content. You may find opportunities to turn it into a case study or suggest it as a resource.

You could also use tools like BuzzStream to schedule regular site prospecting and get a batch of fresh contacts delivered to your inbox on a weekly basis. Scroll through these sites for opportunities to place your content.

Project Wrap-up

After your promotion campaign draws to a close, spend some time reviewing metrics like shares, visits, and conversions. Call out things you’ll want to remember for next time.

You should also refer back to your original influencer lists. It’s likely that some people who you initially considered moderate tier 2 influencers proved to actually be tier 1 advocates. Reorganize the list based on the results of your campaign, so you can be better equipped to move into the next project.

5 Social Media Marketing Strategies

 Why Use Social Media for Marketing?

As a product of the Mark Zuckerberg generation, it is easy to understand why people are so obsessed with social media; for marketers, the potential to grow their business via these networks is endless. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ – these are some of the prime networks every company, big or small, young or established, needs to have an active presence on. It is now inexcusable for any business that wants to thrive to not be tweeting!

And now we are being exposed to more and more social advertisements. As I complete my morning ritual of sipping coffee and scrolling through my Instagram feed, I now notice sponsored ads appearing in between filtered pictures of scenery and food. It is impossible to visit one’s Facebook news feed without popping into a few compelling ads along the way. And I’m not going to lie, I’ve fallen victim to several of these ads, and been captured and clicked through to their site, sometimes even converting – shameful, I know.

But before diving into paid social ads, it is important to build out your social channels with rockstar content, quality customer service, and eye-catching visuals. Once you optimize your social channels for success, you will not only gain loyal brand promoters, but you will begin capturing leads and converting visitors into customers.

For those of you who have let your social channels develop cobwebs and cockroaches over the past year, here are five key social media strategies to take control of your social channels and give them a much needed facelift this year.

Social Media Marketing Strategy #1: Create a Game Plan & Stick to It

If you have no execution strategy, your content is likely going to fall through the cracks. Set a limit on how many tweets you have to publish per day. This number can be adjusted as needed, but having a number you have to hit, even something as small as four tweets per day, gives you a benchmark and a goal at the very least.

TIP: Investigate how often your competitors are posting and conduct industry research to see the ideal amount of content to publish per day on each channel. You want to be active, but not overly active.

Compile all content in an easy-to-read editorial calendar. Google Excel Docs is a good place to start. Set up a weekly, shareable publishing calendar, then separate by social channel, and provide columns for co-workers within your content team to provide their feedback before posting. Plan ahead, but continue making additions as necessary, for example if a great PR hit is published cover this in a timely manner even it was not on your original posting schedule.

Look into social media management platforms, like Hootsuite, Buffer, and TweetDeck, to help schedule posts ahead of time, monitor and manage your social feeds, and access performance analytics.

Social Media Marketing Strategy #2: Treat each channel as an individual entity

Each social channel needs to be treated as a separate entity. There can be content that is spread across all channels – for example if your business was recently acquired by a global company, this is likely news you want to share across the board, but you should adjust your strategy depending on the audience for that channel.

For example, LinkedIn tends to have a more business-focused audience looking for in-depth, educational content, compared to Instagram, which is likely to have an audience looking for engaging visual content. Pay attention to your follower demographic on each channel to publish content that appeals to them.

Social Media Marketing Strategy #3: Go above & beyond in customer service

If a visitor tweets at your handle or posts on your Facebook page and never receives a response, trust is lost. Due to your lack of communication, the dissatisfied potential lead is now turning to your competitors to seek answers to their questions. On the other hand, when you deliver a thoughtful response in a timely manner that visitor is flattered and intrigued by your brand. It’s humanizing to take the time respond to a personal inquiry, and it builds your authority.

Alexa, a friend of mine who formerly resided in NYC, commented on a picture on Instagram posted by her favorite city dive bar. The social media manager quickly responded by offering her a free T-shirt for the positive feedback. A few weeks, when later Alexa drove six hours from Boston to collect her free shirt (and visit a few friends), the bartender realized, “Wow! Social media does work!” She has in turn become a free promoter for the bar, and encourages her large network that still resides in New York to check out her former go-to spot – essentially free PR for this small, neighborhood bar. And this is one minuscule example – if you haven’t heard the Morton’s Steakhouse story about delivering a joking tweeter a free steak at the airport, I suggest you use this as a prime example of BOMB social media customer service that led to a ridiculous amount of free press.

Negative feedback needs to be addressed as well, preferably with patience and respect. But think of your social channels as an opportunity to display how awesome you treat your customers.

Take these four steps to boost the happiness of your Twitterbirds:

  • Assign a first responder to post and monitor each channel your brand has a profile on.
  • Create a troubleshooting library of common bugs or complaints that arise, and how to handle these issues. This will ensure the issue is addressed properly and in a timely manner. (NOTE: If the issue needs further investigation or requires confidential information, have the user email support, send a private message, or call your help line.)
  • Be creative – use giveaways, personality, and a sense of humor to engage followers and convert them into free brand promoters.
  • DO NOT IGNORE any comment posted to your account on social, whether stellar or critical. No need to create brand detractors!

Social Media Marketing Strategy #4: Embrace mishaps

We are humans, so mistakes are unavoidable. This is especially true when it comes to the fast-paced world of social media. Rather than flat out ignoring these hiccups, embrace them. I am not saying that when a comma is missed in a tweet you should announce this small grammar error, but DO NOT delete the tweet. It has already been published, and followers are more likely to notice if you are continuously re-posting. For larger mistakes, like a product error or multiple overcharges to customer credit cards, you’ll want to proactively respond in an apologetic, actionable manner, and send out content from your social accounts apologizing and addressing how the error is being handled so customers are aware.

But what happens if a BIG, truly embarrassing mistake is made? Personally, I love how Pamela Vaughan, a HubSpot employee, handled her baby bump mishap. Pamela accidently posted a picture of her growing pregnant belly to HubSpot’s company Twitter account, which has close to 350,000 followers. Instead of crawling into a hole of embarrassment, Pamela embraced her faux-pas and created this awesome blog post. The post has received a lot of love, with several shares and comments mostly showing respect for HubSpot’s human element – a key that makes them one of the most loved marketing companies out there.

Social Media Marketing Strategy #5: Track & Talk!

Tracking is often perceived as tedious and time-consuming. It can be, but it only needs to take a few hours each month. Set aside time to review metrics that are important to your business on a monthly basis (preferably the first day of the month). Here are some stats to focus on: number of posts, follower growth, clicks to your site/products, pageviews, post likes or shares, impressions, etc. Look at each channel separately, and compare to your largest competitors to get a sense on how you’re matching up (or how you’re CRUSHING them!).

If you’re crunched for time and analytics is not your thing, invest in software to help track data. A lot can be tracked using free social media tools like bit.ly, Google Analytics, and Hootsuite. Diving in to see which content received the most clicks, shares, etc. will show you what to repurpose in the future. Look for common themes in your analysis, for example if advice posts with numbers in the title perform wonderfully on Facebook then up these on that platform.

Share your results and set monthly strategy meetings with your different marketing forces within your company to plan for the future. Working collaboratively and taking a step back to brainstorm and reevaluate your strategy can drastically improve your social efforts. Also leverage other departments within your business. Various teams like client services and sales might have stellar ideas for social since they are the people who communicate with prospects and customers on a daily basis.

5 Brilliant Ways to Use #Hashtags in Social Media Marketing

 I was watching the Super Bowl (#GoHawks) when my wife asked me about hashtags. Granted, I was writing down every hashtag that came up on the screen for an analysis I did later that night, but her question surprised me.

“What do you mean ‘what is this?’ It’s a hashtag.” I said, amazed by my wife’s unfamiliarity with the topic (#DoYouLiveUderARock). “You use it to tag your tweets or other social media posts.”

Now, my wife’s social media activity revolves around reading other people’s updates on Facebook and Instagram, so I wasn’t mad or anything, just disappointed when she asked me “Why would you want to tag your posts?”

To be fair, it wasn’t always that obvious that hashtags will change the way we use Twitter and other social media channels.

Hashtags were a user-innovation that was later adopted by Twitter as an actual feature when Twitter decided to hyperlink hashtags to search results. The rest of the socialsphere followed in its own pace, and Facebook, my wife’s go-to social destination, only recently decided to give in and add hashtags as a feature. It’s no surprise that for the masses over the age of 30, hashtags are still a novelty.

So whether you’re in that group, or just want a short social history lessons, here’s the brief history of hashtags. Then we’ll look at a few recent examples of brilliant marketing uses of hashtags.

A Brief History of Hashtags

There seems to be a consensus on the origin of hashtags and most people attribute the proposal to use hashtags in tweets to Chris Messina, through a tweet dating back to August 23, 2007.

But the first time a hashtag was used extensively as a way to categorize tweets and was adopted by the public was during the San Diego fire on October 23, 2007, when Nate Ritter used Twitter to report on the fire and included the hashtag #sandiegofire.

On July 2, 2009, Twitter officially embraced hashtags and hyperlinked them to search results. Tumblr was one of the early adopters of hashtags when it launched hashtags on August 18, 2009. A few months later, on March 30, 2010, in another homepage redesign, Twitter moved Trending Topics to its homepage, formalizing hashtags as a conversation driver on Twitter.

As Twitter users adopted hashtags as a normal part of the Twitter conversation, in a typical fashion to Twitter, hashtags stared in popular culture like TV shows, celebrities’ promotions and mainstream media.

The pop-culture adoption of hashtags helped push hashtags into other social networks. Instagram adopted hashtags on January 27, 2011, Flickr added hashtags on March 17, 2013 and Facebook finally broke and adopted hashtags on June 12, 2013.

Hashtags Adopted as a Marketing Tactic

An analysis of the Interbrand 100 list (the world’s top 100 brands) and their activity on Twitter, reveals that the world’s top brands have adopted the use of hashtags almost completely. In Q4 of last year, 97 percent of the brands posted at least one tweet that included a hashtag. Out of the 34,707 regular tweets (tweets that don’t include an @ reply or a retweet) that the Interbrand 100 companies posted, 45 percent included at least one hashtag and more than 67 percent included one or more hashtags.

1. Drive Engagement: # + Link = More Engagement

These companies have realized that hashtags help drive engagement. When compared to Tweets without a hashtag, tweets with hashtags showed 12 percent more engagement (RT, favorite or @ reply). Tweets that included a link anda hashtag, showed the highest engagement rate of any other type of tweet.

2. Test Your Messaging: #SOTU

During the last State of the Union address (#SOTU), the White House media team prepared content and tested 26 different hashtags.

  1. #SOTU
  2. #StateOfTheUnion
  3. #OutOfManyWeAreOne
  4. #OpportunityForAll
  5. #CollegeOpportunity
  6. #MadeInAmerica
  7. #ActOnClimate
  8. #ActForOurVets
  9. #RebuildAmerica
  10. #ActOnJobs
  11. #InvestInSTEM
  12. #ActOnCIR
  13. #ActOnUI
  14. #ActOnPreK
  15. #ConnectED
  16. #EqualPay
  17. #RaiseTheWage
  18. #ActOnTenTen
  19. #GetCovered
  20. #ACA
  21. #PeopleOverPolitics
  22. #RightToVote
  23. #ActForOurKids
  24. #SaluteOurTroops
  25. #Iran
  26. #TeamUSA
  27. #ActForOurTroops
  28. #SOTUChat

The next day (January 29) the White House focused on only seven of these hashtags and the vast majority of its tweets promoted the top three hashtags:

  1. #OpportunityForAll
  2. #RaiseTheWage
  3. #EqualPay
  4. #ActOnJobs
  5. #ActOnTenTen
  6. #CollegeOpportunity
  7. #MadeInAmerica

All-New Beginner’s Guide to Link Building

 What you’ll learn

1. What is Link Building, and Why Is It Important?

This is where it all begins. If you’re brand new to link building and aren’t sure whether or not it’s a good tactic to include in your marketing repertoire, give this chapter a look. Even the more seasoned link earners among us could use a refresher from time to time, and here we cover everything from what links mean to search engines to the various ways they can help your business’s bottom line.

2. Types of Links (Both Good and Bad)

Before you dive into building links of your own, it’s important to understand the three main types of links and why you should really only be thinking about two of them. That’s what this short and sweet chapter is all about.

3. How to Start a Link Building Campaign

Okay, enough with the theory; it’s time for the nitty-gritty. This chapter takes a deep dive into every step of a link building campaign, offering examples and templates you can use to build your own foundation.

4. Link Building Tactics

Whether through ego bait or guest blogging (yes, that’s  still a viable tactic!), there are several approaches you can take to building a strong link profile. This chapter takes a detailed run through the tactics you’re most likely to employ.

5. Link Building Metrics

Now that the links are rolling in, how do you prove to ourselves and our clients that our work is paying off? The metrics outlined in this chapter, along with the tools recommended to measure them, offer a number of options for your reports.

6. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Link Building

If we’re preaching to the choir with this chapter, then we’re thrilled, because spammy links can lead to severe penalties. Google has gotten incredibly good at picking out and penalizing spammy link building techniques, and if this chapter isn’t enough to make you put your white hat on, nothing is.

7. Advanced Link Building Tips and Tricks

Mastered the rest of what the guide has to offer? Earning links faster than  John Paulson earns cash? Here are a few tips to take your link building to the next level. Caution: You may or may not find yourself throwing fireballs after mastering these techniques.