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Content Strategy Explained

Posted by Taylor Daughtry on Friday, July 26, 2013

Content Strategy sounds like something that’s reserved for the Fortune 500 companies. It scares many people because they’re not sure what it is or whether they can actually do it. However, the good news is that it’s an easy thing to do, and it can make a great opportunity for a small business to define what they’re trying to do with the digital medium. It also gives direction to what’s usually a chaotic attempt at Online Marketing. Even right here in Montgomery, Alabama, your business can still use Content Strategy to gain more clients and produce more revenue.

Content Strategy includes a few different areas, like design, development, marketing, SEO, and others. You probably aren’t an expert on all of these, so it’s better to get the right people in the room before you start writing this.

Why am I creating ‘Content’, anyway?

The stuff you’ll create is called ‘Content’, and it includes everything from writing articles to filming videos for YouTube. It’s all content, and it’s all valuable to your business in tons of ways. Your business probably won’t be able to create every type of content, so you’ll get better results concentrating on one or two types. If your website design allows you to have a blog, I would recommend you use it for this purpose.

A simple example would be a local coffee business. They don’t have a large budget, so YouTube videos and a Podcast about Coffee wouldn’t be feasible—but they could write about the newest flavors they produce and make a few videos about their process, which would provide results faster than just text. The video and articles would get traffic from Social Media, which means more customers.

How often are you creating your content?

If you’re filming video, chances are it’s a one-time deal. Most businesses can’t afford to produce monthly videos about their business—but that’s okay, since it isn’t worth it for most people.

I’d suggest you choose to write a few articles per month or per week. It takes effort to follow through with this, and consistency is key to writing. Only set a schedule that you’re willing to stick with in the long-term. One article every two weeks, or even one article per month is okay, as long as you’re consistently posting it on time. Make sure your website design is designed so that it features your content prominently!

I’m already too busy! Why should I add this?

It’s easy to talk about this stuff, but once it comes to taking responsibility, most people take the easy way-out: ‘That sounds great, but I’m too busy, already!’.

The truth is that you should make time for it. You’re leaving money on the table if you attempt anything online without truly setting goals and responsibilities. You’re risking confusion and loss of income that could be coming from new customers. In the long-term, it’s worth it to make some time to sit down and work this stuff out. You’ll be glad you did in six months’ time.

Who is responsible for this stuff?

It’s important to clearly define who is responsible for creating your content, and what they should be creating.

If your secretary is responsible for updating the blog—well, what should she be writing about? Her vacation? She needs relevant topics to your business, and guidelines on what is and isn’t okay for her to write about. This prevents confusion and hurt feelings down the road.

Tell the person responsible how often they should be creating your content, and where they should post it. Give them access to Social Media for your business so they can promote the articles.

Next Week: Define Your Goals

Next week we'll continue this series by talking about Defining Your Goals, and how you can get the most benefit out of your site without having to spend hours working on it.

Stop by and talk with us about how your business can benefit from Content Strategy! We're available anytime during business hours at 334-356-3561, or come by if you're in Montgomery, Alabama!

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5 Tips to Make Twitter More Effective for Your Business

Posted by Taylor Daughtry on Friday, June 28, 2013

Twitter is one of the largest social media networks today, and it’s quite possible that many of the people you know at least have an account on Twitter. If you’re like most small businesses, then you might have an account just for your business. Maybe you even post a few times per month.


However, simply having an account isn’t enough to build your business, there are a few things you’ll need to do in order to get the most out of your effort, and make Twitter start working for you, and build your business’s brand:

Make your Twitter name easy to say and remember.

This matters. When you’re talking with someone, make sure your Twitter Handle (your account’s name) is easy to say and understand, as well as remember. SuperCompanyDesign is much easier than SuprDesgnCompanyLLC1. Avoid numbers, abbreviations, or other excessive variations (EX: 5Up3RD351GN instead of SUPERDESIGN) unless they’re an integral part of your business name.


If your company’s name isn’t available, get in touch with the account holder and see if they’re interested in selling the name. (NOTE: this is technically against Twitter’s Terms of Service, so it should used as a last resort. Your mileage may vary!)


If your name isn’t available, try variations. For example, SuperDesign probably isn’t available, but perhaps SuperCompanyDesign is. ExtremeSports isn’t available, but maybe ExtremeAlabama, or ExtremeSportsAlabama is.


Be sure to keep it as short as possible. You want your handle to be short enough to tell someone as they’re hanging up the phone, or as they’re walking away, and still be understood.


Like this:


...Okay, we’ll confirm that meeting tomorrow, but If you need to speak to us quickly, just send us a Tweet at SuperDesign. Have a nice day!


instead of:


... Okay, we’ll continue talking about it tomorrow, but if you need to talk with someone again before then, just send us a tweet at ‘S’ 1 (the number 1), ‘U’, ‘P’, 3 (the number 3),...


It flows much easier in conversation—which is a good thing!

Tweet Often, and Consistently.

If you’re not willing to tweet at least once per week, then it’s not worth the effort to create an account. People generally aren’t willing to follow an account that only posts a few times per month, unless you have some really engaging content. You better be giving away stuff like it’s 1999.


You should at least be posting once per week, but once or twice a day is average, and usually returns good results. The best time to post your best tweets (giveaways, sales, or other things that you think will generate mentions) is usually around 1:00 - 3:00 PM for your target audience. If you’re looking to gain followers that work in the Night guard industry, you might consider varying your post times. Otherwise, it’s best to stick to sometime in the early afternoon.

Talk about Relevant and Interesting Content in Your Industry.

Don’t talk about your cat unless you’re in the pet business. Don’t talk about your car unless that’s relevant to your business. (You’re a mechanic, car salesman, or the like.) This keeps your tweets targeted to a specific audience, and your account will be more likely to gain followers faster. Nobody wants to follow a business account that just talks about personal stuff. Generally, there’s no value there, it’s simply polluting their feed.


However, that isn’t to say that people don’t like any sort of interaction in the human form at all. People tend to favor accounts that have a human quality to them, so occasionally commenting on relevant events in your areas is acceptable and encouraged!

Interaction on Twitter is the Key to Success.

While simply consistently tweeting is a great start to building your brand, It’s when you start interacting with other people that it really becomes a valuable way to spend your time. When someone mentions your brand, make sure you respond to answer their question(s) if they have any, or add something to the conversation they’re having with someone else. The more you talk with others, the more your followers will be engaged with your brand.

Be careful about Who you Allow to Tweet for Your Business.

There are numerous articles written about the disasters that have befallen businesses that don’t follow this suggestion. All it takes is for one person managing your Twitter feed, and suddenly everyone knows about the inner workings of the business, and what’s happening internally. Make sure to place someone responsible and qualified in charge of Social Media, or it could mean disaster later on!


If you’ll follow these few tips on making Twitter more effective for your business, you’re much more likely to see results quicker than simply having an account. Just be consistent, and make sure to respond to people that ask you questions, and you’ll have a fantastic experience!


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Social Media in Action – Foosackly’s Facebook Success Story

Posted by Production Productive IT on Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Foodackly Facebook

Often times it’s easy to extol the virtues of social media, after all it’s sort of become a requirement for any business looking to find success online. However, it’s understandably difficult for small businesses just starting out to really grasp just how they can see results. A few common misconceptions are that simply having a profile on a social network is enough or that fans should be flocking to you in droves by your third or fourth update. After all, that’s how it works for the McDonalds and Nikes of the world right?

Surprisingly enough its small businesses that reap more benefit from tapping into social network like Facebook or Twitter than those larger franchises ever will. Those that start adopting it as a part of their marketing early on have the opportunity to create authentic connections with their followers – one on one – and establish brand advocates that are 100% active as opposed to accumulating 500,000 “unactive” followers.

Fusaiotti’s strategy was so successful... It not only helped identify potential markets where the demand was strong, but also strengthened his online community who have now become active investors in the project.

I read a news article earlier this week that demonstrated a prime example of a small business utilizing its social network to great effect (and profit). The company in mention, Foosackly, is a local business located in Mobile, AL that has grown from a single location to seven in the past 11 years. For his most recent restaurants (which should launch by Thanksgiving) Foosackly founder Will Fusaiotti took a unique approach to choosing the location – he asked his Facebook fans.

Fusaiotti’s strategy was so successful (more than 3,000 people voted) that he ended up opening two locations instead of one! It not only helped identify potential markets where the demand was strong, but also strengthened his online community who have now become active investors in the project. And Foosackly isn’t alone; plenty of small businesses have seen big returns on social networks by investing their time and personality to the brand. Naked Pizza, which we covered here previously, is a prime case study for finding the same success on Twitter.

How do you currently utilize your social networks? Do you make it a priority to reward and connect with your followers on a daily basis?

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5 Steps to a Good Start in Social Media

Posted by Production Productive IT on Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Social Media Steps

1) Describe your business in 140 characters or less.

It may sound silly, but Twitter's 140 character limit is essentially the equivalent of the social media elevator pitch. Being able to narrow down this core description will not only help you strip out all of the unnecessary technical jargon you business might have grown accustomed to, but it will make you focus on the most important element: how you can make things easier for your customers.

2) Choose the right tool(s).

There are seemingly countless options when it comes to social media networks to join. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn currently reign supreme, but others like Tumblr, Google+, Orkut and MySpace are still very relevant. The most important factor to understand when selecting your network(s) is to start where your customers are at. As our fearless PIT boss likes to say: “Fish where the fish are.”

3) Create an Editorial Calendar and stick to it.

Establishing an editorial calendar has become a particularly useful tool for online marketers. Outlining in advance when a blog post will go out and how you can filter that content into your social media profiles is an effective strategy - especially when you know what time of day your target demographic is most active.

4) Track. Monitor. Report.

Speaking of knowing your target audience, a good marketing campaign is meaningless if you're not keeping track of how well it's actually working. How often is your content being shared? Are customers truly being engaged by the type of content you provide? Do they ask questions or leave comments? Are you considered a thought leader in your industry? If the answer to even one of these questions is "I don't know" you need to seriously re-consider your strategy.

5) Engage your audience, don't sell to them.

This is perhaps the most difficult step on the list to master, especially for those who are new to social media. However, understanding the difference between a sales pitch and open communication can either make or break a business. Remember that social media is about being social, which makes it just as much about your customers as it does your product and/or service. Don't become an interruption, join the conversation.

Of course, these are only 5 of many things to consider when starting an online marketing strategy, specifically for social media. If you've already excelled beyond these and would like to discuss other opportunities you might be missing out on, drop us a line. We'd be happy to help.

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YouTube Goes Cosmic with New Interface Design

Posted by Production Productive IT on Monday, July 11, 2011

YouTube

Announced just last week on their official blog, the purveyors of video hosting at YouTube have opened their latest TestTube project (dubbed Cosmic Panda) to the public. Basically a redesign, Cosmic Panda features a radically overhauled interface that indicates a shift towards premium ad placement, but otherwise seems mostly aesthetic.

It's difficult to say without testing the functionality first hand if this redesign is more than skin deep. However, from a visual standpoint, the new design takes more than a few cues from its competitor (*cough*Hulu*cough*) and while YouTube is still clearly an open forum for all creators I get the feeling that many of these changes were made more with film studios and TV networks in mind (MGM, Lions Gate Entertainment, and CBS).

YouTube

The new charcoal-grey background for videos makes them easier on the eyes and does mark improvement. There are also new video size options that add to the "cinematic" experience, but for the average video not optimized at those dimensions it leaves them pixelated and/or distorted. 

The placement of certain elements seem a little odd, several users have noted the "Flag as inappropriate" button as being particularly hard to find. Much of this could be chalked up to learning something new, though. Actual video pages are no longer customizable, but the main profile pages still allow for personalized background images.

Those fearing change shouldn't worry too much, at least not yet. For now, Cosmic Panda is opt-in only which means that you can turn it on and off at will. What this test holds for the future of YouTube users remains to be seen, but you can count that we'll see at least some of these changes in a future redesign.

Want to try it out for yourself? Check out the official Cosmic Panda page to get started.

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Looking Ahead: Google Gets Social

Posted by Hanan Wilson on Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Google Gets Social

With Facebook and Twitter dominating the social marketplace it seems that Google is now preparing to make their second step (the first being Google Buzz) with the Google +1 Button as the video below shows. Although it’s technically still an experiment by Google Labs, the Google +1 Button could cause some pretty serious waves should it catch on.

Essentially, the +1 Button works just like Facebook’s Like button in that it allows those connected to you to view sites that you’ve given your approval to. Google can then take these results and, once signed in to your Google account, display them when you do a search. Google has also hinted about carrying the concept over to ads, articles, and even websites—completely changing the way we look at search engine optimization (SEO).

Aden Hepburn, over at DigitalBuzzBlog, brought up a few good points about the potential for the same “click fraud” that initially plagued early banner ads, in addition to the possibilities of mining this new data for recommendation engines. Of course this also benefits Google’s own social profiles which are (naturally) required for the full experience to be effective. Should be an interesting year for SEO.

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Why Social Media Makes a Difference for Small Business

Posted by Hanan Wilson on Friday, March 11, 2011

Social Media

With so many options available to connect with customers, not to mention all of the tasks required just to keep the day-to-day aspects of your business functioning, you many find the prospect of entering the maelstrom of social media more than a little daunting. Not becoming involved, however, even in the slightest way, could be having a unseen (and growing) negative impact on your business.

I'm sure that you've heard of tools like Twitter, Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Vimeo. If not over the course of your own experience than on television, your kids, or your business partners and peers. These tools have changed the way in which we work, play and even how we live our daily lives. In short they matter and they're beginning to matter to more and more people every day.

These people, your employees and your customers, are using these tools to rapidly change the way that modern marketing (and to a degree society) works. The ease and accessibility of things like Twitter and Facebook especially allow you to interact directly with your customers on their level. This sort of relationship also tends to make them better customers.

There have been some amazing stories, from both large corporations and small business, emerge from the proper leveraging of social media and each share a common element: engagement. Social media allows you to genuinely engage your customers (and even employees) by allowing them to express their feedback and opinions on your product/service, participate in exclusive information/announcements, and build buzz (ie. interest) in your message. The point being, if you don't have a social media strategy in place, you're losing out on an entire fan base.

But perhaps, as I mentioned above, you don't have the time or skill to use social media effectively. That's where we can help guide you through the process, making it even simpler for you to not only create all of the social profiles you'll need, but manage them as well. 

For more information on how our Internet Marketing services can help you, be sure to drop us a line or give us a call at 334-356-3561.

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