Crowdsourcing Content: A Win-Win Situation

Content is a hot topic lately, with everyone scrambling to find it, put it out and increase their SEO efforts by doing so. In order to keep up with the content demand, have you considered crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing content works in favor of both the company and the consumer. Consumers want to play a bigger role in the brands that they support, and consumer-produced content is highly cost-effective for brands. Content marketing is 63% less expensive than traditional marketing according to Demand Metric, and three times better at generating leads. Through crowdsourcing your content, you can increase your value and raise consumer confidence in your brand.

For example, take sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon, which run solely on reviews posted by consumers. Studies have shown that content produced by consumers seems to make more of an impact on other consumers. Why? Well think of it this way: would you trust the opinion of a blog writer hired by the brand or an everyday average person that has used the product/service? People want to hear the opinions of their friends or actual users.

Keys to Crowdsourcing 

Hiring staff to write content can become costly, but having your consumers write your content for you isn’t. On average, how long does it take for you to write a blog post? Not just your musings of the day, but a well-researched, thought-out and documented blog? Think of that time in term of dollar signs and how much you could save by having your customers do the work.

  • Offer an incentive. Have your customers submit to a contest by entering a funny photo or video of them using your product/service. The prize should be related to your business or perhaps even a new product you have to offer, but it has to be worth entering to win. You can then use the submissions as content on your social media pages or website. This will not only give you content to choose from, but will also create a social buzz around your brand.
  • Give recognition. People love to be recognized and appreciated, especially when they become a loyal customer for a brand. While on Twitter, retweet your brand advocates and engage in conversation with them. When you have a new product or service launching, let those same brand advocates be the first to try it out…and let them write about it! Use pictures, blogs, videos or any other content your brand advocates create to showcase your new products/services and give full credit to them for the reviews.
  • Encourage engagement. While you can crowdsource as much content as possible, you’ll still need to keep up a regular blog schedule. In order to keep crowdsourcing, inspire your readers to leave comments. Comments will not only boost your SEO with Google, but they can be a great source of feedback from consumers. Give your point of view and ask open-ended questions towards the end.  Once your readers start to comment on your blog, make sure to follow up with every comment and even ask more questions. If appropriate, repurpose comments as quotes you can use on social media or your website.

If you need help with your content marketing strategy, contact us for help. Have you used crowdsourced content for your website? How did you get your readers to participate?

Conquer Content in 2014

You’ve probably heard the buzz phrases “content is king” and “content marketing” over and over again in the past few months. If it wasn’t already obvious, content is the heart and soul to everything online. In 2014, content will also be the key to SEO. Everything we publish is content, from Instagram to blogs to Twitter. As a business, you can’t escape content if you want to stay ahead of the marketing curve.

Think of your content marketing plan as a hub and spoke model.

hub-and-spoke-marketing1

The center of the model (the hub) should be your website which contains the content that you create. The spokes are all the different ways you can distibute that content, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Email Marketing, contests, Pinterest and any other social networks you use. You use all the “spokes” to bring consumers back in to the hub, aka your website. Through your website, your content should give a call to action, eventually leading consumers to a sale.

So what makes for intriguing, shareable online content that will draw potential customers to your brand? Here are a few suggestions to set you apart from the competition:

  • Negative Headlines. Don’t underestimate the power of a negative headline. Negative titles can work brilliantly for bringing in traffic. For example: 20 things you shouldn’t be sharing on Twitter. Sometimes, a negative headline will draw in more readers than a positive one.
  • Reviews. I’m not talking about a single product or restaurant review, but put together a compilation of reviews in one blog. Maybe you’ve been researching what type of vacuum to buy. Review 10 different vacuums, include product screenshots and save people time from reviewing each one individually.
  • Evergreen Content. Is your blog content as valuable one year down the road as it is today? You should have a mix of evergreen items and news topics on your blog so that it doesn’t date quickly. This way, you can repurpose your content or link back to previous blogs.
  • How-To Information. Some of the most shared content topics on social media are how-to videos and tutorials. If you sell a product, create how-to instructions for using your product in real life scenarios or to solve everyday problems. You can even use a how-to video for customer service if a user has an issue. These are fairly simply to make but very effective.
  • User-Generated Content. Do you sell a service or product that can change someone’s life? Have you customers create testimonials or short blogs about how your product has helped them and why others should buy it. User-generated content costs nothing to create…someone else is creating it for you! It also urges your customers to share it because it spotlights individuals, who will share with their online communities. Everyone loves getting their 15 minutes of fame.

If you need help creating valuable, quality content on your blog, contact us for help. What kind of content do you use on your blog that performs well?

Jumping the Shark: How to Get Your Blog Back on Track

So it’s finally happened. Through (perhaps) no fault of your own, you have finally jumped the shark on your blog. If you’re unfamiliar with it, “jumping the shark” is a modern idiom for going completely over to the top due to repetition. Here’s the original clip. Why was Fonzie, a greaser in Milwaukee, jumping over sharks on water-skis in California? Because the writers of Happy Days were out of ideas.

I can’t think of any better analogy for blogging. As someone trying to constantly produce content, it is easy run out of ideas and go somewhere…silly. And that’s what happened—a perfectly stable and well-crafted blog has taken a very weird turn. But this blog isn’t about content tips. There are plenty of places to find that. Besides, this isn’t about being out of ideas; you have an idea—you’ve just fallen down the rabbit hole, not to mix the metaphors.

This also isn’t about avoiding common blogging problems. In my opinion, this isn’t a typical problem. But it is a problem any veteran blogger will have. So what can you do about it?

First of all, take a deep breath. You have a blog that is mostly complete. You’ve done the research, you’ve checked the facts, and now you’ve just lost your way. The first thing to remember is not to panic.

Retrace your steps. Where did things go wrong? Before you can find out what’s wrong, you have to find out where things were still right. Usually I can spot the exact moment where I lost my focus and started navel-gazing into shark territory. Back up to the moment of silliness and really consider what you have there. It might be as simple as cutting everything after that.

If not…

Cut deep, but cut carefully. Perhaps some of the stuff in your babbling and bumbling is good. After all, the first draft of any project should be considered exploratory. It’s perfectly fine to keep some of your more exploratory material, but only if it’s as strong as the rest of your content. Don’t be afraid to cut; get rid of overly wordy, verbose, adjective-filled sentences. Short sentences work (see what I did there?). Also, don’t be afraid to cut out the entire section and rewrite what little gem you found. All I ask is that you dig into all that dopey material and hunt for some gold. Stream of consciousness stuff can be wonderful—it just needs refined.

Take a break. Perhaps you just need a moment to collect your thoughts. Jumping the shark can be as simple cubicle fever. Go for a walk or work on something else. If you’re pressed for time, work on another project for a few minutes or answer some important emails. You need to focus away from this piece for as long as possible. If you can sleep on it, all the better. A fresh set of eyes are great.

If all else fails, start over. As horrible as it may sound, not all pieces can be saved from the shark tank. Sometimes it’s better to walk away from a blog article than to keep trying to repair it. If this piece is no longer recognizable, it may be time to start on a new subject. Perhaps you can come back to this particular subject another time.

Where do we go from here? There’s nothing wrong with jumping the shark. As a social media manager, you’re going to take a wrong turn now and then. The key is to remember your integrity. Don’t settle for silliness just because your blog sitcom has been running for a while. Keep those editing pencils sharp, and know when to cancel an article if it doesn’t hold up to your standards.