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?

Stick to the Point: How to Master Content Marketing

In the age of digital media and online marketing, there are several areas that a company should consider before developing a social media marketing strategy, but the most important aspect always comes back to content. You’ve heard the saying before: content is king. So how do you put a content marketing plan into place?

  • Define. The first thing you should do when creating a content strategy is to define your goals. What do you want to gain from creating content? New leads? A better awareness of your product or services? Who is your target audience? Have a clear picture of what your strategy will be and put it into writing. When you feel that you might be veering off course, go back to your defined goals and get back on track.
  • Distribute. Great content won’t do you any good if it doesn’t reach anyone. How will customers find your content? There is a wide range of social media channels to distribute your content, so you have to decide what is going to work best for your brand. From YouTube to white papers to Facebook, consider the pros and cons of each platform and pick two to three that you think will best benefit you. Make sure to keep your content fresh by regularly updating your blog and social networks.
  • Discover. What kind of content will keep your customers connected? Your brand should have different types of content to help people at any point in their journey. Whether the person is a potential customer or a repeat visitor, you should have content that caters to all sorts of groups. Each of these customer segments is different and should have unique content.
  • Develop. Content can take many forms, so try different methods to see what works best for you. Tell stories that are engaging about your employees, founders or even customers to make an emotional connection with your audience. Find relevant information about similar topics to share, including statistics, quotes or funny facts. You can even crowd source and have your customers create content for you by asking them to share stories about themselves and your product/services.
  • Design. Make your content visually-appealing by using graphics and videos. Did you know that 90% of information that comes to the brain is visual? Infographics are great ways to get your content distributed in a fun and interesting way. They are eye-catching, they show that you are an expert in a subject and they have a tendency to go viral. 40% of people will respond better to visual information than simply plain text.

Remember: quality always wins over quantity. Yes, there is always a positive spin to being in front of a readers’ eyes when they are scrolling through their feed, but what really makes an impact, is when they stop to read what you have to say. At that given moment, you can effectively make a sale, engage them as a client and keep their interest in the future.

Grammar: There, Their or They’re?

grammar

It seems like such a simple thing, but there are a plethora of people in the world that just plain hate grammar. The rules are ridiculous, they say—outdated, contradictory and confusing. I’m not going to argue. English is a language based on stealing words from other languages and sort of shoving them into the vocabulary like stacking one more chair onto a crowded moving truck.

I studied English in college. I went as high as you can possibly go in terms of diagramming sentences. I helped other people with their papers. I was the editor of the paper. Let me tell you, some people will think you’re a wizard if you’re good with grammar.

But why do we care? This is a whole new world (cue Aladdin song)—full of Twittering and internet short-hand. Who would worry about proper grammar? Well, your clients, for starters. Even if they are super high-tech masters of the internet (and they’re probably not), they’re going to want their copy (read: content) to look good. That involves proper word use, punctuation and sentence structure. Webpage design and blogging should be where you really try to shine. Make sure you know the difference between “its” and “it’s” (Just in case you were curious: “its” is possessive, while “it’s” is short for “it is”). “Then” and “than” should be monitored closely. “Further” and “farther” are also important, although used less frequently.  And of course, there’s the deadly “there,” “their” and “they’re” (location, possession and contraction, respectively).

None of this is magic, by the way. Doing a Google search will solve most problems. The site Grammar Book is great for your basic needs. For those in a hurry, start following @quickdirtytips or @GrammarMonkeys on Twitter.  Subscribe to a blog like Grammar Gang. So instead of just fixing problems as they come, you can start learning something every day. That is probably the most useful advice I can give you, by the way: learn, don’t fix. If you learn the rules, you don’t have to worry so much about fixing anything.

Speaking of fixing things, if people hate anything more than grammar, it’s proofreading. I cannot tell you the amount of things I’ve proofread before (legally, I shouldn’t even mention some of them). People think that only full-on grammar wizards can proofread anything.  That’s completely untrue. The key to proofreading is a fresh perspective. After you complete your first draft of anything, take a walk. Get a drink. Go to the bathroom. Come back with new eyes. Another trick—if you’re handcuffed to a desk or something—is to read your draft BACKWARDS. What you’re trying to do is trick your brain into thinking it is reading something completely new. Why? Because if you don’t, that lazy, traitorous brain of yours will fill in all the gaps for you, making you skip the mistakes that are actually there.

So, you’ve fixed your mistakes. You Googled how to spell “conscience” correctly (that one is for how you feel morally, not whether you’re still awake while trying to read this). You’ve walked away from the draft, and come back to it to find even more mistakes. You’ve cursed my name a few times. Now you’re ready to post or print it, right? Wrong. Now it’s time to hand it over to someone else. Someone else can be as easy as the guy in your office that is actually a full-on grammar wizard (thank you, thank you), your superior, a friendly English teacher on Facebook, or an actual, honest to goodness proofreader that might want money for their services. Always think about your content before paying anyone. How important is the piece you’re writing? How many people are going to see it, and for how long? Who are they—people on Twitter or your boss’s boss? These are important considerations when handing out money to someone.

Conclusions? Grammar is very important when you are creating copy for websites and blogs—things people are going to be staring at a lot. It’s better to learn about grammar than to just try to fix mistakes on the spot. Remember to always proofread your own drafts—after a break, of course. And after you’ve looked at it once (or twice, or three times…), give your work to someone else to look at. If you follow these steps, I promise other people will start thinking you have magical powers. In my next blog, I’ll be talking about etiquette and yes, grammar, when using social media like Twitter and Instagram.