Archives for May 2012

How infographics can be weaved into your social strategy

A guest post from @adriasaracino

A social media marketing strategy is integral to how you promote your business (or your clients’ businesses) online. After the meteoric rise in the popularity of the infographic, it’s worth considering how you can best weave this kind of content into your strategy.

A fresh source of quality content
A good social strategy always involves bucket-loads of high quality content, whether you’re creating it yourself or finding it online to share. This can sometimes be challenging, particularly if your business isn’t the most engaging of industries.

The infographic creates many opportunities for fresh content, even for less immediately exciting subject areas. Because the heart of the infographic comes from presenting complex information or data in a simple and accessible way, it means as long as you have access to data and some creativity, you’ll be able to find something interesting to say.

In fact, some of the most successful infographics around comes from companies who analyze their own data – such as the online dating website, OKCupid. This is because, if you’re the only one with the numbers, you’ll be creating something truly unique – a hard feat in today’s blogosphere.

Innately shareable
Your social strategy probably revolves around conversations and sharing. The infographic perfectly suits the latter of these activities and doing something as simple as adding interactive share features makes it easier than ever to watch your content spread like wildfire online. For example, Simply Business created this interactive productivity guide series that allows readers to socially share the piece directly off the graphic. Think carefully about where you position these kind of features on the infographic, as you don’t want to seem overly pushy, nor do you want them to be overlooked.

The very nature of infographics also makes them ideal for sharing. They’re visually appealing, load on a single page and can usually be digested in a very short time. If you think about how short a time you have to make an impression on a visitor, this last feature is a really important benefit. In fact, it means that infographics are often a better way to present certain bits of information than, for example, a traditional blog post.

They can be quick and easy to create
Although many infographics involve lots of crunched data and careful design, it doesn’t have to be this way. Sometimes, the simplest designs are the best, particularly if they play off well-known or trending memes. For example, take a look
at this one created by South African Hotels that takes a look at foods South African expats miss the most. Meme-based
infographics tend to share well and are easy to create, so this can be an extra incentive to keeping things simple!

Some stock photography websites also offer great vector images for infographics that can be crafted into something suitable for your business. The beauty of this approach is that, by using vectors, you can scale your infographics for whatever purpose you want – from presentations to merchandise!

These three points just go to show how accessible and worthwhile infographics are to anybody’s social strategy. And, with those stock vectors ready for you to use straight away, there’s no excuse not to get creating some fresh, irresistibly shareable content for your business.

Adria Saracino is a marketer and blogger. When not consulting on business’ content strategy, you can find her writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.

Seven Ways to Ensure Marketing Consistency

A guest post from Christopher Wallace

A long time ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth, there were no social media sites or smart phones. The Internet was still in its infancy and the business world relied on meetings… lots of meetings, ranging from in-depth strategy and sales sessions to mundane status meetings. Fortunately, we have moved way beyond this dated concept of getting-everyone-in-the-same-room-looking-at-the-same-stack-of-papers to embracing technology in its varied forms to accomplish the same things more quickly and without the need for all those face-to-face meetings. Not only that, software programs themselves have become much easier to use, making it possible for more people within a company to design their own campaigns and messages.

Bottom line: the sales and marketing divisions within a modern company operate much differently than they did just ten short years ago. And while most of these developments have been advantageous, the problem of inconsistent messaging is a growing concern. With customers now coming in from the Internet as well as standard feet-on-the-street sales teams, it’s very important that a company’s message be standardized across the board, or you’re liable to create a potentially confusing story for your prospects.

Here are seven ways to help you insure marketing consistency within your company:

  1. First and foremost, top management has to recognize that it’s no longer “business as usual.” Think of all the divisions – sales, marketing, support – that interact with customers. If you want a consistent message, then the company leaders have to make it clear that they support whatever changes are necessary to ensure a consistent message.
  2. If you’re larger than a four-person shop, seriously consider a Content Management System (CMS) to help manage and control the amount and quality of the information being posted on the corporate website. It will allow a larger number of people to contribute, reduce the chances for duplicate data and will help control access to any privileged data.
  3. Don’t assume everyone will immediately agree to all the changes. A CMS is no good if you’ve got a few rogues who refuse to use it. Adopting and using any new systems should be given top priority. Offer hands-on training sessions frequently until all those responsible for web content are familiar with how it works.
  4. Make it easy for folks to share information in the early planning stages, like at the beginning of a new campaign or the planning of a tradeshow. Pinterest is new to the scene, but has a lot of promise in being able to aid in this area. Anyone anywhere can “pin” pictures on a certain topic where others can see them, even that sales rep who always seems to be on the road with their laptop.
  5. Ensure that your information looks and feels the same no matter what format it’s in – online, print, or video. This means more than making sure that everybody is using the same logo in the same font and color. For example – coordinate the look of any Call To Action (CTA) forms with any printed response cards you use. Whitepapers should have a similar look to them, even if different departments are writing them; ditto for case studies. Don’t use a different jingle or theme song in every new video you produce. There should be no question as to what company is delivering the message.
  6. Face up to Facebook – it’s here and it’s not going away any time soon. Develop a policy as to who can post to Facebook and enforce it. Don’t get all carried away with the idea of getting 1000’s of “likes,” because studies have shown that these often have very little to do with sales. People will “like” you because it’s quick, easy and costs them nothing. If you want a presence on Facebook, then take a little time to develop a policy that ties back in to what you’re presenting on the rest of your corporate website.
  7. Finally, meetings. No, not the dinosaur of old. Modern meetings can be done without getting a whole bunch of people together in one room, thanks to programs like GoToMeeting. But with all the new activity going on, you’re going to want to touch-base on a regular basis to keep everyone in focus and to resolve any issues before they get too troublesome.

With a little bit of due diligence, your company will be able to present a clear and unified story about its products and services. This will make it easier for your prospects to understand how you can help them solve their problems, leading to your ultimate goal – more customers!

Christopher Wallace, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, has more than 20 years experience in sales and marketing. At Amsterdam, a leading provider of personalized pens, and other personalized items such as imprinted apparel and customized calendars, Christopher is focused on providing quality marketing materials to small, mid-size and large businesses.

WeLoveLeon: a Pinteresting experience

A guest blog from WeLoveLeon

WeLoveLeon is a micro-business selling tea towels with Pug designs on them. We’ve been trading quite successfully, but one thing alluded us; success in America. Then recently, an email pinged with a sale. From America! A lady in Chicago had purchased using the dollar currency section of our website for the very first time. We were so excited. The emailed pinged again, this time with news that someone had repinned an image of one of our tea towels, from the same lady! And then another email – someone from the States buying a full set of all four designs. A few hours investment in a WeLoveLeon Pinterest board has brought us rewards in the US.! So how did we do it?

WeLoveLeon’s tea towels are really quite niche. For a start, you have to like Pugs. No, not like, love Pugs, to the point of obsession. You also have to like our modern, crisp design. We started by setting up a website, then a Twitter profile for the company. My Pug Leon already had his own Twitter, with 900 followers, most of whom are Pugs (an example of how great Social Media is at finding niche audiences). We used the two Twitter accounts to cross-pollinate links to our products resulting in an amazing number of sales.

Looking at Google analytics, we could see that while the Twitter accounts have a large number of followers in the States, hits to the sales website from North America were minimal, a maximum of 2% of our hit rate. We simply weren’t reaching what would still be a niche audience, but a much larger one.

Our first strategy was to duplicate our sales pages on the website with the prices in dollars, then added a banner ad linking to it from the main page asking “Shopping from the US?”. On these pages we countered what we perceived to be objections to purchase, namely the delivery time and costs, and also gave a potted history of the tea towel and what you do with it (American aren’t quite sure that they are – they think their part of an elaborate tea ceremony I think). Still very little interest.

Then I stumbled across Pinterest and set a personal one up. Having recently moved house to Whitstable, it was a fascinating source of visual images, especially for home decoration. So I started pinning.

Having experimented under my own name, I set up a WeLoveLeon Pinterest. I have a rule about social media in business that you should take the same approach to interacting with people as you do at a Networking event. Be polite, listen to other people, don’t talk only about yourself and start conversations about mutually relevant topics. So on Pinterest, I set up a Pug Stuff board with Pug photos and dog products, a design board and a home stuff board, since these where what my target audience would need to find interesting in order to find my products relevant.

Within a few days, people were starting to repin from our boards. Given that in the US, Pinterest is largely used by women, and key topics are interior design, crafts and leisure, we were gradually gaining more momentum. We noticed a slight uplift in our visits from America to our site.

Then I realised that when you put a currency symbol on a Pinterest, it adds a sash on the side of the pin to show the price. Brilliant! Straight away I started using the dollar cost of the tea towels, $12. Again, more interest from America. Till finally, the sale mentioned at the start of this piece. This lady could not be cross-referenced to any Twitter or Facebook activity, she found us through Pinterest. We of course responded to her Pin with a comment about the sale. By now, the US accounted for 20% of our website traffic. And then we got another big order. What a result!

We’re hoping our Pinterest page will have the same affect as Twitter, gradually building up a following. While we’ve got got plenty of ideas, we currently have only a few products. We have to be careful with our Social Media of not hogging the conversation. We don’t want to have a one-sided conversation of promoting a few products endlessly, since people will soon get bored. However, we definitely seem to get getting something right!

The key lessons from this are:

  • to find your audience on a Social Media platform, look for what your audience would be interested in on that platform
  • don’t just talk about your products, share with them news, photos and stories around your product area that they’ll find interesting
  • cross pollinate your links between your Facebook and Twitter to save you time and energy
  • Break down all objections to a sale on your website, then use social media to spread these messages individually
  • Display your prices clearly, if possible in the home currency of the market you’re trying to reach
  • Spend time learning the nuances of each new Social Media site on a test account before launching your company account
How are you using Pinterest?
Thanks Gavin for your great story. I think many businesses could do well from Pinterest and have seen some amazing results from some of the Pinterest accounts I have set up for clients. Nikki x

 

 

Why is Content Creation Good for SEO?

I tell clients all the time that content creation is an important part of SEO – and this nifty infographic gives some very good reasons why.

If you’re not creating great content, either for your site itself or as part of your blogging strategy, then you will be missing out in future.

How are you going to make great content a part of your SEO campaigns from now on?

Thanks to Brafton for the fab infographic.

Optimising images for Pinterest

Thanks to Chris Voss for this great find. If you’re looking to make the most of Pinterest and want to know more about optimising your images, be sure to read on 🙂

The Travel Blogger Army and Your Marketing Efforts

This is a guest post by @adriasaracino

A symbol depicting a palm tree.

A symbol depicting a palm tree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With thousands of travel blogs published every day, it’s easy for a compelling blogger to get lost in the fray.

That’s where travel blogger networks come in, forming a tight knit community of high quality, dedicated bloggers that link to one another’s work, comment and guest post on each other’s blogs, participate in Follow Fridays on Twitter and engage in community wide travel contests, sponsored by travel companies.

The combined efforts of this passionate, energetic and creative group of people creates content-rich media that greatly increases their individual search engine rankings while forming a tight-knit, caring community. Together, they find individual success.

And they’re perfect for your marketing efforts.

Why? Because they’re early adopters with a platform. They’re always on the cutting edge, looking for the best experiences and deals so that they can live life to the fullest. And they’re just as hopped up about helping others do it, too.

So, how can marketers engage with this moving and shaking community?

1. Use or Give Badges

The most popular travel blogs have vibrant sidebars in which they promote other travel bloggers or services with badges. While these are essentially ads, they don’t feel like it. They’re content-rich, written in a way that relates directly to the user so they feel appropriately targeted, therefore increasing the click-through rate.

A brand can issue their own to important bloggers for use on their site. What does it offer bloggers? A boost to their reputation and credibility via a stamp of approval from a recognized brand – your brand.

2. Curate a Travel Blog

One of the best ways to engage with the travel blogging community is by curating a company travel blog. Most of the best travel business websites, from currency exchange websites like Travelex to airline carriers like EasyJet, already run their own blogs. Go a step further by reaching out to the travel blogging networks directly to find guest bloggers. When treated well, these bloggers will most likely continue to use and promote these services in their own time.

3. Be Helpful

Providing access to the highest quality travel information is crucial for building the best reputation and search rankings not just amongst travel bloggers but amongst general customers as well. Travel bloggers can see right through crap content, so don’t waste your time creating it if you want to gain their trust.

4. Sponsor Contests

Travelers love new adventures, and you’ll garner a lot of attention if you partner with a blogging network to promote a cool new contest. For instance, The Global Bloggers Network runs blog hops, where people must travel to each blog within the network to gather information, which they submit to win prizes from sponsoring companies. In past contests, Contiki and EastytoBook have given away a $2,000 cash prize as well as three night’s accommodation at a resort. This is a great way to engage potential customers.

If you approach travel blogging networks in the right way, you can help a company become a trusted member of this tight knit community, staying fresh in customer’s minds as they recall the quality content or fun experiences you’ve provided online. What’s more, the brand will be considered cool, cutting edge and perhaps even world-changing – just the kind of thing travelers love.

Adria Saracino is a marketer and blogger. When not consulting on business’ content strategy, you can find her writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.

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10 reasons to realign your website [infographic]

Another fab infographic from J6 Design, showing why you should rethink your website regularly (they recommend at least yearly)

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