I read a good post today, Raidious' Three Pillars of Social Media.
Raidious is a content marketing firm. In this post they break down some of the basics your company will want to be aware of with your online brand communications.
Basically, they break it down into three sections (or pillars): content, monitoring and moderation.
I really like what they had to say about content:
"...content is king regardless of the platform. Content is anything you post on your pages in order to interact with your customers. This could be a Facebook post, a tweet, photo, video, link, etc."
That's what I wanted to focus on for this post, content vs. platform.
I adhere to Raidious’ philosophy that the engine behind successful inbound online brand communications is regular valuable content. The content (and backlinks) is what helps your SEO. It matters less which social media platforms you use to distribute your content as long as when you do you’re making valuable connections toward new and strengthened business relationships.
This is also why it’s increasingly important for companies to have a blog as part of their website, so they can own their content. Think about it, what if Facebook ever crashed and your company lost everything that was on that platform...if you own your content you could rebuild a presence more easily on a new platform.
Posted By: Nick Venturella
Yesterday I read the Content Marketing Institute’s blog post titled, 12 Reasons to Put Blogs at the Center of Your Content Marketing, written by Heidi Cohen.
Beyond the useful tips in the post there was a line that really stood out to me in regard to blogging as a central piece of your online brand communications strategy, which was...
“From a marketing perspective, you need content at every step of the purchase process that educates and entertains without overtly promoting your offering.”
What I thought was interesting was the idea that content - various forms of communication - often in the form of the written word, is educating prospects leading them down a specific path toward a sale, but often in an entertaining way and with the prospect’s permission, because the prospect wants to go down that path.
What I’m getting at is writing good content that produces results is part art and part science, but more importantly, when it works, it works because we’ve successfully put together information on a subject that a prospect wants to know about and we’ve optimized our content online properly for that prospect to find the info we’ve created that they were seeking.
By creating the content a prospect is looking for and putting it out on the internet in a way that that prospect can find it - with a stripped down simplistic view of it - we’ve essentially empowered prospects to sell themselves.
So why is social media important to your online brand communications, or internet marketing, or inbound marketing, or content marketing - whatever you want to call it? You get the idea - it goes by many names with many facets. For the purposes of this post I’ll refer to it mainly as online brand communications.
When you really break it down into its simplest parts, what does it look like? What is at the heart of this kind of social marketing?
The basics about the appeal of online brand communications for businesses begins here:
Communication and Relationships
It all revolves around communication and relationships. Communication is the vehicle driving connection with others to form relationships (both personal and business relationships).
Friends, and friends of friends
Users of social media do so to stay in touch with friends (maintaining relationships with digital communication through a social media platform that makes it easy to do so). Users also use social media to discover new information and people (often being introduced to friends of friends in their current network - sharing and communicating among them, which exponentially spreads communications and builds farther reaching relationships - this leads us into the next bullet point)
Heard it from a friend, who heard it from a friend
Discovery plays a significant role in social media and certainly in online brand communications for businesses. For each relationship maintained online, that person is a potential source of new information that can be shared with you easily because the two of you are connected online and the social media platform makes it convenient to review newly posted info from one another and others with whom you have relationships. So for example, if you and I are friends online, you likely have a whole bunch of other friends or connections online beyond me, most of whom I’m likely not directly connected to. I’m only peripherally connected by my association with you, and the same is true for you with many of my connections. Because of these varying degrees of separation and the ease of transferring communication among friends and friends of friends (due to exponential levels of direct and indirect connections) social media platforms make it easy to rapidly discover new info shared by you, your friends and your friends’ friends.
Word of mouth on steroids
Because information can be shared rapidly and exponentially across social media platforms, by way of these one to one online connections that often have vast additional indirect connections of friends by association, so many observers can see and spread the original one to one message quickly like word of mouth on steroids. That quick and rapid reach of messages delivered in a word of mouth fashion, and the cost-effective use of online social media platforms, makes this way of communicating and building business relationships attractive to companies.
Recommended reading: Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (New Rules Social Media Series), By Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah
posted by: Nick Venturella
The following is a visual representation of an Online Brand Communications content strategy. This is an attempt to help visualize and somewhat simplify the flow of info/content in such a strategy.
Let me know your thoughts by commenting.
This morning I simply wanted to make you aware of a new section on the Nick Venturella Media site. Introducing (Do It Yourself) DIY Education. This is an online book store (Amazon affiliate) with useful and empowering books that I’ve read and recommend for other business owners and creative entrepreneurs.
You don’t always have to be in classroom or have formal education to gather the knowledge you need to run your business. I’ve learned plenty from the books in this section, in fact, the majority of my business education came from these books and my application of their ideas...and yes, failing, reflecting and improving as I keep moving forward.
What I like about learning this way is that with each book I get to piece together my own self-paced curriculum tailored to me and my business.
Within this section I plan to feature one book each month, which you’ll see right at the top of the page. This month it’s Richard Branson's book, Business Stripped Bare (Amazon affiliate), which I also reviewed in the nickvmedia brand communications blog.
posted by Nick Venturella
Planning your strategy for just about any of your brand communications activities is a good idea. In my opinion if you're going to use the 80/20 rule, the majority of your work is in your planning - 80% plan, 20% execution. The execution is usually the fun part and certainly where rubber meets the road to produce results.
The point is, a thought out plan, even if fairly simply, can help you focus your thoughts toward the actions necessary to reach your envisioned results, but the key is that action does need to be taken to reach your goals. So be careful not to fall into the analysis paralysis trap.
Below is my simple weekly blogging schedule to serve as an example of how basic your plans can be. I often write out my plans or arrange them in a way that allows them to be sort of a working visual model of my ideas - nothing fancy, but certainly functional.
The plan is simple, yet effective in showing which of my blogs I'll publish a post to on which days of the week. As you can see I plan to publish a blog post to my Brand Communications blog (here on the NVM site) twice a week, I post to my Resourceful Musician Blog on The Local Music Journey site on Wednesdays and if I have something worth sharing again on Fridays. Then finally, my new Song Blog on the Nick Venturella Music site gets published on Tuesdays.
Simple, easy to follow plans can help you organize your thoughts and approach to your brand communications.
So start planning, but more importantly take action.
Posted by Nick Venturella
If you’ve ever read the book Made to Stick (amazon affiliate) you know that one of the elements of “sticky messages”--that is messages that end up being memorable and easy to recall--is being concrete.
What the authors of Made to Stick were talking about was using commonly recognized imagery and ideas in the language used to communicate your message. In the book they give the example of Aesop’s fable about The Fox and the Grapes, which is where the term, “sour grapes,” comes from.
The fox story is concrete in that it talks about how the fox couldn’t eat the grapes hanging on the vine above him, just out of his reach. In the fox’s defeat the fox proclaims the grapes were likely sour anyway. The lesson learned was that it’s easy to despise that which we cannot obtain.
My point (really the point of the authors of Made to Stick), is to the extent you’re able try to be concrete in the way you talk about your company’s brand, in the way you display imagery regarding your company’s brand (logo, identity design, etc), in every way you outline the benefits of your products/services, etc.
Give folks clear imagery that is common enough for them to wrap their imagination around. This is extremely important in service companies that don’t necessarily have a tangible product to sell.
This video from HubSpot is humorous, but useful in that it displays the difference between inbound and outbound (or pull vs. push) marketing efforts.
By utilizing a company blog, social media, email marketing and other such efforts to distribute valuable content to a targeted audience (your ideal customers) you will be better positioned to be found online and create online conversions whereby you're capturing valuable prospect information in return for offering valuable content to that prospect. Thus, you're building a pipeline of prospects that you can continue to nurture with valuable content until they're ready to buy.
For the purposes of our video, let me ask, when was the last time you looked something up in the phone book vs. Googling it?
Essentially, that's how inbound marketing works--create content, boosting SEO, get found online, create conversions, nurture prospects until they buy, improve the process and start again.
On my Resourceful Musician Blog I recently published a guest post.
What was great was that the content from the guest post came from someone reading and enjoying the blog, contacting me through the blog’s contact form, offering a personal note, an explanation and the guest post content for me to review.
What was nice about it, was that it was made easy for me to use the post as a guest post. Sure, if I didn’t think the content was fitting for my audience I could have kindly denied the guest posting request. However, my point is that the post was ready to go if I liked it and thought I could use it.
Guest blogging is a great way to build your own audience while often bringing your audience to a another blogger’s crowd.
If you’re interested in guest blogging as an audience growth strategy or if you would like others to be guest bloggers on your blog a nice community created to facilitate just that is MyBlogGuest.com. It’s a free online community where you can view guest blog posts that are ready to be published and introduce yourself to the author to ask permission to use the post, or you can write a post and offer it up for others to post on their blogs.
If you’re interested in blogging as a business strategy check out Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett’s book ProBlogger (amazon affiliate).
You know that phrase, ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Well, marketing and brand communications often works like that. If you are out of sight from you prospect, you are likely out of their mind as well.
Often what happens is you come out strong with some great blog posts and as you get busy with other aspects of your business you just don’t make the time to post for a couple of weeks. You might lose some readers/subscribers because of it. Or you have a potential lead who signed up to download a valuable white paper you created almost two months ago and you still haven’t followed up with them. If they were interested when they opted-in they may no longer be interested--out of sight, out of mind.
The fact that you’re blogging regularly (at least once a week) means you should have content that you can use to keep in touch with prospects. As a way to nurture leads until they’re ready to buy, you can send them blog posts that you’ve written that may pertain to their interests/needs.
You may be thinking, “but they probably already read my blog post, why should I email it to them.” That’s not necessarily true. While you hope that everyone who ever has had any interest in a blog post you’ve written is reading every single post you publish, the truth is they may have only read the one post that was of interest to them. That means chances are they didn’t see the last post you published that you wrote with they’re specific needs in mind. However, even if they did read that post, sending it along again with a short personal note, like, ‘I had your company’s needs in mind when I wrote this post,’ is very effective in showing that you’re paying attention and that even if they weren’t thinking about you, you have them on your mind.
Building relationships take regular effort, put forth some effort today.