SEO BASICS: How to get my content found by more people

SEO BASICS: How to get my content found by more people

The term SEO (search engine optimization) seems to still be so mysterious to folks and I want to clear this up. Many people want to know how to get more eyeballs to their website and blog content, so if you’ve wondered the same thing… let’s chat. If you are an expert in SEO, plug your ears and look away because I am going to use examples and SEO basic terms that will have you shaking your head.

First, SEO is not mystical, and it is not even the job for some guy sitting in a dark basement desk wearing a hoodie. It is something you should understand and be doing every day…or at least frequently if you want your content found by more people.

Whenever you add or tweak content on your website (including blog posts) you are potentially optimizing the site for Google and other “search engines” to find it. Optimizing it means you are adding content that will be helpful to people who are searching for it, you are making sure it is relevant to the person searching, and you are making it easy to consume by adding paragraph headers and formatting it for people to find the information they seek.

Here are 7 things you can do to become your own SEO expert (or at least apprentice):

Create content people actually want.

Before you write a new post, ask yourself if people are really searching for this answer…I mean like when I go searching for chocolate in my pantry and I am moving cans and boxes around. Are people going to Google and typing in, “How can I _____” with your topic in the blank?  When you type that question in Google, what comes up? Are there loads of posts out there already? Can you put a unique spin on it or add to this body of knowledge to provide a more niche answer?

Too often we create mamby-pamby oatmeal content. Bland. Boring. Useless. And I’m right there in the bowl with you. I find that after a few months I start slipping from the edge right back into the cushy middle. It takes a lot of work to stay in your zone of genius. In digital marketing, there is a ton of content out there, so if I can’t put my own personality or spin on content, it’s just another bowl of mediocre oats.

Provide great information, not a marketing brochure.

Google wants you to create content for the users who are searching for helpful information, not just a page that has nice marketing slogans and pithy facts about your brand. Go look at a couple of pages right now on your website. If you were a potential customer who had questions or problems they were trying to solve, would your page give them the answers or just tell them about YOU?

Think of the keywords BEFORE you begin writing

You have to write for humans, not for Google bots. That means you have to think of the question or problem your reader has, write it down. Now ask yourself, what is the main word or couple of words in that problem or question.

Example

Question a reader has: How to set up the perfect podcast studio?

Possible Keywords: Set up podcast studio

Alternative 1: Set up professional podcast studio

Alternative 2: Set up video recording studio

While writing the post (or outlining what you are going to say in video or audio content), be sure to use the keywords and phrases throughout. Do it naturally. Don’t write, “To set up a podcast studio you will want to use equipment for a professional podcast studio. There will be microphones in a video and podcast studio …” You get the picture.

I tell our clients often to write down the top 10 FAQs people have about their industry and their specific business. Now write a blog post and create short video pieces that answer each one using the keywords and phrases from those questions. That is optimized content.

Download our “GUIDE FOR PLANNING BETTER BLOG POSTS” to help you plan your content for better SEO.

Planning better blog posts for SEO

Quit using jargon and write content people will know what to do with

So often people write content as if they’re writing textbooks or worse, technical manuals. Dry and complicated copy often does not absorb. If you use terms and acronyms, even terms you assume everyone knows, explain it the first time you use it. You can go back to acronyms from that point on.

Will your content have the answer they came for or just more questions? Make sure when you’re your reader finishes, they say, “Ahhh refreshing! Just what I was trying to understand.”

Make it long enough to be helpful.

While I hear everything from “Make your blog posts 400-800 words” to “Google likes posts that are 1,500-2,000 words”, the key is to make sure there’s enough meat on the bones of a post that the reader gets their answers. If your post is only a couple paragraphs long and just covers a topic at a high level, your reader may feel they wasted their time clicking over and leave frustrated asking, “Where’s the Beef?”

A post that is 400-500 words long (or short) is going to have less of an opportunity to naturally have keywords and helpful content in it and yet if you stuff a post with keywords, it will smell like spam. There are many experts (who are these people? Yoast is a pretty reliable source and they say 300 is the absolute minimum) who say a post or a webpage must have 400-800 words to even be indexed or recognized as a page by Google or other search engines. Regardless of what those people say, write enough to be helpful!

Seth Godin’s blogs are often very short, but he isn’t worried about driving more eyeballs to his blog. He’s got more eyeballs on each post than Argus Panoptes, the hundred-eyed giant in Greek mythology, so he writes whatever he wants. He also writes daily!

If you are wanting Google to see your website and blog posts as a reliable source and send more people there for their answers, be sure to beef it up!

Write better titles for your content

This is where my wit often gets me in trouble. I always want to name my blog posts something witty or clever, but Google has a very dry sense of humor. If I would have named this post “Mullet Blogging” or “Excavating Your Website” it would amuse me, but would anyone really be typing those terms into Google?  (Besides me?)  NO! Save your cleverness for inside the post.

Take that keyword list you came up with earlier and the top FAQs and use one of those for your title. If at all possible, start with a keyword. “Basic SEO: How to get my content found” is one way to title this post. If “basic SEO” is my keyword phrase I would want to put that in the front. “How to get my content found” is still pretty close to a keyword phrase, it would be secondary.

I love how SEO Expert, Heather Lutze, calls these “Mullet Titles” since you want the business in the front and then a party in the back.

Let’s talk a little geeky here

Now stay with me. I’m going to get meta on you. Metadata, meta descriptions, ALT tags, H1, H2, H3 tags. These might sound like phrases out of a Steven King novel, but they are just sections and parts of your website content that Google bots know how to read. Imagine Google has a little robot and “metadata” is the only info it knows to read.

Meta Descriptions

So, when you load any piece of content onto a website look for a section or box (typically toward the bottom of the page) that asks for the “meta description.” This just means, “Tell me a little about what this is and if you can include one of your main keywords that will be helpful.” The meta description is the sentence or two that shows up under the bold headline when someone does a Google search.

ALT tags

ALT tags are the words that will describe each image you load into your website (they all should have ALT tags). While the intent of an ALT tag was mostly for the visually impaired so their computer would read what was being shown on the page, it is another area that you can use to tie that image into your post concept. So instead of just “robot” being in my ALT tag above, I would put “Google bot for basic SEO” or “Google bot to help content be found.” Keep in mind that most website designers do NOT optimize the content they load into your site and you may have a beautiful site that is not helping search engines find you.

H1 H2 H3

H1, H2, and H3 tags are just a tech way to say the same thing your 4th grade English teacher taught you. Put your headline at the top and then put the rest of your content in OUTLINE FORMAT. So all of your paragraphs will have sub-headings and then other main thoughts will have sub-sub-headings (it’s been a long time since I was anywhere near an elementary school so just go with it). So, your blog post title, for example, would be formatted as an H1 heading (usually this is done automatically because of how the page is formatted). Your paragraph headings should be formatted to be H2. This is because our little robot friend speed reads and skims each page reading H1, H2, and H3 tags to see if the page is really about what your keyword says it’s about. So don’t get too clever with your headings.

exhausted from learning seo basics

If you are still with me and your head hasn’t exploded, CONGRATULATIONS! You now understand the basics of SEO to help you get your content found by more people. Of course, there is more to optimizing your website but I want you to take a deep breath and realize that it’s all very doable. If you follow the 7 steps outlined here and regularly create content for your ideal audience, you will see your website traffic increase. And of course, don’t forget to promote your new content by sharing on your social media channels. [READ: If you build it, they will NOT come.]

Is LinkedIn Finally the New “It” Girl?

Is LinkedIn Finally the New “It” Girl?

Everyone is talking about LinkedIn making a comeback. Did it ever go away? Well, perhaps it was stuck in its own version of the ’80s with its bad hair and awkward sense of style. I mean let’s be honest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even the hip app, SnapChat have all had their day as the “It Girl” platform. But LinkedIn has had the reputation of being not so social and so uncool.

Just this morning I was on a call with a potential client and she asked, “Should we even bother updating our team’s LinkedIn profiles? Isn’t it just used for job seekers?” LinkedIn must feel like women in their 50’s (ummm…. ME)—no one is paying attention to anything we do anymore! Well, it’s time we turn around and look again at this powerhouse social platform and start treating her with some R.E.S.P.E.C.T!

Here are 11.5 things you need to know about this new “IT” GIRL:

 

1. LinkedIn is still the Queen of B2B.

While all marketing is P2P (person to person), if you are looking to connect and build relationships with people in the business sector, LinkedIn is tops. It has grown steadily year-over-year from it’s creation in 2003 to now, and there are no signs of it stopping.
LinkedIn Statistics 2019(source: Statista)

Executives and other decision-makers are on LinkedIn LOOKING FOR GREAT CONTENT and VALUABLE RESOURCES! They aren’t looking for goofy farming games, guess your celebrity personality tests or baby pig videos (although who doesn’t want to see baby pig videos?). People come to LinkedIn to read great content and connect with people who are serious about making things happen. Hootsuite wrote, “LinkedIn users are the educated and affluent people who are already in a professional headspace and actively looking for solutions.”

2. There are a lot of people here.

While it’s not the size of Facebook’s community, there are 630 million members on LinkedIn and it continues to grow, probably due to all of the Facebook algorithm hubbub. Two professionals join LinkedIn every second! 177 million of those members are from the US and 48% of all members log in monthly. 43% check into their LinkedIn profile daily. The best part is that 40% of users on LI are decision-makers! We’re not talking about spending your time chit-chatting with your creepy cousin Eddie and his friends anymore.

3. Microsoft purchased LinkedIn in 2016, for 26.2 BILLION and they’ve been busy.

You will see more Microsoft integrations coming and I’m already seeing more PowerPoint slide decks being shared on profiles. LinkedIn’s slide deck sharing platform, Slideshare has over 70 million users and that is going up monthly. When you add your marketing deck to Slideshare first, you can pull it into your profile and now it’s doing double duty for you. I have to admit, I initially went gangbusters on Slideshare years ago and I have forgotten about the power there. You can even add a lead magnet into the backend to use it as a great lead gen tool. Bottom line is, adding any visuals to your profile will make it stand out and a well-crafted slide deck is an easy way to do that.

4. Every “sophisticated marketer” uses LinkedIn as their primary channel to distribute their B2B marketing content.

The good news is there aren’t that many “sophisticated marketers” out there since so few actually post regularly on LinkedIn. This makes it a great place for you to stand out! To make sure you’re making the most of LinkedIn in 2019, be sure to download the guide that LinkedIn puts out each year. 2019 they published their anniversary edition THE FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF LINKEDIN’S “THE SOPHISTICATED MARKETER’S GUIDE TO LINKEDIN.

5. Start sharing your knowledge in articles.

So few people have published an ARTICLE on their LinkedIn profile, that you will automatically shine here. Only 1 million out of the 520 million users have published an article on LinkedIn. (source: OmniCore) Articles, which used to be called POSTS, are the blog-like content pieces that stay on your profile in a fashion that very much resembles a blog post. Share content that highlights your expertise and personality! [READ: 4 Qualities to Become More Likeable Online and Off] If you look at your profile under “Articles and Activity” you will find the home of your content. I still feel that this needs to come out from hiding—most people don’t even know where to find past posts and articles.

LinkedIn in 2019 for marketers

According to Daniel Roth, LinkedIn’s Editor in Chief, “Every day, over 2 million posts, videos, and articles course through the LinkedIn feed, generating tens of thousands of comments every hour –and tens of millions more shares and likes.”

6. Be sure to SHOW, and not just TELL with your content on LinkedIn.

Posts with images get 2x the number of comments and according to Peter Roybal, LinkedIn Senior Product Manager, people are 20 x more likely to share a video with their connections than any other type of LinkedIn post. People are also 5x more likely to comment on video content. Soooo, get that great content into short video-bytes, and make sure they are super helpful. If you get too salesy you get tuned out! My rules for social media are: Be INTERESTING, Be HELPFUL or Be QUIET!”

Here are a few ideas for you and your team to kick around and start planning for when LinkedIn Live reaches you:

• Product demos
• A chat to discuss trend reports
• Fireside chats with experts, vendors, and employees
• FAQ sessions
• Field visits and tours

7. Visit your LinkedIn profile and connections more often.

Don’t be a dead-beat parent on your own LinkedIn profile. Stop in daily for 30-minutes to share something or comment on what others are posting. If daily is unthinkable, aim for 3 times a week and build up to it.  The more frequently you show up and engage on LinkedIn, the more frequently you …. Show up! You will be amazed at the increase of connection requests, profile views, and even BUSINESS if you increase your activity on LinkedIn.

8. Make sure you have an updated photo and profile.

I think when LinkedIn launched in 2003 people loaded their stoic corporate headshot or a glamour shot from those cheezy mall studios (yep..I had one and my children still pull it out for the occasional comedy relief) and never looked back. Let’s face it, we’ve gotten older and that’s OK! You need to put up a headshot that actually looks like you. One that was taken within the past 6-12 months. While you’re on your profile, go through and update your skills and experience. We don’t need to know where you went to grade school but beef your profile up a bit. Tell us about projects you’ve been working on, the revenue you have helped to generate or save. You have 2,000 characters you can pack into your summary area alone. Use all of your space.
[Download our resource guide that will help you maximize every area of your LinkedIn Profile]
LinkedIn Character Count

9. Get over that 500 hump!

When you have more than 500 connections you have hit the tipping point that allows you to start reaching and connecting with even more people. When you go to someone’s profile and see “78 connections” or whatever number they have, you wonder where they’ve been. Once you get over 500 connections, then the playing field evens out—they all say “500+.” Now I am not saying you should go and connect with all of the random strangers and spammers to get to 500. I’m suggesting when you meet someone at an event, a business meeting, a friend’s house for dinner, you reach out and connect on LinkedIn after.If you are seriously still collecting business cards and bundling them in your desk drawer as if you will even remember anything about the person, forget about it. Take the business card, and if you really want to be savvy, download the Microsoft Pix app which allows you to scan the card right in front of the person and select, “Connect on LinkedIn.” Once you do that, hand back their paper business card back and tell them…one small tree branch saved!

On your phone, open your LinkedIn App and click on the little head icon at the bottom now in the top middle, turn on “FIND NEARBY” when you are at a conference or event where there are several people to connect with. Go ahead try it now.

10. Jump on LinkedIn LIVE as soon as you get it available on your profile but keep your expectations low in the beginning.

What I mean by that is, the typical LinkedIn user barely engages with written content. They read it, but they do so quietly in their office or cubical. To expect people to consume long-form video while at work and then chat it up with you is a BIG stretch. Keep your videos short and informative. Share your expertise but allow time for LinkedIn users to grow accustomed to this form of content here. It’s like when women were allowed to stop wearing pantyhose to work (yes those were barbaric times … *shudder*), it takes time for people to come around to radical change. I think LinkedIn will be rolling out lots of changes once LIVE video hits everywhere to figure out where it will live. Like articles and posts need to be displayed more prominently, so will video.

11. Consider creating or re-engaging your business page (if you have a business).

There are roughly 35 million business pages on LinkedIn, which is just a fraction of the number of people and businesses actually on LinkedIn. While they do function VERY differently than a personal profile and get a lot less attention, they are a great way to showcase your content to those who DO choose to follow your updates there. Consider this: To follow a business page on LinkedIn, you have to typically search for it, then you have to follow the updates of that page, and then… well OK, it’s not that hard at all…but for someone to go through those two steps … they WANT YOUR CONTENT! Don’t leave them hanging. It’s like asking people to subscribe to your boring newsletter and then when they actually do, you never send anything out. (Ooo… sting!)If you have employees in your organization, be sure to encourage them to share the content you are sharing on the company’s business page and when someone shares something on their personal profile, LinkedIn now makes it easy to share it on your company’s page. On your business page, there is a small section to the right that says, “Communities” where you can select up to 3 hashtags that you want to follow. You can also click on “See what others are saying about (your company). Now you can select content that others are putting out and share it on your company’s page. Seems a bit clunky, but a great way for a brand to monitor and share the content employees and others are talking about.

Here are a few more fun LinkedIn facts to impress your friends and family…if they care!

  • The average user spends about 17 minutes a MONTH on LinkedIn (That’s depressing for me as a content creator unless all 17 min are spent on my content!)
  • Motivated was the most overused word on LinkedIn in 2014 AND 2017
  • Specialized, Experienced, and Skilled were the most overused words on someone’s summary section. Change these up to standout!
  • There are 5.5 million accountants on LinkedIn. Wow sounds like Digital Marketers.
  • There have been over 11 billion endorsements made on LinkedIn (most by people who don’t even know the person they are endorsing!)
  • 90% of LinkedIn members use Facebook. This is a statistic for all of you who have told me “my customers are NOT on Facebook!” (source: DataReportal, Pew Research Center)
  • The percentage of premium LinkedIn users currently stands at 39%, while 61% of members are still satisfied with the basic free accounts. (source: Kinsta)

I’d love to hear from you. Are you an avid LinkedIn user? What tips and tools do you have or do you find most useful? And while you’re at it… Connect with me on LinkedIn!

Get More Retweets Shares and Followers With These 5 Tips

Get More Retweets Shares and Followers With These 5 Tips

Writing Better Posts will Get Your Message Further in the Social Stream

The social marketing space is extremely crowded and loud.  Twitter alone has approximately 500 MILLION tweets flying out PER DAY! (approximately 6 million every SECOND) Twitter is a stream flowing wild and full with interesting content and … not-so-interesting clutter. Your goal on your social media channels is to share interesting and helpful content that others find good enough that they pluck it out of the stream and pass it along through ReTweets and shares.

To help your social media messages stand out and be read more often, here are 5 things to keep in mind:

1. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind.

Being controversial isn’t a bad thing on social media channels… occasionally.  Tell us how you feel about something, while still being civil. People want to chime in and agree with you… or disagree with you.  If you are just quoting everyone else, it gets old. It’s like that old saying, “Be yourself…unless you’re a jerk, then be someone else!”

2. Become a better writer!

blogger, blog, content marketing

Punch a bit of drama, humor or even intrigue into your tweets and posts where you can.  Can you say it in a way that is more entertaining or humorous?  “Craving that last piece of cake” can be tweaked to read, “I kept hearing my name being called in a seductive voice. I turned to find the last piece of cake winking at me.” Just more fun to read and pass along! “Busy day ahead” can be made more interesting AND helpful by telling us a bit about you with, “Working with clients to tame their clutter today-I love scary closets” or “Busy day ahead expanding minds–this could get messy!”     [READ: 7 Skills Every Social Media Marketer Needs]

3. Share it More Than Once.

We all know that once is never enough for anything great, so why not share your post more than once. Unless it is time-sensitive, put that post out today in the morning and then again perhaps tomorrow afternoon. Keep in mind that people are not sitting at their computer or on their phone JUST reading your posts (I know…shocking!). I’m sorry to burst that bubble, but people are reading lots of content and perhaps they missed your post today but will catch it tomorrow. Try adding two different images to your posts and see which captures the attention better. Speaking of images…

4. Add more photos and videos to your posts to allow people to SEE what you are saying.

photos for social media posts, images for social
Social media is all about photos, videos, and all things visual. Make sure and utilize this on your posts.  While there are LOADS of great sites to find stock images [see: STOP USING THESE CRAPPY IMAGES ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS] you can also create your own with photos you snap, images you create with tools like Canva or other tools, or fun Gifs you find or create!

5. Be quiet sometimes.

On any social media platform, my philosophy (that even I do not follow at times) is BE HELPFUL, BE INTERESTING, or BE QUIET!  If you post tweets when there is nothing interesting or helpful to say…you might start being ignored.  Of course, we are talking about SOCIAL media, so there are times you are socializing and chatting it up with folks, but if you are just posting what you are doing without asking yourself “Can I make this more interesting or helpful?” you might want to just go for a walk.

social media marketing, digital agency


YOUR TURN TO SHARE:
Of all the posts you have shared in the past week, what was it that grabbed YOUR attention and inspired you to pass them along?

Here is our FREE resource to help you use Twitter to build your business — Download Now:

How to build business with Twitter

@GinaSchreck

I Have to Create a Facebook Page for My Company But Don’t Want it Linked to My PERSONAL Profile

I Have to Create a Facebook Page for My Company But Don’t Want it Linked to My PERSONAL Profile

(Updated 05/11/19)

You’ve been asked by your manager to set up a Facebook Page for the business and most of what you read says you have to do this from your personal profile.  You don’t want this business page attached to YOUR personal profile. After all, what happens when you leave (hey, it can happen!) Perhaps it’s YOUR business, but you still don’t want to link it to a personal profile that you use for family connections and REAL friends.

FEAR NOT!  You CAN do this. It may feel like you’ve been asked to turn over your personal diary for the world to read on your business page, but I assure you, your secrets are safe. Even though you are linking them for access, you are not linking them for the world to view.

So let’s understand something up front.  When I create a business page, it is like creating a website for a business. I will need access to the backend of the site to load or change content, but nowhere on the site does it have to give my name or contact information, unless I want it to.  It is the same with Facebook.  Your PERSONAL profile is your access point or portal into Facebook but from there you can create and manage as many business pages as you’d like.  You don’t need a special login and password for each page, and you don’t have to share passwords with anyone.  (If your mother didn’t tell you this a long time ago, you should NEVER give your passwords to anyone. Whether they are your manager or not.  There is no need for anyone to use YOUR password.)  You log in and go to the pages you have admin access to. Your manager, or other team members, can log into their own personal profile and have the same access point if they are made an admin for the page.

dont share passwords

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If, and I hear this all the time, your manager or co-worker does not have a Facebook account of their own, so they ask to log into your account to check the business page, tell them you would like their login information to their bank account to check on your payroll first! They need to create their own account–it’s FREE and they don’t have to ever use it or share their horrifying vacation pics. If they need to log into a site, including Facebook, they need their own login credentials. There are just some things, like a glass of milk, a toothbrush or social media passwords, that should never be shared with other people.

When you are logged in from your personal profile and then jump over to your business page (easy to switch between the two from the dropdown arrow in the upper right) people on the outside do not know you are associated with the page. They cannot see any of your personal information and they are NOT automatically made FRIENDS of yours if they LIKE the business page.

With that out of the way, let’s get started!  To begin, log into your own personal Facebook profile and THEN go to Facebook.com/pages and click CREATE PAGE in the upper right.  You will be asked to name your page and select the category (not-for-profit, local business, etc. And don’t worry too much about the categories since they can be changed at any time. Your name is not so easy to change so choose wisely!).

Https://Facebook.com/pages

settig up a facebook business page

Fill out the basic info and you are well on your way!

In the SETTINGS for your new page, look to the left and find PAGE ROLES. This is where you add an additional admin to the page, such as a team member or your manager (who will need to have a Facebook account).  You can select different ROLES for people such as EDITOR (someone who cannot add or remove others but can post and comment AS THE PAGE.) You can select MODERATOR, ANALYST, even JOBS MANAGER to give specific rights without allowing people to add or remove others. If you leave the organization, you simply make sure there is an ADMIN assigned to the page and then remove yourself in this same area.

Now that we’ve covered how to set up your page, let’s move onto the REAL WORK…. creating and posting content every day!

That’s where things get scary! Happy posting!

Scared of setting up Facebook business page from my personal profile

No, No, Not Content Creation

Gina Schreck is the founder of SocialKNX. Their teams help organizations connect to their world and convert LIKES into DOLLARS! Be sure to find more geeky goodness on our own Facebook Page! 

RELATED ARTICLE: Setting Up a Facebook Business Page without a Personal Profile

DOWNLOAD THIS FREE GUIDE to help you get things set up correctly:

how to set up facebook business page correctly

Firehoses and Drip lines: Why I Can’t Go to Conferences Anymore

Firehoses and Drip lines: Why I Can’t Go to Conferences Anymore

I was standing with my husband and about 2,000 other crazed conference attendees, chanting and pumping our fists to the loud music as one of the room coaches stood on a chair with a megaphone yelling out “Who’s ready to WIN?” “WE ARE” the crowd roared. Just then the doors opened, and we all rushed in, running down the aisle to get the coveted front seats. I was 6 months pregnant and slid across the seat at the very moment another man was about to sit down. I bumped him right onto the floor! “IM GOING TO WIN” I thought.

That was my second Tony Robbins conference and probably my 10th sales-type conferences over a four-year period. I attended sales conferences, negotiation conferences, women’s leadership conferences, and lots of motivational conferences. I always came back ready to change the world, filled with so much new information and enough motivation to carry me through until the next conference.

Lately, I have become disillusioned and even a little frustrated when I attend a conference. I walk out of each session feeling cheated that I paid money to come and hear the same things I’ve heard over and over.  Is there no new information? I wonder if it’s just my age and the number of years I have been in my industry or is it the fact that the conference organizers don’t provide advanced learning for those of us who have been around the block a few years.

I sounded like a cynical old woman this week at a big social marketing conference. There were hundreds of sessions, and yet I walked out of each and told my 23-year-old daughter, “There was nothing new” and “I didn’t hear anything I didn’t already know.” This was her first big business conference and she was excited, overwhelmed, and inspired, after each session. What was my problem?

Later that evening it dawned on me. We live in the dripline age of internet learning. We have constant information flooding through social media channels, podcasts, YouTube videos, webinars, audiobooks, and more. I’ve just changed how I learn. I’m no longer that sponge that soaks up information all at once, the way I did at those early conferences. My sponge is just constantly wet (eww, that image makes me think I may have germs and mold in there… hmmm). By the time an annual conference comes around, I’ve heard most of what will be covered and sometimes by the very people I have learned from during the year.

social media learning

I listen to about 15 podcasts each week on topics ranging from Facebook advertising and social media marketing, to personal finance and investing. I listen to a morning Alexa briefing that runs through 5 different topics on current news and I read blog posts and watch educational videos regularly. If I hear of an app or informative newsletter, I immediately go and download or subscribe to it.

The big social media conference ended Friday and as I was driving home from the airport Saturday night I realized I just sat in 3 learning sessions—one podcast on investing (Profit Boss with Hilary Hendershott), one on Marketing (Marketing Companion with Mark Schaefer), and one on Coworking (Coworking Insights). I felt great. I felt fulfilled.

The great news is, regardless of where you are in your career or business, you can learn everything you need, and then some, at any time. You can consume content each and every day or you can stand in line, eager, with fists pumping, to get into a conference and soak it all in. The key is to make sure you are making time regularly for learning.

So, which are you? A firehose or a dripline learner? I’d love to hear from you.

How Has Marketing Changed in 2019?

How Has Marketing Changed in 2019?

Marketing is all about experimenting, testing, and trying new things that get the attention of buyers. Whether that is through television ads, radio, print, or social media channels, everyone just wants a little slice of attention.

According to Wikipedia, the first official, paid television advertisement in the United States was on July 1, 1941, over New York station WNBT before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies.

The ad was for Bulova watches, and the company paid anywhere from $4.00 to $9.00 (reports vary). The ad displayed a WNBT test pattern made to look like a clock with the hands showing the time. The Bulova logo, with the phrase “Bulova Watch Time”, appeared in the lower right-hand quadrant of the test pattern while the second hand swept around the dial for one full minute. Approximately $5.00 for a full 60-second ad during prime-time television. Attention was cheap. The world has definitely changed!

Sales has always been about connecting and building relationships with those potential buyers. A salesperson’s job is to be likeable enough to form relationships with people and then establish trust and help that potential buyer make an informed decision.

I started my first business in 1995 and my sales and marketing activities consisted of spending hours down at Kinkos (now FedEx Stores) making copies of brochures to send to potential clients to try and get their attention. I would then spend hours dialing for dollars, making cold calls and follow up calls to set appointments. Those were the days before caller ID, and people actually answered their phones.

list of daily weekly social media activities

Our first website was built in 1997, which was just the brochure I had copied over at Kinkos, put online. Aside from designing a logo, business cards, and stationary with our company information across the top, I really don’t remember having many other “marketing” activities. I did write articles for a hardcopy newsletter that I mailed out quarterly and a few of my early clients published some of the articles in their hardcopy newsletters as well.

Today my sales and marketing activities have moved online. I don’t mail anything, but instead send links and videos. I don’t do much of anything in the way of actual sales calls. Instead I spend more time creating content that attracts people online and then our team spends time answering questions that companies have about setting up company Facebook business pages or how to optimize blog posts to be seen by more people.

As consumers we are influenced by digital marketing as we make decisions every day. When we want to go out to eat, we use our mobile devices to look up restaurants and book reservations on sites like OpenTable. We research hotels, plumbers, dentists, and even funeral homes on Google or Yelp, and then talk about the service we get on Twitter, Yelp, Trip Advisor or Facebook.

Businesses don’t all like these tools, and it’s usually the businesses that either don’t know how to use them or the ones that have poor reviews listed on them.

It’s a wild, wild, social world we live in. Our in-person lives, or IRL, are tightly connected to our virtual and online worlds. We are connected 24/7 365 days a year. The social world doesn’t sleep, and it doesn’t take vacations. Or at least if it does take a vacation, it is well documented on Instagram and when it sleeps, it’s probably using an app like Pzizz or Calm to help guide them into slumber.  

AND IT’S STARTING TO CHANGE AGAIN

Today’s consumer is so accustomed to jumping on social media channels to connect with a brand for customer service, that we are seeing a few interesting changes coming. The expectation that there will be a real person responding to a request online within minutes has gone up.

We love living a digital life, but now we want high-touch service that comes with the digital world. We are using digital devices with artificial intelligence to help us connect with content and people. Think of Alexa, Siri or Google to name a few (They really need to give Google’s AI device a real name. Perhaps Gracie).  A JWT Intelligence/Mindshare study of U.K. Consumers found that 36% love their voice assistant so much they wish it were a real person.

I have to admit, I do wish my Alexa device had arms and legs and could follow me around and bring me coffee. Now with the devices adding video screens, we can do video calls as we cook and sing karaoke-style to our favorite song and I’m guessing it won’t be long before we can summon the digital customer service agent from our cable company via video to help us walk through resetting our cable box. What am I talking about… we won’t really still have cable will we?

There are other signs of wanting to go back in time and humanize our technology-filled lives. Today it’s very retro and cool to have vinyl records and Fujifilm’s Instax cameras with instant film (think mini Polaroid). We see more people buying board games, taking up knitting, and then posting about it all on Instagram. Our worlds are colliding.

Brands must figure out how to be more responsive, with real humans, working on digital channels. People don’t trust as much as they did even a few years ago. According to the 2017 and 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, consumers have lost connection. They no longer trust brands, or political systems. Instead of looking to the large entities, people are now seeking out smaller intimate groups online that they feel connected with.

The rise in unique Facebook Groups is a great example of this. We all need to explore ways to deliver a fantastic customer experience and to connect with our consumers in a more human way.  Read more on this in our post, “Facebook Algorithm Changes: 3 Things Your Business Must Do” for more ideas on how to bring back the human touch.

Marketing has fundamentally changed. No longer is it just about getting people to look at our billboards or websites. It’s no longer about interrupting people to LOOK AT ME, although many still approach it that way. Today, marketing is about creating something or some things that people are drawn to because they want it. They want to be smarter, more informed, more popular. Marketing is about drawing people closer to our virtual street corner to engage with us and get to know, like, and trust us. We get to know and like them as well and then trust that they will buy whatever it is we are selling, even if we are selling ideas.

How are you seeing marketing change in 2019? I’d love to hear from you below in the comments. If you would like more tips on keeping up with all of the changes, jump into our DIYsocial Facebook group.

list of daily weekly social media activities
7 Ways Your Hotel Can Win With Social Media

7 Ways Your Hotel Can Win With Social Media

Hotel websites are very similar. They all have the same stock photos of beautiful people sitting in beautiful lobbies or the typical hotel bedroom and the navigation panel on the side to book the room.  To the average consumer, your hotel website does not do much to differentiate itself from the others.  However, there are several things your property can be doing with social media to blow every competitor out of the water.

Social media for hotels, social business

Here are 7 Ways Your Hotel Can Win With Social:

Listen to the social vine and have your hotel engage early

I don’t mean to listen to someone saying they are thinking of making a trip to Denver and you send a 20% off promo code. I mean use Twitter’s geo-location feature to listen for conversations going on in your city and then jump in and engage in the conversation with fun facts about the city, events that might be taking place that week or “DID YOU KNOW” trivia about your property or area. Ask what brings them to Denver and share a favorite restaurant or place of interest with them. Let them know you can help in any way possible AND oh, by the way, you want to offer them a special deal only available to your Twitter friends. Don’t offer the same worn out deal that they can find on any travel site.

Have your “Social Concierge” welcome a guest BEFORE they arrive

Sure, after booking a hotel room many hotels send a confirmation email, but why not encourage them to connect with you on Twitter,  Facebook, Instagram, or any other sites your Social Concierge is connecting with guests.  Show them you are on duty and ready to make their experience extra special. You can now extend the guest experience from the booking to the arrival, and of course, all the way through to their next booking.

social media in hotels

Provide helpful information to guests

Have the Social Concierge provide guests with seasonal weather information suggested packing items like winter coats or fall sweaters. Put together a list of things ahead of time for each season and then place the link in a tweet or Facebook post to them. On Twitter and Facebook, you can continue the relationship building and find out if they are coming for business or perhaps a special occasion that you can now help make more productive or more special.

  1. Send a link with local events happening in your town and suggested sites to see. Send a list of restaurants in your area and shopping malls around. The concierge at the desk isn’t the only one who can help them make plans.

  2. Let your guests know you’re online and ready to answer any questions, before during or after their stay. This can personalize the experience and nip any problems in the bud. It can also relieve your front desk team from some of the traffic that gathers to ask simple questions.

hospitality and social media

Watch for SOCIAL check-ins

Be sure and have your social “check-in deals set up” and watch those check-ins daily to also welcome folks who may have come into your social range through these channels. A person is always stunned when they check in on a social channel and someone replies to them with a WELCOME note. It shows you are listening.

Don’t send a typical survey after a guest leaves

These are impersonal and most guests feel as if it goes into a shoebox under the GM’s desk anyway, never to be looked at or acted upon. You do the work. Reach out and ask them via Twitter or Facebook, if their stay was excellent. Get specific feedback and if the guest is delighted, then you can ask if they’d be willing to share the sentiments on TripAdvisor, Google My Biz or Facebook recommendations. Encourage them to share any favorite photos or memories from their trip. Keep the relationship growing!

What are some other ways you can reach out through the social channels that guests are flooding, to create a more unique customers experience?  Have you had any hotel or retail store do something creative that WOW’d you?  We’d love to hear.

 

Connect with Gina on Twitter.

How can we reach out and help YOU connect to your world?

Building Your Personal and Professional Brand

Building Your Personal and Professional Brand

how to build personal brand

When we hear the word BRAND, images may pop into your head of the Starbucks mermaid, that Smiling “A” that means Amazon or the little Apple with a bite out of it. These are such recognizable brands, that there is no question what they are “known for.” How did they do it? How do we become “known” for something?

The first thing to realize is your brand is not necessarily what you say about yourself or your company–although you can absolutely help shape it. Just because you put something on your website or social media bio, doesn’t mean that others will believe you. You have to prove it… and have others share that same proof for you.

Your brand is what others say or feel about you. You may say you are an expert in the real estate arena, the animal photography industry or in Italian women’s shoes (in which case you and I should be best friends), but if you aren’t putting out some sort of content or product that people talk about, share or otherwise come in contact with, your desired brand will have a tough time becoming known.

building personal brand

WHO ARE YOU?

To begin crafting and influencing your personal or professional brand you have to start by identifying what you want to be known for. Notice I didn’t say what you are good at. Many of us have talents or skills that we don’t even want people to know about. My ability to train dogs to roll over and do the moonwalk is not a skill I am ever going to want to be “known for.”

Perhaps we don’t enjoy doing something, or we have “squiggled” or pivoted on to a new career track. We have to start by creating a list of skills and attributes that you want people to associate with you and your brand. When people are talking to their friends or co-workers and one of these topics come up, you want them to say, “I know who’s an expert at this” or “I know who you need to talk to.”

 

WHO or WHAT ARE YOU BECOMING?

Now, what are the skills you’d like to be known for but haven’t yet mastered?  Is there an area you’re developing? This is important when you’re starting over, re-entering the workforce, or making a pivot in your career.  Don’t minimize these skills and don’t wait until you have that proverbial 10,000 hours of expertise before you start to weave it into your branding plan. Finish this sentence:

I am becoming ___________.  

Starbucks started out as a coffee roaster and BECAME the “third place” for people to come and hang out. Lululemon started out as a maker of surf and skateboard shorts and BECAME synonymous with yoga-pants. The Knot started by writing articles for unique and counter-culture wedding ideas and then BECAME the go-to planning site for all things “wedding!” What are you becoming?

 

START BEFORE YOU’VE ARRIVED

When you are working in a new area and BECOMING the expert or resource, you want to share this journey with the world. Jump into the conversation. Share what you are learning and doing. If you are launching a product, bring us along on your journey to involve us in your process. We love to come along when someone is learning, growing, and going somewhere we want to go as well.  If I am on that same journey or wanting to begin, your content will inspire and educate me, even if you have not “arrived.”

I know you can’t get great until you get started, so the longer you wait to begin, the longer it will take for you to get great. Start. Learn all you can, and share the nuggets of learning along the way.

 

avatar persona

WHO WILL YOUR BRAND REACH?

The next step is to understand who your brand wants to reach. Who is that ideal person that will connect and “get you?” This is important because it will shape HOW you share your expertise and brand attributes. Go beyond the “what gender, age, and income level define my ideal client.” Dive into the psychographics as well. What is your ideal customer interested in? What do they hate? What are the things your ideal customer would be doing during the day? How about on weekends? What does he or she read or watch on television? Where do you think she shops? How about online? What problems does she have that you can help her with? What are her pain and frustration points?

This may seem unnecessary, but it is so important to get this right. If you try and create content for everyone, you will create content for no one. The more targeted you can be with your products, services, or content, the easier it is to attract the right audience and the greater loyalty someone will have for you.

WHAT WILL YOU CREATE AND SHARE?

Content comes in so many forms. Written articles, blog posts, whitepapers, videos, podcasts, webinars. What will you create to solve a problem for that ideal person you identified earlier? If you need a starting point, simply write down the top FAQs your ideal customer would be asking Google, SIRI, or Alexa. Now take each of those questions and answer them in different formats—blog posts, articles on other websites, videos, podcasts, webinars, infographics, etc.

Be sure to stay focused on your overall goal for your brand.  This doesn’t mean you can’t share any other content on your social sites or that you can’t be involved in other side projects, but if someone you don’t know, looks at your body of work, can they tell what your area of expertise is? If you suddenly post political rants or lots of information on other topics, it begins to dilute or pollute your brand.  Do a self-audit. Scan down a page of your social media channels. What would someone say you were known for if they looked at it? Would YOU follow YOU?

 

WHERE WILL YOU SHARE IT?

Today there are so many channels to share your content. You can share your content on websites, blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Medium, and Podcast channels and so many more. The question is often, “Do I need to be on all of them?” Absolutely not. I like to say, “Choose one and NAIL IT, before you decide to SCALE IT!” Select the social channels that you believe your audience is most active on. If you’re not sure, there are ways to do a bit of research first.

Where is the best place to post content

Look across the different social channels and search for your peers, competitors, and customers. Where do you find them hanging out? Are there groups they are participating in? Search industry and conference hashtags on each channel. This can pull up content that can help you discover where you might want to be found as well.

Start with one or two social channels and be consistent. Don’t spread yourself so thin that you can’t keep up with it. Sharing and participating on social media channels is more than just blasting your content out to the world. It requires you to participate in the community as well. Comment on the content of others. Ask questions in groups or share your expertise there when others ask questions. It’s the “social” part of social media.

 

HOW OFTEN DO YOU NEED TO HAVE CONTENT OUT IN FRONT OF PEOPLE?

This is another common question. There isn’t a hard and fast rule, but there is a direct correlation between frequency and the number of people who will be drawn to your content. Obviously, if the content is not good, people won’t share it or want to consume it, but even good content produced once ever 3-6 months is not going to do you much good if you are trying to establish a brand.

Many people want to be known like Seth Godin, Daniel Pink, Marie Forleo, or Adam Grant, but they don’t want to do the work those people do when it comes to creating and sharing content. The people who are considered thought leaders in their industries are sharing video content, blog posts, writing books, newsletter content, podcasts, and everything in between.

Start with a goal to write or create one piece of good content per week. This can be you answering a question or giving your opinion on a topic that has come up at work or in the news. Work to create a habit to write or record something every day, even if it doesn’t get published or used. By doing this daily, you will begin to get better and you will end up sharing more content more often, and in turn, you will become known for this.

time for social media

WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE TIME?

I get it. We’re all busy and our time is more limited than ever. This is why it’s hard to become a “thought leader” or well-known brand. If it were easy, everyone would do it. To stand out requires sacrifice somewhere. You can hire someone to do the writing and sharing for you (hint hint…that’s what we do at SocialKNX), or you can put in an extra hour each morning or each evening to do what others won’t do.

You can sacrifice evening television time for writing time. You can trade a couple hours of sleeping in on the weekends and get up to work on your personal or professional brand. When someone asks, where they should spend their time, my answer is, “it depends.” I can tell you where NOT to spend your time. Don’t waste it watching television. Don’t waste it attending meetings you don’t have to be in (don’t even get me started on this one).

Become a high productivity content creator. While you are waiting in lines, at appointments, at soccer practice, pull out your phone or notebook and jot down ideas. I love using Evernote for this. I have notebooks in there for podcast guest ideas, blog post ideas, Alexa and Google Briefing tips to create. When I sit down to create I don’t have to waste time thinking of ideas.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Now it’s your turn. What will you create to begin crafting that brand? What are you BECOMING? I’d love to hear in the comments below or on any social channel. Connect with me –> @GinaSchreck on any social channel and tell me what you are becoming. I can’t wait to hear!

 

 

 

Starting a Blog or Podcast – How Do You Measure Success?

Starting a Blog or Podcast – How Do You Measure Success?

You’re thinking of starting a blog or podcast but you’re wondering how to ensure its success. No one wants to spend the time and energy creating content for a blog, a podcast, a video or social media posts for that matter if it’s not going to be successful. So how do you start producing content and ensure they are successful?

FIRST THINGS FIRST. LET’S LOOK AT THE WHY.

Why do you want to start a blog? Why would you start a podcast? Some are in it for the money. They want advertisers and sales of products from their blog, videos or podcasts. Some want to show potential customers their industry knowledge or authority. While still others create content because they want to leave a mark. They want their family members, for generations, to read their stories or hear their experiences. You need to understand your own WHY before you begin and keep that in the forefront of your content creation journey to stay focused and not be swayed by either shiny objects or other people telling you all the other things you should be doing.

WHAT IS SUCCESS FOR A BLOG OR PODCAST?

This question is hard to answer because it depends on why you are starting the blog or podcast in the first place.

Your consumers are online. I don’t care what industry you are in, people use Google, SIRI, Alexa, Facebook, and everywhere else to get their questions answered. “Google, how often should I drain the water out of my swimming pool” “SIRI where is the best place to find flowers for my mom?” “Google, what is the difference between social media marketing and content marketing?” People have questions and thankfully, most of the time, Google (and other search engines) has the answers.

how to start a business blog

If your business is producing (or creating) content to answer the questions your customers are searching for, it is likely that they will find you online. Now the question is, do you want 10,000 people to read your blog and leave riveting comments or do you want 100 people to find your content and 50 of them want to do business with you? Which blog is more successful?

One person wants a blog that is reaching millions, so she can attract sponsors or advertisers. Another blogger might want to share his story of adoption to encourage another family struggling with the same situation. These two bloggers are measuring success very differently.

A friend of mine creates lots of fun and interesting video content sharing their family’s journey. The purpose was to let others see the personal side of his life while he has other videos that are all about business. If you are having fun creating the content, and you are getting better each time, isn’t that also a success? Of course, it is.

HOW TO START A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS BLOG

I’m going to focus on a business blog because the ultimate goal is usually to attract new customers. When you are blogging for personal reasons or to encourage others, you will start differently.

For a business blog, start with the top FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) in your industry. What are those questions that you get asked over and over again? Don’t use industry jargon that only you use. Write the questions the way your customers would type them into Google or speak them into SIRI (even though she wouldn’t understand them).

Now, take each question and write a blog post to answer them. Then turn on that video recorder and create a short video answering the same questions. Now flip the switch on your podcast recorder and do the same. Do you see how that will help you get found? You could be blogging, podcasting, and creating video content on the same topics and they might be found by different people searching in different places. [Read: How to become KNOWN]

HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO WRITE ON MY BLOG?

Google loves fresh content as much as I love a fresh cupcake! You can’t create these answers once and stop creating content. If you are a binge content creator, it will not be as effective as if you created weekly or even monthly content over a longer period of time. Today’s search engines want to know that you are in it for the long haul and they want to see that you have more than one small articles on a website about a topic. The more content you have answering these types of questions, the more they see you as a reliable resource.

Continue to create different versions of your answers. Create social media posts that ask the question and link to your blog, podcast or video. Add to your original content when you learn new information or have updates for it. Link from one blog post to your video or vice-versa. This starts creating a great web of content that shows your authority on the topics.

HOW DO I GET PEOPLE TO FIND MY BLOG CONTENT?

Once you have created your answers to the most asked questions, now you want people to find it. I’m going to give you the simple overview here:

  1. Tell others about it—email and social media
  2. Make sure you have “optimized it” –SEO elements on your blog content
  3. Tell others about it … again –Repeat all or part of step one.

Most people subscribe to Kevin Costner’s philosophy, in Field of Dreams. That is they believe, “If you write it they will come.” That sadly is not the case. With almost 2 BILLION websites online as of 2018 (according to Internet live stats), and an estimated 152 million blogs (this number is hard to track since Tumblr has stats on this and some websites have blogs that are not always formatted or seen as a blog.) There’s just a whole lot of content out there.

If you want people to find and subscribe to your blog, Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others will certainly help, but you have to tell others about it.

Let your email subscribers know about each new post. Get the word out on social each time you hit publish and then next week do it again, both with new content and reminding them of your older content. [Read more on HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR BLOG]

Watch this and PLAN TO BE FINDABLE BEFORE YOU WRITE


WHAT ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL BLOG, VIDEO OR FUN PODCAST?

So what about that personal content you want to write or create just to share stories and inspiration? Does it matter how many people read it? Not really. Sure, our ego wants the views. Our ego wants to have people share comments on how our writing has impacted them, but if we are creating this content to share from our heart, someone will be impacted even if they don’t stick around to tell us.

I write here for business and then a few years back I started a personal blog (Gina Unplugged), just to have a place to share stories that I want to pass down to my family. I was delighted to hear from people who said they loved one of my stories or they related to something I wrote, but I don’t do anything to optimize these posts and promote them very lightly on social media.

We can’t get great until we get started and the more we write, the better we get. The more we record ourselves on audio for podcasts or on video, the better and more comfortable we get behind the mic and camera.

SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

If you are ready to create content for your business, don’t wait another week. Start writing, start recording and get your business found. If you are just getting started or still feeling a bit intimidated, start that personal blog or YouTube channel just to get those ideas and thoughts out of your head.

For more tips and tools check out our 15-Day Blog Challenge in the DIYsocial community.

If you’re ready to be more strategic with your blog posts, download our BLOG PLANNER to plan your blog topics and SEO elements before you begin writing.

blog planner