Use the Obvious in Your Content Marketing for More Leads

The other day I was listening to a psychologist discuss how children learn, and she said a child’s willingness to ask obvious questions was the key.  She went on to say most adults might assume everyone else knows the answer and therefore we don’t dare ask the obvious questions. It got me thinking. How many times in your business do you stop talking about the obvious because you assume everyone already knows it? What if there are potential customers out there who want to know the obvious about your business? This is the basis for great content marketing!

Thankfully we feel no shame in asking Google the obvious questions. “What does URL stand for?” “What does the word BLOG really mean?” “How much does the human head weigh?” See, I can ask Google the obvious AND the random. No shame. Google will take me to the answers that I seek.

The obvious question for you is, are you answering your customers’ obvious questions in a straightforward manner on your website, blog and social posts so Google will take those inquisitive customers to you?

Human Head Weighs 8 Pounds

Have you ever had someone that you’ve known for a long time (like your mom), or someone you’ve been connected with on a social media platform for quite awhile, ask, “What is it that you do?” Of course we all have. There are people who dare to ask us what we consider to be …the obvious!

There are two reasons we may not be stating the obvious any more:

  1. We’ve said it already.

    Perhaps you wrote a blog post five years ago answering this exact question, or you tweeted about this last year. You don’t want to be redundant. Here is a newsflash: People are not sitting at their computers waiting for your next post to drop. Aside from your mother, most people do not see every post you write. (I apologize if this is hard to take.) In your mix of content, you will need to write the same points over and over, changing up how you might say them, to get a fraction of your contacts to read and then remember them.

  2. We have evolved beyond that point.

    Sometimes I find myself tempted to write, not for my target audience, but for the other “experts” out there who might read my content. After all, what if they read my obvious post and think I am simple? Oh sure, if I am publishing an article for others in marketing or social media, I might want to provide more technical expertise and discuss tools that only someone working full time in digital marketing would care to take the time to look at (and they would probably still say I was simple.) If, however, I want to answer the questions that a potential customer might have, I would need to get into their 8-pound heads and go back to the beginning.

My husband often reminds me that not everyone is a freak like me, with 230 apps on their mobile phones and accounts set up on every social media site known (and unknown) to mankind! It’s hard to fathom, but we all fall victim to the curse of knowledge at some point. We have stored up a wealth of knowledge over the duration of our career and assume that our customers, team members and family, all have the same level of knowledge, or desire to have this same level of knowledge. Another shocker here…they don’t.

Content Marketing shocked you don't want to know about my biz

It may be time to go back to the beginning. Take some time to ask obvious questions of your customers like, “Do you know what we do?” “What are you spending time doing that we might be able to help you with?” Tell them you would like to answer the most obvious questions they have as well. No shame. Once you have gathered some of this information, write a series of blog posts or create some short videos answering these obvious questions. This will be great content for your inbound marketing and content marketing.

ask questions on social media answer with content marketing

Do you need help with your content marketing or inbound strategy? Did you know we do that? What’s an obvious question YOU have? Come on….ask us. No shame.

Connect with Gina on Twitter or right here on our blog!

 

 

Nine Foolish Things You Might Still Be Doing On LinkedIn

Nine Foolish Things You Might Still Be Doing On LinkedIn

 

There are a lot of foolish things I see done on LinkedIn every day, from not updating a profile for months, to mistaking it as a dating service. Guys, “Your profile picture is beautiful” or “I am interested in women in your area” are really bad first introduction lines on LinkedIn. But aside from those obvious lame actions, there are many areas where small improvements can make great advances in your profile being found by your ideal audience more often and then have it stand out to those who find it. 

Here are 9 foolish things that too many are still doing (or NOT doing) and how to fix them:

  1. Writing in 3rd Person Like Gina’s Doing Right Now.

    Your LinkedIn profile is not a website. It is not a brochure. It is a personal profile that you create. Talk to me. Talk to those who are looking for your skills and talents. There is something very awkward (or very Bob Dole) about writing, “Gina and her team work with organizations to magnify their brand.” It makes people want to look around to see where you went and who did you leave here to talk about you. 

    Make your profile a place where you can share what you bring to the table for those searching for you. Share problems you solve, skills you possess that they need, and write in a conversational tone to connect with the reader.

  2. Leaving Your Summary Section Blank or Very Skimpy. 

    LinkedIn has generously given you 2,000 characters to use to tell the world all about your awesomeness.  Use every single one of those characters. While it may seem like a high school writing assignment, your summary section should encapsulate your work, education, volunteerism and include a dash of personal flare. Be sure you have added keywords to your summary as well, to ensure your profile pops up when someone is searching for that perfect person.  

    QUICK TIP: Open a Word doc and look at the bottom as you type to see your character and word count, or go to http://LetterCount.com for help in using all 2,000 of those characters.

  3. Being all Business on LinkedIn. 

    Loosen the LinkedIn tie and add a little personality to your summary. Don’t be afraid to tell the world a little bit about who you are as a person. Perhaps after all of those amazing job highlights, you add in that you love coaching Little League teams or that you keep your sanity by getting outdoors as much as possible. This information could be what someone actually connects with and a great conversation can be started on this thread of personal shared knowledge.

  4. Leaving Your Profile Filled with Nothing but Text. 

    When I get an email that is more than 2 sentences, my eyes glaze over. We see so much text come across our screens today, that photos and videos are a wonderful and needed break for our brains. LinkedIn allows you to add rich media like video clips, SlideShare presentations, photos on your posts and more. Don’t let your profile be a snoozer. Add some flare to your summary or work experience sections.
    how to add media to linkedin profile, add video to linkedin profile

  5. Having a Less-Than-Professional Looking Headshot. 

    Notice I didn’t say professional studio headshot. Many people tell me they are waiting to schedule an appointment with a professional photographer to take that perfect shot for their LinkedIn profile. In the meantime they have a picture that was cropped from a family picnic photo wearing a tank top. You don’t need to spend money to get a professional photo taken. Today our cell phones sport 10-20 megapixel cameras and if you simply put on a button down shirt or something that doesn’t show your chest hair or cleavage, have a friend snap a pic from the chest up, you’re in business!

  6. Showing Few Skills or the Wrong Skills.

    LinkedIn has over 45,000 skills indexed that you can select from and LinkedIn states, “Members that list skills on their profiles receive 13 times the number of profile views than those who don’t.” 

    Not only can you add skills that you would like to showcase, but by going into edit mode on that section, you can remove skills that you really don’t want people associating with you any longer. Perhaps you have made a career shift and had programming as a past skill, but you no longer want to appear in searches for that. 

    You can also reorder the skills, moving those you would like more endorsements for to the top and those that are less significant, to the bottom. The skills listed at the top will show up for others to endorse you for most often.

  7. Not Asking for Recommendations.

    A beautifully written thank you note on personalized stationery is so nice to receive, but sadly, it is hard to show that to anyone else wanting to see a recommendation of your work. Fortunately, LinkedIn has made it easier in the past year to manage your recommendations and even reordering them, moving your best to the top.  

    If no one has offered to write a recommendation for you on LinkedIn, you can be bold and ask some of your past clients or co-workers to write one. LinkedIn makes that easy too. Simply click on ASK FOR RECOMMENDATIONS and send the request. Along with endorsements, recommendations help to boost your profile’s rank in search, and of course if someone is comparing you to another, endorsements and recommendations are like honey and they sweeten the decision.

  8. Not Taking Advantage of the Ability to Publish Posts on Your Profile. 

    Initially a feature only given to a select chosen few, now everyone can showcase their expertise and insights. Posts stay front and center on your profile and when you add a photo to your posts, they really stand out and draw people in to learn more about you. 

    Whether you enjoy writing or not, take a stab at putting your thoughts on topics you are passionate or knowledgeable about, into written words. You may discover a talent or love for writing that you have suppressed since that junior high school teacher destroyed it with her red pen.

  9. Updating Too Infrequently.

    Most people create their LinkedIn profile, log out, and never look back. LinkedIn is more than a resume sitting online. It used for more than looking for a job. LinkedIn has gone through puberty and is now a real social network. (Minus the cat videos!) Stay active on your LinkedIn profile. Aside from posting regular status updates, don’t forget to freshen it up after projects, new certifications, or even new skills you have added.  When you show your profile a little love, it will multiply that love right back to you. 

Spend some time this week and commit to eliminating a few of these foolish items off your list and you will turn that fools cap into a party hat! 

If you need more tips and tools for marketing yourself or your business- Join our DIY.social Coaching Program! 

DOWNLOAD YOUR RESOURCE GUIDE FOR CREATING A ROCKIN’ LINKEDIN PROFILE!

great linkedin profiles

I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn, Twitter or any other method you would like.
Gina on Twitter    Gina on LinkedIn

 

Take Advantage of Marketing Trends – Read these 3 Tips

marketing trends

Do you feel overwhelmed with all there is to do in branding your business? With so many marketing trends and the constant upkeep of what’s working and what’s not, it’s certainly understandable you may feel like you’re spinning too many plates in the air. Have some come crashing down already? Take comfort – you’re not the only one.

Technology provides us with an exciting ability to get in front of our customers and learn more about their buying patterns and habits. If your time is best spent focusing on your industry expertise and not the marketing side of it, look no further than this post. As a digital strategist who is daily in the trenches, these three tips will bring a boost to amp up your marketing efforts.

LinkedIn – are you connected?

LinkedIn has become an integral part in marketing yourself as a personal brand as well as your business’s brand. Don’t mistake it for a chatty social network site with an onslaught of adorable puppy pictures. While we adore our four legged friends and treat them like family, LinkedIn is for professional connections. Think of it as a cocktail party you want to be a part of, not a backyard barbecue with everyone and their brother.

Use LinkedIn to keep up with industry news, key players in your industry, and share relevant content. Join groups. Don’t just lurk, but participate. Share your opinion. Add any articles you’ve found interesting or valuable pertaining to your line of work. Connect with previous colleagues. Explore.

How do you use LinkedIn? Jeff Bullas calls LinkedIn the poor second cousin of the social networking fraternity with its glamorous siblings Facebook and Twitter hogging the limelight. Despite it seeming like a quieter site on the whole, there are powerful connections to be made. LinkedIn is where the movers and shakers hang out and get their updates.

We are in an unprecedented time when we are able, through technology and social media channels, to connect with game changers in our industries.  As a savvy businessperson, why wouldn’t you want to be a player in that game?

To top off with a cherry on the LinkedIn sundae of connections, this particular channel drives more traffic to corporate websites and blogs than any other social network. Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second. What are you waiting for?

Warning: when you first start connecting with others, depending on their notification settings you may feel bombarded with an abundance of notices regarding birthdays and job advancements. SocialKNX has a helpful article regarding how to manage these, keeping some at bay and taking advantage of others with the knowledge they relay. Consider this like a business journal where announcements are made, and decide what you want to do with it.

[Read ➳ What To Do About All Those Random LinkedIn Notifications]

Instagram – you don’t have to say cheese!

At 4.21%, Brand Engagement Rates Highest on Instagram. What was once a photo only platform available on IOS has now transformed into Android and web interface usage. Companies and brands are taking advantage of the visual storytelling of their products.

Marketers often talk about letting some personality show in your brand and we’ve mentioned before how important it is to let others peek behind the proverbial curtain of your business from time to time. Instagram is the perfect platform to carry this strategy through. Time to showcase that we are in the era of human to human connections!

Try not to have too much fun choosing a filter and playing around. You’ll find the more you use Instagram, the better pictures you’ll take. Hmm…sound familiar? Practice makes perfect. Except on Instagram, you don’t have to be perfect. Be you.

[Read ➳ 8 Ways to Use Instagram for Your Business]

Tradeshows – how’s your hashtag?

When you participate in tradeshows and conferences, what kind of prep work do you do prior to arrival? Besides checking out the best restaurants online and getting your Uber driver lined up for after conference sight-seeing, one of the best items to cross of your to-do list is to find out the conference hashtag. When you key in a search with the hashtag on Twitter, it automatically saves in your search queue. You can go back to your search column at any time and select the conference hashtag, and voila! All tweets with the hashtag are shown. Use this knowledge to dig deep and reach out to:

  • conference attendees
  • conference exhibitors
  • conference speakers
  • your competition

Take it a step further and create Twitter lists based on these categories. Talk about being productive! [Read ➳ Seven Reasons You Should Be Talking about Twitter]

What a perfect opportunity to capitalize on time spent at a conference by taking your online connections and putting an in person face with the name. Talk about networking to the next level!

Utilize Instagram by taking pictures at the conference and keying in the hashtag in your comments. Now you’re going to be seen as an attendee in the know, a well connected person who others want to be associated with. Most every conference / tradeshow will likely re-tweet and re-gram (e.g. share on Twitter and Instagram) messages pertaining to the conference by the conference coordinators themselves. How’s that for exposure for you and your brand?

Social media is an effective way to maximize your time, funds, and efforts that go into attending a conference or tradeshow. Think of it as your megaphone to the conference. Timothy Carther is the Digital Marketing Manager for the trade show display exhibit company, Nimlok. He’s written a fabulous article on several ways you can successfully incorporate a variety of social media channels for you next conference. [Read ➳ How To Use Social Media To Make An Impact At Your Next Trade Show]

What questions do you have about these marketing trends? Feel free to ask in the comments. We love staying social with you and learning together. Here’s to making an impact with your connections through social media!

@MindyRodenburg

@SocialKNX

Is It Time To Get Help With Your Social Media Marketing?

The first words out of Karen’s mouth, when I answered the phone were, “I just can’t do it all anymore.” I felt as if I were manning the phones at a crisis hotline. Karen owns and helps run a natural foods company. they make and sell packaged granola, nuts, and other snack foods that are sold in airports and Whole Foods stores. She actually gets into work at 4am to start baking and is there until 10pm doing other business-related activities, including her social media marketing. She was going NUTS! (Pun totally intended)

Are you getting tired of juggling too many activities to keep your business growing? Are sales declining because you don’t have time to follow up with hot leads and your marketing has been shelved because your creative brain cells have all been baked and fried? It might be time to bring in some help, and it might be easier than you think. Perhaps you can find a friend or intern to help with a few of the activities, or perhaps you want to outsource the entire kit and kaboodle (Here’s what that phrase even means: Kit and Kaboodle).

Let’s take a look at some of the specific skills that are involved in content marketing and social media management. This should help you identify the helper you need.

WEBSITE COPYWRITING

Great website copy is critical to help your site come up in search results. Your site is more than a boring brochure these days. It should be a resource of information and answers to your potential cusotmers most searched for questions. You need to find someone who can, obviously write well–good grammar and spelling–but finding someone who can sound like you is also very important. While your voice or tone for your website can be taught or assigned, you will want to think of things like words you tend to use and phrases that define who you are as a brand. Are you fun and witty? The copy on your website should show that. Are you conservative and professional, then the writing will need to follow that tone.

Ask for some writing samples. Check other pieces of content from your writer that matches or is close to your style. Keep in mind, you can have someone do the heavy lifting on your website copy and then you can “tweak” as needed.

Keep in mind a copywriter is typically not an SEO expert. If you are wanting this person to also go in and load the content and add meta descriptions, links, and tags, you will want to make sure this person understands how to do that. Don’t assume a writer knows anything about the backend of a website.

BLOGGING

Blogging is becoming more important as content becomes a greater driver of traffic to your site.  Gone are the days of just having your site stuffed with keywords that people might search for.  Blogs are different from website copy, in that they usually involve research and more specific industry topics rather than information about you and your brand. A blog post is not a promotional piece, it is more informational and educational. Finding someone who can blog for you, or even to augment your occasional blogging, is a great area to outsource.  Just like hiring a website copywriter, you will need to have some input, but with guidance they should be able to write interesting and helpful content for a blog post.

You can even schedule a short interview with the blogger once a month and that can be transcribed and turned into blog content, or you can simply allow the person to get to know about your business, your competitors and your industry.  With a little research and a little “letting go,” you can have a blog that is filled with wonderful and helpful content, rich keyword phrases and it will be great content to be shared on social media sites and recycled in your email marketing campaigns.   Like website copywriting, if you want your blog posts loaded to your site with tags, photos and meta descriptions, be sure to ask about these skills when looking to hire.

help with social marketing, hired help for blogging, social marketing managed services

BRAND MANAGEMENT

When you are busy managing your business, you might not have the time to watch what is going on in the big world wide web. While there are tools like Google Alerts and Mentions that send you notifications when your brand or specific keywords are mentioned on the web, your brand may be larger and require a more diligent and watchful eye. You may need someone who can help with monitoring your brand and keeping on top of responding to comments and questions that come in on all of the social networks like Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, and more.  If you are posting content, you want to make sure you are also listening and replying to those you are working hard to connect with.  Hiring someone that has great customer service skills is critical. With platforms like Twitter, many disgruntled customers take their complaints to the tweets!  Social media’s real-time attributes have resulted in demanding response time expectations — a 2012 study found that 32 percent of customers expect a response within 30 minutes.

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT

Most people think having someone manage their Facebook page or Twitter account is as easy as throwing a few pictures or status updates up. They bring in their nephew or a friend’s daughter who has a Facebook and Instagram account, thinking that is more than qualified. I use a lot of electric gadgets and flip light switches all day, but that does not make me an electrician! Knowing how to load a photo on Facebook is NOT social media management.

The skills you will want to make sure your person possess include, great writing skills, since grammar and spelling are still important in today’s business environment. If someone is posting, “How R U doing?” even on Twitter, that should make your skin crawl. You also need someone who understands how to target your messaging and images to attract your ideal customers and stay true to your brand. Images are key to every social media channel today, so knowing how to edit photos to fit the different platforms is a needed skill. Understanding copyright laws as they apply to images and taking someone’s intellectual property, are also important in this oversharing world we live in.

There are tools available to make social media management more …manageable, like Sprout Social, Buffer, and Hootsuite. These allow you to plan your content ahead of time and schedule posts to drop throughout the week. This will free up some time and allow you to focus on the community involvement on social.

INTERNET or EMAIL MARKETING

Businesses need to combine social, blogging and email marketing to create a well-rounded digital marketing strategy, but this takes a lot of time for sure.  Driving traffic from social media to your website, to landing pages, to email signups to eNewsletters, a person could go crazy trying to do it all.  You can outsource it all or just pieces.  If you are looking for someone to help you with email marketing, you will want them to know how to work in your email tool–Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Aweber, Hubspot, Infusionsoft, just to name a few. If you haven’t even set up an email management service, tools like Mailchimp make it very easy with their templates and very low pricing packages.

If you can find someone who has done sales copy in the past, this is a plus. You want to create email campaigns that have strong call-to-actions and copy that converts. This is not your average blogger!

COMMUNITY MANAGER

If your goal on social media is to build a community where you can engage with current and potential customers, you will need to spend time being SOCIAL. This means doing more than posting content about you and your brand. It requires you to go onto other people’s profiles and other company’s pages to read, LIKE and comment there to be engaged in the community. It requires someone spending time looking for others to connect with to ensure your community is growing every day.

Community managers also need customer service skills, since they are representing your brand answering questions both on and off your own pages and profiles. Community management can take the most time since the person has to use search tools to find the right places to visit online, and be sure that those who come to your pages feel as if you are listening to them and valuing their comments and questions.

social media marketing puzzle

So you can see, there are many pieces to your content marketing and social media management puzzle. The key is knowing which pieces you can take on yourself, and which pieces you can hire out for. Where is your time best spent?  The possibilities are endless.  Ask lots of questions when hiring someone.  Look for those skills that you either do not have, or do not have time for.

If this post has left you with millions of questions or just in need of a nap, lay down and contact me right away…Let’s chat!

social business, social media marketing, social management, Synapse, Gina SchreckWritten by Gina Schreck

Gina is the president at SocialKNX (and she has her team manage some of the pieces that involve numbers and anything requiring an attention to detail). Gina speaks around the globe on today’s marketing strategies to keep business relevant and thriving.

Connect with Gina on Twitter –>  @GinaSchreck

You Are A Writer, Now Start Writing: Getting That Blog Going

Get that Blog Going for Content Marketing Power

I was on a call with a client who said he wants us to “help him start blogging.”  I said, “You mean you want us to blog for you.”  He said “No. I just want you to help me become a writer and start doing it myself.  Give me topics and a deadline.”  Hmmm interesting.  I never thought of a business model where we get paid to get our clients to do the work!  I like it.  But after our conversation, I think I was able to convince him that he already was a writer, he just had to start making regular time for this activity that has never had a place in his day before.

 

We are all writers.  If you can speak about your business and you know how to use a computer, an old typewriter, or a number two pencil, you can write.  Sure there are some who will enjoy it more than others, and there are some who sound more eloquent in their style of writing, but we all can get the written word down.  For that matter, use a dictation tool to have your computer write for you. (One is built into most computers, tablets and even smart phones today. I am on my Macbook Air, in Notes and under EDIT, there is the option to simply dictate to get my spoken words down in writing.)

 Tips for blogging, inbound marketing

In today’s marketing environment, we must make a shift in our activities and start making time to write.  Our prospects are not answering their phones when we cold-call and they are not reading post cards and other mailers that we are sending out. They are turning to their friend, Google, to help them find answers to their questions.  Google will show them answers in the form of blog posts, social media posts, and of course lots of videos from his son, YouTube.  Is your content being found in this mix?    If you are like our client, and you know you need to start writing more, here are 4 tips to get you going:

How to start blogging tips for beginner bloggers

 

  1. Set aside 30-60 minutes every day for writing.

    YES, an hour! If you have to wake up earlier or you have to make yourself go to the library or coffee shop, make it so. Write this time on your calendar so you can’t book anything else in that slot.

  2. Remember you are answering a question, not writing a novel.

    It can be overwhelming if you think you have to write a whitepaper or a 1,500 word article.  Imagine someone coming up and asking you a common question about your business.  Now start writing as if you are writing a letter to that person to answer the question.   I love the thought of writing just being a way to help someone or to teach someone something.  I’m not trying to be RR Tolkien (????) or JK Rowling (although now I’m realizing that perhaps if I just change my name to GM Schreck, I could possibly write my first novel).  Today, write down a few of the most common questions you get about your business.  These are the first few posts you will write.

  3.  Don’t edit as you write.

    Years ago, I read a great book by Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones. In it, one of the exercises she gave was to put your pen to the paper and write without stopping for 45 minutes. No editing, no stopping to fact-check.  You were to write without stopping.  It has helped me, immensely, get more content out.  If you get down the “bones,” you can go back and edit later, adding in details or facts.  Inserting links and correcting grammar and spelling errors.  When you stop to fix or correct it, you lose your mojo.  You break the train of thought you have going.  It’s like having someone interrupt you while you are on a roll and then you forget what your point was.  Don’t let that editor interrupt the writer while he is at work.

  4. Create a “Story Starter” notebook for blogging ideas.

    One of the biggest problems people tell me they have when it comes to blogging, just behind not having enough time, is not having topics to write about.  They sit down and stare at the blank screen and then try to come up with something.  If you create a “story starter” notebook in Evernote (or any other notebook system), you will have plenty to choose from. The reason I love Evernote for my “story starters,” is it is everywhere you are.  You can open the app on your phone, jot an idea, and then later open that same note on your laptop, tablet or desktop.  You want to start jotting down questions that people ask you about your business, observations you have throughout the day, thoughts you have after watching a commercial or interaction in a store somewhere.  Start looking for topics everywhere.  All you have to do is jot down the idea or “story starter” and then tomorrow during your writing time you can elaborate, or perhaps you let it stew a little longer and it will bubble up in a post down the road.

  Start blogging tips for blog inbound marketing

So what are you waiting for.  Download, or open Evernote, and get your first few questions written down right now.  (I’ll wait….)

Now fire up that old typewriter, pick up your pen, or open that iPad, and start writing!

social media marketing small business, hotels, social business

Gina Schreck
President (and blogger) at SocialKNX

 

Want a little extra accountability?  Write the name of your blog and give us the URL to find it.  Let’s all agree to go and learn something new from each other.

 

If you’d like help augmenting your blogging, we certainly can help you with that.  The more great content you have coming from your website answering those questions, the better.  Contact us for more information.