Monthly Archives: October 2014

How to Include Influencers in Your Content Strategy

Posted by Amanda_Gallucci

The first thing most people think when they hear “influencers” is promotion. Important people with an engaged following can amplify the reach of whatever idea, content or brand they choose to share. If you only weave influencers into your content strategy when your finished product is ready to be promoted, however, you’re missing out on the full potential of having respected experts on your team.

Knowing when and how they can best be engaged at different stages is critical to moving these leaders from outside influencers to brand partners.

Measure an influencer’s true value

In order to find the right influencers to give your content strategy a boost, you first should understand what makes a person an influencer and how influence will play a role within the larger content landscape.

Whether you’re looking to build brand awareness or drive traffic, what matters is not sheer numbers of followers, but the amount of engaged followers.

Twitalyzer’s analytics provide a good start to assessing who is influential on Twitter. The tool measures not only the potential impact users have based on their number of followers, but also the likelihood that other Twitter users will retweet or mention a particular user. 

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Beyond finding an influencer who’s engaged enough to spread your message, also consider how this person became influential in the first place. Whether he or she has years of experience, brilliant ideas, cohesive arguments or all of the above, consider how you can harness these strengths to maximize your potential for creating a successful relationship. Asking influencers to tweet out a link might give you a bump in traffic, but asking for their opinions, advice and time in different ways will be infinitely more valuable.

Lead with strategy

How influencers fit into your campaign should be determined according to audience research and campaign goals. Know what platforms your target audience interacts with, what interests are strong enough to drive them to take action and who they trust. The more naturally these insights are woven into your content, the easier it will be to find influencers in this segment who will appreciate what you have to share.

Campaign goals are equally crucial because depending on what you want to achieve, you might change the angle of your messaging or favor different platforms. Not every influencer has the same level of activity and reach on every social channel, so identify influencers who are stars on the right platforms. Similarly, tailor your message for each influencer so that anything they share on your behalf looks organic alongside their other content.

Once you have a solid foundation for your strategy, start looking for influencers and begin your outreach process. With enough lead time to send along a beta version or rough draft, you can tweak content based on their feedback. You’ll also need allow time for them to collaborate with you on original content, create any sponsored or guest content or write a review or give a quote that you can use on your content’s release.

Don’t ask for too much of an influencer’s time, however, especially if you are asking for offhand feedback and not entering into a paid engagement. Build a relationship before you ask for favors, and even still, make the ask as easy as possible by providing the right amount of background and simplifying what you want the person to do. Rand’s
Whiteboard Friday on earning the amplification of influencer walks through the importance of the relationship-building aspect and enticing influencers with what’s in it for them.

Find influencers

With a clear understanding of the role influencers play within your overall strategy, you’re ready to identify the right candidates.

Countless tools are available to help you find influencers in different verticals, so choose based on the action you want the influencer to take. If you are searching for a thought leader who can write engaging content, a tool like
ClearVoice will help you find credible authors who focus on a particular topic. For each writer, you can view a list of articles he or she has written on that subject.

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When you need social influencers who can help you amplify content,
Buzzsumo is a great tool. Through their Influencer search, you can find people who frequently share content on a given topic and can click through to see what these links are.

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Another approach to finding social influencers is to search Twitter bios using
Followerwonk and sorting by Social Authority

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Engage influencers at different stages

Outreach

Outreach ideally starts with organically following influencers and engaging with them over time. Then reaching out to them via email or social media is less about introductions and more about the specific project you want to pitch to the influencer.

There will also be times when you find an influencer who aligns with your strategy but you don’t have the relationship-building lead time. For this cold outreach, write a succinct introduction that includes goals your goals for the content and the benefits the influencer will receive by working with you. Then make your ask. Personalization and quality are key. If you find outreach challenging, this
guide from Portent is a great place to start.

Make outreach easier for yourself by using a tool like
BuzzStream that automates and tracks the process. It will help you find contacts at certain publishers—giving you the twofold opportunity to pitch your own content as well as get in touch with influential authors. It also generates templated, customizable outreach emails.

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Just remember, even if you already have a solid relationship with an influencer, show that you value his or her time. Do as much of the groundwork as you can in advance. For instance, if you want people to share something on social, draft one to three example social posts specifically crafted for each influencer and platform.

Start of relationship

Once an influencer agrees to work with you, provide just the right amount of background information and instruction. This will vary by project and influencer.

For an influencer creating content, define the basics (e.g., article, ebook, video, etc.), in addition to length and editorial theme. Find a good balance between leaving room for the influencer to share his or her expertise, while setting up key points and takeaways you want the content to achieve. You should also create and send an abbreviated style guide. There’s no need to disclose every internal note you have, but if you can provide the basic stylistic do’s and don’ts, product or company background, audience information, and voice and tone guidelines, you will spend less time on edits and back-and-forths with the influencer. Set clear expectations and schedule benchmark dates where you can check in on progress and make revisions where necessary.

In the case of engaging influencers to amplify content, you won’t need to give quite as much guidance on how to craft the social message, but you can still offer suggestions on angles that would work well or any topics or phrases your brand wouldn’t want to be associated with. It’s also important to provide summaries of any piece of content you are asking influencers to share so that a) if they don’t have time to read every word, they still feel comfortable with the concept and b) there won’t have to be any guesswork in deciding what part of the content is most important to share.

Relationship maintenance

If your experience with an influencer is mutually beneficial and you know you’ll want to partner again, make sure to check in periodically. Don’t ask for something new every time you reach out. Keep in touch by sending along interesting content or company updates the influencer might find useful. Better yet, always extend a congratulations on a promotion or a new position.

To ensure you remember to engage with the right people, use tools like
Commun.it, which identify the influential people you interact with on Twitter, and prompt you to re-engage with people you haven’t @ mentioned recently. 

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LinkedIn Contacts is also a handy way to keep track of conversations and check on any updates on the influencer’s end to look out for opportunities to get in touch.

As you continue to grow existing influencer relationships, adjust your overarching strategy to incorporate more key industry leaders. Create new roles for influencers to play in shaping your content and its promotion.

Always be strategizing

The best way to include influencers in your content strategy is to involve them at every stage of the process, including:

  1. Creation: Plan out what types of influencers will be helpful and the role they should play based on the target audience and campaign goals.
  2. Implementation: Share a strategic brief with onboarded influencers and leave flexibility for changes based on the influencer’s feedback.
  3. Measurement: Factor in the reach of influencers as part of the success of your campaign.

Over time, integrating and managing influencer relationships will become second nature, and they will seem more like team members and partners.

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Anatomy of a Perfect Facebook Post: Exactly What to Post to Get Better Results

You post to your Facebook page, hoping you’ve hit upon something that works.

How great would it be know that the post you just published had the best chance of maximizing clicks, likes, and comments.

Facebook posts especially—given the dramatic dip in reach—can feel like a mystery. How do you create the perfect Facebook post? Does the perfect Facebook post even exist?

I went looking for answers and came across a heap of best practices and examples of what goes into a perfect Facebook post. Check …

The post Anatomy of a Perfect Facebook Post: Exactly What to Post to Get Better Results appeared first on Social.

8 Reasons to Convert Your WordPress.com Blog to WordPress.org

The quickest way to start a free blog is by signing up to WordPress.com. Many new bloggers start that way. While it’s a great place to start, WordPress.com has several limitations which become quickly evident as a blog grows. If you want to surpass these… Read More »

To leave a comment please visit 8 Reasons to Convert Your WordPress.com Blog to WordPress.org on WPBeginner.

It’s Time to Treat Content as Part of the User Experience

Posted by wrttnwrd

Forget content marketing, SEO content, and whatever else as you know them. We need to fundamentally change our approach to content.
It’s not an add-on or a separate thing. It’s an inseparable part of the user experience. Let’s act that way.

Content: the silent epidemic

Your site’s infested.

Most organizations treat content like some kind of horrific disease. They try to shove it as far away as possible from the “real” web site, like a bad case of body lice.

Where do they put it? The blog, of course:

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Don’t worry, this isn’t another put-the-blog-on-the-site-dammit rant. Hopefully, you already understand that
blog.site.com isn’t as good as site.com/blog.

They also incorrectly define “content.” Content isn’t “stuff we write to rank higher” or “infographics” or “longform articles.”

Content is anything that communicates a message to the audience.
Anything.

Product descriptions? Content.

The company story? Content.

Images? Content.

That video of your company picnic that someone posted to your site three years ago and shows everyone dressed as Muppets? Content.

If it says something, shows something, or otherwise communicates, it’s content.

Change your approach

We all need to change our entire approach to content. Treat it as part of the user experience, instead of a nasty skin disease:

  1. Integrate content that can enhance the user experience
  2. Optimize what you already have

Integrate content that can enhance the user experience

Interlink and integrate related information. That includes connecting promotional to informational and showing related visuals and text on promotional pages.

“Promotional” means product descriptions or anything else that “sells” an idea or makes a call to action to the visitor.

Companies are terrified of this. They believe it’ll send customers away. But it doesn’t happen.

I have never seen revenue drop because of interlinking or other integration. I
have seen it generate long-term customer relationships, increase referrals and increase near-term conversions.

Link to the blog

If nothing else,
link to relevant blog posts. People intent on making a purchase aren’t going to click away never to return. Check out how Surly Bikes does it:

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(By the way, that bike’s a steal at $2,700, if anyone’s trying to figure out what to get me for Hanukkah this year.)

Linking to a relevant post allows really interested visitors to drill down an additional layer of detail. They can get impressions, learn why one product might be better for them than another, and maybe even (gasp) realize that the folks behind the product are just like them.

Embed related social content

Urban Outfitters does so much right. They have an amazing 
Instagram account:

But, for some reason, they don’t link to it from product pages.

It’s OK. I’m not cool enough for their stuff anyway. But why hide all those attractive people using their products? That’ll encourage all sorts of purchasers.

Also, link to related social content right from your product pages. Ideally, you want to embed examples right in the page. At the very least, link prominently to the relevant account (but seriously, embed the examples).

Here’s another example. I’m definitely a Democrat, but I have to offer a tip to the other side of the aisle here: If you have someone with decent YouTube videos, include ’em. Representative DeSantis has an entire YouTube channel. Why not show a few videos here?

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If you want to see someone do it right, have a look at
top10.com. They’re pulling Instagram images straight into their hotel information.

You can do this with any social platform that lets you: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, etc. So what’s stopping you?

Optimize what you already have

Your site is already stuffed with content.

You might deny it. But it’s true.

So why not optimize what you’ve got?

Write decent descriptions

Whatever you’re selling/promoting, write a decent description. That includes category pages. I’m not sure what to say about the following top-of-category page “description,” so I’ll go with hysterical, bitter laughter:

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By the way, for those who think this kind of content is a great SEO tactic, this site’s on page 2 for “jeans.”

I’m not thrilled with this one, as it’s buried at the bottom of the category page and a little keyword stuffed, but compared to the previous, it’s a shining light in the darkness:

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That site ranks #3 for “jeans.”

Even if you care only about rankings, better descriptions are a better strategy.

At this time, the #1 site for “jeans” has a description buried at the bottom of their category page that’s so awful I cried. I’ll dig into that another time, but I doubt that travesty is helping them much, and more importantly, it sure doesn’t make me want to buy anything.

Don’t be ashamed

Your content is not a zit. Show it proudly. I like the way Juicy Couture does it. I can actually read the product description:

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This, on the other hand, makes me think I need bifocals.

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That’s actual size, by the way.

Follow the same rules of typography you would anywhere else. Make sure your type is high-contrast and readable. Put it somewhere that I’ll actually see it. At the very least, don’t hide it, for heaven’s sake.

Guide me when I’m lost

Please don’t redirect me to a category page without any explanation. I’m not bashing a pinata.

Blindfolding me, spinning me around 8 times and then sending me on my way is not entertaining. It’s annoying as hell.

If I search for a product you no longer sell, and click the description:

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  1. Show me the product page with a “Sorry, this product is no longer available. But you might like…” and send me along
  2. Or show me a note explaining what just happened

Urban Outfitters does it right:

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Nice!

You might be thinking, “Hey, that’s not content!”

Yeah, it is. When content disappears, send me to stuff you’ve got. Content UX 101.

Oh, and that technology thing…

One last step: You need to enable all of this through technology. You have to be able to do all the stuff I listed above. That requires the right tools.

This is the source of teeth-grinding frustration for many content folks. If you can’t edit the site, you can’t do any of this stuff, right? Weellll yes and no. Here are things I’ve tried, and the result:

  1. Screaming. Generally a turn-off. Never gets the desired result.
  2. Demanding. See screaming.
  3. Asking, with a justification. Ask for the features you need, explaining why and how they might help. If you can, show competitors who are doing the same thing. This can take…. a….. long……. time. But it works.
  4. Getting small wins. Can’t add a new page? Edit a product description. Can’t add a new chunk of content to a product page? Add a little bit to the existing description, or edit it as desired. This one works pretty well, but keep asking for the other features, or you’ll never make progress.
  5. Move off the site. You can set up a separate blog, social media account, whatever. I usually punch myself in the spleen right about then, but this can get results, especially for a big brand. Record the results and use that to advocate for more. Best if used in tandem with #3. Runs directly counter to half this article, but what’re you gonna do?

I’m sorry I don’t have an easier solution here. Just remember you’re not the only person asking the IT team for stuff, or telling your boss you’re being prevented from doing a good job, and proceed accordingly.

If you are the boss or IT team, and you’re reading this, please: Don’t sacrifice content or shove it off the site. Listen to your marketers. They want to succeed. “Helped triple revenue” looks a lot better on a resume than “Proposed worthless ideas.” So they’ve got significant incentive.

OK, but is this legit?

I have to admit, I don’t have data on all of this. Know what? Not all marketing is data-driven. But look at some real-life examples of user experience optimization through content:

In the “real world,” the
environment is the content:

  • Starbucks doesn’t just operate a bunch of walk-in, walk-out coffee shops. They provide music, comfy chairs and nice people. An experience. Not a transaction.
  • New car dealers have completely transformed from big lots with cheesy pitches to mini-museums.
  • Airlines attempt to sell an experience. Some do it better than others. And it’s not about money. “Low fare” airlines like Southwest have been particularly successful.

Online, features and… well, content are the content.

  • Amazon feels like a purely transactional site at first. But in-depth reviews, editors’ comments, lists of recently-viewed items and other gadgetry transform the site.
  • Woot.com lives and breathes cool content. It’s their brand, and it’s an intimate part of the user experience.
  • And check out Surly, as I said above.

These brands all do pretty well, yes? Good content UX sure doesn’t hurt.

Another example: We worked with a major fashion brand. We got them thinking about the content user experience. They integrated, and optimized their product descriptions. Our technical recommendations had to wait for release cycles. It didn’t matter. They immediately hit number one for the most competitive phrases in their industry. Coincidence?
I think not. So, even if rankings are your only goal, content UX is a powerful tool.

Get to work

Practice user experience optimization through content. By “optimization,” I don’t mean “stuffing in keywords until readers want to puke.” I mean “optimal combination of promotional and informational content.”

Content optimization drives interest, engagement and yes, rankings. It also takes visitors from transactional to loyal.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

3 Data-Backed Twitter Strategies for More Followers, Better Tweets, and Maximum Engagement

I love Twitter.

It’s one of my favorite places on the Internet, and one of the few sites I visit more than once per day. There’s so much to see and do that even when I’m not actively tweeting, it’s safe to say I’m reading, clicking links, and favoriting things to look at again later.

Up until a few months ago, however, you wouldn’t have known I cared for Twitter at all.

Before I joined WebpageFX, I didn’t have much of a “public” …

The post 3 Data-Backed Twitter Strategies for More Followers, Better Tweets, and Maximum Engagement appeared first on Social.