Social Media

Baby Boomers on Social Media: How to Connect With Them

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When marketing to customers on social media, who are you expecting to reach? For many marketers, the expected social media user is someone in their 20s or early 30s who is never far from their smartphone or mobile device.

But focusing your social media marketing efforts solely on Millennials means that you are potentially ignoring a vast swath of your customer base. While the stereotype of Baby Boomers (people born just after World War II through about 1965) might be that they’re unsure or scared of technology, the reality is that many of them are more tech-savvy and connected than you might think.

Get to know how Baby Boomers use social media and where you’re likely to find them so that you can better target your marketing efforts to connect with them.

Where Are Boomers on Social Media?

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At last count, there were around 77 million Baby Boomers in the US. Of those, around 65 percent between ages 50-64 and around 41 percent of those 65+ use Facebook.

Baby Boomers are less likely to use or have accounts on other social platforms. For example, just 19 percent of people 50- 64 are on Twitter, and only 21 percent have Instagram accounts.

Social media use among Baby Boomers does mirror social media use among the rest of the population. According to Pew Research Center’s annual social media use study, Facebook remains the most popular social network by far, with 68 percent of all US adults claiming to use it. Other platforms, including Twitter and Instagram, are considerably less popular, used by 24 percent and 35 percent of all adults, respectively.

How Do Baby Boomers Use Social Media?

Although Boomers might track with the general population when it comes to the platforms they use, how they engage with or use those platforms tends to differ. For example, only about one-quarter of Baby Boomer social media users follow a brand on social media compared to nearly half of Generation X and half of Millennials. That seems to suggest that if your brand hopes to connect with a Baby Boomer customer base, it needs to go above and beyond to stand out from the crowd.

Baby Boomers are more likely, however, to take action if they encounter something they like on a social platform. Nearly 60 percent of Boomers are likely to check out a company’s website after finding them on social media, for example.

Boomers also are among the most voracious content consumers, with one study revealing that one-quarter of Boomers spend more than 20 hours per week consuming content. A similar survey from Nielsen found that people over the age of 50 spent the most time reading or watching political and news content than other age groups.

When it comes to content type, video tends to be the most popular, with the majority favoring videos under 5 minutes in length. Additionally, Boomers are more likely to participate in interactive content, such as quizzes and polls, compared to users in other age groups.

How to Connect With Baby Boomers on Social Media

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Connecting with Baby Boomers on social media means not only tailoring your company’s message to meet their needs, but also the structure of your content.

For example, since videos are the preferred content type among social media users over 50, it can be worth it to produce informative videos to share on social. Another strategy to try is creating polls or quizzes that grab people’s attention and get them to share information about themselves with your brand.

It’s also important to know what not to do on social media to connect with Boomers. The three social media behaviors that are most likely to convince them to unfollow a brand are:

● Spammy posts
● Having a bad experience with the company
● Annoying posts

Final Considerations

Adults of all ages and life experiences use social media these days. To make sure your brand is connecting with its entire audience base on social, it’s important to know what and where your audience is and how they engage. To form a better connection with a Boomer audience, remember the following:

● Be on Facebook
● Try video  and interactive content
● Don’t spam your followers with too many posts or with meaningless, non-informative posts.

 

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Snapchat vs. Instagram – Which is Better for Marketers?

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It seems that since the beginning of time (or at least since 2011), two apps, Snapchat and Instagram, have been battling it out for the attention of the general population and for the dollars of marketers and advertisers.

In one corner, there is an app that lets people take photos and videos and share them with friends and followers for a limited time. People can dress up their photos and videos with filters, text and stickers.

In the other corner, there’s an app that lets people take photos and videos and share them with friends and followers for a limited time. People can use filters, text and stickers to enhance their images and videos. This app also lets people post photos and videos that permanently live on a feed.

But which app has more to offer marketers? The answer depends on a few things. Take a look at the differences between Snapchat and Instagram, then weigh the pros and cons of incorporating either or both into a marketing campaign.

Who’s Using the Apps

The user base for Snapchat and Instagram is wildly different. Snapchat has a much smaller number of users. Around 187 million people open the app daily, with the average user spending more than 30 minutes on the app each day.

Meanwhile, Instagram Stories, the feature it introduced in 2016 to rival Snapchat, has around 300 million daily users. The full app has around 500 million daily users and around 800 million people open Instagram at least once a month.

Snapchat’s user base also tends to trend younger than Instagram. For example, in 2018, the app is expected to gain 1.9 million users under the age of 25 while Instagram is expected to gain fewer such users – only 1.6 million.

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While Snapchat does skew younger and the content found on it does have a more DIY style compared to Instagram, it’s not an app that’s exclusively used by individuals. Several B2B businesses are using Snapchat to reach their audiences.  B2B companies also have found a way to use Instagram to connect with their markets.

The important thing to ask yourself when deciding between Instagram and Snapchat is: are the companies your business wants to reach using either app (or one instead of the other)?

How Marketers Fare on Each App

Beyond who’s using Snapchat or Instagram, another thing for marketers to consider is what kind of analytics and search tools the apps provide to businesses, and what sort of information you’ll be able to gain from using one or the other.

Previously, it was very difficult to measure performance or results for content published on Snapchat. Snapchat did recently introduce analytics tools which let you see how many people view your stories on the app and how long they spend viewing stories. The analytics also shine a light on who an audience is, giving your details such as location, gender, and age. In contrast, Instagram has been providing business users with analytics and data for some time.

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Another big difference between Instagram and Snapchat is how easy (or not) it is to find and connect with other people or users on the app. On Instagram, finding users who might be interested in what you have to say is pretty simple; the app has a Search and Explore tool that shows you photos and videos based on the information it already has about you.

On Snapchat, the only way to connect with another user is to have that person’s username, Snapcode or URL.  It’s also difficult for users to find new content on Snapchat, since there’s no tool similar to Instagram’s Search and Explore.

Reputation

One last thing to consider in the battle between Snapchat and Instagram is the reputation of each app.  Snapchat, with its younger user base, is often looked at as a “just for fun” app.  Instagram also has a reputation for being lighthearted, but tends to have a more diverse audience.  Both have their uses, depending on your marketing goals.

Final Considerations

When deciding between Snapchat or Instagram, remember these three things:

  • Find for your audience
  • Consider the app’s ease of use
  • Think about how well the app fits in with the image you want to project to your audience.

 

How to Create Engaging Content

Is a blog post only as good as the number of comments it receives? If you post something on social media and no one likes or comments on it, did the post happen?

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Creating engaging content is one of the top challenges for marketers, according to the 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmark report from the Content Marketing Institute. Sixty percent of B2B marketers stated that producing engaging content was their number one issue. (#2 and #3 were producing effective content and producing content regularly.)

If your blog’s comments are low or people seem to click away quickly, it may be time to give one or all of the following a try:

Be Topical (With Care)

“Newsjacking” is the process of using topical, timely content to get your brand’s message out to the world. There are good instances of newsjacking and some not-so-good ones.  A good instance might be to take a trending story and create an educational and informative blog post from it.  Similarly, you can write a piece that references a popular TV show or that connects to something that’s happening in the news, as long as it’s relevant to your business and positive.

On the other hand, using a recent tragedy or crisis to try to promote your brand is in bad form, even if your product might be relevant to readers’ lives at the moment.

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Listicles, or articles that are simply a list of things, tend to get a bad rap. But research shows that people actually do love listicles, and are more likely to share and comment on them than other content forms (one study by  Lumanu showed that listicles received 10 percent more social engagement per article.)

Why are they popular? It turns out that the human brain is wired to respond positively to lists. When a reader sees a list on your blog or social platform, he or she knows a few things right away – like what will be in the article, about how long it will be (if it’s a numbered list), and whether the article will be interesting to him or her. Ranked lists are particularly engaging for people, since they sort the information in a clear way.

Give Something Away

People are more likely to share their thoughts and opinions with you if you promise them something in return. You have a few options when it comes to running a giveaway. You can offer a small freebie to everyone who comments on a blog post or who shares a post (such as a free e-book).

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Another option is to have a contest for a bigger prize, such as a month’s worth of your product or services for free. Enter the names and emails of everyone who shares or comments on your post by a certain date into a drawing, then pick a winner at random.

If you mainly create social content or want people to engage with a special hashtag, create a social media giveaway.  Encourage people to post on Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest (choose the network that is most relevant to your business), using the hashtag and mentioning your company. Give the person who creates the most likes or shares a prize. Your brand can end up with a lot of engaging content, courtesy of current or potential customers.

The bottom line:  Engaging content connects to people in some way, whether it’s giving them a reward, promising them useful information or helping them learn from a recent news story or pop culture phenomenon. If you’re not seeing results from your content, experimenting with a different form might be all you need to do.

 

4 PR and Marketing Trends to Pay Attention to in 2017

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As one year draws to a close and another one gets set to begin, it’s only natural to reflect on what has happened and to guess about what’s in store. While no one has a crystal ball when it comes to marketing and PR, a number of trends seems likely to continue, while others will become increasingly popular.

Knowing which of these trends to focus on in 2017 will help you better connect with your customers and put together a more effective marketing and PR strategy.

The Increasing Influence of Influencers

Using influencers to promote a product or service isn’t a new thing. But it’s expected that influencers will become even more influential in 2017. Influencer marketing is effective because when a well-liked or respected figure on Instagram, for example,  recommends using a product, people are more likely to be receptive to that recommendation than they would be to traditional advertising.

A survey conducted by eMarketer found that 48% of people who responded plan on raising their budget for influencer marketing in the New Year.  Another survey found that 86% of marketers used influencer marketing in 2016, spending between $25,000 and $50,000. Most marketers intend to double their influencer marketing budget in 2017.

Content Becomes More Immersive and Interactive

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The days of producing static content are over. In 2017, content will continue to become ever more interactive and immersive.

Interactive content can range from simple quizzes on a website to clickable infographics and from live streaming video feeds to fully immersive, augmented reality programs, such as Pokemon Go. The more engaging the content, the more likely it is to create tangible, real results with audiences and customers.

Native Ads Increase

Although many people dislike traditional ads and will go out of their way to avoid them by installing ad blockers or skipping TV commercials, native advertising is generally much more accepted.

Native ads blend into their surroundings a lot better than traditional ads and look as though they are meant to be there. Over the next five years, native ads are expected to increase from 56% of display ad revenue to 74%, according to a report from Business Insider.

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The format for native advertising is also evolving. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, new ad forms are continually being invented while certain types of formats, particularly visual or video-based native ads, are gaining in popularity.

As native ads become more common and popular, one of the challenges IAB anticipates is having those ads continue to focus on storytelling, rather than on simply selling a product or service.

The Shrinking Lifespan of Content

People’s attention spans have shrunk so much that a recent opinion piece argued that members of “Generation z” (those born after 1995) have an attention span of just 8 seconds.

Since no one’s going to pay attention to it anyway after a few seconds, it makes sense that the shelf life of content is going to continue to shrink in 2017. Snapchat, the social sharing site where content vanishes a few seconds after it’s viewed, is expected to grow in popularity this coming year.

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TechCrunch reports that the company expects its ad revenue to reach $1 billion in 2017. Although the site is thought to be a hit with younger users, its popularity with older people is growing. In 2016, the number of Snapchat users over the age of 35 grew by 86%, according to the LA Times, and the number of users between the ages of 25 and 34 grew by 103%.

Short-lived content is appealing to marketers for one big reason: There’s a sense of urgency to it. If a person doesn’t check out the image or story your company posted right away, they’ll miss it forever. That can spur customers or viewers to action much more effectively than a long-lived post on other social networks.

Of course, it’s difficult to predict the future with any real sense of certainty.  But, having a general idea of where marketing and PR are headed in 2017 can help your company better prepare for what’s to come.

 

A Social Media Checklist for Businesses

There’s a right way for businesses to use social media and there’s a wrong way. The right way actively engages with customers and users. It involves creating and sharing engaging content. The wrong way uses a purely promotional angle. It creates posts full of random hashtags and doesn’t respond to or interact with others.

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Using a checklist to monitor your company’s daily, weekly or monthly social media tasks will help you use social media in the right way. A checklist will also help you make adjustments or change course as needed.

The checklist should include the following:

  •  Respond to Comments and Messages (Daily)

One of the most important things you can do on social media is respond to comments and messages from your followers, fans or customers. When people reach out to a company over social media, they expect a response, fast.

A survey conducted by Convince and Convert found that 32% of respondents expected a business to respond to their message on social media within half an hour. Forty two percent expected a response within an hour. Customers want a quick reply anytime, whether it is the weekend or midnight on a weekday.

Responding to any messages should be a daily social media activity. In fact, you should have someone constantly monitoring your social media profiles for messages or mentions, so that you can reply quickly. Additionally, it helps to do a search every day for your business’ name on social media. People occasionally post about companies without using hashtags or usernames. It can be easy to miss those quiet mentions, but if you catch them, you’ll win your way into the hearts of customers.

  •  Find and Follow Others (Daily)

Along with replying to anyone who reaches out to you, it’s worth it to find new people to connect with through social media on a daily basis. You can search for leaders in your industry to follow or you can reach out to people who look as though they’d be interested in what you have to offer.

To do that, search for phrases or keywords that are relevant to your business on your various platforms. When you find a conversation or post about a topic that’s relevant to your company, find a way to jump in and add your input or some advice.

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One thing not to do when you’re looking to connect with others on social: follow then unfollow once that user has followed you back. If you’re going to follow a lot of people, commit to following them. It’s just bad manners to unfollow once you’ve gotten the follow back, even though it happens frequently.

  •  Create and Stick to a Social Media Content Calendar (Weekly)

You can’t post anything or share anything on social media if you don’t have an idea or plan for what to post. Creating a weekly social media content calendar gives you an idea what you need to post and when. It also helps you see how much you need to post on each site you use.

While maintaining and updating your content calendar should be a weekly (or even monthly) task, actually posting the content should happen daily. You’ll want to post at least once a day on most social accounts, but at least six times a day on Twitter, where people tend to be much more prolific.

  •  Pay Attention to What Your Competition Is Doing (Weekly)

It helps to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing on social media and on how they are using their social accounts. You don’t want to copy what other companies are doing, but you do want to check in from time to time.

Doing so lets you see what those competitors aren’t doing, so that you can fill in the gaps with your own social accounts. You can also see what’s working for them and what’s not and use that information to shape your company’s own social strategy.

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  •  Check Your Data (Monthly)

Every month, check out how your business’ various social profiles are performing. Analytics available from each social network make this pretty easy to do. For example, Twitter will tell you how each of your posts performed, how many people engaged with each post and how many people it post reached. Facebook does something similar. You can also see how many new people liked or followed your page each month and whether you’re social presence is growing or shrinking.

  •  Make Adjustments as Needed (Monthly)

The social media landscape is always changing. As social networks update or change their policies, your company will need to adjust its tactics. Keep up with the policies for each network you use and adjust your plan as needed.

You might also want to set monthly social media goals. For example, you might aim to get 100 new Twitter followers a month. If you reach that goal, increase it. If not, take a look at what you are doing and figure out what’s not helping you or what’s standing in the way of you reaching your goal.

Tips for Marketing to Millennials

When you hear the word “millennial,” what comes to mind? Often, the stereotype is a twenty something, somewhat self-obsessed person from a middle class background. But millennials are much more than that.

For one thing, there are about 80 million of them in US, according to research from Accenture. For another, not all of them are in their twenties. Since marketers typically classify anyone born between 1980 and 2000 as a millennial, plenty of them are in their thirties while a good number are still teenagers.

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Whether they are 34, 26, or 16, millennials have an immense buying power. Some reports estimate than they collectively spend more than $1 trillion a year. Accenture offers a more conservative figure, estimating that millennials spend around $600 billion annually in the US.

When targeting millennials, there are a few key things marketers need to do.

Get Personal

Admittedly, people of all ages like the personal touch when it comes to being marketed to. But getting personal tends to matter the most to millennials.  According to a 2015 survey, conducted by Elite Daily, just one percent of them admits to be influenced by traditional advertising. They skip commercials, use ad-blocking software or generally ignore ads.

Instead of being advertised to, millennials are looking to be engaged with. They prefer it if brands act like their friends, providing real, useful advice and guidance, rather than simply presenting a product to them.

Influencers, whether they are celebrities or bloggers, can be an effective tool for marketers who want to reach millennials. According to the Elite Daily survey, a third of millennials are likely to check out a blog about a product before they buy. More than 40 percent are looking for something that is authentic and something that they can trust.

Embrace Their Diversity

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The common stereotype of millennials — the 26-year-old, college-educated, middle class white person — focuses on just one small subset of the generation. Although many millennials have gone to college and some have earned masters degrees or doctorates, a fair number aren’t college educated. Some are still in high school. They also come from a variety of backgrounds and many speak multiple languages or do not speak English as their first language.

Some millennials have fully embraced adulthood. They own their homes, their cars and have kids of their own. Other might still live with mom and dad or in roommate situations and have a less stable grip on their finances. Some have decided to live a completely unconventional life, plan on never getting married and don’t anticipate owning property any time soon.

That means that one single message or marketing approach won’t work for this demographic. If you focus on them as a group of post-adolescents who rely on their parents, you’re ignoring the millennials who have begun living adult lives and who might resent being grouped with those who haven’t started adulthood yet. If you focus on them as people who are getting married and starting families, you turn off those who don’t want to live that lifestyle or who aren’t at that stage yet.

It’s more helpful to focus on who your millennial customer is, not where he or she is meant to be in life. For example, you  might decide to target millennials who are into a certain style of music or who believe in supporting a particular social cause. You can create different campaigns to target different social sets of millennials, instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach based on perceived cultural norms.

Use Social and Digital Methods Wisely

Many millennials are digital natives, meaning they can’t remember a time before the Internet. Some might be young enough that they can’t remember a world without social media. It’s great to jump on the social media bandwagon and create accounts for your company with the hip, millennial-focused networks, such as Instagram and Snapchat.

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But, millennials are going to see through that. You can’t just create social accounts and expect them to come to you.  You need to give them a reason to follow your brand. If your business is one that isn’t even on millennials’ radar or if yours is a company that they associate with the “olds,” they aren’t going to follow your accounts.

Use social media to connect with and engage with potential customers. You can use Snapchat, for example, to show people how to use your products or show people using your products in creative, unexpected ways. The thing to remember when using social media is to be subtle. Don’t push your product or service on millennials. Instead, try to be a helpful guide to them and they’ll be more likely to become loyal customers to you.

The secret to marketing to millennials is figuring out what they want. And really, that same trick holds true when marketing to people of any generation or age group. Baby Boomers and Generation X might not be crying out for authentic, personal stories. But once you start incorporating that into your marketing, don’t be surprised if you find that it helps you reach customers of all ages.

Using Social Media to Build Influence

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Unlike traditional marketing, you don’t need to have a huge budget or a household name to establish yourself or your company as an influencer on social media.

In fact, larger companies are struggling to build and maintain any level of influence on social media, as an article in the March 2016 issue of the Harvard Business Review points out. Smaller companies and individuals tend to have a greater reach on social media compared to national brands.  That’s because it can be easier for a smaller company to produce organic social media content that is perceived as being authentic than it is for a big brand.

Focus on Quality

Posting more content on social media isn’t always better than posting fewer items. You’ll be able to make a name for yourself or your business in the online realm if you post one thing per day that really resonates with your audience or that helps them solve a particular problem.

Although it’s important to pay attention to what topics are trending, pick and choose what you post about with care. There have been numerous cases of brands or companies jumping on a hashtag bandwagon and putting their foot in their mouths. Often, the brands saw that a particular hashtag was trending, but didn’t understand the meaning behind it and ended up posting something that embarrassed them or created an uproar.

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The “quality over quantity” rule applies  to the number of social networks you are on, as well. When you are first dipping your toes into the social media waters, it can help to focus on one platform at a time. If you prefer to make videos, focus on building your influence and subscriber list on YouTube. If concise, witty phrases are more your style, Twitter can be perfect for you. As you gain followers and traction on social media, you can think about expanding the number of networks you use.

Stick to What You Know

One way to establish yourself as an expert in your field and to earn “influencer” status is to focus on posting about the things you know. For example, if you are an accountant who primarily works with small businesses, you can write a post about often overlooked small business deductions at tax time.

It’s also important to anticipate what your audience wants to read or see from you. They might not value a post about recent events in international politics, for example, if your company sells kitchen supplies to bakeries and restaurants. But, if you run an import-export business or deal with a number of customers whose lives or businesses will be affected by the issue, a post from you on what the current events mean for business and for your audience might be appreciated.

Although providing information can position you as an expert or authority on a topic or industry, starting a conversation on social media can also help you build your influence. Solicit questions from your followers about your niche and take the time to answer them.

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You can also jump in and answer questions people might post in online forums or on websites such as Quora. Doing so will put you and your company on the original poster’s radar, as well as on the radar of anyone who ends up reading the Q&A.

Pay Attention to What Works

One of the great things about social media is that it is easy to see what is working and what isn’t. When you post an article or video, you can see how many people have looked at it, how many have reacted to it, and how many have shared it.

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You might start to notice patterns across your posts. Perhaps videos do better with your followers than written posts, for example. Perhaps people respond to posts with pictures more than they do to posts that are just text. You can build your brand and establish influence more easily if you give people want they want to see on social media.

Whether they are on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter, people are looking for companies to step forward and take the lead. Use social media to your advantage and you’ll end up gaining a considerable amount of influence.

Marketing is Dead, Long Live Marketing

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Every industry needs to evolve and grow to survive. Look at the auto industry, for example.  Without innovation, everyone would still be driving Model Ts, instead of the higher-powered, more fuel efficient vehicles many of us drive today.

The same is true in the marketing and communications industry. People have been heralding the death of marketing, as it was once known, for years now. William Lee, author of The Hidden Wealth of Customers:  Realizing the Untapped Value of Your Most Important Asset, was writing about the death of marketing in Harvard Business Review back in 2012. While traditional marketing techniques might be dead and should be buried, that doesn’t mean the entire industry needs to pull up stakes and move on.

Instead, we need to find what works in today’s climate and focus efforts on that. Traditional ads and paper press releases might be the Model T’s of the marketing world, but social media and customer-focused efforts can be the marketing industry’s equivalent of the Tesla Model S.

Communicate First, Market Second

One of the traditional methods of marketing was to figure out an audience, such as middle-aged, married women who stay at home or 14 to 18-year-old boys who like sports and pizza, then to tailor an ad to target that audience. The focus was on marketing first, communicating second.

In the next phase of marketing’s life cycle, communications should come first. A marketer might not be trying to push or promote a product to a specific demographic. Instead, the goal is to share information or provide something valuable to a consumer. Blog posts or sponsored articles on a website are an example of communications-focused marketing.

This approach is subtle but still effective. For example, many blog posts that are created to market a company don’t even specifically mention the company’s name or that it offers a service discussed in the post. But, by seeing the post on a company’s website or shared on a  social media profile, a customer begins to associate that company with that service or product.

A company has given a customer something useful or valuable. If it comes to a point in the future when the customer needs the product or service a company offers, he or she will be likely to think of that company first. Communications-focused marketing is about giving, not selling, to customers.

Turn to the Customer

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Speaking of customers, they are a valuable resource for marketing 2.0. A 2013 report from Forrester Research showed that 70 percent of consumers trust a recommendation from a friend, and only 10 percent put their trust in ads.

That means that in the new marketing world, the customer needs to become the advertisement. In his Harvard Business Review article, Bill Lee recommends looking at the big picture when it comes to a customer’s potential lifetime value. A company doesn’t have to only look at the potential revenue a customer can bring in.

It can also look at the influence that a customer has over others. For example, a highly respected customer, who others are likely to listen to and follow, can be incredibly valuable, even if he or she doesn’t purchase vast amounts from your company. Instead, that customer can direct others to your products. If someone who has a lot of followers or a large network is enthused about what your business offers, tap into that enthusiasm and let it work for the good of your company.

Blending Old and New

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If traditional marketing is dead, why do you still see ads in magazines or on TV and why do you still send out press releases or try to engage with traditional media? While it’s true that ads might no longer be effective on their own and that a  newspaper or print magazine story might not have the reach it once did, those techniques can still be valuable.

The trick is to combine them with newer marketing techniques. Your company might produce an ad that features one of your customer influencers, or the ad might specifically encourage people to engage with or share their opinion with your company on social media. The ad isn’t specifically marketing your product or service; instead, it’s marketing your company’s social presence.

You have many options for reaching customers today. While it might seem like the best idea to toss away all the old marketing techniques in favor of the new, some older methods can still be valuable, especially when combined with the newer ones.  No one drives a Model T anymore, after all, but today’s cars all still have four wheels and an engine.

 

How to get people to share your content

 When you create and publish a blog post, infographic, or other piece of content, there’s always the hope in the back of your mind that your piece will go viral, becoming a social media sensation that people just can’t help but share. It can seem that having something go viral is based more on luck than anything else, but that’s actually not true.

 Getting more people to share your content has little to do with luck and everything to do with art and science. If you’ve noticed that companies similar to yours have promoted pieces that have had more shares than yours (while not offering the same level of quality), it could be that they are doing some things differently. It’s not just what you write about or how well you write about it. How much you write, the tone of your piece, and who you get to comment on or share your content all influence its popularity.

Find the Influence

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Although high school is years, if not decades away for many people, the world of social media is still a big popularity contest. You don’t have to push your way into the “in” crowd online to get shares and attention on your posts. But, you do want to reach out to the proverbial “cool kids” of the internet, the influencers who have the clout to drive views, likes and retweets to your content.

Over at Kissmetrics, Mark Trueman outlines a 3-step to plan to find and reach out to influencers. Your goal here is to have them share your content, whether it’s a blog post, video or something else. He recommends that you start by finding blog posts or other content that covers a topic similar to what you are writing about. You can find similar posts by doing a Google search for the topic and the name of a popular blog in your niche.

Next, you want to find out who has linked to the post and how influential that person is. Bit.ly will not only shorten the length of a URL for you, it will also show you who else has shared the same link, where they shared it, and how many people clicked on that the link when shared.

If a few people got a lot of clicks when they shared a post similar to yours, it can be worth your time to reach out to them about sharing your own post. Keep your email note short and sweet. All you need to say  is something along the lines of “Hi, I saw that you shared this post on this topic. I wrote a post on a similar topic here, that I thought you might be interested in.” Trueman notes that it can be helpful to make contact with the person before you ask for a share, such as by leaving a comment on his or her blog, but you can also try cold e-mailing people.

Look on the Bright Side

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It turns out that people like to feel good when they read or look at content online.  A study conducted by BuzzSumo looked at 10,000 of the most shared pieces of content on the web. As part of its analysis, the company assigned an emotion to each piece. It turned out that the pieces that caused people to feel awe, amusement or to laugh were the most likely to be shared. A quarter of the popular pieces awed people, while 17 percent made them laugh and 15 percent caused amusement.  Joy was another popular emotion, at 14 percent.

On a similar note,  research from Dan Zarrella, a “social media scientist,” finds that people are less likely to follow social media accounts that use a negative tone. Looking at more than 100,000 accounts, he found that the more negativity on the account, the fewer followers it had.

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Go In-Depth

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While you might think short and sweet pieces end up being more popular on social media, BuzzSumo’s research suggests the opposite.  The longer a post or article is, the more likely people are to share it. The company’s research found that pieces with more than 3,000 words were more likely to be shared than pieces with fewer than 1,000 words.

Part of that might have to do with the fact that there isn’t much online when it comes to long-form, in-depth posts. According to BuzzSumo, there are 16 times more short-form (1,000 words or fewer) posts than there are posts with 2,000 or more words. It does require more time and effort on your part to write an article or blog post that is more than 2,000 words. But, if it ends up increasing the reach of your content, the extra effort can be well worth it in the end.

Getting more people to see your content is a worthwhile goal, especially in the competitive world of content marketing. But, remember that getting shares is just part of the process. You want to keep producing content that is high quality and that will keep people coming back for more.

Like a well-oiled machine: how to manage your blog

The best bloggers make it look all too easy. They consistently publish interesting and relevant posts and get people to talk about their posts, either in the comments section or on social media. They never seem at a loss for ideas. But, as with anything that looks easy to do on the surface, there’s a lot more that goes on with blogging behind the scenes.

It takes a lot of work to create an outstanding blog, more than simply having a few things to write about every now and then. Persistence and planning will help you create an exciting blog, one that you can use to measure your company’s success.

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Create a Calendar

The first step to managing your blog is creating an editorial calendar, which sets out the posting schedule for the week or month ahead. An editorial calendar helps you plan your posts and will give you an idea of where and when you might need more content. Most importantly, having a calendar and some sort of content strategy will help your blog be more effective, according to a 2014 survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute.

Your blog’s editorial calendar can be as in depth or bare bones as you’d like it to be. For example, you can include the subject of the post, the date it’s due, and its publish date, and be done. Or, you can include more details about each post, such as keywords, how you’ll promote it, and the persona you’ll use when writing the post (more on that below). There are many free calendar templates available online, such as this one from HubSpot, or you can create your own in Excel or using Google Calendar.

Know Your Audience

Knowing who reads your blog and what their level of experience with your niche is will help you better tailor your posts to them. It’s also possible that a number of different demographics read your blog, meaning that you’ll want to tailor some posts to the experts among your audience and some to the beginners. Customizing your posts to specific audiences also can mean creating separate personas as content dictates.

Creating a persona is about more than just understanding what a particular reader is looking for. It also involves knowing when that reader might be more likely to click through to your blog. For example, if one of your blog personas is a busy professional, it’s more likely that readers you are attempting to target will read your blog on the weekend or in the evening. But, if another one of your personas is a stay-at-home parent, those targeted readers might be more likely to read your blog in during the day, when the kids are taking a nap.

If you assign each post a persona when putting it in your editorial calendar, you’ll have a much better idea of the tone to take with the post, the level of complexity to include, and when to schedule it.

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Keep the Ideas Flowing

As we discussed in our last post, a great blog needs great content that is both relevant to the widest possible audience and lets people take something away from the post. At the same time, your blog also has a constant need for new content.

Brainstorming ideas for posts can be a time consuming component of managing a blog. But, there are some ways to streamline the process. One way to is tie your post to something that is trending in social media or online at the time. For example, if you own a dress shop or fashion blog, the recent furor over “the dress” could have provided at least one post about ways to style a blue and black (or white and gold) dress.

You might also consider using a content generator when you’re really pressed for ideas. The title generator from Portent.com automatically creates a post title for you once you put in a subject or noun. Not all of the titles will work for you, but it can be a useful tool when you’re absolutely stumped and don’t know what you’ll write about next.

Analyze It

Analyzing your blog, using Google Analytics or another tool, helps you measure the areas that are doing well and getting a lot of traffic and see which areas aren’t as engaging. Looking at your blog’s statistics, you might realize that you need more posts on certain topic or posts that feature more images. Or, you might realize that one of your guest bloggers is incredibly popular, and might be worth working with on a more regular basis.

Like Rome, great blogs aren’t built in a day. It takes a lot of behind the scenes work to build your company’s blog and turn it into a well oiled, smoothly running machine.