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Using Influencers to Reach Millennials

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Millennials, roughly defined as people born between 1980 and 2000, are different from the generations that came before them. For one thing, many millennials are digital natives, meaning they not only grew up around technology, they are completely comfortable using it and seem to have an innate ability to pick it up quickly.

Another thing that sets millennials apart from other age groups is the fact that they are considerably more skeptical of traditional advertising and marketing techniques. One study, from the McCarthy Group, revealed that 84 percent of millennials were distrustful of advertising. What and whom millennials did trust included their friends, news reports, and people they knew through social media.

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Millennials’ willingness to put their trust in other users on social media, such as social media influencers, is one of the reasons why influencer marketing has had so much success in the past few years. Here’s how your company can use influencers to connect with a millennial audience.

What Exactly Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is the use of influential people, usually on social media, to persuade or convince consumers to take a certain action. A company can use influencers to reach its core audience or demographic or to connect with a new audience.

Although it was once assumed that a person needed to have a substantial following on social media to be an effective influencer, the definition has changed somewhat. Since it  is possible to buy fake or spam followers, it’s more important to evaluate the connection an influencer has with his or her audience, rather than the size of that audience, when determining influence.

For example, an influencer who has a following of 10,000 might have more reach than an influencer with a following of 1 million. If those 10,000 people are actively engaging by liking or commenting on the person’s posts and by clicking any links he or she shares, the effect that influencer’s posts will have is likely to be greater than posts by the influencer with the larger following.

Why Influencer Marketing is a Great Way to Connect with Millennials

Influencer marketing can help your company reach millennials for a few reasons. For one, influencer marketing primarily takes place on social media and millennials are more likely than any other age group or generation to use social platforms. According to the Pew Research Center, 86 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 had an account on at least one social media site as of 2016.

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Millennials aren’t just using social media; they also feel that it makes up a significant part of their life. In one study, 37 percent of millennials said that they felt they were missing out if they weren’t on social media daily. More than half of millennials also liked brands on social media, considerably more than people in other generational groups.

There’s also the issue of trust. While trust in traditional ads is lower than it has been, nearly two thirds of people trust consumer opinions they see online and brand sponsorships, according to Nielsen. Millennials are more likely to trust what an influencer says than the message found in a traditional commercial or banner ad.

What Should You Look for in Influencers?

Since establishing and maintaining trust is so important when reaching millennials through influencer marketing, it’s critical that you work with the right influencers. There are a few things to look for when choosing an influencer to partner with.

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One is the type of audience the influencer has.  Would they find what your company is offering interesting or useful? For example, if you’re a B2B company, it would make sense to find an influencer who connects with a B2B audience, rather than typical consumers.

You also want to look at how an influencer connects with his or her audience. Do people regularly comment or share their posts? Does the influencer often respond to people’s comments? Or do the posts typically get very few comments or likes? The more engagement an influencer has, the more likely it is that the message will reach the intended audience.

Another thing to consider is the influencer’s typical message or content. If your company offers a technology solution, it will seem strange or inauthentic if a fashion or beauty influencer creates and shares a post for you.

Working with the right influencer can help you reach a new audience of millennials or give your company a boost of clout and social standing among an existing audience. As you use influencer marketing, measuring the results produced by each post or campaign can allow you see if you chose the right influencer, and if you’re getting what you hoped for from this type of marketing.

 

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A Guide to Instagram Marketing

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Instagram is quickly adding new users every day. In April 2017, less than seven years after it launched, it had 700 million active monthly users. The social media platform is growing faster than ever, Business Insider reported. It added one million users in just four months.

Partly due to its rapid growth, Instagram has become a dream come true for marketers. But marketing on the image-based platform isn’t the same as marketing on other social media sites or marketing in a more traditional sense. Here’s what you need to know to get started using Instagram as a marketing tool.

Who Is on Instagram?

The first question you need to answer about Instagram is who is using it? What portion of your audience will you be able to reach on the platform?

Instagram users tend to skew younger and female. According to the Pew Research Center’s Social Media Fact Sheet, about 28 percent of adults in the US are on Instagram. Nearly 60 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are on the site and around 32 percent of adult women in the US use it.

In terms of location, education level, and household income, users are pretty evenly divided. Around 35 percent of adults with some college use Instagram and around 32 percent of college graduates are on it. Around 30 percent of people from each income level use Instagram.

People who live in urban areas are somewhat more likely to be on the platform, but about a quarter of people who live in the suburbs or rural areas use it.

Although Instagram has a reputation for being mainly for B2C brands, there is opportunity for B2B brands on the platform as well. As of 2016, only one third of B2B brands used Instagram for marketing, meaning the platform is less crowded and less competitive for B2B companies than other sites (such as LinkedIn or Twitter).

Creating a Strategy for Instagram

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The first step to putting together a strategy for Instagram marketing is figuring out your goals. What do you hope to accomplish by posting on Instagram? Measurable goals can include:

● Raising your follower count by X number or X percent
● Increasing engagement with your company’s posts by X likes or X percent
● Increasing leads or conversions by X (getting people to click through to your company’s website and register with your company or make a purchase)

Once you have clear goals, you can use them to determine what to publish to Instagram and how much to publish. For example, “regramming” posts from people who follow your company can help increase engagement. Using trending hashtags can help improve your follower count.  Including a special discount code in a post’s caption can help you track the number of conversions or leads from that post.

Building a Following on Instagram

Building a following on Instagram isn’t exactly easy, but it’s not that hard either. You can use “cheater” methods, such as buying followers. But if you want to reach an audience on Instagram, having a slew of fake or spam followers won’t do you much good.

Posting frequently and using hashtags are two of the best methods for gaining followers. Hashtags allow people to find your posts and profile, and once they’ve done that, they can follow your company if they like your content.

Regular posting keeps your company at the front of people’s minds. If you post daily, your followers are likely to see your photos or videos every time they check their feeds. If you don’t post often enough, people will either forget about your company or will unfollow you eventually.

You can also work with people or companies who are already established on Instagram to help boost your follower count. A common tactic is to have a popular Instagram user (an influencer) or a company (perhaps a customer) post about your company.  Ideally, the followers of the other company or influencer will check out your profile and follow you.

Creating and Posting on Instagram

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There’s a fine line between a promotional post on Instagram and a post that’s a blatant advertisement. You don’t necessarily have to highlight a product or service of your company every time you post something on the platform.

In fact, posts that are tangentially related to your products or services but aren’t specific references to them will be the most popular. If you’re a manufacturer, don’t just post product photos; feature people working in the factory, giving your audience a behind the scenes look. You can also publish photos that represent your product category, and include some brief facts about your industry.

Don’t forget to use hashtags on your posts; some companies create hashtags that are specific to their brand or to the campaign they are running on Instagram.  Hashtags not only help people find your posts during searches, they also boost engagement rates. Posts that have hashtags have 12.6 percent more engagement than hashtag-free posts, research shows.

Engaging on Instagram

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One of the biggest benefits of using Instagram for marketing is that its users are more likely to engage with companies or brands. About 50 percent of users follow at least one company, according to Instagram’s own statistics. Around three quarters of Instagram users are inspired to take some sort of action after seeing a post from a company.

A 2014 study conducted by Forrester examined the rates of engagement between companies and users on social media. On Facebook and Twitter, engagement rates were less than 0.1 percent, while posts on Instagram had an engagement rate of more than 4 percent.

There are a few tricks you can use to increase engagement with your company’s posts. First, mention other people in the caption of the post (if relevant). A study from Simply Measured found that posts with captions that mentioned another user scored engagement rates that were 56 percent higher than posts without a mention.

Another trick is to connect the post to a location. Location-tagged posts had engagement rates that were nearly 80 percent higher than posts without a location.

Finally, remember that quality counts. Post images that are clear and visually appealing. It’s OK to edit your photos before posting, either using a separate editing software or by using the filters available on Instagram.

Instagram recently simplified its sign-up process, so it’s easier than ever to create a profile on the platform. Just download the app, register an account, add your business information, and start following people or posting photos or videos.

 

Live Video 101

 

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Just how big has online video gotten? Inc.com named 2017 the “year of video,” due to the undeniable increase in video use online. Hubspot found that 87 percent of marketers use video, and Buffer App’s 2016 State of Social Survey found that 83 percent of marketers would like to make more videos if they weren’t constrained by a lack of time or resources.

One form of video that’s become increasingly popular is live video, the process of broadcasting in real-time to an audience who is streaming the video over internet. Live video differs from a video download because the action occurring in the video takes place as it plays.

About 42 percent of the marketers who responded to Buffer’s survey said they would put more time and resources specifically into live video if they could. But, while a popular concept, not everyone is using it just yet; Buffer found that just 27 percent of marketers broadcast live video content last year.

If you’re interested in giving live video a try, but aren’t sure where to start or why it’s worth it, here’s a quick primer on the why, where, and how of live video.

Why Use Live Video

Live video has several benefits over other forms of social media or online marketing. For one thing, there’s no need for complicated or expensive equipment to produce a live video. All you really need is a smartphone with a camera.

Live video is considerably more effective at creating engagement than other types of posts on social media. According to Facebook, live videos get 10 times as many comments as standard or pre-recorded videos. Facebook users also watch live videos three times longer than regular videos.

AdWeek reported the results of a survey from Twitter, which found that when brands post a live video of an event, their favorability went up by 63 percent.

Where to Use Live Video

The majority of social media platforms today offer some sort of live video options. Facebook has Facebook Live, Twitter has Periscope, Instagram has Stories. YouTube also offers a live video option and recently announced that it would offer 4K video for live streaming.

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Although many associate live video with social media, it’s also possible to put up a live stream on your brand’s website or blog. But there are a few benefits to using live video on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, rather than directly on your website. For one thing, people are more likely to find your broadcast and watch it. Most platforms send out a notification to your followers at the start of a live video stream.

How to Use Live Video

If you’re already familiar with how Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter work, figuring out how to use live video shouldn’t be too difficult. On Facebook, for example, you tap the “Live” icon when using a mobile device or click on “Start a Live Video” under the “Write Something” box when you’re on a desktop. After you’ve given Facebook permission to use your device’s camera and microphone and have written a description of your broadcast, just click on or tap “Go Live” and your stream will start.

During the live video, you can read and respond to comments from viewers and can see how many people are watching. Once you’ve finished streaming, just click or tap “Finish” and the video will be saved to your timeline.

Ways to Use Live Video

One of the great things about live video is that there are many different ways to use it. For example, live video is a great tool to use for product launches or major unveilings. If your brand is going to release a new product or will announce a major change, you can live stream the launch or announcement, so that fans or customers who can’t be there in person can get all of the details right away.

Another way to use live video is to interact with customers or to provide them with some sort of expert advice. Question and answer sessions are very popular; your audience can write their questions in the comments section and the person on camera is able to respond in real time.

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Live video is also an excellent tool for broadcasting performances or concerts. Fans who couldn’t make it to a big event in person can tune in on their laptop or smartphone. You can also use live video to give fans a “sneak peek” or backstage pass and take them behind the scenes during a play, concert or when a movie is filming.

Video is estimated to make up nearly three quarters of all Internet traffic in 2017 and nearly 100 million hours of video are watched on Facebook alone every day. If you’re looking to give video a try this year, live broadcasting on your favorite social media network is the way to go.

 

 

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.

 

What Marketers Can Learn From Pokémon Go

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If there’s one thing the makers of Pokémon do well, it’s to create a craze. Back in the late 1990s, Pokémon trading cards caused a frenzy among children and adults, as people waited in line to get their hands on a pack of the latest release, which might or might not contain the cards they were after.

Now, Pokémon is back again. This time, it is taking the world by storm in the form of an augmented reality game for smartphones. Instead of catching Pokémon cards, people are chasing the monsters all over town, catching them using the cameras on their phones.

To say that the game is a hit would be an understatement. First released in the US in early July, it climbed to the top of the sales charts in just 13 hours. So far, more than 75 million people have installed it and Forbes reported that the average user spends 75 minutes per day playing it. Yahoo News called the app a cultural phenomenon and compared it to the Dutch Tulipmania of the 17th century, when demand for certain tulip bulbs caused the price to skyrocket.

What does Pokémon Go have to teach marketers? A lot, as it turns out.

Customize the Message

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One of the features of Pokémon Go is the ability to customize the avatar a person uses when playing. Initially, a player could only customize their avatar at the beginning of the game, picking the clothing, physical features, and gender. An update to the app now allows people to customize and change their avatar whenever they want.

Marketers also need to learn to customize and update the messages they send to customers, who grow and change as they move through life. Your customers also aren’t  all the same person, and want you to recognize what makes them unique. Customization is particularly important to millennials, as this article in Entrepreneur points out.

How can you customize the message to certain customers? Offer appreciation and recognition events, personalize any emails or other communications you send to them and give them a choice when it comes to how they communicate with you or you with them.

What’s Old is New

Nostalgia is one of the things driving the success of Pokémon Go. Many of the 20 and 30 somethings playing the game now remember collecting the cards or playing the Gameboy games in the 1990s.

Nostalgia can also be a useful tool for marketers. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2014 suggested that people are more willing to open their wallets when they feel nostalgic. If a product or service triggers a memory of a bygone time, people will spend so that they feel as if they are reliving that time.

Right now, the 1990s are a ripe for the picking when it comes to nostalgia marketing. Just as Pokémon is having its 15 minutes of fame, so, too, are Calvin Klein’s iconic jeans, Crispy M&M’s, and brown lipstick.

Keep it Simple

Here’s another reason Pokémon Go is doing so well: It’s easy to learn and play. You don’t need to have played the video games or card games that preceded the app, or spent hours reading a list of instructions. You simply download the app and start playing. It’s simple enough that you can figure it out as you go along.

Keeping it simple is one of the most important things for marketers to remember. If people can’t clearly spot your message or get what your brand’s story is at a glance, they aren’t going to stick around long enough to figure out if what you’re offering is worth their while.

Establish a Sense of Community

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One of the features that makes Pokémon Go more unique than other app-based games is that it, for the most part, has players go out and about to capture the monsters. Players also have a chance to work together to find and catch the Pokémon, at Pokéstops and Poké gyms. Large group Pokémon hunts have taken place in Spain, Australia, and other locations.

The game has proven to be a conversation starter, even among people who aren’t playing it. For example, players at a local coffee shop or bar have been known to strike up conversations with other customers about how the game works or about how many Pokémon they’ve caught.

A marketing strategy that has community at its center not only helps people connect over a shared interest, but also helps increase word-of-mouth shares. Much of Pokémon’s success is due to people who fondly remember the game or who never stopped playing other versions of Pokémon. When the app was released, those people got it, told their friends and shared their experiences on social media and the web until a significant buzz was established.

Who knows how long the Pokémon Go bubble will last? But, its wild success over the past few weeks has been enough to show marketers that some techniques never go out of style.

 

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.

5 ways to keep content current

Although staying up-to-date with your company’s content and website can seem like just one more thing you have to worry about in the age of digital media, it’s increasingly important. If you’ve ever visited a website that looked as if it was last updated in 2005 and wondered if the company was still in business, you’ve seen first hand what can happen if you don’t keep content fresh.

Your customers not only want to know what it going on with your company, they also want proof that your business is a leader and influencer in its field. Having a website and social media profiles that reflect that will convince customers that your company is the one to work with. Here are a few relatively simple ways to keep your content up-to-the-minute.

Create an Editorial Calendar

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 It’s difficult to stick to a schedule for posting on your blogs or for posting on social media if you don’t have a clear outline of what to post and when. When it comes to your blog, you don’t have to have a new post up daily (unless you’re very prolific or have a large team of blog writers), but you should aim to get a post on a consistent basis, such as every Monday at 8 am or every other Wednesday at noon.

Putting together an editorial calendar helps you come up with fresh and relevant topics for your blog, too. For example, if you’re planning the content schedule for early summer and you work with a company that provides services to educators, you can come up with post topics that are relevant to things a teacher might need to do over the summer, such as put together next year’s syllabus.

Get Busy on Social Media

Just as you want to create and stick to a consistent schedule with your company’s blog, you want to create and stick to a schedule for social media posting. There is a sweet spot when it comes to how much to post. If you don’t post that much, customers will forget you exist. If you post too much, there’s the chance they will get annoyed and block or unfollow you.

Buffer, a social media scheduling service, took a close look at user engagement on a variety of social media networks to determine when people’s interest dropped off. It found that after two posts a day on Facebook, people were less likely to comment or “like” a post. In the case of Pinterest, brands who posted five times a day or more had the most success. People seem less excited about frequent posts on LinkedIn, and Buffer recommended just a single post each weekday on that site.

Update Your About Page (and the Rest of Your Site)

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Your company has evolved over time. Your website and social media profiles should reflect that change. Take a look at your business’ About page, as it might be due for an update.

Add any new information to the About section, such as the name of any new employees, a new location if you’ve moved, or a new division if you’ve recently expanded. It might be that the information on the About page is accurate, but the page itself isn’t engaging.

If someone wrote the page in a hurry when you put the website up initially, it might not be the best reflection of who your company is or how it serves customers. Take some time to edit the page and make it an accurate introduction to your business.

You should keep the rest of your website current, too. If you have white papers or case studies on your site, take a look at them every year or so and replace them with updated versions. You don’t want potential customers reading outdated white papers to get information or looking at case studies that don’t reflect your business’ capabilities in the here and now.

Revisit Old Blog Posts

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Just as you revise and update static website pages and content, it’s worth it to revise old, but still relevant, blog posts from time to time. You might not need to edit the content of the posts so much as you need to adjust them to make them more shareable on social media or to boost their SEO. If you’d like to start using Pinterest, for example, you might go back to old posts and add eye catching images to them, so that pinners want to click on your post.

Some posts might just need a bit of clean up. They might contain broken links or you might have missed some spelling or grammatical errors the first time around. You might have written more on the topic since your first post and wish to include the link to your follow-up in the original.

Try New Formats

Another way to freshen up your content is to switch up the format. If you’re not getting much traction with 1,000-word blog posts, perhaps a video will appeal to your visitors more. If you need to share a lot of facts and figures, it might be worth it to put together an infographic.

Creating content in a variety of formats can also increase your social media reach. People look for images on Pinterest, for example, but tend to want something in-depth on LinkedIn. While you shouldn’t try to please all of the people, having plenty of options will help increase your company’s reach.

When it comes to communicating with your clients, you don’t want to fall off the grid. Keeping your website up-to-date, boosting or maintaining your social presence, and keeping your blog current will all help you keep your content fresh.

 

4 ways to make your blog stand out

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These days, a blog should be a part of every business' communications and marketing strategy. The 2014 Fortune 500 and Social Media study, from the Charlton College of Business Center for Marketing Research, at UMass Dartmouth, found that 31 percent of Fortune 500 companies ran a corporate blog. The top 200 companies were more likely than the lower 300 companies to keep a blog, and 40 percent of the top five companies have their own blogs. Even as other forms of communication and social media become popular, blogging remains an important tool.

While the benefits of blogging are well documented, particularly when it comes to increasing a company's customer base, how to create and maintain a blog that engages with people and that is worth reading is a little less clear. Whether you are already blogging or are thinking of getting started, keeping a few things in mind will help you create a blog that gets people's attention.

Have Great Content

A blog is nothing without content, but content on its own isn’t enough to get people to read it or to share posts. What you put on your blog, whether it’s a short essay, a video clip, or an infographic, needs to be helpful and relevant to your audience. In a post on Ragan.com, Mark Schaefer highlights the top 10 non-tech industry blogs out there.

What do the majority of those blogs have in common? They all have great content. In the case of Whole Foods Market’s Whole Story blog, the posts reflect the retailer’s culture while providing useful tips and information to shoppers. The posts aren’t exactly salesy, but many of them highlight ways to put items commonly sold at Whole Foods to use in daily life.

Another way to develop great content for your blog is to avoid playing it safe. In many cases, blog posts that take a controversial stance or that highlight a poster’s opinion create the most engagement, as people are more likely to want to state their own opinion and strongly agree or disagree with the subject of the post.

Part of being somewhat controversial in terms of content is understanding your blog’s niche audience. Some of the things you say will appeal to the audience and not to others, which is OK. If you try to please everyone with your blog, you might end up pleasing no one.

Keep Things Up to Date

Over time, blog posts can get stale or become outdated. Keep your posts up-to-date so that your blog continues to offer useful information to readers. That can mean revisiting a post that was popular a year or so ago and putting a new spin on it, providing new information or updated stats, or writing a new post that continues the discussion begun in the first one.

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Make it Search Friendly

When you’re blogging, you’re not only producing content for human consumption, you’re producing content for search engines. A fantastically written, incredibly helpful blog post won’t make much of an impact if no one can find it. Hubspot, an inbound marketing platform, has a checklist of the things every blog needs to be search engine friendly.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is constantly changing, as Google continues to update its algorithms to make sure that it’s providing the most relevant search results to users. The search engine has penalized blogs and websites that bend the rules to increase their search rank. Along with following an SEO checklist from a company such as Hubspot or using the SEO tools included in your blogging platform, it’s a good idea to keep up with Google’s guidelines, so that you know that your blog is following the rules.

Befriend Other Bloggers

A blog is as much about personality as it is about content. In his post on Ragan.com, Schaefer notes even some of the best blogs flounder because it’s unclear who’s writing the posts or what the stories of the blogs’ authors are. Engaging with and building relationships with other bloggers, either by commenting on other blogs or by interacting on social media, will help personalize your company’s blog. Seek out other blogs in your business’ niche, for example, and start reading and commenting on their posts. Join relevant LinkedIn groups and share your posts when applicable or create a Pinterest account and pin your own posts, as well as posts from others that you found useful.

Admittedly, blogging is a lot of work. But, in the best of cases, a blog lets you get to know your customers a bit better and helps your customers get to know you. If the top companies in the country are finding blogging beneficial, think of what it can do for you.