Will LinkedIn’s Repositioning Work?

linkedin-linkedin

It used to be that when someone mentioned that they had an account on LinkedIn, people’s response was ‘so you’re looking for another job then?’

LinkedIn has moved on from just being a recruitment website, but this repositioning has not been without its challenges. It has developed into a website which is still heavily used by recruiters (as it should be, it is a great platform for identifying talent), but also used by prospectors.

If you are a regular LinkedIn user, you will be familiar with receiving a LinkedIn invitation from a contact who seems to have an industry / interest in common, only to receive a pitch email within minutes of connecting. In a lot of cases, this makes LinkedIn more beneficial for the prospector than the (potential) customer. If regular users start to disengage with LinkedIn, the network will disappear. Not only that, but the pressure is already on with the rate of revenue growth slowing at the end of 2015 / start of 2016. So what have LinkedIn done to rectify this?

They have realised that they have a large number of accounts on the network, many of which on a daily basis are sharing content from all around the internet. So LinkedIn is acting as a powerful referrer. Also, while they have been encouraging users to upload their own content (through the write an article feature that was introduced a couple of years ago), visibility of that content is fairly low.

So, LinkedIn has introduced a feature to allow people to search through the huge amount of content that is published from within LinkedIn. Previously, using the search function to search for, say, ‘content marketing’ would firstly show you people who work in content marketing. However, you can now search ‘Posts’, so your search will show all posts about content marketing. A nice addition to the network I think.

So, will it work? Regular users of LinkedIn will still share their content on LinkedIn, particularly if they can see the benefits of posting to their connections and having their article indexed by search engines (all LinkedIn articles are public). Access to this content will need to outweigh any of the perceived disadvantages of spending time on LinkedIn, e.g. being sold to by an irrelevant product.

I fear it may be too late. If you are looking for an article on content marketing, where are you likely to start? Twitter already has thousands of communities which share content on all sorts of subjects from all over the internet. And of course there is also the small matter of Google which is the go-to resource for search (in the UK anyway).

If LinkedIn’s articles can rank well in Google’s search results (from a straw poll, this seems like an opportunity to improve), it can pick up traffic from this source, but I don’t think LinkedIn will develop into a go-to website for content. Which means that while LinkedIn has added a nice feature, I think it will take more to reposition such a large social network.

How Content Marketing and SEO Work

The internet has been seen as a great leveller in the world of business. In theory, and certainly in the early days, the playing field was fairly flat – if you had a website and someone who knew how to market it, you could take the fight to the bigger players. And with the rise in popularity of social media in the 2000s, the playing field levelled again – in theory, it might even be easier for a smaller business to start tweeting than a larger one: it doesn’t have to worry about complicated social media policies, tone of voice guidance and permissions, it can just get started.

Content has also been a great leveller. An excellent piece of content can be shared multiple times on social media and appear in a strong search engine page rank position. You don’t need huge budgets to make this happen, just excellent content marketing – and here is how.

How are they linked?

Content marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) are very closely linked – let me take you through why. Back in the early days of the internet, the need for content became very clear very quickly – we know that need to create web pages, but what the hell are we going to put on them?! Then social media arrives and now we really need to create some content – we can’t get away with tweeting about the weather again!

So, lots and lots of content is created. And a lot of it is really crappy. Most of it in fact. So, search engines work really hard to find out ways of quantifying the quality of the content – they start to move on from looking at the frequency of keywords and start trying to actually understand an article. Another metric that search engines start to use is social media shares: what better an endorsement of good quality content than sharing it? Hence, content marketing and SEO are inextricably linked.

What do I write about?

Successful content strategy has a clear link between your content with the needs of your audience. That doesn’t mean writing yet another boring product description for the golf clubs that you sell – it means answering questions that the audience has: how to hit a particularly tricky shot from the rough, how golf clubs are made, tips for golf etiquette, articles on golf’s more unusual rules.

Your content should be based on the keyword research that you have already carried out and then shaped around your audience:

  • What are their interests beyond your product? We know they are into golf, but what else are they into?
  • What are their hopes and aspirations? What else do they want from life?
  • What are their problems? Practical issues which are golf related, but also wider concerns and fears?

This is all great, but what about the payback, what’s in it for the content provider? Well, if someone has found your content but they are not yet a customer, when they come to buy a product similar to yours (they are finding your content so they may be close to buying a related product), your business will be at the top of their mind.

Isn’t content marketing about selling?

I appreciate that the last section may have made some people a little nervous. If this activity isn’t directly selling our product, what is the point in doing it? Well, selling has changed and subtlety is a very effective way of driving revenue – if someone has a question and they find your content and it answers that question, this is a means of not only getting your company name in front of that prospective customer, it has prevented them from seeing a competitor. It works, believe me!

Content marketing is here to stay. When done well, it is a great way of driving traffic to your website through social media referrals and SEO. It can get you in front of potential customers by helping them out or entertaining them, not just by shouting about your product. The sooner you start making content work for you, the sooner you will see the positive effect on your bottom line.

Do you use a content strategy? Is it working for you and do you have any tips that you would like to share? Please leave a comment and share your experience.

10 Top Tips for Webinars

10 Top Tip Webinar Tips WordPress

As content marketing becomes ever more competitive, the fight for people’s attention is forcing we marketers to be more creative.  Not only in the content that we create, but the format that it is created within and how the content is distributed.

One of the more interesting formats is webinars.  Webinars are a great way of engaging an audience, demonstrating your capability and engaging your audience, particularly for Business to Business marketers.  You might even start achieving the cliché ‘thought leadership’!

To help you in your webinar journey, here are ten top tips:

Be careful who is presenting… – The selection of who presents or hosts the webinar is a tough one: they need to be an expert in their field as well as being very comfortable in front of the camera or microphone.  It might be that this needs to be more than person.

Be careful what they are presenting… – You would think that this is obvious, but if you have attended some webinars, you will realise that this is not always at the top of people’s minds. Remember that the subject should not be want you want to talk about necessarily – it should be all about what your audience want to see and questions that they want the answers to.  Do some research to find out what this is.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse – It was the legendary golfer Gary Player who said ‘the harder I practice, the luckier I get’.  There is no substitution for a good rehearsal to make sure that your timings are accurate (people won’t hang around if you run over so have a script and stick to it), you are comfortable with the content, there are no technical issues.  Your audience will thank you.

Promote your event – This is such a crucial part of your webinar: how are you going to let people know that it exists?  You should use a range of digital marketing tools to promote including email, social media, your website, any partnering organisations, etc.  Getting things wrong at this stage means that the time your webinar is taking is being wasted.  Start at least 2 weeks out, but the earlier you start the better.

How will someone register for your event – This should be a very simple and singular process and all of your promotional efforts should point towards the same place (it makes evaluation much easier!).  Many webinar systems have their own system for registration management, so why not use that and send automated emails to people who have registered?

Invest in a microphone – If you don’t want your webinar to sound like you are talking to your audience through a 1980s phone line, invest in a microphone – PC microphones are just not up to the job.

Interactivity is important – One of the elements that makes a webinar boring is the lack of interaction.  You are staring at your screen for 45 mins or so and the temptation to check your emails is becoming overwhelming.  Polls are a great way of increasing interaction as well as gathering data.

Have your say – You should give the audience the opportunity to ask questions, it is an important part of the engagement process.  This could be in the form of a Q&A session at the end or several small ones throughout your content to keep people listening.  Either way, make sure you have one and have an expert on hand to answer the questions of course!

Offer your contact details – Once you have amazed people with your webinar (we can hope, right?!), now is the time to allow them to get in touch, so let them know your email address and social media handles.  It might be a follow-up to a point that they didn’t mention at the time of the webinar, or even a lead.

Don’t forget to follow up – You should circulate your presentation and any other materials within 24 hours of the end of your webinar.  It is also a chance to answer any outstanding questions and let the audience know when you will be running your next webinar and why they should attend that too.  Strike while the iron is hot.

Have you tried using webinars in your content marketing?  Do you have any tips that you would like to share?  Leave a comment and let us know!

Image via vizexplorer.com

How Content Marketing and SEO Work Together

Content Marketing and SEO

There has never been a greater requirement for content in marketing than right now. With the internet being in millions of cases the only ‘shop window’ that a business has, it is imperative to make the website as visible and as engaging as possible.

One of the means to achieving that is content marketing which really started to become popular in the early 2000s. The rise of the internet as a commercial platform and the rise of the pioneer social networks meant that there was the need to create interesting web pages and interesting content to share on these social media networks.

However, the way that people use the web has changed a lot in the last 10-15 years. People are asking more questions from search engines, particularly with the introduction of voice-activated search: we are using search engines to solve our problems.

As such, search engines need to find the good quality content – not an easy job when most of the content out there is pretty rubbish! And from that moment, content marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) were linked. Users searching for solutions to their problems offer a good opportunity for businesses to create content which solves that problem.

So how do you know what to write about?

Well, if your content is all about your products and how utterly amazing they are, you haven’t quite got it right yet. Content marketing is about more than just saying how great your product is. It needs to be broader than that because product demonstrations are great when someone is searching for that, but how do they know that your product is the best solution to the problem that they have?

Your content should be based on the keyword research that you have already carried out for your SEO strategy and then shaped around your audience:

  • What are their interests beyond your product? We know they are into your product, but what else are they into?
  • What are their hopes and aspirations? What else do they want from life?
  • What are their problems? Practical issues which are product related, but also wider concerns and fears?

And the payback? The theory is if someone finds your content to solve a problem of theirs, assuming that it is in some way related to your product or marketplace, then when they are in the market for your product, you will be at the top of their mind. And the theory works. Why else would Coke’s VP of Global Advertising Strategy, Jonathan Mildenhall, say “all advertisers need a lot more content so that they can keep the engagement with consumers fresh and relevant”?

Today’s consumers are more and more sophisticated, and are rejecting traditional forms of marketing and even traditional forms of digital marketing (e.g. super-irritating pop-up ads), so marketing needs to become more sophisticated. And content marketing is a great way of getting your content and business in front of potential customers and ahead of competitors.

10 Content Format Ideas

Content Format Ideas

Content Format Ideas

We have all been there…..sat in front of a blank piece of paper, or a laptop with a blank document, in front of us while we drum our fingers and think ‘how am I going to create some interesting content’?

To save us from this dreaded feeling, I have pulled together 10 content marketing formats.  I have also included their pros and cons because not every format is right for every occasion.

I hope that they help you avoid a content catastrophe!

Article / Press Release / Blog:

  • Pros: It’s probably the most flexible for at if all – you can write about anything you want for as long or as little as you wish
  • Cons: As its so flexible everyone had got access to it, so getting your
    It, so it can make stand out difficult

Image:

  • Pros: It’s easy and free to do from most image editing tools, if you can find or shoot the right image
  • Cons: The images need to have a purpose and be related to your content plan.  If not, it’s irrelevant.  Also, you either need to be good at photography or prepared to buy stock images

Infographic:

  • Pros: A nice way to communicate a difficult or potentially uninteresting subject. Also, they generate a bigger proportion of social media engagement
  • Cons: To get your infographic right, you will probably need to involve a designer, as most free templates have been used already….so this might get pricey

Audio File / Podcast / Soundcloud

  • Pros: People are consuming a lot of audio content while on the move, so they are often a captive audience
  • Cons: In an age of visual media, is this the right format?  Also, you need a big hook to get people to listen as the competition is rife – you want to take on Mark Maron?

Video:

  • Pros: It’s really engaging, and you can squeeze a lot of content into a very short video
  • Cons: Unless you opt for the deliberately unpolished look, you will need a videographer.  And probably an editor too, so costs could mount up

Email:

  • Pros: You are probably doing it already so you will have a view of what works and what doesn’t
  • Cons: People receive hundreds of them a day and standing out from this crowd is very challenging

Poll:

  • Pros: Everyone likes having their say, and on a lot of platforms it’s very easy to set up
  • Cons: You need to publicise the poll for people to notice it and participate.  You should also be careful what questions you ask, you might not want to hear their answers!

Slide Share:

  • Pros: You often have this data already on your computer
  • Cons: Is it interesting enough to be considered content marketing? People see a lot of PowerPoint every day, so you need to be sure

Game:

  • Pros: Really engaging way of people spending time on your site
  • Cons: Development costs can be high, and expectation is that the game will be challenging but not impossible – a difficult balance without an expert

Webinar:

  • Pros: Interactive, exciting and engaging – and the cost is very low if not nil
  • Cons: Requires the audience to be built up ahead of the webinar, so will need to tease and trail it elsewhere

Do you have a content format that you’ve had success with and isn’t not on this list? If so, please leave a comment and let me know!

What is Digital PR?

What is Digital PR

What is Digital PR

The growth of online has changed the world of Public Relations dramatically.  Online has given PR a number of opportunities – engaged and larger audiences, groupings online of like-minded people.  But it has also created its fair share of head-aches – people criticising the company on the company’s own media and a fast-moving world which requires resource to keep track.

So, is digital PR really so different from traditional PR methods?  Well, yes and no!  The principles of PR still remain, with reputation management, stakeholder strategies and managing the spread of information all being crucial in digital PR.  But the methods by which these are achieved are different in digital.  I think that there are three pillars of Digital PR:

Content:

The days of faxing black and white A4 press releases to media organisations have passed – well, they should have passed!  The scramble for attention on the internet has challenged people to create more and more compelling content.  Information in the format of an infographic, slide share or blog with opinion will get more attention than a typed page of words alone.

It could also be argued that digital content lasts longer than printed content – for example, if you place an article in a newspaper, once the following day’s newspaper is published, the article is ‘dead’, but if it is online, it may stay on a website for a long time, and be shared and commented on which will extend it’s ‘life’.

So, while compelling content has always been a principle of good PR, being able to share the content online means that you should explore your creative side.

Social:

If your content is very compelling, then there is a chance that people will actually want to share your content.  But this relies on a number of factors:

  • You have a social media presence – if this is not the case, start with this as this can be used as a content aggregator
  • You have provided enough high-quality content to build credibility and an audience
  • The content that you have produced helps, entertains or engages people – if it just talks about how great your company is, it will not be shared
  • You know where your target audience spend their time online

Search:

It is no shock that millions of people use Google to start their internet browsing.  So, imagine that when you search for your company name, an internet page criticising your company ranks highly.  A similar sense of panic will occur if this happens on your social media pages, although with social at least the conversation can take place – with a web page, there is little chance to debate their points.  And what about if you receive negative reviews on a review website?

The difficulty of rectifying this can range from fairly easy to incredibly difficult.  The processes tend to be different depending on where the offending content is.  Start by searching on Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to see where your challenges lie – and even if you get a clean bill of health today, keep checking back as it may change in the future.

Image via piercemattie.com