Corporate blogs can be very public and blogging doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Ask any blogger who has kept it up for six months or longer, and she’ll tell you, it’s not easy to think of new and interesting ideas every day, week after week.
Business bloggers feel added pressure because they directly address their customers and invite scrutiny on their products and services. If the company has a certain level of confidentiality surrounding their services, there’s only so much you can say without revealing trade secrets. Safeguarding the relationships you have with partners, investors and suppliers is also essential… and there’s plenty of corporate red tape that pretty much contradicts the whole concept of running a blog.
That said, a business blog can be very useful to position yourselves as experts in your field, to humanise your company and foster brand loyalty; in fact the absence of a blog can speak louder than a poorly run one. If you can set aside enough time for research, fact and grammar checks, your business blog can look fresh, personal and insightful.
Many companies who are just too busy to blog could consider hiring ghost writers to do it for them. This solution can work well, particularly if you’re engaged with the blog or oversee the content that’s uploaded. It’s important to ensure that the tone is as authentic as possible and that the ghost writer understands the company culture and philosophy (best practice is to hire writers with expertise in content marketing and to review every piece of content before publication).
Another important advantage of having a ghost writer is that he can help you integrate your blog with other marketing efforts – whether you’re focusing on social media or search engine results pages. A blog is not a standalone project; very rarely does great content, or any great product for that matter, simply sell itself.
No one enters a conversation just by talking – and then talking some more. A ghost writer can teach you about your online community (which, by the way, might differ from your real-life competitive landscape) and help you take those first small steps towards building relationships online. Whether you do this by blogging, Facebooking, Stumbling, Pinning, or all of them, is up to you!
Building brand affinity through a coherent marketing strategy is something that all companies hope to achieve. Many are turning to the online world of content marketing – the use of infographics, videos, microsites, webinars and other forms of content to engage with, attract and secure their target audience. The question we must ask then is: who is doing it well? And why are they succeeding? Here are three of the brands I think are embracing content marketing with optimum effect:
Burberry has established itself as an international retail powerhouse and its popularity cannot be questioned with 12 million Facebook likes and a wealth of Twitter followers as well. So how does it maintain this momentum and keep engaging users? The answer lies partially in successful content marketing and connection with a modern audience through digital media.
Let us take one example: the brand is particularly renowned for trench coats, which were invented by founder Thomas Burberry. This resulted in the launch of a social networking microsite – Art of the Trench – showcasing images from professional fashion photographers, Magnum photographers and the public, with specific focus upon Scott Schuman – otherwise known as The Sartorialist. Between November 2009 and the middle of 2010, the site gained more than seven million visits, a figure that certainly speaks for itself. Ultimately what made this project fly was Burberry’s ability to attract users with a story before allowing them to add to it themselves. People submitted their own photographs, creating a visual ‘history’ of the trench coat, as well as being able to comment on individual pictures and share them with others. Overall the brand constructed a beautifully designed site targeted at those who love looking at fashion online, linking it with the experience of wearing it offline.
Throughout the last year IKEA have focused on increasing their content marketing presence, for example launching a YouTube channel with original videos including ‘how to’ options and style tips. Another facet of their strategy has been described as a special version of Pinterest, a community photo-sharing website called Share Space where consumers can upload pictures of rooms they have redecorated, giving other users inspirational ideas and encouraging them to share content. This is supported by traditional written content on the IKEA blog, also accessible through the microsite.
IKEA are using appealing visual tools to connect with their customers, creating easily digestible chunks of information and, like Burberry, encouraging internet users to take pride in and share their own content. People like to feel valued, and this is precisely what IKEA have achieved, carrying out extensive research to extract precisely what the people in their shops actually want.
Coca-Cola have such faith in content marketing that they believe it can double global consumption of the fizzy drink by 2020. They released two internal videos with this strategy in mind, giving an insider’s view into their mindset (these videos are essential for all digital marketers). The videos outline how Coke will deliver ‘content excellence’, using storytelling, starting conversations and earning a disproportionate share of popular culture. Recent interactive examples include some neat and playful toys such as the Sticky Hand, the Coke Spinner, an experience drawing on images from Coke’s history, and Blowing Bubbles in the Sky. Generating a massive volume of social noise, this is just the start of what can only be described as a revolution in content marketing, and they are certainly not trying to hide it. We like to call them: ‘windows into happiness.’
Have you seen an amazing piece of content marketing lately? Share it in the comments.
There’s no denying Bill Slawski is a bit difficult to understand. It doesn’t mean he’s not interesting and well worth the read if you can wade through it. So, to save you some time, I’ve summarised a few of his comments about web blocks and linguistic features.
Slawski writes about how a page can be broken down into segments such as the main content, header, footer, advertising, navigation, etc. Each of these blocks can be considered as “separate semantic units” that can be connected or standalone in relation to the page topic (they can also be physically connected or broken up into smaller segments).
In a patent filed on behalf of Microsoft in 2003, this analysis is described as an “…independent approach to detect content structure. It simulates how a user understands web layout structure based on his visual perception (emphasis mine).” If you think about how you read web pages (in a kind of zig-zag pattern, amiright?), the segmentation approach is not far off.
As a writer, I’m interested in the way content is structured and that includes the selection and placement of words and links. We already know that links in the middle of the page have more weight than those in footers, but what I didn’t know was that a search engine might actually assign PageRank for individual segments.
For example (according to the patent), a section of page with hyperlinked, capitalised words in short phrases, which appear in the sidebar or at the top of the page, indicates the main navigation. It sounds like common sense, but understanding how a search engine sees a page is really essential to SEO. These basic linguistic features – i.e. syntax and punctuation – are the means by which search engines are classifying and indexing pages.
*Puctuation Owl is impressed with your new-found wisdom:
So, if you write content for the web, it’s important to keep in mind how a search engine might segment it, but also remember that this patent was filed in 2003. A similar patent from Google followed in 2004. In other words, search engines have been thinking about segmentation for nearly a decade, and they’re continuing to improve their understanding of page semantics all the time. Watch this space!
We are very proud of Michael Briggs, Scott McLay, Ian Humphreys, Katie Wallace, Jaimie Bell, and Sabrina Hackenbracht for representing Caliber at TBU Umbria! We hope everyone else enjoyed the conference as much as we did and we are already looking forward to the next one!
Here are our presentations so you can re-visit and share as you like:
Infographics are the latest craze in the world of online marketing and SEO – an infographic being anything which visualises a data set.
This has been made abundantly clear over the last half year as a flood of companies have released infographics on a wide range of topics. A simple Google image search brings up a dazzling array of infographics (some good, some bad, some laughable) on social media, health issues, puppies and just about anything you would care to think about.
Does this flood devalue infographics in general? The answer is no, provided your visual is something truly captivating.
A year ago it was probably acceptable to throw out any old infographic safe in the assurance that it would be picked up by someone just on the merit of the medium. But in this saturated market we have to focus on creating pieces that are different, engaging and ultimately worth a reader spending time on. Here are a few crucial things to consider when developing an infographic:
Use this as your refrain whenever thinking up ideas; with so much data out there you need to ensure that there is an actual reason for people to read on. Does anyone really want to know how many clowns it would take to fill the Empire State Building to the brim? If the answer is no, don’t visualise it.
Companies which produce infographics just for the sake of it, tend to latch on to catchy topics – celebrities and social media being the most popular. This leads carpeting companies to comment on social media, and has pet stores informing us about the latest celeb trends. Wacky! When you create an infographic, do it on something that you have authority on, otherwise what is there to make your opinion/data stand out from everything else out there? People share data from trusted sources – so talk about things that you are trusted for.
The vast majority of infographics are incredibly inaccessible; they’re either long strips of images that take altogether too much scrolling to process, or overly complicated images that defy comprehension. Avoid falling into this trap by designing something that is easy to understand and appealing to the eye. Data visualisation is about making an issue easily understandable – never lose sight of this.
Many ingredients go into making a successful infographic. Yet these are some of the core principles we focus on whenever we kick off a project. By following them we create pieces which are easy to understand, simple and, most importantly, start a conversation which denizens of the internet world are keen to pick up; and that is the magic of infographics!
What’s your favourite infographic? Link it in the comments below.
Internet marketing isn’t all search engine algorithms, email lists and targeted on-page advertising. If you’ve taken much of a look into the subject recently you will no doubt have been overwhelmed by the amount of attention being paid to content marketing. This sudden increase in coverage of the subject underlines the importance of content in a changing digital marketing environment and highlights exactly why you should prioritise it in your online offering. Content marketing covers everything from the copy on a website, to podcasts, advertising videos and blogs, infographics and white papers, and everything in between. Each facet of this chameleonic marketing discipline can have a different effect on your business. Four of these effects are laid out below, as well as some examples of a piece of stellar content marketing that has fulfilled these objectives.
As a leader in SEO we’d be remiss not to mention the benefits that excellent content marketing can have for SEO: simply creating targeted, search engine friendly copy for your sales pages can be a huge boost to your website’s visibility, but there’s much more content can do for you. Dating websites such as OKCupid and Zoosk create dozens of inbound links to their websites by putting out well-timed infographics that relate to current events, including the Oscars and the Super Bowl, while Basecamp creator 37signal’s corporate blog drives a lot of traffic and links their way.
Exposure and Branding
Dollar Shave Club launched in April 2011, but noise around the start-up soon fizzled out. To drive interest, Mike Dubin, CEO of Dollar Shave Club, put together the following advert that cost a measly $4,500 to produce. The effects were staggering; Dollar Shave Club managed to net 5,000 subscribers on the video’s launch date, despite the website becoming unavailable for large swathes of the day as it struggled to cope with the additional traffic. That number is now in excess of 12,000, with the company’s social networks seeing a similar overnight boost. The success in both sales figures and brand recognition has drawn comparison with the hugely popular ‘Old Spice Guy’ adverts.
Community Building and Management
There is no better example of what content marketing can do for your community than Lady Gaga. This megastar is more than just one of the most marketable celebrities on the planet, she’s also a social media powerhouse. With more than 20 million followers on Twitter and a billion views on Youtube, Lady Gaga has built her following up through creating engaging content for fans both old and new and also by engaging with fan created content. Gaga regularly reposts “fan art” created by her fans and creates her own content in response to input from her fans. By “giving the people what they want”, Gaga has built up a loyal and extremely responsive community.
Sales and Investment
At the beginning of February Tim Schafer, founder of Double Fine Productions and creator of some of the world’s most enduring and popular video games, launched a project through crowdfunding platform Kickstarter aimed at creating a new adventure game – a genre seen as commercially risky to most investors and publishers. Initially seeking to raise $400,000 over the course of a month to fund both the development of the game and a documentary detailing its creation, the project reached this goal in just nine hours thanks to Schafer’s cleverly crafted content marketing strategy that included videos and minigames, as well as the enthusiasm of fans. After 24 hours the fund had netted more than a million dollars and by the time the project closed on Tuesday the total had rocketed to three million dollars, making it the most successful Kickstarter project in history.