Is This the Next Big Thing in Your Content Marketing Strategy?


Categories: Content MarketingEmail MarketingSocial MediaSocial Media Marketing

Is This the Next Big Thing in Your Content Marketing Strategy?

Most marketers approach the new year with a burst of resolve and a vow to tick off items on their marketing wish lists. But the digital world is evolving so rapidly that many marketers are left wondering which trends and technologies will endure beyond 2014, and which will just be flashes in the pan.

My big prediction for 2014 is that “consumers will become the new content marketers“. We’ve all heard the phrase “content is king” countless times, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that user-generated content is heir to the throne.

The explosion of mobile and mobile-focused networks like Vine and Instagram have made it easier than ever for consumers to create and share video, giving brands the opportunity to aggregate this content into powerful and authentic brand messaging. On Dec. 17 Facebook announced it will begin supporting video advertising for both mobile and desktop social users, further underlining the emergence of video as a powerful tool that crosses the boundaries of advertising, social media and both business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing.

Here are four ways that you can empower consumers to become content-producing brand advocates in 2014 when planning your content marketing strategy:

#1. Tie social to traditional advertising

In 2014, bust social out of the silo by weaving a social layer across campaigns to inspire audiences to create and share content.

Include hashtags in your TV ads, print ads, in-store displays, and events to drive more conversation. Get even more participation by offering coupons or prizes.

Digital and social are transforming TV ads too. Recent research from Nielsen found that 88 percent of marketers believe that integrated multi-screen campaigns will become very important in the next three years. To compete, marketers must extend their TV ad campaigns across multiple channels — like real-time video ads and hashtag campaigns on social media. This year, watch for new and compelling ways to engage your consumers across all devices and screens. Brands like Dunkin’ Donuts are already using Vine videos in Monday Night Football television ads to tie together social and television advertising.#2.

#2. Connect the dots between social and email

Email and social are two powerful channels with a symbiotic relationship. In combination, they build, target and convert brand audiences, turning thousands of fans into loyal brand advocates.

According to a recent report from ExactTarget, 70 percent of marketers find product or prize giveaways to be an effective tactic for audience acquisition. These incentives prompt fans to opt into email lists, creating lasting relationships with customers like never before.

For example, Giant Eagle ran a Facebook sweepstakes for free tanks of gas, and included a call-to-action to sign up for their email list. By touting access to “exclusive offers,” they received more than 45,000 email opt-ins.

This year, kick performance up a notch by collecting user preference data to get unique insights about the interests of your consumers, and use them to create lists for targeted content and offers.  This will help optimize campaigns and increase revenue.

#3. Embrace social’s role in driving commerce

Still believe social media is just about engagement? That’s so 2013. Companies are now driving sales directly from social channels, and that will only grow in 2014.

One increasingly effective social commerce tactic is mobile couponing. With the explosion of smartphones, Business Insider predicts that 47.1 million consumerswill use mobile coupons in 2014. Offering digital coupons through social channels also adds a viral component. Fans and followers feel compelled to share your deals — an impulse you can stoke with incentives for referrals.

Meanwhile social merchandising — collecting, displaying and curating user-generated content regarding a brand’s products — has blended the capabilities of social marketing with the conversion potential of social commerce. Brands can encourage consumers to submit and share attractive, creative and authentic product information or purchases that link directly to trackable transactions.

Social data gets a lot of buzz. In 2014, we’ll start to see its practical application in driving commerce. Brands will seek user input via social channels to make product and marketing decisions. By building user content and feedback into their business model, they can make a measurable impact.

Online retailer ModCloth has found success in applying user data to inform their inventory decisions. Their “Be the Buyer” program allows consumers to vote for the designs that ModCloth will sell on their site. Items created as a result of the “Be the Buyer” program sell twice as much overall as other inventory.

#4. Increase the frequency of your social campaigns

A few years back, brands ran a single marketing campaign for months on end. But the rise of social has turned brands into publishers, constantly cranking out new content and campaigns. Moreover, social gives brands the freedom to create and launch campaigns on the fly — amplifying everything from product launches to flash sales. To stay competitive, you need to run multiple, frequent campaigns that engage multiple segments of your audience.

But don’t limit your campaigns to Facebook. As Pinterest, Twitter, and other networks build their user base, you’ll need to engage and convert those audiences too. You should have distinctive campaign strategies for each network. Consider cross-network campaigns that pull in entries from multiple networks, like Vine, Instagram and Twitter, via a hashtag.



Social Media Is Not the Savior, But…


ImageIt’s still surprising how many businesses are ignoring social media. I’ve heard the various arguments against – that it’s a fad, that it’s mostly kids (nope), that there’s no significant value-add – but none of these stack up in the face of ever-growing data to the contrary. I’ll admit, even I was once sceptical of the benefits of social media. I viewed social media as complimentary to traditional media channels, nothing more. It would never overtake traditional press and broadcast platforms. It would never become a critical pulse for business. I was wrong. And now, while I can understand where those opposing views stem from, my response to these people is that you’re viewing social from the wrong perspective. In 2014 it’s going to be more important than ever that your business has an active social media presence. Here’s a couple of the points to pass on to the unconvinced as to why social media is more valuable than they may think:

1) Don’t think in terms of immediate value, but in potential value. Some brands might be able to ignore social media, go on about their business as they always have, leave those new channels to others. Some brands can do this and suffer little negative impact, but the more important element here is that by ignoring social media channels, you are missing out on massive opportunities that are waiting to be taken up. There are millions of conversations happening on social media everyday, some of themare relevant to your business. By ignoring them, maybe you’re not losing anything from what you currently have, but you are missing out new opportunities. Having a dedicated social presence takes time and investment, but it has the potential to produce amazing results, many of which you wouldn’t even be aware of if you didn’t actively track and participate these conversations. Or, in more immediate terms, there are opportunities out there, right now, that you’re not aware of because you’re not actively participating in social media conversations. They’re going on as we speak.

2) People say things like ‘Likes’ don’t mean anything – ‘anyone can press the ‘Like’ button because it costs nothing and there’s no commitment’. This is true, pressing ‘Like’ or re-tweeting something doesn’t translate to direct revenue for your business, but that’s not necessarily the point. The first relevant point of these endorsements is the data you gain – you can see what gets a response and use that in future planning. But more importantly, as soon as someone presses ‘Like’, they allow you access to their NewsFeed – you can advertise to them directly (though NewsFeed algorithm changes have affected this). Maybe they ignore your messages, maybe they ‘un-Like’ your page, but it’s a way in, a starting point for future conversations. Social media is about relationships and you need to establish the network before you can sell to it. Re-tweets spread your message, giving you the data and expanding brand awareness via the extended followers for every re-tweeter. It’s not money in the bank, it’s the start of the conversation, which is, potentially, just as valuable. Latest studiesclearly show ROI is improving for both B2B and B2C companies, those results are only going to improve.

3) The amount of readily available consumer data is of significant value to your brand. You would have heard all the reports of the amount of data people are putting online. Big data allows you to target your message more than ever before and the degree to which you can focus your advertising is amazing, and can produce amazing results. A simple example – a friend of mine is in a band and they were recently touring interstate. Their band is not well-known, but they have been compared to another, very well-known band. In order to get the word out about their upcoming gig, they advertised on Facebook – they were able to target all users who were fans of that more well-known band within a 100km radius of the venue where they would be playing with sponsored ads that appeared in those users’ NewsFeeds. The result? They sold out the show in record time, the first show they’d sold out in that state. This, all by utilising data readily available via social platforms. If your brand isn’t considering how they can utilise this, you really need to think over your strategy.

These are just some of the reasons why social media is crucial to the future of business. Social platforms continue to grow and diversify. If your brand is not active on these channels, not investing in social media management and monitoring, you really need to be asking whether you can afford to let these opportunities slip. And whether your competitors will approach things in the same way.

Maybe time to add another resolution to your 2014 list.

5 Powerful Tips to Becoming a More Productive Blogger

English: Screenshot of the social media toolbo...

English: Screenshot of the social media toolbox for fundraising (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Highest education productivity growth rate sin...

Highest education productivity growth rate since series began (Photo credit: statisticsons)

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...

English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5 Powerful Tips to Becoming a More Productive Blogger

Categories: BloggingSocial MediaWriting

5 Tips to Becoming a More Productive Blogger

There are so many problems that can arise when you’re trying to be a successful blogger. Maybe you can’t figure out what you want to write about. You might be suffering from writer’s block. You might get easily distracted while doing your Internet research. Do you plan out your writing to make it easier on you? Do you have goals and schedules set for your writing? Do you have some favorite productivity tools that you use? Following are some tips to help you in your journey of becoming a more productive blogger.

#1. Write

Have you ever stared at a blank page in your WordPress blog trying to decide what to write? “Blank page syndrome” is one of the biggest causes of loss of productivity when it comes to writing. Writing content is easy when you know what you’re writing about or you have an idea on how to get started. And often getting started is the problem.

So how do you get started?

This is going to sound weird, but the simplest way to get started blogging is to just get started. Open up a blank page and write anything that comes to mind. Steer it towards the topic you need to write about if you can, but you don’t have to. The idea here is to jump-start your thinking process. At some seemingly miraculous point during your writing you’ll have an idea and that idea will blossom and become that article or short story you need to get written. This process is called free writing and has been used for years to fix all manner of writer’s block.

Censor the inner editor

The idea behind the inner editor goes well with the idea of free writing. The concept is that when you write, you need to forget spelling errors and grammar mistakes. Don’t even worry about the exact order of the information. When you need to write, you just write. When you are done writing, you edit.

Don’t throw it out

Before you found that piece of writing hiding in your mind, you wrote stuff. It may be silly stuff. It may be stuff that makes no sense at all. It doesn’t matter. Save it. Read it again in the future. Something in there triggered an epiphany that saved you from the problem of getting started.

That same something or even a different something in the same writing might help again in the future. Maybe you want to write something fresh and new that isn’t in your editorial calendar. Free writes are treasures waiting to be polished.

Keep writing

Don’t stop now. Keep writing. Write every single day. Write for a set period of time every day. Writing is like any other skill. You have to keep practicing. You will get better. You’ll find your voice. But if you quit writing, there is a good chance that one day in the near future you’ll be sitting in front of a blank page trying to remember how to get started writing.

There’s the old saying, “use it or lose it.”

That goes for writing too.

#2. Avoid Distractions

Distractions are probably the second most common cause of productivity problems when you are blogging. They are especially common as you will be sat on your laptop and you need to do some online research for your next post, but the location where you write can be distracting too, if you’re not careful.

Avoid social media

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can be great places to do some networking as a writer. You can meet other writers. You can find clients if you’re a freelance writer. You can find publishers. Or you can just have a little fun “hanging out” with your Internet buddies. But when you are supposed to be writing, you need to stay away from these places. It’s also a good idea to turn off notifications on your mobile phone too.

I have only found one use for social media sites when I’m in the process of writing: asking questions. Maybe you need that one little suggestion to get the ideas flowing. Social media sites are great places to ask those questions. But once you ask that question, it’s time to leave. Don’t just sit there waiting for answers. Go write something else.

Only check every once in a while.

Turn off your e-mail

E-mail is a wonderful tool for communicating with others but it is also a time sink that can destroy your productivity. It can be as bad as social media and sometimes it can be much worse. Make sure to schedule an hour or so per day to deal with e-mail. If it takes you more time than that, you might want to look into unsubscribing from a lot of services or hiring someone to help.

The key to keeping e-mail from being a distraction is to get the e-mails out of your inbox quickly. A simple way to do that is to take a tip from masters of getting things done. Create three folders called Follow-Up, Waiting and Hold.

Anything in your inbox that needs to be answered or dealt with goes into the Follow-Up folder. Anything that is waiting for a response or action from someone else goes into Waiting. E-mails that contain information you’ll need soon go into Hold. Anything else can just be archived or deleted immediately make sure you’re using an e-mail service with a great spam filter.

5 Tips to Becoming a More Productive Blogger

You can also try using another system such as inbox zero which a lot of people find works for them.


You need to pick a location to write that has the least amount of distractions possible. Don’t write in the living room if the family is watching television. Don’t write at a coffee house unless you have a way to keep your surroundings from distracting you. Music is a great way to drown out the distractions as long as you have a selection of music that doesn’t actually add to the distractions.

This is probably unique to me.  I was working one day at my desk in my attic and I found the rain bouncing off the roof a soothing sound. I then actually found a website that plays the sound of rain a few months ago and often listen to it when I need to give something my complete focus.

So find what works for you and stick to it.

#3. Plan

Once you have your idea, it is time to plan. You need to spend a few minutes getting an outline done. The outline, in this case, does not even need to follow any specific rules. The concept of an outline before writing it is breaking up the writing into smaller chunks that are easier to write.

For example, if you want to write a 2000 word article on shopping tips for the holidays, you might start with a list of five major topics you want to cover. Then you would take each topic and come up with more specific topics that fall under each one. Instead of writing a 2000 word article, you are now writing a 100 word introduction, a 100 word conclusion and five smaller articles that are less than 400 words each.

It makes it simple

Planning may not sound like much, and it’s not. It doesn’t take much time at all. However, it makes the process of writing so much easier. Remember that at the beginning you learned that finding a topic or idea is the hardest part of writing. An outline provides several topics and ideas and makes it simple to just write until the project is done. And don’t worry if you don’t hit the word count you planned out. Sometimes you will write more about a subtopic and sometimes you will write less. It tends to even out over the entire project.

#4. Set Goals and Schedules

Blogging is a job just like any other. You need to set your own deadlines but the time of day and exact hours you write are all up to you.

You absolutely must set a schedule. Pick a specific time of the day to work and don’t let anything get in the way of that schedule. Act like you are working at a normal job. Would your boss be happy if you decided to watch a television show while at work?

5 Tips to Becoming a More Productive Blogger 3

You are your own boss, so you shouldn’t be happy if you watch another episode of that show on Netflix during work hours. The beauty of being a writer with only a deadline is that you get to pick your own hours. Are you a night owl? Do you stay awake from midnight to six in the morning? Make those your writing hours. Are you more comfortable writing in your pajamas when you first get up in the morning? As long as your writing does not need to be done in an office environment, feel free. The important part is picking a schedule and sticking to it. Make it a routine.

Set firm goals

Goals are just as important as schedules. A schedule tells you when you are going to do the work. Goals let you know how much work needs to be done in the time available. Do you need to publish five or six 1500 word articles per week? Then that is a goal. Pick your goals and stick to them.

You need to stick to our goals and schedule. However, you also need to be reasonable with those goals and schedules. If you find you can’t write six articles per week, then you either need to look at adjusting your goals or schedule. Decide which is more important: the goal or the schedule, and then modify to fit.

#5. Use Productivity Tools

There are tons of tools out there that can be utilized by authors to make their time much more productive. Here are three tools worth considering:

1. Evernote

Remember the free writes? Evernote would be a great place to store those. With Evernote you can clip just about anything you see online or even your mobile phone and store it in a searchable and taggable environment. Store your free writes. Create a notebook for each project and clip pieces of research into the project it goes with. Evernote is an excellent tool for organizing any kind of information. When you are doing your research, you really shouldn’t be without it.

5 Tips to Becoming a More Productive Blogger

If you’re interested in learning more about Evernote you should check out this post on using Evernote to be a more productive blogger.

2. Stayfocused

Everyone does it. They’re researching an article and they see a link to something on Facebook. They follow that link and suddenly they’ve spent two hours just browsing through Facebook and Twitter and now you’ve wasted half of your scheduled writing time. Stayfocusd is a Chrome plugin.5 Tips to Becoming a More Productive Blogger

Avoiding those distractions is so much easier when you have a tool that won’t even let you go to those distractions in the first place. You can set a specific amount of time you are allowed to visit a certain site each day and when that time is used up, Stayfocusd blocks you from going there. It’s brilliant and it’s free.

3. Trello

Trello is another place to store information. It is amazing for organizing projects such as major articles. And the part that makes Trello stand out is the fact that you can have other people working on Trello with you. Collaborations are so much easier to do when everyone involved is seeing the progress of the project and able to add their own spin on the project in real time. Imagine having an article and a video that need to be done.

5 Tips to Becoming a More Productive Blogger

You’re writing the article and someone else is providing the video. If you both set up the project on Trello, he can see what you are doing with the writing and adjust the video to fit better while you can adjust the writing to fit his progress on the video.


Write. Avoid distractions. Plan. Set goals and schedules. Use productivity tools. Those are five ways to stay productive while writing. There are probably many more. Feel free to use these ideas and tips to make your own system of productivity. Maybe only one of these ideas works for you but you have ways to tweak the others to work for you too. You can do that. It’s your writing time.

Find the way to make it work best for you. No two people are the same, and that includes their productivity.