Writing (& More) for Small Businesses Delivers Big Opportunities

I’ve always loved to write.

While most kids were playing with blocks or dolls, I was publishing magazines or newspapers with feature articles, ads, sports box scores and all.

In college, I majored in Journalism and Mass Communication, but I took every writing class I could—business writing, media writing, creative writing, copywriting. I wanted to be well versed in nearly any writing discipline, so I could pursue numerous avenues in my career.

I Jumped at Every Opportunity to Write

As I started my career, I jumped at the opportunity to handle any writing opportunity. While I was pursuing my love of writing, I was also gaining more attention at work and building my portfolio (unknowingly at first).

Before long I was ghost writing for my manager and members of our executive team. As I continued to write, I developed a reputation throughout our company (a $350 million company with around 115 employees) as a go-to writer and editor. Eventually, I was published under my own byline in our company newsletter, which was a thrill.

You Can Pick Up a Lot By Asking Questions and Listening

As my career progressed, I started to think about my future. What did I want out of my career? A corner office and impressive title? Or something else?

I worked at the corporate headquarters of a franchising company, so my job involved interacting with and supporting small business owners around North America.

Every day, I was learning more about running a business, even subconsciously. I’m naturally curious, so I would ask questions while communicating with our franchise owners. People like to talk, especially about themselves, their businesses, and their accomplishments, so you can pick up a lot by paying attention, asking questions and listening.

Guess Who Some of My First Clients Were?

While I was helping our owners, I noticed some of them were looking for affordable marketing and writing services beyond what our company offered. They knew they needed help in these areas but couldn’t afford to hire large marketing agencies.

After nine years of honing my skills and building a professional network in corporate America, I left that company and struck out on my own. Guess who some of my first clients were? The same people I had been helping.

Starting My Own Business Seemed Like a Crazy Dream

While it was a long road, the idea to start my own business came during an aha moment 15 years in the making. (I realized I wanted to write for a living while I was in high school, although I couldn’t see myself—a country kid from an unincorporated village—as a writer.)

One day at work, I realized that so many small business owners don’t know how to market themselves and couldn’t afford traditional agency fees. With my diverse background in marketing, I could start a business offering professional marketing services and experience at affordable rates.

I could give brands a voice via marketing, writing and social media services, so business owners could focus on the reason they’re in business, and not struggle with marketing decisions, writing copy and developing social media strategies.

After I realized I could start my own business, it still seemed like a crazy dream. But I did start thinking about it a lot. The next day, I began thinking about business names and what would make my business unique. The more I thought about it and talked about it, the more it became a real possibility.

At a company event, I finally made the decision: I had to go out on my own. A year later, I left and never looked back. On May 15, 2012, Clearly Conveyed Communications (CCC) was born.

You Learn a Lot About Running a Business When You Jump Out On Your Own

When I started my business, I never dreamed of today—eight years down the road. I was just trying to get through each day. Eight years later, I’m still trying to get through each day, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.

You learn so much about running a business when you jump out on your own. (I know I did!) As much as I researched and planned (and you should research and plan), at some point you have to jump in and learn as you go. (Here’s some lessons we’ve learned over the years.)

To get started, I focused on the professional network I had spent the previous nine years building. I reached out to contacts I had made and relationships I had built over time to let them know I was in business. Not only were these people potential customers, but they were also connectors.

In addition, I worked out an extensive transition plan with my former employer. It helped them maintain their services as we hired and trained my replacement, and they were my first paying client. It was nice to have income as I was building my business and looking for more clients.

I Didn’t Foresee that Businesses Would Want to Outsource Their Social Media Management

While I planned on starting a marketing company that focused heavily on writing services, I didn’t foresee the interest in businesses outsourcing their social media management. I started receiving so much interest in this area that I added a new page to my website.

Today, social media management and content creation is a significant part of my business. In turn, they’ve led to additional writing opportunities.

Offering an array of services as a marketing company allows me to present a full-service front to my audience.

The inaugural Tweetup we organized for the firefighters.

For example: We partnered with a fellow marketing company, owned by a volunteer firefighter, to handle FDIC’s (Fire Department Instructors Conference) social media for six years. (See picture above.) We developed a year round social media presence for them, so firefighters could connect, learn and train virtually, too.

A Trend in Content Marketing: Long-Form Content

While my company creates a variety of content, we’ve noticed a trend in content marketing for long-form content, and we’ve jumped on it. It seems counterintuitive to our short attention spans and the constant state of information overload we live in today. However, quality long-form content performs well online, draws traffic and gives you a lot of content to repurpose.

The key is to make it readable (and skimmable) with appropriate visuals, short paragraphs and different sections, or headings. White space and proper formatting are your friends on screen.

SEO is important, but remember to write for people, not search engines, because they’re the ones actually reading it. You can still include keywords and appropriate tags and code while making your writing readable—by humans.

While we enjoy creating long-form content, CCC pursues all types of project-based work and programs. For example, we love writing all the copy for a new website or managing a company’s entire social media presence (as opposed to only creating content). These projects and programs pay more, so we can devote the time and resources to producing our best work. They’re also easier to schedule in advance, so we can utilize our time as effectively as possible.

Putting Our Clients First Helps Us Grow Our Business

Having said that, we will take on small programs, including minor content editing and distribution, or some one-off projects, to make more contacts and build more relationships.

Doing good work for people and helping them with their needs, however minor, can result in referrals.

We’ve been fortunate to be referred several times, resulting in new customers and opportunities.

That’s why we always put current clients first. It may seem better to focus more on business development, because small business owners usually don’t have the resources to wait for new customers.

However, we’ve found that by putting current clients first, we’re their first call—for any marketing activity. As we continue to help them with their needs, they continue to come back and refer us to their clients, business associates and friends.

In fact, we work with some businesses through our clients. They can expand the services they offer without hiring full-time employees or making a significant investment.

For example, a company who sells branded merchandise and printing services can add writing, social media and additional marketing services to their service offering to truly become a full-service marketing agency. As long as we work closely together, it’s a win for all three companies—CCC, our client and our client’s client.

Marketing: What to Consider Before Expanding Social Media Platforms

How do we market our marketing and writing services? We practice what we preach—although sometimes we’re a little slow to take our own advice.

We always advise clients to consider their resources before jumping into social media. It takes time and dedication to build an active, engaged community on a social platform. You don’t need to be on every social platform available or jump on the latest trend.

While social platforms all have their own strengths, they tend to copy each other. Has a new platform grabbed your attention? What features do you like? Wait a minute, and they may appear on a platform where you already have an engaged community.

For example, Snapchat become a darling in the social media world, and then Instagram (and later Facebook) added ephemeral content, or Stories. TikTok has exploded in popularity over the past year, but Instagram has recently announced that it’s rolling out a new TikTok-like feature, Reels, to new markets and expanding its capabilities.

This feature isn’t available in the U.S. yet, but we’ll probably see it eventually. There may be reasons you want to expand to new social platforms, but think about it first and make sure you have a strategy.

When CCC started, we jumped on numerous social media platforms and overextended our resources. Slowly, we reassessed and cut back to where we are today. That has allowed us to focus more on original content creation and distribution for ourselves instead of mainly curation.

Curation is important, because it introduces you to new people and delivers a wider range of voices to your social media communities. However, original content will help you stand out and bring on new clients.

Why Writers Should Have a Blog

If you’re a writer, you probably have a blog, or at least you should. Your blog serves as a place to showcase your writing, and it can lead to partnerships or business opportunities.

Try to set up a consistent publishing schedule based on when the most readers are stopping by your blog. While it’s important to be active, only commit to what you can do. If you’re on your own and spend a lot of time on client work, then you may only be able to publish once a week or twice a month. Don’t try to publish too often for the sake of publishing; your content will likely suffer.

House your blog on your website. It will be easy for your readers to learn more about your services, and your fresh blog content will help optimize your site’s search performance. While I’m not a big fan of consistently removing content (which is a trend today), updating older content helps boost your blog’s performance. Fix any broken links or missing videos you come across, and add any relevant, new information on the post topic to inform your readers.

Don’t Publish Your Content and Wait for People to Find It

Producing quality blog content can be time-consuming, but there’s even more work ahead after you publish. Distributing your content is important, so it’s seen by a larger number of potential readers.

Don’t publish content and wait for people to find it. You have to actively and consistently promote your content, because there’s such an overload of content today.

Don’t just blast your content across various social platforms in one format at the same time. Share each article in a format best suited for each platform. Repurpose your content so you get as much mileage as possible out of it.

Write a long-form article? Share bite-sized tidbits on Twitter, each time driving more traffic back to your article.

Record a video sharing highlights of the article, and post it on your LinkedIn profile or Page.

Share your article as a link preview post to your Facebook Page or group.

Share behind-the-scenes content while you’re writing to tease a new blog article in your Stories and to let your audience know when it will publish.

Content is king, but distribution is queen—and she rules the roost.

Meet Your Readers Where They Are

Some readers will prefer to read your content on these distribution channels instead of subscribing to your blog. We’re living in the age of assistance, so you need to meet people in the moment—where they are.

Building active, engaged communities on social media takes time, but these communities are full of potential readers and people who will share your work.

Use your social presences to interact with your audience and request their feedback. Instagram Stories has numerous stickers you can use to interact, while Twitter offers polls and the ability to have conversations with people around the world.

Facebook Groups have become increasingly popular, as you can offer a smaller part of your community first access to your projects, advice in a specific area (i.e. non-fiction writing tips) or a community of peers for fellow writers to bounce ideas off of. Depending on how you utilize Facebook Groups, you may be able to monetize them.

While CCC receives most of our work through referrals, social media and content creation are crucial in our marketing efforts. Even when you are referred for an opportunity, people will often look you up online first.

Do you have a strong presence on LinkedIn? Is your website up-to-date? What comes up when people Google you? Make sure you have a strong digital presence, so people actually contact you when you are referred to them.

What To Do When Your Writing Business Slows Down

If business has slowed down, spend more time creating and distributing content. Be even more active in your social media communities and work on growing them. Genuinely engaging with others will help you grow your community and may lead to new opportunities.

One of our larger clients watched our social efforts for some time before reaching out to us. Everything you do online is visible, so make sure you’re being your best self. Setting aside 10-15 minutes per day on a platform, including reading and commenting on other blogs, will help you make new connections and grow your communities.

We’ve had success utilizing these tactics, even though they take time. Social media is a long-term game; don’t expect success overnight. Instead of trying to create content that will go viral, focus on building and delivering value to your audience one day at a time.

This year, we’ve focused on creating more original content and distributing it more. By cutting back our overall social presence, we have more time to focus on our current communities and how we can help them.

By doing so, we’ve landed a few new, smaller clients. We’re excited to continue helping them, so we can grow these accounts into larger ones. You never know where an account or new opportunity might lead.

How Writers Can Expand Their Services

Speaking of opportunities, expanding your services or collaborating with fellow writers, editors and marketing agencies (or even fellow small or local businesses) can help you grow your business as well.

Are there additional services you can offer that make sense with your current business? Or maybe you already offer them, but people don’t realize that you do. If you see a trend in your industry or notice interest in a particular service, highlight it on your website and social channels.

Working with other companies who complement your services can help you land larger clients and opportunities. If you write copy for the web, look for a designer to partner with so you can offer complete website solutions.

Or look for companies that you can refer your clients to for related services, so they always come to you first. Building relationships with fellow business professionals and owners will make them more comfortable referring business to you, too.

This has been a stressful and trying year, so we hope everyone is pulling through it as well as you can. It may be the time to try a new idea, launch a related service or partner with another company. We wish everyone the best of luck moving forward in 2020 and beyond.

* * *

A version of this post was first published on WriterCEO.com. Thank you to Colleen M. Story for sharing our writing and marketing tips!

How to Stay Engaged with Your Audiences During a Crisis

How to Stay Engaged with Your Employees and Clients During the Coronavirus Pandemic_title slide

Struggling with how to stay engaged with your employees and clients during this unsettling time? Keep these tips in mind while creating your communications.

Employee Engagement Tips During a Crisis

How to Stay Engaged with Your Employees During a Crisis

First, reassure your employees regarding their pay. During a crisis, consistent income is vital to helping people stay calm and positive. If there are any changes, be transparent and communicate them as soon as possible. While everyone is frazzled, try not to make a knee-jerk reaction to a crisis. Can you implement smaller changes now to avoid laying someone off? Try to protect your employees’ pay as long as possible.

Along these lines, be transparent with your employees about the current state of your business. Don’t paint a rosy picture if you’re struggling or the crisis is impacting your operations. Your employees are adults, so they want you to be straight with them. Remember, you’re a team and you’re all in this situation together.

If your operations have been impacted, set expectations for your new reality but offer flexibility. Change scares people, so try to work with employees while you’re implementing new procedures and workflows. Are your employees working from home for the first time? Help them feel comfortable in their new environment, so they can be productive and contribute to the business.

Employees need to believe that their organization is able to handle the crisis. Here are some tips to make that happen: How to lead in times of crisis | Fast Company

 

While you’re adjusting to your new normal, communicate changes and updates to your team so everyone’s on the same page. However, let your employees do their job. It’s easy to over-communicate during stressful times, but bombarding your staff with emails ultimately won’t solve anything. It can actually hurt your operations and make your team less productive.

In addition to communicating changes and updates, help your employees through this unsettling time however you can. Change can be hard, so reach out to your team and offer your help to navigate their new reality. Whether it’s tech support or upgrades while working from home or sending a care package to show your appreciation, remind your employees that you’ll get through this challenging time together.

One way that you may be able to streamline your operations and help your staff work through changes is to utilize cloud-based collaboration tools, such as Trello or Basecamp. Find a solution that fits your needs, so your team can work together wherever they may be. Video calls and Google Hangouts can also facilitate connection and help your employees work together on projects.

Finally, encourage your team to take care of themselves during this stressful time, including their physical, mental and emotional health. They’ll be much more productive if they’re in sound mind, body and spirit, so do what you can to assist them with their efforts—especially during a crisis when people are stressed out.

Whether you surprise and delight staff members with a delivery to their home or give them a day off, show them that you care about them as people and how they’re coping with the crisis. Besides being the right thing to do, it will help cement employee loyalty when things return to normal (or your new normal).

Client Engagement & MarketingTips During a Crisis

How to Stay Engaged with Your Clients During a Crisis

A crisis hits—your company, your industry or the world. Should you continue to engage with your clients? Yes, and here’s how.

First, communicate any changes or updates that affect your clients. You don’t need to email them every day or every time you update a workflow unless it specifically affects them. While your clients will appreciate your transparency during this tough time, they won’t appreciate spam at any time.

If a crisis has affected your community, country or the world (like the novel coronavirus), respect that your customers may be working from home with different availability and preferences, especially communication. While they may have been happy to jump on a call before, now they may prefer an email or message on Facebook. A Zoom call may need to be scheduled, so your customers can ensure their children are entertained or dogs are in another room. Listen to your customer’s current needs, so you can continue to deliver an impressive customer experience.

You can remain in touch by offering relevant, valuable resources, tools and tips based on what you do. Don’t feel the need to provide a play-by-play update of what’s happening. Stick with providing information your customers can use during the crisis. For example, during the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of people are working from home—many for the first time. Are you a veteran at working from home? Share tips to help your customers new to this environment adjust and feel more comfortable. Remind your customers that we’ll get through this unsettling time together.

Good Communication Can Save Your Brand During Quarantine | Entrepreneur

Should you still market your products and services? Yes, as long as they are relevant and you use good taste. Don’t joke about a crisis, or try to take advantage of people during a time of need. (You should never try to take advantage of people, but it’s an especially bad idea during a time of crisis.) Any short-term gain is more than offset by the long-term fallout. Base your marketing efforts on what your customers (or prospects) are asking for during this time.

Finally, make sure your tone is empathetic and appropriate. When people are scared or hurting, they’re less likely to think jokes are funny or appreciate your sarcasm. Let your customers know that you’re ready to support them through this crisis however you can. And by however you can, insert actual ways you’re supporting them that make sense for your business. If you’re in a position to host a fundraiser for your community, put one together. If you can donate goods or services, do it. If you can stay open to serve your community or audience, do that. Remember to review all communications, including scheduled content, to make sure it’s appropriate during a crisis.

Client Communication Tips During a Crisis

We hope these tips help you navigate the uncertain times we find ourselves in or a future crisis. Want to download our tips in a single presentation?

How to Stay Engaged with Your Employees and Clients During a Crisis

Still unsure? We’re here to help with all of your employee and client engagement needs. Contact us to discuss your needs, or leave your questions or additional tips in the comments. We hope you’re staying safe and following the guidelines issued in your area. Remember, we’re all in this together.

Your Communications Captain,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about your communications, your marketing needs or work from home tips):

 

 

Social Media Summer Round-Up: New Features You Need To Know

Social media platforms are constantly evolving, so it’s important to keep up on the latest features and understand how to use them for your brand or business. Enjoy our summer round-up with a cool drink in-hand!

Social Media Summer Round-Up: New Features You Need To Know

Is your brand utilizing the new features on your favorite social media platforms?

Instagram

Stories continue to explode in popularity, as they’re expected to outpace Feeds as the primary mechanism of content creation by the end of this year. So, Instagram continues to add features to Stories to increase interactivity and fuel their growth, including Interactive Stories Ads, a donation sticker and the new ‘Join Chat’ sticker. We love the interactivity of Instagram Stories, which allow accounts you tag to share your Story in their Stories. For example, we tagged an influencer we quoted in one of our blog articles, and in turn, he tagged other influencers quoted in the post. Engagement galore!

Another area of focus on the platform is Explore, which more than 50% of accounts use every month. Instagram bills Explore as its Discovery Destination, and it offers a prime opportunity for brands to connect with potential new customers. As the company continues investing in this area of the platform, it will begin rolling out ads to help brands connect with people and vice versa. Would your brand be interested in running an ad in Explore?

Instagram introduced Checkout this spring, another feature designed to bring people and brands together. This quick and secure technology includes product stickers in Stories, product tags in the Feed and a shopping destination in Explore. We’ve enjoyed using this feature to make it even easier for people to shop our clients’ products and get more information without leaving the app.

Finally, Instagram is still all in on IGTV, despite its slow start. Incorporating horizontal video should help increase use, both from a creation and consumption standpoint. Don’t replace your YouTube channel with IGTV; use it to grow your community on Instagram. It has been shown to increase engagement with existing followers, especially since IGTV videos now appear in the Feed. We’re finally posting an IGTV video this week after thinking about how best to use IGTV to help achieve our objectives on the platform. The shift to include horizontal video will help us use this growing area of the platform more for clients as well. Does your business utilize IGTV? What other features or capabilities would you like to see added?

The State of Instagram Marketing 2019

LinkedIn

The largest professional networking platform has been busy adding new features for business pages, which are much more robust than they used to be. Based on feedback from page admins, LinkedIn has introduced custom call-to-action (CTA) buttons to help drive leads and measure the results. This is an overdue feature, and we’re excited about the analytics (housed in your home dashboard) to see which buttons are generating traffic and which are not.

The platform has focused on upping engagement in the past year plus, and they’re not done. Now, page admins can associate up to three hashtags with your page (via the communities feature in the admin center). This change allows pages to engage directly with members’ posts which contain these hashtags (without using any time-consuming “hacks”).

LinkedIn Changes its Algorithm to Surface More Personalized Content

Further targeting increased engagement, LinkedIn has updated its algorithm to deliver more personalized content to your feed that aligns with your professional interests, not necessarily viral content. You may be seeing more posts from people you’re not connected with, especially if you have connections, groups, hashtags you follow, employers/clients or interests in common. This change could help you connect and develop relationships with new business contacts and potential customers.

Finally, the professional platform has added three new objectives to Campaign Manager to help marketers achieve their more complex business goals: brand awareness, website conversions and job applicants. These changes are the latest updates to LinkedIn’s integration with Google Campaign Manager in October of 2018.

20 LinkedIn Tips to Help Boost Engagement

 

Twitter

The micro-blogging platform made a splash this month when it introduced a new website for desktop. At this point, you can still choose to use Legacy Twitter, or the current layout, which we have chosen to do. The new layout seems a little busy to us, like walking into Times Square with all of the lights, signs and digital billboards. What do you think of the new design? (A poll we ran on Twitter split 50/50 between the two layouts.)

Twitter also updated its search results by adding context to help guide you to the results you’re looking for. For example, a search result will now show you if it’s trending or if an account has any followers in common with you. This tweak is part of a larger algorithm change that is geared toward showing you more content from users you’re not connected with, but may be interested in. Note that activity from your brand account(s) may show up in relevant searches, so keep that in mind as you engage with other users’ tweets.

On the other hand, Twitter is looking to give you more control over conversations you start. The platform is testing the ability to hide replies to your Tweets with users in Canada, although users will still be able to view the replies and engage with them. Would you like this feature to be rolled out globally?

Finally, the company has introduced a new creative team called “Twitter ArtHouse” that will help brands produce video content on their platform. Research shows that video content optimized for Twitter drives 33% more emotional engagement than non-optimized spots, and users spend 24% more time with Creator ads, so this could be a boost for brands to ensure their contact is seen and engaged with. Twitter has recently increased efforts to better monetize creator content in order to draw advertisers, along with Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

How Twitter Bridges the Gap Between Brands and their Audiences

 

Facebook

The beleaguered social platform has been in the news for the wrong reasons lately, but it continues to outpace all other social platforms with one billion users logging in every month. Due to continued criticism, the company has announced it will create a new, independent content review board. The tech giant is trying to convince the government it is a tech company, not a publisher, to avoid regulation. Should Facebook be responsible for the media published on its platform?

In other news, Facebook has added a ‘Top Fans’ targeting option on posts to drive more community engagement and create a stronger connection with your most ardent supporters. Currently, it’s only available to Pages with 10,000 followers, and you can control it in your Page settings.

Facebook's wallet app, Calibra, will handle payments for its cryptocurrency launching in 2020.

The social giant made waves earlier this year when it jumped into the cryptocurrency game with Libra. Facebook’s digital currency is supposed to be easier to use than other options, like Bitcoin, and the company has partnered with industry leaders, including Uber and Spotify, to help increase its popularity. It will be interesting to see if this takes off when it launches in the first half of 2020 and whether it will be a valid payment method for businesses. Would you be willing to accept Libra for your products or services?

Finally, Facebook has added new, free training modules to its Facebook Blueprint education platform. The platform is designed to help small businesses and page admins improve their digital marketing skills and understanding of how to best utilize the platform. Facebook Blueprint also offers Instagram insight as well as Facebook Ads certification courses.

10 Expert Tips to Improve Your Facebook Video Marketing

New Feature Feedback

What new feature are you most excited about? Which platforms deliver the best results for your business? Which platform or feature would you like more in-depth analysis or tips on? What questions do you have about your social media marketing efforts?

Leave your thoughts or questions in the comments, contact us to discuss your needs or connect with us on social to stay in touch. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

Let’s get social on SMM,
Jaime

 

How to Create Content that Works [Twitter Chat Recap]

Creating Content that Works Twitter Chat

Recently, I joined the #VCBuzz Twitter chat to drive a conversation on Creating Content that Works. What an insightful discussion!


“Creating content just for the sake of creating content is the strategy that is doomed to failure. “

ViralContentBee, #VCBuzz Twitter Chat

The 45-minute discussion on content creation and content marketing sizzled with smart advice from a variety of digital marketing professionals.

Gail Gardner, founder of GrowMap.com, delivered outstanding advice right off the bat. Always focus on creating quality content tailored to your target audience’s interests. You should only produce enough content that allows you to maintain a high level of quality and personalization. Remember, quality beats quantity every time.

Gail also mentions interacting with other content. This is so important! You’ll build relationships with fellow professionals in your field and drive engagement on your own content when you share it. Remember to share outside content at least 80% of the time and your own content only 20% of the time. Adhering to this best practice will help you curate a mix of view points on topics relevant to your audience and keep your feed fresh.

“Promoting your content is just as important as creating it. You need a content distribution plan as part of your overall content marketing strategy. “

What are your business goals in 2019?

Aligning Your Content Marketing to Your Business Goals

Meanwhile, Goldie Chan, a LinkedIn Top Voice and personal branding strategist, brought up a great point: your content marketing efforts should be aligned with your business goals. How do you measure its effectiveness? Engagement, engagement, engagement. Keep in mind your engagement should reflect the types of Calls-to-Action (CTAs) you extend to your audience. Do you want visitors to click through to a landing page to claim a special offer? Or do you want readers to message you on Facebook to schedule a free demo? In the first example, your goal should be to drive interested traffic to your landing page while the second would be to move prospects and customers into the privacy of Messenger.

Eventually, we moved into the future of content marketing. Where are we heading?

The Future of Content Marketing

Chat participants gave insightful answers based on their experiences and expertise, including Lisa Shomo, a marketing professional who specializes in customer marketing, growth and retention.

Review the entire Creating Content that Works chat, and join future #VCBuzz marketing Twitter chats on Tuesdays at Noon EST.

Tweet Us (Or Leave Your Feedback in the Comments)

How do you measure your content marketing efforts? What metrics are important to your brand or business?

What are your favorite examples of content marketing that achieved results?

Where do you see content marketing heading in the future?

CCC’s Chief Content Marketing Officer,
Jaime

Social Media’s Sizzling New Features You Need to Know About

Summer may conjure up lazy days at the beach, but social media platforms have been busy debuting new features. Here’s a summer roundup of features you may have missed, so you can incorporate them into your social media strategies.

Social Media's Sizzling New Features You Need to Know About

Is your brand utilizing all of the new features on your favorite social media platforms?

Instagram

It started in May with an improved inbox. More than 150 million active daily users converse with businesses through Instagram Direct each month, so the platform added more tools for business owners to manage these conversations. You can now star important messages for follow-up, and IG is testing quick replies. In addition, messages now come directly to your inbox instead of languishing in the oft-forgotten Pending section.

Related: Making it Easier to Do Business on Instagram

Then, the popular platform went crazy and introduced five new features in a month! Everyone is talking about IGTV, Instagram’s new platform for long-form vertical video content. It’s available in the upper right hand corner of your app (next to Instagram Direct), or you can download the standalone IGTV app. Will IGTV become a major competitor to YouTube or fade away over time?

Other new features that may benefit your business include group video chat (now available in Instagram Direct), music and question stickers in Instagram Stories and an updated Explore page. The new stickers can help you show personality, draw more eyes (and ears) to your Stories and increase engagement with fans and customers.

Related: 5 New Instagram Features to Help Grow Your Business this Summer

LinkedIn

LinkedIn continues to expand its features, so it’s important that you maintain an active presence. It’s no longer enough to post a resume and forget about it. Even if you’re not actively pursuing new employment, this platform presents a multitude of opportunities: making professional connections, strengthening relationships, seeking new clients and establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field.

We enjoy pulling a quote from an article to highlight an important point and encourage conversation, so we’re excited to see LinkedIn make it easier to do. Now you can highlight a quote, right click and share it to your feed or message it privately on mobile. It will automatically include a link to the article along with your quote as the caption.

LinkedIn's new capabilities

Another exciting new development is the ability to save drafts directly on the LinkedIn platform. Say you’re browsing articles and find three that you’d like to share. Share them, write your caption (or pull a quote) and save as a draft. You can share it at a future date in order to share your content at optimal times for your audience.

The Posts & Activity shortcut (now available on your account drop-down menu) is an easy way to see what you have shared recently with your network. The built-in translator will come in handy when connecting with professionals across the word, and video captions help you communicate with viewers even when they’re watching your video silently, which people commonly do today.

Twitter

Not to be outdone, Twitter has been rolling out new features too. The platform announced it will begin showing related topics in its Trending Topics listing, which could help you tap into trending news. The related topics can give you a more complete view of the trending discussion, so you can see if a tie-in to your brand is appropriate and what additional hashtags to use.

Twitter also removed millions of accounts from follower numbers, cracking down on suspicious and spam accounts. Remember that active, targeted followers are more important than quantity, and don’t ever buy followers. This update will help make follower counts more accurate and add more legitimacy to influencer marketing on Twitter.

Finally, Twitter is making an effort to improve users’ experience by adding the ability to dock videos, so you can keep watching while you scroll. This may lengthen the amount of time viewers watch your videos or even boost views overall.

Facebook

Meanwhile, Facebook has made changes while trying to climb back into users’ good graces. The beleaguered social platform removed its Trending section to make room for future news experiences, such as exclusive video news content on Facebook Watch.


 

The social giant also introduced Keyword Snooze to help users further control their News Feed. This feature allows users to temporarily hide posts with a specific keyword or phrase from people, Pages and Groups for 30 days. It joins Facebook’s other News Feed controls: See First, Hide, Unfollow and Snooze.

Speaking of Groups, Facebook introduced Subscription Groups, so admins can charge for the content they provide group members. This could be a new distribution option for your brand’s premium content, such as in-depth tutorials, live streams of event sessions and video coaching sessions.

As we were compiling this roundup of new features, some platforms dropped even more new features.

Instagram Adds Active Status Notifiers to Fuel Real-Time Connection
Facebook Adds Option to Merge Instagram Contacts into Messenger
Bring Your Conversations to Life with New Updates in LinkedIn Messaging
Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter partner for ambitious new data project

Watch for more insight on these new features and how they can help you build your brand and connect with your communities in future articles. What new feature are you most excited about? Does one or two platforms work better for you than the others? Do you utilize different platforms for different reasons?

We would love to discuss social media marketing with you! Leave your comments below, contact us to discuss your needs or connect with us on social, so we can stay in touch.

Let’s get social,
Jaime

https://www.facebook.com/ClearlyConveyedCommunications/ LinkedIn_2013_30x30 Pinterest_2013_30x30 Twitter_2013_30x30 https://instagram.com/jaimeshine

3 Ways To Capitalize on Marketing Trends in 2018

It’s that time of year: everyone is publishing their thoughts on the next big things in marketing. We’ve been keeping an eye on a number of projected trends for 2018 and year-end reviews from 2017. Here’s our take on how your business can capitalize.

3 Ways to Capitalize on Marketing Trends in 2018

More Quality, Less Quantity  

(We’re hoping) 2018 is the year that content marketing gets real. Due to budget cuts and information overload, along with some aha moments, brands started to spend more time creating and curating valuable content last year instead of sticking to rigid, conveyor belt-like content calendars. The result? Their higher quality content performed better even though they produced less of it, often much less.

“In 2017, our team cut email volume in North America by 50% while increasing engagement by 28%. That’s wild.” -Jon Dick, Hubspot

We’ve all been there. You need to send an email out tomorrow morning, and you’re running behind due to producing so much content. So you throw something together to stay on schedule. Stop. What value does this marketing email deliver to your recipients? What should they take away from it? If you can’t answer those questions, neither can your audience. (p.s. We’re not telling you to throw away your content calendars; just have some flexibility and keep your ultimate goal in mind.)

Less time spent churning out content creates more time for testing, analyzing data and developing or fine-tuning your strategy, including distribution.

Remember the Basics (Even in Our Brave, New Digital World)

Yes, social media and digital marketing have changed the game, but marketing basics still apply. Always keep your big picture in mind. Why are you in business? What are you ultimately trying to accomplish? Every marketing action should support this goal. Keep it in mind as you review your marketing plan or recent efforts. If you’re frustrated by your results, take a fresh look at what you’re doing. Could you achieve more with less? Is your audience on another platform, or have their contact preferences changed? It may be time to take a closer look at your buyer personas (or create them in the first place).

This sentiment was the basis for an article we published last year, Understanding Social Media Etiquette with Real-World Scenarios. We understand that social media and the digital realm can seem confusing and overwhelming at times, but it helps to take a step back and consider your actions in the real world (i.e. offline).

Get Personal — With a Human Touch 

Technology has improved marketing’s capabilities by leaps and bounds, but we can’t forget to add a human touch. Automation, chat bots, facial recognition, big data and more have allowed us to personalize a customer’s experience more than ever, but there are drawbacks too.

“All the pieces are now in place: AI, individualized personalization, emotional targeting, predictive marketing, automated creative generation, cross-device identity, location tracking and facial recognition.

This can delight some consumers and freak out others. So, a key skill for the best digital marketers will be understanding when to back off.” -Barry Levine, MarTech

Remember to be human when interacting with your audience online (and remember to interact with your audience in the first place). People like to do business with people, not faceless brands or companies. This is an area where small businesses have an advantage, as they can easily put a face behind the business name.

Use automation where you can to be more efficient, but don’t automate a human touch out of your online marketing efforts. Data can point your marketing in the right direction, but it requires human analysis to get there. Personalizing a buyer’s journey is fantastic, but don’t get creepy. Where is that line? That’s where you — and your human insight — come in.

Summary

While it can be tempting to jump on every trend or new platform, take time to think about your situation. What works for others, including well-known personalities, may not work for you. Focus on producing quality content that provides value to your audience, even if takes you longer. Mix your high-quality content with valuable content you curate from other reputable sources (and give them credit). You may be amazed at what you can accomplish with less.

While you’re focusing on creating high-quality content, remember marketing basics. They still apply in today’s high-tech, digital world. Social media has taken over marketing strategies everywhere, but it’s still a form of communication. Don’t forget to get social with your audience instead of just broadcasting content.

While you’re getting social, you’re being human — and that will continue to be a major part of marketing in 2018 and beyond. Technology is fantastic, but don’t get carried away. Add a human touch wherever you can, especially when interacting with customers, prospective customers and community members.

Good luck with your marketing efforts in 2018! We love to see companies doing marketing well. Have a question or need help with your efforts? Comment below, or contact us so we can help you communicate with your target audience.

p.s. Wondering about influencer marketing? We published a guest post, Why Influencer Engagement is Important in Digital Marketing, last week, and we’ll be following it up with a closer look at influencer marketing in 2018 next week.

A marketing (and espresso) aficionado,
Jaime

Let’s get social!
https://www.facebook.com/ClearlyConveyedCommunications/ LinkedIn_2013_30x30 Pinterest_2013_30x30 Twitter_2013_30x30 https://instagram.com/jaimeshine

 

 

 

 

Why Influencer Engagement is Important in Digital Marketing

Editor’s Note: We’re excited to welcome Tanya Sen as a contributor to the CCC blog! Enjoy her article below on the importance of influencer engagement in your digital marketing strategy, and learn more about her at the end of the article. If you’d like help with your digital marketing strategy, contact us so we can discuss your needs. Thanks for your support all year long, and have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!

social media on a smartphone

To be successful, companies and businesses have to constantly innovate and come up with marketing strategies that will deliver. These days no marketing plan is complete without a digital marketing strategy. The impact of digital marketing in generating brand awareness is tremendous, especially if you can get the right people talking about your brand.

These people are called influencers, and their recommendations and reviews carry a lot of weight with their audience. Influencers are any individual or group who can sway the sentiments of their audience in a certain direction regarding a person, brand, idea, or business.

Here are few ways in which an influencer will be able to boost your digital marketing efforts.

  1. Influencers enable you to reach out to a wide and loyal audience

The biggest advantage of communicating through an influencer is that you reach out to a wide audience. More importantly, this audience follows the content that the influencer puts out. So, if an influencer mentions your brand name, talks about it or retweets or shares your posts, they are amplifying your brand communication.

  1. Influencers help you to build a good network

Influencers help you to build a good network in multiple ways. First, whenever an influencer sends out any content, it generates a lot of conversation and discussion among their followers, which can lead to more brand-building. Not just that, they share or retweet these posts which means that your audience multiplies, increasing your visibility.

Second, through these conversations you can also identify other influential people. They can in turn influence their own audience’s opinion of your brand, resulting in a snowball effect and reaching a wider audience.

  1. Influencers deliver engaging content

In a survey conducted by Vocus and Brian Solis, 62% of the respondents said that they follow an influencer because of the content they create. Quality content is crucial to any marketing campaign. When you collaborate with influencers, they can create unique content to spread the message about your brand or product. And the best part is the audience is much more likely to engage with this content!

  1.  Influencers have established credibility with their audience

Another important factor that contributes to the large following of influencers is credibility. The expertise these individuals hold in a particular field combined with the good relations they maintain with their audience makes them reliable to people. Their opinion of your brand will most likely become the general opinion among their audience. A positive word from an influencer can do wonders for your brand.

  1.   Influencers are up to date with the latest trends and insights in their fields

Influencers are usually aware of the latest trends of the evolving social media platforms. They tend to be among the first to try these new trends, to discover new platforms to reach and engage with their audience. Through them, you too can get acquainted with such new ideas and employ them to interest prospective customers.

 

Author bio

Tanya Sen, Freelance Blogger

Tanya Sen

Tanya Sen quit her well-paying job to follow her dreams and become a writer. She is now creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals. Tanya is an avid traveler, having visited more than 40 countries. She loves to cook and try different cuisines. She now lives in Goa, India.

Understanding Social Media Etiquette with Real-World Scenarios

Google social media etiquette, and you’ll retrieve over 4,000,000 results (at the time of this writing). Clearly, it’s a topic that resonates with people, and in the ever-changing, real-time realm of social media, it’s easy to understand why people are confused on what’s appropriate and what’s not. Throw in trying to balance personal and business accounts on a variety of platforms, and we have a free-for-all on our hands.

Not sure if something is appropriate online? Translate it into a real-world scenario.

What can you do? When you find yourself facing a social media conundrum, translate it to a real-world scenario. For example, it’s popular nowadays to send new connections an automated sales pitch, er message, asking for favors left and right: retweet my pinned tweet, buy my book, follow me on a plethora of other platforms (where, coincidentally, your new connection blasts out the same exact content at the same exact time). You may find yourself wondering, ‘should I do this too?’

OK, let’s translate this behavior into real life. You stop in a coffee shop to get your fix, and strike up a conversation with a guy behind you in line. (It’s amazing the people you meet in coffee shops!) When you get to the counter, you ask the nice gentleman you just connected with to buy your latte. Of course! Who doesn’t do that, right?

If you think that’s nuts, I’m with you. You wouldn’t do that, and chances are, neither would anyone else. However, people do this every day in the digital world and think it’s not only acceptable, but expected.

Social Media’s Nice, But It’s Not IRL

But, here’s the thing. It blows people away online too, and not in a good way. Trying to become a thought leader in your field or connect with experienced industry professionals to learn from them? Don’t immediately hit them up for favors upon connecting, or you’ll be viewed as just another leach.

That may sound harsh, but it applies to networking in person or online. Connections aren’t things waiting to be used, they’re people to build relationships with. When you approach someone or make a new connection, look at how you can bring value to the relationship — not what you can get out of it. Eventually, this person may be able to help you, but not if you approach him or her immediately asking for favors.

Don’t Ask To Pick My Brain. (And 11 other tips for building a strong professional network)

Talk to influencers in any industry, and they’ll share tale after tale of people constantly hitting them up for favors. They usually want to help others, because people helped them get where they are today. But they’re people, and they don’t like being used.

So the next time you’re thinking about doing something online, remember to translate it into real-world (or offline) behavior. Does it sound crazy? Then move on. It’s easy to forget that we’re still dealing with human beings in our fast-paced, digital world. (Unless you’re talking to a chat bot, but that’s a subject for another blog post.)

Share Your Thoughts

Do you agree with this post, or is our online world a different place with different social norms?

What are your thoughts on sending automated messages to new connections?

What’s your best coffee shop story?

Straddling the offline and online worlds,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media etiquette, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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