Get the Party Started: 5 Ways to Revamp Your Blogging Techniques

CCC is excited to welcome guest contributor, Katrina Manning! You can learn more about Katrina at the end of her article. 

When it comes to marketing your business, one of your most critical tools is blogging. For starters, it gives you an effective way to communicate with your customers. Secondly, it can help boost the SEO of your website. Yet, is your blog still having trouble getting noticed? There isn’t any question that blogs have a lot of competition. In order to get people to read your blog, you need to make it easy to find, produce high-quality and relevant content and have a design aesthetic that appeals to the contemporary viewer.

Revamp your blogging techniques to invite more readers to the party!

Revamp your blogging techniques to invite more readers to the party!

Here are five tips for revamping your blogging techniques:

Keep your content original and interesting

It should be common sense to understand that people only want to read articles that are original and interesting. Yet, you may be surprised to see that there are thousands of blogs with copied and illogical articles that cause most viewers to shake their heads and never return to those spammy sites again. When it comes to revamping your blogging techniques, you might want to take inventory of your current article cache. Do they provide relevant and informative content? Are they original? If not, it may be time to do some housekeeping. You don’t want search engines to pass over your blog. Use keyword searches to look for fresh ideas, or offer a different angle on a popular topic. Just make sure you are not writing the same types of articles found on almost every other blog within your niche.

 

Put mobile first

In 2015, Google announced that more searches were performed on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries. In fact, U.S. web designers always advise building sites that are mobile-first, then creating desktop versions. Smartphone screens are getting larger, and tablets continue to increase in popularity. Many users enjoy the card-style layouts, made trendy by Pinterest. This might be something to consider with regard to revamping the overall look of your blog.

 

Think of video

When it comes to external communication strategies, brands are increasingly focusing on video and — the buzzword for 2016 — virtual reality. Although video is helping to strengthen messages many brands are trying to convey, content isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Think of the stories that videos tell, different formats and even videos with no sound. If you can successfully integrate video with content and perhaps start dabbling in virtual reality, you’ll have something superior on your hands.

 

Work on your social media profiles

One of the most cost-efficient methods of advertising is through social media. With that being said, you should make sure you cross-link your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn with your blog. In addition, you need a voice of your brand to promote your blog posts throughout your social media platforms. Do this on a consistent basis to get the word out and drive more traffic.

 

Connect with readers

One thing that readers will value is a personal connection. Other than your content, there isn’t anything to keep your readers coming back to your blog. On the other hand, if they have an outlet to share their thoughts and get the sense that a response will be made, they might be more inclined to revisit. Compare this to your personal Facebook page. When you post about something you like, do you not go back to see if any of your friends liked or commented on your post? When one of your readers has the opportunity to comment on your articles, they may come back to see if you’ve responded or if anyone else has responded.

On top of that, you can create an email list of willing subscribers by placing an optional subscription link on your blog. You can make it non-optional, but people don’t like to feel they were forced into doing things. If you make it optional, you have a higher likelihood that the people who signed up will be more receptive to your messages. When you email your subscribers with your updates, you can use your real voice to give it a more personal touch. You can be a subject matter expert and still appeal to the human trait of desiring companionship. People don’t want to feel like a number, they want to feel important.

As markets and personal preferences change, so should your blog. Performing a revamp every several years isn’t just good for you, it’s also good for business.

Katrina Manning is a web writer and editor with over six years of experience penning content for a wide variety of sites and publications, such as Yahoo! Small Business Advisor, IBM, The Purple Cow Agency blog, Sweet Lemon Magazine, Udemy, Business 2 Community, Personal Finance Hub, The Iowa City Owl, Newsiosity and Seven12 Magazine. 

4 Tips to Communicate Clearly With Emojis

When emojis burst onto the scene, people rejoiced. These colorful characters were fun and broke through language and cultural barriers. In 2015, the Oxford Dictionaries cemented their place in our language by selecting an emoji — the Face with Tears of Joy — as the Word of the Year. Predictions of a future with little to no text were widespread, and businesses (who hadn’t already) started using this popular form of communication. Sounds perfect, right?

Are you communicating clearly with emoji or being misunderstood?

Over Coffee by Drew Herron via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 // text & graphics added by author

Not quite. As a recent study discovered, emojis can be misinterpreted just like other form of communication. The first problem is that the same emoji can display differently on different platforms (Apple, Samsung, Google, etc.). In addition, two people can look at the exact same emoji displayed identically and interpret it differently.

Should your brand stay away from all things emoji? No, but you need to exercise caution like you do with any form of communication.

These four tips can leave you smiling with tears of joy instead of face-palming:

  • Plan Ahead: Are you thinking of utilizing emojis in an upcoming campaign? Do some research. View how your selected emojis display on different platforms and look into any popular alternative interpretations to the meaning you’re intending. It’s a lot easier to change your campaign than deal with a PR gaffe.
  • Be Careful Using Emoji that Display Differently: Maybe you have a dire need to use the grinning face with smiling eyes emoji, but be careful. This is one of the emojis that displays differently across platforms and can cause confusion and unintended responses. Try to stick with more universally displaying and understood emojis if possible. 👍
Same Emoji + Different Smartphone Platform = Different Emotion

Graphic courtesy of grouplens

  • Remember Your Brand Voice: Emojis are a part of your brand’s voice, so be consistent when you’re using them. The face with tears of joy emoji wouldn’t work well for a conservative brand or industry. Take your audience into consideration too; they may not use emojis or have any interest in them.
  • Don’t Forget About Hashtags: Trending and popular emoji hashtags, such as #WorldEmojiDay or #emoji can boost your posts and tweets. Remember to check out any hashtags first before jumping in. They could be about something completely unrelated to what you’re thinking, making it inappropriate to participate. Emojis are available as hashtags on Instagram, so use them accordingly to increase your reach.

Warning: Appropriate Hashtag Usage on Instagram Will Result in Major Traffic Increase

 

Emojis can help you break through the information overload and connect with your target audiences — if they use and understand the colorful characters. As with any communication, a little foresight, planning and common sense will help you communicate your message clearly and not get lost in translation.

Does Your Brand Speak Emoji?

What are your favorite emojis? What emojis would you like to see introduced?

Does your brand utilize emojis in its communications? Have you ever had an emoji miscommunication?

Speaking emoji (when appropriate),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about emojis, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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The Dark Side of Social: How to Respond When Things Go Wrong

At CCC, we’re big believers in the power of social media and the value that it can provide to your brand. However, you need to understand the darker side of social so you’re prepared for anything that could go wrong or reflect your brand in a negative light.

Velvet Heart Promoted Tweet

Velvet Heart was trying to promote its new arrivals for spring, not trend with a mass shooting.

Recently I was on Twitter and noticed the name of a nearby town trending (regionally). I clicked on the link to see why it was trending and discovered a mass shooting had occurred at a retirement village. (My thoughts and prayers are with this community during this difficult time.)

While scrolling through the feed, I saw a promoted tweet advertising a retailer’s new spring arrivals. I was included in the audience targeted in this campaign, so the tweet showed up in my feed — no matter what I was viewing at the time. The advertiser had no say where its targeted audience members saw its tweet. (For more on Promoted Tweets, click here.)

Last week, I saw a news story about a guy who blew his lower leg off while shooting a lawn mower packed with explosives. As usual, an ad played prior to the video on the news site where I watched it. AT&T didn’t ask for its ad to play prior to a graphic video, but that’s when I saw the ad and its brand.

“A brand can’t control the message in the way it once did but it can still have influence.” –Jeff Barrett, CEO, Status Creative

These examples both point to why some brands and companies are so afraid of getting social — loss of control. On social media, it’s impossible to control every aspect of the message about your brand.

I’m not trying to discourage you from joining the conversation — just the opposite, in fact. If you’re a part of the conversation, you can help guide its direction and speak directly to your online community.

What if I hadn’t known that advertisers don’t control where Promoted Tweets show up? A user may have tweeted the advertiser expressing her dissatisfaction that the company would try to profit off a tragedy. That’s why you need to be aware of all the possibilities before jumping into something like Promoted Tweets. You can respond to say that you only chose to promote a tweet to a targeted audience, and did not use a trending hashtag or phrase inappropriately. If you’re not active on a social platform where a discussion breaks out about your brand, you can’t help set the record straight.

“While you can’t control the conversation,  you can participate and give fans a firsthand account of what’s going on at your company.”

Don’t worry about controlling every aspect of the conversation about your brand. Be prepared and know what you’re doing before jumping into social media in general, or a specific area, such as Facebook advertising or Promoted Tweets. Have a plan, but be prepared to adjust it as necessary.

Social media may not be easy for brands, but it’s worth it. Getting social can start a conversation that takes your business to new heights!

Are you struggling with your social media strategy, goals or execution? Let’s talk. We’d love to help you join the conversation and shine the spotlight on your brand.

Getting social (day or night),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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How to Incorporate Reactions into Your Facebook Strategy

Facebook Reactions are here. Now that people are getting used to them, how can you incorporate them into your strategy?

How to incorporate Facebook Reactions into your strategy

Feel the love by incorporating Reactions into your Facebook strategy! Photo courtesy of Facebook

 

Here’s how to feel the love from your Facebook community with the new Reactions:

  • Share controversial or complex issues that are in the news and relevant to your page. Ask community members how they feel about the subject, now that they can respond with a greater arrange of emotion. This is also a good way to encourage thoughtful comments and discussion. (Just remind everyone to stay civil!)
  • Take the This or That? post in a new direction. Post two pictures — salted caramel brownie or chocolate chunk cookie, for instance — and ask fans which one they love. (They may like both, but they can only love one!) Add another element by sending samples to random people who voted.
  • Ask questions about people’s experience with Reactions so far or their thoughts on how they’ll use them in the future. Have you used the Angry button to direct anger at a person/brand or at content only? Should a brand block fans who use inappropriate emotions (i.e. Haha or Love on a post about someone dying)? Have you ever scrolled past a post because you couldn’t decide which Reaction button to use? Which Reaction button do you use most often?
  • Encourage fans to use the full range of Reactions on your posts, so you can use their feedback to drive future content. For example, if a topic elicits more love or wow Reactions, you may want to publish more content on that subject than one that draws only likes. It never hurts to reward community members who consistently make the effort to engage with your posts by utilizing appropriate Reactions and leaving thoughtful comments with prizes, samples or spotlights.

For now, Facebook is viewing all Reactions as positive engagement, a sign that someone wants to see more of your content. We’re hoping that more options increase engagement, especially with mobile users, by giving people quick ways to respond to posts and join a discussion (even if only in emoji). So encourage fans to utilize the newly available range of Reactions to help strengthen your relationships with your online community.

Your Reaction to Reactions

Have you seen a change in your engagement since Reactions were rolled out?

Do you use other Reactions regularly or is the like button still your go-to?

Have you not engaged with a post due to confusion over which Reaction to use?

Leave your thoughts or questions on Facebook Reactions in the comments!

Loving the new Reactions,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about Reactions, marketing on Facebook or otherwise):
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How to Provide a Superior Customer Experience on Social

If your brand is on social media, fans expect a conversation, not a one-way broadcast. They’ll use this medium to provide feedback on their customer experience and request assistance when needed. Are you ready to provide a superior customer service experience on social?

"A Conversation" by Khalid Albaih via CC BY 2.0

A Conversation by Khalid Albaih via CC BY 2.0

“Brands that are still refusing to use social for customer care will really start to look foolish in 2016.”  -David Moth, Econsultancy

Speed Matters But So Do Solutions

Yes, timely replies are appreciated but responding immediately is overrated. People want an answer to their question or a solution to their problem. They don’t care whether you tweet them every few minutes that you’re working on their issue. If a solution is going to take some time, respond to give them a time-frame and then provide an update if that changes.    

Respond in the Right Way

If assisting a customer requires sharing sensitive information, move the communication to a private channel. Facebook helped Page administrators earlier this year by adding a Message option to posts and comments. When choosing this response option, a message opens with the post and/or comment included for easy reference and a note is displayed on the Page letting others know that you responded. Twitter also made private communication easier this year with a number of changes, including the ability to receive and reply to Direct Messages from anyone.

Facebook Pages: Now Open for Communication

Don’t Nix Negativity

It’s a judgement call whether the conversation should be made private. However, don’t do it just because a customer makes a negative comment. Resolving an issue in the open can be a boost for your brand and shows others that you’re transparent and willing to correct a poor experience. No brand is perfect but how you handle a negative situation can be the difference between a disgruntled fan and brand evangelist.

Get Social on Social

If possible, keep your communication on social media. This is the medium that your customer chose to use, so don’t just respond with a stock message to call your general customer service number. Your customer may have already tried other routes, so pushing her back to those failed avenues is frustrating and will lead to an even more negative view of your brand.

Providing a superior customer experience on social requires work, but the pay off is worth it. By keeping the four tips above in mind, you can create evangelists for your brand and fans for life.

Let’s get social,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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The Art of Follow-Up

It’s an integral part of the marketing process yet most marketers don’t do it. Unfortunately, not following up on your marketing efforts leads to missed opportunities and sales.

"Over Coffee" by Drew Herron via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Do you excel at the art of follow-up?

We get it. You’re busy. You meant to follow up on the leads from the tradeshow or a marketing campaign or your latest email newsletter, but other things got in the way. Your boss called. Your kids got home from school. Life happened.

What’s the big deal?

The business-to-business (B2B) buying cycle is longer than business-to-consumer (B2C) and typically involves more people. You have to spend more time nurturing prospects and may have to touch them 7, 8 or 9 times (or more) before getting a sale.

How Many Touches Make a Sale?

While you would love to send out an email newsletter and have your website flooded with orders, that rarely happens. However, with the analytics available today, you can see who opened your newsletter the most and what links they clicked on, along with other data. Follow up with these prospects! They’re interested and may have been interrupted by life before reaching out to you.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  -George Bernard Shaw, author

Now here’s the fun part. How do you consistently follow up with people without being annoying?

  1. Get Social — It’s helpful to be connected to your customers and prospects on social media (business accounts at least), so you can engage with them. Each like of a post or retweet is a soft touch and reminds the person that you’re available.
  2. Note Communication Preferences — You have a slew of communication options at your fingertips today, but your customers and prospects probably have a preference. If Bob prefers Facebook Messenger, send him a message. If Sally would rather talk on the phone, give her a call.
  3. Be Customer-Focused — Yes, you want the sale but that’s not your customer’s or prospect’s issue. Let them know why you’re following up: so they don’t miss incredible savings or show up at their tradeshow next week empty-handed. How is closing this sale going to help them?
  4. Be Flexible — If you’re not hearing back, offer to schedule a quick call or visit when it’s most convenient for your customer or prospect. Let them know that you value their time and will be brief. It may be easier for your customer to meet you at a coffee shop for lunch or talk on their way to pick up their kids after work.

Following up is extra work but it also leads to more opportunities and sales, especially when done right. Use your data to decide where your best opportunities lie, but be human when reaching out to your customers and prospects. The art of follow-up is one of those things that computers just don’t understand, and that’s a good thing. 🙂

Feedback on Following Up

How do you decide when to follow up with customers and prospects?

Have you noticed your customers’ communication preferences?

Do you need more targeted leads to follow up on? CCC is Inbound Certified and we make marketing that people love. Let’s talk about how we can help you. 

Pic credit: Over Coffee by Drew Herron via CC BY-NC-SA 2.o

Happy Follow-Up Friday!
Jaime

Let’s chat (about follow-up, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Social Media Isn’t Easy: 5 Reasons Why It’s Worth It

Last week, we reminded everyone that social media isn’t free and recommended five ways to maximize your time and money. This week, we’re addressing another misperception.

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

 

Social media isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. We’re not talking about the act of tweeting itself or posting pictures of your kids on Facebook or Instagramming every meal you eat.

We’re talking about getting social for business, engaging your brand’s communities and developing long-term emotional connections. In other words, creating fans for life.

Related Reading: How Long Does It Take for Social Media Marketing to Start Paying Off?

Here’s 5 reasons why social media is worth it for your business:

  • Find New (Targeted) Customers: In a sea of 2.03 billion social media users*, someone is interested in your products or services. Find the right audience by utilizing hashtags, groups and platforms they’re using.
  • Delight Current Customers: 65% of customers leave over a single poor customer service experience.* Delight your current customers by providing amazing service via social media and beyond.
  • Participate in the Conversation: Customers will talk about you online and share their experiences with others. While you can’t control the conversation,  you can participate and give fans a firsthand account of what’s going on at your company.
  • Deliver Content Straight to Your Fans: 61% of people are more likely to buy from a company that delivers content.* Deliver value to your fans by creating content they love, and you’ll have a better chance of converting them into customers.
  • Turn Fans into Fanatics: Consider this: 53% of people who follow brands on social media are more loyal.* After converting fans into customers, make them fanatics for your brand by delighting them every step of the way. They’ll become your best advertising!

As we said before, social media isn’t easy, but it’s worth it if you do it right. Just remember that it’s a long-term addition to your marketing mix, not an overnight savior for your sales.

If you need help with your social media efforts, from strategy to management, we’d love to chat. There’s nothing that we love more than brands getting social — and getting it right.

Get Social on Social Media

Why is social media worth it for your brand or business?

How much time do you spend on social in a typical week?

Do you have a documented strategy?

What’s your brand’s favorite social media experience so far?

*Statistics via The Inbound Marketing Checklist: 21 Strategies for Growth

Let’s get social,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, strategy or otherwise):
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4 Digital Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2016

I know, I know; 2015 isn’t even over yet, and we’re already talking about 2016. Digital marketing trends move fast, so you always have to look at what’s next to stay ahead of the game and start adapting your strategy early. If you can pinpoint the major marketing trends of the next twelve months, you can begin budgeting for the change, and subtly change direction now. Take a look at these four new trends, and think about how you can move towards them.

United Nations of smartphone operating systems by Jon Fingas via CC BY-ND 2.0

1) Mobile and location-based marketing

Mobile growth had an important year in 2015. At the start of the year, mobile browsing finally overtook desktop and laptop browsing. More people are using mobile devices to get online than any other technology, a trend that is expected to continue to grow in 2016. We’ll also start to see wearable technology find its feet and establish itself, which means coming up with unique location-based marketing strategies. How can your company harness your customer’s location to its benefit? Finally, it’s time to start thinking seriously about developing an app.

2) Long-term relationship building

Until now, digital marketing has focused on short-term success. It’s been all about hitting certain numbers of Facebook fans or Twitter followers, and making quick, easy sales online. After all, the Internet provides a forum for real-time conversations with customers and prospects 24/7. The most successful marketers are slowly realizing that a more traditional approach might actually be more cost effective. By nurturing customers for longer, they can double or even triple their sales over time. Start thinking about a way to retain customers, and make the second, third, and fourth sale.

3) SEO is more important than ever

It’s no secret that Google is always updating its algorithm. Every year, the search giant introduces a new change, and every year, it gets smarter. That means your SEO strategy needs to change and adapt alongside it. We asked the experts at Pay On Performance about what SEO will look like in 2016, and here’s what they told us. First, we’ll need to be more careful and targeted with our keywords. Don’t add redundant or unrelated keywords to pages and posts, and focus on long-tail keywords for more traffic. We’ll also need more organic and natural back links to bring more visitors to our sites and blogs. Finally, we’ll need to focus even more on producing quality content and new metrics like ‘time-on-site’ and engagement. That’s what Google is looking for in 2016.

4) Social media is expanding

If 2015 proves anything, it’s that social media isn’t going anywhere. Many predicted that Facebook’s bubble would eventually burst, but it shows no signs of slowing down (although Twitter has hit a stumbling block). In 2016, Facebook will integrate itself even further into our lives, but it doesn’t end there. Instagram and Pinterest have posted enormous growth figures in 2015. Statistics also show they have much higher rates of engagement and drive more sales. These two platforms will be critical for you next year, so start building a strategy now.

Taking note of these trends now will help you get a head start on next year! Where do you think digital marketing is heading? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Are you thinking about adding new platforms into your social media mix? Does your digital marketing strategy need an overhaul? Let’s talk, so we can put together a plan for you.

p.s. Wednesday, October 21st is ‘Back to the Future’ Day. What technology from the 80s blockbuster do you wish we had today?

Riding my hoverboard to 2016,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about digital marketing, flying cars or otherwise):
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The Best Social Media Sites For Business Marketing

"A Conversation" by Khalid Albaih via CC BY 2.0

Social media is one of the best marketing tools for businesses. In fact, it’s not just great for businesses; it’s great for individuals looking to market a blog too.

I could go on and on about the advantages and strengths of social media marketing. Instead, I’m going to talk about some of the best social media sites for business marketing.

Facebook image via CC0 Public Domain

Is your business on the largest social networking site on the planet?

Facebook

Facebook has been around for 11 years now and few would have predicted its success. When it started out, there were a few users who accessed the platform to stay in touch with family and friends. Facebook is currently the most used social networking site of all time and shows no sign of slowing down. Millions of people use Facebook every day for a variety of reasons, and this is why it’s perfect for marketing. In addition to the vast amount of potential customers, the social giant offers resources for businesses to help with your marketing efforts. You can pay to have your Facebook page advertised on people’s News Feeds who fall into your target audience(s). There’s also a local element; you can advertise directly to potential customers in your area and promote your location via check-ins, a map and your profile. It’s a tremendous site for businesses to use and continues to add new features and resources on a regular basis.

Twitter image via CC0 Public Domain

Has your business joined the conversation on Twitter?

Twitter

When I think of Twitter, two words pop into my head: real-time and community. Twitter is the social networking site that people go to for instant updates. With its 140-character limit (for now), the micro-blogging platform encourages a higher volume of posting than other social platforms. Many people now go on Twitter to find out about news stories and learn what’s going on in the world. If you’re a Twitter veteran, you’ve probably noticed that online communities are easily formed there by utilizing lists, hashtags and tagging other users. In a business sense, it’s ideal for marketing. You can zone in on Twitter audiences that are most relevant to your business. Twitter also presents you the opportunity to engage with a lot of people. Some of the best social media marketing strategies include using Twitter to engage with users. Using hashtags gives you the chance to promote your business to people all over the world.

Image via CC0 Public Domain

Is your business utilizing the power of video?

YouTube

Many people forget about YouTube when the discussion turns to social media. It is considered a social networking site because you can create a profile and interact with others. YouTube was purchased by Google in 2006, only a year after its arrival, and is now a serious player in the entertainment business, with billions of people watching videos every day. This is fantastic news from a business marketing perspective. It gives you a chance to upload videos promoting your business, which can be viewed by potential customers around town or around the world. There’s also a chance that your video could go viral, resulting in a significant increase in traffic, attention and customers to your business. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, than a video is worth even more.

While social media is a conversation, what you want to achieve from this game-changing addition to your marketing mix is all about you.

While these three social platforms can be great options for businesses, remember that your business has unique objectives and needs. That’s why it’s crucial to put together a strategy before getting social. If you’d like help putting together your targeted strategy (or just have some questions on the subject), let us know. We love to help brands get social with their targeted audience(s)!

Let’s do social well (and social good),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media for business, social strategies or otherwise):
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