The Content Authority Blog http://thecontentauthority.com/blog This Blog Is Written By The Content Authority Tue, 18 Nov 2014 01:55:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.14 Effectively Leverage Owned Media for Content Promotion http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/effectively-leverage-owned-media-for-content-promotion http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/effectively-leverage-owned-media-for-content-promotion#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 08:00:31 +0000 http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/?p=5741 promote content across owned mediaLast week we covered paid media as one third of an integrated approach to content promotion. Although paid opportunities are great for reaching a broader audience, they can also be an expensive approach. Thankfully, owned media can lend a helping hand.

In this post, we briefly explore what owned media is and offer eight quick-fire tips for leveraging relevant platforms effectively.

What Is Owned Media? 

Owned media refers to all branded profiles, resources, and venues created, owned, and controlled by a company or its agents. This avenue of promotion is not entirely free since someone still has to create and maintain a steady flow of content, but a brand can generate and deliver a message on its own terms.

Examples include:

  • Company and brand websites;
  • Company and brand blogs;
  • Social media profiles and brand pages;
  • Email newsletters;
  • Apps;
  • Webinars;
  • Videos;
  • Press releases;
  • Brochures;
  • In-store visual displays and merchandising;
  • And other permission marketing assets. 

It requires time and effort to build a following on owned media, but it is an essential part of attracting prospects and acquiring new clients.

The Benefit of Content Promotion Across Owned Media 

Perhaps the biggest pull toward owned media for content promotion is the ability to maintain complete control. From deciding what type of content to publish, when to publish it, and how often to publish it to controlling how it’s structured, how it’s displayed within a branded page, and how consumers interact with it, a business has complete authority over every aspect. With that in mind, it’s important for a brand to wield its power wisely. The following pointers can help.

8 Quick-Fire Tips for a Success 

8 quick fire tips for owned media content promotionThe success of a brand’s promotional campaign across owned media relies on the business’s ability to form long-lasting relationships with consumers. Therefore, the aim should be to develop emotional engagement rather than publish promotional content. This is where the 80/20 rule of content comes into play. In other words, 80 percent of your content should be interesting, relevant, and customer-centric while 20 percent of your content should be interesting, relevant, and brand-centric. Along with applying this simple principle, you can use the following eight quick-fire tips to boost your effectiveness.

1. Be Consistent In Tone and Style

Whether they’re on your website, blog, or social media profiles, it’s crucial to create a cohesive experience for consumers. Therefore, your branding and messaging should be consistent in tone and style across all platforms.

2. Create Connections between Owned Media

Most channels allow you to link various sites and profiles to one another. For example, links on your website and blog can point readers to your social media profiles and vice versa. This gives you an opportunity to keep consumers within an interlinked network of branded content and pages.

3. Find Ways to Promote Content in A Platform-Native Way

The way in which you promote your content across owned media will depend on the platform. Let’s say, for instance, that you’re promoting a free whitepaper. While you might create extracts for your social media updates, you might decide to elaborate on certain statistics or information contained within the download for a blog post. If you’ve created relevant images, you might choose to promote those instead. The key is to find interesting and unique ways to promote your content across all owned platforms without giving too much away. Be sure to link all materials back to the original, as well as drive distribution from the source page through tools like Twitter Cards.

4. Update Your Assets RegularlyUpdate Your Assets Regularly

Frequent sharing not only establishes a strong presence for your brand and keeps it top-of-mind, but it also ensures consumers regularly come back for more.

5. Post Relevant Content That Belongs To Others

Useful, interesting information does not need to be self-promotional. If you provide valuable, relevant content, you will drive traffic to your owned media assets, so make sure you’re not explicitly promoting your brand in every piece you publish.

6. Let Consumers Drive Your Content Ideas

There’s no reason you can’t crowdsource blog or ebook topics, or even let readers weigh in on key questions, without giving up full control of the message. Be prepared to let your consumers drive content ideas and conversations on your owned media. You may just learn something about your target audience you wouldn’t have otherwise known.

7. Be Sure To Interact

Increasing loyalty and building solid customer relationships requires two-way communication. Make sure those interactions are positive and that you respond quickly when consumers reach out to you.

8. Optimize Your Social Media Updates Properly

Optimization tactics can help boost your exposure. Be sure you include relevant account tags, hashtags, and links when appropriate.

Conclusion

Ultimately, you want to become an asset to your target audience, which is exactly what owned media allows you to do. The best part is that you have full control over these platforms, so the ball is in your court when it comes to promoting your content. Learn how to leverage owned media effectively because it offers some of the easiest and cheapest promotional opportunities you’ll find.

 

In what unique ways do you use owned media to promote your content? Perhaps you have additional tips you’d like to add to our list. Weigh in on the conversation by posting your thoughts below. 

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What You Should Know About Promoting Content Across Paid Media http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/promoting-content-across-paid-media http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/promoting-content-across-paid-media#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 08:00:47 +0000 http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/?p=5728 Content promotion across paid mediaHave you nailed down an impressive content creation strategy, but failed to flesh out a good promotional plan? Are you of the opinion that your content will market itself? Perhaps you’re part of the crowd who believe that their job is done once they tweet a link to their freshly published whitepaper. If only content marketing were that easy.

The harsh reality is this: if you’re not implementing an integrated three-pronged approach that includes paid, owned, and earned media, you’re missing opportunities to maximize the impact of your content and the benefits you hope to derive from it. It’s time to rectify that problem—starting with paid media.

What Is Paid Media? 

Content promotion via paid media refers to all forms of advertising where a brand or its agents pay to put content in front of established audiences. Channels can range from social networks and news syndication sites to blogs and search engines.

Examples include:

  • Search advertising (Google Adwords);
  • Sponsorship or native advertising opportunities through content amplification services like Outbrain, Taboola, or Sharethrough;
  • Display or banner ads;
  • Social network advertising like Facebook ads, sponsored stories, promoted tweets, LinkedIn ads, and featured Youtube videos;
  • Traditional advertising;
  • And direct mail. 

The Benefits of Content Promotion Across Paid Media 

Besides enabling a brand to reach individuals who are not actively searching for that brand, paid media opportunities also allow a business to target consumers based on buyer persona profiles. These people already have an interest in the products and services the business offers, which makes these consumers higher quality leads. Even though the brand doesn’t own the channel, marketers still have control over the content that is promoted.

The key question every marketer should ask before embarking on a promotional campaign is, “How can I buy visibility and traffic for my selected piece of content while staying within the confines of my budget?” The answer isn’t always a simple one, but the following pointers can help.

Tips for a Successful Strategy

 

1. Choose the Right Content 

Promoting the right content on paid mediaIf you’re going to invest advertising dollars into boosting visibility and generating awareness, you need to ensure you’re investing in a worthy piece of content. Your selection can either make or break your campaign so make certain the piece you choose is based not only on your budget, but also on your goals. If, for example, your budget is minimal, consider a highly targeted, relevant, and engaging piece of content designed to drive value at the narrow end of your sales funnel where evaluation, leads, sales, or signups may be your goals.

2. Choose the Right Platform

Where will the content you’ve created gain the most traction? That depends on where your ideal prospects hang out online and how well the content you’re promoting will resonate with them.

Does your piece of content fit the style of a particular publication? Would it be better received as a promoted tweet or LinkedIn ad? Perhaps you even created content with a specific network in mind. If you’re not quite sure what will work, test the waters before you blow your entire budget.

3. Target the Right Audience 

Target the right audience on paid mediaThe audience scale for paid media may be greater than that of your owned media, but are the right people seeing your ad copy? If not, you may have a high click-through rate but very few qualified leads.

Most platforms offer targeting options these days, allowing you to drill down into the specifics of the buyer persona you’re planning to target. It’s the best way to reach decision makers while keeping ad expenses low.

4. Write Irresistible Copy 

We don’t have to tell you that a creative, concise, and convincing ad or storyline with an eye-catching image is the way to go if you want conversions. If your content is gated and you’re directing prospects to a landing page, make sure it’s equally as engaging as the ad copy that got them there.

Finding the right paid media opportunitiesConclusion 

No matter how great your content is, it doesn’t mean that people will find it on their own. Therefore, you must build a promotional plan around the paid, owned, and earned matrix if you hope to optimize your content marketing campaign and drive maximum results. Paid media and owned media can be the greatest catalysts for gaining earned media (which is the most valuable), so be sure to look for meaningful opportunities and don’t forget to measure results against your KPIs.

 

Do you have a comprehensive promotional plan? Are you using the three-pronged approach or are you winging it? Let us know your thoughts on paid media for content promotion in the comment section. 

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How Dr. Seuss Can Help Make You a Better Content Marketer http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/dr-seuss-make-you-better-content-marketer http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/dr-seuss-make-you-better-content-marketer#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 08:00:08 +0000 http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/?p=5717 improve as a content marketerTheodor Seuss Geisel had a knack for many things. Little did he know that he’d be a damn good teacher to the modern content marketer.

Although his insights can be applied to many industries and myriad topics, today we’re viewing famous Dr. Seuss quotes in the context of content marketing. Follow along as we cover nine very pertinent lessons.

1. “Teeth are always in style.”

While content marketing may evolve, there are certain tactics that will always be on trend because they work. Don’t mess around when you find a good thing, or you’ll risk creating cavities in your marketing budget.

2. “Only you can control your future.”

Do you have a documented content marketing strategy? If you’re reading this without one, you’ve just discovered the biggest threat to your future success.

3. “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

As marketers who are constantly on the search for the pièce de résistance of our content plan, we often overlook the KISS principle. Well, guess what? Creating content that’ll launch your ROI into the stratosphere doesn’t require a PhD in rocket science. If you look too deep, you might miss a simple idea with the potential to go viral quickly and produce long-lasting results. 

4. “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads.”

Brevity is a skill. Practice it.

5. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

A person’s a person, no matter how smallLet’s replace the person in this scenario with content. In our fast-paced and increasingly mobile world, consumers don’t have the time to digest lengthy pieces of content. As a result, the impact of microcontent is greater than many marketers believe. With its growing importance, it’s critical to ensure every bit of copy offers high value no matter its length.

6. “Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.”

The way you behave online affects your brand’s reputation. As many business owners have learned, you can’t come back from some things. Since the Internet remembers everything, think before you hit the publish button.

7. “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

Are you following the crowd, or flying under the radar so you don’t upset anyone? If you answered “yes,” you need to re-evaluate what you’re doing. Content marketing allows you to distinguish your brand with your authentic voice and unique personality. It allows you to show consumers why you’re the difference they need. Don’t go Charlie Sheen tiger-blood crazy, but don’t let your competitors eclipse your brightness either.

8. “You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”

If you still hide behind the safety of your blinders, you’re missing opportunities to reap the rewards of an effective and comprehensive content marketing strategy. You have to look at the bigger picture before you can focus on the things that matter to your brand. Therefore, you should be researching consistently, keeping track of emerging trends relentlessly, learning from mentors regularly, studying content marketing diligently, and watching key conversations between competitors, prospects, influencers, and other stakeholders constantly. Be aware of what’s going on around you so that you’ll be less likely to miss the good revenue-generating stuff.

9. “I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.”

No one is immune to mistakes, least of all content marketers. Make one tiny error and the grammar police will pounce on you like kids around a broken piñata. Whether it’s a wayward tweet or misused word, be prepared to make blunders. How you handle the situation is what counts.

As much as Dr. Seuss was known for his brilliant illustrations and whimsical turn of phrase, he was also known to scrap about 95% of his material before nailing down a theme. Perhaps it’s the now-oriented world we live in, but some ideas turn out better when left to marinate. There’s no denying that content marketers can learn a lot from Theodor Geisel, but the biggest lesson of all is that we should never stop pushing ourselves to be better at what we do.

 

What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss quote and how can you relate it to content marketing? Join the conversation in the comments section. 

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How One Marketer’s Junk Content Can Be Another Marketer’s Treasure http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/how-one-marketers-junk-content-can-be-another-marketers-treasure http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/how-one-marketers-junk-content-can-be-another-marketers-treasure#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 08:00:13 +0000 http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/?p=5707 turning junk content into treasureAs personalized search continues to transform the way Internet users experience content, we increasingly rely on technology to identify and deliver relevant results. These filters are great for managing the overwhelming amount of information that can be thrown at us with a single search, but there’s still a need to sharpen our sixth sense for all the junk that gets through. After all, algorithms aren’t always perfect.

Even though most users appreciate the convenience of algorithmic personalization, this type of technology still lacks the ability to identify value on a human level. So, what is one to do? From a consumer’s point of view, it’s as simple as clicking away from a page when content isn’t helpful. From a content marketer’s point of view, value can be derived by turning that junk into treasure.

What Constitutes Junk Content? 

You’re likely thinking about infuriating filler content right now. While you’re not wrong, junk content encompasses so much more. From nonsensical ads and inflammatory social media posts to cringe-worthy YouTube scripts and bait-and-switch headlines, this type of content simply serves little purpose and offers little value. What constitutes content junk may be subjective in some cases, but if you can improve it, you can use it.

Following are four simple ways you can turn another marketer’s trash into your treasure.

1. Learn From It

We all wish we had the benefit of hindsight before making a mistake. Thankfully, we don’t always have to be the one in error—or suffer the consequences—to benefit from a learning experience. Compile a “what not to do” portfolio so that your creators will avoid written and visual content you deem to be unfit for publication.

2. Solve the Problem

There are few better ways to build credibility than by showing off your expertise. Begin by explaining what’s wrong with the third-party content you’re sharing and then offer suggestions for improvement in a makeover or clinic style post. If you have the time, make it interactive by asking readers to submit their own failed pieces for critique.

3. Curate It

Content curation is one of the easiest ways to deliver meaningful information to your audience without having to create something from scratch. While curation is usually about finding quality sources of content, there’s no reason you can’t transform something that’s relatively worthless into something your readers will enjoy.

Once you’ve aggregated enough junk content around a specific topic, find ways to repurpose and repackage the content for your target demographic. “Top fails,” “biggest mistakes,” and “worst of” listicles are extremely popular. To ensure you make your post a worthwhile read while imparting your own brand flavor, make sure you add relevant commentary and insight.

4. Improve It

improve junk contentHow many times have you discovered a piece of content and instinctively known you can do better? The chances are it happens every day. While you don’t want to recreate the piece, you can use junk content to fuel inspiration for your own masterpiece. If the core idea is good, but the execution is poor, harness your own creativity and knowledge to engage your target audience and deliver something useful.

Pieces of junk content you can successfully leverage for your own brand’s benefit are few and far between. However, you shouldn’t ignore those unexpected diamonds in the rough. Fair use doctrine only extends so far, though, so make certain you abide by copyright law to ensure you don’t land in hot water unintentionally. Never copy content in its entirety and always share a link to the original.

How would you turn junk content into treasure? We’d love to hear your ideas, thoughts, and tips so feel free to share them with us in the comment section. 

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Is a Lack of Focus Destroying Your Content Marketing Efforts? http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/is-lack-of-focus-destroying-content-marketing-efforts http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/is-lack-of-focus-destroying-content-marketing-efforts#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 08:00:36 +0000 http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/?p=5698 Did you know that a common trait in highly successful people is focus? They understand what it takes to accomplish anything worthwhile, and there’s very little that can derail them from their mission. Focus doesn’t always come easily though.

If you reach the end of campaigns to find you’ve been disappointingly ineffective, or your never-ending to-do list only reminds you of your inefficiency, the chances are your focus could do with a little fine-tuning. How do you accomplish that?

1. Home In On One Core Goal and Buyer Persona at a Time 

Multifunctional contentOne of the biggest mistakes we can make as content marketers is to treat a single piece of content as if it’s the Swiss Army Knife of our strategy. We expect it to be multifunctional—all things to all people while achieving all business goals. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

Besides creating confusion, you risk diluting your message and minimize your ability to impact an audience. Be strategic about the pieces you create, but be focused in terms of the people you’re talking to and the objective you want your content asset to achieve. Anything else is a waste of marketing dollars.

2. Stop Trying To Multitask 

Attempting to complete a number of complicated tasks simultaneously increases exposure to stress. This can impair your prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the human brain that intelligently regulates your emotions, thoughts, and actions. The sheer overwhelm can lead to a decrease in attentiveness, an increase in errors, and lower productivity.

While content marketing sometimes necessitates multitasking, it’s crucial not to make it a habit. For better results, focus on one thing at a time so that you eliminate brain fog, improve productivity levels, and execute tasks as flawlessly as possible.

3. Learn To Do One Thing Exceptionally Well 

As much as multitasking can take your eye off the ball, so can dabbling. If you find yourself spending too much time on social media, design, management, or business aspects that don’t apply to your content marketing efforts, you’ll quickly find you’re able to slip into multiple roles, but you’re not exceptionally great at any one of them.

Being all over the place doesn’t serve you, and it doesn’t serve your business. Rather stick to the meat and potatoes of content marketing so that you reap the rewards of excellence, not mediocrity. Don’t forget that you don’t need to bear the burden on your own if you’re a small business owner. Outsourcing things like content creation and social media management can help you stay focused while ensuring you derive the benefits of content marketing on a limited budget.

4. Get Rid Of Distractions 

Avoiding DistractionsFrom email alerts and social media notifications to text messages and unexpected interruptions, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to concentrate in today’s corporate environment. Unfortunately, these distractions not only decrease productivity, but they also negatively affect focus and hinder quality of work. Therefore, it’s important to carve out sufficient time each day to concentrate on specific projects. Eliminate all distractions for optimal focus.

5. Learn To Say “No” 

Many content marketers suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). The problem is it just isn’t possible to employ every tactic, implement every idea, or even respond to every blog comment. While seizing an opportunity is usually favorable behavior, saying “yes” to one more thing is sometimes like being on the losing end of Jenga. Why would you risk toppling an unstable tower when it’s within your power to avoid it? Just make sure that when you do say “yes,” it’s because the thing you’re agreeing to supports your goals without taking focus off what you’re already doing.

With these tips in mind, should you stop thinking in broad terms then? No. Whether you’re applying content marketing principles to your own business or someone else’s, you have to look at the bigger picture to identify gaps, pinpoint areas of opportunity, and solve problems. You simply need to remember that your success will eventually depend on a single-minded focus.

 

Are you someone who struggles to focus? What are you currently doing to build discipline in this area? Join the conversation in the comment section.

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Is Fear Killing Your Ability to Be a Great Content Marketer? http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/is-fear-killing-your-ability-to-be-a-great-content-marketer http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/is-fear-killing-your-ability-to-be-a-great-content-marketer#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 08:00:15 +0000 http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/?p=5688 Nearly every entrepreneur and marketer has been in the same boat at one point or another—asking questions rooted in that dreaded emotion: fear. Will anyone care what I have to say? Are my ideas good enough? How am I going to stand out in an already overcrowded market? What if people react negatively? What if I fail?

There’s no doubt about it; fear will cripple your ability to be a great marketer if you let it. It will slowly rob you of your confidence and courage, leaving behind someone who would readily give up hope of building a viable business to sit on the sidelines and watch others claim the glory of their great ideas.

If you’re ready to stop talking yourself out of doing things that could potentially expand your business and elevate the position of your brand, then join us as we explore some common content marketing fears.

Will People Notice My Brand? 

Will People Notice My Brand? Attracting new prospects, building awareness, enhancing brand image, and boosting customer engagement are some of the biggest draws of content marketing. However, you may feel like a small fish in a big pond just thinking about the sheer size of the Internet community and the number of competitors already operating in your industry.

Will people interact with your blog, like and share your social media content, or download your whitepaper in exchange for an email address?

First, it’s crucial to understand that content marketing doesn’t diminish the importance of in-person interactions for not only building meaningful relationships, but also building a team of brand advocates who naturally share your content because they think you’re great. Second, there is room for everyone on the Internet—even in seemingly overcrowded segments. It’s your USP that’s going to make a difference. Third, it can take time to build an audience, even with a rock solid strategy that follows all best practices to a T.

With that said, if you’re worried you’ll remain invisible when you haven’t yet raised your virtual voice, you’re sabotaging your success before you’ve even begun.

What If I Make A Horrible Mistake?

What, like some of these guys?

Often, it’s the fear of consequences that stop us from going for what we want. The good thing is you’re thinking about consequences. It’s the ill-worded or ill-timed Tweet, the poorly thought-out newsjacking, or misguided content ideas that get your fellow marketers into trouble. Pay attention to what you’re making available for public consumption before you hit the publish button, but also realize you’re human. You won’t be the first person to make a mistake, and you certainly won’t be the last. It’s content marketing, not skydiving.

Do I Really Know What I’m Doing? 

Fears around building a content marketing strategy and measuring ROI usually stem from a lack of knowledge and indecision. A lack of knowledge can easily be remedied, but when it comes to indecision, you need to keep in mind that your strategy is living, not static.

Sure, creating an actual document forces you to commit to an approach, but it’s something that’s continually adapted based on your content marketing KPIs and results. If things aren’t working, re-evaluate. Your confidence in what you’re doing will develop as you inch closer to your goals.

What If My Ideas Aren’t Unique Or Good Enough? 

What If My Ideas Aren’t Unique Or Good Enough?With so much content already online, the reality is you’re bound to say or do something someone else has already said and done. The important thing to remember is you’re creating a user experience unique to your audience. You’re adding your own flavor, sharing your special talents, and bringing a fresh perspective to the table. Even though it’s intimidating when competitors have been doing a great job for so long, don’t underestimate your ability to provide exactly what your target audience needs when they need it.

My Content Might Not Be Perfect 

From major fears such as failing to create an authentic voice to minor fears such as typos, content marketers can work themselves up over problems that often have simple solutions. In many cases, outsourcing to professional writers, copywriters, designers, and editors can instantly improve the quality of content assets.

In other instances, it’s as simple as focusing on the right aspects. Instead of asking, “Is this funny enough? Clever enough? Engaging enough? Attractive enough?” Ask yourself, “Is this effective?” If the right people see your content and they’re taking action, there’s nothing to fear.

 

Perhaps Shakespeare said it best: 

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

 

What are your greatest doubts and fears? What are you doing to push past them? We’d love to hear your take on this so contribute your thoughts to the conversation below.

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6 Tips for Extracting the Best Out Of Outsourced Writers (For Solopreneurs) http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/6-tips-extracting-the-best-out-of-outsourced-writers-solopreneurs http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/6-tips-extracting-the-best-out-of-outsourced-writers-solopreneurs#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:00:06 +0000 http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/?p=5679 outsource writersDo you often wonder why you bother to outsource?

You’re not disappointed with the writing quality per se, but it’s the generic nature of the content that makes you think twice. If only you had the time—and in some cases the skill—to wear the hat of a writer too.

Let’s get one thing straight: you’re not making a mistake by outsourcing content creation. Sure, there are times when only your perspective, specific skill set, and brand of creativity will do, but outsourced writers can bring a lot to the table, reducing your workload and increasing overall output.

So, how do you ensure your team craft pieces of content and sales copy that accurately represent your brand while hitting the right psychological and emotional triggers? The following tips can help.

1. Understand Your Brand before Defining Your Content Needs 

When writing doesn’t live up to expectations on a branding level, you can almost guarantee that the brand’s image and personality were unclear or not detailed enough. Using words like “professional” and “conversational” provide some direction in terms of tone, but they exclude core personality traits that define how your brand is unique and relatable. It’s no wonder content so often lacks spark.

Before writing your order instructions, consider your brand and strategic intent when describing the ideal voice and tone for the content you’re commissioning. When you convey this effectively, you’ll find your writer is better equipped to use the right language and tone to express the right range of emotions.

2. Choose the Right Subject Experts 

While many writers position themselves to cover a wide range of niches, it helps to have someone with expertise and experience in your industry. Besides having a bank of knowledge to draw from and a good grasp on relevant terminology, the author is likely to keep abreast of the latest industry happenings.

Although you can evaluate a writer based on existing portfolio work, you’d be better off ordering a fresh test piece—preferably one that isn’t high priority. That way, you’ll be able to assess each writer’s strength based on writing quality, ability to adapt to your brand’s personality and voice, ability to write for your target audience, and other pertinent factors you deem crucial for your business. Make sure you sample a good pool of writers before selecting the ones you want to work with on a regular basis.

outsourcing manageable team size3. Build a Team that’s Manageable 

One major benefit of outsourcing content is that you free yourself to focus on other business matters. Unfortunately, you’d be negating that advantage by building a team too large to manage efficiently. Unlike agencies outsourcing content for a variety of clients, you only require a few writers with expertise in your field of work. Be sure to have at least one general content writer on your team for all informative pieces, as well as one persuasive copywriter for all printed and digital marketing collateral.

4. Learn To Write Clear Project Instructions 

If you’re tired of run-of-the-mill articles, then you need to make sure you’re providing detailed briefs that effectively guide writers into producing content that packs a punch. Include details regarding your objective, target audience, SEO considerations, preferred writing style, and brand voice. Provide links to supporting information or websites, add examples of content you love, and clearly establish what you don’t want. The key is to direct writers without smothering their creativity.

5. Manage Your Content Strategy and Editorial Calendar Wisely 

Once you find writers you love, you want them to be available for your projects. The best way to guarantee this is to map your content in advance (with a little leeway for breaking news) and then efficiently manage your publishing schedule. Giving writers enough lead-time often results in better, more fully developed ideas. Be sure to account for editing and revision time so you don’t find yourself in a time crunch unnecessarily.

6. Treat Your Writers Right 

You don’t need to put writers on payroll permanently to make them stick around. Simply make them care about you as a client and foster their passion for your brand. Besides being a pleasant person to work with, how do you accomplish that?

  • Build strong working relationships with authors so they feel they’re contributing to something meaningful.
  • Praise them when they’re doing an amazing job.
  • Provide useful feedback to help them understand your preferences.
  • Understand there will be a learning curve that requires some give and take. 

By treating writers well, you help develop a sense of accountability. This generally leads to better content. Don’t forget that if you no longer find a particular writer meets your expectations, you simply don’t have to order content from that freelancer anymore. Eliminating the anxiety of firing someone is one of the many benefits of outsourcing.

Since content significantly affects your SEO, lead generation, nurturing, and customer acquisition efforts, you must ensure your writers deliver great content consistently. A successful outcome depends on your ability to extract the best work from your content creation team. Start with the tips above and the battle is almost won.

 

What are your greatest struggles when it comes to outsourcing content creation? Share your stories with us in the comment section.  

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7 Tips for Extracting the Best Out Of Outsourced Writers (For Agencies) http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/7-tips-extracting-best-outsourced-writers http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/7-tips-extracting-best-outsourced-writers#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 11:00:13 +0000 http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/?p=5665 outsourcing contentQuality is a common concern for marketing agencies outsourcing written content. After all, you not only have to commission the creation of content assets that fulfill the needs of your clients, but you also need to ensure your team of writers make you and your brand look great. That requires reliability, loyalty, subject expertise, consistency, and a serious display of writing chops in the people you hire.

The following tips serve as a guideline for extracting content you’d be proud to resell to clients—the type of content created by writers who are dedicated to quality, accuracy, and consistency.

Tip #1: Look for Writers with the Right Expertise and Skill Sets

It takes time to find qualified wordsmiths who possess niche-specific knowledge. It takes even longer to find copywriters who could sell water to a drowning man. No matter how long it takes, the wait is worth it to get the job done right every time. Aim to build a team of authors who have experience writing for the industries your typical clients target. Besides producing thoughtful pieces with accurate information and detailed insight, writers with expertise in a particular subject are likely to have a better grip on relevant buyer personas and industry trends.

Tip #2: Sample a Reasonable Number of Writers

Reward doesn’t often come without trial, which is why you should be prepared to sample plenty of writers before narrowing down your options. Set a small portion of your budget aside to order test articles that are designed to measure certain performance factors. Right off the bat, you should evaluate candidates based on their quality levels, writing style, and ability to adapt to a brand’s voice and personality. Although results may be subjective, you know what you’re looking for in a writer. Just as you wouldn’t implement a marketing action without testing in place, don’t commission content on a client’s behalf without first finding a writer you can trust to deliver content your client will love.

Tip #3: Master the Art of Compiling a Great Editorial Brief

Extracting the best work from a freelancer depends largely on your ability to provide clear and concise instructions. An editorial brief is your opportunity to provide direction and set expectations for a particular piece so that you’re not disappointed with the result. To ensure your brief positions a writer effectively, be sure to include the following:

  • The Content’s Objective – Always let writers know what your client wants the content to achieve. Whether it’s conversion metrics like sales, signups, and social shares or editorial goals like educating consumers and promoting your client’s unique selling proposition, telling writers upfront allows them to craft content around the main objective.
  • The Target Audience’s Profile – Tell your writer about the individuals your client aims to connect with so that the writing style and language will resonate with the right people. Make certain you also fully comprehend who the buyer persona is before you relay this type of information.
  • Your Client’s Brand Voice – In order for a writer to ensure your client’s content is on-message, consistent, and perceived desirably, you need to provide relevant details regarding the style and tone the writing should convey. Provide writers with existing examples so that there’s cohesiveness no matter who pens the material.
  • Supporting Information and Resources – If there’s specific research, examples, information, links, or other data your client wants incorporated into the content, make sure you provide those details in your brief.
  • Basic Project Specs – From content type and word count to paragraph requirements and SEO considerations, your brief needs to cover the basics. If you’re working on something a little more in-depth than a blog post, you may want your writer to provide project updates so be clear about those expectations too. 

To ensure the efficiency of your agency, it’s best to build templates for certain types of projects or clients and keep them on file. While you don’t want a brief to be too restrictive that it stifles a writer’s creativity, you don’t want it’s vagueness to result in generic content.

Tip #4: Keep Deadlines in Mind

5 Practical Keep Deadlines in MindThings to Look For In A Social Media Editorial Calendar TemplateProviding a writer with plenty of lead-time not only allows time for ideas to marinate and develop, but it provides time for editing and revisions. Refining content can take time, and while some people work better under pressure, last minute orders don’t always render the best results. You also can’t guarantee your preferred freelancer will be available to accommodate your needs. Managing an editorial calendar for clients can help you keep things on track but be sure to schedule projects with writers as far in advance as possible. This also gives freelancers an opportunity to ask relevant questions and gain additional information about your client if needed.

Tip #5: Offer Constructive Feedback

Take the time to offer thoughtful critiques your writing team can use now and in the future. If your clients offer positive or constructive feedback, you should pass it on so your writers know how well they’re performing. Constructive criticism will ensure they continue to do the things your clients love while helping them identify areas that demand improvement.

Tip #6: Build a Solid Relationship with Your Writing Team

build relationships with valued freelancersAlthough you might never be in the same office, you want writers who are as passionate about your projects as you are. A major part of that is making feel like they’re a vital part of your team. Whether it’s dropping them a quick note in your next order or sending an email to let them know you appreciate their work, try to engage them as you would engage in-house staff. This can help cultivate a greater sense of accountability with better content being the by-product.

Tip #7: Create a Review Process

The great thing about outsourcing from a provider like TCA is that our team already has a review process in place to monitor quality levels. What you should do, though, is monitor writers on your favorites list and conduct an internal review after every few projects. That way, you’ll be able to track progress and ensure a particular writer is consistently delivering the stellar content your clients have come to enjoy from your brand.

The crucial thing to keep in mind is that your firm doesn’t need to add a full-time editorial team to payroll. Outsourcing a task like writing is a cost-effective solution that keeps both yours and your client’s expenses to a minimum. The trick is to find the right writers who produce a consistent level of quality content you’d be happy to white-label before selling it on to clients. Use the tips above to build a top-notch outsourced writing team you can count on for exceptional content.

 

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced when finding writers for your firm? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.

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How to Improve the Shareability of Your Content Instantly http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/improve-shareability-of-content http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/improve-shareability-of-content#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 18:50:55 +0000 http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/?p=5652 Content ShareabilityAlthough global trust in brand messages and advertising has slightly increased over the last few years, a recent report by Nielson indicates that 84 percent of consumers still trust earned media above all other forms of advertising. If anything, this strong sway towards word-of-mouth and recommendations from family and peers highlights the importance of owning content people want to share with others.

The question is whether you’re developing content assets with shareability in mind, as well as setting up your publishing platforms with the tools necessary to make sharing easy. While focusing on useful topic ideas and user personas is a major part of content marketing, it’s critical to examine how you enable that content to spread. The following shareability tips can help improve your content for virality purposes and set you up for the widest reach possible.

1. Understand Why Content Goes Viral

In our blog post about the seven reasons content goes viral, we touched on some key emotional and mental factors in content that tend to resonate with people. Although marketers may never fully understand why one piece of content finds fame overnight while another lays dormant for months (perhaps never to be discovered), understanding these factors is an essential part of understanding why someone might want to share something. It’s also a huge part of emulating those factors in your own content.

In addition to these triggers, there are certain best practices you can follow when creating content with the potential to go viral.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Create short, compelling headlines

  • Think about your target audience

  • Trigger high-arousal emotions

  • Offer incredible value

  • Publish content in digestible formats

  • Ensure your content is useful

  • Be creative and unique

Ultimately, you should evaluate several pieces of viral content within your industry and define the common denominators of their popularity. This can help you figure out what type of content you should create for your audience, as well as what it should include to trigger a share.

2. Understand the Psychology behind Sharing

Shareable content - The psychology behind sharingThe New York Times Customer Insight Group released a thought-provoking whitepaper on the motivations behind sharing and the six personas of people who share. The study revealed that motivators include:

  • self-fulfillment;
  • enriching the lives of others with entertaining and valuable content;
  • establishing or reinforcing a desired image of one’s self;
  • building and nourishing relationships;
  • and spreading the word about causes or brands.

Personas are segmented according to four factors, including emotional catalysts, the image an individual wants to present to others, the role of sharing in life, and the value of being the first person to share. The study also highlights the main channel each group prefers to share through, with email still claiming the number one spot for most.

Understanding the psychology of sharing is a crucial aspect of content marketing because you can’t expand your content’s reach if you don’t understand the careful consideration that goes into sharing or the key factors that influence sharing in the first place. Therefore, you should spend time researching these motivators so you create the kind of content people want to pass on to family, friends, and peers.

3. Allow For Personalization

Make certain that when people share your content they have the ability to customize the share. Although you may have compelling text you’ve created to pre-populate the message box, readers should be able to change the message, add their own hashtags, and alter the share for their specific audiences.

4. Optimize Your Site for Sharing by Buttoning Up

Social media sharing buttonsSharing buttons make your content both actionable and shareable. They also make sharing easy for users who can interact with content in the context of your site rather than leaving your page to copy and paste URLs to their open social media feeds.

HubSpot have a great cheat sheet for creating Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest buttons. Alternatively, you can check out Social Media Examiner’s post on customizing social share buttons for increased traffic. If you’re not already making use of them, optimize your sites with sharing options today and start building your brand credibility through valuable recommendations.

5. Ask

You want people to spread the word about your content? Sometimes there’s little more effective than a strong call to action that asks for a share. Craft a powerful CTA that reinforces the value of sharing—not just liking—and you may find your reach widens a little faster than usual.

As a final note, you shouldn’t forget to consider your distribution channels and supporting platforms. Not only do you want to promote your content via appropriate social media outlets and websites, but you also want to ensure your audience can share and view it on multiple platforms, including mobile.

Do you create content with shareability in mind? Have something to add? Let us know your thoughts and tips in the comment section.

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Biggest Online Marketing Campaign Flops http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/biggest-online-marketing-campaign-flops http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/biggest-online-marketing-campaign-flops#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 19:05:33 +0000 http://thecontentauthority.com/blog/?p=5636 It doesn’t matter if you’re a multi-million dollar company or a small business: bad marketing is just bad marketing. Such is the case for the companies featured in this post. Not all of these campaigns are recent, and some of them weren’t made for businesses at all. One thing they all share in common, though, is that those who designed them should have given a little more thought to their efforts.

att-twitter-picAT&T Tweet for 9/11 Tribute

AT&T is one of the world’s most prominent and storied communications companies. I’m sure they have some of the brightest and best marketing folks in the world working for them. Despite that, there is still the potential for ill-considered actions to take place in the public eye.

An example is the tweet posted by the company in an effort to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11. The text in the tweet was fine but it was the image of a handset that portrayed the company as less than caring. They used the tragedy (which happened to be trending on Twitter) as an opportunity to sell their products.

Don’t get me wrong. Riding the coattails of a trending topic is a great way to get more exposure for a brand in social media and on the web, in general. It is in poor taste, however, to do so on the heels of an event where thousands of people were murdered and our country changed forever.

To AT&T’s credit, they removed the tweet and apologized.

walmartWalmart People Who Traveled across America

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. That is what Walmart corporate marketing folks discovered when they concocted a scheme to have two working-class individuals (Jim and Laura) trek across the country and blog about their experiences parking their RV in Walmart parking lots along the way.

Promotional campaigns like these are not uncommon, and, for the most part, they are highly successful as long as there is one crucial component: authenticity. And that was the one part Walmart’s campaign was missing.

It was found out that Jim and Laura were not the friendly travelers they were made out to be in their blog posts. They had never met with Walmart employees or listened to stories about how great it was to work at the Supercenter. They hadn’t done this because the entire thing was a sham. Some on the web even put out an open letter  to the duo asking them to reveal themselves as being genuine.

Consumers respond well to human stories that have brand involvement intertwined. They also hate it when they are lied to.

Helter Skelter X (Mike Gravel)

Viral video has worked well for politicians. When you can create that magical formula making people share your video over and over again, it’s a PR bonanza. Unfortunately, a huge potential exists for you to fall flat on your face.

That is what happened to a then 78-year-old former senator from Alaska when he tried to use viral video to overcome a severe brand identity deficit. The video , Mike Gravel – Rock, features Gravel staring at the camera for an eternity before he turns to grab a large rock, heaving it into a pond and then walking away.

The video did get over a million views, but it didn’t carry him to the White House by any means. The video below (also starring Gravel) is even more embarrassing  to watch.

Chevy User-Generated Advertising

Engaging your audience online is an effective way to market a company, but you have to be careful about how you do it. For example, you don’t give your market free reign to create whatever messaging they want about your brand.

General Motors learned that lesson the hard way when it launched its Chevy Tahoe user-generated advertising campaign  in 2007. The company showed users a website where they could upload their own videos, images and audio to make a commercial for the new vehicle.

tahoeIn theory, this sounds like a great idea, but it backfired. Visitors uploaded a host of negative videos related to the gas mileage and overall adverse environmental impact of the Tahoe. The website is no longer available, and at the time, GM had not planned on taking the videos down.

It’s campaigns like these that underscore the delicate balance companies are forced to negotiate when handing over their brands to consumers.

The Matrix Super Bowl Commercial

Disclaimer: this video received (at the time of this writing) more than 4 million views, which is a success in any company’s book.

That being said, the spot was as untimely as it was outlandish and cheesy. The last Matrix installment in the film franchise was released more than 10 years before this commercial aired. Granted, there are lots of ads that reference old films, but to base a Super Bowl ad around a movie title that is just now being forgotten is in poor judgment. Sports fans who aren’t into the sci-fi fantasy culture probably didn’t even understand half the commercial.

The whole campaign might not have been a complete misstep by Kia had it not cost the company 4 million dollars for one 30-second TV spot. If you missed it, feel free to judge for yourself.

Bad Spots for QR Codes

This last flop doesn’t showcase any major companies or well-known marketing mistakes. QR codes have been around for a little while with mixed reviews regarding their effectiveness.  I’m in the camp that believes there is still a time and place for the QR code to be successful, but a billboard is not that place.

On more than a few sites around the web, I’ve seen QR codes on billboards actually mentioned as a viable tactic. I don’t know about you, but I can hardly get these things to register on my phone holding a piece of paper perfectly still at a table let alone with one hand through a windshield while in motion. Using a QR code requires concentration and time, which are two things that are in short supply while driving by a sign at 70 miles per hour.

QR-code-billboard

QR codes can be effective if you are creative and logical. By nature, they require effort on the part of the audience. If your audience is busy driving, chances are your campaign won’t be that successful.

 

What marketing campaigns have you seen in recent years that have totally tanked? Do you disagree with any of the opinions in this post? Join in the conversation by commenting below.

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