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Jun

24

2017

We Asked Our Audience What They Really Think of PDF Ebooks: A HubSpot Experiment

Published by in category A/B testing, Content Marketing, Daily | Comments are closed

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I don’t know about you, but I barely print anything anymore.

Seriously, think about it — when’s the last time you had to type Command + P and print out a document? Between e-tickets, virtual payment options, and online signature tools, I think the last thing I printed out was the lease for my apartment.

So you can imagine my surprise when HubSpot’s audience started telling us they still like to print out our ebooks — which are often 20 or 30 pages in length — instead of viewing them on a web page.

In 2017 — during the era of self-driving cars, augmented and virtual reality, and artificial intelligence — our team here at HubSpot is constantly striving to test and implement the most modern techniques for content creation to provide cool, useful resources for our audience. But as it turns out, our perceptions of what our audience actually values when they download out content were a little … off.

In this post, I’ll dive into our hypothesis, how we tested it, and what we’re learning about our audience — and how they actually like to consume our content.

What We Do

I work on HubSpot’s Marketing Acquisition team creating content offers — such as our downloadable ebooks, guides, and templates — that our audience exchanges their contact information for in order to download them.

If you’re familiar with the inbound marketing methodology we’ve been teaching here at HubSpot for more than 10 years, I operate in the “Convert” stage of the process of helping new people discover and learn about HubSpot:

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When a person happens upon HubSpot for the first time online — via a blog post like this one, through social media, or by conducting a Google search — they might see a bold, brightly-colored call-to-action (CTA) encouraging them to learn more about a particular topic or product.

And in order to get that information — from an ebook, a guide, a template, a webinar, or an event — the person has to hand over their contact information. This ensures they can receive an emailed version of the content offer or event registration, and it also converts them from a visitor into a lead.

My job is to create content that visitors are so interested in learning more about that they exchange their phone number, email address, and professional background information. And to make sure we keep converting visitors into leads for the health of HubSpot’s business, I make sure that ebooks, guides, and events are helpful, fascinating, and ultimately educate our audience on how to do inbound marketing.

What We Wondered

For the most part, my team’s job has entailed creating PDFs that visitors can download once they submit a form with their contact information.

More specifically, this has meant creating a lot of PDFs.

And although people were filling out forms and downloading our content offers, we started wondering if we should offer them something different — something more cutting-edge — than a file format created back in 1993. And we wondered if changing the format of our content offers would change conversion rates, too.

We decided to run a survey — and a little test.

We wanted to know if our core persona who we marketed these content offers to still liked PDFs and found them useful. So, how else would we find out than by creating an offer?

I created two different version of the same content offer — one in PDF format, and one in web page format. Then, once someone downloaded the offer, we sent them a thank-you email, and we asked them which format they preferred, and why.

What We Learned

More than 3,000 individuals submitted their information to access the offer, and roughly 9% responded to our question, which gave us more than 300 responses to learn from.

And much to our surprise, 90% of the respondents preferred downloading a PDF to reading our content on a web page.

bethany-survey-pdf.png

We gleaned a ton of valuable information about our core audience from this survey, and the qualitative feedback was incredibly helpful, too. Our key takeaways about format preferences were:

  1. Our core persona likes to print offers.

  2. People viewing our content want to be able to download it and come back to it later.

  3. People don’t think our web page offers look as good as PDFs.

  4. Some people are potentially defaulting to the format they know best.

  5. People liked having both print and online versions.

It’s incredibly helpful to learn what’s going on behind the decisions and choices our audience makes to inform future strategy when it comes to content creation. But this information leaves us with a challenge, too: How do we get our audience excited about content living on interactive web pages, too?

Content living on web pages can be crawled by Google to improve websites’ domain authority (and SEO superpowers) — and PDFs can’t be. So we’re making it our mission to keep offering our audience different options for consuming content the way they want to — while innovating and testing new ways to offer content our core persona is just as excited about in a web-based format.

I’ll be back with more details about that next experiment, but in the meantime, download one of our latest content offers, and let us know if you like the format in the comments.

What’s your opinion? PDF or web page? Share with us what you learned in the comments below.

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Jun

17

2017

How to Make an iPhone Video: A Step-by-Step Guide

Published by in category Content Marketing, Daily, Social Media, Video | Comments are closed

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You might know that video is important, that your audience wants to see it, and you might even want to make it a part of your strategy. But you’re still asking the big question:

“How?”

If you aren’t producing video content because you don’t think you have the ability, time, or resources to do it, we have some good news: Your answer to the video content question could be sitting in your pants pocket. (Hint: It’s your iPhone.)Check out our interactive guide to creating high-quality videos for social  media here.

You or a member of your team most likely already owns a great video camera — one that’s easier to use than a traditional, high-tech setup. In this post, we’ll walk you through our tips and best practices for filming high-quality marketing and social media videos with your handy iPhone and a just a few other tools. And if you don’t have time to read them all, we’ve demonstrated how to do it in the video below.

P.S. We filmed it with an iPhone.

How to Shoot Videos with an iPhone

1) Find a quiet place to film.

This might seem obvious, but if you’re filming at work or out in public, the sight of a phone might not tip people off to keep the volume down if they’re nearby. If possible, book a conference space, hang signs telling people to steer clear of where you’re shooting, or bring a coworker with you to block off the area where you plan to film.

2) Make sure your iPhone has enough storage space.

Have you ever experienced the dreaded moment when you were unable to capture a video because you got this pop-up notification?

cannot-record-video.png

If this notification pops up while you’re filming a video, your phone will stop recording, and you’ll have to start over. To prevent this, make sure you have enough space before pressing “record.” Delete as many unnecessary files and apps as you can, and if needed, purchase iCloud storage for files to free up more space on your device itself.

To do this, navigate to “Settings,” select “General,” “Storage & iCloud Usage,” and tap “Manage Storage” to buy more space for as little as $0.99 per month.

icloud-manage-storage-1-1.png

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3) Turn off notifications.

Another distracting iPhone feature that could interrupt your filming is how frequently your device receives notifications. Before you start filming, set your iPhone to Do Not Disturb mode to keep notifications going in the background so you can film uninterrupted.

Swipe up on your phone and tap the crescent moon icon to put your phone in Do Not Disturb mode, and tap it again when you’re done to return your phone to normal settings.

DND-2.pngDND-1.png

Pro tip: Do Not Disturb is a great way to watch YouTube videos, play games, and sleep uninterrupted, too.

4) Use a tripod.

I don’t care how steady you think your hands are — they probably aren’t steady enough to film a video. 

Now, it’s one thing if you’re scrappily putting together a Snapchat Story, but if you’re filming a video for your brand — especially one that will live permanently on your blog, YouTube channel, or other social media assets — you’ll need the help of a tripod to keep the video steady and clear.

You can purchase full tripods, or smaller versions for your desk on Amazon, at Best Buy, or other vendors.

5) Light your video.

This point is especially important if you’re filming in an office building with lots of overhead lighting. You don’t need to buy anything fancy for this step — in fact, our friends at Wistia put together this guide to a DIY lighting setup. You need enough light to give the impression of natural light, which means it’s coming from a variety of different light sources, and not just directly overhead. 

If you don’t have the time or budget to purchase a lighting setup, find a room or location with plenty of natural light — and remember to turn off the overhead lights — to keep your video subject looking good.

6) Use a microphone.

Make sure you use some sort of microphone to minimize the impact of distracting ambient noise. The expression “the silence is deafening” is real — especially when it comes to video production. 

You don’t need a fancy microphone and boom setup like in the movies, although those would be a great investment to make if you plan to film a lot of videos. You can use something as simple as a microphone that plugs into your iPhone’s headphone input to get great audio for your videos — and you can buy one here.

7) Film horizontally.

When people view videos on mobile devices, the video automatically rotates according to the orientation of the device it’s being viewed on. So, it makes more sense to film horizontally so your video can be viewed if the user rotates his or her phone, or is watching on a large tablet or computer screen. If you film vertically and the viewer’s screen is rotated, the video will appear more constricted.

There are exceptions to this, of course — if you’re filming a video specifically for Snapchat or Instagram, for example, you should film your video vertically on your iPhone, because that’s how the videos will be consumed. But if you’re filming for Facebook, YouTube, or another video hosting site, film horizontally to help viewers get the best possible viewing experience, no matter what device they press play on.

8) Don’t use the iPhone’s zoom capability.

Simply put, iPhone’s zoom will most likely make your video look bad.

We’ll elaborate: Unless you have the ultra-fancy iPhone 7 Plus camera, zooming in on an iPhone will simply enlarge the image — it won’t get you closer to what you’re filming — so it’ll make your final video pixellated and blurry-looking.

Instead, physically move your filming setup closer to your subject to eliminate the need to zoom in.

9) Lock your exposure.

The iPhone does a fantastic job of finding the subject to focus your camera’s exposure — which is great for taking a photo. But when it comes to filming a video, its super-powered exposure will continue adjusting and readjusting according to movement — leaving your final video occasionally blurry and out of focus.

You can solve this problem by locking the exposure while you’re filming. Before you press record, hold down your finger on the subject of your video until a yellow box appears around the person or object and the words “AE/AF Lock” appear:

exposure-lock-iphone.png

10) Edit on a computer.

Once you’ve filmed your video, you need to edit it and get it ready for publication. And although the iPhone offers a lot of visual editing tools within its interface, it’s best to use editing software on your computer to fine-tune the images. Software like iMovie and Adobe Premiere Pro let you add sound, captions, and adjust filtering to make your video look (and sound) as professional as possible. 

Lights, Camera, Action

You don’t need a ton of expensive equipment to film and edit engaging videos — you just need to follow the steps above to film something that looks professional with the help of your handy iPhone. If you don’t have an iPhone, never fear — we’ll create some guidance for Android devices soon. In the meantime, download our guides to creating videos for social media to get started distributing your content today.

What are your tips for filming videos on the iPhone? Share with us in the comments below.

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Jun

16

2017

How to Write Catchy Headlines and Blog Titles Your Readers Can't Resist

Published by in category Blog, Content Marketing, Daily | Comments are closed

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It’s one thing to write great content, but it’s another thing to get it read and ranked — which is where nailing the title comes in.

Titles are what sell the content. They represent it in search engines, in email, and on social media. It’s no surprise, then, that some of the most common questions we get concern crafting titles.Ready to take your blog to the next level? Take our free inbound marketing  certification course here. 

How long should my headline be? What words should I use? What words should I avoid? Should I optimize it for search, or for social? Or both?

Luckily, we’ve come up with a simple formula for writing catchy headlines and blog titles that you can reference from here on out. So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

A Foolproof Method for How to Write Catchy Headlines and Titles

1) Start with a working title.

Before you get into the nitty-gritty of coming up with a perfect title, start with a rough draft: your working title. What is that, exactly? A lot of people confuse working titles with topics. Let’s clear that up:

Topics are very general and could yield several different blog posts. Think “raising healthy kids,” or “kitchen storage.” A writer might look at either of those topics and choose to take them in very, very different directions.

A working title, on the other hand, is very specific and guides the creation of a single blog post. For example, from the topic “raising healthy kids,” you could derive the following working titles:

  • “How the Right Nutrition Can Strengthen Your Kids’ Bones”
  • “A Parent’s Guide to Promoting Your Child’s Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Well-Being”
  • “X Recipes for Quick & Healthy Dinners Your Teenagers Will Gobble Up”

See how different and specific each of those is? That’s what makes them working titles, instead of overarching topics. It’s also worth noting that none of those titles are perfect — they should just be specific enough to guide your blog post. (We’ll worry about making it clickable and search-friendly later.)

2) Stay accurate.

Accuracy is critical when trying to finesse a title, because it sets clear expectations for your readers. While I’m sure lots of people would love to click into a post that said “10 B2B Companies Killing Facebook So Freaking Hard They Don’t Need Any Other Marketing Channel” … it’s a little bombastic, no?

Unless, of course, you truly did find 10 B2B companies rocking Facebook that hard, and you could confirm that all 10 of them had stopped using other marketing channels. First and foremost, your title needs to accurately reflect the content that follows.

One way to ensure accuracy? Add bracketed clarification to your headline, like we did in this blog post:

bracketed-title-example-soph.png

In a study of over 3.3 million paid link headlines, we found that headlines with this type of clarification — [Interview], [Podcast], [Infographic], etc. — performed 38% better than headlines without clarification. Again, it’s all about setting clear expectations. Thanks to the brackets, these readers knew exactly what they were getting themselves into before they even clicked.

So if you remember nothing else from this blog post, let it be this: The most important rule of titles is to respect the reader experience. If you set high expectations in your title that you can’t fulfill in the content, you’ll lose readers’ trust.

Accuracy encompasses more than just hyperbole, though. With the example working title above, you’d also want to confirm all of the examples are, indeed, B2B. Or even that they’re all companies — instead of, say, individual bloggers that target B2B audiences. See what I mean?

3) Make it sexy.

Just because you have to be accurate doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to make your title pop. There are a lot of ways to make a title sexier.

Of course, all of this hinges on understanding your core buyer persona. You need to find language that resonates with them, and know what they find valuable. (Haven’t created or refined your buyer personas yet? Download this free template to create your own buyer personas for your business.)

Once you’re armed with knowledge of your buyer persona’s preferred style, try testing out some of these tips for making your headlines a little sexier:

  • Have some fun with alliteration. The title and header in this blog post, for instance, play with alliteration: “Foolproof Formula.” It’s a device that makes something a little lovelier to read, and that can have a subtle but strong impact on your reader.
  • Use strong language. Strong phrases (and, frankly, often negative ones) like “Things People Hate,” or “Brilliant” pack quite a punch. However, these must be used in moderation. As one of my coworkers likes to say, “If everything is bold, nothing is bold.”
  • Make the value clear. As we mentioned above, presenting the format and/or contents to a reader helps make your content a little sexier. According to our research, templates tend to be particularly powerful for CTR: We found that adding “[Template]” to our titles got the most average views of all bracketed terms.
  • Make it visual. Is there an opportunity to include visuals within your post? Make that clear in the title. Our research revealed that headlines featuring the word “photo(s)” performed 37% better than headlines without this word.
  • Focus on the “whos,” not the “whys”. Want to intrigue your audience? Focus on the “who”: Headlines including the word “who” generated a 22% higher CTR than headlines without it.

For example, let’s say you’re writing a post titled, “15 of Our Favorite Brands on Snapchat.” How might we punch up our accurate-but-boring working title? Here are some options:

  • 15 Brilliant Brands Who Are Killing It on Snapchat
  • Snapchat Success: 15 Inspiring Brands Who Just Get It
  • 15 Must-Follow Brands That Are Seeing Snapchat Success

4) Keep it short.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how long or short your title should be. It depends what your goals are, and where your headline will appear.

Do you want this post to rank really well in search? Focus on keeping the title under 70 characters so it doesn’t get cut off in search engine results.

Are you trying to optimize your title for social sharing? According to our own analysis at HubSpot, headlines between 8–12 words in length got the most Twitter shares on average. As for Facebook, headlines with either 12 or 14 words received the most Likes.

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Additionally, headlines with eight words had a 21% higher clickthrough rate than the average title, according to the folks at Outbrain.

The lesson? It’s always a good idea to run a few tests to see what works best for your particular audience.

Let’s say I was writing this blog post: “Think Social Media Is Just for Kids? Here Are 10 Statistics Guaranteed to Prove You Wrong.” To shorten it, I would simply try to rephrase it and cut out extraneous words. For instance, I might do something like this:

  • Before: Think Social Media Is Just for Kids? Here Are 10 Statistics Guaranteed to Prove You Wrong
  • After: 10 Stats That Prove Social Media Isn’t Just for Kids

See? It’s that easy. Try sounding out the title in your head to make sure it’s easily digestible for your readers. The less of a mouthful you can make your titles, the better.

5) Try to optimize for search and social.

I say “try” because, sometimes, trying too hard to optimize for these things can make your title sound strange. Remember: You want to optimize your title for your audience above all else, but if you can optimize for both search and social, that’s great.

The secret to thinking about all three at once? Focus on keywords that you know your audience is already searching for, then look into the search volume for those keywords.

Once you have a keyword in mind, you’ll want to be sure to place it as closely as possible to the beginning of your headline to catch your reader’s attention. (Again, you should keep your headline under 70 characters so it doesn’t get cut off in search engine results.)

Another important consideration? Make sure your headlines are tweetable: “The 120-130-character range is the sweet spot for high clickthrough rate, according to an analysis of 200,000 tweets with links,” explains my colleague, Senior Marketing Manager Lindsay Kolowich. “This leaves enough space for people to include a short comment if they choose to manually retweet and cite you.” 

Here’s an example: Let’s say I’m writing a post titled, “X B2B Companies Using Facebook in Cool Ways.” Looks like there’s some wiggle room to optimize it without compromising clarity, right?

If the goal is to rank for the term, “Facebook Marketing,” I’d recommend something like this:

“New to Facebook Marketing? Here Are 10 B2B Companies Doing It Right”

This new title works for a few reasons:

  • It’s 56 characters long. This means that it’s short enough to not be cut off in search engines and it’s short enough to be retweeted.
  • The keyword is in the beginning. By moving “Facebook Marketing” to the beginning of the title, we’re ultimately increasing the odds that we’ll grab our audience’s attention.
  • It’s human. I wasn’t kidding when I said you should focus on optimizing for your audience first. This title presents both a pain point and a solution all wrapped up in one.

(Download this ebook for more data-backed SEO strategies we recommend.)

6) Brainstorm with someone else.

Once you’ve refined your title using the tips above, it’s time to come up for air and connect with another human. Title brainstorming is an essential part of the process.

Here at HubSpot, we spend a decent amount of time and brainpower coming up with our titles. The final step before scheduling a blog post is pulling another member of our team into a back-and-forth title brainstorm in a chat room. One member of the duo will post the title they recommend into the chat pane window. The other person will then refine that title even further, or suggest other angles. After several back-and-forths, the duo will agree on the title that’s accurate, sexy, concise, and SEO-friendly.

Only when both parties agree on a title do we schedule our post for publishing — which can take as little as five seconds and as long as ten or so minutes. While that seems like a long time, it’s essential to put our best feet forward with each post we publish.

What’s your process for crafting titles? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Jun

14

2017

The 10 Best User-Generated Content Campaigns on Instagram

Published by in category Content Marketing, Daily, Social Media | Comments are closed

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When it comes time to make a purchasing decision, who are you more likely to trust — a brand, or a fellow consumer who uses the product?

We’re more likely to take recommendations from friends and family members than brands when it comes time to make buying decisions — and that’s the logic behind user-generated content on social media.

New Call-to-action

User-generated content, or UGC, consists of any form of content that’s created by users and consumers about a brand or product. UGC isn’t paid for, and its authenticity makes the user the brand advertiser as well.

UGC is particularly prevalent on Instagram, where brands can easily repost and regram UGC from users’ accounts. And it’s worthwhile for brands to do this — 76% of individuals surveyed said they trusted content shared by “average” people more than by brands, and nearly 100% of consumers trust recommendations from others.

In this post, we’ll discuss just how successful UGC on Instagram can be — as well as review 10 brands using it successfully.

Why User-Generated Content?

In this year’s Internet Trends Report, Mary Meeker presented some compelling data about the success of UGC for brands on Instagram. Check it out:

Internet Trends 2017 Report from
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

UGC can generate more engagement on Instagram — meaning more comments and likes on posts. And engagement is critically important to brands’ success on the platform — because the more users engage with your stuff, the higher your posts are prioritized in the Instagram feed, and the more likely it is that new users will find your content on the Explore tab.

A lot of global brands are sharing Instagram content reposted, or “regrammed,” from fans and users. Take a look:

Internet Trends 2017 Report from
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Now that we understand the importance of UGC, let’s dive into how some of these brands are killing the UGC game on Instagram.

10 Examples of the Best User-Generated Content on Instagram

1) The UPS Store

No, we don’t mean UPS, where you might go to send care packages or holiday gifts to your loved ones. We mean The UPS Store, which uses its Instagram to showcase the customers you might not think about as readily — small business owners. Small business owners on Instagram post content using the hashtag #TheUPSStoreCustomer, which The UPS Store then shares to its own account, like so:

This is a clever UGC campaign other B2B brands should take note of — especially if the products and services themselves aren’t especially sexy. Instagram posts featuring packing tape, shipping peanuts, and cardboard boxes might not be visually interesting, but behind-the-scenes stories of real people and brands The UPS Store is helping are.

Takeaway for Marketers: Use UGC to showcase an unexpected or unique aspect of your brand. Whether it’s content from your customers, your users, or members of your community, ask other Instagrammers to submit content that shows “the other side” of what your brand is all about.

2) Aerie

Women’s clothing company Aerie’s #AerieReal campaign is #UGCgoals. The campaign is simple, but powerful.

There’s been broad debate and outcry over the excessive use of photo editing in marketing advertising — centered around its impact on the young women consuming magazines and images on social media. There’s been particular concern around the impact edited photos can have on women’s self-esteem and sense of a healthy body image.

So Aerie made a pledge to stop retouching photos of models in its bathing suits. And for every Instagram user that posted an unedited photo of themselves in a bathing suit (using the hashtag #AerieReal, of course), Aerie now donates $1 to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

Takeaway for Marketers: Give people a reason to get involved in your campaign that’s bigger than Instagram itself. Whether it’s an awareness campaign or a donation drive like Aerie, customers want to buy from companies that support important causes. If you can, partner with a cause or charitable organization your message resonates with to get Instagrammers excited about your UGC campaign. You’ll do good for the world, you’ll drive engagement on the platform, and more people will learn about your brand via word-of-mouth if it catches on.

3) Buffer

Social media scheduling tool Buffer uses the #BufferCommunity to showcase the photographs and personalities of its many different users around the world. These images aren’t promotional — or even remotely brand-centric — and that’s what makes them so effective (okay, the cute puppy probably helps too).

Buffer’s tools are about making it easier to share and strategize on social media, and these photos implicitly share the message that Buffer’s community members can work from anywhere, on a variety of different projects, thanks (in part) to its ease of use.

Takeaway for Marketers: Cultivate a brand personality so strong that your users want to share their life with you on social media. Create a great product, excel at helping customers succeed, and curate a presence on social media your users want to keep engaging with. Then, ask them to share with you so you can continue adding personality and diversity to your content to show what your community is all about — helping people be better at social media, in Buffer’s case.

4) Wayfair

Online furniture store Wayfair has a fun UGC campaign that lets customers showcase the results of their online shopping sprees. Using the hashtag #WayfairAtHome, users can post their home setups featuring Wayfair products:

Then, Wayfair reposts UGC and provides a link so users can shop for the items featured in a real customer’s home — an ingenious strategy for combining customer testimonials and design inspiration all-in-one.

Wayfair has another UGC campaign that’s not as popular, but it’s an adorable effective way to show its products in action with the help of the #WayfairPetSquad.

 

So much room for activities! #wayfairpetsquad @nala_cat

A post shared by Wayfair (@wayfair) on Apr 9, 2017 at 6:16am PDT

Takeaway for Marketers: Leverage UGC to help Instagram users find and shop for your products. Remember, people trust customer testimonials, and if you show them being successfully used by real people, it’s easier to get them to your website to start shopping.

5) IBM

Software giant IBM uses UGC on Instagram primarily from its customers and community members using the hashtag #IBM. Its UGC strategy is simpler than some described previously, but it does a great job at providing an inside look at one of the biggest technology companies in the world.

It’s cool to see real humans working at IBM and using its products and services to do things you and I do every day — like taking artfully posed photographs and conducting group brainstorms.

Takeaway for Marketers: Showcase the human side of your brand — especially if your product or service can’t be easily visualized, as in the case of IBM. Source content from customers, employees, and community members to show what your product looks like in action so other Instagrammers can picture themselves using it, too.

6) Netflix

Popular video streaming service Netflix uses UGC to promote fans’ posts about specific shows and movies — and hashtags the title to help spread the word about new premieres.

 

“HEY, WHERE MY BAE’S AT?” 🎤🙆🏻~@mirandasingsofficial #HatersBackOff via @ginalee

A post shared by Netflix US (@netflix) on Oct 14, 2016 at 3:22pm PDT

Netflix is leaning into creating more original programming, so getting the word out about new releases is a key part of its social media strategy. UGC shows other people are getting excited about new shows too — and makes Instagrammers coming across Netflix’s Instagram intrigued to see what the fuss is all about.

 

Brunch in Stars Hollow. Via @alovelybean #GilmoreGirls

A post shared by Netflix US (@netflix) on Nov 26, 2016 at 9:42am PST

Takeaway for Marketers: If you’re making an announcement or releasing a new product, use UGC to get the word out about your fans and customers trying it out for the first time. You’ll help create a feedback loop to help more and more people on Instagram learn about you — and what new product they can get involved with.

7) Hootsuite

Social media management software company Hootsuite uses the hashtag #HootsuiteLife to promote UGC about what it’s like to work at Hootsuite around the world.

Hootsuite’s culture is something the company is proud of — and it uses this fun way of living and working to attract talented people to come with them. #HootsuiteLife is all about employees and community members showcasing how much fun it is to work at Hootsuite all over social media. It uses the hashtag to empower employees to share their days with the rest of the world on social media.

A secondary UGC campaign — #LifeofOwly — lets employees show off the company’s lovable mascot in action, too.

Takeaway for Marketers: Collaborate with your recruiting and HR teams to see if you can combine forces to drive social media engagement and help hire new people simultaneously. If your organization has a lot to offer and you want to showcase your culture, events, and perks, team up to create an employee UGC campaign that empowers employees to share and helps attract great new talent.

8) Starbucks

Every December, Starbucks launches the latest #RedCupContest to promote its holiday-themed seasonal beverages and — you guessed it — red cups. It encourages coffee drinkers to submit shots of their coffees for the chance to win a pricey Starbucks gift card — and drinkers always deliver (there are more than 40,000 posts of red cups and counting).

The #RedCupContest is a smart UGC campaign. It incentivizes fans to participate and engage online by offering a prize, it promotes a seasonal campaign, and it helps generate sales — because you have to buy a red cup to take a picture first.

Takeaway for Marketers: Use a contest to promote and generate buzz around a UGC campaign. Offer a prize for participation (using a branded hashtag, of course) to get people excited about commenting, posting, and sharing on Instagram.

9) Adobe

Creative software company Adobe uses the hashtag #Adobe_Perspective to source and share content from artists and content creators using its software to do their jobs every day.

It can sometimes be hard to imagine what you can do with a software without seeing it in action, and this UGC campaign lets Adobe show off its capabilities while engaging with its community of users.

#Adobe_InColor is Adobe’s Pride Month-themed UGC campaign that’s already generated nearly 300 posts in just the first few weeks of June. This UGC campaign lets Adobe showcase the talent of its customers and the values and culture of its community clearly and easily on social media.

 

All the colors of citrus ❤️ Link in bio for more of @wrightkitchen’s work.

A post shared by Adobe (@adobe) on Jun 9, 2017 at 9:12am PDT

Takeaway for Marketers: Encourage customers and users to share their results from successfully using your product. These images will help give prospective customers an idea of what they can expect, and great results will speak for themselves to promote your product. And if you’re doing a cultural campaign, open it up to your entire community, and not just employees, to generate awareness and buzz around a culture initiative you’re proud of.

10) BMW

Car company BMW uses #BMWRepost to share Instagram posts of proud BMW owners and their wheels:

 

Make everyday feel like a holiday. The #BMW #3series Sedan. #BMWrepost @bmwf30driver

A post shared by BMW (@bmw) on Jun 11, 2017 at 1:01pm PDT

BMW sells luxury cars to owners who are undoubtedly proud of their achievement, and this campaign gives owners the opportunity to show off — and lets BMW show off its proud and loyal base of customers. If I were on the hunt for a car and saw this many happy BMW users, I might consider one of its cars for my purchase. (I don’t know how to drive, but you catch my drift.)

 

A trustworthy partner to take you around the globe. The #BMW #X5. #BMWrepost @hunterdreier

A post shared by BMW (@bmw) on Jun 10, 2017 at 8:12am PDT

Takeaway for Marketers: Give customers and users a platform from which they can brag about their purchase. You don’t need to sell luxury items — there are plenty of everyday brands with cult followings who love to get engaged on social media about why they love shopping and buying from certain brands. Create a hashtag that lets customers share why they love you, and they’ll love you back.

What’s your favorite UGC campaign on Instagram? Share with us in the comments below.

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Jun

13

2017

The Best of B2B Marketing Content: 9 Examples

Published by in category Content Marketing, Daily | Comments are closed

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Here at HubSpot, some of the most awe-inspiring moments take place when we get to take new products and features for a test drive. We transform, if it’s even imaginable, into even bigger geeks than we normally are, squealing with the excitement typically reserved for iPhone launches and new seasons of Netflix series. But alas — this glee is caused by software we use every day at work, and will eventually get to share with other marketers.

Many B2B marketers have seen B2C content at least once and asked, “Why do they get to have all the fun?” But the moments like the one we described above are the ones that remind us: B2C companies haven’t locked down all of the truly interesting marketing angles. We’re passionate about our product — and that means our audience can be, too.

And for every B2B product, there are even more B2B users out there looking for information, inspiration, and knowledge — whether it’s from their peers, or from the organizations looking to provide them with solutions. The point? No marketing, including content, is uninteresting if you look at it the right way. New Call-to-action

Done right, B2B content marketing can certainly match — and sometimes, maybe even rival — the creativity and appeal of the best B2C ones. And we want to recognize the brands that are breaking that mold and creating great content that grows fervent, dedicated audiences. Below, you’ll find a few of our favorites.

9 Exceptional B2B Content Marketing Examples

1) CB Insights: Newsletter

B2B Marketing CB Insights Newsletter-1.png

What It Does Well

There are two things I love about the CB Insights newsletter. First, it’s surprisingly funny (the subject lines alone make it worth it). Second, you learn a lot just by reading the newsletter, no need to click through a bunch of links.”

Janessa Lantz, HubSpot Senior Marketing Manager

We love how this newsletter illustrates the willingness of CB Insights to not take itself too seriously. Yes, it shares some of the finest insights on technology, venture capital (VC), and emerging businesses, but it does so with fun images that ultimately relate back to the subject — e.g., the above photo of Oprah that’s been adapted as a meme, since, well, that was the topic of the newsletter.

But the messaging remains relevant, even among the hint of silliness. After all, CB Insights designs technology for people in the VC space, so it’s tasked with creating content that will appeal to a broad audience: customers, prospective customers, tech enthusiasts, and investors. And so, under such subject lines as “so sad: tough to have a VC dad,” it includes relevant data. Yes, gifs are hilarious — but in some contexts, they’re also worth $147 million.

Takeaway for Marketers

When you’re dying to create truly unique, cutting-edge content, it’s easy to stray from your organization’s mission and focus. So while it’s great to think outside of the box, use clever subject lines, or even write every email with an overarching humorous tone — keep it relevant and include the information that the people reading it signed up to receive in the first place. Then, keep it human.

2) Mattermark: Raise the Bar

B2B Marketing Mattermark-2.png

What It Does Well

Raise the Bar rounds up the best stories about a variety of different industries, giving me a great snapshot of trends to watch and news stories to follow without having to search for them myself.”

Sophia Bernazzani, Staff Writer, HubSpot Marketing Blog

One of the best things about well-curated content — especially the kind that pertains to your line of work — is that it eliminates a lot of work. Keeping up with news and trends is never easy when you’ve already got a full plate, so when someone else is able to hand-pick the things you need to know, it can feel like you’ve struck gold.

That’s what Raise the Bar does, by compiling a “daily digest of timely, must-read posts on sales, marketing and growth engineering.” And, that was the intent all along. In a 2016 blog post announcing the launch of the newsletter, Mattermark’s Co-founder and CEO, Danielle Morrill, wrote, “We’re turning our focus toward sifting through the mountains of content out there around sales, marketing, and growth to help the community of DOERS who grow companies.”

Takeaway for Marketers

Think about the problems that your product or service already aims to solve for customers. Then, turn that into relevant content that’s going to both save time for and inform your audience — and make it easy for them to access it.

3) MYOB: End of Financial Year

b2b marketing myob

What It Does Well

MYOB, a provider of business management solutions in Australia and New Zealand, helps companies manage their finances, in part by connecting them with bookkeepers and financial services professionals. It has two main audiences:

  1. Small businesses that are just learning the ropes
  2. More established companies that need greater insight into all facets of their operations.

Each audience has its own set of concerns and corresponding hub of information on MYOB.com — and MYOB has built a content strategy for each one that shows how much it understands its customers.

MYOB recognizes that many businesses are figuring out accounting and financial decisions as they grow, so it’s created content that positions the brand as a go-to resource to help those businesses navigate each stage of their development. The End of Financial Year center, for example, is angled to fit the needs of each customer group, providing tips for those just starting out, and guides for breaking through new stages of development.

Takeaway for Marketers

When you begin to brainstorm and map out ideas for content, ask yourself, “Do I really understand my audience?” If you have any doubts as to how the idea will benefit or be useful to your audience, the answer might be “no” — and that’s okay. Like everything else, audiences (and people) evolve, so it’s okay to go back to the drawing board in instances like these for a refresh.

4) Unbounce: Page Fights (R.I.P.)

What It Does Well

If you’ve ever seen a growth marketer on the heels of a successful optimization experiment, you know that her energy is electric. Unbounce, a landing page software company based in Vancouver, understands that excitement and decided to leverage it to create an engaging microsite, Page Fights, in collaboration with optimization company Conversion XL.

The project came to a close after one year, but during its existence, Page Fights contained live streams of marketing optimization expert panels who critiqued landing pages in real time. It was content that expanded far beyond the written word — and that was one thing that made it so great.

Sure, Unbounce has a successful blog, but it saw Page Fights as an opportunity to expand beyond that copy. It knew that the web — especially within marketing and web design — was becoming increasingly crowded with content. To address that, it diversified the format of its expertise, to keep its audience engaged and learning.

Takeaway for Marketers

The internet is only going to become more crowded. And as the human attention span dwindles, that makes it even more important to create content that engages and maintains your audience’s attention.

So while we don’t recommend abandoning blogs completely — after all, written content is still vital to SEO — we do emphasize the importance of diversifying content formats. Marketers who incorporate video into their content strategies, for example, have seen 49% faster revenue growth than those who don’t. And remember that tip to “keep it human” we mentioned earlier? That’s a great thing about live video in particular — it can help portray brands (and their people) as candid and genuine.

5) Deloitte University Press

B2B marketing DU Press

What It Does Well

Deloitte is a professional services company specializing in consulting, tech, auditing, and more. It works with a massive cross-section of industries, from government agencies to life sciences — and that broad range of knowledge is a major selling point. That’s why creating informed, useful content for individual, specialized audiences is core to its marketing strategy.

But Deloitte has also used that wealth of knowledge to position itself as a resource for those who want to know what it knows. So among its specialized hubs are educational content centers, including Deloitte University Press. Much like some of the other remarkable B2B content we’ve come across, it curates not only different pieces of highly helpful content — but also curates a variety of content formats. From blog posts, to webcasts, to podcasts, Deloitte University Press has a bit of everything for those who want to learn about its specialties and the industries it works with.

Takeaway for Marketers

Creating a content strategy to please a wide-scale audience like Deloitte’s is challenging. It can quickly become unfocused. But if your company has a number of specialties, creating content microsites for each of them is one way to keep that information organized, discoverable, and easy to navigate. Plus, it can never hurt to establish your brand as a go-to resource, so as you create these content hubs, consider adding a “knowledge center” among them that’s dedicated to teaching your audience the valuable things it wants to learn.

6) First Round Magazines

B2B marketing First Round Magazines

What It Does Well

Here’s another example of a brand that does a great job of leveraging different categories of knowledge. First Round, an early-stage VC company, recognized the knowledge among entrepreneurs and leaders that wasn’t being shared — knowledge that could be highly beneficial to their peers — and created the First Round Review as a place for it to be shared. It serves, reads the manifesto, to liberate the ideas and expertise that are “trapped in other people’s heads.”

But liberating that much-untapped knowledge can lead to the same problem we alluded to above — an unfocused mass of content that makes it difficult to discover exactly what you’re looking for. That’s why First Round organized the Review into a collection of nine online magazines, each specializing in a different aspect of building a business.

Takeaway for Marketers

If you’ve ever wondered how to leverage the wealth of knowledge outside of your organization — and inside your professional network — here’s a great example. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the entrepreneurs and leaders you’ve met, or simply just admire, to figure out how they can work with you to create content with teachable experiences that your audience will value. Sharing useful, relatable first-hand accounts conveys empathy, which helps to invoke trust among readers.

7) NextView Ventures: Startup Traction

b2b marketing nextview

What It Does Well

We absolutely love stumbling across B2B companies with an active presence on Medium. A great example is Startup Traction by VC firm NextView Ventures: a Medium publication that focuses on “tips & stories for seed-stage startups.”

But why would NextView want to create an entirely separate blog that isn’t even on its website? Well, it’s an exercise in creating off-site content: the material you own but doesn’t live on your website. When executed correctly, it can give publishers a huge boost in discoverability, variety, and quality, especially when making use of a highly popular platform like Medium.

Because Startup Traction isn’t attached to the company’s main URL, it provides an opportunity for NextView to experiment with different tones, voices, and stories — all from a variety of experts that might already be using Medium to discover and contribute unique content. Plus, with Medium’s built-in ability for people to recommend, highlight, and search internally for relevant content, it makes the work published there that much more shareable.

Takeaway for Marketers

Take advantage of the availability of off-site content platforms. As my colleague, Sam Mallikarjunan, writes in “Why Medium Works,” it can take up to six months of consistent publishing on your company’s blog before it gains significant traction. (And we’re not discouraging that — stick with it, and find ways to supplement those efforts.) But off-site content diversifies your audience by engaging readers who might not have otherwise found your website. Medium, for example, connects your content with the people most likely to read it. Plus, you’re creating a publication on a platform that comes with a built-in audience of at least 6.3 million users.

8) Wistia: Instagram

What It Does Well

At risk of sounding like a broken record, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of B2B brands maintaining a human element. That’s why we like it when companies use social media channels to give audiences a “look inside” at the people who make the great products and services they love.

Wistia, a video hosting platform, does that particularly well by sharing visual content on Instagram that lifts the curtain on its people — and dogs. It not only aligns with its brand — after all, the company does provide technology to businesses that want hosting solutions for their visual content — but it’s also just smart. Among its other advantages, visual content can help boost a viewer’s retention of things like brand information.

Takeaway for Marketers

Please, please, please don’t neglect to incorporate visuals into your content strategy. Of course, having a presence on visually-focused channels like Instagram and YouTube is vital — but when it comes to your written content, don’t afraid to use visuals there, as well. After all, articles with an image once every 75-100 words got double the number of social shares than articles with fewer images.

But if you can also create content that aligns with the core of your product or service, that’s also great. As we mentioned before, Wistia creates visual content technology — so it makes sense that it would have unique visual content. Identify what your business does particularly well, and then make the most use of the channel that best aligns with your strengths.

9) Zendesk Engineering

b2b marketing zendesk engineering

What It Does Well

Yes — more offsite content. This time, it’s from Zendesk, a maker of customer service software that’s done something unique with its Medium publication, Zendesk Engineering.

Zendesk might be an expert in the solutions provided by its product, but behind that product is a chorus of highly skilled experts — the people who build and engineer the software. The company realized that there’s an audience to be tapped that’s seeking insights and expertise on the technical side of the product, so it used that to build an entirely independent content property.

Takeaway for Marketers

Dig beneath the surface of the solutions your company provides. You offer solutions — but what is your process? What have you learned that makes you do what you do so well, and how did you get there?

Sure, topics like engineering might be traditionally “unsexy.” But when leveraged and communicated in a storytelling manner, they can make for remarkable content.

And the List Doesn’t End There

We’re optimistic that the digital realm is full of strong B2B content marketing efforts — and, we want to hear about them. But even more than that, we want to hear how these examples inspire you. As they show, there’s a world of content opportunities out there, just waiting for creative B2B marketers to take on.

What are your favorite examples of B2B marketing content? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Jun

10

2017

How HubSpot, Moz, Buffer, and TrackMaven Staff Their Content Teams

Published by in category Content Marketing, Daily, hiring | Comments are closed

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It’s always valuable to look at how other organizations within your industry get things done every day. And It’s particularly valuable to look at how an organization you admire, or aspire to emulate, has nailed what they do.

When we read in 2016 that BuzzFeed was changing the entire way its content creation team was structured, it made us curious about how we were creating our own content. Were we dedicating enough resources to video content? Was our social media strategy as built out?

HubSpot doesn’t operate at nearly the same scale as BuzzFeed, and we aren’t a strictly media company, but it made me wonder how our industry peers are getting the job done. So I asked some of my friends in the B2B marketing space, “How do you create content every day?” 

Download our full collection of free content marketing templates here. 

In this post, we’ll discuss how different content teams are structured — and what wisdom you can take away for staffing your own team.

How 4 Content Marketing Shops Staff Their Content Teams

1) TrackMaven

TrackMaven

TrackMaven is a marketing attribution analytics software company, and I asked Senior Director of Marketing, Kara Burney, about her team’s unique approach to structuring the content marketing team of “mavens.”

Over the past year and a half, we flipped our content creation hierarchy from an exclusively in-house model to a primarily freelance-based model. The impetus was to divide and define the responsibilities of content creation, content distribution, and content reporting.

While we still oversee social media and advertising in-house, we now manage a consistent cadre of freelancers: four to five writers, one to two videographers, and two to three designers. As a result, our team is able to focus on the distribution and ROI of each content asset, while benefiting from the expertise of specialized freelancers.”

Takeaway for Marketers: TrackMaven structured its team to best prioritize everyone’s time according to their strengths. TrackMaven consists of experts in content distribution and proving ROI, so its content team focuses on those parts of the content creation process — and leaves the actual creation to freelancers to free up time and energy.

And according to our research, this is a smart move: The 2017 State of Inbound report revealed that some of marketers’ top priorities include proving marketing ROI and content distribution/amplification.

2) Buffer

Buffer_Structure

Buffer is a social media scheduling app that creates a ton of useful content and research on its different blogs, so I asked its Director of Marketing, Kevan Lee, how the content team is assembled to produce so much.

We have nine people in total on our marketing team: one director, one content writer, one blog editor, one community builder, one loyalty marketer, one PR marketer, one bottom of the funnel marketer, one digital strategist and social media producer, and one product marketer.

We all create content in some way, at some time. We’ve built the team based on the marketing channels that we’ve been able to validate. So, at first, when our team was one or two people, we went after a wide range of marketing channels to see what worked. Content marketing yielded some huge results, so we hired a content writer to go deep on that channel.

As channels get validated, we try to move people into those roles so they can maximize the impact we can have on that channel. In our case, blogging has been highly validated as a strong referral source for us, so we have multiple people working on content marketing. Video is showing lots of potential, and we’re definitely doing more there — it just hasn’t quite reached the peak validation of content marketing for us yet.”

Takeaway for Marketers: Buffer’s marketing team waits for channels to start to drive meaningful results before dedicating staff members to leading the charge, which makes a lot of sense. In this way, Buffer can use ROI to make intentional and impactful choices about where to dedicate resources to get results — and fast. Buffer has consistently seen blogging move the needle for its outcomes, so it built out the blogging team to constantly keep the content engines running.

3) Moz

Moz Structure

Moz sells SEO, link building, and content marketing software. I asked its Audience Development Manager, Trevor Klein, about how Moz creates the Moz Blog, Whiteboard Fridays, and other great content.

Moz doesn’t actually have a single full-time content creator. We do have a content team of four members. One marketer is in charge of our content experience, ensuring we’re addressing the needs of our audiences and offering them the right paths (and the right stops on those paths) to get the value they need. We also have our blog manager, though her purview extends to strategy for all of our educational content. Our video wizard — with expertise in both video strategy and production — helps teams throughout Moz make the most of a complicated medium. And I manage the team and set overarching strategy.

We also, though, have a handful of other Mozzers who devote some of their time to creating content, including several Moz Associates — industry experts with whom we have ongoing contractual relationships.

Our team is structured in a way that encourages each individual to contribute in their most meaningful ways, working as much as possible with our wonderful community of contributors. We divide the creation and editing responsibilities among several people instead of retaining full-time writers, and that gives us two important benefits. For one thing, it affords us great flexibility. We don’t have to wait on a bottleneck or get stuck because someone is on vacation, and it allows us to play off each writer’s individual skills for different content needs. This works out well, as Moz’s priorities are in a near-constant state of flux. It also ensures that work never gets too monotonous for anyone on the team. Some people enjoy writing things all day every day, but those folks are few and far between. Splitting the creative work among several people encourages coordination and allows us all to spend some time on other things.”

Takeaway for Marketers: Moz’s approach to content creation is smart — it maximizes and takes advantage of employees’ strengths and talents, and it makes the entire publication process a collective team effort. And by training the whole team to fulfill writing, editing, and publishing roles, the team is more nimble and adaptable to institutional or industry change that might drastically alter priorities and goals.

4) HubSpot

HubSpot Content Structure

Here at HubSpot, our content creation is spread over many different teams — in fact, we like to say that everyone at HubSpot creates. Within our “strictly” content team, outside of the HubSpot blogs, where we have four full-time writers creating daily content, we have a team of three multimedia content creators, a researcher, two podcast producers, and two social media and video content producers. Additionally, we have a team that creates co-marketing content with our partner organizations, a team that creates ebooks and content offers designed to generate leads, and specific blogs and dedicated to recruiting prospective employees and providing valuable insights to our partner marketing agencies and our various clients’ verticals.

In short, the official content engine is made up of nearly 20 employees, but everyone at our organization has the expertise and ability to create content — whether it’s a blog post, a Facebook Live broadcast, or a podcast recording.

Takeaway for Marketers: We recommend creating opportunities for all employees to be a part of the content team — team members in other departments have valuable insights and data that can be adapted into relevant content for your audience, so don’t be afraid to grow its size to meet your traffic goals.

How is your company’s content team structured? Share with us in the comments below.

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Jun

2

2017

The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post

Published by in category Blogging, Content Marketing, Daily, featured-1 | Comments are closed

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Even though we all are crunched for time, spouting off a mediocre blog post for the sake of hitting a deadline isn’t worth it. Considering our audiences have access to countless other articles, it’s unlikely that they’d settle for a half-baked attempt.

New Call-to-action

We get it, though: It can be difficult to keep track of all the right blog components when you’ve got a full plate of projects. There’s a lot to remember when crafting a solid blog post — which means there’s also a lot to forget.

To make sure nothing slips through the cracks and every one of your blog posts is both comprehensive and useful to your readers, we’ve created a rundown of everything you need to remember when you start writing. Bookmark this blog post, and make sure you’ve completed this checklist the next time you press “publish.”

How to Write a Perfect Blog Post

1) Headline

Every great blog post starts with a headline that grabs the reader’s attention, and compels them to click and keep reading to learn more. Internet readers have very short attention spans — around eight seconds in length — and the headline is one of the critical first elements that help readers decide if they want to click and stay on your site. In fact, 60% of readers don’t read past the headline, which presents a big opportunity. Here’s how to write a great headline:

Brainstorm a Working Title

Start with a working title in mind and brainstorm how to make the angle as interesting as possible. This is the phase of blogging where you start with a general topic and narrow down exactly what you want to write about that topic.

For example, if I want to write about the topic of “blogging,” I need to come up with a more specific working title first. And those working titles depend on the format of my blog post. Whether you’re writing a listicle, an explainer article, or a how-to guide, brainstorm a few titles to guide your research. Here are a few ideas:

  • The Guide to Business Blogging
  • How to Get Started with Blogging
  • 10 B2B Blogging Strategies We Love (and Why)

Once you have an angle you want to pursue, it’s time for keyword research.

Conduct Keyword Research

Keyword research will help you create a headline that will perform well on search engine results pages (SERPs). Your headline is one of many factors Google considers when ranking results on SERPs, and an optimized title will help people find the information they need more easily.

Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and HubSpot’s keywords tool can help you determine exactly which terms people are searching for, and which will be easier or more difficult for your new blog post to rank for.

“Blogging” is a broad search term, and when I dropped it into SEMrush, more than 75,000 keyword results were returned. We recommend targeting long-tail keywords that are more specific to the exact audience you’re targeting — which you can learn more about by creating buyer personas.

When I searched for “business blogging,” on the other hand, I found keywords with lower search volume, but would be more specifically targeted to the audience I’m trying to reach.

Once you’ve nailed the keyword you’re targeting, you can create your final title, as well as your headers (more on that later). For the purposes of this example, I chose, “The Definitive Guide to Business Blogging.”

Craft a Title

When it comes to the art of the perfect blog post, we’ve done some analysis and looked at how our own titles have performed. Here are the consistent principles we found:

  • The ideal blog post title length is 60 characters.
  • Headlines between 8 and 12 words are shared most often on Twitter.
  • Headlines between 12 and 14 words are liked most often on Facebook.

headline-length-vs-social-shares-3.png

We also found that headlines ending with a bracketed clarification — for example, “The Definitive Guide to Business Blogging [New Data]” — performed 38% better than titles without that clarification.

If you’re having trouble trimming down the length of a title, run it through SEOmofo and Twitter to see how the title will appear on SERPs and when it’s shared on social media.

2) Meta Description

The meta description doesn’t live on your blog post — it lives somewhere different that’s just as important.

The meta description refers to the HTML attribute that explains the contents of a given web page. Basically, it’s a short description you see on a SERP to “preview” what the page is about. Check it out below:

business blogging serp.png

The headline, URL, and meta description work together to convince searchers to click on a link to read the entire blog post, so you’ll want to put thought into what to write for this piece of your blog post, too.

In our analysis, we found the ideal meta description length is under 155 characters.

3) Featured Image

Featured images usually sit at the top of a blog post and are another element to draw readers in to learn more. The image should reflect what the story is about, intrigue readers, or provoke them. It shouldn’t be too literal or obvious, and it can simply be aesthetically pleasing, too.

Here’s an example of one of our featured images. It features a mobile phone and a bright yellow color — fitting, considering I was writing about Snapchat:

snapchat-mistakes-example-image.png

Make sure you choose featured images that you’re legally able to edit and distribute. Here are some of our suggestions:

4) Introduction

The introduction needs to quickly hook your reader and convince her to read the rest of your blog post. It also has to let the reader know what your post is about, so she knows what she’s getting. Nobody likes clickbait, so you want to make sure your post is about what the headline says it is.

Whether your approach is humor, interesting and surprising facts, or asking a question, find a way to make the first lines of your blog posts as attention-grabbing as possible. Write an introduction that would make you want to keep reading an article — a quick few paragraphs to draw the reader in and let him know what he’s about to read.

Here’s an introduction my colleague, HubSpot Staff Writer Aja Frost, wrote that does this effectively:

aja-frost-intro.png

Frost uses a cliffhanger approach here — and now I want to read more to learn about how hard it is to be an entrepreneur. For more introduction inspiration outside of HubSpot Blogs, I recommend reading posts on Medium and Buffer.

5) Sub-Headers

Sub-headers are another on-page SEO element that helps your blog post to rank in Google Search. Sub-headers organize and break up your blog post into different sections to signal to Google (and your reader) what the post will cover.

Sub-headers should be written with H2 tags or smaller — never H1 tags, which signal a title. Use sub-headers to split up sections of your blog post — making sure to integrate the keywords you’re using this post to target.

In this particular post, I’m targeting the keywords “perfect blog post,” which I’ve used in my title and the first sub-header.

6) Body 

The meat of your blog post — separated by various sub-headers, of course — is where your readers will undoubtedly derive the most value. In our analysis, the ideal blog post length is roughly 2,100 words, but that will vary depending on your topic. Medium found that posts that took seven minutes to read earned the most engagement and attention, and serpIQ found that most of the top-10 Google results are between 2,032 and 2,416 words.

7) Data

Whenever it’s possible to use data and numbers, do so. Numbers written as numerals (23) instead of words (twenty-three) have been shown to attract reader attention when they quickly scan what they’re reading online. Additionally, numbers represent facts — which are unimpeachable and most trusted by your readers.

If you’re using numbers or data in your blog post, add [Data] or [Research] to your headline for additional impact, as we discussed earlier in the post.

8) Multimedia Elements

We’ve told you a few times that your reader is having trouble staying focused, so wherever it’s possible to use multimedia content to break up the blog post and re-engage your reader, add images, videos, audio recordings, and social media posts. Changing up the format of your blog post will provide additional value to your reader while making sure their eyes are focused on what they’re reading and seeing.

 

This pic sums up our #Mondaymood. What’s yours? 🗒🖊☕️

A post shared by HubSpot (@hubspot) on Mar 27, 2017 at 5:12am PDT

Works, huh? 

9) Conclusion

When you’re ready to wrap up and sign off, make sure to let your reader know the article is closing. Your conclusion doesn’t need to be lengthy, but it should serve to recap the blog post the reader just finished and provide more resources and guidance, if wanted. More on that next.

10) Call to Action

Finish your conclusion with a meaningful call to action (CTA) for your reader — whether it’s advice, a content offer, or a link to another related blog post. Use the last lines of your post to leave the reader feeling like he or she learned something from you — and like there’s even more to learn from you, creating the desire to click a link or CTA image and read more.

For more ideas on how to write a killer blog post, learn from our analysis of 175,000 B2B and B2C blog posts.

What’s your go-to blueprint for a blog post? Share with us in the comments below.

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Jun

1

2017

What Makes Content Go Viral? 3 Experts Weigh In

Published by in category Content Marketing, Daily, Social Media | Comments are closed

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When was the last time you created something online that went viral?

Whether you’re new to content marketing or are a viral content maven, you probably know that it can be nearly impossible to predict which tweet or video or meme might go viral. Often, it feels like virality is just completely random.

We asked three content marketing experts to weigh in on what they think makes some content super-popular while other content goes straight to the internet graveyard.

Drawing from their own knowledge and experience, they share their perspectives below. Learn what they think sets viral content apart.

What Makes Content Go Viral?

We all have opinions on what types of content go viral: a soundless social video, a data-backed explainer, a perfectly timed newsjack. But no matter the format, it ultimately comes down to emotion. Does the story make you feel enraged, inspired, understood? With everything you create you have to ask: If this scrolled by on my newsfeed, would I care? If the answer is no, it’s not worth it. Your online content habits are your own best judge.

— Megan Conley, Content Marketing Strategist at HubSpot

When creating new content, seriously ask yourself two questions: “Why would anyone share this?” and “Will this help someone better express themselves?” If you can’t answer either of these questions, that content has no chance at going viral. People share content that strikes an emotional chord with them. Your job is to identify and articulate that emotion-driving element.

— Nadya Khoja, Director of Marketing at Venngage

There are two interdependent sides to the notion of viral content. On the human side, when a piece of content excites its audience, triggering an emotional response, to the point that they can’t help but to share it. In other words, it’s “remarkable” content. From the engineering side, social technologies measure engagement, map it over time down to the millisecond, and then surface content deemed high quality to get more impressions and even more engagement. The interplay between those two mechanisms is what makes content go viral.

— Eric Peters, Growth Marketer at HubSpot Academy

Get more expert insights about creating viral content in our upcoming live video master class, 12 Principles of Viral Content. 

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May

25

2017

How to Leverage User-Generated Content in Your Marketing Strategy

Published by in category branding, Content Marketing, Daily | Comments are closed

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These days, the phrase “content is king” still holds true (to an extent). But the rules surrounding content production as well as our understanding of it as marketers has changed. No longer is it about having content in spades, it’s all about quality.

Having one great piece of content is always going to be better than 10 second-rate pieces that don’t add any value for readers. However, if you can consistently produce great content on a regular basis, that’s enough to dominate the online marketing realm.

Unfortunately, about 70% of marketers still lack an integrated or consistent content strategy, based on research from Altimeter. Creating great content is hard, and many marketers still don’t have sufficient knowledge or adequate resources to produce high-quality content on a regular basis. Some produce generic content, which is akin to replicating a cola brand. You’re not innovating and it’ll never be as good as Coke, in which case no one’s going to buy/drink it.

Let’s face it, most brands don’t have the resources or expertise to compete with larger, more established companies with bigger marketing budgets. So how can they create high quality content at scale?

Well, one great way is to crowdsource. No one knows your readers better than they know themselves, and you simply can’t compete with the collective knowledge of an entire audience.

In this article, we’ll focus on why brands should let their users help create value in content.

How to Leverage User-Generated Content

Owned Media vs. Earned Media

Source: The Keep-calm-o-matic

Different types of media can be utilized to improve your organization’s value creation initiatives. One type is “owned media.” This refers to the content that your organization has 100% control over, including your company’s official website, company blogs, and your official social media pages.

Owned media may also come in the form of case studies, whitepapers, and ebooks. These types of media are not only controlled in terms of production, they’re also controlled in terms of distribution, because much of it is “gated”. The primary goal of owned media is to provide value to provide value through content marketing to generate and nurture leads.

Though there are many advantages to having complete control over your content, it doesn’t always work well to build trust with your audience because it isn’t “peer reviewed”. In some cases, owned media can also end up being over-technical, product-centric, and self-serving, hence the lack of appreciation from users. There’s only so much a brand can achieve if all their conversations and interactions are one-way.

The media type at the opposite end of the scale is “earned media.” Simply put, this refers to the media exposure earned by your brand through word-of-mouth. This exposure could stem from your own SEO efforts, high-quality content you publish that goes viral, great customer experience delivered, or pretty much anything else your brand does that compels individual users to create content with your brand’s name on it.

As the title suggests, “earned media” is the type of media or exposure your brand has earned by doing something positive or negative. These also come in various forms, including reviews and feedback, recommendations, press coverage, and articles, amongst others. The reason earned media works so well to build relationships is because it places users into your media channel, turning attention away from your brand and onto your audience.

In terms of building awareness and trust, earned media can be a gold mine. It helps build your community through social proof, and provides you with user-created value that leads to more opportunities for engagement. Not only does it facilitate improved ways to learn about your prospects/customers, it opens up a dialogue for two-way conversations so users can interact with your brand.

Oh yeah, it’s also free.

Benefits of User Generated Content

Why wait for people to start talking about your brand when you can create a channel for them to make themselves heard and facilitate User-Generated Content (UGC)? Every piece of content a user produces on your website or site’s outpost becomes branded UGC. Brands can provide a means for their users to collaborate with them via their website, forums, and social media platforms to power up these channels with activity.

For the users, they create UGC to express themselves and gain recognition. It’s a win-win situation, as brands greatly benefit from the buzz. Here are just some of the advantages for brands:

  • UGC helps brands understand their target audience better.
  • UGC improves site engagement and time spent on the website.
  • UGC increases customer satisfaction through conversations.
  • UGC provides means for other users to connect, which then, builds a stronger community.
  • UGC improves the brand’s search engine ranking and online visibility.
  • UGC is inherently peer-reviewed, making it more trustworthy.

More importantly, UGC creates a competitive advantage for brands that is inherently difficult to replicate because communities can’t just be copied.

Think about the power of sites like Wikipedia, whose moderators are crowdsourced users that help make the site better because they care about being part of an active community. Imagine how difficult/expensive this would have been to accomplish with owned or paid media. Now you see the power of user-created value.

Another great example would be the Inbound.org community, which has over 170k professional marketers who are happy to share their knowledge with other members. Everyone has their own opinions and experiences so this creates an unrivaled source of marketing expertise that makes the community extremely attractive for anyone looking to learn about sales/marketing.

Potential Challenges of Building a Community

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You can’t build an empire in a day. In today’s highly connected world, there are plenty of challenges brands face when trying to build an online community.

While UGC is definitely a cost-effective approach, one bad apple can ruin the bunch. The first problem with UGC is that since it comes directly from users, it can’t be controlled by the brand. This opens up areas for concern with trolling, negative comments and various legal compliance issues, just to mention a few.

As the name suggests, it’s the user that generates the content. Thus, it is their content and they can essentially create whatever they want, whether it’s good for your brand or not.

Which leads us to another challenge, how to maintain and moderate UGC. This is where the community manager comes in. He or she must be able to keep users engaged and set the tone for what themes, subjects and topics users should contribute towards. An experienced community manager should also know how to create content, handle PR issues and provide support to users.

Another challenge is the amount of time need to build a community. It’s not a one-time, big-time deal. Like in-house efforts, UGC requires resources, continued effort and time for it to work.

Some brands launch online communities that offer many features, which can lead to high development costs. For instance, some have extensive communications, search and analytics functions. These features can require huge amounts of resources to develop, all of which could potentially go to waste if the feature doesn’t get used or is fundamentally flawed.

Apart from the above, other potential issues include developing an authentic brand voice, respecting boundaries, keeping your community engaged, and policing content. Though this might seem a little daunting, I can assure you that the benefits of having an active community far outweigh the development and maintenance costs.

How to Encourage Users to Create Value

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At this point you’re probably asking “how do I get users to create value in the first place?”

First, you need to give them a reason to become part of your community. You need to make them WANT to be part of the “squad.” You can tap into their innate desire to belong to a community and help others or you can focus on the opportunity to learn from industry experts.

When a brand engages with their audience online, it sets an example and encourages other users to participate and join the conversation. This is highly evident on social media, especially on Facebook and Twitter where users can communicate with brands directly.

It’s important to know who your audience is at this point, so you can develop themes to ignite their interest. Much like producing owned media, you should first listen to your audience to find out what they’re interested in and what they’re concerned about. Then use this information about your audience to develop themes, topics and subjects that focus on their needs, wants and desires. The more user-centric your system is, the better it’ll work.

To help you along the way, here are the basic principles to creating an online community:

  • Encourage participation through incentivizing.
  • Set a standard for members to follow.
  • Think in terms of the collective.
  • Be honest and transparent with members.
  • Promote your community to attract new members.
  • Be persistent and contribute regularly to develop a voice.
  • Allow members to be independent.

The Power of Communities

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In its simplest form, members of a community help each other grow. Communities offer people support, encouragement and expert knowledge along with providing a sense of belongingness.

For brands, communities can be just as powerful. The stronger your community, the more likely it is that it will help you sustain your business. When it comes to establishing your brand as an industry leader and thought innovator, there’s not much that’s more compelling than having your own strong community.

Not convinced? Here’s the proof:

  • 86% of Fortune 500 companies report communities provide insights into customer needs (Sector Intelligence)
  • 71% of companies use customer collaborations for market research (Aberdeen)
  • 64% of companies state the brand community has improved their decision-making (Innsbruck University)
  • 53% of Americans who follow brands on social are more loyal to those brands (Convince & Convert)
  • 80% of brands say that their community building efforts have resulted in increased traffic (HubSpot)

Think about companies like Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, and Alibaba. The nature of their business models depend entirely on their communities. The larger they are, the more value they provide to individual members. But, keep in mind that these are extreme cases whereby the products are essentially the communities themselves.

Though many businesses won’t have the need or ability to create a community-centered website, they can always have a presence on social media and via blog comments, which can be just as beneficial. Online communities can help further showcase your brand’s products or services and attract new members to come aboard. Bottom line, you need to bring your community into your marketing.

Think of it as a channel for free marketing and PR. Now, who wouldn’t want that?

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May

12

2017

10 Content Curation Tools Every Marketer Needs

Published by in category Content Marketing, Daily | Comments are closed

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“Curation” is one of those words that’s always conveyed coolness to me. Take, for example, the job of curating art for a gallery, or curating music for a soundtrack. Cool, right? Content curation is just as much fun — and just as important.

For the uninitiated, content curation consists of finding material relevant to your audience from a variety of sources, and sharing it strategically through your communication channels. For example, writing a roundup blog post of great marketing examples would require you to curate strong samples of content relevant to what you’re writing about. And while very cool, it can be tricky. There are many, many social networks, news feeds, emails, and infographics full of such content that can demand your time and attention.

That’s why the responsibility of content curation is important. Think of it as being a successful wedding DJ: Your selections can’t all be ad hoc and safe. After all, people can only hear Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” so many times before the floor clears, and that sort of playlist isn’t personalized for your audience. But if you know your audience, you can accurately gauge the temperature of the room and have the confidence to give the people what they want.

Download our free guide here for more content marketing tips and hacks.

The same goes for content curation. Instead of just rounding up the most generally popular things on the web, pick the ones that are going to be the most relevant and interesting to your audience, and provide the context around them that makes your site a destination. Of course, we never said that was easy. Where do you find this content, anyway, especially given the information overload we opened with? Good news: We’re here to help you prioritize the resources by outlining some of our favorites below.

But First, What Makes A Successful Content Curator?

1) Content curation should be personal.

NextDraft

The beauty of news roundup NextDraft is the personal touch and context that its chief curator, Dave Pell, gives to each story. I don’t just want a bunch of browsable links — I want to know why I should read this stuff, and how it pertains to me. That personalized context creates a type of bond between curator and reader that something like simple link aggregators don’t humanize quite as much.

2) Content curation should build value.

Here’s a little secret: No matter which industry your customers are in, all of them want to stay informed, but also save time. Just like you, they have demands and can’t possibly keep up with all the latest news in their industry — but they want to. Helping to solve this problem through personalized content curation presents a huge opportunity for brands to build a relationship with their audience.

If you can deliver a curated experience that saves your customers time in getting the information they need, you’ve taken a major step on the path of building trust and loyalty.

3) Content curation should offset promotional content.

Customers can grow tired of brands ceaselessly promoting their own wares, which is why progressive brands think beyond products or features. The relationship customers have with brands today transcends the product itself — after all, that’s part of the foundation of inbound marketing. So while a product may initially attract you to a specific brand, it’s what the brand holistically offers after the purchase — like great content or remarkable service — that keeps you around.

For example, I own only one jacket from the brand Arc’teryx, and yet, I follow it on YouTube and Twitter, and receive its emails. Why? Because the company is doing more than pushing products on me. Rather, it’s also pushing content and an experience that brightens my day. Check out this film series, A Skier’s Journey, that the brand played a role in producing:

4) Content Curation Shouldn’t Take All Day

At last: We’ve arrived at our favorite tools for content curation. Thanks to a slew of websites and technologies, it’s never been easier to find the external information that will serve as a resource for your customers. But they need to be prioritized — so here’s our list, to help streamline your content curation efforts.

10 Content Curation Tools Every Marketer Needs

For Beginners

If you’re thinking, “Yeah, I occasionally share a relevant post with my customers when I find one,” congratulations — you’re curating content. Unfortunately, you’re not doing so on a sustainable scale that makes you a trusted source.

But don’t worry — there are better ways to curate content for beginners that are completely free. Here are three simple sources of information to help you start getting in the habit of curating content, without being overwhelmed by complex tools, subscription fees or convoluted dashboards.

1) Pocket

Pocket

Pocket is a great place to get into the habit of accruing content to save and share later. Instead of a laundry list of bookmarks or countless emails you’ve sent to yourself with links, it keeps all your interesting images, articles, and videos in one place for reference. You can group articles with tags, and the site’s built-in search functionality makes finding those articles easy. Plus, it integrates with over 500 other apps, like Evernote, for seamless integration.

And as a bonus, Pocket tweets out their @PocketHits for the most-saved articles on their platform — a must-follow if you’re active on Twitter. For other “read-it-later” apps like Pocket, check out Instapaper.

2) Twitter Lists

TwitterLists

Twitter can be a streaming mess if you don’t organize the accounts you follow. That’s where Twitter lists come in handy — curated groups of Twitter users that you can categorize and follow separately from the rest of your feed. Here’s one that I created, which I continually manage and update. Even better, if you create a Pocket account, you can easily save articles from Twitter directly into your account.

Click here to learn how to start your first Twitter list.

3) Newsletters

Newsletters serve as a fantastic daily reminder to get your content curation done. For example, I follow HubSpot on Twitter, but don’t always get a chance to see its tweets when I’m busy. Fortunately, HubSpot also offers an email subscription. That way, if I don’t catch something notable on social media, I’m likely to catch it on email.

Whatever industry you’re in, stay on the lookout for newsletter subscriptions. And if a good one doesn’t exist in your industry, that’s the perfect opportunity to create one. But before you start your own newsletter, learn from what other outlets are doing. Here are a few that are doing a great job in original content curation:

  • Redef: Jason Hirschhorn, one of the pioneers in social media and formerly the co-president of MySpace, has launched a site curating the best in media, sports, fashion, music and technology. Subscribe to one of Reder’s newsletters for a taste of one of the best in content curation.
  • Quartz Daily Brief: Quartz has figured out how to make a text-heavy newsletter a stalwart in the news business with its Daily Brief. The beauty of the newsletter, because it’s text-based, is the cross-platform functionality. Without heavy images, the Daily Brief loads quickly on phones, tablets, and desktops, making it easy to read on any device.
  • Internet Brunch: Digital agency Big Spaceship created Internet Brunch to help folks “find the best news, GIFs, and trends from across the Internet.” From holidays, to current events, to celebrity birthdays, this roundup is sure to cover the important stuff that helps readers stay in the loop.

For Intermediates

Here are some great sources for when you’ve got the basics covered — resources like newsletters, social media, and read-it-later apps. But you’re looking for something a little more comprehensive, and if you’re willing to pay for a subscription, these are the comprehensive, algorithmically generated digests of news, feeds, and content to check out.

4) Scoop.it

Pricing: Free – $67/month

Scoopit

I like to think of Scoop.it as a nexus of content curation and social media, with a Pinterest-like user interface. Start with a topic of interest, and Scoop.it will not only generate the most relevant articles to view and share, but also, will suggest complementary topics and other Scoop.it users to follow. The site sends a daily update of the topics you follow, too, to help you keep pace with the most relevant articles to share.

The free version allows you to monitor one topic for posting, on two social media accounts. For a more robust platform that follows multiple topics for sharing across all your social channels, you might want to look into the paid options.

5) Feedly

Pricing: Free – $18 per user, per month

Feedly

Feedly is a supercharged RSS Feed. Here, content curation takes two routes: There’s web browsing 1.0 which is essentially visiting one site at a time, copying a URL, and pasting it accordingly. Then, there’s the news aggregation route that’s powered by Feedly. By simply adding a few of your favorite sources to Feedly, you can aggregate and browse these feeds in one place from your desktop and mobile devices. You can find a visual tutorial here.

6) Storify

Free options available | Demo of paid products by request

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Storify helps makes sense of an increasingly overwhelming and noisy social web. The concept is simple: Users can search, browse or create stories from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. From there, they can use that content to — as the name suggests — tell or follow a story.

At first glance, Storify’s comprehensive features and uses might be a bit confusing, so since it’s free to sign up for one version, it might be worthwhile to create an account and tinker around with it, to learn how it works.

7) Sniply

Pricing: $29 – $299/month

Sniply

Sniply is a conversion platform — by way of content curation. In a nutshell, it allows users to add a call-to-action to everything they share. “For example,” the site reads, “you can attach a button to the page that links to your own website, so that people can discover you while they read.”

It’s also a custom link shortener, so you can create branded links that are short enough to share on Twitter and the like. Here’s a quick video to show how it works:

For Advanced Users

Now we’re getting into some serious, enterprise-level curation software. These solutions work best for companies looking for a proven platform that’s capable of working with a team of users, editors, and content curators.

Enterprise-level curation provides users with advanced algorithms to find quantitatively relevant content for their audiences, a centralized publishing platform, and the ability to customize content, teams, and publishing channels.

8) Curata

Pricing information not available | Demos upon request here

Curata

The power of Curata lies in its ability to recommend and help users discover content relevant to their respective audiences, without a ton of human labor. Users can fine-tune, customize, and categorize content sources for review, and then distribute them, all from one central platform. The publishing and promotion allows you to repurpose curated content across your blog, social, newsletter, and automated marketing platforms.

9) PublishThis

Pricing information not available | Demo available by request

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Like Curata, PublishThis promotes the reliability of its algorithm to source relevant content for your audience–saving the time and headache that go with daily curation. It’s largely powered by what it calls Big Content, which is illustrated in this image below:  

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In addition to customizing curated content to specific audiences, PublishThis also helps users manage and distribute original content, as well as adding conversions. As noted above, pricing information isn’t made publicly available, but a demo can be requested here.

10) TrapIt

Pricing information not available | Demo available by request

Trapit

Trapit may have once been designed purely for content creation, but now, its capabilities have expanded into employee advocacy — tools that help employees “follow best practices” on social media, as well as helping internal leaders become established thought leaders — and social selling.

Of course, the content element still remains. Some of the major pillars of Trapit’s platform include the ability to discover, organize, personalize, and distribute content. That’s where the social selling comes in — it helps users prospect, network, and build relationships by sharing the information that’s going to be most relevant to their targeted audiences.

Which Tool Is Right For You?

Before you select the best tools for your business, it’s important to understand the role content curation will play in your marketing operations and the size of your team. If you’re a one-person marketing department, for example, the beginner and intermediate options should suffice for your needs. As your business and team grow, content curation may play a larger role and require more powerful software.

At that point, some of the advanced tools will help save time curating and getting everyone on the same page. Regardless of your team or business size, content curation should become a part of your content marketing strategy. Great curators build trust with their audiences and become an indispensable resource as they help to sift through online information to distribute what’s worth reading.

What curation tools have you found most helpful? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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May

11

2017

Is Interactive Video the Next Big Thing? 3 Creative Examples from Brands

Published by in category Content Marketing, Daily, Video | Comments are closed

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It’s hardly a revelation to say that online video content is phenomenally popular. Millions of words have been written on the subject, and millions more will no doubt follow.

But one of the great things about marketers is that we’re always looking for what’s next. We know that it’s not enough to rest on our laurels, or rely on things that have worked in the past.

And when it comes to what’s next for video — I believe something is happening that we should all be feeling extremely excited about. Because, quite simply, it could enable us all to take video marketing to the next level all over again.

Is Interactive Video the Next Big Thing?

Limited Limitations

Some fairly obvious characteristics have made video the web’s most engaging media type when compared to text, images and combinations thereof. It’s the perfect blend of audio and visual elements, drilled down into bite-sized chunks that appeal to the modern viewers’ desire for immediate understanding.

But that’s not to say it’s quite the perfect storytelling device. It’s close, but falls down in one simple area: when it comes to interacting with video content, users have only really been able to play, pause, rewind and fast-forward.

Interactive video changes that. In a nutshell, this emerging technology combines video content with user input — allowing viewers to take a wide range of actions while watching video content.

They can click areas of the screen to define their own journey, answer questions, complete forms, buy products, download content and more — often without leaving the player window.

Interactive Video In Action

That’s a pretty broad definition and maybe not the easiest concept to visualize — so let’s take a look at some real-world examples.

We created the below example to explain the general idea behind interactive video and demonstrate a few possible use cases:

4 Interactive Video Examples from Brands

Now that we have a general understanding of what interactive video is and what it’s capable of, let’s take a look at some examples used by real brands.

1) Warner Bros | Focus

Ever seen the 2015 movie Focus starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie?  The guys at Warner Bros rolled out  a clever interactive video campaign to build awareness pre-release.

In the movie, Will Smith plays a con-artist — and the video lets the viewer make their own choices to see whether they have what it takes to pull off the perfect con.

Give it a shot and ask yourself: which would you be more likely to share with a friend? This gamified experience, or a traditional movie trailer?

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2) UK Resuscitation Council | Lifesaver

The next example was produced by the UK Resuscitation Council as an impactful way to educate viewers about safe, effective CPR. These are skills that we all hope we never need, but they could make the difference between life and death. It’s reported that CPR can double the chances of survival in cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Take a look at the video and just consider how much more impactful this campaign might be than a pamphlet or even a simple, linear instructional video. As the old proverb goes: “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I might remember, involve me and I’ll understand.”

Involving the viewer in the process of actually performing CPR in this way is much more visceral — and it certainly imprinted the basics of CPR on my own mind, in a way that I can’t imagine would be possible with other media types.

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3) Deloitte | Will You Fit Into Deloitte?

Another, more business-focused example would be this gamified recruitment experience for Deloitte. Broadly speaking, the campaign aims to educate potential recruits about the Deloitte culture while allowing the viewer to evaluate their own suitability to work within that culture.

Recruitment videos can be a little dry and boring, so this is a nice way to infuse things with a little fun without going too far off-message.

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Looking Ahead for Interactive Video

Like all new technology, interactive video might have started as a sort of “fringe” technology that seemed slightly intimidating, inaccessible and, most importantly, unaffordable. Now, that’s slowly changing. Costs are falling, businesses are getting inspired and the technology is increasingly available and accessible, even for SME’s and startups.

With all that said, adoption is far from widespread. Wyzowls state of video marketing survey 2017 suggests that, even among committed video marketers, adoption of interactive video is around the 24% mark. What’s interesting, though, is that 92% of those who’ve tried it, reported that they’ve found interactive video to be an effective tool for their business.

There are lots of exciting things happening in the world of video marketing — short-form, 360 and even VR — but interactive video might just be the most exciting of all. We can’t wait to see more brands serving up unique, interactive experiences to their customers as we all find out more about its potential for success.

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May

6

2017

A Brief History of Content Marketing, Back to the Future Edition [Infographic]

Published by in category Content Marketing, Daily, IGSS | Comments are closed

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If you ask us, there are three things that we marketing nerds might love more than anything else: History, visual content, and the 1985 film Back to the Future.

So when it came to our attention that our friends at Uberflip combined all three of them, we were thrilled, to say the least. An infographic that uses our most beloved 1980s movie characters to explain the history of content? Be still, our beating hearts.

In all seriousness, have you ever thought about where this whole idea of content marketing really began? Perhaps you’ve wondered what its earliest forms looked like, before there was social media, blogs, or even — gasp! — the internet. After all, it’s the very thing that, for many of us, can make or break an online presence. So who do we have to thank for it?

This fun infographic has the answer, pointing out some of the most important landmarks and developments in content marketing’s history along the way. Let’s hop back in time, and figure how we got to the present — something that was once a rather futuristic vision.



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May

4

2017

5 Examples of Creative Shoppable Content from Brands

Published by in category Content Marketing | Comments are closed

Remember the good old days of catalog shopping? A simpler time when you could flip through pages of a glossy magazine, ogling at advertisements that captured your attention, drew you in, and immediately transformed you into an interested customer.

A lot has changed for brands since those nostalgic times. Thanks to social media and content inundation, brands are having difficulty bridging the gap between browsing and buying. How can you turn engagement into actual conversions?

Have you ever browsed a blog, social media feed, or other digital publication and instantly discovered a product you love? Did you spend the time scanning the website or search engines trying to find it? Probably not.

Retailers have often relied on visual content to capture the attention of consumers. However, the abundance of branded content has made it increasingly difficult to encourage actual purchasing — making the pathway to conversion more crucial than ever.  

What Is Shoppable Content?

Shoppable content is a form of visual commerce in which marketers use compelling imagery (often formulated in a storytelling format) with actionable purchase points or product recommendations, streamlining the conversion path from browsing to purchase.

Interactive and shoppable content are now necessary assets for digital retailers. Convenience and a subpar return policy are no longer enough to capture new audiences and encourage customer loyalty. In fact, according to a recent shoppable content report, 33 percent of retailers stated that the improvement of customer’s digital experience was a top three priority in 2017.

ECommerce brands championing this new form of social and content marketing are breaking down the traditional constructs of digital shopping. Their websites and marketing channels have transformed into experiences that are an inventive step beyond the dull and dated eCommerce environment.

If you’re one of the 33% looking to improve customer experiences this year, take a look at the brands doing it best.

5 Examples of Creative Shoppable Content 

1) Visual Storytelling with Scotch & Soda

Traditionally, lookbooks were an industry insider tool. They were used to attract coverage from press and to showcase new products to potential retail buyers.

Over the years, lookbooks have transformed into public-facing marketing assets used to convey the inspiration of a collection, and to breathe life into the products being sold.

Dutch clothing retailer Scotch & Soda fully captures the creative inspiration behind the Spring/Summer 2017 collection in their latest shoppable lookbook experience. The exotic scenery conveys the story behind the product. A story of creative discovery found in nature — specifically the rainforest.

Someone who browses a lookbook will spend around twice as much as the average app shopper, and also browse twice as long. The interactive design elements provide an engaging experience that drives sales and increases time on site — while the content communicates authenticity and the brand’s identity.

2) All Saints User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is arguably the content marketing trend of 2017. It infuses personality into products by transforming them from objects into relatable lifestyles. The use of UGC on a website or in a campaign increases conversion by 29%, making it an essential asset for sales and customer engagement.

Social media has inspired us to be fascinated with the lives of others, and UGC capitalizes on this trend. By incorporating visual content from actual customers, All Saints successfully alleviates the pressure of purchasing with an experience similar to that of scrolling through a social media feed.

The images act as a product endorsement from other satisfied customers, and the shoppable elements make it easier to discover the product information necessary to make a purchasing decision.

3) Net-a-Porter Shoppable Editorials

Fashion lovers and lifestyle brand enthusiasts have always had an immense love for magazines. Nobody knows this better than Net-a-Porter, which was established on the foundation of exceptional content.

The digital publication and luxury eCommerce retailer has continued to attract customers with insider interviews, seasonal trend reports, and style edits — similar to the content traditionally produced by lifestyle magazines.

The company’s success was built on the largest flaw of lifestyle publications: shoppability and product discovery. Print publications left readers on a wild goose chase when they discovered products in editorials. Net-a-Porter capitalized on this frustration by adding the ability to shop directly within online content.

4) Shoppable Videos from Kate Spade

Shoppable video has become a hot topic in recent years. With video marketing undeniably on the rise, allowing users to shop products directly from videos is an obvious progression to bridge the gap from viewer to customer.

However, the popularity of inserting shoppable product tags in videos highlighted a critical issue: viewers of shoppable videos weren’t completing as many purchases because checking out would interrupt the viewing experience.

Clothing and accessories label Kate Spade realized this early on. For their 2016 holiday video campaign — featuring Anna Kendrick — the label tried something new. They eliminated the friction of exiting a video when shoppable elements were clicked, trading it for a feature that compiled the list of products into a cart viewed at the end of the video.

Instead of ruining the viewing experience for interested consumers, the brand tailored their marketing efforts and technologies to their needs.

5) Shoppable Images on Crate & Barrel’s Blog

Crate & Barrel’s blog is a haven for DIY lovers and food enthusiasts. The brand regularly partners with social media influencers across many beats to amplify their reach. This strategy ensures that they consistently provide quality and authentic content their target audience will love.

Everyone knows that content is king. However, many retailers have struggled with converting blog readers into buyers. Crate & Barrel makes it easier for website visitors to purchase the items featured in posts by adding shoppable product tags into images that feature the brand’s products. Pairing shoppable content with how-to guides allows the brand to leverage moments when readers have the highest intent to purchase.

Closing the Gap Between Engagement and Purchase

Traditional content marketing efforts no longer suffice when attracting and engaging customers. Brands and retailers must lessen the friction between content and their products.

These brands have perfected the art of using shoppable content to engage new audiences, convert more customers, and increase discovery. Use these examples to guide you on your journey for the ultimate customer engagement strategy.

Would you ever consider using shoppable content on your website? Share your take in the comments.

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May

3

2017

How to Use Infographics to Get Leads From Your Website

Published by in category Content Marketing, Daily, lead generation | Comments are closed

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I’m a sucker for a good infographic. Sometimes, it seems like it’s hard to come across a truly remarkable one — one that’s achieved the perfect trifecta of good design, readability, and reliable data. But when they’re well-executed, infographics work wonders, transforming complex topics and dry statistics into visually enticing content. They’re liked and shared on social media 3X more than any other type of content. And, as a result, they can be an excellent tool for driving more traffic to your website.

But here’s a fun fact: Infographics can also be a helpful device to generate more leads.

Generally, the same rules apply here as for creating any effective visual content — it serves as a conversion path as a result of shareability and informative nature. New Call-to-action

But what are the specifics there? What are the different ways to create the infographics that are going to generate leads? We identified five of our favorite ways to go about doing that, and outlined them below.

5 Ways to Use Infographics to Get Leads From Your Website

1) Represent an offer with an infographic.

How are you generating leads today? You might be creating downloadable content that’s gated by forms, or offering a free trial. Whatever those offers might be, pick one and break down the different ways it can be promoted.

To start, make a list of the 10 most interesting things about your offer, like the problems it will solve and the most important information it contains. Think: helpful bits of trivia, the most outstanding statistics it contains, and the best solutions it offers.

For example, let’s have a look at this infographic that was created by HubSpot Marketing Blog Editor Carly Stec:



Infographic example

This particular infographic could be an excellent lead generation tool for, say, a comprehensive guide to blogging. While writer’s block is just one pain point in blogging, it’s one that many people experience. Isolating that particular challenge and fleshing it out in a well-designed, shareable image is an excellent way to tease and promote the larger piece of content.

2) Know the design resources available to you.

If you don’t have a designer at your disposal, fear not — there are plenty of design resources available, many of them free.

One of them is this package of five free infographic templates. They’re in PowerPoint, and are very easy to customize. Just input the 10 pieces of information you selected in the previous step, and tweak the graphics to fit the data. At risk of sounding like a complete nerd — this part is really fun.

Otherwise, sites like Canva and Venngage are both free and easy to use a variety of visual content, including infographics — both also offer paid upgrades if you’re looking for something a little more advanced. Here’s a silly one that HubSpot Marketing Blog Senior Staff Writer Amanda Zantal-Wiener created — about her dog, not to be used for lead generation — for free using the former:



Lead gen infographic

3) Write a blog post to showcase the infographic.

Now that you’ve created your beautiful infographic, you’ll need a place to host it — ideally, somewhere on your site where people will find it.

Your blog is one such venue, and a post is a good way to exhibit your infographic. Even better, you don’t have to write a ton of copy. The visual content should “speak for itself,” if you will, so a small paragraph above the image with introductory text should suffice.

That said, the title of this blog post should still be interesting and optimized, primarily for two reasons:

  1. You want people to find your content organically with the right search criteria.
  2. Remember, one of the best things about infographics is how much they’re shared on social media. Having a strong title to go with a shared social post can encourage people to click on it.

4) Add a call-to-action to your blog post linked to your offer.

Next, you’ll want to create a landing page for your offer — you can click here to do that in your HubSpot marketing software. That way, visitors can fill out a form in exchange for the content you’ve created, and each completed form is a new lead.

Next, create a call-to-action (CTA) to insert into the blog post that’s hosting your infographic. That should be hyperlinked to your landing page — here’s an example of what that might look like:

ct-blog-cta-essential-guide-to-internet-marketing_ns

Not sure how to start creating a CTA? Check out this article with steps for doing so in your HubSpot software.

5) Make it easy to share your infographic via social media.

With certain blogging platforms, like HubSpot’s Content Optimization System, social sharing buttons will be added to each of your blog posts by default. But if your blogging platform doesn’t include that feature, AddThis is a great alternative. Simply sign up for an account, configure your social sharing bar, and add a bit of code to your blog.

AddThis

You can also add “Pin It” buttons like we did above, using Pinterest’s widget builder.

Also, consider turning sections of your infographic into ready-made tweetable images, like BookBub did for their infographic, “Using Back Matter to Sell More Books“:

bookbub-backmatter-infographic-social-images.png

But remember — shareability isn’t just about including the buttons that make it easy to post content with one click. And while that convenience is important, the content itself has to be worth sharing.

So, just to reemphasize, make sure your infographic also meets a high standard of design and helpful information. After all, 42% of B2B marketing professionals state that a lack of quality data is their biggest barrier to lead generation, so make sure the information you include is both reliable and beneficial.

Let’s Get Visual

Lead generation accounts for a big portion of many marketing budgets — in fact, 58% of marketers plan to increase theirs in the coming year.

Using infographics for this purpose is one of the most frugal ways to boost your lead generation efforts. And while creating quality visual content can take time, it can also pay off — so make sure what you’re producing is worth the investment.

How have you used infographics to generate leads? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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May

3

2017

20 Creative Writing Prompts That'll Help You Beat Writer's Block [Infographic]

Published by in category Blog, Content Marketing, Daily, IGSS | Comments are closed

Creative Writing Prompts.jpg

I’ve written a lot of blog posts over the past few years. (Read: I’ve stared at a lot of blinking cursors on blank screens over the past few years.) And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about business blogging, it’s that getting started is often the hardest part.

When you’re tasked with writing regularly and writing well, it’s natural to feel some pressure. My advice? Rather than letting that stress overcome you, consider what you can do to regain control of your time and output.

One technique I’ve found to be incredibly helpful in these situations is the act of freewriting, or writing continuously for a set period of time without worrying about accuracy, punctuation, or usability.

Trouble is, sometimes coming up with a topic to freewrite about can also leave you feeling stuck or stumped. That’s why we put together a handy list of creative writing prompts below to help you get started.

Creative-Writing-Prompts-Infographic



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Apr

27

2017

45 Engaging Examples of Interactive Storytelling in Content Marketing

Published by in category Content Marketing, Daily | Comments are closed

As inbound marketers, content plays an important role in attracting attention to our company and building trust with our prospects. Our content can come in many different formats, and the format we choose can speak volumes about the research and ideas within.

Interactive content has become increasingly more popular as brands try to cut through the noise and keep prospects’ attention long enough to deliver a message.

So how exactly do you harness audience’s ever-decreasing attention span? By giving them an active role in their content consumption process by publishing stories with interactive elements. Such tools can increase engagement, on-site dwell time, and social share rates.

Free Download: 45 Interactive Content Examples to Inspire Your Next Content Project

HubSpot and Playbuzz joined forces to scour the web for amazing examples of interactive storytelling. Each industry poses its own obstacles and unique characteristics, but share one common denominator: Interactive content works for all topics and audiences.

Let’s take a look at a few examples from the ebook:

Interactive Content Examples from Real Brands

1) The Wall Street Journal

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Delivering a large amount of information is a challenge for content creators. This example from the Wall Street Journal does so using searchable, visual stats. The facts are arranged in a number of ways, including a recorded timeline for readers to hit “play” and simply watch.

How can you incorporate this into your content marketing? Search is an interactive action on its own and can be easily incorporated into your content. Using search provides readers with a task to keep them engaged while presenting a healthy amount of information in a positive manner. Adding search options very much depends on the content you create, but tools like FlippingBook and Viostream make even PDF and video content searchable.

2) National Geographic

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Some of the most inspiring forms of interactive content match the topics they address. This example allows readers to follow the ancient cave paintings as if they are touring a prehistoric cave, with color-coded topics to provide insights.

How can you incorporate this into your content marketing? Making history come to life can be a hard task. Don’t shy away from numbers and important facts, but don’t skimp on the imagery and engagement, either. Leave the canvas clear for creative imagery and video, while the text wraps the visuals but does not interfere.

3) Orbitz

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Whether or not your travel partner will make or break your trip is one question all backpackers ask themselves before embarking on a new adventure. Orbitz knew what was on their audience’s mind and created an online quiz that addresses this burning question — specifically for business travelers.

How can you incorporate this into your content marketing? Everyone loves interactive quizzes, but when creating one for your business, always think of what your audience would spend time in investigating. This is particularly true when you wish to exchange results for readers’ contact information.

How to Get Started with Interactive Storytelling

If you’re new to creating digital content, start small with a simple quiz or flashcards embedded in a blog post with Playbuzz. These assets perform well at the top of the funnel because they motivate the user to share and see how their peers stack up against their own experience. Experiment with new formats, topics, and which stage in the buyer’s journey your content serves.

When it’s time to build something more sophisticated, consider working with a developer to determine how to build the user experience and interactive elements you’re looking for. And remember to experiment. That means release early and often so you’re consistently collecting feedback and iterating on your interactive content.

Download the full guide here to learn from over 40 more examples of interactive storytelling, ranging in complexity and industry vertical.

What types of interactive content have you encountered around the internet? Share with us in the comments below.

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Apr

26

2017

The Character Count Guide for Blog Posts, Videos, Tweets & More

Published by in category Blog, Canonical, Content Marketing, Daily, SEO, Social Media | Comments are closed

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When it comes to writing text for your blog and social media posts, many marketers wonder, “But what’s the character limit?” It’s never a simple question — sometimes, it’s answered by parameters established by certain channels. And on other occasions, it’s more a question of what’s ideal.

For example, you probably know the character limit for a tweet is 140, but did you know that the ideal length is actually less than that? (Hold tight — we’ll explain why.) While we’ve written before about optimizing your actual content, we thought it would be helpful to gather the numbers of character limits — both enforced and ideal — for different online channels, all in one place. Manage and plan your social media content with the help of this free calendar  template.

Below, you’ll find a more detailed guide to character limits and ideal character counts for posts on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat, and YouTube.

The Length & Character Count for Everything on the Internet

1) Blog Posts

1-6nX_PYNpn0Ajc0tardzIkg.pngSource: Medium

Quick reference:

  • Post length: 2100 words
  • Title: Under 60 characters
  • Meta Description: Under 155 characters

Post Body

When it comes to the length of blog posts, there are a few different items to consider. For example:

  • According to Medium, posts with an average read time of seven minutes captured the most attention.
  • The average reading speed of native English-speaking adults remains commonly cited as 300 words per minute, according to research conducted in 1990.
  • At that reading rate, the ideal post length is 2100 words.
  • That aligns with research previously conducted by serpIQ, which indicated that, on average, the top 10 results for most Google searches are between 2,032 and 2,416 words.

That means that this ideal word count can address goals around both readability and SEO. But that’s just the actual body of the post. Plus, when we looked at our own blog on organic traffic, we found that the sweet spot was 2,250–2,500 words.

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But that’s just the post body — let’s have a look at the other areas of text that comprise a full blog post.

Title

The length of your title depends on your goals, and where it will appear.

Let’s start with SEO. Do you want this post to rank really well in search? It turns out, that often has to do with the dimensions of each entry on a search engine results page (SERP). For Google, titles of search results are usually contained at a length of 600 pixels — which Moz measures as being able to display the first 50-60 characters of a title tag. So, if you don’t want your title to get cut off in the search results, it might be best to keep it under 60 characters. But when in doubt, you can double-check the length of your meta description and title tags with this handy tool from SEOmofo, or you can use Moz’s title tag preview tool.

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Then, there’s optimizing your title for social sharing. On Twitter, for example, consider that each tweet has a limit of 140 characters — however, if you include an image, that doesn’t count toward the limit. But consider that even the average shortened URL takes up about 23 characters — that leaves you with about 116 characters left for the title and any accompanying text.

In our own analysis at HubSpot, we found that headlines between 8–12 words in length got the most Twitter shares on average, while headlines with either 12 or 14 words got the most Facebook Likes.

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Meta Description

A meta description refers to the HTML attribute that explains the contents of a given webpage. It’s the short description you see on a SERP to “preview” what the page is about.

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Moz notes that Google seems to cut off most meta descriptions — which are sometimes called snippets — after roughly two lines of text — though there’s some conjecture that, like title tags, it’s actually based on pixel count. In any case, it amounts to about 160 characters, though this particular outlet recommends keeping it at 155.

Again, you can double-check the length of your meta description and title tags with this handy tool from SEOmofo.

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2) Facebook

Quick reference:

  • Status updates: 63,206-character maximum | Ideal length is 40 characters
  • Video: 120-minute maximum | Ideal length is two minutes

Status Updates

Facebook’s character limit on status updates is 63,206. However, that’s far from ideal, says HubSpot Social Media Marketing Manager Chelsea Hunersen. “The social gurus will throw around the number 40 characters. That data seems to be backed up by BuzzSumo’s ranking of HubSpot’s own Facebook Page.

But why 40, specifically? “Ideally,” Hunersen says, “you’ll want to use the copy in a status update to provide context for whatever you’re linking to.” That said, she notes, the copy of the status update itself isn’t as important as the copy in the meta title or meta description that gets pulled in when you insert a link into your post. That’s right — social media posts have their own meta data too.

“Often, people look at the image of the article and then directly down at the meta title and meta description for context clues,” she explains. “A lot of people don’t realize you can change those.”

Even on Facebook, it’s still best to keep your meta title to fewer than 60 characters, and to 155 for meta descriptions. There are some resources available to those familiar with coding that let you play around with social media metadata character counts, like these templates. But unless you’re a developer, we recommend keeping it short and sweet.

Video

While Facebook allows a maximum of 120 minutes for videos, we wouldn’t advise posting anything that long, unless you’re doing a special, social-media-only screening of a full-length film.

According to research conducted by Wistia, two minutes is the “sweet spot” — even a minute longer than that shows a significant drop in viewership. “Engagement is steady up to [two] minutes, meaning that a 90-second video will hold a viewer’s attention as much as a 30-second video, the research reads,” so “if you’re making short videos, you don’t need to stress about the difference of a few seconds. Just keep it under [two] minutes.”

b3c077ee5e1cad372628b599fceca8c7717cd4ba.jpgSource: Wistia

However, optimal length can vary depending on the topic. “If you produce something as catchy as BuzzFeed and Refinery29 are putting out there, it can be up to five minutes long,” says Hunersen.

Regardless of the length of your video, Hunersen reminds us that all Facebook videos start without sound, meaning users have to make a conscious decision to stop scrolling through their feeds and unmute the video. Facebook videos should be visually compelling from the get-to, make sense without sound, and be engaging enough to encourage the user to stop and watch.

3) Twitter

Quick reference:

  • Tweets: 140-character maximum
    • Does not include images, videos, polls, or quotes tweets
    • Ideal length is 120-130 characters
  • Hashtags: No more than two
  • Videos: Maximum length is two minutes and 20 seconds

Length of Tweets

Marketers everywhere rejoiced when Twitter finally eased up on its character count parameters, and such media as images, videos, and polls, as well as quoted tweets, ceased counting toward its 140-character limit.

Still, the “Quote Tweet” feature remains available, providing even greater character-saving measures. That happens when you press the rotating arrow icon to retweet a post, and then add a comment in the text box provided. You’ve still got 140 characters all to yourself to comment.

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Ideal Length Overall

Like so much of what we’ve covered, it seems that when it comes to the overall length of a tweet, aim for short and sweet. (See what we did there?) That’s resonated in research conducted by social media scientist Dan Zarrella, who found that tweets with 120-130 characters showed the highest click-through rate (CTR):

Screen-Shot-2013-08-16-at-10.51.12-AM.pngSource: Buffer

The same goes for hashtags. While they can technically be any length up to 140 characters, remember that people will want to accompany the hashtag with other copy. Short hashtags are always better. Ideally, your hashtags should be under 11 characters — shorter if you can.

Also, in a single tweet, stick to one or two hashtags, and definitely don’t go over three. Buddy Media found that all tweets with hashtags get double the engagement metrics than tweets without any. But tweets that kept the hashtags to a minimum — one or two — have a 21% higher engagement than tweets with three or more.

Screen-Shot-2014-04-06-at-6.45.50-AM.pngSource: Buffer

Videos

You can post a video on Twitter by importing a video or recording it using the Twitter app. In any case, the maximum video length is two minutes and 20 seconds.

4) LinkedIn

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Profiles

Here’s a handy list of some of LinkedIn’s most important profile character maximums, according to Andy Foote:

  • Professional headline: 120
  • Summary: 2,000
  • Position title: 100
  • Position description: 2,000 (200 character minimum)
  • Status Update: 600 characters — however, Foote also notes that, “if you select to also post on Twitter from LinkedIn, only the first 140 characters will show on your Twitter post.”

Original Content

With LinkedIn’s publishing platform, users can now compose and share original written content with their networks, or publicly. Of course, that comes with its own character counts, according to Foote:

  • Post headline: 100
  • Post body: 40,000

5) Instagram

Quick reference:

  • Bio: 150-character maximum
  • Hashtags: Maximum of 30
  • Captions: Ideal length is under 125 characters

Since Instagram is, first and foremost, a platform for sharing photos and videos, the primary focus is typically your visual content. However, it’s always helpful to provide some context, and let users know what they’re looking at.

Given that, here are some helpful character counts for the text you include with your visual content:

Captions

While Instagram doesn’t seem to specify a maximum total number of caption characters, it does note that, within users’ feeds, the caption is cut off after the first three lines. For that reason, it’s advised to limit captions to 125 characters. However, don’t leave out important information just for the sake of keeping your entire caption visible. Instead, frontload it with crucial details and calls-to-action, leaving any hashtags, @mentions, or extraneous information for the end.

As for Instagram Stories, there doesn’t seem to be a ton of detail on character limits there, either. However, because the text overlays the visual content — which is the focus — don’t obscure too much of the photo or video with a caption.

6) Snapchat

Quick reference:

  • Character limit: 80 per post

Speaking of not obscuring visual content — that brings us to Snapchat.

Instagram Stories was, many believe, an effort to emulate the features of Snapchat, to create an opportunity for users to share quickly-disappearing photos and videos. And again, because the focus here is on the visual, you’ll want to prevent distracting viewers from it with too much text.

According to Teen Vogue, Snapchat’s character limit is 80 per post, which is more than double its previous 31-character limit. And, if you’re looking for more guidance, just look to this particular app’s name, and remember the “snap” element of it — a word that implies brevity — and try not to ramble. Here’s a great example of how SXSW uses its captions efficiently:

7) YouTube

Here we have yet another network that’s focused on visual content, leading some to incorrectly assume that accompanying text — like titles and descriptions — don’t matter as much.

That’s not entirely false — as a video-hosting platform, YouTube should primarily be used to showcase a brand’s quality videos. However, like any other visual content, it needs context. People need to know what they’re watching, who it’s from, and why it matters.

Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t appear to provide any specific parameters over its character counts — except for your channel description, which according to the official help site is limited to 1,000 characters. But other than that, it seems that the only guideline available is the alert display that lets you know, “Your [title or description] is too long,” if you’ve entered too much text in either of those fields.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 2.57.09 PM-1.png

In this case, we would advise taking the same approach as adding text to support your visuals on Instagram and Snapchat. Like the former, a video’s description is cut off after the first line or two, so frontload the most important descriptors and CTAs, leaving extra details for the end.

Show Your Character

As you set out to determine the length of your text, regardless of the platform, remember to do so with the user in mind. Many of these channel-mandated character limits are established for that reason — to keep audiences from getting bored or overwhelmed.

Like anything else in marketing, however, it’s never an exact science, despite the best data. We encourage you to follow these guidelines, but don’t be afraid to experiment if they don’t always work. Test different amounts of text within your various channels, and keep track of how each post performs. From there, you can make decisions about which types of content, as well as its accompanying titles and descriptions, are the most well-received from your audience.

How do you approach text with different online channels? Let us know in the comments.

This post was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Apr

20

2017

Where We Are: The 2017 State of Content Marketing [Infographic]

Published by in category Content Marketing, Daily, IGSS | Comments are closed

2017StateofContentMarketing-compressor-1.jpg

“Less than 10% of those surveyed were definitely sure how to implement content marketing.”

Sound familiar?

If it does, you’re clearly not alone. Content marketing — and keeping up with it — can be confusing, even to those who understand its importance. Many of us have heard the phrase “content is king.” But what, exactly, does that look like here and now, in such a rapidly changing landscape? New Call-to-action

We grabbed that opening statistic from the helpful, intriguing infographic below, compiled by Zazzle, based on the results of its 2017 State of Content Marketing Survey of marketers in the UK. But instead of simply looking at the latest trends, it sought to examine the pain points and decision-making process of today’s content marketer. And if you’re in the business of making life easier for that audience — well, we suggest having a look.

Do you think the same trends hold true in your neck of the woods? Read on, and see where your current strategy and priorities align with the data illustrated here.



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Mar

30

2017

How Visuals Will Impact Marketing in 2017, According to New Data [Infographic]

Published by in category Content Marketing, Daily, IGSS | Comments are closed

There’s a reason most children’s books are filled with pictures.

Sure, the pictures help parents keep their children still and quiet for the few minutes they’re reading to them. And that’s largely because visuals are engaging and help explain complicated concepts better than text alone.

Save countless hours using these free, pre-made templates to design your  infographics.

Whether you’re reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar or a blog post, the lesson remains the same. For one, visual content increases memory recall. What’s more, articles with images every 75-100 words tended to get double the social media shares of articles with fewer images in a BuzzSumo analysis. So needless to say, visuals such as infographics, videos, or images should be integrated into your content marketing strategy.

There are a few hurdles to creating and promoting visual content, but there are big payoffs, too. Venngage surveyed 300 marketers to learn about their visual content marketing strategies in 2016 to predict trends for 2017. Overall, the marketers surveyed recognize the immense value of creating visuals to increase content quality and engagement but struggle with finding the time and resources to do it well. Read more marketing statistics and trends for the year ahead in the infographic below.

visual-content-marketing-statistics-2017.png

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Dec

6

2016

Google Is Shifting to a Mobile-First Index: What Marketers Need to Know to Prepare

Mobile-First-Google-compressor.jpg

We’re living in a mobile-first world. For most of us, that means from the moment you wake up in the morning, your phone becomes a part of your daily routine — from silencing your alarm, to reviewing the daily news, to checking email, and so on.

And search engines are seeing the result of this trend: search queries on mobile have now surpassed desktop-based queries.

Now you may be thinking, my website is already mobile-friendly … so I’m set, right?

Sure, you are ready for mobile visitors, but your content may not be optimized for the new realities of search. What exactly do we mean by that? Download our free guide here to learn how to design your own mobile-friendly  website. 

Well, Google recently announced that its search results index is essentially being flipped and will prioritize mobile results first:

With Google currently experimenting with this change, there’s a lot you need to know to ensure you’re prepared. But don’t panic, we’ll walk through it all below.

What Is Mobile-First Indexing?

As Google’s Gary Illyes said, this is a big change, so let’s start by discussing some of the details first. Keep in mind this update is currently in testing so you may not notice any differences at the moment.

  1. Mobile-friendly websites matter, regardless of technology. Google has previously stated their preferred method of a mobile-friendly website was responsive design. For this change to mobile-first indexing, Illyes stated that specific mobile site versions and responsive design will work.
  2. SERPs will now be primarily based on mobile content. Today, if you have a page that shows some specific content to desktop-based visitors, but excludes content for mobile visitors, you may notice a change in results because of the mobile-specific content. Because results will start to primarily use mobile content first, you should consider what, and how much content, to add to your mobile version.
  3. AMP-enabled pages are treated as mobile content. If you have Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for your website, or blog, these pages will be treated as other mobile pages and will be indexed first.

Again, this update is still being tested and is likely still “months away” so many details are still emerging and being worked out. In the meantime, it’s worth starting to prepare for mobile-first indexing.

What About #Mobilegeddon?

One of the primary premises behind the mobile algorithm update, affectionately referred to as Mobilegeddon, was that Google was beginning to establish a separate mobile-index for results.

While it seems that Google may continue to build a separate mobile index, the key part here is that they will flip the indexing from desktop-first to mobile-first.

See the below conversation with Illyes for more:

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How You Can Prepare For the Mobile-First World

1) Ensure you have a mobile-friendly website.

Google’s preferred technology utilizes responsive design so your website adapts to the screen-size of the visitor, but if you have a dedicated mobile website (m.example.com) that is fine, too.

HubSpot Customers: Any of your content created using the HubSpot software will utilize responsive design and, as a result, you should be prepared for mobile-first content indexing.

2) Consider if content should be adjusted for mobile.

Most content created specifically for mobile is naturally shorter. You should ensure that your page is still seen as the authoritative source on the content topic you’re writing about, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be long-form content.

Don’t be afraid to consider other types of content — like video and audio — that you can integrate into your strategy. These additional content types can be better for the user experience, and a transcript can be included on the page to ensure the maximum impact for SEO.

Any content you have on pages that is incompatible with mobile devices — i.e., Flash videos — should be replaced as soon as possible.

If you do not have a mobile-friendly website, Google will still index your website but the mobile crawler may appear in your Search Console. Not sure if your website is mobile-friendly? Get your website graded to find out.

3) Prioritize the factors that are important in this new mobile-first index.

What are those factors? Here are two you’ll want to keep a close eye on:

  • Site speed has always been important, but now with a mobile-first index, it’s become even more crucial. This also means you need to be aware of the weight of content on a page, which can drastically affect page speed and has a cascading effect on user experience. More on that here.
  • User experience and engagement have become increasingly important signals for search engines. If a visitor comes to your page and leaves within a few seconds, it’s an indication they didn’t quite find what they were looking for. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if the visitor stays on your page and engages with various links and resources, they are likely highly engaged. In a mobile-first world, consider the experience of that one page, but also how users travel between pages and their experience between each step.

Again, these updates are still actively being discussed, but in the meantime, get involved in the discussion and ensure your website is mobile-friendly.

What questions do you have about the mobile-first shift? Share them in the comments below.

free guide: guide to mobile marketing


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