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Jul

19

2017

Just Getting Started With Video Marketing? Here’s the First Video You Should Make

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

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One of the most controversial phrases in the marketing today is, “pivot to video.”

It strikes fear into the hearts and minds of writers, as we worry that our skills will be replaced by the looming popularity of videos.

Luckily, our research has shown that audiences still want to read blog and news content.

Download our free guide to learn how to create and utilize video in your  marketing to increase engagement and conversion rates. 

But the fact remains: People want more video content, too. So how can marketers get started creating videos that help spread the message of their brands just as effectively as the written word?

We’ve created a framework to help you figure out where you should focus your efforts when creating your first marketing video, and which type of video to start with. All quiet on set? Let’s dive in.

How to Get Started With Marketing Videos

Before you start filming your first marketing video, you first have to determine what the goal of the video will be. Ask yourself these questions to start narrowing down how to get started on video marketing:

1) What resources do you have?

Let’s evaluate what resources you’ll have to create with.

  • Do you have an audio/visual production team that can film and edit the video, or will you be doing it yourself?
  • Do you have enough budget to hire a freelance video producer? Or to purchase equipment and software to create and edit the video yourself?
  • How much time do you have to devote to filming, editing, and promoting your video?
  • If you don’t know the first thing about producing videos, do you have the time (and patience) to take courses, or teach yourself how to use filming equipment and editing software?

The headcount, budget, skill level, and time you have at your disposal will determine if you’re able to invest in creating a high-tech, animated video, or if you should produce a more lightweight video of a talking head to start out.

I asked HubSpot Multimedia Content Strategist Megan Conley what she recommends for marketers just starting out, and she noted the importance of allotting resources to make your first marketing video as comprehensive as it can be.

“The last thing I want is for someone just starting out to create one of those slideshow-style videos with photos accompanied by text and a soundtrack,” she explains. “The world needs far, far fewer of those.”

It’s possible to create exceptional video content with a smartphone and limited skills — you just need to make sure you’re creating one for the right purposes and media. More on that later.

2) Where does your marketing funnel need the most help?

If you’re not sure what your first marketing video should contain, take a look at your marketing funnel, and evaluate where a video could be of the greatest help.

“Company explainer videos are good options, but too often people put a lot of time and resources into that and then don’t create anything afterward, because they didn’t have a comprehensive plan,” says Conley. “Or, they create that first — before they have any real experience — and it’s not as great as it could be … and will probably have to be redone later.”

In case you need a refresher, here’s the Inbound Methodology:

Inbound Methodology

Ideally, you’ll have videos at each stage. But if you’re time or resource-strapped, choose the stage that needs the biggest boost.

Take inventory of your inbound funnel and identify where it needs the biggest boost. Here are some ideas for videos you could make to help each stage achieve its respective goal:

Attract Stage

If you’re having trouble generating leads at the very top of your funnel (TOFU), you might want to make an explainer or animated video to attract visitors to your website via organic search and social media. (Click the links to skip down for examples of each type of video.)

An eye-catching animated video, or a comprehensive breakdown of a trending topic in your industry will draw people to your social media platforms and blog pages. Conduct keyword research and review topics that are trending to choose a subject that’s captivating to your audience, and create a video that answers a question for potential leads. Then, if your video satisfies their queries, they will keep watching (or reading) to learn more about you, and — hopefully — convert.

Here’s an example of a TOFU explainer video we created to drive traffic from our YouTube channel to a new research report on a topic we want our audience to learn more about from us: topic clusters.

Convert Stage

If you’re having trouble moving leads along your funnel to get them to try a product demo, free trial, or download a free tool, you might want to make a demo video first.

During the convert stage, leads have provided their contact information, but they might not be ready to get on the phone with a salesperson to talk about buying a product. So if you want leads to take steps closer to the bottom of the funnel, consider creating a video demonstrating how to use one of your products or services to achieve good outcomes. Then, leads might be more interested in trying out one of your free products or requesting a demo — moving them further down the funnel towards your sales team.

Here’s a demo video we produced showcasing a new tool available in our free CRM. The video shows, rather than tells, the benefit of using the tool, and it might make people want to download it and check it out.

Close Stage

If your sales team is having trouble closing leads and making the sale, you might want to make a customer case study or testimonial video.

Your brand advocates are the best form of advertising for your business, because people trust other people’s recommendations — it’s the principle behind social proof. By showing a real person and a real business that have been positively impacted by your product or services, leads might be more interested in signing a sales contract — because the video has proven your company’s value.

Here’s a testimonial video featuring happy, successful customers — talking specifically about why they chose our product. This is helpful for generating awareness of HubSpot, but it helps make a case for why people should choose us over another product, too.

Delight Stage

If your customer success team is having trouble retaining and delighting customers, you might want to make a how-to video first.

Most customers today want to quickly and easily find answers to their questions by searching for the information online. If they can help it, they want to avoid getting on a call — they want to save time and solve the problem themselves, with help from a comprehensive knowledge base on how to use your product or service.

A how-to video showing how to do something helps customers succeed on their own time. It doesn’t have to be about how to use your product — it can focus on a widely useful topic that’s helpful to your customer and sows good faith with them.

Here’s a how-to video that breaks down how to create a Snapchat geofilter. It’s not HubSpot software-specific, but it’s important to always be helping, and this video helps anyone — including our customers — get to the next level with their marketing efforts.

3) Where are you posting?

Based on the answer to the question above — where does your funnel need the most help? — you should be able to determine where your first marketing video should live once you’ve filmed and edited it.

Attract Stage

If you’re trying to attract people to learn about your brand — possibly for the first time — publish your first marketing video in a blog post, on YouTube, or on social media. That way, visitors will come across your content — and your brand — while conducting online searches or while checking social media news feeds.

Convert Stage

If you’re trying to convert prospects and move them down your marketing funnel, include your first marketing video in email campaigns, on your brand webpages, or on a landing page that prompts leads to download software or request a demo.

Close Stage

If you’re trying to help your sales team close prospects, share your first marketing video in two places: on YouTube and other social media channels to increase general awareness and word-of-mouth recognition, and on your website wherever you discuss your customers’ success stories, or why customers should choose your brand to achieve their goals. Videos can show — rather than tell — potential customers about your value proposition.

Delight Stage

If you’re trying to help customers succeed using your product or service, share your first marketing video within your knowledge base for customers so they can quickly and easily access the information they need to get the job done.

8 Types of Marketing Videos to Create

Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of marketing videos you can start creating to achieve results anywhere in your marketing funnel.

1) Demo Videos

A demo video can — you guessed it — demonstrate how your product or service works by taking viewers on a tour of your software, unboxing and testing a product, or showing a user setting up a product. Here’s one of my favorite examples — an unboxing video from Casper:

2) Brand Videos

Brand videos bring your company’s vision, mission, or products and services to life. Brand videos attract your target audience and help establish your brand as a thought leader and influencer in your industry. Here’s an eye-catching example from Slack that’s all about its philosophy and product:

3) Explainer Videos

Explainer videos tell stories by breaking down a topic or problem for easier understanding. These can be used at the top of your funnel to explain concepts in your industry, or you can make a brand-specific explainer video all about your products and services.

Vox nails explainer videos — here’s one I loved:

4) How-to Videos

How-to videos teach your audience something new to help them achieve their goals and solve their problems — hopefully, with help from your products or services.

Here’s a how-to video from Adobe Creative Cloud about how to use its products to make fun, shareable GIFs:

5) Animated Videos

Animated videos can be a great format for tricky concepts that need visuals, graphics, and captions to be properly digested. Here’s an incredible video from Tech Insider that animates the depth of the ocean:

6) Case Studies and Testimonial Videos

One of the best ways build trust (and convince prospects to close) is by creating videos featuring your happy customers. Customers can talk about their challenges and how your company helped them meet their goals to convince future customers to do the same.

Here’s a supercut of happy Evernote customers in one of its videos:

7) Live Videos

Live videos can give your viewers a behind-the-scenes look at your company. Broadcast interviews, events, and presentations live in real-time and encourage people watching to comment with questions to start a conversation — and prompt them to share.

Here’s a live video we streamed here at HubSpot with a behind-the-scenes look at — what else? — our team filming a video.

8) Ephemeral Videos

Ephemeral, or disappearing, videos can live on social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. Like live videos, they can show a more authentic, behind-the-scenes look at your brand, and you can use them to promote time-specific campaigns and events with your audience through different channels. Follow HubSpot on Instagram or Snapchat to check out our latest stories.

What was the first marketing video you ever produced? Let us know in the comments.

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Jul

14

2017

How to Write a Video Script [Template + Video]

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

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Movie producers and inbound marketers aren’t that different when it comes to creating and editing video content.

We’re both telling a story, and whether that story is about a protagonist or a product, we’re both trying to captive our audiences and make them believe in the story we tell.

What happens at the end of the story is a little different, though.

Download our free guide here to learn how to create high-quality videos for social media.

While movie directors might want viewers to come away from their work feeling or thinking something, inbound marketers want viewers to come away from it planning to do something — whether that’s subscribing to a blog, filling out a lead form, or signing up for a product trial.

Most marketers wear a lot of hats and let’s just say, out of all the hats worn, the videographer one isn’t always their favorite. That’s because creating videos can be intimidating, especially if you’re new to it. 

And if you’re more of a copywriter than a videographer, as I am, you might overlook how important the planning stage of video production is — the part where you really solidify your video concept, goals, and script. Contrary to what I previously thought, you can’t just rewrite a blog post and call it a day — there’s a specific way to write a script so that it shapes an effective video.

So that’s what we’re going to tackle in this blog post: how to write an effective video script to ensure the best possible product emerges from your editing software, and lives wherever you’re publishing.

How To Write a Video Script

1) Start with a brief.

Although it might seem like this is an easy step to skip, it’s not worth it.

Starting with a brief allows you and your team to document the answers to the most important project questions so everyone involved in creating the video can get on the same page. When you’re three-quarters of the way through the editing process, and your boss or colleague wants to completely redo that whole shot where you demonstrate how your product solves a problem, that’s a huge problem — for you.

When pesky predicaments like this one stand in the way of progress, you can just refer back to the brief that documents the goals and project plan your team mapped out together, and say, “Actually, that’s not what we agreed to.” 

Then, you can move forward.

Focus on your goals, topic, and takeaways when developing your brief.

A brief doesn’t have to be fancy, nor does it have to follow a specific formula, but there are several key questions it should include to craft an effective video script. 

  • What’s the goal of this video? Why are we making the video in the first place?

  • Who is the audience of this video?

  • What’s our video topic? (The more specific, the better. For example, if you’re in the house painting business, you might choose a topic like, “buying the right paint brush”).

  • What are the key takeaways of the video? What should viewers learn from watching it?

  • What’s our call-to-action? What do we want viewers to do after they’ve finished watching the video?

You can easily create a brief in Google Docs to serve as a living, breathing template that you revise over time — and that your team can collaborate on.

2) Write your script.

Once you’ve picked a topic, it’s time to write the script.

Just like the brief, the video script doesn’t have to be fancy. You’re not trying to submit this script for any awards — its purpose is strictly functional. A good script makes it easy for the people on camera to get their messages across while sounding and acting naturally.

Write conversationally.

Writing a script is not the same as writing a college paper or marketing research report. You want to write the script how you want the video subject to speak. Saying, “I’m gonna create a video after reading this blog post” on camera will read much better than, “I am going to create a video after reading this blog post.” Keep sentences short and crisp — I recommend avoiding compound sentences, if possible.

Make it thorough.

A script doesn’t just include dialogue. If your video will require multiple shots, characters, or scenes, include these details. Be sure to include any necessary information about the set or stage actions, such as a wardrobe change.

Basically, you want the script to be thorough enough that you could hand it off to someone else to shoot, and they’d understand it.

Write for the audience and the platform.

Is your audience made up of young teens, middle-aged professionals, or older retirees? Will your video live on Instagram, YouTube, or your website? Make sure you’re keeping it conversational for the people you’re trying to connect with — and infuse humor, tone, and inflection accordingly. Furthermore, if you’re writing a short-form video for Facebook, you might want to consider keeping your script choppier with sentence fragments — but if you’re producing a long-form explainer video for your website, make sure you’re as thorough as possible.

Differentiate the main narrative from B-Roll, text overlays, and voiceovers by using different formatting or callouts.

If your video will transition from the subject speaking the primary narrative to a close-up shot of your product with a text overlay, you’ll want to call these things out in your script so anyone who reads it knows what’s supposed to be read on-screen — versus incorporated into the editing process.

Take a look at how the folks over at Wistia did that in the video script for Wistia’s scripting tips below. Text overlay is called out with a big, bold “TEXT,” audio is called out in all caps (REWIND SOUND), and B-roll or additional details are called out in italics (with glasses on). (Note: It might help to watch the video first for the excerpt of this script to make sense).

how_to_write_a_video_script_example_keep_conversational

Source: Wistia

Script every single word.

It’s understandable to think you can just jot down the main bullet points for a script, and then just wing it on camera, especially if you know your subject matter. This approach makes it tough to communicate a message as clearly and concisely as possible (which you should aim to do in every video you create), and it usually results in a lot of re-dos.

So, we suggest scripting every last word. Trust me — doing this will keep you organized during filming and save you loads of time later.

Make it brief.

When it comes to marketing, shorter videos are more compelling than longer videos, and to make short videos, you need a short script. Don’t write a script any longer than two pages. If you can keep it to one page, even better. It’s also worth doing two to three rounds of edits solely focused on cutting all unnecessary fat in your writing. Reading it out loud to listen for opportunities to make the language more conversational, or sentences shorter, can also help.

The result is a video that’s succinct, engaging, and allows for a simple editing process.

Use this script template.

Writing a script from scratch is way harder than starting with an example. To give you a head start, download this Word Doc video script template we used to create this video with Wistia:

Have your script ready? Neat. Now it’s time to …

3) Do a run-through.

Now that you know how to write a script, it’s time for a table read — the part where you practice bringing that script to life on camera.

Why practice? Because some words look great on paper, but once you read them aloud, they just don’t sound right. The table read is where you really get to fine-tune the tone and nix anything that sounds too proper, improper, robotic, or otherwise inappropriate for the message you aim to convey.

Check out the video below on how to do a table read:

Oh, and one last tip …

When it’s time to shoot, use a laptop and a chair as a teleprompter.

Since you don’t need a fancy script, you don’t need a fancy teleprompter to remember your lines. But you do need help remembering your lines. You can actually just use two things you already have — a chair and a laptop — to keep your lines handy as you’re shooting.

For more tips for using the tools at your disposal to make a killer marketing video, check out our video guide to shooting videos with an iPhone.

Are there other tips you have for video marketers when it comes to putting together a great script? Share your advice with us below!

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

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Jul

6

2017

14 Video Production Tips to Enhance Quality and Drive Views

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

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Video content can be a valuable asset in your inbound marketing content mix. In fact, by the end of this year, video content is expected to represent nearly three-quarters of all internet traffic.

But getting people to sit through your videos can be challenging, considering that the longer your video isviewers will consistently drop off and stop watching, in most cases.

Your video is being judged on its content, presentation, production quality, style, and the valuable information it provides. What does this tell us? Your content must be truly remarkable to maintain your audience’s attention. Download our free guide to learn how to create and utilize video in your  marketing to increase engagement and conversion rates. 

Below are our tips to instantly improve the production quality of your video marketing content to give it a nice little boost.

14 Video Production Tips for Your Next Marketing Video

Video Pre-Production Tips

Be well-prepared and organized for your video shoots. If you show up to your shoot unorganized and decide to “wing it,” your final product will look unprofessional and sloppy. On the other hand, if you’re prepared, you’ll be able to focus your efforts on directing your actors rather than figuring out last-minute logistics.

Time is of the essence, so don’t waste hours trying to figure out which angle you want or what line needs to be delivered next. Know exactly what you want before the day you film by following the steps below.

1. Be original.

The concept for your video project should be original and creative. Don’t take the easy route and copy someone else’s idea. Instead, conduct persona and keyword research, find out which types of video content are popular and successful in your industry, and double-check to make sure another brand hasn’t covered the exact same angle already.

2. Plan it out.

Write a script, draw out a storyboard, and create a shot list before you start filming. Plan your b-roll shots so you have extra footage when it comes time for editing (more on that below). If you think writing a video script is the same as writing a blog post — think again. Here are Column Five’s best tips.

3. Be selective when choosing video subjects.

Set high standards when casting actors for your projects. Pick someone who can deliver dialogue naturally, who can memorize lines, and who isn’t stiff in front of the camera. If possible, plan time for a few run-throughs to work out any mispronunciations or giggles.

4. Carefully consider the set.

Don’t try to fool your audience by “set dressing” your office to simulate another location. Your audience is paying close attention to every detail of your video. Shoot your video projects in locations other than your office — in front of textured and interesting backdrops, but ones that also aren’t too busy.

Video Production Tips

You can always touch up your footage when you edit afterward, but remember that editing takes time. If you can make everything look as close to perfect as possible during filming, you’ll save yourself a lot of valuable time in post-production. If you shoot a scene and it doesn’t come out great, learn from what went wrong the first time, and shoot it again. Here’s how to do it:

5. Be cognizant of sound quality.

Don’t come off as an amateur with poor sound recording quality. Use lapel or lavaliere microphones — both of which are hands-free — when shooting sit-down interviews, or use microphone and boom setups for bigger shots. If you’re filming a video with a smartphone, you can purchase microphones that fit into the phone’s headphone input to quickly and easily improve sound quality.

6. Set up lights.

You don’t want your footage to be under or over-exposed, so set up lights and eliminate any unwanted shadows. We recommend a three-point lighting setup to illuminate video subjects from a variety of angles — here’s Wistia’s guide to setting one up.

7. Use a tripod.

Use a tripod to keep your video stable — and not wobbly, as it most certainly will be if you hold it yourself. Get a standing tripod or a tabletop tripod for tighter shots to keep your video looking professional.

8. Focus.

Make sure the camera is in focus — and then lock the exposure so it stays in focus. Be mindful of keeping shots white balanced to keep lighting neutral and even, too.

9. Obey the rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds involves splitting up your shot into thirds, horizontally and vertically, and framing your subject off-center. It creates movement and life in your shot the way a straight-on, centered shot wouldn’t.

Here’s an example — try to film individuals in one of the side panels of the divided frame, like so:

rule of thirds

Video Editing Tips

Make sure your content is remarkable and tailored to your target audience. Edit your video so that it gets to the point, and doesn’t drag on. Remember, you don’t have long to capture (and hold) your viewer’s attention, so make sure that the beginning of your video is engaging, informative, and relevant to the viewer, and that she’ll clearly understand the message.

10. Align the flow of the video with the emotional response you want to evoke in viewers.

The tone, structure, and pacing of your video have a major influence on its effectiveness and the emotional impact on your audience. Tell a story that would be compelling to you — build tension and drama by arranging shots according to your storyboard and script.

11. Leverage b-roll.

Cover up your cuts with b-roll footage that complements the narration. You can find b-roll and other stock footage on sites like Vizeedy if you didn’t film it yourself, but it’s best to keep your shots all in the same setting to maintain the video’s consistency. Take the extra time to go back and film more b-roll if you need it.

12. Use background soundtracks.

Light background music can cover any ambient sound and provide tone and emotion to your video that words and images otherwise can’t. You can find royalty-free stock soundtracks that you’re allowed to use on sites like AudioMicro — make sure you’re not using songs that are licensed, or else it could result in your video getting taken down.

13. Optimize video text.

Keep the style of your text and titles simple, classy, and sharp. Choose a clear and bold font, keep words on your video screen to a minimum, and use text animations to keep the viewer engaged with new additions to the video they watch.

14. Optimize your video for the platform.

Be mindful of where your video will exist while you’re editing. Is it for your website, YouTube, or Facebook? Each platform has different specifications — for example, on Facebook, where 85% of viewers watch videos without the volume turned on, you’ll want to use captions, so people can follow along without the sound. YouTube videos don’t count views until someone watches for 30 seconds or more, so make sure the first 30 seconds are as interesting and eye-catching as possible.

If you’re looking for more ideas for how to get started filming, it’s as easy as pulling an iPhone out of your pocket. Learn how to do it in the video below:

Are you leveraging video as a part of your content mix? What other tips can you share to improve overall video production quality?

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2011 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Jul

1

2017

7 New Twitter Features (and 4 Others You May Have Missed)

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

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In an industry fixated on rapid growth, any slowdown in user acquisition or monetization sounds alarms. And Twitter, whether it likes it or not, has been sounding a lot of them lately.

After a few years of stagnant monthly active user growth and disappointing the market, Twitter has been on an upswing thus far in 2017 — beating investor projections by generating more money and adding more new users than initially anticipated.

In the face of a negative narrative, the company has been quick to take action and focused predominantly on changes geared toward the user — and it seems to be working. Download our pre-sized Twitter cover photo template here to create a brilliant  header photo of your own. 

Over the last year, Twitter has made a number of changes, small and big, to drive user engagement and improve the overall onboarding and experience of the platform. But we know how tough it can be to keep up with these types of updates, which is why we put together a list of the more notable features and changes below. Marketers, take note.

7 New Twitter Features

1) The End of Vine … and the End of Periscope?

When technology companies are struggling to grow, as was Twitter for much of 2016, they will usually do one of two things — cut staff to make financial ends meet, or develop new innovations to attract and engage users.

In Twitter’s case, it did both — Twitter sunsetted Vine and launched an in-app live video streaming feature — thereby eliminating the need to stream from Periscope for many users.

Vine paved the way for the popular short-form and infinitely-looping videos we see on Snapchat and Instagram today (like this one), and in the fall of 2016, it was ultimately shuttered as Twitter shifted its focus to live video content.

Vines are still available to share and watch (and rewatch), but now, six-second looping videos must be recorded and shared directly to Twitter or saved to the creator’s camera roll.

Then, in December 2016, Twitter launched its own in-app live video streaming and recording function — effectively eliminating the need to live-stream from within the Periscope app.

Fed chair Janet Yellen explains decision to raise interest rates. #CheddarLIVE #Periscope #GoLive https://t.co/5WfFBeiWyf

— Cheddar (@cheddar)
June 14, 2017

Twitter hasn’t discontinued Periscope the way it did so with Vine, so users can still download the app and live-stream videos to their audience there. But these changes in such rapid succession disappointed a lot of avid fans and users — and reflected Twitter’s growing need to keep users within its app.

It’s no secret that video is no longer just popular — it’s also a requisite element of any successful social media platform. Twitter is trying to innovate its video creation, broadcasting, and sharing tools to give users the types of content they want — short-form, looping, and live broadcasts — to compete with other platforms, attract new users, and keep existing users engaged.

We haven’t seen Twitter jump on the bandwagon of creating an ephemeral video stories feature like most of the major social media platforms — yet. But we should expect more features and announcements — like Twitter’s deals to live-stream professional sports and breaking news — that signal its continued emphasis on video content in the future.

2) A New Layout

In June 2017, Twitter completely redesigned its desktop site and mobile app to make Twitter feel “lighter, faster, and easier to use” in response to user feedback:

Following in the footsteps of Brian Chesky: what’s the most important thing you want to see Twitter improve or create in 2017? #Twitter2017

— jack (@jack)
December 29, 2016

Twitter’s user base has been slowly growing — and sometimes dipping — over the past few years, and these UI and UX innovations could help attract people to Twitter, while also preventing users from leaving it.

how-many-users-does-twitter-have_large.pngSource: The Motley Fool

Here’s a rundown of the changes:

  • Decluttered UI: Twitter now offers a sidebar menu where users can more easily navigate to their profiles, lists, and personal settings — instead of having to tap through the app more than once.
  • Real-time reply, retweet, and like counts: Users can now watch the engagement numbers with tweets increase in realtime within the app, instead of refreshing and reloading tweets.
  • Clearer typography and iconography: Twitter changed the in-app font, made some headlines bolder to attract attention in the busy feed, and changed the “Reply” button to a conversation bubble (so it didn’t look like a back arrow anymore).
  • Round avatars: Profile images are now round instead of square.

And here’s what these changes look like in action:

Check-new-look-iOS Refresh Full Walkthrough.gifSource: Twitter

Most of the changes were widely panned by users, but this is the internet, after all — and Twitter will never make everyone happy. Some users pointed out that cosmetic UI changes are not nearly as important as improving users’ abilities to report and challenge abusive language on the platform — and that’s next on our list.

3) More Comprehensive Anti-Harassment and Cyberbullying Features

One of the biggest complaints against Twitter is how easily harassment can spread and exacerbate on the network — and there was no better test of this hypothesis than political rhetoric surrounding recent global elections. Historically, tweets aimed at threatening or scaring individuals on Twitter have gone unfettered and caused a number of users to delete their accounts or even fear for their safety — as blogger Ariel Waldman has chronicled.

Twitter Rules prohibit the kind of abuse we mean here — threats, hate speech, bullying, and harassment on the basis of users’ race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, ability, disease, or nationality. However, until as recently as March 1, 2017, there haven’t been a lot of options for users report and stop abuse they were experiencing in real-time. Twitter has begun to respond to harassment and threats on the network with a series of features and services aimed a keeping people safe. These additions include:

  • Notification filtering: Users can specify which accounts they don’t want to receive notifications from. For example, you can filter out notifications from accounts without profile photos and with unverified email addresses.
  • Mute option: Users can mute specific keywords and phrases, and they can choose how long they don’t want to see that type of content.
  • Reporting transparency: Users now receive notifications when — and if — Twitter intervenes on an abuse report the user files.
  • Time-out: Users who are reported are sometimes temporarily put in “time-out” while Twitter investigates the report to prevent the further dissemination of abusive content.
  • Safe search: Machine-learning technology will prevent users from being served potentially abusive content when they search for tweets on the platform.
  • Hiding abusive tweets: Twitter has started identifying low-quality tweets from potentially abusive accounts so users see high-quality content first. The tweets will still be on Twitter — they’ll just be harder to find.
  • Preventing new abuse: Twitter has started preventing reported and flagged users from creating new accounts with the same contact information in an effort to prevent repeat offenders on the platform.

These updates are critical to ensuring Twitter stays a welcoming place for all users. In a leaked memo last year, former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo underscored the importance of this move, saying:

I’m frankly ashamed of how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It’s absurd. There’s no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing.

We’re going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them. Everybody on the leadership team knows this is vital.”

4) Moments for Everyone

Twitter introduced Moments — curated tweets about a single topic or story, all in one place — back in 2015. Moments allowed publishers and brands to pull together their tweets and tweets from other users about a topic to tell a story in one story collage — and in August 2016, Twitter opened up Moments to any user who wanted to create them. Here’s what they look like:

Squirrel sneaks into NYC building and things get nutty 🌰

Now, whether you want to feature your own tweetstorm, content from other people on the platform, or both, anyone can easily make a shareable Moment to tell a story. You can go into the Explore tab (or the Moments tab on Twitter’s desktop site), and create a new Moment there. Or, you can find a tweet you want to feature and create a Moment while you’re scrolling or on your own profile:

twitter_moment_add.png

Moments present another opportunity for users to get discovered and shared on Twitter, so opening this publishing capability up to everyone was a smart move.

5) Explore Twitter

In January 2017, Twitter axed the Moments tab and created the Explore tab on the mobile app, which combined Twitter trends, Moments, and search — all in one place.

It was a simple new feature that combined features already in existence, but by putting these all in one tab, Twitter made it easier for users to find and engage with new content on the platform — and hopefully, stay in the app longer.

Here’s what it looks like (if you haven’t already noticed it):

Explore-Screenshot1.jpg.img.fullhd.medium.jpgExplore-Screenshot2.jpg.img.fullhd.medium.jpgSource: Twitter

6) More Characters to Reply

Twitter made a big change to the way users can directly reply to one another. Whereas before, users had to @mention the account they wanted to reply to, the mention is now built directly into the reply button. This gives users more characters with which to reply, because they don’t have to type in the username and cut into their precious 140 characters. Check it out:

new-reply-button-twitter.png

This change has been met with some criticism, though — because users can’t specifically one-off reply to particular people. So if you’re included in a tweet with multiple other users, everyone will get a reply notification — even if the reply isn’t specified for them. To specify who you want to reply to, you can click the hyperlinked Twitter handles and check or uncheck the users you wish to send a notification to, like so:

twitter-reply-example-uncheck.png

So while Twitter is giving users more room to express themselves, it might also give them the ability to communicate with too many other users if they don’t choose the feature above — especially if bullies and abusers are replying-all to tweets.

7) Safer DMs

If you receive private Direct Messages from users you don’t follow, users now have the option to approve or deny the request to connect — and report the message if it’s inappropriate.

If you’ve opted-in to get Direct Messages from anyone, messages from people you don’t follow will go into requests. https://t.co/n1qasb7JZC pic.twitter.com/HQY20T5f6t

— Twitter (@Twitter)
May 30, 2017

This feature is a win on a couple of levels. It helps users better screen for and identify abusive content — and choose if or when they want to engage. It also prevents the need for a tweet back-and-forth of asking someone to follow you before you reach out to them via DM. Instead, you can simply shoot them a message — and they’ll approve it if they wish.

4 More Twitter Features You May Have Missed

I wrote the original version of this blog post back in 2016 with a different set of new features, and wanted to make sure you still knew about those neat new(-ish) capabilities, too.

1) The 140-Character Count Loophole

As far as debates go, Twitter’s 140-character limit is about as contentious as the Oxford comma. Some say the character limit on tweets is essential to Twitter’s identity. It secures Twitter in place as one of the fastest available ways for ideas to spread. Others are ready to see it lifted, arguing that removing the 140-character cap would open Twitter up to a new and engaging range of content and possibly new users. One area where the pain of the character cap is particularly sharp is in adding media to your tweets.

By default, media links used to take up 23 characters in a tweet, which is about 16% of your allotted characters — no small portion. That said, images are a boon for interactivity on your tweets: HubSpot conducted a study and found that tweets with images resulted in 18% more clickthroughs and 150% more retweets.

Tweets_With_Images_Stats.png

Last year, Twitter announced that media (e.g., images, polls, videos) attached to tweets would soon no longer count against your 140-character count. The same rule would apply to the @handle when replying to someone else’s tweet.

This update makes a couple of changes to the way replies and retweets are handled. Users will no longer have to add a character prior to a reply — for example, “.@meghkeaney” — to ensure their reply is seen by all followers. Not to mention, users will be able to retweet their own content if they want to add a thought to a previous post.

2) Accessible Images

Back in October of 2015, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made a public appeal to developers to submit ideas for product enhancements:

Developers on Twitter: please tweet your ideas and requests using hashtag #helloworld. We’re listening!

— Jack (@jack)
October 21, 2015

One of the ideas generated out of that invitation focused on making Twitter more accessible to users who are visually impaired. In other words, people using Twitter’s iOS and Android apps can now add alt text descriptions to images within tweets. Websites have long used alt text to help visually impaired visitors understand the messages conveyed by images, using assistive technology like a screen reader or Braille display.

The accessible images feature has to be set up at the user level, a drawback for it gaining mass adoption, but it’s easy enough to set up. In an Android or iOS device, go to your Twitter settings (the gear icon) and follow these steps:

  1. Tap Accessibility.
  2. Next to Compose image descriptions, turn that feature on.
  3. From there, when you add an image to your tweet just tap Add description to insert descriptive text.

Adding accessibility may seem like a smaller win, but it’s a best practice across the board for businesses and organizations looking to grow their audiences and do the right thing.

3) Native GIF Search

Even though this list isn’t weighted for significance, it took real willpower not to place this at number one. As someone whose reliance on GIFs is beyond description, this feature release was a big one for me. In 2015, people shared more than 100 million GIFs on Twitter. When you think about the steps it previously took to share an animated image on Twitter, that number is even more impressive.

Previously, you had to leave Twitter, search for the appropriate GIF on any number of GIF search engines, save that image, go back to Twitter, recompose your tweet, and finally, upload the image. Today, with Twitter’s new GIF feature, you just click a button and conduct the search there — no saving or uploading needed.

Gif Search on TwitterSource: Twitter

(By the way, if you like GIFs, I highly recommend this post by my colleague. It’s a fascinating history and analysis on why exactly GIFs became so popular.)

4) The Switch to Uncropped Photos

Twitter may have started as a text-based platform, but images are a source of some of its top engagement. That’s why the news that Twitter had adjusted its image size requirements to not force-crop most images came with such praise. The resulting experience means that Twitter is more visual and engaging right off the bat. See the before and after shots provided by Twitter below:

Source: 
Twitter

Along with the uncropped photo update, Twitter also introduced a new view for multi-photo displays. This update allows users to see even more of the individual photos included in a collage.

new_look_for_twitter.com_photos_2.jpgSource: Twitter

In all the punditry on the current and future state of Twitter, most of the narrative to this point has focused on the competition. Twitter’s response, however, has been largely focused on its users. While some of these updates may seem small, in aggregate, they signal a move to a much more intuitive user experience fed largely by user feedback. Time will tell if this focus on fan-favorite features amounts to a measurable increase in usage and revenue.

What do you think about Twitter’s latest features? What else would you like to see? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2016 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Jun

30

2017

20 of the Worst Typos, Grammatical Errors & Spelling Mistakes We've Ever Seen

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

worst-typos.jpeg

“How long did you take to revise this?” “A couple of sec, I mean minutes … ”

“Did you use any editing tools?” “Yes … the red and green squiggly lines in Word.”

“Please tell me spell check is somehow broken. ” “ … I haven’t used that since 2008 … ”

Whenever the internet devours brands for making typos more cringeworthy than my parents’ joint Facebook account, I picture these conversations ensuing between writers and supervisors.

Because even though they have access to a stockpile of grammar and spelling tools, they still let typos or poor grammar creep into their copy.

Download our free writing style guide here to eliminate typos and grammatical errors from your own writing.

I empathize with these unlucky writers, though. Typos are inevitable. Sometimes, they tiptoe into my blog posts, and there’s nothing I can do about the embarrassment except lock myself in the nap room and wail into a pillow.

But the 20 pen slips below were so hilarious and shocking that my laughter pierced through all my colleagues’ noise-canceling headphones. I couldn’t stop chuckling at these editing blunders.

So, although our hearts sting for these writers, we decided to share their hysterical typos and grammatical errors. Hopefully, they’ll forget the pain and laugh with us too.

20 Funny Typos, Grammatical Errors & Spelling Mistakes

1) We’re having a little trouble imagining this.

imagine.jpg

Image Credit: 11 Points

2) Just found out The Purge actually happened.

hunters.png

Image credit: ViralNova

3) “When I grow up, I want to be a technincian!”

cincinnati_state

Image Credit: WCPO

4) If you think about it, it is original.

Orignal.jpg

Image Credit: Slice

5) Best headline since “Headless Body in Topless Bar”.

asdf.jpg

Image credit: The Guardian

6) Ironic Twitter shaming: a dish best served cold.

Fox announcer: “He was covered pretty good.” Boo. #DeathOfGrammer #LoweringTheBar

— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe)
December 10, 2012

7) The few and the proud.

daysinn.png

Image credit: ViralNova

8) The one-two typo punch …

First, the poster:

lbj_poster

Image credit: JimRomensko.com

Then, the apology tweet:

lbj_tweet

Image credit: The Chronicle of Higher Education

9) We wouldn’t take one.

ded.jpeg

Image credit: Cheezburger

10) Did someone actually name their kid Sport?

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 4.14.04 PM.png

Image credit: Flickr

11) Well, at least they admit to their mistakes.

SpelMistk14

Image credit: Jazarah!

12) Did they edit this ad in a New York minute?

reebok_typo

Image credit: Engrish and Funny Typos

13) The ultimate silver lining.

find.png

Image credit: ViralNova

14) Apparently, floor cloth won him seven Tour de Frances.

Rugs.jpg

Image Credit: Slice

15) Is it proper grammar?

stella-artois-typo.jpg

Image Credit: The Huffington Post

16) We’d buy it.

brid.jpg

Image Credit: Pleated Jeans

17) What would happen if you pressed no?

Exist.jpg

Image Credit: Pleated Jeans

18) She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s talking about herself.

their.png

Image Credit: ViralNova

19) We hear he’s a little dramatic under water.

scubadiva.jpg

Image Credit: Pleated Jeans

20) Throwback to Googing things.

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 4.11.37 PM.png

Image Credit: Flickr

What’s the worst typo or grammatical error you’ve ever seen? Share your stories in the comments below!

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

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Jun

29

2017

16 Video Marketing Statistics to Inform Your Q4 Strategy [Infographic]

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

video-marketing-statistics-compressor.jpg

As marketers find more innovative ways to attract audiences, video has become a meaningful part of the strategic conversation.

Video is long past the status of an “up-and-coming” marketing tactic. It’s here, and it’s an increasingly powerful way to communicate your brand story, explain your value proposition, and build relationships with your customers and prospects. 

The most recent statistics show that video content isn’t just effective — the demand for it is growing at an impressively rapid pace. Did you know, for example, that 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers? Or that 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI?

To learn more about how video marketing can help convert customers and increase engagement with your brand, check out the infographic below from Vidyard (and for even more information, check out its Video in Business Benchmark Report). It breaks down 16 compelling video marketing statistics in the context of viewing platforms, distribution channels, business video consumption habits, and more.


BMR_Infographic_10fps.gif

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

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Jun

29

2017

The Best New Type of Content to Support a Product Launch: A HubSpot Experiment

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

ads-calculator-experiment-compressor.jpg

Here at HubSpot, we obsess over our product — how it’s built, where it’s headed, and how we talk about it. Every update, from minor feature tweaks to major product launches, are pored over by a team. Developers and product managers handle the creation and vision of individual products. Product marketers own the story of the product, with the goal of creating the narrative that defines the product.

That story should explain why the product is important, who it was made for, how it can be used, and the value it adds. It’s these stories that bring to life campaigns across marketing and sales, and help us grow. Download our free planner to learn how to step up your SEO traffic in just 30  days.

To execute that well, we’ve had to build a well-established promotion playbook — a guide that outlines what to do, and when, for each type of launch. But a playbook alone doesn’t tell a compelling story: one that not only explains what the product is, but also contains valuable information that can help marketers in the long-term. That content is evergreen, and we thought, “Hey, maybe we should focus on that when we launch something new.”

One of those launches was for our Ads add-on. This is the story of that product — and how we shifted our content strategy playbook for it.

A Test of Evergreen Product Marketing Content and Organic Traffic

The Hypothesis

Content with an evergreen appeal will have more impact on a product launch than our standard, short-term traffic launch posts — even if the evergreen posts take more time and energy to create.”

A piece of content that stays relevant over time is more likely to perform better in organic search and continue to support a product launch for months without decay. In our previous experiments, for example, we’ve found that 92% of our monthly blog leads — not to mention, 76% of monthly blog views — came from posts of this nature.

old posts leads traffic

That contrasts with our typical product launch playbook, which generally includes a few short-term promotional blog posts and other content, the relevance of which has a briefer shelf life, and tends to receive the highest amount of traffic from email subscribers. For example, when we launched new Sales products at INBOUND 2016, we supported the announcement with this blog post, which receives 59% of its traffic from email — versus only 9.9% from organic searches. This month it’s received a grand total of seven views.

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 12.01.51 PM.png

It was the prospect of longer-term impact — which is often accompanied by a high organic search volume — that informed our objective: to build an amazing piece of evergreen content around a product launch that would continue to be useful to marketers (our target audience) for years, while also conveying the key messages of the product’s story. It would not only introduce readers to the value of the new tools, but might also engage our core audience by providing longer-term actionable insights and takeaways.

What We Did

Key Methods

First, we looked at what some of our favorite content creators were producing. One thing that particularly stood out to us was The New York Times “Rent or Buy” calculator: a half-content, half-web-app property that allowed readers to manipulate different quantitative properties on a sliding scale — like home prices or length of stay — but also contained accompanying copy to add context to the resulting calculations.

We needed something like that: a piece of written content that also served as a free tool, and could help people obtain the data they needed before getting the most out of our product. In this case, that product was our Ads add-on.

We knew from conversations with customers that marketers often longed for a seamless way to figure out how much to spend on ads before actually using a product that would measure and display the ROI of that spend. Sure, a free online ad spend calculator wasn’t exactly a new idea, but we wanted to build something different: a piece of content with sliders that allowed marketers to manipulate different inputs.

The Framework

This wasn’t going to be easy. It would require development work, prototyping, and content composition. It would be a considerable investment of time and effort — we estimated about 5X that of typical launch content. If it worked, the experiment would be valuable. But if it didn’t, there was the possibility that, considering the aforementioned resources, it might be a long time before we had the opportunity to test something like this again. It was a big bet — but it was one we were willing to place.

Ultimately, our plan was to launch a central site page that the ads calculator “lived” on, with other supporting initiatives around it. This included:

  • A small email campaign
  • Social media promotion
  • A blog campaign

Success — or the lack thereof — would be measured by the amount of traffic to the central ads calculator page. It launched in July 2016.

Ad Spend Calculator

The Results

Initially, we saw a big spike in the post’s overall page impressions, as well as requests for product demos that were driven by a call to action (CTA) placed at the bottom of the page: 

Ad Spend Calculator

But, there was a catch: It appeared that this spike was largely driven only by the supporting pieces — the email, social media, and accompanying blog promotions.

In the month following the launch, when those pieces were no longer timely, only 673 people visited the page, which was far below our projections and a number that could have been easily achieved from a “normal” blog post. Plus, only 200 of those views came from organic searches, which were generating less traffic than social referrals and direct visits. To say the least, it wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for.

But here’s the thing about evergreen content, and the organic search traffic that you hope will come with it: It’s called long-term traffic for a reason.

For that reason, we didn’t draw any conclusions after the post-launch month, and instead, continued to observe its organic traffic performance month over month. We had faith that our experiment would work, and with the tool working as it should, just left it alone. And sure enough — month over month — organic traffic began to grow.

ads calculator organic traffic.png

Each month, the tool continues to see more traffic. Organic search is now our second-highest source of visits, comprising about half of our best-performing month’s traffic — which was May 2017, close to a year after the launch. As of writing this post, we’ve seen 19,851 total views, over 30% of which are driven from organic searches. What’s more, the end-of-page CTA has generated close to 300 requests for demos of the Ads add-on.

In other words, people are finding the tool useful, coming back, and spending a significant amount of time with it. Each month, organic and referral traffic is growing, signaling that the tool — and the overarching content that accompanies it — can continue to serve a purpose to marketers in the long-term.

What We Learned

This approach to content can absolutely be followed. It is worth mentioning that we have access to front-end developers who were able to build this free tool — if you have those kinds of resources, we encourage you to consider which similar tools you can build that are relevant to your products and services.

But if you’re short on that kind of staffing, we also encourage you to take inventory of your current content, blog posts included, and determine if any of them can be repurposed to serve these same long-term goals. It’s an important question to ask as you create new content, as well as, “Will this still be relevant in a year?”

Often, taking this approach to what you create can extend its shelf life. Can your blog post about a current trend, for example, be broadened or repurposed to cover a larger, more macro trend that will maintain relevance beyond the immediate timeframe?

And while we don’t take this approach for all content, after the success of the Ads Calculator, we do actively seek more opportunities to build something evergreen. We feel strongly that our hypothesis was proven true: that sometimes, producing less, higher-impact, evergreen content works better than one-off posts. We also believe that could indicate a larger trend around different types of media consolidating, like embedded audio within blog posts, or more posts that combine applications with written copy. It’s interactive — and, it provides engaging value for the reader.

Have you used evergreen content in a similar way? Let us know about your best experiments in the comments –and hey, we might even feature it on our blog.

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Jun

28

2017

6 Digital Storytelling Lessons from Pottermore

Published by in category Content Marketing, pop culture | Comments are closed

digital-storytelling-pottermore-compressed.jpg

As technology continues to lower the cost of content production, today’s end user is asked to digest more stories than ever before — in conversation, in written text, at the movies, in advertisements, and even through web design. With so much to absorb, it’s essential for digital marketers to differentiate their content and deliver an incredible experience.

To better understand recent advancements and best practices in digital storytelling, look no further than the creative writing greats. J.K. Rowling, the famous author of the Harry Potter book series, has sold 450 million Harry Potter books in print, worldwide. Though the first book in the series was published nearly 20 years ago, the content continues to take new shapes through her site, Pottermore.

Launched in 2012, Pottermore is the global digital publisher of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, “dedicated to unlocking the power of imagination.”

In this post, I’ll discuss six ways Pottermore pushes the digital storytelling envelope. Apply them to your own strategy to deliver content that strengthens relationships with your community.

6 Lessons in Digital Storytelling from J.K. Rowling

1) Offer Unique, Exclusive Content

Pottermore is the host and primary retailer of the enhanced editions of the Harry Potter books, but its unique content doesn’t stop there. Visitors also gain access to new writing released by J.K. Rowling, free of charge. Her pieces flesh out existing plot points and provide further context to the original stories. To the delight of many fans, the site additionally posts sanctioned articles on all things Harry Potter that dive into niche topics and plot points.

In short, Pottermore is the destination for Harry Potter content.

This is a primary goal for digital storytellers: to develop a lauded reputation for a certain content type. This is achieved through time, consistency, and promotion. To build hype for the first release of Pottermore in 2012, a restricted number of early birds were granted access to help put the finishing touches on the site. This layer of exclusivity drove press coverage, ensuring the larger release gained significant attention.

Takeaway for Marketers: As you build your own digital storytelling world, commit to a specific angle and consider how you can present it in a way that showcases what makes it valuable and original. Perhaps it’s a noteworthy writer, the fact you stay up to date on a specific trend, or that you leverage someone’s distinct professional experience.

On Pottermore, it’s J.K. Rowling’s words that draw fans in, but the most popular features of the site aren’t about the author — they’re about the user.

2) Develop a Custom Experience

As J.K. Rowling describes in this original introductory trailer, “It’s the same story, with a few crucial editions. The most important one is you.”

In keeping with this vision, Pottermore asks visitors to create an account in order to access certain information. This allows Pottermore to learn and save information about each individual, and create a personalized experience.

To drive signups, Pottermore gates one of their most popular features — quizzes. In order for visitors to assess their Hogwarts house, Patronus, or wand type, they must create a login.

patronus-gif-pottermore.gif

After creating an account, quiz results are saved, and users can return to read more about their results and view any purchases made to their personal account. With the information gained through the quizzes, Pottermore creates a user profile that reflects each unique individual and allows them to learn more about themselves in the context of this world.

Takeaway for Marketers: Information-gathering is the key to creating a custom experience. When you learn more about each individual user, you’re able to deliver digital stories in a way that resonates.

Pottermore uses quizzes, but you can also use less direct means to learn more about your readers, such as through Google Analytics’ suite of tools. You can always, however, ask for information directly. Users are often happy to submit information when they know the output will be an experience suited entirely to their tastes.

3) Create a Sense of Belonging

After completing Pottermore’s sorting quizzes, users are assigned to respective “houses.” This house, similar to the membership signup, creates a sense of belonging within the larger Pottermore community.

Ironically, this might be the single thing Harry Potter fans crave most from the original content: to finally join the book’s secret wizarding society that allegedly lives right under the reader’s nose.

To further foster this sense of community, Pottermore is also launching a new book club that will encourage discussion among users through a Twitter chat.

Takeaway for Marketers: To create a sense of belonging among your own community, you need to give your audience a way to identify as a part of the larger whole and participate. It helps to pay special attention to the language you use in your marketing efforts. J.K. Rowling placed heavy emphasis on the reader in her introductory trailer, referring to her fans as a “wonderful, diverse, and loyal.” Digital storytellers, too, must invite their audiences to enjoy content in a way that lets them know their perspectives and experiences are understood and appreciated.

Pay careful attention to the language you use in your invitation to resonate with your target audience. Use identifying phrases that help your readers understand that your content is especially for them.

4) Build a World

Your visitors will more likely feel a sense of belonging if you go so far as to create a digital “world.”

Luckily, you don’t need to be a fantasy author to create a content universe — but it can be helpful to take a few cues from them. Part of what turns a fiction fan into a fanatic is that they’re invited into a unique world that is so fleshed out, it seems real. This augmented sense of reality makes it easier to forge a connection with the content, and imagine yourself inside of the story.

How, then, can you make your story, brand, or idea so well-fleshed out, that a user feels connected and a part of your universe?

Takeaway for Marketers: Like Pottermore, your “world” should be branded to have its own identity that attracts people to become a part of it. Another brand that pulls this off is REI. Its award-winning marketing campaign #OptOutside is an example of how consumers can attach themselves to the qualities associated with a company. By making it extremely clear what their brand represents, REI grew their community by throngs not for their products — but for their ideals.

5) Provide Regular Updates and News

Another way you can continue to build the world of your story or brand is to regularly provide new content.

On Pottermore, in honor of the fact that the first book in the Harry Potter series was published nearly 20 years ago, posts that explore and celebrate the first book’s themes, moments, and characters are released every Friday.

The site also includes an entire page dedicated to official information and news around latest happenings related to the content. Several newsworthy pieces are released each month. This content keeps visitors informed, and also protects the brand from speculation, rumors, and incorrect reporting on other sites.

Takeaway for Marketers: When you take control of the news that’s shared about your organization, you develop a reputation as a trusted and transparent resource. You also appear more active and responsive to relevant current events. Establish a cadence for content creation, and stick to it to build an expectation and trust with your community members.

6) Reimagine Existing Content

Perhaps most trendsetting of all, Pottermore sells enhanced editions of the original books that reimagine the stories. In the spirit of magic, the new editions are complete with animations and interactive artwork. Their goal is to engage your imagination and create a new reading experience that brings you closer to the content than ever before.

The enhanced editions, and the site in general, are shining examples of how storytellers are taking it to the next level to create incredible experiences for their readers.

Takeaway for Marketers: When you work hard to publish valuable content regularly, it can feel disheartening to consider its digital shelf life. To make the most of your evergreen content, and avoid reinventing the wheel, think through what improvements you might make to the experience to wow and delight your readers. Whether you update key facts and statistics, add a video message, or reimagine the page’s design, you can add components that elevate existing pieces of information in new and exciting ways.

At its heart, Pottermore exists to create a phenomenal storytelling experience. You, too, can send a message to your community and the industry at-large when you focus on the end user.

The Magic of Digital Storytelling

When you create a unique experience for your community that centers around delight, you invite your readers to feel as if they are a part of something. This, in turn, increases their loyalty, and makes them more likely to consume your content again and again, and refer your brand to others. Case in point: the brilliance of even the name of J.K. Rowling’s site, Pottermore.

What marketing lessons have your favorite books taught you? Let us know in the comments.

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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

pdf-preferences-experiment-compressed.jpg

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:

inbound_methodology_title-2.png

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

film-videos-iphone-compressed.jpg

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

icloud-storage-plan-2-1.png

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

catchy-titles-headlines-compressed.jpg

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.

headline-length-vs-social-shares-2.png

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:

 

With materials sourced only in the U.S., @mindseyedesign creates delicate pieces of jewelry that make strong statements. #design #jewelry #maker #designer #madeinUSA #shoplocal #smallbiz #love #beautiful #TheUPSStoreCustomer #craft #gift

A post shared by The UPS Store (@theupsstore) on Feb 25, 2017 at 9:03am PST

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.

 

To answer your question: Yes. It is very difficult to ship @littleredkitchen’s products without eating them. #cook #chef #kitchen #baking #yummy #delicious #TheUPSStoreCustomer #goodeats #ordernow #brunch #honey

A post shared by The UPS Store (@theupsstore) on Apr 13, 2017 at 12:38pm PDT

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.

 

Hats off to this #AerieREAL girl! Post your unretouched swim photos with #AerieREAL & we’ll donate $1 (up to $15K) to @NEDA.

A post shared by aerie (@aerie) on Jun 9, 2017 at 6:01pm PDT

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).

 

🎉 Thanks to YOU, we’ve raised $10,000 for @NEDA! 🎉 And thanks to you, we’re not done yet! Share your unretouched swim photos with #AerieREAL & we’ll donate $1 (NOW up to $15K!) to the National Eating Disorders Association. We love you all & the swim you’re in!

A post shared by aerie (@aerie) on May 26, 2017 at 1:49pm PDT

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).

 

Getting ready for a brand new week…. We’re all smiles 😆🐶🛶🌲🏔 . . Puppy love with #BufferCommunity member @davesarazen 📸

A post shared by Buffer (@buffer) on Jun 11, 2017 at 7:21pm PDT

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.

 

Just when we thought we knew what the perfect workspace looked like… we stumble across this 😍🌸 Share your favorite spots to work using #BufferSpaces for a chance to be featured! . . In the heart of Mykonos with #BufferCommuity member @margarita_karenko 📸

A post shared by Buffer (@buffer) on May 31, 2017 at 12:05pm PDT

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:

 

The versatile drum design of these modern tables make it easy for @bridepauw to switch up her living room design as needed. Don’t you love when beauty and function align? {shop link in profile} #wayfairathome #homedecor #design #regram

A post shared by Wayfair (@wayfair) on Mar 8, 2017 at 5:52pm PST

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.

 

Tray #chic! We love how @waitingonmartha uses her rattan tray to store #beauty products. #linkinprofile #wayfairathome #regram

A post shared by Wayfair (@wayfair) on May 23, 2017 at 6:39am PDT

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.

 

Visiting from Austin, Texas, AJ Joplin from #IBMDesign discovered one of the many quiet nooks at the brand new #IBM San Francisco Studios. This one overlooks a southern view of the SOMA district. 📷 by @up.and.adam #IBMStudios #WatsonWest

A post shared by IBM (@ibm) on Nov 21, 2016 at 1:49pm PST

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.

 

The output of some serious brainstorming and design thinking at a recent IBM Innovation Workshop in Edinburgh, Scotland. 📷 @four_by_two

A post shared by IBM (@ibm) on Feb 21, 2017 at 6:49pm PST

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.

 

Laptop ✔️ Notebook ✔️ Owly ✔️ Hootsuite essentials for the work week #hootsuitelife 📷: @dennis_deee

A post shared by Hootsuite (@hootsuite) on Apr 17, 2017 at 3:33pm PDT

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.

 

Here we have the rare Owly in its natural habitat. What a fantastic opportunity to observe its at home behavior! 🔎 How many Owly’s can you spot? 📷: @andykwleong #lifeofowly

A post shared by Hootsuite (@hootsuite) on Mar 28, 2017 at 11:09am PDT

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).

 

Ooo cozy. Just a few more days to share your Cozy up to Red Cups photo using #RedCupContest. Thanks @ktnewms for the beautiful photo. ❤️ For more cozy moments see our story.

A post shared by Starbucks Coffee ☕ (@starbucks) on Nov 22, 2016 at 2:25pm PST

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.

 

To the sea. To the mountains. To the rivers and falls. To the outdoors you ventured… looks like you had a ball. #RedCupContest faves so far for “Adventure” in our IG story. (Keep ’em coming!) 🏔 Regram: @photosbylancelee

A post shared by Starbucks Coffee ☕ (@starbucks) on Dec 1, 2016 at 10:07am PST

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.

 

Have you ever had an IRL #Escher moment? Photographer @tanosm did in this labyrinth-style complex in Spain 🔹

A post shared by Adobe (@adobe) on May 21, 2017 at 9:27am PDT

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

 

Want to capture glorious shots like this with a DSLR camera? Head over to the Library for everything you need to know (dog sold separately). Link in bio!

A post shared by Wistia (@wistia) on Apr 24, 2017 at 11:58am PDT

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:

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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:

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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:

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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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