Content marketing is a cornerstone of modern brand promotion. In fact, a 2016 study found that it costs 62 percent less than traditional forms and generates about three times as many leads. With numbers like this, it seems like every business is working tirelessly to create captivating messaging that will springboard into the mainstream.
As great as the concept sounds, getting into a rhythm of producing high-engagement brand messaging is not as easy as it looks. Even further, once you reach a certain level of quality, the last thing you want to do is backslide.
Once a company begins to gain more traction in the marketplace, a team will be needed to meet demand. This is a time when it’s VERY easy for a strategy to crumble. The more minds you have working, the harder it is to keep everyone’s visions in line.
Keeping this in mind, the entire entity of content marketing requires a superb level of coordination to remain competitive. Let’s discuss some foundational practices for keeping your team working towards the same goals as a single, efficient unit.
Involve everyone in the planning stage
As a manager, your job is to take ownership of projects. However, in order for a team to work as a fine-tuned machine, everyone needs to be present during the planning process and contributing to the big picture.
The truth is that the workplace is a much different environment than it was 30-40 years ago. The top-down dictatorship style of planning projects isn’t nearly as effective as it once was. Employees today need to feel valued in order to stick around. Remember, people leave bosses, not companies.
A good manager is one that works to bring out the very best in each and every member of the team. This process all starts in the planning stage. Be sure everyone has a voice, and ideas are shared freely.
Now, as great as this concept is, it can sometimes turn out to be a difficult task being that many companies these days allow employees to work remote. When this is the case, it’s wise to invest in interactive platforms like GoToMeeting:
Tools like this help ensure everyone is on the same page – whether they are physically present for the planning stage or not.
Promote transparency in task delegation
Once a solid plan is nailed down and the overarching goals are understood, the time will come when tasks need to delegated appropriately.
For example, let’s say one of your goals is to increase revenue by improving your customer service process. In this case, you will need information and data on some of the common issues and roadblocks of that department.
This would likely require someone to scour the web and pinpoint trending concerns most people are having when interacting with brands. With this knowledge, you would then need your creators to craft appealing content addressing these issues in accordance with brand messaging.
In order to get tasks done well, you and your team must embrace transparency in the workplace. If not, certain details can easily slip through the cracks.
For this purpose, it’s strongly recommended to implement a campaign management system. Tools like Workzone are built with a task-driven mindset with transparency being foundational aspect:
For instance, everyone involved in a project or campaign is able to look at the main dashboard and see exactly which projects are on the table, who is working on them, and where they stand in terms of progress.
This dashboard is ideal for small marketing or creative teams, and remains so all the way up to enterprise departments. With clear statuses on campaign goals, Workzone goes beyond simplistic to-do lists like Trello while steering clear of complex ICT project management tools like JIRA.
Transparency in delegation is much easier said than done. Do yourself a favor and look into a software that tackles this challenge for you.
Find a communication alternative to email
As great as email is for external communication, the same cannot be said for in-house interactions.
For one, people tend to get bogged down with more emails than they know what to do with. Therefore, it is all too easy for correspondence between coworkers to get lost in the shuffle.
Content marketing is very much a group effort. As all good leaders will tell you, communication is the key to a high-performing team. To make sure crucial messages don’t get overlooked, companies are wise to look into a form of communication exclusively for employees.
Consider introducing an instant messaging app; the wildly popular Slack:
This tool is well-known for being easy to use in businesses of all sizes. It’s designed for quick group messaging, cross-department communications, file sharing, and integrates with a lot of other popular apps like Google Drive, HubSpot and even Giphy.
Prioritizing emails and organizing an inbox is a task in itself. Keeping in-house correspondence separate is crucial for getting your team to accomplish goals without unnecessary delays.
Encourage teamwork and collaboration
One of the most important ingredients to successful content is consistency. For this concept to become a reality, you must create a strong culture of teamwork and collaboration.
Your content team should share the same vision and be walking on the same path to get there. If you are producing material in vastly different tones with divergent messaging, this is a big red flag your squad is not working as a unit, but a group of individuals.
The best way to create a motivating environment is to keep members in the loop while openly discussing certain issues or concerns related to goals. Programs like Yammer are great for team building and learning more about the visions of everyone involved:
Yammer is essentially a private social networking site you can set up for your company. This interface currently has over 7 million users from more than 200,000 different companies. It’s designed for people to stay updated on all aspects of the company and collaborate on projects across the board.
An open platform like this is perfect for content teams to continuously develop their unified approach. Good, consistent work is a direct product of sharing a collective pool of knowledge.
Managing a content team can be one of the most complicated tasks in the business world. You are dealing with a plethora of different creative and analytical personalities needing to work towards one collective vision.
Success in content marketing depends heavily on the systems and tools you employ. The common successful theme is based around a culture of open sharing and tight-knit communication. Producing compelling brand material is all about finding the perfect balance of these concepts.
A wealth of information lurks in the success (or failures) of the Other Guy.
Here are some ways you can improve your own content marketing results using competitor research tools and tips:
See What’s Popular
Your competitors are working in the same industry as you are, or so I assume. So they have the same audience that you do. This gives you an immediate view on what your audience is looking to read about, watch, view, or listen to.
It doesn’t take a lot to figure out what’s popular with your target demographic. Peek at what is trending on their site(s) and social media profile(s). Make a list of content that has gotten a lot of traffic, views, social media shares, and comments.
From there, you can develop a content strategy that follows the same general idea. Take a note of:
- Why your competitor has started a blog
- How they are using influencer outreach
- If they are doing any contests or digital assets, etc.
Discover Where Competitors Are Lacking
In addition to seeing what they are doing right, you can see what they are doing wrong. I distinctly remember this competing podcast of a client I was working for. They released this video series connected to their show, but not really a part of it. The first couple got a decent number of hits, but then they got next to no views.
Wondering what the issue was, I did a quick viewing of all of their videos (which they continued to release in spite of the lack of interest from their user base). They were cheesy, badly written, and not close enough to their podcast format to brand it properly. It was a trainwreck, basically.
In addition to this travesty of video, the podcasts were suffering because too much effort was being put into a new form of content that didn’t work.
Guess what the client did? Avoided videos, stuck with the podcast, upped their promotion, and ended up poaching a lot of listeners.
We all know that reputation management is an important part of overall branding. But tracking mentions of your competitors really work wonders, as well. You can keep track of announcements both major and minor, and also see what people are saying about the competition.
I worked for a startup once that setup mention tracking for three other platforms in the same industry, with a similar pat structure to their own. When the founder discovered a blog doing a review for a competitor, they asked them to do one for their own.
In the end, the review compared them to the last review and the startup I worked for came out on top.
Tools For Competitive Research
I mentioned before that you will have better tools at your disposal than asking Rebecca’s teenage sister the secret to her cookie selling success. These are some of those tools, though there is an endless supply of competitor research apps and dashboards out there to choose from.
- Google Alerts – The free option, and my personal favorite. You can create alerts that monitor any mention of your competitors across the web. It includes both social and web page results. I use it to monitor my competitors, my brand, and my industry. You can set your alerts to give you a digest of daily results, or to immediately let you know
- Spyfu – Don’t just monitor your competitors, flat out spy on them! Spyfu is a fun and informative dashboard that uses keyword research, mentions and more to keep track of your competitors. It is a combination of SEO and PPC research, so it applies to content and advertising.
- Compete – I don’t always recommend this tool because it is pretty pricey. But if you are a business with a decent budget, you can seriously improve results using this tool. You will learn a strategy to compete with competition on every level, including your social marketing. It is a very in depth tool full of data, and acts almost like a consulting service with a self service bent. It is an investment, but worth it if you have the cash on hand. Some businesses have reported a conversion improvement of 42% or more… seriously.
Do you have a tip for competitor research to improve content marketing? Know a tool that belongs on the list? Let us know in the comments!
Marketing across social media channels have taken a completely new turn.
Earlier brand ambassadors, who were mainly celebrities, had a mass appeal and could influence the masses to take a purchase-decision. Today, the fine line between being a celebrity brand endorser and an influencer has blurred with the rise of a new category called – ‘influencers‘ and has led to the creation of a new branch of marketing called ‘influencer marketing‘.
The masses echo what the influencers recommend, be it a business, a brand, a person or even a concept! Because of this tremendous potential brought forth by influencers, businesses target them to increase their brand visibility and subsequently increase sales. They aim to identify and reach out to their influencers on social media platforms, who are instrumental in driving people to the sales funnel. Influencer outreach has in fact, become one of the mainstays of internet marketing.
But the question is – how do you identify potential influencers in your niche? Or who can influence the masses and make them take a call to action? And most importantly, how are you going to reach out to them as a part of your strategy?
Identify Potential Influencers Based on Traits
Influencers vary according to different industry verticals. This is why, it is important that you focus on finding influencers who are relevant to your industry. You can do this by understanding the traits or the attributes of influencers and using them to your advantage.
Here is a list of some of the most common traits of influencers on social media channels.
- They are frontrunners and get involved with their communities, charities and all the latest trends taking place.
- They are well-connected and have large social networks/social circles.
- They have an impact on others. More often than not, influencers have an expertise in subject matter and hence, people in their network trust their word.
- They are have diverse interests. This means that apart from their areas of expertise, they have ample knowledge about other fields in which they are interested. They tend to invest their time in acquiring more information related to the things they are passionate about.
- They set trends. Influencers are the leaders of the pack and they are the ones who set trends for others to follow or adopt.
Based on these traits, you can easily identify an influencer if you happen to come across one on any social media platform.
Use Social Media Management Tools
The traits that define influencers may be immensely helpful in identifying them, but this approach can be tedious if your business is huge and you are short of time. This is where you can use some social media management tools, which not only help you discover influencers but also filter, manage, monitor and engage with them along with amplifying your marketing strategy.
Let us take the example of Klout to understand how this works.
When your businesses’ social media accounts (be it profiles or pages) are connected with the tool, all that you need to do is to begin your search for influencers and connect with them. Klout assigns Klout Score, a number between 1-100 that represents influence of brands, businesses or people.
Influencers in various niches have profiles with a higher Klout Score. This is how you can filter them out. Alternatively, you can also search influencers by name (provided that you already have a list with you) and location. It basically depends on your requirements and your comfort zone along with the features and functionalities of the tool that you are using.
But these tools also have their flipsides. For instance, they offer minimal or limited interactions and leave you with no option but to follow different approaches tailored for different social media platforms to connect and interact with your influencers.
Analyze the Content Posted by Them
Another smart approach to filter out influencers in your niche, is to analyze the content posted/shared by them. For this, you need to :
- Search for high quality content that has been shared by the masses maximum number of times
- Check out how popular the content is and how well-received it is on different platforms
- Research about the kind of websites or social media platforms on which they have posted their content
- Find out who are the authors of the content
- Know who have shared the content
- Use analytical tools to find out what is the extent of their influence viz the number of followers they have, their engagement rates etc.
This will help you to get a better idea as to who the influencers are in your niche and also, learn about the type of work that they do.
Bond With the Influencers in Your Niche
Once you know who your influencers are, make it a point to bond with them. Since influencers have their own agendas, you need to find out what exactly are they looking forward to and align your marketing strategies to the same.
Do this by –
- Commenting on their work
- Following the people in their network
- Actively engaging in discussions with them on various platforms
- Mentioning them when you share any content posted by them
- Scheduling an expert interview with them for your website or blog
- Collaborating with them for your marketing campaigns
- Asking them to write for you
However, don’t go overboard while approaching them. Say for instance, keep your likes and comments to a bare minimum or use them only when they are relevant and heck your comments and steer clear of making any controversial statements just to get their attention.
Also, don’t bombard their mailboxes with emails as an act of ‘following up’. If they do not reply to your mails, even after a reminder, there are chances that they do not wish to communicate further. Take it as a hint and move on.
Keeping all these ‘influencer etiquettes’ in mind will help you foster a long-lasting bond with them.
These are some of the tried and tested methods that will help you discover and reach out to the influencers in your niche. Have any other pointer that we didn’t mention? Do share them with us via your comments!