Ultimately, the key to modern content marketing is starting from a place of informing your audience. How many times would you want to hear about the perks of your product? If you’re boring yourself as you’re writing your blog post, your audience is already gone.
Schedule a personal profile, a day-in-the-office piece, or some innovative method of using your product that your customers haven’t considered yet.
With marketing right there in the name, it seems obvious that your content marketing is going to include some, well, marketing. And of course, occasionally you’re going to mention the product you offer or the services you want people to buy. But if every single piece of content you offer ends with a marketing pitch or for the purpose of building links, you’re not going to see the sales you want. Let’s talk about why.
Diversity of Content is Key
If there ever was a time when customers made the choice to buy based on a single piece of marketing, that time has passed. With more choices than ever before, customers exhaust many avenues of research before settling on a single product or company. The more kinds of content you offer, the better chance you have of engaging with them.
How-to videos, FAQs, customer testimonials, and articles about industry developments relevant to your product are all key content pieces that move the needle from “undecided” towards “sold.”
Millennials Know When They’re Being Sold To
In many classic marketing schemes, companies almost pretended that they weren’t selling anything. Ads featured brand X and brand Y, only revealing at the last moment that they were recommending something completely different. Modern television ads are full of commercials that never tout the actual benefits of the car or phone they’re advertising, just show a movie star driving around a closed course or showing simulated screen images.
Having grown up with this sort of marketing at their fingertips, Millennials have incredibly canny at understanding when someone is selling to them, and understanding what is, and what is not, being said.
Content marketing works, but marketing to Millennials requires a different sort of communication than marketing to their elders. They expect to get information on your blog, not a sales pitch.
Inside scoops on how the product came to market, a day in the life of your sales team, and the way your company is looking to change the world are all going to make much more of an impact than another story about why they should buy your product.
Millennials Have An Incredible Amount of Buying Power
Some companies may believe that reaching the age-group between 17 and 34 years old is optional, but any company that wants to be profitable cannot afford to leave these people behind. Millennials are expected to spend $200 billion a year, beginning next year, and $10 trillion over their lifetimes.
This is more than any previous consumer generation. Companies that focus only on older marketing methods and older generations will, by definition, find their customer base decreasing year over year.
Customers Of All Ages Respond More To Other Types of Content
Every marketing expert agrees that reaching Millennials means having active and fruitful social media channels, but too many companies start a Facebook page and maybe an Instagram account and think their work is done.
In fact, understanding what makes a person likely to share a piece on social media can help a company develop content.
There are five primary reasons we share content:
- To bring value and entertainment to our friends
- To define ourselves to our friends
- To grow and nourish our relationships
- To feel more involved in the world
- To support a cause
Knowing this, businesses should design content that fits at least one of these categories. For example, a smartphone company could write an article about five great places their phones are being used (entertainment and defining ourselves as people who might do these things) or how their phones are being used by disabled people to aid communication (to support a cause and feel more involved).
But Balance Is Key
Of course, at some point, you’re going to write some straight-up marketing pieces. Usually, these are great when there’s something new happening. A new product, a new service, a new edition, a big sale, or a once-in-a-product opportunity.
Many companies aspire to have a 70/30 split, where around 70 percent of content is “evergreen,” reflecting articles that customers might refer to time and time again, and 30 percent is “news,” reflecting on industry, product, and personnel news. Maintaining an editorial calendar can help a company make sure that they’re getting the balance about right.
According to RuthAnn Wiesner, "if content is king, then Instagram is its own castle". As to why Instagram matters that much for business, here is a list of reasons compiled by Socialbakers:
- 300million monthly active users (MAU)
- 75million daily active users (DAU)
- Top 25 Instagram brand profiles receive 110 times more engagement than on Twitter
- Over 1Billion Likes Daily
- 3,600 new photos shared every minute everyday
Instagram Insights for Business
The visual platform itself is proving to be a good marketing tool for marketers and brands alike. As of August 2016, Instagram announced its release of Stories, aiming to take a swipe at Snapchat´s successful video messaging tool. In short, a platform that features plenty of opportunities for small and medium-sized business and just about any brand looking for a return on investment for their efforts.
Getting Your "Insta" Stories for Your Business
To get it up and running you need an "insta" business account. You can create one from scratch or upgrade your personal one. To upgrade, click the turn wheel icon in the upper right section of your profile and hit "switch". Warning: personal accounts can’t benefit from Stories at the moment.
Benefits of Insta Stories
Is there anything else besides the fresh social marketing perspective? You bet!
Stories allows your business account to be easily discovered by followers and non-followers. You also get access to Analytics, which gives a better insight to what works and what converts across your visual strategy.
Insta Tips and Tricks
It’s all about creating engagement and a sense of community with your followers. To do that, you need to transform your Instagram business channel into a visual storyteller. Here is what you can consider:
- Show personality
- Less is more: keep it 80% non-business and just 20% products/services
- Have call to action elements
- Follow back and engage
- Comment on other users’ photos
- Tag customers for contests and celebrations
- Use hashtags
- Say thank you
- Don’t over-abuse the Direct Messaging options J
The Greatness of Community
Additionally, photograph events and capture video with customers interacting with your products and services. Do not forget call to action elements such as life hacks, product reviews or suggestions for upcoming product launches, promotions and giveaways. Implicate your community members!
Getting Help from the Popular Kids
Follow back, engage and comment with #influencers of Instagram. Tagging users is a great conversation starter, however don’t overuse it.
There is no limit now for using hashtags, but don’t overdo it either, as it sends out the wrong message. Alas, keep the hashtags relevant. Don’t use only the hashtags that get massive clicks, but also the ones that get less, but more targeted traffic.
Harnessing the Power of Instagram Photos
Instagram is all about the "instant" visual: image, video and now story. How you choose to tell your story is more relevant than you think. This blog post from Yotpo showcases the uniqueness of "insta" stories:
- Instagram photos convert better than other types of visual content
- Instagram pics also convert because customer trust photos from previous customers
- Using Instagram has a positive effect on increasing e-comm conversion and engagement
- Instagram photos can be used in marketing materials
- Using Instagram photos allows you to repurpose valuable content, integrate user-generated content
Additional Practices and Curation Tools
To get a grasp of how existing businesses are succeeding, first check the Business Instagram page. Proceed by giving a chance to either of these curation tools to help you filter through stories, or to create better, more appealing stories for your insta business.
This is an Android and iOS photo-editing mobile app with high quality filters, with a free download button. You can use this part social network and photo editing platform to really set yourself apart from the rest.
Available on both iOS and Android OS, this is more than just your average photo editing mobile app. You can fine-tune photos by applying effects with a brush instead of filtering the entire image. Extra: save groups of filters as a template after the initial use, and reuse them Shakira style, "whenever, wherever".
This is an in-house Instagram goody, which allows you to create 1-second videos with no audio. Essentially super short GIFS that loop back and forth. Vinederful, in a way.
Before You Go…
Bottom line: Instagram is more than just a photo-editing & social sharing tool, proving that businesses can convert and strategize through the power of visual. One perfect example of insta success is National Geographic. Thanks to a large network of photographers their images never fail to tell a great story.
Not sure about your own Instagram marketing strategy? This infographic illustrates elements you can integrate for higher success rate.
With so many businesses now using social media marketing, those who haven’t yet caught on run the risk of being overlooked in an increasingly fast-moving culture of interconnectivity.
It is clear that social media is crucial for businesses, but using it successfully is a fine art – there are a distinct number of things you should avoid doing at all costs.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of fifteen mistakes that can turn an otherwise solid social media marketing campaign pear-shaped.
1. Only sticking to FacebookFacebook is often the first social media platform that springs to mind, and, yes, you should definitely be using it. However, to fully maximise your audience, you need to diversify.
While Facebook is usually the most significant outlet for social media marketing, it’s far from the only place which will benefit your business.
There are a number of social media platforms that may be suited to your brand, such as LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter.
2. Using too many networks at onceAlthough you should be on platforms other than Facebook, having too many networks can be just as dicey.
You aren’t going to help increase traffic to your website by creating accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and SnapChat, only to let them gather dust because you’re not regularly managing them (and how are you actually going to find time to manage them all anyway?).
Instead, work out where your target market spends most of their time, and ensure that the platforms you use are industry-appropriate.
A pivotal thing to remember when fine-tuning your business’s approach to social media marketing is that not every social media platform will be suited to every type of business.
For example, a highly visual platform like Instagram is not going to be appropriate for a business that doesn’t provide visually oriented products or services – it won’t, for example, be suitable for an accounting firm.
Social media marketing is a delicate business, and effective use is not as easy as it looks. One inappropriately worded post can be actively detrimental to your business.
If you lack marketing expertise yourself, get in touch with a social media professional.
3. Not thinking before postingThis has to be one of the biggest mistakes businesses make on social media, and can be hugely damaging.
The sense of immediacy and rapidity that comes with having a social media presence can be immensely beneficial to your business and the way you are able to connect with customers, but this can also result in the communication of poorly worded content and inappropriate messages.
This can be disastrous. And even if a bad post is soon deleted, chances are, someone has already seen it.
Avoid this by reading and then re-reading every potential post, and asking yourself whether the material is truly fitting with your brand and beneficial to your business.
4. Forgetting to spell-checkPoor spelling and grammar can look sloppy and unprofessional, and will drastically reduce the impact of otherwise great content.
Take care to read over and spell-check content before posting.
Fine details – and your ability to spot them – reflect heavily on you as a brand, and while they might seem like they’re not a hugely big deal, these are elements which people online love to point out.
5. Responding unprofessionallyAt some point, you will almost certainly encounter angry or upset people, because that’s simply what happens on social media.
However, it’s vital that you always engage in a respectful and polite manner. Even if you are being attacked, your responses should reflect the professionalism and integrity of your business.
Again, once it’s out there, you can’t take it back – a single unsuitable comment can be hugely damaging.
6. Being too casualOne of the most effective ways in which social media enables you to connect with your audience is the easy, conversational forms of communication it fosters.
Engaging with customers in a casual, relaxed way is great for personalising and humanising your brand – social media marketing isn’t about stuffy formality.
However, there is such a thing as too casual. Avoid text-speak abbreviations – don’t use “u” instead of “you”, for example. Don’t swear. Don’t voice personal opinions about contentious subjects (religion or politics, for instance).
What you put out there can be fun and relaxed – and can certainly be a personalised reflection of the ways in which your business is unique – but ensure that you still maintain a sense of professionalism.
7. Leaving comments unattendedIt only takes one negative comment for things to start spinning wildly out of control. Don’t leave your comments unattended.
People tend to feel invalidated and unappreciated when they’re ignored, and trolls and hecklers who are left to their own devices will only become more and more difficult to handle.
It’s important to reply to all comments and complaints in a timely, professional manner.
8. Posting in a hurryDon’t be tempted by the ease with which news can be broken on social media.
Before you post, take a deep breath and think for a moment.
Is the message appropriate, given your brand, your target audience, and the kinds of goals you associate with your presence on social media (such as strengthening customer relationships and increasing your brand’s authenticity)?
If you are posting a link to a piece of news, is the source trustworthy?
Is the material actually legal to share?
Is it likely someone will be offended by it?
9. Cross-postingWhat may work in a medium like Facebook may not also work on Twitter, and vice versa.
And, put frankly, cross-posting also just has a tendency to look lazy, as though you simply could not be bothered tailoring the material accordingly. This reduces the impact of the content itself.
Ensure that you customise the content you post across each platform, and consider its compatibility with the platform itself.
10. Hiding from negative commentsIf a customer posts a negative comment on your Facebook wall, don’t just delete it. And don’t simply refuse to engage with negative or controversial comments.
Firstly, you should value the criticism, because it could be a reflection of suboptimal business practices, and also of what other followers might be thinking.
Secondly, responding to comments like these is a valuable way in which you can provide transparent and effective customer service. Showing your audience that you are able to handle negative feedback or difficult situations when you are put on the spot is one of the many ways in which social media enables you, as a business, to take control over the way your brand is perceived.
11. Not using imagesMultiple studies have indicated that content that is accompanied by images or video is accepted at significantly higher engagement rates.
Social media is a highly interactive, visual medium, and it is very likely that your audience does not want to read content that consists solely of text.
Posts and tweets that have compelling, engaging image-based components will generate more “likes” than those without, and are far more likely to grab the attention of your audience.
Images are crucial to both promoting your website, and in cultivating your brand itself. They provide customers with evocative, vivid forms of what your products and services are all about.
12. Don’t neglect itA neglected profile is like a kiss of death for social media marketing.
Your updates should be regular and consistent. If you, say, post at a particular time of day, every day (or once a week – how frequently will depend on your following and the nature of your business), your followers will start to expect this, and will invest more trust in your brand as an industry leader. This kind of confidence won’t be inspired by sporadic updates.
13. Not taking ownershipIf your business is at fault, apologise. If someone has left a negative comment, reply to it – don’t avoid it.
Not only is this best practice in terms of successfully running your business, it will also serve to create a sense of brand confidence and trust, and offers up a form of transparent communication.
If situations that involve conflict of some sort are handled diplomatically and politely, and with a sense of responsibility, potential customers will see this as a display of integrity, not weakness.
14. Sharing too much informationYou want to be giving your audience enough to whet their appetites, but no more than that.
The content you post should therefore leave some questions unanswered, and should prompt a call to action.
Providing too much content can be as harmful as not providing enough – the right amount will titillate your followers, and leave them wanting more.
15. Being inexperiencedBecause social media tends to be the province of younger generations, those more experienced, senior members of your team may have less social networking expertise.
Furthermore, where these younger members of your workplace may have a stronger grip on social media practices, they might lack the professionalism that comes with decades of industry experience.
Ultimately, you should find a way to combine this tech-savvy freshness with more polished professionalism by ensuring that everyone on your team is on the same page in terms of social media marketing strategy, and in relation to the overall vision and values of your brand.
It is also worth considering hiring a professional who lives and breathes social media marketing – if you’re not sure what you’re doing, you can do your business more harm than good with just one poorly timed slip-up.