3 Awesome Tools to Streamline Content Creation

When you are running an online business of any kind – be it a blog, an ecommerce store or just a marketing campaign for a tangible, offline company – you have multiple sources of content distribution at your disposal.

YouTube, blog platforms, Twitter, Facebook… social media has become the way of the future in online business. Failing to properly utilize such a resource will severely damage your online visibility, which is crucial in today’s world. Social media is changing the way we are doing keyword research, produce and market content.

According to Australia-based agency Impressive, content marketing is only going to get more varied and complicated. How do you keep up?

Identifying Weak Areas

When trying to analyze the effectiveness of your content strategy on the web, you should take some time to review and understand what it is you are currently doing right. This will also show you where you need to improve. You can do this through a content audit, which is essentially putting together spreadsheets of all social media campaigns to find where you are lacking.

Once you have taken a fair look at what you have been doing, start looking at how much you are really posting, and the relevance of the content. For example, are you meeting your desired quota for blog posts per week? Are they generating the right response? Are tweets being replied to or retweeted? Have you been communicating with your Facebook fans on a personal level? Are you published a good balance of links, original updates and comments or replies to readers?

If you are clear about what you have and have not been providing, you can improve your social media marketing and so your overall content strategy. These three apps can further help you along the way:

1. DivvyHQ

DivvyHQ

An editorial calendar is a must have item for anyone who is posting online but especially for those who are want to run a multimedia campaign using social sites and methods. It is just too easy to lose track of what you are going to post without one… Not to mention it lessens the quality of your content to fail to plan ahead.

Technically, a spreadsheet works fine to plan posts. But if you want to really take advantage, an app like DivvyHQ can be what you need. It is a scheduling application that allows multiple users, reviewers and help in better targeting your posts.

They have plans from $25 to $195 a month, as well as custom pricing for larger companies of more than 20 people and a 30-day free trial. They even have in-person or online training for implementing social media strategies.

2. Skyword

skyword

This platform works by putting together a report on what your audience is searching, reading and otherwise showing interest in at every stage of the content creation process. This allows you to better target your own campaign and post writing, as well as provides a direction for links and status updates.

Skyword works by making sure your SEO, usability and content quality guidelines are being taken serious.

What makes it different from a basic SEO app is that it actually was created to factor the data into the writing process itself. Currently, it is in the beta stage and so asking only for feedback from those that choose to use it. It is free to create an account.

3. Gather Content

Gather Content

A simplification app for content creators and managers, this works by creating a “site map” that involves all media content you have to get done. You set in the parameters and turn it into single page collections that can be shared and edited by invited parties.

The platform costs $66 minimum and for that you can maintain 10 active projects and add an unlimited number of users.

Conclusion

Working out a way to increase the efficiency and workability of a content strategy takes time, effort and a bit of know how. These apps will help you to get it done much more quickly, and without the stress.

Add in the fact that two of them are free and the other more affordable than any similar service I have personally found, and you have every reason to try them out.

Has Your Social Media Content Been Stolen? Legal Tips on What to Do Next

Editor’s note: In the light of big news coming up of Facebook pioneering war against social media identity theft, we thought this piece by SEOchat contributor was very timely. Enjoy!

Social media has become the top way for brands to increase awareness of what they’re doing, from promoting new products to interacting with customers. Experts encourage entrepreneurs to regularly post high-quality content in the hopes followers will share it across their own networks.

This means spending hours developing insightful updates, linking to your own great blog posts, and sourcing images from stock photo sites.

After putting all of this work into your content creation efforts, it can be even more disturbing to find your information posted on another site. It may even be a competing business’s blog or an industry magazine. Even if the site credits you as the author of the work, using your content without compensating you for it is a violation.

“There are several situations where social media content can be stolen,” says Robert May, founding attorney at The May Firm. “Increasingly publications are using social media posts as part of their news stories, as seen here. When they get permission first, it isn’t a problem.

Unfortunately, less professional sites fail to get that permission. Sometimes a site uses an original photo or copies a blog post that has been linked on social media. In more extreme instances, a business owner may find a fake account has been set up using his own name and likeness.”

Whatever the type of theft, it’s important to act quickly to make sure the content is removed. Here are a few steps you should take if you find your social media content has been stolen.

Step One: Make Contact

Before doing anything, send a friendly email politely asking that the content be removed. Don’t use forceful language in this initial contact. Simply state the action you would like to have taken as a result of the letter. If you want the content removed, ask politely that they do so within a certain number of business days.

If you are agreeable to being compensated for your content, state the price and offer removing the content as an alternative. Hopefully the offender will remove the content and send a letter of apology for the inconvenience. If not, wait the stated number of days before taking further action. If the content was posted on a site by an employee of an organization, take your complaint further up the chain before checking into outside options.

Step Two: Check the Terms of Service

While you’re waiting, carefully review the terms of service on the social media site where your content was originally posted. Facebook allows you to report copyright infringements using this tool, while Twitter’s tool is here.

Both are products of the Digital Millennial Copyright Act (DMCA), passed in 1996 to protect copyright holders from online theft. You may also want to check into the policies of the website where the content is posted, since they’ll have their own copyright infringement notification procedures.

DMCA Takedown Notice

In addition to the tools offered on various social media sites, copyright holders can also have content taken down using a DMCA Takedown Notice. You’ll need to determine the Internet Service Provider hosting the site where the content is posted and direct your letter there.

After an investigation, you’ll often find that the content is removed without having to wait for the person who posted it to respond. DMCA charges for the service through its site, but you can craft a letter for free using the instructions provided on the National Press Photographers Association site.

Contact an Attorney

When other recourse has failed to bring action, it’s time to seek legal assistance. Although attorneys will charge an hourly fee to help with copyright infringement, often content can be removed through a cease and desist letter. Such a letter packs a heavy punch when it comes from a law office.

If for some reason that letter doesn’t achieve results, however, an attorney can go through the courts to have a cease and desist order placed on the content, which requires that it be removed.

Having your content stolen can feel like a violation. Fortunately, there are actions you can take to let offenders know that you won’t allow your photos and text to be used for free. By having tools in place to use in the event your content is stolen, you’ll be prepared to take action if it ever happens.

Buyer’s Persona: A Success Guide That Works Every Time

I was sitting in a hookah bar one day, enjoying my sheesha when a woman walked over to my table and asked if I could give her two minutes.

After a quick greeting, she started asking some general questions like how I earned a living, what my typical day looked like, whether or not I smoked cigarettes, how much I spent on smoking each month and a few others.

I immediately understood that she was working for some upcoming cigarette brand and was researching personas.

I liked how they had chosen hookah bars for this purpose as people who smoke hookahs are easier to convert to a specific brand of cigarettes, compared to those who are already addicted to a certain brand of cigarette.

The incident made me realize, once more, that regardless of the size of a business, or whether it’s an established one or a startup, businesses always need buyer persona research to better understand their target audience to create  marketing strategies that are highly-effective and engaging.

In my opinion creating and executing marketing strategies without the buyer’s persona is like shooting arrows in the dark. You don’t know if you’re going to hit the mark. In simple words, buyer’s persona is essential to making informed and powerful marketing decisions that save costs and bring desired results, faster.

Why is buyer’s persona important?

  • Researching buyer’s persona for your company has multiple benefits, including; Your marketing campaigns are based on your target audience instead of a random study that you found online that might or might not apply to your business.
  • Your customer service will be better aligned to the values and needs of your customers. Buyer’s persona will help guide you about your target audience and the kind of service they expect from your company. You can then train your customer service department accordingly.
  • Your buyer’s persona will provide you with clear directions on how to create your messaging, product and service in a way that resonates strongly with each of your customers, instead of reaching out to everyone with the same line of reasoning. .

The alignment in your messaging, marketing and customer services that your buyer’s persona will afford you will naturally result in an increase in sales and better customer retention.

What is a negative persona?

The buyer’s persona discussed above helps you find out who your ideal customer is, what he does, where he works, his problems and the kind of solutions he expects from your business.

Negative (or exclusionary) personas are people who do not fall into your target audience or are generally a misfit with some or all aspects of your product or service, are too expensive to retain or are over or under-qualified for your product or service.

Let’s suppose you offer beginner or intermediate level digital marketing courses. People who have worked for six years or more in the digital marketing industry or are currently holding senior managerial positions within the industry will fall under the negative persona category for your business.

How to create buyer’s persona?

Buyer’s persona can be created via interviews, research and surveys.

In order to make up the various business personas, we have to interview existing customers, prospects and referrals.

The answers that we get from all three of these categories will provide us with valuable data, and help us learn about our own products and services, understand customer expectation, recognize areas that need improvement, and better comprehend practices that are a big hit with customers.

Here are the three types of people you can interview to create buyer personas.

Customers

Your customers are one of the best resources to help you create your buyer’s persona document. However, this is not applicable to new businesses that are still working to create a customer base.

People who have purchased from your website before are better able to explain more about how they felt, whether the product met their expectation or not and what else they want to see happening in your business.

While interviewing your existing customers, make sure you also include a few unhappy ones in the list because their feedback will shed light on those areas of your business, product or service that require improvement.

Your Business Prospects

This is the second step in developing the buyers’ persona. It’s also important to interview people who haven’t bought anything from you yet.

Understanding your prospects better will not only give them the impression that you are a responsible brand that is concerned about its customers, but the information provided by them will help you build a better and more detailed buyer’s persona document.

Referrals

If you are new business, you are pretty much left to depend on referrals only as you might not have substantial number of customers or prospects.

Interviewing referrals is still important even if you have a large customer base because referrals will gives you varied buyer personas to work with.

The best way to find people via referrals is through your contacts, or you could also find your target persona on LinkedIn and then catch up with them through mutual friends.

Tools

You can try tools like UserTesting and similar services to run questions and get answers from different people. The website also allows you to run remote user testing (with some follow-up questions). You’ll have less control over sessions, but it’s a great resource for quick user testing.

When interviewing people, it’s always good to invest whenever required. 

So, if you want to give away some gifts, discounts or special bonuses to your referrals or customers for their support, by all means do.

Also, remember that their time is as important as yours, so your questionnaire should be concise and to-the-point. Most importantly, do not sell. You are trying to collect the data, so stay focused.

What questions should you ask?

This one is very important. What kind of questions should you ask your interviewees to get a detailed understanding of your buyer’s persona?

You need to know the Who, What, Why and How…

Here are the few questions you should be asking;

  • What do they do? (Job title, position in the company.)
  • What does their typical day look like?(This will tell you more about his routine.)
  • What skills are required to do their particular job? (Ask this question only if your product requires it.)
  • What industry is their company part of?
  • Size and revenue of the company?
  • What is their biggest challenge?
  • What do they read? (Both online and offline)
  • Which social media platform are they most active on?  (Facebook, Twitter or any other?)
  • Personal and educational background? (This covers everything from name, age to location, educational background and anything else that’s relevant.)
  •  Preferred purchasing method and why? (Also, discuss their most recent purchase and understand the philosophy behind it)

Now that you have some substantial raw data, the next step is to sort it out, find commonalities between people, and then organize those points into different personas. It should look something like this:

Description: http://barnraisersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/sample-sally.jpg

Sort that data and make a list of fictional characters that explain in detail the characteristics of your current and potential target audience. If your marketing strategies will be based on your targeted persona, there will be more chances for you to increase your customer’s lifetime value

Conclusion:

Once you have a better idea of your buyer’s persona you will know how to train your customer service team to serve your customers best, and see the changes required within the marketing and sales strategy to acquire and retain customers.

So if you don’t have a buyer’s persona document, start building one today!