As seen in Inside Trucking
Web logs (blogs) became popular in the early 1990s—more and more Internet users started sharing thoughts, opinions and advice online. Over the course of nearly two decades, blogging became so widespread and manifold; it was easy for even an Internet beginner to participate in blogging. It wasn’t until around 2009, however, that blogging became a popular practice for businesses.
Now, many commercial organizations take advantage of blogging technology on their web platforms. It’s an easily updatable way of keeping the content on your website fresh and engaging. Blogging is a way to showcase achievements made by your staff, spotlight specific departments in your company and create content for your social media platforms.
When organizations use blogging as a way of keeping a stream of content flowing to their web platforms, it’s called “content marketing.” The ultimate goal is the same as any form of marketing and promotion—finding ways to engage with your audience and build your business. Maintaining a web blog is such a fluid, multi-faceted thing; often, content marketing isn’t as cut-and-dry as, say, sending an email blast or developing a new tradeshow banner. There are many ways to do content marketing right on your company blog, especially in the transportation industry.
Perhaps the biggest mistake organizations make when they try blogging is not keeping their content current. This is absolutely essential—it’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of having an easily updateable medium for broadcasting company news across multiple platforms (like, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). But, as any pro-blogger will tell you, maintaining it takes commitment and planning. Not much, but there is an element of dedication involved in content marketing if it is to be successful.
As a case study, a mid-size freight forwarding company decides to re-vamp all their web platforms. They sink significant marketing dollars into creating a beautiful, new website that really communicates their company mandate and draws new business from a younger, more web-savvy generation of consumers. They also update all their social media platforms, begin running a successful recruitment campaign on Facebook, respond in real-time to customer feedback on Twitter and network with other industry professionals and companies in need of freight solutions on LinkedIn.
Now, they want to really step it up. They decide to incorporate a blog into their website. The plan is to update it twice a month with company news, events, environmental initiatives and employee spotlights. For the first couple of months, it’s going really well… then, things start getting busy. The designated on-staff blogger goes on vacation and no body comes forward right away. A few people volunteer to write something, but nothing substantial happens. All of a sudden, three months have gone by and the blog is left with stale content. This is a death sentence for effective content marketing.
“Content marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell. In other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like and trust you enough to do business with you.” (Copyblogger.com)
There are several really easy and effective ways to make sure your blog stays fresh and your content marketing strategy stays current! Coming up with content regularly doesn’t have to be daunting…
Content marketing is an alternative form of engaging your audience and building your customer base. People like to buy, but they don’t like to be sold. Original, interesting content spreads through social networks, creating an invaluable source of digital word-of-mouth marketing. As an added bonus, Google loves new content. The more you update your content marketing platform, the higher-ranked you’ll be in web searches.
Try blogging for business—it’s a great way to build authority within your industry, generate new and interesting content and engage with a community of existing customers and new prospects.
Image Source: http://moderncommonplacebook.com
Things slow down in the summer—it happens in almost every industry, every workplace. People go on vacation; the alluring call of the warm weather can be really distracting! People are spending less time in the office and less time in front of their computers.
This means great things for our collective Vitamin D intake, but not such great things for your social media strategy. Fewer people cruising the web means less potential for your brand to be seen on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Throughout the year, there are a few of these slow times (usually during the holidays) that make your social media campaign is a little lethargic. The important thing to remember is: people are still engaging with brands online. You need to be one of them. If you pay attention, you’ll see lots of organizations ramp up their social media game in the summer months. This is a strategic move—more engaging campaigns during the summer months put you a step ahead of social media programs that become neglected with the arrival of warm weather and sunshine.
Here are some ways to up your engagement for the summer months (this can also be applied to other holiday seasons, fyi).
This sounds a little mundane, but summer is prime time to solicit engagement! People are doing really fun stuff in the summer time…going to the beach, hang-gliding, wind surfing, normal…surfing. We all know that people love summer because there’s more freedom to do cool things outside the house. So, ask people what they’re doing! Tell them to upload photos of their ‘best summer experience yet!’ It’s undeniable that there’s a collective excitement when summer rolls around—tap into that.
Social media is a place where conversations are supposed to happen and experiences are meant to be shared. So, create some of your own experiences. You’re still running a business; I get it. But, as part of your summer social media effort, schedule some fun field trips and take lots of pictures. It can be business-related. Maybe an outdoor tradeshow or a fundraising BBQ outside the office. Afterward, blog about it and post the pictures. Then, start asking your following what your ‘next summer adventure should be!
*Hint: if you find your summer posts aren’t gaining much organic traction on Facebook, a little boost from paid advertising never hurt. Promote a post or a story, try running Facebook ads for a month. You’ll see a marked difference.
Content marketing is KING! This is becoming more and more apparent. The more content you upload, the more eyeballs are drawn to your platforms—your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and your website. One new piece of content to each platform, each week means more than you probably realize. So, this summer, if you have a little more time on your hands, take it somewhere new. Try a podcast.
With the advent of satellite radio, the popularity of podcasts skyrocketed. People in my age demographic (22-35) love podcasts. All my friends listen to at least one. I have six that I like. So, there’s got to be some interesting stories right at your fingertips. Grab your smartphone, tap on that ‘voice memos’ function and interview the person sitting right next to you in the next cubicle. Ask them what they like about their job. Ask them what led them here. Ask them if they have any advice for up-and-coming (insert profession here). Or, take to the streets. Spend an hour each week sitting in a park or strolling around your office complex, chatting to people. Ask them how their summer’s going. Ask them what they hate and love about working during the summer. In fact, call the podcast “How’s your summer going?”
There you go. Two free ideas. But, of course, it doesn’t have to be a podcast. The point is: summer is a great time to up your content marketing strategy. Start a photo gallery blog. Shoot an awesome promotional video on a beautiful day. Fresh content is key and when things are slow, it may be the only thing that’s regularly calling attention to your organization.
Seriously. Run a contest ANY time of the year—but, if you’re looking for a sure-fire way to up your engagement during the slow summer months, a Facebook contest can be just the ticket. Make sure you’re within the Facebook rules and regs, of course (Check out Policy, Procedure and the art of saving your hide) and have at it! Destination prizes are great for the summer months, if you can afford it. Even if you can’t, does your area have a waterpark? A zoo? A mini-golf course? Offer prize packages from any of these places…they’re outdoor themed and they also lend themselves to developing cool concepts for your contest.
Don’t get discouraged by a little lag in social networking activity during the summer…even if you are pulling out all the stops. Focus on having some fun with your campaign; chances are, your audience will see that and want to engage with you.
How do you plan on ramping up your social media program this summer? Let us know!
Here’s a killer summer jam to send you off!
Picture source: jarofsunshine
The concept of creating a viral video for a viral marketing campaign has been a bee in my bonnet ever since I started in social media marketing. The truth is: it’s impossible to develop a video and know, with 100% certainty, that it will go viral. You could have a million-dollar budget, the best creative minds in the industry and still not achieve true virality.
But, in order for me to make my point, we have to take a few steps back and examine the nature of viral marketing, its history and why everyone seems to think there’s an ‘art’ or a ‘formula’ in creating a truly viral campaign.
A viral video is typically uploaded to a platform like YouTube or Vimeo and becomes popular because thousands, even millions, of people share it, interact with it, talk about it, and love it. Check out some popular examples here:
Virality is a digital extension of word-of-mouth marketing, which has long been considered the most powerful form of passing information and generating ‘buzz.’
This commonly held conception isn’t wrong! And, there are definite ways for an organization to take advantage of online word-of-mouth buzz in their marketing material. In fact, it’s what every campaign should aim for. Collective interest in a digital recapturing of word-of-mouth marketing is the reason why social media for business has become so widespread over the past five years or so. It’s the new word-of-mouth.
Creating a viral video is very attractive for a number of reasons, all boiling down to two key motivators: fame and money.
A handful of the most famous celebrities in popular culture today were born out of YouTube success. This, in turn, made them very wealthy. Even YouTube celebrities who don’t extend their act into other forms of mainstream media can be remunerated for their stroke of luck. YouTube compensated the parents of “David After Dentist” about $100,000 for their video’s success.
From a marketing standpoint, being the mind behind a viral campaign is an alluring prospect. In effect, many creative marketers use it as a benchmark for having championed the Internet, so to speak. At their core, most online platforms exist now to sell us things.
Whether we’re buying them by actually, physically purchasing them or buying into the idea through sharing it with our network of connections…we’re all digital consumers. Actualizing a viral video means whoever created it manipulated the selling power of the Internet to the highest degree. This is why a viral promo video is the digital white whale for so many creative marketing departments.
YouTube, Facebook, Twitter…these platforms all have advertising. You can create a reasonable facsimile of a viral video by promoting it through social advertising. This has its benefits. If you pour enough money into advertising, you can generate thousands of views for your video and that looks really good when organic viewers stumble upon it.
It lends your brand credibility and brings a certain caché to your campaign. However, in my opinion, true virality is an intertwining of organic and viral: videos that take off on their own steam, with minimal promotion, simply because they speak to a majority of people…those are the truly viral videos. They have the most impact, create the most buzz and are the most elusive to content creators.
The Viral Myth stems from the widely held belief that you can harness the power of social networking and word-of-mouth marketing to blast something into cyberspace on an instantaneously global scale; that, using state of the art technology, psychology and creative juice, you can tap into people’s emotions, their will to learn, their very idea of themselves to catapult your YouTube video into astronomical success overnight.
Viral videos are successful because of certain compelling elements—aspects that tap into viewers’ need to share, their sense of common experience. No one can predict these hooks. If I were to guess, they’re most dependent on the widespread climate according to current affairs; what the major, international news stories are and how people are reacting to them. To forecast this type of sentiment requires more intuitive tools than I (or, I’d venture to guess, ANY creative digital marketing person) have in my arsenal.
A more realistic, attainable goal is, instead of setting out to make something viral, aim for impactful. You can still incorporate creative, emotional, and educational elements…just don’t do it for the sake of going viral. The worst thing about so many marketing campaigns now is that you can just tell they’re only making promo videos for the sake of going viral.
It’s as predictable as some of Stephen King’s more recent work…. you know, when he started writing books with movie scripts in mind. Let’s be honest–’Dreamcatcher’ vs. ‘Shawshank’? The quality is incomparable.
Lately, the message is secondary to the viral potential. Believe it or not, when you’re trying to predict which psychological triggers, which lame jokes and which crazy graphics will resonate with millions of people, you aren’t focusing on strengthening your brand. Like the Brad Pitt Chanel commercial, for instance:
I mean, obviously they would get a ton of views because A) It’s Brad Pitt and B) It’s Chanel. But is this a truly viral campaign? I don’t think so. I really don’t. It was discussed on popular talk shows. But, that’s because it was ridiculous. They weren’t on message and they were reaching. They were trying to create something dauntless…a testament to their company’s insight, their ability to gauge what gives people the shivers. But, his looming, vainglorious face was just unsettling. And it was so obvious they were just trying to go viral! They’re selling a woman’s perfume, for God’s sake and they used a man! Perhaps the most recognizable man in the world. Instead of skillfully crafting a message embedded in a clever, resonant ad campaign, they went for broke and artistically flopped.
Of course, Chanel isn’t the only guilty company, but this is a good example of how even huge multinationals can miss the mark when their only marketing goal is creating something viral. I think the most effective marketing campaigns, the ones that really deliver, are the ones that are tailored to a specific audience for a product. Well-rounded market research and thoughtful, targeted creative will yield the most impressive results. If the message is genuine and people relate to it…I think you may have a better chance of appealing to a larger common denominator, thus increasing your viral potential. A classic case of finding something when you aren’t looking.
Image Source: Gilbert Wilson, Moby Dick Arises from the Deep