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
Policies and procedures are boring. You know it. I know it. Just the words “policy” and “procedure” conjure images of red tape and notions of bureaucracy—all things NOT creative.
Yet, stifling as they may be, policy and procedure are necessary evils. Especially when it comes to social media. Running a really creative social media campaign is essential for it’s success— nothing’s riskier than running a campaign with no creative content, a stale Twitter strategy featuring Tweets with no voice and a Facebook page with no semblance of company culture. If you don’t have the right people planning your campaign, you run the risk of spending money on a social media program that yields little to no results, simply because your social media managers didn’t inject enough creativity into the plan.
That being said, it’s so important to realize the policies and procedures of each social networking platform you’re using, and stay within the boundaries. Probably the most tangible example of this is the Facebook contest.
Here’s a scenario faced by many social media-literate business people:
You want to run a really great Facebook contest for your company. You want it to really wow your audience, and you want the numbers to be good. A lot of engagement, a lot of traffic for your site and ton of likes for your Facebook page. You want the contest to be something few companies have attempted, something beyond the facile “Like us and win!” concept.
Great! So, now you set forth planning. You devise a scheme that makes use of the tagging and sharing functions. It’s perfect. It’s easy; it’s engaging…there’s just one problem: you haven’t read Facebook’s policy on promotions.
It’s an innocent mistake! No one told you that you needed some sort of permission to promote your business…you thought that’s what Facebook was for! Why have the option to create a page for your business if there are strings attached to how you promote it to the community?
Thing is, Facebook is stepping up its game when it comes to protecting the privacy of it’s users. So, if you’re going to be collecting personal information with the intention of contacting them if they win, Facebook wants everyone to know that THEY aren’t the ones soliciting this information, and they won’t have access to it. Also, those awesome functions you want to use for your contest? You know, tagging, sharing and all that great stuff? They belong to Facebook. Now, you can’t use them as a mechanism for entering a company contest. In fact, the only Facebook action you’re allowed to use as a condition of entry to your contest is the “Like.”
I know all of this sounds like a major damper on your creative ability…but, it doesn’t have to be. There are solutions:
1/ Familiarize yourself with the Facebook guidelines. You can find them here.
So, now you know you need to develop something called a Facebook application in order to run your contest.
2/ Look into Facebook app development. There are some great DIY sites. But, if you don’t have the time or the proclivity, no problem! You can outsource all your contest development needs to independent developers or a creative marketing agency.
3/ Research some successful Facebook contests. Take a gander at a few right here!
The upshot of this Facebook contest policy lesson is: if you don’t make sure you’re within the guidelines, you run the risk of having your contest shut down and potentially being banned from Facebook for a while. That’s disappointing and detrimental to your overall strategy.
There’s no denying it…starting a social media campaign from scratch is daunting.
As part of a company, you want to find a way to build your brand and attract new prospects. Social media is a new, increasingly widespread way to create a community around your corporate identity.
But, how do you navigate all those channels? How do you find interesting ways to interact with users on every platform? How can you create enough branded content to draw and hold the interest of a new generation of web-savvy consumers?
How do you find your social media voice?
I’ve spent the past four to five years working in and around content creation for the web and social media. I remember making my first Facebook page, editing my first YouTube video and breaking 100 followers on my Twitter account.
I think what’s resonated most throughout all my social engagement is how exciting it is; knowing your messages are reaching people and realizing users are interacting with the content you share.
This sense of novelty and excitement is the engine behind social media as a tool for successful online marketing.
Howard Schultz, now-CEO of Starbucks, famously credits social media for pulling the coffee giant out of dire straits.
In 2007, Starbucks’ stock dropped 42 percent. It didn’t look good.
He used the web and interactive digital media to drive a complete overhaul of the company’s image and branding. Because of that initiative, Starbucks has raked in over $10 billion in revenue and employs around 150, 000 people.
In an article posted on MyNorthwest.com dated 2010, Schultz is quoted. “(…) Trust isn’t something you build through traditional marketing. You do that through integrating social and digital media. It is a science, as well as an art, to understand how to do this in a way that is authentic and genuine, and not just marketing.”
That, in my opinion, is one of the most ringing endorsements for finding your social media voice in order to run a successful program. Utilizing social networking for your business is cost-effective and wide reaching.
In 2013, Palmer Marketing is committed to increasing our social media footprint, digging down to find a real identity on the social web and becoming an example and a resource for clients, new and old, as they venture into social media as a marketing tool.
Here are some tenets of our newly resolved commitment to social media. They’re centered upon three key platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
1. We are going to drive engagement on Facebook by making it personal.
Not everyone wants a presence on the social web. That’s totally fine. Nothing wrong with wanting to keep your personal life out of the public eye. But, as a Social Media Coordinator, I’ve committed to integrating my social profile into the ones I manage. I’ve reached out to my network via Facebook and garnered more attention for Palmer’s page. The most successful social media platforms are the ones with the most company involvement. When everyone engages, shares, likes and posts, it creates an undeniable buzz. This will be a key element in finding our identity on the social web—making it apparent that real people are driving engagement.
2. We’re going to use LinkedIn to network with other business professionals and share important industry information.
LinkedIn is an endless font of industry news, networking opportunities and sales leads. We will use this platform, in the right measure, to position ourselves as a resource for people and businesses within our network.
3. We are going to engage more via Twitter and we’re going to sound like human beings when we do it.
Twitter has a user-ship of over 500 million. This comprises a wealth of interest groups. Twitter offers tools for targeting people, discovering what they’re talking about and joining the conversations. We’re hoping to see a lot more engagement, attract a larger audience, and build our brand. As with our Facebook engagement, we’re going to humanize our Twitter feed—ensure our voice is well received and we’re approachable.
As we continue to experiment with and grow our presence on social networks over the next few months, I’m really hoping to create our social media voice. I’m excited to engage our existing community on the social web and attract some new members. We want to act as a resource for social networking knowledge; we’re going forward recognizing that it’s a little unnerving to start building a social media campaign from the ground up, but with a voice, some consistency, commitment and lots of interaction, social media is a powerful marketing tool.