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
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.