Blogging and Social Media: Which should you invest more time in?

effort invest time like ant

Should you invest more time into blogging or social media? The answer is both!

Blogging and social media work together to create a well rounded platform for the collaboration, exchange, and spread of your message or story.  The two marketing “platforms” of social media and blogging are one in the same in many respects.

What is the most important thing to remember?

Have fun with blogging and social media! You do business with people not the business. Although many of the interactions that happen in business are primarily transactional, one of the elements of business that isn’t very transactional is communications.  Employees with customers, internally with colleagues, partners and directors and more each communicate with each other. It is social.

On the web it can be awkward at times trying to relay and convey a thorough and informational message to potential and current customers, without sounding boring, bland, and robotic.  Just take a look at Seth Godin’s five rules for your about page, to get an idea of what not to do. Be human.

You say be human, does that mean our brand has to be “human”?

Your brand takes on its own persona in a sense and doesn’t have to be literally human, but indeed should relate to actual humans. (unless your market is for pet treats, which of course needs the human owner to buy, but pets like being marketed to! free treats!)

Blogging is an awesome way to put a human element to your business communications.  One of the best ways to do this is show off the authors of the blog.  At the end of the post put a little bio of them and what they do, what interests them, and how to contact them.  There is an instant connection between reader and author.

In your social media efforts you can put a human face on your brand and still succeed. In fact, there is a chance people will be more likely to connect with your company via social media when a human face is on the brand. This takes some thought, and sometimes can have negative effects, so use where you think its best.

How to invest more time into blogging and social media

How can you put more time into social media, blogging and networking without breaking your back?  This is a common question I get asked.  I simply answer, do what you think will have the greatest impact.

It is simple. Do the math. Take the time you have invested in past efforts, categorize it by social media and blogging, then look at the number of interactions, leads, and sales, you can correlate to it.  It isn’t fair to say that every tweet you send has a dollar value, although social media economists would beg to differ, there are some interactions on Twitter that could be deemed more valuable than others.

Example: You search for questions, concerns, sentiments about your brand and industry and come across someone who is looking for help with services you offer. You reach out to them, offer a little help, they respond, a lead is generated, and eventually they become a customer.  That has value. Count it.  The same thing should be happening with website visitors, particularly if you are using call to actions.

Spend less time doing, and just be

I like the “just be” mentality.  Over analyzing can lead to analysis paralysis, which can hinder brand development.  Be active in the social media sphere, christen those in your organization, or consider outsourcing social media for portions of your overall strategy.

Create an editorial calendar and try to stick with it as much as you are able to, but don’t break your back if you can’t.  There are several SEO copywriting opportunities out there, and focusing on necessary elements like keywords and high quality original content will be much more valuable in the long run then essentially re-publishing news from across the web.

(photo credit: ccrismp)

Stop Over Thinking

The human mind is amazing. We can’t function without it, and need it for our survival. We learn and remember what to do and what not to do through experience and example. You learn the first time that touching a hot object isn’t desirable, so next time you avoid it.

jump your hurdles

The average person converses with themselves in their mind going over day to day doings, past events, and their future. This is normal and is called introspection.  When does introspection cross the line and clutter our productivity?  When we over think and create a flurry of noise in our mind, we effectively place a road block in the way to reach a goal.

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5 Content Strategies To Increase Traffic to Your Website

content king usability queen

We don’t live in a set it and forget it world.  Our alarm clocks don’t set themselves.  Food doesn’t magically appear in your refrigerator except for maybe The Jetsons.  Why on earth would you think that your website with the same content from 5 years ago would be a magnet to new, unique visitors?

Thankfully, there are some simple ways you can spice up the content on your website to drive new unique visitors, while retaining and encouraging past ones to re-visit in the future.

There is so much talk on the Internet about how “content is king” and you need to have great content. I agree! How do you go about this?  Generate relevant, useful, understandable, content that your target audience will understand. Let’s get started.

Common types of content used on the web

To get things straight, and what is the primary focus of this post is content that will be seen and distributed on the web.  It doesn’t matter if its viewed in a web browser, mobile device, reading device etc.

What are the common types of content you generate and put on a website?

  • Copy – the text that you are reading now, is copy. Written by a copywriter which is me, your host.
  • Multimedia- video, audio, pictures, diagrams
    • video – think YouTube, Viddler, Vimeo, self hosted
    • audio – podcasts, music
    • pictures – photographs, artwork
    • diagrams – a generated illustration to show something such as a chart or graph

This paragraph wasn’t to insult your intelligence, but to clarify some of the most common elements seen across the web every day.

1. Repurpose old content and material

Recycling is great, go green! Well in the content generation world, why not recycle old copy if all it takes is some repurposing, or editing.  In addition, sometimes old multimedia stands just as strong today as it did in the past. Take a stroll down memory lane and wander through your archives of information. The dusty folder in your pile, the neglected folder on your computer waiting to be re-clicked, and the advertising agency that created your award winning campaign 10 years ago.

Take this information, see if it has any relevance today for your audience and if it does, wonderful, recycle it and see how you can fit it in to your online marketing efforts.

Caveat: Don’t be too liberal with this repurposing and forget to generate fresh content.

2. Start with the homepage and work down the hierarchy of your website

Curb appeal is important. The view from the street as passing by will make the difference between keen interest or none at all. Design is important, but so is the content structure.  As humans, whether we want to admit it or not, we are more constructive and productive in organized environments. A website that has no clear direction or outline is crap and no one wants to navigate around to their demise. The back button is their best friend, its the escape hatch from unfriendly websites.  Remember, if content is king, usability is the queen.

It helps to view your website in layers, or in a directory, hierarchy.  See the diagram below for a great visual example of how you can view your website.  The diagram is courtesy of Google from their recently refreshed and repurposed “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide” (PDF).

Create a simple structure, something that humans can understand and navigate, and the search robots will be able to quickly bounce around. Use breadcrumbs to help navigation during the visit. Make and publish a sitemap for the search robots to gobble up.

website directory structure
website directory structure

3. Find out what content your audience likes best

Now comes the fun part. The part where you connect with your audience. How do you do this?  Take the first step, reach out your hand and say “hello, my name is…”.  Successful business owners and managers know that networking is critical to their success and the overall business.  Purpose driven content is no different.  There are ways you can directly receive feedback on the type of content your viewers like best.  Try polls or surveys.  Ask them candidly on Facebook or Twitter, or in your next email newsletter.  Do they like video presentations of your product so they can get a “real life” feel for it online before they buy or share it with their friends?

There are also passive ways to find out what your visitors prefer. Use analytics and measure the response rate to one type of content over the other. In addition, play a bit with the performance by tweaking in different ways your top performing content. Not happy with the way a specific product or page is performing? Spend some more time and give a little SEO TLC to that specific page.  Example: Have a sweet video that you created but it isn’t getting the view numbers you thought it would, try tweaking the tags, and consider changing the title.  This is a simple form of an A/B test. For a true A/B test look to a product like Performable to create a special landing page, or alternatively if you have the means, do it yourself.

4. Keep things interesting with features and contests

If content is king, usability is the queen, then regular features and contests are the prince. I’m not talking about the prince that sits over in a dark corner of the castle looming over his royalty, but the kind of prince that gets things moving.

Feature

A regular feature could be something as simple as a weekly recap of your businesses activity online, a summary of news in your industry, or anything that would be of interest to your audience.  We have a regular feature of interesting links pertaining to the Internet marketing industry.

Many businesses also use it as an opportunity to highlight a customer, or even their employees. It is a great way to connect with your audience.

Contests

Running a contest helps drive traffic to your website, and can be used in conjunction to help build brand awareness, while making the sale, and benefiting your customer.  Check out this good example of a recent contest ran by appSumo to help encourage growth to their Twitter and Facebook accounts, while driving business to one of their partners and the customer ends up with a great deal.

Summary

Have some fun with it. Features and contests don’t need to be dry and boring. Put some spice into it.

5. Find a champion and get on a schedule

Think about who in your organization could be a champion at generating awesome content that would help drive visits to your website.  Do you have anyone with experience producing and editing video? Ask around, you will be surprised.  Does your bookkeeper love writing and can write some fresh new articles for your company blog?  Once again, ask around. Poll your resources and get on the path to creating great content regularly.

One thing that helps get on a schedule, or at least solidify your plans to more frequently produce the content your audience is looking for is to create an editorial calendar.

Since I try to practice what I preach, here is an editorial calendar template for download. Its an Excel spreadsheet.  I have to credit Jamie Lee Wallace for the original template, that I’ve revised some for my needs.

In addition to having it written down, you may find it better, or a supplement to, to put the plans on a real calendar, such as a shared team calendar or personal calendar.

Making the connection between creation time and overall value to your business

There is a clear distinct connection to the time that you will spend repurposing, creating, and regularly featuring content.  It indeed does take time, however, the time you spend can have invaluable returns.  In our inbound marketing definition post the time vs. value factor adds up quickly, do the math.

Question: What are you doing to strategically create content for your business?

(Image credit: Daniel Waiseberg)