10 Design Hacks for Visual Content to Improve Social Media Marketing!

So, you are investing time and resources in social media marketing, right? But how successful have been with this?

How about some improvement to drive more interesting results?

There is no doubt that these days, practically every business needs some type of visual content with social media marketing becoming a major part of our everyday lives. For one, social media is a ready platform to easily connect with and engage your potential customers at near zero cost. However, to be effective you need to create sharable content that has the potential of going viral. Unfortunately, not many of your social media marketing content will be able to achieve this feat.

From research findings, it is a confirmed fact that visual content do better than context based campaigns on social media. This means if you can create more appealing visual content you will have more chances of improving your social media marketing success. But the challenge is, how do you do this? How can you design visual content to spark up the flames of social media shares and ultimately, go viral?

In this post I want to share with you 10 design hacks to make your visual content stand out.

1. Create Billboard-Like Page Headers

Using great domain names isn’t enough to capture your audience’s attention. Your website and your social media accounts need attention-grabbing, informative page headers, too.

2. Keep The Design Simple

Today, single-column, endless-scrolling pages are popular because they’re straightforward and easy to navigate. This is what people expect when they visit a modern website. If they can’t figure out how to get around your site, they may go elsewhere.

3. Show Your Information, Don’t Just Talk About It

You’ve partnered with Williams-Sonoma in the past? Post a photo from the shoot. You’ve had an article in a top selling magazine? Don’t just post a link to it, also include a PDF of the actual printed page.

4. Tell Stories With Your Visuals

By creating visual narratives, you can lead people through the story in an interesting, compelling way. In a world where nobody can pay attention to anything for long, storytelling is one of the best ways to engage your audience.

5. Include Obvious, Strong Calls To Action

Make them unique, too. What do you want your audience to do? More importantly, what can you make your audience to do? Tell them how to do it so that the process is fool-proof.

6. Try Crowdsourcing

Social media is a two-way street. When you communicate with your customers, they want to communicate back. With crowdsourcing, your audience can feel like they’re an actual, important part of your business. They get involved while the brand gets the funding they need to move forward.

7. Create Visuals Specifically For Each Platform

Vertical images work well on Pinterest while horizontal images are better for accompanying links on Facebook. On Instagram, every image has to be square. When you re-design visuals so they work well on each platform, you tell your audience that you care about social media messaging.

Increase engagement on social media with visual hacks

8. Vary Your Content, So Long As It’s All Still On Message

Try different types of content, including photos, graphic design, videos, GIFs and audio posts.

9. Create Original, Branded Designs

Use your brand style to create your own images using tools like Canva. You’ll avoid copyright issues and showcase your graphic design skills at the same time.

10. Always Link Back To Yourself

When you pin to Pinterest from your blog, make sure the link to the blog post is included. When you upload a photo to Instagram that you created, add your watermark. Always make sure to credit yourself. If an image or other piece of content circulates online, you’ll want everyone to know where it came from.

Conclusion

Visual content are a great way of making a success of your social media marketing. Right now everyone is doing it, from people you’ve never heard of to the biggest name brands on the market today. These tips will help you stand out and of course, implementing them will help you make the most of the content you put so much hard work into.

How to Make Content Marketing Work for Your Brand in 2014!

How to be an entrepreneur and not an opportunity seeker

Is content marketing a culture in your company right now? Do you have a specific model for your marketing content?

Now, if your business is not using content marketing, you’re light years behind your competition!

Though using content for marketing by businesses is as old as marketing itself, in the recent past, the term “content marketing” has gained traction among online marketers. It is unfortunate however; that many businesses are not getting the commensurate returns from their investments as far as content marketing is concerned.

In this article I want to draw your attention to the different content marketing models that are helping many brands today. I hope that when you know these different models will help you better plan your strategy based on what you want to achieve.

The 4 Content Marketing Models

Model #1: Brand Awareness

Brand awareness has always been one of the objectives of marketing. Billboard and television ads fall into this category of marketing. With the popularity of content marketing in recent times, many brands now use their marketing content to drive brand awareness. Using different types of content, these brands are not concerned with lead generation but how much traffic they are generating and also the quality of links from other sites.

Recommended: Your Killer Content Might Be Sabotaging Your Content Marketing!

Model #2: Projecting Thought Leadership

Another model being used by many brands is using their marketing content to project thought leadership. For these brands it is not about generating traffic but generating the right type of traffic. And the way they do this is by influencing their target audience through presenting their company ideas on issues that has to do with the industry.

Unfortunately, not many brands wants to use this model because of the expertise and in-depth research involved.

Model #3: Industry News

This is yet another model being used by some brands. In this model the brand publishes industry news with the intention of getting the attention of mainstream journalists or other online publications.

For these brands it’s not just about boosting traffic nor is it about generating leads. Most times, they simply look forward to influencing other websites, blogs and journalists with their stories as these are picked up and used these people. When this happens, there is a boost in visibility for these businesses.

One classic example of a brand using this model of content marketing is Microsoft with its Stories blog. Microsoft has been able to use this blog to greatly impact the industry.

Model #4: Lead Generation

This is the content marketing model that is common to many brands right now. The primary purpose of this model is to generate leads which are then passed on to sales with the mind of converting them into customers.

One typical example of a brand using this model is HubSpot – a software company that pioneered the concept of inbound marketing. Preaching the “superiority” of inbound content-based marketing over traditional outbound marketing techniques, HubSpot creates every piece of content with the mind of generating leads. To achieve this, HubSpot implements different type of call-to-action on every content published.

With the success of HubSpot in this area, many businesses are now focusing more on this model.

Recommended: Inbound Marketing Misconceptions Uveiled!

So, Which Should You Use?

If you are familiar with the concept of inbound marketing you will agree that the above classification is not in any way fixed. Many brands are actually using a combination of two or more of these models. Depending on what your needs or objectives are therefore, you can either use one or more of these models.

The purpose of this classification as already pointed out is to help you understand these different models so that you can easily determine which to focus on based on your desired results.

Over to you:  Which content marketing model are you presently using? Share your views on the different models in your comments below.

How to Design an Effective Content Marketing Plan for Your Organization

Content marketing has, in recent times, become a buzz word among online marketing professionals. But beyond being a buzz word, content marketing when done right, can greatly turn around the fortunes of any business because of the evolving changes in customers’ buying behaviors.

It is a confirmed fact that buyers are now more educated and will want to research different options before they approach a sales rep. Therefore, content marketing is basically a strategy to position your organization so that when the customer goes on her self-education quest, you will be there for her to find you! The beauty of this is that instead of you being an ‘intruder’ in the life of the customer, you become the sought-after authority in your market! So, content marketing at its core is a strategic ‘permission marketing’ rather than ‘interruption marketing.’

A Content Marketing Framework Is Necessary

For your organization to truly succeed with your content marketing campaign you need a framework that works. The challenge that many online businesses face today is that of a workable content marketing framework. Many are confused with the what, the how, the where, and the when of a strategic content marketing structure.

In this post I want to lay out the essential elements of an effective content marketing framework. This is to help you design a structure for your organizational needs.

Recommended: Online Business Marketing: 8 Reasons Why Blogs Are An Important Part of a Business Website

A strategic content marketing plan

The 7 Essential Elements of an Effective Content Marketing Framework

1. A Workable Content Marketing Plan

It doesn’t matter the size of your organization you need a well thought out strategic content marketing plan that aligns with your overall business goals. Your content marketing plan should be built on answering some very pertinent questions about your organization like, who are you as an organization and what do you bring to the market? What are your marketing challenges and how can content marketing help you overcome these challenges? Once this plan is laid out it will become the driving force of your on-going marketing optimization.

2. Your Audience

The next element in your content marketing framework is your target audience. Once you have an idea of who you are, where you are and where you want to get to with your content marketing, you seek to know who your target audiences are. What are their needs? How does your product or service help them with these needs? How best can your reach with your marketing content?

Besides this, you should also take into consideration how your target audience needs may change as they go through your sales cycle. This will help you in delivery your message with the right medium and at the right time.

Recommended: Content for SEO: A Content Marketing Strategy to Beat Google and Its Demons!

3. Your Brand Story

Content marketing helps you in building relationship with your target audience. A relationship that is necessary in to build your business success. This is where story telling in marketing is gaining strength these days. You should be able to use your knowledge of who you are and who your target audience is and what their needs are to build a story that will help your connect with them emotionally. Remember your brand story is not a “selling tool” but a bond-building tool. Get your target audience to bond with you and selling to them later will be a thing of joy.

4. The Delivery Channels

There are different channels available for you deliver your story to your target audience. One thing however is that your choice of a delivery channel should depend on your content marketing goal.  The two shouldn’t be aligned. Besides, the context within which your target audience will consume the story should also play a role in your choice. Your delivery channels could be: (1) Text – example, blog posts, case studies, press releases, article marketing etc, (2) Video – example, product demonstrations; and (3) Audio – example, podcasting.

What you simply need do therefore is to consider the story you want to tell, to whom you want to tell it to and where you will want to tell that story and then choose your delivery channel.

5. Content Creation Process

This is where your aforementioned planning is translated into action. Some of the questions you need to answer here are: who will be responsible for creating your content? What content should be created at a specific time? And when is the right time to create a particular piece of content? This stage of your content marketing framework is very important because if you get it wrong all of your planning will be in vain. Getting the right content marketing services to create your content is as important as knowing when to create the content. If you do not have in-house content writers getting outside professional help will become inevitable. There are thousands of so-called professional web content writers out there but be careful that you don’t pick the wrong ones. The best bet is to have an in-house Chief Content Officer who will then take charge of dealing with in-house and outside content creators.

Recommended: How To Choose An SEO Content Writer For Your Content Marketing Needs!

6. Interacting And Conversing With Your Audience

Be careful of your content writing servicesIt’s unfortunate that many business organizations still see the internet today with the eyes of yesterday. Their websites are nothing but an extension of their business catalogs – beautifully designed with enticing graphics but no interaction with their audiences! As an organization that wants to succeed with content marketing, you must understand that content marketing is a 2-way conversation. When you tell your story you also need to listen to what your audience is saying and respond to that. This conversation may happen on your own platforms like business blogs and social media profiles and also on external media like forums and review sites. Your strategic content marketing framework should therefore include a well laid out plan to interact and converse with your target audience.

7. Measurement And Evaluation

It’s definite, every business is about profitability. No business will want to invest in any venture without any commensurate return in investment. This being so, there is need to monitor your content marketing activities to know what is working, what needs to be changed and what to focus on etc. of course, this measurement and monitoring should be carried out at every stage of your content marketing framework. There are indeed many variables and metrics you may want to measure but don’t be taken in by that. Determine the fundamentals necessary to enhance your content marketing plan and concentrate on that.

Marketing Takeaway

Content marketing is not just a buzz word. If you are not involved right now right now you might just be miles behind the competition. Get to work today. Design your content marketing framework and commit to working it. If you do not have in-house content writers/officers to create and manage your content marketing campaigns, then it is good business sense to get freelance writers to do it for you. I recommend that you check out LocalDigitalHERO.com for professional help.

Your Turn:  How do you think businesses can better tackle the challenges of getting quality and valuable marketing content for their marketing needs? Share with us in your comments below.

Alert: Your “Killer” Content is ACTUALLY Killing Your Content Marketing Efforts!

How many times have you heard that common copywriting advice about writing “killer” headlines or titles?  Of course, you know what I’m talking about. The one that goes somewhat like this: “If you want to make great impact with your marketing copy, write a killer headline!?”

How about the one that says you should spend 80% of your time on the headline or title and 20% on your main content – the 80/20 rule! – because the title is the most important part of your content?

You are familiar with those content writing tips, right?

Of course, I must agree that these are generally accepted content writing tips passed on to us by seasoned copywriters. However, may I inform you that simply putting together any piece of marketing content and stamping a “killer” headline on it will not help you achieve your dream result?

Truth is, you might have just packaged a “killer” with all the capabilities of KILLING your marketing efforts!

What do I mean?

Now listen to this:

Creating marketing content that is relevant and remarkable is beyond writing crafty headlines and titles. You must understand that content marketing as an inbound marketing technique, uses new content creation tactics aimed at attracting the right audience to your offers. It is not about trying to prize the sales from some reluctant prospect using covert headlines and titles but through using highly engaging, trust-building and thought-leadership content that employs the rules of inbound marketing content.

So, applying the 80/20 rule in creating your marketing content is nothing but “putting old wine in a new wine skin” – a sure path to failure!

Recommended: Top 3 Reasons Why Content Marketing Will Fail You!

How to Create Killer Web Content!

Here Are 5 Signs That Your ‘Killer’ Marketing Content Is Indeed Killing Your Efforts!

1. No Target Audience

This is indeed the first sign that your marketing content will end up a failure. Your content could be of the highest quality, expertly written and accurate in details but without a specific target audience that content will definitely flop.

Every piece of marketing content should be written with a picture of your ideal customer or prospect in mind. Who are they? What are their needs? What are their biggest concerns? How do you aim to solve those needs and concerns with your marketing content? How best should you reach them? Etc.

To understand all of these it is important that you do some basic research. You should be able to know who really, is the most common buyer for your product or service. If possible, lay out a detailed description of this ideal customer.

This is what a buyer persona is all about.

Write without a target audience in mind and your content would indeed qualify as a “killer”!

Recommended: How NOT to Create Marketing Content that Sucks!

2. Content Not In Sync With Buying Cycle

Marketers agree that every prospect goes through a certain journey before making a purchase. This is the buying cycle or buying process. Target Your Prospect with Your ContentA typical buying cycle goes something like this:

(i)    Awareness

(ii)    Research

(iii)    Comparison, and

(iv)    Decision or purchase.

Each of these stages of the buying cycle requires different forms of content.

You need to identify the buying stage you want to target with your content before creating that content. This is important because if your “killer” content is not in sync with the prospect’s specific stage of decision making, it would as well be just a piece of entertainment – making the prospect feel great but without any tangible returns for you.

3. Not Optimized, Socially And SEO-Wise!

One thing that savvy marketers have come to realize is that writing content for the web is miles apart from conventional content writing. And one area where this difference is most noticeable is writing SEO optimized and SMM optimized content.

While SEO content ensures that your marketing content is optimized for the search engines, social media marketing optimization ensures that your social media updates are optimized to achieve the desired results on the platform you are using.

Unfortunately, many marketers or content writers never care about optimization and this is truly a grave mistake because without the right optimization tactics, any “killer” piece of content will end up driving the wrong type of traffic.

This is indeed a specialized area of web content writing. But the good news is that you can always get a professional SEO web content writer if you are challenged in this area. A professional will help you create the form of marketing content that will achieve your marketing purpose.

4. Does Not Engage Your Target Audience

What, in your own opinion, makes a marketing content a “killer”? Is it because you put the word ‘killer’ in the title? Is it simply because it is relevant to the subject discussed?

Make Your Content Highly Targeted!etAs much as these are good reasons, you must understand that without truly engaging the prospect, the content will have little impact. Prospects and customers do not want to simply hear from you, they want to engage with you. It is important therefore that in creating your marketing content you must find ways to make it create a sense of shared value with your target audience.

Like a seasoned orator, you should be able to empathize and resonate with your target audience making them more open to do what you want.

Using the basic conversation skill of empathy, your marketing content should be able to engage your prospects and lead them along until they click that button or link. Anything short of this will be a wasted piece of content.

Recommended: Inbound Marketing Misconceptions Unveiled – The Sure Path to Succeeding As an Inbound Marketer!

5. No Calls To Action

The CTA is one major aspect of a marketing content that many content writers easily overlook. But the truth is, the word “marketing” is what differentiates marketing content from other forms of content. Content marketing is nothing but using content to market your products and services therefore, writing your marketing content without any clear-cut “Call to Action” (CTA), is like a fisherman who throws out his net, encloses a big catch but refuses to pull it in!

For example: The author of this article is a Freelance Blogger and Professional SEO Content Writer. His passion and specialty is in the are of helping entrepreneur bloggers and small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) write web content that both engages your site visitors and is pleasing to the search engines.  Every of his content is designed to enhance your site’s search engine rankings, drive more traffic, increase your brand visibility and boost your site conversions.  If you desire truly ‘killer’ marketing content that will not jeopardize your marketing efforts, then visit his SEO content writing site and request your free quote today!

Did you see what I’ve just done here? That, is a typical CTA that can go with this article. You must make the best use of your marketing content. Warm up your target and then, tell them what to do next – your Call to Action!

Conclusion

Content marketing as an inbound marketing tactic is a new form of marketing that requires new rules and tactics. Trying to use out-dated and fragmented outbound marketing techniques to boost sales will only result in ruining your marketing efforts. Instead of depending on these outbound “killer” tactics, you will do your business much good if you will create your content using engagement tactics based on your understanding of your target audience and what they need. Know where they are in the buying cycle and use your piece of content to easily guide them along until they make that final decision.

Over to You: I’ll appreciate your thought on this post. Do you know any other killer mistake content marketers are making today with their web marketing content? Share with us in your comments.