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15 Free Content Marketing Tools To Make Your Life Easier

15 Free Content Marketing Tools To Make Your Life Easier

Content manager and content marketers lives can get a bit hectic. They spend a lot of time identifying what is seen as relevant and valuable content, in relation to their product, with the intent of changing or enhancing consumer behavior.

That is content marketing and the belief of this marketing strategy is that if you help increase the intelligence of your consumer base by putting more information in front of them, valuable information, then they’ll reward you with their business and loyalty.

This often requires long hours of internet research to find what is considered relevant and valuable information that will elevate your target audience, putting together posts that have both great content and great visuals, and doing it on a consistent basis. These are 15 free content marketing tools that will help you deliver that amazing content to keep your customers coming back for more.

Tools for screenshots

Let’s face it, content is always great to have, but human beings are visual creatures. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” didn’t become an adage for no reason at all. There is universal truth in that statement, which is naturally understood. Consumers most often prefer to be shown, not told, about the features to help them best make their decision, or to increase their knowledge of your industry, niche, or products. This is where screenshots or how-to videos come in. These are the tools to help you with them.

1. Jing

Jing is a downloadable tool that allows it’s user to capture the screenshot, alter the screenshot with different markup features and send screenshots to your social media platforms with easy sharing tools. What sets Jing apart is its recording feature that is maxed at five minutes for “instant, focused communication.”

15 Free Tools That Make Content Marketing Easier

2. Awesome Screenshot

Awesome Screenshot is actually a plug-in that is created based on Google Chrome, but also can be used in other popular browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Apple’s default browser Safari. Its stand-out feature is that it’s built-in to the browser, so if your work or product is internet based (what isn’t now a days?), it’s easier to utilize this tool than one that needs to be downloaded and ran separately.

15 Free Tools That Make Content Marketing Easier

3. Monosnap

Monosnap also comes fully equipped with the expected features of a screenshot tool, allowing you to highlight the important parts of the screen with pen, text, arrows and shapes. Be sure to use the blur out tool to blur out your confidential information. This tool comes with free cloud storage,

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Sailing in the Normandy

 

Credit: Kamal Bennani
Location: Normandy, FranceDSC04044

The 6 Step Social Media Marketing Strategy Plan for Your Business

Developing a Social Media Strategy for Your Business

Social media is more than just a fun way to engage and communicate with friends.  It can be an extremely powerful business marketing tool if strategically implemented.  A common mistake businesses make is failing to develop a formal social media plan.  Having a plan for social media is just as important as it is any marketing strategy.  A savvy business owner does not buy traditional advertising without developing a plan, and the same applies with social media.

A social media marketing plan includes many of the same elements of a traditional marketing plan.  Research into target markets and consumer purchasing is a must.  Identifying brand strengths and weaknesses is also important.

Once you’ve conducted research, it is time to start outlining strategies and developing your plan. Heer is your 6 step social media marketing strategy plan.

1. Identify a social media manager

With the many tasks involved with running a successful business, social media can fall by the wayside. Before your business embarks on a social media campaign, it is a good practice to identify a person or multiple people who will be in charge of monitoring and posting content. It is important for the social media manager(s) to not only ensure content is posted on a regular basis, but also monitor and respond to all comments and feedback.  The assigned staff should be willing to monitor the company’s social pages 24/7, which can be easily accomplished through e-mail alerts and mobile apps.

2. Create branded pages

Once you have identified your manager(s), it’s time to create branded pages. First, determine which social media sites you want to use.  Small businesses should consider Facebook, Twitter and Google+ at the very least.  In some cases, other sites including LinkedIn, Pinterest and Houzz may also be appropriate.

It is important for all of your social media to have the same look and feel as your company website as in the example below:

Website

6 Step Social Media Marketing Strategy

                                                                                                                                Facebook

6 Step Social Media Marketing Strategy

                                                                                                                           Google+ 

6 Step Social Media Marketing Strategy

                                                                                                                             

Facebook cover pages do have some flexibility and allow you to have some very specific elements can be incorporated for maximum impact:

  • Use color and photos
  • Integrate your profile picture into your cover
  • Incorporate a call to action
  • Point out where people can call or contact you

After you create your social pages, be sure to include links on your website and invite all of your customers and friends to join your pages.

3. Develop a planning calendar

Now that your social sites are “live”, it is time to start developing a planning calendar.  Ideally, this should be done on a monthly basis.  Your planning calendar may outline the following:

  • Number of posts per week
  • Time the post will be made (you should vary your posting times)
  • Identify content for each post (this will be discussed in depth in the next section)

A planning calendar lays the foundation and ensures you are maintaining your social sites and posting on a regular basis.  Of course, you can also post other news, tips and ideas as they arise.  The biggest pitfall businesses run into are they generally have a lot of excitement when they first establish their social media presence, but the momentum quickly fades.  Having a monthly planning calendar will help keep your social media efforts moving forward.

Read more at http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/08/21/the-6-step-social-media-marketing-strategy-plan-for-your-business/#oGuPyyHQs3UmLDAt.99

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18 Social Media Marketing Tips to Improve Your Marketing

Are you looking for the latest social media marketing tactics?

Do you want to know what the social media marketing pros are doing today?

Keeping up with the latest social media changes is not always easy, but here you’ll find ideas worth exploring.

We asked 18 social media pros to share the best marketing tactics worth doing today.

18 social media marketing tips

Improve your marketing with these 18 social media tips from the pros.

#1: Use Time Stamps With Your Hangout on Air Videos

ronnie bincer pic

Ronnie Bincer

Live hangout on air (HOA) shows are wonderfully engaging and allow you to establish trust and build relationships like never before… but they can be sort of long by the time you’re done broadcasting.

So how do you encourage people to watch some or all of the recorded session? Combine your HOA live broadcast video with time stamps to highlight specific sections.

On Google+ (and on YouTube), the use of time stamps is magical. A time stamp is a simple set of numbers and colons you type in the post text that holds the video of your broadcast (or the description text on YouTube).

timestamps on google hangout post

Hover over any time stamp and click to jump to that part of the video.

Time stamps use the format of HH:MM:SS where HH equals hours, MM equals minutes and SS equals seconds into the video where you want the player to start. On Google+, time stamps work in comments and in the main text area of a video post, but they do not work with HOA event posts.

When someone clicks on the time stamp, it jumps to play that part of the video.

Think of time stamps as an interactive table of contents for the video. Take your 30-minute HOA video and point to three or four important topic discussions using time stamps and descriptions of the points covered. You’ll get more views because people can jump to the topic that interests them most.

Ronnie Bincer, known as the Hangout Helper, is a coach, master trainer and Google+ Trusted Tester.

#2: Socially Tag People Who Are Involved With Your Content

andy crestodina pic

Andy Crestodina

If you want to build stronger connections with high-value contacts,take your activity across more than one social network.

This will increase your visibility by giving you a stronger presence in several social networks.

First, know whom you’re targeting. Generally, I look to connect with bloggers and content creators, but it’s even better if you’re networking with thought leaders and prospects.

google plus post with follower tags

This tactic works best if you keep sharing your content in the days, weeks and months after it was published.

Next, make sure you know where those people are active. There’s no value in mentioning someone on a network they pay no attention to.

Watch the timing to take advantage of all opportunities. After you share content in one place, wait to see if it’s reshared or generates comments. Then cross over to another network to thank and mention people who engaged.

The key is to watch for actions on one network and respond to them on another networkHere are some examples:

  • They share your content on Twitter and you thank them with an invitation or message on LinkedIn.
  • They like your post on Facebook and you thank them next time you share the post on Twitter.
  • They comment on your post and you thank all of the commenters with a mention when you share it on Google+.

The combinations are endless and two things can happen when you employ this tactic:

  • The people you target may share it again on the second network. This is likely because they like it.
  • They may follow you on the second network. Now, you connect to high-value contacts on several networks, not just one.

Smart marketers think cross-channel constantly. They’re diversified, yet targeted. They don’t put all their eggs in one social network, but they’re very focused on specific opportunities, connections and potential collaborators.

Andy Crestodina is co-founder of Orbit Media and the author of Content Chemistry: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing.

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Granville Beach, Nomandy

Granville beach, Normandy

Measuring Social Media: What Marketers Need to Know

Do you understand how to measure social media activities?

Do you know how to gather the right data to help you achieve your business goals?

To explore how you can measure social media activities, I interview Lutz Finger for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast.

More About This Show

The Social Media Marketing podcast is a show from Social Media Examiner.

It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).

In this episode, I interview Lutz Finger, who is the director of data analytics at LinkedIn and co-author of the new book, Ask, Measure, Learn: Using Social Media Analytics to Understand and Influence Customer Behavior.

Lutz shares why he’s so interested in social analytics.

You’ll discover why Lutz believes social media analytics will have a bigger impact than the onset of the Internet did.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

Measuring Social Media

Why do so many businesses struggle with measuring social media activities?

Lutz talks about the trial-and-error phase of social media measurement and how we’ve moved beyond that phase in some areas but are still learning in others. He says the promise of social media analytics has a lot of misconceptions around it.

With easy access to data on trending content, followers, Klout scores, etc., businesses are trying to find a way to use the data. Lutz explains why this approach often leads to a negative outcome and why businesses should approach using data with a goal or question first.

ask measure learn

Ask, Measure, Learn is co-authored by Lutz Finger and Soumitra Dutta.

Lutz shares why it’s important to understand how a metric is built and points to the Influencer metric as an example. He says that while there are at least 10 different Influencer metrics that have to do with reach, not every influencer can help fulfill every goal.

He explains why he would consider Social Media Examiner an influencer if he wanted to put a new social tool in front of people who work with social media, but not if he wanted to sell clothing.

Listen to the show to learn what influencer reach must be combined with to move people from awareness to intention.

The difference between viral and contagious content

Lutz says the term viral, when used to describe social media content, is wrong because something that’s viral is equally infectious at every stage. For example, a story that is liked by 1 in 10 people the first time it’s seen will be liked by 1 in 10 people in the future.

He explains that when something is contagious, it gains weight as long as it travels. The more people who believe in it, the more trustworthy the story becomes, regardless of whether it’s true.

Listen to the show to find out how people convince an algorithm that something is contagious and how that’s affected things like the New York Times Bestseller List.

How social media data can empower a business

Lutz states there isn’t good or bad data, there’s just useful and useless data. He explains that data is only useful when a business has the right question.

He shares that many organizations start by asking what data they have and how they can measure it. Then they try to find something in the data to help their business.

Lutz says you need to start with a question or goal, and then figure out how to capture the data that will help answer that question instead of using data to come up with a question you didn’t have in the first place.

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7 Simple Twitter Marketing Tips to Improve Your Results

Are you looking for easy ways to improve your Twitter marketing?

Have you thought about how getting back to basics can lend a new perspective?

Even Twitter’s most advanced users may be missing out on engagement opportunities if they aren’t bothering to optimize Twitter’s basic features.

In this article I’ll show you easy Twitter marketing ideas you can put to use right away.

7 twitter marketing tips

Improve your results with these 7 Twitter marketing tips.

#1: Find the Right Search Results

Many people are confused about how Twitter search works–and how to use search operators (i.e., and, or) to get the results they’re looking for.

Most users think that if they type several keywords in the search box, Twitter will search for any tweets that contain any of those terms. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Twitter only searches for tweets that contain ALL of those search terms, as if there is an invisible and inserted between your keywords.

search operator results

Use the or operator to find the tweets you’re looking for.

To avoid this, you can use the or search operator. The or search operator tells Twitter you want to search for one term or another. For example, you can type in “PR manager” or ”PR jobs” or ”public relations jobs” and Twitter will search for tweets that contain any of those terms (or phrases in this case), rather than trying to find tweets that contain all of them.

Just a quick note: When you want to search for a phrase vs. a keyword, put the phrase in quotes (as I did above). Single keywords don’t need the quotes.

#2: Create and Share Curated Lists

Twitter lists are a useful way to filter information. The basic function of a Twitter list is to group people together based on a similar function, characteristic or interest.

For example, if you’re a conference organizer, you might want to create a list that includes all of this year’s speakers so you can monitor their tweets and interact with them in the run-up to the event. Or, if you’re in PR, you may want a list of your industry’s journalists so you can watch for any editorial requests that could gain exposure for your clients.

@rvabride tweet

Tweet people to let them know you’ve added them to a list.

The great thing about lists is that you can set them to be private or public. This means you can monitor your competitors with a private list and show off your impressive roster of brand advocates in a public list.

You can also share your lists with other users (a good way to find new followers and attract people to your profile), and it’s easy. Bring up the list, copy the URL and paste it into a direct message to anyone you want to share it with. You could also share it via public tweet.

A quick way to grow your Twitter community is to notify people that you’ve added them to a list. Those users may then reply or retweet as a thank-you for sharing their profile with your followers and list subscribers.

Creating and sharing lists positions you as an authority in your field and grows your Twitter community as people begin trust you to curate the information they seek.

#3: Ensure Images and Videos Show Up

Twitter conducted a study of over 2 million tweets and found that including a photocan boost retweets by up to 35% and adding a video can result in a 28% boost.

Buffer had similar results when they conducted an A/B test using tweets with and without images. They found that tweets with images increased the number of retweets by 150% and the number of clicks by 18%.

Photos and videos are important for engagement, but how you add them to your tweets matters. Twitter’s Image Expand feature only works if you tweet via the Twitter app or the website itself. Image Expand is useful because it attracts users’ eyes within the feed.

@britanniacomms tweet

An example of an expanded image tweet within the Twitter stream.

If you tweet a photo or video through Buffer, TweetDeck or a similar third-party app, the tweet shows a link instead of the attached media.

Twitter is also integrated with video-sharing sites such as Vine (owned by Twitter) and YouTube—both of which help you make the most of visual content to communicate your message.

@samsunguk tweet

Samsung UK used a Vine video to promote a product.

Twitter recently introduced the option to add animated GIFs to tweets (again, directly through twitter.com or its mobile app—you can’t use third-party tools just yet). GIFs can be viewed on the Twitter website, iPhone and Android, but not on tablets or through clients like TweetDeck.

With so many options available, it’s silly not to add a video or image to your tweets to enhance your marketing message.

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The 6 Critical Types of Social Media Comments You Must Plan For

The 6 Social Media Comments Every Marketer Must Plan For

He’s been taken in for questioning by the police.

Woh! This was the outcome of a comment on Facebook that had been posted less than 24 hours before. A straightforward Facebook update generated a string of friendly banter — until one, very nasty comment. It was violent and sexually explicit.

The person monitoring the page immediately took a screenshot then hid the comment, the user was blocked and the issue escalated to the relevant parties including legal advisors. They then notified the police, who responded accordingly.

This was one of those very rare occurrences, but we were prepared for it. We had put in place a comment grading system, with appropriate responses and processes mapped out for each level. It was crystal clear what needed to happen when the comment was posted.

It’s sad that the process was required at all, but the potential for damage in social media comes from the unknowable scenario, the wild card, not just your regular complaints or what you’ve dealt with in the past.

There are 3 key factors here:

  1. Someone was monitoring the page and saw the comment.

  2. House rules were set on the page.

  3. A social media response plan was in place for all comments.

Monitoring

There are a ton of different tools that you might use to manage your social media. Here are some you might like to try:

  1. Hootsuite – is a great starting point. It starts off as a free tool and you can always upgrade to the premium paid version once you’re up and running.

  2. Mention – is an awesome way to monitor what is being said about you online both on social and on websites. It also has a basic free version.

  3. TalkWalker Alerts is a free service to fill the shoes of Google Alerts. They are a really simple (and free) way to keep an eye on what is being said about you online. For example I keep alerts out for “Bluewire Media”, “Toby Jenkins” and “Adam Franklin”.

  4. Facebook Pages Manager mobile app – iTunes, Google Play – this app is a great way to manage and monitor the pages you administer.

House Rules

“House rules” are your social media commenting policy which helps to set expectations for anyone wanting to get involved in your community.

We keep our House Rules very simple on the About Us tab on our Facebook page (feel free to copy):

Thanks for your interest in our page!

We really appreciate you leaving comments, photos, videos, and links here. However, we will review all comments and remove any that are inappropriate or offensive.

Thanks again for sharing and contributing.

Toby and Adam

Here are a couple of other examples I like:

Coca-cola’s Facebook page is a good corporate example with T&Cs that come with it:

This is your Fan Page and we encourage you to leave comments, photos, and videos here. However, we will review all comments and will remove any that are inappropriate, offensive, or contain external links. We will leave what you share that relates to the subjects covered on this Page. Please understand that comments posted to this Page do not represent the opinions of The Coca-Cola Company.

Tim Ferriss sets a simple standard for comments on his blog:

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

Blog commentsImage source: Berniethomas68

Once you’ve got your House Rules in place, you can start to formulate your response plan.

Social Media Response Plan

We can help you sleep easy at night with the final piece of the puzzle – the social media response plan (free template download here).

The 6 levels of social media comments

So what are the 6 critical types of social media comments you must plan for?

Let’s use a burger joint to work with as an example.

1. Positive

Any comment that’s favourable.

Eg: “My burger was awesome!

It’s always nice getting positive feedback, so use these opportunities to strengthen the relationship with that person. A simple ‘thanks’ usually does the trick. You can also share the love internally with your team.

2. Neutral

A comment that is neither good nor bad.

Eg: “I’m having a burger for lunch.

Responding to this kind of comment is up to you, but we recommend it. It’s a great excuse to engage in a conversation with a customer but if you’re way too busy, it’s also fine to let it go.

3. Negative – respond

This is a genuine negative comment.

Eg: “My burger was cold and took forever.”

Genuine complaints typically make up 99 per cent of negative comments, so it’s very important to have a clear process on how to respond. It’s good to keep a record so always remember to screenshot the comment. If you acknowledge the issue, apologise for it and then act to resolve it, you’ll have gone a long way to sorting it out. Try to follow up to make sure the issue is resolved too. These can be great opportunities to create what David Meerman Scott calls “badvocates”. These are people who’ve had a bad experience with you that, through great customer service, become advocates for your business.

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12 Twitter Marketing Tips From the Pros

Are you using the latest Twitter marketing tactics?

Do you want to raise the bar on your Twitter marketing?

We asked top Twitter pros to share the tips and tricks they’re using to make a difference in their own Twitter marketing.

In this article you’ll discover 12 Twitter marketing tips to help you get the most out of Twitter today.

12 twitter tips from pros

Find 12 pro tips for improving your Twitter marketing.

#1: Match Emails With Customer Usernames

kristi hines twitter pic

Kristi Hines

Want to get to know prospective and current customers on Twitter?

SocialBro has a great feature that allows you to upload a list of email contacts and match them to corresponding Twitter handles. Once the process is complete, you can do a variety of things, including analyze the demographics, audience size, keywords they tweet and much more.

socialbro search results

SocialBro automatically matches emails to Twitter usernames.

I find it most helpful to add customers to a specific Twitter list. That way it’s easy to follow their conversations, get to know what content they like and engage with them. What a great way to learn more about your customers and build stronger relationships!

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer and author of Kikolani.

#2: Stop Tweeting Headlines

aaron lee twitter pic

Aaron Lee

One mistake marketers make when they tweet an article is to simply use the headline, which can be a little boring and seem lazy.

Instead of tweeting the article using headlines generated automatically from a blog post, I put more effort into the descriptions I write in my tweets, especially for my own blog posts.

askaaronlee tweet with article quote

This tweet shares a thought from a Social Media Examiner article instead of the headline.

Here’s how:

  • Add thoughts and opinions based on the article.
  • Take retweetable quotes from the article; for example, “Twitter is like an online cocktail party where conversations are quickly established.”
  • Ask questions to get people curious about the blog post.

When I add personalized descriptions like the three mentioned above, I get better results. It’s made a huge difference in terms of clicks and shares.

The best part about this tip? You can use all three methods to tweet the same blog post multiple times. It’s my little secret to get word out quicker without looking like I’m spamming your timeline.

Aaron Lee is a social media manager working at PostPlanner.

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How to Use Instagram Hashtags to Expand Your Reach

Is your business marketing on Instagram?

Do you want your Instagram posts to be seen by more people?

You can make it easier for people who don’t follow you on Instagram to find your content by using hashtags.

In this article you’ll discover how hashtags make your Instagram images and video more discoverable.

How Instagram Hashtags Work

While hashtags originated on Twitter, they quickly became part of each social media channel. At this point, Instagram hashtag density tends to be much greater than Twitter’s because companies realize the success of their Instagram marketing depends on proper hashtagging.

hashtag article image

Hashtags have become an integral part of Instagram marketing.

One of the ways people find content and contributors they enjoy on Instagram is to search with hashtags.

Here’s how that works.

Each piece of Instagram content you post can be accompanied by a short message or caption and a few hashtags. The hashtags help organize and categorizeimages and video content, which aids the process of content discovery andoptimization.

For example, a travel company might post this picture of a pretty sunset in Aruba, and then use the hashtags #sunset and #Aruba when it’s uploaded to Instagram.

instagram image with #aruba

This image was found by searching Instagram with the hashtag #Aruba.

By using these two hashtags, the image is cataloged so other Instagram users who enjoy looking at sunsets and images of Aruba can find it—even though they don’t yet follow the travel company’s Instagram feed.

Those users may share the photograph and add #Caribbean or #vacation to it—making the circle of people who might see it even wider.

instagram image with #carribean added

A second user has added the hashtag #Carribean to this image.

What’s more, Instagram hashtags don’t just stay within the platform. When someone shares your Instagram content to Facebook, the Instagram hashtag is published along with it.

This means your content has a better chance of being discovered by other fans who may not have originally seen the image or who are searching for the hashtag with Facebook’s Graph Search.

This provides a nice way for businesses that have new Instagram accounts or small follower numbers to get exposure to more people interested in what they offer.

Hashtag Best Practices

Regular Instagram users see hashtags as tools for improving the network experience, whereas online marketers see the potential for building communities, increasing brand recognition and extending business reach.

Small business owners who are new to Instagram tend to make two mistakes when it comes to using hashtags: using too many hashtags and using irrelevant hashtags.

As a general rule, every image and video your business uploads to Instagram should include a short caption. While you can include up to 30 hashtags, consider using no more than three to five hashtags.

toms instagram image with hashtag

TOMS keeps their hashtags to a minimum.

Instagram accounts that overload their descriptions with hashtags in an effort to reach more users come across as blatant and desperate marketers.

It may be tempting to use popular hashtags in the hopes of reaching thousands (or millions) more people on Instagram. For instance, one of the most popular hashtags is #love and it’s been applied to more than 184 million photos. If an accountant uses that hashtag with photos of his office, he is not doing the network—or his business—any favors.

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