18 no-cost ways writers can effectively promote their content

We can all agree that promoting content is essential for ensuring that it effectively reaches the right audiences.

But in many cases, there are very limited financial and human resources available to support content promotion, whether you work for an organization or independently. Read more

Want to really engage your readers? Make your writing more conversational

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a place for formal writing – take reports or technical  and research papers, for example. But in this day and age, a more conversational approach in your articles, social media posts, webpages and other communications will likely go a long way in truly engaging your audiences.

“Writing less formally just makes it easier to read,” says Kristina Leroux states in her post for Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog. She adds: “And easy is always best when it comes to asking people to do things like give their money or volunteer their time.”

So, if you’re trying to make your writing less formal and more conversational, read Leroux’s tips below or her full article here:

1. Read Your Writing Out Loud

“Does it sound natural to you? If not, do some editing and try again,” says Leroux.

2. Talk to a Friend

Write like you’re writing about the topic to someone you’re comfortable with, like your best friend.

3. Use Contractions

In your less formal communications, replace “will not” with “won’t”, “she is” with “she’s”, etc.

4. Address Your Reader Directly

Leroux says: “What’s the number one rule of donor centric writing? Use “you” and “your” when referring to the reader. You should also refer to yourself by using “I” or “we” and “my” or “our” instead of “the organization” or other more institutional-sounding words.”

5. Start with Social

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are perfect for practicing a more conversational approach in your communications. Once you’re comfortable on social media, you may then decide to apply a more conversational style to other types of communication.

Featured image: http://klarititemplateshop.com/, Flickr Creative Commons

Use this must-have checklist to effectively promote your blog posts

So, you’ve just written a great blog post. You hit publish and pat yourself on the back for a job very well done, checking off this task as complete and moving on to something else.

Not so fast!

If you truly want to maximize the impact of your great blog content, you need to effectively promote it.

In an article for the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) blog, Brody Dorland reminds us that, “Without an effective and repeatable process for promoting blog posts and maximizing their visibility, all the hard work spent creating them can easily go to waste”.

In his article, Dorland provides a handy checklist and infographic for successful blog promotion. Read the summary below or the full article here. Access and print the checklist in infographic form here.

1. Get visual

Dorland writes: “The data is clear: Strong visuals are needed to grab the attention of today’s web user. If you’re including all text or only dull stock images, you’re not setting yourself up for success.”

2. Optimize for search

Dorland offers several suggestions, including:

  • Identifying keywords and populating them throughout your post.
  • Running Google searches for these terms to learn about types of content already ranking.
  • Cross-linking to other relevant content within your post.

3. Plan for social

Dorland advises bloggers to develop an effective social media strategy for promoting their blog posts, mixing organic and paid promotion. Strategic activities that should be carried out before publishing include:

  • Identifying online communities, groups, or forums covering your subject area, and creating a helpful presence within these contexts.
  • Building relationships with influencers and thought leaders with authority on your post topics.

4. Engage your email list

Dorland notes: “Much like social media, email remains an effective platform for blog promotion, but today’s environment necessitates more nuanced and thoughtful campaign execution.”

He suggests writing attention-grabbing subject lines, utilizing A/B testing, making sure formatting is clean, simple, and mobile-friendly, and including links for recipients to share socially, directly from your email.

5. Follow through on social

After planning for social (step 3), it’s time to follow through by promoting your published content in these channels. Dorland shares several suggestions, including:

  • Publishing organic posts with teasers, trackable shortlinks, and eye-catching images on your social networks of choice.
  • Including the social handles of experts mentioned or quoted in the post to get their attention.
  • Sharing the post in relevant communities or groups where you’ve established a presence.

6. Spread the word

Additional actions you can take to maximize reach and impact include:

  • Featuring the post in your organization’s next newsletter.
  • Writing a guest blog post for a popular industry site and linking back to your post.
  • Sharing directly with high-value customers/target audiences who are most likely to find the post useful.

7. Continue ongoing promotion

The last step in the checklist is probably the most important one. Dorland writes:

“The work doesn’t stop. To truly get the most out of your post, and set up future entries for success, you’ll want to make sure you’re systematically enhancing your promotion process for sustainability.”

6 dos and don’ts for effective videos

As they say in the marketing world, video is king. In other words, video content is rapidly growing in prominence as a key tool for effective communications (check out Contently’s survey results and this infographic from IMPACT). Video can engage audiences in ways other content options cannot, and producing video is getting much easier.

As a result, many organizations are jumping on the video bandwagon, but with minimal results. Why? Because they aren’t approaching video production in the right way.

In an article for Contently, Tallie Gabriel shares three dos and three don’ts for producing effective brand videos. Read the summary below or the full article here.

Do tell a unique story

“Even the most dry informational content needs to live within an engaging narrative—if you want anyone to pay attention,” says Gabriel, adding: “If the narrative naturally strikes an emotional chord, even better.”

Need inspiration? Check out the video below.

Do center your videos on human characters

Human stories, as opposed to abstract concepts and statistics, can do a better job in triggering our empathy and making us care.

Gabriel explains: “When we hear a statistic about a disease affecting tens of thousands, for example, it’s hard to conceptualize the size of that story. But when we’re told the story of one patient—her personality traits, family members, hobbies, and values, it’s much easier for us to feel for that single character.”

Do try something outside of the box

The internet is saturated with video, and there’s a lot of competition out there. Stand out by thinking outside of the box.

“Don’t be afraid to have fun and try things that may surprise your audience,” says Gabriel.

Need inspiration? Check out the video below.

Don’t show us talking heads

Gabriel says: “Featuring a human is great, but make sure this human is interesting and actually doing things in your video. Nothing will put an audience to sleep faster than a talking head (especially a talking head rambling on about technical jargon).”

Don’t cut corners when it comes to quality

“Whether it’s thanks to poor sound quality, unfortunate pixellation, or a strange color tone, consumers can tell if a video is low-budget,” says Gabriel. As a result, this may impact negatively on audience engagement. Producing quality video content may cost more than other communications activities, but the cost and time commitment can be truly worth it.

Don’t assume that because it’s a video, it’s automatically entertaining

Gabriel makes some important points:

“Too often, brands think that by creating a video, they’ve automatically made something interesting. But those of us who had to take a middle school health class know that video can all too easily be boring, or worse—uncomfortable. People generally give video two seconds before clicking away, especially on social platforms. If you don’t grab your audience within those two seconds, your video was just a giant waste of resources.

When creating video, you still have just as much responsibility to hook your audience with something they haven’t seen or heard before. Just make sure it’s something they want to be seeing.”

Bonus tip: Don’t assume video is the best solution, but Do use it as part of your larger, targeted communications strategy

Video is certainly on the rise and will be increasingly important and relevant in the future. But it certainly will not be the golden ticket or panacea for every context. Organizations should not be quick to jump on the bandwagon, but instead utilize appropriate strategies and channels that are suitable for their audiences and contexts.

In this article for Medium, Joshua Lasky explains:

“Great digital strategies are a mix of formats optimized for how audiences actually want to read, listen, and watch what you have to say. Before you publish on a subject, ask yourself if it would be easier for your audience to watch or read what you’re trying to communicate. Ask yourself whether a video should be the focus of, or a supplement to, your editorial coverage.”




Want to be more effective on social media? Avoid these 4 misconceptions

Are you managing or contributing to your organization’s social media strategy? To ensure that your strategy achieves maximum impact, it’s important to avoid common misconceptions related to social media success.

Writing for Contently’s The Content Strategist blog, Tallie Gabriel highlights four social media misconceptions that could hurt your organization and provides tips for overcoming them. Read the full article here or the summary below.

1. Overvaluing vanity metrics

Gabriel notes: “It’s easy to see likes as the currency for social media value and popularity … However, these vanity metrics aren’t always the best indicator of social success.”

Maybe some of your posts aren’t generating a lot of likes but are managing to get many readers to click on the links you’re sharing. This sort of engagement may be a better indicator of social media success than likes.

Gabriel adds: “Instead of getting discouraged when a promising tweet doesn’t rack up the likes and retweets, pay attention to the clicks and check how long people stay on the page after coming from social. If your post is generating strong engagement, don’t worry so much about the superficial stats.”

2. Ignoring dark social shares

Gabriel explains: “Dark social refers to the massive amount of links copied and pasted into emails and messenger apps, rather than shared on traditional distribution platforms via the share button. These links are tough to track, but their circulation can’t be ignored.”

Brands may evaluate social media impact and make decisions solely based on the number of easily calculated shares from social media platforms, but they would be missing a much bigger picture. It’s important not to discount ‘dark’ social shares.

3. Posting the wrong content at the right times

Gabriel notes: “Simply posting at the “right” time won’t dramatically alter your social engagement. Just as paying to distribute mediocre content won’t help in the long run, posting poor content at the optimal times isn’t good for business.”

4. Experimenting with the wrong sites

You don’t necessarily need to be on all of the major platforms to be effective on social media.

Gabriel advises: “Just keep in mind it’s all about fit. And if you feel like something isn’t working, stop and adapt. With so much competition for attention, there’s no use going through the motions.”

Featured photo source: Flickr Creative Commons, howtostartablogonline.net