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.”

 

 

 

Developing your advocacy strategy: Three questions to ask

In previous posts, I explored to definition of advocacy and the foundation areas for an effective advocacy strategy. But what is the very first action you should take in developing your strategy? Writing for Stanford Social Innovation Review, Jim Shultz stresses that organization’s need to first ask themselves three essential questions.

1. What do you want?
Deciding what you want – what impact or outcomes you want to achieve – requires some serious analysis. This begins with clarifying the deeper problem you are trying to solve and what you think it will take to solve it. As a result, you may find the you have big ambitions. But as Shultz notes, “these grand solutions are almost never initially within political reach, and organizations need to make strategic choices about what to fight for in the shorter-term”.

2. What does the political map look like?
Shultz stresses: “You wouldn’t make a move on a chessboard without studying where the pieces are, and you shouldn’t set off on an advocacy campaign without looking hard at the political map involved.” Mapping out the politics can include looking into who has authority and influence at different levels of government, as well as the political processes and structures that may affect your strategy. Having a good understanding of the context and dynamics will ensure that you adapt your strategy in the right and most effective way.

In addition, I contend that you should also explore the socioeconomic and sociocultural context when addressing this question. These aspects are linked to the political map and can significantly affect the implementation of your strategy.

3. What will you do?
Once you understand what you want and what context you are working in, you need to define the actions and tactics needed to deliver your strategy effectively. Truly explore what you think will have a real impact, assess your capacity to take these actions, and explore strategic opportunities, such as potential partnerships and events.

Reflecting on the three questions, Shultz notes that many organizations fail to take the time to genuinely think in a strategic way. “It is simply easier to think about the next action—a protest, a report, a lobbying visit—without seeing it all through a strategic lens,” he says. Strategic thinking will ensure that your advocacy is as intentional, consistent, relevant, context-specific and impactful as possible.

Shultz notes that effective strategy is an art, not a science, and there is no magic formula that works automatically in every circumstance. But these three questions are a good starting point in place of such a formula.

Featured photo: Protest at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland, December 2008. Credit: allispossible.org.uk, Flickr Creative Commons

Five digital content marketing trends to consider in 2017

Happy new year! With the new year comes new communications strategies. With that said, here are some digital content marketing trends to consider when developing your 2017 strategies, courtesy of Jessica Gow writing for the Huffington Post.

1. Dark social

These days, the majority of content is shared through dark social – platforms such as messaging apps (e.g. Whatsapp), email and text. These platforms can’t be measured by traditional analytics programmes. Leverage these platforms to amplify your message.

2. Real-time video

Audiences are increasingly looking to video – particularly, live video – to engage with brands. By providing a raw, spontaneous and unedited look at brands, live video can help establish a real and strong connection with audiences.

3. Micro influencers

Brand advocates, or micro influencers, can help build brand awareness and a community of followers. With anywhere from 500 to 10,000 followers on social networks, Gow points out that micro influencers “have significant influence, and an authenticity that can be tricky to harness with more well-known personalities. Encouraging and leveraging content from micro influencers shows the community that they’re valued, as well as increasing brand reach and, in turn, increasingly the likelihood of conversions”.

4. Augmented reality

This increasingly utilized field of communications includes 360-degree video and virtual activities that blend with the real world. Think Pokémon Go. As Gow points out, these activities “support brand storytelling, and offer consumers new reasons to interact with brands”.

5. Programmatic advertising and promotion

Paid promotion is essential to effective content marketing. Using this approach, more and more brands are focusing on programmatic targeting, that is showing specific content to different people based on their past behaviour. This takes content personalization to the next level, helping to increase brand engagement. Facebook and other social platforms are supporting this approach through a range of functionalities.

Featured image: DaPuglet, Flickr Creative Commons

Video is important, but not the (only) future of media

Image: Tsahi Levent-Levi, Flickr

There’s been a lot of hype lately around video being “the future of media”. If you go by this interview with Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice president for EMEA, or Contently’s recent interactive infographic, marketing and communications departments should be scrambling to jump on the video bandwagon.

With all the hype around video, this article by Joshua Lasky for Medium is a welcome and nuanced perspective on the trend. As witnessed on social media, 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.

Says Lasky: “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.”

I couldn’t agree more.