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How Do I Blog You? Let Me Count The Ways…

Perhaps you blog for your business. Or post weekly to social media. Have you ever run out of ideas on what to post? Wonder what to say that’s new?

 

It’s something we social media folks all run into from time to time. So here are a few interesting ways to post material for your blog, Instagram, Twitter feed, or even email outreaches to customers that will not only keep them reading, but looking for more from you.

 

It all breaks down into format, really – how you present the info. Pique your reader’s interest by offering a how-to, teasing out a list, providing new ways to use something, or provide an interesting opinion. The best part of this is that you can upcycle something you have previously talked about by offering the information in a brand new format.

 

Here’s our “how to” list:

 

  • The how to — 
Teach the reader something. “21 radical ways to use your yoga mat,” or “The single most effective way to train your puppy.” You get the idea. Use an attention-getting adjective in the headline. Make it simple to follow.
  • The list — 
Offer your readers the most interesting selection of ideas, tips, suggestions, or resources out there. Keep the copy snappy and to the point.
  • The review — 
People like to know what others think about a product or process they use. Writing a review or testimonial offers an informed opinion that will be of interest to them. Use plenty of quotes. Photos add even more appeal.
  • The oped – Much like the review, you are offering insight from a personal perspective about something. In this case, however, the person offering the commentary is a trusted source that isn’t you. And outside source, a famous person, or maybe (gasp!) even a competitor.
  • The interview – This is written by you, interviewing someone relatable to your audience. Perhaps that’s a client, or an outside source, or maybe the inventor of your product. You get to guide the direction of the chat, and add your thoughts.

 

So, let’s say about a year ago, you wrote a blog about a new business innovation. Looking back through your blog, you realize that the information in that blog is still very relevant. So, use the information but present it as How-to, or List, or even interview the inventor of that product, and get his take on how the product has changed the way customers now do business (the Interview).

 

Presto! Fresh new blog!

 

See what we mean? Same info. Different presentation. Even though the overall topic is the same, there is a virtually endless variety of ways the subject matter can be tweaked to make a new blog post.

Cool!

 

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Taking Your Blog To The Next Level

It doesn’t take much to set up a blog on your website. It is quite a bit more difficult to find someone who knows how to write well for the media and do it with consistency, thoroughness and accuracy.

 

The real challenge comes when you discover how to use blogging as the actual tool it is meant to be, (1) to help you become easier to find on Google and (2) improve reader engagement on social media. After all, a great blog can be the ticket to change a passive reader to become an active loyal customer.

 

So how do you go from “let’s start blogging,” to attracting a devoted following and seeing search results tick steadily upward?

 

At Focal Point, we’ve been blogging for years. We’re here to tell you that nothing happens overnight. Even the best blogs take time and practice before getting noticed for the right reasons.

 

That said, we do have a few suggestions for you to help that search curve trend upward a little faster:

  • Research what your blog competitors are saying. Read their stuff and do a little analysis. What are they writing about? Who is writing their blogs (First person? Guest bloggers? Testimonials?)
  • Blogging is an extension of you – your brand. Is your brand just one thing, seen in only one way? Of course not. Be open to how you are blogging. There is a lot to be learned from bloggers in related industries. Consider hiring a guest blogger (or even a customer) now and again.
  • Apply writing or research strategies from other successful blogs into your own. How do they structure their blogs? Listen to their voice and identify their writing style.
  • Make sure your blog personality matches your readers’. Folksy and down-to-earth or technical and savvy, humorous or full of breaking news. If you know your readers, you’ll know what they want to hear and more importantly, how they want to hear it.
  • Once you have done your research, fine-tune your blog style. So, even if you occasionally use a guest blogger, your usual reader can tell the blog is your blog.

 

Nobody likes criticism, but –

Once you have figured out how you are writing and what you want to say, make sure you use the services of a keen editor. It’s rare to find a writer than can also edit his or her own work.

 

If you are blogging for your own company, this goes double. You may believe you know how to reach your customers, and think you know how to write effectively. But – be open to the idea that you may be wrong about both A and B.

 

You need thick skin. Ask others you trust to look at and check your work before you send it out. This is a terrific opportunity to get some open and honest feedback about your work. Accepting constructive criticism from others about structure, flow and style is the best way to learn from mistakes, tighten up your content and get better at what you write.

 

Lastly, don’t stop.

 

It takes awhile for your blog site to do its job. If after posting multiple blogs, you (or your corporate blogger) find you cannot consistently produce good blogs, hire someone to do that for you.

 

We hear from companies all the time with the best intentions that let their blogging ‘voice’ go by the wayside. They leave their (dated) blogs out on the website and let them die there – showing the world they gave up. And really, that’s the last thing you want your potential clients to think of you – that you stopped caring.

 

Blogging does take time and energy. It does take awhile to produce results. Do it anyway. Sometimes that means hiring a seasoned blogging professional, like us. We can help you find your ‘voice,’ achieve consistency and get the search results you want.

 

Shall we talk?

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Help! How Do I Come Up With Ideas For My Editorial Calendar?

An editorial calendar is great. It’s definitely one of a content marketer’s most useful tools http://focalpoint.co/5-great-reasons-to-set-up-an-editorial-content-calendar.  But before you can start filling out your editorial calendar for social media, tying it to your over-arching marketing themes, you’ll need some content ideas.

The good news is that this can be a whole lot of fun. You can either brainstorm on your own or better, with your team. Team not particularly filled with creative types? No worries. As long as they know the products and your customers inside and out, they will be just fine at this.

Schedule a team brainstorm

Here’s how:

• Gather your marketing stakeholders for a brainstorming session. Include those from marketing as well as SMEs (subject matter experts) from other departments.

• Use analytics. Determine what annual or special occurrences are important for your audience and determine how far in advance that audience might be interested in that information.

• To make sure your brainstorming session will be productive, structure it with an agenda. (We find it helpful to send out our meeting agenda in advance. Some folks find it easy to brainstorm on the spot; others prefer to let ideas percolate.)

• Begin by walking everyone attending through your editorial calendar, paying attention to seasonal dates, product introductions and key cycles for your business.

• Dedicate 10 or 15 minutes to brainstorm content for each calendar section, period, or cycle.

• Make sure there’s a place to record ideas where everyone can see them (whiteboard, sticky notes, or a live working document projected in the meeting room).

• Good rule: There are no bad ideas. Seemingly odd, funny or off-beat ideas are great vehicles from which to spin off truly great ideas!

• Once everyone has shared, group together similar ideas.

• Create a dedicated place to store your ideas (no matter how half-baked they are!) You never know when you can use them – or in what ways.

• Finally, pare down to the best ideas, then move ahead.

• See which story and or media ideas work well with others and pair them up.

• Assign teams or individuals to complete various concepts and ideas during each cycle.

The more you and your organization stays up-to-date with publications in your industry, general news, and the topics that your customers most care about, the better your ideas and spin-off ideas.

Have fun!

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5 Great Reasons To Set Up An Editorial Content Calendar

Your organization, like ours, probably already has a marketing budget and a marketing strategy. Great to have, as that keeps your company on message and working within established parameters.

But you also need a way to coordinate the social media portion of your marketing efforts. The central idea of the editorial content calendar is to allow the creation of workflows for social content, plot them on a calendar, and manage all the writing, editing, publishing, and distribution in one place.

Here’s what an editorial content calendar can provide:

1) A guide to organize and manage your content
2) A plan to distribute this information across all your social marketing channels of communication
3) A way to hold individuals and/or departments accountable for their roles in content production and promotion
4) Verification that you’re producing content aligned with your overall strategy
5) A tool to assess resources and explore methods to fill gaps in your social media.

The format of your calendar will depend on your organization and how you access shared documents. A Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheet can serve nicely.

At FocalPoint, we discovered that once we determined our marketing strategy, we had also laid the foundation for our editorial calendar. The goals aligned together nicely. For instance, we established several key core topics we want to “own” through SEO keywords. Then we mapped out various ways to enrich those keywords and phrases on social media to drive traffic and awareness. You could map this out by quarter, by season, or (depending on your business model) around new product introductions.

For example, if you’re gearing up to introduce a new gizmo, you (or your marketing department) may be creating articles to promote the introduction and drive audience interest. After the introduction, you will likely have post-event content (photos, new data, videos, testimonials) to share on social media. Using an editorial calendar, you can track where you shared what, and keep the key themes of your introduction in sight. This keeps all your printed content, blogs, facebook shares, Tweets, Snapchats, etc, aligned with your overall marketing objectives, and working toward a common goal.

Once you’ve mapped out your calendar, you can scheduled your social media and begin to see how to team what you post alongside your overall marketing program.

We’ve learned that you can’t plan for everything in advance, and really, you shouldn’t. The beauty of social media is how up-to-the-minute it is. In addition to having fixed marketing pieces, you can use the calendar to publish other content, as needed, to respond to breaking news, new data, updates, and anything else important that comes into focus. Your calendar should always feel like a work in progress.

We’ve found that an editorial calendar is among a content marketer’s most useful tools. It makes every part of marketing communication easier and more organized.

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2 Million Searches a Minute?

Forget global warming. We are already drowning in an alarming tsunami of…. data.

Big data is exponentially expanding. And it’s overwhelming all of us. To put this in perspective, Google receives more than two million requests for search each and every minute. Let that sink in a minute.

What are we searching for? A lot of the searches are for stuff (including data) that’s new. In fact, Google reports that 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years alone.

How do we get this much new information? The short answer is social media. The rise of social media to the web makes it possible for tons of new information to make its way across the internet all the time. New words are being created. New ideas being shared. Tweets about the ideas. Breaking news. Responses to breaking news. Counterpoints to breaking news. You get the idea.

The bottom line is that all this data is making it difficult for organizations to make sense of the data. And respond appropriately in a way that gets their news or product or info into view.

And that is really tough in a world that is trying to shift through tons of data.

How to push through the tsunami? Visuals work very well.

We humans respond to and process visual data better than any other type of data. In fact, the human brain is hardwired to process images 60,000 times faster than text. Visuals are immediately registered and understood because most (90 percent) of information transmitted to the brain is, in fact, visual.

Knowing all of us are visual by nature, leverage this information to enhance search to your site. The more complicated the data – or information — you offer, the more visuals you should have. The good news is that data is geospatial and can be presented in a variety of visual ways, including

• Videos
• Graphs
• Site locations
• Coupons
• Promotional side bars
• Interactive maps
• Drop down ads
• Banners
• Photos
• Sale graphics

Need more ammunition for presenting a ton of visual information in your next (fill in the blank: website, PowerPoint, email, blog, tweet, Facebook post, Instagram post)? Visual data also makes it easier to collaborate, link ideas together, and generate new ideas. And that impacts your team as well as who you are trying to reach.

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Making Corporate Blogs Sing

You blog to inspire interest in what your company does. Hopefully, it will open the door to more web traffic, and with any luck, new business.

That’s the thought for most companies, anyway. But why stop there, when there’s so much more your blog can (and should) do?

What you really want your blog to do is provide remarkable, surprising insight into your industry. New discoveries. New ways to use products. New legislation. New technologies. What’s new in your field and about why it matters.

In other words, you want to make your business blog the “go-to” site for information that your target client wants to know about. You want your blog (ergo your company) to be perceived as the Subject Matter Expert.

Does your blog do that?

Probably not. Most don’t, in fact.

That’s because most corporate blogs are written by the wrong people. Most corporate bloggers are busy folks in your sales or marketing department that blog when they can. It’s often last on their to-do list.

The thing is, for your blogs to do what they should be doing, you’ve got to keep blog material relevant and informative. And well-written to surprise and delight your (busy, distracted) intended audience.

So here’s a good idea for your next blog to get you on the right path: Create an “expert post.” It’s actually pretty easy to do.  Here’s how:

• Reach out to experts in your field with a pertinent, industry-related question.
• Collect the content and organize the post.
• Only use the interesting quotes — new, useful information from these industry sources.
• Tell your readers why the information matters.
• Present the information in an easy to understand format.
• Then, include your own preferences and opinions about the information.
• Edit and polish.

When you’re ready to publish your post, be sure to include links to each of your experts’ websites. Then tag the authors on social media.

The result? A nice win-win. Your readers get great content and your experts get links to their sites, which they will undoubtedly share because it makes them look good. Of course, all those shares will also boost your SEO.

Boom! You have just taken a big step toward being seen as a Subject Matter Expert. Now, keep up the good work!

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