Create Your Own Damn News

Create Your Own Damn News

“Do you guys have e-mail addresses?” asked an attendee of the Salt Lake Chamber’s, “What to know about Online Marketing,” event, last Thursday.

How could 4 internet professionals forget to put their e-mail addresses on the slide show presentation about Online Marketing?

The truth is that this moment in itself is an indication of how social media is fundamentally changing the way we communicate.

E-mail addresses and business cards were an afterthought to making sure the attendees knew how to find us on Twitter.

As a member of SLCSEM, SearchEngineLand’s Elisabeth Osmeloski reached out to me, via Twitter of course, a few weeks ago and asked if I would speak about social media, content, blogging and public relations.

Things are changing fast, and the ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in 5 years. Trying to get this point across without overwhelming those just getting their feet wet with internet marketing, I focused my presentation around the power of great content. Simply put, it’s time for your business to create your own damn news. Let me explain.

Your Business is a Newspaper and You’re the Journalist

Maybe it’s because I’m a former journalist, but I really think that brands should look at themselves like they are a leading newspaper or magazine within their industry. What’s going on in your industry? What types of reliable content can you produce that readers are going to find informative, relevant and engaging? How can you create interesting content that people look forward to so they “like” “follow” and “subscribe” to you? Businesses no longer have to wait for journalists to write about them, they can now be their own reliable new source and tell their own story.

The Power of Blogs

Blogs are an easy way to direct more traffic to your website; in fact website will receive 55% more traffic if you have a blog. Blogs also help your authority and your search engine rankings. There’s a variety of different types of content you can place on your blog that will interest your readers:

  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Memes
  • Micrographics
  • Videos
  • Press Releases

Creating the Big Ideas

But where do you come up with ideas for all these different types of content? As a wise man once said, “good artists borrow, great artists steal.” At SEO.com we’re hyper aware of what our competitors are saying, in addition to leading SEO minds are saying like those at SEOmoz and SearchEngineLand. Find out what others are saying and put your own, better, spin on it. You can even check out the comments on popular articles and see what additional questions are being asked on a particular topic. Here are a few other places to find story ideas:

  • Quora: A Q&A site where people are asking questions about particular topics.
  • LinkedIn: Sign up for industry groups and join in on the discussions
  • Holidays/Events: Base story ideas around up-coming holidays. For example, at SEO.com, I’m planning on writing a blog post around Halloween about “The 10 Scariest Online Marketing Tactics to Avoid.”
  • GoogleNews: Search what’s trending in the news, and find creative ways to incorporate those things in your story. A good example is Vocus’ post, “Six Twitter Marketing Tips Inspired by NFL Players,” which was published right when football season started.

Writing for Short Attention Spans

After you’ve come up with a killer blog post idea, it’s extremely important to remember your readers have, about, the attention span of your favorite reality star beauty queen Honey Boo Boo. In order to keep your readers from bouncing off your page be sure your blog posts include:

  • A Clickable Title: 100-118 characters, short, sweet, to the point. Some ideas include, The Top 3,5,10, 100 List, How Tos, Tips, Reviews etc.
  • A Solid Introduction: Getting people to view your article is half the battle. Don’t lose them in the first sentence.
  • Good Imagery: A picture is worth 1,000 words
  • Subtitles: No one likes to read big blocky chunks of text.
  • Bullets: Make content as easy to read and digest as possible.
  • Share Buttons: Include Facebook, Twitter, E-mail, Google+ and LinkedIn share bottoms at the very least.
Inc.com does a really good job of crafting great content for the web:

If Content is Your Newspaper, Then Social Media is Your Paper Boy.

Just like a newspaper wouldn’t be successful if it didn’t have subscribers or way to distribute content, a business is the same way. Social media is your paper boy; it’s your tool to promote your content and deliver information to those who care the most. It should be said that social media isn’t a fad and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Two notes you should know about Facebook, despite the IPO flop:

  • Facebook now tops Google for weekly traffic in U.S.
  • If Facebook were a country it would be bigger (population wise) than the U.S. It would be the third largest country behind China and India.

Social Media Goals

When people are starting off with their social media campaigns they often times get hung up on arbitrary goals, like the amount of likes or followers they have. Here are four goals to keep in mind that will help you remember your end goal (dollar, dollar bills!):

  1. Raise Brand Awareness
  2. Increase traffic to your website
  3. Increase amount of time visitors spend on your website
  4. Convert visitors into customers

Build Your Social Media Following

The million dollar question that start-up businesses want to know: How do I get more followers?!? There’s certainly not a one-size fits all social media campaign or strategy that will fit every business but some general tips to follow include:

  • Be authentic, relevant, fresh and relatively non-promotional: No one wants some random marketing invading their social space. Make sure the relationships you are seeking to build are real. Listen first, sell second.
  • Listen, engage, respond: It’s important to acknowledge comments, tweets and other social engagement. Even if it’s a simple, “thanks for sharing!”
  • Ask questions: Let your fans feel like they are a part of your brand. Do things like ask their opinion on which tee-shirt design they like better, or what’s the craziest Halloween costume they’ve seen.
  • Run Contests: There are 3 simple guide lines for running contests.
    • 1. Keep it simple
    • 2. Provide value/incentive that relates to your brand
    • 3. Include required FB/Twitter interaction.
  • Know that things don’t happen overnight: Gaining loyal fans is a marathon not a sprint.

The instantaneous nature of news, the web and social media has made the modern day newspaper’s ability to adapt to an online platform natural. That same adaption should also be the focus of your business. A big key to your brand’s success will be producing great content, distributing it properly though social media and getting it in the hands of those who care.

You can check out the slideshare and see what @Elisabethos said about the basics of web design and SEO, what SundanceCatalog’s Allison Schwam (@Schwame) said about PPC and what Adobe’s Maria Corcoran (@Mariacorcoran) said about analytics.

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14 Comments

  1. Steven TRACY says

    I love the slogan : Your Business is a Newspaper and You’re the Journalist

    A great parallel between offline and online news.

    The only thing that needs to be added is : Optimized content is your web newspaper and you’re the journalist.

    Very original post. Well done

    • Rebecca Babicz says

      Thanks for the comment Steven.
      I don’t think that, “Optimized content is your web newspaper and you’re the journalist,” is really nessasary :-). Might just be my opinion because I wrote the story, haha.. but I was really trying to get the point across that newspapers craft great content that is reliable, engaging and sharable… and businesses can do the same. I think it’s becoming less important to create “optimized” content and more important to focus on things like the title, format and a newsworthy topic. With good content you’ll be able to drive people to your website without ever having to worry about putting keywords in your article. Thanks for reading!

      • Steven TRACY says

        Well, your’re defending your journalistic approach of course and there’s nothing wrong with that.

        Doing just SEO or selling, our writing great stories, or marketing, or branding, or design, or analytics etc. is not enough.

        Today’s challenge is to be able to bring it all together.

        I’m creating a new company all about optimized content branding with a marketing company that also writes press releases here in Paris to do just that.

        Bring it all together

        • Rebecca Babicz says

          I agree.. streamlining marketing efforts and making them all work together is certainly something expert marketers strive to do. This blog was a recap from a presentation I gave to beginners, so I tried to drill in on some relatable examples and not make what we do so overwhelming :) Maybe my next post will be able how to bring it all together. Do you have any blogs about that?

          • Steven TRACY says

            Well yes I do have a Blog but it’s all in French :)

            I understand perfectly well why you don’t want to make your posts to overwhelming as your audience is probably mostly clients.

            One post that well describes content marketing is http://www.junta42.com/resources/what-is-content-marketing.aspx

            Watch the video. It starts with th Furrow customer magazine created by John DEERE in 1895 and resume’s all the marketing events up to today.

            Nota : International Headquorters of John DEERE are in Davenport Iowa where I was born in 1965.

            One of the leading content marketing firms is hubspot.com. But you probably know about them allready.

            I’m 46 years old and have been living in France since 1973.

            After 20 years spent as a salesman, and sales manager I started to sell websites in 2007 and SEO services in 2009 and I manage to make a living off of it.

            So,the next step is the new company I’m creating with preferendum.fr to sell optimized content marketing and branding services.

            I’ll let you know when our new website and blog will be up and running.

            I’ve been watching seo.com grow for 2 years now. It must be great to work for a company like yours.

            Over here I have a hard time educating clients about the importance of SEO and web marketing. But the more results I get the easier it is to convince new clients.

            I also do SEO training wich is something I really enjoy doing.

            What I really should be doing is translating and optimising web content for american companies that are selling in France.

            But of course their are a lot of Canadian’s on that market who are also fluent in French and English.

            I’ve translated 2 websites in english for a french web agency optimized for SEO in english.

            Maybe someday, if we pick up a client that wants to sell in the states we’ll call you for a partnership. Preferundum does have a few big clients.

            Wait and see.

          • Rebecca Babicz says

            I love that video! Thanks for sharing! I wish I had that for my presentation.

            If any of our clients need a website or web content translated to French I think we know who to get a hold of!

            cheers!
            Rebecca

  2. Blog Hands says

    Nice, in your face, post. It’s amazing how often I’ve attend a presentation and left not knowing the presenters website or twitter page. Heck it’s also amazing how often I visit a website and have a hard time finding links to their social profiles. It’s 2012, if you’re not doing this… you’re losing.

  3. Nathan Silverberg says

    Wow! I’ve got to say, few articles make me really grave and want to keep reading. Very well done Rebecca.

  4. Dan says

    Great article, especially loving the “I’m a Google employee who eats donuts” explanation for G+. I can’t for the life of me work out why people would actually use it beyond building a recognizable brand in Google’s eyes. I’ve been trying to get <a href=”http://gplus.to/Which4U”>our company’s page</a> noticed for ages and nothing happens. There’s just not the volume of users that there is on almost every other major social network.

  5. Londes says

    Another important aspect regarding this setup is having a similar voice for all your publications/blogging.  Just like certain readers of newspapers come to expect certain content, it’s smart for websites/brands to have a similar appearance not only in the content they create, but how they share it through social networks.  That “paper boy” becomes a pretty important part of generating exposure.

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