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Tag Archives: Twitter

Why social media is crucial for your content

Hansel and Gretel cottage

Creating fantastically valuable content for your marketing is vital, but great content doesn’t spread itself.  Without help it can sit on your website, untroubled by visitors, and not reach the desks and minds of the people it was written to engage. Something is needed to get your content from A to B, and that something is social media.

Social media is your biggest content distribution tool. If you Tweet about your blogs, you will lead people straight to your website, where they’ll find the article that piqued their interest, and dozens more on subjects they may well be interested in too. The content works to demonstrate your expertise and build trust, generating good leads and sales.

Think of it as the candy-covered cottage that lured Hansel and Gretel to the witch’s lair. (Then stop thinking that, because you’re not doing bad stuff and eating children- you’re good guys.) But by advertising yourself with the kind of things that will attract your audience (like sweets – kids, it’s a no-brainer), you’ll get people to the place you want them to be. It’s a big spooky old wood out there, and you need something that guides people through it. The tasters of your blogs, written in the form of compelling headlines, are the neon fruit gums that will shine in a pathway to your website.

“Social media didn’t create content marketing, but it’s an unsurpassed tool for getting it distributed.”Copyblogger

One of the biggest points of Twitter, or Google+, is as a way of getting your content seen by a really wide selection of people. As a networking tool, it’s hard to beat, putting you in contact with far more people than you could ever hope to meet in the real world. Your growing network of followers will see what you’ve written straight away, and if they like it they’ll share it with their contacts, who in turn might share it with theirs, and so on, and so on. Valuable content creates a ripple effect, spreading your ideas across the web, to your kind of audience and often across the world.

If you’re writing a blog, you need to embrace social media – it’s not an optional extra. Otherwise all your wonderful words of wisdom will gather dust, which would be a big old waste of time. If you write it, you want people to read it – and social media is a great way of leading people to your content.

Valuable content rules for social media

There are many different social media options and there will be others to come, but if you want to get the best results across any social media/social network the same rules apply. Here are 7 valuable content rules to help you, whichever social medium you select:

  1. Be there. Social media IS important – join the conversation or you’re missing a trick – be sociable, communicate on the platforms. And be consistent – show up regularly.
  2. Be valuable. Be helpful, entertaining, educate your clients – not self-promoting, annoying or boring – stop talking about yourself – know your customers – become a valuable source of information for others. All the valuable rules apply.
  3. Be generous, generous in the content and information you share, and generous to others – share other people’s content even more than your own – if it is valuable to your kind of customers, then share it – even if it’s a competitor who has created it. Chris Brogan, President of Human Business Works, and a genuine social media expert says to make 10 tweets about others for ever one tweet you make about yourself. Become known as someone who offers things up to others, and eventually people will come to you.
  4. Be interesting. Mix it up – all sorts of different types of content. Have something to say.
  5. Be human. People want to do business with those they know, like and trust – get people to know a little more about you – not just the work you, but the whole of you, or at least a bit of you – as much as you feel willing to openly.
  6. Be on message. Talk around your business mission – not relentlessly, but let the golden thread shine through your message so it’s clear to those that follow you what you stand for.
  7. Be polite. Say thanks to those that follow and share your stuff. And “remember your ABC – always be crediting.” (hat tip to Charles H Green for this one).

Your stream of tweets or your Facebook feed are bite sized chunks of content – make them valuable to your customers, share yours and others’ stuff, get people to get to know you – to know, like and trust you, and they’ll remember you when the time comes to buy, or recommend you when others need to do so.

 

A really quick guide to the main 4 social media platforms

Alphabet - Number 4 from old Manual Typewriter.

Not all social media channels are the same; different channels have their own rules of engagement. You’ll be using them all for the same aim – to pull people back towards your website, and to expand your network- but it’s good to know the terrain so you can blend in like a natural.

Twitter

As a business this is likely to be your number one marketplace for sharing your blogs, networking, engaging with potential clients. At present it’s by far the most popular way of sharing a business-related blog article. Twitter is a really broad church: it can work as well for professional services firms as party planners. You choose who you follow, so you can build up a targeted list of people that you’d like to connect with. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, so there’s no room for waffle. It’s possible to build really powerful connections on Twitter, fantastic both as a way of attracting people to your content, and expanding your network.

Facebook

The biggest social sharing networking site in the world. You’ll find big brands there, as well as pages for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Facebook works by sharing your content with your friends, who in turn share it with theirs and so it spreads. ‘Like’ something on Facebook, and potentially it will be seen by thousands.  Fun, lively, crowded. Great for some businesses, not so good for others (see: Should your business be on Facebook?)

Linkedin

The professional networking site, much less frivolous than Facebook, space to say more than on Twitter. A great place to publicise your blogs, connect with peers and potential clients. Commenting on other people’s discussions, and starting your own threads is great for raising your profile, although our ‘help, don’t sell’ mantra still holds. With over 100 million users worldwide, and highly ranked by Google, it’s invaluable for business networking.

Google+

Launched in 2011, this is currently big in the States, and becoming bigger in the UK too. Secure a presence here if you want to make the most of Google’s enhanced search function. Social sharing is going to dominate search engine rankings over the coming years – Google will deliver results search results based on what people are saying and recommending to each other, over and above simple keyword searches, so it’s useful to make a start here. We like the way it allows you to choose who you share information with, and it’s very intuitive to use – easy to update, easy to upload pictures and videos. Much less cluttered and intrusive than Facebook.

We’re conscious, writing this, that the landscape is changing fast. There are many other tools and the ones we mention today will date, but one thing we’re confident of is that embracing social media is crucial to the success of marketing your business with valuable content.

The really Valuable guide to ‘Things to give up for Lent’

chocolate coated strawberry

Chocolate, wine, and cake – just three of the things that aren’t on Valuable Content’s list of things to give up for Lent.

We hope you’ll find our real selection more useful. Read on for a quick-fire list of the things we’d like to kiss goodbye today.

1. Jargon.
There’s always a better way of saying it. Make your content clear and accessible to all your clients. An independent view on what you’re writing can be handy to make sure you’re not slipping in phrases in that will alienate your readers.
2. Flash websites with no function.
There are still a few about, and we’d like to see them gone. Design your website with your user in mind. We guarantee they’ll want useful information that helps them solve a problem over something gimmicky any day.
3. Spamming people with messages, over and over again.
If you’re not getting results, you need to try something else. Search your content toolkit for a different approach.
4. Websites you can’t update yourself.
Your website should be the hub of your marketing – the living breathing centre of your business – bursting with relevant news, blogs, and information that potential clients will love. If every change demands a phone call to your designer, the chances are you won’t make them. Switch to a blog based site, we’re sure you’ll thank us for it!
5. Tweeting without listening and engaging.
As more and more businesses wise up to the marketing potential of Twitter, the good Tweeters are becoming clearer, and rarer. They’re the ones that talk as well as promote. Good Tweeters retweet others’ links, and say ‘thank you’ when you retweet theirs. Twitter’s not a free listings page, it’s a conversation that can engage and entertain as well as inform. Join in and play nicely, that’s the Valuable Content way.

What’s on your list? We’d love to know. And if we can help you with social media, new websites, or content for your business, please get in touch.

How to write great Twitter headlines

Sun Gotcha headlineFor the busy web reader, headlines are crucial. Faced with an immense sea of information, we scan for the ones that pull us in and anchor us to something relevant. Headlines matter on web pages, and even more so on social media sites like Twitter. How do you get people to click on yours instead of swimming past?

1. Be succinct.

Summarise the point of your article or blog in as few words as possible. Short and snappy is more appealing than convoluted. It’s a good test of your content too – if you can’t sum up the point in a sentence, maybe you haven’t got it quite right yet.

2. Put your reader first.

Think about what they want to know. What will they be searching for? How is your content going to help them? Use the phrase they’ll be searching for as your headline. Home page design – a quick guide, Networking etiquette – what to say first, and Key components of winning press releases are examples of reader focused, straightforward headlines.

3. Ask a question.

Headlines that engage are good news, and conversational questioning style headlines do just that. Are your business cards working? Is your recruitment process up to scratch? Do your clients know how to find you?

4. ‘How to’ headlines.

People are searching for information, and the’ how to’s’ are easy to spot and easy to click. How to design your about us page, How to boost e-commerce sales, How to sell your house in 6 weeks

5. Promise success.

We all want to succeed, and are tempted by people that offer it to us. Spiking your headlines with positive success words can encourage clicks. Win more clients with smart business networking, Successful sales start with three words, Boost profits with smarter working.

6. Raise the spectre of failure.

Fear of failure is as big a drive as the desire for success. Scare people into reading your stuff! Five costly PR mistakes to avoid. How to lose customers and alienate people. Is your web copy costing you sales?

7. Offer some inside knowledge.

Who doesn’t want to know a secret? It’s not hard to pique our curiosity. The secrets of successful bloggers, The trait top novelists share, Which blogger do twenty world leaders follow?

8. Play the numbers game.

Maybe it’s the promise of a quick read, perhaps because it seems to offer something easily graspable and definitive. Whatever the reason, Twitter can’t get enough of the numbers headlines. Five ways to improve your SEO instantly, Seven ways to keep readers on your site. Three writing rules you must break.

9. Get active.

Words like boost, drive, run, leap, soar, make headlines more compelling than passive words. Injecting some energy into your headlines grabs attention. Boost sales with clever marketing, Drive customers to checkout faster.

10. Say something different.

Originality is like a breath of fresh air in the crowded Twitter marketplace. Headlines created from a different lexicon leap off the page. I’m not talking jargon, just unexpected words – nouns or verbs – that shake up the stream of salesy Tweets. I’d put Mick Dickinson’s Silk purse, sow’s ear, crappy photographer, blog post headline into the refreshingly different category.

And if all else fails……

11. Capitalise Everything.

It’s in your face, brash, and hard to avoid. Personally, I don’t like this headline style, but it doesn’t stop me clicking if the content is promising. How To Win More Sales Overnight, Why Your Content Sucks, How To Write Killer Blogs.

So there you have it. Ten headline styles, and one for luck. It’s useful to mix them up, and vary your approach. I’ll often use four of five different headline styles to flag up the same article. Different readers respond to different types, so experiment with what works best for your followers.

Last but definitely not least, have something to say. Content always comes first in my book. The greatest headline in the world will tempt people to click, but you’ll only disappoint and frustrate if your content doesn’t live up to the headline’s promise.

If you need help with content for your website, do get in touch. I’d love to help.

My five marketing lessons

It’s been a year since I started in business on my own – a good time to reflect on the marketing lessons I’ve learnt in 2010.
I haven’t done any formal networking, or cold calling, and I haven’t even got round to sorting out my business cards. But I have managed to build up a network of clients that keep coming back, and who I really enjoy working with. Here’s how it’s working for me.

1. A good website is crucial.

While I loved the design of my first site (thanks Daniel Penfold), I outgrew it quite quickly. A WordPress site (more thanks DP) gave me something I could update myself with writing that would be useful for potential clients and that could stay up to date and relevant to the kinds of people I want to work with. Redoing the site after only 10 months was a great exercise in redefining my offer. Keeping my website valuable is top of my marketing list.

2. Twitter works.

I’m steadily building up a Twitter network that is both useful and entertaining. You make your own community on social networking sites, and I find Twitter a really friendly and supportive place. I know I sometimes cross the boundaries of personal/professional when I’m Tweeting – but I like Tweets from people that come from real life – being funny, or exasperated, or unsure is okay by me. I accept that this isn’t right for anyone, but Twitter is a great showcase for writers, and creating readable tweets is a fab exercise in making the most of a few words. Be useful, supportive and interesting – that’s my approach.

3. Newsletters raise your game.

Both the discipline of creating something valuable, useful and readable once a month, and the credibility it gives you as an authority on your subject is priceless. I picked up a lovely new client after only 2 newsletters, and expect to find more next year. Demonstrate your knowledge in an accessible and useful way.

4. Collaborate.

Working with Sonja to develop Valuable Content has been incredibly good fun, and professionally useful. We’ve pushed each other to achieve things, shared ideas, been each other’s sounding boards, spell checkers and friends. We’ve got big plans for next year, so watch the Valuable Content space. Work should be happy, so surround yourself with good people.

5. Be yourself.

I get on with my clients, and find them really easy to work with and it is more than a happy coincidence, I believe it comes from creating an on-line presence that reflects who I am. People will have checked me out on the website, maybe read my Tweets and newsletter, and decided whether they like my style and approach. People who don’t like the sound of me, won’t get in touch. I’m happy about this – it saves us both time. Be true and the right people will find you.
(I’m basing this theory on the one difficult client I’ve had this year, who came via a contact of a contact of a contact. He hadn’t been through the web/twitter filter – maybe if he had he would have chosen a different writer.)

So for next year? I”m going to do more of the same. More blogging, more writing about how to write, more newsletters, more collaboration, more Tweeting. But I’m going to try my hand at networking too, and I am, I promise, going to get those business cards sorted.

Five Ways to get your business voice right

The case for promoting your business with clear compelling copy is already won. No one would argue that it’s good to be waffly and confusing. Likewise the need for accuracy. Spelling and punctuation matter, because getting them wrong makes your communications look unprofessional and this reflects badly on your brand. You know that already.

But how do you do it?

Here’s my top five tips for creating a clear business voice.

1. Short sentences are better than long ones. Really, they are. For example, if you’re reading this hoping to discover the reasoning behind my implication that the length of both word and sentence impacts upon the readability of said article, or web page, then by this point you might be becoming a little weary of it, wondering aloud to yourself, maybe quietly, maybe not, when, oh when, will it ever reach a conclusion, and I might say to you, maybe quietly too, or I might shout it, or even sing it as an operatic soprano might, in top C, that it’s not going to.

So, short and sweet is better. Cut sentences down. Be ruthless. Don’t be frightened of full stops, they’re your friends, so use them.

2. And it’s the same with words. Don’t say ‘facilitate’ when you mean ‘help.’

I’m not saying limit your vocabulary, English is full of beautiful words, but if there’s a simpler way to say it, then use it. Your aim is to be clear and easily understood. Get potential clients from A to B without losing them on the way in a maze of confusing words and meandering sentences.

Twitter is great for getting you to cut down on the waffle, and it’s good to keep that discipline in mind when writing other copy too.

3. Create a team. Your voice should reflect your brand. If you’re more than a one-man band use ‘we’ when you’re talking about what you do. We help our customers like this. ‘We’ is inclusive and engaging, and can put you on a level with your potential client. But… read on…

4. Look lively. Get some energy into that copy to engage potential clients. A good trick for creating a compelling business voice is to look at the first words in each of your sentences and make sure they’re different. Long lines of ‘we’s are dull; ‘we do this,’ ‘we do that,’ yawn, yawn. Throw in some new ones. Shake it up a bit.

5. But our business is different. What we do is highly technical and specialized. There’s no way round the jargon.

Potential customers need to see how you solve problems for people like them. Expertise can be a stumbling block if you just dump it in somebody’s path. Take a step back and get some perspective on what you do. Ask your clients what they like about you, and I guarantee it won’t just be your technical know-how. If you’re good, it will be your problem solving abilities, the fact you keep your promises, the way you use your skills to make their businesses run more smoothly. A powerful business voice communicates these qualities first, and lets the expertise speak for itself.

Five ways to get people loving your links…

I love Twitter. You can pack lots into 140 characters, but what if you want to say more? Here are my top five ways for making the most of your link articles and blog pieces.

  1. Be relevant. Tell people something they want to hear. A big point of social media is brand building, but it’s not enough just to be there and shout a lot. Think about how your brand connects with people, and tell the stories that reinforce those connections.
    Consider what would be interesting for your audience, and tailor your stories to fit.
  2. Be precise, (and deliver). Have a point and get to it. Give useful information concisely. I hate it when I click on a link that promises to tell me something, and then five paragraphs on I’m no closer to knowing. Twitter offers access limitless knowledge, but it disappoints when the piece you thought was going to be useful meanders into nothing. Be one of the good guys, and deliver exactly what you say you will.
  3. Be fast. Twitter is quick-fire stuff. Users interact with it differently from other medium. Once you’ve squeezed the essence of your message into a zesty 140 characters, don’t let up the pace and let the link be wishy-washy. If I’m posting a link on Twitter I imagine an impatient reader, with potentially more interesting reads circling them like planes over Heathrow. Make your point quickly and move on.
  4. Be numerate. Pace again, busy lives. No points for originality, but breaking it down into bite-sized chunks and putting it in a numbered list gets Twitter hits. Top tens are memorable, and easily grasped. Top Fives are even quicker. It’s the promise of learning something quickly that Twitter does so well, so use it to your advantage.
  5. Be original. Develop your own voice. Find a different angle. Be clearer than the rest. Or bolder. Or more empathetic. And remember, just because it seems obvious to you, it won’t be obvious to everyone else. Your perspective is unique. Your followers want to know more about you, so share your ideas.