Content worth a click we 6 May 2011

Here are some great, thought provoking things I’ve been reading and sharing this week. Great content draws people towards you and curation is a perfectly acceptable strategy. So without a wedding dress or a length of Union Jack bunting in sight, here goes.

Seth Godin kicked off my week talking about how all the effort, resource and financial investment is often risked by how your company responds to one phone call, in this blog post called ‘The $20,000 phone call’ . You should sign up for daily inspiration at his blog.

The excellent and increasingly interactive Social Media Examiner blog recently blogged about how bloggers can use book reviews to connect with experts. This is the path to bigger audiences and a great way to consider bigger hitters to take you more seriously. Follow SME on Twitter.

Another of my favourite social media blogs, Social Media B2B delivered a compelling post on social media and content marketing in the B2B sales funnel. Pay particular attention to how good content marketing can influence buyers in the awareness, consideration and purchase stages of the b2b buying process.

And the same blog discussed later in the week how Linkedin really is a critical, and often pooly used b2b social media tool. What do you do with all those contacts you collect, those people you charm in groups and the companies you follow?

More on content came from Econsultancy with a discussion around the importance of creating durable content and a content asset that doesn’t depreciate too quickly. That means avoiding just writing about topical news and events.

What was interesting about Harvard Business’s blog on hiring graduates was the feeling that graduates really need to do more to make themselves look more attractive. I lectured at a UK university recently and was astonished that only student in a group of 40 had a Linkedin profile! You need to embrace social media people and start by selling yourself.

The final one from me this week. More small steps by Facebook in their slow but ultimately and probably all conquering march to social media dominance. The next step in Facebook business evolution was unveiled as Facebook Studio: a creative platform for brands

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My Twitter Week (we 25 March 2011)

In the week the iPad 2 went on sale in the UK, here are links below to some of the content that engaged, intrigued and even enraged me over the last seven days.

What have you been reading that you want to share with the world?

Monday: I stumbled across (using StumbleUpon) a smart site called  http://www.futureme.org/ where I fairly promptly wrote myself a letter that will be emailed to me in a year’s time. I went for the short term but you work a lot further into the future. It will be interesting to see what has developed, changed, improved.

Tuesday: I was alarmed to read on Social Media Examiner that an Alterian survey claimed that most marketers are clueless about social media conversations. Surely not knowing what is being said you, your brand and your company is increasingly about as neglectful as it gets!

Wednesday: Two bits of ‘big number’ news on Wednesday. First that Linkedin hit 100m users followed swiftly by news that The BBC has received over 50,000 applications for 500 positions in Manchester. Maybe they need to fast track some HR appointments to help start the sifting process.

Thursday: I spent the day at Social Media Academy’s Manchester conference, where I gave a talk on social media for b2b marketers. My slides are here, a blog post covering all the day’s presentations is here.

Friday: The ever readable Seth Godin mused on whether businesses and individuals try to get away with less rather than trying to do more. Which camp do you fall into?

More next week!

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My Twitter Week (we 18 March 2011)

Here’s this week’s wrap up from the last seven days. Hope one of the links informs, entertains, challenges or inspires you.

Monday: @JezHunt put a great article about sales process management and success in my path. Despite it being two years old, ‘Why 8% of sales people get 80% of the sales’ made for compelling and relevant reading.

@Econsultancy ‘s ‘Affiliate’s guide to dominating big niches with SEO’ provided a personal account of monetizing and maximising blogs, landing pages and search . A must read if you are looking to make money online.

Tuesday, and my favourite topic, content marketing (business social media utilising PR and other material) was itself repackaged by @hubspot who created the very readable ‘8 Ways to Use Inbound (content) Marketing to Retain Customers’.

On Wednesday, @Junta42, the team behind the Content Marketing Institute and The Content Marketing Playbook tweeted their latest blog post offering ‘Tips To Make Your Blog More Reader-Centric’. I love the simple, and blindingly obvious advice to turn blog questions and comments into further new content.

Thursday, I found a little time to catch up on the excellent Social Media Examiner blog. Their latest offering on upgrading your Linkedin account made for compelling reading and has left me thinking that it might be worth the investment. I rounded off Thursday in awe of the work @BBN_B2B have put into their “B2B Lions” website which serves as a showcase of the world’s best B2B websites.

The last post of the week involved Britvic’s CEO on why it is essential to keep your employees up to date with your vision and your performance.

What have you been reading this week that is worthy of sharing?

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Top Tweets of the Week (A review) w/c 7 Feb 2011

My weekly Twitter round up

This week in history Beatlemania hit the US (in 1964) so it seems appropriate to discuss other global phenomena. I was interested to read that 381m checkins took place in 2010 on Foursquare. Haven’t quite worked it out myself, but local is going to be a big thing for marketers in 2011 – and the choice will grow too once you factor in Facebook’s interest.

Before the events in Egypt really got going, Google stepped in, taking the opportunity to promote freedom of expression by releasing a ‘speak-to-tweet’ service for Egyptian mobile phone users in the eye of the storm.

Another topic increasing its column inch coverage has been the interest in QR codes. Social Media Examiner put together a useful and all encompassing blog laying out the why and the how of using them in your marketing campaigns.

We learnt in the UK this week that the newly created North West Fund would make £185m available for businesses wanting to start up, grow and diversify. The small print says there is an equity share trade off.  Sounds very Dragons Den to me, but if you need a financial injection, are based in the North West and meet the qualifying criteria, it might be worth a look.

If you work in a cross border, multi-site or multi-disciplinary team, consider the GE approach. MarkNet was set up to link 5000 marketing professionals across 30 businesses. Inspirational.

And finally, as it is Valentines weekend, here are some Apps for chocolate lovers.

Top Tweets of the Week (w/c 31 Jan 2011)

What interested me this week? Here goes…

MONDAY: Top ten tips for competing against dominant brands useful piece from Management Today highlighting how start ups can make a stand in mature markets.

TUESDAY: 8 New LinkedIn Features Worth Exploration An interesting piece on the Social Media Examiner blog highlighting the latest developments on Linkedin.

WEDNESDAY: More from Social Media Examiner, this time musing on 26 Ways to Enhance Your Blog Content

THURSDAY: A fascinating interview with Unilever chief Keith Weed (a board level global marketer) on using social media

FRIDAY: Link Building Techniques & Online PR demonstrated the importance of PR and good content to the digital marketing mindset.

NB: RSS and email subscribers need to visit the blog to access the embedded links.

Top Tweets of the Week (wc 24 Jan 2011)

There was some really great material circulating on the wires this week. Here’s my pick of which what interested and inspired me this week.

MONDAY: Interesting social media statistics. A re-post from the highly active @jeffbullas but worth reading if like me, you are preparing a number of client and speaking presentations and want to ground some of your social media ideas in some firm research.

MONDAY: From the B2B Marketing magazine site’s Knowledge Bank, a useful piece on using white papers in your marketing

TUESDAY: This piece from @hubspot talking about five misconceptions about marketers provoked some debate online when I put to a number of Linkedin groups

TUESDAY: A great piece illustrating how Econsultancy have put a ten point social media plan in place. via @Econsultancy

THURSDAY: Interesting tips on setting up your own podcasting show via @smexaminer

FRIDAY: How to avoid the seven deadly sins of search marketing via @utalkmarketing. Selected not just because of the content but the interesting way in which it has been written.

What did you stumble across this week worthy of having a look at?

Best b2b social media tools: video

Video hosting online has been greatly simplified thanks to sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Companies and brands can now be brought to life with engaging moving content in a way not even possible five years ago.

And with emerging digital tools including email, Twitter, Linkedin and blogs, finding an audience that will view, like and in turn share your content is easier as well.

Hence the explosion in online video. It is estimated that 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every second of the day and that billions of videos are watched every day.

Why use it for b2b?

YouTube is now a search engine in its own right. Video search is accounting for more and more of online search, with some commentators putting the figure as high as 50%. This makes profiles on sites like YouTube and Vimeo an essential part of your digital strategy. Call it social media optimization – where you use social media and file sharing sites to post content and boost your search engine optimization.

Consider using video if you have a compelling story to tell and the written word just doesn’t cut it. Or, if you need to deliver key messages in a more informative, engaging format. Or, if you actively want content to go viral.

The added attraction of online hosted video is that if it hits any of these buttons, the available options to browsers are huge – from embedding it another web page to tweeting, emailing and posting links all over the Internet.

But, don’t look to video if it is a one-off project, if you don’t like being in front of the camera, or if you don’t want to risk the video’s popularity running away with itself.

How to get started?

This isn’t a post about the mechanics of creating a video. For that, I recommend you visit the excellent Social Media Examiner site and this video blogging post in particular. That will set you off down the path with the right equipment, shooting and editing, together with some guidance and further reading on uploading and sharing elements.

Instead, this post concentrates on the why, how to get started and the sorts of content that you might consider as a b2b marketer.

As a starting point, register accounts with both YouTube and Vimeo. Aim to reserve the same profile names as other online and social media platforms as this makes it much easier to integrate and for people to remember you. Once this is done, you will own those profile names.

The challenge is then to either repackage and reformat what you have, or create new content. On the repackaging side, consider existing video material, animations and presentations that are already available within your business. Could these be edited, captioned and set to music or a commentary and uploaded as new content? Are there opportunites to refocus existing blog articles, press articles, conference presentations into bite-size ‘how to’ videos?

Some ways you could effectively use video to build interest in what you do include

–       Hosting conference presentations

–       Trade show highlights (whether it involves you, customers or the media)

–       Providing customer testimonials

–       Delivering relevant industry and expert interviews

–       Introducing key staff with video profiles

–       Video blogging

–       Video ‘how to’ guides

–       Product demonstrations

–       Corporate video

I’ve deliberately relegated ‘the usual stuff’ to the bottom of the list, which isn’t exclusive. Above all, have some fun. If your video is contrived, it will look contrived.

An example

It’s consumer but kitchen blenders are perhaps one of the dullest appliances in the home. But, not if it’s a Blendtec. Sales have increased 500% as a result of their innovative ‘will it blend’ site and promotional videos which have seen anything from phones to ipods and golf balls to shovels tested in their blenders.

Blendtec’s YouTube account hosts 103 short videos, has 344,000 followers  and has been viewed over 6 million time on YouTube – with many millions more on aggregation!

Summary

Like all other content, approach video from the perspective that it will endure, it could go viral and it will represent your business in an exciting way.

Stylistically, try to avoid talking heads by mixing establishing shots with head shots and audio. Think about the two minute videos on the regional TV news. If there is lots of content, split it across several uploads.

And remember, you’re not making a Hollywood blockbuster. The best viral video is rough around the edges.

What examples of great video content have you created or found online?

Top image www.viralblog.com

Top Tweets of the Week (w/e 3 Dec 2010)

Some useful content gleaned from the web over the last seven days. Hope it helps/inspires.

Mon: Why customer conversations and bloggers are trumping marketing copy and journalism http://t.co/TCt0vxi Thanks to @KristinZhivago

Mon: What Is a Landing Page and Why Should You Care http://t.co/gLfGBTY via @HubSpot

Tues: Recommend reading! RT @GemmaWent: 25 Ways to Use the Web to Find Content for Your Blog http://ow.ly/3guyi

Thurs: Creating a social media marketing strategy http://ow.ly/3iCij @smexaminer

Fri: RT @paulrouke: A great little list… 25 reasons why I’ll leave your website in 10 seconds http://t.co/6zS8IW0 via @Econsultancy

Top Tweets of the Week (wc 22 Nov)

Bit late on last week’s round up but here are some of the most interesting links I happened on and in fact might just be worthy of your attention.

Monday: Micro-content… content marketing for the time starved http://ow.ly/3dqa2

Tuesday: People, process, technology – the 3 secrets of web optimisationhttp://ow.ly/3e697

Tuesday: How to Get the M.O.S.T. From Your Social Media Marketing http://bit.ly/aD0D6LRT @smexaminer

Thursday: Why good guerrilla marketing isn’t about shock tactics –http://bit.ly/gx5Xwh RT @utalkmarketing

Friday: Check out 9 training tips that really work http://ow.ly/3fLJM from @paulwells2009

And finally, if you are a fan of The Apprentice, have you checked out the BolegBros paraodies on YouTube? If not, you are in for a treat. Prepare to write off an hour or so, though it is loosely business based!

Best b2b social media tools: Blogs

Why blog?

With over 130m blogs in existence and rising, blogging is the cornerstone of any self respecting content marketing strategy – providing an interactive platform where ideas and opinions can be expressed, shared, countered and, above all, engaged with.

Blogging regularly on specific topics increases your search engine visibility, as you routinely include certain critical keywords in your content. This in turn builds your reputation on these topics and the blog will build an audience. If that doesn’t inspire, how about the fact that it is the easiest to self publishing and other than the time involved, it is free most of the time.

What to blog about?

The challenge to the b2b marketer is to develop a blog that offers relevant and insightful comment rather than corporate news and views. That’s what the web news stream is for. Instead, use your blog to create a personality for your business. Offer an opinion on the industry news of the day. Comment on business news at large. Survey your customers, assess trends, run polls and competitions and publish all the findings on your blog.

Blog posts which gain notable traction often discuss issues and problems, offer how to guides and approaches to issue resolution. Provide links to other articles, blogs and contents you’ve seen, liked and rated, positioning yourself as a true content provider.

How to get started?

Create a free blog at www.wordpress.com. Over time, this can be ported to the self-hosted www.wordpress.org, but it serves the needs of most bloggers as it has a number of bespoke design themes, requires no programming expertise, offers a range of interactive options and analytics, and allows you to start writing straight away.

Before you write anything, create a calendar. This will focus the mind. Think about a number of blog posts and start drafting them. But don’t publish anything. The idea is to create a pool of articles so you have content in reserve. Schedule a blog post fortnightly and post it at the same time of day so people over time become used to seeing it / receiving it. As your confidence grows, and resource allows, move to weekly, then perhaps twice weekly. Writing every day is incredibly demanding and should be avoided in the early months.

Writing and posting a blog article takes a little longer than you might think. The content itself might be straight forward but you need to consider the title, tags and a relevant image. I’d recommend keeping posts to 200 words. It’s a good approach to try to include some keywords that are used by your target readers in the title and copy.

If you need some direction, check out content and titles on high traffic blogs like Mashable and SocialMediaExaminer, who offer useful insights into the sorts of titles that encourage people to read.

Blogging demands integrated use of social media tools to drive traffic and provides a great objective to using a wider portfolio of tools. As posts go live, email the link to your database, your colleagues, post it to Twitter, relevant industry Linkedin groups and any other social and business networks you use. WordPress.com analytics can provide extraordinary data on where traffic comes from so this can be refined over time.

Check out my other posts on blogging…

Blogging in hindsight – lessons learnt from my own experience

Marketing Metrics 7: News and blogs – using news and blog functions to generate and distribute content

Stepping into the blog spotlight – read last, its about ramping up your exposure

Image credit Why?,