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Using Visual Content to Increase Blog Engagement

1This is a guest contribution from Tom More of Slidely.com. 

Visual content is your secret weapon to boosting blog engagement. The blog posts of today demand fresh, eye-catching content that can be read and shared easily, which makes videos, infographics, photos, and slideshows a perfect companion to blog posts. People absorb information quicker and more intuitively from images than text and visual content attracts more engagement on social media channels. Additionally, visual content is extremely easy to integrate into your current blog posts, as well as add to your past posts. On your blog homepage, strong visual content can sustain new visitors attention so they are more inclined to explore your blog.  For these reasons and more, it’s clear that visual content partners great with blogs, but how will visual content affect your blog engagement?

Visual content increases social media engagement for your blog

Blog posts are a powerful content medium on their own, but a large part of their strength is their ability to be shared across social media channels easily. Blog engagement is largely built through social media because social media channels allow you to gain exposure, focus your posts to relevant audiences, and respond easily to those who comment on your posts. According to a study by HubSpot, posts with photos received 53% more likes and attracted 104% more comments than those without (via HubSpot).

2

Sam Kusinitz / Hubspot

 

Visual content generates more click throughs

When you link to a blog post, attach a catchy visual to grab viewers attention and prompt them to continue on to the post. Photo posts can generate over 80% higher link click through than simple text and link posts, HubSpot reports. So next time you link to a post, do your best to add a picture or video that illustrates your point.

Visual content helps you reach your audience by saying more with less

As you know, brevity can be key when it comes to blog posts. Visual content conveys information succinctly and quickly, making it a great way to say more with less. Using photos to replace excess words is a powerful way to boost engagement. In fact, posts below 250 characters can boost your engagement by up to 60% (via Visual.ly).

Let visual content speak for itself. You can give an introduction and a call to action, but sometimes a standalone video or slideshow is more powerful than one with a lot of extra text. Once in awhile, save yourself time and effort by using visual content to your advantage to replace long text-based posts.

Visual content makes your blog memorable

Not only can audiences absorb your message quicker and clearer, but using visual content in your blogs can lead to better retainment of information. We often remember large amounts of information better when conveyed visually rather than verbally, and when you need to get across an important message in your blog, you don’t want to risk it being forgotten after you put in so much effort to create it.

Visual content is evergreen content

Evergreen content is highly valuable in the blogging world, because evergreen content that is not just relevant in the moment, but retains its value over time. This makes it one of the best types of content to build engagement over time because it can be shared and re-shared, resulting in many more chances for views and engagement. Visual content is evergreen because it has value in and out of context – in other words, even if your blog post becomes dated, the great photos or videos included in it can be relevant on their own, boosting traffic to your blog and shares for the individual video content.

If you are ready to get started with integrating visual content, here are some tips on using visual content in blog posts…

Remember while all types of visual content are powerful, not all are created equal. Different visual content mediums benefit different channels. For example, when it comes to social media sharing, the best engagement comes from photos, followed by videos and infographics. Slideshows are also on the rise as an engaging visual content medium because they can be used during live presentations or for online sharing.

You can see how we manage slideshows at Slidely:

Steve Jobs – Tribute by Slidely Slideshow

Additionally, when you post visual content matters too. According to Fannit, people are less likely to check Facebook during work hours, but morning is a peak time to check their newsfeed (via Social Media Today). When it comes to Twitter, engagement is higher on weekends than weekdays. For all types of social media, posting at night returns the least amount of engagement. What does this mean for you? Strategize with a posting calendar so you are consistently releasing visual-packed posts at peak hours.

Always consider your audience and use the medium most suited to them. Visual content is far less effective if it doesn’t match the audience it is intended for. Consider whether your target audience prefers videos, slideshows, or photos and then go heavier on this content (while still including a variety of different types). For example, travel bloggers often use photos for the majority of their visual content because travel photos can tell a story well, while business bloggers tend towards slideshows and presentations because their audience often wants a takeaway. Educators also often utilize slideshows and presentations, while a fashion blog is more likely to use photos. These are just some examples of how audience affects the type of video content.

Also, switch up the types of visual content you use. Photos are great for almost every blog post or hyperlink on social media sites, but it’s also important to include videos, slideshows, presentations, infographics, and moving graphics to keep your audience interested. No one wants to see the same type of content all the time, so vary what you present.

I’d love to hear – what kind of visual content do you feel works best for you?

Tom more is CEO and founder of Slidely, a popular creator of slideshows, videos and imagery.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Using Visual Content to Increase Blog Engagement

Burn Out or Burn Bright? 3 Essential Tips for Digital Marketers

Digital Marketing Burnout

Come Autumn, there’s nothing better than a good ‘ol campfire. It’s the season for crackly leaves, chilly Fall air, and marshmallows on a stick.

A hot, well-tended fire during the chill is a joy indeed – and if you’ve ever sat around a bonfire, you probably know that it takes some skill to keep a good fire going. Fires don’t tend themselves. They need oxygen and fuel to survive. Someone has to actively feed the flames with new wood and stoke the embers when the flames start to die out.

In other words, fire isn’t self-sustaining.

As digital marketers, our “fire” is the passion and energy that keeps us going. Just like physical fires, our inner flame takes some tending to keep it bright and strong.

But what about fires that stop burning so brightly? There are a thousand factors contributing to a subdued digital marketing flame, from a packed schedule, to unexpected challenges to our physical health. Just like in any industry, without intentional action, these challenges can smother our marketing fire until we fizzle out.

How can you prevent turning into a pile of cold logs? Whether you’re on the brink of burnout or staying toasty warm, you can avoid future digital marketing burnout by improving your personal health, professional habits, and creative pursuits. With these 3 tips you can throw a log on that marketing fire of yours and watch it sizzle!

Spark Your Personal Life

Maintain Healthy Habits. Nail the basics – a good diet, sleep, and exercise. You know the food groups, but are you working fresh fruits and veggies into your day while avoiding processed foods and watching your portion size? On the “zzz” side, health experts typically recommend seven to nine hours of sleep a night – don’t cut corners here if you can help it. And find the type of sweat that you can stand – whether it means swimming laps at the community center or just hopping on the elliptical machine.

Socialize. If you’re consistently cancelling dinner commitments with friends to get more work done, it may be a red flag you shouldn’t ignore. Time with our friends and family is crucial to our health and happiness. In times of stress, it’s especially helpful to spend time with people who can help us view challenges in a positive light.

“Me Time.” Some of my girlfriends look forward to a regular massage or manicure for some much-needed personal time. Others have weekly hobbies – yoga, cycling, art – that they regularly enjoy. “Me time” can be as simple as a tromp through the fall leaves, a quiet afternoon fishing on the dock, or time to sit on the couch in peace. Whatever “me” time means to you, make sure you work some into your schedule so you stay recharged and relaxed.

Spark Your Work Life

Work Your Network. Stay inspired by continuing to talk about what you do with other digital marketers. Grab coffee with someone who can teach you a thing or two about an area you want to learn more about – for example, PPC, email automation, or social advertising. For daily networking, join an online community – like a LinkedIn group – or follow a blog where like-minded professionals gather.

Don’t Stop Learning. Conferences are excellent opportunities to rev up your marketing know-how. Continual education fans the flames by opening our eyes to new strategies and tools, and giving us potential ways to improve our marketing efforts. If you can’t sign up for a conference, podcasts are an easy way to learn while we’re commuting or at the gym.

Make Your Routine Enjoyable. The start to your day often determines the whole course of your day – do you have a positive wake-up?  As the day commences, take breaks. Try a new online tool or productivity app. Allow yourself to check Twitter and Instagram. Make a new playlist – while listening to the same song on repeat may help with productivity, it could add a fresh aspect to your day to change the soundtrack.

Spark Your Creative Life

Experience Art. Remember back in college when you attended orchestra concerts because student tickets were cheap and the experience made you feel cultural? You may not get a student discount anymore, but what’s stopping you from hitting up the local theater, art museum, or concert hall? Art may not be the cure for burnout, but experiencing (and appreciating) the result of another person’s hard work can supply us with the inspiration or motivation to keep creating.

Read a Book. Stories give us new perspectives by which we can understand our lives. If you’re feeling like burnout could soon overtake you, maybe some literary respite is just the thing you need. If you feel like sitting down with a novel is far too recreational a concept for you, try the latest marketing read or business how-to guide to combine down-time with gleaning what may be valuable information you can leverage at work.

Explore. Of course, we often advise the near-burned-out to take a vacation. If you can travel, do it. If you can’t, seek out new scenes in your neighborhood. Is there a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try? A bike trail you’ve wanted to hike? Even if it’s just running errands in a different part of town, go someplace new to see something new and get a fresh perspective on the old.

At this time of year, we’re all busy trying to do our jobs well and keep everything balanced as the holidays arrive. Don’t let your passion dwindle. Before the fire dies, practice good fire tending so you can keep your flames burning hot and bright.

Photo: Shutterstock


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2014. |
Burn Out or Burn Bright? 3 Essential Tips for Digital Marketers | http://www.toprankblog.com

B2B Marketing Convergence: Disappearing Silos, B2C to B2B Mind-Meld, Inbound Outbound Mastery

convergence b2b marketing boston

My first experience with B2B Marketing in the digital marketing industry started as the worlds of Public Relations and SEO started to collide early in 2001.

Our tiny agency won a media relations account for a $1 billion company in the high tech industry. What set us apart from all the other big PR shops was how we used SEO with PR content to attract incoming media opportunities on top of outbound media pitching and brand content creation. As time went on and content as the key player, other disciplines converged in our B2B marketing practice.

Since then, the coming together of marketing/communications disciplines in the B2B world has accelerated. Why? Changes in technology and buyer behaviors for sure (like prospects pulling themselves through 60-90% of the sales cycle before contacting sales). Other driving forces range from the need to achieve greater impact to delivering a more congruent experience for buyers through the sales cycle.

This trend towards convergence will continue even more in the coming year and as part of our work with MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum, I was fortunate to talk to 3 B2B marketing experts on the topic – to get their perspectives on how B2B convergence and integration is impacting the future of B2B Marketing:

Michael Brenner

The Disappearing Silos of B2B

Michael Brenner @BrennerMichael
Head of Strategy at NewsCred

Content is the 2nd largest marketing expense after advertising at the majority of large businesses. Yet most marketing resources and people are devoted to creating content that often goes unused, unread or unshared.

In the future of B2B, silos like branding, advertising, & lead generation will all disappear! @brennermichael

The B2B Marketing organization of the future will begin to rapidly transform. Silos like branding, advertising, lead generation will all disappear!

The B2B Marketing organization of the future will be organized around data, content and technology: data (for personalization), content (for target audience consumption) and technology (required to act like a 21st century marketing organization).

Jason Miller

Mind-Meld: B2B and B2C Share Insights

Jason Miller @JasonMillerCA
Senior Manager, Content Marketing & Social Media at LinkedIn

B2B companies will increasingly hire B2C agencies for fresh perspectives, new ideas, and to learn how to better humanize their messaging and campaigns to better connect with their prospects earlier on in the buying cycle.

B2B and B2C will learn from each other to create better overall marketing experiences. @JasonMillerCA

In turn, B2C will start utilizing B2B’s technology for relationship building and more effective cross selling and up-selling along the way.

Both disciplines have something to learn from one another as forward-thinking marketers stop citing acronyms and start focusing on creating better overall marketing experiences.

Frank Days

Master the Inbound Outbound Universe

Frank Days @tangyslice
VP of Marketing at TwinStrata

The lines between inbound and outbound marketing continue to blur as mainstream media are being forced to change business models.

Content marketing and traditional marketing will become fully-integrated and indistinguishable. @tangyslice

Much like ecommerce versus brick and mortar retail ultimately morphed into multi-channel retail, I expect content marketing and traditional marketing to become fully-integrated and indistinguishable.

B2B marketers who master the intersection of inbound and outbound marketing will thrive while others will get stuck in outdated silos.

Well said Michael, Jason and Frank. If you’d like to see all 3 of these B2B Marketing experts in person, (along with over 50 others) then I hope you’ve already registered for the sold out MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston Oct 8-10. If not, no worries. You can sign up for on-demand access.

For more B2B Marketing insights and predictions, check out this Future of B2B Marketing eBook we created for MarketingProfs. It includes a range of predictions ranging from practical, to wishful to things that are so far out there, they’re literally science fiction.

Do you see similar converging disciplines in the B2B Marketing space? What predictions would you add?

Photo: Shutterstock


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Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2014. |
B2B Marketing Convergence: Disappearing Silos, B2C to B2B Mind-Meld, Inbound Outbound Mastery | http://www.toprankblog.com

Former Google Employees Launch Adult Entertainment Search Engine

A handful of former Google employees have created search engine Boodigo, which helps users find pornography on the Internet.

7 Powerful Tips for a Winning Twitter Sales Strategy

This is a guest contribution from freelance writer Jawad Khan.

More than 73% US companies use Twitter to connect with their target audience, get direct feedback from their customers and keep an eye on their competitors.

You might be one of them.

But are you getting any real value from the time you spend on Twitter? Have you been able to engage your potential or existing customers? Have you ever created enough momentum with your Tweets to impact your sales numbers?

A large number of businesses on Twitter fail to do any of those things.

Why?

Because they don’t see Twitter as a sales channel. They don’t have a sales strategy for Twitter and never design their Tweets to impact sales.

But you can change that with a few smart modifications to the way you approach Twitter.

Twitter can be a powerful sales channel. It might not always give you direct sales, but it can always impact purchase decisions.

Here’s how.

1. Understand the Objective

Before you get started, understand that Twitter, like all other social networks, is primarily designed to encourage social connections, conversations and engagement. Their primary purpose is not sales. You can’t keep posting links to your product pages or sales landing pages and expect people to buy from you.

That’s not how things work on Twitter.

Your objective should be sales, but it can only be triggered through engagement. More than 65% of Twitter users are likely to buy from the brands they follow on Twitter.

Why?

Because they trust them and engage with them regularly. So in effect, the only way you can convert Twitter users into customers is by building trust and engagement.

2. Attract Relevant Followers

As I said in the first point, your followers are much more likely to buy from you as compared to normal Twitter users.

But not just any followers. You need to have relevant and active Twitter followers. 100 relevant followers who engage with you regularly are better than 1000 followers who never speak up.

So how do you find such followers on Twitter?

By mass following your competitor’s followers? No!

Never use mass follow in the hope of getting followers. That will destroy your brand image and credibility.

Instead, list down your closest competitors and have a good look at their Twitter timeline.

Do you see any responses to their Tweets? Any unanswered questions from their followers? Any unacknowledged suggestions? Any complaints that went unheard?

There’s your opportunity. Jump in and join the conversation. Offer help and respond to their queries.

This natural engagement will increase your brand awareness and goodwill, and will also earn you natural followers.

3. Structure Your Tweets Carefully

I’m sure you must have seen countless Twitter accounts with thousands of tweets but no engagement. Incorrect Tweet structure is one of the main reasons for that.

Yes, even these 140 characters need proper structuring. Here’s how

  • Tweet Length – You’re allowed 140 characters per Tweet, but Tweets that attract the highest engagement are between 110 and 115 characters according to social media scientist Dan Zarella

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.19.44 am

  • Link Placement – Link placement also impacts click through rates and Retweets. Instead of placing links at the end of a Tweet, put them in the middle and near the start.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.21.59 am

  • Images – Tweets that contain images attract 200% more engagement. So make sure most of your Tweets, especially the ones that contain links, have images.
  • Vines and GIFs – After Google Plus, Twitter has also allowed animated GIFs. GIFs and Vine videos attract a lot more engagement as compared to simple text or static image based Tweets. Using these multimedia Tweets in combination with image and text Tweets can give you great results. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.46.11 am

  • Hashtags – Hashtags expand the reach of your Tweets and give you exposure on the trending topics. Tweets with appropriate hashtags have a 55% higher probability of getting Retweets. Most experts recommend using up to three hashtags per Tweet. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.48.25 am

 

  • Tagging – When responding to a Tweet or tagging someone, make sure your Tweet doesn’t start with a Twitter handle. If it does, it will only appear to the tagged person.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.49.26 am

The Wrong Way to Tweet

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.50.50 am

  • Tweet Timing – Tweet at the wrong time and even your best content will go to waste. Timing is crucial on Twitter. Tweets between 9AM to 6PM everyday attract the highest engagement while Saturday and Sunday are the most engaging days of the week. I personally recommend using the BufferApp for scheduling Tweets

4. Become a Knowledge Source

Twitter allows only 140 characters per Tweet but, even here, content is the king. If you want to convert your Twitter account into a sales lead generator and a major source of referral traffic for your blog or website, you need to establish it as the knowledge hub for everything associated with your niche.

Users should be able to rely on your account alone to learn about the hottest news in your niche, solutions to the most common problems of your target market, innovations and industry hacks, and top quality content.

You can do that by dividing your Tweets into categories like news updates, blog posts, occasional product updates, quotes, tips etc. Schedule your daily Tweets in all these categories. You don’t always have to produce original content. You can curate the best content in your niche and still attract a lot of followers and engagement

5. Use Twitter for SMS Marketing

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.59.19 am

Twitter SMS is a highly underutilized feature. If you own a retail store or a small business that involves personally meeting customers, then this feature is for you.

Many people in the real world do not use Twitter. But you can still approach them with this feature. Whenever you meet a new customer, ask them to follow you through SMS to get updates on the latest products, discounts, competitions etc.

Your customers can subscribe to free SMS updates by sending ‘Follow @YourUsername’ in SMS to 40404 (this code is different for every country, here’s the list).

Whenever you Tweet, your subscribers will get it as an SMS. Make sure you create a separate Twitter account for SMS subscribers so that they don’t get all of your Tweets. Send occasional SMS Tweets for maximum impact.

5. Get Unfair Advantage With Twitter Lists

Twitter lists are a powerful way to monitor your target audience, divide them into segments and create targeted content for your followers. If you use Twitter lists intelligently, you can get an unfair advantage over your competitors because this is a largely underutilized feature.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.00.17 am

You can create your own lists and add users of a particular type to monitor them separately. You can also join public lists of other users that are already populated. Tools like Twitonomy can help you find the lists that are following your competitors.

6. Simplify the Buying Process

Things move at a much faster speed on Twitter as compared to Facebook and Google Plus. In order to give yourself any chance of attracting customers on Twitter, you need to simplify the buying process of your products.

Instead of Tweeting links of your product landing page, use Twitter’s built in feature of Twitter cards. Twitter cards display additional information within the Tweet content and increase the functionality of your Tweets. Twitter is also planning to add “Buy Now” buttons to its Twitter cards feature.

You can also use social selling tools like Selz. When you create a product on Selz and Tweet it to your followers, they’ll be able to see your product image, stock details and price along with a direct link to the checkout page. Selz also allows users to accept product payments from Master Card, Visa and PayPal so you won’t need to integrate any additional payment gateway.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.01.48 am

This approach makes your products much more sellable on Twitter and makes the buying process much more convenient. I personally recommend using Twitter cards in combination with Selz since it massively increases your Tweet CTR.

Conclusion

Selling products or services on Twitter requires a careful strategy that revolves around user engagement and a simplified buying process. You also need a balance between sales oriented Tweets and general Tweets aimed at user engagement. If you follow this strategy consistently, you can convert Twitter into a high value sales channel and your paid customers into loyal word of mouth marketers.

Jawad Khan  s a freelance writer and professional blogger with a keen interest in content marketing, blogging and wordpress. With professional experience in Web Project Management, he also provides content and design consultancy to a number of tech companies. He blogs at WritingMyDestiny.com

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

7 Powerful Tips for a Winning Twitter Sales Strategy