Social Media Sharing Falling Short? Why You Should Keep Trying.

October 6, 2015

social media sharing makes an impact

The results of a recent tweet:

twitter metrics via buffer

Crickets. No clicks, no engagement, nothing. Did anyone even see the tweet? Twitter’s analytics dashboard tells me some of my tweets receive less than 100 impressions. Given that I have close to 7,000 followers, that’s discouraging.

twitter analytics

Given results like this, it’s easy to get discouraged. Here’s why.

We’re Results-Driven

My day job as a marketer makes me data-driven and results-driven. Looking at my personal Twitter account with a Marketing lens, I think about where I can optimize. If optimizing doesn’t move the needle, then I ask whether to focus my time on other things.

Lack of Progress is Discouraging

Occasionally, I’ll hit it out of the park with a tweet. But for the most part, I’m hitting weak grounders to shortstop. Making an out.

At the plate, professional baseball players fail most of the time. But they accept that. On social media, we’re less patient. While we want to continually drive in runs, the reality is that most of us hit below .200.

Is Anybody Out There?

If a tweet falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, was it a waste of time? I tweet to provide interesting content to others. If there was no one on the receiving end, then it wouldn’t be worth sharing.

That’s why metrics (like those shown above) are discouraging. I found an interesting article, I tweeted it and 44 people saw the tweet. But no one clicked or engaged with it. Was it worth my time? Read on to find out why those 44 impressions may mean all the difference in the world.

It’s Important to Keep Trying

Dark social” is a term coined by Alexis Madrigal to reference hidden measures of social sharing. It’s sharing whose data is not captured and tracked. If you tweet an article and I share the link via email or IM, then that share is not captured by Twitter’s analytics.

My Term: Dark Impact

What I’ve come to discover is this:

Dark social also encompasses the hidden impact of your content. I call it Dark Impact.

Your content can have an impact on people, whether they share it or not. Some personal examples follow.

LinkedIn

Recently, I saw a close family friend whom I haven’t spoken to in 10 years. Her first comment was, “I see your posts on LinkedIn. I can almost hear your voice in your posts. I learned a lot about what you’ve been up to.”

Via LinkedIn, she was able to learn about my job changes, as well as understand my current interests.

dark impact

My friend never once interacted with my LinkedIn posts. I had forgotten we were even connected!

But there sure was an impact to my shares.

LinkedIn, Part 2

At a neighborhood block party, I chatted with neighbors who happen to be retirees. I’m connected with them on LinkedIn. At the block party, they told me they enjoy the content I share on LinkedIn.

One neighbor commented to another, “You should connect with Dennis on LinkedIn for the posts that he shares.”

Another neighbor sees the content I publish via LinkedIn Publisher. “I read your post on LinkedIn. I can’t believe your’s was right next to one by Arianna Huffington,” the neighbor said.

dark impact

Without speaking to my neighbors, I would not have known the impact my LinkedIn activities made with them.

I had no idea they read my LinkedIn Publisher posts.

Twitter and Blogging

At meetups and events, I’ll meet someone who says, “I think I recognize you from Twitter.” They had seen content that I shared, or saw retweets from users with large followings. Once, I met someone at an event who said, “Aren’t you the person who blogs about virtual events?”

Remember the 44 impressions I mentioned earlier? NONE of the people behind those impressions engaged or interacted with my tweet. But SOME remember me simply for the fact that I tweeted.

The tweet may have been meaningful, it may have been irrelevant. But I tweeted. And as a result, I was remembered for it.

dark impact

My Twitter and blog metrics may show low clicks and minimal engagement.

But it’s making a difference with someone, somewhere.

 


What to Do?

Keep trying. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. Share useful information. Whether you realize it or not, you’ll make an impact.

Next, leave home and get out of the office. Meet new people and network. That’ll help connect your social media activities with the people you’re impacting. It’ll shed a light on the dark impact.

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Use Blogging to Generate Leads

September 16, 2015

use blogging to generate leads

Q&A with Dayna Rothman, the Director of Content Marketing at EverString.

In a recent blog post, you talk about helping “shape the story for the business.” How does storytelling translate to lead generation?

Storytelling and content marketing are a critical piece of lead generation.

In fact, I believe that content should be the basis of all lead generation campaigns that you run. As all marketers know by now, your buyers have changed.

They are not only self-educating along the buyer journey, but they also have extremely high expectations. Your buyers want a brand they can relate to — they want a brand that tells a story.

The more enticing your story and your content is, the more likely it is that people will give you their information. Then, you can use those stories to move buyers through their journey.

Note: read Dayna’s post, Creating a Category Through Storytelling: Why I Joined EverString

Tell us about what you cover in your book, “Lead Generation for Dummies”?

All aspects of lead generation for all different levels and company sizes. The book discusses everything from hiring a team, creating a lead gen strategy, to all of the different inbound and outbound lead gen tactics you should take, what metrics you should track, and more.

Note: Buy the book at Amazon, Lead Generation for Dummies.

Before Marketers start blogging for lead generation, what must they do first?

Marketers need to understand their lead gen goals as it pertains to the blog. How do they want generate leads? Through subscribers? By having visitors download content assets from your blog? Are you using your blog in outside lead gen campaigns? Once you figure out your goals, you can optimize your blog and individual posts.

What blogs do you read to help inform your own blogging?

Well, the Marketo blog of course! When I was there, we focused on optimizing lead generation through different avenues. I also love Copyblogger, MarketingProfs, and sites like Gawker and Mashable.

How do you measure the effectiveness of blogging to drive lead generation?

There are a few ways to measure effectiveness. You can look at blog subscriber growth, content assets downloaded from individual blogs, referral traffic, where do people go after reading your blog, etc.

B2B Blogger Meetup

Want to hear Dayna speak? In October in San Mateo, we’re holding a B2B Bloggers Meetup. Dayna will do a presentation on “Blogging for Lead Generation.”

Tell us what you plan to cover during your Meetup presentation?

I will cover how to think about lead generation when it comes to your blog. I will discuss how to optimize your blog and what different CTAs you should consider to collect lead information.

I will also talk about how to format your posts and what outbound campaigns you can use to drive traffic to your blog and increase leads.

Meetup Details

Everyone is welcome to attend and the Meetup is free. All of our Meetups take place in San Mateo, CA.

October 28, 2015 [Wednesday], 6:30-8pm: Blogging for Lead Generation, featuring Dayna

Hope to see you there!

Note: I originally published this post at LinkedIn.


10 Things to Check Before You Publish that Post

July 20, 2015

blogging checklist

Wait! Before you hit “Publish” on your next blog post, consider using this ten point checklist.

1) ALT tags on your images

The ALT tag is used to describe (for search engines) what your image is about. This is particularly useful on image search sites, such as Google Images. If someone searches an image for “plastic container” and you’ve used the same term in your ALT tag, your page may get listed higher in search results. Readers won’t see your ALT tags unless they view the HTML of your post.

Helps with: Organic search traffic, including traffic from image search sites.

2) Add internal links

Browse your post for terms that relate to pages on your website (e.g. product pages). Hyperlink the phrase to the relevant page. I also like to use Google Analytics “UTM” parameters in the URL (e.g. utm_source, utm_campaign) so I can see how much traffic this “internal linking” drives. Search engines like sites that use internal linking effectively.

Check out this post by Brian Honigman on website metrics. You’ll notice that I inserted numerous internal links to relevant DNN product pages.

Helps with: Organic search ranking, page views per session, bounce rate (lowers it), time on site, conversion rate.

3) Embed related content

I check DNN’s SlideShare and YouTube channels to see if there’s any content directly related to the post. If there is, I grab the “embed code” from that site to incorporate the SlideShare or video directly into the post.

In this post by Steve Roth on Google Hummingbird, I embedded a case study from our SlideShare channel.

Helps with: Time on page and (possibly) conversion rate.

4) Have links open in a new window

I add (target=”_blank”) to my hyperlinks. This way, when a reader clicks on a link in my post, that link opens in a new browser window. I don’t want the reader to leave my post.

Helps with: Time on page, bounce rate (lowers it).

5) Spelling, grammar and syntax check

Once I publish a new post, I like to do one more read through it. Occasionally, I’ll find errors, which means that I didn’t do enough of a “QA check” prior to publishing. I like to do a final read-through before I hit the publish button.

Helps with: Reader trust, return visits.

6) Use H2 and H3 tags on headings

This item (number six in my list of ten) is using an H3 tag. Instead of merely bolding a heading, the use of these tags helps search engines understand the structure of your post. Use them.

Helps with: Search engine indexing, which may have a slight impact on organic search traffic

7)  Calls to Action (CTA)

Readers loved your post. What do they do next? Don’t strand them. Give them somewhere to go: a related post, a trial of your software, an offer to sign up for your newsletter.

In this guest post by Brad Shorr on website redesign, the call to action is to download a related eBook from DNN.

Helps with: Page views per session, bounce rate (lowers it), time on page, time on site, conversion rate.

8) Meta Description Tag

The meta description tells readers and search engines what your post is about. On social shares, this field is often pulled in to provide context. It’s also the text displayed (below the post title) in search engine results. I keep mine pretty brief: one sentence that captures the essence of the post.

Helps with: Traffic from organic search and social shares.

9) Image filenames

Similar to image ALT tags (covered above), filenames can be an important search engine ranking factor. Electric-toaster-oven.JPG is better than IMG20150496-lage.JPG, because search engines can figure out the former is a toaster. On the latter filename, they have no idea. So double-check that your images have well-understood filenames. If they don’t, then re-name the image file, upload the new image and delete the old one.

Helps with: Organic search traffic, including traffic from image search sites.

10) Confirm comments are enabled

It’s a recently debated topic: whether to allow comments on your blog. I vote “yes.” Let readers share their thoughts, while moderating inappropriate, profane or off-topic comments. I love to hear from readers, even if what they say hurts 🙂

Helps with: Reader trust, reader engagement, time on page, time on site.

Note: I originally published this to my LinkedIn profile.


5 Things You’re Probably NOT Doing with Your Blog Posts

March 27, 2015

a quote on great blog posts

You think of an idea for a great blog post. What’s your first reaction? To start typing. That’s wrong. Here are five things to do first.

1) Leave Your Usual Setting

Whether it’s your office or home office, your desk is the place where you check email, have people visit, take phone calls, make phone calls and check Twitter. When sitting at your desk, your frame of mind is all about your day-to-day job. Disconnecting from that frame of mind frees your mind.

When I’m working from home, I’ll move to the kitchen table. Sometimes, I’ll get in the car and drive to the park, where I sit on a park bench. When I’m in the office, I’ll head to a table in our outdoor patio.

2) Completely Disconnect

Leave your computer or tablet at your desk. It’s hard to plan a great blog post when people are contacting you via email, Skype and Twitter. The computer is a temptation. Stay focused on planning your blog post. Emails can always wait.

3) Write an Outline with Pen and Paper

Ditch the computer and use pen and paper. Whether or not I’m writing a list-based post, I sketch out a list of the major points I’d like to make. I’ll then break up each point into “sub-points,” writing sentences or phrases to help me illustrate the main point.

4) Take Occasional Breaks

The one device I allow myself to bring is my phone. While I’m sketching out my outline, I find occasional breaks useful. I’ll open the phone and check Twitter. I try not to check email.

Sometimes, scanning the Twitter stream is simply a diversion. Other times, it triggers further ideas about the blog post. On a few occasions, I’ve engaged with users on Twitter (about the blog post I was writing) and included their thoughts into the post.

You can find the breaks that work best for you. Focus on keeping them short.

5) Write Your Blog Post in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is what I use, but use your editor of choice. The main point is, don’t write your post within your blog publishing system. You’ll find less pressure and more focus when you write “offline.” When you’re done with the first draft, step away for a few hours (or, overnight), then return later to review and create a final draft.

When done with the final draft, transfer the post to your blog publishing system. Think of this like creating a painting. You get a practice canvas (using erasable paint) to create your masterpiece. When done, the work of art is transferred to the “real” canvas.

Try It, You’ll Like It

Try these few steps before you start writing your next blog post. You’ll like it. And more importantly, your readers will like it, too. Leave a comment below to let me know how it worked out.

Where to Find More of My Blog Posts

At DNN, I’m responsible for our corporate blog: I manage content sourcing, scheduling and editing and even write some posts myself.

Have a look at some of our recent posts and let me know what you think. Also, if you’re interested in contributing to our blog, feel free to reach out to me.

Note: I originally published this post to my LinkedIn profile.


Why Launching a Blog is Like Getting a Puppy

March 15, 2015

launching a blog is like getting a puppy

It was love at first sight from the moment you met.

You called your mom to tell her about it.

You emailed everyone you know, inviting them to visit. You’ve launched your organization’s blog. Exciting, isn’t it?

Yes, it is. But launching a new blog is like bringing home a puppy. Let’s consider the similarities.

1) Housebreaking

Puppies are adorable, except when they’re having accidents on your newly purchased Persian rug. As puppy owners know too well, the first few weeks (or months) are all about teaching your dog to do its number one and number two in the backyard or on the sidewalk.

With blogging, your first ten posts help you learn the features available in your blogging platform (e.g. image upload and placement, tagging, taxonomy, etc.) and master assorted blogging tactics (e.g. keyword usage, title selection, hyperlinking, etc.).

2) Frequent Walks

It’s 6AM and you’ve barely slept, but you need to walk the dog. Later that morning when you’re ready for a nap, the puppy wants to play. Your blog is not as persistent as your puppy, but a consistent posting frequency is important.

A consistent posting schedule builds a relationship with your readers. Whether you post once a week or once a day, readers will return at a frequency you’ve established. Your puppy, on the other hand, will return at random intervals.

3) Socializing Your Pet

It’s important for your puppy to be comfortable around people – and, for it to be well socialized among other dogs and pets. That’s why you bring it to family gatherings (once it’s house broken) and set up “doggie play dates” with friends and neighbors.

You’ll want to socialize your blog posts (I’d start with Twitter and LinkedIn, then Google+) and connect with influencers to make them aware of relevant posts. If you can get influencers to read and share your posts, then you’re doing something right with your blog content.

4) Regular Visits to the Vet

A puppy needs to make frequent visits to the veterinarian. The vet will examine your pup to give it a clean bill of health (along with some immunizations). With blogs, I like to ask friends and colleagues to review recent posts and give me feedback.

I ask folks inside and outside the industry, as I like to hear both perspectives. You can also hire consultants or content strategists to perform an audit and provide recommended changes. It’s great to get independent perspectives about your blog.

A Man’s (and Woman’s) Best Friend

Blogging really can be your organization’s best friend. You’ll achieve awareness and thought leadership. Over time, you’ll be able to connect your blog content to revenue. In other words: the puppy you used to walk each morning will now bring you the newspaper instead.

Visit the DNN website to have a look at the blog that I manage. After you visit, use the Comments area below to let me know what you think. Thanks!

Note: I originally published this post at LinkedIn, but thought I’d share it here as well.


10 Steps to Building a Culture of Content in Your Organization

April 10, 2014


Photo source: Graham Lavender on flickr.

Introduction

Note: This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

While Marketing is the voice of many organizations, a lot of subject matter experts reside elsewhere. They reside in Engineering, Product Management, Customer Support and Sales. Look at the last ten posts published on your blog. If more than half came from Marketing, then ask yourself why there aren’t more posts from the folks building, selling and servicing your products or services.

By extending the list of contributors on your blog, you present a broader range of perspectives and knowledge. At the same time, you create a stronger sense of trust from prospects and customers. They’ll respect and admire the collective expertise that your organization exhibits.

To make this happen, you’ll need to establish a culture of content in your organization. Here’s my 10-step plan to do just that.

1) Explain the Big Picture.

I tell my colleagues about the power of content and give examples, such as HubSpot and Marketo. I explain how those companies grew their businesses via content: ebooks, blog posts, SlideShares, white papers, etc. Next, I talk about personal branding and how important it is to be published online. If search engines don’t find you, then you don’t exist.

2) Gain Executive Buy-In.

It’s easy when you have executive buy-in from the start. It’s trickier when you don’t. Tell executives about other organizations in your space and show them how they used content to grow their business or cause. Employees take direction from above, so this step is crucial to gaining employee involvement.

3) Utilize Extrinsic Rewards.

For each blog post published, I reward employees with a $25 Amazon gift card. It’s a small token of appreciation for their effort. As employees publish more and move beyond the blog (to other forms of content), the extrinsic rewards are elevated.

Photo source: Richard Bao on flickr.

4) Reinforce Intrinsic Rewards.

Extrinsic rewards are important for establishing contributions early on, but they’re not sustainable over the long term. Intrinsic rewards come from the enjoyment and achievement sustained from the core activity performed. Once employees buy in to the intrinsic rewards (e.g. visibility and personal branding), they’ll contribute without the need for extrinsic rewards.

5) Convince Everyone They’re a Writer.

Photo source: Mike Licht on flickr.

“I don’t write well” is a comment I often hear. Not true. There’s a writer in everyone. And everyone has knowledge and expertise to share. Your job is to serve as mentor, coach and editor, to bring those words to life. I’ve given an employees an “outline template” to help them plan out their blog post. I then offer to write the first paragraph to get them started.

6) Look for Content Opportunities Everywhere.

My top source for blog post ideas is our company intranet. There, employees use an Activity Feed to post what they’re doing. I’ll chime in, “Sounds neat. How about writing a blog post about it?” As I chat with colleagues by the coffee machine, I also look for interesting stories, especially those involving customers.

7) Share Successes.

One of my colleagues landed a speaking appearance from her very first blog post. A regional user group discovered her blog post, found it interesting and invited her to speak at their next meeting. I was sure to tell that story to the entire company at the next “All Hands Meeting.” If there’s someone on the fence about participating, hearing successes like this may push them over the top.

8) Recognize Contributors.

I use this slide at company meetings. It contains the profile photo of every person who published a blog post. When I receive the first submission from some employees, they’ll comment that they wanted to have their face appear on this slide.

9) Find and Empower Evangelists.

You’ll find a few employees who jump on the “culture of content bandwagon.” Enable them to become evangelists for the cause. Show them your editorial calendar and ask them for suggestions. Let newbies know that they can lean on these evangelists for help, advice or tips.

10) Evangelize, Evangelize, Evangelize.

My colleagues are beginning to think that I’m addicted to content. And they’d be right. I consume a lot of content (OPB = other people’s blogs), which gives me ideas on how to better create our own content. As the facilitator for your organization’s culture of content, you’ll need to serve as principal evangelist. Find your ABE Lincoln = Always Be Evangelizing.

Conclusion

Whether you work for a commercial business or a non-profit, content can create wonders for your cause. It helps you get discovered and builds trust with customers and constituents. It’s hard to scale your content solely within Marketing. Establish and foster a culture of content and you all win.

For a look at our culture of content, have a look through the DNN blog.


How Mark Schaefer Made a Splash with Content Shock (And What You Can Learn From Him)

January 29, 2014

This post was originally published on the DNN Software blog.

Insights for Content Marketers

I consider 2014 “The Year of Content Shock and The Conversation that Ensued.” Mark Schaefer is Executive Director at Schaefer Marketing Solutions, where he provides marketing consultation to businesses. He’s the author of the {grow} blog, along with a number of books.

Photo: Mark Schaefer on Twitter (@markwschaefer)

Shortly after the New Year, Schaefer published a blog post, “Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy.” The post received 400+ comments, along with thousands of tweets and hundreds of articles. This week, Schaefer followed up with a new blog post to address all of the dissenting opinions.

My Quick Take on Content Shock

Content Shock
Image via Mark Schaefer.

Too many dissenters took a “black and white” view of Schaefer’s piece. Either content shock will doom us all or it won’t. In fact, this was my original interpretation. As Schaefer’s follow-on piece notes, however, we don’t live in a world of absolutes – there’s grey matter in between the black and white.

As a content marketer for a “small” brand, you’re not doomed to hopeless failure. In fact, if you’re a small fish in a big pond, Schaefer prescribes the following:

“If you are facing a possibility of content saturation in your market, you need to be thinking of ways to change the game.”

Mark Schaefer’s Winning Formula

Mark Schaefer
Image via Schaefer Marketing Solutions.

Schaefer Marketing Solutions operates in a highly crowded space. First, consider their direct competition: individuals and agencies who offer similar consulting services. They’re blogging and publishing books, too. On the agency side, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of agencies with far bigger budgets.

Next, consider the “indirect competition” – the rest of us who are publishing related content. Whether it’s social media marketing or content marketing, Schaefer competes with HubSpot, Marketo and KISSmetrics for attention and readership. It’s not a zero sum game, but it’s competition nonetheless.

So with the two blog posts alone, let’s consider how Schaefer combats content shock for his own business.

Find a Timely Topic

While some trace “content marketing” back to the age of cavemen, it’s hard to avoid the fact that the discipline and the term are getting a lot of buzz in 2014 (and, earlier in 2013). We’re all talking about “content marketing” – but more importantly, brands are putting serious dollars behind it. I’ve worked with journalists in past jobs and many of them (today) are heading up content marketing at B2B brands. So January 2014 was a good time to introduce “content shock.”

Take a Well-Reasoned Stand

Taking a stand garners attention. Taking a well-reasoned stand gets attention, but also drives dialog and conversation. If you wrote a blog post about “Why World Peace is Overrated,” you’re taking a stand, but you’ve lost credibility with most people in the title alone. Schaefer presented a well-reasoned argument that combined with a timely topic and a little controversy, generated a firestorm.

Side note: a search on Google shows that the original Content Shock piece has 12,500 inbound links pointing to it!

Be Open, Inviting and Genuine in Your Interactions

If he had enough time in the day, I bet Mark Schaefer would reply to every single blog comment and every single tweet. If you look at his blog posts, he gets rather close to doing just that. It takes a lot of time for Schaefer to respond to people.

blog comment

But consider his competition: other marketers, agencies and vendors like Marketo and HubSpot. They might have bigger budgets than Schaefer, but some of them do NOT interact as much – or if they do, they don’t do it in the inviting and genuine style of Schaefer.

Advantage: Schaefer.

To combat content shock: having a plan in place to genuinely engage with the readers of the content you produce. Schaefer, “predicted” all of this (in a sense) with an earlier post  that he published, “How to beat Hubspot at its own game.”

Follow Up

Sometimes, it’s not enough to reply to comments and engage with your readers (and dissenters). If you were fortunate enough to have your content spark a conversation, then take the time to carefully review all of the input (both in favor and in opposition of your stance) and follow up. Your follow-up should summarize the dialog, then provide your response. Just like Schaefer did.

Conclusion

So how can smaller fish survive in the larger content pond? Consider what Mark Schaefer did:

  1. Find a Timely Topic
  2. Take a Well-Reasoned Stand
  3. Be Open, Inviting and Genuine in Your Interactions
  4. Follow Up

What are you waiting for? Go do it!


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