Last year, I attended the SMIATL (Social Media Integration - Atlanta) conference recently and had an interesting conversation with a group of industry professionals, bloggers and like-minded content marketing geeks. We had gone over an exercise given by Chuck Hemann that asked us to quickly construct a social media marketing strategy for a Fortune-500 type business.
I quickly noticed that because we were told that it was a 'very large company', people were abandoning some very simple marketing principles. While it was fun to 'think big', I think we all quickly realized that the core initiatives and efforts of a marketing campaign don't necessarily change just because the size of the business is different. I actually noticed that the same advice I'd give to a small business isn’t so dissimilar than the advice I'd give to a large one.
That's because, in theory, small businesses and larges ones alike have some of the same marketing goals. And in a world where we constantly are trying to keep up with trends and changes, it's easy to lose sight of the very basic content marketing values.
The K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle sounds silly, and the wording certainly is, but it's a healthy reminder for any business at all stages of a marketing campaign, from a small business starting Day one, with zero prospects to a large business full force in to their marketing with 1,000,000 prospects.
Here are three very simple tips that are applicable to a business of any size and understandable by a person of any level of marketing know-how.
Create Content Consistently
You might be the Michael Jordan of blogging, and it won't matter a lick if you aren't regularly putting content on your website. There are multiple benefits to blog consistently:
1. Search engines recognize it. Google and other search engines put a premium on websites who regularly feed content on to the web, and they give priority on search results as a reward. This doesn't mean you have to blog multiple times a day (and you actually probably shouldn't, more on that in a moment), but you have to keep it frequent.
2. Your readers will forget about you. Even if you are creating really engaging and interesting content, you'll lose the return viewers after a couple visits when they don't see something fresh. Have you had an experience when you really enjoyed a blog or website, but gave up because there was nothing new each time you came back to check it out? People don't want to be overwhelmed because we're all busy people, but at least a few pieces of content a week to keep people coming back and engaged is a must for your blog.
3. You'll lose touch. If you have ever blogged (or created any content), you know how hard it is to stay engaging and relevant when you've taken off an unusual amount of time. Your visitors will notice it too.
Share, Share, Share!
It's great to have a strong readership on your blog, but don't ever lose sight of the big picture. There are millions of people that are interested in what you have to say that have no idea you exist. Share your content on social networks. That doesn't just mean Facebook and Twitter. Research and find other social networks that you think could bring you attention and share there. Send out e-mails letting your readers and prospects know you have new content. Ask a friend or family member to do the same (sometimes it helps if it doesn't come from the owner). Creating your piece of content is only the first part of the process; it doesn't end when you publish. Create->publish->share.
Also, add sharing buttons and links to your website. Give your new and regular readers a chance to share your content through their own networks. Place them where they have high visibility to remind your readers that you are on these networks and that they can connect to you that way also.
Engage (Linking and Commenting)
An often forgotten method of networking is linking. Creating links to the right website and sources can lead to further engagement and traffic. Is there a website or blog you enjoy whom might add value to your own? Remember that bloggers and webmasters are always checking their analytics to see who is linking to them and why. Quote and link to other sources, they might stop by to say ‘hi’, or better yet they might return the favor (and lend you their traffic).
Don't forget to check the comments section on your blogs. Someone who cares enough to give you feedback is a very valuable asset. These are people who will share your content in their networks and spread the word. Answer their questions, check out their websites if they link to them (and return the comment favor) and most importantly, learn from the compliments or advice they give.
So, what happened?
There are a lot of advanced strategies to content marketing, and tweaking your program to get maximum reach. Remember that group from the conference that was given the task of quickly developing a social marketing strategy for a Fortune-500 company? After 10 minutes of scrambling with 'advanced' strategy, the group halted and remembered the basics. We started with simple content and engagement principles (like the ones above), built from there, and 30 minutes later had developed solid marketing practices and ideas that would please the owner of any business size.
Chris Vaughn is the Content Marketing Director for DigitalSherpa, the world's largest content marketing provider for small businesses. With the recent acquisition of SocialTract, DigitalSherpa is thrilled to welcome the HVAC community in to our client family. Learn more about content marketing and check out our free e-books and whitepapers at http://digitalsherpa.com. Connect with Chris and the DigitalSherpa team on Facebook and Twitter or e-mail Chris directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.