20 Fascinating Topics That Every New Blog Should Tackle

When you know your stuff, writing a blog is easy, right?

Uh. Not necessarily.

I’d say that I’m pretty familiar with digital marketing. But when it comes to blogging, I still face challenges.

The challenge isn’t my lack of knowledge; it’s translating that knowledge into readable content—content helpful to you and other marketers.

Maybe you’ve faced the same challenge.

For some reason, conveying stuff you know inside and out is a lot trickier than it appears. Writing is difficult enough, but continually coming up with topics that would boost your online marketing efforts seems downright impossible.

In the old days, maintaining a business blog was more about appeasing search engine algorithms than appealing to actual humans. Back then, cramming posts full of keywords was the top priority.

Today, for a business blog to produce results, it has to appeal to humans first and search engines second. In fact, SEO and UX are basically one and the same.

image02

Gone are the days of blathering on ad nauseam about anything your heart desires.

Content marketing via blogging is one of the best ways to increase the online visibility of a brand. These days, though, the posts you create must be engaging, informative, interesting, and generally high in quality to get you anywhere.

Contrary to what you may have heard, quantity does not exceed quality here. Even so, coming up with fascinating topics for a blog is often difficult for business owners. Here are 20 topics and ideas to get you off to a great start.

1. Write a long-form post

In the business world, getting straight to the point is generally the way to go. Quick, snappy blog posts have a time and a place, but your blog will suffer if that’s all you ever do.

Regardless of your niche, there are surely topics you could cover that require more than 400-500 words. Brainstorm topics that demand extensive, in-depth coverage, and then create long-form blog posts about them. The exhaustive nature of such posts will make them fascinating to anyone who is thirsty about the topic.

You may be aware that long-form blog posts—over 2,000-3,000 words—will rank higher, get more shares, and earn more links.

image03

This is the kind of traction you need to gain with your blog.

2. Be a reporter

Even if journalism was never your forte, pretend otherwise by reporting back to your audience about important events in your industry. Ideally, these should be events you have attended yourself.

There are, of course, differences between journalistic writing and blog writing. However, in today’s content-driven world, there is also a lot of overlap.

image01

For example, write a blog about your experience at a recent trade show. At the event, take notes about the things you see and the people with whom you interact. Take photos, and include them in your post. Include your own insights to make the piece more personal.

3. Comment about a popular post

Part of maintaining an interesting blog is staying in the loop about happenings in your niche and industry. You should already be keeping up with blogs in that sphere. When a particularly interesting one pops up, write a post about it.

Doing this accomplishes a few things. First, it lets you engage with the community while delivering your take on the original post. Second, it gives you the opportunity to link back to the original post, which might result in a link in return. You’ll gain exposure and, potentially, some backlinks!

4. Share your secrets

No, I’m not telling you to give away all your secrets. Rather, connect more deeply with your audience by giving them information about your business practices and processes “from the horse’s mouth.”

It’s all about transparency and authenticity, and it resonates strongly with readers. People enjoy feeling like they are privy to special knowledge.

I do this as often as possible, e.g., by updating my audience on the $100,000 challenge, showing all the relevant data, metrics, and revenue numbers, and sharing the lessons I’m learning from my experiment.

image00

Maybe it’s time to pull back the curtain, and share your secrets in a blog post.

5. Round up industry experts

Establish relationships with key players within your industry through persistent social media activity. Once they’ve gotten to know you, invite thought leaders in your niche to share their views regarding a specific topic.

Compile all their contributions—with their permission, of course—and create a roundup blog post with them. Include links to each person’s blog because they might return the favor.

6. Make an infographic

You probably have plenty of facts and statistics about your niche and industry at your disposal. Put relevant ones together, and use them to create an eye-catching infographic to share on your blog.

If necessary, hire someone to create it for you. Include it in a new blog post, and then provide commentary about the facts and statistics within the body of the post. Encourage sharing by providing an easy link for people to use.

7. Look at both sides of an issue

Posts covering the pros and cons of a particular issue, product, or service tend to be received very well, and they are usually a breeze to put together. Brainstorm and write down issues that tend to have significant advantages and disadvantages.

During the course of researching this kind of piece, you will become even more knowledgeable about your niche. In the post itself, speak directly to your audience. Ask them for their take on the issue. Through their contributions, you can develop even more fascinating fodder for your blog.

8. Go behind the scenes

Blog posts about your actual business should be kept to a minimum as they tend to be pretty yawn-worthy. From time to time, though, go ahead and give readers a glimpse of what makes your company tick.

Reserve these posts for behind-the-scenes topics your audience will actually care about. For example, share what your company does to prepare for a big trade show, or introduce a new employee who you suspect will be a real game-changer for the company.

9. Explain how to do something

How-to articles and blogs tend to do well because people overwhelmingly turn to the Internet for advice and instructions on accomplishing various things. If you can incorporate one of your products into a how-to post, all the better.

For example, perhaps there’s a special way to use one of your products few people know about, or maybe there’s a process people should follow to make the most of it.

Be as thorough as possible in your post. Explain it as meticulously as you can. Include videos and photos to drive home your point and to ensure people bookmark and share your article.

10. Interview people

Yep, I’m asking you to be a journalist again. Remember those thought leaders and industry experts from a previous tip? Interview one of them to create a full-fledged blog post about your niche or industry.

Thankfully, you don’t have to be in the same room as your interviewee to talk to them. Come up with a list of questions your audience would be curious about, and email it instead. You could also post the questions via Twitter or another social media channel.

11. Make an FAQ post

Since you’re already actively engaged with your niche and industry on social media—you are, right?—you can easily keep your finger on the pulse of what people are saying. More importantly, you can quickly figure out what they are asking.

Scour social media for questions from everyday people regarding your niche. Compile a frequently asked questions post to address them. You might even include links to questions on sites like Twitter and Facebook to gain a little link juice too.

12. Give readers the hard truth

I don’t care what niche or industry you cover. There are sure to be at least a few elephants in the room or subjects that people are generally afraid to broach. As long as you have something useful to say, go ahead and have at it.

Controversial posts shouldn’t be the bread and butter of your blog, but they can certainly stir up interest under the right circumstances. Tell it like it is in your blog from time to time to really wow your audience.

13. Share a case study

Blogs that explain how everyday people make use of a company’s products or service can be pretty engaging. However, resist the temptation to make something up. Wait until you have something truly special to share, and then share it.

Ideally, you should get permission from the client or customer to feature them, and include their input in the case study too. While the piece will obviously be promotional to some extent, write it in a factual, journalistic way to avoid alienating your audience.

14. Start a series or a regular feature

Some topics are so extensive that they can’t be covered adequately in a single post—not even a long-form one. When you run across one of these, consider breaking it up into a series for your readers. Create cliffhangers at the end of each one to keep them coming back for more.

You could also come up with a weekly or monthly feature for your blog. For example, you could highlight happenings regarding your niche in social media every Monday, or you could feature a new product or service every month.

15. Make a really long listicle

By now, we’re all familiar with the standard listicle, which typically contains 5-10 related points. This has been done so much that people don’t get very excited about it anymore.

Improve on the concept by coming up with a really long listicle that pertains to your niche. But do so only if the topic at hand is deep enough to warrant it, or you will end up with a bunch of similar-sounding points.

16. Stir controversy

Think of some common views or beliefs regarding your niche. You are sure to disagree with at least a few of them, so write posts expressing your viewpoints, challenging the accepted opinions.

Doing this will likely invite controversy, so be sure to write these posts in a tactful way. Don’t attack others. Instead, explain why you think the status quo has it all wrong, and challenge readers to convince you otherwise.

17. Debunk some myths

What are some common misconceptions or myths regarding your industry or niche? Compile a list, and then use it to create a really fascinating post for your audience.

Make sure you back up your claims, though. Otherwise, readers will lose their interest when they realize they’re reading the rants of someone who really doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Approach writing such an article with the intention of providing as much useful and usable information as possible.

18. Share customer success stories

With any luck, satisfied customers will occasionally contact you to express their appreciation. When this happens, ask them if you can feature their comments in a blog post for your business.

In this type of post, begin by describing the problem the customer was facing. Describe the product or service they used, and then explain how they were able to solve their issue by using it. If possible, include additional comments from the actual client to make the post especially engaging.

19. Perform research to delve deeper

At a certain point, you will exhaust the resources regarding facts and statistics concerning your niche. Avoid becoming repetitive, and conduct your own research.

This could mean something as simple as posting an online survey for your existing readers and sharing the results. However, you might even want to hire a market research firm for assistance. If you can present brand-new facts and information to the world, your blog will be better, and you will have a lot more to go on.

In your post, include visual representations of data to help people make sense of it. A simple pie chart or bar graph can make a huge difference.

20. Share a link roundup

As you run across interesting posts, memes, and other content regarding your niche, save them. After accumulating 10 or 20, write a link-roundup post featuring each one.

This is great for a few reasons. First, it forces you to stay up-to-date on your industry news and helps you bring relevant information to your audience. Second, it lets you branch out and opine about all kinds of content. Finally, it may even enhance your link-building strategy, which never hurts.

Conclusion

In a perfect world, none of us would ever have to cope with writer’s block.

The ideas would flow freely and continuously. Since that’s not the case, use this list of topics and ideas to kick-start your new blog.

When readers visit your new blog and are presented with an array of fascinating posts, they’re likelier to engage with it, bookmark it, and keep coming back for more.

And that’s exactly what you want to happen.

Have you already covered one of the ideas listed above? Which new ones are you excited to try?

from Quick Sprout https://www.quicksprout.com/2016/09/28/20-fascinating-topics-that-every-new-blog-should-tackle/
via My Media Pal

20 Fascinating Topics That Every New Blog Should Tackle

When you know your stuff, writing a blog is easy, right?

Uh. Not necessarily.

I’d say that I’m pretty familiar with digital marketing. But when it comes to blogging, I still face challenges.

The challenge isn’t my lack of knowledge; it’s translating that knowledge into readable content—content helpful to you and other marketers.

Maybe you’ve faced the same challenge.

For some reason, conveying stuff you know inside and out is a lot trickier than it appears. Writing is difficult enough, but continually coming up with topics that would boost your online marketing efforts seems downright impossible.

In the old days, maintaining a business blog was more about appeasing search engine algorithms than appealing to actual humans. Back then, cramming posts full of keywords was the top priority.

Today, for a business blog to produce results, it has to appeal to humans first and search engines second. In fact, SEO and UX are basically one and the same.

image02

Gone are the days of blathering on ad nauseam about anything your heart desires.

Content marketing via blogging is one of the best ways to increase the online visibility of a brand. These days, though, the posts you create must be engaging, informative, interesting, and generally high in quality to get you anywhere.

Contrary to what you may have heard, quantity does not exceed quality here. Even so, coming up with fascinating topics for a blog is often difficult for business owners. Here are 20 topics and ideas to get you off to a great start.

1. Write a long-form post

In the business world, getting straight to the point is generally the way to go. Quick, snappy blog posts have a time and a place, but your blog will suffer if that’s all you ever do.

Regardless of your niche, there are surely topics you could cover that require more than 400-500 words. Brainstorm topics that demand extensive, in-depth coverage, and then create long-form blog posts about them. The exhaustive nature of such posts will make them fascinating to anyone who is thirsty about the topic.

You may be aware that long-form blog posts—over 2,000-3,000 words—will rank higher, get more shares, and earn more links.

image03

This is the kind of traction you need to gain with your blog.

2. Be a reporter

Even if journalism was never your forte, pretend otherwise by reporting back to your audience about important events in your industry. Ideally, these should be events you have attended yourself.

There are, of course, differences between journalistic writing and blog writing. However, in today’s content-driven world, there is also a lot of overlap.

image01

For example, write a blog about your experience at a recent trade show. At the event, take notes about the things you see and the people with whom you interact. Take photos, and include them in your post. Include your own insights to make the piece more personal.

3. Comment about a popular post

Part of maintaining an interesting blog is staying in the loop about happenings in your niche and industry. You should already be keeping up with blogs in that sphere. When a particularly interesting one pops up, write a post about it.

Doing this accomplishes a few things. First, it lets you engage with the community while delivering your take on the original post. Second, it gives you the opportunity to link back to the original post, which might result in a link in return. You’ll gain exposure and, potentially, some backlinks!

4. Share your secrets

No, I’m not telling you to give away all your secrets. Rather, connect more deeply with your audience by giving them information about your business practices and processes “from the horse’s mouth.”

It’s all about transparency and authenticity, and it resonates strongly with readers. People enjoy feeling like they are privy to special knowledge.

I do this as often as possible, e.g., by updating my audience on the $100,000 challenge, showing all the relevant data, metrics, and revenue numbers, and sharing the lessons I’m learning from my experiment.

image00

Maybe it’s time to pull back the curtain, and share your secrets in a blog post.

5. Round up industry experts

Establish relationships with key players within your industry through persistent social media activity. Once they’ve gotten to know you, invite thought leaders in your niche to share their views regarding a specific topic.

Compile all their contributions—with their permission, of course—and create a roundup blog post with them. Include links to each person’s blog because they might return the favor.

6. Make an infographic

You probably have plenty of facts and statistics about your niche and industry at your disposal. Put relevant ones together, and use them to create an eye-catching infographic to share on your blog.

If necessary, hire someone to create it for you. Include it in a new blog post, and then provide commentary about the facts and statistics within the body of the post. Encourage sharing by providing an easy link for people to use.

7. Look at both sides of an issue

Posts covering the pros and cons of a particular issue, product, or service tend to be received very well, and they are usually a breeze to put together. Brainstorm and write down issues that tend to have significant advantages and disadvantages.

During the course of researching this kind of piece, you will become even more knowledgeable about your niche. In the post itself, speak directly to your audience. Ask them for their take on the issue. Through their contributions, you can develop even more fascinating fodder for your blog.

8. Go behind the scenes

Blog posts about your actual business should be kept to a minimum as they tend to be pretty yawn-worthy. From time to time, though, go ahead and give readers a glimpse of what makes your company tick.

Reserve these posts for behind-the-scenes topics your audience will actually care about. For example, share what your company does to prepare for a big trade show, or introduce a new employee who you suspect will be a real game-changer for the company.

9. Explain how to do something

How-to articles and blogs tend to do well because people overwhelmingly turn to the Internet for advice and instructions on accomplishing various things. If you can incorporate one of your products into a how-to post, all the better.

For example, perhaps there’s a special way to use one of your products few people know about, or maybe there’s a process people should follow to make the most of it.

Be as thorough as possible in your post. Explain it as meticulously as you can. Include videos and photos to drive home your point and to ensure people bookmark and share your article.

10. Interview people

Yep, I’m asking you to be a journalist again. Remember those thought leaders and industry experts from a previous tip? Interview one of them to create a full-fledged blog post about your niche or industry.

Thankfully, you don’t have to be in the same room as your interviewee to talk to them. Come up with a list of questions your audience would be curious about, and email it instead. You could also post the questions via Twitter or another social media channel.

11. Make an FAQ post

Since you’re already actively engaged with your niche and industry on social media—you are, right?—you can easily keep your finger on the pulse of what people are saying. More importantly, you can quickly figure out what they are asking.

Scour social media for questions from everyday people regarding your niche. Compile a frequently asked questions post to address them. You might even include links to questions on sites like Twitter and Facebook to gain a little link juice too.

12. Give readers the hard truth

I don’t care what niche or industry you cover. There are sure to be at least a few elephants in the room or subjects that people are generally afraid to broach. As long as you have something useful to say, go ahead and have at it.

Controversial posts shouldn’t be the bread and butter of your blog, but they can certainly stir up interest under the right circumstances. Tell it like it is in your blog from time to time to really wow your audience.

13. Share a case study

Blogs that explain how everyday people make use of a company’s products or service can be pretty engaging. However, resist the temptation to make something up. Wait until you have something truly special to share, and then share it.

Ideally, you should get permission from the client or customer to feature them, and include their input in the case study too. While the piece will obviously be promotional to some extent, write it in a factual, journalistic way to avoid alienating your audience.

14. Start a series or a regular feature

Some topics are so extensive that they can’t be covered adequately in a single post—not even a long-form one. When you run across one of these, consider breaking it up into a series for your readers. Create cliffhangers at the end of each one to keep them coming back for more.

You could also come up with a weekly or monthly feature for your blog. For example, you could highlight happenings regarding your niche in social media every Monday, or you could feature a new product or service every month.

15. Make a really long listicle

By now, we’re all familiar with the standard listicle, which typically contains 5-10 related points. This has been done so much that people don’t get very excited about it anymore.

Improve on the concept by coming up with a really long listicle that pertains to your niche. But do so only if the topic at hand is deep enough to warrant it, or you will end up with a bunch of similar-sounding points.

16. Stir controversy

Think of some common views or beliefs regarding your niche. You are sure to disagree with at least a few of them, so write posts expressing your viewpoints, challenging the accepted opinions.

Doing this will likely invite controversy, so be sure to write these posts in a tactful way. Don’t attack others. Instead, explain why you think the status quo has it all wrong, and challenge readers to convince you otherwise.

17. Debunk some myths

What are some common misconceptions or myths regarding your industry or niche? Compile a list, and then use it to create a really fascinating post for your audience.

Make sure you back up your claims, though. Otherwise, readers will lose their interest when they realize they’re reading the rants of someone who really doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Approach writing such an article with the intention of providing as much useful and usable information as possible.

18. Share customer success stories

With any luck, satisfied customers will occasionally contact you to express their appreciation. When this happens, ask them if you can feature their comments in a blog post for your business.

In this type of post, begin by describing the problem the customer was facing. Describe the product or service they used, and then explain how they were able to solve their issue by using it. If possible, include additional comments from the actual client to make the post especially engaging.

19. Perform research to delve deeper

At a certain point, you will exhaust the resources regarding facts and statistics concerning your niche. Avoid becoming repetitive, and conduct your own research.

This could mean something as simple as posting an online survey for your existing readers and sharing the results. However, you might even want to hire a market research firm for assistance. If you can present brand-new facts and information to the world, your blog will be better, and you will have a lot more to go on.

In your post, include visual representations of data to help people make sense of it. A simple pie chart or bar graph can make a huge difference.

20. Share a link roundup

As you run across interesting posts, memes, and other content regarding your niche, save them. After accumulating 10 or 20, write a link-roundup post featuring each one.

This is great for a few reasons. First, it forces you to stay up-to-date on your industry news and helps you bring relevant information to your audience. Second, it lets you branch out and opine about all kinds of content. Finally, it may even enhance your link-building strategy, which never hurts.

Conclusion

In a perfect world, none of us would ever have to cope with writer’s block.

The ideas would flow freely and continuously. Since that’s not the case, use this list of topics and ideas to kick-start your new blog.

When readers visit your new blog and are presented with an array of fascinating posts, they’re likelier to engage with it, bookmark it, and keep coming back for more.

And that’s exactly what you want to happen.

Have you already covered one of the ideas listed above? Which new ones are you excited to try?

from Quick Sprout https://www.quicksprout.com/2016/09/28/20-fascinating-topics-that-every-new-blog-should-tackle/
via My Media Pal

A Process You Can Follow to Become an Influencer in Your Industry

The term influencer is being tossed around a lot these days.

I would even classify it as one of the top 10 buzzwords of 2016.

Influencer marketing is quickly becoming one of the hottest and most effective strategies in existence.

In fact, “59 percent of marketers use influencer engagement campaigns for product launches and content creation.”

This technique gets results because businesses make $6.50 for every dollar invested in influencer marketing, according to a poll of marketing professionals conducted by Tomoson.

But what about when YOU’RE the influencer? You’re the one calling the shots.

Becoming an influencer in your industry can have immense benefits.

You can use your experience and credibility to sway the opinion of others, build trust, develop your brand, and so on.

But how exactly does one become an influencer?

While there’s no magic recipe and a lot of variables involved, I’ve found there is a distinct process you can follow.

It definitely takes time to achieve this status, but following the right steps should eventually elevate you to influencer status.

What is an Influencer?

First things first. What do I mean when I say influencer?

Influencer Analysis is dead on with their definition:

“An influencer is an individual who has above-average impact on a specific niche process. Influencers are normal people, who are often connected to key roles of media outlets, consumers groups, industry associations or community tribes.”

In other words, people recognize that you’re an expert (or at least highly knowledgeable) in your industry and that you’ve got a sizable following.

This might include a loyal legion of blog subscribers, social media followers, etc.

Keep in mind you don’t need to do it on the macro scale to be an influencer. You don’t have to be Taylor Swift or Jay Z.

In fact, there are countless micro-influencers who may not be recognized on the large scale but hold a lot of sway nonetheless.

Some people who come to mind include Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income and Tim Ferriss.

At the core of it all, influencers have authority, and their word is as good as gold.

People recognize the value they bring to the table and are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

I’ve found that the process of becoming an influencer has five key steps.

Step 1 – Focus on a niche

The first and most important step to becoming an influencer is to focus on what you’re passionate about.

You can’t be everything to everyone. To gain traction and be recognized as an authority figure, people need to link your name to a particular niche.

Take Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, for example.

He’s a blogger, podcaster, speaker, and author who specializes in one specific area: blogging.

His name is synonymous with blogging, and his website is one of the top resources for learning about blogging and how to become a better blogger.

Notice that he doesn’t talk about fashion, ice skating, or cooking. His core focus is on blogging. That’s it.

image02

While you don’t have to completely pigeonhole yourself, it’s important that you pick a particular niche and focus wholeheartedly on it.

You need to eat, sleep, and breathe your niche. This allows you to establish authority in a particular area.

Ideally, in time, people will recognize your expertise and take notice.

They’ll want to follow you on whatever outlets you use (e.g., a blog, Twitter, and/or industry publications) and be interested in what you have to say.

Step 2 – Share your knowledge

To make a name for yourself and establish a presence, you need to create plenty of industry-centric content.

This is vital because it’s a surefire way to prove that you know your stuff and demonstrate the value you bring.

Fortunately, this has never been easier to do than today.

With a ton of media outlets available, there’s no shortage of mediums to choose from.

A good old-fashioned blog is one of the best places to get started, and it provides you with a platform to develop your unique voice.

In fact, “86 percent of influencers also operate at least one blog.” And I feel that launching my own personal blog has been a contributing factor to getting to where I’m at today.

You’ll definitely want to be active on social media as well.

Ideally, you’ll create and maintain profiles on at least three different networks because this increases your reach and gives you the opportunity to establish a strong brand identity.

It’s also great because you can connect with other like-minded people in your industry.

Notice that Darren Rowse has a solid presence on multiple social networks:

image06

However, a blog and social media are just the tip of the iceberg.

There are countless other mediums you can use to demonstrate your knowledge and boost your “street cred.”

Some options include:

  • Podcasting
  • Creating webinars
  • Creating videos
  • Slideshows
  • Whitepapers
  • Infographics

I’m also a huge proponent of writing a book.

There’s something about authorship that can really skyrocket your credibility and make people take notice.

An e-book is nice, but a legitimate printed book is even better.

Just think about it.

If someone lands on your website and sees that you’ve published a book, they’ll probably take you a lot more seriously than they would have otherwise.

Your perceived value can quickly go through the roof this way.

image00

Legitness!

Finally, there’s guest-blogging.

While this strategy got some heat for awhile because of its association with potential Google penalties, it’s still incredibly effective, especially for establishing yourself as an influencer.

I attribute a lot of my success to the fact that I made it a point to be featured on publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

Guest-blogging is awesome because it kills two birds with one stone. Or six birds. Or more.

image01

First, you can reach a huge audience basically overnight.

Say the blog or publication you post on has 100,000 readers. You can get your content in front of a large-scale audience and tangibly demonstrate the industry knowledge and expertise you bring to the table.

Second, you can increase your perceived value dramatically. Being associated with other leaders and influencers in your industry elevates your brand equity significantly.

This way, you can piggyback on their success and use it to establish yourself as a viable influencer.

If you’re looking for some guidance on the guest-blogging process, I recommend checking out this post from Kissmetrics. It has some super helpful tips.

The bottom line here is that you’ll need to put forth plenty of effort, creating a lot of quality content and distributing it across a variety of mediums.

This is key for getting your name out there and getting the ball rolling.

Step 3 – Have an opinion

What’s one thing that all influencers have in common?

They have their own take on things. They have a voice. They have an opinion.

This is what makes them distinguishable from the masses and what gives them their swagger.

What they aren’t is vanilla or lukewarm on topics.

With 1,400 blog posts, 2,460,000 pieces of Facebook content, and 277,000 tweets posted each minute, there’s an immense amount of noise on the Internet.

In order to rise above it, you need to be an independent thinker.

Quite frankly, I think it’s better to be occasionally offensive or to go against the grain than to be 100% agreeable all the time.

Not that you should go out of your way to stir the pot, but it’s okay for your thoughts to deviate from the norm.

People are attracted to those who can think for themselves and have their own views on things.

Whatever industry you’re in, hold true to your values, and be sure to have your own opinion.

This is essential for eventually becoming an influencer.

Step 4 – Network, network, network

Once you’ve established yourself to some extent, you need to make an effort to connect with others.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to create leverage is to network with other influencers.

Or as Marketing Land puts it,

“To establish yourself as an influencer, you need to interact with influencers.”

But when you’re an up-and-comer and still working to establish yourself, you’re usually the one who will need to put in the legwork.

Seldom will the heavy hitters reach out to you (at least at first). That’s why you’ll need to be the one to reach out.

There are two main ways to do this.

One is to connect digitally, and the other is to connect in person.

The first option is usually done via interacting with prominent people on social media and commenting on their blog posts and other content they post.

The goal here is to start a conversation and gradually build rapport. This takes time and can’t be done overnight, so you need to be persistent about it.

For example, you might get in the habit of providing insightful comments at the end of an influencer’s blog posts that further the conversation.

After three or four times, it’s likely they’ll take notice of you, and this can open doors for the future.

But how do you know with whom to interact?

If you need some help deciding whom to target, I recommend using Buzzsumo.

The site has a section devoted to tracking down top influencers.

image03

Just click on “Influencers,” and type in the topic you’re interested in.

I’ll use “content marketing” as an example.

After entering this as a search term, I got a list of content that received a ridiculously high number of shares. Also listed are the people who wrote these pieces.

image05

This can be an effective way to find the people you should try to connect with.

The second option is to network in person.

Some ways to do this include:

  • attending industry tradeshows,
  • going to conferences/industry events, and
  • landing public speaking engagements.

Public speaking in particular can be a potent way to make connections because all eyes are on you, and you never know who could be in attendance—it could be a huge influencer who holds a lot of sway.

Step 5 – Engage your audience

Last but not least, you need to keep the conversation going.

Seldom do people want to follow someone who tries to be all high and mighty and acts as if they’re too good to interact with their followers.

They want to follow someone who’s real, accessible, and approachable.

That’s why you need to put in the effort to religiously respond to blog comments, reply to messages on social media, thank people for reading your content, etc.

Here’s an example of me responding to a comment on my blog:

image04

I would also recommend occasionally sharing outstanding content that members of your audience post on social media or commenting on their blogs as well.

That, right there, can be huge for boosting your brand equity and for forming super tight relationships.

The trick is to capitalize on the momentum you generate and to keep the ball rolling.

Conclusion

I’ll be honest. Becoming an influencer isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight.

It takes a lot of hard work, consistent effort, and persistence. Even after you become an influencer, you need to keep your foot on the gas pedal to maintain your status.

Although it’s not easy, it’s definitely worthwhile.

The great thing about it is that building influence has a snowball effect. While you may only have a minimal amount of influence when first starting out, this grows and grows over time.

After awhile, your influence can become immense without you having to put a lot of extra effort into it.

In other words, the first stages are the most difficult and time-consuming.

But after you establish yourself, you simply need to maintain your status, and the world becomes your proverbial oyster.

What specific things do you hope to achieve by becoming an influencer in your industry?

from Quick Sprout https://www.quicksprout.com/2016/09/26/a-process-you-can-follow-to-become-an-influencer-in-your-industry/
via My Media Pal

A Process You Can Follow to Become an Influencer in Your Industry

The term influencer is being tossed around a lot these days.

I would even classify it as one of the top 10 buzzwords of 2016.

Influencer marketing is quickly becoming one of the hottest and most effective strategies in existence.

In fact, “59 percent of marketers use influencer engagement campaigns for product launches and content creation.”

This technique gets results because businesses make $6.50 for every dollar invested in influencer marketing, according to a poll of marketing professionals conducted by Tomoson.

But what about when YOU’RE the influencer? You’re the one calling the shots.

Becoming an influencer in your industry can have immense benefits.

You can use your experience and credibility to sway the opinion of others, build trust, develop your brand, and so on.

But how exactly does one become an influencer?

While there’s no magic recipe and a lot of variables involved, I’ve found there is a distinct process you can follow.

It definitely takes time to achieve this status, but following the right steps should eventually elevate you to influencer status.

What is an Influencer?

First things first. What do I mean when I say influencer?

Influencer Analysis is dead on with their definition:

“An influencer is an individual who has above-average impact on a specific niche process. Influencers are normal people, who are often connected to key roles of media outlets, consumers groups, industry associations or community tribes.”

In other words, people recognize that you’re an expert (or at least highly knowledgeable) in your industry and that you’ve got a sizable following.

This might include a loyal legion of blog subscribers, social media followers, etc.

Keep in mind you don’t need to do it on the macro scale to be an influencer. You don’t have to be Taylor Swift or Jay Z.

In fact, there are countless micro-influencers who may not be recognized on the large scale but hold a lot of sway nonetheless.

Some people who come to mind include Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income and Tim Ferriss.

At the core of it all, influencers have authority, and their word is as good as gold.

People recognize the value they bring to the table and are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

I’ve found that the process of becoming an influencer has five key steps.

Step 1 – Focus on a niche

The first and most important step to becoming an influencer is to focus on what you’re passionate about.

You can’t be everything to everyone. To gain traction and be recognized as an authority figure, people need to link your name to a particular niche.

Take Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, for example.

He’s a blogger, podcaster, speaker, and author who specializes in one specific area: blogging.

His name is synonymous with blogging, and his website is one of the top resources for learning about blogging and how to become a better blogger.

Notice that he doesn’t talk about fashion, ice skating, or cooking. His core focus is on blogging. That’s it.

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While you don’t have to completely pigeonhole yourself, it’s important that you pick a particular niche and focus wholeheartedly on it.

You need to eat, sleep, and breathe your niche. This allows you to establish authority in a particular area.

Ideally, in time, people will recognize your expertise and take notice.

They’ll want to follow you on whatever outlets you use (e.g., a blog, Twitter, and/or industry publications) and be interested in what you have to say.

Step 2 – Share your knowledge

To make a name for yourself and establish a presence, you need to create plenty of industry-centric content.

This is vital because it’s a surefire way to prove that you know your stuff and demonstrate the value you bring.

Fortunately, this has never been easier to do than today.

With a ton of media outlets available, there’s no shortage of mediums to choose from.

A good old-fashioned blog is one of the best places to get started, and it provides you with a platform to develop your unique voice.

In fact, “86 percent of influencers also operate at least one blog.” And I feel that launching my own personal blog has been a contributing factor to getting to where I’m at today.

You’ll definitely want to be active on social media as well.

Ideally, you’ll create and maintain profiles on at least three different networks because this increases your reach and gives you the opportunity to establish a strong brand identity.

It’s also great because you can connect with other like-minded people in your industry.

Notice that Darren Rowse has a solid presence on multiple social networks:

image06

However, a blog and social media are just the tip of the iceberg.

There are countless other mediums you can use to demonstrate your knowledge and boost your “street cred.”

Some options include:

  • Podcasting
  • Creating webinars
  • Creating videos
  • Slideshows
  • Whitepapers
  • Infographics

I’m also a huge proponent of writing a book.

There’s something about authorship that can really skyrocket your credibility and make people take notice.

An e-book is nice, but a legitimate printed book is even better.

Just think about it.

If someone lands on your website and sees that you’ve published a book, they’ll probably take you a lot more seriously than they would have otherwise.

Your perceived value can quickly go through the roof this way.

image00

Legitness!

Finally, there’s guest-blogging.

While this strategy got some heat for awhile because of its association with potential Google penalties, it’s still incredibly effective, especially for establishing yourself as an influencer.

I attribute a lot of my success to the fact that I made it a point to be featured on publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

Guest-blogging is awesome because it kills two birds with one stone. Or six birds. Or more.

image01

First, you can reach a huge audience basically overnight.

Say the blog or publication you post on has 100,000 readers. You can get your content in front of a large-scale audience and tangibly demonstrate the industry knowledge and expertise you bring to the table.

Second, you can increase your perceived value dramatically. Being associated with other leaders and influencers in your industry elevates your brand equity significantly.

This way, you can piggyback on their success and use it to establish yourself as a viable influencer.

If you’re looking for some guidance on the guest-blogging process, I recommend checking out this post from Kissmetrics. It has some super helpful tips.

The bottom line here is that you’ll need to put forth plenty of effort, creating a lot of quality content and distributing it across a variety of mediums.

This is key for getting your name out there and getting the ball rolling.

Step 3 – Have an opinion

What’s one thing that all influencers have in common?

They have their own take on things. They have a voice. They have an opinion.

This is what makes them distinguishable from the masses and what gives them their swagger.

What they aren’t is vanilla or lukewarm on topics.

With 1,400 blog posts, 2,460,000 pieces of Facebook content, and 277,000 tweets posted each minute, there’s an immense amount of noise on the Internet.

In order to rise above it, you need to be an independent thinker.

Quite frankly, I think it’s better to be occasionally offensive or to go against the grain than to be 100% agreeable all the time.

Not that you should go out of your way to stir the pot, but it’s okay for your thoughts to deviate from the norm.

People are attracted to those who can think for themselves and have their own views on things.

Whatever industry you’re in, hold true to your values, and be sure to have your own opinion.

This is essential for eventually becoming an influencer.

Step 4 – Network, network, network

Once you’ve established yourself to some extent, you need to make an effort to connect with others.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to create leverage is to network with other influencers.

Or as Marketing Land puts it,

“To establish yourself as an influencer, you need to interact with influencers.”

But when you’re an up-and-comer and still working to establish yourself, you’re usually the one who will need to put in the legwork.

Seldom will the heavy hitters reach out to you (at least at first). That’s why you’ll need to be the one to reach out.

There are two main ways to do this.

One is to connect digitally, and the other is to connect in person.

The first option is usually done via interacting with prominent people on social media and commenting on their blog posts and other content they post.

The goal here is to start a conversation and gradually build rapport. This takes time and can’t be done overnight, so you need to be persistent about it.

For example, you might get in the habit of providing insightful comments at the end of an influencer’s blog posts that further the conversation.

After three or four times, it’s likely they’ll take notice of you, and this can open doors for the future.

But how do you know with whom to interact?

If you need some help deciding whom to target, I recommend using Buzzsumo.

The site has a section devoted to tracking down top influencers.

image03

Just click on “Influencers,” and type in the topic you’re interested in.

I’ll use “content marketing” as an example.

After entering this as a search term, I got a list of content that received a ridiculously high number of shares. Also listed are the people who wrote these pieces.

image05

This can be an effective way to find the people you should try to connect with.

The second option is to network in person.

Some ways to do this include:

  • attending industry tradeshows,
  • going to conferences/industry events, and
  • landing public speaking engagements.

Public speaking in particular can be a potent way to make connections because all eyes are on you, and you never know who could be in attendance—it could be a huge influencer who holds a lot of sway.

Step 5 – Engage your audience

Last but not least, you need to keep the conversation going.

Seldom do people want to follow someone who tries to be all high and mighty and acts as if they’re too good to interact with their followers.

They want to follow someone who’s real, accessible, and approachable.

That’s why you need to put in the effort to religiously respond to blog comments, reply to messages on social media, thank people for reading your content, etc.

Here’s an example of me responding to a comment on my blog:

image04

I would also recommend occasionally sharing outstanding content that members of your audience post on social media or commenting on their blogs as well.

That, right there, can be huge for boosting your brand equity and for forming super tight relationships.

The trick is to capitalize on the momentum you generate and to keep the ball rolling.

Conclusion

I’ll be honest. Becoming an influencer isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight.

It takes a lot of hard work, consistent effort, and persistence. Even after you become an influencer, you need to keep your foot on the gas pedal to maintain your status.

Although it’s not easy, it’s definitely worthwhile.

The great thing about it is that building influence has a snowball effect. While you may only have a minimal amount of influence when first starting out, this grows and grows over time.

After awhile, your influence can become immense without you having to put a lot of extra effort into it.

In other words, the first stages are the most difficult and time-consuming.

But after you establish yourself, you simply need to maintain your status, and the world becomes your proverbial oyster.

What specific things do you hope to achieve by becoming an influencer in your industry?

from Quick Sprout https://www.quicksprout.com/2016/09/26/a-process-you-can-follow-to-become-an-influencer-in-your-industry/
via My Media Pal

How Any Small Business Can Compete with the Big Boys Using SEO and Social Media

I get it.

I understand how brutal it can be—trying to market your small business in a world of billion-dollar businesses and multi-million dollar marketing budgets.

You have a limited budget, limited time, limited knowledge, and a limited arsenal of tactics that you can afford to implement.

But the big brands? They can do anything they want, hire as many people as they want, and unleash any tactic they want.

Today’s small businesses are forced to compete in an increasingly saturated marketplace.

The competition is fierce, and it has become incredibly difficult to rise above the noise.

Combine this with the massive disparity between a small business’s marketing budget and a much larger enterprise’s seemingly infinite resources, and it’s obvious that the cards are stacked against small businesses.

In fact, finding new customers is one of the top concerns of small business owners, and 66% claim this is the biggest issue they face.

How can small businesses tip the scales in their favor and go head to head with mega juggernauts?

It all boils down to two specific marketing strategies: SEO and social media.

When done correctly, these strategies can help any small business compete with the big boys.

I’ve been able to help small businesses do exactly that—upset the sumo-wrestler-size businesses in their niche.

It’s part of the glory of digital marketing. Anyone can compete. Anyone can succeed.

Even the little guy.

You just have to know how.

Leveling the playing field

The beautiful thing about these two mediums—SEO and social media—is that they are impartial. They show no favoritism.

Google doesn’t care what business is offering which product. It’s just looking to provide users with the best and most relevant results.

The same goes for social media.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a brand new startup bootstrapping its marketing or a well established company that’s been around for years.

You can still achieve significant exposure as long as you understand the process and how to reach your demographic effectively.

While it is true that there will be inherent difficulty outranking a behemoth like Amazon or Walmart on search engines and you’re unlikely to gain the same size of a social media following as a corporate titan, the right know-how definitely makes it possible for small businesses to gain traction.

It’s a matter of implementing the right techniques and having an understanding of the processes that are working at the moment.

Small businesses benefit the most from social media

A 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report came up with some interesting findings in terms of who benefited the most from social media.

According to their findings, 90% of respondents agreed social media was important to their businesses.

The interesting thing is that 67% of self-employed individuals and 66% of small business owners were more likely to strongly agree with this statement.

image05

In terms of the specific advantages, 88% of respondents said the top benefit was increased exposure for their businesses.

Second, at 72%, was increased traffic/subscribers.

image03

With roughly two-thirds of all small business owners claiming social media was important to their businesses, it’s clear that a well run campaign can have a significant impact.

You also have to take into account the possibility for going viral and seeing massive growth in an extremely short period of time.

If you really understand your audience and know how to connect with them on social media, you can not only gain exposure but also earn your audience’s loyalty and bring repeat business.

So in theory, a no-name startup can experience wide scale exposure overnight and get a flood of traffic along with off the chart sales.

Killing it at SEO

There’s no denying that search engines have forever changed the way we find information and the way businesses approach marketing.

To put some perspective on things, “Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.”

image00

Wow! That’s a lot.

But let’s be honest. Small businesses stand little to no chance of outranking colossal companies for broad search terms.

But when small businesses use smart tactics like long-tail keyword phrases, they have a realistic chance to outrank the big boys.

Here’s a very simple example.

I entered the keywords “razor blade” on Google—a very broad search term.

As you might expect, the top results were dominated by Amazon:

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Then I entered a more specific and much narrower search term, “best double edged razor blades.”

Here are the results:

image01

As you can see, much smaller companies are getting the top results, and Amazon is the very last entry on the first page.

Of course, the more specific, long-tail, keywords won’t get as many searches as the broad ones. But they can still generate a lot of quality organic traffic.

This allows small SEO-savvy businesses to consistently bring in a stream of leads that are ready to buy.

My hyper-simplistic example by no means demonstrates the full potential of SEO for small businesses. It simply proves that small businesses can in fact compete with their much larger counterparts.

Ideal for small marketing budgets

What’s the primary advantage large companies have over small ones? Money.

Of course, they have a plethora of other advantages like more brand equity, a formal marketing department, an HR department, etc.

But when you break it all down, big businesses can easily have hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars to funnel into their marketing campaigns each year.

On the other hand, small startups may be on a shoestring budget, and $50,000 annually may seem like a lot.

Fortunately, legitimate SEO and social media campaigns can be run without a lot of financial backing.

This is especially true when you do everything in-house.

Rather than hiring a high priced marketing agency, small businesses can cut back on their costs significantly by having staff members run their campaigns.

Instead of a financial investment, a time investment can bring about legitimate results.

The point I’m trying to make here is that SEO and social media are both cost-effective marketing channels and can be very affordable if you’re willing to put in the time.

In fact, “those who spend at least six hours per week are almost twice as likely to see leads generated as those who spend five or fewer hours.”

image04

While small companies probably won’t have the budget for expensive mediums like TV commercials or paying big-named influencers like Taylor Swift to promote their products, they can almost always afford SEO and social media.

And when they really know what they’re doing and stay up-to-date on cutting-edge techniques, there’s absolutely no reason why they can’t compete with the big boys.

How can I thrive on SEO and social media?

I’ll be totally upfront with you.

Seldom can you just launch an SEO or social media campaign and get instant results.

And quite frankly, it’s not as easy as it looks.

On paper, it might seem like you simply perform some rudimentary keyword research or post a cool article on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Then presto, an influx of traffic floods your site, and your product flies off the shelf.

But that’s just not how it works.

To truly reap the benefits of these marketing strategies, you need to develop an in-depth understanding of the process, go through trial and error, and have plenty of patience.

You also need to stay in the know of what’s going on and continually make adjustments as new trends unfold.

But nonetheless, you definitely can thrive as long as you “get it” and persevere.

The good thing is, there is an abundance of free resources online that will teach you everything you need to know.

Sites like Moz, HubSpot, Quick Sprout, Social Media Examiner, and Search Engine Journal are just a few that can guide your efforts.

So, let’s briefly examine some specific ways you can position your small business to compete with large competitors.

Effective SEO strategies

For starters, it pays to be niche-centric with your approach.

Ideally, your business will cater to a fairly narrow target audience.

Rather than trying to be everything to everyone, you’re usually better off focusing on a smaller demographic and being the company that’s best capable of meeting their unique needs.

This mainly revolves around using long-tail keywords rather than trying to rank for broad terms.

Let’s go back to my example about “razor blades” and “best double edged razor blades.”

While the former keyword phrase would be extremely difficult to rank for, the latter is a realistic possibility.

In fact, small businesses were able to rank for it and bring in a reasonable amount of traffic and leads.

It’s also important that you pursue link-building opportunities.

According to Moz, domain-level link features, such as quality of links, trust, domain-level PageRank, etc., were the number one influencing factor on Google algorithm in 2015.

image06

You can accelerate your SEO campaign exponentially by reaching out to and building relationships with influencers and top publications. If you’re able to get links from reputable sites, this can be the catalyst for a spike in your search rankings.

Some other strategies include:

  • Creating valuable content that’s based around user intent (e.g., answering common questions and addressing customer pain points)
  • Performing on-site optimization (e.g., incorporating keywords into your URL, headers, meta description, etc.)
  • Optimizing your site for mobile

Potent social media strategies

I love social media because it gives small businesses the opportunity to convey their identities and build highly personalized relationships with their audiences.

You can showcase your swagger and let consumers know why your company is worth doing business with.

It may sound a little cheesy, but I think the most important part of finding success on social media is to be yourself.

I, for example, am building my strategy with the specific goal of reaching MY customers and not worrying about the masses.

This coincides with Seth Godin’s concept of building a tribe (a community) around your brand.

Like the old saying goes, “Try to please everyone, and you’ll end up pleasing no one.”

Dollar Shave Club is a great example of a brand that embraces being itself.

Their off-kilter, slightly smart-ass marketing messages are unforgettable and definitely appeal to a certain segment of the population.

Saying things like, “Our blades are f**king great” is ballsy. But it’s hard to deny that this attitude has been a key contributor to their success.

image02

Another integral element of a well run social media campaign is to be constantly engaging your audience.

Whether it’s retweeting epic content relevant to your niche, responding to comments on your Facebook page, inviting others to connect on LinkedIn, or asking questions to ignite digital discussions, it’s important that you’re interacting.

In other words, be on the offense.

The great thing about social is that it can actually be used as an outlet for handling certain aspects of customer service.

People love giving their feedback via social channels, which gives you an opportunity to strengthen relationships and quickly fix escalating situations when the feedback happens to be negative.

It’s also essential that you’re using the right networks.

Each social network has its own demographic and appeals to a different segment of the population. You want to make sure you’re spending your time on the networks your core audience is using.

For example, if your target audience is primarily female, Pinterest would be one of your best bets because 81% of Pinterest users are female.

Some other strategies include the following:

  • Use a consistent tone and style to strengthen your brand identity
  • Be authentic
  • Provide genuinely useful and valuable content
  • Use plenty of images (people respond favorably to visuals)
  • Maintain a consistent presence (e.g., don’t go MIA for months on end)
  • Curate content as well as create your own
  • Use analytics to measure your results and make the necessary adjustments
  • Consider using tools like HootSuite and Buffer to automate some aspects of your marketing (e.g., scheduling posts ahead of time)

Conclusion

In my opinion, the current day and age is the most exciting ever for small business owners.

While in the past, smaller enterprises almost always had to play second fiddle to huge companies and “pick up the marketing scraps,” these days, it’s totally possible for them to compete and even thrive.

Even if you just recently launched a startup and have to watch every penny, you can still get ahead and create massive exposure for your brand.

By getting on board with SEO and social media and understanding the nuts and bolts of these mediums, you can gain traction in your industry and drive quality leads to your site.

Can you think of any other marketing strategies that level the playing field between small and large businesses?

from Quick Sprout https://www.quicksprout.com/2016/09/23/how-any-small-business-can-compete-with-the-big-boys-using-seo-and-social-media/
via My Media Pal

Here’s How We’re Using Lean Startup Methodologies for Local SEO

Posted by dan_leibson

Product and project management is a critical part of managing any business based on SEO; it’s also something that doesn’t get discussed nearly as much as SEO in professional circles. For me, I care equally about how our internal process are working versus how our SEO services are performing, primarily because they can’t be separated.

If your internal processes suck, your products and services are likely going to be heavily burdened by that fact.

Conversely, great internal processes will likely be a huge boon to your business by enabling you to deliver on your SEO engagements.

Before we get too deep into that, you should know I am a big believer in Lean Startup methodologies.

So, if you want to model any part of our internal processes in your own businesses, I would highly recommend reading The Lean Startup as some light background reading while you ponder how to implement any of this stuff.

Background

So let’s talk about our Lean Startup process real fast before we go over the ideas that inspired it. We utilize a process called SCRUM that I’m sure many of you are familiar with (and many probably aren’t). The way we leverage SCRUM is two-fold:

  1. We have daily SCRUM meetings These are primarily about fostering a group dynamic in a remote working environment, creating a shared sense of accountability, and eliminating road blocks. Moving from weekly to daily SCRUMs was actually suggested by team members to help them prioritize; we haven’t looked back.
  2. Sprints – Sprints are basically “production units.” Every single task, whether it’s a citation audit, website audit, or a month of link building can be a sprint. Team members are limited in the amount of sprints they can have at one time to force prioritization. (This process is called Kanban.)

And, of course, we utilize a project management tool to help us with this. Having used lots of project management tools before (Trello, Basecamp, Podio, and JIRA, to name a few), I settled on a tool called LeanKit. I really love LeanKit for its robust feature set and customization options. It’s also really affordable. So, if you are considering moving to a lean/agile system or are unhappy with your current project management software, I totally recommend giving LeanKit a try.

There are a few some more things we do related to project management, but I will get to those in a second.

How the Lean Startup can help

For those of you unfamiliar with “lean startup” methodologies, the most important thing to know (in regards to our process) is “Validated Learning,” which is basically a way to iterate on your products and services based on data and insights gained in a production environment.

By now, you’re probably wondering, “Dan, what does this have to do with running SEO operations?

Good question!

In order to make sure that we are constantly improving our service offerings, we set up everything in a way that allows for it to be measured.

That means we can internally measure the success of basically everything we do regardless of final client deliverable. That allows us to have regular post-mortems where we discuss both the efficacy and efficiency of a process.

Let me share an example: We had a client engagement recently where we were really struggling with the citation audits (which is the build part of validated learning). It was a really complicated situation, so the struggle was no surprise. However, since we track how many citations get tracked across citation audits/cleanups as well as scope how long we expect individual audits/cleanups to take, we knew exactly where things were going wrong. (This is the “measure” part of validated learning). During our post-mortem for this sprint, we talked about these breakdowns in a meaningful way. As a result, we were able to surface two things to incorporate back into our process, which would prevent the same issue from happening again in a similar situation. (And this is the “learning” in validated learning).

There is no rocket science in any of this. It’s just about being mindful of how you build and implement your processes so that you can leverage them for success instead of having them be an albatross around your neck. As a result, we are constantly improving the way we perform Local SEO, which to me is the true measure of success.

What can you do right now?

Obviously, it’s not feasible to overhaul you entire project management and operational system overnight. That doesn’t mean there isn’t stuff you can do right now as you plan how to go lean/agile. Here are some quick wins that you can implement right away:

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  • Install The Five Whys process – This is a process of question-asking designed to get to the root cause of a problem/failure. When you are trying to iterate fast to improve/learn, then surfacing root causes of problems is critical. That is why many consider the 5 Whys the most important tactic of all in lean/agile methodology .
  • Adopt internal kick-offs – This is in addition to kick-off calls with clients. I know what your thinking: “Ugh, more meetings.” But seriously, this is a meeting that can save you lots of headache in the future. An internal kick-off allows team members to discuss potential challenges before they happen. When everyone in the project is on the same page in regards to potential roadblocks, troubles are much easier to navigate.
  • Start using post-mortems – Seriously, hold post-mortems for all your projects. It may sound like a daunting process, but #4 in this post shows just how easy it can be. Create a questionnaire for team members, have the meeting, and start trying to figure out what went right and what went wrong. We have primarily talked about what went wrong. However, post-mortems are a perfect opportunity to also discuss what went right and make sure team members are recognized in front of their peers for solid work. What’s more, it lets you talk about how to make sure those things that went right can be incorporated into your processes in the future.

Preserve the good, eject the bad, rinse, and repeat.

Additional resources:

What are your thoughts on using the Lean Startups methodologies to enhance our SEO-related experiences? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Moz User Generated Blog https://moz.com/ugc/heres-how-were-using-lean-startup-methodologies-for-local-seo
via My Media Pal

Three Ideas for Amping up Your Brand’s Social Media Presence

Posted by JessicaDavis35

Reach and visibility are of absolute importance in today’s social media scenario. Unless your extend your reach to as large an audience as you possibly can, the goals you may have set of brand building, social media, engagement ,or sales conversions will result in reduced impact.

Why?

Over 2,000,000 blogs are published each day; about 350,000 tweets are sent out every minute.

To get noticed through that density, your content has not only got to be excellent but also has to be amplified. The following are three simple but effective ideas that you can use to amp up your social media presence.

1. There’s strength in your numbers

One of the simplest ways to amplify your content is to request your employees share it on their social media accounts.

The best brand advocates are people who believe in the products they promote. The best brand advocates are also “people like me.”

Studies show that people trust people they know more than they do advertisements or other sources.

If you have 1,000 employees, and your employees have an average of 1,000 connections on social, encouraging them to share brand communication will create many thousands of views for you on social.

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That’s instantly amplified reach. But of course, nothing is immediate with social media management. There’s some amount of structuring and perseverance involved in getting you to where you want to be.

If you consider applying employee advocacy to your organization, the first thing you’ll need is a plan.

You’ll also need answers to these questions:

1. Why should your employees share branded content on their accounts? What’s in it for them?

2. How will you train them to share the best way possible for your brand?

3. What goals will you set for your employee advocacy program?

4. How will you measure results?

5. How will you build a self-sufficient and smoothly functioning program that demands less effort on your part?

Implementing employee advocacy

There are cool employee advocacy platforms like DrumUp that help you manage and drive the program. These apps have built-in gamification leaderboards to encourage participation, common content streams accessible to employees that you invite, and in-app analytics dashboards to help you measure results.

A good employee advocacy platform will allow you to provide your employees with content recommendations for social media posting; as well as monitor their performance and the performance of their shares on social media. Managing the entire program on a single platform will make the process a lot easier for you.

Before launching the program, ensure that your employees are well-informed about the concept and are trained to use the employee advocacy platform that you pick to the best effect.

You could even delegate the training to your in-house social media marketing and tech teams, and use it as an opportunity for your employees to interact with each other and exchange knowledge.

The potential benefits of implementing a good employee advocacy program is immense. To make the most of it, make sure that you have documented goals and metrics; and have a system in place to continually monitor and optimize your progress.

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To ensure your program runs smoothly, it’s also good to have representatives among your employees at various levels of the organization. Pick a person who’s a team player and gives out positive vibes, which is what you need to be reflected in your employee advocacy program.

2. Serve it while it’s hot

Creating unique content is not a requirement for generating social media engagement. In fact, any idea that you can envision has probably already been implemented in some part of the world. Providing your audience with the latest high-quality content that you curate for them has many benefits.

Benefits of good content curation

1. Positions you as a go-to resource in your audience’s mind

2. Helps you stay on top of developments in your industry

3. Lets you build relationships with the people whose content you curate

4. Helps you manage social media marketing with less effort

The idea is to give the audience in your niche everything they could ask for on your social media pages so that they don’t have to look for it elsewhere.

How to increase social media engagement with content curation

Step 1: Share what your audience is seeking in a timely fashion.

To understand what your audience wants, or what your industry’s audience is reading or talking about on social, you could use a good social listening app to monitor the playing field.

Real-time monitoring apps like Social Mention allow you to eavesdrop on what people are saying about your brand, industry or any topic across the internet. Alternatively, you could also set up notifications for any keyword on Google Alerts. Also, you can search for FAQs in your vertical on hubs like Quora.

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Step 2: When you identify a trend, something that your audience is looking for or what they seem to like or dislike, document all your findings.

Step 3: Once you have them down, create a list of topics that you could discuss. For instance, if you’re a fashion e-commerce platform, you could cover fashion trends, accessories, great looks, celebrity inspired looks, etc.

Step 4: After creating your content bucket, make a list of top notch content sources to follow. This step could be simplified by employing a content curation app for the job.

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Step 5: Consider the content formats that best suit your industry. You could curate blogs, quotes, infographics, graphs, Gifs, videos and more. Using multiple content formats helps you keep your pages versatile and also capture a larger audience.

Step 6: The substance in your content also matters. Make sure each of your shares has valuable takeaways – actionable tips, knowledge, humor, inspiration are some great takeaways.

Step 7: Once you’ve made a list of topics, formats, and takeaways, the next step is to create a content calendar.

Calendar apps like Google’s calendar let you mark dates for events and set reminders for them. So all you have to do is sit on one day every month and slot a theme for each day in a cycle.

For example, a fashion e-commerce platform’s content curation calendar could be based on a list of seven themes, one for each day of the week. It could look something like this: fashion accessories, great everyday looks, celeb-inspired looks, cutting-edge trends, wearable trends, special occasion looks, and classic looks.

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There’s a certain appeal to fresh, newsy content; so, while sharing, you’d do well to share only the latest must-read stuff for each item in your content bucket.

Once your content calendar is ready, the process won’t require much of your attention on a daily basis. If you’ve followed all seven steps of the process I’ve just explained, you will be set to generate substantial engagement on your social media pages.

3. Be visual

Most of us have been programmed to communicate primarily with our words — with language. However, text is mankind’s invention. The fact is, we were made by the laws of nature to communicate and perceive signals visually.

The human brain processes images 60,000 times quicker than it does text. Internally, over 90% of all communication sent to the brain is visual. This is why visual aids are very powerful in learning processes.

With the rising volumes of content on social, you need more than just words to captivate someone. You need content that communicates emotions.

If you really want your message to stay with your audience, team your wordplay with stunning images. There are myriad ways to say something visually.

For instance, consider the example I used in the beginning of this blog post to illustrate the amplification potential of an employee advocacy program. You could visually communicate that with a graph, cartoon, infographic, or even a short video.

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If image creation is a difficult task for you, then you may want to experiment with using free or low-cost apps that simplify the process. Social image design apps like Canva are based on simple drag-and-drop modules and even stock pre-designed template selections sized perfectly for the most popular social platforms.

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You don’t have to be a designer to create great images. You can glean ideas from images you find in Google image search, and combine them to form new concepts that you incorporate into the brand new images you create.

Graphic apps like Piktochart are great for infographics. All you have to do to visually explain your concept is pick from pre-existing templates, fonts, and graphs.
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Five areas where visuals matter:

1. Display and cover pictures
2. Social media posts
3. Blog cover pictures
4. On the body of blog posts
5. Event posters

Treat each of these fields as assets for visual canvassing. If you focus your effort on creating captivating visuals for them, you will see an increase in social media engagement.

There are several ways in which you can approach the task of giving your brand a better presence on social media. But harnessing your employees’ voices, providing all-inclusive, actionable content on your pages, and sprucing up your social media accounts with excellent visuals are three fundamental ideas that can help you make noticeable performance improvements.

Remember, you know your brand best. So, take these ideas, but use your knowledge to make them your own when implementing them.

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from Moz User Generated Blog https://moz.com/ugc/three-ideas-for-amping-up-your-brands-social-media-presence
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