Tag Archives: Social media

Becoming An Influential Content Marketer

The Fine Art of Content Marketing

DELL Dons Beret

credit: DELL

 Since the dawn of communication, man has been involved in the practice of content marketing.  The level of brand engagement that resulted from the uttering of those first staccato grunts in caves or around fires is unclear, but there was sharing, the message was behavior-driven and the content was geared toward a target audience.  Nowadays, whether you realize it or not, if you are actively involved in pursuing business on social media, then you are a content marketer.  This might not be the work you signed on for when you created your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts, launched your blog, or uploaded that first virtual commercial on to YouTube, but it is part of your job description today.

Business people and companies are competing for eyeballs like never before.  You don’t have to be a search engine savant to know that the Internet is swollen with content.  There is a lot of noise in the cloud.  The challenge lies in getting found, getting noticed and getting known.  Consider those that followed their dreams and staked their claims during the California Gold Rush.  They spent hours upon hours sifting through trays of earth just to find a small nugget.  The nugget was always there; the prospector’s tray just had to be in the right place.  Such is the case with your incredible article, white paper, blog post, landing page, video, or podcast.  Position it well and the right audience will find it.

Although the origin of the term is difficult to pinpoint, content marketing is now a vital entry in the mainstream social vocabulary.  I remember first hearing it in 2007, shortly after I swapped out my Website copywriter’s shingle for that of the LinkedIn consultant.  Today, content marketing is an industry unto itself, a sub-discipline of Internet science, and a staple strategy of social business.  I am amazed at how much content marketing is directed toward, well, content marketing.

 So what are the steps to becoming an effective content marketer?  Glad you asked.

Create a Visibility Strategy

 An all-out assault on the search engines doesn’t guarantee the delivery of a steady stream of spend-ready clients to your virtual doorstep.  Well-executed content marketing is inbound, yes, but who arrives is as important—if not more so—than how many.  Taking your offerings across multiple platforms and appealing to a wide variety of tastes and personalities within (and external to) your target audience will allow you to be a more versatile influencer and allow you to go viral in the right circles.  Build your content portfolio methodically. Depending on the context of your messaging, not all platforms will work.  First, decide what you wish to accomplish with your content marketing objectives.  Who do you most want to reach?  Set some parameters for topic, theme and style, keyword judiciously, and post accordingly.

 Be Compelling and Relevant

Ours is an attention deficit society, one that is constantly demanding injections of fresh, topical content.  Given the accelerated timeline of social media—unique in that it can move light years in a single day—you won’t get much of a chance to and engage prospective clients unless you compel them at the front gate.  People are fickle.  Much as they might give you a courtesy scan, or even go a paragraph or two deep on what you have to offer, if you can’t keep ‘em interested, they’re out.  Moreover, the shelf life of a given post, update, article or tweet is fleeting at best.  Don’t let your output go stale.  Regular content flow ensures that your brand stays in front of people and, over time, you will get noticed.  Good writing, persuasive or otherwise, has an attractive force operating beneath the surface.  It does not happen without practice, purpose and focus. 

Don’t Sound Contrived

Not to downplay the importance of keyword density, but often, people will dilute their message by paying too much attention to coming up high in a specific search category and bombard their piece with certain words or phrases.  Yes, write for Google, but also write for your brand.  People recognize when a piece of content has been doctored for search.  Keyword spamming, or excessive mention of specific terms, is unnatural and actually works to your detriment.  In social, you have to give to get.  You’re going up against people and firms who want to be found in identical searches.  Decide on the text that you want to go after hard, and let the rest go. 

Devise an Appropriate Real World Strategy

Whereas content always has and always will be king, it’s the level of engagement that determines who wears the crown.  These days, it’s about reaching potential customers and clients on an emotional level.  Creating a favorable first impression, and converting that response into a profitable call to action, is the goal of any value-added content marketing campaign.  Ultimately, the dynamic shifts and you move from a position of content management to relationship management.   Over time, you will achieve brand recognition. Social networking, and its requisite skill sets, is the driver.  How you handle inquiries and advance conversations in the physical world will determine your success in business, let alone as a content marketer.  Walk your talk.

As you’re producing each individual piece of content, ask yourself the following questions:

 1). Does it promote my brand?

2). Does it detract from my message?

3). Does it create value for others?

4). Does it influence a call to action?

The once-level playing field has skewed in favor of those who write with clarity, present well, and live up to a perceived brand promise. 

What steps are you taking to market your content?

 

J.D. GERSHBEIN, CEO of OWLISH COMMUNICATIONS, is a specialist in the Art and Science of LinkedIn.  He is a trusted asset to top executives, managers, entrepreneurs, professional service providers, salespeople, and those involved in the search for their next great opportunity.  J.D. offers unrivaled strategic direction to individuals and firms—ranging from small to medium-sized businesses (SMB’s) to Fortune 500 companies— in using LinkedIn to build brand and generate revenue.  Dubbed “LinkedIn’s #1 Brand Ambassador” and “The LinkedIn Black Belt,” J.D. is considered one of the top LinkedIn strategists in the world and a pioneer in the design and delivery of LinkedIn educational programs.  Drawing upon his background in marketing communications, industrial psychology, neuroscience, improvisational comedy and broadcast media, he is helping advance the collective awareness of LinkedIn and inspiring opportunity-oriented professionals in all walks of business.  J.D. is a nationally-known A-list speaker who has been featured on FOX TV News, in the Chicago Tribune, and has guested on prominent coast-to-coast business talk radio programs.  He currently blogs for NBC Chicago and contributes articles on LinkedIn to numerous online publications.  J.D. is also an Adjunct Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Stuart School of Business where he teaches the school’s first-ever course in social media.  His first book, a treatise on social business communication strategies, is due out early 2012.

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Filed under Business, How To, Influence, Social media, Social Networking, Uncategorized

How Social Media Helps Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Savvy leaders are students of both yesterday and today in order to inform a prosperous tomorrow.

This month I found out that turning 40 is a time for reflecting back (as well as being the brunt of a lot jokes about farsightedness, forgetfulness, and gray hair). While it’s a blast remembering the amusement park-type fun of bumping around the “way back” of a station wagon unfettered by seat belts and other safety accoutrement, too much time lamenting about the “way things were” becomes fruitless and counterproductive. For leaders, nostalgia can be both poignant and potentially poisonous.

Dwelling in the past obscures our view of the future. Hindsight with no consideration of foresight ensures that not only will things never again be as they were, they’ll certainly never get better than they are.

Obviously, many aspects of the “good old days” should never have gone by the wayside. New grads should expect to pay their dues and should rightfully be put through the paces. It’s very difficult to fast-track the rich learning that comes from time in the trenches earning your stripes. I’m not sure why the hand-written thank-you note got lost in the shuffle. I will tell you that the folks who invest the few extra minutes and ounces of effort required to use snail mail build more trust and leave a more lasting impression than the person who whips off a perfunctory email.

Just as there are old-school business practices that deserve to be maintained because they work, there are many new school methods that should not be dismissed just because “that’s not how we do things around here.”

Leaders need to objectively evaluate options both old and new to determine which business methods are most appropriate for effectively and efficiently getting results that advance the organization’s mission.

Social Media is one of those “new school” ideas that should not be too quickly dismissed as a fad nor embraced with wild abandon because you don’t want to miss out on all the fun. Leaders have a responsibility to understand what this newer frontier is about and how it can be leveraged to  better serve customers, contribute to the community, benefit the world at large, and advance the organization’s interest. Before diving headlong into Social Media, prudent leaders should wade through real-world cases to carefully assess a fit for their organization. Stories pour forth on the Internet rich with ideas on why and how to adopt Social Media.

Case in Point

Armed with an exhaustive amount of research in social influence reinforced with first hand evidence of how certain influence techniques can be successfully wielded by the well-intentioned, I nervouslyentered the Social Media arena. Though capable of reaching the balcony in an auditorium unaided by a microphone, I wasn’t sure how my one voice could be deciphered over the cacophony on social networking sites. Much to my delight I discovered a choir of diverse voices harmoniously exalting the importance of character-based leadership. What I found was The Lead Change Group.

With Mike Henry Sr. at the helm, The Lead Change Group has pierced the veil of Social Media mystery and emerged as a tour de force in the realm of emergent leadership.

Here is the road map this group followed to be distinguished from the din.

  • The social networking began with a few of people following each other on Twitter and sharing thoughts using #leadchange to categorize their input.
  • Mike provided a communal space for the group on LinkedIn
  • By leveraging the functionality of the http://tweepml.org site,  introductions are continously being made between existing and new members. Through this utility, people can choose to  follow either specific participants or everyone in the Lead Change Group.
  • The group has a website and blog  that serves as a focal point for those interested in leading with character and creating positive results.
  • Expanding exponentially, a natural progression for this intricate tapestry of high integrity leaders is to move the conversation from the keyboard to the conference room. Leader Palooza, a conference on 2/19-2/20, will allow these birds of a feather to flock together in sunny Ft. Lauderdale. It’s an opportunity to deepen the relationships and expand the boundaries of the tenets that began 140 characters at a time.

What started in the new school will be strengthened by some good old fashioned brainstorming, action planning, and face-to-face networking.

The Lead Change Group illustrates a Social Media-born fusion of  cutting edge communication tools with by-gone era best practices. The outcome is a team of individuals proactively seeking and implementing innovations in leadership excellence.

Mixing Backward Glances with Foreward Thinking

The Lead Change Group is just one example of how Social Media can be leveraged to achieve a targeted objective. In this case, the goal was to provide a forum for like minded thinkers.  Starting on the Web and transitioning to a more traditional medium (the conference) expedited the organization’s growth and ensured a valuable diversity of participants.

How can your organization springboard off of tried & true methods and gain momentum from ground-breaking concepts to ultimately achieve maximum velocity?

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Filed under Business, How To, Influence, Leadership, Networking, Social media, Social Networking, Uncategorized

How to Self-Promote Unselfishly

Last week, Erica posted this comment:

 “I enjoyed this article. I thought the points about how we “tend to construct barriers” were very interesting, and that you were right on about the dislike of coming off or being manipulative of others. Where my situation differs is that the context I am working in is my own (one person) business, rather than within a larger organization. Therefore, I am interested breaking down mental barriers to precisely the thing that the article defines as being negative: “self-promotion”, but which in the context of one’s own business, is rather necessary and desirable. I’m curious if you can share any thoughts on that?”

 Erica, I work on my own too so I can relate to your situation. You are correct, as an independent contractor, consultant, or product/service provider, marketing technically boils down to “self-promotion.” I believe your concern is how to market your capabilities without coming off as bragging, egotistical or self-serving. The good news is that, when marketing as a solo-practitioner, self-promotion does not have to be synonymous with self-aggrandizement. The two are distinguished by context and intention.spotlight (see also table at end of post)

For the sake of simplicity, I tend to discuss influence as a leadership resource within the realm of a single organization. In this context, “self-promotion” is about pushing an agenda that serves only personal objectives even at the expense of others or the organization. The intention behind the self-promoting behaviors is first and foremost personal gain. The words and actions of individuals who are intent on serving their own needs or desires are often interpreted as coercive or manipulative. This holds true even when the organization is a staff of one. The difference is that for sole-practitioners, our intentions are being read not by co-workers but by prospective buyers and customers.

For the one person business, the issue of intent becomes a matter of whether we’re “in it for #1” or if we truly care about making a contribution to our customers’ organizations and the community at large. Ultimately, prospects and customers are repelled when they sense that their needs are coming in a distant second to the needs of the provider. For example, the use of social media speaks volumes about business intentions. Who are you more likely to trust and purchase from: someone who uses social media as a channel to offer genuine support and valuable information or the person flooding your inbox or Twitter timeline with impersonal unsolicited offers to buy his product or service?

Here’s a recent personal example. I’ve been helping one of my clients select a web developer/SEO provider. He’s narrowed his selection down; but because of business circumstances has delayed his final decision. The vendors have been following up with me. I appreciate those that touch base here and there. However, the one company I was pushing as the “top choice” has been pursuing me a little too hard. They’ve even voluntarily lowered their initial bid; which makes me wonder why they didn’t just provide us their best pricing in the first place. I’m starting to get the sense that they are desperate for customers or the salesperson has a big personal stake in closing the deal. If they are this concerned about their business in the dating phase of the relationship, what’s going to happen once they’ve tied the knot?

If you are concerned that your efforts at self-promotion might be construed as self-aggrandizement, first, ask yourself this:

Are you promoting your capabilities as a means to push your personal agenda, potentially at the expense of others?

Or

Are your efforts at self-promotion a means to let prospects and customers know how you can help them achieve their targeted results?

What’s the truth behind your intentions?  Whose business objectives come first: yours or your customers?

If your intentions are in the right place, take the time to understand the role that prospects or customers play in their market space. Determine what your customers do for their customers. Next, assess how your product or service helps your customers do this better, faster, or for less money. Then, build a marketing engagement that reflects your intentions and communicates value from the buyer’s perspective.

Lastly, incorporate the I-Style practices into your marketing efforts, apply them within customer relationships, and use them to be a catalyst between organizations. As long as your daily pursuit of these activities and behaviors is driven by a desire to contribute to “the greater good”, you will be self-promoting without self-aggrandizing.

What steps can you take to make them part of your marketing efforts? How can you apply these practices both across and within your customer organizations?

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