Tag Archives: Content

Lobster nets £1M to scale its user-generated content licensing marketplace

lobster U.K. startup Lobster is gearing up to scale its user-generated content licensing marketplace, as it closes a £1 million Series A. It’s expecting to have closed out the round next week, with 85 per cent of the funding committed at this point and only its decision on the last few investors outstanding. Read More
Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Social Native gets authentic fans to create social media content for brands

Social Native gets content creators to create social media for brands.


Social Native has created a marketplace for connecting brands with content creators who can create authentic social media assets that promote those brands.

Jeff Ragovin of Social Native

Above: Jeff Ragovin of Social Native

Image Credit: Social Native

The startup is positioned for the era known as the “creator economy,” a term coined by futurist Paul Saffo to describe our shift from consumers of content to creators of content.

To help with that mission, the Los Angeles company has hired as executives two of its investors, Jeff Ragovin and Eytan Elbaz, who each have a long history in successful startups.

Social Native is working with 50 top brands to find them low-cost and authentic content. In the age of social media, brands haven’t been able to keep up with the voracious demand for social media assets, such as videos or pictures, on all of the big social sites.

“We are changing the way brands create content,” Elbaz said in an interview with VentureBeat. “The biggest shift that has occurred since the advent of social media is the amount of content people can consume is 100 times great than it was decades ago. You can skim through Instagram and see much more in a minute than you do in an hour reading a magazine.”

Social Native enlists the people who create an enormous amount of assets: the fans. Those fans currently don’t get paid for their authentic expressions of enthusiasm for a brand. Brands can express the kind of content they want, such as fans interacting with a new product. Social Native has identified 14 million of the top content creators in the world, and it has invited thousands of them to create content for social media campaigns.

Social Native uses its algorithms to figure out which content creators are creating the right content for the campaign, and it shows that content to the brands. The brands pay Social Native for the assets, and Social Native shares that money with the content creators who express their love for the products.

Elbaz, who is the co-creator of Google’s enormously profitable AdSense business (acquired for $ 104 million), said that brands that don’t keep up will lose mindshare in this new age of social media.

“Social Native automates a lot of the processes for creating content,” he said.

Eytan Elbaz, chief strategy officer at Social Native

Above: Eytan Elbaz, chief strategy officer at Social Native

Image Credit: Social Native

Elbaz, who is chief strategy officer at Social Native, thinks that content creators can do in a week — at a fraction of the cost — the work that an agency does in a year creating assets for ad campaigns. An agency might charge $ 100 million for 100 campaigns. But content creators, who previously were doing their sharing for free, could be far less expensive and their content could be a lot better because it’s so authentic.

“Jeff and Eytan joining the company as operators serves as a true testament to the power of our technology and growth opportunity ahead,” said David Shadpour, CEO of Social Native, in a statement. “Both Jeff and Eytan have incredible track records of disrupting old standards with technology. Creative is one of the last industries to be merged with technology, and under their leadership we will take on the challenge of giving brands the ability to create personalized content on demand.”

Ragovin, cofounder of Buddy Media (acquired by Salesforce for $ 745 million), said in an interview with VentureBeat, “I’ve seen them address a gaping hole in the demand for content. Brands are clamoring for this content.”

Ragovin invested in Social Native in early 2016. He will now help the company with its aggressive growth plans.

Of course, brands have been going to celebrities and influencers to get content. But that can be very expensive. And those celebrities and influencers aren’t always as passionate about brands as ordinary people, who represent “the long tail,” Ragovin said.

“This is a disruptor in the content creation space,” he said.

Influencers also use their own platforms to distribute content. With Social Native, the brands use their own platforms for distribution. Content creators are approved based on the quality of their content and how engaged they are with brands. They’re not approved based on the size of their followings.

“Over time, the algorithms figure out who is worth what and compensates people appropriately,” Elbaz said. “There are a lot of signals we pay attention to. Part of the job of the tech is to find out where your passions lie.”

Ragovin, a Social Native investor since early 2016, will play a part in developing the scalable and aggressive growth trajectory for Social Native. In his previous role as co-founder and chief strategy officer of Buddy Media, a SaaS platform for brands and agencies to organize and control their social marketing programs, Jeff played a central role in guiding the company from a start-up into the largest enterprise social marketing suite in the world.

As for the creator economy, Ragovin said, “We think creative services is a meaningful piece of this growing digital economy. It is a way to supplement income.”

Elbaz added, “The whole goal is to drive toward true personalization. Personalization is the future of everything.”

According to Social Native research, there are 396 human touch points required in the creative development process. The company automated this process and can now scale the creation of highly personalized, quality creative content.

Polaroid has been using Social Native, and it now sources 71 percent of its social content from Social Native. Polaroid has used that content in social media, paid advertising, ecommerce pages, product packaging, and more.

Elbaz was previously cofounder and former chief strategy officer of Scopely, a fast-growing mobile game producer. In addition, Elbaz served as head of Google’s domain channel, where he grew the business from $ 13 million to $ 600 million annually over four years. Elbaz is also a founding member of Applied Semantics, where he conceived and designed AdSense, DomainPark, and DomainSense.

“I’m a startup guy,” said Elbaz. “I love the beginning, and we have made a lot of great progress at Social Native.”

Social – VentureBeat

8 Personalities to Look for When Assembling a Content Team

Content team personalities (2).png

Not having enough of the right people on your content team is a problem for many of today’s marketers. In fact, 38% of B2B marketers say HR and staffing issues are responsible for delayed success in content marketing, and 22% blame a lack of training and education.

Developing, executing, and measuring a content marketing plan can be difficult under the best of circumstances. But when you’re not adequately staffed, even the most well-conceived content marketing plan can struggle.

That’s why it’s so crucial to have the right roles outlined and fulfilled by the people who can execute them the best. We’ve identified eight personalities that can strengthen your team. As you learn more about them, you might notice that many possess the same qualifications — things like an ability to meet deadlines, good interpersonal skills, and task-specific marketing knowledge.

Check out more about these personalities below — they’ll help bring your content strategy to fruition. 

8 Personalities to Look for When Assembling a Content Team

1) The Taskmaster

This person is your project manager — the one responsible for the successful execution of your projects and campaigns. While creative, the taskmaster should also be proactive and action-oriented. After all, this person is your closer, or as we like to say around here, the overseer of getting stuff done.

The importance of well-executed project management is especially clear when comparing high-performing companies to low-performing ones. According to the Project Management Institute, in a workplace culture that emphasizes project management, 71% of projects actually meet their original goals. Compare that to the 51% of projects in non-project-management cultures, and it’s clear — companies that prioritize project management do better — period.

The taskmaster has a lot on his or her plate — things like budgets and being able to identify and prevent possible issues. But there’s technology out there that can benefit the taskmasters of the world, like the Projects app in your HubSpot software.

2) The Wordsmith

Not only does this person write well, but he or she is agile enough to do so in different voices and tones, based on your content topics and personas. In other words, the wordsmith brings your ideas to life through language. Plus, this person is able to create compelling work quickly — like the rest of the team, he or she should be deadline-driven enough to keep deliverables on track.

To state the obvious,  you can’t create content without a content creator. And it’s not just about writing — it’s about being able to do it well. These days, that’s a rare asset — American businesses spend up to $ 3.1 billion on training employees for basic writing skills.

The wordsmith should be well-versed in the goals and audience of the content — that’s what’s going to help him or her make it engaging. In many ways, this person is a translator who’s able to convert abstract ideas into tangible composition. And being able to work independently, as well as part of a team, is essential here, as the wordsmith must understand the ideas being communicated by his or her colleagues, and work with it autonomously.

3) The Grammar Geek

While the wordsmith gives the content life, the grammar geek is an editor makes your brand look smart. He or she holds brand values high and serves as the champion for consistency and quality across all channels.

Here’s why your grammar geek is so vital. If you publish content that contains errors, you risk losing sales. For some businesses, in fact, a single typo was speculated to result in an 80% drop in sales.

The grammar geek has a passion for language — preferably, the one in which your content is being published. But he or she also understands how to write specifically for the format of what you’re producing. Digital content, for example, sometimes takes on a different voice than print, so make sure this person is fluent in both.

And make sure this person works well with your wordsmith — chances are, they’ll have to share a back-and-forth to get a polished finished result.

4) The Artist

The strongest content teams have someone who can turns ideas and data into beautiful visuals. The artist supports your content marketing efforts by designing images, infographics, logos, and collateral — online and print — that adhere to brand style guidelines.

Compelling visuals are imperative in today’s landscape — articles with one image for every 75-100 words get twice as many social shares than articles with fewer images. You’ll need someone who can create them in a way that aligns with your brand, and is proficient in the technology used to create them. An innate sense for color, text style and layout wouldn’t hurt, either.

Make sure this person will thrive in a client-facing role, too — he or she will likely have to communicate with multiple parties and be able to understand their respective visions.

5) The Growth Hacker

Of course, it’s always good to have a master of numbers and data on your team. How else can you accurately measure and analyze the ROI of your content marketing? This person love metrics, A/B testing, and proving that ROI. In fact, it’s possible your growth hacker has a t-shirt with Peter Drucker’s famous management quote, “What gets measured, gets managed.”

The growth hacker should be more than just a data hound, though. This person truly understands what Peter Drucker meant when he wrote, “Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge are essential resources, but only effectiveness converts them into results.”

Your growth hacker helps reveal what’s effective. That, in turn, shows the team how to funnel its time and talents into the right actions to produce the right results. That requires an ability to develop, execute and report on a comprehensive content strategy — on that both attracts potential customers and retains existing ones. Plus, this person should be able to collaborate with sales and operations, because you’ll need their help to meet objectives.

6) The Social Butterfly

Your social butterfly is in charge of content distribution, promotion, and amplification. They have an affinity for social media and branding and enjoy interacting with people online.

Why is this team member important? You can thank the rules of good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing. After all, After all, content consumption on Twitter has increased by 25% in the past two years alone — and 76% of its users are likely to recommend a brand after a positive social media interaction with it.     

Like the rest of your content team, the social butterfly must understand the goals of the project and the audience — that’s necessary in order to effectively communicate on social media. This person should be generally skilled in content distribution and promotion, and know how to engage influencers to drive interest around the brand and build customer loyalty. And it doesn’t hurt if this person knows how to manage paid promotions and campaigns on such social networks as Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, and Snapchat.

7) The Risk-Taker

Every content team needs someone who challenges colleagues to try something new. Your group needs this dreamer to come up with the occasional crazy idea — because it might just work after all — and, you won’t know if you don’t try.

This individual’s unique perspective keeps your content approach from getting stale, or lost in any project chaos. And while the risk-taker role is a scary one for some teams to embrace, there’s evidence that taking risks can be beneficial — when done with caution.

But maybe that fear comes from a desire to emulate other brand leaders; if the big guys are doing it “this way,” we should, too. Or, a team may be afraid of looking dumb or silly. If you find yourself a little uncertain about the risk-taker role, ask yourself, “What content have I seen that’s really stood out to me lately? Was it the same-old-same-old, or was it something different, edgy or new?”

Obviously, your risk-taker should have a big-picture mindset, and a sense of adventure. This person shouldn’t be too preoccupied with what other people think, either. But remember: He or she must know how to take a calculated risk.

8) The Rule-Follower

To keep the risk-taker (and everyone else) in check, make sure you fill the role of rule-player. This person ensures that your content follows industry best practices. If you’re in a regulated industry, this role becomes even more important — violate any codes of conduct, and your content marketing efforts might get your company into hot water.

This rule-following team member is someone who executes on the finer, more mundane parts of the strategy. Though unsexy to some, the details are important, and they need to be thoroughly ironed out before your content goes live.

To that end, the rule-follower has a meticulous and methodical personality, with the ability to ask critical questions. And believe it or not, there are some who find joy in the execution, so to speak, and not just the strategizing — this person should have that quality.

Make It a Combo

So what happens if you can’t have a team this large? Not every company has the capacity for an eight-person content team. That’s okay — combinations are possible, and some are more important than others.

  • Make sure you have one risk-taker and one rule-follower. The risk-taker can come up with all the outta-this-world ideas, and the rule-follower can reel them back to earth. One becomes the yin to the other’s yang.
  • However, your taskmaster and growth hacker can be combined. Both are usually super-organized and meticulous; they like numbers, project management tools, and spreadsheets, and it’s fairly easy to find these traits in the same person.
  • You cannot combine your wordsmith and your grammar geek. Everybody needs an editor, right? Or as Ann Handley wrote, “Editors are not optional. Period.” And while wordsmiths can make great editors, it’s always challenging to review your own work — that’s why they call it a “second set of eyes.”
  • But, you can combine your social butterfly with your wordsmith. Creative types have a natural affinity for promotion, and your wordsmith should be able to compose the right kind of copy for your social networks.

Most content marketers are familiar with the pain of trying to do too much with too few resources. The usual result? We end up doing little to none of it well. Having these personalities on your team will help you produce better, more consistent content that your audience will want to click, read, and share.

How have you made the most of your content team? Let us know about your top content personalities in the comments.

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HubSpot Marketing Blog

Shared Content Optimization: What It Is & Why You Need to Care

sco.jpg

Nearly every smart marketer wants to create content that puts their company on the map and attract more customers.

According to HubSpot’s research, inbound marketing and content marketing have been the most effective method of doing business online. It’s no secret that high quality and shareable content is in high demand, but it is becoming exceedingly difficult to create top-notch pieces that cut through the noise.

A big piece to the inbound marketing puzzle comes from social media. The reality is that a lot of great content goes undiscovered due to improper optimization.

Social platforms can be a highly effective advertising tool for content, but unfortunately it’s all too easy to miss the mark on your strategy — and ultimately, engagement suffers right along with your ROI.

One of the primary focuses of content creation today is shared content optimization (SCO). Shared content optimization is the process of optimizing content to increase the likelihood of social shares, impressions, and even sales.

Without including shared content optimization into a content strategy, marketing efforts can quickly fall flat. The idea behind SCO is to create magnetic content that resonates with the audience, which encourages sharing throughout various channels.

What are The Benefits of Shared Content Optimization?

SCO helps content perform its best on social media platforms. For example, you likely wouldn’t post the same content on LinkedIn as you would on Twitter or Instagram.

In addition, social content optimization ensures that marketers effectively reach the target audience on the right platforms.

As a shared content optimization strategy encourages social sharing, it will naturally lead to more shares. In turn, this increases the exposure of social media profiles and can lead to an influx of followers — especially if the shared content is highly relevant and engaging for the audience.

This blog post will teach you how to apply the best optimization techniques for social media content. It will also explain how to use proper elements such as CTAs and graphics to enhance social shares.

Furthermore, marketers can learn how to properly optimize schedules based on channels and create snack-sized content that’s easy to consume. While shared content optimization isn’t rocket science, there is certainly a method that needs to be applied in order to get the best results.

Further Defining Shared Content Optimization

There are several steps to creating shared content optimization, which includes optimizing for impressions and enhancing the likeliness of sharing.

However, the first step is to understand the true definition of SCO — which is the process of adding relevant hashtags, commentary, questions, and media to spark engagement and increase social shares.

It’s also important to understand that the process optimizing content will vary across social platforms and channels.

In order for shared content optimization to work for a content strategy, there must be a deep understanding of the audience, as well as the ability to track and monitor progress so efforts can be adjusted as needed.

Creating Content for SCO

Marketers can use several components for developing SCO content, including a call-to-action, graphics, hashtags, targeting specific groups, and even using videos.

Once there is content prepared to share with an audience, it will need to be optimized to maximize impressions. This can be achieved in several ways, with one of the most effective methods including the use of trending hashtags.

However, there needs to be relevant in terms of the trending hash and the topic at hand—otherwise, the content will simply be viewed as spam.

Other ways to enhance the number of impressions with SCO is adding a call-to-action or graphics to a social post.

A call-to-action can be as simple as asking for a retweet or a Facebook share. As long as the call-to-action is compelling and provides incentive to the audience, increased social sharing and more impressions are sure to follow.

Enhancing Messages with Visual Elements and Helpful Tools

Graphics are a big part of correctly optimizing content for social media sharing.

In fact, social media posts with images generate more engagement and have up to an 87% interaction rate with followers. Including graphics, videos, and even GIFs can greatly influence an audience to share content.

For example, take a look at BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed is known for its entertaining GIFs, and it’s one of the many reasons its content is shared so frequently on social media. This brand has effectively harnessed the power of shared content optimization, and they use interesting and engaging media for maximized impressions.

pankcakes.gif

Image Credit: Cleverwood.be (via BuzzFeed)

Aside from animated GIFs, marketers can also consider adding CTAs and visual cues on graphics, which will help increase shareability.

There are several ways that marketers can create graphic and video content for SCO. Adobe Photoshop is one of the most popular tools for graphic design; but if you don’t have time to navigate through this complex software, you can use a user-friendly graphic design program such as Canva.

In addition, video production can be quite simple if you use tools such as VideoMakerFX, which is template-based and easy to customize.

Keep in mind that it’s important to use consistent branding elements across all social media channels.

Marketers need to think beyond their logo and cover images, and expand consistent fonts and color schemes into visual elements. This will ensure that the content is completely connected with your brand, and the audience will realize its original source.

Thinking beyond the logo is demonstrated brilliantly by the Always #LikeAGirl campaign by Procter & Gamble’s:

Optimizing Channels for Maximized Sharing

Data and tracking are critical to optimizing your channels for maximized sharing. One of the most important considerations to track and consider is the audience location and habits, which can help you determine the right schedule for the chosen channel.

Nearly every social media channel offers some form of analytic data. Marketers can dive into these insights to learn more about the target demographic in terms of age, income, education, marital status, and more.

Furthermore, marketers can also discover the best performing posts. This data will help marketers understand the type of content that resonates with audiences the most.

Once marketers have a solid understanding of the audience, best performing content, and peak hours for publishing content, the strategy can focus on SCO, based on audience preferences.

Automating the sharing process will increase productivity for marketers of every level. Consider using tools such as HubSpot’s Social Inbox to publish posts in advance, which also allows marketers to plan out their social strategy on one convenient platform.

Selecting The Best Social Media Channels

While it’s tempting to promote content on every social media channel, this method can actually be counterproductive. Marketers need to focus their time and energy on social platforms that bring them the best ROI and engagement.

Social media channels that offer the best customer interaction, comments, and shares should be the primary focus of any social media marketing strategy. Once the best social media channels are established, marketers can focus on optimizing the content in a method that makes sense for the specific platform. This means to publish posts during peak hours, use relevant hashtags, and appropriately-sized graphics.

Increase Sharing Success with Shared Content Optimization

Shared content optimization doesn’t end with graphics and hashtags. Something as simple as asking the audience to share content can help increase impressions.

Best of all, the CTAs can be directly embedded into visuals — or marketers can just simply ask for the share or retweet by using text.

Another way to increase sharing success is to create bite-sized content. Bite-sized content is easy to consume and it’s fun to scan and share.

Keep in mind that the average attention span of an adult is only 8.25 seconds, so marketers face the challenge of creating content that is quickly absorbed yet engaging.

There are several ways to get your audience to bite on snackable content. For example:

  1. Promoting large campaigns with bite-sized content
  2. Offering bits of playful content
  3. Re-sharing content about your brand that is submitting by users
  4. Keeping your content suspenseful — make the audience wonder what will happen next

Lastly, marketers can also add content suggestions to encourage extra sharing. This helps further promote existing content while encouraging additional shares on social media.

Motivate The Audience to Share on Social Media

Unfortunately, simply asking for social shares sometimes isn’t enough. However, there are still ways to grab attention of the audience and motivate sharing over multiple channels.

One method is to add a human element and include emoticons within your posts — this will add an extra layer of visual interest, and make a brand stand out from the competition.

Graphics are always a go-to method of increasing social shares. There is no denying the power of using graphics to optimize and promote content, and numerous studies have shown that graphics can earn content more impression than only using text.

Promoting Optimized Content

Once the content is ready to go, it’s time to put your shared content optimization strategy to the test.

Publish your content on free social media channels to begin testing what works best for your schedule and audience. Do research on demographics on each platform, and carefully review data of your posts while you consistently tweak your strategy.

Furthermore, there is always the option to boost visibility with paid content campaigns. Facebook advertising is relatively inexpensive, yet it can yield great results. Be careful while optimizing paid campaigns, and be sure that the right keywords and demographics are targeted for best results.

One of the last pieces to the puzzle is recommending the content on content distribution channels. This will help promote your hard work to the largest amount of people possible, while ultimately spreading your content far and wide.

Increasing Clickthrough Rates

When you’re working hard to promote and optimize your content, you don’t want to forget about CTR (clickthrough rate). Driving traffic to your website from social media isn’t as complicated as you think — and it all comes down to a few simple strategies.

The first step is to ensure that your posts are attractive and cohesive. Be sure that your graphic or video is properly optimized for your social platform, and your text is free of spelling and grammatical errors.

The next consideration is to give your readers a reason to share your posts. For example, you can create content that hits a pain point and draws readers to your website for a resolution.

You should also try to alternate headlines, use actionable words, and be responsive to your followers on social media.

Enhance Your Content Strategy with Shared Content Optimization

Is shared content optimization part of your digital marketing strategy? By creating quality content, promoting with the right tools, and tapping into the target audience, marketers of every industry can see a boost in online sharing.

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HubSpot Marketing Blog

Thanksgiving Wishbone Competitiveness & Content Marketing Tips – Who Knew?

For many people who have grown up celebrating Thanksgiving, the holiday for giving thanks has a underlying theme: Winning the wishbone. Besides the mounds of wonderful food and extended family gathered at many US households, there might be plenty of turkey to go around, but there is only one wishbone.

Believe it or not, competitive pursuit after a Thanksgiving turkey’s wishbone is a perfect metaphor for understanding better customer centric content marketing.  Prepare yourself for a Thanksgiving themed post without the tryptophan side effects.

5 Steps of A Wishbone Strategy Applied to Content Marketing
Here’s how the wishbone strategy works and how you can apply it to your content marketing strategy.

Thanksgiving-Turkey

Step 1: Lobby Mom to ensure turkey is on the Thanksgiving menu. Every year, there are Moms across the country who set their sights on trying some new tradition without any input from the people who will be eating the meal. To avoid a holiday dining catastrophe, kids start begging said Moms to get a Thanksgiving turkey as soon as Halloween is over. Content marketers need to listen to and understand prospect and customer interests to ensure they provide the information that matters most. To this end, consider the content your target audience needs at every point in the purchase cycle from awareness through post purchase support.

Depending on your product or services, this can translate to a variety of different types of content. Here’s an extensive list to choose from, and don’t forget to serve seasonally appropriate content which resonates with your audience. To carry on with our Thanksgiving theme, an example could be links to cool Turkey carving apps, Thanksgiving recipes or instructions for how to make paper decorations look like turkeys.

dad-carve-turkey

Photo Credit: carbonated via Flickr

Step 2: Beg Dad to carve the turkey. While this seems like pandering, in our house, Dad was a surgeon when it came to carving the bird and, unlike Mom, he carefully preserved the wishbone for a fair battle. As a marketer, it’s important to go beyond just defining your target audience to understanding what various segments want and need to attract and maintain their attention. Just as many of us play up to Dad’s carving skills, our content must also tightly synch with the needs of prospective readers.

wishbone-contender

Photo Credit: lapstrake via Flickr

Step 3: Be chosen a wishbone contender. Again, this requires advance planning. It helps to go that extra step with regard to chores and homework as well as positioning yourself nearest to the turkey when it appears fresh from the kitchen. Depending on your family, getting the wishbone can be a situation where, if you snooze, you loose. Similarly, content marketing must be available where prospects are searching for it. We all know there is a dizzying array of apps, ads, channels, widgets (and so on…) vying for our prospects’ attention.

Think strategically in terms of your communication channels such as campaign-oriented website landing pages and emails, seasonally appropriate blog posts from your CEO and instructional videos from product development. Of course don’t just duplicate, rather integrate the appropriate versions of your content on social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Depending on your audience, consider third party media placement such as providing articles for other media or sponsored content. Make it easy and compelling for your prospects to choose you through relevant content.

wishbone-stance

Photo Credit: Roger Smith via Flickr

Step 4: Assess your wishbone stance. When you’re ready to wrestle for wishbone bragging rights, it’s essential to realize that an effective strategy is all about positioning. You must get your thumb as close as possible to the tip of the wishbone. Further, it helps to let your competitor take a first try since this weakens the bone on his side. In terms of content marketing, asses your messaging stance and ensure your tailored content is integrated with the rest of your marketing. This includes linking to the appropriate products in your blog posts, providing commerce on channels like Facebook where your prospects are engaging with you, or sending a post-purchase emails with helpful product usage tips. To help inspire you, check out this Clutter Control Freak post that links to the specific product, a holiday card keeper.

make-a-wish

Step 5: Make a good wish. Of course, all of this work is for naught if you don’t have a really good wish. In marketing terms, (I know this is a reach, but bear with me) this means having a contextually relevant call-to-action for your prospect to take the next step in the purchase process. A problem for many marketers is that once you’ve primed your prospect and they leave without buying, they still have an unmet need. Therefore they’ll probably purchase from another firm and, as long as they’re somewhat satisfied, they may not return to your firm – ever.

The one content marketing element missing from this wishbone list is ensuring you’ve got great information that, like the smell of your mother’s fresh cooked turkey, will lure people in. Without quality content, it’s difficult to get your prospects, customers and the public to return for seconds and thirds. You may get them once, but after that you’ll find yourself searching for new customers. Therefore, pack your content with real protein and nutrition to engage your readers over and over again.

What else would you add to this wishbone strategy? How are you ensuring your content marketing remains focused on your target audience’s needs while working to get them to close the deal?


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Digital Newsletters as Content Marketing: Pros, Cons, Best Practices and Award Winning Examples

Digital NewslettersIt seems fitting to discuss digital newsletters during the month of October, since the birth of email harkens back 40 years ago this month.

Love it, hate it or tolerate it, without email marketing, digital marketers would have been responsible for the destruction of many, many more trees without it!

Digital newsletters are scheduled, recurring messages from companies to a list of subscribers that usually has a web page counterpart or archive which represents a specific type of content.

In contrast, many Email marketing efforts can include automated messages triggered by an auto-responder, e-blasts to a rented list or a list shared by a complementary business, or as part of a drip campaign run through a marketing automation platform.

Like other smart content marketing tactics, digital newsletters tend to follow a consistent editorial format directed to specific customer segments. Newsletters are often used to build and maintain strong relationships with prospects, customers and clients by providing useful tips, information and company news.

You can find TopRank’s digital newsletter here.

A winning newsletter design incorporates a variety of visuals and smart copywriting, which are important elements that contribute to a company’s overall impression and brand message. TopRank’s experience with marketing automation and cross-channel promotion gives us a unique perspective on how best to utilize both email marketing and digital newsletters, depending on your business goals.

A study by the Nielsen Norman Group suggests that readers become emotionally attached to e-newsletters and look forward to receiving them, provided they are timely and informative.

Many digital newsletters follow a tried and true format for content creation:

  1. News: Relevant business news or even industry news in order to keep your audience up to date
  2. Educational content: Emails that provide your recipients with content that discusses new concepts and helps expand their knowledge on a certain subject
  3. Reviews: Review useful sources that you assume or know your audience can benefit from
  4. Top Tips: Create a series of useful tips about your product or service

Pros

  • Timely. Digital communication is hands-down the timelier format for news, updates and announcements.
  • Cost-effective. The savings on printing and postage when compared to the print version are obvious.
  • Searchable and sharable. Because a digital newsletter represents a web document, it’s a searchable piece of content and can be optimized. Although search engines can read PDF documents, it would be even more effective if an HTML page were created, increasing its ‘crawlability’ and ‘shareability.’ (At a minimum, fill in the Document Properties found by right-clicking the PDF.)
  • Cross linking. Linking to other relevant internal pages as well as related informational sites or articles of interest enrich the reader’s experience and regard for your company and its communications. Your digital archive also represents evergreen content, increasing the chance that it will drive online traffic and the possibility of gaining new subscribers.
  • Thought leadership. Think pieces and trend analysis delivered on a regular basis can position your company as an industry expert sharing its know-how (B2B) or establishing your brand as a trend setter (B2C).

Cons

  • Volatile communications environment. With the continual blurring of work and personal life, your digital newsletter hits the recipient’s inbox accompanied by a jumble of spam, other commercial email and inter-office exchanges. Even recipients who have opted-in to receiving your newsletter may likely delete it after a brief viewing.
  • Strain on resources. Depending on the quality and ambitions of your digital newsletter, outside costs of researching, writing and designing it may be comparable to a printed piece.
  • Mobile usability. New research finds improved usability metrics for subscribing to newsletters, but problems with reading them on mobile devices.
  • Budget and timeline. Because digital and traditional marketing techniques are merging, it’s increasingly difficult to manage and fund digital newsletters on their own. Getting budget approval to publish a quality digital newsletter may mean poaching another department’s budget or sharing internal resources, slowing down deliverables.

What the Experts Are Saying:

“Content is a key component of email marketing for lead nurturing and providing prospects with information about products, services and news about the company and industry. At the same time, email marketing is an essential part of content marketing in getting that content in front of prospects and customers.” Chris Baggott, Chairman and co-founder, Compendium, MarketingSherpa

“We’ve moved from personalization to individualization. It used to be enough to simply add ‘Dear Joe’ in the body of an email. Now, marketers need to change the message and the offer based on the customer’s needs, brand awareness and email interactions.” Sheryl Pattek, VP-principal analyst, Forrester Research.

Vertical Response

Award Winning Digital Newsletter

Who better than an application service provider to win for Best Email Online Newsletter Campaign judged by the Web Marketing Association? In June 2011, this self-service email solutions provider completely revamped their VR Buzz newsletter strategy.

Getting it Right

  • Invested in a completely redesigned newsletter to reflect their new branding
  • Created compelling content and visual design, ensuring consistency across all channels
  • Produced multiple versions based on where the subscriber was in the marketing life cycle

This effort resulted in a substantial increase in engagement, with open rates in the 40 to 45 percent range and click-through rates in the 3 to 10 percent range.

Dominion Credit Union

Engaging Customers with Digital Newsletter

Winning the award for Electronic Marketing from the Marketing Association of Credit Unions and an award of merit from CUES Golden Mirror Awards™ who honor imaginative marketing efforts from around the credit union world, it just goes to show that generating buzz can come in small packages. This is a true digital newsletter created in PDF format for members to revisit on the website at their convenience.

Getting it Right

  • Newsletter archive link hosted on their website home page, which helps with SEO
  • Included relevant news to its member, featuring their new mobile solutions in the headline
  • Educated members about current market interest rates
  • Featured tips on how to save money during the upcoming holiday season

Digital Newsletters serve an incredibly useful function as a content marketing tactic. Reader segmentation helps newsletter editorial align with the specific interests of subscribers, creating a win, win content marketing experience for brands and readers alike. Whether reader lists are fed by brand social communities and networks or other company online marketing, digital newsletters help instill confidence and trust that guides prospects along the sales cycle from consideration to purchase and beyond through retention and advocacy.

If you liked this post, be sure to read about our full list of content marketing tactics.

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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NYC Sanitation, Scotch Tape & More: 10 Companies With Unexpectedly Good Twitter Content

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Back when I was in business school, just a wee lass interning for a consulting firm, one of my first assignments was to deliver a presentation on the value of social media. I had to prove why something like Twitter was actually of any use in this industry, and explain how we would leverage it to promote our company.

At the time, it was a bit of a tall order. And my presentation was met with a lot of the questions and objections:

  • “My line of work is too boring.”
  • “I don’t have anything meaningful to contribute.”
  • “The people we want to reach aren’t on Twitter.”

Since then, businesses have certainly warmed up to the platform — and some of them have managed to establish a really impressive presence. But there are still a lot of small- to mid-size companies that continue to question the platform’s fit for their businesses.

Some continue to automatically push content to Twitter directly from Facebook — a big no-no in social media automation — while others start an account, only to abandon it a few weeks later.

For those folks, I’ve put together a list of 10 brands that are tweeting out thoughtful insights on some of the most unexpected topics, from bricks to car mats. Despite the unusual products and services they’ve been tasked with marketing, they are finding unique ways to use the platform … and you should take note. (And to learn more about how to succeed on Twitter, download our introductory guide to Twitter for business.)

10 Unexpected Companies to Follow for Twitter Inspiration

1) NYC Sanitation

They say that New York is the place to get the best of everything, and the city’s Department of Sanitation is no exception.

The word “sanitation” doesn’t exactly paint the prettiest mental picture, but the department uses creative images to take away some of the ickier connotations associated with it. For example, check out this graphic they put together to promote their food waste reduction initiative:

We’d consider this a strong post for a few reasons. For one, tweets with images tend to receive 150% more retweets than those without. Not to mention, the image communicates information in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the user with details — an important factor to consider when creating content for users who might be quickly skimming through their feeds.

NYC Sanitation is also careful not to come off as too authoritative on Twitter, which can be tricky for a local government office. It’s able to establish itself as a source of information, rather than a domineering force, and uses the platform for its own version of customer service.

Check out this exchange with a local resident seeking advice on how to store her compostable scraps before collection day:

What also strikes us about NYC Sanitation is its ability to illustrate its widespread presence in the community. The department uses Twitter to join existing conversations about something everyone is talking about — without coming off as patronizing or cliché. For example, take this screen capture of a Pokémon Go creature next to a collection bin:

It shows that there are simple ways for any brand — even one that’s known for trash pickup — to participate in a larger dialogue.

Takeaways for marketers:

  • Use images to share key information in a readable format (so people don’t skim past it).
  • Don’t be afraid to use Twitter for customer service — your followers expect it.
  • Think about how your business relates to something everyone is talking about, then join the conversation.

2) Pine Street Inn

I’ve always had tremendous respect for the number of marketing challenges faced by nonprofits, but with the right efforts, these issues can be overcome. Pine Street Inn, a Boston-based shelter and provider of services to the city’s homeless population, has commanded a Twitter presence with some great takeaways for NPO marketers.

To start, we can’t help but notice how infrequently Pine Street Inn tweets about donation requests. Instead, the organization chooses to indirectly encourage volunteerism or material contributions by giving serious props to corporations and individuals who help out:

It also uses Twitter as a place to share success stories of its past residents or clients. Updates like that show the impact of fundraising, so that followers know exactly how donation dollars are put to use:

By populating Twitter with this kind of diverse content, followers aren’t as likely to tune out tweets that do pertain to donations. That’s a principle applicable to for-profit businesses, too: When you avoid saturating Twitter with sales pitches, your audience is less likely to ignore them (or unfollow you).

Plus, remember the love Pine Street Inn tweets for its volunteers? According to Nonprofit Tech for Good, those folks make double the fiscal donations as non-volunteers.

Takeaways for marketers:

  • Don’t bombard followers with requests for donations, sign-ups, or sales.
  • Use images and stories to show how much you value your customers’ business and support, and how it’s making an impact.
  • Give props to your customers, followers, or volunteers — they’ll notice, and often reciprocate.

3) WeatherTech

WeatherTech, a maker of weather-proof car mats, is using Twitter to show how nifty (and definitely multi-purpose) automotive accessories can be.

For those of us who are more accident-prone than others — myself included — it might not always be so obvious how helpful a floormat can be after something as routine as grocery shopping. But using tweets like this one, WeatherTech is able to say, “Hey, you! Yeah, the one who spills things in the car. It happens. We’re here to help.”

WeatherTech also does a good job of working seasonality into its tweets. When something is deemed “seasonal or limited,” writes Mark Macdonald, people are inspired to get it while they can. For that reason, it’s generally a best practice to align your tweets with the time of year. WeatherTech follows that concept with photos to show how its custom-fit car mats come in handy during the summer, when road trips — as well as the sand and food that come with them — reign supreme:

Another tactic that WeatherTech isn’t afraid to use? Tweeting with cute animals. (Yes, we’re serious.) When a brand is able to connect a bland subject with something adorable, people typically pay attention. (Think: The Budweiser puppy or Heinz’s stampede of wiener dogs.) WeatherTech combines this idea with the seasonality of its tweets in posts like this one:

And this one:

Takeaways for marketers:

  • Show the different (counter-intuitive) ways your products can be used.
  • Keep tweets seasonal: how are your products are used during a specific time of year?
  • Use cute animals — even better if they’re interacting with your products.

4) Scotch

When was the last time you identified an office supply as “cellophane tape”? Over the years, Scotch Tape has become one of those brand names people use for generic terms — just like Chapstick or Kleenex. But despite the fact that it’s a household name, there are two factors to consider here:

  1. Tape isn’t typically a lengthy conversation topic.
  2. The brand makes more than just tape.

Scotch has used Twitter to address both items. For example, this tweet visually represents how Scotch products can be applied in many scenarios, like moving:

What makes this tweet effective is how it includes multiple pieces of information in a small, digestible format. With one post, Scotch has accomplished three-in-one communication: The practicality of its products, a link to its website, and a positive customer review.

Scotch also plays into people’s love for visual statistics by incorporating visual content — like this micro-infographic — into their publishing mix:

Here, Scotch is not only catering to the fact that readers tend to pay closer attention to information-carrying images than they do to plain text on a page, but this post also ties in a relatable element: Honestly, who doesn’t have Scotch Tape in their junk drawer? And tweets that are relatable have been shown to get more engagement.

Let’s do a deeper dive into some of these images, as well as how Scotch curates them to promote its brand. Take a closer look at the colors used in the previous and following image. Do they remind you of anything?

If you answered, “The Scotch logo,” you get an A+. Scotch has achieved consistency by incorporating the color palette associated with its brand into what it shares on social media. And since 80% of consumers say that color boosts their recognition of a brand, these images keep the brand recognizable, even when depicting something other than Scotch’s chief product offering.

Takeaways for marketers:

  • Again, use images to communicate information, like statistics. If you can include multiple pieces of information in one image without crowding it with text, even better.
  • Make your tweets relatable.
  • Maintain brand consistency in the images you tweet (e.g., by making the dominant colors the same as those in your logo).

5) TigerChef

It’s no secret that B2B marketers can borrow techniques from their B2C peers. TigerChef, a restaurant supplier, follows that advice by taking advantage of what it has in common with the general public: An obsession with food.

For example, food trucks have been an infatuation-du-jour for a few years now. TigerChef recognizes that growth and uses it to create blog content. Then, it uses Twitter to direct visitors there, like in this tweet:

Check out the language used above: It’s geared toward a target audience. TigerChef makes products primarily for chefs and restaurant owners, both seasoned and aspiring. With this tweet, the brand is able to attract two types of culinary professionals: Pros who have been buying these supplies for a while and want to explore the food truck market, and industry newcomers who are starting out there.

Here’s another key lesson from the B2C camp: Twitter can be used for customer service by B2B brands, too. When this French bakery received a defective product, TigerChef was able to respond more quickly via Twitter and send a free replacement, publicly ending its interaction with the customer on a positive note.

Takeaways for marketers:

  • If you’re B2B, don’t be afraid to borrow some Twitter best practices from B2C brands. Take something people are obsessed with — like food — and make it relevant to your brand and target audience.

6) Northcot Bricks

In the English language, there are a few human qualities ascribed to a pile of bricks. “Sexy” is not one of them. But at the same time, bricks surround most of us for the majority of the day. That’s something we tend to take for granted.

Northcot, a 90-year-old British brickmaker, uses Twitter to bring that to our attention. (See? You’re never too old to tweet.) The following tweet succeeds in highlighting the beautiful architecture that was achieved using a commonly overlooked product: bricks.

This serves as a good takeaway for businesses who aren’t sure where to begin with Twitter. If you don’t know what to say, think about the ways people interact with your product daily, and might not even realize it.

Northcot has also figured out how to share the social love. Here, the brand tweets its congratulations to an architecture firm:

How does that benefit Northcot? It draws attention to the fact that its bricks were used to create an award-winning design project.

Twitter can be a valuable relationship-building tool in that way, by nurturing and drawing attention to connections with brands that can potentially use and promote a business.

Retweeting other brands can achieve something similar. This retweet shows how other brands and people engage with Northcot. Plus, it shows that the brand isn’t afraid to have fun; it’s a reminder that brickmaking largely consists of playing with clay. And who doesn’t want to do that on a Wednesday afternoon?

Just be sure not to retweet every tweet that mentions your brand. At that point, it starts to look like you’re showing off.

Takeaways for marketers:

  • Even if you think your products are boring, think about how people come across them on a daily basis. Tweet out photos to remind your audience of that.
  • Shout out to other brands on Twitter, especially if they used your product to create something notable.
  • Retweet other brands, especially if it depicts them interacting with yours.

7) John Deere

Farming equipment never looked so cool. John Deere is one of those brands that has mastered Twitter in a way that makes people look at tractors differently.

For example, here’s a great example of how a branded hashtag can create long-term engagement, when done well. For over three years, users have been uploading images labeled with #DeereSighting (a branded play on words) to show how they interact with John Deere’s products:

Here’s what’s neat about branded hashtags. First, tweets with hashtags get twice the engagement as those without. Let’s say someone has followed John Deere for a while, but hasn’t thought to mention it on social media. Just by clicking #DeereSighting, that person sees how others show their love for John Deere in a fun way.

And remember that image lesson from Scotch — the one that says color boosts brand recognition for a vast majority of consumers? Notice that this picture doesn’t even contain a picture of an actual tractor. It’s a lovely, floral tribute to mothers, but it still carries the identifiable green and yellow colors associated with the iconic John Deere logo:

We also noticed that John Deere’s isn’t using Twitter to stray from the farm, so to speak. Rather, it’s paying tribute to what the business is known best for — tractors — and highlighting that legacy in unexpected ways.

In this tweet, the brand is acknowledging the important role that young engineers will play in the company’s future. Tweets like these send a message that says, “We’re adapting to change, but we’re still the reliable brand you’ve always known.”

Takeaways for marketers:

  • Create a branded hashtag that encourages your followers to start a conversation about your products.
  • If your business is a bit older, use Twitter to let followers know that you’re adaptable to change, but can still preserve your brand’s legacy.

8) Niagara Conservation

Remember that earlier statistic on hashtags, and how much they can boost engagement? Niagara Conservation, a maker of water-saving toilets, shows that those numbers don’t lie. I personally discovered the brand when someone I follow on Twitter used its very eye-catching hashtag: #WhatTheFlush.

Using the toilet is one of those things that we’re taught not to discuss openly, let alone announce on social media. But in an era where 40% of young adults say they use social media when nature calls, Niagara Conservation has leveraged Twitter in a way that gets people to broadcast their business, along with its environmental and financial implications.

Niagara Conservation achieves a really interesting balance with its tweets. The topics are usually crucial, like natural resource depletion. But the brand is able to effectively use humor to make these subjects more approachable, and even resonate with followers more than they might have otherwise. The drought is a serious problem. Water wastage is a serious problem. And this cat on a toilet isn’t messing around:

Another way Niagara Conservation creates a mass appeal is by addressing something everyone wants to do: Save money. (Just look how many articles come up for a search on “how to save money on Twitter.”) That’s another great use for Twitter: To highlight the benefits of your products — like how they can help your budget — in a condensed, digestible format.

Niagara is able to achieve that with the example below. It also avoids a doom-and-gloom approach to the primary intention of its product — to solve a global water shortage — and instead uses a cartoon to illustrate how this special toilet is financially beneficial.

And by the way, that dancing taco isn’t messing around, either.

Takeaways for marketers:

  • Highlight the benefits of your product that most people seek when researching brands, like how it will save them money.
  • Inject humor into certain topics to make them more approachable. (Note: Tread lightly, as to avoid coming off as insensitive or offensive.)

9) Roland Berger

Management consulting is one of those lines of work that, when talked about, can quickly cure insomnia. It’s also overrun with stereotypes (I’ll never forget this 1998 Dilbert cartoon that breaks down the word “consult” as a combination of “con” and “insult”).

But Roland Berger, a Munich-based management consulting firm, is using Twitter to reshape the perception of its industry. It uses the platform to answer some of the most common questions about management consulting, like “Why?” — namely, why talented people choose this line of work. And by accompanying their answers with rich colors and visuals — which are said to increase a person’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80% — the firm invites users to engage with them:

At risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s worth pointing out the color scheme. The use of blue in these images fits into the brand consistency we keep mentioning, complementing the brand’s logo and creating a sense of cohesiveness throughout its Twitter presence. But there’s a lot of psychology behind color, too. Roland Berger mostly uses blue, which is known to invoke brand trust.

There’s also a clear call-to-action in the tweet below: “Explore our new website.” Using actionable language in Tweets has been known to boost engagement, especially when used with a bold, attention-grabbing image. The word “download,” for example, is particularly effective: when used correctly, it’s shown an 11% increase in clicks.

Takeaways for marketers:

  • Create myth-busting content about your line of business, then tweet it out with rich colors and visuals.
  • Understand the psychology of color, and design your Twitter visuals accordingly.
  • Include a clear call-to-action in your tweets.

10) Poo~Pourri

Yes, another toilet-themed brand. I know.

From the beginning, Poo~Pourri has managed to un-taboo poo, especially for its target female audience. That makes its presence on this particular platform imperative, as 21% of online women use Twitter.

Since joining Twitter in 2009, Poo~Pourri has achieved a type of brand authenticity that is unapologetically honest and, for its 14,300+ followers, relatable. Just look at this exchange with one follower:

While, the customer above didn’t actually request a product replacement, and the incident described wasn’t the brand’s fault, that didn’t stop Poo~Pourri from going above and beyond to make that customer happy.

Most of Poo~Pourri’s responses to followers are tailored to their recipients in this way. And while many of them are inherently hilarious, they’re also really smart: People who have a personalized customer service experience on Twitter are 83% more likely to be satisfied.

Imagine if Poo~Pourri’s service was limited to phone or email? It’s highly unlikely that the customer would have shared this story through either of those methods, and the brand wouldn’t have been aware of it. So here’s a stellar example of a golden social media rule: An active and involved Twitter presence creates a huge opportunity for brands to delight customers.

Takeaways for marketers:

  • Know your audience, and don’t be afraid to start a conversation about something they might be too shy to bring up.
  • Even if it’s not your fault, use Twitter to improve a customer’s less-than-positive experience with your products.
  • Personalize your Twitter interactions with customers.

What are your favorite brands on Twitter? Share with us in the comments.

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HubSpot Marketing Blog

A Simple Guide to Navigating Trending Content

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The cultural landscape of the modern world is constantly changing. Internet celebrities are created in as little as six seconds. Viral videos can be viewed in every continent across the world in a matter of hours. There’s a lot going on.

As a result, there are also a lot of opportunities for brands to join the conversation — that is, if they can keep up. With things moving at such a fast pace, trends can disappear before we even have time to craft a meaningful message in response to them.

But what technology takes away in terms of time to prepare, it makes up for in ways to monitor and follow these (sometimes global) conversations. In fact, there are a ton of awesome tools and tricks of the trade out there that are designed to help brands make the most out of popular content and trends.

That’s why we put together the following guide on trending content: to help all of you figure out a plan for not only discovering and planning for trends and events, but also finding ways to connect your brand’s story to them in an interesting and relevant way.

A Simple Guide to Navigating Trending Content

Discovering Trending Content

1) BuzzSumo

Price: Free version available. Paid packages are broken down into three categories: Pro ($ 99/month), Agency ($ 299/month), and Enterprise ($ 999/month).

With the help of BuzzSumo’s “Most Shared” function, users can easily identify what content has worked well in the past. What’s more, the “Trending Now” function can display the most popular content being read across the internet within the last two hours.

The “Most Shared” function is perfect for mining ideas for your next content campaign, while the “Trending Now” function is ideal for tapping into articles and conversations that people have responded to in real time.

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2) Content Explorer by Ahrefs

Price: Free trial available. Paid packages are broken down into three categories: Lite ($ 99/month), Standard ($ 179/month), and Advanced ($ 399/month).

This is another great tool for finding the best performing content in a desired niche. Simply input your keyword — for example, let’s use “content marketing” — and filter down the timeframe you’d like to see results from. That’s it.

The tool simply lists the top pieces of content from the past month based on social shares. (Zazzle Media’s very own Simon Penson is actually featured in the number three spot … so it’s obviously a smart tool.)

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3) Google Trends

Price: Free.

Google Trends is a great resource for surfacing some of the biggest daily headlines, as well as stories on the rise.

It’s easy to use and, as a Google tool, is informed by more data than you can shake a stick at.

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Analysing a portion of Google searches, it examines the number of searches carried out for certain terms, against the total searches done on Google over the same time.

It then ranks the most popular stories trending in order of popularity. From there, simply click on the story to find more information on why it’s trending and where.

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4) EpicBeat

Price: Free version available. Paid packages are broken down into two categories: EpicBeat Plus ($ 39/month // $ 268/year) and EpicSuite ($ 249/month).

EpicBeat is a helpful tool designed to simplify trending content research. You can search for content by topic or website, or explore curated topics.

With each search, you’ll gain access to social sharing counts, as well as some insights behind these shares — for example, EpicBeat provides a list of people that have shared a specific piece of content in the last seven days. This information can be used to inform the audience you should be focusing on, while also providing a selection of influencers for you to seed your finished content out to.

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5) Reddit

Price: Free.

Commonly referred to as “the front page of the internet,” Reddit should be one of the first destinations you visit to find out exactly what people are buzzing out during the day.

From news and videos, to funny stories and conspiracy theories, the content on Reddit often reflects the things that people across the world are finding interesting … in real time.

To uncover some potentially undiscovered viral content, check out the “rising” tab. This will help you jump on trends early, so you can beat all your competitors to the chase.

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Creating a Calendar of Upcoming Events

Some events are always going to be massive. From the Oscars to the Olympics, the calendar is filled with world-famous events that will be latched onto by brands.

That’s why it’s so important to create a definitive calendar of upcoming events. With a calendar in place, you’ll be more prepared to create marketing campaigns in response to the events that align with your brand and your audience’s interests.

Twitters U.K.’s #OwnTheMoment Planner is a great starting point for this. The planner provides a calendar that comes fully equipped with cultural events to keep an eye on. (Think: Father’s Day, Summer Solstice, and Wimbledon.) The goal is to give you a sneak peak into the moments that Twitter believes will get people talking over social media.

(Note: Because this tool was created by folks from Twitter’s U.K. and Ireland team, many of the events are specific to that region.)

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Of course, this really is just a starting point, putting together an events calendar personalised with key events relevant to your industry and audience is the best way to get the most out of this exercise.

Working Popular Trends and Events Into Your PR Strategy

Now that we have our tools and a well-stocked calendar of events, it’s time to find out how these can help us with our PR campaigns.

Let’s walk through some of the most important things to consider when executing a trend-driven PR campaign.

General Opportunity

You’ve identified a trend that you may be able to leverage. That’s great. But before you shoot off to pitch the idea to your team or client, there are two questions to ask to ensure that you’re making the right move:

Is this trend worthwhile?

Have people just started talking about this? Or is the trend coming to the end of its shelf life? Using Google Trends, we can see exactly when the trend started, as well as the peak period of popularity for the story. Ideally we’re looking for a recurring trend that people are going to be actively searching for over and over.

Is there demand for content surrounding this trend?

Is there room for a new piece of content to add something to the story? Or has the market become saturated about the trend? Using Content Explorer, we can find the best performing pieces of content for this trend, as well as the sheer amount of content concerning the topic.

If there is opportunity to build on content for this trend, it’s time to see how we can create something better than everything else out there.

Inspiration and Direction

Researching successful campaigns from past years is always a great place to start when brainstorming new content ideas. There is no point in recreating something done in the past, however, building on an idea to make it stronger is definitely a way forward.

This is where BuzzSumo comes into its own. Simply find the best performing pieces of content created for the same (or similar) trend in the past, and use this as a platform to develop bigger and better ideas.

So now that we have our idea for a perfect piece of trending content, it’s time to find out who will be interested in sharing it.

Placement and Distribution Ideas

Another three questions for you to think about when planning to distribute your content:

  • Which outlets have written about this before?
  • Are there any specific journalists that typically cover events like this?
  • Is there anything we can give these outlets and journalists to ensure they get involved with our campaign?

To start answering these questions, look at the authorship of previous articles relating to the trend you’re working on and reach out to see if they’re still interested in this topic. Epicbeat’s influencer finder is also a great tool for identifying the key players interested in a particular trend or topic.

If the pitch is concerning a forthcoming event, remember to give them plenty of time before the date. This will make it easier for them to think about what they might need, and give you enough time to get this information to them.

As with any discussion of this type, referencing and taking an interest in an article a journalist has written before is the best way to show how invested you are in working with them. This could be the difference between a feature article online and being left on the cutting room floor.

Need Inspiration? Check Out These Examples

AO Christmas Dinner Project

The holiday season provides marketers with a great opportunity to hop on a popular trend and ride the wave. This guide to Christmas dinner from AO is a great example of how a brand can tap into a trending conversation, while providing people with unique value.

  • The Idea: To create a definitive interactive guide for preparing Christmas dinner.
  • The Goal: To increase brand awareness for AO.com and drive traffic to the guide.
  • The Result: Multiple pieces of coverage gained on both DailyMail.com and The Huffington Post, as well as an additional 20+ links to the portal and its contents.

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American Greeting’s #WorldsToughestJob

This Mother’s Day-themed campaign from American Greetings is another great example of how to leverage a trending holiday to create a really compelling piece of content.

  • The Idea: To create an emotional piece of content that reminds viewers just how hard it is to be a mom.
  • The Goal: To encourage viewers to show their moms some appreciation by creating a Mother’s Day card with American Greeting’s Cardstore.
  • The Result: Coverage on top sites such as Forbes, Adweek, and more.

Have I missed anything? Do you have any other tips for tracking down trending content? Let me know in the comments below.

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