21st century marketing involves a lot of content. Great content is what gets your business noticed and talked about. But unfortunately, not all business owners are writers. There’s the option of hiring a writer, but a lot of small businesses don’t have the budget for a decent writer. Conversely, most business owners don’t have the time or patience to plow through the content development process themselves. If they do, it’s almost statistical that after a few efforts they give up simply because it’s something they struggle with. The alternative, and a popular one at that, is to curate content off of other channels. Some of the top apps to do this (in addition to the ones I discussed last week) include Storify, Pinterest and Tumblr. Creating Stories Using Social Media Developed in mind as an alternative mode of journalism, Storify lets you turn curated content into stories. Transform tweets, photos and blog content from various networks into creative content plugs. Storify has a really easy-to-use platform that lets you sync social media together. Once logged in, start by choosing a topic. Storify browses various outlets to offer you the best of what’s out there on your topic. Use the field results to weave together a story that’s practically been served to you on a digital platter. Best for: Businesses looking to create stories or offer news-worthy content. If you’re not in the business of original content creation, you can still use Storify to share relevant info/photos of industry-related happenings. Capture Audience Imagination with Pinterest Pinterest is a feast for your eyes, and first captured mine on Facebook where hoards of users were using it to share favorite images. It’s a virtual mood or interest board where you can share your favorite finds. It’s super easy to use, allowing you to collect and “pin” favorite finds as you browse the net. You can have individually labeled boards based on your various interests. The platform works primarily because a picture is a quick way to communicate an idea. It appeals to the imagination and it takes seconds to consume, as opposed to text content. Best for: Visual/design oriented businesses like graphic designers, artists, interior designers, fashion designers, e-commerce, etc. It’s best if you use it to showcase your own work but also include all your various interests and finds from other sources. Just like with blogging, no one wants to see just one narrow view, but rather an eclectic and inspired assortment of content that still stays true to a narrative or tone. Pair Blogging and Visuals with Tumblr Part blog, part mood board, Tumblr is a hot competitor to Pinterest. While Pinterest only really lets you plug visuals, Tumblr allows you to have an inspiration board but also plug in a humble blog via text along with quotes, links, chats, and audio/video content. As a bonus over Pinterest, Tumblr users can also use their own domain; since Pinterest isn’t a blogging platform, it doesn’t allow for the same personalization. Best for: Small businesses that target young adult consumers. The Good and the Bad of Curated Content Note that the downside of curating content is that you risk losing an authentic voice. Having a unique voice is essential to your branding and in making you stand out from the crowd. If you’re struggling to start, begin with curating content; after that, make an effort to mix curated content with your own original content. The benefit of pairing both original and curated content is that you show your audience you’re more than just about your own voice. You show you’re capable of original ideas but that you’re also in the know and willing to share great ideas from others.
Let’s face it, there’s a lot on your marketing plate and it all has to get done. Is the biggest workload portion usually heaped onto you? Then doubly so if you’re a single staffer business. Use the tips below to help you make the most of your marketing hours: 1. Manage Incoming Information – Part of your job is keeping abreast on news, new trends and industry information. You use Facebook, Twitter, newsletters and blogs…and you could easily spend all day gathering information. Dragging incoming information throughout the day does two things. One, it keeps you from being able to filter junk info from valuable info; and secondly, it wastes a lot of time. Manage your information gathering with one scheduled hour a day, either at the beginning or at the end of the day. Make use of Google alerts, Twitter lists, curated content sites, Tweetdeck…anything that can streamline information for you. 2. Understand How Your Mind Works – Everyone works differently. Know what works for you and what doesn’t. If creating a daily list is your thing, then keep doing it even if everyone else has moved on to apps and iPads. Some of us are still old school and the older ways of doing things are what keep us productive and moving forward. Case in point, every time I go to social media seminars, I see most people there toting ipads and laptops. At first I thought I was a caveman for not having mine – but then I noticed that pretty much everyone is using tech to web browse. No one has ever used it to interact with the seminar or take notes. Remember, just because everyone’s using something or looking “techie” doesn’t mean it’s helping them keep up with what’s going on. 3. Say No More – Marketing is a business for some people, and as such they want you involved, attending, participating. Other colleagues of yours will want you to attend their events, and expect you to show your support. Same with any networking groups you’re in. In a nutshell, the more social you are, the more you’re expected to “be supportive” or “get involved,” which at times can be a valuable opportunity for you to network - but it can easily suck your time away. Get used to saying no…a lot. Tell people you’ll have to check your schedule before committing to any engagement and then actually do it. 4. Distract Yourself – You’re not a work mule or suffering indentured servitude. You’re doing what you love and it should stay that way. So make sure you’re taking breaks, getting outdoors and doing what it takes to keep creative. Take a lunch break to a favorite eatery or a walk down a fun local area. You’ll be a lot more productive if you don’t treat your job like it’s slave labor you’re subjected to from 9 to 5 (or 7 to 9 if you work for yourself). If you’re an independent business owner, this rule applies to you more so than anyone else! 5. Use the Right Tools – There are plenty of formidable platforms and programs that will help you get the job done faster. This becomes a bit of a trial and error process. You’ll try out one or two programs and see whether it meets your needs, perhaps try a couple more, before you finally choose one that works for you. If you have employees, keep in mind that what works for one employee won’t work for another, so give them a little breathing room to choose the right one for them. Regardless of what you settle upon as your personal choice, you should be using some type of time management software.
Market research and analysis these days is mostly conducted off the web. The internet is more efficient, more cost effective and more readily updated. Whether you’re a novice or a pro in internet research data and analysis, chances are you’re going to suffer from information overload in different ways. Beginners struggle with too much data; they don’t know where to start and how to filter “junk” info from relevant data. Pros struggle with too much worthwhile data, which leads to new problems with organizing, prioritizing and accessing that data. Free to use, Pearltrees comes along and offers a solution for just these problems. Though it was perhaps not designed for marketing research and analysis, it is perhaps a perfect tool that might as well have been designed for just that. It lets you share just about anything you find on the web, organize it in place, access it from anywhere, use a simple interface for quick access and use the already sourced data from more than 200K Pearltrees users. The platform also makes it easy to collaborate on team projects, especially market research projects. Because Pearltrees is designed for the individual user to first set up his own network and data structure, and then for multiple users to share that data together, it becomes a great tool to share information and bounce ideas off each other. For example, user “Vasilis” has a tree called “Marketing Research Companies,” and each “pearl” on the tree is a part of the overall subject. (Note: make sure you opt out of the iPad app download to be directed to the page). Whether Vasilis is on your team, in your company or not, he’s already done a lot of the work. You can save time by using the information he’s already sourced, build on it and share it with others. Imagine if your tree was networked with more “pearls,” you could guide other team members to it and allow them to access your data. Curated.by works differently but has the same benefit to the research-oriented user. The site lets you “collect and organize topics based on content (including media, links, tweets) into bundles.” Each bundled is defined by a keyword, like \"marketing\" or \"social media.\" The site is as personalized (work alone or with a team) and as broad (either way, see what other people are sourcing) as you’d like it to be. A standard curated.by user homepage gives you a good idea of how the website functions. You can source topics by either searching for bundles, see a newsfeed of what like-minded people are stumbling across, and you can browse through popular topics based on your interests. Some people are saying Curated.by is a lot like Delicious, but Delicious is a sunken ship, albeit one of the pioneers of content curating. Still, it wasn’t adaptive nor did it evolve in the way that curated.by has to offer its growing user group a way to engage with both content and users. Content curation is the new trend in web and information analysis, and especially content marketing. Just like any other platform, its use can be tailored intelligently to meet your marketing needs. And just like any other good idea that pops up in the digital sphere, you can be sure that plenty of copycats pop up in its trail – some good, some useless. Our journey in exploring content curation and its possible applications for your marketing goals is just about midway through. Stay tuned in the weeks ahead for a spotlight on the brightest stars in content curation and how you can use them to give your business a competitive edge in the upcoming new year.
Curated content has been all the rage. I’ve talked about Paper.li and Tweeted Times, both of which focus on Twitter-based content, and new developments in social media that let you use Twitter to source and publish stories – and don’t forget about creating storyboards with curated visual cues. The problem with Paper.li and Tweeted Times is that they focus on Twitter content – and storyboards don’t work for everyone. Why Content Matters The key is still content: Original compelling content that showcases your business voice. Content that reinforces your brand and seduces your reader with your capability and expertise. Original content gets you seen and it’s one of the leading factors in really developing your brand’s authenticity. But with social media getting so aggressive and businesses doing more and more to get their name out there within a social community, the next step is taking your published content to a more sophisticated platform. Scoop.it steps in to offer a viable solution, offering business owners the chance to become publishers, brand their topic and track performance. Scoop.it just might be the answer for anyone looking to really get their content out there straight from their website. Why Scoop.it Works Still in a beta stage, the idea behind Scoop.it is pretty simple. You choose web-based content and edit as needed. If you’re looking to promote your own content, then clearly start with content off of your own blog or website or other social media sources. Personalize your paper with your domain name and logo. Beyond content curation, you can schedule posts and share content back onto social media sites. As a major bonus, you can also curate as a team, which is an attractive feature if you’re working with a larger department or want multiple team members on this project. Once you publish, you also get coveted visibility, traffic and SEO – which the competition listed here just doesn’t offer. Scoop.it also has a metrics system that lets you track your progress. Use Google Analytics, measure “traffic trends, post performance, audience engagement” and improve your topics based on indicators and performance tracking. You should be using these features to go beyond just having a publication out there. Use the metrics system to see what’s working and what’s not, and then go back and tweak your blog and website content to mirror results and trends. There are two things I love about Scoop.it. First, it’s the only program of it’s kind that really gets you an authentic magazine layout that screams “read me!” Second, Scoop.it offers a 15 day free trial so you can really check it out for yourself. I’d run one or two sample campaigns in that time period and see what your comfort level is and what type of feedback you’re getting from your peers and clients. Where to Start For the super small business owner with the classic no budget problem, Scoop.it offers a free account that gets you the nitty gritty but only offers limited editing and no analytics, scheduling or team curation. A business account, on the other hand, goes for $79/month and offers everything mentioned here. Whether you’re a small or mid-large business, I recommend starting small and seeing whether Scoop.it works to your benefit. Keep in mind that Scoop.it won’t really be an asset in branding and content promotion if your content is lacking to begin with. If that’s the case for your business, then start with beefing up your content first. Create an editorial calendar and use curated content platforms like Curated.by and Pearltrees to see what the leading conversations are. Once you’ve done that you’ll be in a better position to brand your own work through Scoop.it.