Subtle Selling: The New Art of Content Marketing
By Jorie Henrickson
Just last month, 100% of advertisers for American Eagle, General Mills and other major players surveyed by Outbrain reported using content marketing in their overall campaign strategies.
What is content marketing?
Basically it’s online content that’s more useful or entertaining than salesy. It’s rich with photos, reviews and other media that your target audience seeks out on its own. Especially when combined with social media, it can significantly expand brand awareness and help drive sales both online and offline.
Get an excellent ROI.
Content marketing in the hands of experts provides a high return on investment. Unlike traditional means of promotion – radio spots, TV commercials and newspaper ads – it isn’t the ephemeral mentioning of a weekend sale or highlighted product. Many investments made in content marketing have the potential to last indefinitely on the Internet. YouTube videos and product review blogs are just two examples of content marketing that endures. Good Content can bring so many things.
Examples of Content Marketing
Content marketing involves creating (or simply passing along) informative or entertaining material that appeals to your product’s target audience. This material might be a blog post, an online game, a video or a free download. Here are some examples.
Here at Vab Media we write a lot of blogs for content marketing. For example, imagine that a client wants to populate an online dating website in San Francisco. Our marketing strategy might include posting blogs with titles like:
- The Best Singles Bars in San Francisco
- How to Write a Dating Profile
- The Many Dates of Jerry Seinfeld
These blogs would be optimized to rank prominently in Google, Bing and other search engines without the need to pay for keywords. People seeking “singles bars in San Francisco” would naturally stumble upon the client’s blogs and online dating service. Exponential growth in brand awareness could come with the integration of Facebook “Like” buttons and other social media.
As the graphic below illustrates,blogging combined with social networking can help maintain your current following and attract new traffic.
Vlogs or Video Blogs
Content marketing also takes the form of video blogs. In the dating website example, a video blogger might:
- Provide relationship advice
- Share an amusing dating disaster
- Show how to prepare a romantic dinner
- Review dating websites
For a great example of effective humor in this genre, see Jenna Marbles on YouTube. Her video How to Avoid Talking to People You Don’t Want to Talk To has garnered more than 21 million hits:
Professionals with a more formal style are also using Internet video as cost-effective advertising. Ideally they post a combination of video and text to help with search engine optimization and appeal to different visitors’ preferences. For example, Vab Media worked with Reverend Gail Swain to advertise her Monterey Bay wedding services with video and a written statement of her philosophy:
Another example of using mixed media in content marketing comes from HBO. They used video blogging to support the hit drama Big Love. Although blogging wasn’t mentioned during the episodes, Internet fans became engrossed in the character Margene Henrickson’s video blog and her written commentary.
Posting video blogs on a regular basis is an excellent way to attract and maintain a following. How can you get the most payback for your efforts? See this article for the latest tips about optimizing your video for YouTube and other search engines.
Infographics are the hottest form of content marketing for 2012.
What are infographics?
They’re basically traditional charts on steroids. They pack plenty of information into easy-to- understand pictures or charts. Ideally, infographics are engaging and are shared through social media.
Working with our dating website client, we might create an infographic like this one posted at Visual.Ly:
An unexpected company – Timberland – also created a dating infographic. As Timberland’s efforts show, with content marketing it’s possible to boost brand awareness without selling your products or services in the usual way.
Producing this infographic gave Timberland a reason to venture beyond its traditional territory and raise brand awareness in new settings. Posted in blogs about dating or the environment, the image can engage Internet users who aren’t actively searching for Timberland’s product (outdoor wear). Subtle selling, indeed.
It’s easy to make your own infographics. Check out Visual.Ly for useful tools and one of the Internet’s best infographics collections.
More Forms of Content Marketing
Content marketing takes many forms. At Vab Media we provide clients with blogs, vlogs, Twitter content, Facebook pages and content marketing media in additional formats. Bookmark us and check back for new tips about content marketing, SEO and web development.
Want to learn more about how Vab Media can help you?Request A Free SEO Audit Today Read More
Last week Google made some changes to your search results. If you have a gmail and Google + account, and are logged in at the time of performing a search, you will see personalized results. They are calling it Search Plus your World. We noticed this change last week, and this is really promoting your friends and professional Google + connections.
What is Search Plus Your World showing you?
The new “Personal Results” view that appears in your search results now personalizes the search result listings you get based on both your social connections and your own search behavior. In addition, content that’s been shared with you through your Google+ social network connections now also appears in results. According to Google “The social search algorithm and the personalized search algorithm are actually one algorithm now, and we are merging it in a way that is very pleasant and useful.” They are featuring Google + content as well as photos that have been shared on it. If you look at the image below of a search result for Vab Media, it shows the first result is our Google+ business page and then it shows links and images we have shared on the G+ plus network. This is a nice personal search feature.
Google profiles are featured more now
Another important algorithm change is how people with Google+ accounts are going to be featured more in Google search results. The search results themselves are devoting much larger emphasis to displaying material from a Google+ person or Google+ Business Page. The results individuals see are now catered toward people in their own social networks, quite similar to how Facebook’s algorithm works when you search for people on FB.
People & Pages Suggestions
The final algorithm roll out is Google’s suggestions for people and pages on Google+ to follow. These will appear on the right-hand side of your search results, when Google decides they are relevant. Perform a search for movies or music and you will see many suggestions. You might see well known or famous people who frequently discuss this topic on Google+ appearing on the right-hand side of the results page. Google is allowing you to be able follow them and connect with them on their Google+ social network.
Overall, we find the integration that allows for searching through private and public material interesting. We think many people will find some value in it. If you don’t want these personal and private search results you can search in google chrome incognito mode or log out of your google account to get just public search results.
This opens up a whole world of possibilities for entrepreneurs, bloggers, and business owners. Now, you can promote your services to your colleagues and friends. You’re in their circles, so now you just need to put your most popular links on Google + Social Network. Contact us for more marketing ideas and questions. Read the actual article from Google below.
“Google Search has always been about finding the best results for you. Sometimes that means results from the public web, but sometimes it means your personal content or things shared with you by people you care about. These wonderful people and this rich personal content is currently missing from your search experience. Search is still limited to a universe of webpages created publicly, mostly by people you’ve never met. Today, we’re changing that by bringing your world, rich with people and information, into search.
Search is pretty amazing at finding that one needle in a haystack of billions of webpages, images, videos, news and much more. But clearly, that isn’t enough. You should also be able to find your own stuff on the web, the people you know and things they’ve shared with you, as well as the people you don’t know but might want to… all from one search box.
We’re transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships. We began this transformation with Social Search, and today we’re taking another big step in this direction by introducing three new features:
- Personal Results, which enable you to find information just for you, such as Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page;
- Profiles in Search, both in autocomplete and results, which enable you to immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following; and,
- People and Pages, which help you find people profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest, and enable you to follow them with just a few clicks. Because behind most every query is a community.
Together, these features combine to create Search plus Your World. Search is simply better with your world in it, and we’re just getting started.” -Amit Singhal, Google
*A disclaimer from Vab Media: There’s been a lot of controversy in the web world and SEO community that the Giant, “Google” is promoting its own products in search results. Whether this is true or not is not for us to decide. We just want to let small business owners know about certain changes and how they can take advantage of Google’s Search Algorithms, even in the case that they may change in the future.Read More
Both Foursquare and Facebook allows users to check into their place. Create a Foursquare brand page for your business.
We recommend using both, but in this post, we’ll talk more about foursquare because it has a lot of cool features that not all businesses may know about.Why use both? Different perks for different customers- not all your customers will check in through Facebook, and foursquare users are accustomed to receiving the badges earned on Foursquare; Foursquare embraces the gamification of social media.
What are badges?
Foursquare gives out special badges depending on the type of check-in:
If you check into a movie theatre, you get the popcorn badge, If you check into somewhere for the first time you get the newbie badge. If someone checks into a business many times, they can eventually get the mayor badge.
If a person becomes a mayor, business owners should respond to that appropriately. Not only is that person a loyal customer, but they are publicizing they are at your location. So if you aren’t taking advantage of that free publicity, you should. In order to take advantage of this free publicity, you should set up a campaign that gives your customers special treatment for checking into your place often, for the first time, when they bring a friend or two.
Whether your customer checks in with Facebook places or Foursquare, either one allows users share their status update to Facebook, but only Foursquare allows users to share their status update to twitter and facebook. If they have their twitter account connected to Linkedin, their Linkedin contacts will also see their location. Either way, each one has its advantages, but setting up both could help you grab a higher percentage of market share.
Foursquare, however, has a few more things that would give you even more visibility. Here’s a little more about how you can use foursquare to invite repeat customers:
In addition to offering a special deal to clients that check in to your location for the first time, you may also write a tip, that will allow customers that check in to a nearby location to see your “tip.” This tip could go like this, “Since you are at….(nearby location)….Check out (your Location).” You should especially do this if you know there is a nearby location that gets more foot traffic than you normally do.
Likewise, share the love and place tips about businesses around town. It will not only show that your business is happy to live in that area and promote local businesses, but may also get you some exposure. You may do this with your own profile, your business profile, or your business brand page.
Business brand pages are new on Foursquare. Foursquare has been an app that local businesses use to get clients., but now brands can put up brand pages. What does this do? It allows brand pages to place tips about places around town and tips that you feel are relevant to help promote your company from the Website or on a iPhone.
It allows you to showcase your brand to locals and those visiting your local town, so that they recognize your brand. See the check-in snapshot of Vania’s iPhone after she checked in to Cruzio. It shows Vab Media placed a tip! Cool. To get started, you can go to foursquare.com/create_page and put in your companies information. A Foursquare brand page has the potential to become an essential social platform in a world where businesses are using social media tools to get their name in front of as many people as possible.
Here are some basic tips for video search engine optimization (Video SEO).
The integration of videos is by far the most important of Googles Universal Search integrations with at least one video included in nearly 50% of search queries. This presents an awesome opportunity to quickly get on 1st page for your keyword phrase search results with just a few videos. Nevertheless, not enough businesses have been capitalizing– only a small percentage of websites are actually optimizing their existing video content.
Choose keywords for video. Just like the Google adwords key word tool, their product Youtube also has a keyword tool. https://ads.youtube.com/keyword_tool provides the opportunity to examine search volumes for individual keywords. With this you quickly get an idea of which keywords are relevant for video optimization. Keywords that have a high search volume here are also often displayed right at the top of the Universal Search integrations in the normal Google SERPs and therefore have a higher click through rate.
video appropriate keywords are keywords where a user will often click on videos in the search results or where the search query is made up of their [existing search] + video. With this kind of keyword, videos provided with prominent video integrations will feature prominently in SERPs. YouTube is the most important video platform and has just recently surpassed yahoo as the second largest search engine in the world and, with a large online community, powerful marketing tool for companies.
- Content: As with your website’s content, your video content should also be relevant, clear and crisp. It should be able to convey the message in an interesting or different way.
- Title: should contain the most important keywords, arranged with the most important keywords first. keep the title around 60 characters, any more will not be displayed.
- Description: video’s description should contain the keyword more than once and should use additional, semantically related keywords to avoid keyword stuffing. Which means you can simply use alternative terms that describe the same concept and thus strengthen your foothold for all of the related terms of that subject.
- Keywords: Add your keywords in the content or description of your video. Even your video transcript should be keyword-rich. Adding a relevant transcript serves more than one purpose- your video becomes accessible to people with hearing disabilities as well as it becomes relevant for search engine spiders. The filename of the video should also contain the keywords.
- Tags: Add up to 10 or 15 tags – using the most important keywords.
- Comments: Allow viewer comments and feedback on your video. The more people talk about your video, the higher will be your ranking on search result page.
- Linking: Link your video to relevant content on your site. While linking ensure that appropriate keywords are used. Also make your content relevant so that others link to your video too. More the number of inbound links, higher will be your ranking.
- Sitemap: Add a video sitemap, submit video sitemap to search engines. This will help web spiders to index your video more easily.
Video SEO Ranking Factors to Consider
- Keywords in title
- Number of views
- Number of comments
- Category & Tags
- Sentiment (Like/Dislike ratio)
- Channel views
- Number of subscribers
- Video Sitemap
- Channel login activity
- Speed & consistency of interest
- Quality description (click-thru factor)
- Flags (negative)
Check out our Portfolio of Search optimized Videos we have produced and Marketed for clients.
Vab Media and Muse Cinemedia will be speaking on August 2nd, at Santa Cruz Business Connect about conceptualizing and marketing videos for business.Read More
This is from a guest blog post I wrote and which can be seen at twibes.com. I’ve re-posted it here to share the links.
Recently I have been researching social entrepreneurship and wanted to highlight how social entrepreneurs use social media to leverage support for their causes.
Well, according to some research I’ve been doing, I found that the best use of social media is by making it easy for others to contribute to your cause. There are many tools out there, but you have to figure out which works best. For instance, Everywun.com and bettertheworld.com make it easy to give, which requires little effort and no money. They have all kinds of ways for users to interact or support a cause. When users post a badge on their blog, facebook page, or website, they earn credits when someone signs up after clicking on their badge. Both sites feature their top supporters who have earned the most credits. This in turn provides funds for the charities the individual supports. In addition, Bettertheworld.com takes ideas from their users on what the organization can do to improve the user’s experience. Another organization, Social Earth, who set up the twibes group for social-entrepreneurs to connect, also has the most up to date content on social entrepreneurship. Beth’s blog has great guest posts about how to use social media to promote your social entrepreneurship or non-profit organization. Even good “old-fashioned” email has evolved to implement sharing tools.
In this economy, fundraisers are too expensive; social media comes at no cost. The success of your organization largely depends on the way you interact with your donors, and what tools you make available for your contributors to promote your organization for you. The more we allow our friends to feel like they are contributing, the more they are willing to spread the message, since people want to be a part of something that is good.Read More