Is your content useful?

Lara and I make an effort to attend at least two conferences a year each - not including the one we organize. Last week, I went down to Toronto to attend Mesh Marketing 2013. It was one of the best conferences I’ve attended for learning, with an engaged and really smart audience that added a lot to what the speakers talked about with their comments on social media. Everything I learned through the day is useful to any business that uses content marketing, however, the day ended with one of the best and most important messages.

Jay Baer - our closing keynote speaker - is the author of the marketing blog, Convince and Convert, as well as the recent book, Youtility. Youtility is about creating something useful. (It isn’t necessarily about targeting a particular audience, but it needs to be relevant to your business.)

There are a number of ways that you can create useful content. Sharing tips, asking questions, and knowing the needs of your customers is a good start. But how can you take it a step further? How do you extend your reach? 

Be useful. Be helpful.

One of the social media examples Jay shared was the @HiltonSuggests twitter account. This is what they do:

This twitter account doesn’t sell. It doesn’t do anything but help people by answering questions. And helping goes a long way. There’s not a great deal of effort required for any one person. This account is manned by employees all over the world. That’s pretty amazing. And what are the chances that someone who’s already travelling might remember the help they received and book with Hilton the next time they’re off on a trip? Probably significantly better than if @HiltonSuggests didn’t exist.

Most businesses don’t have the need or the resources for this kind of social media activity. But here are a few ways that you can create your own Youtility:

1) Answer common questions.

If your customers are asking you questions, verbally or in emails, you can bet many more are asking the same questions on google. Does your website answer the most frequently asked questions? Instead of building a FAQ page, start blogging those answers. We have semi-regular “how to” posts on our blog so that if someone wants to know how to sign up for twitter, they can find that information on our website.

2) Share indirect, but relevant information.

Every business has crossover with related businesses. We get asked for referrals to web designers/developers, graphic designers, and more. Neither of those disciplines is directly related to the work that we do. However, it’s absolutely relevant because it’s part of creating an effective web presence. I can share quality graphic and web design articles to help our audience learn more about something that is not in their area of expertise.

3) Promote your community. 

We talk to a lot of social media users that don’t want to share personal information about themselves online. Sometimes, the reason is privacy; others it’s about keeping business and personal separate. We encourage being personable over being personal when the comfort level with sharing is low. When you don’t want to share things about yourself, you can build and encourage community by being a source of information about your area. (Community can mean a geographic area of any size or a common interest group - define it the way that works best for you.)

Committing to creating content that qualifies as “useful” can open the door for some really creative ideas that will serve your audience and grow your business. If you’re eager to learn more, be sure to pick up a copy of Youtility!

Do you have any examples of brands providing really useful information or services?  Tell us in the comments!

Getting more engagement with Facebook questions

Facebook content needs to be regular and it needs to entice your audience to engage with you.  In this video we talk about using Facebook questions and the things you need to keep in mind when writing the questions.

Do you ask questions on your Facebook page?  Leave a comment below and tell us.  And if you found this video useful, please share! 

Sixty Second Social: Blog topics are everywhere. Here's how to find them.

One of the biggest challenges after starting a blog that many run into is figuring out what to write about. It’s not difficult, but it does involve a change in thinking.

What did you do last night? Did you watch something particularly poignant? Did it trigger thoughts or an epiphany?

Share it.

When was the last time you attended an event? What did you get out of it? What are you going to do with that?

Share it.

Did you read the unread posts in your blog reader (RSS)? Did one stick out to you? Why?

Share it.

Where do you see yourself three months from now? Six months from now? One year from now?

Share it.

When you were in the shower this morning, what idea jumped into your head? Was it brilliant? Why?

Share it.

Is there a topic that you have questions about? A situation you’ve been mulling over for a while? An issue you feel strongly about?

Share it.

This post was inspired by a conversation I overheard between two women at a planning day I attended last weekend. I heard their discussion of how one was teaching the other to find those blog-worthy moments and realized it was something I could share with you here.

Personally, it took me a little while after I started blogging to get to the point that I saw content everywhere around me, but it happened. Should you use everything you could use on your blog? No, but that’s a different post for a different day.

What are some of the situations in which you’ve found inspiration for your blog?

Social SEO and You – Part 2

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru... Image via CrunchBase

I’m thrilled to welcome Brandon for part two about Search Engine Optimization.  If you missed his first post, check it out here.

Brandon is a consultant, business marketing grad, strategist, house music junkie, avid reader, speaker, and coffee fiend. He likes to make and break stuff, currently working in the Light Apps division at Corel and the CEO of his own start-up Incentify.

You can find him @BrandonWaselnuk

SEO in Facebook Posts

Facebook is a wonderful platform that almost every business has taken to. It has many benefits and few drawbacks; one of those benefits is boosting your SEO ‘juice’ as some cool kids would say.
When looking at your Facebook posts there’s two pretty big questions most ask when thinking about SEO:

  • How do Facebook Posts get SEO?

  • How do I Increase the odds of Feedback on my Posts?


How do Facebook Posts get SEO?

The first step in getting any SEO on your Facebook posts is to make sure they are flagged as ‘Public’ posts. Anything that isn’t can never get SEO as they are closed behind the firewall basically.

The More a Post is Shared

Any post you make now has the ability of being shared (and you can track who shared it!) the more people who decide to share the more SEO that post gets. Remember though, it’s a pretty drastically high amount of sharing you require if you’re hoping for your post to show up on a Google search, however if someone is doing a Facebook search, they can come across your Page rather than a competitor if your content is more often shared.
Note: The idea of getting someone to share your posts is simple but difficult in practice. A few tips and tricks are to think like your readers, what would make them enact the need to share what you’ve said with their friends? Also consider the ‘selfish sharing’ factor, something I got from Scott Stratten (unMarketing) it’s the idea that people share things that are important to them, regardless of whether they think all their friends will care. So connect with the individual in your posts if at all possible.

The More Comments and Likes a Post Receives

The more commenting you get the higher your SEO, it’s pretty basic. Much like above, it’s all about giving your readers a reason to engage with you, think like them, what’s a good conversation piece?

How Do I Increase the Odds of Feedback on my Posts?

These are two simple rules to consider, on top of the tips above, but definitely help when you’re thinking about making your posts count.

Increase the ‘Awesome’

Better content means more feedback, engagement, sharing and more, not frequency. There’s no equation for awesome unfortunately so it’s up to you and your understanding of your market, what’s awesome to them? Find it and talk about it to help give your page the boost it needs.

Note: Consider looking at competition for the ‘angle’ they are taking, you can pretty easily see by the number of fans they have VS. The comments and likes a post gets what their feedback % is. Then you have a benchmark to work against.

Ask Questions

Asking open ended questions is usually a really great way to get your audience engaging with you. You can stimulate conversation from there and start to learn who in your audience is really connected to what issues (worldly, work related, or other depending on your page’s function).

E.g. ‘The newest article from SEOMOZ (a popular SEO blog) talks about Google+ implications to SEO. What are your thoughts on all this G+ news lately?’

It’s Too Long

Again, I think that’s enough of a run through some SEO for one blog post. I hope you’ve enjoyed the discussion on Facebook and I’d love to answer any questions you may have, so please comment and/or send them my way!

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