Do you consider yourself immersed in the creation of content? Do you find that, as you create content, you sift through a great deal of other-content in order to bring meaning to your own thoughts and share those with others? If you do, welcome to the world of content curation!
I had the opportunity to dive into content curation during Content Curation: Making Meaning Out of Chaos at Info360 and I'm delighted to share some of those highlights with you here.
Before doing so, I offer many thanks to Pawan Deshpande and Arnold Waldstein for a successful and thought-provoking discussion re: content curation and making meaning from chaos. You'll learn a great deal from them by spending time on their sites! Details are below.
Arnold, Pawan and I discussed content curation intensely in preparation for your session. Out of those conversations, I extracted several Content Curation tips or best practices for you to think about as you get started curating content.
First, my definition of Content Curation:
Content curation involves collecting content that meets specific search criteria, selecting the best, synthesizing, adding a specific perspective or slant [to provide context & meaning] that appeals to a specific audience, and sharing it online. Specific perspective comes from the human element [i.e., the content curator] who establishes the credibility and trustworthiness of the curated content. As the curated content develops credibility and trustworthiness, it invites interaction and builds community; the content curator then becomes community manager.
What to ask about curating content:
When identifying a topic to curate, ask yourself:
1. What does the competitive landscape look like?
2. Does your proposed topic resonate with your intended audience?
3. Is there enough content to curate?
Without an audience, your content is useless!
Never forget your audience! Focus intensely on how you can offer them consistent value.
1. Collect content based on specific criteria.
2. Synthesize, organize, simplify. Combat the ‘Paradox of Choice’.
3. Offer a distinct, but consistent point-of-view.
4. Be relevant & meaningful.
5. Create context, invite interaction and build a community
If your audience can't share your content, what's the purpose?
Make it easy to share: offer your audience a range of traditional and social options for sharing your content. The benefit is that it extends the content and the conversation. In the case of eMail sharing, your visitor has “invited you into his/her inbox”. How might you build engagement & community?
Ethics count in content creation and curation.
Being ethical helps you maintain credibility with your audience. “Create, curate, but never pirate.”
1. Share only a portion of others’ content
2. Attribute the source consistently
3. Link prominently back
4. Think beyond your own brand
5. Don’t ignore the human element which creates original content, annotates curated content
[Best practices for content curation are derived from the Fair Use doctrine, codified in Section 107 of the copyright law.]
Think bigger picture, bigger than your business when curating content.
The more you think beyond your business when you curate, bringing together diverse perspectives from peers, your community, competitors, vendors, bloggers and other industry experts, the more credibility you build and the more you become a thought-leadership destination. Differences of opinion add credibility & trustworthiness
My favorite: quality matters more thatn quantity when curating content!
Focus on quality rather than quantity. Otherwise, you contribute to the noise and chaos rather than bring meaning and provide context.
If you are interested in our presentation, I've included it here.
If you'd like more information about content curation, I invite you to download the resources we put together for our session. Simply click on this link for downloading content curation resources from Info360.
What have you found makes for an effective blog title? You know, the kind that attracts visitors and engages them in the brilliant content you have created... How do you go about writing those strong blog titles?
I'm interested from two perspectives.
1. What do you react to and respond to when you are exploring ideas?
2. What do others respond to when you publish your own content online?
From having done this for a while, I know that a blog title - as well as a web page title - needs to be succinct. It needs to communicate concisely what the thrust of the content you are publishing is about.
That means that a blog title should be no longer than 70 characters. [See SEOMoz Title Tag article.] And it had better contain terms that are relevant to what you have written and meaningful to the persona or prospect or visitor you are trying to connect with [i.e., keywords].
Once those bases are covered, it's a matter of figuring out how to capture the attention of potential visitors and readers...
As with many things, the perfect solution to writing strong blog titles depends on the circumstances and the topic. However, I bet there are successes you have encountered that would be valuable to those wanting to write effective blog titles.
Won't you share them?
Added 6/8/12: David Brazeal adds via Twitter "blog titles: Subject, Verb, Object, and don’t be cutesy, no matter how tempting!"
Do you manage a LinkedIn Group? Or are you considering one for your business? You may enjoy these four tips shared by Bart Bettiga, executive director, National Tile Contractors Association, during the Coverings 2012 panel presentation about The Web is Your Best Marketing Tool.
Bart created a LinkedIn group for his members in 2011. Based on that experience, he decided on January 1st, 2012 to publish and enforce rules for this LinkedIn group.
The results, in his opinion, have remarkable with more tile related value being exchanged between members of the LinkedIn group and more robust conversation strings taking place.
The value exchanged has even meant new members for the National Tile Contractors Association!
Here are Bart's tips on how to manage LinkedIn for business groups, based on the National Tile Contractors Association LinkedIn Group.
1. Post Rules. Ideally from the moment you launch your LinkedIn group. Group rules set the stage for interaction, which topics are acceptable, whether self-promotion is encouraged or not. Rules also allow the group manager to effectively moderate discussions.
2. Enforce the LinkedIn group rules equally and consistently. Bart had to get tough on those who didn't respect the rules. In order for those rules to be followed [and respected], they need to be real for everyone in the group.
3. Actively moderate requests to join your LinkedIn group as well as conversation contributions. Bart does this at least once a day and usually twice per day.
4. Nurture LinkedIn group discussion topics. Participate with your own comments, encourage others, add to the conversation. You may find you need to do some of this offline as you build up momentum for the online conversations.
For reference, here are the NCTA LinkedIn Group Rules:
Effective January 1st, 2012, the National Tile Contractors Association Linked In Group will be limited to members of the Association. During the past several months, there have been too many instances where people are in the business of selling products and services rather than having open dialogue on issues. In addition, we have experienced at times hostile and unprofessional conduct on certain threads. The NTCA is an association dedicated to the professional installation of tile and stone. We represent over 600 tile contracting companies in the U.S. and beyond. We are not adequately staffed to manage a forum in which these situations occur. We recommend those individuals who do not wish to be members of the NTCA to participate in the John Bridge Forum. This is a quality tile forum equipped with moderators to filter out the unprofessional conduct and the solicitation of the forum users. Look for a new NTCA member only group to be established soon.
If you'd like other references for LinkedIn for business group rules, check out LinkedIn Group Guidelines or Rules of Engagement
Before creating your LinkedIn group, I recommend doing some research to determine what exists already and whether those groups are well managed or not. See 9 Steps to Find the Right LinkedIn Groups to Join.
What has your experience been with LinkedIn groups? What would you add to these tips?
An often overlooked aspect of seach engine optimization and getting found online has to do with the documents - PDF and Word - that we share with visitors online. Have you optimized yours?
Given that I'm often guilty of forgetting, I thought - to remind myself - I would share with you my document search engine optimization tips...
Optimizing Word Documents for Search
1. Remember to use unique and descriptive keywords in your document's file name. If that's all a visitor has to go on, does that filename carry enough context to get someone to open the document?
2. View your document's "properties" by clicking on File/Properties. Fill in the title with keyword first, the subject, relevant keywords and some comments.
Sadly, the data you've added to your Word document properties may not transfer to the PDF version of your document...
Optimizing PDF Documents for Search
1. As with your Word document, remember to use descriptive keywords in the filename of your PDF document. These should be words that visitors would recognize and use in a search.
2. Check your document's "properties" again by clicking on File/Properties. Fill in the information. Remember to place your more critical and relevant keyword first in the title.
Other Search Engine Optimization Tips
Don't forget to give your images some search engine optimization TLC! Create memorable, keyword rich filenames and <alt> tags that similarly describe the image. Do use industry jargon - unless that's what your customer base recognizes and searches on.
You might find this article helpul, too: How to Optimize PDF Documents for Search. Note the recommendation to add your company name in the author field.
Have you optimized the Word and PDF documents you offer on your site? What have you found works best? What system have you implemented to remember to do so? What success stories do you have based on having optimized a document for search engines?
In this 'How to Use LinkedIn' article, I'd like to address backing up your contacts.
Have you given any thought to backing-up your LinkedIn contacts? I hadn't, until recently.
Last week, I received a LinkedIn invitation to connect with Liana Evans [see Liana Evans Blends Social Media & Search For Greater Marketing Impact]. I really like Liana, so I was delighted to connect. At the same time, I was surprised that I hadn't already connected with her.
Liana explained that her LinkedIn account had been hacked. She had successfully re-established her LinkedIn account, but every single contact had been wiped out!
Oh, my - did that ever get my attention!
I realized that I've never backed up my contacts. For that matter, I'd never given it a thought.
Perhaps you haven't either - and you may be inspired to do so if I show you how.
Consequently, here are the steps for backing up your LinkedIn contacts.
1. In your LinkedIn profile, go to Contacts. You'll notice in the bottom, right hand corner a clickable option to "Export connections". Click on "Export connections".
2. You will be taken to a new page focused on Exporting your LinkedIn connections.
You have several format options including Microsoft Outlook (.csv file), Outlook Express (.csv file), Yahoo! Mail (.csv file), MAC OS X Address Book (.vcf file) and vCard (.vcf file). Pick the format that's right for you. I chose Microsoft Outlook.
3. I went through a security verification process.
4. I saved the file, adding "Nov11" to the filename and changing the destination folder.
5. Success per the confirmation message! Note the expanded directions for importing my LinkedIn contacts into Outlook.
You'll be able to open the .csv file to double-check the contents of the file. With minor changes, you can import the .csv file with your LinkedIn connections into other applications such as an email program or a CRM application like salesforce.com.
Have you backed up your LinkedIn contacts? How have you used the file generated? Any watchouts?
I'd love to hear!
What's the best way to go about writing a blog article or post? I do best when I methodically plan out my article before sitting at my keyboard contemplating a blank screen.
In case it's the same for you, I share with you my...
13 Tips on How To Write a Blog Article or Post
1. Determine what your article is about. This blog post you are reading is about how to write a blog post or article. You'll notice that I've included my topic [or keyword search term] in my title, and in a section header. It will also show up in the URL of this post once the article is published. Be specific and focused with your topic.
2. I find it just about impossible to write without including in my blog article a relevant image or photo. Flickr is a tremendous resource especially when you search for photos shared with Creative Commons licenses. For this blog post, I'm using the logo I created for my How Do I social media marketing series.
3. A blog article should be approximately 300 words in length [or between 200 to 400 words]. You can go shorter or longer on occasion; just realize that 300 is particularly effective for readers. Make sure your content is both interesting and relevant to your readers [think about creating delicious, memorable, remarkable content...].
4. Make sure you include links in your blog article: links to outside resources for more in-depth or corroborating resources as well as to your own website content.
5. Include a conversation generator [aka call to action] to invite comments and engagement from your readers.
6. Consider including a stronger call to action related to a specific offer you would like readers to take [e.g., subscribe to my monthly newsletter or download a relevant piece of content].
7. Aerate your content. Organize it logically, in a way that makes sense to your readers. Break it into pieces so it can be easily digested.
8. Include tags or categories so readers can easily find related blog articles.
9. Be prepared to publish your blog articles regularly and consistently, and at least once per week. I recommend two to three times per week. This means that you need to determine ahead of time what your content strategy will be and how it cascades into a monthly, weekly and daily plan.
10. When you think about how to write a blog article, be sure to have your customer in mind. This is not about you! Rather it's about your customers and their issues and how you provide solutions. You're trying to capture readers' attention so they spend time reading your content and getting to know you better [think trust building].
11. Don't ever duplicate your content!
12. Don't stuff your blog articles with keywords. Write for people!
13. Although it will take you a while to figure out your true blogging 'voice', be conversational when you write. Envision sitting across a table from someone and talking to him or her: you probably wouldn't speak about yourself in the 3rd person or in passive voice, right? Same goes for writing blog articles.
What would you add to this list?
For marvelous blog article templates, you might enjoy visiting my friend Jay Baer's Convince and Convert site where he offers free social media tools.
Have you come across bad SEO techniques?
I have, and they make my blood boil especially when I notice them on sites of perfectly respectable businesses whose owners have been mis-advised by SEO 'experts' to adopt bad practices. Hence this article in the "How Do I?" social media marketing series on How Do I Avoid Bad SEO Techniques.
These are two examples I've come across recently:
Keyword stuffing: website pages where the content is so densely packed with words, and variations on those words, that it's impossible for a human [i.e., potential customer] to make head or tail of the information. Website content needs to read naturally. It needs to meet the needs of the humans visiting your site, otherwise they won't stay!
Creating unrelated web pages for a linking scheme: although it's important for the content on your website to be so valuable that it attracts links from other related sites, you don't want to get and give links lightly, particularly to unrelated sites. If your business is furniture or flooring, having pages on your site that discuss cars and link to car dealers makes no sense. Read The Dirty Little Secrets of Search for a high profile example.
As with most online business activities, SEO or search engine optimization is work. You need to spend time thinking about and prioritizing keywords that have meaning for your business. You need to create website pages that focus on and develop content around one or two keywords. And you need to do so with your potential customer in mind.
Results don't happen overnight. Rather they take place over time after consistent, thoughtful effort on your website, with the words you use and the content you create online. Beware, then, of anyone promising you quick, cheap fixes, and guaranteed position one results for your keywords.
Beware of emails from people promising you links and wanting to exchange links with you. Most won't identify themselves, rarely explain who they represent, and don't even come close to relevance.
You'll find this article helpful: All SEO Service Providers Are Not Created Equal.
Beware, too, of those who call themselves 'experts'. Educate yourself so you understand what's involved in SEO and what's important for your business. That's what inspired me to write SEO Primer: Nurturing Your Online Digital Visibility.
5 Steps to Take Before Hiring an SEO Company suggests, in addition to educating yourself about SEO, defining measurable goals.
You might also enjoy this article by Hubspot [with download offer] on how to avoid bad SEO techniques: 10 Signs Your SEO Firm Isn’t Worth the Money [Free Ebook] - which include:
- Making Promises That Are Too Good to Be True
- Using “Black Hat” SEO Techniques
- Targeting the Wrong Keywords
- Employing Shoddy Linking Schemes
- Promising to List Your Site in Hundreds of Online Directories
- Redesigning Your Site or Creating New Pages Without 301 Redirects
- Focusing on Metadata Instead of On-Page SEO
- Creating Bad Content
- Driving Irrelevant Traffic
- Offering a One-Time Fix With No Ongoing Maintenance
I bet you've witnessed bad SEO techniques! What are the worst examples you've encountered and how would you avoid them? Let me know in the comments.
Since 2009, I've been writing blog posts that answer 'How Do I?' questions relating to B2B social media and content marketing.
For example, how do I make sense of Twitter and Twitter Chats.
Or, how do I evaluate a blog and craft a blog welcome post, let alone get started with social media.
How do I make the most of LinkedIn and increase followers on Facebook.
How do I create content and deal with negative comments.
And, many more.
All questions that come up during presentations and in conversation with business professionals who may be intrigued with the social and digital tools they hear about, but haven't yet taken the plunge or figured out how to make sense of the tools for their businesses.
[You can find the complete list of How Do I - the Social Media Marketing Series questions by clicking on this link.]
What I find particularly fascinating - and grounding, too - is that as much as we hear sensational stories about social media - e.g., over 37 million people farm on Farmville, Lady Gaga has over 10 million monsters following her on Twitter - most business people are still figuring out how it all makes sense for their business given finite resources.
That's why I'm taking my How Do I social media marketing series and creating Tip Sheets and Guides from them to help busineses make sense out of the chaos. You can download the first by clicking on Top 10 Tips For Getting Started With Social Media.
What about you? What are your burning How Do I? questions? How are you looking to use social media marketing to improve your business? What are you struggling with?
Let me know in the comments and I'll address your question in the How Do I Social Media Marketing series!
The question "how do I get more business?" comes up frequently when I speak with small and medium business owners. They find that many tried and true marketing tools aren't as effective as they used to be and many new social and digital tools are confusing. What, then, to do to get more business? Here are 13 tips to start the ideas flowing! I bet you have more!
13 Tips in Response to How Do I Get More Business?
1. Launch a business blog on your website.
2. Generate high quality blog content frequently and consistently.
3. Create content that answers questions relevant to your potential customers.
4. Make sure your content uses your reader's language, contains no gobbledygook [if you aren't sure, read David Meerman Scott's Gobbledygook Manifesto and then run your content through the Gobbledygook Grader] and reads conversationally.
5. Are your blog topics relevant to your business? Do they include keywords that matter to you?
6. Regularly mine your Google Analytics to understand which search terms or keywords potential customers use to find you. Create new content or blog topics that develop those ideas.
7. Use Google Trends to come up with new ideas based on those terms.
8. Use Google Adwords Keyword Tool to identify which are the highest and the lowest volume search terms to help you prioritize which customer relevant terms to create blog content around that you can eventually rank for. Be thinking 'long tail' for your terms. [Here's a marvelous reference from ProBlogger: Leverage the Long Tail of Search on Your Blog.]
9. Monitor your site's progress on your keywords using SEOBook's Rank Checker tool for Firefox.
10. The more blog content you create, the more keywords other than your company name will drive traffic to your website and business.
11. Once you create between 25 to 50 blog articles, you'll start to notice improved traffic results to your website. For companies that blog twice per week, that will be at around the six month mark. The more qualified content, the more indexing and the more traffic which in turn generates leads for your business.
12. Combine your blog publishing with social by promoting your new content on social networks you are active on [e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook]. Be sure to engage with your audiences so they perceive your content as valuable rather than as spam.
13. Monitor your results. Do more of what works. Change what doesn't.
What are your tips for getting more business? Let us know in the comments.
Thanks for reading!