How Digital Images Impact Content Success

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You’ve probably noticed that each of my blog posts have a digital image attached to them. The reason I do this is to get the reader in the MOOD for what I am about to talk about. I use digital images as a sort of lead – the unwritten first paragraph of my blog posts. Like many people, I am a visual learner and without some concrete representation floating around in my head it’s hard for me to retain any set of given information (Yes, I am just like your 5 year old!)

I can definitely provide anecdotal evidence to support this idea. I am shocked at how much better my Tweets and Facebook posts do when they are attached to an image or video. Much to my chagrin, I often write something insanely witty and clever but forget to stick a meme or picture on the post and end up with 2 likes!

Now, this isn’t all Broscience! Is has been statistically proven that blog posts and social media content perform better when they have a image attached. In fact, according to HubSpot Academy “content with relevant images get 94% more views than content without relevant images.” Pretty shocking, right? But the question is why is this true?

According to Merriam-Webster, an image is “a reproduction or imitation of the form of a person or thing…” or “a visual representation of something: such as (1) :  a likeness of an object produced on a photographic material (2) :  a picture produced on an electronic display (as a television or computer screen)”

I believe this phenomenon has it’s roots in practicality but also has an emotional component. Words are inherently tied to the imagination! Without some physical representation in our minds, words mean very little. This is why children often have a difficult time grasping abstract concepts and ideas. Imagery also gives us a certain FEELING. Seeing a grove of trees in the summer sun makes you feel differently than the view from the top of a Manhattan apartment complex. Through imagery we can give our words an emotional kick by preparing our audience to read about the topic!

Finally, I would like to mention the fact that we need to be careful not to violate copyright laws for images and photographs. Most of the images that I use in my blog posts are either from photype.co or kaboompics.com. These website offer free-use digital images as well as other affordable options – though I’ve never paid money for an image!

Just remember, there is still a child in all of us, and using a simple image can be the difference between a successful blog post and a total dud.

Is Snapchat Small Business Friendly?

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Gary Vaynerchuck loves Snapchat (can you tell that I love Gary?) He is constantly snapping after business meetings, in transit to other engagements and just randomly throughout his day. He talks at length about the value that Snapchat has for business and claims that he has not seen “this much consumer attention on one social platform since early 2007 and 2008 with Twitter.” You can get a few tips on how to create a strategy and some best practices in Gary’s HuffPost article.

It is obvious that there is value in terms of creating a PERSONAL brand, I have found great success myself using Snapchat. But the question at hand is in the value this social platform has for your small business. In my opinion, the value of Snapchat depends entirely on the type of small business you run and the types of products and services you offer.

Adweek recently published an article which included a stat sheet which breaks down the percentages of industries with a Snapchat account. The top industries which use Snapchat according to the article are: Activewear, Beauty, Fashion, Retail, Watches & Jewelry, Beverages, Auto, Consumer Electronics and Travel.

The industries listed above have an obvious visual component and you can imagine how a platform like Snapchat would allow you to show off these products and services. The truly unique aspect of Snapchat and the most important feature is the fact that snaps have a limited lifespan – they disappear after a few seconds. This is valuable because it forces your followers (the people who will see your Snapchat story) to PAY ATTENTION to the content you’ve created.

In a world of shrinking attention spans, there is absolutely value in this innovative platform for small businesses. The trick is to figure out a creative ways to 1. Grow a social following, and 2. Show off your product or reinforce your company culture. Plus, snapping is fun! If you are a small businesses owner or social media manager and you aren’t using Snapchat to grow your brand, I highly recommend giving it a try!

User Generated Content: The GoPro Story

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One of the biggest questions I get is about the level of customer interaction and inclusion a business should have in their digital marketing campaign. Should you be leading the conversation? Should the consumer? What kind of content is most effective for driving consumers to buy your product and how to we get our customers to become promoters? Well, GoPro is a great example of a company that simply allowed it’s customers to market for them. They’ve utilized a relatively new concept called User Generated Content (UGC) in order to not only show off the functionality of their products but also to allow potential customers to envision themselves using it.

In this YouTube video, you can see examples of real people using a GoPro to film themselves doing various extreme activities – anywhere from mountain biking to jumping off a cliff. GoPro has produced some professionally made demonstration videos but also compilations of videos made by their users. This sort of viral marketing campaign has been a huge hit over the past few years. One of the problems we have to address in any form of marketing is how to get our potential customers to see our product as something that they would actually use. Social media (especially YouTube) has made it easier than ever to get our customers to produce promotional content FOR US!

There are many other companies apart from GoPro that have used the UGC stategy – encouraging their customers to take pictures of themselves using the product or unboxing the product in a short video. However, UGC takes on many other forms! Amazon for example has grown it’s brand through customer reviews and their rating system, while Starbucks did it through their “white cup contest”which asked consumers to draw their own designs on Starbucks’ blank disposable coffee cups. Many companies have found interesting ways to use UGC to grow their brands and you can see a few more examples in this HubSpot article.

Regardless of the specifics to your UGC marketing campaign, it is obvious that interacting directly with your consumers can be valuable for your business – but more than that, we can allow our consumers to join our brand and participate in it’s promotion. In my opinion, GoPro has really taken the cake in terms of creating a viral UGC campaign. Although they sell a relatively expensive product, their compilation videos allow potential buyers to imagine themselves owning a GoPro and THAT is what has been the difference maker for this revolutionary company!

How YouTube Spaces is Changing the Content Creation Game

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Often times what stops us from doing the thing is want to do is a simple lack of resources. Having great an idea for a painting but not having the cash to buy an easel and paints, wanting to write that book but not having the time, or wanting to make a movie but not having a video camera and editing software.

Well, YouTube is attempting to tackle this problem and help their users (YouTubers) produce the videos they dream up despite not having the equipment to do so. YouTube Spaces are popping up all over the globe. A YouTube Space is a production studio – complete with staff, makeup artists and everything else you need to film, green screens, cameras the whole kaboodle!

YouTube has apparently created production Spaces in Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, New York, São Paulo, Berlin, Paris, Mumbai and Toranto. You can check out a short video and get some information on these locations by clicking on this link!

Hopefully they will continue to expand and put a Space in a city near you. That way nothing will stop us from making those videos we dream about making – although, I’m sure there is some minimum subscriber requirement for using the Spaces.

What a time to be alive!

How Twitter Helped Elect a President

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I hear small business managers give many different reasons as to why they aren’t using social media to advertise their brand or product. Many purport that they do not have enough time to post or say that that their clientele do not use social media but more often than not, these business managers claim that social media does not have potential value for their business.

I would like to challenge the legitimacy of that last excuse in particular. Social media absolutely has value for small businesses, corporations, and even personal brands. As evidence to this fact, I give you the President-elect of the United States – Donald Trump.

Regardless of how you feel about his politics, his character or his tan, Donald Trump has certainly accomplished something incredible by becoming the 45th President of the United States – which he did while having zero political experience (even President Reagan had been the Governor of California for 8 years before he was elected). One of the ways Trump was able to do this was by harnessing the power of social media. He and his campaign focused their efforts on Twitter which remains one of the most popular social platforms.

 

 

I would like to point out that I am not in any way endorsing anything Donald Trump has done or said. This entry is not about politics, it is about political strategy and the undeniable reach that you can obtain with Twitter. Trump was able to get a lot of exposure and CONNECT with his audience by being one of the first presidential candidates in history to frequently communicate through social media. The above tweet was liked by 85,000 people and retweeted nearly 120,000 times. Those are pretty astounding numbers, and there are literally dozens of other examples of tweets that were just as popular as this one!

Many political candidates tried to copy Trump’s tactics and use of social media. Gary Johnson (the Libertarian candidate) achieved great success in creating a strong millennial following on social media. Although Johnson also ran for president as the libertarian candidate in 2012, this is the first election in which people actually knew who he was. Of course, Trump’s biggest rival and the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton also had great success on social media. However, not a single politician was able to come anywhere near what Trump was able to achieve through Twitter.

 

 

This is one of Hillary Clinton’s most successful tweets. While it was liked and retweeted by hundreds of thousands of Twitter users, it also succeeded in further promoting Trump. Another important thing to note is that tweets as successful of this were few and far between for the Clinton campaign. Trump on the other hand did a great job of attacking people who would never support him regardless of what he did. In a way, his attacks were “safe” because he would only alienate people who already disliked him and his politics.

Obviously, if we want to run a successful social media campaign for our business we need to be careful of such tactics. In some cases, it makes sense to criticize your competition or point out the superiority of your product compare to theirs – but let’s try to avoid outright attacks. 

 

 

Here we see Trump attacking the New York Times and CNN, neither of which would ever support his campaign. It also probably did a lot to cement Trump’s personality in the minds of his constituents as an “outsider” – someone who was like them and unafraid to call out companies and people that he didn’t agree with. Clearly this style was very refreshing for many voters, while not necessarily very presidential.

Trump is also famous for tweeting The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart (which you can read about in this Huffpost article) at 3am, calling him and his show “overrated”. This is the kind of behavior we might see an internet troll engage in but it also shows Trump’s commitment to consistently putting out content. Regardless of subject or the taboo behind it, he put his opinion out there, BIGLY.

As I have said before, exposure is far more important than talent (or in this case, experience). I am not suggesting that Clinton did not also do a fantastic job of using social media to grow her personal brand. In fact, she succeeded in exposing many of Trump’s flaws and discrepancies in his campaign.

However, she did not even come close to getting the amount of publicity we saw out of Trumps social media campaign. If you take a glance at their accounts you will notice that while Clinton has tweeted nearly 10,000 times to date, Trump has more than tripled that effort, tweeting nearly 35,000 times over the past few years. That’s a lot of tweets!

 

 

Trump played this game extremely well. He would make a statement and the media (and everyone else) listened. This has less to do with the quality of the content and more with the consistent and prolific output of that content.

I am not trying to imply that we should say the things that the President-elect Donald Trump has said. I am trying to point out that small businesses can and should take a play out of his playbook. Get your name out there and more importantly get other people talking about you! That old famous saying “any publicity is good publicity” is certainty applicable in this case.

While Trump said many things which we might all agree are either uninformed or distasteful, people were talking about him every single week. I think we can all learn something from this as we attempt to grow our brands and promote our products. As you’re planning your social media strategy for 2017, remember what Trump was able to do with Twitter.

If we trust in the power of social media and consistently get our names out there we will undoubtedly make our advertising strategies great again!

4 Easy Steps to Creating Content Wealth for Small Business

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Like many people, I have been thinking about starting my own business for the last year. The ease of the digital age and reach of the internet certainly make it seem like something that is actually possible. However, it has been difficult to wrap my head around how I will actually go about accomplishing such a feat. How does one compete in a marketplace full of established businesses, fully staffed offices, and big budgets?

It was not until recently that I came across the answer. As I have been bolstering my skills in social media management and content creation I came across a term that I have absolutely fallen in love with. That term is Content Wealth.

Content Wealth is the idea that any business large or small can become wealthy in terms of the digital content they have put out on the web. Inversely, you can have all the money in the world but if you do not produce any content your presence on the web will be severely lacking. This is the one area of business where virtually anyone can create a social media following and increase their exposure to thousands of people on a weekly basis.

There are many people (including Marketing Directors) who consider themselves creative. But frankly, this adjective doesn’t mean much unless you are actually creating something! I have often heard artists criticize one another with one simple question.

“If they are so great, then where is their body of work?” – Some Actor

This questions has stuck with me over the past few months and in my opinion it is a fair criticism. Artists produce art. If you consider yourself to be an artist of any kind, then it seems logical to assume that you should have a body of work to prove it. A person who has been painting for ten years will have ten years worth of paintings. That makes sense, right?

Through my own research, I have discovered four easy tips to help anyone become content wealthy in a matter of months. You can find these tips below!

  1. Create a Lot of Content
    • Obviously, you cannot be considered wealthy in anything unless you have a lot of it! Many people tend to focus on the format, the timing and care too much about making their creations perfect. Often, this will lead to loss of interest and you wont end up posting anything! Something I like to remind myself is “Nike” – JUST DO IT! The old me would probably spend the next few days over analyzing and editing this post until I was so sick of it that it didn’t get posted – NOT THIS TIME! Maybe at the end of the day you decide not to post the blog you’ve written or the picture you took, the point is to make sure that we end up with a stockpile of material and get some of it out there.
  2. Post Content Frequently
    • Another big killer of online presence is a lack of awareness that you even exist! In fact, I would say that exposure is far more important than talent (a point which actually applies to each step of this process). No matter what, we need to be posting content on a weekly basis. I tend to think you can post something daily if you do so across many different channels. I am active on WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and the list goes on! Even if the post is just a single sentence – each piece of content you create brings you one step closer towards building that killer online following.
  3. Carve out a Niche Market
    • Nobody is going to follow you if the content you create is “been there, done that”. Decide what it is that YOU love about your industry! If you are reading a bunch of other peoples blogs or studying how other people interact on social media you are going about this the wrong way. Trust me, there are plenty of people on the web who would love to see your perspective on Home Decor or Graphic Design, or Woodworking! Just figure out what it is that you love and go with that! I have chosen to address things that I struggle with and my love of digital marketing and content creation – hence, this blog post!
  4. Connect Your Audience(s)
    • Other mistakes that people often make are neglecting to connect one social media platform to another and forgetting to share their blog posts on social media or their website. We need to make sure that our audience can find us and the content we’ve created. Make sure that someone who already likes you on Twitter has a chance to discover your WordPress blog. It only takes a few clicks to add social sharing buttons on your blog post and it only takes a few minutes to write a quick post about your blog on Facebook or Twitter. What people want is to have interesting content available at their convenience.

Just remember, the other guys might have the big budget, dozens of employees and all the resources in the world – but that won’t necessarily give them a big online following. Anyone can be content wealthy if they just follow these four steps. If you do, I guarantee that after a few months you will have developed a social media following and brand awareness that you could not have before imagined – all for little to no money spent on advertising.

I would like to thank HubSpot Academy and Gary VaynerChuk for inspiring me to create this blog! Good luck with yours!