Why Content Marketing is King

Amplify’d from www.entrepreneur.com

Why Content Marketing Is King

BY Mikal E. Belicove|
October 20, 2011|

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Why Content Marketing Is KingWhen it comes to marketing strategies, content marketing has just been crowned king, far surpassing search engine marketing, public relations and even print, television and radio advertising as the preferred marketing tool for today’s business-to-business entrepreneur.

Why Content Marketing Is King

Late this summer, HiveFire, a Cambridge, Mass.-based internet marketing software solutions company, surveyed nearly 400 marketing professionals about the state of the business-to-business, or B2B, market, and discovered that marketers are retreating from traditional marketing tactics such as search marketing and have made content marketing the most-used tactic in their brand-enhancing tool box. Fact is, according to HiveFire’s B2B Marketing Trends Survey Report, twice as many B2B marketers now employ content marketing as they do print, TV and radio advertising, according to the survey.

So what exactly is content marketing? It’s the creation and publication of original content — including blog posts, case studies, white papers, videos and photos — for the purpose of generating leads, enhancing a brand’s visibility, and putting the company’s subject matter expertise on display. HiveFire’s researchers found that an impressive 82 percent of B2B marketers now employ content marketing as a strategy in their marketing programs. Coming in at a distant second place is search engine marketing at 70 percent, followed by events at 68 percent, public relations at 64 percent and print/TV/radio advertising at 32 percent.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said driving sales and leads was the top marketing goal of their organization, followed by boosting brand awareness and establishing or maintaining thought leadership (both at 35 percent). Another 28 percent said their primary goal was to increase web traffic and 24 percent said it was to improve search results.

Part of the popularity of content marketing is its ability to generate qualified leads while engaging prospects in a branded environment without busting the budget. Nearly half of the content marketers interviewed said they dedicate less than a third of their budgets to such marketing expenditures. In addition to frugality, B2B marketers also believe most of their customers and prospects are online, which is why they’re focusing their marketing efforts on the Internet.

Finally, the survey shows that “content curation” — which is defined as the process of finding, organizing and sharing content — continues to gain strength as a top marketing strategy, up 17 percent from six months ago. Seen as a way for marketers to fuel their marketing programs, content curation does have its problems. Nearly 70 percent of content curators say lack of time hinders their efforts, with 66 percent saying a lack of original and quality content is a major drawback. Another 38 percent say difficulty in measuring results is the stumbling block and 37 percent say lack of staff to do the work is the hindrance.

Despite these issues, the survey makes clear that content marketing is only going to become more important going forward, whether you market to other businesses or to the public at large.

Read more at www.entrepreneur.com

 

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3 Social Media Must Haves For Companies

Another great writeup by Heidi Cohen!

Amplify’d from heidicohen.com

3 Social Media Must Haves For Companies

Always be preparedWhile social media continues to mature, it’s still a scary environment for many businesses since it means that prospects, customers and the public have the platforms and tools to amplify their voices with relative ease. Despite this easy access to publishing tools, the reality is that only 1% of the people involved in social media create new content while 90% lurk or consume content and 9% comment or make other minor contributions to existing content.  From a corporate perspective, it’s that 1-2% of interactions or comments to which brands and/or companies must respond.

In today’s social media ecosystem, there are three elements that every company should have regardless of whether they’re active on social media networks or not. Given the velocity with which information is shared, it’s critical that your firm is prepared to react quickly and appropriately to changes in the conversation in order to protect your brand and reputation. Here are three recommendations.

  1. Have social media monitoring in place. This factor was high on marketers’ list of 2011 must haves. Social media monitoring can be an early warning system for your business. As part of your social media monitoring make sure that you’re also tracking words related to your competitors since their problems can quickly spread to your business.

  1. Implement social media guidelines. Surprisingly, research by SmartBrief for Social Media and Summus, which considers social media guidelines an indicator of social media adoption, found that only half of companies had social media guidelines after three years. This should be a no-brainer as it protects both your firm and your employees.

  1. Have a crisis management plan in place. Since social media firestorms can occur at any time without notice, it’s important to have a crisis management plan in place. This means more than just the name of a PR crisis management firm. It requires an organized plan with up-to-date names and phone numbers (including personal cellphones.) The reality is that something will occur at a time when no one’s minding the shop; at night, on the weekend or during a holiday. (Here’s a Real-time PR Checklist to help you.)

As a business, are you ready for a PR crisis? Are you prepared if something happens to one of your employees, suppliers, distributors or competitors? Just as airlines repeat their instructions about evacuating the airplane at the beginning of every flight, it’s important for your business to ensure that your employees understand what’s expected of them in a social media emergency.

Does your firm have these three elements in place? If not, what’s holding your firm back?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Read more at heidicohen.com

 

Storify goes live to the public today

I’ve been using the beta version of storify for a few weeks and I find that it’s a great tool to curate the content that’s available through the various social channels, twitter, flickr, youtube, facebook and other sites. I strongly recommend experimenting with the tool, as it can prove to be very valuable with capturing, curating and publishing stories around major events and topics being discussed in social media.

Amplify’d from www.nytimes.com
Filtering the Social Web to Present News Items

SAN FRANCISCO — News events as varied as the commercial jet landing in the Hudson River and the uprisings in Egypt have demonstrated that people armed with cellphones — not professional reporters — are often the first source of breaking news, uploading Twitter posts, photos and video to the Web. But the result can leave people drowning in too much information.

A Web start-up named Storify, which opens to the public Monday, aims to help journalists and others collect and filter all this information.

Using the Storify Web site, people can find and piece together publicly available content from Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube and other sites. They can also add text and embed the resulting collages of content on their own sites. During a private test period, reporters from The Washington Post, NPR, PBS and other outlets used the service.

Burt Herman, left, and Xavier Damman, the founders of Storify, which opens Monday.

Read more at www.nytimes.com

 

Find out all you need to know about Google’s new and improved algorithm!

This week Google announced some adjustments to the famous Google Algorithm, the new parameters are designed to reward “High Quality” content and weed out the low value content that’s being distributed throughout the web.

So what does Google consider to be “High Quality”?
Here’s a list of tactics you can use to optimize your content and to make sure you are compliant with the new algorithm:

Direct from the “GOOGLE Webmaster Central” of best practices for content optimization: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769

Design and content guidelines
    • Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
    • Offer a site map to your users with links that point to the important parts of your site. If the site map has an extremely large number of links, you may want to break the site map into multiple pages.
    • Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number.
    • Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.
    • Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.
    • Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn’t recognize text contained in images. If you must use images for textual content, consider using the “ALT” attribute to include a few words of descriptive text.
    • Make sure that your <title> elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.
    • Check for broken links and correct HTML.
    • If you decide to use dynamic pages (i.e., the URL contains a “?” character), be aware that not every search engine spider crawls dynamic pages as well as static pages. It helps to keep the parameters short and the number of them few.
Technical guidelines
    • Use a text browser such as Lynx to examine your site, because most search engine spiders see your site much as Lynx would. If fancy features such as JavaScript, cookies, session IDs, frames, DHTML, or Flash keep you from seeing all of your site in a text browser, then search engine spiders may have trouble crawling your site.
    • Allow search bots to crawl your sites without session IDs or arguments that track their path through the site. These techniques are useful for tracking individual user behavior, but the access pattern of bots is entirely different. Using these techniques may result in incomplete indexing of your site, as bots may not be able to eliminate URLs that look different but actually point to the same page.
    • Make sure your web server supports the If-Modified-Since HTTP header. This feature allows your web server to tell Google whether your content has changed since we last crawled your site. Supporting this feature saves you bandwidth and overhead.
    • Make use of the robots.txt file on your web server. This file tells crawlers which directories can or cannot be crawled. Make sure it’s current for your site so that you don’t accidentally block the Googlebot crawler. Visit http://www.robotstxt.org/faq.html to learn how to instruct robots when they visit your site. You can test your robots.txt file to make sure you’re using it correctly with the robots.txt analysis tool available in Google Webmaster Tools.
    • Make reasonable efforts to ensure that advertisements do not affect search engine rankings. For example, Google’s AdSense ads and DoubleClick links are blocked from being crawled by a robots.txt file.
    • If your company buys a content management system, make sure that the system creates pages and links that search engines can crawl.
    • Use robots.txt to prevent crawling of search results pages or other auto-generated pages that don’t add much value for users coming from search engines.
  • Monitor your site’s performance and optimize load times. Google’s goal is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience. Fast sites increase user satisfaction and improve the overall quality of the web (especially for those users with slow Internet connections), and we hope that as webmasters improve their sites, the overall speed of the web will improve.Google strongly recommends that all webmasters regularly monitor site performance using Page Speed, YSlow, WebPagetest, or other tools. For more information, tools, and resources, see Let’s Make The Web Faster. In addition, the Site Performance tool in Webmaster Tools shows the speed of your website as experienced by users around the world.
Quality guidelines

These quality guidelines cover the most common forms of deceptive or manipulative behavior, but Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here (e.g. tricking users by registering misspellings of well-known websites). It’s not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn’t included on this page, Google approves of it. Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit.

If you believe that another site is abusing Google’s quality guidelines, please report that site at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport. Google prefers developing scalable and automated solutions to problems, so we attempt to minimize hand-to-hand spam fighting. The spam reports we receive are used to create scalable algorithms that recognize and block future spam attempts.

Quality guidelines – basic principles

    • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as “cloaking.”
    • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
    • Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.
  • Don’t use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.