5 problems that are shutting down your content strategy happy dance

In content strategy land, there is nothing more happy dance-worthy than when you get your first big web traffic surge or your first insightful comment or your first social media share from an influencer you’ve been following forever. But if you’re feeling more #sadface than #happydance, there’s a reason for that. In fact, there are five.
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3, 2, 1, launch! Get your content strategy out the door

Last month, I covered the three essential content strategy questions you and your business ought to consider before launching so much as a Twitter profile. Let’s recap:

#1. Who is your target client?

#2. What is your product?

#3. What are your short-term and long-term goals?

“So Brittany,” you say, “I’ve thought about all three of these things really hard. Really, really hard. What do I do now?”

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How to figure out your content strategy—and why having one matters

When I first started playing pool, I drove my dad crazy. Not because I was good, but because I was lucky. I’d pull back my cue, whack the ball, and somehow, I’d send the right ball into a pocket (just don’t ask me to call it).

Not having a content strategy can put your website in my position at the pool table. If luck isn’t on your side, you can waste resources on content that doesn’t do a thing to help your business. Taking the time to put strategy behind your content is like lining up a shot: the more forethought you give it, the more knowledge you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. Will you win the game in a single turn? Maybe not. But your chances are far greater than if you crossed your fingers and put your success in the hands of Lady Luck.

Continue reading “How to figure out your content strategy—and why having one matters”

3 ways to build community online—and boost interest in your business

Leverage LinkedIn for its community-building potential.In the last decade, we’ve come a long way from networking groups and Chamber of Commerce meetings. As more and more adults follow younger generations onto social platforms, they are increasingly becoming an ideal way to not only find new business but to build community in a certain niche. Just five years ago, it might have been laughable to have a strong industry connection whom you’ve never met in person. Now, it’s a goal. Here’s how to achieve it.

Leverage LinkedIn

About.com’s Job Search expert Alison Doyle say LinkedIn is “the” site for professional networking. Career advisor Allison Cheston calls the social platform “ground zero” for establishing and building your career. But using LinkedIn isn’t limited to slapping up your resume and accepting invitations to connect. Taking advantage of all the functions the site offers, from a descriptive, biographical CV complete with concise headline and photo, to posting periodic career updates, achievements and relevant news articles, helps you create a complete, professional persona. One of the platform’s best features, though, is the thousands of groups you can join based on your profession, interests and location. Be careful when it comes to selecting groups, as it’s essential to become not just a member but a contributor to the community. The more you offer thoughtful input and advice, the more connections you’ll make.

Join a commenting community

Your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Search for blogs and niche online publications that focus, in some way or another, on your industry or your region. Subscribe to them, read them, and comment, congratulating others on their successes, giving advice, and suggesting alternative opinions or practices. It’s acceptable to leave your business or blog URL alongside your name as a sort of signature when you leave a considerate comment. Do it, and you’ll soon have others returning the favor.

Find a forum

Online bulletin boards erupted in the 1990s, cropping up everywhere like mole tunnels and ant hills. Now, they’re a bit more finessed in appearance and capabilities, but they function in much the same way. Spend an hour hunting for one that suits your professional interests. Make an account—one you’re comfortable linking to your business—build out your profile, introduce yourself, and sit back and observe for a week or so. When you have something to contribute to the conversation, dive right in.

Remember, these are all forms of professional communication. While you should be conversational, that doesn’t mean you ought to forget good grammar, throw in poor language, or attack or troll others who don’t share your viewpoints. Everything you say can be traced back to you and your business—always keep that in mind and comport yourself appropriately.

Let’s talk community! Where have you found support online?

Think Big: Social Networks Capture a Global Audience

Tuesday afternoon, I sat down with my mentor and one of her clients, a soon-to-be published author who is firmly rooted in face-to-face networking. It makes sense: She’s a speech consultant, and so she quite naturally places a great deal of importance on personal presentation and one-on-one and group interaction…off-line. While she’s an e-mail addict and possesses a blog, a Twitter account and a personal Facebook profile, she skeptical about social networking as a way to grow her business. Why can’t she do that face to face? she asks. Why can’t those who interested in her services simply e-mail or call her? After all, she has a Web site. All of that information is readily available.

The problem is that she’s thinking too small. You’ve heard it before, but I’m going to tell you again: We live in a global economy. Our world is becoming smaller and smaller, and social networking is a huge part of that evolution. As a speech consultant in New Jersey, she has no problem finding clients in the Tri-State area. But she’s an entrepreneur, the owner of a business of one. She can’t criss-cross the country to drum up business in person. And while she might have a Web site that is optimized well enough to draw a regional, national or international audience, she could do so much more to up her earning potential.

Enter social networking. It’s time consuming, don’t get me wrong, but so, so worth it. Why? Because by maintaining an active and engaging presence on targeted social media platforms, you can attract an array of individuals who have a need for your services but never would have come across you if not for your social media presence. Truth: You can stumble upon a Web site perchance while searching. But word of mouth, especially through highly public networks and connections forged on social media sites, can be much more effective than a random hit on a search results list.

The key to a successful social media strategy–and that means efficiency, too, don’t forget!–is targeting your approach and achieving and maintaining a high level of interaction with your community. The speech consultant I met with today markets her services to kingpin corporate types as well as small business owners like herself. Focusing her social media strategy on those platforms that attract her target audience, then, is the wisest choice. LinkedIn is essential for her, given its highly professional nature, as is Facebook for its universality. Remember: Facebook isn’t just for kids anymore! Sixty-one percent of Facebook users are 35 years old or older. If she decided to get into video, YouTube could be a clientèle-growing goldmine. But MySpace, Hi5 and the like? These social media platforms don’t need to be on her radar because they aren’t overwhelming populated by her target audience.

Then there’s the engagement aspect. You cannot build a profile, let it sit and expect to gain clients. Sure, you might get lucky, but you’re not harnessing the free PR power social media platforms offer. You must build a community by balancing entertainment, information and promotion. And you must ask questions, respond to comments and create conversation. When followers, friends or connections identify you as a knowledgeable, credible source of information, services and products, they will come to you when they are in need of assistance. Hello, clients!

Still skeptical? Read more about what social media can do for you.