Content Marketing

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Content marketing – it’s not just content for contents sake

Consider the changing shape of the comms industry, and you will undoubtedly come across the phrase ‘content marketing’. Content has become the ‘buzz word’ for the industry – whether you specialise in SEO, digital marketing or indeed more traditional avenues such as online advertising and PR. But what does content mean? And why is it so important?

At the risk of teaching you to suck eggs, content is – in a nutshell – what makes the communications industry go round. It’s the bread and butter of the sector and it’s an essential tool to ensure brands are putting out the right message and engaging their audience; whether they’re corporates, consumers or stakeholders. So we’ve established that content is the crooks of online communications, which may – to some extent – explain why it’s such an overused term. It’s an essential element to any communications campaign. Without the content, there really is nothing to communicate online, no way to get across your message and in turn no way to build awareness, drive sales or increase footfall.

But has the industry really changed? Or is content marketing merely a new term used to dress up old school tactics? Well yes and no. Content remains at its roots, exactly that; information, a message – whether its worked up into an old school snappy strapline, or a radio jingle, the content remains. What has changed is how content is utilised. The medium in which we both push out and consume content has become ever more varied, and of course we can’t mention medium, without touching on platforms – think blogs, social media, vlogs, digital press… the list is endless.

So, final question… what is the real key to successful content marketing? Well, in short it’s entirely dependent on audience. More and more communicators are being pressed to really consider whom they’re looking to engage. The days of pushing out a press release and totting up press cuttings has long gone. The press office, whilst still relevant, is now an entirely different beast. It’s digital and it acts more as a groundswell from which a brand can maintain a presence and voice, but without strategic campaigns interweaved into the strategy, it is in some aspects a little redundant.

The audience, the consumer – whether B2B or B2C – is savvy, savvier than ever. We’re used to consuming media on mass. Generic content has become sub-standard. It just doesn’t cut the biscuit. Consumers want more, they want tailored messaging, something they can relate to, and something they can truly feel engaged with. And so we see the rise of lifestyle content within the B2B market becoming more successful, and very personalised and strategically relatable content for the B2C market becoming nothing short of essential.

There are four elements to successful content marketing:

  • First and foremost you audience – what do they want to see? What is it that really appeals to them?
  • Secondly, your messaging – how can you make your message relevant? Is taking an indirect approach more effective in the long term?
  • Third comes the platform – how can you access your audience? Do they read online news…? Or are they more proactive across social platforms? Perhaps they’re not proactive across traditional social platforms at all? If so, how are they engaging with brands across the web, is it via online communities, local groups, podcasts?
  • Finally comes the content – once the former points have been established, only then can you really consider how you can create and indeed market your digital content to your audience

Content marketing is developing and ever changing. But, other than mediums changing to adapt to platform updates and launches, the core principle remains the same: Always consider your audience.

Prohibition Pirate Takeover

Here at Prohibition HQ, we love creative social campaigns of all natures, and video content is no exception. So when our lovely city centre client, The Light, informed us that they would be hosting another pop-up bar – after the success of the Game of Thrones-themed Stark’s Tavern – we couldn’t wait to get creative. The theme this time? Pirates.

The launch of the bar was set to coincide with the release of the much-anticipated fifth instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales. The bar itself was to feature Caribbean cocktails from in-house mixologists Turtle Bay, pirate props and a steel band playing everything from Caribbean calypso to traditional sea shanties.

Our response was simple: create an engaging and humorous video. In order to encourage excitement and buzz around the bar and drive footfall to its launch, we called on ultimate Jack Sparrow lookalike, Simon Newton, to create (a lot of) mischief in and around Leeds city centre on one particularly gloomy Monday evening.

Our strategy was to release three micro videos over the weekend, teasing the people of Leeds about what was to come, and one full length video afterwards, driving people to the bar’s opening on May 26th.

The results were incredible, with the video achieving a reach of almost half a million people, all in Leeds, drove 128,000 video views and encouraged a total of 13,000 likes, comments and shares.

Did you see the video? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Check it out here.

Top Ten Instagram Tools

Top Ten Tools – Instagram

Instagram is one of the newer social media platforms on the block, when compared to digital veterans like Facebook and Twitter. However, it is rapidly becoming one of the most popular, with the site reaching the 10 million user landmark within 10 weeks of its launch. The photo-sharing site now has more than 150 million active users, with 55 million images being shared around the globe each and every day.

Increasingly, brands are beginning to recognise the benefits of being active on Instagram, and to aid marketers and PRs, there are a growing number of tools available to help ensure that your account is as engaging and appealing as possible. Here’s my roundup of the very best.

  1. Gram Feed

Gram Feed is Prohibition’s personal favourite; an incredibly handy tool providing the only aspect that Instagram’s creators seem to have overlooked, a fully-functioning website. The tool not only makes it much easier to browse your own feed, but also to share friends’ images on other social sites like Facebook and Twitter. The clever part, and undoubtedly the most useful for social marketers, is its’ location visualisation capability. You can identify exactly where an image was posted, and when. If you enter a specific location, you are able to see posts made within a specific distance and the people who’ve posted them – allowing you to identify your target audience and interact with them on a channel where they’re already active.

  1. Iconosquare

Iconosquare, formerly Statigram, is an extremely helpful programme which provides really detailed analytics of your account, demonstrating in-depth statistics such as follower growth, how engaging content is and the most popular types of content. This allows you to better tailor you future content to ensure it is as successful as possible and in turn, creates better results. Another interesting feature is its ability to promote posts across other platforms. For example, if you haven’t yet joined the Instagram hype, you can easily install the app which enables you to share Instagram content onto your Facebook page.

  1. Postso

Postso is an Instagram scheduling tool. If you’re managing an Instagram account on behalf of a client, and want your content to reach the maximum amount of people, you may want to wait to post something until your audience’s peak activity time. This may well be 2am, and in these cases, a scheduling tool is pivotal. It may not offer much else in the way of tricks, but you cannot beat its functionality and helpfulness!

  1. Twtrland

Twtrland may well have started out as an analytics tool for Twitter, but it has now branched out into the Instagram arena too. It is key for conducting online competitor analysis, as well as analysing your own data and audiences. Not only can you examine what kinds of content your competitor is using, but you can also access a competitor’s network – meaning that you can compare follower statistics and how much engagement they get on a standard basis.

  1. Simply Measured

Simply Measured is the ultimate tool when it comes to Instagram analytics. It allows you to analyse your brands not only on Instagram, but also on Facebook, Twitter and even new(ish) kid on the block, Google+. This tool allows you to extract data from your account and even run individual reports which can be downloaded into an Excel format, allowing you to analyse the data you choose more closely. It analyses most of the same statistics as the majority of other tools, but it also includes some more obscure information like your most engaging filter, location and engagement outside of Instagram – i.e Tweets and Facebook likes, comments and shares on your photos.

  1. Piqora

Piqora is a popular tool and it provides an extensive analysis of both Instagram and Pinterest accounts. For Instagram, it allows you to find and track your most popular hashtags and successful images – enabling you to share them on your other social media platforms. It also boasts another useful advantage: monitoring conversation. As all PRs and marketers will know, reliable tools for monitoring brand conversation are hard to come by, and when monitoring key influencers and competitors, with Piqora, you can also track brand images shared by particular users.

  1. SnapWidget

SnapWidget allows you to easily embed a photo gallery into your website or blog, and you can even customise its appearance. You can choose whether to display the gallery based on either a username or a hashtag, depending on what you want to track.

  1. Picdeck

Picdeck is an extremely useful tool that can be used to organise accounts. It is the Instagram equivalent of Tweetdeck, and it aims to organise Instagram in the same way that Tweetdeck organises Twitter feeds. When you log in, the app creates a column of the Instagram feed, and like Tweetdeck, you can set up other columns for individual users or specific hashtags that you want to monitor – be this competitors or key influencers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same functionality as Tweetdeck as of yet, as you can’t create new Instagram posts through the programme, or use it for multiple accounts.

  1. Totems

Totems describes itself as ‘the most complete marketing suite for brands on Instagram’, and is undoubtedly an extremely useful tool for marketers whose clients are active on Instagram. It offers an array of advanced social analytics for Instagram accounts – invaluable for reporting back to clients on progress of social accounts. This tool allows you to analyse your audience, track all campaigns, and monitor your competitors all in one easy and simple to use programme.

10. Pic Stitch

Pic Stitch is a really useful Instagram tool for when you want to try out different stylistic features on your images. It also allows you to combine a number of pictures into one portrait. There are also 32 varieties of layout and nine photo aspect ratios to choose from, enabling you to customise your image to exactly how you want it, and to have the correct format for each specific platform – creating a really premium image. Pic Stitch also allows you to apply artistic finishes to your photos, from rounded corners to shadows, numerous patterns and filters. This aspect is particularly useful when making a client’s product or venue look more appealing, and which can be tailored, depending on its audience.

 

Are you active on any of the tools above? Which ones do you use or swear by? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing

Content marketing is a fairly new concept, and although many may see it simply as online journalism, the reality is that content marketing is a key tool in drawing in an audience and increasing the visibility of a client. If you have clients whose products aren’t of genuine interest to you then producing engaging, interesting copy can prove to be difficult. Here at Prohibition, we produce web content for a wide range of products and services, and know just how much work goes into perfecting a content marketing system and becoming experts on multiple subject matters. If you’re struggling with where to start on those tricky pieces of content, then check out our guide as to best practice.

Know the audience and know the market
If you’re going to write convincing content as part of your strategy then you need impart authoritativeness on your readers. No matter what subject matter you’re writing an article on, there will already be a market out there you’ll need to compete against. Before you start writing, check the existing market to see what is already readily available. Audience views and engagement are vital aspects of content marketing, so take a look at the style of writing that is already proving successful. Take these styles and tweak them to come up with original content, as you don’t want to produce overly similar articles to what is already on the web.

Google predictions
You could produce the highest quality content is of genuine interest to people, however if you don’t make your article Google friendly then the chances are no one will find it. Even if you thoroughly research your market and audience before then producing an immaculately written piece of content, you’ve only fought half the battle. As a basic start, head to Google and type in the keywords of your article. Take note of the Google search bar, as it tries to predict what you’re writing. Often, when people search for topics they will pick the most relevant predicted search, meaning that the suggestions are topics that are searched frequently. By including popular words in your article titles then you increase the search-ability of your work.

Google AdWords
Whilst the use of the above mentioned Google predictions is a basic tool, the most effective way to target an article to your audience is through the use of Google AdWords. A free tool, AdWords allows you to inter the key themes of your article, which then gives results around the most popular search terms on the subject, along with the most associated phrases. The function also provides information on how expensive advertising is for each search, with higher priced searches driving most traffic. Incorporate this knowledge into your title and article headings to take the Google ranking of your article to the next level.

Quality or quantity?
This is an important question when it comes to content marketing, and one that you need to strike the right balance with. It’s always the case that any content you write should be of a high quality, however sometimes the rigorous research and attention to detail with certain articles limits your overall output. If you’re building a content marketing strategy on behalf of a client completely from scratch, then you need to begin the process with a focus on quantity. It’s tough to strike a balance, especially when you still need to do initial research into the existing market and your potential audience, however it will be important initially to churn out well written articles with relative frequency. Through providing a reasonable flow of content you will begin to generate an audience. As time goes by, we’d advise you rein in the quantity and focus on exclusive high quality pieces, which readers won’t find anywhere else on the web, meaning they’ll keep returning to read your work.

Focus on your subject
If you write exclusively about a narrow topic, they you will be aware that there’s only so much you can write articles on before you begin to run out of ideas and start regurgitating old content. At some point, you’ll probably be forced into expanding into other topics, however you’ll need to make sure they remain relevant to your product and your audience. In order to do this, you’ll need to ‘cast a wider net’, and connect with new people on social media to make sure your diversified content doesn’t go to waste.

Will people come back?
If you follow these steps, then you’ll begin to generate a real following. Your content will be out there on the web, searchable on Google, in high quantities and of high quality. We’ve found this to be a recipe for success when it comes content marketing, with our own strategy over at First Home News being a case in point. Even the best writer will admit that the longer you work on a piece, the higher the quality will be, so build towards this. Establishing a high amount of content to begin is important so that your audience don’t stumble across your page with a bare, unprofessional look. Building up an archive of articles quickly makes you look more authoritative, so is an important first step. Importantly, you don’t want to be shamelessly plugging your client within your content. The aim of a content marketing strategy is to provide content of genuine interest to potential customers without alienating them.

 

Do you have any top tips for content marketing, or have we missed anything off that you’d advise? If so, drop us a comment in the box below.

 

Photo Credit: Ѕolo via Compfight cc

5 tips to keeping your Facebook content fresh

downloadHow often do you post an update on your Facebook brand page? Weekly, every other day, daily, more often than that even? There’s not necessarily a right or wrong number of times to post updates, and your appropriate post frequency depends heavily on your brand, the purpose and broader strategy of your page and how interested or engaged your audience is.

Clearly a Gen Y mobile operator or fashion retailer will do things differently to an engineering company or a law firm, but regardless of sector, it’s always worth asking yourself some serious questions to make sure your content is as fresh, engaging and hard-working as possible. Here’s a few pointers to achieving this –

1)     What does your Facebook insights tell you?

Every community manager should spend as much time in the back-end of Facebook as in the front end. That means getting to understand your audience; what day and time are they online, and what content do they engage with most? Act on the insights, even if it means chopping out a day’s content here or there. And be prepared for some surprises: maybe your audience is most active at 11pm on a Sunday night, not at 9am on a Monday morning as you previously thought.

2)     (As tempting as it might be) avoid straying into spam territory

Ok, so we’re not talking spam in the conventional sense, but avoid ‘shouting’ at your audience. Try to keep explicit brand messages to an approximate 1:10 ratio, unless you have good reason to do otherwise. Similarly, if you see your engagement dropping right off, then maybe you’re over-posting (or indeed, under-posting) or just not hitting the mark with your content. Less is often more.

3)     Are you ever scraping the barrel when it comes to content?

You know what I’m talking about here, but don’t try to link your brand to every damn world event or public holiday that’s happening. Obviously if you’re a greeting’s card company then Christmas is perfect for you, but if you’re a wood stain company, then it might not be such a good idea. It’s worth following Condescending Corporate Brand Page for some of the very worst examples of this.      

4)     An image (or video) tells a thousand words

Social media has been hurtling towards rich media content for a while, but only now are we truly reaching tipping point. So that means telling your brand story though imagery, not endless text updates. Think about what imagery you could use as a brand and invest properly in quality photography and design, not tired stock shots.

5)     Embrace Facebook’s new promotional guidelines (sparingly)

As you no doubt know, Facebook now allows you to directly run promotions or competitions on your brand wall, rather than via a third-party app. This can be a double-edged sword; don’t fall into the trap of running competitions or giveaways too frequency, or you risk attracting the ‘compers’, who are only interested in freebies, not what you’ve got to say. But that said, a well-timed promotion or competition can do wonders for your post reach and engagement. Also think of creative mechanisms, such sharing a branded photo or a website treasure hunt – not just a ‘like to enter’.

It takes a brave social media executive to suggest to their client that maybe they shouldn’t be doing social media updates every day, especially when that client pays for said agency’s time, or that there needs to be a dramatic content focus shift. However, Facebook brand pages should be fun, engaging, living, breathing communities, not just a one way conversation. Ask yourself, is your brand page reaching its potential?

Five must have tools for content marketing

One of the biggest problems for businesses is that they have something to say, but not a voice loud enough to rise above the swarms of other businesses also trying to tell people their message. Here lies the need for content marketing which offers different tools to help your voice stand out from the crowd. A creative and original content strategy can be the key to connecting with your audience whilst also expanding your social footprint. This can range from the content you create to tools you use to publicise it.

The one thing you can’t top is creating imaginative and high quality content, consistently. If you want people to repeatedly return to you, you have to frequently supply material worth coming back for.  There’s no point publishing an article onto your blog or website and then not putting anything out there again for the next few months. People will lose interest. It also helps to be unique and have a catchy headline. Any potential audience is going to be attracted to your headlines more than anything else and this is why ‘top tens’ and ‘the best…’ work so well. People aren’t always interested in trawling through reams of copy and are much more attracted to easy reads where quick comparisons can be made. With this in mind, here are some useful tools to help you in devising a content marketing strategy.


Infographics but don’t miss the obvious.

Since 2010, infographic search trends have gone up 800% which goes someway to explaining their popularity. For the lay audience out there, an infographic is a visual and usually colourful representation of usually quite complex data/information. Not only are they beneficial to the visual learners, but they really stand out in the congested market of content, tweets and status updates. The ease at which they can be scanned and shared makes infographics a really engaging medium with the potential to become viral. You can create them on websites such as infogr.am and visual.ly. The key mistake many people make here is just creating the graphic and then sending the JPEG out which often defeats the object of getting a link back. If you place your infographic on your own website and use an embed code so people can embed it on their sites this creates the link and you get a free link for all of your efforts too.


Social media management apps

Social media is arguably the most important tool for businesses when it comes to content marketing. However, it can become difficult to manage when you have so many accounts across various platforms. Hootsuite is one of the most popular management tools when it comes to social media and it allows firms to execute operations on the likes of Twitter and Facebook from one dashboard. You can schedule messages or status updates, track conversations and even analyse traffic all from one screen. There are other management tools out there such as TweetDeck, Bufferap and Tweepi, but Hootsuite has proven to be the most popular with free and paid versions available with many criticising Tweetdeck since it was bought out by Twitter.


Editorial Planning

Surprise, surprise but content is still key in this new world of digital PR so it’s important to be organised. A content calendar such as DivvyHQ or Kapost makes it easy to stay on top of your content and allows a business to plan and manage the production process for each of its articles. These online tools allows a host of calendars to be set up, categorised in a range of ways from client name to content type and enables the user to add article ideas and deadlines if necessary. If content publishing is your new marketing, then being organised is essential.


WordPress is the blogging weapon of choice

Content Marketing

WordPress is the number one publishing tool out there on the social web and it provides a detailed and versatile platform to deliver content to a potential market. The blogger is king in the digital age and open source software such as WordPress means it’s never been easier to set up a blog or website for your business. WordPress has an intuitive design which makes it easy to create, design and modify posts and is incredibly easy to manage. It’s also created with SEO in mind and has many default features in place to help search engines find your page as well as making various plugins available to increase the search exposure of posts. The key to wordpress is these plugins – so many people just set up a blog with wordpress and post their content but if they actually sat down and went through the most useful apps like Akismet, related posts and many more like these.


Google Analytics

If you’re going to be producing an abundance of content you’re going to want to know where your audience is actually coming from. Google Analytics creates comprehensive statistics about the amount of traffic going to a website and where this traffic is coming from, i.e. search engines, social media etc. It can also give you the make-up of your audiences with it using cookies to determine a visitor’s gender, age and interests. This is a powerful tool (IT’S FREE) which allows a business to determine exactly who to target and how. Another great benefit comes in your knowledge that through utilising analytics, you have a solid understanding of the wants and needs of your audience, allowing you to provide them with what they crave on a regular basis.

All good businesses understand the important of content when it comes to PR and social media marketing, and this list, albeit not exhaustive, highlights some of the key tools which can be used to make content marketing just that little bit easier.

Image credit to bplanet via https://www.freedigitalphotos.net