marketing

Hey, What’s the Blog Idea?

Told with some help from Will Ferrell.

When people ask us if they should have a blog on their website, they aren’t usually expecting to hear “Well, it depends.” Do I think blogs can be beneficial to businesses and websites? Absolutely. But, not all businesses have the resources- that is, time- to blog consistently and run the business. Like anything, if you know that you don’t have the time/energy to commit, then it’s best to leave it alone. Sticking to a consistent schedule (even if it’s only once a week) is kind of important for followers. Recently, I’ve gotten hooked on this awesome podcast (it’s actually 70% of why I watch the Housewives in the first place), and it only took me a week to decipher the schedule (not that it was particularly difficult). Every Wednesday on my commute home, I look forward to listening to the podcast that discusses Real Housewives of Orange County. And, because Ronnie and Ben have a consistent schedule, it’s become part of my weekly routine. Wednesdays are my favorite days of the week. It’s going to be tough when the season ends.



But if you can commit to something consistent and relatively frequent (once a month probably won’t cut it), then yes, a blog can do wonders for you. Here are some unique ways that a blog can do wonders for your business:

Prove you know things.

"...People know me."

“…People know me.”

I don’t mean this in a “I’m kind of a big deal…People know me” way or by spontaneously shouting things like “I party with John-John Kennedy!“, to go back to the Housewives (get it together, Sonja). Sharing industry knowledge shows that as a business, you know what’s what (even if, like Sonja, you may not always know who’s who). Employ the Internet has an excellent, easy to digest article all about this subject. If you’re in the tech industry, sharing information about new releases, recalls, or innovative ways for people to use devices demonstrates that hey, you know a thing or two about this whole technology business. Plus, you’re even willing to share that knowledge with other people.

But hey, won’t people just take my information and do their own thing? There is always that possibility. But, most of the time, people will read your blog and feel a bit daunted about going out and winging it on their own. Or, feeling confident with the wealth of information they’ve acquired, they roll up their sleeves and realize “Oh wait…this isn’t nearly as easy as I thought.” Either way, they’ll most likely remember you as the original source of their information and contact you for help.

Who knows, you might totally blow people's minds with all your knowledge.

Who knows, you might totally blow people’s minds with all your knowledge.

They aren’t just a “one and done” deal. You may think that nothing on the internet is permanent, but as this lesson in Twitter shows, old content that you may thing has disappeared isn’t necessarily gone forever. A more relevant example comes from our own blog. The posts that gain the most attention are those that were written a couple years ago (and this is without any extra sharing or extra promoting on our part). Nicole’s 2010 post on Mailchimp vs. Constant Contact is still in our top 10 most visited pages. This particular breed of posts (referred to in this Hubspot article as “compounding blog posts“) are basically golden eggs of a blog. While they may not directly be making you any money, they have a snowball effect that picks up as time goes on. That being said, blogs are not necessarily the place to go for instant gratification. Compounding blog posts start off handheld snowball size- you aren’t coming out of the gates with a boulder sized snowball.

Not all of your blog posts are going to compound. According to Hubspot, 1 in 10 blog posts will compound rather than decay. Generally, a compounding blog post has a title that mimics something people would search for (think about it: people trying to decide between Mailchimp and Constant Contact are probably going to search for something like “Mailchimp vs. Constant Contact” in a search engine) and cover topics that are “evergreen.” There should be a balance between hot topic ideas (those that are highly relevant now but will probably fizzle out within a month) and those that’ll withstand the test of time.



Mugatu-So-Hot-Right-Now

But will he be hot next season?

People feel like they know you already. Curious people visit websites to do some research prior to making a purchase. In fact, according to this article from Forbes, 33% of millennials consult blogs before purchasing decisions (unclear whether this is a blog written within a business itself or by third parties offering reviews). According to this article from Hubspot, blogs are in the top 5 for trusted online sources. As time goes on, people view advertisements as quick stories or clips, while blogs are seen as more authentic, like a peek behind the mask. When in perusal mode, a blog is often something potential customers use to put out feelers for a business. Speaking from personal experience, I’m usually on the lookout for things like tone (Is it friendly or didactic? Does it match what one would expect for their particular industry? Do they seem like they’d be approachable in real life?), topics (Do they write about the same thing all the time? Are they providing helpful material?), frequency (When was their most recent post?), and of course, the writing itself (words, syntax, the whole nine yards).

bestfriends

I like to imagine that this is how people feel when they read our blog.

We’ve gotten emails from people saying “Hey, we’d really love to work with you on X. I read your blog, and you seem like you’re fun to work with!” Oh…and we know what we’re doing. My point is, many of these people have never met us in real life, so they went to our blog for recon.

No matter what your industry, blogs can bring in business. You just have to think a little outside the box…and be patient.



The Revolution Will Be On Video

I’m on video not because I’m vain but because that’s where things area headed. We can learn a lot from video’s less intimidating predecessor: photos.

When I began my website, a fellow blogger (after seeing a picture of me on Facebook) told me I should add my photo to the sidebar of my blog. She reasoned that I was attractive and it could only help for people to see me. (For context, in case you don’t know me, I am no great beauty. I’m not the kind of person who would cause a traffic accident or inspire Train would write a whiny song. My brand of attractiveness is soccer mom/Tylenol commercial, which honestly is just fine with me.)

It’s probably hilarious for you to hear a story about someone suggesting someone else upload a photo of themselves (and me not just doing it immediately), but this was kind of novel. Back in 2007, not many people had their pictures on their websites. And even parts of the internet you would actually associate with having pictures (ex: real estate listings) had a limited amount. For example, in 2009, the Maine MLS data feed fetched tenish photos at a time. I remember because the real estate agent wanted 25 photos but since they weren’t in the feed, we had to custom program the page to display the ten photos from the feed plus additional ones.

In 2015, can you think of even a low end real estate listing with only ten pictures? I feel like I see 25 photos of some peoples’ breakfasts sometimes.

I looked for a graph supporting my observations and thought this was a pretty good one (originally on The Atlantic- click over to see other fun graphs!)

photosonplatforms

Anyway, photos were a new frontier and having them made you cutting edge. In 2007-2008.

In an age of Instagram, Facebook albums, and phone cameras, we now get to be clever with photos. They are not novel but expected. Now taking better photos is important, which is why we have a workshop about taking photos with your smartphone happening this week at our business.

Video is now the novelty.

As I try to coax clients to be in videos (because we always want to be ahead of the curve), there is more resistance then there was when I was begging them for headshots. It does feel more personal for someone to see your facial expressions, hear your voice, and see your unfiltered face (though some video software, like Google Hangout, lets you do some flattering edits if you take time to figure it out). Video also feels like a bigger deal to do. You want a tripod, lighting, a non crappy background, perhaps a microphone or a non-echoy room. There is just more to consider.

Because of this additional consideration, there never seems a time you feel ‘ready’ to make a video. Every time I think of making a video for Anchorspace, for example, I am usually not wearing makeup or otherwise feel not suited for the camera. So two weeks ago, I decided to do a voiceover with photos and stick it on Facebook as an initial video. I spent about two hours on it after I finished cleaning the Anchorspace bathrooms and kitchen. (I really want to set this up as glamourous as it was.) The resulting video was kind of low budget but under 1 minute and got through my main marketing messages.

For comparison, I’ve been posting still photos of the inside of Anchorspace as well. Let’s look at the stats for this somewhat crappy photo:

facebookanchorspace-imagestatsNow here are the stats for my similarly crappy video:

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 12.30.59 PM

Yes there are more views but honestly, the impressive thing is how many more times it was clicked on. And that some people watched the whole thing (5% but still).

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 12.25.13 PM

For the final version of this experiment, I should do a real video (me on camera talking at least part of the time) but this just to show you even a crappy video will get you more attention than a photo, probably because novelty. So don’t be afraid of making something and putting it out there.

Now if you think this was my cop out, I assure you you can see more of us on video on our Google+/Youtube channel: https://plus.google.com/+BreakingEvenInc/posts  And yes, every time I see a video of myself, I always think ‘Is my face that round?’ and ‘Why do I move my hands so much?’ But despite my lack of perfection, I am more than willing to be ahead of the curve and in 2015 that means with a camera rolling in a video sense.

I urge you all to consider video… because I bet you can expect where a graph of video uploads between 2013 and 2018 is going to be trending when it exists. Be ahead of the curve and get out from behind the lens. You may be surprised who watches.

Can Businesses Make Money on Instagram?

You know how people will ask you a really good question that you have to stop and think about? That happened to me last week, when one of our clients asked “How do businesses make money on Instagram?” In that moment, I realized I didn’t have a good answer-maybe because I’ve been using Instagram for over a year now and reached the point where I assumed that everyone understands why a business would want to be on Instagram (just like any other social media site).

The short answer that I have: you don’t make any money- at least, not directly.* The purpose of having Instagram for any business is to engage customers or potential customers, to get attention, to remind people that your business exists (or ensure that they don’t forget in the first place).

*Okay, some people I know have sold things straight from posting pictures on Instagram (usually artists). There are always exceptions 🙂

Use hashtags. We’ve talked about hashtags quite a bit in the past, mainly pertaining to Twitter, but the same ideas can be applied to Instagram. Using the right kinds of hashtags when you post a picture can increase your visibility with an audience that would actually be beneficial (instead of the “I will get you 1,000 followers” spammy accounts). Stumped on where to start with hashtags? Don’t worry- you’re definitely not alone. Start with the obvious: the picture itself. From there you can branch out- I’d recommend checking out industry related hashtags, or what similar businesses are using in their posts. Don’t be a straight-up copy-cat, but definitely use the inspiration to get your clever hashtag gears turning.

Links to website. In your little Instagram bio, you can add a link to your website (which, as a business, is usually recommended). The ultimate goal with Instagram marketing is to direct people to your website, so you might as well make it easy to get to. Some places will even link directly to their desired call to action page (i.e. subscribe to our newsletter, online store, blog, etc), so you’re not limited to your homepage. This link can be changed in the future, and many companies will change it during a sale or online contest to make it easy for followers to find.

Inspire people. Some businesses have a product or service that, on it’s own, doesn’t make for compelling imagery. For instance, Bob’s Red Mill  (a business that makes whole grain and gluten free flours, grains and baking mixes) could, to a point, take pictures of their different flours and leave it at that. However, they frequently post pictures of meals and recipes that use their products. Seeing some gooey chocolate muffins sets off that little reward ticker in my brain, and I’m much more likely to go out and buy some coconut flour (plus I have a “begin with the end in mind” approach to all things food).bobsredmill

You can also do quick video clips of your product or service in action. I’ve seen a few fitness brands share workout clips, snippets from a class in action, or promoting gear or other brands that they enjoy.

Be funny. A little sense of humor goes a long way. For instance, awhile ago I saw a company that used #MCM along with a goofy picture of an employee (I’m assuming it was with his permission). A lot of people I follow use industry or business-related memes. No, these aren’t going to make you direct money and aren’t self-promoting, but they help “show your human side” according to Social Media Examiner. I definitely enjoy seeing businesses that enjoy being a bit silly on social media-it makes them seem more approachable, and

Interact. Last but not least, interact with other users on the ‘Gram. This includes following people back, responding to comments if you choose, and encouraging users to tag you in posts related to your business. For example, Bob’s Red Mill invites users to use the hashtag #bobsredmill when sharing their product. It’s kind of genius when you think about it- getting people to share your product via hashtag is basically getting promoted for free. No, you don’t directly make any money, but you’re showing that you’re friendly by engaging with customers, and your business is gaining some attention.

Does it “make sense” for every business to have an Instagram account? Not necessarily. It may be a fun opportunity to try it out, even if you have to get a bit creative thinking of things to post!

Tech Thursday: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (Your Marketing Content)

You know all that work you just put into putting something online? Let’s ride the wave a bit and do a bit more work for a lot more impact. Whether you’re making a video, blog post, newsletter, or promotional image, we have some ideas on getting more “bang for your buck”- that is, making the most out of things you’ve already spent a lot of time and energy working on.

Have you seen marketing content re-used in a way you thought was interesting? Any ideas for a topic you’d like to learn more about? Let us know!



Tech Thursday: Running an Instagram Contest

This week, we thought it’d be fun to chat a bit about Instagram contests! These are great ways to increase your exposure as a business and letting people connect. There are a few different types of contests you can set up:

1) Challenges (either “one and done” or something that’s ongoing) (Example 1 from Running on Om and Example 2 from Mashable/Hilton)

2) Product Selfies (Exampe 3 from Om Nom Nom Inc– this contest makes me want a) this t-shirt and b) cookies).

3) Reposting.

A few things to keep in mind when running the contest: types of images you want shared, how they get attributed (coming up with a specific hashtag), and how long you want the contest to run. We’ll discuss these in further detail/with examples in the video!

Have you seen any cool Instagram contests you want to share with us? Got ideas for our next Thursday? Leave a comment or fill out our contact form (www.breakingeveninc.com/contact) and tell us about it!



Tech Thursday: The Art of the After-Party (How to Follow Up Post-Event)

As a business or individual, you may find yourself throwing an event. A lot of energy gets put into the preparation and actually hosting the event, so by the time it’s over, most of us don’t want to do anymore work. But, to take your event from “good” to “great,” consider some of these ideas for following up with attendees after the “party.” Start with a “Thank You,” maybe a survey for feedback, and see where it goes from there!



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