Our online words are our emissaries.
Rather than simply collecting and translating digital scriptures (a.k.a blog posts, whitepapers, case-studies), they represent a comprehensive, conclusively sound, captivating, and believable set of stories that actually tell our customers who we are.
Well, our writing may make us look smarter or just plain stupid; however, a challenge with many firms is starting and keeping their content marketing program on track.
One of the hardest struggles faced by marketers is how to spend quality time on it, or rather – how to start out with a content strategy with lesser time and resources.
Let’s take a closer look on how to start building a content plan, easily.
Start Out With a Content Goal or Target
Content marketing is the endeavor of creating and launching branded editorial content across all media channels and platforms, namely blogs, videos, podcasts etc. to deliver engaging insights and customer valued content that gain measurable results.
If there is no direction on what you wish to accomplish, your content marketing program, my friend, is like taming a wild horse running through the woods.
You might want to do more than just add to the daily flood of information that rushes through your emails, social handles or other content channels. And if you’re not watchful about what you share, you might do more harm than good.
Step 1 # Why you want to generate content that you want to share?
Step 2# What you really want to accomplish with it?
Your ultimate goal may be to make more money, but a more immediate objective could be to build brand awareness, demonstrate your firm’s expertise and/or create an engagement and build followers.
Define your Audience
Failure to define an audience can kill an initiative even before it starts.
When you define your prospects you are able to create information they’re interested in receiving.
Besides location, age, gender, a few simple ways to define and segment your customers are:
Step 1 # Ask existing customers what interests them.
Step 2# Segment the visitor base by what they are searching for on your site and what offers they respond to.
Step 3# Look up your home page and understand what type of customers it is focussed on/or not focussed on. Can prospects speak to you right away? Or is the site focussed too much on one aspect that it is not serving others?
Step 4#Consider online behavioral tools such as Omniture TouchClarity which allows you to determine your messaging based on a set of automated decisions determined by real-time modelling such as where the visitors came from, what they viewed and how they interacted with your site.
Decide on What to Share and How Often
Newsletters, email messages, social media posts and websites are the most common mediums through which content is shared. It is important for marketers to assess the strengths and match the right content type with the right medium.
Before closing in on the sharing mediums ask yourself the following –
Step 1# What is the nature of the content you intend to share? Is it plain text, images, videos or all?
Step 2# How often does your target audience expect to engage with you?
Step 3# What is the objective of your content – immediate conversions, monetizing your content, subscriptions or comments?
Step 4# Do you have any time and/or budget constraints?
For instance, through newsletters brands are able to add more touch points in one go than any other medium. However, frequency at which one would send out a newsletter can be anywhere between once a week to once in 6 months, hereby influencing the number of times you can actually engage with your audience as compared to other media options.
Websites prove to be an excellent platform to post whitepapers, videos and resource library. It is the ideal place to provide an overview about your brand or business. However, they tend to be passive and often need assistance from other mediums to drive people towards them.
Emails are an affordable and fast medium to convey your content. However, it does not work well if you intend to present long form content or if you wish to connect with audience members who don’t know about your company.
Social media is perfect for sharing information on a relatively frequent basis and for starting conversations that may be carried forward on offline mediums. However, one needs to put in extreme thought for every post, or it can severely backfire.
By setting the right goals and mastering various content sharing mediums, you will soon be able to implement a successful content marketing plan for your brand.
The rise of social conversations and blogging has fueled an arcane ocean of personal opinions in form of: ratings, recommendations, reviews and other form of online expression. For marketers there is clearly a shift in the fast-mounting trend of social data that needs to be comprehended to understand the collective consciousness of online users.
This past year, following are some interesting facts and findings on Social Media that can help your company to tweak its mainstream marketing efforts –
• Social Media is here to Stay: Marketers place a significant value, as much as 86% of them reveal that social media is important for them. This is an up from 83% from the past year.
• Companies Still Struggle Translating the Vagaries of Human Emotion to Hard Data: Interestingly, for a number of businesses, online opinion has turned into a virtual kind of online currency that has the ability to either make or break a product in the marketplace. The market for sentiment tools that could help companies track customer perceptions, their effects and means to respond them with appropriate marketing and public relation strategies are growing in demand. Some lightweight tools for casual surfers include Tweetfeel, Twendz, and Twitrratr. Others, who use more sophisticated algorithms include Jodange and Newssift.
• You Tube is now a lifestyle choice with over a Billion visitors per Month: A significant percentage of marketers (69%) plan on increasing their use of YouTube, marking it a top area of investment in 2014-15. It also hosts nearly 15 billion videos (comscore)
• Blogging is a Must : Most marketers want to learn blogging or seek help from content development companies to help them create an online presence. While about 58% are already blogging, 62% want to learn more about how to blog or various blogging platforms, and plan to increase their content writing activities in 2014.
• Google plus is a daily destination for Consumers: 75% of brands have a presence on Google plus.
• Podcasting is set to reach a new high in 2014: While podcasting is a very cheap way to advertise in groups of people sharing very specific interests, only 5% of marketers are yes involved with podcasting. However, with its potential, these activities are looking up to rise five-fold.
• Facebook has over 1.25 billion active monthly users: making it the most important social network for marketers.
• LinkedIn and Twitter: are the two other most important social sites after Facebook with over 226 million users and 500 million accounts respectively.
• Increased Presence is the top outcome of SMM efforts: A significant number of marketers have stated that increased exposure and presence is the number one outcome of their Social Media Marketing efforts.
What is your count on the most important social marketing platform ?
Over the growing number of years spent in Content Development, Management and Curation, I’ve dealt with scores, if not hundreds of incidents of plagiarism.
Not only have I battled with plagiarists turning in ‘artful twists’ of work that overlaps other published sources, but also people who have copied my own writing works across the web.
Truth, integrity and simply giving credit where it’s due are among the tenets of content that we all hold dear in any published form. And any material that does not reflect these essential standards is fundamentally a copyright infringement of the original author’s works.
Again, no two instances of plagiarism are exactly alike, and needs to be dealt separately.
However, there’s one common, recurring theme that remains constant all through these sardonic stages of literary theft.
That is – Cut, Copy, Paste (with artful twists, of course) other peoples work and claiming it as their own.
Here are some common characterizations on why people plagiarize and how one should avoid it-
There is No Exact Reason on Why one Plagiarizes
Just few days ago CNN fired its London Bureau employee, a seasoned news editor (with great recommendations) Marie-Lousie Gumuchian for repeated instances of plagiarism that got discovered during a routine editing check.
When confronted on what she had to say?
The good faith that was placed in her had been compromised, and for no apparent reason.
While it’s easy to blame ones personal failings, or making of excuses, much of the confusion seems legitimate. Every person struggles to explain their shortcomings, when confronted, and plagiarism is no different.
Unplanned Shortcuts for a Writer
While one doesn’t plan of becoming a plagiarist while starting out with a writing career, there seems to be an ethical lapse on the way, often due to external circumstances.
For instance, one may find it a quick approach to earn extra bucks, or save on their time while researching, or even find help in copying from a great deal of background material. All this then grows into a compulsive habit of ripping off other people’s works, and claiming it as their own.
Simply put, it is a convenient shortcut for a writer, for which he/she even gets rewarded, if not caught.
Baking in the Same Mistakes
Once a plagiarist, is likely to be a plagiarist again.
This is not a surprising revelation, as someone who has routinely been submitting copied work that gets paid for, is likely to bake another such piece.
What’s more surprising however, is that they will often continue plagiarizing even after getting caught, may be this time for another client.
Whether to give them a second chance? Nopes…I’d rather steer away from them completely.
Getting Caught is not what a Plagiarist Expects
It is appalling to notice what comfort writing can do to a plagiarist.
They often work hard, harder I would say, than most legitimate writers. They will pump up more time, to look up more sources, and then artfully edit and re-edit, working hard to hide their plagiarism. By the time they are done, the piece has often taken more time and effort than a genuine piece of writing.
Moreover, even after we read news after news on incidents of plagiarism surfacing, one still carries on to believe that they will not be caught. They may even risk their reputation as an academic or a seasoned writer.
The reasons for this are many, for they have learned to outsmart Google, get an edge on most plagiarism checker tools, and found a way to convince themselves that they are completely safe – until they are confronted by the revelation.
While plagiarism is an unsavory act committed like any other breach of trust, there is no clear demarcation on what can be said as an original or genuinely researched material, to a well-drained, tossed and mixed bowl salad of words.
So while the struggle against plagiarism is worth fighting for, every content owner should be aware why the plagiarist would choose to hit the ‘copy’ button for them.