Smart sharing: Secrets of a winning social media strategy

Do you have a social media strategy in place that bolsters your inbound marketing plan?

You might have some social pages and accounts meant for brand communities, but what is your social strategy doing to actually generate some leads and lure target audiences into your sales funnel? You need a winning social media strategy to take full advantage of your network for your inbound marketing. Here are a few helpful reminders of what that strategy should look like.

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How to create compelling content that converts

Like any other type of communication, content marketing is based on what you say and how you say it. People want concrete information they can apply to their own lives, delivered in a straightforward, entertaining way.

If you get your content strategy right, you’ll enjoy great conversion rates and long-term customer relationships. If not, your efforts will fall flat — or worse, turn people off to your brand. You don’t want your content marketing campaign to flatline so before getting started, take the time to create great content that does exactly what you want it to. These tips will help.

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Internet Marketing Tip: Original, Quality Content is Key

Graphs: Benefits of Blogging to Internet Marketing

There are numerous avenues of Internet marketing to venture into, and a plethora of tips and tricks you can apply in each to make the method of marketing more effective. One internet marketing tip, however, encompasses several facets of interactive and digital marketing, and is proven to be effective on several levels: original, quality content is key.

You probably heard it before, said in a different way or written in a different manner. Regardless of how it is said, the truth of it remains, and the advice is worth heeding. In fact, ensuring your website blog provides your visitors with fresh, original content is statistically proven to lead to success:

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The business case for your blog

Blog Post Lead Generation Graph

A big part of our work as a digital marketing agency involves talking to clients and prospective clients about creating quality Web site content on a regular basis, or what a lot of the world calls “blogging.”

And we get challenged on it. A lot. “We don’t have time to write that stuff,” “I hate writing that stuff,” “nobody would  read our blog.” These are all common objections that we hear.

But you should make time – or hire someone who’s good at it who has the time – and people will read it if it’s done right. In fact, according to HubSpot, companies that blog generate 70% to 90% more leads than comparable companies that don’t blog. And I’m going to guess, although I don’t have hard statistically  valid data to back it up, that companies that blog convert those leads into sales at a higher rate, too.

Here’s why…

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5 ways to make your online marketing really work

Internet marketing word cloud box package

Last time, I wrote about how, as owner of an online marketing company, I get to see first hand how many agencies – and many a digital agency to boot – fail with their campaigns because they fail to understand how the Internet has changed the buying process. (You can read the article here).

Now I want to talk about a new model of marketing that wins by connecting with customers’ new ways of choosing and buying.

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Content 2020: Dynamic Storytelling and the Future of Content Marketing [VIDEO]

I’m not crazy.

In fact, my instincts have been right all along.

Let me explain. A few months back, Coca Cola announced they were no longer going to rely on the “30-second TV spot” or even traditional ad agencies to build their business moving forward. According to Jonathan Mildenhall, VP Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence, Coke is going to put their efforts (and money) into content marketing.

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Toronto “Arts Czar” shows us how *not* to do engagement

A concern we hear a lot from marketers and business people is about how to deal with critical voices in social media — people who’ve had a bad customer service experience with you, have had problems with your product, people who are just huffy that you exist.

Arguing on teh internet

And the stock social media guru response to those concerns is that businesses should engage with those critical voices and use them as occasions to win converts.

We couldn’t agree more.

But there is a right way to engage with critics and a wrong way.

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Building Your Audience: Print vs Digital

“There ain’t no rules here, I’m just trying to accomplish something.” – Thomas Edison

Is print dead?

In a word, “no.”

Recently, however, there’s been a lot of “buzz” surrounding this hot topic.  On August 23rd, it seemed to all come to a head when best-selling marketing author Seth Godin broke the news he was ditching his traditional publisher, after 12 bestsellers, to sell his future works directly to his fans (see the full story here via The Wall Street Journal: Author to Bypass Publisher for Fans).

The news hit Twitter like wildfire.  The Wall Street Journal went on to state: [Seth Godin] “now has so many direct customer relationships, largely via his blog, that he no longer needs a traditional publisher.  [He] now plans to release subsequent titles himself in electronic books, via print-on-demand or in such formats as audiobooks, apps, small digital files called PDFs and podcasts.”

I’m not a best-selling author.

Therefore, I can’t speak from direct experience about how Godin’s decision might affect the economics of traditional publishing in the future.  According to best-selling author Tim Ferriss, there is still real value [when attempting to build credibility and audience] in having the rare stamp of approval that a ‘traditional’ publisher provides [for non-fiction authors in particular].”

For now, I can agree on the “credibility” part of this equation.  Although, more and more, I find I make decisions on who is credible based on how good the author’s content is and who in my social circle is subscribing to it and/or commenting on it (online).  When it comes, however, to actually building your audience I don’t really see the benefit of having a traditional publisher.

Let me explain.

When Seth made his announcement, many traditional publishers recommended that aspiring authors should not follow him down a similar path.  Their reasons?  Godin has a fanatical fan base (most new authors do not).  To succeed as a self-publisher you must also be a savvy marketing ninja and, lastly, it will take forever to make any money (if you make any at all).

Funny thing, according to some best-selling non-fiction authors I follow, publishers don’t really seem to provide any marketing support.  In fact, many authors are forced to learn how to self-promote and build their own audience.  Going the traditional route doesn’t guarantee you’ll make money either.  Many published authors must sell tens-of-thousands of copies before (if) they “earn out” their advance.  It also seems most of their revenue comes from speaking engagements and other strategic by-products.

Are you confused?  I am.

It seems, regardless of what route you take you need to build your own audience and that takes time, effort, and patience.  However, once you have an audience why would you need a publisher?

There are no rules

As we’ve seen, some have spent years going the traditional route and have been very successful (i.e. Tim Ferriss), THEN went on to build a loyal audience online.  On the flip side, others have built their audience online FIRST via a blog then continued on to publish “physical” books (i.e. 37signals).

In your business, your job might not be to become a best-selling author (unless it is). Your job is to build an audience and take them where they want and need to go. Getting published as an author can definitely help, but this can also be accomplished over time using digital channels to push out “professional looking” content.

Whether you’re an aspiring author or a business person looking to build a reputation as a thought leader I believe you are best served by building your audience first, online, based on what’s right for the audience you have today given your current situation and resources.  Who knows, maybe after a few years you’ll have a massive fanatical audience and, like Seth Godin, you’ll know who they are, what they want, and where they need to go.

What’s your take?

About the Author:

Mitch Fanning is VP of Strategy & Business Development for Fruition Interactive, an authorized member of Social Media Club, and founding member of Social Media Club Niagara. He’s spent 10 plus years working with businesses of all sizes, from global brands including to Canada’s fastest growing Internet companies ranked in the 2009 PROFIT 100.  Follow Mitch on his adventures in new media at [].

Photo credit: brdwatchr1