Posts By: engagetargetmedia

How to Write a Great Tutorial

Tutorial written with white chalk on a blackboard.We know that tutorials can be pretty boring to watch or read. It’s hard to keep an audience focused if the subject material is drab and dull. With a little effort, we are going to show you how to turn your boring tutorials into something engaging in just 5 steps.

First you will want to start with the why. Learning anything new requires effort, so to get people interested and willing to put in the effort, you must tell them why they need to listen to you. The why tells your audience where they are going and why their efforts will be worthwhile. Paint a clear picture of the destination. Your audience will understand that your guide will help them in a way that they couldn’t be helped without your content.

Next, you should include vivid examples and a bit of fun. While you are explaining to your audience the differences between features and benefits, use cheeky examples like this: An ergonomic saddle, which is a feature, prevents a sore butt, the benefit. You can also turn your examples into a story to liven up the explanation.  Simple stories add drama to your tutorial and make your audience curious about what will happen next.

Also, use metaphors to spruce up your tutorials. Metaphors help your audience visualize an abstract concept by relating it to something concrete. They also help associate a new idea with something they already know. Pick one theme and look for connections. Like how developing a blogging voice is like chefs creating their signature dish. There are endless options of metaphors to use, so use them to simplify your explanations.

overcoming-hurdles-study-adviceNext, keep your audience interested by introducing a few problems.  Everyone is trying to avoid making mistakes, so they will pay special attention to problems to avoid them.  Answer the problems you bring up with your material. Teach your listeners how to jump hurdles.  Your content should be able to advise your audience about the things that may go wrong in your how-to.

Finally, edit your text or script to be sharper and more attention grabbing. Your words need to capture attention, express emotion and get your point across.  Consider more emphatic and sensory oriented word choices. Tighten your text as much as you can, and then tighten it again.  Make sure your words have a dynamic rhythm. Long sentences have a comfortable flow, but shorter sentences are more fiery, drawing attention to each word. It’s important to read your text aloud during the editing process so you can determine the rhythm. Switching back and forth between long and short sentences keeps your audience on it’s toes.

A good how-to inspires it’s audience to implement the ideas presented. Consider what might stop your listener from following your advice and take away that obstacle. By encouraging your audience to overcome their doubts, you will establish yourself as an authority. What are some other ways that have worked for you to keep your followers engaged? Does this change how you might think about doing things in the future? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.

 

Instagram for the Small Business

instagram-logoBusinesses are flocking to Instagram, but you may be wondering how exactly it can help your business.  We’ve got some more tips on how to use your images and videos to super charge your company’s presence on Instagram.

First, a major misconception about Instagram is that you have to sell something that is visually appealing.  However, selling unsexy products or being a service provider is NOT a reason to avoid Instagram.  Instead, it should be a reason for you to be creative.  The goal is to find valuable, compelling, or entertaining images to share with your audience.  If you are unable to show products, what should you put on Instagram?  The answer is “Your Culture!”

Photos of employees and their customized work areas always rank well on Instagram.  You can also post pictures of your company’s celebrations.  Things like holiday celebrations and company anniversaries show the human side of your business.  It also emphasizes your focus on employees.  If your company participates in any volunteer programs, you can share your involvement in the community with your followers.  By showing this side of your company, you make your business more attractive and instill trust in potential customers.

Now, some of you are thinking – we are a serious business.  We do not mean to distract from the serious work you do, but do not be afraid to use humor.  Everyone knows that running a business requires hard work, dedication, and sweat.  However, it should never be all work and no play.  Instagram is actually the perfect place to display the fun times in the shop or when you are out and about with coworkers.

Sharing your fun images with followers speaks volumes about you and your business.  It suggests that you must be a happy and successful business.  All work and no play will make your brand seem dull.  Integrate images that show your human side to create stronger connections with your followers.

Have you considered how Instagram can work with Facebook to leverage photo contests?  Your business can host a photo contest on Instagram using hashtags to organize submissions and an RSS feed to follow along as new photos are added.

Instagram has tips on hosting a photo campaign as well as other business ideas in their help section.  Go to “help – dot – Instagram – dot – com.  Then choose “Instagram Basics” and then “Instagram for Businesses.”

You may be aware that Facebook purchased Instagram in early 2012.  Since then, Instagram has doubled its user base.  Even more impressive is that the app now has more smartphone users than Twitter!  You can leverage that to help your business.  Together Instagram and Facebook offer some unique promotional opportunities, so take advantage of that.

gty_instagram_video_nt_130624_wgTo reach a wider audience, create an Instagram video and share it on your Facebook page.  Then boost the video into paid media that hits the Facebook news feed.  It’s what you would do to boost any text or photo post on Facebook.  This enables you to reach Facebook’s 818 million monthly active mobile users.  Basically, you are profiting from Instagram without having to advertise on Instagram.  It’s all about capturing and sharing the world’s moments—and paying to distribute them on the world’s largest social network.

Also, you should use industry-related hashtags.  If you are at an event or location that is designated by a hashtag – something like #autorama – be sure to add it to your photos so event coordinators and other attendees can find them.

You can track your hashtags with several services.  One fee-based service – Nitrogram – specifically tracks Instagram hashtags and provides key metrics on hashtags including contributors, content, engagement and context.

Widen your exposure by following related brands on Instagram.  Statigram is a free tool for finding brands and hashtags that relate to your brand.  Simply enter the brand name or hashtag into the search box and click Search.  As an example, we found 50 hashtags for “Autorama.” You can use Statigram to search for businesses and industry-related keywords.  Use this free tool to find, follow and research your competitors on Instagram.  Spend five minutes on the site and you’ll find at least one idea to help spread the word about your business.

Instagram can work wonders for your brand if you know how to use it, so take our advice and start posting today.

The Reach Problem on Facebook

facebook news feedHave you noticed that your Facebook reach has declined over the past few months? Don’t worry. It’s happening to everybody. Every Page on Facebook wants everything they post shown to everyone. But people only read a limited amount of News Feed per day. There simply isn’t room for everything, and the competition for feed space is intensifying.

When it comes down to it, Facebook is optimizing its newsfeed for humans, not businesses.

The amount of time users spend on the site has stayed the same, but the number of liked pages and other connections has increased.  This means that Facebook has to filter it’s newsfeed to keep it’s users seeing the content that they want to see and not be bogged down by stuff they don’t.  There are reportedly 100,000 different variables taken into account when determining newsfeed content. To simplify things, it generally boils down to how engaged your fans are with your content. If your fans have liked your content in the past or respond favorably to your content, you are more likely to show up in their feed.

 But what does this mean for the success of your content?

facebook-edgerankWell because of the nature of the highly individualized algorithm, different people see different things in their feed, even if they like the same pages.  It takes into account what you seem to like and tries to give that to you.  This means that you should be creating content for your customers, not the network.  The majority of your content should provide value to the customer in some way, be it informative blog posts or how to videos with your products.

Your customer profile is probably pretty diverse, so tailor your content to reach different parts of that group.  In order to please as many types of your fans as possible, you should be experimenting with different types of content as well as different times of day. Figure out what your audience wants from you and give it to them. Simple as that. Engage with your fans and always be working to improve your content.  Don’t be afraid to promote posts that are tracking well with your customers in order to gain a larger reach (even if it’s paid and not organic).

The whole point of social media is to provide value to your fan base, so stop worrying so much about how many people see your posts. Focus instead on the quality of your content and how well it does with your existing fans.  If your content is good and people are engaged with it, it shouldn’t have a problem making it into the newsfeed. Good luck and happy posting.

Automation in Social Media

SocialMedia_Robot_NEWAutomation of social media posts is a somewhat controversial topic among marketers and social media managers. It’s true that automating social posts can be risky if you aren’t carefully monitoring your pages. However, this is part of the job. Creating a balance between broadcasting and conversation is how you ensure your brand stays in the forefront of the minds of your customers.

Automating posts using tools like Hootsuite or Sprout allows you to make sure your best ideas are getting out there at the best times.  Facebook even allows you to schedule posts in advance directly on your page. If you find yourself too busy to make a post some days, you can schedule posts ahead of time without worry.  This is especially useful for Twitter, where it’s recommended that you have at least 3 tweets a day to stay in front of your followers.

Coming up with that much content everyday can be difficult, but if you set aside time to program in advance you will find monitoring your content to be a whole lot easier. That being said, there are some definite things you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to automating.

  • Don’t automate direct messages.  Some tools allow you to automatically send a thank you or other note to new followers on Twitter.  Most people can tell an automated response from a genuine message of thanks, so avoid doing this.
  • Don’t schedule posts too far in advance.  This can be the tricky part of automation because you want all your posts to be time relevant.  Posting about events should be monitored in case there are any last minute changes to be made.
  • Do use content curation tools. Google Alerts allows you to set search perimeters around keywords or phrases and it will email you the results as often as you’d like.  This is particularly helpful when trying to find news stories and up to date mentions.
  • Do use your tools to stay consistent.  The benefit of using these management tools is that one person can put out the content daily for multiple brands.  Having a consistent style and voice unifies your brand message across all channels.
  • Do schedule your posts for the best times.  Part of monitoring your social media metrics is knowing when your fans are most active.  Make sure to put your best content in front of your fans at the times of day they want to ensure your engagement is high.

Social-Media-Automation-ToolsThere is a whole lot more to social media management then just putting content out there.  The most important part should be keeping the conversation with your audience going.  Make your fans talk by putting out content that is interesting.  Adding a little bit of humor couldn’t hurt either.

What do you think about automation? Let us know in the comments!

Pinterest for the Skeptic

pinterest-icon_logoYou have probably heard about Pinterest and may wonder why we even mentioned it here at Engage Target Media.  Well, with over 70 million users, it’s worth paying attention to Pinterest.

Right now, Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google+ … combined.  And contrary to what many believe, that traffic is converting.  The reason?  Many use Pinterest specifically for product and content discovery.  Basically, Pinterest is a powerful tool for any business interested in ecommerce.  If you have been ignoring Pinterest, allow me to explain how you can use it can help grow not only your social media presence but also your business.

Just one example of a small business that succeeded with Pinterest is the “100th Day of School Ideas for Teachers.”  The pin pointed to a sales page for a one-dollar digital download of a worksheet for elementary school teachers to celebrate the 100th day of the school year.  According to the sales page, that simple worksheet image has been pinned more than 10,000 times!

Now, before you say the content is just for women – many businesses are gearing their Pinterest content specifically for women.  The men are coming to the site, but now is the time to grow your followers on Pinterest.  Can you think of a better way to increase your female customer-base?

Here are a few simple steps to drive more Pinterest traffic for your small business.

1.  Create a new page on your website or post to your blog geared specifically to your target audience with a ‘killer’ headline.  Remember to make it female friendly.

2.  With your content and headline in mind, create a visually interesting badge for your post.  This must be something that will catch people’s attention.  Your badge should include an interesting photo or background image — preferably, something that ties into the subject of your web page or post.  Position the headline prominently on the badge in a font that stands out and is easy to read.  Include your website’s domain name in smaller font, at the bottom of the badge.

If you’re not an artist, look for a tutorial on YouTube or other ‘how to’ website for tips.  You don’t have to have an expensive graphics program either.  There are websites that allow you to design images for free.  On website – PicMonkey – allows you to upload your creation directly to Pinterest.  Your badge should really jump out at the reader as soon as your readers land on the post or page.

3. Once you have completed your web page or the blog post, embed the image you created at the top.  This will really stand out over plain text.

4. Now you are ready to tell the world.  Once your content is published, it is time to pin it to your own Pinterest boards.  Use the badge you created for your web page or blog post on all of your social media sites.  The consistency it adds not only confirms visitors have reached the correct page, but it also adds unity to your content.  You should always tie in the artwork from your social media to your website and blog posts.

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 11.48.28 AMWhen adding the badge to Pinterest pull a strong, interesting quotation from your web page or blog post to include it in the pin description.

Also, pin the image to several of your Pinterest boards during peak pinning times.  Early morning and late evening are often best.

You should also consider pinning your badge multiple times.  It is okay to put it on several boards over the course of a day – or several days – to get the attention of as many Pinterest users as possible.

These are just a few of the things you can do to help build your Pinterest following and help drive traffic to your website or blog.  This in turn will help build your customer base.

An Introduction to Youtube

Youtube_logoVideo is a very powerful tool for a business of any size.  Many businesses already use YouTube as a place to showcase their products and services.  However, like any business tool, you need to manage your YouTube channel in order to get the most out of it.

In this video, I have some general dos and don’ts of using YouTube from a behind-the-scenes perspective to help you get the most from your videos and your YouTube channel.  If you are looking for video production hints or content tips, we have those too, just check out one of our other videos (below?).

First, the bad news: you are not going to be able to stop people from adding negative comments to your videos or channel.  The good news:  you have the power to delete offensive or any remarks from the worst offenders.  However, taking advantage of this option requires good judgment on your part.

You should never instantly remove any negative or critical comments, especially relevant ones, but you can certainly remove any spam or comments that use offensive language.

Instead of removing negative or critical comments, respond to them – in the comments.  This shows visitors you are proactive and will correct mistakes.  It also lets visitors know you care about what other think.  If you remove negative comments, it will look like you are trying to hide criticism.

If you do remove spam or offensive remarks and someone challenges you over the removal, make a simple statement to the effect that you do not tolerate such comments.  If a particular person is seriously spamming or posting abusing comments, you can block that user, but this should be a last resort.

YouTube also has options for moderating comments before they go live.  This can be helpful in stopping problems before they start.  To find out how to do this, click the Help button at the bottom of your channel and enter the search term “moderate comments.”

My next tip – Engage with the YouTube Community – takes moderating comments one-step further.  YouTube is a social platform, so make it a habit to check out other content on the site.  If you find a channel or video that is suitable with your site, mark it as a favorite.  It is to your advantage to make suitable YouTube “friends.”  The rule here is don’t be like Switzerland and remain neutral!

If you really cannot, or do not want to associate your company with other companies or individuals, then think in broader terms.  Why not look at content or channels that cover your local area or that might be a good cause you or your company to support.  Consider ‘friending’ the local animal shelter or causes that are a good match for your business; anything in the automotive field, like child safety seats or not texting while driving are possibilities.

As well as engaging with others, be sure to stay up to date with YouTube’s own news.  The site goes through changes from time to time as well as adds new features on a regular basis.  It is well worth following the official YouTube blog for keeping up to date with site and community news.

Finally, Do Not Neglect Your Channel.  You have invested the time and effort to get it up and running.  Don’t quit now!  There are many neglected YouTube channels.  Some are even from social firms – those you would think should realize the value in an up-to-date video resource for their company.

Now we are not suggesting you should create needless video content just to have new content.  Just don’t let your resolve or enthusiasm for the service dwindle a couple of months after you’ve started.  Even if you have no new content to post, log in on a regular basis to stay on top of comments and friend requests.  Search for new videos to add as your favorites.  This will give you ideas for new, relevant videos.  Just don’t relegate your channel to the ranks of the unloved and forgotten.

Choosing the Right Network for Your Business

Hand holding a Social Media 3d SphereWe spend quite a bit of time explaining what to do and what not to do when it comes to your social media strategy.  From what times to post, how to use certain networks and how to maximize your pages engagement, we like to cover our bases in social media.  We haven’t, however, really talked about choosing the social networks that best fit your business.  We strongly advise against joining every social network with your business because you will end up spreading yourself too thin. Instead, focus on the networks that are most active for your industry and will suit your business best. I’m going to break down each of the most popular networks by what they can do for you.

Facebook: The most popular social network across the board, so it would be very advantageous to have a page here if you already don’t.  Facebook offers the ability to post various multi-media like photos and videos with ease. Another perk is that Facebook has it’s own metrics built in for easy monitoring, not to mention you can schedule your posts in advance. Having an active presence on Facebook is essential for small and large businesses alike.

Twitter: Has a large population as well, but more for updates and news. If you are interested in branching out, Twitter can help you reach a less targeted audience than Facebook. This is also the birthplace of the hashtag, so utilize them if you are going to tweet.

Instagram: Very popular with millennials due to heavy visuals. Recently introduced 15 second video capability to much success. Great for businesses that have tangible products or services. Also uses hashtags to reach a broader audience.

LinkedIn: Professional networking site. Profiles of users are based around careers and exchanging information.  Establish yourself as an expert in your industry here by getting involved in groups.

google-plus-1Google+: Not as many active users as other sites but great for the technical crowd.  LOTS of SEO benefits by Google automatically indexing any content posted to Google+. The interface is similar to Facebook for multi-media postings, so be sure to link your website with lots of images.

Pinterest: Like Instagram, a good tool for brand exposure with visual elements of products, services, etc. Followers can repin your pins, so great for putting on contests. Can be used to drive traffic to your website.

Youtube: The second largest search engine after Google, Youtube is a powerful social networking tool using video. Showing off your work, doing a product demo, or highlighting customer testimonials all make for great video and are a worthwhile investment for your brand.

We’ve just scratched the surface of what social networks can do for you, so be sure to look for more in-depth breakdowns of social media marketing on our Youtube channel or here on our blog.  Good luck and happy networking!

Diversify Your Content

FinalUsing social dashboard tools like Sprout Social and Hootsuite has helped save time for many marketers in today’s world of social media.  They allow you to preprogram content from one location to multiple channels at once, but this has spawned a particularly bad habit, posting the same material across all channels.  Users have developed each social network to have a different personality, which means that one size fits all content simply does not work. Learning the difference between reusing and repurposing content can be the real game changer in your social media strategy. In order to be successful with your fans, you need to get to know your audience and what they are looking for from you on different social media channels.  If you have the same content across multiple channels, your fans will pick their favorite and ignore the rest. If this seems daunting, we have some quick tips to get you going in the right direction.

  1. Learn the personalities of each channel and the expectation of your fans for each. Facebook is a great medium for fans to ask questions and see multimedia posts from you like videos and picture.  Twitter is better suited for sharing news about your company or products.  Instagram is almost purely visual, so fans expect to be blown away by great images.
  2. Do audience research. Use the metrics tools that your dashboards have. Learn where you audience is listening to you and tailor your content to suit them. Listen to what your fans are saying and keep track of the data.
  3. Learn to re-purpose.  Telling your story on different channels is different that regurgitating the same information over and over again across all your networks. Find different angles on the same stories and use that to your advantage.  Delegate those angles to different social networks and you will find that your audience will enjoy seeing multiple sides.

Giving fans channels specific content requires a paradigm shift, but once the change is made, the boost in engagement will be well worth it. Look at your channels and content through the eyes of your fans and make sure you are giving something that is worthwhile. Once you do, your content will never be the same. Good luck!

Choosing the Right Image

visual-content-panoramaPeople are visual.

We’ve covered why your content needs visuals before, but we’ve never really touched on what kind of images work best for your content. 80% of what people learn is visual, so your images need to communicate your message just as much as your text, if not more.

 

Stay Relevant

This may seem like a no brainer, but make sure the images you attach to your post are related to the post you make.  If you are talking about business advice, a cute picture of a cat would not be relevant, no matter how many likes you think it will get.  You want people to take you seriously, so make sure your posts are focused and tie in to your marketing goals, images included.

Don’t Rely on Memes

Everyone loves a good meme. We aren’t saying don’t use them at all, but make sure they have something to do with what you are saying.  Also, Facebook, having recently changed it’s edge rank system, has made it harder for businesses to get into the feed of their fans. Facebook felt that meme based posted are “low effort”, so they are especially hard to get in front of fans. As far as we’re concerned, that’s enough reason to avoid using memes altogether.

Get the Right Permissions

This may come as a surprise to you, but most images you find online are copyrighted. Fair-use allows certain use of these images, but if you are using them for marketing purposes, you will need to have permission to do so.  Memes, cartoons and stock images especially are copyrighted and using them without permission could lead to a lawsuit. Avoid sticky situations with your images by looking for things that are public domain or go ahead and pay for the rights.

PrintDimensions are Important

Each of the social networks has their own size for images that appear in the news feed.  Take special care to make sure you image works for the network you are posting it to. Don’t have include text that could be cut off. Make sure the main part of your image is centered because all the networks, no matter what size they crop to, will center your graphic.  Learn the image sizing for the networks you post to and preview your graphics before posting.

 

A picture is definitely worth a thousand words, and these days, a bunch of likes and shares. Spend just as much, if not more, time choosing your images as you spend crafting your text. Size, color and readability matters, so make sure your relevant images are impacting your campaign in a helpful way. The right image will boost your reach, help ensure your campaign’s success and may even go viral.  With the right image, the possibilities are endless.  Good luck!

Generating New Content

Marketing business salesHow do we engage our audience with interesting content? Is coming up with content a challenge for you? We understand that developing engaging content is the toughest part of any marketing strategy, so we looked at some questions to ask yourself while trying to find ideas.

1.  What are the challenges that face our industry?

By figuring out the pain points of your industry and what your customers need, you can work with your team to develop helpful content to address the challenges that arise. Create case studies showing how businesses have overcome the challenges that face your industry and the lessons to be learned from common experiences. Addressing pain points is a great way to get conversation going.

2.  What are people talking about?

Are your customers asking questions? Every question a customer asks is a potential for a new piece of content, so do your best to answer them. Explore Linked In groups or Google+ communities for what is being talked about in your industry. Join the conversations taking place online and establish yourself as the go to source for relevant information.

3.  What are your competitors doing?

Monitoring what your competition is up to is a great way to see what is working in your industry as far as content is concerned.  See what content is finding traction and find a way to use a similar strategy yourself.

Social-Media-Listening-Image-two4. What is happening outside your industry?

Research a completely different subject and figure out how it applies to your industry. See what you can learn from different industry sectors and identify what could be applied to your business specifically.

5.  What is the latest industry news and trends?

If you are truly immersed in your industry, this should be the easiest source of content. Knowing the latest trends and industry news can help spark conversation. as long as you keep ahead of industry reports.  Conduct your own surveys and conversations to increase engagement and provide new insights that you may have overlooked.

Every insight is potentially a piece for great content.

Hopefully, if you ask yourself these questions while coming up with your content, you should find that it should be easier than anticipated.  Remember, don’t be afraid to ask your audience questions and use user generated content.  With these questions in mind, coming up with dynamic, relevant content should be a breeze.