social mediaI attended a search and digital marketing conference in Portland last week called SearchFest. In an industry that focuses heavily on education (since the tactics, tools and strategies to market your business online are constantly evolving), these conferences are essential ways for us online marketers to keep up to speed on what’s happening in the industry and learn about new ways we can help our companies and/or clients.

The overarching theme of the day was that content, and producing high quality content that gets read, shared and spread online, is the new way to win at SEO and online marketing. Since the latest Google Penguin and Panda updates that made many of the old SEO tricks irrelevant and made social cues a determining factor in search results, the best way to get people to find you or your product/company online is to create content that is valuable, and therefore widely shared.

Content is a Product

content marketing + seoOne of my favorite presentations of the day came from Ian Laurie, who is the founder and CEO of Portent, an internet marketing company based in Seattle, Washington. Ian’s presentation focused on the idea the content is more than just a marketing strategy.

To quote Ian directly, he stated: “Content is a product. Not a tactic. It is the customer’s first purchase.”

Since content is a product, the same things that make marketable products make for marketable content. It has to be valuable, trustworthy and memorable.

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Ten years ago, the major advertisers had big budgets they spent on both media buying and the creation of content. Not only did it cost a huge amount to produce a commercial, you had to buy the air-time for it on television.

However, since the rise of #digital media, the internet and successful online social networks, the way in which brands and businesses advertise and market themselves has changed significantly. Instead of concentrating dollars on a smaller number of campaigns, brands have become content-producing power houses – continuously finding new ways to produce more and more content, which they can then post for “free” online in hopes of it being shared among networks and maybe even going viral. (Read more about this shift in Cliff Torng’s blog post “Content Driven Social Marketing: Time to Make the Digital Donuts”).

A big component of this new media landscape is user-generated content, which can be anything from Yelp reviews to crowd-sourced photos and videos for campaigns. In this post, we’ll focus on the later and show examples of brands who have rolled out successful #social mediabased campaigns that solicited and used user-generated content.

According to a #HubSpot article, more than 8 in 10 Gen Yers (whose purchasing power will eclipse Baby Boomers by 2017), say user-generated content from people they don’t know influences way they buy and indicates brand quality. Soliciting and marketing with user-generated is also a great way to boost engagement and get people talking about and advocating for your brand online.


>>Add, embed and display social media on your site

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Marketers are scrambling to drive more and more traffic to their website with the hope of increasing engagement and growing revenue. Given this, it continues to astound me the number of marketers who still are not taking advantage of content syndication. Craziness! Content syndication is amazing!

Content syndication is simply a way of making your content available to multiple other sources. This gives you the ability to really maximize the exposure of your great content by distributing content in many places at the same time. With the web growing increasingly active through mobile and social, creating and curating high-value content so it can easily be found and shared is essential.

Here are a few tips to consider:
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Despite the fact that Bill Gates famously touted that “Content is King” back in 1996, it wasn’t until the last couple of years that content marketing really started to take off.  As it turns out, taking the time to produce great content and disseminate it online is a fantastic way for businesses of all kinds to advertise goods and services, establish thought leadership and expertise, brand themselves, and help with SEO and link-building on their websites.

However, before you set up a company blog and start publishing posts, it is important to think about how exactly you are going to approach and tackle your content marketing strategy. It takes resources, a plan, goals, and a dedicated person willing to nurture the campaign. Developing a successful strategy requires businesses to think carefully  about how to plan, staff and execute a content marketing campaign.

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THE “REAL” SWITCH In the “days before digital” (DBD), brands could overcome the lack of interesting content by simply “yelling louder and more often”; during DBD, captive TV or Radio/Print audiences had no choice but to pay some attention to … Continue reading