“There is a Japanese proverb that says: ‘Raise the sail with your stronger hand’. Meaning you must go after the opportunities that arise in life that you are best equipped to do”.

Soichiro Honda (founder of Honda)

Newsflash!

Effectively immediately I have joined a team of four developers, one designer, one trainee and one CEO/Founder in their mission to help small and medium sized e-commerce stores eliminate bad customer service. I have joined SaaS startup ROBIN – the intelligent Customer Service Assistant.

As ROBIN’s ‘Marketing Manager Content Marketing & Online PR’ I will (and I quote from the job description) ‘develop and execute a creative startup marketing strategy, editorial calendar and standards that deliver business results like share-of-voice, ecommerce customer service evangelism, branding & the most important thing: signups within the ecosystems of our partners.’

Why leave Storywise?

Over the past four years I successfully set-up, developed and managed Storywise, my own communication consultancy, together with my co-founder Steve Seager. Throughout this time we helped our clients answer the burning question: ‘What content should I publish to reach my business goals?’. And by content I mean the actual ‘contents’ of their marketing communications – the messaging; the thing you plan to say.

Thanks to Steve’s shit-hot strategic communications process we developed Editorial and Content Marketing strategies for clients in B2B and B2C, across ICT, Professional Services, Culture, Media and Not-for-profit. I’m happy to say Storywise’s client list is still growing.

I feel extremely privileged that I went through this process myself for various clients – and received such great coaching from Steve along the way. I could have never become the content marketer I am today without that experience.

However, even though working for clients can be fun, I most often felt like an outsider offering partial business solutions. I missed the ‘through-the-line’ involvement and relationships that come with working within a dedicated team. I missed having ownership of a single product or brand. I missed doing what I am best equipped to do: being a marketer.

Why join ROBIN?

At ROBIN I’m getting all the marketing opportunities I could wish for. First of all, ROBIN is a great product that solves a real problem for web store owners. ROBIN aggregates all the customer service client conversations – from e.g. email, web form, phone & Twitter – and consolidates these conversations in one smart and easy-to-use interface.

ROBIN also integrates seamlessly with major e-Commerce platforms such as SEOshop, Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce and others. This saves the customer service team loads of time and allows them to help their client better.

And to top things off, ROBIN learns from every question asked and every answer given. So the more you use ROBIN the smarter it gets. Pretty neat and a great USP!

But my main reason for joining ROBIN is my instant click with the people. They have a great team consistently focussed on getting it right. From the start ROBIN developed a clear strategy to match their solution to their target audience needs. This is the best foundation for content marketing I could possibly wish for!

Blogging & more blogging

I will continue blogging here on my personal blog about content marketing strategy, social media marketing and other Marketing 2.0 related topics. As ever: in plain English!

In addition, you will also see blog posts from me on the ROBIN blog which will be more oriented on e-Commerce, Customer Service and other topics that are of value to ROBIN clients, prospects & stakeholders.

Thank you, thank you, thank you

To close this blog post off, I would like to thank our Storywise clients for their trust and appreciation of our work.

Also, a huge thanks to my family for their patience, trust and undying support.

And last but not least, a massive thanks to Steve. It’s been a great ride and my life will never be the same. In a couple of years, I will be able to say that I worked closely with the guy who did to communications what Quentin Tarantino did to film. I am proud to have worked with you and am grateful to be your friend.

PS

That little ‘Contact Us’ button on the right side of this blog? That’s ROBIN! Feel free to drop me a line. I’ll get back to very quickly, definitely within’ 24 hours. Promise!

Writing blog posts is one thing, promoting them is another. And although Great Content is the cornerstone of blogging success, promoting your posts is just as important. The question then is: ‘How do I promote my blog posts?’

Back in 2010 I did a post called ‘Shameless Blog Promotion’. I always send it on to clients to help them get going with promoting their posts. But it’s 2013 now. Some things have changed. So, time for an update!

I have condensed this rather lengthy post down into a 9 point action list for you to take away. Below the image you’ll find much more details.

How to promote a blog post

Optimise: SEO checklist

The process of promoting your blog post starts before you publish it. Knowing your target audience, gaining insights into their needs and writing unique content that add value to them is the very essence of blogging.

But there are also some tactical thingies you need to get right so your blog posts are found in search engines. Here are some helpful tips to help you optimise your blog posts for Google:

Copywriting SEO tips to help you get your blog posts found better (part I)
Copywriting SEO tips to help you get your blog posts found even better (part II)

So now that you’ve published your optimised blog post, and it can be found in search engines, you can now start with your shameless blog promotion ritual.

Syndicate across your company outposts

Your post is on the company blog, so you can now share it across your company’s outposts across the social web. Needless to say you can have many, but be sure to cover your:

  • Facebook page
  • LinkedIn Company Update (with a targeted update to your followers)
  • Twitter channel (using the right hashtags!)
  • Google+ company page (adding an insight or summary)
  • Pinterest channel (because of course you’ve used an amazing picture, right?)

Needless to say, your blog should also have a RSS feed so that people can subscribe and your latest post is automatically pushed out to them.

Share with your personal network

Next to your company’s social outposts, you can also share it across your own personal network. Again, you’ll have your favourite channels, but obviously you should consider a status update in LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ as well as sending out a tweet on Twitter.

Also, consider adding a link to the fresh blog post in your company email signature!

PR with your immediate network

The best way to start promoting your content is to start with the people closest to you – your friends, family, colleagues and closest network. Ask them to retweet, share or like your post.

Make sure the content you are asking them to share adds value to them and their network. So be selective! And be personable. Drop them a personal email or give them a call. Like any good PR would do :-)

Also, make sure you are building on your email list. Even when it’s your personal network, colleagues and friends. Again, be personable. Ask them what they value most.

Social bookmarking

Social bookmarking is not as hot as it was back in 2010. Still, if your content fits the channel, social bookmarking sites can still be great traffic generators. There’s loads of them, but the most important ones are: Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit and Delicious.

Also, make sure your blog gets listed with blog search engine Technorati.

Content curation

Content curation has been a hot topic in the social media space for a while now. Content curation means that you are continually finding, organising and sharing content of a specific theme or topic with your target audiences. There are many tools available. These are my favourites:

Scoop.it is a great tool for curating a topic over a sustained period of time. Storify.com is a great tool for curating news worthy stories. Get your account going, and make sure your fresh post gets added to these channels each time to increase visibility and reach! Here’s a handy little tutorial on Scoop.it to get you going.

You can also consider to submit the feed of your blog for submission on aggregation service Alltop or send in your optimised RSS feed for promotion on Flipboard. However, make sure your blog is publishing frequently and your content is nothing less than great.

Engage in discussion groups

Now your blog post is getting shared by your network, sent out to your email list, added to social bookmarking services and some curation platforms, it’s time to start activating some people through some good old engagement and conversation.

So, post your fresh blog post in relevant LinkedIn groups, get on Google +, join and post in relevant communities, and if possible consider adding your post to an answer thread on Quora. Remember, the web is social. Nothing wrong with engaging people and asking them for their opinion.

Comment on other people’s blogs

Now that you’re already engaging with people on social media channels, it’s time to expand the conversation to relevant blogs. Get onto Google or Google Blog search & Technorati, find relevant blog posts and join the conversation in the comment section.

However, when you leave a comment on somebody else’s blog, make sure it’s a genuine and relevant comment. Leaving a link to one of your blog posts in the comment section of somebody else’s blog is OK, but contribute to the conversation above anything else.

Any more tricks in the bag?

There’s many ways of promoting your blog. You just need to figure out what form of  promotion best fits your content and objectives.

Let’s look at a few more options:

Guest blogging:

A classical tactic of promoting your blog is Guest Blogging. The upside of blogging on someone else’s platform is that you are reaching a new audience. The downside is that it’s very time consuming, and well, erm … it’s not your platform ;-)

Either way, make sure you do it well!

Content syndication:

Content syndication enables you to spread your content across different networks. The upside is that you are potentially reaching new audiences. The downside is that you are giving up some control over your content.

My advice is to take the time to research all the different options. And look before you leap.

Reformatting your content:

Depending on the type of post you are publishing, a tutorial, an opinion piece, a review or an industry commentary, think of ways to reformat your content. Your post can also become a powerpoint presentation on Slideshare, a PDF download on Scribd or a video on YouTube or Vimeo.

Reformatting your content helps to increase reach, find ability and traffic to your blog.

Advertising:

Advertising your blog content is maybe a bit unconventional. However, since Facebook rolled out their targeted advertising platform you can now amplify your best posts via your Facebook Page to your network of Likes and their friends.

Out of all the Facebook advertising options, these ‘Promoted Posts’ have the highest CTR. So, adding Facebook advertising to the Shameless Blog Promotion checklist makes sense!

A round-up

I have condensed this blog post into a 9 point action list of stuff you need to do before you publish your post:

  1. Optimise: SEO checklist before you publish
  2. Syndicate: to your company outposts
  3. Share: with your personal network
  4. PR: with your immediate network
  5. Bookmark: e.g. Digg, StumbleUpon
  6. Curate: e.g. Scoop.it, Storify
  7. Engage: e.g. LinkedIn groups, G+ discussions
  8. Comment: on other blogs
  9. Advertise: Facebook Promoted Posts.

Consider all the tricks in the book, but focus on your actual content, adding real value and having relevant conversations!

After having read this post, are there any major tactics I left out? Looking forward to you comments!

Thanks for reading, happy blogging & enjoy your shameless blog promotion. You now know how to promote your blog posts!

Great content is the secret to marketing success on the social web. That’s what all the gurus and expert blogs tell you. And it’s true; great content is what drives people to click, share, follow, subscribe, donate and buy. And Google seems to like great content as well.

But what exactly IS great content?

When you now go online and search for ‘what is great content’, you will not find an all-encompassing definition of what makes content great. And that is perhaps logical. Because as always… ‘it depends’. Also, content is great, when someone thinks it is great. Just like with music. Or film.

Still, some music is loved by many and some stays undiscovered. Some pieces of content get found and shared like wild fire and some die-off the moment you publish them. So, what is the secret? What happens if you dissect a great piece content? What do you find? What are the fundamental elements that great content is build on?

Just yesterday, Steve Seager published a model called The Anatomy of Great Content. The model is intended as a discussion piece for B2B marketers and strategic communicators to help improve the quality of future content.

The Anatomy of Great ContentI think it’s especially great to use as a sanity-check against your existing content!

I want to zoom in a bit on the first 3 elements: targeted, valuable & structured. In my experience, this is where marketers struggle most to get it right (‘great’ that is!). These elements are all about ‘messaging’. About what you actually plan to say.

1. Targeted

The web is about reaching people directly. One on one. You always have a real person sitting on the other end of the screen. So, you need to write your content for individuals not markets or segments.

Take a look at some of your existing content and ask yourself: WHO is this written for?

2. Valuable

The web has gone social for a good while now. It’s not about Quid Pro Quo any more. Instead you gotta give to get!. Figure out exactly what your target audience really needs and where you can help. Do research, look at your data, talk to your sales people and get the facts. It’s about their needs!

Take a look at some of your existing content and ask yourself: WHAT is the real value of this piece of content to the person I am targeting?

3. Structured

Everything you do as a publisher on the social web, starts with the question ‘what do I want to achieve?’. Then you ask ‘with who’ (targeted!) and ‘how’ (offer value!). Then you need to factor in who is saying it (your positioning) and what you are selling (specific aspects of your value proposition).

If you want to tie all that up in a great piece of content, and keep doing that, you need structure. Just like with music. Or film. A great film usually has a great story (that’s you!), great actors (that’s your staff, clients, prospects & stakeholders), great plot points (that’s the themes and topics you are talking about) and great dialogue (that’s you engaging in a conversation with your target audiences).

The combination of all that is what makes you love a film. What makes you remember it. And tell your friends about.

So as a last, but vital, sanity check against your content:

Take a look at some of your existing content and ask yourself: does it stick?

As for the other 4 elements in the model: atomised, optimised, activating & measurable… don’t bother with those until you get your messaging right! Because you hardly ever see a great film that solely relies on great photography, camerawork and special effects. Now do you?

More context and additional information download the E-book below:

DOWNLOAD THE PDF: The Anatomy of Great Content: a content marketing model for B2B marketers and strategic communicators.

Joe PesciOne of my favourite marketing 2.0 quotes of all time comes from Gary Vaynerchuk, the video blogger, who so successfully built his wine business through social marketing. He says:

There is no substitute for caring for your audience, your customer and your clients. And… you need to have an actual business model to support and sustain it.

This really is the secret of successful marketing on the social web.

If you care for your customers, offer them great products and services, exceptional customer service and an overall satisfying experience – you create a happy customer. And happy customers create more customers.

Below is the video with Gary’s interview where he said what I just said he said ;-)

I’ve placed this clip on my blog before, and back then I received comments from people who said that they had a hard time making out exactly what Gary had to say.

That’s partly because the interview (by Monty Metzger) was conducted on a really busy street, and partly because Gary sounds like Joe Pesci on a marketing mission.

Since I placed this clip on my blog before, I felt obliged to add a little extra value. So you can download a PDF with an English transcript of the video, below; just in case you are having a hard time hearing exactly what Gary had to say. I had great fun puzzling it together.

Download video transcript: Gary Vaynerchuk on the secret of his success [PDF]

It’s a word I hear a lot. I even use it myself sometimes:

Leverage.

I like the word.

Leverage

Sounds and smells fluid & rubbery. But it actually means to do the opposite. It takes power and muscle to leverage one thing towards the other.

I sometimes hear people say that they want to: “Leverage the power of social media”.

Is that possible?

Well, yes it is.

But certainly not with a Quid Pro Quo attitude. I recommend trying a warm and heartfelt “Are you being served?” instead.

Trust, Relationships, and happy clients: that’s the real stuff you can leverage in social media.

Are you being served BWHi there & welcome. I thought it was time to freshen things up – and reorganise my content a bit. Hope you like it! Before I started reorganising I did a sanity check on who exactly I’m trying to help, with which issues, and what content you seem to like the most.

I did do a fair bit of looking into my Google Analytics stats and so on, but it’s not scientific. Just as much came from my meetings with clients and our work over the past few months.

So! Here’s what I uncovered about who you are, and what you care most about. I’d love to hear what you think about this too! Do you recognise yourself here?

You are:

A business leader

You’re maybe not a marketer by profession, but you are the owner of your business – an entrepreneur – or head of a division. You know something has changed. You know that the social web has clear possibilities. But you’re not fully up to speed with the business value of ‘social media’, ‘inbound’ or ‘content marketing’ – yet!

Through my blog posts, I will help explain the bigger picture. Help you to direct conversations in your company. Explain how and why the social web impacts your industry, your business and – your bottom line.

A marketing director or manager

As a marketing director or manager, you experience every day that the social web has completely changed the face of marketing. Your team is working on campaigns and focusing on social channels & networks. Still, you are seeing a gap between what you expect and the actual results.

On my blog I’ll help you join stuff up with good strategy. Start getting tactics working better together, so you can focus on tying up your marketing to specific business outcomes. (By the way, joining up campaigns to programs is a great way to start!)

A marketer or communicator

You are on the sharp end of it all. You already develop and implement social campaigns, develop content, manage questions on channels, solve problems every single day. You’re expected to be the one who has an answer to everyone’s ‘social media’ questions!

In my blog you’ll find quite a few tactical posts on SEO, social channels, content marketing along with tons of ‘How to’ and ‘What is’ posts on optimisation, measurement, blogging. And more. To be frank, these are often my favourites posts to write. So I’ll keep doing them!

Are you missing?

I’ve reorganised my content to make it easier to find what you need. But If I’m missing you out here, if I’m not giving you what you need … mail me! I’d love to know that you are being served.

Organising events is a great way for SMEs to build awareness, connect with their target audiences and establish positioning within their industry.

But organising a great event – with mutual value for everyone involved – is not easy. Quite often basic principles are overlooked.

Here’s a practical little checklist to make sure that the event you organise is worth the effort of organising and attending it!

1. Make sure your presentations connect to the target audience needs

My first advice is to make your event as targeted as possible. If you are targeting MDs or CEOs, talk about your vision on the industry or new strategic opportunities for their business. But if you are inviting medium level executives, make sure your presentations help them with the problems they are facing every day.

2. Live up to the expectation

Don’t make big claims that you can’t deliver on. Quite often events are advertised with slogans such as ‘The secret of success in social media’ or ‘How to make your online strategy work’. When you make claims like that, make sure you deliver on them. If you don’t, no matter how well the event was organised, your audience will end up being disappointed.

3. Have your attendees promote the event for you through social media

Once you have established a list of attendees, make sure they can promote the event for you. Publish teaser content on your blog or in social media channels such as YouTube or Slideshare. Connect with your attendees on Twitter and Linkedin. Ask them to share the content with their network. And oh yes, make sure the content is valuable, not just marketing blurb!

4. Keep on publishing throughout the event

Also during the event, allow attendees to send updates and photos to their followers and friends on Twitter and Facebook. Make sure you give them the hashtag you have claimed for your event on forehand. And of course, make sure they have access to high speed internet throughout the entire event.

5. Take good aftercare

Now that you have your audience engaged, make sure you leverage that. Publish a presentation or a video with the biggest insights of the event. Reconnect with your attendees in social media. Invite them to share. Ask them what they thought of the event to make your next event even better.

So, in a nutshell:

Publish valuable content, connect with your audience in social media and engage them in a conversation.

Happy organising!

Biggest opportunity B2C social mediaAmazingly, ‘social media’ still remains a mystic phenomenon for many B2C companies. This is because most B2C companies and brands traditionally market their products and services through advertising & promotion.

As a result, most companies enter into social media for all the wrong reasons. They see social media channels, such as Facebook & Twitter, as a great opportunity to get their ad or site in front of as many people as possible.

But is that really the big opportunity of social media?

[Read more...]

Mobile StrategyYesterday I participated in a panel discussion on Mobile Strategy at an event organised by EFactor – the world’s largest network for entrepreneurs. The attendees were mostly independent entrepreneurs and SME business leaders.

Despite my years as brand director for Commodore International Corp. I’m not a mobile specialist. So I was there to help us explore how businesses could fit mobile into their overall marketing 2.0 strategy.

[Read more...]

It was clear from the start that Google meant business when they announced the launch of their social network Google +.

Now, six months later, Google is taking rapid steps to further integrate Google + into the heart of the Google ecosystem: its’ search engine.

As of today, G+ users can choose to blend G+ results in with the normal Google search results. This means that content shared in G+ makes it straight to the first page of Google.

Google Search Your World Personal Results

You can read more about it in this article in Mashable.

But, how will this impact your business now and in the future?

[Read more...]