Back to Top

Review Topic Clusters as Local Business Content Strategy


Specialization in martech, CTV momentum: Thursday’s daily brief

Plus, who is your ideal keynote speaker?

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Reblogged 4 minutes ago from feeds.marketingland.com

Actionable value from e-books, martech subway map: Friday’s daily brief

Plus, HUMAN’s new fraud-busting collaboration

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Reblogged 4 minutes ago from feeds.marketingland.com

How I Grew the HubSpot Podcast Skill Up Audience by 271% in Two Months

This post is a part of Made @ HubSpot, an internal thought leadership series through which we extract lessons from experiments conducted by our very own HubSpotters.

There are 72,000 new podcast episodes each day — which means there are five new podcasts made every six seconds.

And, as of March 2020, there are a reported 1.9 million total podcasts, and 47 million total episodes. Depending on when you read this article, these numbers could be drastically different.

Which is all to say: The podcast industry is rapidly growing.

In a world of fast-growing competition, how do we — as podcast marketers — compete for listeners’ attention, while also expanding reach and growing our audiences?

I wish that I could tell you that I have it all figured out. However, not having it figured out is what ultimately led to a 271% increase in downloads for season six of HubSpot’s podcast, Skill Up.

Here, I’ll share my lessons for how I achieved that growth.

Lesson 1: There are a lot of podcast listening platforms.

When you think of podcast platforms, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts are probably top of mind, right?

Well, there are many, many more listening platforms beyond those three.

I downloaded every podcast platform available through the App Store on my iPhone. This included Podcast Addict, Overcast, Castro, PlayerFM, Pandora, Pocket Casts, and about ten others.

I then cross-referenced the players I downloaded with the audience application report from Megaphone. If there was a small or nonexistent audience on a platform, I highlighted it.

The first recommendation I can make is to look at where people are listening to your podcasts using the reporting provided by your podcast host. Are the majority of your downloads coming from Apple or Spotify? If your answer is yes, then that’s good news. You have untapped audiences on other platforms, including PlayerFM and Podcast Addict.

Which brings me to my next recommendation …

Lesson 2: Paid ad placements on podcast platforms pay off.

After I had a list of podcast platforms that would allow me to expand the reach of my podcast, I opened each platform and took note of their ad placements. I looked for anything that said “Sponsored” or something along those lines. If I liked the ad placement, I included it in my list.

Next, I focused on gathering data on ad cost, estimated CPM, and estimated downloads for the placements I was interested in. This is relatively easy, since many of the platforms share both the ad placements available and estimated campaign results on their websites.

If they don’t have the information available on their website, you can email the podcast platforms’ advertising team, who will provide you with that information.

After gathering this data, I assessed the best ads forSkill Up. Fortunately, before I joined HubSpot, my manager had already run ads on podcast listening platforms — which meant I had data to reference to make more informed decisions.

If you haven’t run ads on a listening platform previously, I have good news for you: Ad placements range from $165 to $3,000, so even if you don’t have a large budget, you can likely still experiment with these types of ads.

Lesson 3: Episode-specific promotions are incredibly effective.

Within my marketing plan for the launch of season six, I focused on promotions that announced the upcoming season.

The season was comprised of five episodes that were released over the span of three weeks, so it made sense to drive awareness towards the new episodes. The podcast ad copy read something along the lines of, “A new season ofSkill Up is here!”

Towards the end of the season, however, it didn’t make sense to announce the season anymore. Instead, I created episode-specific promotions.

In comparison to the show promotions, the episode highlights resonated better with audiences and increased our conversions through distribution channels, such as email.

Here’s an example:

HubSpot’s Skill Up podcast presents … “How a Sales Manager at LinkedIn Builds a Buyer-first Selling Strategy”

What’s the best selling strategy in 2021? Kwesi Graves, Sales Manager at LinkedIn, champions the “buyer-first selling” methodology, which prioritizes quality over quantity, emphasizes the importance of the buyer’s context, and encourages his team of reps to spend more time researching than reaching out. If you’re a manager, sales leader, or rep looking to transform how you sell in 2021, this is a great place to start! Listen now:

Episode-specific advertisements also performed much better than season advertisements. Unfortunately, however, most podcast listening platforms don’t allow episode-specific advertisements.

There is one that does: PlayerFM. Our episode-specific ads on PlayerFM outperformed all our other ad campaigns. Hopefully, more podcast platforms will eventually offer the same.

While I wouldn’t say these initiatives are revolutionary, they were incredibly effective for us. Our team is on an exciting journey where experimentation and innovation are key to success.

For any podcast marketers in the industry — This is just the beginning.

Reblogged 4 minutes ago from blog.hubspot.com

Experts Speak: Email Marketing Trends to Look Forward to in 2021

Time and again, email marketing has proved its effectiveness, proving the speculations of its death wrong. According to Litmus, emails bring an ROI of $42 for every $1 spent. This is the biggest testimony that email is very much alive and outshining all the other marketing channels. What started off as a simple medium for…

The post Experts Speak: Email Marketing Trends to Look Forward to in 2021 appeared first on Benchmarkemail.

Reblogged 1 hour ago from www.benchmarkemail.com

How to Overcome B2B Content Marketing Challenges During the Pandemic

At a time when digital content should be a priority, many marketers are finding it difficult to maintain consistent content marketing planning and production. These pointers can help. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

Reblogged 1 hour ago from www.marketingprofs.com

Seven Mistakes To Avoid In Your Technical Interviews

I have failed many technical interviews. Year after year would pass and I would slowly progress in my technical interviewing skills. It wasn’t until I received my dream job offer from Spotify and had passed the Google technical interviews that I realized how much I had learned over the preceding years. Finally, my studying had paid off! This was also around the time that many developers began losing their jobs due to COVID.

“If I have difficulty passing data structures and algorithms interviews with a computer science degree,” I thought, “I can’t imagine how overwhelming these concepts must be for self-taught developers.” So for the past year, I’ve made it my mission to make data structures and algorithms approachable for everyone.

I found it incredibly difficult to find one resource for learning everything about the technical interview process. From the recruiter’s phone call to the systems design interview to negotiating a job offer, there was no all-encompassing technical interview resource, so I decided to create one.

A Note About Remote Interviews

Due to the global pandemic, many companies have gone fully remote. This is great as it allows candidates across the world to apply, but this can be daunting for candidates who have little-to-no experience with online interviews.

Here are a few tips for your virtual interviews.

  • Arrive early.
    There is nothing more panic-inducing than going to join an online meeting and realizing you need to download an entire package of drivers to run the program. I recommend creating an account with the meeting application ahead of time and running a test meeting with a friend to ensure you have access to the application and feel comfortable using the online controls.
  • Use headphones.
    I always recommend using headphones for your remote technical interviews. They’ll help reduce background noise and ensure you hear the instructors clearly.
  • Charge your computer.
    Remote meeting tools can quickly drain your computer battery, especially if you’re live coding. To combat this, have your computer plugged in for the entirety of the interview if possible.
  • Test your camera.
    While remote interviews allow us to be in a safe and familiar environment, we can often forget to remove unsavory items from the background of our video frame. I always suggest running a test meeting to check your video frame and remove the dirty laundry from the background. You can also use a virtual background for your remote interview if your background is not ideal.

The Technical Interview Process

When you begin the technical interview process with a company, your recruiter should inform you about what you should expect from the process. One reason why technical interviews are so anxiety-inducing is the lack of process standardization. A technical interview at one company can look incredibly different from a technical interview at another company. But there are some commonalities between technical interview processes that you can prepare for.

Here is a generalized version of the technical interview process that you’re likely to see in your upcoming interviews.

Recruiter Phone Interview

Your first interview will be a recruiter phone interview. During this call you’ll discuss the job, the company, and what you can expect from the interview process. Do not take this interview lightly: all interviews in the technical interview process are vital to landing you a job offer. If you don’t seem excited about the role a recruiter might not move you forward to the next phase of the process.

If you’re applying to many different job openings, I recommend keeping a spreadsheet of the roles, companies, recruiter information, and any relevant information. You should refer back to your notes prior to the recruiter phone interview to ensure you’re well-informed and leave a great impression.

Technical Screening

If the recruiter’s phone interview goes well you will likely move into a technical screening interview. This interview may be asynchronous where you don’t interact with a human interviewer and instead complete the coding challenge on a platform with a time limit, or you may have a live interviewer.

Companies typically conduct technical screenings to ensure a candidate has the baseline technical knowledge required to thrive in a role. It can be expensive to fully interview every single candidate so a technical screening is a way to reduce the candidate pool.

You will be coding in this interview so it’s important to feel confident in your foundational programming language.

Take Home Project

Some companies require a take-home coding project in lieu of a coding challenge, or in addition to a coding challenge (again, all processes are different so consult your recruiter for the specifics).

Coding projects are a polarizing topic: some candidates love them while other candidates find them unfair. On one side, coding projects allow you to showcase your skills in a more natural environment, using the tools you love. On the other hand, these projects can be a way for a company to receive free (often unpaid) labor.

Many candidates with families, multiple jobs, or other time-consuming commitments likely don’t have the time necessary to complete a take-home coding project, which can lead to an unfair advantage for candidates without the same responsibilities.

If you’re tasked with a take-home project and do not have the time required to devote to it, you can ask the recruiter if there is an alternative. It might also be worth asking if you will be compensated for your time spent on this interview (some companies will pay you, although all of them should).

On-Site Interviews

The “on-site” interview phase is likely the last phase before ultimately receiving a job offer or a rejection. Many companies used to fly candidates to their offices for a full day of interviews, but due to the pandemic, these interviews are being held virtually.

Many candidates find the on-site interviews to be the most stressful as it requires you to take a vacation day from your current role to complete them. You will likely have three or four interviews (typically a half-day) consisting of a process/values/collaboration interview (how do you collaborate with your team, how do you resolve conflicts) and coding interviews.

The on-site interviews are stressful so remember to take breaks and decompress before each interview.

Notes On The Interview Process

The technical interview process is intense and can leave you burned out. Make sure you’re taking time to decompress after each interview and reflect on how it went. Were there interviews you struggled with more than others? If so, focus on those areas for your next interview process; some recruiters will even provide you with interviewer feedback so you can hyperfocus your studying.

You should also reflect on how you felt during the interview process. Did the interviewers make you feel safe and comfortable? Was this even a work environment you would thrive in? Remember that technical interviews are a two-way street.

Now that we’ve detailed the technical interview process, let’s dive into the seven mistakes candidates commonly make, and tips for avoiding them.

Mistake #1: Not Communicating Effectively

Technical interviews are supposed to measure your communication and problem-solving abilities, not necessarily whether you achieved the optimal, working solution to a coding challenge. Problem-solving is all about communication, but did you know that each culture has a different definition of what it means to be a “good communicator?”

There are two different types of communication:

  • Low-context
    Very explicit, redundant, and straight to the point. Messages are stated clearly and should be interpreted at face value.
  • High-context
    More ambiguous where listeners are expected to read between the lines (or read the air) and interpret the hidden message.

During a technical interview, it’s imperative to practice low-context communication, regardless of how you’re used to communicating. If you need a moment to think, tell your interviewer. If you need help, ask for it!

Often candidates don’t move on to the next interview phase because they failed to communicate effectively. If you think of the interview as a conversation rather than an exam, you’re more likely to communicate effectively.

Mistake #2: Not Admitting When You Don’t Know The Answer

If you don’t know the answer to something, admit it! Interviewers appreciate when a candidate is self-aware and humble enough to admit they don’t know the answer to something. It’s much better to admit you don’t know something than to “BS” your way through it.

If you’re unsure how to answer a question you can say, “To be honest I’m not sure. If I had to make an educated guess I would say…” People don’t want to work with “know-it-all”s; they want to work with real humans who can admit they don’t know the answer.

Mistake #3: Cramming The Night Before An Interview

Let’s be honest: we’ve all crammed for an interview the night before. It’s exhausting to make time to interview but the reality is that interviewing is a skill (sadly) and it must be practiced.

Although you might feel like you’ve learned something whilst cramming the night before an interview, this learning is volatile and superficial. Our brain only encodes information into short-term memory when we cram the night before an interview. This means that all that information you just “learned” will dissipate quickly after the interview. Thus, it’s better for your long-term memory to do a little studying in the weeks leading up to an interview than cram the night before.

Additionally, you’re more likely to regurgitate information than actually understand it. It will become apparent very quickly if you’re just reciting information you memorized as opposed to working through a solution.

One strategy for effective learning is to use context-switching as a tool. While switching contexts in the midst of learning a new skill seems ineffective, it’s actually the most effective learning tool. When you context-switch during learning, it’s more difficult for our brain to recall information, ultimately strengthening the encoded information and making it easier to recall in the long run.

If you want to read more about effective learning methods here are a few resources that helped me:

Mistake #4: Memorizing Code For Algorithms & Data Structures

Candidates often feel they must memorize code for algorithms and data structures, but the reality of it is you likely won’t have to code these things from scratch. Regurgitating code is not a useful skill and your interviewer will be able to tell you’ve simply memorized a solution. Instead, you should aim to understand the process of what you’re accomplishing.

Additionally, you don’t need to learn every single sorting and searching algorithm ever invented. Instead, you can determine the optimal solution for different data structures and learn the concepts behind it. For example, if you’re asked to sort an array of integers, you might know that a divide-and-conquer algorithm like merge sort or quick sort is a great solution. If you understand the concept of how an algorithm or data structure works, you can build the solution.

Lastly, most coding interviews will be conducted in the foundational programming language (even if a company is looking for a React/Vue.js developer): you likely will not be asked to code using a framework or library, so make sure you’re confident in your foundational programming knowledge.

Mistake #5: Overlooking The “Cultural Fit” Interview

All interviews throughout the technical interview process are important, however, there seems to be a focus on data structures and algorithms. And while data structures and algorithms are an important area to study, you should give the other interviews in the process the same attention: Don’t prioritize data structures and algorithms over other “easier” interviews like the “collaboration and process.

The “culture fit” interview is meant to discern how you collaborate and handle conflicts in a team. You’ll likely receive questions such as:

“Tell me about a time a project you were working on failed. Why did it fail and how did you move forward?”

or

“Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a team member. How did you resolve it?”

Write down your responses to these questions and practice answering them out loud. You don’t want to sound rehearsed but you want to be succinct and not ramble. Keep your response to a few sentences. Additionally, eye contact and body language are important.

Try not to fidget and focus on making eye contact with your interviewer!

Mistake #6: Starting With The Optimized Solution

Unless you are 110% confident in the most optimized solution for a coding challenge, you don’t have to start with the most optimized solution. Candidates often think they have to start with an optimal solution and it trips them up. They get stuck and can’t move forward. Instead, start with a non-optimal solution and say:

“I know this isn’t the most performant solution but I would like to get a working solution and refactor it for performance later in the interview.”

Your interviewer will appreciate your honesty and regard to performance. You’ll also be able to make progress more quickly, and in an interview, small wins can have a huge impact on your self-confidence and overall performance.

Mistake #7: Overlooking Programming Foundations

Candidates for front-end developer roles neglect their HTML and CSS skills to prioritize JavaScript, but more interviews are testing knowledge of the foundational programming skills so don’t neglect them.

We often forget the foundations and skip to the more expert-level framework and libraries but this can hinder our interview performance. Interviews are conducted in the foundational languages (i.e. JavaScript, not React/Vue.js), so don’t neglect the foundations.

Conclusion

Everyone has anxiety over the technical interview process but by being mindful of these seven mistakes, you can improve your chances of landing a job offer.

Once you do receive a job offer you can decide whether or not you want to negotiate. There are many things you can negotiate: paid time off: working hours, equity, signing bonus, job title, and salary are just a few.

When negotiating a job offer it’s important to do your research. How much does someone in this role (and in this geographic location) make annually? You can use Glassdoor to do some market research.

You should also recognize that the recruiter has constraints and might not be able to get you a higher salary. Instead, you can ask for a signing bonus or equity, but be prepared for them to say they can’t increase your offer.

You should focus on “why” you should receive additional salary or benefits; what do you bring to the table that someone else won’t?

Lastly, don’t give a recruiter an ultimatum, i.e. “If you don’t give me this salary, I will walk away.” Instead, focus on the fact that you want to join the team but need an improvement/change to the offer to accept.

Here’s an example email you could use to ask for a base salary increase:

“Thank you so much for the offer. I’m genuinely thrilled and looking forward to joining the team. Before I accept the offer I’d like to discuss the base salary. I am an active member in the technical community and teach numerous courses online with X learning platforms. I know that my extensive knowledge of Y will greatly benefit the team. As such I’m looking for a base salary in the range of A to B. Please let me know if we can make this work and I’ll sign the offer right away!”

If you don’t get a job offer, don’t worry! Almost everyone gets rejected for a position at one time or another; you’re not alone! Take some time to reflect on your interviews and determine what areas you can improve for the next round of interviews.

If you want to learn more about data structures, algorithms, coding projects, culture fit interviews, systems design interviews, and more, check out my new book, “De-Coding The Technical Interview Process”. This book has been a passion of mine for the past year and has helped many developers land a job offer (including myself)!

Be patient with yourself. You can do this!

Further Reading on SmashingMag:

Reblogged 12 hours ago from smashingmagazine.com

How to Write a Blog Post: A Step-by-Step Guide [+ Free Blog Post Templates]

Since you’re on this page, you probably already know how integral the process of blogging is to the success of your marketing efforts. Which is why it goes without saying that it’s exceptionally important to learn how to effectively start and manage a blog in a way that supports your business.

Without a blog, you’ll find yourself experiencing a number of problems such as poor search engine optimization (SEO), lack of promotional content for social, little clout with your leads and customers, and fewer pages that you can use to share lead-generating calls-to-action (CTAs).

So why, oh why, do so many marketers still have a laundry list of excuses for why they can’t maintain a blog?

Maybe because, unless you enjoy writing, business blogging might seem uninteresting, time consuming, and difficult.

Well, the time for excuses is over and this guide is here to help you understand why. We’ll cover how to write and manage your business’s blog as well as provide helpful templates to simplify your blogging efforts.

Let’s get started with an important question.

Blog posts allow you and your business to publish insights, thoughts, and stories on your website about any topic. They can help you boost brand awareness, credibility, conversions, and revenue. Most importantly, they can help you drive traffic to your website.

Today, people and organizations of all walks of life manage blogs to share analyses, instruction, criticisms, product information, industry findings, and more. There are many popular blog formats, but here are six of the most common:

  • The “How-To” Post
  • The List-Based Post
  • The “What Is” Post
  • The Pillar Page Post (“Ultimate Guide”)
  • The Newsjacking Post
  • The Infographic Post

Save time and download six blog post templates for free.

So, how do you ensure your blog post catches the eyes of your target audience, buyer personas, and customers?

What makes a good blog post?

Before you write a blog, make sure you know the answers to questions like, “Why would someone keep reading this entire blog post?” and “What makes our audience come back for more?”

To start, a good blog post is interesting and educational. Blogs should answer questions and help readers resolve a challenge they’re experiencing — and you have to do so in an interesting way.

It’s not enough just to answer someone’s questions — you also have to provide actionable steps while being engaging. For instance, your introduction should hook the reader and make them want to continue reading your post. Then, use examples to keep your readers interested in what you have to say.

Remember, a good blog post is interesting to read and provides educational content to audience members.

(Want to learn how to apply blogging and other forms of content marketing to your business? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free content marketing course.)

So, how do you actually go about writing one of these engaging and informational pieces?

How to Write a Blog Post

Here are the steps you’ll want to follow while writing a blog post.

1. Understand your audience.

Before you start writing your blog post, make sure you have a clear understanding of your target audience.

Ask questions like: What do they want to know about? What will resonate with them?

This is where the process of creating buyer personas comes in handy. Consider what you know about your buyer personas and their interests while you’re coming up with a topic for your blog post.

For instance, if your readers are millennials looking to start a business, you probably don’t need to provide them with information about getting started in social media — most of them already have that down.

You might, however, want to give them information about how to adjust their social media approach (for example — from what may be a casual, personal approach to a more business-savvy, networking-focused approach). That kind of tweak is what helps you publish content about the topics your audience really wants and needs.

Don’t have buyer personas in place for your business? Here are a few resources to help you get started:

2. Create your blog domain.

Next, you’ll need a place to host this post and every other blog post you write. This requires choosing a content management system (CMS) and a website domain hosting service.

Choose a CMS.

A CMS helps you create a website domain where you’ll actually publish your blog. CMS platforms can manage domains (where you create your website) and subdomains (where you create a webpage that connects to an existing website).

HubSpot customers host web content via CMS Hub. Another popular option is a self-hosted WordPress website on a hosting site such as WP Engine. Whether you create a domain or a subdomain to start your blog, you’ll need to choose a web hosting service after you pick a CMS.

Register a domain or subdomain with a website host.

Your blog’s domain will look like this: www.yourblog.com. The name between the two periods is up to you, as long as this domain name doesn’t yet exist on the internet.

Want to create a subdomain for your blog? If you already own a cooking business at www.yourcompany.com, you might create a blog that looks like this: blog.yourcompany.com. In other words, your blog’s subdomain will live in its own section of yourcompany.com.

Some CMS platforms offer subdomains as a free service, where your blog lives on the CMS, rather than your business’s website. For example, it might look like this: yourblog.contentmanagementsystem.com. However, to create a subdomain that belongs to your company website, register the subdomain with a website host.

Most website hosting services charge very little to host an original domain — in fact, website costs can be as inexpensive as $3 per month when you commit to a 36-month term.

Here are five popular web hosting services to choose from:

3. Customize your blog’s theme.

Once you have your domain name set up, customize the appearance of your blog to reflect the theme of the content you plan on creating and your brand.

For example, if you’re writing about sustainability and the environment, green might be a color to keep in mind while designing your blog.

If you already manage a website and are writing the first post for that existing website, ensure the article is consistent with the website in appearance and subject matter. Two ways to do this are including your:

  • Logo: This can be your business’s name and logo — it will remind blog readers of who’s publishing the content. (How heavily you want to brand your blog, however, is up to you.)
  • “About” Page: You might already have an “About” blurb describing yourself or your business. Your blog’s “About” section is an extension of this higher-level statement. Think of it as your blog’s mission statement, which serves to support your company’s goals.

4. Identify your first blog post’s topic.

Before you write anything, pick a topic for your blog post. The topic can be pretty general to start. For example, if you’re a company that sells a CRM for small-to-enterprise businesses, your post might be about the importance of using a single software to keep your marketing, sales, and service teams aligned.

Pro tip: You may not want to jump into a “how-to” article for your first blog post.

Why?

Your credibility hasn’t been established yet. Before teaching others how to do something, you’ll first want to show that you’re a leader in your field and an authoritative source.

For instance, if you’re a plumber writing your first post, you won’t yet write a post titled “How to Replace the Piping System in your Bathroom.” First, you’d write about modern faucet setups, or tell a particular success story you had rescuing a faucet before it flooded a customer’s house. Here are four other types of blog posts you could start with:

  • List (“Listicle”): 5 ways to fix a leaky faucet
  • Curated Collection: 10 faucet and sink brands to consider today
  • SlideShare Presentation: 5 types of faucets to replace your old one (with pictures)
  • News Piece: New study shows X% of people don’t replace their faucet frequently enough

If you’re having trouble coming up with topic ideas, a good topic brainstorming session should help. In the post I’ve linked, my colleague walks you through a helpful process for turning one idea into many. Similar to the “leaky faucet” examples above, you would “iterate off old topics to come up with unique and compelling new topics.”

This can be done by:

  • Changing the topic scope
  • Adjusting your time frame
  • Choosing a new audience
  • Taking a positive/negative approach
  • Introducing a new format

5. Come up with a working title.

You might come up with a few different working titles — in other words, iterations of approaching that topic to help you focus your writing.

For example, you may decide to narrow your topic to “Tools for Fixing Leaky Faucets” or “Common Causes of Leaky Faucets.” A working title is specific and will guide your post so you can start writing.

Let’s take a real post as an example: “How to Choose a Solid Topic for Your Next Blog Post.”

Appropriate, right? The topic, in this case, was probably “blogging.” Then the working title may have been something like, “The Process for Selecting a Blog Post Topic.” And the final title ended up being “How to Choose a Solid Topic for Your Next Blog Post.”

See that evolution from topic, to working title, to final title? Even though the working title may not end up being the final title (more on that in a moment), it still provides enough information so you can focus your blog post on something more specific than a generic, overwhelming topic.

6. Write an intro (and make it captivating).

We’ve written more specifically about writing captivating introductions in the post “How to Write an Introduction,” but let’s review, shall we?

First, grab the reader’s attention. If you lose the reader in the first few paragraphs — or even sentences — of the introduction, they’ll stop reading (even before they’ve given your post a fair shake). You can do this in a number of ways: tell a story or a joke, be empathetic, or grip the reader with an interesting fact or statistic.

Then, describe the purpose of your post and explain how it will address a problem the reader may be experiencing. This will give the reader a reason to continue reading and show them how the post will help them improve their work or lives.

Here’s an example of an intro we think does a good job of attracting a reader’s attention right away:

“Blink. Blink. Blink. It’s the dreaded cursor-on-a-blank-screen experience that all writers — amateur or professional, aspiring or experienced — know and dread. And of all times for it to occur, it seems to plague us the most when trying to write an introduction.”

7. Organize your content in an outline.

Sometimes, blog posts can have an overwhelming amount of information — for the reader and the writer. The trick is to organize the info in a way so readers aren’t intimidated by length or amount of content. This organization can take multiple forms — sections, lists, tips — whatever’s most appropriate. But it must be organized!

Featured Resource: 6 Free Blog Post Templates

Free Blog Post Templates

Download These Templates for Free

Let’s take a look at the post, “How to Use Snapchat: A Detailed Look Into HubSpot’s Snapchat Strategy.” There’s a lot of content in the piece, so it’s broken up into a few sections using descriptive headers. The major sections are separated into subsections that go into more detail, making the content easier to read.

To complete this step, all you really need to do is outline your post. This way, before you start writing, you’ll know which points you want to cover and the best order to do so in. And to make things even easier, you can download and use our free blog post templates, which are pre-organized for six of the most common blogs. Just fill in the blanks!

8. Write your blog post!

The next step — but not the last — is actually writing the content. We can’t forget about that, of course.

Now that you have your outline or template, you’re ready to fill in the blanks. Use your outline as a guide and expand on all points as needed. Write about what you already know, and if necessary, conduct additional research to gather more information, examples, and data to back up your points, while providing proper attribution when incorporating external sources. When you do, always try to find accurate and compelling data to use in your post.

If you’re having trouble stringing sentences together, you’re not alone. Finding your “flow” can be challenging for a lot of folks. Luckily, there are a ton of tools you can lean on to help you improve your writing. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Power Thesaurus: Stuck on a word? Power Thesaurus is a crowdsourced tool that provides users with a number of alternative word choices from a community of writers.
  • ZenPen: If you’re having trouble staying focused, check out this distraction-free writing tool. ZenPen creates a minimalist “writing zone” designed to help you get words down without having to fuss with formatting right away.
  • Cliché Finder: Feeling like your writing might be coming off a little cheesy? Identify instances where you can be more specific using this handy cliché tool.

You can also refer to our complete list of tools for improving your writing skills. And if you’re looking for more direction, the following resources are chock-full of valuable writing advice:

9. Proofread and edit your post.

You’re not quite done yet, but you’re close! The editing process is an important part of blogging — don’t overlook it.

Ask a grammar-conscious co-worker to copyedit and proofread your post. You may also consider enlisting the help of The Ultimate Editing Checklist or using a free grammar checker like Grammarly.

If you’re looking to brush up on your self-editing skills, turn to these helpful posts for some tips and tricks to get you started:

When you’re ready to check your formatting, keep the blog elements in mind:

Featured Image

Choose a visually appealing and relevant image for your post. As social networks treat content with images more prominently, visuals are more responsible than ever for the success of your blog content.

Blog post with a featured image to the right

For help selecting an image for your post, read “How to Select the Perfect Image for Your Next Blog Post” and pay close attention to the section about copyright law.

Visual Appearance

No one likes an unattractive blog post. And it’s not just pictures that make a post visually appealing — it’s the formatting and organization of the post, too.

In a well-formatted and visually-appealing blog post, you’ll notice that header and sub-headers are used to break up large blocks of text — and those headers are styled consistently.

Here’s an example of what that looks like:

Visual appearance tips on writing a blog.

Screenshots should always have a similar, defined border so they don’t appear as if they’re floating in space — that style should stay consistent from post to post.

Maintaining this consistency makes your content look more professional and easier on the eyes.

Topics and Tags

Tags are specific, public-facing keywords that describe a post. They also allow readers to browse for more content in the same category on your blog. Refrain from adding a laundry list of tags to each post. Instead, put some thought into a blog tagging strategy.

Think of tags as “topics” or “categories,” and choose 10-20 tags that represent all the main topics you want to cover on your blog. Then stick to those.

10. Insert a CTA.

At the end of every blog post, insert a CTA that indicates what you want the reader to do next — subscribe to your blog, download an ebook, register for a webinar or event, read a related article, etc.

After your visitors read your blog post, they click on the CTA, and eventually you generate a lead. But the CTA is also a valuable resource for the person reading your content — use your CTAs to offer more content similar to the subject of the post they just finished reading. If you’re not sure how to get started, take a look at some CTA examples.

In the blog post “What to Post on Instagram: 18 Photo & Video Ideas to Spark Inspiration,” readers are given actionable ideas for creating valuable Instagram content. At the end of the post is a CTA prompting readers to take a social media certification course:

Blog post about Instagram with a CTA at the bottom of the post

See how that’s a win-win for everyone? Readers who want to learn more have the opportunity to do so, and the business receives a lead they can nurture … who may even become a customer!

11. Optimize for on-page SEO.

After you finish writing, go back and optimize the on-page elements of your post.

Don’t obsess over how many keywords to include. If there are opportunities to incorporate keywords you’re targeting, and it won’t impact reader experience, do it. If you can make your URL shorter and more keyword-friendly, go for it. But don’t cram keywords or shoot for some arbitrary keyword density — Google’s smarter than that!

Here’s a little blog SEO reminder about what you should review and optimize:

Meta Description

Meta descriptions are the descriptions below the post’s page title on Google’s search results pages. They provide searchers with a short summary of the post before clicking into it. They are ideally between 150-160 characters and start with a verb, such as “Learn,” “Read,” or “Discover.”

While meta descriptions no longer factor into Google’s keyword ranking algorithm, they give searchers a snapshot of what they’ll get from reading the post and help improve your clickthrough rate from search.

Page Title and Headers

Most blogging software uses your post title as your page title, which is the most important on-page SEO element at your disposal. But if you’ve followed our formula so far, you should already have a working title that will naturally include keywords or phrases your target audience is interested in.

Don’t over-complicate your title by trying to fit in keywords where they don’t naturally belong. With that said, if there are clear opportunities to add keywords you’re targeting to your post title and headers, feel free to take them. Also, try to keep your headlines short — ideally, under 65 characters — so they don’t get truncated in the search engine results.

Anchor Text

Anchor text is the word or words that link to another page — either on your website or on another website. Carefully select which keywords you want to link to other pages on your site because search engines take that into consideration when ranking your page for certain keywords.

It’s also important to consider which pages you link to. Consider linking pages that you want to rank for a specific keyword. You could end up getting it to rank on Google’s first page of results instead of its second page — and that isn’t small potatoes!

Mobile Optimization

More than 60% of organic visits are carried out on a mobile device. As such, having a website with a responsive design is critical. In addition to making sure your website’s visitors (including your blog’s visitors) have the best experience possible, optimizing for mobile will score your website some SEO points.

12. Pick a catchy title.

Last but not least, it’s time to spruce up that working title of yours. Luckily, we have a simple formula for writing catchy titles that will grab the attention of your reader. Here’s what to consider:

  1. Start with your working title.
  2. As you start to edit your title, keep in mind that it’s important to keep the title accurate and clear.
  3. Then, work on making your title sexy — whether it’s through strong language, alliteration, or another literary tactic.
  4. If you can, optimize for SEO by sneaking some keywords in there (only if it’s natural, though!).
  5. Finally, see if you can shorten it at all. No one likes a long, overwhelming title — remember, Google prefers 65 characters or fewer before it truncates it on its search engine results pages.

Let’s summarize everything we’ve learned.

Visual overview of how to write a blog post with all the previous steps listed

If you’ve mastered the steps above, learn about some ways to take your blog posts to the next level.

By now, you should know who you’re writing for, have a blog all set up, and understand the basics of writing a blog post. While it’s easy to understand the practicalities of writing a post, it’s difficult to get started on your very first article.

Let’s go through the process of writing your first blog post.

Your First Blog Post: Choosing a Topic, Writing the Post, and Actually Getting Hits

You’ve got the technical and practical tidbits down — now it’s time to write your very first blog post. And nope, this isn’t the space to introduce yourself and your new blog (i.e. “Welcome to my blog! This is the topic I’ll be covering. Here are my social media handles. Will you please follow?”).

We’ve briefly touched upon it in the previous section, but your first blog post shouldn’t be a how-to guide. Remember: you’ve yet to establish authority in the field. You should instead start with “low-hanging fruit,” writing about a highly specific topic that serves a small segment of your target audience.

That seems unintuitive, right? If more people are searching for a term or a topic, that should mean more readers for you.

But that’s not true. If you choose a general and highly searched topic that’s been covered by major competitors or more established brands, it’s unlikely that your post will rank on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs). Give your newly born blog a chance by choosing a topic that few bloggers have written about.

TLDR; Your first post should cover a niche, low-volume topic. As you write more and more on your blog and establish topical authority, you can begin to cover more highly-searched keywords.

Let’s walk through this process.

1. Find a low-volume topic.

The first step is to find a topic with low searches in Google (we recommend sticking to about 10 to 150 monthly searches). These topics offer less competition and should therefore allow your new blog post to rank more easily.

To choose a topic, you can either do a traditional brainstorming session or carry out keyword research. We suggest the latter because you can actually see how many people are looking for that topic.

Now, don’t be intimidated by the term “keyword research.” It’s not just for marketers, but for new bloggers, too. And it’s really easy to do.

To jumpstart your keyword research, first begin by identifying the general topic of your blog.

Say you’re a plumber. Your general, high-level topic might be “plumbing” (67K monthly searches).

Next, put this term into a keyword research tool such as:

When you run this term through the tool, a list of related keywords will appear. Scan the list and choose one with a lower search volume. For this example, we’ll use “under sink plumbing” (1.4K monthly searches).

Run that keyword in the keyword research tool again. Look at the related keywords. Find one with a lower search volume. Do that again.

For this example, we’ll settle on “plumbing problems under kitchen sink” (10 monthly searches). That’s the topic for our first post.

TLDR; Choose a low-volume, low-competition keyword that will ensure your first post ranks.

For more help on keyword research, here are more resources you can use:

2. Google the term to double-check search intent.

You’ve got your topic — now, double-check that the user’s search intent would be fulfilled by a blog post.

What does that mean?

If someone is looking for “plumbing problems under kitchen sink,” they might be looking for a tutorial, a diagram, an article, or a product that can fix the issue. If they’re looking for the first three, you’re good — that can be covered in a blog post. A product, however, is different, and your blog post won’t rank.

How do you double-check search intent?

Google the term and look at the results. If other articles and blog posts rank for that term, you’re good to go. If you only find product pages or listicles from major publications, then find a new topic to cover in your first post.

Consider the term “under sink plumbing bathroom” (30 monthly searches). It seemed like a perfect fit because it had low monthly searches.

Upon Googling the term, we found product carousels, product pages from Home Depot and Lowes, and guides written by major publications. (You’ll also want to avoid topics that have been covered by major publications, at least for now.)

TLDR; Before writing your first blog post about a low-volume topic, double-check the user intent by Googling the keyword. Also, don’t forget to take a look at who’s written about that topic so far. If you see a major brand, consider writing about another topic.

3. Find questions and terms related to that topic.

You’ve got a highly unique topic that’s been covered by just a few people so far. It’s time to flesh it out by covering related or adjacent topics.

Use the following tools:

  • Answer the Public: When you place your keyword into this tool, it will give you a list of questions related to that term.
  • Google: Google is your best friend. Search for the term and look under “People also ask” and “People also search for.” Be sure to touch upon those topics in the post.

You can also use these keyword research tools we mentioned above in step one

5. Outline and write the post.

Now, it’s time to outline and write your first post!

With your niche topic and related questions as guideposts, you can now write a post that’s highly relevant to your niche and doesn’t have as much competition.

Use the how-to guide we shared in the previous section to help you write a great first post.

Don’t forget to:

  • Hit at least 1,000 words. It’s been proven time and again that longer posts rank better.
  • Put your target keyword in the title. Remember that niche topic we chose in step one? Try to work it into your title naturally.
  • Include at least two H2s with related search terms. Remember those related topics we found in step three? Use them as H2s to build the topical authority of your piece.

6. Promote your first post via outreach.

As a new blogger, you likely don’t have a social media following yet. The solution? Build a few backlinks to the post to get it off the ground.

Backlinks are a major ranking factor, but you don’t want to use black-hat methods such as spamming the comment sections in other blogs. Instead, reach out to people and let them know this new resource exists so they can link to your post.

If you’re a plumber, for example, you might reach out to your local plumber’s association. Here are more blog post promotion resources:

First Blog Post Ideas

Stuck? Let’s take a look at some first blog post ideas.

The Difference Between [Niche Topic] and [Niche Topic], Explained by a [Niche Expert]
  • The Difference Between SEM and SEO, Explained by a Marketing Expert
  • The Difference Between Sedans and Coupes, Explained by a Car Mechanic
  • The Difference Between Baking and Broiling, Explained by a Professional Baker
The 10 Best and Worst [Niche Tool] for [Niche Activity]
  • The 10 Best and Worst Writing Software for Fiction Writing
  • The 10 Best and Worst CRMs for Nurturing Prospects
  • The 10 Best and Worst Family Cars for Cross-Country Roadtrips
8 [Niche Activity] Common Mistakes (+ Ways to Fix Them)
  • 8 Non-Fiction Writing Common Mistakes (+ Ways to Fix Them)
  • 8 Salmon Broiling Common Mistakes (+ Ways to Fix Them)
  • 8 Car Maintenance Common Mistakes (+ Ways to Fix Them)
9 Proven Tips for [Niche Activity]
  • 9 Proven Tips for Checking Plumbing Problems under Your Kitchen Sink
  • 9 Proven Tips for Writing a Non-Fiction Bestseller
  • 9 Proven Tips for Doing DIY Car Maintenance
Why We/I Switched from [Niche Tool] to [Niche Tool] (Comparison)
  • Why We Switched from Pipedrive to HubSpot (Comparison)
  • Why I Switched from Microsoft Word to Scrivener (Comparison)
  • Why We Switched from iMacs to Surface Studio (Comparison)
[Niche Tool] vs [Niche Tool]: Which [Tool] is Best for You?
  • Zendesk vs Freshcaller: Which Call Software is Best for You?
  • Air Fryer vs Convection Oven: Which One is Best for You?
  • Mazda Miata vs Toyota Supra: Which Sports Car is Best for You?
The Ultimate Roundup of [Niche Activity] Tips and Tricks
  • The Ultimate Roundup of Novel Writing Tips and Tricks
  • The Ultimate Roundup of Macaroon Baking Tips and Tricks
  • The Ultimate Roundup of Solo Traveling Tips and Tricks

Want some real examples of blog posts? See what your first blog post can look like based on the topic you choose and the audience you’re targeting.

1. List-Based Blog Post

List-Based Post Example: 17 Blogging Mistakes to Avoid in 2021, According to HubSpot Bloggers

List based blog post example about blogging mistakes

List-based posts are sometimes called “listicles,” a mix of the words “list” and “article.” These are articles that deliver information in the form of a list. A listicle uses sub-headers to break down the blog post into individual pieces, helping readers skim and digest your content more easily.

As you can see in the example from our blog, listicles can offer various tips and methods for solving a problem.

2. Thought Leadership Post

Example: How HubSpot’s Customers Are Shaping the Next Normal

Thought leadership blog post example about HubSpot's customers

Thought leadership posts allow you to share your expertise on a particular subject matter and share firsthand knowledge with your readers.

These pieces — which can be written in the first person, like the post shown above — help you build trust with your audience so people take your blog seriously as you continue to write for it.

3. Curated Collection Post

Example: 8 Examples of Evolution in Action

Curated collection blog post example about evolution

Curated collections are a special type of listicle blog post. Rather than sharing tips or methods for doing something, this type of blog post shares a list of real examples that all have something in common in order to prove a larger point.

In the example post above, Listverse shares eight real examples of evolution in action among eight different animals — starting with the peppered moth.

4. SlideShare Presentation

Example: The HubSpot Culture Code

Slideshare presentation blog post example about HubSpot's culture code

SlideShare is a presentation tool that helps publishers package a lot of information into easily shareable slides. Think of it like a PowerPoint, but for the web. With this in mind, SlideShare blog posts help you promote your SlideShare so that it can generate a steady stream of visitors.

Unlike blogs, SlideShare decks don’t often rank well on search engines, so they need a platform for getting their message out there to the people who are looking for it. By embedding and summarizing your SlideShare on a blog post, you can share a great deal of information and give it a chance to rank on Google at the same time.

Need some SlideShare ideas? In the example above, we turned our company’s “Culture Code” into a SlideShare presentation that anyone can look through and take lessons from, and then promoted it in a blog post.

5. Newsjacking Post

Example: Ivy Goes Mobile With New App for Designers

Newsjack blog post by Houzz on news of a mobile app launch

“Newsjacking” is a nickname for “hijacking” your blog to break important news related to your industry. Therefore, the newsjack post is a type of article whose sole purpose is to garner consumers’ attention and, while offering them timeless professional advice, prove your blog is a trusted resource for learning about the big things that happen in your industry.

The newsjack example above was published by Houzz, a home decor merchant and interior design resource, about a new mobile app that launched just for interior designers. Houzz didn’t launch the app, but the news of its launching is no less important to Houzz’s audience.

6. Infographic Post

Example: The Key Benefits of Studying Online [Infographic]

Infographic blog post example - close-up of the infographicThe infographic post serves a similar purpose as the SlideShare post — the fourth example, explained above — in that it conveys information for which plain blog copy might not be the best format.

For example, when you’re looking to share a lot of statistical information (without boring or confusing your readers), building this data into a well-designed, even engaging infographic can keep your readers engaged with your content. It also helps readers remember the information long after they leave your website.

7. How-to Post

Example: How to Write a Blog Post: A Step-by-Step Guide

For this example, you need not look any further than the blog post you’re reading right now! How-to guides like this one help solve a problem for your readers. They’re like a cookbook for your industry, walking your audience through a project step by step to improve their literacy on the subject.

The more posts like this you create, the more equipped your readers will be to work with you and invest in the services you offer.

8. Guest Post

Example: Your Bookmarkable Guide to Social Media Image Sizes in 2020 [Infographic]

Guest post example about social media sizesGuest posts are a type of blog post that you can use to include other voices on your blog. For example, if you want to get an outside expert’s opinion on a topic, a guest post is perfect for that.

Additionally, these posts give your blog variety in topic and viewpoint. If your customer has a problem you can’t solve, a guest post is a great solution.

If you begin accepting guest posts, set up editorial guidelines to ensure they’re up to the same standards as your posts.

Ready to blog?

Blogging can help you build brand awareness, become a thought-leader and expert in your industry, attract qualified leads, and boost conversions. Follow the steps and tips we covered above to begin publishing and enhancing your blog today.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


Reblogged 1 day ago from blog.hubspot.com

The TikTok Effect: 6 lessons from TikTok trends to influence your social strategy

The TikTok boom is in full effect. Since the platform first became available in the U.S. in summer 2018, TikTok has generated six billion lifetime downloads in app stores and hit 689 million users worldwide, with no plateau in sight.

Between viral dances, memes, recipes, hacks and other TikTok trends, it’s hard to avoid the platform’s influence, leaving many brands to wonder—should we be on TikTok?

TikTok has a lot to offer brands, but the answer to that question comes down to your goals and your audience. Even if your brand decides TikTok isn’t a good fit, there’s a lot to learn from the trends that have emerged. And as seemingly every platform adopts a TikTok-like feature (e.g., Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, Snapchat Spotlight) your brand can leverage the following six TikTok takeaways to influence strategies for your other social channels.

1. Take advantage of low-lift, quick-cut tutorials

According to Vidyard’s 2021 Video Benchmarks report, the most common types of business-created videos are product demos, followed by how-to’s and explainers. There are more than 84 billion views (and counting) on TikToks with the hashtag #LearnOnTikTok. If that tells you anything, it’s that those types of videos are ripe for the platform. More than that, it shows that there is an audience appetite to learn new things, which is something you can cater to on any social channel.

On TikTok, you only have 60 seconds to get your message across, so creators use quick cuts, clear voice-over directives, sharp visuals and captions for additional context.

@tastemade

Who’s ready to finally learn how to cut an onion? #learnontiktok #tiktokpartner #homeroutine #cheftips

♬ Lemons – Demo – Brye

2. Make your content accessible

An estimated 15% of the world’s population live with a disability, and it’s mission-critical for any brand to make the content they create accessible for all. TikTok has empowered disabled creators to shatter misconceptions and show a side of disability that most able-bodied people have never experienced before.

Adding captions to your videos on social is a simple way to make them more accessible. You can either create the closed captions yourself or let your social platform do the work for you—IGTV, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all enable automatic closed captions now.

Text-to-speech is also a popular and powerful feature on TikTok that helps people with vision impairments enjoy videos, and should be embraced on other platforms.

Accessibility should be a consideration for all of your brand content, not just videos. In Sprout Social Publishing suite, users can add descriptive alt text to images they’re going to share on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn so that people with vision impairments can use a screen reader to get a sense of what the image is.

Not only is that the right thing to do, but accessibility is also a competitive advantage. Explore more easy ways to make your social media more inclusive and accessible.

3. Double down on influencer marketing and user-generated content

If you haven’t already dipped your toe into the influencer marketing pool, now is as good a time as any. TikTok is an influencer culture incubator, enabling popular creators to reach and engage millions of users on the app in minutes. And they do this without tons of studio equipment or highly produced content.

Pura Vida Bracelets has less than 300,000 followers on TikTok, compared to 2.1 million on Instagram. But by partnering with TikTok’s sweetheart Charli D’Amelio, who has over 112 million followers, the brand has capitalized on her influence and expanded the reach of its brand. The TikTok announcing Charli’s own Pura Vida Bracelets pack has over 30 million views and 3.5 million likes. And you can bet that translated into awareness, web traffic and sales for Pura Vida.

@charlidamelio

my @puravidabracelets pack is here💛 order yours at the link in my bio! #charlixpuravidabracelets #pvpartner

♬ Pura Vida Feel Like By Andrey Azizov – puravidabracelets

TikTok didn’t invent influencer marketing. Influencers have been thriving on social channels for years. What TikTok has done is spark new brand ambassadorship opportunities and inspire creative user-generated content. The ability to download any TikTok also means brands can easily reshare relevant TikToks to other platforms like Instagram Reels, Twitter and more.

Even if your brand isn’t active on TikTok, partnering with influencers or brand ambassadors can be a great way to expand your reach without a full-blown brand TikTok strategy.

Clorox, for instance, doesn’t have an official brand TikTok, but for their recent spring cleaning #YasClean campaign, TikTok has been the star channel. By partnering with Billy Porter to create an original, shareable TikTok sound, the campaign made a splash. Videos with the hashtag #YasClean have garnered over 6.5 billion views.

@theebillyporter

Join me in the #YasClean challenge & visit YasClean.com to enter to win $5K with #CloroxScentiva #ad

♬ YAS CLEAN! – Clorox Scentiva feat. Billy Porter

4. Monitor brand keywords for greater TikTok takeaways

TikTok and social channels, in general, are a platform for people to share unfiltered thoughts, needs and feelings. If your brand is on their mind, you’re going to want to know about it.

Remi Bader, a 25-year old curve model, made a name for herself doing “realistic hauls,” where she tries on clothing and gives her candid, and hilarious, feedback.

By fashion industry standards, Remi would be considered plus size. But in reality, she’s just a normal woman with a normal body who wants brands to create clothes that fit her and bodies of all shapes and sizes. Typically she’ll tag brands that are on TikTok or use brand hashtags—she wants those brands to hear her, see her and fix the sizing flaws in their clothing.

@remibader

I want to love @revolve but they need to do better!!! #remisrealistichauls #realistic #haul #revolve

♬ original sound – Remi Jo

There is a valuable lesson to be learned here: Track your brand keywords even if your brand isn’t active on a social channel. Otherwise, you could be missing out on customer feedback that has the potential to strengthen your brand, products and services.

With Sprout Social’s Listening solution, brands can become a fly on the wall in relevant conversations, so they never miss a moment to hear their customers, learn and improve.

5. Make your own TikTok challenge

If you kept up with viral moments of 2020, you probably know that Ocean Spray struck gold when Nathan Apodaca AKA doggface208 posted a TikTok of himself drinking their juice while skateboarding and listening to “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac.

The original video, which has over 12 million likes on TikTok, was so popular that people started reenacting their own versions, which Ocean Spray dubbed the #DreamsChallenge.

@oceanspray

Rolling into the weekend like… @420doggface208 @mickfleetwood @tiktok #dreamschallenge #cranberrydreams

♬ original sound – Ocean Spray Inc.

On Instagram alone, more than two million posts include the hashtag #TikTokChallenge. The benefit challenges are that they have a clear call-to-action encouraging people to join the fun. In Ocean Spray’s case, Mick Fleetwood, players on the PGA Tour, police departments and even the Office of Nuclear Energy took part in the branded challenge.

Ocean Spray also seized this viral moment to rebrand. Just scrolling through the brand’s Instagram, you can see a clear distinction in the brand’s content before and after the #DreamsChallenge went viral. Now, the brand consistently shares more playful, internet-culture-inspired content across all of its channels.

Wondering how to find TikTok trends in the first place? TikTok’s Discover page regularly refreshes trending hashtags. If you’re interested in creating a brand challenge, include a hashtag so that if it takes off, your brand will be prominently featured. As an added bonus, hashtags can crossover and be used on channels like Instagram, Twitter and even LinkedIn.

6. Have fun and experiment with TikTok trends

One of the reasons TikTok is so popular in the first place is that there’s never a dull moment on the platform. People are always finding new ways to use the creator tools, which results in a constant churn of new trends.

Brands can and should take inspiration from TikTok creators in the way they approach content. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Try new video styles and test them out on your audience. Find new collaborative, creative partners. And have fun while doing it.

How to find TikTok trends for your brand: Keep the focus on your audience and authenticity

For brands testing creator-style videos, there is no right answer to the Instagram Reels vs. TikTok debate. Each social channel and video platform has unique strengths. Above all else, prioritize staying on brand, goal-oriented and true to your audience’s preferences.

As social media platforms evolve and adopt more creator features, we can all look forward to a creative, innovative, video-driven future of content. Want to know what else the future holds? Download this guide and learn how to use data to make smarter social media predictions.

 

This post The TikTok Effect: 6 lessons from TikTok trends to influence your social strategy originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Reblogged 1 day ago from feedproxy.google.com

Not just for data scientists: Why your entire team needs access to social business intelligence

After a year of transformation, businesses are going all-in on social—90% of executives see social becoming the primary communication channel for connecting with customers, according to recent findings in the Harris Poll on behalf of Sprout Social.

Business leaders don’t just see social as a communication tool though, they see it as a valuable source for business intelligence. In fact, 85% report that going forward, social will be a primary source of data to inform business decisions.

The unbiased consumer, industry and competitor insights gleaned from social can be influential far beyond the marketing department. Social is the first place consumers turn to when they need information, entertainment or an outlet to voice their thoughts and opinions. It’s a place they go daily to engage with their favorite brands, provide feedback and learn about new products and services.

Social moves fast, which is one of its strengths as a marketing channel. However, that also means that customer sentiment, brand perception and cultural trends can change in a matter of minutes. Getting the most value from social business intelligence starts with the ability to access and act on it quickly.

Speeding up time to social insights

Historically, business leaders might have only reviewed social data retrospectively to gauge performance and progress to goals. Now, we’ve entered a new era of social media management where that data can and should be used to drive proactive-decision making.

For instance, you might find that social content focused on an older product still consistently drives engagement, link clicks and website traffic. Your product team might use that data to upgrade the product in question or inspire a new product to the delight of your fans.

Or perhaps, a wave of customers suddenly begin seeking support through your social channels with concerns about a service outage, product flaw or website error. Based on those messages, your communications team can publish a statement while product or IT teams investigate. At the same time, customer service representatives can coordinate a support plan, monitor the situation and update customers as your business works toward a solution.

In both scenarios, the resulting qualitative and quantitative social data can also help your business reflect on the situation, assess the impact and apply learnings in the future.

Sprout Social’s Analytics give businesses the power to harness real-time and retrospective social business intelligence with ease.

In our Analytics Reports home, Sprout users can access social media performance across channels, from a network-level perspective all the way down to individual post performance. The intuitive interface makes it easy to navigate to the key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that matter most to your business.

Sprout eliminates time-consuming tasks from the reporting process, so you can digest, apply and share data faster. No scrubbing data, manual calculations, clunky spreadsheets or busy dashboards necessary. In minutes, Sprout users can customize, annotate, export and share presentation-ready reports among stakeholders.

Democratizing social listening data

As more businesses embrace social data as a business intelligence source, social professionals must be trusted and empowered to share their insights. But moving forward, extracting value from social should be something anyone across a business can do. To truly make social a part of business transformation, brands must democratize social data.

Marketing departments are already challenged by a lack of technology adoption, often because their tools are cumbersome or prohibitive to users who aren’t deep analytics experts. Marketers only use 58% of their existing technology capabilities, according to Gartner research. To get that percentage up, most businesses would need to dedicate more time and resources to team upskilling.

Sprout Social is intuitive enough for anyone to use, without a significant investment in technical training.

Social listening, in particular, enables anyone to zoom out beyond owned data and tap into larger social conversations that are rich with industry, competitor and audience insights. Sprout’s social listening tool plugs brands into that power source and immediately surfaces data that can supercharge your business. Create highly customizable Topics that cut through the noise and help your business:

  • Gauge consumer perception and sentiment around your brand
  • Identify gaps in your industry that your brand is equipped to fill
  • Discover opportunities to differentiate your brand from the competition
  • Uncover inspiration for product innovation
  • Collect voice of the customer (VoC) data to improve the overall customer experience

The user-friendly experience and digestible format make it so that a diverse set of stakeholders—marketers, customer service representatives, product developers, executive leadership and more—can all distill actionable insights from social listening data, without having a data science background.

At Sprout, employees outside of the marketing team are empowered to use listening data. Our sales representatives often create listening reports around timely events, and use the takeaways in their sales process. Listening also helped Sprout’s cross-functional tiger team reevaluate our business plan and hone in on what our customers needed most during the pandemic.

Using social listening to drive business growth

Sprout customers have used listening to answer questions like, what day is leg day? What should be the focus for the next season of our podcast? Who was the artist of the summer? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Sprout’s Social Listening tool made it clear to Trek Bicycle that 2020 was the year of the bike boom. And with the bike boom came a surge in the brand’s audience. New cyclists and riders that hadn’t expressed interest in biking were suddenly vocal biking enthusiasts.

To better understand these “bike boom riders” and what they’re looking to get from cycling, the biking brand leveraged Sprout’s Advanced Listening solution. Not only did the listening data help inform their social strategy, but it also influenced the brand’s overall business strategy as well. It helped the brand forecast how long this bike boom might last and how they could capitalize on it.

Unlock social business intelligence for all

Between insights derived from direct communication with your customers, content performance analytics and social listening data that gives your brand a clearer view of the culture at large, it’s not hard to understand why businesses are all-in on social. The intelligence you can garner from social media doesn’t just make a brand, it grows a business.

Don’t risk your business being left behind in the next wave of digital transformation—harness the power of social business intelligence with the help of Sprout Social. Request a free demo to try out our Social Listening tool.

This post Not just for data scientists: Why your entire team needs access to social business intelligence originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Reblogged 1 day ago from feedproxy.google.com