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Tick-tock: Expert findings, testing tips & resources for Expanded Text Ads success after Jan. 31

If you’ve been holding off or haven’t found the promise of higher CTRs with ETAs yet, you’re not alone. Don’t get discouraged.

The post Tick-tock: Expert findings, testing tips & resources for Expanded Text Ads success after Jan. 31 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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PB177: How to Build Traffic and Momentum on Your Blog After a Blogging Slump

Six Ways to Boost Traffic on Your Blog

In today’s lesson, I want to talk about getting your traffic kick started in the new year.

Many bloggers struggle with getting traffic momentum early in the year after the holiday period traffic slump that most of us go through because our readers are not online as much or after we’ve taken a bit of time off blogging – and it can be frustrating to come back to your blog and see traffic lower than it was last year.

In this lesson, I want to give you 6 things you can do to hopefully boost your traffic a little and to hopefully get it back to where it was or even higher.

So if you’re looking for a boost in traffic – today is for you.

Further Resources on Strategic Blogging Combined with Blogging from the Heart



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Hey! It’s Darren from ProBlogger. Welcome to episode 177 of the ProBlogger podcast!

As I said, my name’s Darren Rowse, and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com, which is a blog, a podcast, an event, job board, and series of eBooks all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your audience and to make money from your blog.

You can learn more about ProBlogger at ProBlogger.com.

In today’s lesson, I wanna talk about getting your traffic kick started for the new year or (if you’re listening to this in a few months’ time) after you’ve had some kind of a slump in traffic. Many bloggers struggle with getting traffic momentum early in the year.

Maybe it’s because your readers have been away over the holiday period. I know a lot of Aussie bloggers particularly struggle at this time of year because a lot of their readers are away at the beach or have just had holidays. They’ve not been online as much. Or maybe it’s because you’ve been away, and you’ve stopped blogging for a couple of weeks to have a break. Whatever the reason, whether it’s end-of-the-year slumps or mid-year slumps – because I know a lot of American bloggers have a mid-year slump when a lot of their readers go away for summer holidays.

In this lesson, I wanna give you six things you can do to hopefully boost your traffic, to give you a bit of a kick start in terms of traffic after a slump, and hopefully get things back to where your traffic was or even higher. If you’re looking for a boost in traffic, today’s episode is for you. You can listen at ProBlogger.com/podcast/177, where I’ll have some show notes and further readings and further listening for you as well.

Let’s get into today’s show.

I got an email this morning from one of my readers, who said, “I’ve had a slump in traffic over the holidays and the new year and need to get things back on track. What should I do?”

A number of things come to mind. Some of what I wanna share this morning, I have touched on in previous podcasts, so I’m gonna refer back to those where I have done that. Six things came to mind. Half of them are content-related, and half of them are not.

I’ll start with the content-related ones because sometimes renewing your focus on content can kick start traffic and help to build some momentum on your site. The first thing that I would be doing if I had just had a bit of a slump in traffic – perhaps my traffic had plateaued, and I wanted to take things to the next level – is to really focus upon creating shareable content. This is something that I definitely have talked about in previous episodes a number of times. It’s a recurring theme, and it’s something that I think we always should be putting some of our attention into – creating shareable content.

My go-to place to work out what kind of content I should be sharing is to go to BuzzSumo.com. They have a free version; they have a paid version, where you get a lot more analysis, but you can type in your URL in BuzzSumo and do some analysis over the last 12 months as to what your most shared content has been on your site. I would be going there right now as you’re listening. Type in your URL and see what has worked in the past, in terms of shareable content.

Then you need to ask yourself a series of questions. When you’re looking at those posts that have been shared a lot, you need to asking, “Could I repurpose that content into a different medium?” If I’ve had a blog post that’s done really well in the past and been shared a lot, could I turn that into a video? Could I turn that into a SlideShare? We talked back in episode 117 to Donna Moritz. She talked a lot about using SlideShare and repurposing content into SlideShares.

Could you repurpose it into a podcast? Could you repurpose it into a live video? These types of content. If it’s been shared a lot as a blogpost and you repurpose it into one of these other types of content, there’s a likelihood that repurposing it into a different medium will be shared a lot, too.

That’s the first question. As you’re looking at what’s worked in the past for you, could you repurpose it?

Another question to ask is: Could you update it? Could you do a second post with a fresh take on that particular topic for 2017?

One of the posts that I’m gonna rewrite for ProBlogger is a post that I wrote last year that did really well, which was about the blogging tools and resources that I was using in 2016. That post got shared a lot, so I’m gonna update that in the coming weeks for ProBlogger and do a 2017 version. Maybe you’ve got an old post that was shared a lot that you could do a second post on that particular topic – a fresh one.

Could you apply the same format for a post that has done well to a different subtopic? We always see on Digital Photography School, when we do a post “21 Mistakes that Wedding Photographers Make,” that type of post goes really well with our audience. Could we repurpose that for a different part of our audience? “21 Mistakes that Travel Photographers Make.” “21 Mistakes that Portrait Photographers Make.” Could you take the same format of something that has worked and do it to a different aspect of your overall topic? Could you turn something that has worked in the past into a series? Could you take a post that you have written and break it down or extend it in some way into a series of posts? If one post has worked really well, maybe tackling that same topic over a number of days or over a number of posts would be good as well.

Could you do a roundup post? If a post worked well for you in the past, could you do a search online and find out what other bloggers have said on that particular topic and then do a link post that links to all of the other opinions on that particular topic as well? That gives you an excuse to link back to your post that’s done well. You could introduce your post by saying, “I wrote this post. It’s one of our most popular posts. It made me wonder what other people are saying on that particular topic.” Then you could do a link post on that particular topic. Again, going back to those topics that have done well in the past, it’s likely that if you tackle that same topic again, it’s gonna do well again.

Lastly, maybe you want to approach some other influencers in your space and do an interview with them on that particular topic. Again, if you’ve done something that has worked in the past, go and find out what other people said. This is just one thing that you could be doing to create shareable content again, by analyzing what’s worked for you in the past and trying to create a new piece of content that really builds upon it or takes that format.

Of course, you could do exactly the same thing by plugging anyone else’s URL into BuzzSumo as well. You could be analyzing other blogs in your niche to see what has worked for them, and then writing content that’s on that same topic. If it’s worked well for them, it would work well for you. Of course, you don’t wanna just take exactly what they’ve written and rewrite it. You wanna find your own approach to tackling that particular topic. You probably want to give them credit for giving you the idea for writing about that as well. That’s something I would certainly be doing, but how could you extend upon what they’ve written? How could you take a different opinion on it? Can you write it in a different voice for example?

Create shareable content. I would be digging around on BuzzSumo at your own site and other sites, other blogs in your niche, to be getting some inspiration for what type of content you could be creating. That’s tip number one: Focus upon writing some shareable content.

Probably for the next few weeks, I would be setting myself a goal of writing at least one post a week that was written more in the hope that it would be shared.

I want all my posts to be shared, but there are certain types of content that do get shared more than others. Focus really upon that type of content over the next week or so, just to boost your traffic to find some new readers for your blog.

Tip number two is to focus upon creating something of high, high value – a mega post. This is what we call them on Digital Photography School. I should just mention, if you go back to listen to episode 34, I’ve got some more tips there on creating shareable content. Just wanna kinda give you some further listening if shareable content is something that you wanna work on.

Onto tip number two there was to focus upon creating something of high value and to create what we call on Digital Photography School one of our “mega posts.” We often will title these “The Ultimate Guide to …” These, for us on Digital Photography School, are long posts. I’m gonna give you some examples in our show notes. We did one last year, “Our Ultimate Guide to Street Photography.” We also did another one, “Our Ultimate Guide to Landscape Photography.”

These posts tackle almost like a – we try and write an ultimate guide to a particular topic, which are category topics. We have a category on Digital Photography School on landscape photography. We have a category on street photography. We’ve decided we wanna try and tackle each of our categories and write a mega-long post on each of those categories. We find that when we do this – when we write these long articles, they’re often five, six, seven thousand words long. They take a lot of time and energy, but they get shared a lot. They also stand as kind of cornerstone pieces of content as well.

When we publish these, we usually also create an opt-in off the back of them as well. We publish them as a blog post, and you’ll see in the examples in our show notes. If you go and have a look at them, at the top of the blog post, we have a line that says something like, “This is one of our most comprehensive posts on this topic. If you’d like to download a copy to keep and to print, just add your email address in here, and we’ll send it as well.” Not only do these posts get shared a lot, but they also get a lot of subscribers for us. They invigorate our email list as well.

It takes a lot of work to do this, but it could be a great way to kick start your year and to really boost your subscriber numbers – but also to create some new readers for your blog because this content will get shared a lot. You could do other things with this type of content as well. You might turn it into an autoresponder series. You could create a little free course off the back of it as well. All of these things can help to build some momentum. This type of content is also really great for repurposing, so you might wanna create a SlideShare deck about it. You might create some videos out of it. Really base your next few months of work around this type of content.

Focus upon creating something of high value that you’re gonna give away to people that is gonna get on their radar. It’s gonna be shared, and it hopefully will help to build some momentum on your site, to get things firing again for you.

Tip number three is to launch a challenge or some kind of an event on your site– some sort of an ongoing project that you’re going to run. This could take a number of different formats. It might be that you decide to start a series of content on your site, so you might announce to your readers that over the next month, you’re gonna do a whole month of content on a particular need that they have. Or it may be that you decide to spread it out a little bit more. You’re gonna do one post a week on that particular topic.

I find when I launch a series of content that that gives me energy as a blogger, but it also creates a bit of buzz and creates a bit of excitement and anticipation on my blog amongst my readers, particularly if I’m tackling an issue that is a real problem for them or a real aspiration for them. Focus upon choosing a topic for your series that’s going to eliminate a pain for your readers (I’ve said this many times before) or that’s going to help them to make a gain. Focus upon pain and gains.

Announce it to your readers. By announcing what is coming up, you are going to create anticipation, and this gives your readers a reason to keep coming back to your blog to check it out. It gives them a reason to subscribe. Anticipation is such an important thing to build into your blog, and it will also give you some energy and accountability as well to create that type of content. It may be that you wanna run a series.

Another thing that you might wanna do, in addition to creating a series, is build some kind of challenge into that. Build it into a community challenge. This is where you get your readers not only to read your content over a series, but to do something in response to that. First time I did this was “31 Days to Build a Better Blog,” a month-long series of content that I did that gave my readers a little bit of homework every day. I find by getting my readers to do something actually amplifies what you’re doing with your series. It gets them actually engaging with it. It gets them seeing some results as a result of the content and applying it to their own lives, which has an impact upon them – gives them energy. They feel like they’re participating in it, and it becomes an event that they participated in. This can really help to build your blog a lot.

The other thing I’ll say about this is that sometimes it can be really worthwhile to increase your rate of publishing content during the series or during the challenge. Again, this takes more work, but it builds more momentum. I’ve done this a number of times, both on my blogs and also on this podcast, where I just ramp the content levels up for a defined period of time. It may be a whole month, like “31 Days to Build a Better Blog.” Or you might remember, if you’re a longer term listener of this podcast, last year, I did a whole week helping my readers to find their blogging groove. It was the “Find Your Blogging Groove Challenge,” where I did a week of daily shows. I went from two times a week to daily shows, and I gave my readers a challenge every day – a little bit of teaching and a challenge. That really lifted our download numbers incredibly over that particular week and kick started things, and things continued to be higher in the weeks after that, when I returned to my normal publishing frequency.

Is there some kind of series that you can do some sort of challenge you can do? Another quick example – it doesn’t have to be on your blog that you do it. It could be on social media. Vanessa, my wife – her blog Style and Shenanigans – from time to time, two or three times a year, she’ll do a style challenge with her readers, where everyday she challenges them to wear a certain color or a certain style of clothes and to post their photos on Instagram. Whilst that doesn’t drive direct traffic back to her blog, although she does have some blog posts associated with the challenge, it builds energy. It builds momentum. It builds some excitement. It builds engagement with her readers. That has ongoing benefits for her site. It doesn’t have to be on your blog. I do think if you are wanting to drive traffic, you probably want to build something into your blog, but a lot of it could happen on social media as well.

These things I’ve been talking about so far is really about trying to create content on your blog that’s gonna build momentum, build engagement, build excitement on your blog, and hopefully build some traffic as well. But of course, driving traffic to your blog – there are other things you can do.

One of the other things I’d suggest that you think about doing, if you have had a bit of a slump in traffic, is to do a big push in terms of creating guest content in other places on the internet. Traditionally, bloggers would call this “writing guest posts” on other blogs. That’s certainly something that you could consider doing. If you have relationships with other bloggers and you can see opportunities to create blog posts for their blogs, that’s certainly something you can do. Now, this isn’t always achievable for all of us, because not all of us have the profile to get featured on another blog, but there are other ways that you can create some guest content on your blog.

If you go back and listen to episode 37 of the ProBlogger podcast, I do a whole episode on how to create guest content in other places. For example, you could be going into Facebook groups that are relevant to your particular blog and be answering questions there and to be writing tips, tutorials, and posts in those Facebook groups. Now, it’s not about trying to get people, just spamming your links into these Facebook groups. You don’t wanna do that. It’s gonna get you kicked out of the group, but if you are prolifically useful in that group, people are gonna wanna know who you are. That will drive some traffic back to your site once they begin to investigate that.

If creating guest content is something that you wanna learn more about, you might wanna go back and listen to episode 37. Just find us in iTunes, if you’re listening there – or if you go to ProBlogger.com/podcast/37. Also check out 36 as well because I do an episode there about building your profile and building traffic through commenting on other blogs. That’s kind of related to this. You could be leaving such useful comments and such detailed comments, such generous comments on other people’s blogs that that could be almost considered creating content on their blogs, so listen to 36 and 37.

It’s really about trying to identify where are your potential readers hanging out and how can I build some value in those places, either through leaving comments, writing content, or being useful in those types of communities. That’s tip number four. Do a big push on creating guest content.

Number five tip – and I’ve only got two more to go – is to focus upon warming up your email list or warming up your other social media profiles. Sometimes we have a slump in traffic because our email list, our email marketing, or our social media marketing has become cold, either because we haven’t been doing it or because we haven’t been doing it effectively. One of the things that you might want to think about is “how can you warm up the relationships that you already have with your existing readers?”

If you have an email list, you’ve got people who have said to you, “Please email me.” If you haven’t been emailing them or you haven’t been emailing them in a useful way, there are some ways to warm up that relationship again. One, it could be simply sending them an email – for the first email for the year. Maybe you’ve had a few weeks off from your email. Send them an email. Include in that email something useful, something that’s gonna enhance their lives in some way, something that’s gonna help eliminate a pain or help them to make a gain in some way. It may be linking to some content that you’ve written on those particular topics. It may be answering some frequently asked questions that you get. I don’t know what it will be for your audience, but send them an email. The same on your social media. Maybe you’ve just kind of been letting social media slide over the holidays. Maybe it’s about re-engaging that.

One of the things I’ve been doing to warm up my email lists a bit has been to go back to my autoresponders. If you’ve got an email list, you’re probably using a service like Aweber, MailChimp. There’s a number of them out there. Most of them have some kind of an autoresponder system. This is where you set up a sequence of emails. I talk a lot about this in episode 70 of this particular podcast. One of the things I’ve been doing over the last few weeks is to really give my autoresponders a refresh because some of them had become a little bit dated.

On Digital Photography School, I actually have scrapped my autoresponder series, and I’m completely building it from the ground up. One of the things that I’m doing in that sequence is to highlight and to refresh some of the older content that we’ve got on the site. We get a lot of new subscribers every day, and they haven’t seen that old stuff on our site. So I’m building an autoresponder sequence that’s all about showing them what’s in our archives.

I’m doing a theme-based email, so in that autoresponder series, I now have an email that has “Here’s our best tips for beginner photographers,” “Here’s our best tips for portrait photography,” “Here’s our best tips for landscape photography.” I was not selling anything in these emails. It’s purely about trying to solve problems and to help our readers make gains in certain areas.

Maybe you wanna go back to your autoresponder series and refresh it, or maybe if you haven’t got one, start one. It is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site. It’s one of those things that you can set up once, and it will continue to run over time. Go and listen to episode 70, if you wanna learn more about that.

The same thing could be true within this tip to warm up your social media accounts as well. It may be that you wanna do some analysis of what you’ve been doing on your Facebook page, for example. What’s been working? What hasn’t been working? Scrap some of those things that haven’t been working and try some new strategies on that.

The last thing that I wanna suggest that you do is – might sound a little bit strange, but I want you to pick a fight. Pick a fight. Name something big that you wanna have a big impact on as a community, and announce that to your readers – something that you wanna attack.

Now I’ve talked about this in previous episodes as well. The idea here is not to pick a fight with a person, another blogger, or a celebrity, or to be controversial just to get attention, but rather pick something that you’re gonna be passionate about over the coming months and that something you wanna take a stand on, on your blog – something that your readers can rally around. It may be tied to the series of posts that you wanna do or that challenge that you wanna run with your audience, but I think sometimes when you show what you’re passionate about to your readers, that can build real energy with your readers, particularly if you give them some way to join in on that.

For example, I was talking to one blogger from Canada recently, who blogs on the topic of fashion for mums, and she has decided that one of her big themes for the next 12 months will be around the topic of body image. She’s going to write a regular post every month that helps her readers to think about body image and help them think more healthily about that and help them to celebrate who they are as women. She’s gonna do this once a month, and she’s gonna take a different aspect of that topic.

I really think that by tackling that topic – that’s her fight for the year – that I suspect that those posts will really resonate with her audience. She’s going to build some challenges into that as well. Fights can be very positive. We think of the word “fight” as a negative thing, but actually, giving your readers something to rally around, something to believe in, some sort of vision to move towards can really build momentum on your site.

Maybe there’s something within your topic that you can take a stand on. Again, this might be content-related, but it could just be a single post that you write on a particular topic. But it could also be something that really kick starts your year, that you can return to again and again over time.

I’ve gone through six things there. I’m sure there’s a lot more that could be said on the topic. Firstly, it was: focus upon creating some shareable content. Build that into your weekly rhythm.

Number two, focus upon creating something of high value, a mega-post, an ultimate guide to a topic – something that is gonna be so big and so impressive to your readers that they’ll just wanna share it and something that you could also use to get some more subscribers by turning it into some sort of a free giveaway with your audience.

Number three was to launch a project or a challenge, some kind of an ongoing series of content, particularly if it’s got some sort of a challenge and way for your readers to engage. You may actually wanna build a Facebook group around that or something like that, too.

Number four is to do a big push on creating some guest content, whether it’s guest posts, engaging in forums, engaging in Facebook groups. Create something of high value off your blog in someone else’s space.

Number five: focus upon warming up the relationships that you already have with your current readers through email or through social media.

Lastly, pick a fight. Pick something that you are passionate about, and write about that. Give your readers something to rally around, something to join in on in some way that’s gonna make a difference to them, but also the world that we live in, in some way because people love to join in on making a difference.

These six things that I reckon could just be the keys to boosting some traffic on your site, but more importantly than that, giving your site a boost of energy and creating some momentum and anticipation on your site as well. If you’ve got something else that you’ve been working on over the first few weeks and months of 2017 or something that’s got you through a slump in traffic and has helped to kick start your blog, I would love to hear about it over on ProBlogger.com/podcast/177, where you can find today’s show notes, a full transcription, and also find all those further reading or further listening that I’ve mentioned in this particular episode.

Thanks so much for listening. Look forward to chatting with you next week in episode 178!

How did you go with today’s episode?

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How To Make Time To Grow A Successful Blog When You Have A Full-Time Job

This is a guest contribution from Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of Making Sense of Cents.

In August of 2011, I started Making Sense of Cents while working my full-time job. I didn’t have much time to spend on it, as I was working full-time and working towards my Finance MBA, but I used every little minute of extra time that I had so that I could create a successful blog.

Now, I’m a full-time blogger and earn around $100,000 a month through my blog, and it was all because I learned how to start a blog on the side of my full-time job.

After quitting my job to focus solely on my blog, I am now able to travel full-time with my husband, I have a flexible schedule, I’m my own boss, I get to help thousands of people improve their finances each month, and more.

And, like I said, it all started five years ago on the side my full-time job.

As you can tell, I absolutely love blogging.

If I wouldn’t have started my blog, I don’t know where I would be right now.

Even when I was blogging on the side while in a full-time job, I was still able to earn $10,000 a month in income from my blog, and while it was tough, it was well worth it.

Now, you may be thinking about starting a blog but you may also be hesitant. After all, your life is probably already pretty busy. Between your full-time job, possibly raising a family, growing relationships, and more, you may feel like you don’t have any extra time to blog.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you probably do have the time to learn how to start a blog – you just have to know what to do in order to find that time.

How To Make Time To Grow A Successful Blog When You Have A Full-Time Job

Today’s post will teach you exactly how to find the time to blog on the side – it’s time that you already have! To manage your time better with your blogging tasks, I recommend reading Darren’s blog post 7 Tips for Busy Bloggers on Finding Time to Blog.

How bad do you want it?

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. What you do with your time is up to you, but you may be wasting time throughout the day. Let’s find that wasted time so that you can spend it on your blog instead.

First off, you need to want to blog if you’re going to do it on the side of your full-time job.

Some people may not want it as badly, and that’s fine. However, excuses won’t help you. So, if you really want to create a blog, then you will have to reclaim that time in your day.

It’s as simple as that.

Just think about it: What do you think you could do with an extra 10 hours, or even more, each week?

Be realistic about the amount of time you have

Like I said above, everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, but some may be more limited with their time than others. I understand that various situations can make a person quite busy. In the end, though, you always need to be honest with yourself about how much time you have in order to blog on the side.

This is because you don’t want to become stressed by working yourself too hard, forget about what actually matters in life, negatively impact your work, and so on.

However, you need to get past thinking that spending time on your blog will negatively impact your life, and I don’t want you to use the above as your excuse if it’s not a real reason.

Most people have extra time in their days but don’t realize it. The average person feels extremely busy but there’s probably a lot of ways that they waste time each and every day.

Due to this, for one week, I recommend keeping track of the time you spend on different things in your life and see how much time you waste.

If you’re like most people, then I’m sure that you’ll find you are wasting a lot of time!

Wake up earlier

Instead of hitting the snooze button over and over again, you should just wake up earlier and spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour (or more!) on your blog. This can be a great way to answer any emails, schedule blog and social media posts, and so on. You may even be able to crank out an entire article with this time.

Back when I worked at my full-time job and blogged on the side, I would usually wake up one to two hours before I had to start getting ready for work. I would use this time to work on my blog, which included replying to emails, brainstorming ideas, managing my blog, and more.

Sure, waking up early was tiring on certain days, but I wanted to run a successful blog, and it worked.

If you’re not a morning person, you can always try to fit in time before you go to bed. I would usually even work on my blog for a few hours before I went to bed.

If you worked on your blog one hour each day before you went to work and one hour before you went to bed, you would have an extra 10 hours each week for your blog.

Eliminate time wasters from your life

Do you know how much time you waste each day? If you complete the task I recommended earlier, where you track all of your time for one whole week, I’m sure you’ll easily find several hours.

I want you to take a second and think about how much time you waste watching TV or by spending time on something like Facebook.

According to Neilsen statistics, the average person in the U.S. spends over 30 hours each week watching TV and movies. And, it doesn’t end there. According to AdWeek, adults spend over 10 hours a week on their personal social media accounts.

That’s 40 hours right there that you could spend on your blog if you only eliminated these time wasters from your life completely. Even if you just reclaimed half of this wasted time, you would have 20 whole hours!

Short gaps are your friend

Have you ever thought about all the short gaps in your day and what you do with them?

To be more efficient with your time, you should use these short gaps of time on your blog.

Short gaps include time before you have a meeting or a phone call, a gap before you pick up your children from school, time while you’re waiting for food to cook, and so on.

Stay organized

Did you know that the average person spends 12 days per year looking for things they can’t find?

Yes, 55% of consumers stated that they would save anywhere from 16 to 60 minutes a day if they were organized.

That’s a few hours each week right there for your blog.

Strategically use your lunch time

Just like what was discussed in ProBlogger’s blog post How to Make Time for Blogging During Your Lunch Break, a lot of your blogging tasks can be completed during your lunch break if you use your lunch time wisely.

When I had my day job, my lunch time was almost always used for my blog. I would often bring my lunch to work, which allowed me to save money on food and to use that whole hour on Making Sense of Cents.

Right there, that’s five hours every week for side hustles, just by using your lunch hour.

Take vacation days to work on your blog

How many vacation days do you get at your job? What if you started using them for your blog?

This can be a great way to dedicate a full day to your blog. Doing this every now and then can help make managing both your full-time job and your blog a little more relaxing because you won’t be running around all day trying to manage both.

And trust me, this works! I would often use vacation days at my full-time job so that I could work on my blog.

Trying this option can be a great idea. Plus, if you have paid vacation days, it’s even better because you are getting paid to work on your blog!

Outsource certain tasks

Your blog doesn’t need you for every little task in order to be successful.

So that you can use your time more wisely, you may want to hire out certain tasks that don’t need you to complete them. You may want to think about hiring out tasks related to technical management, editing, social media, and so on.

To take this further, you can even outsource tasks in your life as well, especially if you find more value in working on your blog. Tasks to outsource could include mowing the lawn, car or home maintenance, and so on.

Find ways to make passive income through your blog

Yes, you can make somewhat passive income through your blog. Doing this can make blogging a little more enjoyable and relaxing because you won’t be trying to actively make income all day long through your blog.

Passive income ideas include display advertising, affiliate marketing, and so on.

I am a huge fan of affiliate marketing, because it allows me to earn income while I’m sleeping, on a hike, working on other projects, etc.

Finding ways to make passive income through your blog can make it much more manageable to earn blog income while also working a full-time job.

Putting all of this time together

As you can see, there are many things you can do in order to find the time in your day to run a successful blog on the side of your full-time job.

Whether you can only find 10 hours a week by applying these tips or if you can find 50, I’m sure everyone can find some time in their day.

What can you do in order to find more time for your blog?

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner is the founder and writer at Making Sense of Cents. On her blog, she helps readers learn how to make extra money, save money, and reach their dream life. She currently earns $100,000 a month through her blog and affiliate marketing course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. Michelle and her husband sold their house in 2015 and currently travel full-time in an RV with their two dogs.

The post How To Make Time To Grow A Successful Blog When You Have A Full-Time Job appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

Reblogged 5 days ago from feedproxy.google.com

There Is No Salvation for the ‘Facebook Expert’

In the old days of search marketing, it was about tricking the dumb robots–buy links, cloak, spin content, or whatever trick you could pull.

And then came the old days of Facebook marketing (up through 2014), which was also about tricking the dumb robots–arb out placements available only via Power Editor, run weighted average fan acquisition campaigns internationally, pollute a competitor’s remarketing campaigns by sending garbage traffic, scrape Facebook user IDs to generate custom audiences, roll up applications to build your email list, run sponsored stories with messages fans never endorsed, move text to bypass the 20 percent rule and the list goes on.

Sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo?

Good–that means you’re not one of the people who are about to get slaughtered. Maybe it’s people on your staff or some of your vendors. Seeing the forest from the trees, the smart Facebook advertiser no longer salivates like happy dogs hearing dinging bells.

Ride the gimmick game from tactic to tactic–and as each trick exhausts, you are a junkie in search of your next fix. As we said before, Facebook has now largely solved the optimization challenge for you.

Choose your business objective, load up your content, connect your audiences–that’s it. Put the money in the machine and Facebook itself does the optimization. But you’re still responsible for your goals, content and targeting.

This kills the single-channel marketer and a raft of Facebook-only companies at the same time. The walking dead who are peddling search-engine optimization, Facebook ads, or other disciplines are starting to realize this. They’re dropping SEO out of their name, rebranding as content marketers and jumping ship.

Keyword <> Facebook interests (2007-11)

You see, keywords were a great start in search-engine marketing. And the first folks to do Facebook advertising were the search PPC (pay-per-click) folks that assumed interests were keywords. Some people even pretended to build software that mapped Google keywords to Facebook interests.

Of course, that didn’t work.

That’s also why you don’t see any legitimate keyword, audience research or competitive tools for Facebook. It was easy with Google, since you could set up a crawler to scan where you ranked and also monitor competitor ads. On Facebook, because every user feed is personalized and behind a login, you have no idea what anyone else is doing or seeing. There is no legitimate competitive ad intelligence tool out there, and I doubt there ever will be.

Back to the consultants and software companies, which had raised funding from venture-capital firms which themselves hadn’t used Facebook. The curtain were hamster wheels, frenetically spinning to extract intent out of things people liked. But what you clicked like on in an indeterminate time past was no proxy for your immediate needs now–a broken toilet, hunger pangs for sushi or the need to buy a wedding gift for an old high-school friend.

You just couldn’t make gold from coal, no matter how many philosopher stones and divining rods you had. The fool’s gold of social was inflated fan campaigns, the bubble of app installs and general nonsense passed off to unsuspecting brands. Back when Facebook had one-dozen offices in Palo Alto, Calif., in 2008 (its food was delicious and still is), I felt we had a new tech gold rush.

But this time, it was data miners, not panhandlers–though the same charlatans existed selling their wares.

We actually did have search ads in 2011 briefly on Facebook. But Facebook pulled them because 99 percent of the searches were navigational, not demand-driven. And, I suspect, a lot of brands didn’t like being sniped on their own terms.

It was a clever, effective parlor trick.

In the same way you could cloak the search engines (show them one thing, while showing users another), with Facebook ads, you could programmatically bid high and low every 60 seconds. Thus when you created the ad at the high bid, it would get priority in the auction.

But when the system came around to bill you, it would notice the lower CPM (cost per thousand impressions) bid, assume there was an error and credit you back. The ad geeks called this optimization, but I called it cheating.

Facebook going through the ‘teenage years’ (2011-14)

With Power Editor and the Facebook Ads API (application-programming interface), the geeks got a ton of tools to play with. The number of ad types grew to more than 30, depending on how you counted them. Multiply that by the hundreds of thousands of interest targets (we got a list of 300,000 from Facebook at one point), partner targeting (offline behavioral data), custom audiences, and demographic data and you have billions of combinations possible.

The complexity created huge niche opportunities, as well as room for consultants to sell into the confusion. Facebook was able to “move fast and break things,” which conferred advantage to folks who could exploit cracks in the system before they were fixed.

For example, a number of companies found that they could spin up thousands of ads at low bids. And the ad algorithm wasn’t smart enough to know, allowing you to game the system. Many of the software companies that manage Facebook ads still rely upon this mass multiplying.

Even if you could get the targeting spot on, trying to do CPM and CPC (cost per click) bids against a range of placements was too hard.

So optimized CPM solved this issue by not only bidding to the business objective, but subselecting within the broad audience you’ve chosen. This solved the problem of needing to micro-target (you reading this?) and of conversion optimization. It meant the system could automatically learn who your best customers are and find more of them for you–lookalikes, for example.

Now if only they could create your content for you–use PostPlanner, Canva and your customers to curate and create for you, meanwhile. Every piece of content, which includes every organic post you’ve done, necessitates a different audience, too.

In the Google ad world, you create content that exists only for advertising and can live forever.  Set it and forget it.

But on Facebook, it’s the opposite–there are no ads, just organic posts that you amplify. You throw fuel on the fire once you find that something is working. The “always-on” post was perhaps my favorite ad, since it would just promote your most recent post. But that died, largely because not all posts should get promoted, like when you’re notifying the community of a problem.

There is still no good solution for this issue, so you need a human to watch this every few days. You can simplify their work by predefining the audiences they can choose from–saved audiences and various custom audiences.

Facebook ads as a young adult (2015 and onward)

I suppose if you’re old enough to drive a car and get your own place, you’re an adult. But maybe if you’re not old enough to drink or possess maturity in other subjective areas to be truly “grown-up.”

Likewise, Facebook integrates with only a few systems that you’ll need–your content-management system and your customer-relationship-management solution. Facebook is a platform that connects the two, matching people with content–you just happen to need to pay to do it–social postage, if you will.

Assuming you can get the content (Facebook posts, blog posts, photos from customers, reviews, etc.) and users (emails, app users, pixeled users, check-in users, etc.) piped in automatically, you still have to deal with specifying the business logic of sequences. In other words, you have to chain out content delivery according to the customer persona and where they are in the funnel.

The current batch of marketing automation companies out there do this nascently via drag-and-drop flow charts.

I’d argue that even if Facebook were to create the ultimate version of Power Editor, there is no way it will succeed in asking customers to build duplicate funnel logic within Facebook. It will have to integrate with the marketing automation companies to replicate the same logic into Facebook. Same users and content–just delivered beyond just email, which is what’s currently happening.

The marketing automation companies are really just email automation companies, since they don’t extend across all marketing channels yet. I predict three more years before Facebook is truly able to help mainstream small business owners. The delay is less about their technology, which is already robust enough, but about partners that need to integrate platforms and about educating marketers what Facebook is and isn’t.

Google was founded in 1998 (2000 for AdWords), so that’s 17 years. And I’d argue that it is too hard (at least its ad platform) for most businesses to use.

Facebook was founded in 2004 (2007 for ads), so not bad for only 10 years. Facebook ad optimization is a human psychology and finance problem, not a geek optimization problem.

When these integrations are finally in place, the finance people will be running the show. In undergrad religious studies, we learned about supersessionism. The Christians say they believe everything the Jews do but chide them for missing Jesus. The Muslims say they believe in everything the Christians do but they missed out on Mohammed. I’m not a preacher, so forgive the oversimplification.

When the web started to become mainstream in the mid-1990s, it was dominated by tech weenies. They were called webmasters, if you were around then. And they protected their high priesthoods with jargon, in the typical union-like keep-away played by IT.

Then the marketers came in and took over the web functions, too. And you’re not surprised that the chief marketing officer now outspends the chief technology on technology. The mainstream marketers–even business-to-business and small and midsized businesses–have been blasting Facebook posts indiscriminately.

Facebook stock is way up because of this, but nobody is quite sure what the return on investment is of these efforts.

We’re in the end of this period now.

Now the finance people are coming in. They don’t care about the information-technology or marketing stuff, except to minimize cost centers and not eat too much into profit margins. So the smart marketer must tie Facebook results to profits and losses, which is the only thing that finance people care about.

They are no longer OK with impressions, likes, shares or reach–they want revenue and margin maximization. The Facebook ads geek can talk a good technical game about how novices wouldn’t possibly begin to comprehend the complexity of these algorithms.

They may even be able to talk content marketing and marketing automation. But the people holding the purse strings will tire of this, since they want to know cost and revenue, tied neatly into a forecast. And that is why the Facebook tech weenie or Facebook guru will be dead soon, along with all single-channel marketers.

It’s not just Facebook ad specialists: It also includes social media strategists and anyone professing channel or tool-specific expertise. External consultants who come in for specialized situations–sure, there’s some room for that, but not in-house. Left behind is the ROI-minded marketer that leaves the optimization natively to the networks.

That smart marketer focuses on business goals, sources content in line with personas, and has the systems build audiences automatically.

Reblogged 5 days ago from www.adweek.com

When to Ban Social Media Trolls and Prevent Harassment

How do brands decide when to ban someone from their social media accounts? What are the criteria? There’s a need for brands to have social media guidelines in place to discourage harassment and trolling, and then take action against those in violation of those guidelines.

Recently, Twitter banned high-profile users over harassment (or incitement to harass). After Ghostbusters and Saturday Night Live star Leslie Jones and Teen Vogue contributor Lauren Duca escalated these issues, the users trolling and posting profane and abusive content directed toward these women were removed from the platform. Martin Shkreli was one of the offenders suspended on Twitter for harassing Duca.

So what should you do if you or your brand account on Twitter, Facebook or another social media platform faces targeted harassment?

Brands should carefully consider whether they decide to block users from interacting with them or ban them on Facebook based on their social media posts.

Comments to their brand pages on Facebook or Instagram should not be removed if they refer to genuine customer-service issues or contain criticism posted by legitimate activists. If the company does begin to censor those posts, its current and potential customers will judge the brand based upon the way it handles negativity and complaints. In fact, these interactions should be treated maturely, with facts, politeness, and empathy. This is a clear demonstration of your ability as a business or executive representing the brand to learn, grow, apologize unreservedly if it’s called for and do better in the future.

While this advice is based on patience and understanding through communication and conversation, it does not apply to persistent trolls and those intent upon abusing the brand, its employees or your customers. You do not have to show “tolerance” for this kind of discourse, and you are within your rights to remove inflammatory or profane content and ban or block those who perpetuate its spread.

As a user, and not as the administrator of a dedicated online community, your brand’s social media properties reflect the company and what it represents. This includes being a welcoming interactive space for all. Removing harassment and trolling improves the social environment and enables your customer-service agents and social marketing teams to focus their attention and time on real conversations and issues in order to serve them better.

Take appropriate action across social media channels

Twitter presents a unique challenge, as it is a less-controlled platform. Brands should first try to ascertain whether the user is a real customer venting because they’re legitimately upset, or if the company failed to deliver their mom’s birthday present on time. If you can constructively listen and assist them, you can often defuse their anger, change that customer’s point of view and possibly win them over.

On any platform, you can also invite the customer into a private conversation and ask for their contact details to address their complaint via email or a phone call.

However, if you’re being mentioned repeatedly without @name tagging (“Brand X sucks. I hate their widgets!”) and the person does not respond to attempts to engage, you can mute the offender. And if they are tagging you by name and/or pestering the brand while ignoring your attempt to assist them, you can filter out their mentions by shadow-blocking them using available software solutions.

If your brand is being attacked with profanity, offensive slurs or personal harassment, block the account and report the user to Twitter using the platform’s reporting tools. Blocking will also remove the user’s ability to respond under your tweets and engage negatively with customers with whom you’re having legitimate product/service-related conversations.

Some brands, like @Wendys, may choose to engage humorously with less vicious trolls. If you plan to be irreverent and commit to this course, be aware that your replies will be retweeted and will become screenshots and shared—widely.

While on Facebook Messenger, it’s become a game for trolls to bait brands like kids used to prank call stores and ask if they sell Prince Albert in a can. Only now, they screenshot the results and post them for their friends.

Your best course is to ignore the meme bait and terminate the conversation; they’ll get bored. If the troll is abusive or profane, ban them, as they’ll only distract you from tending to legitimate customer engagements.

The same advice applies to Instagram trolls. You can block a user, but you must also delete their comments in a separate action. Don’t forget to occasionally review your banned and blocked users to determine if it’s appropriate to reverse the decision after some time has passed.

On Facebook, it’s de rigueur to address real complaints in a visible way on your page. Occasionally, brands are called out for deleting comments, but if the channel is being misused by people spamming, using vulgarity or threatening to attack the brand or employees personally, you should remove the harassing content.

However, legitimate activists should be treated differently; develop a response that addresses their concerns and engage appropriately. And if their comments also cross the line into abuse, you can either hide a comment and it will remain visible to the poster and their friends, or remove it if it’s objectively reprehensible.

If the behavior persists, banning the perpetrator from your page is your best option.

You can also report posts or comments to Facebook anonymously if they contain inappropriate content.

FriedmanGuestPostFBReportThisPost

Your social media properties should link to usage and behavior guidelines, and these guidelines should clearly articulate what is or isn’t allowed by topic. Otherwise trolls will find a way around them and argue their points. “Please be kind and keep the conversation civil and polite; we do not tolerate abuse, profanity, threats or spam,” is clear enough and provides justification for dealing with inappropriate interactions.

If a brand has this problem and chooses to delete comments or ban a user after their content has been seen, it’s usually a good idea to make a public comment (utilizing your customary brand voice), stating that while the brand “has a general policy to allow criticism and not to censor, when content breaks the rules, it will be removed to prioritize a welcoming environment where all users can participate.”

If blocked or banned, users will typically complain elsewhere about you suppressing their “freedom of speech.” Keep in mind that graffiti on your storefront or a visitor creating an offensive disturbance without being handled appropriately will leave a far worse impression for your other customers who can’t avoid seeing it.

Remember, the social space you’re creating is a party, and you’re the host. Whether it’s a lively “swinging from the chandeliers” bash, an amiable coffee klatch or a sedate conversation over a game of chess, your customers and fans deserve to feel comfortable and safe from abuse.

Peter Friedman is a social media visionary and veteran with 32 years of online community and social media experience helping companies engage one-on-one with customers at scale. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of LiveWorld, a trusted social media partner to the world’s largest brands, and author of The CMO’s Social Media Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide for Leading Marketing Teams in the Social Media World. Connect with him on Twitter.

Image of troll courtesy of ARTPUPPY/iStock.

Reblogged 5 days ago from www.adweek.com

The Goldfish Conundrum: How to Create Content for Short Attention Spans

distracted_content_creation_compressed.jpg

The creation of mobile devices has made multitasking close to ubiquitous in the modern world. Between social media, live streaming, and digital news, it’s hard to imagine a time of day when we aren’t tempted to look at a screen while we’re doing something else at the same time.

Because of this phenomenon, it should come to no surprise that the average human attention span has fallen to just eight seconds — shorter than that of a goldfish.

What’s more, 59% of people share articles on Twitter without even reading them, and more than half of all pageviews are under a minute in length. It’s clear that people aren’t reading as much as they used to, and content creators need to adapt their strategy to that reality.

In this post, we’ll discuss strategies and resources marketers can use to create content that will generate clicks, shares, and most importantly, more readers.

The Current State of Content Marketing

Back in September, Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs released their annual B2B content marketing survey results, revealing that 70% of respondents plan to produce more content in 2017 than in 2016. However, while content production continues to rise year over year, content engagement saw a 17% drop in 2016, according to TrackMaven.

This dip could be a reflection of decreased content quality, as proper planning and research tend to fall by the wayside when marketers ramp up their output. But it could also be attributed to that attention span shrinkage we mentioned earlier. After all, today’s readers are more likely to skim blogs, long-form written content, and podcasts rather than thoroughly consume them, according to data from HubSpot Research.

What’s a marketer to do? Let’s dive into our strategies for defying the goldfish attention span, without sacrificing the quality of your content.

How to Create Content That Gets Consumed

You already know that content creation is an integral part of the inbound marketing methodology. It attracts visitors to your blog, cultivates brand awareness, and helps you generate leads for your organization. But what about page views? Here are our strategies for making sure you’re not just creating into the void, but are actually producing content that gets consumed and shared.

Write quality content

We know, this one seems like a no brainer. But with 30% of marketers reporting that they don’t have clarity around what content marketing success looks like, it’s an important issue to stress.

It’s estimated that bad writing costs businesses close to $400 billion per year in inefficiency and productivity loss. And it could also be costing your organization if you’re generating content that isn’t driving any results. So before you start putting fingers to keyboard, implement a few processes to make sure you’re writing quality content that’s also useful to your audience.

Here are a few ideas:

One of the easiest ways to create content that your audience will read? Ask your audience what they want to read about. Conduct social media polls and surveys to find out what topics and content types your subscribers are interested in, and brainstorm ideas based on their feedback.

For example, The Muse publishes content for job seekers about career growth, and they ran a poll asking their Twitter followers what would improve their workday.

Sure enough, shortly after the poll closed on Twitter, they published this article based on the results:

twitter_poll_title

Clever, right? Experiment with social media polls and ask for engagement from your followers. Encourage your audience to engage with the poll to generate content ideas and more participation on social media, and see what ideas you come up with based on the results.

Invest in thought leadership

When setting your blog editorial calendar for the months ahead, ask yourself: Are there any topics that someone in the organization, such as a founder or executive, is uniquely qualified to write about?

That’s thought leadership — and it’s not as difficult to incorporate into your strategy as you might think it is. In fact, there are a lot of small steps you can take to incorporate more thought leadership into your current editorial.

Here are a few ideas:

At HubSpot, we frequently partner with influential organizations — like Trello — to create content that reflects our combined expertise. By collaborating with the folks behind Trello to put together a comprehensive guide for using the project management tool in your marketing campaigns, we demonstrated our ability to provide credible, helpful tips — straight from the source:

Hubspot_trello_comarketing

Brainstorm other organizations in your industry and determine a mutually beneficial way you could collaborate. Whether that’s guest posting, cross-promotion, or working together as in the example above, keep bringing new ideas to the table that your audience can’t help but read.

Create visual content

Your audience wants to see more visual content, and it performs better, too: readers spend more time looking at images than words on a web page, and images promote greater memory recall than text alone.

There are a variety of different types of visual content that you can create to draw attention and promote greater readership, and our blog has a number of step-by-step guides to creating eye-catching infographics, videos, and more.

Vox does a great job of providing written and visual content for its readers. On any given day, it might publish a data visualization, a long-form article, and a video featuring different angles on the same topic — in this case, the Women’s March on Washington — to match different people’s content preferences and to keep things fresh for its audience.

Data Visualization

Womans March Data Viz.png

Long-Form Article

Vox Long Form Article.png

Video

Vox Womens March Video.png

The lesson? Don’t automatically default to writing a blog post simply because it’s a medium you’re comfortable with. Experiment with creating visual content to tell data-driven stories your audience will click, and hopefully share, too.

Meet the reader halfway

Follow the Golden Rule: Treat your reader as you’d like to be treated. Most of us are busy people, and busy people on the internet like to skim-read content. Luckily, you can make it easier for readers to consume your content all the way through with different formatting, layout, and coding choices.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Use headers and bolded text to break up sections and paragraphs so readers can maintain focus.
  • Use bullet points and numbered lists to draw the eye to a new format and pay closer attention. (See what we did there?)
  • Include summary and takeaway sections in your written content to help readers remember what they’ve been reading about and maintain their interest.

Even better, help the reader understand how quickly they’ll be able to read a piece before they get started. Check out how Medium does this in an example from ThinkGrowth.org, HubSpot’s Medium publication:

medium_skimming_example

(For more examples of publications that produce easily consumable content, try reading this blog post for inspiration.)

Publish on a variety of channels

Another challenge to getting people to thoroughly consume your content is they just may not have found it yet, and that’s where off-site content can come in handy. Audiences vary across different platforms, and it’s easier for your content to get discovered, and then read, if it’s published in more places than just your blog.

Medium is one example of where you can publish different content to attract a broader audience. You could create original content for a Medium publication, or repurpose old content by turning text into an infographic or video. As HubSpot Vice President of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson notes:

On the open web, people are searching, but on Medium, people come to spend time reading. This leads to much higher engagement on Medium and it’s this engagement, not search behavior, that fuels further discovery.”

Social media platforms also offer a variety of features for publishing original content. For example, you can publish live video on Facebook, ephemeral messages on Snapchat, photos on Instagram, and blog posts on LinkedIn. To ensure you’re publishing on these channels at the most optimal time, check out this guide from ClearVoice on when to publish content on social media for different industries.

Getting Started

We know this is a lot of information, but competition is getting stiff, so experimenting with how you create content now will pay off in the future. If you need help getting started, here’s our list of free tools to make awesome content.

What’s your favorite type of content to read? Share with us in the comments below.

Reblogged 5 days ago from blog.hubspot.com

Do organic keyword rankings matter anymore?

With all the ways search engine results pages have evolved over the years, columnist Julian Connors explores the question of whether SEO is still a wise investment.

The post Do organic keyword rankings matter anymore? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 5 days ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

The essential guide to pharma SEM

Columnist Justin Freid explains the basics of getting your PPC campaigns up and running in the highly regulated industry of prescription drug advertising.

The post The essential guide to pharma SEM appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 5 days ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

How to Use Social Listening to Find Qualified Sales Leads

Social media is great for branding and customer service, but don’t overlook its value for lead generation as well. One of the best ways to find and generate leads is through social listening.

The great thing about using social media is it gives you the ability to find qualified sales leads, not just random people who might be interested in what you’re offering. Since people openly share information on social media, you’ll get a deeper understanding of what makes them tick.

It starts by using social media to identify what your target customer wants and needs. Then use that information to appeal to them and turn them into leads. Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through the entire process and show you how to launch a successful social listening campaign.

How Social Listening Provides Qualified Sales Leads

Many marketers use the phrases social listening and social media monitoring interchangeably. Don’t be fooled –  they’re not the same.

Social media monitoring is looking at individual conversations going on about your brand or target keywords, usually in real time. For example, you might monitor mentions of your brand name so you can quickly reply to customer service issues.

On the other hand, social listening gives you the ability to be more proactive in seeking and making connections. Instead of being on the lookout solely for keywords or brand mentions, you’re gathering information based on the overall sentiment and tone of conversations going on about your brand or industry on social.

Through social listening, you can better understand:

  • What your audience wants.
  • Whether or not specific campaigns are successful.
  • The overall sentiment about your brand on social.
  • Trends that affect your brand or industry

Social listening allows you to find the exact problems and challenges your target audience has, and then create solutions to offer them that are based in the value proposition of your brand.

We’re going to walk you through how to use social listening to find qualified sales leads. Plus, you’ll see how to do it without being annoying, pushy or spammy.

Get the Right Tools

First and foremost, you need a social media listening tool. Since the bulk of social listening is based on analyzing information, you need a tool that can gather all the data and present it in a way that’s a lot easier on the eyes than spreadsheets.

Lucky for you, Sprout Social includes powerful social listening features.

Sprout allows you to save specific search terms and hashtags, and track them over time. Another handy feature is the ability to tag messages. A little later on, we’ll go into more detail on why this is a game changer for using social listening.

sprout social message tagging

Lastly, you have the option to create reports to see trends in the topics and hashtags you’re tracking.

listening trends report

Now that you’ve chosen your tool, the next step is to put systems in place to streamline the process.

Systematize

Since this process will likely involve at least two different teams – sales and social – creating systems is going to make everyone’s life easier. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to systematizing, since every company has different needs and ways of working.

So instead of laying out a specific plan, here are some suggestions on ways to streamline social listening:

Tag Messages

We mentioned that message tagging is unbelievably valuable, and here’s why. In any given day, brands receive dozens, hundreds or even thousands of incoming messages on social. Managing all of this can get messy very quickly. Tagging gives you the ability to group similar messages together. That way you can either route certain messages to the right teams or analyze groups of messages.

sprout message tagging

Our social team at Sprout used message tagging and social listening to help identify a need for our LinkedIn analytics feature. They were able to see a trend in the volume of messages coming in requesting LinkedIn analytics, which showed our customers really wanted the feature.

Address Immediate Opportunities

Social listening is not a replacement for social media monitoring. You still need to look at individual messages and respond to them when necessary. If someone Tweets your company asking about a service or is directly looking for products you offer, it’s an easy win.

Your process should include steps to take when a hot lead comes through social media. For instance, you may assign it to the sales team as a task so they can follow up as soon a possible.

Assigning tasks in sprout

The last thing you want is to lose out on sales leads because you’re trying to gather data. Combine social listening and monitoring to strengthen your overall strategy.

Who Responds to What?

For a one-person show, this might not be an issue. However, for larger teams, it’s important to understand who’s in charge of responding to which messages.

Some messages may require someone from customer service, while others might need a response from the social media or sales teams. Outlining who’s in charge of which messages will keep things organized, even as your team grows.

Now that you have systems in place, the next step is to start looking for conversations.

Master the Art of Search

In order to take advantage of social listening, you need to learn how to become an expert at searching. Since social listening is all about finding trends and new opportunities, the phrases you search for are crucial.

We recommend having a list of search terms related to your industry that people would use when describing challenges they face or their main pain points. For example, let’s say you’re a food subscription company like Blue Apron. Instead of solely looking at social media messages involving your brand name, you could include queries like “grocery shopping” and “healthy ingredients.”

Using these search terms gives you a better pulse of industry chatter and the specific problems of your target audience. This Tweet is the perfect example of the types of issues a company like Blue Apron can solve.

Additionally, certain networks like Twitter have some more advanced search features such as looking for queries involving questions or even positive and negative sentiments.

Twitter Advanced Search Features

Try to monitor queries with questions because it’s usually the sign of a good lead. People asking questions are looking for solutions to a problem. Providing the solution puts your brand at the top of their mind, even if they’ve never heard of you before.

This tactic is particularly helpful on Twitter due to its conversational nature. People are always on the network asking questions when they want a quick response.

Your list of search queries will be dynamic. You shouldn’t stick with the same keywords forever. You may even find new ideas based on what you’re currently tracking.

Collect & Analyze

Now comes the listening part of social listening. Start by tagging incoming social media messages that include your target keywords. You can organize your tags in whichever way works best for you. You may want tags for customer complaints, a specific keyword, a branded hashtag or sentiment.

sprout tag report

Use Sprout’s tag report to measure the volume of messages coming through with each tag.

 

Specifically, look for trends and tags with the highest volume of messages. This information will give you a great starting point when it’s time to create solutions.

Create Solutions

Alright, so you’ve outlined the phrases you want to search, tagged relevant messages for your social listening campaign and have a good idea of the challenges your target audience is experiencing. The next step is to provide solutions.

The solutions can come in the form of new products, blog posts, videos, an FAQ or any other medium that’s appropriate. Since you’ll probably uncover a ton of opportunities through your social listening campaigns, you’ll need to prioritize which ones you’ll attack first.

This will be a fairly simple process if you tagged your messages. Start with the tags that have the highest volume. Keeping with the food subscription company example from earlier, let’s say a bulk of your tagged messages were related to healthy ingredients. You could create a healthy shopping guide or printable grocery list of healthy ingredients. Then start promoting it through social media.

You could even go through some of the recent Tweets you tagged and start sharing your solution with them. Your freebie will pull people in your site, and hopefully turn them into leads.

The benefit of providing a free, valuable resource instead of just directing people to a landing page to buy your product or service is because it’s less spammy. According to our Q3 2016 Sprout Index, 46% of social media users unfollow brands for posting too many promotional messages.

reasons people unfollow brands on social media

On the flipside, when you share helpful and relevant information, people are more likely to keep following you and actually engage. Try not to go too overboard with this approach though. Occasionally sharing links with your audience is nice, but if your entire Twitter feed is filled with replies with a link to the same article, it starts to look a lot like spam.

Hopefully it goes without saying, but you also shouldn’t automate this process. While there are some good use-cases for bots in social media marketing, auto-replying to random posts and Tweets with links isn’t one of them.

Rinse & Repeat

Social listening is an ongoing process. You should constantly look for new opportunities to find sales leads on social media. Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, consumers are using social media more than ever to voice their struggles and look for solutions to their problems. Start incorporating social listening into your strategy to make sure you’re not missing out on any opportunities.

This post How to Use Social Listening to Find Qualified Sales Leads originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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Google Maps will tell you how hard it will be to find parking

Now you can plan enough time not just for driving to your destination but also the time it takes to park at your destination with the Google Maps app.

The post Google Maps will tell you how hard it will be to find parking appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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