Though content marketing is hardly a new idea (Michelin introduced its now-famous guide to help early motorists find their way back in 1900!), the ascent of social media has propelled content to the top of most marketers’ to-do lists. A recent gathering of practitioners in Chicago at the Incite Content Marketing Summit, however, revealed that mastery of content marketing is more challenging than expected and works better when it is a S-E-R-V-I-C-E, as spelled out below.

S is for Short and Shareable
Keeping your content short is especially important if you’re targeting millennials and their successors, Gen Z. This isn’t just because they have five devices open at a time, but as Patti Girardi, vice president of marketing at Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services, reports, “This generation communicates in snack-size portions (when it does take the time to read).” Girardi also advises, “If Gen Z isn’t sharing your brand, you don’t exist.”

E is for Education
Charlie Breit, vice president of marketing at SurePayroll, notes a significant shift in their approach to content as a “way that we can help all of our customers learn about taxes, payroll and running a business.” Importantly, Breit adds, “We no longer chase keywords and search traffic, but instead look to use content to improve the value that we deliver our customers and increase the usefulness/utility that we provide.”

R is for Relevance
It shouldn’t be surprising that your content must be relevant to the target consumer. (read more…)

As social media platforms have matured, the ability for brands to easily reach prospects and create customer communities evolved. As you all know, the Wild West days when it was easy to reach thousands of customers for free are over, but that’s not to say there are no longer opportunities and benefits to social media. These platforms are still terrific channels that can bring you opportunities to engage with customers and generate leads, but instead of just chasing down customers and leads via social media platforms, some smart marketers are building their own branded communities.

A branded community hosted on your website or its own dedicated URL isn’t subject to the pitfalls of traditional social media. You have control over the user experience, and you aren’t fighting for the user’s attention. Of course, there’s more to it than just control over experience and limiting distractions. With an online branded community, you can build customer loyalty, discover cost savings, and uncover sales & marketing opportunities. (read more…)

Designing a social media marketing strategy for clients is no cakewalk. Typically, their current social media efforts are lacking – they may have big ideas, but have little direction or know-how when it comes to executing them. This is why they came to you.

It’s your job to not only help weave these ideas into a tangible plan that can help the client achieve his or her goals, but you will also need to document results to prove a positive ROI from your efforts.

Half of 600 social media marketers, surveyed by TrustRadius February through March, struggle to tie social media activities to business outcomes.

Here are some tips for designing a compelling, organized social media marketing plan:

1. Help the client set goals.

Help the client set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and tangible) goals. While, generating brand awareness and increasing web traffic are good places to start, goals need to be more specific and measurable. (read more…)

Ninety percent of companies don’t have employees with the right skills in social media, mobile and data analysis to keep the company competitive in the digital sphere. Shocking? Here’s the real kicker: of those companies, only 46% are investing in developing these digital skills in employees. The rest are falling into the digital skills gap.

If you’re not taking proactive steps to attract, retain and train top digital talent with your company, you risk falling behind. Here’s how to get your workforce on the cutting edge of digital:

You need talent that is up-to-date on the latest tools to mine data, analyze results and optimize work. You have two choices: hire from outside the organization or train those already working for you.

If you are hiring from outside the organization, make it clear in your job postings that you require someone with a strong set of digital skills, including experience with Google Analytics, CRMs, such as Salesforce or Hubspot, and social media management. (read more…)

Three years ago a gathering of customer service professionals proved to be a dour affair, as these well-meaning folks grappled with the onslaught of social media. Back then, social was an irritant: a brightly costumed character that many hoped would just go away with a bite-sized homage. Fast forward to the recent Incite Customer Service Summit and you’d see, like I did, a transformation not unlike Clark Kent’s transformation to Superman. Lest you think I’m exaggerating, read on.

Sizing up
After a social media crises rocked brands like Comcast and Domino’s several years ago, it is now hard to find an F1000 company that doesn’t take customer service via social channels seriously. In fact, many brands have staffed up in this area. Comcast’s Jared Schultheis reported that his Digital Care team is up to 85 staffers, and many more are expected to join the team in the next 12 months. These employees aren’t former interns either ― many come straight from the call center and are trained to handle technical issues on the spot. (read more…)