Reaching Out to Readers on Social Media

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 at 8:07 AM | Category: Meryl's Notes Blog, Social Media, Writing 10 comments

Welcome to meryl’s notes blog (this here place you’re lookin’ at) in Plano, Texas. We’re honored to be a stop in Eleanor Vincent’s WOW! Women On Writing Blog tour. We’re giving away a copy of her moving memoir Swimming with Maya: A Mother’s Story. Read on to see how you can win. If you want to keep up with tweets on this book, the hashtag is #SWMaya.

Swimming With Maya Cover Reaching Out to Readers on Social MediaReaching Out to Readers on Social Media by Eleanor Vincent

In an age when you can download a book to your e-reader in 9 seconds that costs less than the movie playing at your local Multiplex, what is the relationship between readers and writers? Judging from the 80-plus reviews of my book on the Swimming with Maya [affiliate] Amazon page,  it has the potential to be closer than ever.

In the nine years since the book was first published as a beautiful but pricey hardback, the landscape has changed dramatically. As I writer, I see this most vividly in the ease with which readers can now buy the book and communicate with me about how it has affected them. Blogs like Meryl’s make it even easier to connect directly.

The digital edition of Swimming with Maya has been downloaded approximately 20,760 times — that is ten times the number of readers of the hardback edition. Early in August, the book made the e-book edition of the New York Times bestseller list. Wow!

As I write this, Swimming with Maya in the 10th position on the Goodreads list of Bonds Between Mothers and Daughters.

Please visit the list and add your vote. This is just one way readers can weigh in directly!

When a writer has poured her life out on the page as I did in this memoir, it is gratifying to hear that readers are moved, or that their own lives have been changed. Not all readers react favorably, of course. Because of the immediacy of digital media I can hear exactly what they don’t like, which is valuable information.

If someone feels strongly enough to review my book — be it positive or not — I’m in the very privileged position of having readers who care enough to comment.

Like this recent review from my Amazon page: “What an incredibly powerful book. Both about the pain of losing a child and what it means to be human.”

Somebody really gets it! Swimming with Maya is a story about life — even though the trigger for telling the story was the death of my older daughter. It is about how life knocks all of us down and what it takes to get back up again.

Or this one: “I have a daughter who is like Maya was in many ways. Eerily, she is the same age now as Maya was when she died. This book made me realize how much I really love my daughter. I don’t think I will have any trouble showing her anymore. “

Affecting how someone relates to her daughter is about as high an honor as I can imagine. I was so moved by the recent batch of reader reviews on Amazon that I am responding to each one. I am sincerely blown away by some of the reader comments and touched that those 90,000 words I sweated bullets over for almost 10 years are out there in the world making a difference in people’s lives.

E-books are making books available to people who might never have had such easy access before. It’s a trend I welcome. Don’t get me wrong. If you feel moved to buy the paperback as a gift for yourself or someone else, I’ll be equally happy. Please be sure to write a review or send me an email. Readers and writers need one another — so keep the comments coming. And please enter to win a copy of Swimming with Maya.

Thanks to Meryl for hosting me today.

About the Author

Eleanor Vincent phot Reaching Out to Readers on Social MediaEleanor Vincent is an award-winning writer whose debut memoir, Swimming with Maya: A Mother’s Story, was nominated for the Independent Publisher Book Award and was reissued by Dream of Things press in 2013. She writes about love, loss, and grief recovery with a special focus on the challenges and joys of raising children at any age. Eleanor has been a national spokesperson on grief recovery and organ donation, appearing on CNN and San Francisco’s Evening Magazine. She has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, and been interviewed on radio and television programs around the country.

Called “engaging” by BooklistSwimming with Maya chronicles the life and death of Eleanor’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Maya, who was thrown from a horse and pronounced brain-dead at the hospital. Eleanor donated her daughter’s organs to critically ill patients and poignantly describes her friendship with a middle-aged man who was the recipient of Maya’s heart.

Comment and win: The prize: winner gets a copy of Swimming with Maya. For a chance to win, please leave a comment about losing someone, what it means to be human or ask the author a question. You have until 11:59pm on October 30, 2013  to qualify for the drawing. The unbiased and robotic Random.org has the honor of picking the winner.

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The Trouble with Tribble-ish Content Marketing

Thursday, June 6th, 2013 at 8:53 AM | Category: Content marketing, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog, Social Media, Writing 3 comments

star trek kirk tribbles 300x221 The Trouble with Tribble ish Content MarketingBack in 2001, I connected with a fellow from InternetViZ and interviewed him about email marketing. A few months later, a client closed his business. It was one of the primary sources of my writing income. That taught me the importance of having a variety of clients instead of one or two that make up the bulk of your income.

Discovering content marketing

I came to a crossroads in my writing career where I had to decide whether to get more business or let it wither away and be a corporate woman for life. Not wanting to give up, I started writing an email asking people if they needed writing support to help their business.

While writing this (I still remember it as if it happened yesterday. And goodness knows I’ve written many emails.), my stomach knotted and I debated whether to do this. Finally, after re-reading the message many times, I hit “Send.” (Good thing Gmail and its “undo” feature didn’t exist or it may not have made it.)

Gulp.

The fellow responded and connected me with his business partner, Hank Stroll of InternetViZ. I’ve worked with Hank ever since. (He’s in Minn. and me in Texas. We met in person in 2007 and it was like old times. Still is.)

Little did I know he would launch my career in content marketing long before this fancy name came about. He figured it out — before most people did — that companies could better connect with clients and prospects through email newsletters and valuable content instead of marketing their stuff.

The content marketing secret’s out

Now every marketer is in on the secret and trying to churn content. (A lot of content is crap.) Multiplying like the “Star Trek” Tribbles. Even as a writer for more than 10 years, I get stumped for fresh ideas. How many articles have you seen that give you ideas for content? Zillions.

I blog less often than I should. However, I’d rather not blog than recycle something that others have said many times, many ways. Like “Green Eggs and Ham” — these articles have been delivered on a boat, with a goat, in the rain, on a train. OK, more like in a blog, on a SlideShare, in a video, in a tweet.

Finding a fresh take on popular content topics

So how do you provide a fresh take on a popular topic you need to cover? Yes, there’s a catch. It means reaching a smaller audience.

The secret: Write about the topic with a specific focus.

Let’s say you need to write about content marketing. Here’s how you’d get specific:

  • 7 Ways B2B professional services companies can use content marketing.
  • How content marketing boosts your luxury car dealership.
  • Content marketing lessons from a information technology research firm.
  • Is content marketing worth it for the oil and gas industry? Yes!
  • Team up marketing automation software with content marketing.
  • 5 ways to promote your tech support services with content marketing without sounding like an ad.

You get the idea. True, not many people will seek articles on oil and gas and content marketing. The magic comes in feeding search engines by having the keywords in the headline and link, such as http://www.rockingB2Bprofessionalservices.com/blog/7-ways-b2b-professional-services-companies-use-content-marketing.html (This is a fake link. Any resemblance to real links, living or rotted, is purely coincidental.)

It may not mean much traffic for the article. (This is where social media rocks. Link to the article from social media and email newsletters.)

This link  boosts keyword power for “b2b professional services” especially if the company’s other content uses those keywords in other blog posts and page headlines. While few may search for “b2b professional services content marketing,” “b2b professional services” in the headline and link pump the site’s keyword muscle.

This narrow focus content approach …

  1. Lets you produce fresh content for your website. (Search engines <3 that.)
  2. Strengthens keyword power for your site.
  3. Allows you to give away your expertise for free — which builds credibility and trust.

“But, Meryl. Doesn’t adding keywords like this come across as phony and smart search engines will catch on to such tricks?”

As a writer, I’m more sensitive to keyword fakery in web content. You probably have lots of stories you can tell about your business. Turn your story into an example and those keywords will fit naturally. Don’t force it. Just write conversationally. Edit and tweak. Repeat. (Not too many times, though!)

Watch self-mentions

One more suggestion: Skip mentioning your company, product or service in these articles.

Competitors and fans of competitors won’t link to your article. In searching for articles on niche topics for clients, most of the good ones mention the company, product or service. While a competitor or its fans may not want to link at all, they may be more willing to share because it’s important to them to be a trusted resource. (Great article on this: Why You Should Link to Your Competitors.) When an article promotes something, then that’s a little much.

How do you find content ideas that have been rehashed many times?

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Relish the Past

Thursday, December 13th, 2012 at 12:18 PM | Category: Business, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog, Social Media 1 comment

graduation 300x224 Relish the PastMy daughter and I went to her elementary school — where her little brother was a third grader — for the senior reception. Every year, the elementary schools hold senior receptions inviting all the graduating seniors to visit old friends and connect with their former teachers. Even the parents reconnected. I hadn’t seen some since middle school or longer. Elementary school requires more in-school volunteers than any other school. It gave parents a place to meet and socialize.

Digging deep for memories

One teacher admitted who saw her students using rulers as swords on the first day of second grade admitted she thought they would be a difficult class. It turned out to be a  great class. A little lesson in first impressions and how they can be wrong, but also how they can destroy any chances of making a second impression. (The teacher was stuck with those kids. A hiring manager can pass up on a candidate who wasn’t energetic in the interview.)

It was lovely reconnecting with some of the parents that I wished we had stayed in touch. These parents had one thing in common — they weren’t big email or Facebook users. To be fair, I’m not big on making phone calls.

And other parents, I just couldn’t remember their names. Alas, no name tags for the parents. Only the students had name tags, or else we’d all be saying, “Who’s that?” I should’ve showed up with a name tag that said, “Shelby’s Mom. St. Edwards.” (Can you guess the question most often asked at the reunion?)

Connections and business

This shows the value of email marketing and social media for business. It keeps your name out there. It keeps you networking. It keeps your company in everyone’s mind. You may not see financial or traffic ROI. But isn’t it worth helping people remember your name? Eventually, someone will need you or take the next step in the sales process by subscribing to your email newsletter, downloading a white paper or signing up for a free webinar.

It’s also good for your personal brand. One of my clients first hired me to do copy for his product. We stayed in touch and he hired me again when he went to work for a different company. Another client brought me in to do content for his startup. A few years later, he joined another startup and again, brought me on board. It wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t stayed in touch.

My daughter may have graduated from high school, but that’s not the end of her connections with her classmates. Some she may never see again. Some she may see at the high school reunions. And some she may find resources through them and them through her.

Leaving a company is like graduation. You may leave the institute, but your connections stay with you.

How do you stay connected with past and current clients? Prospects?

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Get on a First Name Basis with Online Prospects and Clients

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012 at 9:32 AM | Category: Business, Customer Service, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog, Social Media 2 comments

Drapers Barber Shop Martinsville 300x185 Get on a First Name Basis with Online Prospects and ClientsOnce upon a time, geography and the surrounding community limited the customer base for small businesses. Today, our connected world offers an unprecedented opportunity for small businesses everywhere because we can live anywhere and work with clients on a global scale.

But what have we sacrificed? Sometimes we long for the days when an owner knew the name of every customer who entered the store. Communities foster customer loyalty and help keep a small business afloat during tough times.

Building meaningful relationships lies at the heart of social media marketing. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are not solely another avenue for advertising your products and services. They exist to form a community for your business.

To build a small town atmosphere of support online for your company, remember these four key points.

1. Be a Resource

Customers look for people and businesses that they can trust. Using your social media accounts, you can be a source of knowledge about your company’s area of expertise. Instead of just posting about sales and promotions, use these outlets to share information that you’ve been learning or reading about.

If you’re an accounting firm, this could mean posting easy-to-understand updates about changes in the tax code. Likewise, a natural foods store might post about a new study questioning the health benefits of a product like soy — even if it’s among the products that they sell. By being honest and providing real, objective content, customers realize they can trust you with their purchases.

2. Be in Touch

The ability to directly contact your customers is a valuable asset. First, you have to establish trust – people don’t want to give out their email or phone number in fear of receiving spam. If you can collect this information, however, you now have a direct line to your base. Offer a discount to compel people to sign up for a newsletter or coupons sent through text messages.

Once you collect the contact information, don’t abuse the trust. A monthly e-newsletter can go a long way in helping build on that trust. Shape the newsletter the same way that you do in social media. Balance objective content with information about your products and services. 80/20 works well here where 80 percent of the content is valuable information and 20 percent is self-serving. Likewise, a weekly text message about a great deal helps remind customers to visit your site or connect with you.

3. Say thank you … always.

Regardless the type of business you run, saying thanks never goes out of style. If all of your transactions go through an automated online system, you can send a follow-up email that says thank you and includes a link to a survey or a comment box where people can offer feedback. (Yes, you can automate this.)

If you’re a company that deals with fewer clients than a retail store, it may be feasible to send handwritten cards. Once you order the cards, it only takes one minute to write a line or two of thanks and drop it in the mail. The effect can be a long-term and fruitful business relationship.

4. Remember Special Occasions

Customers need reminded that they’re doing business with fellow human beings, especially in a time when much of our business and interaction occurs through the portal of a connected device. Holidays aren’t an excuse to have a sale. Depending on the size of your company, sending holiday cards or gifts to your most valued customers works wonders in building loyalty and strengthening relationships. If a competitor ever comes along, clients will remember that you sent them holiday wishes. It’s also okay to celebrate your company’s birthday. Remind your customers that you’re growing, and it’s thanks to their support.

In a business world where we’re increasingly separated from clients, it’s important to find ways to establish real connections through relevant content and direct outreach.

What other ways have you found to get to know your customers?

Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, a provider of personalized pens, imprinted apparel, mugs, customized calendars and other promotional products. He regularly contributes to Promo & Marketing Wall blog.

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5 Steps for Small Businesses Reputation Management

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 at 9:08 AM | Category: Business, Customer Service, Meryl's Notes Blog, Social Media 9 comments
man without identity 5 Steps for Small Businesses Reputation Management

Image by sxc.hu user ortonesque

Online reputation management is not just the province of those businesses and public figures that have been subject to scandal. On the contrary, in this age of Google where anyone can look up anything and anyone, reputation management is vital. For small businesses, it’s not a vanity or a luxury, but a true necessity.

Think about it this way. Whether you’re a small business owner, the manager of a dental practice, professional services provider or the owner of a café, you need to bring in new customers. And you typically bring them in one at a time, not en masse. The thing is, customers you bring in are likely doing their due diligence, checking you out on Google and seeing what other customers have said about you.

If Google only brings up positive information about your brand, then you’re in fine shape. If there are any negative listings or bad reviews out there, however, then your company’s online reputation is sunk — and along with it goes your business prospects.

It doesn’t matter if those unwanted listings are true or not. Maybe they’re legitimate customer reviews, or maybe they’re defamatory posts written by business rivals or disgruntled employees. What matters is that these undesirable Google listings are going to send potential clients to your competitors — and your small business will begin to fade into oblivion.

All of that is the bad news. The good news is that reputation defense is very possible — whether you choose to enlist the services of a professional reputation management company, or simply do reputation repair strategies on your own.

Here are five cost-effective steps that any small business can use to ensure maximum brand protection.

  1. Know your online reputation. This is the easiest, most significant step for protecting your business’ online reputation. It’s astonishing, the number of businesses who don’t realize what people are saying about its products and services on the Web. Monitoring your reputation can be as simple as using Google and Bing, and perhaps setting up a Google alert, as well. Searching on Twitter and Facebook is also a good idea.
  2. Build a strong, defensive wall around your brand identity. Now that you have a good idea of where your business stands in terms of its reputation, you’re ready for the next step of building a strong, defensive wall. Start by snatching up all domain names associated with your business — that is, the name of your company, .com, .net, .org and so on. You may not actively use these domains, but owning them helps you build a hedge of protection on Google and other search engines.
  3. Get active on social media. A good Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest presence can be vital for your company. It shores up goodwill for your brand, and it populates search engines with positive content. Perhaps most importantly, though: if you’ve claimed your company’s name on Facebook and Twitter, then your enemies can’t seize it to use against you. Watch for company mentions — good and bad — and respond to them as you would a customer who calls to complain or compliment. If you don’t have an answer to the problem, acknowledge you heard the customer and you’re working on it.
  4. Create positive content about your company. Once you’re bought up some prime online real estate, and started using social networks to your advantage, then you can begin the work of amassing some strong, compelling content about your company. Remember that the battle over your company’s reputation is a battle for Google dominance. If someone writes a bad review of your company, and it shows up on page 10 of a Google search, that doesn’t matter. It’s what’s on the first page that matters. The best thing you can do to protect your brand, then, is to inundate Google with as much positive, brand-enhancing content as you can — using the very domains and social media accounts you claimed earlier!
  5. Bury bad reviews and listings. The final step is to remain committed to the process of publishing positive content, and trusting that positive content to do its job. While responding to feedback is important, it’s equally important to remember that the creation of positive content is what will ultimately curb the effects of bad reviews. Stay resolute in your content creation, and remember that it’s likely to be an ongoing process, one where you build your defensive wall, one brick at a time.

A small business needs a sterling reputation on the Internet. Your online reputation is more than just your business card in the virtual world — it’s the source of all your credibility as a company. By taking these simple steps, however, you are effectively taking online reputation seriously — something that will pay huge dividends in the end.

About the author
Rich Gorman is an expert practitioner of reputation management techniques and a designer of direct response marketing programs for companies large and small. He leads the team at www.reputationchanger.com.

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The Secret to Writing about a Popular Topic

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 at 10:21 AM | Category: Blogging, Meryl's Notes Blog, Social Media, Writing 1 comment
crowd The Secret to Writing about a Popular Topic

Image from sxc.hu user rhythms

Before reading Margie Clayman’s Avoid the temptation to write something popular, I saw articles on how to get ideas for blogging and how to write a bunch of blog posts quickly. These tired topics introduce nothing new. Same outfit, different color and style. Blog there, done that.

I’d rather not blog than rehash something that others have said many times, many ways. Like Green Eggs and Ham — these articles have been delivered so many ways possible … on a boat, with a goat, in the rain, on a train.

Is there any hope for writing about popular topics? Yes. Even about Pinterest. Already, every kind of article on Pinterest has shown up: round ups, lists, advice, and so on. Many of them good reads.

Good things about writing about a popular topic like Pinterest:

  • Add fresh content to the blog.
  • Reach newcomers. (Users join Pinterest daily, so they may have ignored past articles on the topic.)
  • Share my experience. (No one can be me.)

Blogging isn’t just for driving traffic. It’s for loading the website with fresh content to keep search engines happy. Because of this, blogging always pays off. Traffic is a bonus.

Yes, there’s a way to make a post on a prominent topic like Pinterest stand out. Although it means reaching a smaller audience, the search engines will love it. The secret: Write about Pinterest with a focus on a narrow topic.

Examples of Pinterest articles with a specific topic:

  • Ways to use Pinterest in the oil and gas industry.
  • How to make Pinterest work for your professional services business.
  • Pinterest for a forklift company? Yes!
  • How a luxury car dealership uses Pinterest.
  • 5 ways to promote your help desk department with Pinterest.

Get the idea, yes? Not many people will be looking for articles on forklifts and Pinterest, but you’re feeding the search engines by having the keywords in the headline and link, such as http://www.helpdesksoftware.com/blog/5-ways-to-promote-your-help-desk-department-with-pinterest.html (This link is fictitious. Any resemblance to real links, living or rotted, is purely coincidental.)

This link  provides more keyword power for “service desk” especially if the company’s other content already uses those keywords in the headlines. While few may look for “service desk pinterest,” “service desk” appearing in the headline and link will help the site pump its keyword muscle.

You may wonder if adding obvious keywords into an article like these has a phoniness about it. As a writer, I’m extra sensitive to keyword phoniness in web content. In this case, you treat those specifics as your example.

Be careful, though. Try to write these articles without mentioning your company, product, or service. Why? A client needed articles on how to evaluate help desk software. Go on and give it a shot. Search for “evaluate help desk software” and see what you find. Most of the time, the search engine produces few results. And when they do, the article mentions the company’s product.

Lost. Link. Opportunity. The company needing these articles doesn’t want to link to articles mentioning its competitors’ products. This also makes an argument for having a company blog under a separate URL. Even if the competitor doesn’t mention its products, the company wouldn’t want to send prospects anywhere on the competitor’s site.

What do you think? Should bloggers and writers stop writing about the popular topics? Do the niche thing? Something else?

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Guest Post: Recalibrate Your Online Presence in the Age of Pinterest

Friday, March 2nd, 2012 at 3:46 PM | Category: Business, Meryl's Notes Blog, Social Media 3 comments
pinterest home 300x167 Guest Post: Recalibrate Your Online Presence in the Age of Pinterest

Pinterest home page

Watch out, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+! There’s a new kid on the block who’s gaining popularity by leaps and bounds. And the kid’s name is Pinterest.

The social media world is changing and evolving all the time. Pinterest is only two years old but over the past several months, this precocious little kid has exhibited phenomenal growth. In a period of only six months, the site’s registered user count has leapfrogged from under 200,000 to well over 7 million! And it is still growing.

So what exactly is Pinterest and why is it so popular? Simply put, the site is an organizable bulletin board for images. It allows you to post images and then sort them onto different boards representing specific categories. You can “pin” something new whenever you want for your followers to see. And once you do, your image can be commented on, liked, or re-pinned by any of your followers to their own boards. Just like some YouTube videos, it’s always possible that one of your Pinterest pins will go viral.

pinterest meryl 300x179 Guest Post: Recalibrate Your Online Presence in the Age of Pinterest

Meryl’s Pinterest page

One of the biggest reasons for Pinterest’s enormous popularity may be that it gives users the nearest online experience to how people like to shop. Think about it. When people enter a store or a shopping mall, do they always know exactly what they want? Sometimes they do, but very often they depend on the store displays to tell them what they want. For many shoppers, the joy of shopping lies in the experience of browsing — seeing what is on display, what looks nice — all the time looking forward to being blown away by something that might catch their eye which they never imagined they would ever see.

Up ’til now, the most common form of online shopping consisted of typing a search phrase for something you want to buy and hoping that the results lead you to a successful purchase. Pinterest is a little different. You can still narrow down your search to certain categories, but the rest becomes visual instead of text-based. You can look for what you want, find something you never knew you wanted, or simply have a great time looking at a bunch of interesting pictures.

So how does this relate to you, your business website, and your online marketing approach? Do you need to do a complete overhaul out of fear of being trampled by the Pinterest stampede? The answer is: probably not. Instead of an overhaul, it’s more likely a recalibration is in order. Take a closer look at what works for Pinterest and, where appropriate, make the same kinds of things work for you. Along these lines, here are a few things you can think about doing:

1. Jump aboard Pinterest.

OK, let’s start with the obvious one. Keep in mind that Pinterest works better for some businesses than others. If your product or service is highly visual, then joining the site will most likely do wonders for your business. On the other hand, if what you do or sell doesn’t project in particularly visual terms, then maybe Pinterest isn’t for you. Either way, it’s worth a shot. Set up an account and pin relevant images — be careful not to start off overly-promotional. Instead, focus on making the images interesting, funny, or captivating. Then follow others and re-pin the content of theirs that you like. After a while, start displaying your products with links back to your site. You may even want to post special deals or coupons for your followers.

2. Place a greater emphasis on images over text. 

One lesson that Pinterest is teaching us is not new: A picture is worth a thousand words. And, another lesson we’re learning is that the quality of the picture not only matters, but matters a lot! A stunning image captures the eye. This is as true on your site as it is on Pinterest. Start paying more attention to both the quantity and the quality of images you post on your site.

3. Think less linearly in your website design.

More than one designer has noted that Pinterest uses a masonry layout rather than a linear one. Images are arranged vertically, than horizontally like a grid — it resembles a mason arranging stones in a wall. This type of arrangement not only neatly categorizes content into visual sections, but also allows users to scan and digest a large amount of information quickly. You may want to make greater use of this type of design on your own site.

In a very short time, Pinterest has evolved from the “just catching on” stage to one of the top players in the market for click-through referrals. Obviously, it’s doing something right. As a smart business person, you might be able to take that “something” and recalibrate your own marketing efforts to make Pinterest’s success work for you.

Have you jumped on the Pinterest pinwagon? If yes, how do you use it? If no, why not?

About the author: Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of personalized
pens, promotional pens, and other personalized items such as imprinted apparel and mugs and customized calendars.

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Is Content Finally Getting Respect?

Thursday, December 29th, 2011 at 9:27 AM | Category: Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog, Social Media 1 comment

pharaoh dma Is Content Finally Getting Respect?After a successful four-city tour, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs returned for three-city encore tour. The Dallas Museum of Art was one of those stops. I received an email from my cousins in Austins who planned to come to town for the exhibition. We set it up, reserved the tickets and had a memorable experience. (Yes, I remember my sons complaining. This cropped photo had my family, but only my daughter and husband cooperated.)

It had been over eight years since I last visited the museum for the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition. When I finally visited Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth for the first time, it took a traveling exhibit to get me there.

Notice a pattern here? I visited the museums when there was fresh, temporary and interesting content.

Like my never visiting a museum for its static exhibits, how often do you visit a company’s static website? What connects you with a company? Fresh, informative content.

Content Marketing

I found this old post on undervaluing content. In reading it, I think attitudes toward content have finally changed and it has a name: content marketing. Truth is, content marketing has been around for a long time, it just didn’t have a fancy name.

Content marketing involves creating content to engage customers and prospects, to earn their trust you and to get them to take action. You have to keep it coming or else customers forget about your company.

Blogging. That’s content marketing. Emails. Yep. Webinars. That, too. Tweets, Facebook updates and LinkedIn statuses. Yep, yep, yep. It includes newsletters, white papers, special reports, articles, podcasts and videos.

And the cool thing is that any of the content available online attracts search engines. Customers seek information. They need answers. Those answers can be found in content.

Marketing in Disguise

You may be thrown by the use of “marketing.” Content marketing isn’t focused on promoting a company’s products and services. If you constantly sell to them, they won’t come back for more. Content needs to offer value, otherwise how can you earn prospects’ trust? We also buy from people we like. Content helps customers get to know you. As you keep delivering useful content, customers drop another objection that blocks the sale.

Someone asked me if I knew of any way to automate original content. That’s one thing technology can’t do. Even if it could, would it share stories? Make it interesting? Add humor? Content automation sounds like dry content that will tell you everything about a topic without personality.

You don’t need to create content from scratch every time. Turn the contents of your white paper into a video, a blog post, a LinkedIn status update. I bet you can find a great sentence in there that would make a nice tweet.

Companies have it easier today. Instead of trying to reel people in to their websites, they go where they are in social media.

What do you rely on for content marketing? How do you connect with customers and prospects?

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Let Us Facebook

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011 at 9:21 AM | Category: Meryl's Notes Blog, Social Media 1 comment

snowing facebook 271x300 Let Us FacebookWith the holiday season upon us and many of us spending less time online, on blogs and elsewhere — I decided to make a Facebook edition of “Let It Snow.” I’ve also done Twitter and blog versions: Let Us Tweet (Dragon unNaturally Speaking makes an appearance here) and Let Us Blog. Again, apologies to “Let It Snow” lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne.

Let Us Facebook

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But Facebook is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to book,
Let us Facebook! Let us Facebook! Let us Facebook!

Updates don’t show signs of stopping,
And I’ve seen some pics for swapping,
Messages and invites pour in, so I must go look,
Let us Facebook! Let us Facebook! Let us Facebook!

When we finally connect in Facebook chat,
Your links, jokes and videos make me laugh.
But now I really have to scat.
Tomorrow, I’ll post that funny infograph.

The fire is slowly dying,
And, my dear, logging off we’re still defying.
But as long as Facebook fills with gobbledygook,
Let us Facebook! Let us Facebook! Let us Facebook!

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AP, Writers and Social Media

Friday, December 9th, 2011 at 6:32 PM | Category: Links, Meryl's Notes Blog, Social Media, Writing No comments
old typewriter AP, Writers and Social Media

Image from sxc.hu user wolliballa

The AP is Changing the Way Their Reporters Use Twitter reports that the Associated Press (AP) is forbidding writers from sharing opinions in Twitter, including opinions of others through retweets. I understand AP wants to ensure its reputation for unbiased reporting remains intact.

My initial reaction was tripping over my jaw that had somehow landed on the floor. But the more I thought about it, the more I understood the concern. Let’s say you read an unbiased AP article about hydraulic fracturing. If the AP writer who wrote the story has a Twitter account and tweeted that the problems surrounding hydraulic fracturing are overblown, how would that affect the article? Future articles?

What if the writer makes no mention of writing for AP in his Twitter bio? When I tweet a link to a story, I often look up the writer for a Twitter ID to credit the person with writing the story. If I do that with the hydraulic fracturing writer and see opinionated tweets on the subject — could that reflect on AP and the writer?

As I think about this, I’m at a loss on the right way to handle this. With so much low quality, biased reporting today — maybe it’s necessary for AP to do it for the sake of integrity.

What do you think of AP’s actions? Are they exempt or should it apply to other publications? What about companies? Can employees be allowed to share opinions about competitors and their industry?

And now for your weekly links.

Brain food …

For fun …

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