If you’ve been operating within the world of digital marketing recently, I can almost guarantee that you’ve heard the phrase “Content Marketing”. Everyone is talking and trying to figure out how to ‘create content’ ad nauseam. What that means differs from person to person and from business to business. But the new answer and savior for every digital marketing ‘guru’ is to create more and more content and never stop.
This is really good advice considering what creating great content can do for you and your business.
But just creating content will only get you so far. I’ve felt this frustration firsthand as I’ve labored over a large piece of content and then watched with disgust as nobody discovered, shared or engaged with what I had to offer. Even though you might create the most amazing, valuable and cutting-edge content, it’s hard to get the word out to those who care if all you’re doing is writing and publishing to your blog.
It’s possible that your content could be a good long term investment as you show up in the search results over time. But you’re likely not getting that big boost that you need. You’re likely not getting the full ROI out of your investment. Creating great content takes time. It’s your own blood, sweat and tears that you’re producing and, if you’re like me, you have limited time to invest. You HAVE to make it work for you and then some.
‘Next Level’ promotion for your content
So in this post I believe we’re going to be talking about some ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking and tactics that most people are not using. In my experience, I believe that most people haven’t arrived at square one yet with their digital marketing strategy. They’re not even thinking about creating content, understanding what it can do for them and then actually having a clear strategy to ‘amplify’ that content and make it WORK for them.
If you’re reading this post then consider yourself on the bleeding edge of internet marketing. Congratulations because you’re likely far ahead of your competition if you can successfully accomplish even a little bit of what we’re going to propose in this article. Download our Content Amplification Checklist.
Why Content Marketing
Two things I learned from my grandpa: Helping others is everything and amazing storytelling gets you most places in life. – @JoePulizzi
So, I won’t go deep into why and how content marketing can work for you. The information is all over the web including our website and blog. I would also checkout ContentMarketingInstitute.com, a great resource for educating and guiding you in your content marketing journey. But, to give you a snapshot summary, content marketing is important because without taking time for curating relevant content, search engines won’t care about you. People on social media won’t care to engage with you if you don’t have great stories to tell. You won’t have any landing pages to link your ads to. You’ll have nothing to send in your email marketing. You’ll have a stagnant website, a boring social presence and your overall digital marketing will be stale and just plain lame. In short, you’ll have nothing for prospective customers and clients to engage with. (If you are lucky enough that they actually find you online.)
Creating great content is the cornerstone of a successful digital marketing campaign. Creating great content is the foundation that everything else is built on. Creating great content is the glue that ensures all other tactics are successful. If you’re avoiding creating content for the long haul, you’re avoiding success.
Why Companies Fail At Content Marketing
So why do most people ignore and/or fail when it comes to content marketing? The simple answer is that it’s hard. It’s damn hard. It also takes time and the one thing that most of us lack is extra time in our days. Take it from me — I own a business and I know the struggle of time management. There’s never enough time so it keeps many people from getting to the starting line with content creation.
There are many other reasons why people can’t make content marketing work for them. I could go into it but I’d prefer to just link to a great, and brutally honest article by Trevor Young.
Some of my favorite reasons from his article include: lack of commitment, unwillingness to share or give something away for free, unwillingness to ditch your ego, or you simply aren’t able to create content that stands out. As Trevor states “The world does not need more ‘so-so’ formulaic content; we’re already seriously drowning in the stuff as it is.”
Some reasons for failure, in my experience, include lack of vision, stubbornness, a closed mind, inability to convince management and simple disorganization and laziness.
How to amplify your content
So, we’re finally getting to the heart of things here. If you’ve come this far I’m assuming that you’ve got the most important part of content marketing down — which is actually creating content. Now you’re looking for a system that will ensure you’re getting the maximum value out of your efforts.
Here you’ll be guided through several ‘phases’ that contain specific recommendations about how to properly amplify your content. There’s a lot to get to so lets begin.
Phase 1: Planning your Content Amplification Campaign
Failing to plan is planning to fail. – Alan Lakein
With any ‘campaign’, planning is essential. Amplification starts light years before “Publish” during the planning stage. Just taking a little time in advance to block out some of the essentials will help you take your campaign a lot further.
1) Plan to produce the right type of content
Many times we can get caught up in the task of producing content without actually stopping to think if we’re creating the right type of content that will reach and motivate our target audience. You shouldn’t just dive in and start writing about random topics.
2) Confirm your target audience
To produce the right type of content, you and/or your team needs to confirm what your goals are. It sounds obvious but you’d be surprised at how many times people really don’t think about this important first step. Who are you trying to reach and what content will appeal to them?
Are you trying to connect with others in your industry? Are you trying to engage potential customers? This is an essential first step when you’re talking about amplifying your content because the answer to this question can take you in completely different directions with your tactics to reach your audience.
Just to give you one good example, our target audience is actually small business owners and marketers. For the most part, we don’t want to get too detailed about the technical side of digital marketing. We do not try to speak to hardcore SEO professionals or PPC masterminds. We want to provide solid advice about what they should be doing and then decide if they can/should do the work themselves or hire someone to do it for them. So our target audience has been defined and this will keep us from going too technically deep with our content.
3) Decide how you’ll measure success
Again, the last thing you want to do is just dive in and start creating content. Part of your plan should involve how you’ll measure success. Will it be to report on how many people landing on the page? How many shares you received? How many links the page garnered for your site? How many downloads? How many sales or calls? Maybe it’s all of the above. If so, you’ll need to decide that and make sure you have your analytics tracking code in place on all conversion points and have a clear way to decide if your investment in time, money, staff and other expenses all add up to a profitable ROI.
Maybe your measures are ultimately too hard to measure. Maybe you just decide that creating great content has too many intangible benefits and that’s ok too. Just decide this in advance and be ok with it so you can commit for the long haul.
4) Define your call to action
When you create content, what is it that you want people to do after they digest your content? Contact you? Download something? Share something? Subscribe to something? None of the above? All of the above?
The answer doesn’t have to be any of these but it should be something. You need to do everything in your power to make sure they know how to take the next steps. If you’re shooting for all the above then make sure that how you present each option is accomplished in a way that people can easily digest their options without being overwhelmed.
As an example, and it’s an extreme one, you could easily put a phone number, a contact form, a downloadable asset, options to share on social media, options to subscribe to social media and provide a way to sign-up for a newsletter, ALL at the bottom of your article. This obviously wouldn’t be ideal.
As you create your content, plan ways to sprinkle options throughout the content or integrate them as you work your way down the page. Sharing options should be at the bottom. Options to download an asset or subscribe could be integrated in the middle. Your phone number would be in the navigation, head and footer and in the last sentence of the content. If you’re producing a video, make sure that the video starts and ends with your branding, URL and contact information. Embed your assets on a page that has a contact form or related download in the sidebar. The options are endless but they need to be planned so you have some actionable goals that people can engage with.
5) Research content and articles around your topic
Many times you’ll already be an expert regarding the topic you’re writing on. But this shouldn’t stop you from researching your topic further. Many times you’ll just want to learn about something new and then write about what you learned and that’s ok too. Either way, research helps you to create better content. Taking the time to research and read about your topic before diving in is essential.
Beyond learning more about your topic and working on an outline, you’ll have the opportunity to see what you’re up against. Are there already pages and pages of great content surrounding your topic? Is there content online that’s better than what you can realistically produce? Then maybe you should try a different topic or plan to approach your topic in a different way. Maybe you just decide to create Skyscraper content (More on this later) and produce something that just blows away the competition. Knowing what you’re up against is important.
You should also do some research and document articles that you can link to within your content and plan to keep track of related contacts that you can engage with after your content is created.
6) Create an outline
The main goal of research for me is to work through an outline of my content. Many times I’ll find new information or get ideas about how to structure my content during the process. It really helps me to work through a solid outline before I sit down and just start writing away.
7) Decide what tactics to use
I wish it were true, but you can’t do everything and do it all well. Many tactics that we’ll discuss here might not work for all types of businesses. Many times you simply won’t have the budget to do everything and that’s a simple fact of marketing. Decide what you can reasonably do and do it well and focus your energies and dollars there.
8) Plan your assets in advance
Depending on how long it takes you to produce and edit your content, you might benefit from putting your assets into production as soon as you start writing.
- Will you be integrating videos?
- Will you offer a supporting download?
- What graphics do you think you’ll need?
- Can you create an awesome infographic based on your outline?
All of these things could be produced while you’re writing and/or creating.
Phase 2: Content Creation
There were 5 exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that much information is now created every 2 days, and the pace is increasing. – Eric Schmit/CEO Google
90% of all data that’s ever been created was created in the last two years. – IBM
90% of everything is crap. – Sturgeon’s Law
1) Create GREAT Content
I’d like to propose a change to the droning, tired-out mantra of “Create great content.” I’d like us to start saying, “Create – and promote – great content.” – @JoelKlettke
[Tweet ““Create – and promote – great content.” – @JoelKlettke @SanctuaryMG”]
Amplification: Content Marketing’s Missing Piece by Joel Klettke
If the stats and quotes above don’t speak volumes, let me clarify that there’s a lot of content being created these days. At one level that’s a good thing. The more information we have available to us the better. But for marketers and businesses we face an increasingly tough, uphill battle if we want our content to be found and stand out online.
So what’s the first step to solve the problem? You need to create great content. Not just your average ‘great’ content though. (ha ha) You need to create content that’s far and away better than the competition followed with a strategy to amplify your great content.
2) Creating Skyscraper Content
I heard a great metaphor recently that explains the concept of skyscraper content. It basically states that you should imagine walking down a city street. You look up at the largest buildings around you and decide to build your own building. But you’re not going to build just any building. You’re going to build a skyscraper that’s 50 floors higher than everyone else around you.
This is what you need to do when you’re striving to create great content. Skyscraper content is what we all should aspire to. Content that is better and bigger than everyone else around us. It’s content that provides such amazing value that it just can’t be ignored.
Skyscraper content not only provides more information, it gives the user more visual value with included photos and graphics. Skyscraper content is supported with videos and possibly animations. Skyscraper content can be supported by detailed infographics. Skyscraper methodology gives the user multiple ways to digest the content.
As an example, the information you’re reading is around 8000 words. I’m going pretty deep here where this article could end up being 8-10 times more detailed than most other content out there on this topic. In short… I’m deep diving on this topic instead of skimming the surface and that’s what you need to do to create great content that stands out.
In the end, by creating skyscraper content you’re building a massive foundation that will support all you’re future amplification tactics across the board.
3) Quote and Link to Other Great Content and Influencers
One important part of creating amazing skyscraper content is backing it up with stats, quotes and supporting information from reputable sources. This provides more value and trust for your reader.
But lets talk about how this practice can help you amplify your content. When you provide a quote, especially from a popular influencer, you can link to their page where you found the quote. You can also reach out to them directly via email or social media and let them know that you quoted and linked to their content.
What this could do for you is garner a link back to your content and a possible mention on their social media. Therefore you’re content could be seen by all their followers and ‘amplified’ by just taking this one simple step that not only improves your content, but connects you with an influencer and their audience.
4) Content Optimization
Implementing proper SEO best practices should be a given. Making sure that you have the basics covered is a necessary first step that can actually take you a long way.
But we’ll assume at this point that you’ve got the basics covered. So let me offer up a couple bonus tips that many people don’t consider.
- Facebook Open Graph Tags: On page optimization is one thing, but what can you do to ensure that your content is optimized and displayed in the best possible way when people actually share on Facebook? Open Graph Tags allow you to specify exactly how your content will appear when shared. One of the big things is ensuring that the right image is used when the article is shared. To learn more you can click here and here.
- Twitter Cards: Another way to optimize your content for social media is through Twitter cards. Cards allow you to use photos, videos and media to enhance your tweets and drive traffic to your site. You can embed large images, videos and even galleries into your tweets to create a richer experience and to help you stand out amongst the crowd. When you’re done you can use Card Analytics to measure if you’re efforts were successful.
5) Setup multiple ways to digest the content
Have you ever been searching for information and you come across a result, click it, and then realize that the answer is hidden within a 5 minute video? You wish at that point that you could just scan the text and quickly find the information that you need?
The same thing can happen with long articles like the one you’re reading. Sometimes people just don’t want to read and they would prefer to sit and watch a video. Or listen to an audio clip or a full transcribed podcast. Many times if they like reading, they don’t want to scroll down the page in a long article. They want to click through multiple short pages to digest the content.
Maybe all I need is a checklist. I don’t want to build my own checklist from a massive article. I just need to download the checklist and work my way through it.
So if we can agree that people like to digest content in different ways, why not consider giving them that option. It takes more work but the results will allow you to effectively engage with a wider audience.
6) Browser and mobile testing
How many times have you completed a complex article, proofed it and hit ‘publish’? Everyone has done this without even thinking about testing. I would agree that it would be worth 5 minutes to double check that your masterwork is displaying properly on a few popular browsers and mobile platforms. The worst thing would be if you were found online and that person was unable to consume your content because there was an error on the page that caused it to display incorrectly for some reason. Consider a tool like www.BrowserStack.com for a quick way to check things before publishing.
Phase 3: Publishing Content
How difficult could publishing be you say? All we have to do is hit the ‘Publish’ button and wash our hands of it, right? Well there are actually a few things that you can do to amplify your content when you properly publish your article.
One automated way to make sure that you’re content is distributed is by having an RSS feed on your site. RSS essentially allows you to alert people and websites when you published new content. If you use WordPress this functionality is built in by default.
2) XML Sitemaps
XML Sitemaps allow a website to alert search engines when there is new content on the website. It’s one file that lists all the URLs available. Having a sitemap and submitting it to the search engines won’t help your search rankings but it will certainly ensure that the search engines can easily find your new content. Click here to learn more about how to submit a sitemap to Google and here for submitting a sitemap to Bing.
3) Sharing Options on your page
Publishing a great article without integrating sharing options is a big mistake. It’s easy to do and you should integrate clear ways for people to do this on every page. You can do this manually with your own icons and the tutorials provided by social media sites, you can use WordPress sharing plugins like the one we use on this site (be sure to consider Monarch Social Media Share Plugin) or you can use social sharing services such as sharethis.com.
Phase 4: AMPLIFY Your Content. Turn it up to 11!
There are three different media types at the disposal of content promoters:
- Owned (You own the channel)
- Paid (You buy the exposure)
- Earned (Others promote your content for you because you ROCK!)
For our purposes here I thought this 3 category approach would be a good way to organize my suggestions on amplifying your content marketing online and then take action where it makes sense.
I’d like to start with the owned media category because it can be the easiest and it can be free.
Paid advertising is available to anyone with money obviously. But many people are looking for solutions that don’t involve a budget so we’ll discuss options here second.
Then there’s the earned category. This is the most difficult way to amplify your content because there is a huge barrier to entry — people have to know, trust and believe in what you’re doing. This just can’t be had without a lot of effort and consistent and unrelenting dedication to quality.
“What I see time and time again are great pieces softly plunked into the infinite space of the web by companies who are just hoping that somehow, somewhere, prince charming will find them and show them to the world… You might laugh – but are you still laughing when I ask what your amplification strategy was for your last post? If it was “Tweet it a bunch,” you did something wrong. ” – Joel Klettke
Basic Social Media Amplification:
It might be obvious to many but consistently following the basic best practices of social media marketing can be difficult for the best of us. Here are some best practices that you should consider:
- Post your content on all relevant social media. It only takes a few minutes to get it out there and link it up.
- A piece of content should produce 20+ snippets that you can share on social media over time. If you’re creating great content, get the full value out of it and make sure that you’re trying different ways to grab someone’s interest. Posting ‘one and done’ is not the best way to approach it if you’ve put a lot of time and effort into your content.
- A snippet can be any of the following:
- Variations of the title
- Short statements from the content
- Short quotes from the content
- Statistics from the content
- When you share, find creative ways to mention your expert sources when posting @influencername What this does is notifiy them that someone has mentioned them and they’ll take notice. The benefits of this simple tactic could be anything from them thanking you or retweeting your post to their followers to you building a personal relationship with them that’s immeasurable.
- Use hashtags that are related to your content. Hashtags are essentially categories on social media that people can follow. I believe every post should have at least one tag if possible. It’s a missed opportunity to post something and not tag it because you never know if that post would be discovered by a new partner, friend or client.
- When you’re posting to social media, there are different best practices for each platform. For more on this, read this quick but informative article about How to Optimize Your Content for the Top 5 Social Networks.
- Keep learning. Social media is a complicated and evolving tactic and to be effective you need to keep up. To learn more best practices consider this Social Media 101 guide from Moz.com.
Just publishing your content on your website is a missed opportunity. Be sure to distribute it elsewhere! Many people believe that you’ll be penalized for this practice because you’re creating ‘duplicate content’. There are no Google penalties for duplicate content unless a copy of your content ranks higher in the search engines on another website than your own. Most of the time that’s not going to happen so why not try and be discovered naturally on other websites? If exposure is your goal, then this is not a bad thing. Exposure is exposure.
You could probably write a book on all the ways that you can distribute content but lets talk a little about the basics.
- There are many websites that allow you to post your content (in full or in part) and link back to your website. Ideally you post the majority of your article and then link over to your website for the full article. Some of my favorites include:
- Distribute your content assets. Even the parts of your content have value and can be distributed to amplify your message. Consider the following:
- Video distribution:
- Photo and graphic distribution
Do you have a system in place to build a list of friends, colleagues, partners, clients and interested parties? Email marketing is a very effective way to ‘touch’ people on a regular basis if you have something of value to offer them. If we’re talking about creating GREAT content then you certainly do.
Consider sending out your content as a part of a newsletter or even as a solo email if the content is just that amazing.
This is a simple, but effective technique that won’t necessarily help you amplify your content immediately, but it will help bring continued visibility to your content over the long haul.
Simply find ways to link parts of your content to other content on your site. Over time you’ll have a web of content that’s related and that keeps visitors on your site.
This is a great way to increase the visibility of your content after you publish it, increase engagement and it can even help your SEO as you develop a strong internal linking strategy.
Repurpose and expand your content:
So you’ve created this great article and published it to your blog. But that’s just the beginning for the life of your content.
- If the content is extremely robust (ahem, like this article) consider packaging it up as an e-book and promoting it that way.
- Look at the various sections of your content and see if there’s ways to create even more detailed articles about each section. I could essentially write a whole blog post that focuses on how to repurpose your content and almost any other section of the content available here.
- Create an audio version of your article. People digest content in different ways and audio is another way that you can take a piece of content and get it into the ears and mind of someone new. All you need is a decent voice and a decent quality microphone and for under $50 and a little bit of time you’ll be in business.
Get your team and partners involved:
Do you have employees that are on social media? Have you asked them to share you content with their followers? How about partner companies? Talk to anyone and everyone that might be able to help you amplify your content. All you usually need to do is take the time to ask and you’re content will be placed in front of a whole new world of eyes and ears.
Phase 5: Paid Content Amplification
“Average lifetime of content on social media is about 3 hours max but as little as 18 minutes on Twitter.” – Moz Whiteboard Friday
If you’re lucky enough to have an actual budget to spend on amplifying your content, then this section is for you. Paying to amplify your content will not only increase your visibility but it will extend the lifetime of your content beyond what many ‘owned’ tactics can deliver.
Depending on your budget I think there’s always a way to pay to promote yourself. Again, you could probably write a book on this topic as well, so we’ll just quickly touch on some of my favorite paid tactics below.
The concept is fairly simple and the subject of a wide variety of complaints, but the bottom line is that promoted tweets can be a very effective way to target and reach new followers that don’t know about you. It’s targeted interruption marketing but I believe it works and can make sense for many businesses and individuals.
The way this works is that you create a valuable tweet and then decide how you want to amplify the content. You can choose from any number of different options and spend as much or as little as you’d like. It’s really a no brainer so try it out the next time you have content or something to say that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Boosted Facebook Posts
Boosted Facebook posts are very similar to promoted Tweets. I really don’t have to say much more than you have the opportunity to pay to reach new people that could discover, like and share your content. It’s a great way to bring visibility to yourself and your content.
Sidenote: With Facebook it’s a little different than Twitter. If you follow someone on Twitter, they’ll show you everything from the people and companies that you follow. On Facebook, they don’t show you everything by default. You can change this but most people don’t know how and I think it’s presented this way by design to force companies to spend money to reach their followers. These are people that have said they wanted to connect with a company, yet Facebook decides when and if they’ll see the posts.
Just an example, I was working on a client’s campaign this week and they have about 1000+ followers. The last post we made to their timeline was seen by less than 70 people. This could be because people have not been checking their feeds but it’s more likely that Facebook just decided to throttle the post and force us to pay to boost the post to reach our followers.
Things are evolving with Facebook advertising but consider using your budget to reach new followers using boosted posts. You can control the settings when you’re boosting your posts and decide who, what, where and why people see your posts which can be pretty powerful.
Expand to other targeted/niche social media sites:
Not all social sites are right for everyone. Facebook is probably not the best avenue to engage with clients if you’re a manufacturing company. Likewise, if you’re a local cupcake baker, LinkedIn is probably not your first choice for an advertising spend.
Similar to Twitter and Facebook, you can reach a wide audience of professionals by paying to roll out a targeted update on LinkedIn. Targeted company update filters include company size, industry, function, seniority, geography, and language preference.
When it comes to the various social media sites, all of them need to make money so if they don’t provide options to amplify your visibility on their sites now, they will soon in the future. YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Foursquare, Reddit, and StumbleUpon are all options and that’s just scratching the surface.
Find out which site is the best fit for you and the type of content that you create and start experimenting. It’s an extremely targeted and affordable way to just jump in and get your feet wet and try something new.
Use Content Amplification services
A hot topic these days is the use of services that pay to distribute and amplify your content on other popular sites. Basically, you pay to have your content shown as an option. According to Outbrain.com, you can choose to have your content ‘recommended’ on over 100,000 publisher websites, including 800+ premium publishers such as CNN, Rolling Stone, FOX, Time, NBC News and Fast Company.
Does this sound too good to be true? It’s not. And actually it can be very affordable and effective. Check out some of the services below that offer this service and get started today!
Paid Email Advertising
Do you know of a partner or industry publication that sends out a newsletter or offers some form of email marketing to their list? Consider this as an option to put your content in front of their subscribers. If their subscribers are highly engaged and relevant to your subject matter this can be a no brainer.
As with social media, the sky is virtually the limit when you’re talking about paying to advertise on search engines. You can start with the big boys like Google, Yahoo or Bing and spread out infinitely to other secondary and niche search engines like Wolfram Alpha and Duck Duck Go.
The majority of internet users use Google. That’s why they’re such a massive profitable company. But just because you use Google that doesn’t mean that others don’t. Advertising on other secondary search engines can be much cheaper and less competitive than Google. Just because someone uses Yahoo or Bing doesn’t mean that they’re any less of a client or customer. Any secondary search engines and niche directories can be much more targeted.
One note of advice: Advertising on search engines can be complicated. Getting the biggest bang for your buck usually involves more than just putting up an ad and spending money — especially on Google. Consider working with a Google Certified Adwords Specialist so they can advise you on all the right things to do. If you have a decent campaign budget, the extra cost savings and results that they can get for you will most certainly be worth it.
Ah yes, the old standby. I won’t go into detail about press releases — how to write them or even why they’re still affective here. There’s volumes of writing on the subject. But I’ve added this here as a reminder to not write them off just yet. Check out PRWeb.com to learn more about creating press releases and the costs involved.
Phase 6: Earned Content Amplification:
The title of this section speaks for itself. It’s hard. It can be time consuming. Success is only found by hard work and it simply can’t be had by using tricks and shortcuts. If you try, you might find yourself worse off than when you started. Earned amplification is about doing amazing work and then buckling down and working even harder to do all the right things that get you noticed. Many times the amplification comes just from you doing great work, other times you have to be methodical about your approach to even dream about getting minimal results.
Are you scared yet? This section is not for the faint of heart. If you haven’t mastered the basics yet, consider bookmarking this section for future reference and study because you can’t go into it half cocked and spread thin. That’s a recipe for failure in my opinion.
Many of the tactics here deserve their own book or at least their own massive blog post. So I won’t try to cover everything in detail here. Use this as a jumping off point for your own exploration on most of these topics.
Link Building (Bonus: A very specific and effective strategy revealed)
Links are at the core of effective SEO. It’s what the Google algorithm was initially based on and it’s still extremely important today. Essentially Google considered every link to your site as a vote. Some votes carry more weight than others. But in general, the more the better. The more you have, the higher your site and content could rank in the search results above your competition.
There are volumes of information about link building on the web. Link: http://backlinko.com/link-building Some advice is amazing, some could cripple your site and things are always changing. So going into this section know that you should really do your homework with link building before you start or before you hire someone to do SEO for you. Proper and effective link building is not something that you can ‘do’ like we did in the old days. Links must be earned and that’s the way Google likes it. The days of ‘building’ links in volume are virtually over and earning links is becoming harder and harder due to the volume of content and the competition on the internet.
Again, do I have you scared? I apologize for that but my goal here is to be honest and give you good advice. Before going any further, let me just say this. If you’re considering an SEO firm and they say that ‘link building’ is part of their tactics, you need to dig deep and understand exactly what they’re doing. First, read this massive article on link building so you can understand what’s possible. Link: http://pointblankseo.com/link-building-strategies Then, once you understand what works and what can hurt you, force your provider to tell you exactly what they’re doing. If they mention anything on the list that’s moderate to low in value, consider looking elsewhere. Low level link building is not a successful tactic that will return results.
Link Building and Content Amplification
I’ve chosen one tactic to feature here and I believe it’s one of the best tactics I’ve seen in a long time to not only create links but to also amplify your content using a very specific and methodical approach. I won’t lie and say that it’s easy. But I believe it to be effective.
I should also confess that this is not my idea. I’ve stolen this process wholesale so I’ll promptly link over to my source here.
To get started, lets revisit a quote from the article above:
“There are WAY too many people in internet marketing today that think ‘great content’ is enough. They say, ‘if I publish great stuff, people will naturally link to me’. If only it were that easy…” – Brian Dean
This statement summarizes what many people believe about content marketing but it’s not true. Cutting through the noise is increasingly difficult and just publishing content is not enough.
So without further ado, let me summarize this tactic with a quick to do list. For more detail please visit the post above.
- Create amazing skyscraper content. We’ve talked about this concept at the beginning of this article and Brian does a great job at explaining it to. This is essential to the process. If you can’t do this part then you might as well stop now. It needs to be content that’s longer, more up-to-date, better designed, more thorough and more valuable than anything else out there.
- As Brian states, this step is the linchpin of this technique. You have to research and reach out to people who have already linked to similar content. If I’ve lost you and you’re rolling your eyes, stick with me because the steps to do this are below.
- Use a tool like Majestic SEO, Open Site Explorer or ahrefs.com to export links to your competitors content into a spreadsheet.
- Weed out the junk so you only have solid prospects
- Email them with a very personal, targeted compliment and ask them for a link. Most people will not even respond, but you should get enough links to make this worthwhile.
- Keep in mind, even a small amount of quality links could return huge value. Not to mention that fact that you’ve connected with someone who might share your content now and in the future.
In summary, whatever tactic you use, know that the most valuable links come from reputable websites where your link is contained within related content. Links like this are HARD to come by and that’s the way Google likes it. You need specialized tactics like this to make any real progress that matters.
Phase 7: Relationship Marketing and Influencer Marketing
I’ll admit, I’m not an expert on these tactics. Nor will I claim that I’m going to put even the slightest dent in the knowledge that’s available on the subject on these pages. What I’m going to do is try to introduce you to a subject and give you a point where you can jump off and dig deep on your own.
Relationship Marketing and Influencer Marketing are actually two different tactics in my mind and I’ll try to describe each below.
For me, relationship marketing (as it applies to amplifying your content) is about connecting and staying connected with your customers, partners, friends and community (online and off). There might be variations but in general you want to stay top-of-mind with the people that matter and build a basic personal bond.
How that’s accomplished will vary, but in the end, the goal is to endear yourself to people. They should trust you and like you. They should feel that you have their best interest at heart and you’re working for them. They should feel confident that if they ever have a need or know someone that has a need in your area of expertise that they can go to you.
Relationship marketing is not about sales (i.e., Transactional Marketing). It’s about building and engaging in relationships and friendships that will help everyone involved without expecting anything in return.
Again, books have been written on this subject so let me offer some advice as it pertains to the digital world and social media.
How to use social media to build relationships
Many people say they’re on social media. Many companies say they’re engaging with their customers on social media. Many people feel that they’ve ‘mastered’ social media. But most of these people are fooling themselves because they’re missing the one thing that’s important — actual social interaction.
I’ll admit, it’s hard. I try to honestly engage with people on social media and it’s hard to find the time — even when you know it’s a valuable practice because ‘engaging’ and being ‘social’ is not a one way conversation. Most people are one directional and self promotional. They have no clue how to even direct a personal message or question to someone, let alone be strategic about it.
So, lets all agree to quit complaining and either get off social media or decide to actively engage with others. It’s actually easy to do if you can make the time.
10 simple ways to make a connection on social media:
- Offer an honest, direct compliment without an agenda.
- Share a post and let the person know that you did it by tagging them.
- Take a quote from an article and post it along with a link to their article and tag the author.
- #FollowFriday is annoying but there’s no reason why you can’t recommend someone to your followers at any time.
- Start an honest conversation about a topic that interests them
- Comment about something in their bio
- Say something positive about them and tag them to a broad/related topic
- Make an introduction or recommendation
- Offer help, advice or solve a problem for someone for free
- If they do follow you, personally thank them without using a social media autoresponder
A simple but effective process to engage and amplify your content
Below is one idea for a quick step-by-step process to effectively engage with people that might actually want to amplify your content. Why? Because you’re offering more than a one way marketing message — which is rare.
- In the planning phase, we researched people who wrote similar articles to the one we’re working on. Hopefully you found them on Twitter and have documented their contact information or followed them directly.
- Direct message them or email them to say that you saw that they shared or created a similar piece of content and ask if they’d be interested in checking out yours. That’s it!
- From there see what happens. You might get ignored because, again, many people are not that interested in actually ‘engaging’ on social media. All they want to do is have a one-way conversation. But you WILL connect with people if you approach it in the right way and those connections will be GOLD as they will eventually follow you, link to you and amplify the content of someone they know.
Influencer marketing/Maven Marketing:
Influencer marketing as you might have guessed is about connecting with influencers to help you ‘spread the word’ and ‘take action’ vs. going after your target market directly.
But what exactly is an influencer in your mind? The right person could be completely different depending on who you’re talking to. Many times influencers are considered ‘rockstars’ that are trusted and very hard to reach. But an influencer could be someone local in your community. But in the end, an influencer is someone that’s trusted by many. If you can become trusted by an influencer, then they have the power to connect you or your brand to a larger audience of potential customers.
These days it’s becoming harder and harder to sell directly to people. People don’t trust advertising anymore. They want to be confident about their purchase or commitment, and quite honestly they’re empowered to do this with the internet. They can read detailed articles, they can read hundreds of reviews, they can essentially tap into a river of information before committing. This is where an influencer thrives because they’ve become a trusted resource too. When you’re trusted, people will listen to what you say when they’re looking to purchase.
Think of it like this. Do you trust someone that cold calls you and tries to sell you something out of the blue? Absolutely not. We’re all immediately skeptical when this happens. But if someone you trusted said that this person was going to call you and you trusted their opinion, you’d take the call, right?
Now, the big question. How can you connect with influencers? To be honest, the topic is way too deep to discuss here so I’m going to give you one general suggestion and one additional tactic to get you started and then leave you with some links to explore.
How to connect with people:
I saw a great but simple quote recently and that is “Network before you need it”. Networking online and off should be a constant for anyone that’s interested in amplifying their content, brand or personality online. I don’t want to sound like a stalker but you need to have systems, you need to have consistency and you need to be methodical.
Connecting with influencers through their blog:
It’s been said that 86% of all influencers operate a blog. (Technorati) So this is where I’d suggest that you start.
- Research prominent bloggers in your niche. How do you do this? Start with the links below:
- 3 social media tools to identify influential bloggers
- Influence marketing – How to find your industry leaders
- How to find influential bloggers
- What’s the best way to find influential bloggers in service management
- How to find influential people using social media
- Reach out to them in a creative, yet systematic way.
- There are many tools that you can use to approach this. (Link these)
- Here is a resource to get you started:
- A 10-Point Plan for Connecting with Online Influencers
In closing I’d like to leave you with a quote that pretty much sums up the subject of how to amplify your content:
“…amplification and promotion is a huge, ugly beast that can never be conquered in just one post.” – Joel Klettke
How to amplify your content is an emerging discussion and we’ve only skimmed the surface of knowledge and ideas. But I’ve provided you with a solid foundation and jumping off point. Good luck in your endeavors and lets all strive to amplify our content to 11!