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FROM THE FORTE

Perspective from Double Forte Public Relations and Marketing

Six Steps to Creating a Content Map

SEO technology flat illustrationMost content creators understand the need for, and have mastered the development of, editorial calendars. They have outlined what content they are going to create when and they know to plan posts around major events – both internal and external – like corporate earnings, product launches and holidays. But too few creators have recognized the power of the content map.

A content map differs from an editorial calendar in several ways:

  • A content map helps you leverage every piece of content you create. Can your blog post be turned into an infographic or video? Is part of it tweetable or pinnable?
  • A content map ensures you are reaching all of your target audiences. You may have seven posts aimed at developers, but what are you creating for the end users?
  • A content map makes sure you keep your content fresh with a healthy mix of content that educates, convince, entertains and inspires.
  • A content map helps you create content for customers at every stage of the buying cycle from prospects to evangelists.

So how do you develop a content map? Here are six steps to get you there.

  • Identify your key message. What is the most important point you want to convey?
  • Develop three storylines to support your message. What are the narratives that support your message?
  • Identify your audience. Who is the target for each story and where are they on the buying cycle?
  • Think about what moves your audience. Do you want to entertain, inspire, convince or educate them?
  • Determine where you will reach the customer. Will it be your owned channels (website, blog, etc.), social sites such as YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn or via earned media via a press interview or contributed article?
  • Decide on format. Does your story work best as text in a blog post or op-ed? Does it work best as video or an image or perhaps a podcast?

For a successful content marketing program, you need to map your content strategy before you create.

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How to Tell Your Startup Story

Old book on wooden tableBefore a startup has a product, customers, revenue, or funding, it needs to have a story. Why does the company exist? What problem is it solving? What motivates the founder?

Even after the first round of funding and the first sale, a story is a key asset for any new company. This week Double Forte cosponsored the SheStarts event  “How To Tell Your Startup Story.” Our East Coast General Manager Liz O’Donnell moderated a great panel of Boston-based journalists including Kyle Alspach from Streetwise Media, Shelagh Braley from FoundersWire, Sara Castellanos from the Boston Business Journal, Shirley Leung from the Boston Globe and Dan Primackfrom Fortune and author of the newsletter Term Sheet. Here’s are five takeaways from the event:

  • Yes you need to hone your story, but don’t rehearse it and control it to the point it becomes boring. Human sells.
  • Speaking of human, don’t be afraid to share your failures as well as your successes. Most startups struggle on the way to success. That’s what makes you interesting.
  • Metrics matter. Share customer numbers, staff numbers, growth goals. And if you’re confident enough, share revenue.
  • Use analogies to provide context. Are you similar to another company? Do you share a business model? How are you alike and how are you different?
  • And along those same lines, remember it’s good to be part of a trend; you don’t need to stand alone. You just need to stand out.

For more on the event, read this post on BostInno.

7 Rules for Following People on Social Media

follow meDo you think there’s no strategy to who you should follow on social media? Think again. The company we keep matters – in the real word and online. Here are some guidelines for who to follow on social media.

  1.  A follow reads like an implicit endorsement. If you’re an organic food company, don’t follow McDonalds. Need to monitor the market? Set up a separate account to follow the other side, or track via a social measurement tool.
  2. Following people on social media is like dressing for success. Just like you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have, so too should you follow the brands and people you admire and aspire to be.
  3. That said; do NOT ignore your peers. Don’t be a social media groupie. The first two commandments of social media are engagement and reciprocity. Talk to your peers and your customers/fans. Do not ignore them in hope of some kind of social media celebrity status.
  4. Follow your best customers and business partners.
  5. Mind the math. You’re follower/following ratio shouldn’t be equal. No one respects someone who auto follows anyone who follows them. Likewise, people who follow less than 50 percent of the number who follow them seem egotistical and uninterested in engagement.
  6. Use a tool like Manage Flitter to find people who share your interests and weed out the dead beats.
  7. Don’t go on a follow frenzy. (In other words, don’t be Taye Diggs.) Take it slow and don’t follow more than 100 people per week.

The bottom line when it comes to who to follow is be authentic. Follow the people who interest you. Engage in meaningful conversations with them. Remember, behind every social account is a person. (Unless it’s a bot in which case BLOCK that bugger!)

Give Yourself an Email Makeover

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 9.41.12 PMThe point of communication is to stop it – especially business-related email and phone calls. The average office worker sends or receives 121 emails a day, according to a report by technology market research firm the Radicati Group. That’s just not necessary. Give yourself a message makeover so that you never prolong a conversation that doesn’t need to be prolonged again.

Don’t be the business equivalent of that acquaintance you have who every time you see him says, “We should have lunch.” You both know that if he wanted to have lunch with you he would choose a date. And don’t be the business equivalent of the friend or relative who leaves messages on your home phone saying, “Call me when you have time.” I mean, define having time please. The next day I expect to have free time is April 19. Do you think the caller is really prepared to wait nine days for my return call?

Be clear in your communication. End the email chains. Stop the phone tag. Here are three examples of emails I received today, and ways to make them over:

1. “We should have a call to discuss” No! Try, “Can I call you tomorrow between 12 and 2 to discuss?”

2. “We should probably schedule a time soon to walk through (the details).” No! Try, “Are you free Monday or Tuesday before noon? We need to review the logistics. I will email you a list and we can review it on our call.”

3. “A phone call Wednesday sounds great. I love the phone.” No. No. No. Instead answer the questions: What time on Wednesday? And what time zone (per the original email request)?

As our CEO Lee Caraher says, “For the Love of God STOP IT!.”

And while you’re making over your emails, here are Lee’s four steps to make sure your email is always opened:

  1. The person you are emailing probably has NO IDEA why you’re emailing – so use your subject line to give people a clue about what they are about to read AND lay the whole reason for the email out in the first two lines of the email.photo
  2. Give explicit instructions and deadlines including FYI if appropriate so the person knows exactly what to do by when, or that it’s background and does not require action
  3. Be sufficiently formal. Hi, Dear, Hello, Best Regards, Regards, Sincerely — all good. ‘Sup, Yo, Dude, Laters, Peace Out – all bad.
  4. Run Spell Check.

Got it? Good. I will stop now.

Social Media Doesn’t Work: 5 Ways to Change That Fact

#FAIL“Social media doesn’t work.” We hear it all the time from prospects, and they are right. Social media doesn’t work – if you don’t use it. The  biggest naysayers of social media are the people and brands that don’t use it, or, the people who tried it but quit too soon to reap the rewards. So we agree, if you don’t invest in social media, you won’t see results. No argument here.

If however, you want to join the legions of people and brands who have realized tremendous benefits from social media marketing, keep reading. Here are five ways to make sure social media works.

1. Build before you blab. So often, we meet marketers who hope to use social platforms to reach their target audiences. So they start a Twitter or Instagram account as part of their launch strategy. They tweet. They post. And four people see it. You’ve got to build a following before your social presence will work. If a tree falls in a forest…

2. Build trust first. Speaking of building, trust should be your number one objective when you embark on a social strategy. You must build trust among your followers in order for social to pay off. And you build trust by listening before speaking, responding to your followers, being authentic and transparent. A social media account, on any platform, is not a megaphone. It’s the digital version of two cans and a string, with a speakerphone and web conferencing. It’s designed for you to connect with people.

3. Mix it up. Those brands you envy on social? Chances are they didn’t earn it all. Savvy marketers are mixing earned strategies with paid posts because a good social strategy blends earned efforts with paid promotion. Social media is no place to separate church and state.

4. Get off the island. Do you work in a company with a smart, integrated marketing program? Where advertising, PR, direct and other disciplines are coordinated and synergistic? Great. But then there’s the digital team. Those “young kids” doing that “social stuff” and they sit by themselves and work alone. That’s a recipe for failure. Social should be integrated in the marketing mix.

5. Measure what you treasure. During standardized testing season, my kids come home from school and tell me, “We measure what we treasure.” They sound like little robots as they playback what they heard from the principal. If you want to see a payoff from your social media efforts, get robotic about measuring your work. Almost every social media platform has built in analytics – use them.

Follow these guidelines for social success. Or, tweet us @DoubleFortePR and tell us again how social doesn’t work. You know tweet. 140 characters. It’s a message on Twitter. That’s a social networking site.

Just call us. We can explain.

 

Why You Need a Content Audit (featuring Vince Vaughn)

Successful applauding executives sitting at the table

By now we all agree, don’t we, that a content strategy is key? It’s key to search, key to owning your message, key to lead generation, key to your overall communications strategy. We think Vince Vaughn would agree. But do we all know that every content strategy should start with an audit?

A content audit is an excellent way to identify what you need from your content strategy. Before you can plan what you need, you need to know what you have. And, you need to know how well your existing content is performing for you. A content audit will tell you which pieces of content are driving leads, how your existing content is moving your audience through your website, and ultimately through your sales cycle, and whether or not you have the right mix of content for your various business objectives and target markets.

Here are the four basic steps to conducting a content audit.

1. Determine what you will classify as a piece of content. Potential sources include blog posts, contributed articles, case studies, white papers, videos, presentations.

2. Catalog your existing content. Make sure to track if you have the rights to the content, what format the content is in (text, video, infographic, audio recording), when it was created.

3. Assess the effectiveness of each piece of content based on Google analytics, downloads, or social shares. Determine what, it any, next steps you need to take. Does the content need to be fixed, updated or deleted?

4. Determine if you have the right mix of content by type, format, audience, and if you are sharing it with the right frequency, and in the appropriate voice. Be sure to compare your content to your competitors.

Once your audit is complete, your ready to plan your content strategy.

For more information on how to get your audit started, ask us. We think Vince Vaughn would want you to.

Social Media Cheat Sheet

You know you need a social strategy for your brand, but how do you choose which platform is best? Here is our social media cheat sheet for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+. We cover who’s using which platform, best times to post and pro tips.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 6.57.38 PMFacebook

Still the most popular social network

Photos and videos perform well

Share stories, let people tell their stories

Who’s there?

  • 4 billion users
  • Dominated by 35-54 year olds, with 50+ million users under the age 25
  • 77% of users are women

Best time to post

Thursday and Friday from 1:00 – 3:00pm

Pro tips

Follow the 70/20/10 principle. 70% of a client’s posts should build its brand through relevant, interesting content; 20% should come from curated sources; 10% on brand promotions.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 6.58.45 PMTwitter

Ideal for breaking news and to establish expertise

People on Twitter want to interact (Don’t forget the #hashtag.)

 

Who’s there?

  • 285 million users
  • Predominantly male, younger market (18-29) and college-educated
  • More than 60% of the user base makes over $50K per year

Best times to tweet

Monday-Friday during normal business hours for breaking news/influencer comments; Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at noon, 5:00pm and 6:00 pm (for B2C)

Pro tip

People love images so post them often and tag people to create mini-albums, generating more engagement.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 7.00.17 PMInstagram

A fun and effective visual marketing platform

Designed to be used as an app

Posting to Twitter and Facebook is very easy

Who’s there?

  • 300 million users
  • 53% of young adults ages 18-29 now use the service
  • Quickly growing among tweens/teens who prefer it to FB and Twitter
  • Women, Hispanics and African-Americans, and those who live in urban or suburban environments

Best times to post

Engagement stays consistent throughout the week with a nice spike on Monday’s from 3:00-4:00pm

Pro tip

Go behind the scenes. Use professionally-taken and “amateur” photos to show what it’s like to work at your company or how a service comes into being.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 7.01.38 PMPinterest

The place for visual, curated content

An excellent platform for referrals, second only to Facebook

Holiday and themed content does very well

 Who’s there?

  • 70 million users
  • 80% are women (20% of all women that use the internet use Pinterest)
  • Mothers are 3x more likely to share Pins than other users

 Best times to Pin

Saturday’s from 8:00-11:00pm

Pro Tips

Only pin large, high-resolution images. They’ll receive more repins, which extends the longevity and virality of the pin.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 7.03.13 PMLinkedIn

41% of visits are from a mobile device

A new member joins LinkedIn every two seconds

 

Who’s there?

  • 335 million users
  • Platform with the oldest users – 100 million members are over 50
  • More than 60% of LinkedIn members make over $75k a year
  • Primarily for the professional crowd
  • Men and women use this platform equally

Best time to post

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during normal business hours with a spike during lunch

Pro tips

One of the easiest ways to improve his/her page is to include a photo. There’s an 11% increase that the page will get viewed because it includes a visual.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 7.04.14 PMGoogle+

The fastest growing social network

Considered the best for SEO

Offers  the opportunity to interact with customers in real-time through Google+ Hangout

 

Who’s there?

  • 343 million users
  • Millenials (28%) and Generation X (23%)
  • Predominately early-adopter types
  • Male between the ages of 25-34

Best times to post

Monday-Friday from 9:00-11:00am

Pro tips

Ask company “friendlies”/influencers to demonstrate and/or offer tips related to how they use your client’s product/technology in a Hangout. Record the session and share it on YouTube and other channels.

 

How to Use #Hashtags for Marketers

hashtagsThanks to Chris Messina, #hashtags have become an effective way for marketers to drive engagement on Twitter (and Facebook, Intagram and Pinterest), provide context to tweets, search for topics and join conversations. 

Earlier this week SimplyMeasuredin an article that called out our client CLIF for the effective use of its hashtag #meetthemoment, wrote, “There are three keys to ensuring you get the most of out your hashtag:

  • Make it unique to your brand
  • Keep it simple
  • Use it everywhere.”

Here are some other things marketers should think about when using hashtags:

  • Hashtags work well when people can live tweet them.
  • Hashtags with action words perform better than non action-oriented hashtags.
  • Hashtags are an opportunity for brands to include messaging in a tweet. Ex. #MyFirstVolvo
  • Hashtags that can be used on multiple occasions are great for brands. Ex #Iwanttoinvent from GE.
  • Hashtags must be vetted.  Remember Susan Boyle’s unfortunate #susanalbumparty?
  • Hashtags can be co-opted. That’s what happened to #McDStories. So before you ask people to join your conversation, make sure you’re ready to hear what they have to say.
  • Hashtags shouldn’t be overused. But go ahead and have some fun with them. After all #YOLO.

This post was brought to you #fromtheforte.

 

4 Reasons You Need a Blog, And 4 Tools to Get You Started

blogIt’s 2015. Does your company have a blog yet? If the answer is no, it’s time to add “Build Blog” to your list of New Year’s resolutions.

Why? Blogs help businesses compete in today’s content-rich, search-driven world.Here are 4 good reasons you should start blogging.

  1. Blogs drive traffic. With a smart, relevant keyword strategy, your company blog will generate qualified traffic to your website.
  2. Blogs build community. Maybe your company has a great presence and lots of engagement on Facebook or LinkedIn. That’s great, but you don’t own that community. In essence, you are renting real estate from social platforms. Though engaging content and comments, you can create an active community on your own domain – your blog.
  3. Blogs highlight thought leadership. Have an opinion on an industry event, breaking news, or even a competitor? Post it to your blog. Blogs give you an instant, low-barrier platform to demonstrate your expertise.
  4. Blogs build lists. Visitors to your blog are much more likely to give you their email address than visitors to your company website are. That’s because your blog showcases the value your business offers.

Are you ready to start blogging now? Great. Here are four must-have blogging tools to get you started.

  1. WordPress. Tumblr may be hipper. Wix may be easier. But WordPress is our favorite blogging platform. It offers a huge list of plug-ins, easy-to-access support, and search engine-friendly features.
  2. WordPress SEO by Yoast. Yoast makes SEO simple. This plug-in helps you optimize posts, analyze your pages for keywords, and publish an xml sitemap.
  3. If you expect heavy traffic and commenting on your blog (and if that’s the case, why haven’t you started blogging yet?), and even if you’re only expecting a few comments, Disqus is a good comment hosting service. Disqus won’t affect your site’s page speed and provides strong anti-spam filters.
  4. SumoMe. This is an easy-to-install WordPress plug-in that helps you collect emails and grow your database.

Now are you wondering what to blog about? Contact us for help with your editorial calendar. It’s time to get blogging.

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