Tips, tricks and interesting info - all regarding how to make your business' social media and website the best it can be!

Five Basic Ways to Increase Website Traffic

This article by Sans Pareil Director Robecca Leyden first appeared in NZ Entrepreneur Magazine

web traffic.jpg

I go to a business networking group every fortnight. One of the most common things said – the one thing that every business owner finds difficult – is that they want to increase website traffic.

The reason this is happening is because most people do not understand that just having a fabulous website (although important) will not guarantee you get traffic.

Think of it this way, you can open the most amazing or interesting shop in the entire world, but if you have told no one about it, no one will know about it and no one will go to it. Imagine opening a shop down an ally way in a remote part of town. You’ve done no advertising, but you’re hoping that because the shop is so nice that heaps of people will come shop at it. Doesn’t seem very likely does it? What would be your first action to get people in? Advertising.

There are three important things, that you must do if you want sales from your website.

1. SEO (Search engine optimisation)

2. AdWords

3. Social Media

You must do all three of these, consistently, to get a solid amount of traffic. Because people seem to find SEO the hardest I’m going to give you five basic do-it-yourself tips to improve the SEO of your website.

1. LIST YOUR BUSINESS AND WEBSITE ON FREE WEB DIRECTORY SITES.

Go to sites like Neighbourly, Localist, Google My Business etc (do a Google search) and register your site, you and your business. Heaps are free and it’s a fantastic way to network online, as well as get people over to your site. (As well as getting Google to notice that your site link is popping up lots on respected sites).

2. MAKE SURE YOU’VE GOT A BLOG ON YOUR SITE AND YOU ARE ADDING TO IT.

This I cannot emphasise enough. From a pure SEO point of view, blogging keeps your website updated, meaning Google will see that the site has been updated as recently as yesterday and rank you higher than a site that was updated a year ago. Say it with me… “Every website needs a blog!”

3. GET REPUTABLE SITES TO LINK BACK TO YOU.

If you are, say, a Financial Advisor, to increase website traffic ask the NZ Herald or another juggernaut website to publish a well written article. If they publish you and link back to your site this is worth its weight in gold! Offer to write something for free. The benefits it will do to your site ranking far outweighs the $150 (or whatever you think your article is worth) you will get for the article.

4. MAKE SURE YOUR META TAGS LOOK GOOD.

You know when you search something in Google, and a list of sites come up and you read the snippet of writing underneath the headline to see if you’re going to click on that link? Well, that’s the Meta Tag. You can always tell someone has polished SEO when theirs is a snappy sentence that doesn’t end in ‘….’ If you’re a total newbie with websites, you might need to get someone to install a Meta Tag editor for you, but it is not a difficult job. Make sure you write your Meta Tags yourself (you know your company best) and keep them under 140 characters (like Twitter). Remember: snappy and informative.

5. KEYWORDS ARE YOUR FRIEND.

Keywords are like the theme of your website. Again, a Financial Advisor might want to be found for searches for the keyword phrase “Financial Advisor Auckland”. Mention this phrase on your site but make sure it’s organic. Google is clever, and writing “Financial Advisor Auckland” 20 times on one page will anger the beast and they will possibly penalize you. Plus, reading that will make possible clients want to get the hell off your site and never come back. Try adding your keywords near the top of the page (Google reads your site from top to bottom and stuff at the top is deemed more important) and just make sure it’s on several pages of the site.

So there you have it! Try those and see how you go – remember SEO is organic, and your search engine rankings don’t change overnight. Search engines reward consistency. You need to keep at it but it’s worth it.

5 Proven Social Media Engagement Strategies for 2018

Written by Barry Feldman for Hubspot.

In the world of social media marketing, the word "engagement" gets thrown around a lot, but few brands actually know how to achieve it.

Brands might pursue the low-effort game of tweeting, ‘gramming, feeding Facebook, and Linkedin-ing updates about products, services, and educational content, but see little engagement.

Engagement just isn’t easy to produce. You have to be, well, engaging. In your business niche, the “like my page” approach probably isn’t going to be effective as you’d like.

Let’s look at ideas that could make you a force to be reckoned with. I’ve organized them into an AEIOU list. (I want to call it an acronym, but how would you pronounce the five vowels?)

A is for Ask

The best way to engage someone is to ask a question. “How are you?”and “How’s it going?” are popular options in conversion, but too dull for social media warfare.

“What’s your name?” probably won’t work and “What’s your email?” might come off as a bit too forceful. How about …

“What do you think?” Yes! That’s a winner.

People like to think things through. They like to hear from other thinkers. Certainly, they want other people to know what they think. Try prompting your audience with one of the following "What do you think?" strategies:

  • Probe their personality. Post a question that invites people to share their opinion or weigh in on something.
  • Play the “test your knowledge” game. It’s irresistible.
  • Post a poll. It’s easy to create polls on Twitter and Facebook. In addition to engaging your followers, you stand to learn meaningful things about them too.
  • Respond to my email. Email from brands are bound to ask you to click-through to read, watch, and try or buy something, but how often do they simply ask you to write back? I find this this be an enormously engaging strategy and have seen it work for my brand and many others. Notice I wrote, “Respond to my email,” not “our email” or “this email.” A human-to-human first person approach will be the engaging way to call this play.
  • Just ask. Interactivity 101: simply post a question. Whether done so in a social stream, blog post, online group or community, or on a Q&A site such as Quora, I’ve witnessed asking followers relevant, provocative, and timely questions creates some of the most engaging and thought-provoking social media activity of all.

Let's take a look at a few examples:

engagement 1.png

 

 

Personality quizzes have been red-hot engagement magnets for years on Buzzfeed, and it’s easy to create them to promote your brand with 

engagement 2.png

 

Nice going AARP. “Test Your Beatles Trivia Knowledge” engaged me, but you could have asked a few easier questions. I went 0–for-8 (and I’m a huge Fab Four fan).

engagement 3.png

 

This simple Twitter poll from Airbnb does a great job of engaging followers without any fancy tools.

E is for Expression

“E” is for “expression” because of the way social and mobile have collided, making the ubiquitous smartphone a personal expression machine.

It doesn't matter how you create content. The camera might be front or rear facing. Audio might be on or off. Filters, emojis, stickers and so forth may be applied or not. Posts may be permanent or self-destructing. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Smartphone apps enable people to express themselves every which way, and so they do.

Here are a few ways you can encourage your audience to create content featuring your brand:

  • Hash it out. The hashtag has become the click-to-connect ticket for bonding with like-minded people. When you put something of interest out there, do a little hashtag research first, or hash out a unique phrase that reflects your brand. Hit that # key, and invite your followers to jump in and hashtag content related
  • Conduct media upload contests. Many social media fans adore Instagram and Facebook contests, and are especially engaged in the types that involve shooting and sharing original photos and videos. Contests may call for other forms of self-expression as well, such as: recipes, recordings, illustrations, poems, essays, and more.
  • Rally reviewers. Thanks to pioneers like Amazon and Yelp, reviews, ratings, and testimonials have been baked into the fabric of ecommerce selling spaces and beyond.
  • Showcase customers, partners and employees. Provided you’re doing something people like, consider creating advocacy programs featuring customers, partners and employees to catalyze your community, amplify your voice, and engage newcomers by giving them a platform to express themselves.

Let's take a look at an example:

engagement 4.png

 

 

#KajabiHero is an impressive example of customer advocacy at work. Satisfied customers happily endorse the “knowledge commerce platform,” and wear their t-shirts proudly. They're rewarded with special features, links to their websites, and social media support.

I is for Incentive

I’ve mentioned numerous forms of interactive content, some of them competitions, but have yet to introduce the term “gamification.” People like to play games, compete, keep score, and most of all, win.

Satisfy your audience’s competitive spirit by featuring compelling incentives in your promotions. As incentives go, valuable prizes loom largest, but you may be surprised how even small rewards prove to deliver a sizable lure.

I swept through a post that features 37 Facebook contest ideas to inspire fans to bond with your brand in an effort to extract some ideas you can use to encourage people to get involved.

engagement 5.png

 

 

The entry form on this promotion by Michigan’s Friendship Circle explains, each person who casts a vote for their favorite pair of hand-drawn Converse All Stars will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a free pair of the winner. The winning shoe was subsequently reproduced and sold as a fundraiser.

O is for Offer

Your engagement strategy doesn't need to be interactive or gamified 100% of the time. Your brand can engage customers and prospects the old fashioned way, with attractive offers such as:

  • Instant coupons and discounts
  • Membership clubs (example below)
  • Pick your discount promotions
  • Free shipping
engagement 6.png

 

The link in Pura Vida Bracelet’s Instagram bio invites you to “join the Pura Vida Club.” BTW, the brand’s Instagram feed (1 million followers) bubbles over with joyous photos, mostly from customers, engaging questions, challenges, posts about charitable causes, and conversations.

Experiment with different types of offers to discover what your customers best respond to.

Facebook makes it easy to promote offers. A flavor of the Facebook ad portfolio is the “offer ad.” Offer ads can be redeemed online and/or be saved by Facebook fans to be redeemed in-store.

A help page from Facebook offers the following best practices:

  • Make discounts substantial. Offers with free items or with discounts of at least 20% off will reach more people.
  • Use an engaging image. Photos of people using a product often perform better than photos of a product by itself, and both generally perform better than logos.
  • Set an expiration date. Give people a few days to discover and claim an offer and allow time for your offer to be shared among friends. The ideal length of an offer is 7 days.
  • Promote your offer: After creating an ad for your offer, pin it to the top of your Page to help it get noticed.

U is for Utility

Engagement and utility are close friends on the web today.

Data from a research report about interactive contact from Content Marketing Institute and ion interactive reveals the top two reasons for using interactive content are (1) educating the audience and (2) engagement. 

A major majority of savvy B2B marketers put utility at the forefront of their content marketing programs. Useful content created to engage prospective customers could include tools, blog posts, video, infographics, downloadable guides, mini-courses, helpful email sequences, webinars, and much more.

engagement 7.png

 

 

Above is a LinkedIn ad from ConnectWise Automate that offers what appears to be a highly useful guide to help vendors price their IT services.

The ad is the pitcher… and here’s the catcher: a highly engaging and smartly designed landing page.

engagement 8.png

 

I love the question style headline, the directional cues, the 1/2/3 infographic vignette, the very cool bonus offer (a calculator), and the nicely designed form.

Utilitarian marketing ideas work offline too—and for any size company or individual.

engagement 10.png

 

 

I love the story from Jay Baer’s book Youtility about Taxi Mike. Jay calls an enterprising taxi driver he encounters a “one man Trip Advisor.” The driver created the Taxi Mike Dining Guide (above) and updates it regularly to handout to his passengers.

How will you AEIOU engagement with your brand?

A quick review:

(A) Asking Questions

(E) Invoking Expression

(I) Providing Incentives

(O) Making Offers

(U) Delivering Utility

I hope you found these ideas and examples useful -- and engaging.

 

Originally published March 14 2018, updated March 14 2018

Written by Barry Feldman

@FeldmanCreative 

The original article can be found on Hubspot by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

7 Instagram Hacks To Raise Your Game

Instagram is a pop-culture obsession. No doubt about that. And it can be a challenge getting a gram feed you like. If you’re interested in improving what content you’re putting out there – you’re maybe a small brand or simply aspire to be an influencer.  Whatever the reason check out my tips below.

1. Your biggest investment should be your phone. I know I know, but it’s true. The difference between an iPhone 5 and an iPhone X or 10, especially that fancy, new portrait setting is phenomenal. If you reeeeally want to compete with some of the amazing content that’s out there you need a good camera. The other option is to have a DSLR (which is waaay more pricey, but maybe someone in your family has one?) and upload the images to your phone. I know some photographers that do this and the results are stunning.

 

2. Do not, I repeat DO NOT use Instagram filters. You can use the contrast/ lighting section but stay away from the filters section. It was cool in 2011 to use Toaster on every image you took and have them look like they were forgotten in a box from the 70s. But it’s now 2017, and slapping your image with Toaster and Mayfair filters are the faster way possible to look like an amateur who has no idea how to use technology.

3. There are SO many great apps out there to edit images with. Some of the apps are so great that I know people who prefer using apps on their phone rather than Photoshop on their computer. My recommendation is to download the Photoshop apps. All of them. They are easy to use, great quality because it’s Photoshop and easier to use than the actual program on your computer – awesome for newbies. If you’re having a browse through the apps store, make sure to check the user reviews first. If it’s a paid app, it better be amazing because you can get so many great image editing apps for free. I have about 6-7 on my phone that I use on a regular basis.

4. For the love of God, do not post 10,000000 selfies. We get it, you’re feeling yourself and that’s great but would you go onto an account and see a million selfies then be like “Oh this is someone I MUST follow, that’s stellar content right there” No. No one does. Because it’s boring. If you’re thinking “Yeah, but Make-up blogger accounts are filled with selfies and they have some of the biggest following on social media…” Well yes, that is because this content is not a late night selfie while you’re bored, it’s a staged, edited (usually stunningly beautiful) image showing a makeup tutorial close up. BIG difference.

5. If you’re serious about building a following then try to be unique and interesting. Post content people will want to see in their feed (You can never go wrong with a good meme) a funny quote a beautiful nature shot, something interesting you’re up to…possibilities are endless.

6. Have some sort of theme happening. You don’t need to go all Nazi on it and freak out if you let an image in that isn’t strictly minimalism or whatever your theme is – but having some sort of thread running through it makes your account look polished. I LOVE Preview app because it lets you see what the images look like in the same grid format, without having to post yet. It also has pre-set packages you can buy which help you keep all your images in the same tones. I also know people that have a quote card every certain number of posts. Which adds an easy structure to maintain.

7. Although the content should be high quality, there has been a serious shift from “perfect” Instagrammers. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick to death of seeing perfect people showing off a perfect life. It’s not only staged and edited but studies have shown that Instagram is often credited with being the most depressing social media site. This is because the viewer is inundated with images of beautiful people and negatively comparing themselves to these images. So while you might be tempted to join the ranks of millions of accounts striving to appear flawless (I know I have in the past) try to be one of the emerging positive accounts. In other words, be real, show your flaws, don’t take yourself too seriously – your audience will notice and love you for it.

Screen-Shot-2017-12-08-at-12.16.17-AM-230x300@2x 2.png

4 Tips For Improving The Social Media Of Your Business

The last post I talked about why great websites don't get traffic and I gave some easy SEO tips on what you can do as a website owner, to get more people onto your site. This time, I want to build on that idea and discuss my first love, Social Media.

 There is a really great picture by webcomic, Rock, Paper Cynic which sums up what it's like working in Social Media

 `Funny right? but also very, very accurate. I get SO many people asking me to make their social media have magical results. I've even had one business owner scared to get over 100 likes on facebook because they thought each one would result in one conversion. Social Media marketing is similar to any other marketing format in that you're looking at between 5 - 10% conversion. And that's if it's done well!  Social Media can be a fantastic medium to promote a business on because it gives business owners of every creed and size the opportunity to reach thousands, even millions more potential customers than with traditional advertising. And it's a fraction of the price.  So without pause;   4 Tips For Improving The Social Media Of Your Business.    1. STICK WITH IT.   I cannot emphasise this enough. Think of Social Media like the gym: doing it once in a blue moon might make your guilt subside but it's basically useless. I've found that it helps a lot of people to put a few hours aside once a week and do everything at once and then schedule it to trickle out over the next seven days. Facebook has a great inbuilt schedule system, but for other platforms, there are an array of third party programs. I find  HootSuite  the best. Sticking with Social Media will slowly but surely get you a following.    2. DO NOT PUSH STRAIGHT ADVERTISING.  So many companies do this, big and small. People don't want to log onto their newsfeed and see advertising spam. They get that enough in their day- to- day life. People want content that interests them. Try to build a community around your brand or company. What are your ideologies? What content would you want to engage with yourself? What makes you smile? Post content that's worth posting, that will brighten up someone's day or make them laugh. If your page clearly shows what your company does and sells then clients and or/sales will come organically without having to push what you're selling into people's faces. Get people to want to check out what your page is about.   3. PICK YOUR PLATFORMS.  There are SO Many platforms popping up all the time it's hard to keep up. So get to know your audience. If you want to sell expensive homes to retired people, something like Snapchat is not for you. If however, your market is teenagers then Snapchat and Instagram are perfect. Research who your ideal customer is, when they are online and what platforms they favor.    4. ENGAGE AND BE PERSONAL.  This is similar to #2 in that still advertising is a big no-no. Here is an example of what I mean: The Wendy's Twitter account is absolutely amazing:   

`Funny right? but also very, very accurate. I get SO many people asking me to make their social media have magical results. I've even had one business owner scared to get over 100 likes on facebook because they thought each one would result in one conversion. Social Media marketing is similar to any other marketing format in that you're looking at between 5 - 10% conversion. And that's if it's done well!

Social Media can be a fantastic medium to promote a business on because it gives business owners of every creed and size the opportunity to reach thousands, even millions more potential customers than with traditional advertising. And it's a fraction of the price.

So without pause;

4 Tips For Improving The Social Media Of Your Business.

1. STICK WITH IT.  I cannot emphasise this enough. Think of Social Media like the gym: doing it once in a blue moon might make your guilt subside but it's basically useless. I've found that it helps a lot of people to put a few hours aside once a week and do everything at once and then schedule it to trickle out over the next seven days. Facebook has a great inbuilt schedule system, but for other platforms, there are an array of third party programs. I find HootSuite the best. Sticking with Social Media will slowly but surely get you a following. 

2. DO NOT PUSH STRAIGHT ADVERTISING. So many companies do this, big and small. People don't want to log onto their newsfeed and see advertising spam. They get that enough in their day- to- day life. People want content that interests them. Try to build a community around your brand or company. What are your ideologies? What content would you want to engage with yourself? What makes you smile? Post content that's worth posting, that will brighten up someone's day or make them laugh. If your page clearly shows what your company does and sells then clients and or/sales will come organically without having to push what you're selling into people's faces. Get people to want to check out what your page is about.

3. PICK YOUR PLATFORMS. There are SO Many platforms popping up all the time it's hard to keep up. So get to know your audience. If you want to sell expensive homes to retired people, something like Snapchat is not for you. If however, your market is teenagers then Snapchat and Instagram are perfect. Research who your ideal customer is, when they are online and what platforms they favor. 

4. ENGAGE AND BE PERSONAL. This is similar to #2 in that still advertising is a big no-no. Here is an example of what I mean: The Wendy's Twitter account is absolutely amazing:

 

 They are funny, engaging, playful and  people are loving  it! Everything Social Media should be. If there is anywhere your business can afford to be relaxed and approachable it's on Social Media.   There you have it, now go implement my tips and get your company some great social media happening! 

They are funny, engaging, playful and people are loving it! Everything Social Media should be. If there is anywhere your business can afford to be relaxed and approachable it's on Social Media. 

There you have it, now go implement my tips and get your company some great social media happening! 

Why Your Website Isn't Getting Traffic

I go to a networking group every fortnight. This week, as a group of small business owners went around and turn by turn, said the things that they found most difficult in their business - people kept mentioning this: "I spent thousands of dollars with an agency on my website, and I have no business from it". This is a statement I hear time and time again. 

The reason this is happening is because people are not made to understand that having a fabulous website (although important) does not get traffic. Think of it this way, you can open the most amazing shop in the entire world, but if you have told no one about it, no one will know about it and no one will go to it. This shop you've opened up isn't even in a mall or a busy shopping district. It's down a side street that gets few people walking by. Now you wouldn't expect that shop to do amazing, would you? And the first thing you would say to the owner if they asked for advice, would be "why haven't you advertised?".                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

 This is where the three most important things come in, that you MUST do if you want sales from your website. 1. SEO. 2. AdWords. 3. Social Media. 

You must do all three of these, consistently, to get a solid amount of traffic. Because people seem to find SEO the hardest I'm going to give you 5 easy to do yourself tips to raise the SEO of your website. 

1. First things first. You're on a budget, and you want to get people looking at your site. Go to networking sites like Neighbourly, Localist etc (do a Google search) and register your site, you and your business. Heaps are free and it's a fantastic way to network online, as well as get people over to your site. (As well as getting google to notice that your site link is popping up lots on respected sites).

2. Make sure you've got a blog on your site and you are adding to it!! This I cannot emphasise enough. from a pure SEO point of view, blogging keeps your website being contributed to, meaning Google will see that the site has been updated as recently as yesterday and rank you higher than a site that was updated a year ago. So say it with me: EVERY SITE NEEDS A BLOG.

3. Get a reputable site to link back to you. If you are, say, a Financial Advisor, and you hit up the Herald or another juggernaut website - if they publish you and link back to your site - that is worth its weight in gold! Offer to write something for free. The benefits it will do to your site ranking far outweighs the $150 you will get for the article. 

4. Make sure your Meta Tags look good. You know when you search something in Google, and a list of sites come up and you read the snippet of writing underneath the headline to see if you're going to click on that link? Well, that's the Meta tag. You can always tell someone has polished SEO when their's is a snappy sentence that doesn't end in '.......' if you're a total newbie with websites, you might need to get someone to install it for you, but it will take them about 10 minutes. Make sure you write it yourself (you know your company best) and keep it under 140 characters (like twitter). Remember: snappy and informative. 

5. Keywords are your FRIEND. keywords are like the theme of your website, again, a Financial Advisor might want the keyword phrase "Financial Advisor Auckland". MENTION this on your site but make sure it's organic. Google is clever and writing "Financial Advisor Auckland" 20 times will anger the best and they will possibly penalize you. Plus, reading that will make possible clients get the hell off your site and never come back. Try adding it near the top of the page (Google reads your site from top to bottom and stuff at the top is deemed more important) and just make sure it's on several pages of the site.

There! Try those and see how you go - remember SEO is organic, and doesn't change overnight. You need to keep at it - but do keep at it. It's worth it.  

 

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

 I came across this this great blog post on Hubspot.com which is a great read. Check it out of you do your own marketing emails.

If you do them yourself and are unhappy with them - then talk to me I can help. Robecca@sanspareilonline.com

 

 

January 27, 2017

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

Written by Sophia Bernazzani | @soph_bern

SHARE

 

 

 

848
inShare

 

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

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

 

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

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

The Current State of Content Marketing

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

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

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

How to Create Content That Gets Consumed

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

Write quality content

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

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

Here are a few ideas:

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

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

January 27, 2017

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

Written by Sophia Bernazzani

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

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

 

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

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

The Current State of Content Marketing

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

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

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

How to Create Content That Gets Consumed

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

Write quality content

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

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

Here are a few ideas:

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

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

 Follow

The Muse @dailymuse

We're curious: What would make your workday a whole lot better? #career #poll

6:52 AM - 5 Oct 2016

35%A Better Boss

14%Fewer Emails

31%A Private Office

20%Free Snacks

234 votes•Final results

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

 

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

Invest in thought leadership

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

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

Here are a few ideas:

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

 

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

Create visual content

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

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

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

 

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

Meet the reader halfway

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

Here are a few ideas:

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

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

 

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

Publish on a variety of channels

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

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

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

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

 

Here's Why You Should Be Getting Your Friends And Family To Share You Business Page

Facebook changed its News Feed algorithm to prioritize organic content from users' Facebook Friends over content from Pages and other publishers. This move represents an effort on Facebook's part to maintain user interest and engagement by showing them more of the content they want from the people they know, but it represents a potentially big blow to content creators who rely on Facebook for referral traffic.

For an idea of how influential Facebook is for publishers, consider this: Parse.ly found that Facebook makes up 41% of all referral traffic, which is more than Google properties. With this algorithm change in mind, content creators should ramp up their other traffic strategies, such as organic search engine optimization and email marketing to make up for traffic that may take a dip from Facebook. Marketers should also invest in quality Facebook content creation and post photos, videos, and links that followers will want to share with their circles to drive social media engagement that way.

What this all means is that Facebook is now prioritising content from friends and family in newsfeeds over pages. Obviously, users can change this, depending on what they want to see but this will be the organic setting.

When you share your pages content it means you're sharing it as someone's friend/family and will appear in more newsfeeds without having to pay for it. Of course, it is still better to boost important content that you want to be seen by everyone but don't underestimate the value of sharing via your personal page - and hassling your friends and family too :)