FreakyFriday: Weird of the Day – Vine Gets Freaky

 

I guess this was to be expected; every emerging Web technology goes through its, uh, wild and irresponsible period.

Witness Twitter’s new video-sharing app, Vine, which allows users to post six-second videos for streaming. Naturally, the service found that most of the first week of its big launch was spent figuring out how to crack down on users posting porn and deal with the ensuing media attention.

Then the app experienced its first major outage within five days of going live.

That being said, I’m not ready to give up on Vine so easily. The service is already spawning third-party apps and extensions that allow users to embed videos into Tumblr feeds or search for cool content. And even in a few short days, users have embraced the medium in creative ways.

As any entrepreneur knows, things can get freaky fast when launching a new product. Here are my three takeaways when it comes to the weirdness that was Vine this week.

1. Give Vine time to grow.

Twitter seemed ridiculous too, at first. And while the micro-blogging site isn’t the right content delivery system for every business, few would question the cultural impact it has had since it first launched. Content platforms – and how people use and interact with them – evolve over time.

2. Vine can be used to make interesting business content.

The beautiful thing about Twitter is how it forces users to focus on their message. Now, this doesn’t work for all content, but you don’t have to be a marketing genius to recognize the potential of a memorable six-second video pitch. Vine will force marketers to be ruthlessly efficient – not to mention extremely creative – in how they deliver their message.

So, what’s your six-second pitch?

3. It’s OK if Vine isn’t for you.

I tend not to be a fan of social overload. A business doesn’t have to be delivering content on every single platform available. Not every business is built for, say, Pinterest, and that’s just fine. Actually, spreading content efforts too thin more often leads to weak or duplicate content.

Rather, it’s a good idea to focus on doing the best job possible on the social networks where you are active, and these should be the ones your customers are using. If video fits into that equation, by all means, start cutting some six-second clips.

Freaky Friday: Weird of the Day – #drunknatesilver Ruins Freaky Friday, Debunks its Freakiness

By: Alex Dalenberg, iCopywriter Blogger

“Statistically speaking, Friday isn’t freakier than any other day of the week.”

OK, New York Times über stats geek Nate Silver didn’t actually say that, but we imagine that he might, especially after putting back a few. Welcome to our favorite Election Week meme, #drunknatesilver. Twitter is having statistically unprecedented amounts of fun (unprecedented except to Nate Silver) imagining the math man carousing about the town to celebrate his dead-on prediction in the presidential election.

This isn’t that surprising. Silver was more or less dead on predicting the 2008 presidential election, missing just one state. And while some see Silver as a wizard, he uses a fairly straightforward forecasting model that averages the results of numerous polls and gives more weight to the ones with a better track record of picking the eventual winner. The idea is that, this way, outliers have less of an effect on the prediction.

A few of the best #drunknatesilver tweets.

@davelevitan: Drunk Nate Silver stumbles through traffic on the Jersey Turnpike, screaming out what time each driver will get home. #DrunkNateSilver

@kelkulus: Drunk Nate Silver stumbles through the streets, shouting obscenities at the future ex-wives that he has yet to meet. #DrunkNateSilver

@copyblogger: Drunk Nate Silver says “Call me maybe? I’ll know it’s you because your number is …” #drunknatesilver

All kidding aside, Nate Silver is a model of viral success for every blogger seeking to create compelling, vital content. He started as a relatively humble contributor at liberal political blog Daily Kos http://www.dailykos.com, but because his work focused less on the ideology and more on the numbers, he found a much wider readership.

Silver turned his musings and number-crunching into the smash-hit website FiveThirtyEight.com which was subsequently picked up by The New York Times. According to the executive editor, it’s now one of their biggest traffic generators.

His new book, “The Signal and the Noise: Why so many predictions fail, but some don’t” is also worth a read. Not just for political junkies, but any business decision maker who wants to better understand how to sort good information from the bad.

As we see it, here are three lessons to takeaway from sober Nate Silver.

1) Use content to address an unmet need.

Silver saw that most political coverage struggled to rise above the day-to-day minutiae, spin and partisan emotion dominating the news cycle. Silver found a way to let the data speak for itself. Readers looking for a better way to make sense of the political climate flocked to his approach. What need does your content fill?

2) Don’t just aggregate, interpret.

Polling is a mainstay of modern politics, but Silver isn’t a pollster. He’s an aggregator but, more important, an interpreter. The numbers aren’t his, but he explains them. Don’t just retweet and repost. Give readers context.

3) Make your content indispensable. 

Easier said than done, but there’s a reason the bleary-eyed hordes of political junkies keep Silver’s website bookmarked: his take on the polls are can’t-miss content. These days, if Silver isn’t part of your repertoire, love him or hate him, you just don’t follow politics. If only all of us could say that about our industry blogs.

#drunknatesilver says be like him and you’ll have at least a 72.3337492 chance of content success.

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Photo Credit: joewcampbell

How to Find and Use Images (Legally) for Your Blog

Photo Credit: laffy4k

By: iCopywriter Blogger, Kimberly Crossland

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and in the visually charged world we live in today, putting images on the content you want your audience to read has never been more important. Web readers are well-known for being drawn to content that can be glanced over and consumed quickly. With pictures, your text is accentuated in a way that makes the page look more visually appealing and less overwhelming when your audience arrives.

With the benefits of adding images to your blog apparent, the question then becomes: where can I find these pictures and how can I legally put them on my blog?

Here are a few places you can look to for help.

  • Creative Commons – Doing a search on creative commons can bring up a host of images that have been approved by the license holder for use on other websites, including blog posts. The majority of these images have Some Rights Reserved, which means you must credit the person somewhere in your post. The Creative Commons engine searches a number of common sites, such as Flickr and Google Images and pulls up the ones that have been approved to be used by the owner. This makes searching for free images for your blog easy and legal.
  • Stock Free Photo Sites – If you have trouble on Creative Commons, you can also look to one of the many stock free photo sites. Some of the most popular sites that offer these images are Stock Free Images, Every Stock Photo and Stock Vault. Similar to Creative Commons, these sites typically ask that you credit the source of the person who provides you with the image.
  • Make Your Own – If you have a bit of an artistic edge but simply do not have the graphic design tools to design your own image for each post, you can use one of the many websites that help you create your own designs online. Two of our favorites are: Motivator, which allows you to create your own motivational poster, and Photofunia that helps you add special effects to your own photographs. You can also have fun with photo apps on your phone, which allow you to manipulate and alter photos with both text and effects.

There are a number of resources where you can find or create images for free to help spice up your blog posts. No matter which option you choose, using images will help to make your website more attractive.

Want photos but don’t want to spend  the time seeking them out? We can help

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

The Blog Site Wars…

WordPress vs Blogger vs Tumblr

By: iCopywriter Blogger, Kimberly Crossland

As a small business, you probably already know that one of the most basic forms of content marketing is to have a blog. With the multitude of blogging platforms available, it can feel overwhelming to navigate between the crowd and determine which is the right platform for your business.

Here are a few comparisons and insights into WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger – some of the most commonly used blogging sites by small businesses.

  • Unique daily visitors – WordPress continues to dominate the marketplace when it comes to unique daily visitors over other platforms. In the past two years, Tumblr has surpassed Blogger in terms of unique daily visitors, showing the growing popularity of this new site. Here are where the blogs stand today according to statistics pulled by Compete.

  • Social Engagement – While a blog may be visited more frequently over others, what is more important is how engaged the users are with the material that is posted on the blog. This is, of course, in large part in relation to the quality of the content that is published on the blog. But Tumblr and WordPress encourage engagement within their own community better than Blogger and Typepad. This is done by promoting similar blogs, inspiring a social community-type feel within the application itself. Tumblr has shown to do this best, as blogs on their site have more followers from other Tumblr blogs.
  • Customization of Themes - On each of these platforms, users can customize the look and feel of their site. WordPress has helped graphic designers earn some profit off developing themes for their site, but there are plenty of free themes that are equally as professional looking that are available. On each of these blogs, you can create your own custom HTML theme. If you do not have graphic design abilities, you can also choose from other options for customization within each blogging site. From my experience, WordPress seems to have the most variety of themes available to the average user who does not have graphic experience.
  • Statistics - Analytics are vital to the analysis and improvement of any marketing campaign. While each of these blog sites allows users to add their own Google Analytics code, WordPress has the most robust set of analytics tools offered within the platform itself, which is hugely beneficial to marketers.
  • User Interface – For most small businesses, spending time navigating through a difficult-to-use blogging system is simply not an option. For this reason, it is important to consider the ease of the user interface when logged in. WordPress seems to have the most user-friendly interface, making it as simple as possible for newbies to the blogging world. A close second, however, is the Tumblr interface which is also fairly intuitive even for someone who is new to the blogosphere. Blogger, however, is severely lacking in user friendliness making it a poor option for small businesses without tech savvy people to help set up their platform.

Overall, both Tumblr and WordPress have quite a bit to offer their users. While WordPress offers the overall package with statistics, plenty of theme options, and an easy-to-use interface, Tumblr is rapidly growing and with it, they are improving how they operate. For now, WordPress has proven to continue to win out over the other blogging sites, but this can always change depending on how quickly the other sites can catch up.

What has your experience been with these three forms of blogging platforms? We’d love to hear from you!

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Photocredit: Compete.com

Top 5 Common Mistakes Made in Company Blogs

By: iCopywriter Blogger, Kimberly Crossland

In the age of social networking and digital marketing, there are few companies who fail to realize the importance of having a blog. Not only is it an excellent forum to engage with customers, it also allows businesses to place keywords on their site in a meaningful format that, when done properly, will be shared on social networks across the Internet providing free exposure to new potential customers.

Yet many businesses are incredibly overwhelmed and do not know where to begin, so they simply throw together what they think a blog should look like without the thought and consideration it takes to build an effective and successful approach. If this sounds like your company, consider if you are making one of these 5 common mistakes.

  1. Too Much Self-Promotion – In spite of the fact that a blog is placed on your website (and be sure the blog URL is connected to your site for ranking purposes), the main intention of every post should not be to sell. Instead, this is your area to shine and give your business a voice. Talk about controversial topics in your industry, or bring up new ways to use your product or service that your customer may not have thought of in the past. Avoid self-promotion and instead provide useful content that delivers value to your reader.
  2. Inconsistent Posts – Do not start a blog without a plan. Design a schedule of how many posts you will put up each week, and stick to it. Inconsistent blogs send a message that you do not care about updating your readers or your website, making trust in your brand weaken.
  3. Long Posts – Have you ever read an article and thought it was running on for far too long? Use lists and bullet points to get your thoughts across in a format that is easy to skim for the short attention spanned web-reader.
  4. No Delegated Content – Putting the job of writing and managing a blog solely on the marketer in your company is not wise. Not only will this add a significant work load to your marketing department’s already very full plate, but it will also cause the blog to falter because it will not receive the focus it deserves. Outsource blog writing to professionals who can create compelling content and deliver it in a timely manner.
  5. Same Story, New Post – Almost as bad as drawn out posts is post after post that have nothing new to share. Keep your content fresh and avoid being dull by using an outside service to help generate ideas and create the content for you.

Your company blog can be a great asset, but if it is not done right, it can also cause your business to lose loyal website visitors and an inexpensive form of marketing to potential prospects.

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Google + = Mor Opps for Biz

By: iCopywriter Blogger, Kimberly Crossland

Google+ is one of the newest social networks to explode in today’s online world. Opened up less than a year ago to businesses, many companies are still wondering how they can use it to their advantage. And while they know there are benefits, they simply have not invested the time into creating a quality profile that will target a unique market for non-Facebook users, potentially generating more business and leads. This is a mistake.

Here are four quick ways your business can get started on Google+ today.

 

  1. Share your content – This may seem obvious, but not enough companies are harnessing the power of sharing their content on networks like Google+. When you post an intriguing piece of information to your website or on your blog, the next step is to find ways to generate traffic so people can dig in to the nuggets of information you just provided. Post links, ask questions and create a stir around the latest topics on your website.
  2. Create contests around your content – Once you’ve begun to create that stir, use it to engage on an even deeper level and give back to your customer base. Create a contest that follows up on a trend or hot topic. For example, a home decor business may post about the latest color trend. Then, they can create a contest to find the most creative use of one of their products using that color. Get creative and keep your customers involved.
  3. Spark a conversation – Go live on air with the newest feature of Google+ appropriately titled, Hangouts. You can now connect more personally with your customers by speaking directly to them. Use this to follow up on a controversial blog post, or to dive in deeper to a blog post that your customers find particularly interesting or frequently ask about.
  4. Get to know your customers – When you post intriguing content, customers are typically compelled to comment and share their opinions too. After all, the Internet is the perfect sounding ground for customers to have an opportunity to say their piece and interact with the brands they love. Use these comments as a way to get inside your customers’ heads and understand what sparks their interest. Then, you can create more using that research and continue driving quality traffic to your site.

Make your content work harder for you. Post, engage and follow up with your customers in this uniquely designed social network to gain more business results and create a more loyal customer base. Are you using Google+ for your business?

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Is Your Blog A Link Bait Bomb?

How to Avoid Being a Link Bait Blog – And Why You Want To…

By: iCopywriter Blogger, Kimberly Crossland

Getting backlinks to and from your blog is one of the top priorities of any company blog, right? Wrong.

Here’s why it shouldn’t be.

Link baiting is used by some blogs and companies to get links from other pages back to their website. I mean, it’s what you learned to should do for better search engine optimization, right? But link baiting can actually hurt companies in the end.

When a post is written with the sole purpose of having other pages link back to their site, they run the risk of obtaining links from sources that are not high quality, and drive their qualified readers away by creating a blog that is more of a burden to read than a help.

How can you be sure your blog helps your SEO without link baiting? Here are a few tips.

  • Write to your reader – When a blog post is written, you should always be sure the end reader is kept in mind. Instead of writing to search engines or for the sole purpose of being linked to, only use blog posts that will actually provide something of value to your reader.
  • Only post when you have quality information – Posting content, just for the sake of getting links back to your site, does nothing for your brand or website. In fact, posting content that is not informative or compelling will actually drive the people you want reading your blog, away.
  • Do not stuff your blog posts with keywords – Recently we wrote about how Google is cracking down with a new update to their algorithm on websites who stuff their pages with keywords. When you use keyword stuffing, not only does your page not sound natural, and typically it does not read well, but it also alerts search engines that you may be a web spammer instead of a legitimate site.
  • Keep your posts short and to the point – Most people skim through blog posts. When they see a blog post that is over approximately 750 words, they may get scared. Unless your blog post has a very specific and relevant topic with details that will intrigue the end user, such as this one from SEOMoz, posting long articles on basic information will only detour people away from your blog.

Link baiting has been used by many online marketers as an effort to garnish more backlinks with the hope that it will improve their SEO. However, if your company uses a copywriting service that instead follows these tips, your blog will go viral more naturally, and you will receive backlinks from more legitimate sources that send higher qualified traffic.

Have you checked out iCopywriter.com lately?

Does Your Brand Need a Social Media Mascot?

By: iCopywriter Blogger, Kimberly Crossland

Social media is all the rage in today’s marketing world. It’s free (and who doesn’t love free), it takes only as much time to implement as you put into it and if you create amazing content that people love, your fans do all the work for you.

Sounds easy enough, right?

But there’s more to social media marketing than meets the eye. While it is truly easy, and gives many brands the legs they so desire through viral sharing of their blogs and articles, it is also seen as a platform for people to converse, instead of be sold things. Companies are inherently seen as trying to sell their product or service, which of course they are. But the way in which they go about this on social media has taken a unique and fun turn for marketers.licensed inflatables

Now, companies are using actual personalities to brand themselves. Instead of a logo, people are “friending” a familiar face. It personalizes a corporate entity and can be the easy fix to getting potential customers to work with people instead of large, intimidating enterprises.

Here are a few examples of company personalities on social media that you have most likely seen:

  • Flo’ from Progressive – Her bubbly personality on the television commercials and radio has spilled over onto the Progressive page. Now, fans of Progressive get their chance to get a quote from the ever-excited Flo, who is so clearly passionate about saving you money on your insurance.
  • The M&M family – Every color has its own personality, which we have come to know and love over the years from advertising. Now, on the M&M Facebook page, fans can interact with these beloved characters. Most recently, Ms. Brown is authoring posts with her now well-known charm and sass that the nation seems to love.
  • Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World – This is naturally a personality that anyone would love to have, and one that has caught on rapidly. The brand entertains its fan base with information about what this man can overcome simply by being amazing. And more than that, fans put up their ideas of what the most interesting man in the world can accomplish. The character is engaging and memorable for the next time they are out at the bar or buying drinks.
  • Planters Mr. Peanut – The brand has chosen to use its classic top hat-wearing, sophisticated peanut as its social media mascot. From the small peanut point of view, Mr. Peanut happily entertains fans with his information and wit about all things from golf to contests.

Personalities and mascots bring out the fun behind a brand and allow companies to create voices of their own that are unique. Memorable and fun, this is becoming the hot way the social media world is headed to encourage engagement.

What are you doing to promote your brand on social media?

Have you checked out iCopywriter.com lately?

3 Reasons You Need a Blog (and Why Fresh Blog Content Matters)

By: iCopywriter

You’ve probably already been told that your company, whether it cleans carpets, prepares taxes or trains sea lions, needs a blog. Maybe you’ve even got one – complete with content as old as the Internet itself. In which case, of course, the blog is all but useless. In fact, it’s probably even hurting your site rankings.

Having a company blog is important, but it’s not enough. In addition to just having a blog, you must maintain it, with fresh, relevant and lively content posted on a regular publishing schedule.

To find out just how important fresh blog content is, we checked in with our go-to SEO experts at one of our favorite performance Internet marketing and advertising companies, LSF Interactive, to see what they had to say.

Said Hamaid, LSF’s Senior Project Manager for SEO notes, “The time and age where content was just another instrument to improve rankings through repeated submissions is long gone. The search engines have gotten smarter and today, only unique content prevails. Unique quality content is not only good for search engines, but it’s also good for users. Content must be seen as way to captivate and convert your visitors more than a tool to rank.”

Still not convinced? Here are three more reasons you need a company blog, and more importantly, fresh content posted to it.

  1. Interaction With Readers. Everyone knows that the best part of a juicy blog post is the comments section. Whether your posts are stirring up controversy or answering questions about your industry, a blog is a great place not just to talk to customers, but to get them to talk back. And the way to achieve that wonderful back-and-forth is to give your blog readers new, compelling content that they can interact with and comment on regularly. LSF’s Director of Social Media, Fumi Matsubara, gives us the low down: “A regular publishing schedule turns readers into loyal readers.” The least you can do is give those loyal readers something new to share and respond to!
  2. Opportunity to Share What Your Business Does Best. A blog is simply the best way to share the collective wisdom of your company or organization with the customers you serve. From tips on how to care for pets at home from a veterinary office, to fashion advice from a local boutique, there are so many skills, insider tricks and tidbits of wisdom your business has to offer. Regularly producing fresh blog content is the perfect way to get that information into the hands of consumers, and to have them remember your business’ name and function.
  3. Search Engine Rankings Boost. From an SEO standpoint, regularly generating new blog content is simply a must. Notes Matsubara: “Publishing new content on regular basis will help increase the ranking of your website that the blog is attached to. (Meaning, the blog needs to be located at your domain, not on a third-party URL). This is primarily due to the search engine seeing that the blog’s URL is indexing the same as the main website, and associate(ing) the two together. The majority of websites are static, meaning they are not updated regularly. If you think from that perspective, updating your blog, even once a week, can improve your website’s ranking.”

So what are you waiting for? Dust off that old company blog and breathe some life back into it! Your search rankings and, most importantly, your loyal customers will be the better for it.

Need help? We’ve got you covered…iCopywriter’s seasoned bloggers and project managers can help you with everything from brainstorming and researching topics, to creating and managing your publishing schedules, to writing and editing your copy. We’ll even write a free sample blog for you.

Have you checked out iCopywriter.com lately?