Content Marketing: It’s Not Just Blogging Anymore

Content Marketing Comes in Many Forms | Learn more via @HighleyDesigned

I recently started hosting a podcast with Lancaster Podcast Studio called Open Chat and my guests this week were local marketing professionals. We had a great talk about digital marketing and social media but the topic we kept coming back to was content marketing – what it is and how to provide value to your online audience. (To listen to the full show click here.)

I think one of the biggest challenges we face as marketers is defining our audience and creating a variety of media for them to consume. With the numerous social media platforms we have to post on, content marketing isn’t just blogging anymore. And Google is getting smarter – you cannot just blog to add keywords to your website – they want to see that you are providing valuable content that’s user friendly.

So regardless of what industry you’re in, if content marketing isn’t just blogging anymore, what is it? Well, content marketing can be a free eBook, a standout visual, a video or tutorial, an infographic or a free download. There are various tools to create this kind of media and most of them are FREE so it’s easy to incorporate video, GIFs and tutorials into your marketing mix. To learn more about free tools for creating video and standout graphics see my previous blog.

Now that you know what content marketing is, let’s talk about adding value. Something is not valuable if it’s been written about and talked about a million times already. If you are going to write or create a video about something that’s yesterday’s news, you better have a fresh perspective to keep your audience interested. Another tip – if you can’t explain a process in a few simple steps then leave it to someone else. Adding value means providing your audience with something that’s fresh, easy to follow, entertaining to watch and useful to learn about.

With all of that in mind, think about the various social platforms your brand is using. After you write a great blog you can repurpose that content over time to each of your social platforms as a different form of media. For example, I recently blogged about working from home. I then created a graphic for Instagram and shared a link to the article on Facebook and Twitter. Before writing this blog I decided I’d take that content a step further and create a video to share my 3 favorite tips for work from home success.

The key to content marketing success is simple:

A. Define Your Audience
B. Keep Your Content Fresh
C. Use a Variety of Media – Blogging, Video, Graphics, Downloads, GIFs, etc.
D. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

If you’re a work from home entrepreneur, blogger or freelancer, enjoy my video! And be sure to checkout the Open Chat podcast – It’s available each Wednesday on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

 

Holiday Pinterest Board Ideas for Your Ecommerce Business

Holiday Pinterest Ideas

As the holidays draw near it’s more important than ever to begin promoting your products! Pinterest is an awesome social media site for eCommerce sellers that lets you do just that. By creating Pinterest boards that others want to follow, your products can be viewed by countless potential customers – the key is to get creative with your boards! The most popular categories on Pinterest are as follows:

1. Home (17.2%)
2. Arts and Crafts (12.4%)
3. Style/Fashion (11.7%)
4. Food (10.5%)
5. Inspiration/Education (9.0%)
6. Holidays/Seasonal (3.9%)
7. Humor (2.1%)
8. Products (2.1%)
9. Travel (1.9%)
10. Kids (1.8%)

These are the kinds of things people are pinning, so think of ways to get your products in the mix. Holidays are the perfect time to create new boards with seasonal themes. You can do it with food, home decor, fashion, quotes, you name it – the list goes on! Successful pins have well-written descriptions and with the introduction of Pinterest ads – you no longer need hashtags. If you’re selling on Etsy you don’t need to change your product links because when you renew a listing the URL stays the same, but if you’re selling on eBay consider linking your pins to the appropriate category within your store instead of the exact item. This can be tedious but it’s worth it – you don’t want to send people to a link that says the product is no longer listed or the item has been sold.

Now, the fun part – creating holiday boards! I have clients in a variety of industries so I thought I’d make a list of some ideas that have proven successful. I love getting ready for the holidays, don’t you?!

Clothing and Jewelry

  • Fancy Holiday Party Outfits
  • What to wear: New Year’s Eve
  • Holiday Hair and Makeup Tips
  • Ugly Christmas Sweaters and Themed Party Ideas
  • Gifts for Her

Homegoods and Housewares

  • Holiday Tabletops
  • How do you hang your Christmas stockings?
  • Curb Appeal Tips – Wreaths, Lights, DIY
  • Christmas Tree Ideas
  • Holiday Drink Recipes
  • Christmas Cookies, Pies, Novelty Desserts (Be specific – “Christmas Cookie Decorating Ideas” is better than “Holiday Desserts”)

Accessories, Handbags, Novelty Products

  • Stocking Stuffer Ideas (for men, kids, women – you can make multiple boards)
  • Packing Tips for Holiday Travel
  • Secret Santa Gift Ideas
  • Teacher Gift Ideas
  • Fun Ways to Say Merry Christmas
  • Gag Gifts or White Elephant Gifts

Vintage and Antique Items

  • Holiday Collectibles
  • Christmas Through the Decades

Books and Games

  • Holiday Family Traditions
  • The Best Books to Read this Christmas
  • A Book is a Gift You Can Open Again & Again

Kids and Baby Products or Clothing

  • Baby’s First Christmas
  • Family Christmas Photo Ideas
  • Baby Shower Gift Ideas

Happy Pinning!

Facebook Ads for Beginners

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A lot of my clients ask me about Facebook ads. What do I recommend, are they worthwhile, how do they work? I definitely see a value in running Facebook ads, so I recently broke things down for a client of mine who has little experience with social media.

Boosting a Post v. Page Promotion

Boosting a post is a great way to get more people to see that specific post and when it features a link to your store, it’s a great way to get more clicks to your website. Another great way to increase your page views and let people know about your store is with a page promotion. A page promotion is just that. You select your audience and Facebook will serve your add to those people with a photo and a button that says, “like page.” The more people like your page, the more people yours posts will reach organically.

Local Awareness Campaigns

Another type of promotion that’s great if you’re hosting an event or if you have a physical store, is a local awareness campaign. This type of promotion targets only people in a specified mile radius of your location. You can even make it specific so it will only be served to people who have recently purchased similar items or looked for the type of service you provide. For example my husband’s family has a business, they do septic pumping. Local awareness ads are great for them because people don’t always know a septic company off hand. If they need one, they’ve probably Google searched one recently and Facebook can use that information to target them. For this type of ad to be effective, you need to know your audience. If you’re in retail think about the kind of shoppers who frequent your store. If you’re a service provider think about the people who need your services. For the septic business, a great filter is homeownership. I target people who are homeowners or first time home buyers. It’s also important to think about age. Don’t waste money advertising to people who are 18-25 if your store sells products for parents of school aged children, or your clients are generally affluent adults. There will always be outliers, but try to target your stereotypical client or customer.

What Kind of Ad Should I Run?

If you’re having a sale or a promotion, a great way to reach more people is to boost the post that has the sale info etc. Another option is to create a special paid promotion via Facebook. I haven’t had as much success with this – I think boosting a post is more effective.

How Much Should I Spend?

As for pricing – I have a lot of experience with ads and I’ve always had best results when I spend a small amount each day, but run the ad for more days. For example, a $5 budget per day for 10 days will perform better than a $10 budget per day for 5 days. Both will equal $50 total, but when it comes to daily budget – less is more.

I hope this is helpful!

~ Rachel

A Little Pinspiration

I’ve tried a lot of Pinterest ideas and usually my attempts at being cute and crafty result in an epic fail… but this time a cousin of mine sent me a photography idea so I thought, why not? I’ve been saving for a professional camera so I’ve been getting all the practice I can get lately, and it also helps that there’s a lot of cute babies in my family to take pictures of right now.

My baby, Reagan, was a honeymoon baby so I thought this idea was absolutely perfect for her. It took a lot of calming and re-swaddling go get her to fall asleep just the way I needed her to but the results were worth it!

Here is the shot that took at least 40 minutes to get.

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It’s crazy how fast they grow, so I might be a little picture happy lately but I’m beyond happy to capture every moment I can of my baby girl.

-Rachel

6 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Whether you’re tired of shoveling snow or sick of dealing with the shorter, darker days of winter, this time of year can get you down.  Regardless of whether or not the groundhog saw his shadow, it looks like we’re in for another month or two of wet, yucky weather so we might as well make the best of it.  Here are some of my favorite ways to beat the winter blues without spending a dime or leaving home!

 

Do Some Reading

Stop making lists of all the great books you plan to read this summer and start one today! If you’ve got an Amazon account there are countless books available for free every day.  Not sure what to read? Check out the best-sellers list or find something that can help you in your career.  (I read a recent article said that the most successful business people read an average of four marketing/business related books per year.) If you’re looking for a romance or action packed novel, remember most movies were originally books so pick your favorite and get a new perspective.

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Have a Netflix Marathon

If you’ve never binge-watched a TV series, you don’t know what you’re missing.  Snow days are perfect for Netflix TV marathons. Simply get comfortable, make some snacks and settle in.  Start with a classic series like Friends or How I Met Your Mother, or catch up on the latest season of your favorite show.  Netflix has numerous seasons available so you can watch a TV series from start to finish, or get sucked into one of their original series like the award winning drama, Orange is the New Black.

netflix marathon

Build a Fort

This one is great when school gets cancelled and the kids are home for the day, but you don’t have to have kids to build a totally awesome pillow fort! Stuck at home with just your hubby? Get creative and relive your childhood days seeing who can make the best fort using only blankets, pillows and the furniture in the room. Does your fort have TV access? Host your Netflix TV marathon from your fort and it’s sure to win!

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Bake a Pie

You don’t have to be Betty Crocker to whip up a delicious pie to beat the winter blues.  Take stock of the fruit in your home – maybe you have some apples or peaches that are on the brink of going bad, or maybe you have a bunch of bananas that no one has eaten.  Instead of letting them go to waste, find a recipe for that type of fruit pie or muffins. (Bananas are perfect for muffins!) With just a few additional ingredients like flour, sugar, and heavy cream, you’ll have a delicious pie in no time.  Trust me, if I can make one of these recipes, you can too! Click here for some easy Pinterest recipes to get you started!

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Start Your Spring Cleaning

You don’t have to go all out, but a little bit of cleaning here and there can save you from needing a major “deep cleaning” down the road.  If you’re stuck inside for the day, make an effort to reduce clutter and start a Goodwill or Salvation Army bag to fill with items that can be donated.  Make another bag for trash.  Don’t be a pack-rat… If you don’t use it, donate it. If it’s broken, put it in the garbage. Start with your closets to free up storage space, then move to rooms like the kitchen and bathroom.

If you have kids, do a secret playroom clean up! Use the donation bag and garbage bag method but add a third bag or storage bin for toys that you know your kids like, but haven’t played with in a while.  Chances are, they won’t notice they’re missing and in a few months you can get them back out and they’ll be like new! “Rotate” toys like this every few months to eliminate clutter and save money.

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Take a Bath

When the roads are icy and activities get cancelled, take advantage of the unexpected free time and give yourself some “me-time.” Draw yourself a nice hot bath and give yourself at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted relaxation.  Light some candles, add some bubble bath or Epsom salts and turn your phone off.  Treat your skin to an exfoliating scrub or try this DIY mud mask.

Bubble-Bath

However you choose to spend your snow-days, remember to take some time to enjoy the little things!

– Rachel

Boost Your Brand with a Facebook Giveaway

December Newsletter

A giveaway is one of the best ways to increase Facebook engagement and brand awareness. Everyone loves a freebie and what better way to advertise than with photos of a happy giveaway winner enjoying their new products!

You don’t have to set up your giveaway with a fancy app or add-on. With less than 1000 Facebook fans or page “likes” a simple wall post is all you need.  Make sure your product photos are high quality so people can see what’s up for grabs, then think of a call to action – something you want people to do in order to be entered for a chance to win. Maybe you want them to “like” the post, or maybe your goal is to increase engagement so you want them to “comment” for a chance to win.  Get creative! Is it a holiday themed giveaway? A great call to action might look like this:  “Like this post and comment with your favorite Christmas song for a chance to win!” To keep things fair, add all of the “likes” and “comments” to a simple excel spread sheet and use a random sort method to choose a winner.  Apps like PageYourself will do this for you, but until you are dealing with hundreds of entries, stick to a self managed wall post.

When you’ve chosen a winner, make an announcement with another Facebook wall post and ask the winner to inbox you with their contact information so you can send them their prize. This is a great way to create dialogue with a potential customer. Respond quickly and thank them for their participation. Send the prize out in a timely fashion and package it with care.  Giveaway winners are potential future customers and great referral sources. If they love your product, you can bet that after their positive experience with you and your business they may place an order of their own or send a friend your way. Also, be sure to ask them to post a photo wearing or using their prize so you can share it on your social media channels.

So you’ve run a successful giveaway but you were disappointed in the level of participation.  This happens. Sometimes Facebook posts get “buried” in the newsfeed, but there is a simple way to combat this for next time – promote or “boost” your post for just $5. Facebook has tons of affordable options for running ads and promotions and for just $5 you can increase your giveaway participation ten-fold. Giveaways are great ways to reward your fans and followers so if you promote your post be sure to promote it to those people who already “like” your page. People who “like” your page are also more inclined to participate and “share” your post with their own friends. You’ll be amazed at the increase a small investment can make!

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FAQ

Q. How long should my giveaway run from start to finish? 
A.  People lose interest quickly and your giveaway post will not be at the top of people’s newsfeeds for more than a day so keep things quick. 1-2 days is all you need to announce the giveaway, provide a call to action and announce a winner.
Q. How much should I spend if I want to reach more of my fans and increase engagement?
A. No more than $5 – you’re already giving something away for free so save your cash. You’ll be surprised at what $5 can do.
Q. What items or products are best for giveaways? 
A. You don’t want to do a giveaway to get rid of old inventory or items that never sold – they probably never sold for a reason. You also don’t want to lose a lot of money. Choose something new, something fun or something seasonal that people will want to use or wear right away.

 

Pumpkin Everything

Fall is one of the most beautiful and tasteful times of the year! The leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping and every coffee shop is serving some kind of yummy pumpkin themed latte.

One of my favorite fall memories is carving pumpkins with the family – dad’s was always scary, mom’s was always happy, my sister’s were always artsy and creative… and then there was mine.  Let’s just say carving pumpkins was not my forte so I was super excited when I found some awesome ideas for decorating pumpkins that don’t involve carving at all!  Here are some fun ways to get festive this season without the mess and frustration:

Glitter Pumpkins

Simply use craft glue to create your desired patterns and sprinkle on some loose glitter! Be sure to use newspaper to collect all of the excess glitter.

Monogrammed Pumpkins

With basic stencils you can create a custom monogram for your pumpkin. Simply outline with craft glue and sprinkle with loose glitter - Or fill in your stencil with paint for a different look.

Painted Pumpkins

Get creative with paint! Go scary or funny or turn your pumpkin into a Captain America shield.  The options are endless.

Ribbon Pumpkins

Pick up some colored ribbon and apply with craft glue to create various patterns and looks!

In addition to decorating with pumpkins, fall is the best time of the year for making fresh pumpkin pie, pumpkin bars and everything in between!  One of my favorite fall treats is my sister’s famous Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.  The recipe is simple and I usually double the batch:

 

1 C SugarPumpkin Choc Chip Cookies
1 C Canned Pumpkin (8 oz.)
1/2 C Butter
2 C Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 C Chocolate Chips

 

Beat the pumpkin, butter and sugar first. Add other ingredients saving the chocolate chips for last.  Drop with a teaspoon and bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes and top with your favorite cream cheese icing.  Enjoy!