personal branding

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Using Storytelling & Other Tactics for Successful Personal Branding in Content Marketing with Tara Clapper

In our latest #ContentWritingChat, we talked all about storytelling and personal branding. If you’re ready to take your personal brand to the next level, this is the chat for you. Keep reading for the recap!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Using Storytelling & Other Tactics for Successful Personal Branding in Content Marketing

Our guest host this week was one of our own team members, Tara Clapper. Tara is our talented Content Development Specialist. In this chat, she shared some helpful tips on personal branding that you’ll want to put to use for your own brand.

Q1: What is personal branding and who needs to develop their own personal brand?

To kick off the chat, we wanted to hear how our chat participants defined personal branding. We also wanted to know who they felt needs a personal brand. To find out what some of them said, check out these responses:

Tara said your personal brand is an expression of who you are, both online and off. It should also be genuine. There’s no need to be fake, so keep it real and true to yourself. And as she said, everyone needs one!

Great answer from Julia! She said if you’re in marketing or running a business, you have a brand. You need to develop that brand in order to stand out online.

Kristen agrees that everyone has a personal brand and that it’s all about reflecting that brand to the outside world.

Cristy brought up a great point for those who work as part of another company. If you have a public role within that company, you have to be careful about the image you put forth, as it reflects on the company as a whole.

Chris feels anyone who is serious about career development, digital marketing, or who wants an online presence should be focused on personal branding.

Q2: What are the key steps someone should take when developing their personal brand?

Now that you know why personal branding is so important, you need to know what steps to take in order to develop a brand of your very own. Here’s some advice straight from Tuesday’s chat:

Great response from Tara! When developing your personal branding, you need to define your brand, have clear messaging on social media, consistency within your branding, and you should also make it multi-faceted.

Gabriela shared some helpful steps to ensure you effective craft your own personal branding. She recommends the following: define your purpose, discover the value you can provide, develop your voice, and deliver your message consistently.

Julia’s advice is to start by defining what you want to stand for. You should create a mission statement for your brand so you and your audience know exactly what you represent. You can then develop that into slogans and share it on social media. Don’t forget to have a nice logo and color palette to create a great brand image as well.

Kristen knows you can learn a lot from other brands that are already established. Make a list of the brands you look up to and ask yourself why you love them so much. While you don’t want to copy them exactly, you can implement what you love about those brands into the creation of your own.

This tweet is a very important reminder from Cathy. As she said, you need to be authentic in everything you do. Being fake will hurt your brand because people will see right through you.

Q3: What is storytelling and how can brands use it to their advantage?

You’ve likely heard all about storytelling by now, but what exactly is it? And how can brands use storytelling to their advantage? Check out these great tips from the chat:

Tara feels storytelling is the truth and the why behind your brand.

Gabriela said storytelling is using a narrative to give context to your message. She followed that up by saying storytelling can help make your content memorable and relatable while also helping you build trust with your audience. It’s always a great way to communication your brand’s personalty with others.

Storytelling allows you to connect with your audience and take them on a journey with you.

You can tell an effective story through a variety of ways. Tony suggests using video, photos, and written content to take your audience through your story.

As Breonna said, brands can use storytelling as a way to humanize the brand overall and give emotional context to their content. It’s a powerful way to make a connection with your audience.

Mallie knows that people respond to stories, which is why it’s so important to share your story with your audience.

Keira said storytelling puts your product into context for customers. It’s a great way to encourage your customers to be part of your journey and the story you’re telling.

In a time where people are all about automating everything, storytelling helps to show your brand is human.

Q4: How do personal branding and storytelling work hand-in-hand?

Check out these tips from Tuesday’s chat all about making your personal branding and storytelling efforts work together:

Personal branding and storytelling equal innovation in Tara’s book. She feels your natural story will progress like a good character would throughout a book.

Julia knows you can weave your story into every element of your personal branding. Use it in your slogan, your about page, and more.

You can allow your audience to grow alongside your brand as it develops. The story you tell will take them on that journey and make them become loyal fans.

Michelle said your personal brand shows authenticity while storytelling provides a narrative for your product. Together, they’re powerful for growing your brand and building a fanbase.

Storytelling encourages your audience to engage and connect with your brand.

Q5: How can you improve your personal brand using social media?

Social media is just one way you can improve your personal brand and connect with your audience. But how do you do it? We asked this question during Tuesday’s chat and got some great advice in response. Check it out:

Have conversations with others, start conversations yourself, and find your tribe. Make sure you’re engaging with others so you can grow and develop your brand.

Gabriela’s advice is to focus on building your tribe, sharing and consuming great content, showing thought leadership, sharing your USP, and building trust. Make sure you’re also being consistent!

Mallie’s advice is to keep your voice consistent on all platforms. This is essential when working on your personal brand. Don’t be afraid to make tweaks along the way when you’re still in the early phases.

Jeremy said to be yourself on social media. If you aren’t true to who you are, your audience will see right through you. You should also take the time to listen to others and help them in any way you can.

Julia said to make sure you’re engaging with your followers on social media. Use it as a platform to start real conversations and make connections with others. This is key when it comes to personal branding.

Michelle recommends participating in Twitter chats. She knows it’s a great way to connect with others, but can also provide an opportunity to share your expertise. Make sure you’re listening to what others have to say and help them with the issues they’re facing.

Cathy also agrees that participating in Twitter chats is a good idea for your brand.

Q6: How can you craft a personal brand story that builds trust with your audience?

We all know that building trust with your audience is essential. Having a level of trust is key to ultimately making sales and landing clients for those who are running a business. To build trust, here’s what you need to do:

Tara says to credit when necessary, be personal, apologize when you mess up, and be transparent with growth.

Jeremy knows that people need to get to know you and start liking you before they can build trust. You can encourage trust by chatting with your audience and actually listening to what they have to say.

Be a source of information and engage with your audience.

Be yourself! You shouldn’t try to be something you’re not because it’ll only turn off your audience.

Cathy encourages you to be vulnerable and share the real stories even if they aren’t all that pretty. Those are the stories that people can connect with.

Sarah agrees with taking that open and honest approach. She recommends sharing when things go wrong. It’s relatable because we all make mistakes and your audience will appreciate that you’re sharing things like that with them.

Varun’s advice is to be approachable. When people feel like they can reach out to you, it helps to establish trust within your personal branding.

Engage with your audience! Ask questions, answer the questions they have, and don’t be afraid to have a sense of humor when talking to them. It shows you’re real.

Q7: Which content formats are key for best telling your brand story?

There are all kinds of content formats available to us: blog posts, videos, podcasts, and more. Which one is the best way to go? Here are some responses from the chat:

Tara’s advice is to consider how you best express yourself. For her, that includes blogging, podcasting, webinars, and live events.

Sherri agrees that you have to consider what works best for you. Determine your strengths and embrace that.

Pamela loves Snapchat and Instagram Stories as a way to share behind-the-scenes content.

There’s no denying that video is a great way to go! It gives your audience the opportunity to see you and hear your voice.

For Javier, it’s all about that long-form content. We’re big fans of valuable, longer blog posts here at Express Writers as well.

Whatever format you use, you need to bring your audience along on your journey.

Q8: Which personal brands do an amazing job at storytelling?

Who does an amazing job with their personal branding? You’ll want to check these people out:

Tara is a fan of our own CEO, Julia, as well as the actors behind the Marvel characters.

It’s no secret that Gary Vaynerchuk is pretty impressive! Both Julia and Zachary are fans of his.

Sherri thinks Gala Darling does a great job at sharing and connecting with her audience.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

project management

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Project Management & Content Marketing with Brittany Berger

In the latest #ContentWritingChat, we talked all about project management and content marketing. If you want to learn some tips that will take your project management workflow to the next level, this chat is sure to help you out. Keep reading for the recap!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Project Management & Content Marketing: How to Have a Fluid Content Project Management Workflow with Brittany Berger

Our guest host this week was Brittany Berger. Brittany is a PR and Content Marketing Manager for Mention. She shared a ton of great advice with us, so be prepared to take some notes!

Q1: Why is project management important for content marketing?

To kick off the chat, we asked everyone to share their thoughts on why they though project management played an important role in content marketing. Here are some of the answers we received during the chat:

Brittany acknowledges there are many different moving parts when it comes to content marketing. For this reason, there’s always the possibility something could fall through the cracks or your content could become misaligned with the goal. With a project management strategy in place, you can keep everything working as it should be.

As Sarah said, project management helps to keep everyone aligned when it comes to timing. You want to ensure everything gets done on time and that people are meeting deadlines. Having a strategy in place will help you make that happen!

Mallorie agrees that it’s essential for consistently meeting deadlines. It gives you the opportunity to set goals and create plans to help you achieve what needs to be done.

Benefits of project management: it keeps your content aligned, keeps you on or under budget, and keeps overwhelm at bay.

As if you needed more reason to create a strong content project management workflow for your brand… Julia mentioned it’s key to success.

Without project management, Cassandra said content marketing becomes chaos. And you don’t want that, do you?

Q2: What does content project management entail?

Now that you know what project management is important to your content marketing, what exactly does it entail? Check out these responses from the chat:

Brittany said content project management entails planning, organizing, and executing.

Structuring calendars, setting quantity, and deadline structure all are important aspects of project management. Julia also said you need to stay on top of the creation process and everyone involved.

Sarah said you need to have a goal, figure out your timeline, schedule and plan with your calendar, execute, and make sure you keep all team members on track.

You need to organized the who, what, and when of each of the content pieces you create.

Varun said you need to create your content calendar, know who will be contributing, important dates and events, deadlines you need to meet, as well as targeting and monitoring.

Know your budget, plan out your campaign, delegate tasks based on the strengths of your team members, and get started! Great advice!

Brittany brought up a solid point for those of who are working solo. Just because you don’t have a team behind you, it doesn’t mean you can take advantage of project management. You should still have a great editorial calendar and assign deadlines to hold yourself accountable.

Q3: What tools are the best for content teams to stay organized?

The great news is, there are a ton of tools out there that can make project management a lot easier. We received some great suggestions in response to this question, so be sure to check these out if you haven’t already!

Brittany recommends using tools that will help you communicate, store assets, and organize processes. There are many tools you can choose from to make each of these tasks easier!

She also shared that the team at Mention loves using CoSchedule, which is an amazing tool for planning out your content.

Evernote and Asana are two go-to tools for me. I use Evernote to store ideas and draft content, plus Asana keeps me organized when outlining larger projects and editorial calendars.

Bill is also a fan of Evernote and he flies on Google Docs and Sheets to stay organized when it comes to project management.

The HeyOrca! team loves using Trello, which is a handy app for planning projects and creating to-do lists. They also rely on Slack to communicate with one another.

The Digital Natives team recommends Google Drive, Slack, Glip, and Group Me.

The team at Netvantage relies on Google Drive and Basecamp to get things done.

For Shereese, she switches tools based on the work she’s doing. When handling client projects, she uses Wrike. However, Evernote is a go-to for her personal work.

Q4: How can content writers help prevent overwhelm when working on several projects at once?

The reality is, we often find ourselves juggling multiple projects at the same time. It can be a lot to manage, often resulting in feelings of overwhelm. To prevent that from happening, check out this advice:

Brittany’s advice is to look at each step in the process as its own thing. You want to break larger tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks. Not only is this less overwhelming, but it makes it easier for you to tackle the things on your to-do list.

Prioritize each of your projects and list them in order of importance. Start with what needs to be tackled first and focus on getting it done before moving onto the next.

Beki suggests dividing your time into manageable chunks for different projects. You can use a timer to keep you on track.

Breonna also agrees with blocking out time on your calendar. This ensures you dedicate ample time to each task so you can stay on track and make progress. She also recommends focusing on just one project at a time.

When you’re blocking out time for your work tasks, Bill said to make sure you block off some time for yourself as well.

Chris suggests setting realistic targets and goals, defined steps, and micro-achievements.

Sarah said to be up front when it comes to your schedule and let your boss or team know if you get behind on tasks that need to be completed.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Tony also suggests using plenty of Post-It notes!

Don’t take on more than you can handle. If you stretch yourself too thin, you become overwhelmed and the quality of your work will suffer.

Q5: How can teams maximize the amount of content they’re creating without burning out?

We all want to avoid burning out, especially when it come to content creation. So, how can we create plenty of content without crashing and burning? These tips will help you out:

Brittany shared some great advice with us. She said she separates the creative versus logistical parts of content creation. Collecting links, conducting research, getting screenshots and other similar tasks are separate from writing time.

Julia knows it helps to have a supportive team by your side, as well as a strong project management workflow.

Plan out your content in advance and then batch write blog posts, newsletters, etc. Once you get into that writing groove from writing one post, it’s much easier to keep going and write another. It’s a lot more productive to write three posts back to back then it is to write a blog post, complete another task, and then go back to writing blog posts.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the content you’ve already created. Michelle said you can repurpose and scale your current content, which will help you get more eyes on the stuff you’ve published in the past.

Kristen agrees that repurposing is essential. She said to take top-performing content and recycle it for multiple channels.

Cheval recommends writing in a notebook every day to prevent writer’s block. This is a great way to strengthen your writing skills as well.

Never stop creating! Zala said you should always collect ideas and brainstorm. She also knows it helps to create content in advance and repurpose what you already have.

While some audiences love long-form content, others don’t resonate with it as much. If that applies to your audience, you can break up longer content pieces into multiples to create a series. It’s also a great way to keep your audience coming back to your website.

Varun knows collaboration is one key to success when it comes to content creation. He also recommends setting priorities and being open to discussions with your team.

Jeremy’s advice is that you shouldn’t promise more than you can actually deliver. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver on the content you create.

Q6: What’s the biggest mistake a content team can make when juggling multiple channels and formats?

There are a lot of mistakes a content team can make and we asked people in this week’s chat to share which ones they thought were the worst. Keep these in mind so you can avoid them!

Brittany said it’s a mistake to think of each thing as a separate project. She suggests looking at how everything works and interacts with each other.

If you aren’t communicating with your team, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You need to be open to working together and sharing ideas.

If you don’t stay in contact with your team, it can be chaos.

As Jason said, you shouldn’t assume someone has a task covered. This is where open communication comes into place. Keep in touch with your team to make sure everyone is on track.

Kim said it would be a mistake to not plan or have a strategy in place.

Not communicating with your team, failing to proofread, and not thinking through your content are all big mistakes in Sara’s book.

Jim suggests designating tasks to the specialists and letting them do their thing.

Don’t sign up for a platform and then fail to commit to it. If you join a platform, you need to post consistently and be present.

Don’t underestimate the size of your workload.

Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged because you can’t do it all.

Quit pushing quantity over quality. Quality is always more important in the end.

Q7: As a content writer, how can you keep ideas straight when working on multiple, but similar, projects?

It can be tough to keep ideas straight when you’re working on multiple projects. Here’s some advice to help you out:

Brittany likes to get her ideas out on paper as soon as possible. This is great for ensuring you don’t forget anything and allows you to map everything out later. She also recommends not switching back and forth between projects too much. Chunk your schedule to work on similar tasks back to back.

Jason also agrees that chunking your schedule is helpful. He suggests scheduling blocks when you work on just one project, instead of jumping between different things.

Mallie is a fan of blocking off time on your schedule as well. She even thinks it’s a good idea to give each project its own folder to keep things separate.

Julia relies on multiple to-do lists, content calendars, and Google Sheets to keep things organized. And you can’t forget a cup of coffee (or two)!

Kristen makes a new to-do list every day as well. She also uses project management tools like Trello to help.

Jeremy likes to outline and save drafts in his blog and in Evernote. This makes it easy for him to work on content whenever he wants.

Q8: What other content marketers are great at project management?

Who else is amazing at project management? You can get some inspiration from these content marketers:

Brittany has learned a lot from Nathan Ellering, Benjamin Brandall, and Jess Ostroff.

Julia is impressed with how Content Marketing Institute manages their workflow and editorial structure.

Cheval was too kind and including Julia and I in his list, along with Ann Handley.

Jeremy shared a bunch of great people with us. You’ll want to check them out if you aren’t already!

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

#ContentWritingChat, content marketing strategy

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Creating a Content Marketing Strategy 101 with Doug Kessler

It’s no secret that every brand needs to have an effective content marketing strategy if they want to see results within their business. However, many brands feel unsure of how to get started when creating a strategy of their own. This week’s #ContentWritingChat was all about the basics of creating a content marketing strategy, so there’s no more excuses. You can get started on yours today!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Creating a Content Marketing Strategy 101 with Doug Kessler

For this Tuesday’s #ContentWritingChat, our guest host was Doug Kessler. Doug is the is Co-Founder and Creative Director of Velocity. He shared some great insights with our audience about content marketing, so you’ll want to read through these tips and start implementing them.

Q1: Discuss the importance of content marketing for brands in 2017.

So, how important is it for a brand to develop their own content marketing strategy? And what kind of results will it provide once they have? Check out these tips from Tuesday’s chat:

Doug said that content marketing has turned into a mainstream strategy.

Julia knows just how important your content marketing strategy is when it comes to marketing. The stats she shared are pretty impressive!

As Annaliese said, content marketing has become expected of brands. She feels it helps you to build an interested audience and can establish you as a thought leader in your industry.

Content marketing can help you build relationships with your customers, which can ultimately lead to more brand loyalty. You’ll see these kinds of results when you do your content marketing strategy the right way.

The Digital Natives team said it’s key for establishing trust and adding value for your clients.

Q2: What’s the first major step(s) of a solid content marketing strategy for any business/industry?

When creating a content marketing strategy for your brand, there are a few steps you’ll have to take in the early phases. Here’s what you need to know in order to get started:

Doug said that the first step to creating a content marketing strategy is getting to know your audience. If you don’t know who your audience is, you can’t create the right kind of content to attract them.

To get to know your audience, you’ll need to do some research. It may be time-consuming, but it’s a must before you can get started with anything.

Know your goals and who your audience is. Once you’ve figured out those two things, you can start planning how you’ll connect with them and what kind of content you’ll create.

Annaliese agrees that it’s important to set goals before you begin creating your strategy.

Take the time to map out the journey you expect a customer to take. This is very beneficial to your success!

Bill’s advice is to list out your business objectives and the needs of your audience. This will help you start planning.

Tony recommends finding ways your audience likes to read and access content. Once you’ve figured that out, you can create exactly the type of content they’re looking for.

Q3: Content marketing vs. traditional marketing (i.e., TV spot): Your thoughts? Is one higher ROI?

Today’s brands still invest in traditional marketing as part of their content marketing strategy. There’s no shortage of ads on television. But is it really the most effective tactic or is content marketing the way to go? Here’s what our chat participants had to say:

Julia shared a link to her post that showed just how effective content marketing can be when compared to a Super Bowl ad.

Kevin’s advice is to figure out who your audience is and where they’re spending their time. Once you know that, you’ll be able to create content and put it directly in front of them on the platforms they’re using.

Keira brought up a great point about how consumers now crave relationships with brands. Those relationships are what help to build trust, which ultimately turns a follower into a customer. Conversations are key to building relationships with your target audience.

As Roslyn said, it’s also easier to track the success of content marketing than traditional marketing. This will help you to really see the results you’re getting from your investment.

Q4: Discuss a few favorite channels/content types that work for you (live streaming, guest blogging, etc.).

The channels and content types that work best for one brand won’t necessarily be what works best for another. It’s important to experiment so you can see what works for you, then make it part of your content marketing strategy. Here’s what seems to be working well for our chat participants:

Doug is a big fan of SlideShade, which we’ve also used here at Express Writers. If you haven’t tried it for yourself, give it a shot and see how your audience responds.

He also mentioned video, which is still very powerful today. Whether you’re uploading videos to YouTube or doing live videos on a platform like Facebook Live, it’s great for your brand.

As Julia said, she sees results from writing guest blogs for other sites and here on Express Writers. This Twitter chat and her book have also worked out well.

When blogging on your own site, make sure you do so consistently if you want to see results.

Annaliese has seen great results with guest blogging. It’s a fantastic way to increase your exposure since you’re able to get in front of a whole new audience. Social media engagement is also great!

For Sarah and the ThinkSEM team, they get the best results from blogging and sharing on Twitter.

Andrea is also a fan of Twitter, as are we here at Express Writers. Infographics are a great one as well!

If your audience is on Pinterest, it’s worthwhile to pin your content there to increase traffic back to your website.

Michelle loves joining Twitter chats. They’re actually a great way to connect with new people and to share your expertise. She also enjoys using the story features on both Instagram and Snapchat.

Meg mentioned email has been very effective for the team at Brandfolder.

Cheval knows that podcasting is great for building his authority within his industry. Even if you don’t see a return on your investment right away, it can happen over time.

Another point for podcasting!

This is great advice from Bill!

Q5: Share some ways to stand out in a sea of content. How do you find and showcase your brand voice?

With so much noise online these days, it can be hard to stand out. How do you do it? Check out these tips:

Infuse everything you create with your brand’s voice. Doug said Slack and MailChimp do a great job with this. Honesty is also important!

Great answer from Michelle, especially her point about authenticity and transparency.

Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. If something doesn’t work out for you, don’t get discouraged. Learn from it and move on.

Jeremy said it’s important to test the content you create. This allows you to see what’s working and what’s not. Make sure you’re also being helpful and serving others.

Make sure you’re also expanding your reach by utilizing SEO.

Don’t forget to engage with your audience regularly. It shows them that you’re human and helps to build a connection.

Q6: How can you identify if your content marketing strategy is actually working and generating results?

Once you’ve developed and implemented your content marketing strategy, how do you know if it’s working for you? These tips will show you what you need to track:

Doug’s advice is to measure everything. You can learn a lot by seeing the areas in which you’re growing.

As Kristi said, this is where your goals come in. You need to set goals for the content you create so you can see if it was actually effective. If it is, great! If not, you need to make some changes.

Make success specific and measurable from the get-go. This is great advice from Mallie!

Jacob is spot on with his answer. You don’t want to get lost in a sea of data, so know what you want to measure first.

Be sure to give yourself ample time to reach your goals. Don’t expect results overnight.

Julia knows it’s important to track leads. Your content brings in leads, which ultimately leads to more clients and revenue for your business.

As Sabjan said, it’s all about those conversions.

If people are engaging with your content, sharing it, and eventually becoming customers… You’re doing something right.

Q7: Share some favorite tools you rely on consistently for your content marketing.

If you’re looking for new tools to help with your content marketing, you’ll want to check out this list.

Doug loves using SlideShare and Evernote.

Like Annaliese, we also rely on Yoast here at Express Writers. It’s great for SEO and readability.

Evernote is great for storing ideas and writing drafts. Asana is awesome for project management. And we can’t forget about Yoast and Buffer!

These tools are all worth checking out!

Cheval relies on Post Planner and Buffer on daily basis to put content out for his audience.

Buffer, Trello, and Google Docs are key for Amanda when it comes to her content marketing strategy.

CoSchedule is great for planning out your content!

Q8: Share some predictions or observations on the state of content marketing for 2017 and beyond.

What do you think is in store for content marketing in the future? Check out these predictions:

Those who commit to content marketing will win, while those who dabble won’t.

Julia is predicting new platforms, tools, and smarter systems.

Sarah thinks it’ll become more important to hone in on your audience’s desires, as well as timing and placement of your content.

Now is the time to start committing to video content, as its popularity will only continue to grow.

Tony also agrees that video content is important.

Great visuals for your content will always be important!

Javier predicts that augmented reality will become a lot more common.

Work smarter, not harder with strategic content.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

#ContentWritingChat, Twitter strategies

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Twitter Strategies for a Great Brand Presence with Becky Shindell

You might think Twitter is a dying platform, but we’re about to prove you wrong with our latest #ContentWritingChat. This week, we covered all the best strategies to help you grow your audience and establish a great brand presence on Twitter. If you’re ready to step up your game on Twitter, dive into this recap!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Twitter Strategies for a Great Brand Presence with Becky Shindell

Our guest host this week was Becky Shindell. She’s a Social Media Manager for one of our favorite tools, SEMrush. Plus, she works behind the scenes on their Twitter chat, #semrushchat. So, it’s no surprise that Becky is pretty knowledgeable on Twitter and we were excited to have her join us and share some of her best advice.

Q1: How can a brand determine if Twitter is a worthwhile platform to be on?

With all the social media platforms available today, it can be hard to decide which ones are worth your time. If you’re wondering if Twitter is really the right place for your brand to be, we have some advice that will make the decision a little easier.

Becky recommends considering the goals you have for your brand. She knows that Twitter is a powerful platform for customer service. That could be a key way that you use it to serve your customers.

Julia knows it’s important to be where your audience is. Find out if they’re spending their time on Twitter and if they are… You need to be there too!

As Annaliese said, make sure your target audience is actually active on the platform. If they’re signed up, but not using it, then it won’t do you any good. You want to make sure your audience is there and already engaged.

Research, research, research! You’re going to have to do a little digging to find out where your audience is most active online, but it’ll pay off in the end.

Is your community on Twitter? Is there already a conversation around your niche happening there? If so, Kristen says Twitter is worth your time.

If you aren’t sure if your audience is on Twitter, don’t be afraid to ask them. You can create a survey and ask for responses to find out which platforms they’re most active on. As Lexie said, your social media strategy is all about being where your audience is.

Another thing to take into consideration is how Twitter actually works. As Cristy said, it’s not a pay-to-play platform like Facebook as become. Twitter is appealing to so many brands for that reason because they don’t worry about a large portion of their followers never seeing their posts.

Q2: What types of content perform well on Twitter, thus encouraging clicks and shares?

Once you’ve decided to invest your time into using Twitter, you want to make sure you’re posting great content. And we all want clicks and shares, right? These tips will help you create irresistible content your audience will enjoy.

As Becky said, great visuals are key to getting your content noticed on Twitter. An eye-catching image will get people to stop as they’re scrolling through their feeds. Create something that’s going to grab their attention and appeal to them if you want to earn those clicks and shares.

Vishal knows that pairing captivating visuals with amazing copy is the formula for a perfect tweet.

Jessy said it best when she mentioned a great visual can help you break through the clutter. Social media feeds are busy these days and you need a way to stand out. Photos, GIFs, and videos can help you do that.

It’s also important to consider what resonates with your audience. What works for one brand might not work for you and vice versa. Don’t be afraid to test ideas to see what your audience responds well to and what they aren’t digging. Sarah said to make sure everything is helpful, relevant, timely, pretty, and beneficial.

Cassandra agrees that, in the end, it all goes back to what your audience enjoys.

Q3: How do you measure the success of your content? Which metrics are most important to track?

So, you’ve posted all of this content to Twitter… How on earth do you find out if it’s performing well? Which metrics should you be paying the most attention to? There’s no need to let your analytics stress you out! We have some suggestions on what you should be tracking.

Becky said she likes to use Sprout Social to see how her audience is responding to content. She tracks engagement, retweets, and favorites. She also takes a look at their demographics to get a better understanding of who the audience is. Then, that information can be used to create more of the content that works and less of what doesn’t.

Engagement, clicks, traffic, and real ROI. That’s what we’re all about here at Express Writers. And as Julia mentioned, one of our clients signed on with us after discovering our Twitter profile and scrolling through our tweets.

Annaliese offered some great advice that will help you get the most out of your Twitter presence and your analytics. She suggests using Google Analytics and setting it up to track how visitors from Twitter behave once they get to your website.

Conversions, conversions, conversions. The ultimate test of whether or not your Twitter presence is working for you is whether or not those followers are converting. You want to see that they’re not only coming to your website, but converting in some way. That could be becoming an email subscriber, a paying customer, etc. If those conversions are happening, you’re on the right track.

For Tony, it’s all about engagement rate, clicks, and impressions. Engagement is a great thing to track because it’s nice to see that your audience is responding in some way, like leaving a comment. It’s simple, but it helps to build a relationship with them.

Jeff knows just how powerful conversations are between you and your audience. It’s a key step to building trust with them and you need to create content that gets them talking. Make sure you reply to them when they leave their response too!

Like Jeff, Keira also wants to see conversations happening around the content she shares. But as she pointed out, it all depends on the goals you’ve set for your content and that will differ based on the particular post.

Q4: What can you do to get your brand noticed on Twitter?

If you decide to invest your time and effort into a social media platform, you don’t want to go unnoticed. You want people to see your posts and engage with them. You want to attract followers and convert them into customers. So, how do you actually get noticed so you can see major results for your brand? Start implementing these tips:

Becky’s advice is to use relevant hashtags, original images and copy, and great GIFs. She also said to tweet frequently to stay in the feeds of your audience.

If you want your brand to be noticed, you need to be present. Don’t slack off on posting and expect to see growth. Don’t get lazy with engaging and expect to build relationships. You need to be proactive about engaging with your audience.

Be a thought leader in your industry and people will want to follow along. It’s also important that you stay on top of the latest trends so you can provide the best content for your audience.

Engage, entertain, listen, and respond. It’s simple, but effective advice that Lauren knows will get you results.

Engagement is always essential and Antonio agrees. He stressed just how important it is to listen to what your audience is saying and to respond to them. He also mentioned that you can pay for traffic, but that doesn’t compare with growing your audience by building relationships.

Hashtags are a key way to get your content noticed. They help you reach a wider audience with each post. You just need to make sure you’re using ones that are relevant and popular enough that people will discover it.

And of course, Twitter chats are one great way to get noticed. They’re perfect for making new connections and sharing your expertise with a new group.

Mallie is also a fan of using Twitter chats to make connections. Start reaching out to people in a way that feels genuine and people will respond well.

Q5: How can you capture leads on Twitter in order to turn followers into customers and raving fans of your brand?

We couldn’t have a chat on Twitter strategies without discussing how to use the platform to capture leads, could we? We asked our chat participants to share their advice for taking people from followers and turning them into customers and huge fans. Here are their tips:

Becky suggests sharing content that educates and entertains your audience. And don’t forget to add a CTA!

Mallie also agrees that a call to action is essential. People won’t always know what the next step is, so you have to tell them.

Lexie said to be helpful. If you see people asking questions that you can answer, chime in and help them out. They’ll appreciate it and they just might check out your site and possibly become a customer at some point.

Vishal’s advice is great to keep in mind. Don’t be pushy, creepy, or desperate. You need to be yourself, otherwise people will see right through you.

Be authentic and treat your followers right. It’ll work out in your favor.

Q6: What are the best strategies for increasing engagement on Twitter?

If you’re feeling like the engagement levels are low on your Twitter account, it’s time to step it up! Luckily, we’ve compiled some great tips from Tuesday’s chat that will help you out. Read through these and implement them if you want a major increase in engagement.

Becky knows how important it is to engage with your audience. At SEMrush, they like to thank people for sharing their content, which is an easy way to open the lines of communication. You could even take it a step further to ask what someone liked about the article they shared.

Julia knows it’s important to be active. If you aren’t, why would anyone both engaging with you? They wouldn’t expect to receive a response. Be present on Twitter. And be sure to try out a few Twitter chats here and there!

Don’t sit around and wait for engagements to happen. As Jessy said, you need to encourage conversations yourself. Ask questions and respond to replies you get in order to get the discussion going.

As you ask questions, choose ones that are open-ended. Skip the ones where someone could provide a yes/no answer because that doesn’t leave much room for follow-up.

Jason’s advice is to be consistent with your posting and to share relatable tweets. It all goes back to giving your audience what they want. And when you receive replies, take the time to write back.

The reality is, there are many brands out there that don’t bother to respond to people. Don’t be like that! Take the time to respond because that’s what builds relationships.

It’s also smart to take posting times into consideration. Test to find out which times work best for your audience and make sure you’re sharing content then. You need to be able to reach them at the right times. Watching your competitors helps a lot, too!

Q7: Do you rely on any tools for scheduling content and tracking the success of your tweets? If so, which ones do you love?

If we want to succeed, we need an easy way to help us implement all of these Twitter strategies, don’t we? Fortunately, there are a ton of great tools out there to help us schedule posts and track how well things are performing. If you’re looking for a new tool to try out, check out the ones in this list:

The SEMrush team loves using Sprout Social!

We’re all about that Buffer love and using Canva to create social media graphics.

Just like Annaliese, we’re big fans of Buffer here at Express Writers.

Even Lex is making her way over to our favorite, Buffer!

Kristi relies on Hootsuite and Twitter’s own analytics to manage her account.

TweetDeck is another great tool and especially comes in handy during Twitter chats.

Q8: Which brands do an amazing job with their Twitter content? Tag them and let them know!

There are tons of brands who are rocking it online and implementing these very Twitter strategies every day. There’s so much to learn from them, so check out these brands and see what they’re doing well:

Applebee’s continues to impress people with their Twitter presence. One of the great thing about them is that they’re always quick to respond to replies they receive.

Julia’s favorites are definitely worth checking out!

For Lex, she loves to see what Wendy’s and Taco Bell are posting.

Another Wendy’s fan!

Are you following any of Kristin’s favorites?

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

#ContentWritingChat, editorial calendar

#ContentWritingChat Recap: The Benefits of an Editorial Calendar for Your Content & How to Create One with Nathan Ellering

Editorial calendars are an essential part of any content creator’s life. They keep you organized and allow you to strategically plan your content (whether that’s blog posts, videos, social media content, etc.) for maximum results.

In this week’s #ContentWritingChat, we talked all about the benefits of having an editorial calendar, plus a few tips on how to create one of your own. If you missed the chat, there’s no need to worry because we have a recap that’s filled with amazing tips. Let’s dive in!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: The Benefits of an Editorial Calendar for Your Content & How to Create One with Nathan Ellering

Our guest host this week was Nathan Ellering. Nathan is a strategist, a content marketer, and a blogger. He’s also part of the CoSchedule team, making him a great fit for this week’s chat on editorial calendars. CoSchedule is a go-to app for planning your marketing, blog, and social media content, so we were thrilled to have Nathan with us to share his best tips!

Q1: What is an editorial calendar and why are they beneficial for content creators?

To kick things off, we asked our audience to describe what an editorial calendar is. We also wanted to hear why they felt having an editorial calendar was beneficial to their content creation. Here’s what some of the participants in Tuesday’s chat had to say:

As Nathan said, having an editorial calendar allows you to see all of your planned content in one place. It can help save you time and reduce stress when everything is planned out and displayed in a neat way.

An editorial calendar allows you to plan out your content marketing strategies. You can organize any written content, promotional material that’s going out, etc.

Cristy knows it’s important to create content that helps you reach your overall goals. Having an editorial calendar is very helpful for this because you can take the time to be strategic about the content you’re creating.

You should also use your editorial calendar to map out the campaigns you’re running, as well as any other content you’re creating. As Michelle said, it needs to be accessible by everyone. If you have others on your team who are involved in content, they need access to your calendar.

And when you’ve planned in advance, it eliminates that stress of having to come up with ideas at the last-minute.

Q2: What kinds of content should someone plan using an editorial calendar?

So, now that you know what an editorial calendar is and how it can benefit you, what should you plan? Check out this advice from the chat:

Nathan’s advice is to plan all of your marketing projects with your editorial calendar. He recommends planning out your social media content, blog posts, email newsletters, and more. There’s no reason not to plan all the content you’re creating in order to stay organized.

Savannah encourages you to plan everything with your editorial calendar! We happen to agree with her. It’s the best way to stay on track with all of your content creation.

Mallie knows that it’s essential to use your editorial calendar as an opportunity to create content around events and holidays. These are key times for content creation and you’ll need to plan in advance if you want to share something great.

As Lex mentioned, don’t forget to be flexible when planning. If something comes up at the last minute and you want to create a piece of content around it, that’s fine. Be willing to adapt when it comes to the latest news, feedback from your audience, etc.

Q3: How far in advance would you recommend someone plan their content with an editorial calendar?

Is it possible to plan content too far in advance? Is there a sweet spot for planning? Based on the answers we received, it seems like everyone has their own preference! Check out these responses:

Nathan has a very effective plan in place for his editorial calendar. He recommends planning high-level stuff six months out, plotting ideas three months out, and then aiming to have all of your content completed for one month out. It may sound like a lot, but it’s a great way to organize your entire content creation process.

Sarah from ThinkSEM recommends considering your unique business goals. She also doesn’t advise planning more than six months out and also being flexible for things that come up over time.

Lexie from Netvantage Marketing agrees that having wiggle room is key!

For Kristi, she suggests planning your content quarterly. Another great tip she offered was to review and see what’s working every time you plan. You can make adjustments accordingly so you know what to create more of and what to create less of.

Like Michelle said, some content can actually be planned further out. Things like yearly conferences and content around holidays can be planned much earlier, while you may feel more comfortable planning blog posts closer to their actual publication date.

Cristy suggests considering the type of content you’re creating. When you think about the fact that long-form content and videos may require more planning and creation time, you need to give yourself ample time to bring them to life.

Q4: How is your editorial calendar organized? Tell us your secrets!

We asked our chat participants to spill all their secrets behind their own editorial calendars. Here’s what they had to say:

Nathan said the team’s content is fully completed at a minimum of two weeks out, which is very helpful. (There’s no need to stress about getting things done at the last minute!) Ideas are planned a minimum of three months out while strategy is planned about 12 months out.

They also like to color code everything, which makes it clear what everything is and keeps the calendar organized. Social media posts, blog posts, videos, podcasts, and more all are planned on the editorial calendar.

Cristy relies on Google Sheets to keep her content planning organized. She includes the category, the assigned writer, a deadline, and a publish date. She even has a separate document for storing ideas, which is great for keeping everything all in one place.

For Tony, it’s all about a combination of Trello and Google Drive to keep everything in order. He includes copy, images, and links and has content organized by dates.

Q5: What’s your advice for filling an editorial calendar with amazing content your audience will love?

When creating your editorial calendar, it’s important that you fill it with content ideas your audience is going to enjoy consuming. How do you figure out what they want? These tips are guaranteed to help you out:

Nathan recommends having a brainstorming session. Try his strategy for coming up with amazing ideas the next time you’re struggling.

If you really aren’t sure what your audience wants to see, don’t be afraid to ask them. Ask what they’re struggling with and figure out how to create content that solves those problems. They’ll love you for it.

Check your analytics! See what performed well in the past and consider creating more of the same kind of content since you know it has already worked for you.

You can also use the data in your analytics to take that content that has already performed well and repurpose it. Michelle said to repost or update the content you already have. It’s a great way to get new eyes on your content.

It’s important to know and understand what your audience wants. Deliver content that is educational, informative, inspirational, or entertaining.

No matter what, you need to keep this advice from Bill in mind. Don’t just try to fill your editorial calendar with content for the sake of publishing. Everything you create should serve a purpose by providing value to your audience and helping you achieve your end goals.

Q6: In what ways can an editorial calendar help you improve your content marketing strategy?

How exactly can an editorial calendar help you create a winning content marketing strategy? Here are some answers from Tuesday’s chat:

Nathan said editorial calendars force you to publish. Set a deadline for yourself and stick with it because it’s the best way to ensure you’re consistent with your content. Don’t stress about making things perfect. Create your content and unleash it on the world.

Mack said an editorial calendar helps you to make sure the content you create is aligned with your overall content strategy. Ask yourself if you’re hitting your goals. If not, it’s time to make a change.

An editorial calendar helps you focus on your strategies and goals so you can achieve major things with the content you create.

When using an editorial calendar for your blog, it ensures your website is staying updated with new content. (That is, if you’re actually sticking to those self-imposed deadlines!) This is key to staying in front of your customers.

Cristy knows that planning provides much better results than just winging it.

In the end, having an editorial calendar is a great way to hold yourself accountable.

Q7: Do you use any tools to create your editorial calendar? If so, which ones are your favorite?

Whether you’re a fan of pen and paper or a dedicated app, there are plenty of options for creating an effective editorial calendar. Check out what some of our chat participants rely on:

Being part of the CoSchedule team, it’s no surprise Nathan raved about it. It’s a great tool to keep you organized, whether you’re planning blog posts, marketing, or social media.

The Netvantage Marketing team keeps it simple with Google Drive. They’ve also used Basecamp when working with clients and like Sprout Social for social media scheduling.

Trello is a go-to for both Lex and Jessy.

Jeremy relies on a combination of a variety of tools to stay organized. He uses Google Docs, Evernote, and iCal.

Color coding in Google Calendar is a must!

Q8: What are your best strategies for using and maintaining an editorial calendar?

Before you rush off to create your first editorial calendar or to touch up your own, read these final tips from this week’s chat. They’re sure to help you create a calendar that’s effective and helps you to stay organized.

Nathan’s advice is to communicate as a team. If you have multiple people involved in content creation, keep them in the loop and discuss ideas together.

Cristy also knows it’s important to bring the team together. Have a weekly meeting to brainstorm and discuss ideas. Allow everyone on the team to have a voice.

When it comes to creating content, strive to be consistent. Not only does it help keep you on track, but your audience will appreciate it as well.

Cheval agrees that consistency is key!

Sara’s tip to batch your evergreen content is sure to increase your productivity when it comes to the creation process.

Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the time you have. Don’t spread yourself too thin or take on more than you can handle at one time.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

contentwritingchat-blogging-for-roi

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Blogging for ROI in 2017: Where to Blog, SEO, and Writing Strategies with Julia McCoy

Are you curious about blogging for ROI in 2017? That’s what we covered in our latest round of #ContentWritingChat! And if you missed out, you’re in luck because we’ve created a recap for you and it’s filled with awesome tips. Keep reading to check it out!

Blogging for ROI in 2017: Where to Blog, SEO, and Writing Strategies with Julia McCoy

For this week’s chat, our very own CEO stepped in to guest host. Julia McCoy shared her expertise on blogging for ROI in 2017 and offered some amazing tips for writing, SEO, and where you should be blogging this year. We covered some of the key topics to help you succeed as a blogger this year, so make sure you read through them and start implementing this advice for yourself!

Q1: For those that aren’t convinced, why is blogging still so important for brands?

The reality is, many brands still aren’t convinced that blogging is worth their time. They don’t realize the value that it can provide to their audience and their brand overall. So, let’s convince them why they should be blogging! Here are just some reasons blogging is important for brands:

Julia knows that blogging is a must for brands! She even shared some pretty impressive data that backs it up. The graph above shows Express Writers outranking major competitors solely from blogging. She also shared some stats that are sure to convince you of the importance of starting your own blog this year.

As Annaliese said, blogging is a lead generation opportunity. So many people will stumble upon your blog and want to do business with you because of the content you share. She also said blogging helps you build influence, which is key to drawing in your audience.

Jason knows that blogging is a powerful way to establish an authentic, authoritative voice. Your blog is your place to share your thoughts with your audience.

Blogging is an opportunity to show off your expertise to your industry, but also to your audience. It’s a great way to connect with your audience and to start building a relationship with them.

To put it simply, blogging is an opportunity to expand your audience, share quality information with readers, and can help you establish your voice as a brand.

Cheval’s advice is important to keep in mind. Social media is like rented property when you think about it. You don’t own the platform, nor can you count on it to always be around. If a social media platform shuts down, you’re going to lose your followers and everything you’ve worked so hard to build (unless you’ve successfully converted them to readers, subscribers, and customers). Your blog, however, is one place that you truly own and are in control of.

Q2: Where should you blog this year besides your own website? Discuss how to find the right platforms.

While blogging on your own website is great, blogging on other sites can provide major results. There are a lot of benefits to guest blogging, but it’s all about choosing the right places to post if you want to make it work for your brand. Keep these tips in mind:

Julia recommends creating a target persona for your audience so you know what they’re like. You can figure out their demographics and also what sites they’re reading on the web. That’s where you should be sharing your content! Check out the blog post she linked for more information on creating your own target persona.

The key to choosing the sites to guest blog on is figuring out where your audience spends their time online. You want to post on the sites that your target audiences reads so they’ll discover you and head over to your website.

Jason also knows the importance of finding the popular blogs in your wheelhouse and guest posting there. It’s the best way for you to reach your target audience and hopefully make them a fan of your brand.

Varun recommends posting on forums that are specific to your industry, guest blogging on authority websites, and also using platforms like Quora, Reddit, and LinkedIn.

Another great option is to create content for Medium. Trying posting there a few times and see if you notice any results. Blogging for ROI is going to take some trial and error and you have to figure out what works for your brand.

Q3: What are a few SEO strategies all bloggers need to know if they want to get their content noticed?

It’s no secret that if you want to get your content noticed, SEO is very important. And we can’t talk blogging for ROI without mentioning some SEO tactics, can we? Of course not! So, in order to make sure your content gets noticed and attracts viewers, these are the optimization basics you need to know:

Julia knows how important it is to be able to conduct keyword research. She also said you need to know how to use H2s, H3s, alt tags, and how to write a meta description. It may sound overwhelming for beginners, but it’s all easy to figure out.

Sarah from ThinkSEM said you need to know your audience and what is going to resonate with them. Before you start thinking about SEO tactics, this is the first thing you need to consider.

As Sara said, it’s important to have a keyword tool handy so you can research which focus keyword is ideal for your content.

Once you have the right keyword, you can plug that into your content. You’ll want to use your keyword in the title of your blog post, the URL, the meta description, and throughout the post itself. As Mallie said though, it’s important that you don’t go overboard. Keyword stuffing is a huge turn-off for your readers and Google doesn’t like it either. They should be incorporated in a way that feels natural.

Yoast is a great SEO plugin to use if your site is running on WordPress. It’s very simple to use and it makes optimization easy for beginners and those who are more experienced. We use it here at Express Writers and highly recommend it!

Jeff knows that Google Analytics is another great tool to use as part of your keyword strategy in order to optimize your content.

Q4: How can you figure out what content your audience most wants to see on your blog?

In order to attract people to your blog in the first place, you need to create the content they want to see. Once they know you’re a source of great information, they’re going to keep coming back for more. But how do you figure out what kind of content you need to create for your audience? Check out these tips:

Julia recommends figuring out what your audience’s biggest questions are and answering them. You can use tools like Answer the Public and others to figure out what they need help with.

Not sure what your audience wants? Ask them! It really is that simple. You can create a survey and share it for readers to leave their feedback and you’ll easily see what they’re interested in. You can also post on social media to get suggestions.

Jeff also agrees that asking your audience what they want is a pretty powerful strategy. Not only does it provide you with great feedback, but it gives your audience the chance to have their voice heard. They’ll appreciate that.

Besides flat out asking them, you can also conduct a little research of your own. Figure out what they’re talking about, what they’re liking and sharing. Listening is key to understand your audience. Check out their conversations on social media and pay attention to the comments they leave and the emails they send.

It’s also worthwhile to see what your competitors are doing. Check out businesses that are similar to yours and find out what’s been working for them and what’s not. You obviously don’t want to copy their strategy, but it can give you plenty of ideas for what you can create.

Sending out a yearly survey is a great way to question your audience about their interests. Getting into the habit of doing it every year ensures you’re always updated on what your audience is looking for. It’s also wise to check your analytics to see which posts are more popular since it gives you an idea of what to create more of.

Kristen also knows your analytics can be helpful when it comes to content creation. See which posts get the most traffic and which posts your readers spend the most time on to see what works best.

And as James said, it all goes back to understanding your audience.

Q5: How important is it to include a call to action in your blog posts? Describe an effective CTA.

A call to action essentially tells your reader what the next step is. What do you want them to do after reading your blog post? Do you want them to leave your site without engaging with you, possibly to never return again? Definitely not! That’s where a call to action comes in. Check out these tips for crafting an effective CTA:

Forgetting a CTA could cause you to lose out on leads. Not good! Check out our post on crafting a CTA for more in-depth tips.

Check out a few of our CTAs above!

If you’re blogging for ROI, then it’s essential that you prompt your readers to take action. A clear CTA will tell them exactly what to do and will encourage them to follow through.

As Jeff pointed out, you also can’t assume your readers are just going to take the action you want them to take. You need to make it clear and empower them to follow through.

Zala said you shouldn’t make your readers guest what they need to do next. Make it clear what you want them to do with a CTA.

Your content should serve a purpose and it’s important to let your audience know what’s next. Sarah recommends that all CTAs should be visible, understandable, and well-placed and in order to be effective.

Without a CTA, there isn’t much of a purpose to your post, is there? Make sure it’s well-written, compelling, and concise in order to inspire action.

Q6: What are the secrets to making blog customers convert into real customers and clients?

Once you have people visiting your blog, you want them to take that next step with your brand. You want them to ultimately become customers and clients. How do you make that happen? We’ve got some great advice for you:

Julia’s advice is to choose targeted reader topics and provide thorough answers. Don’t forget to also optimize your content and to add a CTA.

Annaliese said you need to create high-quality, targeted content that leads readers through your funnel. This is key to seeing them finally convert.

Value and CTAs are two keys to success when it comes to blogging for ROI.

Focus on solving the common problems your audience is facing. They’ll appreciate you for it and you’ll be able to establish yourself as an authority in the process.

Don’t forget to engage with your audience as well. This helps to build a trusting relationship with them, which is key to ultimately making a sale.

Great advice from Michael: helping sells. Commit to helping your audience and you’ll start seeing results.

Q7: Do you rely on any tools to create amazing content for your blog? Share your favorites!

With so many tools available to us today, there are plenty to choose from that can help in content creation. Here are some suggestions to check out:

Be sure to check out Julia’s three favorite tools!

Mallie is all about her editorial calendar and so are we. No matter how you create your calendar, what’s important is that you actually use it.

WordPress, Google Analytics, Twitter, and Yoast are all great tools to use! Don’t forget how important that creative brain of yours is and time.

Quora, Reddit, Canva, and Bitly are all helpful tools.

Hemingway and Moz are two popular tools for content creators. Do you use them?

Maria is a fan of Trello for keeping things organized.

These are great suggestions from Sabjan!

Taking pen to paper is always so satisfying! Sometimes it’s just a lot nicer to do things the old school way as opposed to typing or punching out laters on our phone’s keyboard.

Q8: Which blogs do you read on a consistent basis? Tag them and let them know!

To wrap up our chat on blogging for ROI, we wanted to know which blogs our audience loves to read. Here’s what some of them had to say:

Julia likes to read content from Content Marketing Institute, Steve Rayson’s BuzzSumo posts, and Neil Patel’s blog.

Much like Zachary, we’re big fans of Gary Vaynerchuk here at Express Writers.

Annaliese enjoys reading Hootsuite’s blog.

These are all great suggestions from Rebecca!

You’ll want to add these sites to your reading list!

Don’t get so caught up in consuming content that you forget to embrace the world around you. As Shannon said, you need to pay attention and you’ll surely find some ideas for your content.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

starting a podcast, building a successful podcast, the basics of podcasting

#ContentWritingChat Recap: The Basics of Starting & Building a Successful Podcast with Madalyn Sklar and Julia McCoy

Have you been thinking about starting a podcast, but are unsure of where to begin? Do you already have a podcast and are looking for tips to help you attract new listeners? If either of these sounds like you, this week’s #ContentWritingChat is perfect! If you missed it though, there’s no need to worry because we have a recap of our latest chat and it’s filled with amazing tips. Just keep reading to learn everything you need to know to become a podcasting superstar!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: The Basics of Starting & Building a Successful Podcast with Madalyn Sklar and Julia McCoy


Our guest hosts this week were Madalyn Sklar and our very own CEO, Julia McCoy. Both of these talented ladies have podcasts of their own and had a ton of valuable advice to share with our audience. You can check out Madalyn’s podcast, Twitter Smarter, which actually inspired her weekly Twitter chat of the same name. And Julia is the voice behind The Write Podcast, where she interviews some of the industry’s top influencers.

Now, let’s dive into the podcasting advice from this week’s chat! Get ready to take some notes if you’re a podcaster or aspiring to be one. These tips will set you up for success!

Q1: How can you determine if podcasts are a great content format for your audience?

Before you start investing your time and energy into creating a podcast, it’s a good idea to determine if it’s the right fit for your audience. After all, if they’re clearly not interested in podcasts, then it might not be the right avenue for you to explore. If they are interested, then it’s a good sign that you should dive right in! So, if you want to figure out if your audience is interested in podcasts, follow this advice:

Madalyn’s advice is to just ask your audience what they want. They’ll tell you if they’re interested in podcasts, but you have to actually ask them first. She suggests creating a Twitter poll, which is a great way to get answers. It won’t require a lot of effort on your part either and that’s always a plus.

Julia provided some interesting statistics that show podcasts are on the rise each and every year. This is a good sign that it just might be worth your time and you’ll want to join the fun before everyone has jumped on the bandwagon.

The Digital Natives team suggests seeing how your audience is already consuming content. Is it clear that they’re listening to podcasts from other creators? If so, it’s a good sign that they might also be interested in yours. One way you can experiment before diving in head first is to test out their response to some audio snippets. If they enjoy it, move forward with a full podcast!

And as they said, if you still aren’t sure if it’s the right move, you can always ask them what they think. Your audience will happily share their thoughts with you.

A survey is a great way to get the opinions of your audience. You can create one and send it to your email list or share it on social media to gather responses.

Ai also suggests asking your audience what they think about podcasts. You can then take it a step further by researching the podcasts in your field. Are there many of them already available? Do they have a large following? Learn as much as you can about them as it can help you build a podcast of your own.

As James said, you can always just give it a go and see what happens. After all, your audience may ultimately fall in love with what you have created and you won’t know it unless you try. If things don’t work out though, you shouldn’t let it get you down.

Q2: What tools are essential for starting a podcast?

To get started with podcasting, there are a few tools you’re going to need to have on hand. What are they? Our chat participants have the scoop, so make a note of what you need to buy!

Madalyn said all you need to get started is a microphone. She mentioned that you can go the cheaper route and use an app on your phone or you can choose to invest in more professional equipment.

For a full list of Madalyn’s recommended equipment, check out the link she shared to her blog. Her suggestions for a moderately priced microphone include the Blue Snowball and the Blue Yeti. For something more splurge-worthy, Madalyn loves the Heil-PR 40.

When it’s time to edit, Madalyn suggests GarageBand or Audacity. You can also hire someone to edit for you if you don’t have the time or the skills to do it yourself.

Julia uses and loves microphones from Audio-Technica. She said they’re affordable, but still provide amazing quality. A wind pop filter is a must as well and you can find them cheap on Amazon.

When creating a podcast, sound quality is key. You need to make sure you have a great microphone to record on, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. There are plenty of quality microphones on the market that are affordable.

Jason’s suggestions are a microphone, headphones, and something to record and editor your podcast.

Kristin recommends using Libsyn for hosting your podcast. She said it’s easy to use, which makes it perfect for beginners.

As Sarah said, you’re also going to need some great content that’s beneficial to your audience, time to do the podcast correctly, and a good microphone. All important elements to your podcast!

A great topic, a great microphone, and confident are all must-haves!

Don’t forget that you’ll also need a quiet room for recording and you’ll need a good attitude to along with it!

Q3: Discuss the qualities of an amazing podcast. What keeps you tuning in to each episode?

When starting and building a podcast of your own, you want to make sure it’s amazing. If it’s not, your audience isn’t going to stick around. To keep them coming back episode after episode, follow these tips straight from Tuesday’s chat:

Madalyn said an amazing podcast should be informative, helpful, compelling, and entertaining. If you can create a podcast that delivers those qualities, you just might have a success on your hands.

She also said that podcasts give you the ability to build an intimate relationship with your audience. That’s key to growing your brand overall.

Julia suggests investing in premium music for your podcast intro, teaser clips, and professional album art. All of those things make a great impact when it comes to the overall impression your podcast gives.

She also stressed the importance of creating great content. Fun, engaging, and unique stories, interviews, and episodes make all the difference. That’s what will ultimately attract listeners and keep them.

Jason knows that value is key when building a podcast. You want to make sure you’re providing something useful to your audience so they keep tuning in to new episodes.

After all, if you aren’t providing value to your audience, someone else will and they’ll ditch you for them. Lex’s advice is to provide unique insight and actionable takeaways to keep your audience tuned in. When building a successful podcast, you need to add value.

For Jennifer, an amazing podcast is all about excellent sound quality, interesting content, and an awesome community.

Good storytelling is one surefire way to suck your audience in and keep them coming back for more.

Q4: Podcasters: How can you approach influencers to be on your podcast for an interview? Listeners: What makes a great podcast interview?

If you want to have interview on your podcast, you’ll obviously need to reach out to some influencers in your field and invite them to join you. How do you do it? We’ve got the tips you need to know! We also asked those who don’t have a podcast what makes a great interview. Find out what they had to say:

Madalyn’s advice is to reach out to influencers via Twitter. It’s a simple, but effective, way to contact people and invite them to be on your podcast. She also said you shouldn’t be afraid to ask because you never know what kind of response you’ll get. You might be surprised who says yes!

As a listener, Madalyn said a great interview should be engaging and should hold the attention of your audience.

When Julia was seeking guests for her podcast, she tweeted them or sent an email. It worked!

The Digital Natives team also agrees Twitter is a great way to reach out to people. Don’t forget to also use the network you’ve already built. Odds are, you’ve previously connected with some people who would make the perfect guests.

As a listener, Lex wants a guest who is good on the mic. She also said you need to give them the opportunity to speak. Don’t control the conversation or talk over them.

Don’t let the conversation feel like an interview. Let things flow so it feels more like two friends talking.

Q5: How can you promote a podcast once it has launched to hopefully make it “New and Noteworthy”?

Getting that coveted “New and Noteworthy” spot on iTunes is a huge deal for podcasters. If you want to reach that level when your podcast first launches, there are a few things you should do to ensure its success. Here’s what you need to know:

Madalyn said to launch your podcast with a few episodes ready to go. As she mentioned, if you launch with three episodes, you could triple your number of downloads. Plus, having multiple episodes ready is great for getting people sucked in. It provides plenty of content for them to listen to.

Once you’ve gotten them to your podcast page and they’ve started listening, encourage them to subscribe, rate, and review your podcast. Be sure to also tell them to share it with their friends. These are all key steps in building a successful podcast.

Julia knows you have to hustle when it comes to promoting your podcast. She recommends getting your friends and fans to review your podcast early on if you want to reach that New and Noteworthy section. She saw her podcast get featured within 48 hours of its launch after she had received 25-30 reviews.

It helps to build anticipation before your podcast launches. Tell your audience that it’s coming and get them excited by doing a countdown on social media. It’s a simple way to keep your podcast top of mind and they’ll be looking forward to its arrival.

Jason’s advice is to spread the word about your podcast via social media and paid advertising. He also suggests asking your guests to share it with their networks.

Zala’s advice is to prepare a few episodes in advance. When you can launch with multiple episodes, you provide plenty of great content for your audience to listen to. She also said to start promotion early before you’ve even launched. This is a great way to get people excited about your podcast and looking forward to it. Make sure you maximize the power of your community and word-of-mouth.

Start building a community around your podcast and people will love being part of it. They’ll be happy to help you share and spread the word.

Don’t forget to create some eye-catching graphics to promote your podcast on social media and your email newsletter.

Q6: How can podcasts work as part of your overall content strategy along with blog posts, videos, etc.?

Podcasts, blog posts, and videos can seem like a lot. If you’re building a podcast, then you need to know how it fits into your overall content strategy. Here’s how you can make it fit:

As Madalyn said, you could take blog posts you’ve already written and expand on it to create a podcast episode.

Michelle agrees that this is a great way to go. Plus, if you know the blog post was a hit, there’s a good chance the podcast episode will be too.

As Julia said, repurposing blog posts is great when building a successful podcast. You can also cross-promote it on various platforms.

Sarah suggests repurposing your podcast content into other formats. You can turn it into a blog post, a Slideshare, or another format that appeals to your audience. Alternatively, you could take content from your blog and create a full podcast episode.

Jason says to turn your published podcasts into blog posts, infographics, and more! This is perfect considering not everyone is interested in podcasts and you’ll still be able to reach them this way.

Q7: In what ways can you repurpose your podcast episodes to consistently get new listeners? Should you create a transcript for each episode?

To really get the most out of your podcast, it’s a good idea to repurpose the episodes you create in order to break in new listeners. Many podcasters choose to include a transcript as well, but is it necessary? Here’s what you need to know:

Madalyn likes to tweet quotes from her podcast episodes and include an image so it stands out. It’s worked out well for her, so it’s worth a shot for your own episodes. She also mentioned that transcripts are great for SEO and for those who are hearing-impaired.

Julia’s advice is to promote your podcast any way that you can. Add it to your email signature, your author bios, and more.

While recording your podcast, have a camera on you to capture the whole thing. You can then upload it as a YouTube video, giving people a visual version of your podcast.

Jennifer suggests pulling quotes from the podcast and using them as graphics on Instagram. This is a great way to divert Instagram followers to your podcast.

Share relevant clips and consider creating a highlight reel of the best moments.

For The Write Podcast, Julia started doing transcripts, but has since stopped. She prefers to stick to show notes.

Leah mentioned that she’d love to see transcripts for podcast episodes. Since she doesn’t often get the opportunity to listen to them, she’d love to be able to read instead.

Kristin likes show notes for SEO purposes, so they’re worth adding for your episodes.

Jason is all for podcast transcripts!

Q8: Which podcasts are your favorite?

Finally, we asked our chat participants what their favorite podcasts are and they chimed in! Check out these podcasts and start downloading their latest episodes:

These podcasts that Madalyn suggested are definitely worth listening to!

Julia loves to tune into these podcasts.

Being Boss is a great one for creative, female entrepreneurs.

Have you checked out any of Jason’s top three podcasts?

Love analytics? You may want to check this one out, too.

Have you listened to the podcast from John Lee Dumas?

Kristen has two go-to podcasts that she’s been listening to for a long time.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

#ContentWritingChat, creating content that builds community, creating content that generates leads, how to create content

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Create Content That Builds Community & Generates Leads with Kathleen Burns

Did you catch #ContentWritingChat this week? If not, there’s no need to worry! We have a recap of our latest chat and it’s filled with amazing tips to help you take your content to the next level. If you’re ready to learn how to create content that builds community and generates leads, keep reading!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Create Content That Builds Community & Generates Leads with Kathleen Burns


For this week’s chat, we were joined by Kathleen Burns. Kathleen is the Community Manager the United States Blog Editor for our friends over at SEMrush. She joined us to share her tips on creating content that not only builds community for your brand, but also helps you generate leads.

Q1: How can you create content that appeals to your audience? What steps do you need to take?

One key element in creating successful content for your brand is appealing directly to the people you’re trying to reach. Without creating the content that speaks directly to them, you’re going to wind up attracting all the wrong people or worse… No one at all! Here’s what you need to know about creating content your audience will love:

As Kathleen said, the first step in creating content that appeals to your audience is talking to them and listening to what they have to say. You can learn so much about the questions they have and the issues they’re facing by just asking them. Reviews, posts on online forums, and comments on your blog are also great sources of feedback from your audience. She recommends creating a reader persona so you know exactly who you’re writing for.

It always helps to address your audience’s key pain points. Not only will they appreciate it, but it’s the best way to provide tremendous value to them. They’ll want to keep coming back for more and more after that.

Julia agrees! Listening is key to getting to know your audience and understanding their needs. Treat it like a real life relationship and start making those connections through conversations and listening to what others have to say.

James said step one is always to know your audience. Without truly knowing who you’re trying to reach with your content, you aren’t able to create the content that will speak to them. Get to know and understand your audience before you move forward with creating blog posts and social media content.

Kristi agrees that knowing your audience is the first step to content creation. She suggests determining what they’re talking about, but also what they have liked of your content so far. For example, see what your most popular blog posts are because it’s likely a good indicator that your audience would love to see more content that’s similar.

Bill’s advice is to learn the preferences of your audience as well as their pain points. When you know they’re preferences, you can determine what content formats they like the most and which topics are their favorites. Understanding their pain points gives you the opportunity to solve their biggest struggles.

Cassandra’s advice is spot on. If you want to get to know your audience, it helps to get out and actually talk to them. Strike up a conversation in your blog’s comments, on social media, or within your email newsletter. The options are endless. Figure out what they need and what they’re struggling with and then deliver exactly what they need.

As Jacob said, you want to understand the problems, desires, and wants of your audience. Once you have that figured out, you can create the content they need the most.

Q2: Why is it important to set goals for your content? Discuss goals to set for community building and lead generation.

The content you create should always serve a purpose, whether it’s a blog post, a video, a podcast, or something else. In order to determine if you achieved what you set out to do, you need to set goals that you can actually measure and track. Here’s what some of the participants in Tuesday’s chat said about setting content goals:

Kathleen said content goals provide direction and depth for content development. Here advice is to make your goals something measurable and define what a successful piece of content means for you. That could be different for everyone and could vary depending on the content. One blog most might be designed to drive email sign-ups, while another could be promoting a product or building brand awareness. It all depends what you’re trying to achieve.

Right on! If you don’t set goals, you have no way to measure your success. If you can’t measure your success, you won’t have any idea how to make improvements the next time around. And the reality is, no matter how great we think we are, there’s always room for improvement. You just need to know what to improve upon and you can only do that by measuring your previous results.

As Zala said, you don’t want to just push content out. Your content needs to serve a purpose so you should always have a measurable call to action (CTA).

As Sarah said, if you aren’t getting results then it’s just a waste of time and money. You want to make sure you’re achieving what you set out to do after putting so much time and effort into creating your content. Setting goals and measuring the results is what will help make this all worthwhile.

She also mentioned that some great goals for community building include engagement factors. Is your audience liking and sharing your content? Are they leaving comments? Is your community growing? These are all great things to track.

Q3: What kind of content helps to build an engaged community around your brand?

Building a community is something pretty much every brand is after these days. You want to have a loyal audience who likes your content and trusts you. You want your audience to take that next step and engage with you. These tips will help you create that for your own brand:

Kathleen recommends addressing the needs of your audience with the content you create. You can share tips that will help them in some way, which they’ll find beneficial.

Jason said to post content that is relatable and shareable. Pictures and quotes are always a great way to go. When you share content that inspires them, they’re going to be more inclined to share it with their audience.

Jeff suggests sharing things like user-generated content, infographics, videos, and interviews. Content that is going to encourage a conversation between you and your audience is key here. You can always experiment to see what works best for your brand because it’s going to be different for everyone.

Lex also agrees that user-generated content is powerful. Encourage your audience to actually be a part of your community by inviting them to post content that is relevant to your brand. One of the best ways to do this is through a branded hashtag on Instagram.

If you want to build an engaged community, you need to provide value through the content you create. Debi’s advice is to create content that helps your audience by answering their questions. Everything you share should be relevant to grab their attention.

Make sure you give them a reason to interact with you. As Kristi said, you can create a poll or ask questions to get feedback and to get a conversation flowing. It really is that simple! You just have to be willing to take that step to encourage engagement.

As Julia mentioned, live conversation is perfect for this. You can do that through your very own Twitter chat, live video, and more.

Q4: How will you know if your content has been well-received by your audience? What metrics are important to track?

When you’re creating content, one thing that’s important is making sure your audience actually liked it. But how can you tell if they enjoyed your content and received value from it? These tips will help you determine the success of your content, plus you’ll know exactly which metrics to track:

Kathleen said to ask yourself which metrics apply to your overall goals. Depending on your goals, you may want to track mentions, replies, social media shares, and downloads.

As Liliana said, it’s clear that your content was well-received when your audience takes some sort of action. Click-throughs, comments, and downloads are all metrics that are worth tracking.

Brandie pointed out that some common metrics include clicks, shares, and sales. It’s also worthwhile to monitor what your audience is saying. Are they talking about your content and if so, what are they saying about it? If your content got them talking in a good way, then that’s always a positive sign.

Keep in mind that everyone has different goals for their content and sometimes your goal can vary depending on the piece of content. Some common metrics are shares, conversions, and sales. When you see people converting on your content or making a purchase, that’s always a great sign that they received some amount of value. There’s nothing better than when your audience takes that next step with your brand.

Q5: What are key steps to take in order to generate leads from blog posts and social media?

One of the top goals people set for their content is lead generation, however many people just don’t know how to make it happen. So, here’s what you need to know to see results:

Don’t forget that call to action! If you want your audience to take that next step, you have to be clear about what that next step is. Hold their hand and lead them exactly where you want them to go. Don’t count on them to figure it out on their own.

Jason also knows the importance of an effective CTA. Make it clear what you want your audience to do next so they aren’t left wondering. You have to capture their attention before they click off your page for good.

Developing a connection with your audience is key in establishing trust. The reality is, people aren’t likely to buy your product or service after discovering you for the first time. You have to work to build a relationship with them and build trust before you can expect to generate leads consistently.

Engaging with your audience is a key part of generating leads. People are going to be more inclined to purchase from a brand that they have engaged and connected with. Chat with your audience and start building that KLT (Know, Like, Trust) Factor with them and you’re sure to see results.

Jeremy also agrees that engagement is important when it comes to generating leads. Make sure you’re having conversations with your audience, listening to what they have to say, and genuinely showing that you care about them and their needs. If they don’t take action right away, you can always follow up with them.

These are all essential steps that Lex suggested. She recommends listening to your audience and helping them in any way that you can, which then builds trust. You should also create CTAs and set goals for your content.

Q6: How does brand storytelling play a factor in community building and lead generation?

You likely hear people talking about the importance of “brand storytelling” all the time these days. You may even be wondering how it impacts community building and lead generation and how you can use your brand’s story to your advantage. Here’s what you need to know:

As Kathleen said, storytelling can bring a community together. That’s pretty powerful for anyone who is trying to grow their brand and develop trust with their audience.

Overall, storytelling makes your brand feel more human. It gives your brand personality, a meaning, and passion. Your brand’s story is ultimately what will draw people in and what will help them connect with you.

As Brittany said, humans connect through stories and people buy from other people. A potential customer is going to be more likely to purchase from you when they feel connected in some way and when they’ve started trusting you.

Your story adds personal flair and character to your brand, which is what your audience will find relatable. It’s what will draw them in and make them love what you’re creating.

When your story resonates with your target audience (and it should), it helps you to develop a deeper connection with them. That’s only the beginning of the customer journey.

If your brand’s story isn’t worth following, why would anyone want to stick around? Your brand story needs to be compelling and should appeal to your target audience.

Q7: Which tools do you rely on to help you create amazing content?

While you’re totally fine to just rely on pen and paper, we have a plethora of amazing tools at our fingertips today. These are tools that help make the content creation process even easier, which is always a plus. Check out these tools for yourself:

This is a great list of tools from Kathleen. Have you tried any of them? If not, you definitely should!

A keyboard and a brain full of ideas is a great place to start when it comes to content creation. Plus, it never hurts to have a furry friend to bounce ideas off of.

Brittany always keeps a notebook or her phone on hand to jot down ideas as she gets them. It’s so important to have a place to store those ideas that pop up when you least expect it.

This is how we keep Express Writers functioning!

Cassandra relies on BuzzSumo, Moz, Rival IQ, and industry communities to aid in her content creation.

Ray’s go-to tools include Google Drive, Google Docs, and Evernote. He also uses WordPress and Hootsuite.

If you need help with keyword research or content ideas, these three tools should definitely be in your arsenal.

Sabjan turns to BuzzSumo, Neil Patel, and our own Julia McCoy when he needs help with content creation.

Q8: What brands have built an incredible community?

And finally, we wrapped up the chat by asking everyone to tag a brand they felt has built an incredible community through their content. Here’s what some of them had to say:

We’re big fans of Buffer here at Express Writers!

Lexie is making us blush with her answer. Thanks so much! Besides our team, she also recommends Procter & Gamble and Jimmy Johns.

Lori is a fan of our friend, Sue B. Zimmerman!

The Tentacle team thinks Taco Bell has done a great job at building a strong community.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

cta taxes

#ContentWritingChat, content creation, content marketing

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Successful Content Creation and Marketing in 2017 with Don Purdum

Did you catch our latest #ContentWritingChat over on Twitter? If not, you missed one informative chat! We talked all about successful content creation to help you prepare for the year ahead. If you missed out or you need a refresher on all those amazing tips, this recap is for you!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Successful Content Creation and Marketing in 2017 with Don Purdum


For this week’s chat, our guest host was Don Purdum. Don is an award-winning blogger and a marketing consultant. He joined us to share his top content creation and marketing tips so you can put them to use for your brand this year.

Q1: Why is it vital to have a relevant message for your audience, especially in 2017?

It’s so important, now more than ever, to make sure you’re sharing a message that’s relevant to your audience. But do you know why? We’ve got the answer, courtesy of our chat participants!

Don said that relevance determines how your audience experiences you based on their problems, needs, wants, or desires. He also brought up a great point that your content shouldn’t be all about you. It needs to provide some sort of incentive to your audience to get them read, comment, share, and link to you.

As Jason said, without a relevant message, your audience won’t resonate with you. You have to develop a connection with them and understand their needs.

Jason pointed out that talking to everyone is essentially talking to no one. You aren’t going to attract your ideal audience if you aren’t directly speaking to them and addressing their needs.

A relevant message is going to help you stand out in an otherwise crowded online space. Jacob said you need to produce a relevant message if you want your content to be read.

As Savannah said, there’s a lot of noise online today. We have to be wise about what we choose to consume. When you provide a clear message to your audience, it will help them easily decide if your content is right for them and worth their time.

Our CEO, Julia, is spot on with her answer. Relevant content = winning content! You want to create the content your audience will love.

Q2: Define giving value in content marketing. How do I know if my audience receives it?

We know it’s important to give our audience tremendous value in the content we create, but what does that actually mean? And how can you tell if your audience has received value? Here’s what you need to know:

For Don, he feels that providing value is when you can solve a problem your audience is facing or meeting one of their needs. He also said that you can tell your audience has received value when you notice things like social media shares, links to your content, and comments.

Christoph said that you provide value to your audience when you give them content that is useful in some way.

Julia knows that when you research, write, and create the best answer to your audience’s questions, you provide tremendous value.

Sarah from ThinkSEM said you can provide value to your audience by knowing what they need and want and delivering on it. When you see them taking action, that’s when you know they’ve received the value you aimed to provide.

Zala brought up some great questions you can ask yourself to determine if you’re providing value. Are you speaking to the needs of your audience? Are they giving you their attention? Are they actually reading your content, leaving comments, buying what you’re offering, or coming back for more?

Engagement and conversions are two ways you can tell if your audience is receiving the value you provide.

Q3: In order to increase conversion rates, what should be a content creation focus for 2017?

Whether you’re trying to get someone to buy a product, sign-up for your email list, or something else, those conversions are very important. So, how do you increase your conversion rates to get major results online? Check out these tips:

Don recommends following Google’s EAT principle. E = Expertise, A = Authority, T = Trustworthiness.

You should have a purpose to every piece of content you create. You need to have a goal that you’re working toward so you can measure the results you receive. It’ll let you know if your content is working or not.

Great advice from Bill! He said to focus on content that fills a need for your audience and provide clear calls to action throughout the customer funnel.

Once you know what you want to achieve with the content you create, you need to tell people want to do next. Don’t just hope they’ll figure it out on their own. Provide a call to action so they know what the next step is with you.

Jason also knows the importance of a call to action, but he also said you need to connect with your audience. If you lack that connection, they aren’t likely to take the next step.

Julia said you should spend time researching hot topics that your audience would be interested in. She loves tools like Answer the Public and BuzzSumo for this.

Caleb brings up a great point about knowing how your audience likes to receive content. Do they prefer audio, video, or written blog posts? Figure out what they want and create it because you’ll be more likely to see conversions taking place with the right content.

Q4: What are steps you can take to ensure a lower bounce rate on your website?

If you want to lower your bounce rate and get people staying on your website for a long time, here’s what you need to know:

When you actually deliver on the value you promised to people, they’ll want to stay on your site to read more and more. One great way to get visitors to check out more content on your website is to interlink relevant blog posts.

You also want to make sure you’re creating content that is targeting your ideal audience. If you aren’t, you’re going to wind up attracting all the wrong people and they aren’t going to stick around.

Brandie’s advice is to write content you’re passionate about, but also content that your audience wants to read.

It’s also a great idea that you don’t mislead people with a clickbait headline. They won’t be inclined to stick around if you do. Then, provide readers with quality writing and real value.

Good content will attract the right people to your site, but it’s ultimately great content that will keep them hanging around.

Q5: Describe the connection between a message, content, and SEO.

What is the connection between a message, content, and SEO? How do they work together? Let’s find out:

Don said you need to keep your content within your area of expertise, as opposed to straying from your core message. This helps to create relevance. You can also use your content as a way to position yourself as an authority.

Great answer from Caleb! Your message is what you want to say, your content is how you say it, and SEO is how it gets found organically.

As Julia said, your message comes first. Quality and high standards of the copy you create come second, then it wraps up with SEO.

SEO gets readers to your site, which is where you share content that delivers the message your audience needs to hear.

In the end, what matters is that all of these three things are stronger when you use them together.

Q6: How do you bring your message to the forefront of your target audience and make them aware of it?

Once you’ve created an amazing piece of content, you need to make your audience aware of it. Here’s how:

Don recommends building relationships with relevant influencers. You can comment on their blogs and share their content on social media as a way to get them to take notice. When an influencer shares your content, it’s a great way to make new people aware of your work.

Jacob said to figure out where your audience is already spending time online. Go there and start engaging with them. It’s a great way to build a relationship with them.

As Debi said, you need to start by optimizing your content. This ensures people are going to find it organically. Then, spread the word yourself by sharing content on al relevant online channels that your audience is using.

Jess is all about the target social campaigns. This is a great way to reach those who already read your site, plus many of other new people.

Shanelle offered a piece of helpful advice as she reminds us to be persistent. You can’t expect to receive results overnight, so keep trying to get your content out there.

Q7: What kinds of content work best to earn links and shares for your brand?

What kinds of content are going to get you the most links and shares? Check out what our chat participants had to say about this one:

For Don’ts brand, long-form content reigns supreme. His audience loves the 6,000+ word content they create, as well as infographics and resource guides.

It looks like we have another fan of infographics! Here at Express Writers, we also love them.

For Savannah, it’s all about educational, out-of-the-box posts. She also knows that great graphics and collaborations are powerful as well.

Readers love a good list post!

A picture is worth a thousand words, which is why images, videos, and GIFs are so powerful when it comes to gaining more links and shares.

You can’t go wrong with amazing, evergreen content!

Lex knows that long-form content that provides value is key to getting that SEO juice.

Q8: Share a few tools you use to create compelling content and relevant messaging.

The good news is, there are always tools to help you create amazing content for your brand. Check out some of these tool suggestions and try using them for yourself:

SEMrush is one powerful tool to have in your arsenal.

These are definitely some favorite tools for the Express Writers team!

Hashtagify, Feedly, and HubSpot are all must-haves for Ellie.

Tony is a fan of Canva for creating graphics. The best part is that you don’t need to be a design expert to create something that looks nice.

These tools that Cassandra suggested are all great. Have you tried them?

Smart answer from Michelle! She knows the importance of social listening, as it’s a great way to figure out what your audience wants and needs.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

social media content

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Create Brand Social Media Content that Stands Out in 2017 with Jessie Simms

Did you catch #ContentWritingChat this past Tuesday? We talked all about how to creating social media content in 2017 and the chat was filled with amazing tips that will turn you into a social media sensation. Check it out in our recap and start putting these tips to use for yourself!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Create Brand Social Media Content that Stands Out in 2017 with Jessie Simms


This week, our guest host was Jessie Simms. Jessie is a Social Media Specialist at Page 1 Solutions and assists with their bi-weekly Twitter chat, #Page1Chat. She joined us to share her knowledge on creating social media content for brands so that you can stand out on the platforms you use this year.

Q1: Which social media platforms are important to be on in 2017?

With so many social media platforms available to us today, it can be hard to choose which ones you should invest your time in. To help you out, check out these suggestions for which platforms you should be using this year:

As Jessie said, you need to be where your audience is That’s always the number one priority when deciding which social media platforms are worth your time. She said that if Snapchat and live video make sense for your brand, they’re worth trying out. So, figure out if your audience is using Snapchat or if they’re tuning into live video broadcasts. If they are, give it a go!

Sarah from ThinkSEM agrees with Jessie’s advice. Figure out where your audience is and where you are getting the best results with your content. That will give you an idea of which platforms work the best for you and your brand.

This is great advice from Bill. Find out where your audience spends their time, but also consider which platforms make the most sense for your content and the goals you’re trying to achieve. It’s all about finding the platforms that for YOU and that might not be the same as what someone else is using.

Our CEO, Julia, said her top three platforms are Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Not only should you consider where your audience is spending their time, but it’s also a good idea to choose the platforms that you enjoy creating content for.

Instagram is a great platform to be on this year. If you already have a presence there, now is the time to step it up by using Instagram Stories and Instagram Live. These newer features are key ways to connect with your audience this year.

Kristi knows that video is going to be big in 2017, as it has been for the past few years. Video content provides a powerful way to connect and develop a relationship with your audience, so now is the time to use it. She recommends using Instagram and Snapchat, plus Facebook Live.

If you find that a platform just isn’t working for you, there’s no need to force it. Every social media platform won’t work for every brand. So, if you’re not getting the results you were hoping for, try switching up your strategy first. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to part ways. There’s no point in investing time and energy into a platform that just doesn’t click for you.

Q2: How can you figure out exactly what your audience wants to see on your social media profiles?

Once you’ve chosen the platforms you want to use for your brand, you need to begin creating content. However, that’s often easier said than done. To start off, you need to figure out what your audience is interested in seeing from you. Here are some tips to help you figure that out:

Jessie recommends seeing what your audience is already engaging with. You can do this by sharing content you think they’d like and seeing what their response is. Check your analytics to see which posts get the most clicks, replies, and shares.

“Listen” is the keyword in Erica’s tweet. It’s so important to take the time to actually listen to what your audience is saying if you hope to get to know them better. You’ll find out which content resonates with them and what they’d like to see more of.

Andy said to look to some of the leaders in your industry. Check out what they’re doing to see what’s working for them and what’s not. You don’t want to copy them, but you can get an idea of what resonates with their audience and try something similar for yourself. You can even look at the questions they’re asked most often and address them with your own content.

As Julia mentioned, you can even go on sites like Answer the Public or Quora to find out what your audience is asking. When you know what they need help with, you can deliver it to them.

If you really aren’t sure where to get started, you can always ask your audience what they’d like to see. Ask what their interests are and what they’re struggling with. You can then create the content that appeals to them. It really is as simple as that! It’s also a good idea to run tests to find out what works for you and what doesn’t.

Once you figure out what your audience is resonating with, start creating more of that kind of content. Be sure to track the results you’re getting, including the all important conversions. If your conversions aren’t happening, then something needs to be tweaked.

Q3: Do you suggest using an editorial calendar to plan out your social media content in advance?

If you’re a blogger, you likely use an editorial calendar to plan out your post topics so you can stay organized. So, have you tried using an editorial calendar for your social media content? Here’s what some of our chat participants had to say on Tuesday:

Jessie agrees that it’s good to plan content in advance, but she said it’s important to be flexible. You may need to make changes in order to accommodate trends or hot topics that pop up. She also said to make sure you’re not just automating posts and forgetting to engage with your audience. In order to build a relationship with them, you need to be present by talking to them.

Lexie from Netvantage Marketing and Jeremy both agree that flexibility is key when creating an editorial calendar for your social media content. You need to be open to tweaking your content.

Make sure you also incorporate timely posts into your social media sharing as well. These are posts that can’t be planned, but helps to keep things “real-time” and more personable.

A calendar helps you to see what’s coming up in the near future. Plus, when you already have ideas planned out, it’ll help to alleviate the stress of coming up with content at the last minute.

Q4: What tools do you love for managing social media?

Here at Express Writers, we don’t hide our love for Buffer when it comes to scheduling social media content. We wanted to find out which tools our Twitter chat friends liked using and here’s what some of them had to say:

Jessie is a fan of SproutSocial, which is a great platform for managing your social media presence.

Just like Erica, we have to spread that Buffer love! We use Buffer to schedule social media content for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

For Lex, her two go-to tools for social media are Hootsuite and Google spreadsheets.

Jill likes using Buffer and Hootsuite for her personal accounts, but her work uses Social Studio.

Buffer, Hootsuite, IFTTT, Crowdire, and TweetDeck are must-have tools for Varun. He also likes to use the native social media apps, many of which have their own analytics built-in. All of these tools will come in handy when scheduling social media content and tracking.

If you’re looking for tools to manage your Pinterest presence, BoardBooster and Tailwind are fantastic options, as Leah suggested.

The Digital Natives team recently started using Sendible for their social media management. We haven’t heard of this one before, but it sounds like it’s worth checking out!

Michelle relies on social listening tools such as Mention, Brand Watch, and Google Alerts to stay updated. These are definitely worth checking out if you want to see what your audience is saying.

Q5: Talk about the kinds of content that stand out in a busy feed.

Considering social media is so populated and we’re often following a lot of people, it can be hard to stand out in a busy feed. If you want to get your content noticed every time you post, keep these tips in mind:

Jessie knows how powerful a great image can be when it comes to grabbing the attention of your audience and getting them to take notice. She mentioned that GoPro does a great job with the visuals they share and Tasty is fantastic at making mouth-watering recipe videos.

When sharing photos or videos, make sure they complement your written content by being relevant and telling a story. It’s a great way to connect with your audience and to inspire them to take action.

Here at Express Writers, we ensure our graphics are amazing by having a professional design take care of it. It’s made a huge difference in our social media content and our blog content.

Consider adding a meme, a GIF, or a photo to your posts. When people are scrolling through their feed, it’ll be your visual that catches their eye and makes them stop.

Those visuals are a sure-fire way to grab attention!

Infographics are always a great option for social sharing, plus video continues to become even more popular.

Outside of including a great visual with your post, you should also use the right hashtags to get noticed by your target audience. Hashtags will increase your likelihood of getting discovered, so make sure you’re using them.

Sarah’s recipe for a fantastic social media post includes: a catching headline, a great images, relevancy, and solving a problem your audience is dealing with.

Q6: Describe the types of posts that work best on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

If you’re cross-posting the same content to multiple platforms, you’re doing it wrong! You need to adapt each post you share to the platform you’re sharing it on. Here are some tips on what works for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram:

When it comes to Instagram, it’s all about visuals. Share high-quality photos and have fun with Boomerang clips. For Facebook, give video a go and see how your audience responds to it. Keep it short and sweet on Twitter to get the best results with your social media content.

Due to the character limitations on Twitter, you don’t have a lot of room to work with. For that reason, Sarah knows you need to have a catchy title and an image that will grab the attention of your audience.

Even though Facebook may allow you to go well beyond Twitter’s character limit, that doesn’t mean you should. BuzzSumo recently released a study that said shorter Facebook posts perform the best.

On Twitter, share news and timely posts. Post amazing images on Instagram.

No matter what you share or where you’re sharing it, make sure that you have your target audience in mind. Create the content that is relevant to them and encourage them to take action.

Great answer from Jeremy! Your content should be simple, authentic, powerful, and helpful with an emotional hook. It should also tell a story and solve a problem for your audience.

Jacob offered up a helpful tip when it comes to creating social media visuals. He said to make sure you’re using the right size. Each platform recommends a specific image size and tools like Canva make it easy to design specifically for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more.

Q7: What steps can you take to make sure your content gets more traction and clicks?

When posting to social media, it’s all about making those conversions happen, right? In order to get results, you want to make sure your social media content is being seen and that people are actually clicking on your links. For some help, read through this advice from the chat:

You’re sure to see results when you follow Jessie’s advice! Make sure that you stay authentic and true to your brand with everything you post. Don’t forget to also engage with your audience instead of letting your profile because 100% automated. And, as always, be strategic about your content and track your results.

As Julia said, you need to analyze and track your social media content. This is the only way to figure out what’s actually working for you and what’s not. When you know what does work, you can create more of that content to keep seeing great results.

Ask your audience what they want to see from you if you aren’t sure. Then, create the kind of content they want and need. Make sure you’re following that up by evaluating how each piece of content did. Your analytics should be your best friend.

Track, analyze, and test! As Maria said, there are always ways to perform better with your content and your analytics will show you where to improve.

Jeff said to test, explore, and interact. That’s key to social media success!

Lauren’s advice is to stop posting just for the sake of posting. You should only be publishing content that is valuable to your audience. There’s no need to clog up someone’s social media feed with a bunch of fluff.

Cassandra said to share the content that is relevant to your audience and add keywords and hashtags. This will help to get more eyes on your content.

Don’t get too caught up in the numbers game. The amount of followers you have isn’t doing you any good if they aren’t the right people for your brand. Attract your target audience by sharing relevant content.

One other thing you can do? Join us for #ContentWritingChat and implement all of the helpful tips you learn. You’ll be a social media sensation in no time at all! Thanks, Elliot!

Q8: Will live video be important to your social media strategy in 2017? Should it? Discuss strategies to succeed when going live.

Live video continues to be the popular thing when it comes to social media, so more and more brand are taking action. Here’s what we found out from our chat participants regarding live video:

As Jessie said, live video is great because it gives the audience the inside look into a brand. It’s fun, authentic, and relatable, which really speaks to your audience and draws them in. However, she also said you need to have a purpose for going live. Create a loose plan for what you want to talk about so you can provide value to those that tune in.

If live video is something your audience is tuning into and it fits with your content marketing plan, it’s worth trying it out this year. If it doesn’t work out, don’t sweat it.

Because live video feels more personal and less formal, it’s what draws so many people to tune in. It’s sure to help in building that know, like, and trust factor with your audience.

Live video is something that Jeff has been experimenting with. Even if you don’t have it all figured out yet, such as where you’ll go live or what to talk about, that’s fine. It’s just important to recognize that it’s a growing trend and you should try it out at least once!

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!