Your online business content and the curse of knowledge

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Easy traps to fall into: both underestimating how much you know, and overestimating how much you think others already know. Tradespeople and subject-matter experts are the worst offenders – they easily forget what it’s like to be a newer entrant to their world; their comfort with their own expertise is so high they can sometimes come across as arrogant or patronising without meaning to be. The heavy use of jargon and industry-speak can further muddy their written and verbal communications. It’s the curse of (having too much) knowledge.

How tricky it can be to grasp the foundational ideas of any discipline before the stepping-stones of greater understanding can be built. Online marketers of all disciplines – search, social and content – all need to remind themselves of this. Too often there’s a gap between what an organisation wants the market to know about themselves, their products or services through what they publish online, against what people want and need to know as part of making an informed purchase. Don’t underestimate the level of consumer level research which is typically undertaken online prior to a purchase – and the higher the value of the purchase and/or the higher the perceived risk of making an incorrect purchase, the greater the need for non-sales related information.

Organisations commonly make the assumption that somehow it’s the job of generalist publishers to bring their potential customers up to speed with the basics of how their stuff works. But their potential customers are readily searching for straightforward answers to straightforward questions: help me through this process of understanding before I waste my money! Most commercial organisations still don’t see themselves in the ‘teaching’ game. They fail to see the benefit of educating their market.

The internet has changed the way knowledge is distributed and found – holding tightly onto industry expertise is no longer a source of competitive advantage. It’s now a distinct disadvantage. By being a (relatively) scarce provider of the entry-level information within your industry niche, and appreciating the value it delivers – no tricky strings attached – businesses are able to capture the attention of potential buyers at the very beginning of their purchase cycle, and boost their own credibility in the process. The art and science of this approach is to see the world from multiple buyer perspectives – different buyers will have different informational needs depending on where they are within the decision cycle and their own levels of expertise. But new buyers will always start with basic research. Why not be the one to give it to them?

Avoid the curse of knowledge – nothing about your industry niche is too basic to publish online. Try and remember what it was like when you started out all those years ago.

Image by oskiamo

 



Hashtags: Social Media’s Binding Agents

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#tags are useful things – they boost the findability of online content and facilitate the creation of virtual communities around events or activities.

Hashtags inserted within posts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram are live – click on one and it will reveal other public posts that share that same hashtag. Inserting aligned hashtags in your own posts will help others discover your content as people search on themed hashtags.

Hashtags enable people who are participating in a shared experience to discover each other and each other’s related social content. Conferences, festivals, television programs, cultural and sporting events are commonly assigned one or more hashtags. This can happen organically or by design by the organisers – either way, they act as a social binding agent for the occasion.

Hashtags are also commonly used in online competitions, enabling organisers to find the social content entrants have tagged as part of an entry requirement, or to judge content they have generated.

And finally, hashtags can be used as a form of expression – not to make a post more findable. Someone for example might tweet in anticipation of an upcoming concert using the hashtag #cantwait.

Hashtags commonly fall into 1 of 5 categories:

General theme  – what people would generally and logically use to theme their content, e.g  #socialmedia #icecream, #trains, #quotes, #autism, #foodporn

 Place – associated to physical places, e.g. #melbourne, #smithst #melbmuseum #parismetro

 Event or activity – associated with live events such as conferences festivals, sporting fixtures, television programs, tweet-ups, etc. Organisers of these events and activities will often proactively promote the hashtag they want their audiences to adopt (even if this doesn’t happen, the audience will often make one up and adopt it quickly).  Some tags persist across multiple instances of an activity such as a TV show, or they might be one-offs – see below.

Disposable, one-offs – used just once such as at a conference, e.g. #dentalconf13

Brand – promoted by organisations, groups or teams to help people find all related branded content, as well as to encourage others to adopt the tag when referencing the organisation, e.g. #net101 #melbvixons #pwc

Here are some of the do’s and don’ts of using hashtags:

  •  They are not case sensitive. If a hashtag incorporates more than one word, some people like to use upper and lower case characters to make the words stand out, e.g. #SydneyRoads
  •  You can’t have spaces or include punctuation (except for an underscore) – each tag must be all one word such as #ausvotes – NOT ‘#aus votes’ or ‘#aus-votes’ or ‘#ausvotes!’
  • You can use as many hashtags as you like in a post but more than 4 starts to look crowded or spammy – the exception is Instagram where up to 20 hashtags associated with a post is common.
  • Before announcing a hashtag to an audience make sure it’s not already in popular use by group of people somewhere else in the world.
  • No-one owns a hashtag – they’re public fare. You can try and keep a hashtag a secret, but there’s no stopping outsiders using your hashtag once it becomes known.

If you want to search a specific hashtag across multiple social platforms, try TagboardScreen Shot 2013-09-21 at 3.35.05 PM

 Image by “CAVE CANEM”



Blogs & business: made for each other

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Blogs are the most versatile of online platforms when it comes to publishing business level content. Cultivating a blog can deliver immediate and long-term value which can be measured in a number of ways. Blogs are appropriate to most B2C, and probably all B2B organisations.

The business features of a blog are hard to go past:

  • Blogs have simple and self-contained content management systems (CMS) – only low level training is required to publish, edit or delete a post. 
  • Blog posts can incorporate all media types: text, images, video and audio.
  • A blog’s visual elements can be fully customised to reflect an organisation’s branding livery.
  • All blog posts are automatically indexed by Google, able to be served in standard search results for years to come.
  • Visitors can ask questions or leave comments on your posts that can be responded to by the blog owner.
  • Comments on posts are easily moderated whenever ready.
  • When integrated to your website as a sub-domain or sub-directory a blog serves as a magnet for qualified search traffic to your primary web property.
  • Past posts within a blog are quickly discoverable by visitors by browsing categories, tags, searching on keywords or viewing ‘related posts’.
  • Visitors can opt to subscribe for email notification of new posts, or to new comments on any post.
  • It’s easy to generate permanent URL’s (permalinks) to specific posts – great for sending to customers or clients for pre or after-sales service support.
  • Hyperlinks can be inserted within a post to cross-reference other blog posts or website pages.
  • Nobody but the blog owner can mine the content, its traffic or subscribers. The blog is fully controlled by the owner and not a third party.
  • No third party advertising.
  • Google Analytics can be hooked in to measure which topics are generating the most interest, and which posts are contributing to leads or sales.   
  • All posts are directly sharable to the major social media platforms by others.

 

Image by zigazou76


Online Content Publication and Market Alignment Steps

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Positioning your website content to take full advantage of organic search and the ‘long-tail’ is a smart business investment –  the continual addition of quality content over time is the recommended approach. Here are the 3 steps:

1. Realignment
Enhance existing web pages with fuller product or service level detail, e.g. specs, geographies. Align page headings, meta titles & descriptions. Insert aligned ‘alt text’ to all images

2. Micro-Segmentation
Identify exiting web pages containing more than one key market concept and break each into a separate page. Begin the process of publishing new pages that are targeted at specific micro-segments (use ‘buyer personas’)

3.Content Marketing
Inform and empower your marketplace by publishing layer upon layer of quality information via the website and/or a blog