Tag Archives: social media optimization

5 ways to make your content social media friendly

What exactly do we mean by “social media friendly” content? There was a time when people knew of Internet by email. Many people thought that if you were checking email, you were “Interneting”. Yes, they were familiar with the concept of websites, but it was mostly email. The same happens with social media these days. It is so prevalent that many people, people who haven’t used the Internet much before, think that it’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube that are Internet rather than millions of websites. This means that social media and social networking websites have grown into a totally separate entity and for the purpose of content marketing ignoring these websites is like ignoring the telephone or the email while trying to do business in the contemporary world.

Just as you need good search engine rankings to promote your content, you also need to optimize your content for social media and this is what you mean by making your content “social media friendly”. Your content is social media friendly when

  • People feel like sharing it on their timelines (Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn)
  • They don’t need to modify your headlines and descriptions in order to share your links
  • Sharing your content is just a matter of a couple of clicks

For a very long time I have been thinking of dabbling with infographics. I recently tried to work with a neighbourhood graphic designer but although she is good at using image manipulation tools like Photoshop and Illustrator, she was terribly lacking on the creative side. We were working on a project and I had to tell her practically everything. The only blessing was that whatever I told her she was able to accomplish it.

Anyway, this is the infographic that I have created titled 5 ways to make your content social media friendly. It isn’t much but it’s definitely a beginning.

5 ways to make your content social media friendly

The five ways are:

  1. Create compelling headlines: Your headlines are, as far as optimizing your content for social media goes, are the most important aspects of your content. Compelling in this context means they should invoke strong feelings, so strong that people should be driven to share your content on their timelines.
  2. Publish irresistible content: In my daughter’s social sciences book there is a headline that goes something like this, “one man’s garbage is another’s treasure”. It is about the garbage collectors who make money off the garbage we through away so thoughtlessly. So what is irresistible and what is not depends on individual need, but catering to your niche, create content that is highly useful and valuable. It should solve some purpose and this is why people will share your content. When sharing your content people must feel that they are doing a service to their friends and followers.
  3. Use social buttons: It’s easier to share content when you just have to click a button. I like the way you can share certain portions of blog posts and articles published on Medium. The relevant, share-worthy portions have a Twitter icon nearby. You just need to click the icon to broadcast that particular sentence.
  4. Use social optimization tags:
    These tags normally reside in the header area of your web page. In a typical web page there are already title, description and keywords tags. You can also have dedicated tags for Facebook and Twitter to instruct various social media and social networking channels to automatically pick up customised headings and descriptions rather than using the default ones. If you are using WordPress to manage your website or blog, you can easily get plug-ins to achieve this.
  5. Choose publishing time carefully: You will need some time to figure out during what time of the day your target audience is most active on social media and social networking websites. Publish your content when there is greatest chance of it being noticed and shared.

20 Evergreen Characteristics of Quality Content

Evergreen characteristics of quality content

Quality content with evergreen characteristics isn’t just a phrase to be thrown around in order to sell content writing services, it should carry some substance and a sense of reality. I personally believe that when a client pays me to write content for him or her, he or she assumes (or at least I assume that he or she assumes) that I’m going to give my best shot. What is this the best shot?

The definition may differ from person to person or content writer to content writer. For some, the only thing that matters is the search engine rankings. Some want to be famous on social media websites. Some hard-core salespeople want to write a tightly-knit sales copy. Quality content contains all of these characteristics. A business needs all these things to use content as a highly productive business tool.

Evergreen characteristics of quality content never go out of fashion

Why I call these characteristics evergreen is because they never change, because inherent qualities in people, in behavior, even the nature of sub-atomic entities, remain the same throughout the ages. There is a reason why philosophers like Aristotle, Socrates and Panini are still read and admired. Their teachings never go out of fashion. The same is true for the evergreen characteristics of quality content. These are the fundamentals. These fundamentals are not just applicable to writing content, they are applicable to every aspect of your life. These are like the gospel truths. The 20 of these evergreen characteristics of quality content are listed below.

1. Quality content is relevant to the target audience

Content written for a particular audience always performs better than content written for pretty much everybody. For example, if on my website I write about all sorts of writing including poetry, fiction, sci-fi, eroticism, horror, and whatever, it will become a portal of sorts. There will be no target audience. For a business it doesn’t work that way. Your content needs to be relevant to a specified audience and only then it can make an impact. Hence, although I talk about writing on this blog, I’m primarily talking about content writing and even here, I’m primarily addressing the concerns of people who may need content for their websites.

2. The writing must be professional

Now what does professional mean?

  • The language should be decent
  • There should be no spelling mistakes
  • There should be no grammatical mistakes
  • Industry-specific language must be used
  • A consistent style guide must be followed
  • The text must be arranged under appropriate headlines and sub-headlines
  • Shorter facts must be arranged in bullets

3. Focus on a single topic

One of the biggest evergreen characteristics of quality content is its level of focus. Are you writing about a single topic or are you trying to handle multiple topics in a single article or blog post? Try to keep your content as focused as possible.

4. It should be written in scannable format

Scannable format means your content should be readable without having to read the entire body text. Even if someone quickly goes through the headlines, sub-headlines and bulleted points, he or she should be able to get the gist of what you’re trying to say. This is not to discourage detailed writing, it just makes sense to make it convenient for those who don’t have enough time to go through the entire thing.

5. Highlight the benefits of the product or service being promoted

Yes, somewhere you have to mention characteristics and features of your product or service, but ultimately what matters is what benefits people are going to derive from your product or service. People are interested in knowing what they are going to get rather than how great your business offering is.

6. Encourage the desired action among your visitors

What should people do once they are on your website? Should they fill up your query form? Should they subscribe to your newsletter? Should they download your ebook or catalog? Should they buy one of the products listed in your online catalog? Whatever you want them to do on your website, you should write your content accordingly.

7. Include valid data and statistics

People always find numbers reassuring. How many people in the previous month have used your product or service? What are the worldwide trends? How are your competitors doing? Among all your customers last month, how many of them saw a marked improvement in the concerned aspect of their lives (in whichever manner your product or service is meant to affect them)? When you mention exact facts, people feel more reassured.

8. Whenever possible, write in the first person

You strike a personal chord when you write in the first person. This is an evergreen characteristic of quality writing writers have been following through ages (or at least since the art of storytelling developed). Personal accounts are always fascinating. “I had this problem and this is how I solved it” always sounds better than “Peter had this problem and this is how he solved it”. Also use “This is the problem that you have and this is how you’re going to solve it” rather than “This is the problem Peter has and this is how he is going to solve it.”

9. Quality content is available in preferred format

Although I’m a content writer and my sole focus is on writing, not everybody is crazy about the written word. Maybe your target audience prefers videos? Pinterest has proved that there is a great demand for images. Some prefer slideshows and some prefer animations. You should know which format of content your audience prefers and then create your content accordingly.

10. Quality content changes perceptions

When you convince people into believing in what you believe in, you are changing perceptions. People come to your website with a certain set of ideas. But when they access your content, when they read it, you change their way of thinking or at least you influence their way of thinking. This is what quality content must achieve. If it is not changing perceptions, people are not going to come to your website and buy your stuff.

11. Encourages people to engage with you and vice-versa

Engaging people in a constructive dialogue is the best way to make an imprint in their minds. People will remember you more if you engage them, if you ask them questions, if you provide them answers and even when you seek answers from them. The ability to engage people gives your content an evergreen characteristic of quality.

12. It’s okay to have a mix of original, curated and aggregated content

Evergreen characteristics of quality content don’t just involve original content. Don’t have enough time to write? You can always curate content. You can routinely aggregate high-quality content from other websites or blogs. But don’t simply copy/paste that content. Even if it is just one paragraph, add your own take on it. In fact there is no use regurgitating quality content that already exists on other websites and blogs.

13. Quality content involves a consistent publishing schedule

Although, frankly, this has less to do with writing and more to do with content marketing but still, the evergreen aspect of your content is more sustainable if you follow a consistent publishing schedule. If for the next five months you are going to publish a blog post every day, then do so. If you feel that on certain days you’re going to be busier compared to the other days, you can schedule publishing in advance, but make sure you publish every day. Similarly, if you want to publish every Wednesday, then make sure that your blog post or article appears on Wednesday. This is because after a while people begin to expect hearing from you, even unconsciously.

14. Write content around a persona

It is very important to know for whom you are writing. It gives you a clear idea of what problems to solve in the present piece of content. Once you know the persona of your reader, you will be able to decide whether

  • You want to use formal or informal language
  • You want to follow a personal or a professional approach
  • You should use industry-specific terms or not
  • You should focus on facts or rhetoric

For example, if you are writing content for a product that caters to teachers and academicians your writing must be flawless, appropriate and must adhere to the proper usage of words and expressions. On the other hand, if you are writing for a product that caters to youngsters you can use the hip-hop expressions used by them, worrying less about the accuracy of language.

15. Storytelling is one of the most prevalent evergreen characteristics of quality writing

Storytelling creates a context and then dramatizes that context so that you can visually imagine it and if possible, apply it to your own circumstances. A story lays bare the problems, tribulations and challenges faced by a person and then how either he or she solves those problems or the problems are solved by your product or service, or something similar. Through storytelling, instead of directly telling people to buy your product or service, you present them with a reason.

16. Keep your content constantly refreshed

Outdated, stale content fails to attract people. Just as it is important to constantly create new content, you also need to keep your existing content fresh. Quality writing also involves rewriting your existing content to bring it at par with contemporary trends and developments.

17. Quality content is search engine optimized

Although quality content is by default search engine optimized, in case the thought hasn’t crossed your mind, don’t ignore this aspect. When you are producing quality content why do you produce it? It is because you want people to benefit from it. How do people benefit from it? They benefit from it by accessing it. A search engine like Google is a great way to find good content. Make sure your content is searchable and written according to Google’s guidelines. It will make it easier for people to make use of your content and you will also get new customers and clients.

18. Quality content is social media optimized

Millions of content updates are shared on social media and social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and YouTube. Do social media users find your content attractive enough to share? Is it possible to share your content on social media and social and networking websites easily? Content that is optimized for social media websites should ideally be topical because people normally share content around a current topic.

Take care of the following in order to make your content social media optimized

  • Keep shorter page or blog post titles so that they can be easily shared on Twitter that allows just 140 characters.
  • When you are writing blog posts, articles and webpages associate a strong visual with it because an image or a photograph has a greater tendency of attracting people compared to just text, and besides, it creates a bigger box when the update appears on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Focus on different formats for different social media channels, for example, you can create attractive and interesting graphics for Pinterest, informative slides for Slideshare and captivating videos for YouTube. The more social media channels you target, the more choice you will give to the social media users to share your content. Just make sure you don’t dilute your effort and end up with no advantage over the particular social media channel.

19. Entertainment is an evergreen characteristic of quality content that never loses its value

People always love to be entertained. But what is entertainment? An avid reader may find reading Nabokov or Camus entertaining. Some find popular soap operas on television entertaining. Kids love to hear stories from their elders. Not only funny articles and essays are entertaining. Try to find out what would be entertaining to your audience and create your content accordingly. You don’t always have to entertain, but whenever you can, do that.

20. Show your love and consideration for causes

Your business doesn’t exist in isolation. It will always function within the circumstantial parameters of the world around you or even across the globe since we are all connected these days. When you associate your content with the cause whether it is about saving the environment or the polar bears or fighting for the education and health of the underprivileged, people will appreciate it. Get involved with the causes and then write about them. Or simply create content to raise awareness about your favorite causes.

Please keep in mind that what I have listed above are the “evergreen characteristics” of quality content, I haven’t written about creating evergreen quality content, that would be a totally different topic.

How to optimize your content for Facebook’s Paper newsfeed app

Facebook Paper

OK, you must be wondering Facebook has just launched its new newsfeed app called Paper, it hasn’t even been used by many people, not many reviews are available online, and I’m already talking about optimizing your content for it. In case you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about and what is this new newsfeed, head to this nice review on ReadWrite.com that says that this app is more about looks and less about the content it plans to broadcast.

Anyway, there is a great buzz all over the Internet and you may have already seen people fervently tweeting about the release. Sadly the app is only available for the iPhone users (well, it remains to be seen whether it is a good thing or a bad thing) and as iPhone users are prone to doing, they are blowing this thing out of proportion.

When you talk of optimizing your content what is the first thing that comes to your mind? What exactly is content optimization? To me it is

  • Creating as relevant and useful content as possible
  • Writing in a language that appeals to your target audience
  • Creating a captivating headline that draws people to the main article
  • Making your content shareable
  • Organizing your content – text – under appropriate headlines, sub headlines and bulleted points
  • Hyperlinking to further bits of useful and related information
  • Avoiding excessive use of images and videos (unless your content merely constitutes of such media)
  • Using the correct structured data markup

The last point is very important especially for the apps like Facebook’s Paper newsfeed app. Such apps use the structured data markup to identify the nature of your content and then adjust it in the feed accordingly.

The points mentioned above are the universal traits of content that is optimized for practically every medium whether you are writing for your blog/website or for social networking websites. The same goes for Facebook Paper. Use the right markup so that your content appears under the right section, create captivating headlines so that your content can grab people’s attention, write smaller sentences so that it’s easier to read them on smaller devices and as always, stick to the point.

Managing Your Social Network: Dos and Don’ts

This is a guest post from Carrie Oakley.

Do's and don'ts of socialSocial profiles are more the norm than the anomaly today; most people have more than one because they don’t want to miss out on anything happening in social media. However, not everyone who’s online knows how to maximize the use of their social profiles and minimize the damage that they can cause; they sign up and start doing what everyone else is doing without realizing that information that goes online stays online for eternity and renders your life an open book and your privacy a thing of the past. There are no written rules or laws to use social networks, except of course that you don’t abuse or spam other people (you risk getting your account blocked). However, in order to protect yourself and prevent strangers from gaining access to your information, here are a few dos and don’ts to manage your personal social networks.

Do’s

  • Protect your profile adequately; this means you need to separate your friends into groups – family, close friends, and just acquaintances. Allow each group different levels of access; for example, your close friends can see all of your profile; your family is allowed access to your photographs and personal contact information; your acquaintances can see only relevant updates and information; and those not on your list of friends cannot see anything beyond your name and sex. Facebook has many privacy settings that you can use to protect your data from being used against you, so utilize them effectively.
  • Keep monitoring updates from Facebook – there have been times when your privacy settings have reverted back to the “default” settings that Facebook deemed appropriate enough. Most options were opt-out instead of opt-in; so check your privacy settings every now and then to ensure that people can see only what you want them to see.
  • Delete friends who are abusive and intrusive – you don’t have to inform them, and they will not know until they explicitly try to write on your wall or see your profile.
  • Report as spam anyone who harasses you or forces you to friend them.

Don’ts

  • Accept friend requests from people you don’t know – even if they’re friends of your friends, it’s not wise to put them on your list unless you know them personally.
  • Do not Put up photos that are not appropriate for public viewing; they could come back to bite your butt if potential employers use them to discriminate against you in a job interview.
  • Don’t say anything you don’t want the world to know – status updates and comments on your friends’ updates are public and could come back to haunt you if you’re not careful.
  • Send out friend requests to all and sundry; ask politely, and if people ignore your request, don’t keep asking again and again.
  • Intrude into the lives of people you hardly know; they may have accepted your friend request just to be polite, but if you see that they’ve blocked you from seeing their wall and photos, leave quietly instead of calling them out on it.
  • Waste time playing games and checking out new applications all day – social networks could get addictive, so restrict the time you spend on them to an hour or less every day.
  • Use social networks to spy on your spouse or significant other; in fact, it’s not wise to friend them in the first place – you may be married, but they deserve their space just as you do. If you get too snoopy and start questioning their every post or comment, your relationship could be in danger.

Social networks are supposed to make our relationships stronger and easier, not destroy them through nosiness and jealousy; bear this in mind when you sign on to use one.

The connection between content, strategy and social media

These days having targeted content alone doesn’t help you much. You have to approach it from different directions. There was a time when you could attract targeted traffic by simply having good content on your website or blog. Now you need a strategy and while formulating the strategy you have to keep in mind how you want yourself represented on social media and networking websites.

Combine content and strategy and they give you good search engine traffic and add social media and the combination gives you fruitful engagement with your prospective customers and clients. As mentioned in my earlier post the days of one-directional marketing are over. Now you have to engage people in conversations. It is no use having conversations just like any other person because then you become just like any other person. You need to become an authority figure. People should be able to trust you and trust your judgment. You become an authority figure by continuously sharing your knowledge and wisdom with your friends and followers and visitors. You can do this on your blog and through your social media and networking profiles/pages. When you give unconditionally people trust you. This trust is your capital.

So when you are creating your content strategy you also need to simultaneously create your social media strategy because they are interrelated. By the strength of your content you can build your social media presence and through a credible social media presence you can engage your prospective customers and clients and once you are able to engage them positively they do business with you more eagerly and they have no problem recommending your business to their friends, family and colleagues.

Content strategy and social media

Developing a content strategy

In order to develop a content strategy you must realize what you want to achieve through your content. Identify your audience and identify what that audience is actually looking for. You don’t have to provide exactly that but initially you need the traction so be tactful. You have to be attractive enough to your core audience. As a ground work you must

  • Identify your core audience
  • Develop a dos and don’ts policy for publishing content
  • Create a list of your primary, secondary and ancillary keywords
  • Decide whether you want longer or shorter articles/blog posts/web pages
  • Decide whether you will be generating content in-house or by outsourcing
  • Develop metrics to continuously analyze the effectiveness of your content
  • Develop long-term evaluation policies

A well-defined content strategy helps you focus better and consolidate your content publishing effort. Since you will be investing money and effort into producing content you have to be particular about exactly what sort of content you want on your website or blog. A list of dos and don’ts helps you keep distractions at bay. Keywords will help you increase your search engine rankings, although you should put more stress on the relevancy of your content rather than the keywords but they definitely help you create more targeted content.

The choice of longer and shorter articles may also affect how well your content performs. You will need to decide whether your audience wants longer web pages or shorter. Here is a nice analysis of the benefits of long and short articles by usability expert Jakob Nielsen. It is an old article but it is still relevant.

Routine analysis keeps you on the right path. Before launching your content strategy you must clearly define where you currently are and where you want to go. Analysis helps you gauge whether you are moving towards your destination or not and you can then make changes accordingly.

Content strategy and social media

People are constantly curating content on social media and networking websites and then talking about that. They find an interesting link, post it on their profile and then their friends and followers comment on it. Their friends and followers may also share the posted content with their own friends and followers and this is how your content may go viral. The more relevant and useful your content is the better exposure it gets on social media and networking websites.

But it is more than that. It is not simply about posting your content. Your content gives you an authoritative presence but you have to strike up conversations with people. Seek feedback and provide answers. Express doubts and show disagreement wherever necessary. The underlying idea is keep the conversation going by seeding new thoughts. This is where your content helps. If you just seed thoughts without backing them with authoritative text people soon begin to lose interest. They need something to read and ponder upon.

Your content begins to make an impact when it encourages people to have conversations. When it stimulates it creates impressions. When they also begin to find your content on search engines the bonding strengthens.

Stay tuned, I will write more on this.