New Tools for Your Marketing Technology Arsenal
Quality content delivered to your audience will produce results.
The original phrase “Content is King” was written by Bill Gates in 1996 and encouraged small-business owners to deliver quality content on their websites. “Those who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”
The phrase has been replaced with “Content is Queen,” “Audience is the King,” “Content is the Servant,” “Social Media is the Kingmaker,” and several others. The message is the same. Quality content delivered to your audience will produce results. Interesting and new information provided on a brand’s social platforms will rank the brand higher in search engine results.
Analytical tools and understanding their power and the role of online trackers will extract relevant information to enhance digital marketing efforts. Some of the tools are not new, but may be underutilized or misunderstood.
Digital marketing continues to evolve rapidly and keeping up with the new technology is a challenge. Platforms, apps and resources come and go. Just as you educate yourself on a particular tool or platform, the process and analytics, something newer and shinier is introduced.
Content Curation and Storytelling Tools
Curating content is always a challenge. Where can content be found? How should content be analyzed, presented, published and organized? Does the content represent the brand with authority and position the brand as an expert or leader in an industry? These pertinent questions should be answered in the brand’s digital marketing strategy.
Not every brand is as easily recognized as Subway or McDonald’s. Fred DeLuca, CFE, and Ray Kroc, respectively, are well known businessmen who built very successful franchise brands. The average brand is not a household name. Content marketing strategy for the everyday brand should include company history and value. A story should be told about the people behind the logo. The stories need to be interesting and visually compelling to keep the audience engaged.
The tools below can be used for finding great content and, in turn, used for content marketing.
- BizSugar − Business news, tips and networking.
- Google+ − Second largest social networking site (Business2Community report 2013, Facebook #1 social networking site).
- Pinterest − Photo sharing site allowing users to manage theme-based images or videos found in articles, blogs and websites.
- Scoop.it − Searches the Internet and presents content related to your topic of interest.
- Storify − Stories are created from tweets, blog posts, videos, Flickr and public Facebook posts.
Social Listening Tools
Understanding what the customer wants to know is often overlooked. To deliver your story, listening to the audience should come first. Understanding what drives decisions and the emotional connection is critical to meet and exceed customer expectations.
Several listening tools are used for online conversations. The tools below will assist in drilling down to specific topics, trends, keywords and provide valuable information.
- Curate.me − Daily brief of news from Twitter followers and Facebook friends.
- Guzzle.it − Topic-based news aggregator. It updates every second and can be customized.
- Google Alerts − Real-time alerts of mentions on the Web.
- LinkedIn Today − Key topics professionals are discussing.
- PinAlerts − Sends an alert each time your Website receives a new pin.
- Social Mention − Similar to Google Alerts, real-time alerts of mentions on social platforms.
- Tagboard − A social media hub for hashtags. It searches multiple social media networks for posts with a hashtag.
- Talkwalker − Social media monitoring by defining your brand and relative topics/trends.
- Talkwalker Alerts − Free alert system that provides email updates of relevant mentions on the Web.
Content Sharing Tools
Once content is developed, it should be shared via traditional marketing on websites, blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Easy-to-use tools should be added to the marketing technology arsenal.
- Google Hangout − Brings the conversations to life. Shares content via a hangout with a live audience while recording to YouTube.
- Instagram − Online photo and video sharing site.
- 9Slides − Adds audio or video to presentation slides.
- SlideShare − Ability to share presentations (PowerPoint, Open Office and Keynote files) online.
- Vine − Mobile app that allows user to post short video content to Twitter.
Infographic Design Tools
Visual content (photographs and videos) rank high for search engine optimization. Even though search engines cannot read text on an infographic, their popularity is increasing and with good cause. When well-designed, an infographic can play a role in an SEO and marketing campaign. Creating an infographic that is visually appealing, uses relevant keyword heading tags, embedded in a blog or Web page, is more likely to be found and shared quickly by readers and potential customers.
- Visual.ly − Designs and shares complex charts and graphics.
- Creately − Creates mindmaps, wireframes and website outlines with “razzle dazzle.”
- Infogr.am − Creates more than 30 types.
- Easely.ly − Creates and shares visual ideas online.
The human voice is a great influence and can convey a message or a passion better than the written word. Video may have stolen media attention and SEO, but audio podcasting ranks high for listener convenience. Screen time pulls the user away to focus on the message, which means that video messages need to be brief. Audio messages can be played when the user is multi-tasking – jogging, driving, using the screen for other purposes. Part of what makes podcasting great is that you’re having a conversation, not delivering a highly structured set of information as you would in a blog.
Podcasting is the least used option for digital marketing and provides a huge opportunity to get noticed.
Several Web-based services with different features and costs are available for podcasting. Some of the most widely used are ReadyTalk, BlogTalkRadio and Skype with VodBurner.
FranSocial − A Franchise Tool
Where do you turn for help? Take advantage of the franchise community and the relationships that exist. Peer-to-peer networking that is evident during each International Franchise Association annual convention, expo and webinar.
Businesses worldwide are adopting cloud, mobile and private social business platforms to share organizational knowledge. FranSocial, established by Higher Logic, one of the leaders in this technology, provides an exclusive franchise community. Profiles, discussions, a multi-media library, wiki glossary, blogs and events are on one platform where knowledge can be easily searched, shared and discussed within private communities. FranSocial promotes franchise engagement, education and peer-to-peer best practice sharing and mentoring on a secure, branded business network.
Social media and their tools represent a simple means to a powerful end.
Deb Evans, CFE, is the owner of Deb Evans Consulting that specializes in franchise operations, franchisee relations and social technology strategies. She was the IFA task force chairwoman for FranCamp, IFA Digital Marketing and Technology Best Practices Conference, and serves on the IFA Marketing and Technology Committee, as well as the Women’s Franchise Network Committee. Find her at fransocial.franchise.org via the directory.