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The 5 W’s (and an H) That Guide Your Content Marketing Strategy

Journalists make excellent content marketers. It’s not just because they’re used to writing clean, compelling copy. Or that, given the state of the modern news industry, there’s a wide talent pool for marketing departments to choose from.

No, journalists make great marketers because they have finely-developed instincts for chasing down a story. They know how to collect the facts thy need to make a full report. They ask the right questions and make sure they get a straight answer, before they write a single line.

Couldn’t your content marketing use a little journalistic edge? Not just for the copy, but for your entire strategy?

When reporters are researching a story, they go through the Five W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why & How (Yes, I know that’s five w’s and one h. This is the country that brought us the three R’s: reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic).

You can use these six big questions to guide your content marketing strategy. Use them in your research to make sure when people see your content, they’ll want to read all about it.

#1: Who is my audience?

This question is the fundamental building block of your content marketing strategy. The more specific your answer is, the more effective your content can be. That means identifying everyone involved in a purchase decision for your solution. Research what their needs and motivations are, what information will be helpful to them, and what they need to know before they make a purchase decision.

Start to answer this question by building personas, abstracts of your ideal customer. These useful fictions are informed by interviewing your customers, potential customers, and even those who opted for another brand’s solution.

Remember that one crucial aspect of knowing your audience is knowing who isn’t your audience. Then you can tailor content to select your audience and exclude those who aren’t the right fit. The end result can be a more qualified audience and livelier content with a strong point of view.

#2: What is my audience looking for?

First, we can easily answer what your audience is likely not looking for: talking points about why your brand or solution is great. That’s the topic most brands want to publish content about, sure. But that type of content is the least appealing to the majority of your potential audience.

Find out what your audience wants and needs by researching keywords and queries. Search engine queries are direct expressions of what is most important to your audience.  As Dan Blumenthal put it: “Content marketing is what web searchers are looking for.” If your content doesn’t match the need, it’s not content marketing. It’s just filler.

There are a ton of great tools to help you with that research. My favorite new one is Bloomberry, from the fine folks at BuzzSumo. Ahrefs Content Explorer, and BuzzSumo can all help you find out what kind of content is already resonating with your audience, too.

#3: When should I publish?

This question is less about finding the right time of day, or right day of the week, to publish to your blog or promote on social media. That part of the equation is unique for every audience, and you’ll need to do some experimenting to nail it down.

The important part of the “when” is to publish consistently. Establish a steady cadence, whether it’s daily, weekly, or even monthly. Set a schedule that enables you to only publish quality content. Better to have a hugely valuable weekly digest than a daily shallow post.

#4: Where should I publish and promote?

Even a year ago, this was a simple question. Publish on your blog, promote on the social media channels your audience uses. But now there are convincing arguments to be made for publishing directly on other platforms than your home site. For example, a long-form post on LinkedIn is likely to load faster on mobile, be easier for your audience to read and share, and will provide detailed analytics on who is engaging with the content.

Many marketers are finding it makes sense to post content natively to LinkedIn, Medium, even Facebook, rather than trying to drive traffic back to a blog post. Just make sure your CTA leads to a next step on your site.

#5: Why Should My Audience Do What I Want them to Do?

We’ve discussed what your audience wants—high-quality content that helps them solve a problem. But what you want is a conversion that leads to revenue. Answering this question helps you bridge the divide between the two. Why should your audience take the action you want them to take?

Your audience will feel inspired to do what you want them to do if:

  1. The next step is clearly stated. Now is not the time to be shy.
  2. The next step is logical and incremental. Don’t propose on the first date.
  3. The next step is How many obstacles are you throwing between your customer and a conversion?
  4. The next step deepens the relationship.

#6: How will I measure success?

A solid content marketing strategy works backwards from measurable goals. Don’t lead with content and add the metrics in later. You should know what each campaign is intended to accomplish, expressed in a quantifiable way.

That goes for top-of-funnel campaigns, too. Even if your goal is raising awareness, find the metric. In that case it could be an increase in branded searches, increased traffic to your site, or adding followers on social media. Just make sure you have a plan to lead that top-of-funnel interest towards further conversion.

This Just In…

Asking the right questions—and researching the right answers—is the difference between investigative journalism and fake news. For marketers it’s the difference between random acts of content and strategic content marketing. So take some time to learn your audience and determine when, how, and where you will reach them. Let the five W’s and one H help lead your marketing team to ROI.

To take your content marketing efforts to the next level, learn how to document your content marketing strategy.


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The post The 5 W’s (and an H) That Guide Your Content Marketing Strategy appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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The Latest Evolution of Facebook: The Marketing Low-Down on 5 Recent Changes

Latest Facebook Updates 2018

Latest Facebook Updates 2018

From the Russian ad debacle to the Cambridge Analytica scandal to suffering a major stock price blow just a few short weeks ago, Facebook has been making less-than-stellar headlines the past few months. Users are concerned about their privacy and how their data is being used—and brands and marketers are wondering whether the platform will continue to be a viable advertising and engagement platform.

In an attempt to rebuild trust, ensure better data protection and transparency, the social network is doubling down, again, on their commitment to improving the user experience and creating a fun, respectful community.

As all marketers will remember, the quest to improve user experience started way back in 2015, with the announcement it would be making refinements to its News Feed to strike a better balance between friends, public figures, publishers, businesses, and community organizations. That continued in the summer 2016 with more updates favoring friends and family content—and was still on the move when the first scandal broke later that year.

Of course, these changes didn’t do marketers and brands any favors in the organic reach department. Organic reach had already been declining, and these moves have nearly eliminated its potential. And now, more changes have arrived, presenting new challenges as well as some opportunities.

Below we share the low-down on five of such recent or rolling out changes, what they mean for social media marketers, and some potential next steps to take.

1. A New News Feed

Once again, the News Feed is getting a facelift—a big one. While Mark Zuckerberg announced back in January 2018 that changes would be rolling out throughout the year, a “major update” was announced in April, which Director of Product Management, Mark Hull, details in the video below:

Essentially, meaningful person-to-person interaction is what will carry the News Feed ranking weight, and person-to-page interactions will continue to be second tier. Oh, and Facebook expects people to spend less time on the platform.

This sounds pretty scary for marketers. Most have adapted their strategies to zero-in on fostering engaging discussion, as well as throwing spend behind Facebook’s ad platform (which is also changing and we’ll get to that later).

But before you eliminate Facebook from your marketing mix, there are a few opportunities to consider:

Working with influencers: With Facebook continuing to elevate content from individuals, there may be no better time to start building relationships with industry influencers and thought leaders that you can collaborate with on content.

Read: Death of Organic Reach = New Opportunities for Influencer Marketing

Facebook Groups: As my colleague, Nick Nelson, reported not too long ago, while groups have long been available as a feature on Facebook, the brand-driven “Facebook Groups for Pages” were just rolled out last year. And some brands are seeing traction with them, but this isn’t something you leap into without being thoughtful.

Read: The Question on Many Marketers’ Minds: Should My Brand Start a Facebook Group?

Facebook Stories: Very recently, Facebook insiders asserted that Facebook Stories may very well be the future of connection on Facebook. Once again, as Nick Nelson pointed out: “Facebook Stories are intriguing because they offer a real chance to capture part of a user’s attention — maybe even more than the minimum amount.” And early adopters may secure an advantage.

Read: The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game

2. Stricter Ad Targeting

As of late, most of Facebook’s critiques are a result of their advertising products and practices. By increasing the targeting capabilities of their advertising products, Facebook arguably put users’ privacy at risk. To help correct that perception and protect user privacy, Facebook is making several changes to their advertising platform.

One such update was released in early July, requiring advertisers to state where they acquired people’s information for their custom audiences. Instead of simply uploading a list of emails you want to target as a custom audience, Facebook wants advertisers to take extra steps to ensure those emails came from a reputable source and that the audience has consented to those ads. With this change, Facebook hopes to improve transparency with users about why they see ads from certain brands and how they received their information.

New Facebook Ad Disclaimer

(Credit: Facebook)

In addition, Facebook has also disabled their Partner Categories product, which provided targeting capabilities from third-party data providers to advertisers. This limits advertiser insight into user behavior outside of Facebook (e.g. purchasing activity), making ads appear more natural to users and less “big brother.”

From our perspective, this is good news. Consumers are increasingly wary of marketing and advertising messages and this move can help strengthen the credibility and relevance of your ads and brand. Of course, this is all assuming you can and do confirm your custom audience lists and sources fall within the new guides.

So, if you haven’t already, take the steps to review your custom audience lists and their sources. You need to be able to state if you received the information directly from your audience, a partner, or a combination. If you used a data provider like an advertising or marketing agency, double check that they’ve acquired the data honestly and they agree to Facebook’s Terms of Use.

3. New Data History Tools

Now more than ever, people want control over their data. They want to know what information is stored, who has access to it, and they want to be able to delete it.

Recognizing this need, Facebook announced a new feature called Clear History that will be released “soon.”With this new feature, Facebook is giving users the ability to see the websites and apps that store information with Facebook, and delete that information from their account.

However, Facebook will still retain aggregated analytics, but no personally identifying information will be contained.

“We’ll still provide apps and websites with aggregated analytics – for example, we can build reports when we’re sent this information so we can tell developers if their apps are more popular with men or women in a certain age group,” Facebook says. “We can do this without storing the information in a way that’s associated with your account, and as always, we don’t tell advertisers who you are.

What exactly does this mean for marketers? If you use Facebook plugins on your website (think Facebook Pixel or “Like” buttons on websites), your audience can now see and delete the information that the plugin collects; meaning it won’t be connected to their profile any longer.

Obviously, if users take advantage of this when it rolls out, clearing their history could be problematic for marketers, and maybe even users. For marketers, it will be incredibly difficult to target these folks with ads. For users, that could mean an uptick in irrelevant ads for a time.

However, the eventual upside for advertisers could be the “re-learning” that needs to happen after a history cleanse, which can lead to a more relevant and accurate look of who your audience is.

4. Poor Customer Feedback = Ban

A poor customer experience really sours your impression of a brand. An to ensure that ads on Facebook lead to positive shopping experiences, and not negative ones, Facebook will now ban brands that have low customer satisfaction ratings from advertising on their platform.

For example, if users give you too many frowning faces shown in the rating system below, Facebook will reject your ads.

Facebook Negative Review Example

(Credit: Facebook)

Before you become too concerned, however, Facebook says it will: “Share feedback directly with businesses that receive high volumes of negative feedback and will give them a chance to improve before taking further action. If feedback does not improve over time, we will reduce the amount of ads that particular business can run.”

So, even if you receive negative ratings, you will have an opportunity to make improvements to prevent being banned.

The opportunity here is obvious. The better customer experience you provide, the more successful your marketing efforts will be. For Facebook ads, this is rooted in focusing on clarity and honesty within your ads.

At a minimum, Facebook suggests taking steps to ensure your ads aren’t misleading. In addition, use images or videos to make it very clear what you are selling and what you are selling it for. It’s also a good idea to set clear expectations for how users will receive your product or service. By setting clear guidelines, you’re more likely to meet customer expectations, leading to more positive user ratings. For more insight, read Facebook’s tips on how to improve customer feedback.

5. All of Your Ads, Exposed

Knowing the organization behind an ad is important. Otherwise, users might not trust the content of the ad. So, to increase ad and page transparency, Facebook now allows users to see all of the ads any page is running within their partner network.

This includes ads on Instagram, Messenger, and the rest of the Facebook partner network. In addition, even if pages aren’t advertising, Facebook will provide more information about a page including name history and the date the page was created. Together, these changes aim to give users more information about an organization so they can decide if an ad is credible or not.

Facebook Ad Transparency

(Credit: Facebook)

For marketers, this change isn’t a bad thing — it may even mean more eyeballs on your advertising content. However, marketers should still be thoughtful about how their ads will be perceived by individuals outside of their target audience.

For example, even if an ad isn’t specifically designed for or served to them, users can still review (and report) your ads. As a result, you need to take extra steps to make sure your ads are consistent, clear, and friendly for all.

The Life Force of Facebook

Long before the scandals and latest privacy concerns, Facebook has been rooted in evolution. Just think what the platform started as and has become. So, while the recent and coming changes seem pretty fierce, I think it’s safe to say we were already on that trajectory. And there’s probably more to come.

Since the major changes that impacted advertisers and brands began rolling out in 2015, Facebook has maintained their actions are all in the interest of creating a better user experience. And at the end of the day, that’s what the goal of any marketer is in their quest to nurture their audience and aid them on their customer journey.

So, it’s OK if you’re a panicked, disheartened, or simply irritated. But, at this point, the platform still holds marketing opportunity, marketers just need to adapt their social media marketing strategies, try new features and avenues, and work hard to ensure they’re part of providing that great user experience.

Looking for more social media marketing news, tips, and insights? Check out all of our recent social media-related blog posts.

The post The Latest Evolution of Facebook: The Marketing Low-Down on 5 Recent Changes appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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