The world is a crowded place, with seven billion people and counting. That’s just the physical world.
There is another dimension that is just as real but it’s digital. According to latest reports we have nearly 2.5 billion internet users which is only 37% of the world’s population. We are also rapidly approaching one billion websites. (there were “only” 700 million in 2013).
We are still learning and adapting to this new landscape. It is being woven into our business and personal lives. It is becoming an extension of both our business and personal brands.
The question is no longer why we should be “digitised” but how to make it work.
The challenges include answering questions such as:
- Where do you start?
- How much do I invest in time and resources?
- Where should I be focusing?
The questions are many and beg for answers.
Participation online can be broken into 3 key areas. Owned, paid and earned.
The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing for Business
Owned, paid and earned
Building your business and personal assets online means playing in all three areas if you want to gain attention, grow brand awareness and succeed in this fast emerging digital world. Here is a diagram courtesy of the Altimeter Group that displays how they are converging.
You cannot ignore any of them if you are going to be effective.
Before the web world exploded into our consciousness, paid media was mainly where brands played. You had to pay for attention, TV advertising, magazines, radio and newspapers. PR companies were important for achieving earned media in press coverage and mass media.
You just paid them and not the newspaper.
Owned media was offline and where your printed white papers, glossy brochures and marketing collateral that were made for stuffing into the salesperson’s briefcases.
It’s now a bit more complicated.
Media in the past was just print, radio and TV. Now it is podcasts, apps, blogs, infographics, YouTube videos, ebooks, webinars, mobile…and I have just started!
This is where you should start.
It’s putting your stake in the ground to claim your online assets for the digital gold rush. This means websites, online stores and blogs for organisations. For that personal brand it can be as simple as a blog. Sure having a Facebook page and a LinkedIn profile is good but you don’t own them. Claiming that domain name for your personal name (or variation of) should not be ignored, if it is not already taken.
Many small businesses are in effect a personal brand. People are buying “you” and not the business brand.
Owned is also not just the website, it is also your content. This includes images, ebooks, presentations, videos and all digital media collateral. Content is an “owned” asset that is as important as your physical assets in a world where you are often defined by your online presence. Content needs inspiration, creating, publishing and promoting.
Paying to advertise on social channels is important, both for accelerating your online brand presence and the catalyst for new brands to break through the clutter from a standing start. Owned digital assets are great but a crowded web demands pushing and prodding your brand to digital prominence.
Owning is not enough. You need to hustle your content. In this arena the player with the deepest pockets has the advantage. Bigger and richer is better. It doesn’t mean that a creative and low cost campaign or strategy can’t cut through or win, but a big budget doesn’t hurt.
Earned attention and media online takes time. It is also the place where savvy social media aware brands can carve out their niche. Done well it can be the major source of free traffic
It should be earned in three key areas.
- Social media: Building engaged and passionate followers on social media gives you a powerful distribution network for your content and brand.
- Search: Earning the right to rank on the first page of Google or other search engines can be a huge advantage. But you do need to earn this ranking. In essence it is done with three key tactics. Great content, optimizing that content for your keywords and phrases and accelerating its discovery so that people link to your website.
- Email: Building an email list is an earned asset that takes time. Sure you can buy one but that is generally only to be advised as an initial seeding and catalyst strategy. People, will subscribe to you if they value your content (or offer) that you place in their inbox on a regular basis.
Building online tribes and earning digital distribution provides you with your own global network to reach prospects and customers without paying the gatekeepers.
This should be pursued in parallel with your paid strategies.
So here are 64 tactics that you can apply on social media, search engines and with email to drive traffic to your blog and websites
1. Social media
The channels and networks you concentrate on will vary according to your business target audience. Lets look at the following tactics for building a global distribution network to reach prospects and fans.
It’s like building your own media company.
Growing your Facebook “likes” combined with fan engagement and contagious content that begs to be shared is one way of earning attention online.
Here are some tips for improving your organic Facebook reach by attracting more likes
- Ensure your profile and “about” tab is clear and linked to your “owned” portal that displays your credibility and expert content
- Run a competition that needs a “like” to enter
- Ask open questions with a photo in your Facebook updates
- Include a Facebook widget on your Website or blog in a prominent position that can be “liked” without visiting Facebook
- Link to your Facebook page in your emails and newsletters
- Create a custom tab using an app like Shortstack that provides free premium content for a “like”
- Promote your content on Facebook to your Twitter followers by tweeting
- Update your Facebook page several times a day
- Provide a prominent icon on your blog or website that links to Facebook
- Include your Facebook links on your free ebooks
For more ideas read “30 Facebook Timeline Contest Ideas That Drive Likes and Comments“
Twitter allows an unfiltered stream of tweets. So the better the headline the larger the following on Twitter then the larger your distribution network. Content without promotion is often wasted.
- Ensure your profile on Twitter links to your major “owned” online portal. This could be a website or blog
- Create tempting headlines
- Include #hashtags
- Leave 20 characters in your tweet so people can easily retweet without cutting and pasting
- Tweet content that adds value to your audience. It can be inspiring, informative (news), entertaining or educational
- Quotes are a great way to encourage a Twitter following
- Tweet images and pictures.
- Use the law of reciprocation. Follow other people that match your target audience. Tools like Tweepi are great for that this
- Make it easy for people to follow you from your blog or website
- Include a link to Twitter in your email and newsletter
More reading: 40 Ways to Increase Your Twitter Followers
LinkedIn has opened up its platform to content creators with its publishing platform. This has made it more content centric and open.
it looks like Linkedin is awakening to the open social web! Here are some tips to grow your distribution network on LinkedIn.
- Publish your best blog posts on LinkedIn’s publishing platform.
- Invite connections by email
- Update your status daily
- Participate in (or start) a LinkedIn group discussion
- Follow influencers and ask or answer questions on their posts
- Join and focus on 3-5 relevant LinkedIn groups
- Send one new invite daily
- Prominently display your contact information
- Endorse people you know
- Promote your LinkedIn profile including card and email signature
- Tweet your LinkedIn updates
- Include the 3 links to your website/blog and other key social networks such as Facebook
More resources: Personal Branding on LinkedIn: 10 Mistakes to Avoid
Google+ is Google’s social network that was created to create a social media foundation that would help Google capture important demographic information.
It also helps Google determine by the “Plus ones” what content is valuable.
- Complete your profile as it adds credibility
- Include follow buttons on your blog
- Follow other people in your niche
- Add people to your circles
- Publish engaging content daily
- Comment in communities
- Comment in Google+ Hangouts
- Start and promote a hangout
More reading: 53 Ways to Market Your Google Plus Hangout on Air
Instagram now has over 200 million users and can be a great source of traffic for visual and consumer brands. Beyonce used it to announce her latest album with great viral marketing results.
Here are some tips to grow your followers on Instagram.
- Connect your channels between Instagram and your other networks and sites.
- Post quality, personable visuals
- Use #hashtags
- Be interesting and genuine
- Host a contest
- Post at peak times
For more in depth tips read “6 Tips for Instagram Marketing Mastery“. Other channels that can provide organic reach include Flipboard and Pinterest
Organic search engine traffic can often provide over 50% of your traffic for free if you have a well optimized plan and strategy. So what are some top tips to bring free organic search traffic to your website or blog.
- Identify the top 20-50 keywords and phrases that customers use to find your business (or your competitors)
- Make sure that your website designer and developer includes those terms in the major headings in the site so that search engines can discover them
- Create content that includes those terms
- Make sure that the content is so good that people want to share it and link to it
- Optimize the content on your website or blog using a plugin or tool that ensures search engines can read (crawl) those keywords
- Promote that content on social networks so that people discover it and link to it
- Allow other bloggers to syndicate or post your content on their websites that links back to your site or blog
- Offer to guest post for major and influential blogs
- Create valuable long form content that is 1,000 to 2,000 words or even more that is such a great resource people and bloggers have to link to it. Become the “resource” for your industry.
- Make sure that your content is unique to your site when publishing.
For more information read “50 One Sentence SEO Tips for Bloggers“
The reduction of organic reach on social networks like Facebook (For more read “Why You Should Forget Facebook“), is making organisations reconsider their focus social media. It mean building not only your social media presence on other networks but also by building your email list.
So how can you use email to drive traffic and create online attention?
- Create a free ebook and offer it to anyone that subscribes to your email list
- Turn your homepage into a massive subscribe formUse a non-annoying pop-over
- Place a subscription box at the end of all your blog articles
- Give amazing value in your writing
- Create a strong incentive to subscribe
- A/B test key elements
- Build relationships with your current subscribers
More in depth reading: 6 Tips to Grow a Large Email List
What about you?
Are you building a range of organic and earned tactics on a range of digital platforms that drive traffic without relying on paying for it?
Do you have your eggs in just one basket? Is your Facebook activity a diminishing return?
Look forward to hearing your stories and insight in the comments below.
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