Content marketing – it really works!

The marketers

I am not a marketing guy. I am always keen on picking up new ideas of course, but I defer to others in advising businesses on marketing, and as you know, I know a lot of people who have different niches in business advice.

I write from my own experience here. There are many people who will tell you that content marketing is a real winner including some I respect greatly . I just know that it is absolutely true. The more you give your readers, the more they will be attracted.

My bit

A large chunk of my business is tax-related, and I have been dealing with tax issues for a long time. Of course experience is not all we need, and certainly I never stop learning either through general reading in my area, or because I am getting my hands dirty with a new problem.

I have been developing a particular niche in tax, which is related to property, or real estate if you prefer. I have written a number of articles which I hope are very informative to the many property investors and small-time developers out there, quite a few of which have despaired having had their pensions ruined and decided to make an effort to take control of their own destiny. That’s just like all of us, running a small business.

The tax articles do not cover every aspect of each subject of course. How could they? However they do give a lot of useful information for the lay person. Of course people may read my material and go away armed with it somewhere else. Very often, though, they will inquire as to whether I can help them, which of course I can.

The niche aspect is important. People may click through from the titles in the sidebar on this blog, and they do. Writing in a particular niche, though, does make my material available more immediately though searches on Google and the other engines. That is because people with a particular issue will be quite specific in their searches, and will be drawn to my quite specific articles.

No tricks needed?

SEO people call the niche searches the “long tail” but my take is that there is no need to think about your key words in the article itself. They will occur naturally as you write. Of course you can put in your tags etc. (I am certainly not an SEO expert), but mostly the traffic seems to be organic from the article.

You don’t have to write articles every day or even every week. You need to keep your site updated regularly and a slow stream of informative material that will interest your potential clients enough to come to you is all you need. They are already aware that you know what you are talking about and they are willing to buy that expertise. That’s great news, isn’t it?

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We can’t micro-manage our network or you can’t please all the people

As you all know I care very much about reputation – not just mine but those who I like and think should be more careful. So as far as I am concerned, I don’t like open criticism of other individuals, any sort of abuse, and definitely no swearing.

That’s my opinion and how I feel about my network, and how people see me. I accept that some people do swear on-line and for some it is important to their reputation if they wish to appear (how shall I put this?) robust and combative and perhaps with their culture, by which I mean the people they mix with in a heavy or even heavy metal sort of way. So, if I go to a blog where there is a lot of swearing, I accept it. “When in Rome…” etc. but I can then leave and very likely will. It’s a bit like complaining about a TV programme when we have the off-switch or the zapper to change the channel. If we don’t like it, leave.

Just the same, I don’t work in that sort of edgy medium, and prefer to concentrate on business and on my business network. I have unfollowed people on Twitter because they used the “f” word all the time, and instantly when someone typed something even worse.

We don’t have to be boring just because we don’t swear and we don’t abuse others. As long as we add value, we should keep our connections. Well, mostly…

Sometimes we are seen to hang with a person whom another networker really doesn’t like. That other networker may take against us because of it. The dislike may be mainly about the personality of our friend, or their on-line or off-line way of doing business or promoting themselves.

For me, maintaining relationships with my business colleagues on-line is important, especially if we are really doing business together. However, recently someone whom I greatly respect, indeed like, told me he had unfollowed me on Twitter because I RTed (odd verb) someone he really didn’t like. Apparently I do it (RT the person) quite often too. I don’t know who he means and it would be silly to speculate. Fortunately my unfollower and I are still connected on Facebook for which I am thankful.

I can’t control absolutely everything people think about me. Nor can anyone else. Chris Brogan (but I am sure I don’t have to explain who he is) has apparently upset someone who thinks that he has changed his blogging approach towards selling more stuff. Other people don’t like it either.

I like Chris and have learned a lot from him. I think he has shifted his business model a bit, but who hasn’t? I have in the nearly nine years I have been running my independent businesses. We adapt to our market and for Goodness’ Sake, we are in business to make money. Free stuff is fine and you can find plenty of it on my other site and here.

You will still get free stuff from me and I know you will get it from Chris. I will still follow him and read his blog. I will learn from seeing how he adapts to his needs in a changing market. I will actually contribute to his income through Third Tribe of which I am a member. What I won’t learn there or anywhere else is how to manage what individual people think of me.

You can’t please all the people all of the time. Can you?

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Is your content out of your control?

In this world of social media competition, I worry that some people are not in charge of their content. As far as I am concerned, social media is (are?) not supposed to be competitive, but about having conversations and getting to know people? At least, that is how it is for me. Those who are obsessed with scores may do things differently. Well, each to their own.

The one thing that would really upset me in terms of my on-line business networking would be to have material put out in my name that I did not agree with, or would make me or my business look rather stupid.

Quite a lot of people seem to auto-tweet posts from websites they do not own, including national and local news, or from businesses websites or forums (OK, fora). Presumably this is intended to increase their ratings or scores on the new indices riding on the back of Twitter and Facebook. That is fine (well, I wouldn’t do it) until some ghastly story of debauchery is posted on the source site, or some piece about fake Viagra in a total non-business context.

The other day someone in my line of business auto-tweeted a spam message for a tax forum from some guy who wanted to sell American Football jerseys. Of course the moderator would have zapped the post but the Tweet had gone out.

I thought at one time it would help to join one of those guest blogging exchange sites. I have to say that none of the stuff I have been offered to post on this blog has passed muster. It was a mistake in thinking this was a good idea, but I have neither accepted guest posts from the site nor posted any on anyone else’s through the exchange site. I need to approve and endorse anything posted on my blog.

The other day I saw this excellent piece about Triberr by Neicole Crepeau on Danny Brown’s blog. Now of course I can see the advantage of having lots of other people promote our blog posts via Twitter as long as they like them. Neicole says that she has her favorite bloggers she may re-tweet, but not every one of their posts. I agree. I wouldn’t want to endorse every post even by a top blogger, because I may not agree with it or the writer may have had an off-day.

However, maybe Triberr does have a place if the members collectively can moderate what is posted around. I would rather see that option. Do we have time to moderate our queue of potential tweets of other people’s blog posts? Will we annoy our friends with the extra tweets? Can a machine or a bit of software do the moderation satisfactorily? Do you use Triberr and how has it gone for you?

Otherwise, what should we do? Should we lower our standards and almost prostitute ourselves for the sake of self-promotion with random auto-feeds? Would it help enhance our reputations when we are expected to recommend unsuitable stuff? I don’t think so? Do you?

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Having a negative influence online

Digging the dirt

Haven’t we talked about online reputations before? We certainly have! Just the same, I sometimes worry about apparently intelligent people who probably do their businesses no good with their unfettered pronouncements on anything we care to think about.

I am all in favour of being ourselves in our blogs and when commenting on others. I think Twitter is a great medium for conversation, making connections and learning. What I do not want to know from my business contacts is their opinion on politicians, on other countries, and on celebrities, and especially using intemperate language. “Warts and all” is not a good thing in a business context.

Some such opinionated characters have large followings on Twitter. You might ask why I or others follow them if they are that bad. Why don’t we just un-follow? The truth is that there is a fascination (cliché alert) in watching a train wreck. You don’t want to watch but you can’t help it.

Quite a number of these “offenders” have high Klout or PeerIndex scores. If these were a measure of influence, I don’t think it’s going to be good influence: the sort of influence that encourages people to buy from them. Most likely it will be a deterrent to having any business dealings with them.

I guess I am letting of steam. None of these opinionated bigots who might read this would recognise themselves. How do you react to such people?

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Blogging originality and evolution of ideas

New York Times

Image via Wikipedia

A couple of my favorite bloggers have talked about the apparent decline in original thought. Danny Brown suggests that popularity can breed sameness in part because of pandering to the masses. Gini Dietrich talks about aggregation and automation which encourages laziness on the part of the bloggers or writers, and, I think, on the part of the readers as well.

Evolution of thought

It’s not all bad news though. More people read more stuff than when we relied on newspapers. We see the same ideas or the same advice being imparted. We can scan or gloss over this. What is exciting, though, is seeing people pick up and run with ideas, and develop them. There is a sort of osmosis where new thought filters through and blossoms. Of course we all have many of the same sources, such as Mashable, and I read many top bloggers though I cannot read everything without giving up work and sleep.

At the same time, many have different slants on the same subject. I think it interesting when I read a post one day and then someone blogs on a similar subject a day or a week later, perhaps having read the previous one. As long as original thinking takes place, I don’t think we always need to worry about the “sameness”. Ideas are there to be built on. “On the shoulders of Giants” and all that.

Plagiarism

That is not to say that it is OK for anyone to just copy an idea and spin someone else’s article as their own, or, even worse, just republish a post as though it were their own. That has happened to me and probably to you too. It is very annoying even if it is sometimes a rather back-handed compliment.

Being ourselves

I am not a top blogger, although of course I have ambitions. Don’t we all? However, I do believe that we can best develop by simply being ourselves. Pamela Wilson put it quite well writing for Copyblogger a while back. Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion demonstrates how being ourselves and saying what we believe in a business blog makes for originality and a unique brand. He also shows that we can write about anything we like within reason, which helps our individual personalities to come out.

Yes, in writing this I have dipped into other people’s material. I am being myself, of course. Even if you think I lack originality in thought, maybe I have found you a great blogger you had missed. But perhaps you are already way ahead of the game.

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