Tag Archives: content marketing

How to Spot Online Propaganda

You can’t believe everything you read—especially online.

As content marketing professionals, this is something we’re uniquely sensitive to. We believe strongly that there’s value in companies providing good, substantive, valuable information as a way to build their brand and establish thought leadership.

And yes, the content marketing model does blur the line between information and advertisement—but it’s only effective if it’s ultimately truthful.

By contrast, a lot of the content out there is outright propaganda—designed to misinform, to mislead, and to obscure the truth.

To be a responsible online citizen, it’s important to know the difference. That’s what we’re going to look at today.

Where You’ll Spot Propaganda

The first thing to be aware of is that propaganda can come from almost any source. Some common examples:

  • Brand/company pages on Facebook. Note that Facebook doesn’t regulate these pages and doesn’t have any standard of transparency or veracity in place. Maybe one day that will change—but for now, public pages are all potential breeding grounds for propaganda.
  • Twitter accounts. We’re mostly thinking of bots here—fake accounts that usually have a highly political slant. Be careful; not every social media user is a real person!
  • A lot of the memes that come across as good-natured and funny are actually made by marketing companies and have an insidious agenda—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is something to be aware of!
  • News items. A lot of the links that look like real news could in fact be—we hate to say it—fake news. You can usually tell by looking at the URL; anything lacking a good, clean URL (like nytimes.com, washingtonpost.com, bbc.com, reuters.com, economist.com etc.) could potentially be a propaganda site.
  • Photo editing tools have become truly advanced and sophisticated—and sadly, you just can’t take every online photo you see seriously.

Steer Clear of Propaganda

That’s just a cross-section of some of the places you’ll find propaganda—and our point really is that you can find it anywhere. So the question is, how can you protect yourself?

Some tips:

  • Be a skeptic. Simply having a discerning mindset, and realizing that what you’re reading could be propaganda, is a good first step.
  • Google around. If you find a news story that seems hard to believe, use Google to look for other sources. If you can’t find them, it may very well be phony. One of the first things taught in journalism school is that all facts in any story should be confirmed by two reliable sources. In today’s day and age, finding two or more sources that share a story’s detail is not overly taxing. Real news stories are picked up by multiple outlets—even if a single platform breaks the story.
  • Avoid interacting with unvetted sources. Liking and commenting on a public page can suck you into the web of propaganda—unless you know the brand in question and trust them.
  • Take reviews with a grain of salt. Online reviews are sometimes fake—and you can usually tell which ones lack credibility. Fake ones won’t be very long or specific.
  • Read widely. Don’t rely on a single platform or website for your news. Try to be a curious and voracious reader.
  • Learn what fake ads look like. It’s helpful to know how you can identify paid content—and there are usually some giveaways. On social networks, as well as on Google, these ads will be labeled as “sponsored.” On Instagram specifically, sponsored posts must carry the hashtag #ad.

The bottom line: it takes some effort and some deliberation to tell which online content you can trust—but it’s worth it to not get snookered by the propaganda machine.

We’d love to tell you more about honest and authentic content creation. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to learn more! Call 803-831-7444 or visit www.grammarchic.net.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog Writing, Business Writing, Content Marketing, Content Writing, Social Media, Web Content

6 Reasons Your Small Business Should Invest in Content Marketing

A question we get asked all the time by small business owners: Is content marketing really worth the cost? Does the payoff ultimately redeem the time and effort put into writing, publishing, and monitoring blog and social media content—or the money spent outsourcing it to a content marketing company?

We obviously think that it does, and we encourage our clients to think not in terms of cost but investment. Yes, content marketing has a threshold for entry, and trying to cut corners ultimately just means you end up with bad content and wasted resources. But when you actually invest in doing content marketing well, the dividends can be manifold.

Here are just a few examples.

Why Invest in Content Marketing?

  1. It proves your thought leadership.

Say you’re a financial planner. Why should a potential client choose you over any of the other financial planners in your area? Why should they assume that you know what you’re talking about and have the expertise to provide wise investment advice? One answer is that you show them you know what you’re talking about by producing content—content that shows a real fluency with your chosen niche or subject matter. The result? Prestige for your brand; trust from your potential customers and clients.

  1. It feeds the content monster.

The content monster is our little nickname for Google’s search algorithms, which always want more, more, more fresh content to gobble up. All else being equal, the site that has new blog updates twice monthly is going to have better search engine visibility than the site that lays dormant for years at a time. In other words, an investment in content marketing is an investment in SEO.

  1. It allows you to connect with customers and clients.

Content marketing isn’t just about blog posts. It’s also about social media, and a well-maintained social media presence can bring lots of little interactions and touch points with your clients. Google refers to these as “micro moments,” and they’re important for building brand loyalty and boosting your transactions/conversions.

  1. It educates your customers.

These days, the consumer experience never actually starts in a physical retail location. It starts online with the customer doing ample research to ensure a wise purchasing decision. You need to guide that research toward you and your brand, and content marketing is how you accomplish that. Content marketing provides the means for elucidating all the reasons why a customer might pick you over the competition.

  1. It can be a form of customer service.

One way to use content marketing is to provide product tutorials, troubleshooting guides, and FAQs—showing potential customers that, if they ever have questions about how to use your product, all they have to do is head to Facebook or YouTube and they can have their questions answered.

  1. It proves that you’re listening.

Good content is always tailored to address the specific needs, interests, and pain points of the end user—which in turn shows that end user that you’ve taken the time to get to know and understand them, and that you listen to what they say. Again, the upshot here is trust and rapport-building.

We could go on—but rather than do so on our blog, we’d love to do it on the phone with you. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. and we’ll tell you how we think content marketing could make a world of difference for your small business. Contact us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

2 Comments

Filed under Content Marketing, Content Writing, Social Media

How to Write an Effective Facebook Bio for Your Business

First impressions are everything—and while many consumers will first encounter your business through its official website, there are some who will be introduced to your business via its Facebook page. As such, it’s important to treat your company’s Facebook profile almost like a second home page—a succinct but effective summary of the things you do and the value you offer.

But how can you make your Facebook bio resonate? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Tips for Optimizing Your Business Facebook Bio

Start with your value proposition. You can’t include everything about your business, and it’s best not to try. Instead, focus on the things that make your company distinctive. What’s your elevator pitch? Or, why would a consumer pick your brand over the competitor’s? Those should be the focus points for your bio.

Be mindful of SEO. While it’s important not to stuff your Facebook bio with keywords, to the point where it reads as stiff and robotic, you do want to include some keywords whenever you can do so naturally. Geographically-specific keywords are especially important.

Don’t forget links. Invite your Facebook visitors to learn more about your company—and make sure to include a link to your home page! Alternatively, create a landing page for your Facebook visitors, a page that thanks them for their visit and invites them to take the next steps in learning about your brand.

Include CTAs, too. All good online content comes with a call to action. Use some compelling verbs to encourage your readers to call, email, or visit your website. Alternatively, simply invite them to like and follow your Facebook page!

Don’t waste space with redundant words. We see a lot of bloated Facebook bios that waste their precious online real estate. For example, telling your visitors that they have reached “the official Facebook home of [Company Name]” is needless. Trim the fat and focus on words that pack a punch.

Drive your benefits. Specifically, focus on language that conveys the value your brand delivers to consumers. Ultimately, your Facebook bio shouldn’t be about you; it should be about your consumers. It should be centered on what’s in it for them to dive into your brand.

Get a Facebook Facelift

Your Facebook bio is an important marketing asset. Make yours count. For help, reach out to Grammar Chic. Our writers are experts in crafting compelling Facebook bios, and we even offer full social media management services.

Set up a social media consultation with Grammar Chic, Inc. Contact us at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Writing, Content Marketing, Content Writing, Social Media

Write Content That Improves Dwell Time. Here’s How.

Is your website successful?

There are a number of different metrics you could use to answer this question—and in truth, there’s no one factor that determines website success. As you consider different ways to evaluate your online presence, though, one you should consider is dwell time.

What is Dwell Time? And Why Does It Matter?

What is dwell time, exactly? Simply put, it’s the amount of time readers spend on your website. In a sense, it’s almost the opposite of bounce rate—that is, the rate at which website visitors navigate away from your site. If you have high dwell time, it means your readers have found some reason to stay on your site for longer chunks of time—probably because you’ve produced some sort of content that’s engaged them.

Dwell time is by no means a vanity metric; it has real impact on your marketing efforts. For one thing, it’s an SEO ranking signal. If your dwell time is high, that tells the Google algorithms that your website is providing readers with something valuable—and that’s something Google loves.

It can also be good news for conversion rates. If someone’s staying on your site for long periods of time, that person is obviously interested in something you’re doing.

The question is, how can you improve the dwell time on your website?

How Can Your Content Improve Dwell Time?

Here are just a few tips to keep in mind:

Write a compelling headline, with content that matches. The first step to keeping people on the page is attracting them to the page—and that means writing a headline that promises real value. Don’t do clickbait, and don’t do bait-and-switch; make sure your headline offers something substantive, and your content delivers on that promise.

Go deep. While there’s no magic word count you need to hit, it is important to always do your subject justice; a quick and surface-deep post isn’t going to hold anyone’s attention for long. Take the time to go into real depth, offer some concrete illustrations, etc.

Make your content digestible. It’s also important for your website to be easy to read—and that means plenty of white space, section sub-headings, bulleted lists where applicable, and some images to break up the text.

Do some internal linking. One good way to keep users on your site is to provide a trail of crumbs that leads them from one topic to another—specifically through internal linking, providing a clear path between relevant topics.

Update your content as needed. A blog post about Google algorithms circa 2014 (for example) is hardly relevant in 2018—and thus, there’s little reason for readers to spend any kind of time with it. Make sure you freshen up your content as needed to ensure it maintains some value and resonance.

Get the Content You Need to Keep Readers on the Page

As you seek to keep your readers engaged, consider hiring a content partner with ample experience in SEO-driven copywriting. Grammar Chic, Inc. can provide you with the words you need to improve dwell time, Google search rankings, and customer engagement.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation: Visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444.

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Writing, Content Writing, Web Content

10 Calls to Action That Will Get People Clicking

Every page of your website should have a call to action on it—whether it’s the home page, a blog post, or a product landing page.

There are a few different reasons for this. One, it helps with the user experience; you can effectively guide your site visitors through the sales funnel and help them reach their destination. Two, it helps boost conversions. You can’t simply assume people will know to call you and schedule an appointment or click a link to buy your product; you’ve got to ask them to do it. That’s what the call to action is all about.

The Elements of a Strong Call to Action

It’s important to note, however, that not all calls to action are created equal. In most cases, a good CTA will have each of these components in place:

  • Brevity; most calls to action are just a sentence or two.
  • Strong action words; generally speaking, you’ll want your CTA to begin with a forceful verb.
  • Value proposition; explain the reasons why your reader should take the desired action. What’s in it for them?
  • Contact information; assuming you’re asking someone to call you, make sure your CTA gives them the phone number!

With that said, what are some examples of good, compelling, persuasive calls to action that you can use as models? Here are some tried and true CTAs that are worthy of emulation.

Steal These Calls to Action

  1. Unlock the secrets of effective content marketing. Sign up for our weekly email newsletter today!
  2. Reap the rewards of a robust content marketing strategy; call us at 803-831-7444 for a free consultation!
  3. Have you been waiting for the perfect time to retool your resume? Wait no longer. Reach out to our resume writing team to claim your free consultation.
  4. Discover five simple ways to make your resume more commanding. Download our free guide today!
  5. Save money on your summer utility bills; contact us today to schedule a comprehensive HVAC cleaning.
  6. Stay cool, all summer long. Reach out to one of our HVAC technicians to schedule an inspection today.
  7. Master the art of used car negotiation—saving yourself time and hassle. Download our free guide today!
  8. Get behind the wheel of an amazing new vehicle—one that fits your budget and your lifestyle. Come down to our showroom right away!
  9. Step into luxury. Reserve your spa day now!
  10. The beauty secrets of the stars can all be yours. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Master the Art of the CTA

A strong call to action is the perfect capstone to your online content—and when done right, it can help you move the needle and generate more and more conversions. And if you’re still not sure how a CTA fits into your content equation, don’t fret. Get the help you need writing CTAs that convert; contact Grammar Chic, Inc. at www.grammarchic.net.

Leave a comment

Filed under Content Marketing, Content Writing, Web Content, Writing

Manage Your Online Reputation with These Four Essential Assets

When’s the last time you made a major purchase without first doing a little online research? If you’re like most of us, you spend a little time online doing some due diligence before you ever commit to a high-priced product or service. And after all, why wouldn’t you? Googles makes it quick and easy to do meaningful consumer research, potentially saving yourself from a big, expensive blunder.

For consumers, online research is invaluable; for business owners, things are a little more dicey. After all, you can be certain that your consumers are using Google to vet your brand, your products, and your services before they give you any of their hard-earned money.

Your Online Reputation is One of Your Most Valuable Assets

As an exercise, you might take a minute to Google your brand, and see what comes up. If it’s all good, positive stuff, then congratulations—you have a solid online reputation, one that should encourage potential customers to buy from you in confidence.

But if your Google results are less than stellar—if they include negative reviews or unwanted news headlines, for instance—then you may actually be losing customers at a fairly high rate. We’re not exaggerating, either; online reputation can be truly make-or-break.

That’s why we recommend taking a proactive approach—something that’s not nearly as difficult as the high-dollar online reputation management firms will claim. Actually, a dedicated content marketing effort—focused on a few key assets—can help you preserve and even enhance your brand’s online image.

Online Reputation Management: A Four-Pronged Approach

Your Business Blog Provides Thought Leadership

For starters, if you want people to find positive listings when they Google your company name, it’s important that you actually create those listings. Positive content won’t write itself!

A regularly-updated business blog is helpful for a few reasons:

  1. It provides regular updates to the Google search algorithms—feeding the content monster and keeping your brand’s listings fresh.
  2. It allows you to display thought leadership—earning the trust and confidence of your customers.
  3. It provides opportunities for social media shares—another important way to generate some positive online mentions.

Press Releases Create Buzz

Getting some local news coverage is another important way to boost your positive Google listings—and that’s why we still recommend press releases for many of our content marketing clients. While this is seen as something of an old-fashioned approach, the reality is that it’s an easy and effective way to build buzz.

The important thing is to send out news releases about actually newsworthy events—such as:

  • New products or services
  • New locations
  • New hires
  • Involvement with a local charity or non-profit

Social Media is an Avenue for Customer Services

Something else you’ll want to do is maintain some active social media accounts—and not just for the obvious reasons. Yes, social media channels make it easy for you to distribute positive, brand-enhancing information—but they also provide a way for you to engage with your customers directly.

This can be either a blessing or a curse. To use social media effectively, it’s important to check in every day and respond to questions and complaints professionally—essentially viewing it as a chance to flex your customer service muscles. This can help minimize the occurrence of bad reviews or negative listings; if your customers see that you respond to their issues, they may not be as tempted to vent about you on Yelp or Foursquare.

Online Review Sites Add Luster to Your Brand

That brings us to the last of our vital assets—and that’s online review sites. To many business owners, these review sites are a scourge and a threat. Certainly, they pose a risk to your brand—but they also offer some opportunities. Here’s our advice for tangling with these site:

  • Above all, make sure you monitor your online reviews; always know what people are saying about your business.
  • If you spot some positive reviews, take a minute to say thanks.
  • If you come across negative ones, pause to offer some customer service. Coolly and calmly try to make things right.
  • Actively seek positive reviews; ask your best, most loyal clients to help you out by offering some positive feedback.

Take Your Reputation Seriously

Given the centrality of online research to the consumer experience, you can’t afford to think of online reputation as secondary, or as optional. Your brand will have a reputation, whether you like it or not; it falls to you to make sure it’s a good one.

And we can help! Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to discuss any and all of your content crafting needs—including blogs, social media, press releases, and beyond. Contact us at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

Leave a comment

Filed under Brand Management, Content Marketing, Social Media, Web Content

3 Ways Google’s SERP Changed Last Year—And What It Means for Your Business

Google is constantly tweaking its search engine algorithms—and often, those changes are plainly evident from the search engine results page (SERP) itself.

Why is the SERP such a work in progress? Simple: Google wants to provide its users with the best product possible—that is, quick, relevant, practical answers to their search queries. And it’s constantly devising new ways to make that product just a little bit more appealing.

The downside for business owners is that there’s a lot of fluctuation to keep up with. The SEO efforts that worked in years past may not work as well today. In fact, 2017 saw a few significant changes to the SERP—and those changes all have some implications for small business marketing efforts.

PPC ads take up more of the SERP than ever before.

There was a time when the SERP was occupied mostly by organic search listings—the kind of listings you could attain through the right mix of content marketing and SEO. But today, paid ads are placed more prominently than ever before. Users have to scroll further down the SERP before they even arrive at organic listings; meanwhile, PPC ads have infiltrated parts of the SERP they never appeared previously, such as the Google Map Pack.

Does this mean SEO and content marketing are dead? Far from it. It just means that a comprehensive approach is needed. If you want to blanket as much of the SERP as possible, you can’t rely solely on organic listings or on paid ads. You really need a strategy that encompasses both, and balances them appropriately.

If you’re not already augmenting your content marketing efforts with PPC, make 2018 the year you really get a handle on ad bidding, targeting, and copywriting.

Featured snippets occupy prime SERP real estate.

Another important change? Google wants to empower users to get the answers they seek from the SERP itself—without actually having to click through to a link. One way this is evident is in the rise of featured snippets.

You’ve probably seen these before, even if you didn’t realize what they were called. Have you ever done a Google search, and had the SERP give you a direct answer, in the form of a little “answer box” appearing just above the organic search listings?

These are featured snippets, and they occupy the “zero position” on the SERP—coveted online real estate. Getting your content to rank in the zero position can be a major boost to your brand visibility.

This is a tough thing to attain, but not impossible. The best bet is to format your content in the form of a bulleted list, a table, or a Q&A—especially when it comes to more fact-based and objective subject matter. Remember, Google wants to provide quick, clear, authoritative answers to its users, and it’s in your best interests to help it do so.

More people are arriving at the SERP through voice search.

We’ve blogged before about voice search, which is quickly becoming the most popular way to search for content on Google. But as more and more search engine users arrive at the SERP via Siri or Alexa, it’s important for your content to accommodate them.

Again, a lot of it comes down to formatting—with bulleted lists and Q&A formats being especially useful. Also remember to write your content in a conversational style that reflects the way real voice searches are done. A traditional Google search might be phrased like this: Jimmy Kimmel age. But with voice search, you’re more likely to ask: How old is Jimmy Kimmel? For content to rank well for these voice-based queries, it’s important to emulate that casual style.

Making Sense of the New SERP

As you seek to get your content ranked on this new and ever-changing SERP, don’t hesitate to seek guidance. Grammar Chic, Inc. has diverse experience in content marketing, and we always have the latest SEO strategies in mind. We’d love to consult with you about your content marketing and Google search needs. Reach out at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Content Marketing, Content Writing, Social Media, Web Content, Writing