Tag Archives: Content Writing

Brand Storytelling: Where to Start?

Present someone with a list of facts and figures and they’re likely to forget everything you told them; tell someone a story, meanwhile, and it just might linger with them.

That’s the basic concept behind brand storytelling, which is closely interwoven with content marketing. Basically, and very much unlike traditional advertising—which focuses on a laundry list of products or services—brand storytelling allows you to craft a narrative about your company. Who are you? What do you stand for? What are your values? And where does the customer enter the scene?

If that sounds like an ambitious undertaking, it is; your brand storytelling unfolds across many different platforms, from social media to your company’s About page, and it encompasses every piece of content you create plus every interaction you have with our customers.

So where do you get started? What are the opening pages of your brand’s story?

Getting Started with Brand Storytelling

  • Before you publish any content, take the time to write down your actual brand story—how long your company has been around; who it serves; the benefits it offers; the advantages you offer over your competition; and the reasons a customer might choose to do business with you. Keep this brand story handy as a kind of reference, ensuring that all your future content creation aligns with it.
  • Remember that good storytelling usually has some sense of conflict. For your brand, the conflict is this: Your customers have needs, or pain points, and your brand can provide the solution. That’s the central action of all your brand storytelling.
  • Know who you’re telling the story to; awareness of your audience is key. Know who they are and what they care about; what problems they face, and what solutions they are seeking. Creating buyer personas is often helpful here.
  • Also be aware that good storytelling isn’t just about the details you include, but also the details you omit. In particular, you can skip over those details that won’t hold the interest of your audience; keep the focus on them, and the benefits you provide them—not all the finer points of your company history, which may not be as interesting or as relevant to outsiders.
  • Choose the right media to tell your story. Some brands lend themselves very well to Facebook; others, to LinkedIn. Some brands benefit from video, and others really don’t. It’s all just a matter of where your audience is, and which formats make the most sense for the story you’re telling.
  • Along the same lines, always adapt your story to the platform you’re telling it on. For Snapchat, you can be informal; for LinkedIn, it’s usually better to be straight-laced and professional.
  • Good storytelling elicits emotion—and that’s certainly what you should aim for with your content. Always ask yourself how you want your audience to feel about the content you create and the story you’re telling. And, be strategic about how those feelings might prompt action.
  • Use natural language to tell your story. Your vocabulary and your diction should mirror the way your customers actually speak and actually search for information. This is more important than ever, here in the age of Voice Search.
  • Always provide your audience with a clear sense of how the story continues—specifically with a strong call to action in each piece of content.

Time to Start Your Story

Start telling the story of your brand today; allow your customers to see where they fit into it, and how you can help them resolve conflict and find solutions. In short: Tell them a story they won’t soon forget.

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Filed under Brand Management, Business Writing, Content Writing

Should Your Business Write Longer Tweets?

Last November, Twitter doubled its famous 140-character count, meaning that Twitter users now have the luxury of a full 280 characters in each tweet. At the time, it was presumed to be the death knell for the platform, which had long been celebrated for its forced brevity. Most Twitter users acclimated to the new format pretty quickly, however. And, in the months that followed, Grammar Chic has received a number of inquiries from social media clients, wondering if they should be using all of this available space.

To be sure, this isn’t a simple question to answer—and to a large extent, it depends on your brand, your audience, and the nature of your tweets. We don’t recommend writing 280-character tweets just because you can; if your message works best in 140 characters or less, stick with that.

With that said, there are certainly some benefits to the relaxed character count—and some reasons why your business might take advantage of this new spaciousness.

Media Attachments are More Feasible Than Ever

With the old Twitter, it was challenging to compose tweets that included photos, captions, links, and hashtags; simply attaching a photo to your post ate up 40 of those precious 140 characters, right out of the gate. But with the new Twitter, media attachments don’t count toward your character limit, so you’ve got a lot more wiggle room to include visual content and still have room to do some writing and some tagging.

That’s probably the best way to avail yourself of longer tweets; you don’t have to write the Great American Novel, but you can include fully fleshed-out thoughts, attention-grabbing images, and plenty of hashtags and @ mentions to increase your reach.

You’ve Got More Room for Your Messaging

An even more obvious point is that longer tweets mean you’ve got a little bit more room for your marketing messaging. Now, caution is in order: There’s still something to be said for brevity. With that said, it’s nice that marketers can include links to product pages or to new blog posts, along with some brief commentary and hashtags, without having to worry as much about spilling over that character limit.

Again, our advice isn’t necessarily that you should try to fill up each 280-character tweet with text; just use the space you have to ensure a full-bodied thought, along with appropriate tags, links, and media.

Be Strategic in Your Tweets

The debate over long vs. short content is nothing new, and it’s hardly confined to Twitter. By all means, stretch out your business tweets when you feel it’s appropriate, but make sure you’ve got a strategy in place to guide all your content creating decisions. We can help you develop one; reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Does Your Content Marketing Team Play Well with Others?

Effective marketing requires a multi-channel approach. Content creation can be one channel—in fact, we’d argue that it’s the cornerstone of any effective marketing endeavor—but even high-quality content won’t do you much good if it’s never discovered, consumed, and acted upon.

So how do you deploy content effectively? Again, there are multiple channels available, and the best approach unites several of them—social media, video marketing, PPC, and beyond. Search engine optimization is critical as well, helping your quality content get found by your targeted audience, all organically.

Different Disciplines, Different Experts

Uniting these different disciplines—SEO and content marketing, let’s say—may require the guidance of different experts. Grammar Chic, Inc. is living proof of this. We are not an SEO firm, strictly speaking—but we work with a number of SEO firms, who entrust us to build engaging and highly optimized content for them. Likewise, we do not do Web design, but we have partnerships with a number of Web design shops that hire us to add verbiage to their great designs.

These companies lean on us because we’re good writers, but also because we’re good at communicating with them, working within the frameworks they provide, and understanding how our content aligns with their more technical marketing goals. This kind of synergy isn’t just a nice bonus; for more and more companies that outsource their marketing, it’s absolutely critical.

Again: Digital marketing isn’t just one thing. It’s many different channels, brought together to be used in tandem. So when you seek a marketing provider, it’s important to make sure it’s someone who has key partnerships with other experts, and the ability to work well with those partners.

Primed for Partnership

To that end, Grammar Chic, Inc.’s content writing team delivers a few key benefits:

  • We can create quality content that is engaging and SEO-optimized (length, format, keywords, etc.) laid out by an SEO or Web design team.
  • We can create content designed to meet various marketing goals—whether it’s conversion-generation PPC ads or an educational Web page.
  • We can communicate directly with an SEO or Web design expert, speaking the same language to ensure we’re all on the same page.
  • We can advise SEO or Web design firms on the best ways to engage readers, stir emotions, generate shares, or accomplish other creative goals.

We’d love to talk with you more about Grammar Chic, Inc. and our role as a go-to content creator for top SEO and Web design shops. Reach out to us today to learn more, either at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Meta Descriptions are Longer—and More Important—Than Ever

Mere weeks ago, Google announced a fairly major shake-up to the status quo. Meta descriptions, which have long been limited to 160 characters, can now be up to 320 characters—effectively doubling the size of this crucial online real estate.

What are Meta Descriptions, and Why Do They Matter?

If you’re not sure what a meta description is, conduct a Google search right now. In the search results page, you’ll see a list of 10 (or so) blue links—i.e. your search results. Beneath each link you’ll see a brief blurb, summarizing what the content is about. That, basically, is the meta description.

Your meta descriptions matter because they provide Google with a sense of what your content is about—and, they offer search engine users with a sneak peek, helping them decide whether or not they want to click on your link.

“Meta descriptions play a big role in search results,” HubSpot notes. “The end goal is to convince and persuade the searcher to click through to your website. Any words that match the search term are bolded in the description.”

What to Do with Longer Meta Descriptions

Hopefully you can see why meta descriptions are so meaningful—but the question remains: What are marketers supposed to do with all this extra space at their disposal?

Your first instinct might be to say that this is a boon for content writers and SEOs, who now have twice as much space to insert keywords, to offer a content synopsis, and to entice users to click through to their page. And that’s true, but it can also be a double-edged sword.

Consider it this way: Meta descriptions were initially developed to provide a short, snappy summary of your content, aimed at search engine users. That hasn’t changed. And while having 320 characters may help you develop a more compelling summary in some cases, there are just as many instances where less is more.

In fact, there’s an argument to be made that longer meta descriptions do more harm than good. Given that most searches now happen on mobile devices, where users aren’t as keen to do a lot of reading, brevity is generally best. Getting right to the point, with a pithy meta description, may actually be more beneficial than testing your reader’s patience with the full 320.

Meta Descriptions: A Case Study

Imagine this scenario: You’ve conducted a Google search for content writing services, and you’ve found Grammar Chic’s content writing services page. Which of the following two meta descriptions would make you more likely to click the link?

Discover the value of outsourcing your content writing needs to a company like Grammar Chic! Arrange a consultation with a content writing professional today!

OR…

Content writing services can help you keep up with the demands of regular content creation, while also freeing your time to focus on other areas of your business. Learn more about the content writing services of Grammar Chic, which include social media, blogging, press releases, website content, and more!

Now, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with either of these meta descriptions—but it’s hard to deny that the first one is a little punchier, a little more straight-to-the-point, a little more likely to command your attention and result in a click.

Let that be a lesson: In writing meta descriptions, you’ve now got more room to maneuver than ever before—but that doesn’t always mean you should take it.

We’d love to talk with you more about your content writing strategy—from headlines to body content to meta descriptions and beyond! For meta description writing strategies, contact Grammar Chic, Inc. at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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3 Things That Blow Your Social Media Credibility (And How to Avoid Them)

Small businesses use social media for different reasons—to share content, to engage in dialogue with their customers, to boost online visibility, and to preserve their online reputation, among other things. One of the most critical reasons to be on social media is that it can give you credibility; by sharing valuable information, you can build thought leadership and earn trust.

Yet, in some instances, social media activity can have the opposite effect—actually detracting from your credibility rather than enhancing it. In this post, we’ll guide you through three of the biggest offenders, and offer some suggestions for staying on the straight and narrow.

Only Sharing Links to Branded Content

To be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using social media to share company blog posts, videos, or sales pages.

The problem comes when that’s all you share—because, quite simply, it makes you come across as salesy, only interested in tooting your own horn rather than adding value to your customers’ lives.

And on top of that, the all-branded-content, all-the-time approach can make your social media presence become static and uninteresting. No matter how you slice it, it’s a bad approach.

But what can you do instead? Our suggestions:

  • Aim for a balance between branded and curated content; ideally, only about 20-30 percent of your content should be branded material.
  • For curated content, look for articles, blogs, videos, editorials, and infographics that convey meaningful information about your industry and add value to the reader’s life.
  • Focus on educating rather than just selling all the time; treat your content like a product in its own right and keep the emphasis on benefits to the end user.
  • Make sure you balance your links with other kinds of content, too—like images, polls, or posts that simply ask questions or offer tips.

Seeking Followers Through Illegitimate Means

As you may have heard, fake Twitter followers are abundant—but now, they are also being investigated by the government. Many big brands, including celebrities and politicians, are losing followers fast.

Don’t try to buy followers, no matter how tempting it may seem; it’s not going to work out in the long run, and when you lose millions of followers overnight, it will cause you to look pretty hapless.

Instead, we recommend:

  • Focus on organic growth! Don’t buy followers but earn them. Use the value-focused, balanced content marketing approach we outlined above.
  • Remember that content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint—and you’re not likely to win a ton of followers all at once. Instead focus on patiently building relationships and developing credibility.
  • Finally, remember that 100 real-life customers, who might actually buy your products or recommend you to a friend, are far more desirable than a million bots.

Trying to Please Everyone

There’s nothing wrong with sharing memes or funny videos on your social media profiles—so long as they’re somehow relevant to your core business offerings.

But when funeral homes tweet out funny kitty memes, that’s obviously a little weird, to say nothing of off-brand.

Tactics like this make it look like you’re desperate to win everyone over to your brand—but remember: You don’t want everyone. You just want your targeted audience—the people you’re trying to reach with your products and services. (See your buyer personas for more!)

Use Social Media to Boost Your Credibility

With the right strategy, you can use social media to offer value, entertainment, and engagement—building your credibility in the process.

We’d love to show you how. Contact the Grammar Chic, Inc. team for a social media marketing consultation. Reach out at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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How to Brainstorm Content Ideas for Your Small Business

Often, the most challenging part of content marketing is simply coming up with good ideas. Perhaps you’ve had this experience: You set aside an hour of your day to write a post for your small business blog, then stare at your computer for a good 45 minutes trying to think of a topic. By that point, of course, you hardly have enough time left to write a solid introduction, much less a full post.

Something we recommend is keeping a list of topics ready to go—so that when you have those moments of scheduled content creation, you don’t have to waste time fumbling for inspiration. Still, the question remains: How do you come up with good ideas to populate your list?

Start with Content Categories

A good place to begin the brainstorming process is not with specific topics, but simply with categories.

Think about your areas of expertise—the services your company provides, the niche it serves. Try to think of five to seven big “buckets” into which content can be placed. For example, say you own a plumbing company. Your buckets might be Commercial Plumbing, Plumbing Repair, Drain Cleaning, Bathroom Remodeling, Household Plumbing Tips and Tricks, and HVAC.

Now, for each of these content buckets, try to come up with some subcategories—further ways to classify content. For each bucket, aim for a good five subcategories. For example, under Plumbing Repair, your sub-categories might include:

  • Fixing leaks
  • Water heater maintenance
  • Removing clogs
  • Preventative maintenance
  • When to call a plumber

Once you’ve written down those big buckets and their related sub-categories, you’ve got a pretty good blueprint to work from.

Brainstorming Content Ideas

Now we come to the part of the process where you actually jot down some content ideas.

Start with any of those subcategories you wrote down, and approach it from a couple of different angles:

  • First, there is the expertise angle—wherein you’re simply trying to impart some knowledge to your customers, sharing your expertise on the topic in question. What are some things you’d like your customers to know, as relates to this topic? What are some of the most common questions you get?
  • Second, there is the offering What are you trying to sell, as relates to this topic? Generating posts with an offering angle might mean listing the perks, benefits, or pros/cons of a specific service—for example, under the Preventative Maintenance category, your topic might be The Benefits of Preventative Plumbing Maintenance, underlining the value of homeowners having routine inspections from a certified plumber.

Even if you only come up with a couple of topics for each of your subcategories—an expertise angle and an offering angle—you’ll still have a fairly large list of topics at your ready.

And there are ways to take those topics and spin them into additional ideas. For example, if you land on the perfect angle for a blog post, type your working title into the Google search bar and just see what comes up. You may find that competitors or industry experts have written related or thematically-adjacent posts that can inspire your own work.

Outsource Your Content Creation

Having a list of pre-determined topics—and periodically spending some time expanding and revising it—can make content creation much more fluid, and much less frustrating.

And if you’re serious about generating quality content, you can take the next step—outsourcing your content creation to the writers at Grammar Chic, Inc. We can provide a full spectrum of services, from topic generation to writing, proofing, editing, and formatting. To talk content strategy, reach out to our writers at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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

Writing Content for Position Zero

Google introduced “featured snippets” in 2017—and marketers have been chasing them ever since.

If you’re not familiar with featured snippets, they represent one of the most significant elements on the Google SERP. A featured snippet provides users with a quick answer to their query, without requiring them to actually click on a hyperlink. For example, if you do a Google search for 33rd President of the U.S., Google will present you with an informational box with Harry S. Truman’s name and picture within it. You don’t have to scroll through any actual search results for your question to be answered.

It’s obvious why these quick-reference listings are helpful for search engine users—but why are they of such interest to marketers? Simple: They rank in position zero on the SERP. That is, featured snippets are displayed before the search results themselves—making this prime online real estate.

And yes, there are ways you can write content that gets your brand into position zero. It won’t be easy—but with the right strategy and the correct type of content, it’s an achievable goal.

Content That Ranks for Position Zero

Here are a few strategies for writing content that will land you in those featured snippets.

Answer Simple, Factual Questions

Featured snippets are most often used to present simple answers to factual questions. Of course, some questions are going to be way too nebulous, subjective, or complicated for any answer to fit within a small Google search box. But if you can identify those basic questions your audience is asking—something as simple as, well, who was the 33rd President of the United States?—you’re on the right track.

Of course, your users probably aren’t looking for information about former Presidents, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t basic questions you’re qualified to answer. For example, if you run an accounting firm, you might answer questions like:

  • Where do I get my income tax return forms?
  • When will my employer send my W-2?
  • What is the maximum home mortgage deduction?

Identify the questions your audience is asking, then write content that both asks and answers them—as clearly as possible.

Offer Instructions

Featured snippers don’t just answer questions. They explain how to do things. For example, recipes and step-by-step guides often find their way into position zero.

That’s definitely something you can use to your advantage. Make sure the content you create includes how-to guides and tutorials. Ensure that you format with bullet points or numbered lists. Offer your expertise to readers—because remember: Google is trying to offer its users helpful, substantive information. If you can assist with that, you may get a position zero ranking.

Define Terms

A lot of people use Google as a dictionary—and one way you can get a position zero listing is to define some complex terms, in particular terms that relate to your industry.

For example, a content marketing firm might develop an online glossary, where they define such terms as:

  • Pay-per-click ads
  • Enterprise SEO
  • Google Analytics
  • Buyer persona

This is closely related to our first tip, about answering questions—and again, the point is simply to provide users with clear, quick answers to their questions.

Make Recommendations

Many search engine users are seeking a particular product—and they want to ensure that the product they select is the best of its kind. So, offering top 10 lists and best-of recommendations can be another good way to make it into those featured snippets.

Are you a used car dealer? Write a blog post where you list your top 10 small sedans. That’s just one example of how best-of lists can help you rank for position zero.

Writing Content with SEO in Mind

Your content writing efforts should always be done with SEO in mind—and that includes ranking for position zero. That’s something our marketing pros can help with. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. for a consultation. Call 803-831-7444, or visit us at www.grammarchic.net.

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