In today's edition of PR 20/20's Picks of the Week, we offer marketing guidance and food-for-thought from leaders in several industries. Read on for: information about the importance of links (and how to get them), social media education in journalism schools, why content marketing works, why viral videos may not be the best use of your resources, tips for building a strategic content marketing plan, and what service providers can learn from Abraham Maslow.
In this Google Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts answers a question regarding why links are such a key element of Google's ranking algorithm, when so many today are nofollow. (Nofollow links are simply coded links that search engines do not register).
He first explains that while many common links, such as those from social network status updates, are nofollow, nofollow links actually make up a very small percentage of all available links on the web. Therefore, developing quality solutions and content the people want to share — not only on social networks, but also on their own websites and blogs — is still the key to gaining higher search engine rankings and more organic traffic. According to Matt, the best way to gain links is to "make your own website, and make something so compelling, so interesting, that people want to link to your site."
As part of a focus on journalism education in a digital age, Alfred Hermida explores how journalism schools are integrating social media into the classroom, and helping students understand how this medium can enhance their skills as a reporter.
Alfred shares a collection of ideas from the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Some key concepts discussed, which I would argue are important for all undergraduate students to learn about today, are:
- Understanding social media as a circular communications tool
- Monitoring (beats for reporters, industry trends for others)
- Critically evaluating validity and value of online information
- Providing real value to your online community
- Understanding your digital footprint, and managing your online reputation
Clearly, social media is becoming an integral part of the way reporters communicate with sources, understand their audiences and dig deeper into potential story opportunities. But — particularly if you consider the increasingly popular notion that in an online world, everyone is a journalist — it isn’t only future reporters that need to learn social networking skills, and how they translate to the business world.
In this humorous, but accurate take on content marketing, cartoonist and author Hugh MacLeod recalls discussions he had about blogging for business as early as 2003. Even at that time, his friend Henry Copeland suggested that it seemed as though “the most viable business model for blogging these days is for under-employed consultants to show off how smart they are.”
Talk about thinking ahead of his time! If you are having trouble understanding the impact blogging can have on your business, take this to heart. Blogging offers a window for prospects into your expertise, your company culture and your industry. Done well, blogging can absolutely lead to business. Hugh sums it up well with a bit of “math:”
"You write a blog. You build a dedicated following. You leave a discreet, non-pushy trail of breadcrumbs to what your business actually does for money. If X percent of your readers take the bait and become paying customers, hey, you win...That’s the good news. The bad news is, effective content marketing requires two things: world-class content and a world-class product. Harder than it looks. Life is unfair."
Jim Louderback takes a stance on viral video as the standard go-to format for marketing/advertising online video production — he’s not a fan. In fact, he compares viral video to a “fluffernutter white-bread sandwich, delivering little or no value to anyone.”
According to Jim, focusing on viral success goes against long-term marketing goals of building a community, generating and nurturing leads, and increasing customer loyalty. “Some of the best and most talented video producers focus their enormous talents on creating viral hits, instead of building repeatable episodic series that are built around an authentic host or an extended narrative. Yet in the end, those are the video properties that keep viewers coming back, provide predictable views that publishers covet and repeatable results that drive sales and profits.”
In addition to missing the mark on long-term brand building, viral video may also have negative impacts to video sites and advertisers. There are very real challenges in trying to work out the revenue-producing aspects of millions of eyeballs, including how to get the right brands associated with the right content, and how to accurately measure the number of video views.
Money takeaway? “Stop chasing viral, and start looking closely at online video that delivers repeatable, measurable and sustainable views.”
This is an excellent guide for developing a strategic, ongoing content marketing production plan from Steve Sponder. Viewing content as a way to engage in conversation with your key audiences long-term, Steve keeps in mind that there is much more to content marketing than simply developing, packaging and publishing the information. By including elements such as branding, social media and measurement, Steve’s 10-step process is one of the most thorough content strategy guides I’ve come across. Steps include:
- Business Objectives
- Brand Purpose
- Content Value (Social Currency)
- Social Agents
- Active Listening
The article goes into detail on each of the above, and includes a handy infographic to go along with the process. Check it out.
If you’ve ever taken a psychology class, you probably have at least a basic recollection of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. At its core, this long-standing theory states that human needs are hierarchical, and basic needs such as air, food and water must be satisfied before more advanced needs like safety, intimacy or confidence can be realized.
This article by Denise Lee Yohn explores Maslow’s heirarchy in the context of a customer-service provider relationship. After reading several differing viewpoints on gaining customer loyalty through excellent service and hospitality (whether meeting basic brand promises or going “above and beyond” matters more to customers), Denise began to see service in a hierarchical fashion.
First distinguishing between service as “technical delivery” and a “fantastic experience,” Denise posited that basic customer needs, such as fulfilling your core brand promises, must be met before any extras, such as customer perks and personalized service, can be truly meaningful, and generate trust and loyalty.
In short: “you can’t compensate for the lack of basic service resolution by ‘wow-ing’ the customer… The basics may not be exciting, but they’re the basics nonetheless — so companies should deliver on them brilliantly before moving on.”
What was your favorite article of the week? Share it below, or tweet it to our attention @PR2020.