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Archive for the ‘Social media/social media marketing’ Category


7 User-Generated Content Ideas to Create a Trusted Brand

UGCAdvertising’s not quite dead, but it seldom pays off like it did in decades past. In fact, it tends to turn off the new app-happy generation.

Suffice to say if you aim to claim the attention and admiration of the smartphone clan, it’s smarter—and more lucrative—to try different approaches.

Obviously, content marketing is the approach most brands are moving to. And most strive to write, design, shoot, record, and publish helpful content. The “teach, not preach” approach has proven to help create brand affinity, and often, generate sales.

But c’mon now, the truth is phone fanatics aren’t always keen on embracing old standbys such as “how to” articles and list posts. They’re far more inclined to spend their time Gramming, Snapping, Tweeting and Tubing.

So let’s talk about the approach today’s most trusted brands use to operate more effectively in age of the small screen…

You can’t go it alone to get user-generated content produced. You need happy customers to pull it off. They vouch for, and rave, about your product. Viewers are more inclined to buy the message—and subsequently—the product.

Ipsos ingrographic UGC

An infographic from Ipsos MediaCT focused on how millennials love user-generated content (UGC). As you see above, it makes the point that peer reviews are highly trustworthy. It also states:

  • 30% of the millennials media time is spent consuming UGC.
  • It’s getting much easier for customers to create content.
  • UGC is 35% more memorable than other media.
  • UGC is 20% more influential on purchase decisions than all other media types.

It works. People trust their peers most. It’s that simple.

7 benefits of user-generated content

UGC offers a number of benefits:

  • Increased awareness
    More people talk up your brand via social media and blogs, giving you more exposure.
  • Better understanding of your audience
    You gain more insights into what services potential customers are looking for and how they experience your brand.
  • More engagement
    UGC allows you to enhance your relationship with consumers online.
  • Stronger community
    Fostering conversation allows your consumers to connect with each other.
  • Search results
    More content produces more search engine indexing giving your website enhanced visibility around target key phrases.
  • Trustworthy content
    As noted above, the majority of consumers trust their peers. When satisfied customers tell others about their experience, it provides social proof that supports the credibility of your brand.
  • Sales
    Increased buyer engagement and purchases are among the most direct benefits of user-generated content.

To create this post I dove into the various types of user-generated content promoted on social media channels to:

  • Showcase seven user-generated content ideas you can use to garner interest and generate sales.
  • Share some of the best user-generated content campaigns I found.

Let’s dig in.

1. Contests

Contests work in consumer and B2B marketing. To create them, you need (1) a fun idea, of course, and (2) contestants. Put the two together and you have user-generated content that can benefit both your brand and its fans.

Conceive a prize. It can be cash, merchandise, free service or even just some form of recognition.

Conceive a tactic that produces content, preferably visual content.

TourDeSun contest
ShortStack is a user-generated content platform—and then some. In this example,
TourDeSun used the versatile ShortStack platform to setup a simple Instagram contest asking entrants to submit vacation selfies with the hashtag #vacationfortwo.

Lays contest
Lays dangles a large pile of cash to entice entries for its “Do us a Flavor” contest, which has been going for years now because it produces tremendous social buzz.

Commarts contest
Here’s a thing of beauty: an award-winning design from a typography competition conducted annually by Commarts (CA). Their contest page claims, “CA’s Award of Excellence is one of the most-coveted awards in the industry. If chosen, winning places you in the highest ranks of your profession.”

2. Hashtag campaigns

You can engage your customers on an ongoing basis with #hashtag campaigns. This tactic is especially popular on Instagram where hashtagged images from customers essentially serve as word-of-mouth advertising.

While you could offer incentives and go with the contest approach, often the opportunity to be featured on your Instagram account is all it takes.

Earth Rated hashtag campaign
I love how Earth Rated, makers of biodegradable dog poop bags, perpetually inspires the enthusiastic dog lovers who use their product to post hashtagged images.

3. Customer events

You can create authentic and persuasive content by creating customer events, online and off, and give customers starring roles in whatever you create.

I love this idea from John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing: the video appreciation party. John writes, “Once a year or so hold a client appreciation event to say thanks and create a networking event for your clients and prospects. Hire a video crew for the event and, after a few bottles of wine have been emptied, ask some of your clients to talk about their experience with your firm on camera. Then also let them record a five minute commercial for their own use too.”

Here are some more ideas for customer events where creating content is among the goals:

  • Twitter chats
  • Webinars—Invite customers to speak
  • Promotions at trade shows
  • Meetups or seminars

4. Surveys

If there’s a great strategy in this post for killing multiple birds with one stone, this is surely it. Do research with your customers.

First and foremost, you’ll create a form of content that consistently delivers tremendous results for earning links and shares. Research by Buzzsumo identifies five content types that perform best including “content that provides original research and insights.”

Next, obviously, you’ll learn more about your customers’ needs.

And… research as a content type is amazingly repurposable. It can easily be developed as a report, post, microsite, infographic, slide deck, and more.

INSync webinar
Just a minute ago, in my inbox was an invitation to attend a “virtual session,” a webinar, I suppose, where brand new research will be revealed. Smart.

Emma ebook
Research projects such as this industry report from email service provider Emma is great for all of the reasons described above and, if gated with an opt-in form, provides a strong lead magnet for earning new email subscribers.

5. Video testimonials

Testimonials have persevered for ages across any and all media for good reason. Prospects want to know… How have you used this product or service? What did you accomplish?

You’ll find user-generated video content is a major trust builder.

Zoom video testimonials
Zoom, an online conferencing platform I use and love, offers short video testimonials on its home page drawing viewers into highly compelling stories, such as the one above featuring Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

6. Customer stories

Customer stories (which may go by their more formal moniker, case studies) can be user-generated. Hi, I’m Diane and I like my software because it saved me time.

Not a bad approach by any stretch of the imagination, especially if they’re authentic. Social media and smartphones make this sort of thing oh-so-easy. But ultimately, these confessions of undying loyalty serve you and you alone.

What if some of those brand-loving volunteers of yours who get wealthier, healthier, happier or somehow better than they were before could be invited to share their stories in a way that serves them? A line could form.

I’ll use a really smart example from Kajabi to clarify. The company, which offers a platform for launching, hosting and selling educational courses, developed an ongoing series of customer stories called the #KajabiHero program.

Kajabi heroes

It’s basic, brilliant and a bona fide revenue generator. You see, those customers above clad in their sharp, black, 100% cotton tees, screen-printed with hashtags hovering above their hearts, don’t just give their testimony.

They’re rewarded with website traffic for playing along. Yep. Look at those links above. They don’t go to Kajabi pages; they go to sites from Lena, Jordan, Gidget and Diane.

Smart stuff, this mutual backscratching society results in authentic stories, credible content, and new customers.

7. Collaborations

We’ll call this final one the “Etcetera File” because, really, you could say every idea I’ve presented thus far is a collaborative effort of sorts. However, the sky’s the limit when it comes to ways to work with customers to create content.

Here are a few more:

  • Incorporate product/service reviews in your content.
  • Collect idea submissions for just about anything: recipes, tips, hacks, favorites, etc.
  • Create a section of your website, of the forum variety, where customers help each other.
  • Collect customer questions for FAQs.
  • Create roundup posts with contributions from your customers.
  • Co-present with a customer.
  • Co-develop and co-brand an eBook or infographic.
  • Record consultations and offer them as audio and/or video.

It pays to collaborate with customers

It’s time to ask users to generate content and collaborate with you.

When users become your marketers, your communications becomes more credible and prospects feel more confident about buying.

With a little thought and creativity you can use the user-generated content ideas I’ve offered in your marketing mix. And more thing…

Besides making you money, these approaches will often save you money. A lot of these user-generated content ideas are easy, fun and inexpensive—or even free.

If you liked this post, please share it with the click-to-tweet link below or leave a comment.



Do Your Tweets Drive Traffic? 19 Ways to Increase Traffic from Twitter

Twitter traffic

I love me some Twitter. You probably do too.

Okay, sure… Twitter has been beaten-up in the media the past couple of years, but its prominence remains. Growth has slowed, but Twitter’s 328-million current active users represent an all-time high.

If the race is about users, Facebook gets the gold with 1.94 billion active users.

  • However, according to Edison Research, Twitter users are three times more likely to follow brands than Facebook users.
  • 49% of monthly Twitter users follow brands or companies, compared to just 16% of social network users overall.
  • Edison Research says the average Twitter user has 208 followers—a modest number compared to most brands.
  • Still, if each follower were to tweet twice a day, over 400 tweets would populate the average feed each day.

Obviously, as a user, you want people to stop and read your tweets. If you’re sharing content, as most marketers do, you want to drive traffic to it. But unfortunatley, most Twitter users must concede a good portion of the tweets they compose are bound to go unnoticed.

Yes, you can increase your reach by buying advertising on Twitter. And it’s not likely you’ll need to stand in a long line. Only 18% of social media marketers use Twitter ads compared to 86% for Facebook, according to the 2106 Social Media Marketing Industry Report by Social Media Examiner.

19 ways to increase traffic from Twitter

Can you make your tweets sing?

I read 7 of the 10 most followed Twitter accounts belong to singers. Maybe you should start singing? Of course, you’ll be taking on the likes of Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift, so you may not find an audience.

Joking aside, the key to giving your tweets stopping power—or driving traffic from them—is making them sing. Let’s look at a long list of ways you can increase the stopping power of your tweets.

1. Include emojis and symbols

Those little icons we once called “smileys” have come a long way. Today, an amazing array of emojis and symbols appear in tweets and people seem to love them. Try including non-text characters to make your message stand out.  From your smartphone, it’s easy to grab emojis straight from your keyboard. On your computer, you can use a Chrome extension or copy and paste from vast libraries of Twitter symbols like this one.

twitter-emojisTennis mega-star Roger Federer likes to speak in emoji on Twitter as he’s done in the tweet above where he celebrates Switzerland’s appearance at the Olympic Games.

2. #Hashtag your topic

Your tweets are only seen by your followers, if at all. However, when you use a hashtag followed by a word (or words smushed together as a phrase) they can potentially be seen by any user.

By including the hashtag symbol (#), you categorize your tweets, which makes it appear when a user searches the term. Clicking a hashtagged word shows other Tweets that include the same hashtag.


Checkout the Hashtagify site to conduct all kinds of hashtag research including an automatic mind-mapping function that generates related ideas.

3. Call @ttention with a mention

Want someone specific to see your tweet? Mention them by including their username preceded by the @ symbol.

Want to get the attention of a group of people at once? The trick here is to include an image in your tweet. Twitter presents a prompt that reads, “Who’s in this photo?” You can tag your photo (or any image) with up to 10 users without affecting your character count.

4. Go to the polls

Twitter Polls were introduced in 2015, but didn’t catch on the way most expected it would. In fact, in my estimation, they are seldom used.

I use Twitter Polls somewhat often and find it to be a great tactic for engaging my followers. It’s easy enough to do. Simply click the “Add poll” icon beneath the tweet box, enter up to four choices, and select the length of time you want your poll to run (up to seven days).


It appears 88% of my followers are aware of the Twitter Polls feature. Still, it’s underutilized and represents an opportunity for you.

5. Add images

You may not always have time to add images to your tweets, but you’re likely to be rewarded for doing so. Check out this data:


Because the advantages of adding images to your tweets are now understood by the masses, your next challenge becomes executing the tactic adroitly. Here’s one of my tweets with an image:


Some of the tricks I like to use include the use of:

  • Attractive colors and contrast
  • Superimposed (and centered) headlines
  • Interesting textures (note the sandpaper above)
  • Easily understood icons and symbols
  • Elegant typography

I create multiple images for all my blog posts and feature them in my tweets. Sometimes I also create original images for use on Twitter for my guest posts—or even when sharing a piece of content that should have had a cool image, but didn’t.

As for image creation tools, you can’t beat Canva. However, the web offers a huge array of free, cheap and easy DIY graphic design tools you can add to your trick bag.

6. Faces

“If optimizing for search means adding keywords, then optimizing for social means adding people,” writes my friend Andy Crestodina in a list post about publishing better content.

In addition to the “calling attention with a mention” technique, have some of your tweets feature photos of people. Faces have immense pulling power. It’s as simple as that.


I post this image often when I promote my roundup post featuring copywriting secrets from 27 pros. There are 54 eyeballs pointed at you. You’re scanning the collage right now looking for a face you recognize, aren’t you?


7. Face your followers

While we’re talking about images and people shots, I want to encourage you to feature yourself in your tweets now and then—especially if you’re hiding behind a logo in your profile picture.

In addition to increasing stopping power, your photo will help make a more personal connection and build trust with your followers. I’m not saying you shouldn’t shave, smile, or fix-up your hair, but don’t be overly shy or vain. Toss a candid or selfie on Twitter.

8. Quote someone

Twitter users really connect with quotes: famous quotes, funny quotes, timely quotes, etc. Toss the occasional quote into your tweet mix, especially when you come across something inspiring, thoughtful, or joyful.

Don’t let the 140-character limit for tweets dissuade you from posting a longer quote. Instead, feature the quote in an image. It’s easy enough to do with many great online tools (one, called “Pablo,” is even built into Buffer now). Quotes as images will attract more eyeballs and get shared more too.

9. Play your Twitter cards

Twitter cards make your tweets include more media—images, videos, audio—and download links. You might say they are Twitter’s ultimate contribution to this list.

To use them, you have to want it a bit. Technical shenanigans are required. The good news is Twitter cards can be permanently integrated into your content management system. Twitter’s CMS Integration Guide walks you through the process (somewhat painlessly).


There are five varieties of Twitter cards. Above is an example of the “Summary Card,” which is the most commonly used. The card displays a square image, title, and snippet from your post or page as well as a link.

10. Pose questions

Asking questions is an effective way to pull readers in. Come up with relevant questions about your niche. When you get responses, make sure to follow-up with those who answer you. Show them you’re listening and care.

You may also want to highlight certain answers by retweeting them with a response to keep the conversion alive and inspire even more interaction.

11. Tap emotions

Obviously, your tweets garner more attention when they’re shared.


Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at Wharton, conducted a decade of research for his book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On. Berger identified six principles that cause people to talk about and share an idea.

He created the acronym STEPPS to spell them out. “E” is for emotion. Berger explains, when we care, we share. The more readers are physiologically aroused, the more likely they’ll pass something on.

Want to assess the emotional value of what you’ll tweet? Check out the Social Media Optimizer from CoSchedule a brand new tool that they say makes it easy to quickly gauge the effectiveness of your social media post (before you hit publish).

CoSchedule social message optimizer

12. Add an afterthought (in parentheses)

I offer this subtle trick when I teach headline writing, but found it applies nicely to tweeting too. Include something in parentheses [or brackets] in your tweet. It adds a little magical magnetism. You can do so in mid-tweet or after your thought’s complete.

If your tweet offers a link to something special, say so, like so: [Infographic] or [Video] or [Interview].

13. Bring your perspective to bear when you share

When they decide to share a post, most readers take the easy route by clicking the Twitter chiclet in the share bar. The result is almost always a simple tweet featuring the post’s title. So your tweet matches the pack’s. You can do better.

Tweet more thoughtfully when sharing from a blog post.

  • Begin with an enthusiastic endorsement
  • Pull an interesting passage from the post
  • Explain why you like the content
  • Challenge an idea in the post
  • Ask a question

14. Thank you very much (and often)

Make a point to thank your fellow tweeters who have helped promote your content or contributed to it. Doing so is as simple as tweeting to that person with a mention. You’ll not only create a tweet that will get read, you’ll be nurturing a relationship.


Lookie here. Christopher appreciates my guest post and the blog it appears on. He not only got my attention; he got a new follower. Turns out he lives nearby. Who knows, maybe I got a new drinking buddy?

15. Share multiple times

As I mentioned some 1,500 words ago, tweets fly by your followers. Though they exist long after they’re created, essentially, they disappear.

If you want your tweets to be seen (and in most cases, the content you’re tweeting about), be sure to tweet multiple times—and at different times of the day. Of course, it’s easy to tweet the same thing, but you’re more likely to be rewarded for trying different copy and images.

Many social media tools make it easy to schedule tweets in advance, including PowerPost, Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social and Edgar.


PowerPost social schedulerPowerPost encourages you to “close your browser tabs and click less by loading up your posts for a period of time.” You simply choose the content you want, create a message for each selected channel, and choose when to publish it.

[Disclosure: PowerPost is a client—and new entrant into this field—but an amazing tool for social sharing.]

16. Trim your tweet

Most tweets get close to consuming the 140-characters allotment. You can make your tweet stand out in a busy stream simply by posting a short one.

17. Make your tweet eventful

Twitter’s home to a number of live-recorded events and interactive social platforms. You can “liven” your Twitter feed with:

  • Periscope—Live stream on Periscope and your video appears in Twitter, as does the invitation to join it and shares with mentions.
  • Webinars—If you host or are involved in a webinar, give it a hashtag, announce it and encourage sharing.
  • Anchor—Anchor is a cool app that delivers “Radio by the people.” Audio streams are created and appear on Twitter.
  • Live Twitter chats—The granddaddy of live Twitter interaction is the Twitter chat. Checkout HubSpot’s guide to hosting successful Twitter chats.

18. Get animated

Twitter got GIF-friendly in 2014. Post GIFs on Twitter and watch how people’s pupils get sucked into the animations.

19. Roll video

One day I found a video in my Twitter stream from a user who simply wanted to thank me for following him. I didn’t know you could do that. And even now that you can, very few people actually do.

As it turns out, Twitter gives you 140 seconds (I guess they like that number) to share videos. You can do so three ways:

  • Use the Twitter app to import videos from your device.
  • Upload video.
  • Record, edit and share videos from the Twitter app.

The third option is the most interesting one and a sure way to increase the stopping power of your tweet.

Go stop ‘em

Twitter’s a vital part of your social media mix, right? You made it to bottom of long list of tips. Now try them.

Pick a few of the techniques here and put them to work for a few weeks. Then look at the engagement numbers Twitter provides you. Getting more likes, retweets, and clicks is a sure sign you’ve improved your stopping power.

Thanks for reading all the way to here. Now, though an odd-numbered list has its magnetic powers, you must admit a post featuring 19 ways is a bit weird. We need to add #20.

Do you know a great way to call attention to your tweets? I’d love it if you shared your idea here and give my readers tip #20.


32 Ways a Digital Marketing Consultant Can Help Grow Your Business

A lot of clients—marketing professionals and business owners—get in touch and ask me to help plan, write, and create websites, eBooks, and blog posts. That’s far from a complete list, but three common requests.

On the other hand, a lot of clients reach out to me without a specific task list in mind. They know they want to grow their business. They know they want to produce traffic, leads and sales. And they think they need the help of digital marketing consultant.

They’re right, but their question is often oh-so-broad: “How can you help me?”

Shwew. My answer could be any number of things and at that point, not having the benefit of knowing where their digital marketing currently stands, I’m seldom able to quickly deliver a perfect answer.

I certainly don’t want to blurt out a specific digital marketing tactic… “YouTube is the answer” or “An email campaign will make rain for you.” That’d be reckless.

A digital marketing consultant should recommend tactics based on needs identified from a carefully considered audit. I’m a strategist. I’m a copywriter. But I’ve been doing digital marketing since it existed, so there are a substantial number of ways I can help you grow your business through digital marketing.

Here they are.

The list won’t magically nail an effective strategy, but my hope is it’ll provide some answers to the “How can you help me?” question and give us lots to talk about.




The Secret to Selling to Millennials

Selling to millennials

Back off. You’re selling to millennials. Your marketing message is less valuable than a Snapchat selfie that will soon self-destruct.

See, the secret to selling to millennials, is not selling to them. You empower them to do it to for you—with customer content marketing or the popular phraseology, user-generated content.

User-generated content sounds kind of lame, doesn’t it? It’s not.

I’ll grant you the term itself, and its obligatory abbreviation, UGC, is yet another clunky marketing term. However, unlike many dreadful phrases spawned by the endlessly dynamic world of new media marketing, it’s easy to understand.

User-generated content is content generated by… users. Duh. The most common examples are videos, images, comments, ratings and reviews. But who knows what users will generate in the years to come?

The phenomenon is relatively new. Of course, you could say the act of a consumers creating content based on a brand experience and sharing it in the media might be as old as the letter to the editor.

However, thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones, a pixelated UGC revolution is taking place before our eyes. This generation doesn’t write letters to the editor. They rate things. They post pics and vids. They snap, gram and tweet. (I’ve had to teach my spell-checker about 10 words so far while writing this post.)

The implications are colossal.



How a Food Company with No Huevos is Shaking Things Up Online

Hampton Creek

You’ll find no About Us page on the Hampton Creek website. There’s no blog. No pop-up interrupts your visit insisting you share your email address.

Their home page doesn’t even have a headline. I’m not kidding.

home page


The company sells food, but their home page doesn’t feature a single photo.

What does their home page offer? Just a few links. Just a manifesto. Just three product teasers: Just Mayo, Just Cookie Dough, and Just Cookies.

Just what?

Just balls. Not huevos—balls. Courage. Bravado. See, they make mayo, “Just Mayo,” without eggs. Zero cholesterol. Zero carbs.

They say eating well should be easy.

They say they’re leading a movement to fundamentally change the world.

They also say they’ve created the fastest-growing food company on earth.

And as for marketing… what say these forerunners of sustainable food?

They say, “Dear ______________. “ (Pictured above.) The fine print says, “Click here to explore our open letters in the New York Times.” When you do so, you’re served links to their minimalistic, but brash ads—nine letters written by CEO and founder Josh Tetrick.



How to Write a Presentation that Converts

Write presentations

Have you ever wondered how to write a presentation?

I’m not talking about your obligatory reviewing-the-numbers or previewing-the-game-plan decks where you may be able to get away with a set of snoozer slides. I’m talking about the presentation that stands on its own as a piece of clickass content created to inform and entertain your audience.

In large part, I’m talking about SlideShare, that is LinkedIn SlideShare, one of the world’s premier content communities. And by talking about SlideShare, I mean to also include the idea of expanding your digital footprint with modern visual marketing. See, the content you publish on SlideShare can be embedded all over the place. If it’s great, it will be.

You may have read content from me about SlideShare in the past.

I like SlideShare. It likes me. I’m happy to tell you I’ve been dubbed a “Keynote Author” there thanks to my steady stream of presentations and infographics. Thanks to the appointment, my posts often land on the highly trafficked SlideShare home page, pick up a nice boost from their social media efforts and then often get viewed tens of thousands of times.

You’ll find my entire, ever-expanding heap of SlideShare content here. 

And now for a lesson on writing presentations

I put a lot of thought into this lesson because I was asked to present it as a live webinar as part of the free Virtual SlideShare Summit.

You can join me for this presentation Tuesday, March 22, 9:00 a.m. Eastern. REGISTER HERE.



Visual Marketing: How to Make Yours Matter [Content Matters Podcast 04]

Visual marketing podcast

Why is everyone talking about visual marketing?

Are marketers buzzing about visual marketing as often as they are because it’s new? Because the number one learning style is visual-based? Or because a major breakthrough has recently occurred in visual marketing?

No. No. And no.

Visual marketing is a hot topic because it has, is, and always will be an important part of the marketing equation. Done well, it gives the stuff you publish stopping power. And no stopping power = no go with viewer engagement.

This episode of the Content Matters podcast is all about visual marketing. If you’re taking it with headphones, close your eyes and visualize two guys named Andy and Barry speaking with great passion about the power of images.

Episode #4:
Make Your Visual Marketing Matter

Andy and Barry discuss how visual marketing:

  • Appeals to short attention spans, but increases engagement
  • Is not optional
  • Posterizes your big idea to communicate fast and effectively
  • Can reflect “the real you” in the age of transparent communications

And with an emphasis on practical how-to advice we also get into:

  • Tricks for avoiding cliché stock images
  • Aspect ratios that work best across multiple channels
  • Superimposing headlines to promote your content
  • Creating quality visuals without expensive graphic designers
  • Tools, tools and more tools you should try
  • Creating a consistent style for your brand that becomes visually familiar
  • Why posts with lots of images perform so well
  • 3 ways Barry produces slide decks and infographics more affordably

In the cheese and mousetraps segment…

  • Barry introduces “Visual AIDS” for: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Sharing
  • Andy summarizes 3 “Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines” from Google related to visual content (featuring an unexpected appearance from Rio, the miniature poodle)


Click-worthy comments from the show

You may want to dig deeper into some of the stuff we discussed:

Next on Content Matters: Web and content analytics

Join us as we record the program on Blab. Subscribe via iTunes. Enjoying the program? Leave a review please.


Online Community Building Strategies to Win Trust (With Expert Vanessa DiMauro)

Online community building strategies


Want to build an online community?

When you understand the power of the online community, you’re bound to answer in the affirmative.

Vanessa DiMauro, CEO of Leader Networks, will tell you the online community is the most powerful way to connect with prospects today. Well-run online communities advance trust building.

16 key attributes to building trust

In a recent webinar, Vanessa DiMaura pointed to numerous spots on the Edelman Trust Barometer and pointed out how online communities can address the issues.

What do you say we check in with Vanessa DiMauro, a top-shelf community building strategist who’s been at it for about as long as we’ve had online communities?

I’ve read Vanessa’s work for a few years now and when she created “56 Lessons from 20 Years of Online Community Building,” a virtual rule book of community building strategies for the social age, I had questions. Vanessa agreed to answer them.



The 4 Indispensable Pillars of Effective Digital Marketing [Free eBook Too]

Pillars of effective digital marketing

We’re going to talk about post website depression (PWD).

If you’re a sufferer, I urge you not to be embarrassed. You’re hardly alone.

Generally, PWD is preceded with wild mood swings. For months you’re knee-deep in the grind. Meetings and conference calls. Site maps and wireframes. Copy and code. Layouts and links. Flurries of emails. Portals. Staging sites. Browser testing. Blood, sweat and title tags.

Then finally…

After an exhausting Friday of tedious troubleshooting you’ve blasted past every last imperfection (you think). The flip gets switched over the weekend and you’re live. The new site looks tight. It loads in a flash. Isn’t the web wonderful?

High fives are flying all around the office Monday morning. The boss even sprung for donuts. But in the coming days, the buzz wanes. A week or two later, the source of your depression becomes clear: a million perfectly composed pixels can amount to zero effect on the business.

4 Pillars - eBook



This is a 4,000-word post. If you’d rather “Pocket” it or download it to read at another time, click here or the image on the left to get a free eBook version.


It’s time to call a content marketer

That’s me. And this is a call I’m a part of a lot.

I’m happy to have this call because I can answer most of the questions and steer the ship forward from here. But I must admit, this call tends to include two waffles I could live without.

Waffle 1: Uncertainty

I told you the impetus behind this consultation: PWD. The company’s learned a new website in and of itself is no rainmaker. Now, at least to some extent, the marketer/owner/person I’m talking to realizes her or his company needs more than a shinier home on the web; they need a more significant digital footprint.

They need to publish content—onsite and off (but first, on) so they get discovered more. Known more. Liked more. Trusted more. This is how digital marketing works.

But then, ugh, the question, the inevitable question, dare I say, the “you’ve got to be kidding me” question…

“Barry, in our business we’re not so sure potential new clients go online to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah (read, research, make decisions, buy, etc.).

Here’s what I think at that moment: Are you serious? Where do you think they go? Where do they get their books? Where do they do research for their personal needs? Where did you find me? And WHY are we talking?

Here’s what I say at that moment: Yes, they do. (And the client knows it.)

And one more thing: In digital marketing it’s dangerous to forge a strategy based on what you think or your opinion. You need to know how your prospects and customers behave.

Waffle 2: Commitment

Somehow we get past the ridiculousness. It’s understood: content must be produced. We proceed to the double-headed time and money monster. This part of the conversation could go a number of ways and at this point it’s a bit premature to do a content marketing plan, but to do my part I say what needs to be said:

Yes, it’s going to take time and money. And if you’re not committed to it long term, you’ll be wasting both.

So what’s it to take to make digital marketing work?

The most successful businesses are becoming customer-centric marketing machines. They’re able to:

Research indicates buyers are commonly two-thirds (or more) of the way through their journey before they reach out to the vendor. Marketing’s role has become enormously different.

  • Marketing is sales. Marketing—not sales—guides buyers through the early stages of the buying process.
  • Touch points multiply. Marketers need to engage customers across an expanding array of channels.
  • Timeliness is crucial. Relevant marketing messages and content must be delivered fast and at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

Good news: your company can shift into digital gear to become more in touch with your customers’ needs, more responsive in delivering the content they seek when it matters most, and more effective and efficient.

Though there are countless strategies that may come into play there are four pillars of effective digital marketing your company needs to master:

1. Content marketing
2. Search engine optimization
3. Social media marketing
4. Marketing analytics

None of the above is optional. Think of them as four legs of a stool or table that forms the foundation of your digital marketing. Try to get by without one and your foundation falls down.

Digital marketing CTA banner

I’m now going to dive into each of the four to help you begin to get a basic understanding of the pillars of effective digital marketing. (more…)


What 3 Social Media Marketing Tactics Are Worth Your Time?

3 social media tactics

I recently published What Social Media Tactics Are Most Effective? The article lists 59 social media tactics I dug up from top ranking posts on the subject.

It was no picnic chopping the list in half when I decided to create an infographic, 30 Effective Social Media Tactics. 

Shortly after I created the post and infographic, guest blogger Jose Valles landed in my inbox looking for the answer to this one:

If you could only do 3 social media marketing activities what would they be? 

Eek. Tough one, eh?

Following is my response and 25 other responses from the original post on

Barry Feldman

Barry Feldman

Barry Feldman, owner of Feldman Creative, is a marketing consultant, copywriter and creative director. Find more about Barry on Twitter.


1. Write/blog—I’ve been a writer for 25 years, but a blogger for just 4. Not sure what I was thinking, but I know now it’s the most important thing you can do to develop your personal brand.

2. Share—This social thing we do is 100% reciprocal. Recognizing the talents and contributions of your peers is all-powerful for building relationships and opening doors.

3. Read/listen—Perhaps my third choice here seems kind of “no duh,” but it’s monumental. Are you really listening, really tuning into the wants and needs of your audience?

The best social media marketers don’t have to guess how to produce and promote meaningful content. Their audience tells them precisely what they need to know.

Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan is a renowned speaker and founder of Owner Media Group, a company that helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses through customized marketing plans. 


Blog. Email. Podcast.

I could care less about the rest.

Neil Patel

Neil Patel

Neil Patel is one of the most successful marketers worldwide. He constantly blogs about marketing on and


If I could only do 3 social media activities, they would be:

1. Communicating with other members – with the community aspect social media wouldn’t be as fun.

2. Posting status updates – by continually feeding new information to my network it will help show my value.

3. Help others – my favorite part about social media is helping out others. Whether it is Facebook or Twitter or any other network, people are turning to social media when they need help.

Jay Oatway

Jay Oatway

Jay Oatway is  a professional speaker and author of the best-selling book “Mastering Story, Community & Influence”. Forbes says he is one of the top 50 social media influencers. 


1. Create Fun/Valuable Content: probably best to do YouTube series, which can also be turned into podcasts and blog posts

2. Share links to cool stuff (including but not limited to the above)

3. Listen to the community: Answer questions, be helpful and provide support via Twitter/Pinterest/LinkedIn or wherever your community hangs out. (These conversations could then become topics for more long-form content.)

Todd Wheatland

Todd Wheatland

Todd Wheatland is a renowned author, speaker, and blogger. In addition, he’s Global Head of Strategy at King Content


1) Manually cross-pollinate social accounts

This is perhaps the most beneficial thing for me in terms of generating new business opportunities. It’s also one that very few people or organizations seem to bother doing.

Basically, it’s ensuring that when people follow me on Twitter, for example, if they have professional relevance to me then I will reach out and send them a personal note on LinkedIn as well. That way I bring them into my most active professional network, and can access their email address as well.

2) Support community and influencers promote their content

Old-school social still works! If I had to cut back on everything, I’d stop pushing my own content on social and just focus on engaging and helping others make their own content successful.

As organic reach and engagement reduces, and social channels become more and more of a media play, going back to basics and what made social special in the first place is having even more impact. Demonstrating genuine interest and meaningful engagement with others’ content pays outsized dividends.

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is CEO of The Marketing Insider Group and Head of Strategy at NewsCred. 

Response: If I could do only three social media activities for the rest of my life they would include:

1) Sharing all the great content from the colleagues and pros that I admire across Twitter and LinkedIn.

2) Finding the right audience for my own content and delivering to them the content experiences that help and earn engagement from them.

3) Understanding whatever platform my kids are using and how that might impact the future of social.

Tamar Weinberg

Tamar Weinberg

Tamar Weinberg is a social media marketing specialist, founder of Techipedia and Social Media Customer Experience Manager at Namecheap, Inc. Find more about Tamar on Twitter.


Social media, to me, is all about building relationships. Whether I’m working in a business capacity or just being human, I care about getting to know the people who touch me the deepest. Therefore, if I could do 3 social media activities for the rest of my life:

1) I’d make sure to follow how the people who affect me are living their lives. I’d celebrate their triumphs on Facebook and see how they continue to grow.

2) I find Twitter a superior customer service platform. I’d do what I’ve been doing (as a service provider): bitching and moaning to companies who find a disconnect with their traditional customer service and their social media service. All of the sudden, voila, things are fixed!

3) I can stop at 3 right now, but I know there’s a next best thing. We can’t possibly think that the social media landscape of today is going to be the same social media landscape that permeates the rest of our lives… so I’ll be waiting and seeing what it is and how to react to it.

Sue Anne Dunlevie

Sue Anne Dunlevie

Sue Anne Dunlevie is the founder of Successful Blogging Tips, one of the most prolific blogging sites in the world. 


The only 3 social media activities I would do are the ones I do right now.

1. Use the Social Warfare plugin so that the images I share on social media are the right size for each channel. In other words, I can use any size image for my blog image and then I upload another long and narrow image for Pinterest and a different image that will work for Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

By creating 3 images, my readers can share my content on any channel they want and it looks great.

2. Pinterest is driving the most social media traffic to my blog. I just started using Pinterest earlier this year and it quickly became my #1 traffic source for any social media channel. I share pins and scheduling them with Tailwind.

3. Twitter is the 2nd best traffic source to my blog. By participating in conversations with my followers, I get more loyal readers.

Mana Ionescu

Mana Ionescu

Mana Ionescu is the founder, president and digital marketing director at Lightspan Digital, a unique agency that helps companies grow through Internet Marketing. 


My three activities would be:

1. Being able to search and find people I want to connect with (like via Twitter and LinkedIn).

These social networks are a gold mine. They’re the largest people directories.

2. Tweeting with strangers about interesting news topics. The real-time nature of social networks is something I want to be able to tap into for years to come.

3. Playing with memes and gifs. These are powerful ways to send messages which can be digested in a split second.

Ian Cleary

Ian Cleary

Ian Cleary is the founder of RazorSocial, one of the most successful social media blogs in the world. Find more about Ian and RazorSocial on Twitter.


1. Answer questions – Being helpful around your niche is super valuable to building your audience.

2. Share my blog content – Sales don’t happen on social. You need to entice people to you site.

3. Find influencers and build relationships with them on social channels.

Scott Monty

Scott Monty

Scott Monty is the owner of Scott Monty Strategies, a renowned marketing consulting agency. 


I’d develop original content for my own site, expand my email database, and maintain relationships with thought leaders. I recognize that this probably isn’t the standard “Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn” answer you were looking for, so let me explain.

There are two reasons I’d focus on my own site’s content:

1) I control the site and the content; no matter what happens, I’ll always be able to determine what happens to it. The same isn’t true for Medium or Facebook Notes.

2) It allows me to take that content and repurpose it on other sites, whether it’s cutting and pasting the same material or dividing it up into other bits of content that lead people back to the original site. While it may not seem particularly relevant now, email is more important than ever.

Establishing a regular cadence with an audience – an audience that you own, not one that is presented to you only when you pay to access it – helps to build relationships.

And when you consider being able to take your email database and cross it with the likes of Facebook, Google, Twitter and others for a more targeted approach, it’s a must-have. Having good rapport with other thought leaders means that:

1) I’ll continue to be informed and educated about developments and trends that may go beyond my own sphere; and

2) I’ll have a network on whom to call if I need any kind of assistance. Staying on top of my game and having colleagues on the same level is critical as I do the work that I do.

Amar Hussain

Amar Hussain

Amar Hussain is the founder of Gap Year Escape, one of the best traveling blogs worldwide. 


1. I would use buffer to queue up highly engaging content for my Twitter accounts.

I’ve found Buffer to be one of the best for this and as you can’t be on social media all the time, having something manage this for you is a great help.

2. Whatever social media platform you are using I believe it’s important to always analyze your data and repeat the activities which are bringing in the best results.

3. Engagement is a key aspect and I would also be sure to start or join conversations and always respond to comments.

Elise Smith

Elise Smith

Elise Smith is a professional marketer and editor at, the digital hub for bloggers who want to monetize their blogs. Find more about Elise on Twitter.


Firstly, I would always to monitor Facebook groups. Some of the larger groups have great communities where you can not only help others but also learn yourself.

They are also great places to push content to really interested parties.

Secondly, I would stay engaged with all of my followers and make sure I responded to comments and tweets.

Lastly, I would make sure I’ve picked the correct platform for my niche. For example, if I had a fashion website, Instagram and Pinterest would be the platforms that I used. Be where your audience is.

Matt Heinz

Matt Heinz

Matt Heinz is the founder of Heinz Marketing, one of the best B2B marketing agencies in the world. 


1. Curate and share great content via Twitter

2. Identify and respond to buying signals and trigger events via multiple channels

3. Keep listening and learning from others

Chelsea Hejny

Chelsea Hejny

Chelsea Hejny is the Marketing Director at TrainerRoad — cycling’s most effective training tool. 


This is a tough question to answer because I don’t know what the social media landscape will look like later on. That said, if I had to choose three social media activities to prescribe to for the long haul, these would have to be it:

1. Commenting. There’s no easier or more modern way to quickly resolve issues, contribute to a relevant online conversation, or make a person’s day than commenting on a social media post.

2. Relationship building. This one’s huge. Thomas Friedman said it best. The world is flat and social media is often times the most frictionless way to connect with someone new. We should all be taking advantage of this — now and moving forward.

3. Creating and sharing high-quality video content.

Why? Video is here to stay. With YouTube being the second most popular search engine, great video content is only going to become more in demand. Especially as all those tech-savvy youngsters learning how to do everything via YouTube videos grow up.

Deirdre Breakenridge

Deirdre Breakenridge

Deirdre Breakenridge is an adjunct professor at New York University and CEO of Pure Performance Communications


Here are the three social media activities that I would choose:

1. Using technology to “listen” to conversations in social communities. Professionally or personally, listening is the cornerstone of everything you do. When you listen, it helps to build stronger relationships and to truly understand what people like and care about, making it easier to connect with them.

2. “Networking” with colleagues and friends around the globe. The ability to have social community discussions, participate in Twitter chats, and connect to friends and peers via Skype video calls are all great ways to transcend geographical borders and boundaries.

Social media is also the best way to interact with people worldwide, experiencing and learning about different cultures.

3. News and information gathering. Social media allows me to be up-to-date on all the news I need with respect to my professional work with clients, as well as feeding my personal interests. Social media provides real-time news, information and commentary that you just can’t get as quickly from other media sources.

Janet E. Johnson

Janet Johnson

Janet E. Johnson is a Minneapolis-based digital marketing and social media strategist. 


1. Engage with other’s content While it is important to post content and curate other content, the power of actually being ‘social’ on social media where it is fun. I think many forget social media is about conversations.

It is about the ‘social’, not the ‘media.’ You can really get to know someone and they can really get to know you through talking with them on any social platform.

2. Live streaming Yes, live streaming has been around for some time now, but with the latest convenience of having it right on your phone, it has become more used and more powerful than ever. It really shows your authenticity, builds community and creates trust.

That’s why there has been such tremendous growth recently with platforms, such as Periscope and Blab.

3. Browse Pinterest is truly the place to find what you are looking for and get ideas, whether it’s recipes, home décor or marketing tips.

It is really a social bookmarking site and a search engine. With the imagery that’s used on Pinterest and their search functions, it can be so addicting for all!

Dave Peck

Dave Peck

Dave Peck is Global Head of Digital, Influence & Social Media at PayPal. Response:

1) The use of analytics. If I can’t measure what we are doing on social, then it not only didn’t happen, it has no value. Analytics gives you a wealth of data, allow you to dig deeper into the campaign and hopefully show ROI.

2) Social Media Monitoring. There is nothing more essential than being able to hear what your customers think about your brand. In addition the ability to know what people are saying about the competition.

3) Engaging with your community. You have measured using analytics and listened using monitoring, now it’s time to engage.

In this day and age brands need to respond to their community. From offering customer support to being part of pop culture moments, brands need to engage.

Cynthia Johnson

Cynthia Johnson

Cynthia Johnson is a professional blogger, social media strategist and Director of Marketing at RankLab


1) Twitter for PR, outreach, research and authority building.

2) Facebook for advanced targeting, ads, local SEO and video.

3) Reddit for content marketing and ideation.

Dr. Rachna Jain

Dr. Rachna Jain

Rachna Jain is a renowned author, speaker and CRO expert. In addition, she is CEO at Profitable Popularity. 


If I could only do 3 social media activities for the rest of my life, I’d:

1) Focus on growing and engaging my Twitter community – this is a great platform to easily meet people.

2) Focus on growing and engaging my LinkedIn community – this is a great platform to build professional connections.

3) Focus on growing and engaging my Pinterest community – this is a great platform to see what engages people and catches their interest. Together, all three platforms give me a good foundation for using social media for business.

Frank J. Kenny

Frank J. Kenny

Frank Kenny is a digital marketing expert who provides solutions for chambers and chamber professionals. 


If I could only do 3 social media activities for the rest of my life, here is what I would do:

First, I would regularly produce free quality content for my tribe. This creates awareness and establishes credibility, opening the door to a relationship. This content would be posted to my blog and then shared to the social media platforms.

Second, I would build a relationship with as many individuals in my niche as possible. I would do this by engaging with and helping my tribe through my Facebook group and the various social media sites.

Third, I would build my email list by exchanging some of the free content for permission to email my tribe. I would regularly provide more value and deepen the relationship with my list members. Every so often I would make an offer to my tribe for a valuable product or service that they want and need.

Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is one of the most successful freelance writers within the business and marketing space. 


If I could only do three things on social media, they would include the following:

First, I would research my competitors using tools like Rival IQ so I could see which networks resonate with my target customers the most.

Next, I would set alerts to new posts about specific topics so I could jump in the conversation using Mention.

Finally, I would engage with my audience as much as possible by answering questions, sharing content, and chatting in general.

Beth Kanter

Beth Kanter

Beth Kanter is a professional blogger that focuses on helping nonprofit organizations get the most out of social media. 


1) Blog – great opportunity for regular reflection which is often missing in our face-paced, tech-filled days

2) Content Curation – keeps you learning and making sense of the world, plus helps your community

3) Listening/Monitoring — the most important skill in the world … both online and offline

Dave Kerpen

Dave Kerpen

Dave Kerpen is the founder & CEO of Likeable Local, a software that helps you automate some of the most tedious processes of social media. 


1) Listen on Twitter

2) Advertise on Facebook

3) Post blogs on LinkedIn

Lisa Barnett

Lisa Barnett

Lisa Barnett is Social Media Services Director at Emoderation, a successful social media management agency. 


For us at Emoderation, the three social media activities that we would do for the rest of our life would be:

* Respond to customer queries as soon as possible in a transparent and authentic way

* Develop new followers who like your brand and want to engage with you

* Keep on top of new developments in the social media industry by constantly measuring and analysing your social media presence

Kristopher Jones

Kristopher Jones

Kristopher Jones is chairman at Internet Marketing Ninjas and founder of KBJ Capital. 


(1) Post pictures to Instagram and cross-publish on Facebook, Flickr, and Tumblr

(2) Livestream via Facebook

(3) Share my favorite content via Twitter

Answers from 36 experts are published in the original post. I omitted several here.