5 Cons of Scheduling Posted Content

The second in a two part series: 5 Cons of Scheduling Posted Content

Scheduling Posted Content

The second post in a two part series, I’m considering the cons of scheduling the publication of content, particularly as that functionality relates to inbound marketing for small businesses.

As you can read in the 5 Pros of Scheduling Post Content, I had intended to run this series over the course of two weeks. But then a significant back injury threw a few hurdles in the way and I am only getting around to publishing the cons side of the conversation a month later. I suppose we can add this anecdote to the pro side of the argument.

Cheers to Dave Miller for the push on Twitter to get this post live!

https://twitter.com/DaveJamesMiller/statuses/232054849095729152

Cons of Scheduling Posting

1. Appearing to be everywhere

It’s a matter of fact. A reality for small businesses. It’s simply not possible to be everywhere at all times. We don’t have the staff numbers to manage that. We also have work to do — we can’t always be marketing ourselves. There is a chance that if we appear to be everywhere on social media, especially when we had a major client project due, that this omnipresence could cause confusion and tension with our clients.

2. Lacking relevancy

Conversations move quickly on the internet. What we schedule for publication next week might no longer be relevant at that point. Someone else might have found the answer, developed a work-around or already shared the news. Pre-scheduled content can make us look old hat.

3. Seeming out of touch

Major global and local events happen every day. Taking a particular angle in a blog post that is appropriate this week might be completely insensitive or cruel next week. Our scheduled content can look sorely out of touch if something significant (and tragic) happens between the time we click the “schedule” button and the time it goes live on our blog or Twitter feed.

4. Failing to respond in real time

To be most effective, social media must focus on conversation. So, while our scheduled content may be poignant and fresh, if we’re out of the office for three days, we certainly won’t be able to respond to comments in the generally accepted time frame. It’s like we start a conversation and then walk out of the room before anyone has a chance to respond.

5. Forgetting the publication schedule

As small business owners, we’ve got a lot going on a daily basis. Keeping focused on what’s in front of us can be enough of a task without trying to recall what we’ve scheduled for publication tomorrow or next week. This runs the risk that we forget about our publication schedule, causing us to publish similar content twice or forget about the post that went live when we were on holiday.

In covering both sides of the coin, I have to say that I think there definitely is scope for scheduling posted content. Like most marketing approaches, using scheduled posts requires planning, forethought, savvy and a bit of luck.

What’s your take on it?

5 Pros of Scheduling Posted Content

The first in a two part series: 5 Pros of Scheduling Posted Content

Scheduling Posted Content

In mid June, I began to prepare to get out of the office for a few days. I had a vacation scheduled for the end of the month. I was looking forward to the break, and in particular, to the break from all the digital online activity. It was to be a break from the hustle and bustle of the online marketing world.

This preparation got me thinking about the value of scheduling the publication of content on this blog, on Twitter and elsewhere. As most readers know, on most content management systems for small businesses (like WordPress) and apps like Hootsuite, content can be scheduled for publication at a certain date and time. As part of a two post series, I will look at the pros and cons of such functionality, particularly as that functionality relates to inbound marketing for small businesses.

Pros of Scheduling Posting

1. Greater flexibility

As a blog reader, I appreciate when a writer established a publication schedule. Every Tuesday morning a new post is published. Or maybe it’s the third Wednesday of the month. Whatever. The point is that, as small business owners, we can’t always be in the office or online at our desired publication time. Scheduling posting can cover us when we have an important client meeting at our regular publication slot.

2. Increased efficiency

If we’re conducting an extended promotional campaign on Twitter, for example, it can be helpful to spend an hour or so at a single instance drafting, editing and scheduling a number of tweets which will be scheduled for publication throughout the week. We’re focused and attentive to the task and can make sure that

3. Avoiding distractions and hiccups

For small business owners, the “to do” list never really gets shorter. The “to do” items simply change names. A real value of scheduled publication functionality is that it can help ensure that we don’t forget or get too busy to carry on, for example, an inbound marketing campaign. We may want to run a series of blog posts connected by a topic stream. We might write a lengthy article on a particular topic and then divide that into a number of individual blog posts to be published over a few weeks. The publication scheduling feature ensures that those posts are published on time and in the intended order.

4. Covering more ground

This particular benefit is more for Twitter than for blogging. We may want to share links to important and relevant content on a daily basis. That can be difficult to manage on a day-to-day basis. Any small business owner will tell you that some days just get away. Scheduling a tweet a day, interspersed with our more organic tweets as and when we can, is an effective way to maintain a bigger social media presence.

5. Avoiding “Need something now”

We’ve all been there. A publication deadline looms before us. We feel its pressure and know that we have to get something online. Our mind wanders back to late last week when we had the hour of downtime. Why didn’t we write the post then and schedule it for publication today?

Of course, there are two sides to every coin. While there are clear advantages to scheduling posts and tweets in advance, there are also downsides. Stay tuned next week when I’ll publish a post covering 5 Cons of Scheduling Posted Content.

Q&A: Video Marketing Tips and Ideas with Bettina Hein

An interview of Bettina Hein by Brendan Cournoyer from Brainshark.

This article by Brendan Cournoyer was originally published on the Brainshark blog on 2nd May 2012, and is published here with permission. Read more posts from Brendan Cournoyer.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to chat with Bettina Hein, CEO at Boston-based Pixability and co-author of the upcoming Video Marketing for Dummies.

Below are some of the highlights from our conversation, including tips for evaluating your video marketing strategy, considerations for mobile video and much more.

On the importance of humor in video marketing:

“It’s really important. There are two things that people are looking for in a video: either help me solve a problem or entertain me. Those are basically the two things that make people want to click on a video. As a company, being informative and solving a problem – that’s more in the comfort zone for a lot of people.

But as for presenting information or being entertaining? The BEST videos combine both. It’s sometimes hard to be funny, and I understand completely that it’s not in everyone’s comfort zone. You can create [informational] content; that’s easy to do. But being funny, that’s something else. Still, if you become really successful at it, you might actually get a broader audience interested.”

On viral marketing videos:

“I wouldn’t have that as the goal. Lots of people talk about making viral videos, and they are really setting themselves up for failure. We often get people that say, ‘We want to make a viral video.’ They are absolutely convinced that their content is completely funny for the entire world. Well, not necessarily. What I find funny, other people might not.

That said, what we find interesting and funny in a professional context often overlap. HubSpot, for example, was really successful with videos around cold calling a few years ago. They did a video around [the song] ‘You Oughta Know’ and cold calling. It got like 100,000 views!

Clearly with video, if you’re doing it for business purposes, it has to serve a clear purpose. But that doesn’t mean you can’t push the envelope and make it funny.”

On non-marketing uses for video marketing:

“There are all these internal uses – training for example is an important part. Doing something funny internally as a team-building effort is another thing a lot of companies are experimenting with. You can create an internal video that pokes fun at the boss, for example, or even have the boss poking fun at him or herself. Especially if you’re at an internal organization where, as the CEO, you want to do something that everyone will find funny – you can create a video. It doesn’t always have to be ‘you standing in front of the typical nice background and talking head.’ You can make light of yourself and use that to transport information.

Remember that video is an investment, so we always council people to find uses that are multiple uses. So if you have a video for training purposes, you might be able to use some of that footage for when you want to roll out a new product.

Video is not a ‘one-and-done’ mentality. Always think about how you can repurpose for a later use.”

On mobile considerations for video marketing:

“More and more people are accessing their content on mobile devices. So it’s really important that you can make your content accessible from all different types of devices. I may get something in my inbox and look at it on my phone in the morning, but I might want to look at a video itself from my iPad, because I like looking at videos in a larger format. Or if I don’t have time, I might look during lunch on my laptop.

So it’s really important your videos can be viewed on all these different devices.”

On some of the video marketing metrics to monitor:

“Views would be what most people see as a measure, but what’s really important is to tie in the measurement with your business goals. So let’s say you have form completions on a landing page as your business goal. Or maybe it’s the number of people signing up for an event… all are relevant goals that change from organization to organization. What you have to be able to do is tie in those views with that business goal.

So you have to look at the business analytics behind the views. [For example], say you were to buy a bunch of views. if you look closely, you might find that a lot of those views come from a different country. [Depending on your business goals], those views may be for nought. I’d rather have 200 really focused and targeted views over 200,000 from a different market or country.”

On certain video marketing DON’Ts to avoid:

“For one, don’t put too many messages in one video. Some people will want everything about their product, everything about their company, and everything they want to tell the world in one video. It’s like an overstuffed suitcase; they want to fit everything into 90 seconds. I can guarantee you that most people will find that video useless.

Another thing to remember is this: don’t ignore YouTube. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. It’s the largest search engine for music, and people also go for how-to content. Businesses are still shy about YouTube for inexplicable reasons to me. Right now there is a lot of arbitrage to be had on YouTube, but you can get very targeted audiences that are looking for solutions exactly around what your product offering does.

As a free resource, [Pixability offers] the Online Video Grader. We grade on a scale of 1-100 on how successful you are around video marketing. It compares how well you’re doing with video on your website versus YouTube versus social media, with concrete tips for how to improve.”

On whether marketing videos really need to be two minutes or less:

“That is completely wrong. We have a lot of data to say that. Successful video marketers run the gamut form 30 seconds to 20 minutes. The least successful people on YouTube have just the short-term content. The real successful marketers map their funnel to the length of the content: shorter first to grab them, but longer throughout the buying process as you go down the funnel.”

The book Video Marketing for Dummies will be available on May 8, 2012.For more from Bettina, visit the Pixability blog and follow her on Twitter @pixability.

Managing Online Resources for Blogging Content and Tech Tips

An approach on how to keep links to blog sites and online resources, sites and articles organized.

As a communications designer and small business blogger, I am ever on the look-out for quality reading material. Yet with so many fantastic blog sites and online resources out there, keeping links, sites and articles organized can prove overwhelming. The organizational process proves even more taxing when as I struggle to sync systems across my laptop, iPad and mobile phone.

My primary aims when in developing an organizational approach for managing online resources are twofold: (1) ease of use and (2) filter/search functionality. I want to bookmark items across all platforms (on websites, on Twitter and via RSS) and all devices. I then want to tag, filter and search those stored items on any of my personal computing devices.

What follows is my approach for managing it all. Certainly there are others — this is simply what currently works for me.

For industry news and trends: Pocket (formerly Read It Later)

I’ve been dabbling in Pocket for a little over a month now. I find it very helpful in meeting the two primary aims mentioned above. For a great overview about Pocket, check out Coreen Tossona’s post about it. There’s no point in me posting what Coreen has already written succinctly.

For tech tips and “how to” articles: Pocket

As recently as last week, I used Delicious.com to save technical and “how to” articles. However, there is no great way to save links, tweets and the like directly to Delicious from Twitter. Delicious.com does not play nicely with the iPad either — no Delicious.com app. Since I source so many links and articles while using my iPad, Delicious.com is relegating itself to the dinosaur pile. As of Monday of this week, I’ve transitioned to Pocket for this task.

Unfortunately, I still have not yet worked out how to migrate Delicious.com bookmarks to Pocket. Ideas anyone?

For blogs that I follow: Google Reader and Flipboard

When I discover a valuable news or tech blog, I add it to my RSS feed to my Google Reader account. When I have some time, or when I’ve hit my dedicated reading time, I’ll go through those saved feeds using Flipboard. Google Reader is a great desk tool, and my preferred option for searching for a specific topic or post within my RSS feeds. But for browsing though feeds, Flipboard is ideal. The user interface on the iPad is so graceful and it’s dead easy to save a particular post to Pocket for subsequent reading/tagging.

Of course, there are new apps and bookmarking sites being launched on an almost constant basis. Only time will tell how long I keep using my current setup.

5 non-monetary benefits to shoot for with small business blogging and social media

A list of 5 non-monetary benefits that can be attained through blogging, social media and online marketing

Blogging goals

As a communications designer, I often coach clients on the value and methodology of small business blogging. I regularly advise on the benefits of inbound marketing, making sure to include plenty of reasons that do not directly relate to sales. On the back of those conversations, I am sharing a list of 5 non-monetary benefits that can be attained through blogging, social media and online marketing. The list is focused on small business bloggers, but the perks certainly apply in other situation as well.

1. Stay tuned-in to industry news, trends and pulse

As a small business blogger, you will be more aware of the news and trends in your industry. You’ll follow relevant news and blog sites so that you can flag up and respond to those updates on your own website. That practice of monitoring the news and trends will keep you more in tune with your industry. Through an active social media presence, you will know more than your competition about what is going on in your industry.

2. Maintain a bigger library of case studies

Men and women in sales love stories about how their products or services have helped out clients in need, or how they saved a major customer project. By using stories to sell products and services, sales people make a stronger connection with their own key audience. If you’re involved in sales — and which small business owners or bloggers are not? — then your online marketing efforts are bound to contribute to your case study library. You’ll always be looking for new posts and exciting stories to share on your small business blog; you can then use those same stories during a sales visit. That’s an inbound marketing win that pays offline dividends too.

3. Grow a business network more quickly

Business networking, especially for small businesses, is all about expanding our list of contacts. Online marketing, and especially inbound marketing, is a very productive way to network more effectively. Your small business blog, your Twitter account, and your other social media outlets give you an ever-growing way to contact and develop business relationships with your target market and audience. You don’t need to wait for the next meet-up or networking event. You can connect today on your blog by inviting comments from a potential customer.

4. Increase knowledge of specific online resources

The internet is a treasure trove of knowledge, information and best practices. You can find important “how to” advice, tips and resources about practically every industry. Through an active web presence and social media focus, you can develop an online library to sites that keep you ahead of your competition. You know the sites because you’re online and because you have them bookmarked (I use Delicious.com), you can quickly refer back to them as and when needed. Your inbound marketing campaign might also include sharing links to these resources through your blog and social media presence.

5. Be perceived as truly knowledgeable

Knowledge is power. By focusing your inbound marketing campaign around your blog — where you share ideas, news and guidance about your industry — you will develop a reputation as a knowledgeable person. Sure, it will take time, but that reputation will grow both online and offline as your key audiences come to rely on your social media presence as a valuable resource.

The benefits, all very attainable through online marketing, can provide great value to your business, even if they are not immediately connected with sales. Online marketing can deliver so much more than just sales — so be sure to demand much more of it.

Related Posts

5 Valuable Blog Posts for Small Business Blogging

Links to 5 solid blog posts about small business blogging and inbound marketing.

Small business blogging

As a small business blogger who blogs on the topic of small business blogging, I am regularly on the look out for valuable blog posts about small business blogging. (How’s that for packing a first sentence with keywords? Ha-ha!) Honestly though, I appreciate that it can be difficult to filter through all the noise out there when looking for articles that cut to the heart of the matter and that offer real insight into the often-hyped topic of small business blogging.

To help sift through that virtual clutter, I thought I’d start sharing links to well-crafted, insight-led and on-point blog posts that demonstrate a solid understanding of this important inbound marketing topic. That’s my plan anyway. Consider my publication schedule updated. Keep reading to review my first batch.

Please note that these articles are not ranked in order of importance or anything like that. They approach the topic of small business blogging from unique angles and, therefore, should be read and considered in their own right.

1: Great Overview on Generating Inbound Links
32 white Hat Ways to Build Inbound Links by Corey Eridon on the Hubspot Blog.

2: Goal Setting for Successful Online Marketing
5 Resolutions for Digital Marketing Success in 2012 by Coreen Tossona of Philly Marketing Labs.

3: Insight into Understanding Your Audience’s Interests
5 Simple Ways to Discover What People Are Dying to Read Brad Smith of FixCourse.com.

4: Setting the Approach for Online Marketing
The Tao of Online Marketing by Brian Clark of CopyBlogger.

5: Listing Important Reasons for Small Business Blogging
12 Most Glaring Reasons Why Businesses Should Blog by Doug Rice on 12Most.com.

Of course, there are many more gems online that offer comprehensive, practical and sufficiently-detailed guidance on how small businesses can develop real value from inbound marketing. Why not let me know which ones you have found useful?

Related posts:

Gauging Customer Concerns Online

Tips and tools for gauging customer feedback online.

Customer satisfaction meter

In an age where customers have unprecedented access to their favorite stores, businesses and organizations through social media, small companies and consultancies may struggle to find a practical way to gauge customer feedback through online channels. When it comes to online engagement over social media, the difficulty for smaller businesses is typically an issue of time. Small businesses and non-profits often do not have the resources to dedicate to maintaining an aggressive online marketing campaign across multiple social media sites. If those organizations already lack time to engage customers via social media, how can they possibly determine the mood and concerns of their customers?

To address that question – how do small businesses or charities gage customer concerns? – I’ve shared a few ideas below.

What are the industry bloggers saying?

Professional bloggers make a habit of keeping an ear to the ground to the concerns of industry leaders and customers alike. Subscribing to the RSS feeds of the key bloggers in an industry can be a quick way to get a handle on the pulse of the market.

What’s the buzz on Twitter?

Connecting with customers on Twitter, either through the company’s Twitter account or our own personal account, can be an efficient way to monitor customers’ focus, news or complaints. Scanning through our Twitter feed once or twice a day – even if it’s only before and after the business day – can be enough to give ourselves some insight into our customers’ wants.

Drop an email or two

Most people like to offer their two cents when given an opportunity to do so. Take the time to send a personal email to a few customers to ask for feedback about a new service, campaign or other offering. Be specific when posing questions. The responses that come back could provide the insight that we’ve been after.

Invite your customers out for coffee

Let’s not forget the value of a face-to-face measurement. Take a couple of your customers out for a coffee or beer once or twice a month. It’s less time-consuming than running a social media campaign, and while less comprehensive than a broad survey, can offer real insight into your customers worries and needs.

Related posts:

 

Direct Air: A Tale of Online Communication Failures

Recounting the online communication failures of a dying airline.

Last week, Direct Air flew me south to Punta Gorda, Florida from Allentown, Pennsylvania for a week-long workation in the sun. Having previously flown with Direct Air, I was familiar with its offerings: cheap, no-frills flights to a variety of small airports on the East Coast and Midwest of the USA. I was also very familiar with its proclivity for delayed flight times. But, hey, it’s a round-trip airline ticket for a 1,200 mile journey for $100.00. I was happy to let the time-delay complaints go. I arrived at Punta Gorda just before 10:00 pm. I walked off the plane into the wonderfully warm and humid night air, eager to begin a slower-paced week in the sun.

As I eased my way into the next morning, I heard talk from neighbors of where I was staying that Direct Air had canceled a number of flights and routes to different locations. Concerned about the return leg home of my trip, I surfed the net looking for updates. A visit to the Direct Air website offered no mentions of the route closures. News sites mentioned troubles at the Myrtle Beach Airport, but nothing about the route between Florida and Pennsylvania. It was only three days later that I received a vaguely-worded and less than professional email from Direct Air, advising me that it was suspending flights until 15th May 2012.

While I accustomed to Direct Air’s reputation for delayed flights, I was shocked by its horrendous communication during its financial demise. In considering Direct Air’s plight, I have several ideas on how Direct Air could have communicated more effectively with its customers, at little cost. Online communication, particularly via social media, when done properly, is not so difficult to achieve and is often inexpensive to implement. So, how could have Direct Air better served the travelers it left stranded?

Provide more timely and more detailed updates on its website

Direct Air was very slow to utilize its number one online communication tool: its website. News websites were circulating with hints and rumors of Direct Air’s troubles, yet it was not until Wednesday or Thursday of last week that Direct Air acknowledged anything on its own website. That’s a big miss when it comes to effective online communication.

Use Twitter to provide real-time updates

Direct Air must know something about online communication as they have a Twitter account. The account was set up on 19th September 2011 and since opening its account, Direct Air has sent 61 tweets. So they knew how to use the service, even if they were not proficient at it. Given Twitter’s ability to distribute information at lightening speed, it would have been very helpful for customers had Direct Air used the social media site to communicate news and information.

Share information on Facebook

Direct Air could have taken advantage of the biggest social media site in the world by posting news and updates on its Facebook page. Yet it did not. Huge fail in social media marketing terms.

Given the emails a sense of accountability

When the emails from Direct Air did eventually arrive, they were so insincere and unapologetic that they were more likely to cause offense than to be of any real value to customers. No mention of apology or acknowledgment of the troubles that Direct Air had caused to its customers. To add insult to injury, the email was signed “Very Truly Yours, Direct Air”. Really?!? Really?!? Direct Air should have sent the email from a real person, from someone in senior management who was responsible for making the decisions that were currently effecting its customers.

Communicate with the media

As Direct Air’s customers were eager for any sort of news or information, it would have behooved Direct Air to spend at least a few minutes communicating news and information with local media outlets. The video clip below goes a long to offer insight into how wide Direct Air was of the mark on this one.

Be real, be sincere and be apologetic

As the owner of my own small business, I understand that staying afloat in this economy is tough. I don’t begrudge Direct Air for going under. What I find particularly appalling is its lack of sincerity and openness when dealing with customers. No company officials or spoke people to answer questions. No one taking phone calls at the company’s phone. No meaningful website updates or tweets. Just silence.

In an age of amazing capabilities in online communication, Direct Air totally missed the ball on this. Direct Air, in what might be its final act, failed to capitalize on the strengths of social media to share news and information about its demise in a timely and useful way. Customers are certainly dialed into social media – had Direct Air used those avenues of communication, it might have been able to reduce the stress, anger and frustration by which its customers will surely remember it.