Category Archives: Content Marketing
Change can be scary, but sometimes you just have to try new things. Giving a third party service, in beta, control over the home page of my blog was one of those scary things. I’m still not sure it was the right decision, but I’m sticking with it. For now.
Rebel Mouse describes itself as your social front page, building a dynamic site around what you share. According to the Rebel Mouse page, people are becoming embarrassed by web sites that are not as current or active as their social media accounts. I believe the problem is real. It can be difficult to find the right way to integrate social media on a blog. I also find that a quick tweet or mobile photo upload is more fun than a full blog post, and a lot faster. It can be tempting to skip the blog posts altogether, but you still need to have your own home on the web with fresh content.
Here are some of the reasons why I ultimately decided to try Rebel Mouse on my home page:
- I wanted to make it easier to discover content on my blog. There is a new emphasis on discovery rather than search in web design. Rebel Mouse provides that dynamic panel or masonry style layout made famous by Pinterest. Mashable’s new web site design is also a great example. The layout does that neat infinite scroll trick where you can just keep scrolling down to discover more content. My favorite examples of the infinite scroll are Pinterest and the Chrome Web Store.
- My social media posts can automatically help keep my blog fresh. If blogging isn’t your full time job, it can be really hard to do more than a couple posts a month. Posting to Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and other social media sites will now add freshness to my homepage without any additional steps on my part.
- It helps me create more visual content. I read somewhere that blog content has evolved from lengthy text posts, to micro-blogging short text posts in social media, to skipping the text altogether in favor of pictures and videos. The web is becoming more visual, and that is exactly the way I like it. Rebel Mouse automatically tries to add an image or video to each post. If there isn’t one already, it will try to find one that is relevant. My new rule is to never make a post without an image or video.
- It provides an incredibly simple way to curate content. Many content marketing experts suggest that it is important to supplement your original content by sharing relevant content from other sources. Generally in social media copying other people’s content is naughty, but sharing or linking to that content is nice. Now whenever I share a link in social media, the link is republished on my homepage. In effect, I can get even more fresh content on the front page of my web site. It’s as easy as hitting a retweet/like/+1/pin it button.
- Rebel Mouse allows custom CSS rules. If the layout was locked in with the default colors and options, I never would have put it on my site. It would not have looked integrated, so the result would be unprofessional. It took some work, but I figured out enough of the CSS to decently blend the design with my site.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Rebel Mouse will dig up your history in social media. Suddenly all of those little posts will be on your homepage. Be prepared to find some skeletons in your closet. You can easily remove those items from your Rebel Mouse page, but plan to spend some time pruning the content at first.
- Your content flow from blog post to social media will be reversed. I have always created blog posts first, then shared them in social media. Now you have to think about sharing content in social media as a means to publishing it on your blog. Consider how the end result will look on your homepage. Eventually you will be able to use this to your advantage.
- Beware of duplicate posts on your homepage. If you like to share the same piece of content on multiple social sites, you will likely end up with copies of the same content in multiple Rebel Mouse panels because it will pull from each separate source. Consider the old formula of writing a blog post, then sharing the post in social media. You might put a link to your blog post on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. If you have all of those accounts linked to your Rebel Mouse, you will have three copies of that blog post on your homepage. Probably not what you’re looking for. If you have to share the same piece of content on multiple accounts, just remember to remove the duplicates. Maybe one day the Mouse will do this automatically.
- Your social media presence will need to be relevant to your web site. This is why I didn’t link my Facebook page to Rebel Mouse. I don’t filter myself as much on Facebook. The last thing I want is to have pictures from the party last weekend mixing with my thoughts about content marketing on my career-focused blog. If your Twitter account is a fire hose of tweets about anything and everything, maybe don’t open that valve up on your homepage.
- Rebel Mouse is still in beta! Things could change. Keep an eye on it so you don’t find any surprises when you load your own web site.
Here is a quick animation I made to help people understand what this product does.
I recently started working on a marketing project for a company through UW-Stout. I will be heading up the content marketing and social media aspects of the project. I want to include as much visual media as possible. Here are a couple portraits from my last photo shoot. Click on one of the images to open the photo carousel.
My latest content marketing video.
Over the past week I have encountered more examples of brands pushing the creative boundaries on Pinterest. These companies are going beyond the usual pins loosely tied to products, services, or company culture. I’m pretty deep in grad school work right now, so rather than writing my own reviews, I’ll just share the articles I found around the Web.
Up to this point, my unique hashtag – #PinHashtags – has not shown up in search results on Pinterest. Obviously, the tags do not guarantee that a pin will show up in searches for that term. This is different from Twitter, which organizes hashtags chronologically. Continue reading
Hashtags do not work the way I expect them to on Pinterest. In fact, I’m not sure they work at all. That is why I have decided to test the theory.
In a completely unscientific experiment, I have pinned the five images above on Pinterest with the unique hashtag #PinHashtags. The result I would like to see is that the hashtag works similarly to hashtags on Twitter. My five images should automatically show up in search results if I search “PinHashtags” on Pinterest. I should also be able to click the hashtag on any one of the five pins, and be able to find the other four with the same tag.
If the hashtags perform the way I expect, then they will be a useful way to curate visual conversations on Pinterest. Users could be more social on the site by pinning together on a common theme. Instagram has done an amazing job of implementing this idea with its Weekend Hashtag Project. A theme is posted on Fridays with a challenge to users to take pictures over the weekend based on the theme, and post them with a specific hashtag. It’s a great way to inspire engagement on the app. Pinterest could easily be a place to bring a community together around a theme if the hashtag system works.
Unfortunately, I have doubts about whether the hashtags on Pinterest are functioning in a way to allow this interactivity. Hopefully this experiment will help me gain a better understanding of what is really going on with the search results.
My latest content marketing work.
It is my understanding that a major benefit to content marketing is discovery. If you put content out there, people might bump into it while wandering around online. And they might follow that content back to your home base on the Web. This is something that I concern myself with on a daily basis as a person creating content for a major retailer. I also know that if one of your goals is to get found on the Web, you better understand how Google fits into the equation.
The Agent of Discovery
The folks at Google are working very hard to maintain their position as the world’s preferred resource for discovering content on the Web. That is why their services are constantly evolving. The new PlayStation 3 YouTube app is a perfect example. Google is improving the user experience on YouTube in as many ways as possible with the goal of keeping people on the site longer. The new PlayStation app brings YouTube to your TV, where people are used to spending hours watching video. If YouTube can deliver a great viewing experience in the living room, on the biggest screen in your house, people should be willing to stay engaged on the site for extended periods of time. More time on the site will eventually lead to more ads served, and more profits for Google.
The User Experience
For the plan to pay off, YouTube will have to deliver on the user experience. I recently installed the new app to give it a try. There are some highlights, and there are also some opportunities for improvement. The navigation is a bit cumbersome using the PlayStation remote. I had to blow through tons of pre-populated content categories one at a time to get to the stuff I really wanted. On the other hand, the device pairing feature is a massive highlight. I can go straight to my subscriptions, or search for what I want with ease. My Kindle Fire and Android phone are now highly sophisticated, touch screen TV remotes. The device pairing is easy, and there is hardly any delay between selecting a video with my hand-held device, and seeing it play on my TV. See for yourself if you like in the video above.
The Relevance To Content Marketers
I think the case for content marketing on YouTube was already pretty strong, but it just got a whole lot stronger. I see a lot of potential in apps that take advantage of the devices that people are already using. As average folks begin to spend longer periods of time on the site, the opportunity to engage with customers grows. YouTube will continue to develop new ways to help people discover content that is relevant to their interests. If you are publishing good content that is related to your business, chances are that it will be seen by an audience that actually wants to interact with your company. That’s a lot better than interrupting someone’s entertainment with an ad. As YouTube pushes its way into our daily lives, the audience will only grow, and get more social. Publishing on YouTube will become an even more powerful way to reach a specific target, and spread your content via social media through that network.
The Flip Side For Advertisers
The flip side of this trend is that other paid media may decrease in effectiveness. If people are spending more time on YouTube, they must be spending less on something else. That something else is likely going to be TV. As it becomes more difficult to see results through traditional TV ads, supplementing those efforts with content on YouTube will be crucial. Get in the game now, and figure out what your customers want to see on YouTube. If you can do that, you may find that your branded videos are playing on TV screens rather than your competitors’ commercials.
Some more of my work below…