Category: Blogging

Start 2014 off right with a FREE MOOC on Content Strategy by Northwestern University

On January 13, 2014, Northwestern University will add to its record of designing learning systems for the future by offering a unique new MOOC (massive open online course). It is entitled Content Strategy for Professionals – Engaging Audiences for Your Organization and can be found on the Coursera platform. Enrollment is free and open now at: http://bit.ly/1iPXyba

Northwestern produced the MOOC because professionals in every organization – for-profit, non-profit, volunteer, and government – face an enormous challenge. With ever-more information competing for people’s limited time, they need to know how to develop and deploy more engaging content to reach key individuals inside and outside their organization with important information.

The Content Strategy MOOC has been developed to meet this challenge. In the MOOC, 10 expert Northwestern professors share their new insights and actionable advances. The faculty come from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and the Kellogg School of Management. They are led by John Lavine, professor and director of Northwestern’s Media Management Center.

Content MOOC

“Content strategy is a conversation that provides thought-leadership.” Lavine explained. “Regardless of their level, area of work, or expertise, professionals who use content strategy have new knowledge that enables them to be far more effective with words, graphics, video, social and mobile media. They learn how to give their most important stakeholders trustable, transparent, actionable information that those individuals will value and use.”

The MOOC is divided into six modules with each broken into a number of succinct, easy to complete sessions that will easily fit each user’s schedule. It is a rigorous program, but because it is for professionals, there are no exams or term papers.  There is, however, a case study that weaves throughout the MOOC, allowing the participants to build their content strategy skills and receive feedback on them.

In addition, the MOOC features videos and multimedia from companies and organizations around the world. They are best practice examples of what an effective content strategy looks like in action. The MOOC also has an electronic toolkit for the participants to use in the future to help them and their colleagues as they encounter new challenges in their organization.

“The goal of the MOOC,” Lavine concluded, “is to give those who take it the content strategy knowledge and skills to advance their enterprise and their own careers. It is free, and we welcome those who are interested to join us on January 13th.”

For more information, view a short video at:  http://bit.ly/18wZ65n

 

 

Randy HlavacRandy Hlavac is a Professor of Integrated Marketing at Northwestern’s Medill IMC program.  His course on Social and Mobile Marketing has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and has produced strong social marketers who now work for business and Not-for-Profit companies throughout the world.  In addition to his teaching at Northwestern, Randy is also the founder of Marketing Synergy Inc – an integrated and social marketing consulting company located in Naperville IL.  Randy works with B2B and B2C companies to help them justify, design, develop and deploy their social & mobile programs linked to the company’s bottom-line.  Randy is also finalizing his new book “Social IMC – Social Marketing with Bottom-line ROI” which will be released early in 2014.  Dialog with Randy on Twitter @randyhlavac or discuss social issues with this hash tag #NUSocialIMC.  Randy can also be reached through Marketing Synergy website.

 

 

The Power of the Red Dot

Recently, I was talking with Jeff Davidoff – the CMO of ONE.org – about social marketing.  Jeff is a marketing guru of mine and has created some of the best social marketing programs ever invented [check out Agit8 to see his work].  Jeff is a frequent guest of my graduate social marketing classes at Northwestern and I talk with him to keep current on the newest trends in social marketing. 

In a recent conversation, he asked me, “What is it that has made LinkedIn such a powerhouse social networking site?”  Jeff had just talked to Reid Hoffman – the founder of LinkedIn – who told him much of LinkedIn’s success is the Power of the Red Dot.  His story is something every CEO, CMO and marketing manager needs to consider in developing your social strategy.

If you are a member of LinkedIn, you are on the best social networking site.  However, on most days, you are probably not actively on it.  In fact, it is easy to forget you are a LinkedIn member.  So, how does LinkedIn keep you active?  The Power of the Red Dot.  Nearly every day, LinkedIn sends you notifications.  It notifies you if some wants you to join their network.  It notifies you if someone has given you expert recommendations.  It notifies you if a group is posting new topics.  It keeps you in the loop about new things happening on your site.

Red Dot 3

 

 So what happens when there is a notification?  It generates red dots on your mobile phone and tablets.  The red dots tell you that you have emails and messages which you need to address.  In other words, the red dot PULLS you into the actions LinkedIn needs to keep you active.  Then, when you log into your LinkedIn account, wht happens?  For most, it tells you to update your profile.  Why?  Because LinkedIn gets you to perform the key behaviors – clicking, reviewing, recommending, participating – that it needs for the success of its system.  The Red Dot moves you to actions which are beneficial to you AND to LinkedIn.  Red Dots mean action.  Red Dots tell you there is something you need to see and do.

What does this mean for your company?

While LinkedIn has taken “red dots” to a high level of engagement, the same thing happens when you post something on your social networking site like Facebook.  Your new post generates a “red dot” for each one of the individuals who are following your site.  When they see it on their Facebook icon, they often click on it and, if it is relevant, timely content for them, they appreciate it.  If it is really great, they will tell others and it will go viral.

The key is to understand that social is really a 2-way conversation.  Even though you don’t know your social visitors by name and it is an anonymous relationship, your activities do generate red dots and activity.  The key is to make that content really relevant to your followers.  Not to do so will make them resistant to your “future dots”.

When you consider your social marketing programs, here are three action items to consider:

  1. Social is really a 2-way conversation – Your social program should be considered as a two-way conversation.  When you add content, it prompts your followers [and their friends] to re-engage with your social site through the red dot.  The more relevant content you develop, the better.
  2. Keep active once you start – Your social followers want to engage with you.  Give them new articles, videos, insights, and information they can really use.  Remember, each time you post it, your new content will create new red dots to re-engage them with your organization.  Success is for those who maintain the relationship with new, timely & relevant content!
  3. Keep it Timely and Relevant –Develop a content strategy which really communicates with the people you want to develop in the future!  They are actively looking for experts so give them the insights and information which will improve their professional lives.  Do that and your “Dots” will be relevant to your high value followers.

What Jeff Davidoff and Reid Hoffman taught me is to think of social interaction as a two-way dialog between your company and your prospects.  After these interactions, it is easy for the prospect to quickly forget about you.  It is vital for you to PUSH content to them by either publishing on your social sites or sending them an email.  It produces a Red Dot which moves them to action.  Remember the Power of the Red Dot and use it to the benefit of your organization and your social visitors.  A win-win situation!

 

Randy HlavacRandy Hlavac is a Professor of Integrated Marketing at Northwestern’s Medill IMC program.  His course on Social and Mobile Marketing has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and has produced strong social marketers who now work for business and Not-for-Profit companies throughout the world.  In addition to his teaching at Northwestern, Randy is also the founder of Marketing Synergy Inc – an integrated and social marketing consulting company located in Naperville IL.  Randy works with B2B and B2C companies to help them justify, design, develop and deploy their social & mobile programs linked to the company’s bottom-line.  Randy is also finalizing his new book “Social IMC – Social Marketing with Bottom-line ROI” which will be released early in 2014.  Dialog with Randy on Twitter @randyhlavac or discuss social issues with this hash tag #NUSocialIMC.  Randy can also be reached through Marketing Synergy website.

 

Make your Blog work Harder for You

This is the first of two blog articles on how to more effectively market your blog.  My students at Northwestern and my clients often create blogs and are publishing on a regular schedule…with little results.  These two blog articles will give you free tools and a template on how to best market your blog to maximize its impact in your readership base.  Enjoy and feel free to leave comments with tips and ideas to help each other improve our blogging results.

As a professor of social marketing in the Northwestern Medill IMC [Integrated Marketing Communications] program, I have my graduate and undergraduate students develop blog articles on topics relevant to a target market they want to attract.  They are on a wide range of marketing and social topics and can be seen by clicking here.  However, the purpose of this blog is not to discuss their work but what they do with these blogs after they are published.

You work hard to create your blog

In working with my students and clients on establishing a blog presence, most create and publish their blog article,  post it on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and – perhaps – tweet it once on Twitter and then they ……. hope.  They hope someone will see it, read it and comment on it.  But this is the exact wrong way to grow your blog readership.  You have worked hard to create an interesting and timely blog article.  Now you need to make your blog work harder for you to achieve your readership goals.

Meet Maslow

Maslow Hierarchy of NeedsIn 1943, Abraham Maslow published his hierarchy of needs.  Shown at the left, he identified that all individuals are concerned with dealing with five different levels of needs.  His Needs Hierarchy starts with our most basic needs at the bottom and more advanced, higher level needs at the top.  From bottom to top, they are:

  •  Physiological – these are our basic needs and we do not need to consider them for blogging
  • Safety – We want to be safe and healthy
  • Belonging – We want to be “with the crowd” and don’t want to be “left behind”
  • Esteem – Earning the respect of others because of our achievements
  • Self-actualization – Reaching our higher self or becoming all we can be

What does Maslow have to do with Blogging?

Actually, a great deal.  Whether you are blogging to consumers or business professionals, they respond to different types of messages and ignore others.  As a result, you need to test multiple messages to find the best way to connect with your desired readership.  In my Northwestern class, we call it Test & Learn.  If you test different messages in the marketplace, your markets will tell you want works.

Test & Learn is the way to grow!

This is the first of two articles so I am going to take on this Test & Learn methodology in two blogs.  When you write a blog article, you will finish and publish it.  Before you promote it, there are several steps you will need to take.  While we will discuss these steps in the next blog, what you want to focus on is the creation of different messages – based on the Maslow Hierarchy – that you can test to attract your readership.

For example, let’s say you write a blog article on gourmet egg cooking and you wanted to attract chefs interested in this high level of cooking.  If you wanted to attract them to your article using the Maslow levels [except physiological], what message might you test?  Let’s try some:

  • Safety/Security – Gourmet eggs are hot in the marketplace.  Learn how to cook exceptional eggs with my blog.
  • Belonging – Chefs across the country are raving about gourmet egg recipes,  see the best ones at my blog
  • Self-Esteem – When you cook a true gourmet egg, your customers will rave.  Learn how at my blog
  • Self-Actualization – The sign of a truly great chef is their gourmet egg cooking.  Learn how the best do it at my blog

While I’m sure it is apparent I know nothing about gourmet eggs, notice how the same article can be crafted and promoted using the Maslow Hierarchy?

Now you try it

I know for many of my students, it is difficult to get started without some assistance.  So I have some for you.  I have created a spreadsheet which takes you through the entire marketing process.  You can get it by clicking here.  Go to it and then download it to your computer.  You can then use it for every blog you publish.

To get started, take you last [or next] blog, go to the message tab and try to create a couple of messages using the Maslow Hierarchy.  It takes a few to get the hang of it but just try it.  I have given you an example from one of my best students – Megan Paniewski to show how it is done.  Don’t worry about the hash tags [#] or the bit.ly links.  That is in the next blog.  For now, have some fun and try to make different messages – targeted to your ideal readers – using all 4 of the top Maslow levels.  If you have time, take a look at the results tab as it shows it really works…but more on that in the next blog.

ENJOY and always have fun with blogging!  Let me know your comments and ideas on how you improve your blogging results! 

Randy Thumbnail 1Randy Hlavac is CEO and founder of Marketing Synergy Inc – an integrated and social marketing company located in Naperville IL.  Founded in 1990, Marketing Synergy works with companies to build measurable, highly profitable marketing programs and the database and analytical systems to drive them.  Randy works with B2B and B2C organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 firms.  In addition to Marketing Synergy, Randy has been a Lecturer Professor of Integrated and Social Marketing at Northwestern’s Medill IMC program for the last 21 years.  His graduate and undergraduate courses focus on the development of high impact Social IMC marketing programs and many of the course “graduates” work in social marketing today.  Dialog with Randy on Twitter @randyhlavac or discuss social issues with this hash tag #NUSocialIMC.  Randy can also be reached through Marketing Synergy website.

 

 

The Curse of Trying to Be Profound

Nothing is worse than staring at a blank screen

In working with my graduate and undergraduate students in the Northwestern Medill IMC program where I teach social marketing, as well as with clients through Marketing Synergy, one of the most challenging problems business leaders have is how to approach blogging.  And it is a daunting challenge.  When most executives think about writing a blog, they envision their readers waiting breathlessly for their next brilliant insights and profound thoughts.  And the pressure of being profound is too much to even get started.

The problem is profound rarely happens

While this problem may seem daunting, there is a simple, proven way around it.  Don’t attempt to be profound.  Now, by saying that, I don’t mean you can just write anything; but, if you start by thinking about your potential readership, you will see they are not seeking profound…they are seeking something an expert they can trust.  And, once you realize this, it makes writing frequent blogs actually FUN and a great way to grow your expertise and your business.

 

Writer's Block

Writer’s Block can drive you crazy!

Your readers want expertise and insight…not profound

Regardless of your industry or your area of expertise, technology and new innovations are changing the way we do business.  The problem for your readers is this – they don’t have time to identify the things they should be watching and determining what they should do tomorrow in their business.  However, there are experts out there everyday who are writing blogs and articles or producing videos about specific subjects. You, as an expert in your area, can read these blogs and determine if they are worthwhile for your target readers to read.  Or you can write your own blog.  And, therein, lies your strength and “mission” as a blogger.

Filter & Focus is your blogging “mission”

When I teach aspiring bloggers at Northwestern or Marketing Synergy, rather than starting with a blank screen and trying to be profound, we use an easier and – surprisingly – more effective way to create a blog.  I call it Filter and Focus and it is easy to do.  Here are the steps we use:

  • Find Expert Articles – Find two articles you think are relevant and reputable on the same subject.These can be found through a Google search or from reading trade journals.  I find most of mine on Twitter from the experts I follow in social and integrated marketing.  The more current and timely…the better.
  • Find Their Relevance – Read the article and define its relevance for me – your target reader.  Develop what you like about each author’s approach and findings.  You will summarize them for the reader.
  • Create Actions for Me to Take – Finally – and most importantly – give me 3 actions to take from your analysis of these three articles.  Not 5, not 2 but 3.  Why 3?  Because it is enough to make reading your blog assessment worthwhile but not overwhelming.

Pretty simple and very effective.  It shows the reader you are an expert in an area of interest and your analysis and action items gives ideas on how to better their careers and their company.  You are helping them filter through the bewildering volume of media to focus them on something that will benefit them today.

See Filter and Focus in Action

Not sure it will work?  One of the requirements for my social marketing class is students must write a series of Filter and Focus blogs and then advertise them using social media.  While we will discuss the marketing aspect in other blog articles, go to our student blog site and see for yourself.  Each of the blogs is written from a template built around the Filter and Focus concept.   They are fast, focused, and really establish your expertise….AND WITHOUT BEING PROFOUND!  

Does it work?

If you look at some of the blogs on our class website, remember these are being written by students with little or no social clout.  They are just starting out on their careers.  However, from one blog, they often get hundreds if not thousands of readers.  And this is from a class assignment!

One of my students last year wanted to focus on attracting package goods C-level managers to her blog.  She wrote a blog on a new technology with huge advantages for packaged goods companies.  She used the Filter and Focus methodology, created great recommendations, and then marketed the blog to her target community.  In our next class, she excitedly related that her blog was read by 2 senior managers at P&G and she was contacted by one through Twitter with additional questions.  All from one blog.

In summary, don’t attempt to be profound.  As a blog reader, I don’t want profound but I want a way improve myself and my company.  Filter and find me some great articles and then tell me what to do with them.  Filter & Focus is the way to get my attention, my respect, and establish yourself as an expert I want to follow and use to build my business.  So, get going, find those 2 articles and get your first blog published and out by the end of this week!

Please feel free to comment on my blogs.  I am interested in hearing your thoughts on social marketing and social engagement.  Also, feel free to contact me on Twitter or LinkedIn.  Thanks for reading!

 

Randy Thumbnail 1Randy Hlavac is CEO and founder of Marketing Synergy Inc – an integrated and social marketing company located in Naperville IL.  Founded in 1990, Marketing Synergy works with companies to build measurable, highly profitable marketing programs and the database and analytical systems to drive them.  Randy works with B2B and B2C organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 firms.  In addition to Marketing Synergy, Randy has been a Lecturer Professor of Integrated and Social Marketing at Northwestern’s Medill IMC program for the last 21 years.  His graduate and undergraduate courses focus on the development of high impact Social IMC marketing programs and many of the course “graduates” work in social marketing today.  Dialog with Randy on Twitter @randyhlavac or discuss social issues with this hash tag #NUSocialIMC.  Randy can also be reached through Marketing Synergy website.

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Randy Hlavac
Randy Hlavac is a marketing futurist who – since 1990 – has worked to integrate new technologies into the marketing strategies & tactics of B2B and B2C companies.

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