Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What Dirty Dancing Teaches us about Content Marketing

Are you putting content marketing in the corner?

“Content marketing’s the one thing, I can’t get enough of, so I’ll tell you something, this could be love…” The lyrics billowed over the radio as I was on my morning drive to the office. I was immediately transported back to the summer of 1963 in the backseat of the car with Frances “Baby” Houseman on our way to the Catskills for summer vacation, or in my case the early-nineties in Los Angeles, when I first saw Dirty Dancing. I added my own little twist to the lyrics, in case you missed it.  Content marketing is always on my mind. Growing up, Dirty Dancing was my go-to summer movie. The dancing, the music, the vacationing lifestyle, and love story…I ate it all up, every last bit of it. My siblings even made me attempt the infamous water jumping scene. You’ve tried it too, haven’t you?
In the midst of my daydreaming of days long gone, I started thinking about content marketing in regard to the movie and realized that Johnny and Baby had a few things to teach us.

1. Don’t be like the Schumachers.

In the movie, the Schumachers are the couple in their golden years who were caught stealing wallets. Unfortunately, this happens in content marketing as well. There is a difference between getting an idea from others and stealing content. Simply put, don’t steal content from others. Content marketing is about creativity and originality. Sure, you may get an idea from someone else, but make it your own and add your own opinions, voice, and advice.

2. Content marketing is a dance between you and Patrick Swayze (Am I right, ladies? Am I right?).

We wish. But in reality, content marketing is like a perfectly orchestrated dance, much like the one that Baby learns for the performance at the Sheldrake. Even though she made a few mistakes, she kept on with the routine and this is what you have to do in content marketing. You’re bound to make a mistake at some point in your content marketing career – we are human after all. Not every single blog will sit well with your audience, but you must strive to do your best and continue that dance with the same passion and focus. Just like Baby does, in the end you will master that dance and get all the steps down!

3. Seek out new ideas with “Hungry Eyes.”

Take a cue from the song and seek out new ideas for content with hungry eyes. Always be on the lookout for ideas as you go about your life – I always keep my notebook or my phone to record thoughts and ideas nearby. You just never know when inspiration will strike. Learning to look past the obvious does take time, but once you become skilled in hunting, the world of content ideas will be at your fingertips. If you find yourself struggling to find new content, start by asking yourself some basic questions. Such as, “are there any unanswered questions in my industry?”, and “where is my industry headed?”. Flip through magazines, read other blogs, and try to think outside of the box, and you will find that you will have more than enough creative ideas to go around.
Finally, don’t forget to have the time of your life – because content marketing is fun! Okay, that was pretty cheesy, but it still stands. There is no doubt in my mind that content marketing is one of the best career choices out there, especially if you like learning about new things. Because you will. You will learn about new things all the time.
And just remember, no one puts content marketing in the corner!

Originally posted on colesandcolomy.com

How Does a Twitter Chat Work?

Tweet, tweet, time to work on your Twitter chat skills!

So you want to build up your Twitter following and work on establishing yourself as a Twitter expert in your chosen field. It is a noteworthy idea and one that I strongly recommend doing. You may have no idea on how to go about this, but have no fear because Super Erin is here to help you!
Okay, now let’s get down to business.

Twitter Chat 101

A Twitter chat is a way for online users to come together at a specified time to discuss certain pre-determined topics set by the facilitator of the Twitter chat. The facilitator is usually someone who is already well-connected in the Twittersphere. The conversation is given a specific hashtag to use. For example, if you are in a Twitter chat about monkeys in the Brazilian rainforest, then the hashtag may be something closely related to #BRMonkeyChat. The hashtag will allow tweeters to identify this particular chat.
Typical formatting of a Twitter chat will have a moderator (the person asking the questions) and possible guest contributors answering those questions. The guests contributor could be other leading industry experts or it could be anyone willing to chime in and offer up responses to the questions.
For each question and answer you will notice a corresponding “Q#” and “A#.” The “Q#” indicates the question and the “A#” indicates the answer to the appropriate question. This organization is done to keep the Twitter chat organized and allow followers of the chat to easily find the questions and answers. The hashtag must be used with each question and answer. This is part of the basic Twitter chat etiquette.
@Facilitator: “Q1: How long have you been studying monkeys in Brazil? #BRMonkeyChat”
@Guest#1: “A1: Well, since I was a freshman in college! #BRMonkeyChat”

Use Proper Twitter Etiquette

Making sure you are using proper Twitter etiquette during your Twitter chat. Some chats have particular rules they want participants to follow, so make sure you do a bit of research on the chat you are wanting to join in on.

Finding Twitter Chats

You may be asking yourself where you can find out about existing Twitter chats and one of the best ways to go about it is to follow people and track tags within your industry. There are also some great online resources for finding existing Twitter chats for small businesses. Try checking these out:
Once you have found a chat you would like to participate in, find a resource to help you manage the chat. You could simply track the hashtag in Twitter, but using a program to help you track them definitely makes it easier and more streamlined. Try these great resources for tracking Twitter chats: Tweetchat and Tweetdeck.

When all is said and done.

Make sure you are tweeting great content in your chosen field on a regular basis. If you are gaining followers, but not tweeting great content, you may as well not bother. I don’t mean good content, I mean great. Need someone to help you curate great content? Just let me know (insert winky face and shameless plus here)! In all seriousness though, one of the best ways to establish yourself as a thought leader in your chosen field on Twitter is to make sure you are tweeting about relevant industry information and making sure you are tweeting quality material regardless of doing a Twitter chat or not. This will help you maintain the followers you have. When it comes down to it – content is king.

Originally posted on colesandcolomy.com

Is Your Brand Telling a Story?

What’s your story?

Since the beginning of time, humans have been telling stories. Carved on the walls in the Paleolithic Era to written on papyrus by the Egyptians, the art of storytelling has existed as long as humans have been able to communicate. Fast forward to 2013 – even though the delivery methods have changed storytelling is just as much a part of our culture as it was back then. Our desire to connect with others through storytelling still remains a crucial element in our relationships.
Everyone has a story to tell, including your company – even if you don’t think you have one, you have one. As a content marketer, your best efforts will focus on infusing your brands story into the content you create. Great content writing will not push a corporate message, but instead focus on making connections through the sharing of your companies values, philosophy, history, and people.
Here are some tips on how to incorporate your brands story into your content.

Take it behind-the-scenes.

Think about who you want to buy an item from. Is it the CEO in a power suit or the friendly employee that you can relate to on a personal level? Chances are it is the friendly employee. In reality, people want to connect with other people, not corporations. Taking your audience behind-the-scenes in your content, perhaps showing employees perspectives or how things work if you produce a product can really help to bring out the story aspect of your brand. Most companies boast how their employees are a huge part of their culture, so use this opportunity to showcase the amazing talent you have working for your brand. Remember, people connect with people, not with corporations. Your employees are a living testament of your brands story. Utilize them wisely.

Be transparent.

Consumers are savvy these days and can read through the smoke and mirrors quite easily. With the anonymity of social media, you will be called out on it quickly, and oftentimes by an unceasingly ruthless crowd. If your company does make a public mistake, be transparent about it and follow these steps during a PR crisis. Check out this advice on how to handle a social media and public relations crisis.

Highlight your history.

Your brand has a whole history surrounding it. It is not one-dimensional, but multi-faceted and should be shared as such. Your brands history is the perfect way to share your story. Utilize your social media for this – especially Facebook, which allows you to share pictures. Think about doing a Throwback Thursday or Retro Friday and show pictures your founders when they first were starting out or even before that, like when they were babies - that's always a fun one! This is where you can let your creativity shine and you can challenge yourself to think outside of the box. At Coles & Colomy, we have each member of our team write a blog. Not only does our audience get a taste of our process in each department, but they get to learn what each member of our team does. By doing this, we share our living history with our audience.

Share your values and mission.

One of the most important things you can do when sharing your brands story is to incorporate your company mission and values. Think of the values and mission as a guiding light for your content. Everything you put out should reflect these. This helps with the consistency aspect that is needed when telling your brands story.

Finally, plan for the long term.

Once you create a strategy to incorporate your brands story, the key is to remain consistent with your message. Consistency projects a professional image and also builds trust with your audience. You can do this by building out your content marketing strategy. Six months is a good time frame for this, as you can plan for any holidays or other special events that will highlight your brands story! Your content planner should be a living document, not static. Use it as a guide for your content with room to allow for changes in case something changes within the company or you have a genius idea that just has to happen!

Originally posted on colesandcolomy.com

Becoming A Content Writer

So you want to be a content writer, eh?

One of the biggest questions I get asked by friends and family is what exactly is content marketing. What seems like just a short time ago, I wouldn't have been able to answer this, but since starting my career in the "real world" I have learned a few things. I have quickly developed my elevator pitch to alleviate their curiosity. Content marketing is a marketing technique that creates and curates helpful content to help attract a target audience - and, no, I am not just a professional blogger. The thing is, good content writing will engage, entertain, have a kickin' SEO plan, and, wait for it, provide helpful answers to those seeking information. To bring all of these things together is an art. Truly it is. Trust me on this. Just like with any art form, the more you practice it, the better you become.
Many think it would be easy, but as a content marketing specialist, writing about topics you know absolutely nothing about can prove challenging. On top of that, you have to make sure it is compelling and meets your clients expectations. The good news is learning to write like a master is a skill that can be cultivated. Check out my tips to help get you started.

1. Learn to think like the client

This is not an inherent trait. It is something that has to be learned and cultivated. Sure, some content writers are going to be more naturally prone to this, but with time and practice, a great content writer will be able to develop this skill. The reason why this is so important is because you are going to be developing content from your clients point of view - not yours. The ability to understand exactly what type of content they are looking for and write quality content is paramount to your success and ultimately the success of your client. A meeting to discuss the type of content your client does and does not want will be important in helping you develop your content marketing strategy.

2. Quality and quantity matters

We have all heard the phrase "quality over quantity" and while this may be true in some business areas, in content marketing you must strive to do both. As a content marketer you are constantly striving to bring new content to your clients audience for a few reasons. First, you are helping to establish your client as an authority on their chosen subject and second, to bring your clients target audience to your client. If you are posting quality material, this will help, but when you have a volume of high-quality content you can achieve results much faster for your client. When it comes to content, quality should always come first, but there is nothing wrong with striving for a balance between both quality and quantity.

3. Don't forget your keywords

If you are writing a blog, make sure you keep your keyword or phrase as the theme of your writing. At first, you may struggle coming up with a keyword to focus on, but as you become more and more experienced, you will be able to move beyond basics and gain advanced knowledge of keywords/phrases that will work to draw your audience to your clients website. There are also great resources to help you out with this aspect of content writing, such as Google Adwords. When creating a keyword for your content keep in mind the following things: is it relevant to your website and will your audience be able to easily search for your keyword or phrase? The goal here is to strive for a working (and dare I say practical) keyword. Save the creativity for your content, simple and search friendly is the way to go.

4. SEO and content marketing

It is not SEO vs. Content Marketing. There are many articles stating that SEO is dead and content marketing is the new thing, but in reality they both complement each other quite nicely. By utilizing SEO and content marketing you can create a powerhouse duo that will help drive your clients target audience to their website. Simply put, SEO and content marketing are non-competitive, but instead partners that can help you achieve results for your client. The trick here is to make sure you know how to use SEO within your content.

Originally posted on colesandcolomy.com

The Power of Pinterest

Hello, my name is Erin Stephanie and I am a Pinterest addict.
Okay, I have finally admitted it long after everyone else around me knew I was addicted to the website – I didn’t receive the title “Miss Pinterest” at my sororities annual awards last year for no reason. Besides my love for the social media site, I have become a big advocate of brands using Pinterest as a way to engage with their target audience.
As an early adopter of the phenomenon that is Pinterest, I have begun to see a rise in consumer focused companies tapping into the Pinterest potential within the past year. Brands such as Whole FoodsEtsyModclothSouthern Living Magazine, and Mashable have been successfully using the platform to engage with their audiences and not only promote their products, but tell their brand’s story. While Pinterest is sweeping the nation and quickly joining the ranks of Twitter and Facebook, the idea of it being used as a marketing tool is still in its early stages.
It is important for a brand to understand that success on this newer platform lies in the ability to fully understand the purpose, audience, and topics.
For those unfamiliar with the website, Pinterest users collect, organize, and share content they find visually interesting to boards within a specific category. This is done through pictures that link back to websites, blogs, or other social media sites, such as Tumblr. Essentially, Pinterest is a virtual one stop shop for organization. The website is user friendly and unlike Facebook and Twitter users, Pinterest users are not as involved in conversation – most of the activity is “repinning” pictures to pinboards.
Here are some quick stats on the average Pinterest user:
While there may be an abundance of categories on Pinterest, the following are the top 10 most popular categories, according to Mashable: home, arts & crafts, style/fashion, food, inspiration/education, holiday/seasonal, humor, products, travel, and kids.
It is important to note that Pinterest is not a stand-alone marketing tactic, it needs to be used in conjunction with your pre-established social media plan. If you are considering using Pinterest, check out these stats on how Pinterest can help boost your brands social media image:

1. High referral rates

According to a study conducted by Shareaholic, Pinterest rivaled Twitter in referrals to a company website and overpowered the likes of Youtube, Reddit, Google +, and LinkedIn.

2. 70% of brand engagement comes from users not the brands

In fashion and retail this number jumps up to 82% community driven content; the PR girl in me is excited to see this statistic. When I pin on Pinterest, I am saying that I endorse this product, idea, or project. I am showing my followers that this is something to take note of. According toBlogHer, a whopping 81% of users trust the advice and information that they get from Pinterest – significantly higher than Facebook and Twitter users.

3. Pinterest users spend more money

On average Pinterest users spend more money and make more purchases than Facebook users, often spending more than double the amount than Facebook users per transaction.
Before jumping onto the bandwagon and adding Pinterest to your social media marketing plan, consider the following necessary criteria:
  • Do you have visually interesting photos to use?
  • Do you know your brands story? Brands are not one-dimensional and cannot be treated as such. Accordingly, your pins should consistently tell your brands story.
  • Who will manage the account to ensure interaction and compelling content creation?
  • Do you have any interest in the demographics of Pinterest?
If done properly, and in conjunction with your established marketing efforts, Pinterest could be a nice addition for your brand!
Happy Pinning!

Originally posted on colesandcolomy.com

Erin, the Carrie Bradshaw of Her Time

I never thought that I would find a full-time gig as a writer, but as luck would have it, here I am in Nashville learning the trade of content marketing. And I absolutely love it. Ask "Erin one year ago" and she would have told you there was no way she was going to do anything but public relations. Her mind was made up. She didn't know that a move to Nashville and one year later would turn her world upside down and she would find a new path developing content strategies for clients. A new passion was formed.

I love planning, as I have mentioned before, and working as a content strategist allows me to showcase that passion. It also allows me to indulge in my passion for establishing myself (or in this case, helping my clients establish themselves) as an expert in almost anything. I have always joked around claiming to be a "jack of all trades" knowing a lot about a lot of subjects. Content marketing feeds this passion with a fury I never knew existed. I sometimes feel like a walking encyclopedia. I like walking around being that person that people can ask questions of and I immediately try to establish myself as an expert in that field. Scarily convincing too. Some find it annoying, I am sure my employer and clients find it endearing.

I have been writing for my company, but wanted to start sharing those posts with you all as well. I am also changing the name of my blog. Originally it was set as Pearls, Curls, & a PR Girl. The name just doesn't fit anymore. The new name change will happen this week at some point. I have a few ideas I am throwing around.

And as luck would have it...

With a simple twist of fate, I find myself at another crossroads. Life has a funny way of doing that. Just when you think you are ready to settle into something good for a while, it bops you upside the head and makes you move along.

Ready for a new adventure, as always.


Thursday, July 11, 2013


Today I smiled.

Like, really genuinely smiled.

Some of you know,many don't, but this past year has been hard. Medical problems which drained me of energy and joy, to the stress of graduation, finals, school bills and sorority stuff. It was overwhelming. I lost my smile somewhere in the mix of it all.

But today, I smiled.

It felt good to finally be happy again. To realize that I had survived this past year, these past five years of school really. I walked away with a degree, a few scars, surgery, and bruises along the way, but I did it. I didn't give up. I walked away victorious.

I left Portland not really knowing what the future was going to hold. I like to plan, so of course I had a vague notion of what the immediate future was going to hold, but not long-term. For me, Portland represents a time of growth. I experienced love gained, love lost, new experiences, best friends, laughter, trials and tribulations, and even some "eventful" college nights where we felt young, alive, and carefree. Portland will forever be that moment in time, frozen in the files of my mind, stories one day to be told to others and laughed about at reunions.

While going through an old memory box, I came across a letter from an old friend. The card read "Sending you a smile...to say have a great day." Inside he wrote, "I saw this card and immediately thought of you - maybe because you've always had such an amazing smile. I miss seeing that smile." I missed that smile as well, but didn't realize just how much. Until now.

It took me a while, but I have that smile back and it feels wonderful. I am beginning to feel like Erin again. Without the stress, without the heartbreak. Happy Erin. I like that feeling.

I don't want to lose that smile again. That feeling I had when I stopped to reflect how great it felt to genuinely smile reminded me why it is so important to our very core to simply smile.

The winter has passed and the sun is shining. It is now time to focus my energy on finding those moments in life that make me smile.

We all should be doing that.