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Stop Wasting Your Time With 280 Characters – Focus On This Instead

Guest post from Josh Gallant, Digital Marketing Strategist.

In case you haven’t heard, long-form tweeting now exists.

That is, if you consider 280 characters to be long-form. If you’re comparing that number with the 140 character cap of old, new-school tweets are going to seem like oversized college textbooks.

Am I the first person to jump on the trend and write about the new character limit?

No, I am most definitely not.

Pretty much everyone that creates content and uses Twitter has beat me to the punch. They’re all jumping to answer the most popular question across the internet recently. That question everyone’s asking typically looks something like this:

“How can I BEST use my 280 characters to maximize my tweets?”

Well I’m going to give you an answer you probably haven’t seen yet. How can you utilize all those characters, you ask? Simple…

Ignore 140 of them.

(more…)

How To Use Content Curation To Build A Passionate Audience Before You Launch

Launching a startup with an existing audience is an unfair advantage.

It’s like giving one racer a 50m head start in a 100m sprint.

What if I told you: this is an advantage you can have as well?

You’d likely want to hear how…

Luckily for you, in this blog post – that’s exactly what I’m going to share. I’m going to talk about an approach that many startups and founders have used to build an audience before they actually launched.

The approach is known amongst marketers as content curation. Content curation is the act of finding great content by sifting through the noise and delivering it back to your target audience. It could be curating great content on Twitter and building an audience in the form of followers (Crate helps with this) or it could be curating content for a handful of subscribers on an email list.

As an avid reader and curator, I’ve learned a lot of the growing pains that come with building a newsletter and following from curation efforts. In this blog post, I’m going to share some of these insights and hope you can apply them to your approach to marketing before you launch so you can have an unfair advantage that gives you a head start.

 Be Laser Focused With Your Targeting

Focus

When Dave McClure said, Niche to Win, the concept has meaning in everything from startups to content marketing. It’s the idea of focusing on a singular audience and delivering value to them unapologetically. He writes:

Startups are more likely to find product/market fit by narrowing their target demographic, understanding customer needs/benefit better, and building more focused & differentiated products along with more specific marketing messages that are better tuned to those audiences

Too often do I run into marketers who are creating content for a broad audience resulting in them missing out on establishing any deep relationships with their target audience. You need to think about exactly who it is you want to target, understand their motivations, problems and the types of resources they’re looking for on a regular basis.

When you look at people like Marie Forleo or startups like Bevel, while what they offer each of their audiences is very different (content and shaving products) – the one thing they do very well is focus. Marie is committed to female entrepreneurs and Bevel is committed to offering people of color an excellent product experience.

Another great example of focus is found in the SaaStr Newsletter by Jason Lemkin. As you may have guessed from the title, it’s a newsletter all about SaaS. Rather than creating a newsletter that targeted any and every startup – he’s been able to build a quality subscriber base of SaaS entrepreneurs and professionals because of his laser focus in adding value through both creating and curation.

Establish An Editorial Standard

Curating great content is like writing a great song.

It’s not just the words you say that make a difference; it’s the words you decide to leave out.

People subscribe to newsletters to gain insight into things that they may not have found on their own. A newsletter that shares the same content as every other newsletter is a newsletter that will eventually be ignored and find subscribers falling off in terms of engagement and subscriptions. That’s why in Jason’s description of his newsletter he explains:

There’s not much point in linking to great SaaS content from Mark Suster or Tomasz Tungz or David Cummingsor David Skok … if you’re reading SaaStr, you’re already reading their great stuff.  But we’ll highlight uniquely great insights you might not see otherwise.

One of the best examples of a company that leveraged curation to build a raving audience is Mattermark. Boasting more than 80,000 subscribers, their team has an impressive set of editorial guidelines from a content curation perspective. One of their rules for curation is that if the team cannot read the article in full, it gets left behind and doesn’t get featured.

Like Omar said, you’ve gotta have a code.

Here are a few places you can go to find content for your curation efforts:

  • RSS Feeds that are linked to resources your audience would enjoy
  • Content curation software like Crate, Pinterest and Nuzzel
  • Following people on Twitter who share relevant content
  • Subscribing to other newsletters that deliver value

Maintain Consistency In Your Efforts

Schedule

 Consistency builds familiarity. Familiarity builds a relationship.

If you can be consistent in your content curation efforts, people will look forward to the content you send them and actively look forward to receiving your updates. You want your audience to get excited when the clock strikes 2:30 on Wednesday because they know that your content is coming. In fact, you want your audience to get upset when you forget to send your newsletter on time. That’s the goal.

You want to create a habit within your audience’s daily, weekly, monthly chaos. For the first few weeks, do a bit of testing around when your first few email subscribers are likely to open your emails and use the optimal time as a benchmark moving forward.

Leverage Various Networks To Drive Awareness

If you’re curating content through an email newsletter like Benedict Evans of A16z, take a page out of his book and promote the content on channels like Twitter as well. If you’re curating content in a newsletter, you can also set up most services to automatically tweet or share on Facebook when you press send. Twitter Cards make it easy to acquire subscriptions:

Benedict Evans

But don’t just share once published. Be willing to hustle like Ryan Hoover did telling people to sign up for his newsletter after they upvoted products on ProductHunt:

Don’t just limit yourself to a single platform and cross your fingers that it will work. You need to promote your efforts to your target audience across other channels where they spend time.

If you’re creating a newsletter all about the latest insights surrounding artificial intelligence, you’re going to want to share the findings with sites where people interested in this topic will spend time. Whether it’s uploading a link to Hacker News or sharing it directly in subreddits and Facebook groups talking about futurology and AI – there are plenty of opportunities for promotion. Here are a couple of my favorite content distribution tactics.

Conclusion

Beyond content curation, creating content can give you an unfair advantage over your competitors as well.

It’s important to do everything in your power to set startup and business up for success. To increase the likelihood that you will be successful, build a raving audience that loves you before you launch.

What other tactics have you seen brands and startups take to build a bit of buzz and love surrounding their projects before launching?

Eight Distribution Tips That Will Help Your Content Soar After Pressing Publish

If you want people to notice your content (and share it) there’s one thing you need to know.

The life of an article doesn’t end when you press publish.

It’s at this point in which the life of your article actually begins. 

The lifecycle of most blog posts looks a little like this…

Typical Content Lifecycle

That initial spike is great but what if I told you, you can make a more sustainable ding in the universe with your content?  Look, we’ve all been there. We create something that we thought would make a ding in the universe but it barely makes a dent in a bumper.

So…

What exactly can you do to drive success for your content?

Well, you have to start of content people love as much as Kanye loves Kanye but after that, it’s time to focus on distribution.

Distribution is king.

And today is your lucky day because I’m going to share with you 9 tried and tested distribution tips that will help you spread your content more effectively. Let’s get to it…

1. Search The Domain On Twitter & Respond

There’s a theory that acquiring your first 1,000 true fans is enough to make a living. According to Kevin Kelly, a true fan is someone who will purchase anything and everything you create. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They will travel to hear you speak or perform. They are true fans.

One of the best approaches to acquiring your first 1,000 true fans is building relationships. If you’ve created a great piece of content and have already implemented some of the strategies highlighted here, it’s likely that people are sharing your content online. Don’t let their shares go unnoticed.

Twitter search is a great way to find out who is sharing your content. Type in the domain of your blog post or website and Twitter will deliver any tweets that include a link back to that post:

Blog Search

Upon finding people who were fans of your blog post, it’s time to reach out with a simple tweet thanking them for sharing or engaging in a more meaningful way. It could be asking them a question about what they do or requesting their opinion of the content.

2. Reference Your Content In Forums & Quora
Quora Marketing

Forums are a great resource for finding people who want the content you’ve created.

People use forums to discuss topics they’re interested in or acquire answers from a specific group of people. Your goal in distributing your content in these channels is to deliver as much value as possible through your response and then reference your own content throughout.

For example, if someone asks you about Facebook Marketing and you’ve created an infographic about Facebook ads, you can talk about both organic and paid tactics with a link to your own content. The key here is to ensure that the content you’re creating is high quality. You don’t want to come across as someone who is simply looking to send traffic back to their own site so be sure that you give as much value as you can within the text response.

3. Turn The Blog Post Into A Slideshare

So you’ve exhausted all of the distribution hacks at your finger tips and have noticed that traffic has dipped significantly. At this point, it’s time to go big in figuring out how to add a new wave of life into your content. How can you do that?

Repurpose the content into a Slideshare deck.

I’ve leveraged this tactic multiple times and the Slideshare decks have in many cases, generated more traction than the actual blog posts. In total, I’ve generated millions of views on Slideshare by taking blog posts and turning them into high quality Slideshare decks.

Here’s an example of a Slideshare I created from this blog post about Content Marketing Hacks:

Content Marketing Hacks That Will Help You Stand Out

4. Create Social Media Visuals With Quotes or Charts

Buffers research found that Twitter images play a huge role in making content shared on social media more click-worthy and share-worthy. Studies found that tweets with images get 18% more clicks and 89% more likes than those that don’t. So creating a handful of visuals that can be shared with your content is a great way to drive consistent shares throughout social media.

The folks at Vox do a great job at sharing their links with content assets. Whether it’s a screenshot directly from the article:

Lines

Or a custom visual with a quote placed on top like this one:

Quote

This media giant understands the impact that visuals can have on driving an increase in engagement.

Creating visuals like this is easy in a world where tools like Canva and Pablo by Buffer are available. Whether you’re a designer or not, you can use these services to tell a story in an effective way. Kevan Lee of Buffer has created a great resource all about creating share worthy images and maximizing engagement for your tweets.

5. Distribute Content Within Slack Communities

SlackDAU

Slack has been growing like a rocket ship.

It’s a startup darling that tends to be viewed as a communications tool amongst teams but it’s quickly becoming a place where you can connect with people you don’t even know. Communities have sprouted up on Slack where people with a specific interest have daily conversations and even host events like an Ask Me Anything.

One of the first Slack communities I came across was Maker Hunt, a slack chat for product driven makers from the Product Hunt community. Since then, the number of Slack communities I’ve joined has skyrocketed with awesome communities like Online Geniuses, Saas Founders Club and more. Sites like Chit Chats give you the ability to find Slack communities that are directly relevant to you:

Chit Chat

One of the best parts of these communities is that they often have a specific channel created for shameless plugs and promotion. You can share your content within these channels and the community will respond by sharing your content and helping spread your story.

6. Include It In Your Email Signature

Call me old school but it works!

The average professional sends and receives about 120 emails a day.  If you send 60 emails within 24 hours and every single one of those emails has a link to your content in your signature, you have a great chance to drive more traffic to your content. In addition, you know that the people you’re engaging with are relevant because you’re talking to them.

Sometimes the people you’ll be interacting with will be team members and other times, they will be clients or partners. In each of these cases, there’s a benefit for you to keep these people in the loop about the content you’re creating.

7. Distribute Content Using An Email Campaign

RS Newsletter

Email marketing is far from dead. It’s a marketing opportunity that has helped many companies get their start.

An email list is a great place to start if you’re looking for ways to distribute your content. For example, on my personal blog all about content marketing and tech, I’ve created a mailing list for people who want to stay up to date with my content.

It’s a simple way for me to keep my audience informed about what I’m up to and deliver value directly to their inbox.

For Hustle & Grind, we have a weekly newsletter called the Hustle Weekly which is sent out every Wednesday. It’s a collection of articles from around the web that cover topics like startups, entrepreneurship and productivity. To leverage this for our own content distribution purposes, we sprinkle our own content into the weekly newsletter as well as the content we’ve curated from other resources.

8. Upload Content To Different Online Communities

GrowthHackers.com

Similar to online forums, there are online communities where discussions are held on a regular basis about niche topics. Two of the best communities in the online marketing world are GrowthHackers.com and Inbound.org. Both of these communities are great places for marketers to not only build relationships but also to have their content featured and shared.

You can submit your content into these communities and the people within it have the ability to comment or vote on the piece. If the content delivers value, it can be seen by thousands of people within only a couple hours and reach some of the most influential people in your industry.

Find the communities relevant to your target audience and leverage them as a great distribution channel. Of course, people will see right through you if you’re using these channels to solely promote your work and not others. I recommend that you become active in these communities before pushing your own content so it’s clear that you’re not there just to take.

Wrapping Up

The typical content lifecycle is short and sustained long term over nothing but search.  The ideal content cycle grows gradually with an initial spike sustained from the implementation of various distribution tactics.

ContentDistribution

I know that there are hundreds of different tactics for distributing content more effectively online.

I’d love to hear some of the tactics you have used to drive results for your business.

It could be simple. It could be game changing.

Anything that could help someone else is useful.

Leave a comment below and let me know one of your best tips.