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Why Content Creation Should be A Company Wide Culture

Why Content Creation Should be A Company Wide Culture

Culture of Content in your company

Content creation should be a company culture, not just the responsibility of your marketing team. 

Understanding this will separate your content marketing efforts from the pack. And if you’ve tried blogging or producing other types of content in the past as part of your inbound marketing strategy with little effect then this could be the turning point your company needs.

But – and without sounding like a game show host here – that’s not all folks! Because nurturing a culture of content in organisation has a ripple-effect of benefits that extends way past the impact it will have on your inbound marketing strategy.

In this article I’ll share the key reasons why content creation should be part of your organisation’s culture and not just a sub-section of the marketing department. You may be surprised to learn just how far-reaching the benefits of nurturing a culture of content can be.

Benefits of a Company-Wide Content Culture to your Inbound Marketing Strategy

Before we go any further let’s briefly recap on what content marketing is and where it fits with inbound marketing.

Content marketing is about teaching your customers rather than directly selling to them. Demonstrating your company’s expertise, and willingness to share this information builds trust with your potential customers. This, in turn, makes them far more likely to buy from you.

It’s worthwhile thinking about content as a magnet that attracts customers to your website. For the magnet to work your content must have good SEO. But, most of all, it must be of real value to the customer.

Inbound marketing provides the structure, processes and conversion points necessary to turn your audience members into your customers.

I like to think of it like the human body. Content is the heart and lifeblood, whereas Inbound is the skeleton that holds everything together.

So how does getting everyone in your organisation involved in producing content benefit your company’s inbound marketing strategy?

More Content = More Leads

This is a blatantly obvious benefit of getting all your employees involved in creating content for your company. So, I’ll waste few words on this and go with some simple maths before moving on.

More people producing content = more content = more SEO & promotional opportunities = greater traffic to your website = more scope to convert them into customers = more customers

Leverages expert insights and knowledge

The central idea behind content marketing is to answer the questions your customers are searching for and help them to resolve problems relating to your business area.

But who in your organisation is likely to have the most in-depth understanding and knowledge of your industry?

Chances are it’s not always going to be the marketing person/department. Therefore, why should they alone be tasked with the responsibility of content creation when the key objective is to share expert knowledge and teach customers?

Frontline staff such as customer service representatives and sales agents will be the most in tune with problems and challenges that customers face. Conversely, those working in research and development may be primed to advise on the future of the industry, what customers can expect down the line and how they might prepare for change.

Employees working on the operations side of the business often have the sharpest understanding of the industry. They should, therefore, be looked on as valuable vessels of information and expertise i.e. the perfect candidates for producing quality content for your brand.

Authenticity

It’s common for companies to outsource content creation in its entirety to industry agnostic content specialists. Certainly, I agree with bringing content experts on board to help strategise and structure your content marketing efforts.

I strongly believe, however, that brand content should be a natural resource.  Content should come from within – even if it goes through the marketing department or a content agency for a final bit of sprucing at the end.

Mining content from within your organisation will result in higher quality, hyper-relevant and truly valuable content. What’s more, it will be a clearer and more honest representation of your brand.         

Benefits of a Company-Wide Content Culture Beyond Marketing Objectives

 

Enhances Employee Understanding & Industry Knowledge

Writing content is a bit like school (although I wouldn’t necessarily sell it to your employees that way!).  What I mean by this is that the process of producing a piece of content is educational. It enhances one’s own understanding of the subject matter.

Tasking employees to research a particular topic and/or structure a piece of content that clearly explains that topic to your customers will, therefore, benefit the employee as much as the reader.

Creating content is an excellent way for staff members to see things from your customers’ perspective and to think about your industry as a bigger picture. They’ll keep up to date with industry trends and the impact these have on customer needs.

Better still, employees who produce content learn to communicate more effectively about their area of expertise. This, of course, is advantageous for both in-house and external communications.

Creating Content Makes better trainers of your employees

Following on from the educational advantage we’ve just discussed, creating content makes teachers of your employees as much as it does students. In fact, it’s probably best to lead with the teacher rather than the student angle when pitching content culture to your organisation!

Breaking topics down into clear, digestible content helps employees be better trainers, while simultaneously producing content that can be used for employee training! Two birds, one stone – or three even if you count the fact that the content also contributes to inbound marketing.

Creating Content can lead to innovation

As we’ve already discussed, creating content is all about helping customers to understand your industry, overcome challenges and make decisions. If a particular problem is highlighted that you can’t answer or has no adequate solution then maybe this is an area your company could address and take the lead on?

Drives Employee Engagement and Loyalty to your Brand

Giving your employees an active role as brand storytellers demonstrates that you trust and value their expertise. This respect for your employees will be returned in spades when it comes to employee loyalty and (hopefully) retention.

Employees who act as brand storytellers will feel more invested in your company, listened to and valued.

 

So, What’s Next?

As we’ve seen, embracing content creation as a company-wide culture will have positive reverberations for your company far beyond those measured by your marketing team.

But what if no one in the organisation is a good writer? Or what if people feel they don’t have time to contribute? These are common objections to company-wide content policies.

Wanting to create a culture of content in your organisation and actually creating one are two totally different stories! So, I’m putting together a guide to help nurture a culture of content in your organisation. If you would like a copy please sign-up to our newsletter below and you will get the first look publication!

In the meantime please feel free to leave comment, advice or questions to be addressed in the guide in the box below.

Thank you!

Sinead Gillett

Creative Director

The Ultimate Guide to GDPR Compliance for Marketers

The Ultimate Guide to GDPR Compliance for Marketers

What do marketers need to know about GDPR? Well the simple answer is quite a lot.

GDPR compliance

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25 2018, bringing with it some important changes to the ways in which we collect and control information about our customers.

The fact of the matter is that data forms the foundation of the online world.

Web users use personal data like currency. Think about your own experience as a regular web consumer – sharing your personal information and contact details gives you access to numerous services and content.

For us marketing folk, data is crucial for running successful online campaigns.  It helps us to track website visitors, understand our audience, target them with the right content to turn them into customers and a whole lot more.

Data is extremely valuable to us as marketers and in return, we need to handle it responsibly. The GDPR hikes up the privacy rights of the individual and enforces more stringent data protection policies on companies.

This guide will get you up to speed on GDPR, what the impact of GDPR is for marketers, and – best of all – practical steps to help you get your company GDPR compliant.

 

GDPR  – What You Need To Know

 

What Is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on 25 May 2018. It replaces the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive (DPD) for data privacy and security in order to reflect the ways in which businesses use and collect data today. The GDPR builds on the 8 data protection principles of the DPD and includes several new provisions to:

  • Strengthen the personal data protection rights of EU citizens
  • Simplify the regulatory environment for data protection in the EU (by requiring that the same laws regarding the collection, storage and usage of personal information apply across all member states.)
  • GDPR also adds far harsher penalties for violations.

Read the full text of the GDPR here

Get a glossary of all the legal terms you’ll need to know here.

What Data Will Be Affected By GDPR?

The EU defines ‘personal data’ as any information that can be used to directly or indirectly identify an individual (or ‘data subject’). This means everything from an email address, to a name, IP address, photo and more.  

Does GDPR Affect Non-EU Marketers?

Yep! GDPR is not just for EU companies. It will also apply to non-EU businesses who market products and services to people in the EU, or who monitor the behaviour of people in the EU. That is to say: Regardless of where your company is based if you hold and control data relating to EU citizens you’re bound by the GDPR.

 

What Are The Penalties For Non-compliance With The GDPR?

You don’t want to know.. But you need to!

The maximum sanction for non-compliance with GDPR is a fine of €20,000,000 or 4% of gross worldwide annual turnover, whichever is the greater. Scary stuff!

 

What Does GDPR Legislation Cover?

In order to understand how GDPR impacts your marketing activities, it’s necessary to take stock of the key areas that GDPR covers. Here’s an overview.

GDPR Privacy Rights of the Individual

Right to Access

Under GDPR, Individuals are entitled to find out what personal data of theirs is being processed by companies, where it is held and why.
 Companies that hold personal data (data controllers) must be able to provide a copy of an individual’s data if requested. This has to be done for free, by the way!

 

Right to Erasure

Essentially the GDPR’s ‘Right to Erasure’ is the right to be forgotten. It allows individuals to request data controllers to delete their personal data, thereby preventing them and related third parties from accessing or processing their information. 


 

Data Portability

Under the GDPR, individuals are able to request access to their personal data ‘in an electronic format’, which they can then transfer to another data controller – for example, when switching their health insurance or telephone service provider.

 

GDPR Compliance  for Company Processes 

In addition to facilitating the above data protection and privacy rights of the individual, companies must adhere to the following to be GDPR compliant.

 

Data Breach Notification

Companies must notify customers and data controllers of data breaches within 72 hours.  This relates to leaks, hacks, or lost data – such as information on a lost USB key).

 

Privacy by Design

Data compliance and data protection must be considered from the start when it comes to designing new systems. Organisational and technical processes must ensure that personal data is secure. Only data deemed ‘absolutely necessary for the completion of duties’ should be held.


 

Data Protection Officers

Public companies or companies whose main activities involve data processing and monitoring need to appoint a Data Protection Officer. This is in place of notifying local Data Protection Authorities of their activities. 


 

 

What Should Marketers Be Thinking About When It Comes To GDPR?

 

Now that you grasp the key areas of GDPR we can look at how they impact on your companies sales and marketing activities.

 

1. Opt-in

 

One of the most impactful areas to note for marketers is that ‘implied consent’ or ‘soft opt-in’ will no longer be an option.

What does that mean?

Prior to GDPR ‘implied consent’ meant that companies can email a person, so long as that person had the option to opt-out of receiving emails at the time of purchase or contact. This could take place, for example, when filling out an online form.

The situation under GDPR is that consent has to be explicit. This means that the individual must opt-in as opposed to opting-out. Furthermore, companies must be able to provide evidence that a person has elected to opt-in to communications and didn’t just fall onto a contact list by default.

It’s a GDPR best practice to require individuals to check a (previously unchecked) box to opt-in.  And, while it’s not mandatory ‘double opt-in’ would also be best practice. This is where choosing to opt-in on a form is followed up with a ‘click to confirm’ email. This prevents an individual ending up on a marketing list if someone fraudulently used their email address without consent to sign them up.

A final note on opt-in relates to events.

In person opt-in needs to be evidenced. So, it’s no longer possible to simply add an attendee guest list to a marketing campaign list, because you have to prove that individuals have opted-in.

Resolve this with an opt-in form at your stand, perhaps on iPad, or a follow-up opt-in email after the event.

 

2. Marketing With ‘Legitimate Interest’

 

This is where GDPR gets kind of confusing.

As we’ve just discussed ‘opt-in’ is compulsory. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, there are two perspectives on GDPR opt-in.  

The first – as above – is consent, where you must gather opt-ins from every contact. This protocol guarantees GDPR compliance.

The second perspective is termed ‘legitimate interest’ –  and the term itself is the explanation. Companies may use the reasoning of legitimate interest as a precedent for direct marketing on an unsubscribe/opt-out basis.

Be warned, however – this is not quite the loophole in GDPR that it sounds like because all other aspects of GDPR must be followed. Furthermore, proofing ‘legitimate interest’ (i.e. relevant and appropriate) may be legally difficult if challenged.

Choosing whether to go down the legitimate interest path can really only be determined on a case by case decision.

 

3. Third Party Compliance

 

Most of us marketers engage with third party tools and marketing technology such as marketing automation platforms and CRMs. Think about Mailchimp or Hubspot or Salesforce, for instance.  Third parties that hold data on behalf of your company must be GDPR compliant. They need measures in place to store and process personal data and to integrate data appropriately.

To prepare for GDPR you should:

  • Ask third party suppliers to detail how they ensure GDPR compliance.

  • Ensure there is a point of contact from each side.
  • Ensure there’s an adequate process in place on both sides to manage any data breaches.
  • Only collect data that’s necessary.
  • Be sure that it’s possible to delete data should you stop using a third party service provider.
  • And, confirm that you can download your own data from the third party when requested.


 

4. CRM

No means No!

The ‘right to be forgotten’ under GDPR impacts the way your CRM is managed. If an individual requests to be forgotten then it’s not good enough to mark them as do not contact on your CRM as may have happened in the past. They must be deleted. And this goes across the board. It’s important to ensure that their data is expunged from all ancillary databases.

Remember: Data is a liability to you. Unless you need to keep it, delete it.

 

5. Data Governance

 

In situations like new contact data record creation, or where contacts provided by a third party are being added or integrated into a database, opt-in compliance is once again imperative. This relates, for instance, to the importing of contacts from a spreadsheet, adding a contact from a business card or integrating Sales Navigator contacts with your CRM.  Managing this across multiple areas is probably the most complex part of GDPR compliance. For that reason, it’s well worth consulting with a data protection expert to GDPR-proof your processes.

 

The Future Of Marketing Under GDPR

 

It’s simple – Go Inbound.

Inbound marketing is all about attracting customers to your company, rather than pushing your sales message upon them.

In a nutshell, web users find their way to your website via the magnetic pull of good content – helped of course by good SEO and online promotion. If they like what they see then they’ll want more great content and will gladly opt-in to receive it from your company.

Happy days! Not only do you get evidence of their opt-in which makes you GDPR compliant, you also get a pouring in of qualified leads -people who are genuinely interested in what your company is all about. That’s far more valuable than the ‘spray & pray’ tactics of mass direct mail campaigns.

So it’s a kill two birds with one stone scenario. Inbound = GDPR compliance + Quality Lead Generation.

Want to learn more about Inbound marketing? Check out this article. 

 

Disclaimer: This blog post should not be used as a complete guide to EU data privacy nor as legal advice for your company to use in complying with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This blog post is intended for informative purposes only. You should therefore not rely on it as legal advice or recommendation of any particular legal understanding. In a nutshell, this is information only and not legal advice.

 

5 Social Media Mistakes Your Business Should AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!

5 Social Media Mistakes Your Business Should AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!

social media mistakes we do not likeWhether social media is the primary lead generator for your business, or just one aspect of your brand communications it’s crucial you approach it with professionalism and with a strategy. In this article I’m going to outline some of the most common social media mistakes that businesses make, and give you some tips and advice on how you can avoid them and put your best social media foot forward.  

So, let’s kick off! 

1. Inconsistent Branding


Akin to all areas of business communication it is vital to maintain a clear and consistent brand identity on social media. This means setting brand rules and sticking to them. Your Instagram profile or ‘collage’ is a really good example of why brand consistency is so important. Customers don’t always see your social media post one at a time. They’ll click through to view your profile as a whole. Your Instagram posts therefore need to work together as part of an overall brand story.   

Make sure your colour scheme reflects your brand and is harmonious across your posts.  For example, a children’s entertainment company can work with vibrant primary colours like red, blue and yellow, whereas a company that manufactures outdoor clothing may want a more natural earthy palette. Imagine if the outdoor clothing company randomly added a bright yellow image to its Instagram or Facebook account. It would stand out like a sore thumb and confuse the brand altogether.

The same goes for typography.  Pick a font family and stick to it, and be consistent with the size of the font you use when adding text to images. Other things to look out for are the placement and size of your logo if/when you add it to an image. Generally, you’ll also have rules about what you say in your social media posts which will relate back to your overall brand vision.  If you’re business is B2B in the legal profession, for instance, you should be posting about news and subjects relevant to your industry. Don’t muddy the water with random off-topic throw-ins.  

Likewise, never mix business and personal. There’s no room for family pics on LinkedIn – save them for your personal Facebook profile. The important thing to remember is that social media provides an outlet for you to build brand awareness. By being consistent with your messaging you’ll develop a pattern which in turn elicits brand recognition and familiarity with your customers. Ultimately you want a customer to see a stand-alone social media post of yours and for them to say- ‘that looks/sounds like it’s from (Your Business)’. 

2. Under or Over-posting

One of the most common social media mistakes is being inconsistent with how much you post. The problem works both ways. Posting too little shows a lack of investment and interest. Posting too much, on the other hand,  can appear spammy and annoying.

Let’s do the Goldielocks test.

Goldielocks social media bowls, too much, too little, just right

 

Too Much
Who annoys you on social media? Chances are it’s not the brand we’ve just discussed that only pops their head up on social sporadically. It’s the person or business who clogs up your feed with lots and lots of content.  And what do we tend to do with it? Skim, skip, dismiss.

My old teacher Mr O’Connor used to warn us chatterboxes that “empty vessels make the most noise”.  While it’s not necessarily true that chronic over-posters produce poor content, this is unfortunately the lasting impression that post saturation gives. Do you need 10 snapshots from your shop a day? 

Too Little
Long gaps between posts will not do you any favours when it comes to the Facebook algorithm. It punishes infrequency, and once you drop the ball on engagement it can be hard to get back.  Aside from the bots you need to think about your customers. Put the shoe on the other foot. If you’re planning on using a business – let’s say a boutique hotel – and you visit their Facebook page to see what’s been happening there recently, only to find nothing has been posted in the last 5 months. What does that say to you? To me it says the hotel isn’t overly bothered about how it appears to its customers, and it would make me think twice about booking.

Just Right
The best thing to do is to look at your engagement levels as a way to gauge your post frequency. If your engagement is consistently high then the demand for your social media content is there – so go for it. If engagement patterns fluctuate significantly then focus on high quality over high quantity at regular, but not rapid, intervals. For some ballpark guidance on posting it’s ok to post 3-5 times per week to Facebook and Instagram, whereas a Tweet a day is OK. In fact, Twitter is set up for more frequent posting, so if you’ve got more than one thing to say in a day feel free to Tweet away! (There’s a poem in there somewhere….).

3. Not Engaging


The whole point of social media is to engage with your target audience. That means being in conversation with them and not just sending messages their way. One way to engage with your social media followers is by responding to comments promptly. Be prepared to respond to messages outside of your traditional business hours. You should be responding to all comments, good or (it happens!) bad.  Don’t miss an opportunity to demonstrate your quality customer service when facing negative comments or complaints. Respond in a timely and appropriate manner. If you manage to placate the situation you just might be on to PR gold. Lemons, lemonade and all that!  

turn social media lemons into lemonade

The other thing to remember is not to neglect good comments! They’re valuable endorsements for your business and you should show appreciation to those who post them. Thanking them and sharing these posts will likely encourage others to share their happy thoughts about your business too.

Another easy way to engage is by promoting user-generated content. But make sure to credit the source! You should also think about ways to engage with other businesses in your local area. This will allow you to garner the attention of their followers. It also allows for cross-promotion and other mutually beneficial opportunities. It’s not called social media networking for nothing.

4. Being Overly Promotional


If your social media plan is to sell, sell, sell, then you’re setting yourself up to fail, fail, fail! 

Time to put yourself in your customer’s shoes again. Do you buy a magazine purely to browse the ads? No! You’re interested in the editorial content – and the same goes for social media. Your brand should therefore position itself as a publisher of content rather than an overt point of sale. It’s about delighting your customers and interacting with them rather than just advertising to them.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t throw a sale in every now and then, plug some products, introduce new services and so on. The idea is to get the balance right. My recommendation is to go with the 80/20 rule. Make 80% of your content valuable to your audience, be it informative or entertaining or useful – whatever works for your brand. You can then keep 20% for more promotional material and Calls To Action. 

For example, if your company is in Fintech, you could share information about financial markets, tips for managing finance, relevant news stories and industry trends. With this balance your customers will appreciate your content and be far more open to your promotions.  

5. Using Poor Visuals

A picture tells a thousand words. This has never been truer than when it comes to social media. In today’s fast paced digital world we’re lucky to have a customer scan our social media posts let alone read them. You have a split second to capture someone’s attention and text alone simply will not cut it.

You ALWAYS need to include a visual element in your social media posts. Furthermore, it needs to be eye-catching and of high-quality. Read more on this here where I discuss 7 DIY tips to enhance your social media images.

Now, we need to talk about video. If a picture tells a thousand words then a video tells a thousand pictures. Motion catches the eye like nothing else. As consumers we are getting more and more used to receiving content this way so your brand needs to keep up. Your videos don’t need to be Hollywood productions. Just make sure they are clear and that they fit with your brand!   

Fail to Prepare – Prepare to Fail


This was another one of Mr. O’Connor’s favourite sayings, and he used it interchangeably with the tongue twister: “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance”.

 I want to end this post by talking about planning. I haven’t included Failing to Plan as one of my key points, because it’s implicit in all of the social media mistakes I’ve discussed. There’s plenty of occasion for reactive and spur of the moment social media posting. This is, after all, the original premise of Instagram. However, and this is a big however, approaching social media for business as a purely ad-hoc and sporadic exercise will do you no favours.  

Best practice is to design and plan your social media calendar. This should feed off your businesses wider content strategy and the insights you yield from analysing your social media analytics.

There are tons of dates and events that we can be proactive about scheduling posts for rather than reactive. Take St. Patrick’s Day. If leveraging this event fits with your brand identity then why not plan for it in advance. Thinking ahead about your content will give you time to produce something of really high quality, rather than panicking on the day to put something out.

Setting time aside to strategise and populate your social media calendar will save you heaps of time in the long run and will help your business be more consistent and engaging on social media.  

Let’s get social!

Now you know what to do and more importantly what not to do it’s time for your business to get social 🙂

Feel free to follow me on Twitter or on CONKER’S social media – Twitter, Facebook, Linked in – and let me know who you are so I can share the love back.