Content Development Tips

The Write Way: Writing Tips to Get in the Content Development Zone

As many will say on a Monday when they can’t seem to speak correctly and need their morning coffee, “words are hard.” However, at Ketner Group, content development is an essential part of our DNA so we welcome the challenge. We’re proud to be the stewards of the words, the prose pros and the scribe tribe. When it comes to putting our clients on the map, we use our writing skills to give them a voice and ensure their stories rise above the noise through strategic, engaging content.

Although we fancy ourselves veterans of the craft, the writing process can be tough – especially when it comes to getting started, staying focused and tackling multiple projects in a timely manner. To offer our faithful readers some writing tips for building exceptional content, I asked some of the Ketner Group team for their most effective processes.

Getting Started With a Brain Dump

Sometimes it’s easier to start with an abundance of information and work your way down. As such, when I start a writing project, I dump all of the relevant collateral and resources I can get my hands on into a document and then begin chiseling away. This helps me find the story and craft it into a cohesive and impactful piece.

After including a plethora of information into her document, Mikaela likes to create headline and subheads first (of course, they’re subject to change and most of the time they do) to get a good starting point and a way to stay on track while writing. She also will write a topic sentence for her own reference before she starts digging into the content to help stay on track and prevent getting off topic. Meanwhile, Catherine takes a creative angle to keep things fresh and engaging by starting her intros with a fun theme or quote that will guide her throughout the piece – this process can be seen in full force in her recent Forbes article.

To Outline or Not to Outline

It’s the classic question that we all face in our careers – as certain as death and taxes. Some of us like to develop a full outline initially while others just get writing. In fact, in a poll of the entire KG team, we’re split right in the middle – half of us outlining, half opting not to. Kirsty finds value in it for certain projects, especially while writing a webpage, where she decides what she wants to write in a more visual manner. Once the outline is done, she usually lets it sit for a day or two, allowing her to come back with a fresh mind, and begins fleshing out the content and editing directly from the outline.

Perfect Timing

Many might say, there’s no better time than the present…but that doesn’t always work when we have countless priorities at once. Finding the right moment to begin your writing project isn’t always easy. Some of us write better at different times of the day so it’s important to find what time is right for you. For example, if other projects are getting in the way, make sure you knock those out first and set time aside on days when you aren’t as busy such as Friday afternoons, early mornings or whatever works for you.

While some work better under a strict deadline, setting short term milestones can help others who are having trouble keeping the content development ball rolling and want to avoid being overwhelmed right before a deadline. This includes creating short to-dos with deadlines throughout the week. For example, plan for your outline to be completed by Tuesday, draft on Wednesday, send colleagues for review on Thursday and send to client by Friday.

Background Noise

For those of us who need noise in the background, the most effective way to stay focused is listening to certain types of music. Amanda will often listen to white noise, instrumental music and brown noise. I tend to listen to instrumental music like jazz (John Coltrane’s album “A Love Supreme” is a great one), foreign (groups singing in another language, such as Tinariwen and Shintaro Sakamoto) and anything with a driving rhythm or R&B (lately Solange, Nilüfer Yanya and Blood Orange but William Onyebor, Fela Kuti and Talking Heads are always classics for me).

However, my go-to and most effective song is 45:33 by LCD Soundsystem. The almost 46-minute song, commissioned by Nike for runners, keeps me focused through its ebbs and flows and acts as a timer so I know it’s time to focus for that period of time.

Other Writing Tips from the KG Team:

  • Eliminate distractions: Close Outlook, Slack, iMessage and put your cell phone away.
  • Set a timer: Crank out content for a set amount of time (perhaps 30-45 minutes). Then you can allow yourself a 10-15 minute break to check email, scroll through Twitter, grab a snack, etc. before diving back in.
  • Get a little help: Since sometimes we all lack self-control, I’ll occasionally use the Self Control app to blacklist distracting sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • Get outside: Stuck on an idea and can’t figure it out? Step outside, go for a walk and clear your mind for a bit. Finding a friend to join also helps since there’s no process more productive than a good ol’ walk and talk.  
  • Caffeine: As always, the java-heads out there need their coffee. Sitting down with a good cup o’ joe or tea can keep you wide awake and ready for the unpredictable journey of content development.

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to content development. In fact, the way we see it, if you’re not writing…you’re wrong! At the end of the day, becoming a great writer is all about finding out what works best for you. As such, we hope these writing tips will help you stay focused and in the zone for your next project.

Spring Training Routines Aren’t Just for Athletes

I grew up a diehard sports fan in Boston. Spoiled rotten by now, the city’s motto in those days was, “there’s always next year.” It was an unfortunate existence, but one that leveraged optimism to handle the frustration of defeat. Fast forward to this week when I tuned into a Red Sox spring training game. I was struck by the unique approach sports leagues take to prepare for the nature of business. There are dates and processes that define team building year in and year out. Spring training gets players and coaches comfortable with the daily grind. It establishes routines and provides the practice that teams need in order to win more often than not throughout a grueling season. And it dawned on me that within this rigid structure lies a key lesson for all PR pros.

Living in Organized Chaos

I’m lucky to work for one of the most successful retail technology PR firms in the country. With that, every day brings a new schedule, new challenges and new opportunities. It’s a job that requires preparation, organization, dedication and creativity. Yet, unlike professional athletes, we don’t get an offseason to reset and refocus. With limited regularity to our days, it can be hard to establish effective systems and frameworks that withstand the pressures of day-to-day expectations. Superstitious baseball players would probably hate it.

Identifying Routines

Superstition is a funny thing, really. Most athletes know that putting on their socks in the wrong order doesn’t shift the balance of the universe to mandate their failure. Rather, they understand the need to establish routines that create consistent triggers in a chaotic profession. Yes, they have endless travel, non-stop media attention and families to raise. But little routines help them find stability in the chaos. With a sense of control comes the ability to handle changing environments, situations, and opponents.

Establishing Productive Habits

This approach can teach us something about our own work. As you do your own personal and professional spring cleaning, think about ways that you can declutter your daily schedule. Look for ways to take control of your morning routine. Analyze your lunch break, the way you spend time between tasks, emails, client calls, and everything else you regularly do. You’ll quickly notice that among the chaos, there are plenty of opportunities to take control, find the calm and establish consistency.

The arrival of spring is a played-out analogy for new beginnings and new growth. Indeed, the optimism driven by longer, warmer days offers a notable divergence from the dutiful commitment to New Years’ resolutions made during the pits of winter’s misery. But growth doesn’t have to come from establishing visions of grandeur or reaching lofty goals. Rather, it can simply mean finding the little things in your day that trigger success, that bring regularity, comfort and calm to a hectic day.

So, put in the work to do the little things right. Do them every day. Do them right. Ultimately, you’ll establish routines that last a lifetime. Next spring when they start over once again, you’ll already be hitting home runs.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson

Intern Series: Starting a New Position

This blog post was written by our intern, Meghan Farrell. 

Starting a new position can be a daunting experience. You don’t know the company culture yet, you have many new faces and names to learn and you aren’t quite sure what an Account Executive even does. These are all common worries that new employees have when starting a new position – and that’s completely normal. However, there are some tips to keep in mind that will help make starting your new job less stressful. Let’s talk about some ways to successfully prepare for starting a new position.

Do Some Digging

Although you probably learned about the position during the interview, it doesn’t hurt to do some digging. Check out the company’s LinkedIn or team page on its website and find someone with a similar position as you. Once you find that person, check out some of the work they have been doing or subjects they have been writing about. This can help you access what you’re in for or topics that might be relevant to learn more about before your start date. At the very least, research some of the publications the company works with or shares on its social platforms and get familiar with the trends in your respective industry. By doing prior research, you will have a better idea of the dialogue that occurs in your new position.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Unknown

Starting a new position usually means doing things you have never done before – and that’s a good thing! You want a job that challenges and pushes you into the unknown because that will help you grow as a professional. You never want to get too comfortable with what you are doing because you then risk getting left behind. Take on some things you aren’t familiar with because getting as much experience as possible is beneficial, even if it doesn’t seem to fit your current role or field. Volunteer to help with clients you haven’t worked with before or projects that are new to you when you have the time. Through taking advantage of these opportunities, you will get familiar with the things the company does on a daily basis.

Confidence is Key

Although you are the new guy or girl at the company, that doesn’t make you less important than other employees. You have the skills and qualities that the job requires and you were chosen over many other applicants. Remember that when you begin your new position. It’s normal to feel like you’re at the bottom of the food chain as the new employee, especially when you’re young, but you have worked hard to be where you are and deserve to be there just as much as everyone else. However, there is a fine line between being confident in yourself and coming off as cocky, so make sure to keep that in mind. You want to let other employees know that you mean business without leaving a bad taste in their mouths because you will be working closely.

There’s No “I” in Team

No matter the position you are starting, you always want to be a team player. While being able to work individually is important, being able to work in a team setting is key and will benefit you throughout your job, especially as the new employee. Employers want to hire people who will increase the value of the organization as a whole, and that can’t be done single handedly. It requires the help and collaboration of many people, and you want to be a part of that. Additionally, the more you network, the more resources you will have as you adjust to your new role.

Hit the Ground Running

Although you may be nervous, the best tactic to start off strong at a new position is to hit the ground running. Find areas that may need improvement within the company and make suggestions on how to make them more frictionless. If there was a program that your previous job used to speed up daily tasks, let your employer know! Do research on ways other companies are doing things and suggest them at the next staff meeting. There are plenty of things you can do that let your employer know you are innovative and want to contribute to the advancement of the company.

As scary as starting a new position can be, it’s ultimately a positive thing and a great opportunity to grow as a professional. So, when you’re walking in on your first day with sweaty palms, remember some of these tips and tricks to get off to a good start. Good luck!

The Rapid Response Formula – Insight, Data, Speed

As Talladega Night’s Ricky Bobby avidly proclaims in a pronounced southern accent, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” While this quote cracks me up, it rings quite true in a rapid response scenario. If you’re not among the first to provide a comment after news breaks, chances are, you’ll get lost in the noise. However, speed is not the only component of a successful rapid response formula. To garner media mentions, your rapid response should be prompt, include unique insights and highlight pertinent data.

While this is easier said than done, PR professionals can follow a few tips and tricks to ensure speed when sending out a rapid response.

Tip One: Monitor the News

Effectiveness in the rapid response world means keeping an eye on breaking news. This step requires you to think like a journalist. As a best practice, we recommend looking at your top 15 media contacts and analyzing what topics they regularly cover. For example, if they cover retail and technology, do they cover breaking news from retail giants like Amazon and Walmart? If so, the best way to offer timely and relevant rapid responses is to go straight to the source.

For example, publicly traded companies issue press releases and hold quarterly earnings calls, which journalists usually attend to get the scoop. Therefore, by making the time to read the press releases and attend these calls, your company can stay ahead of the curve on breaking news and deliver a speedy and timely response.

Tip Two: Figure Out Your Unique Position

Once you gain understanding of the breaking news, it’s time to figure out what to say. You may have to decipher whether media contacts need an analytical point of view, a forward-looking prediction, or an explanatory statement that discusses what this breaking news means. Remember that your rapid response should add value to the journalist’s story. Once you figure out your position, it’s time to bring in data insights to back up your statement. The more unique the data, the better, as it will help both journalists and readers understand your company’s point of view and help establish you as an expert source.

Tip Three: Craft Your Response

Now that you have all your components, it’s time to craft your rapid response! We typically recommend sending journalists a paragraph or two that can easily serve as a quote. Within these paragraphs, focus on what is important and unique. Rather than summarizing the breaking news, acknowledge it and provide your statement with key data insights.

When it comes to the perfect rapid response formula, remember to think speed, insight and data. As you start to think like a journalist, you’ll understand what the media needs for their next breaking news story.

7 Steps to Successful LinkedIn Marketing

In recent weeks, we’ve explored how to develop a content strategy, how to set up a social media program from scratch, and how to use thought leadership bylines to earn media coverage. All of these content approaches complement each other and help reinforce a brand’s identity. But the power of the written, or recorded, word can only get as far as the audience you’ve built to consume it. Luckily, there’s a way to amplify the reach and impact of this owned and earned content that we find quite valuable and our clients are consistently curious about: LinkedIn Sponsored Content.

 Adding a paid element to your PR program helps bridge the gap between traditional PR and traditional marketing, which shouldn’t operate in silos anyway. We like to take a strategic view of LinkedIn promotion, using a step-by-step practice to develop and continually optimize a highly-targeted LinkedIn ads campaign that complements existing content development and organic social media initiatives. The approach outlined below helps identify hyper-relevant prospects, target them with the right content, understand what content to create in the future and serve your company’s ultimate marketing goals.

 Step 1: Identify Ideal Audience

As with any marketing process, you can’t succeed if you don’t know who you’re talking to or trying to reach. But if you know who the decision makers, influencers or buyers are that you want to influence with your content, you can target them at a granular level on LinkedIn. By combing criteria, you can hit a hyper-targeted user set and ensure you’re not spending money promoting content to users who will never make a difference for your bottom line.  You can target audiences in three ways:

  • Demographics – Job function, seniority, company name, geographic region, industry, etc.
  • Interest-based targeting – Group membership, skills, fields of study
  • Company audience data – Target account lists your sales team is using (Note, you’ll need a lot of names for this to be effective, but it guarantees a precise audience.)

Step 2: Define Campaign Goal and Associated Content Formats

Once you know who you want to read your content and ultimately to engage with your brand as a potential customer, you’ll need to define the goal of your campaign. This will determine the kind of content you promote. For content you don’t already have, you’ll need to focus on developing it as part of a comprehensive owned, earned and paid media program. For the following goals, you’ll want to emphasize the associated content:

 Brand awareness

  • Company blog posts on LinkedIn
  • Press releases
  • Long-form posts
  • Visuals/videos
  • Product announcements
  • Promotion of tradeshow attendance

Thought leadership

  • eBook, whitepaper, video, research
  • Industry commentary
  • Long-form posts
  • Guest blogs on other blogs
  • Industry trends or data

 Lead generation

  • eBooks­
  • Webinars
  • How-to guides
  • Blog posts with calls-to-action (CTA)
  • “Freemium” downloads/gated content
  • Industry-related reports

Step 3: Develop an Editorial Calendar

Once you know which content to share, set up an editorial calendar – this will help you to visualize the rhythm of content being published and ensure that you’re addressing different aspects of your brand’s value proposition. Having everything written out will also help make sure you share different forms of content to keep things fresh and engaging for all members of your target audience, depending on their interest, challenge, or stage in the buying process:

  • Awareness: Have realized and expressed symptoms of potential problems or an opportunity.
  • Consideration: Have clearly defined and given a name to their problem or opportunity, actively looking for ways to address the issue.
  • Decision: Have defined their solution strategy, method or approach and ready to take the next step.

Step 4: Identify Assets and Messaging to Promote Content

Identify and/or develop compelling ad copy (150 words or less) and visual content that make readers want to click on or download the content you’re promoting. If you can’t sell your content, no one will read it no matter how informative or well-written it is.

Hint: Include calls to action, statistics, quotes, actionable text.

Step 5: Determine Ad Method

Sponsored Content

Sponsored content campaigns are promoted through paid channels based on posts you have also made directly on your Company Page. They are best used to attract new followers to the company website or landing page and drive engagement with company-specific content.

Company Page posts (status updates) can be promoted in the newsfeeds of both followers and non-followers whose demographics have been specifically targeted. This is a good option for posting blog content, articles about your company or to showcase commentary, award wins, customer or product announcements, and more.

Direct Sponsored Content

The direct sponsored content option allows you to post content directly in the LinkedIn feed without the content originating on your LinkedIn Company Page. This is useful if you don’t want the post to clutter your company’s LinkedIn profile page, but otherwise operates the same as sponsored content.

Website Ads

LinkedIn also offers more traditional website ads, which lead readers to the company website and often start at $2.00 per click and up. These are best leveraged for sending interested parties to your website to download gated content – whitepapers, e-books, case studies, webinars – for lead generation, or to product pages for direct sales promotion. If you choose this option, you should set up goal tracking in Google Analytics to count how many contact form submissions are received as a result of a given ad. Then judge what your cost per lead is and determine if it is delivering appropriate ROI.

Step 6: Set a Budget

Finally, you’ll need to decide what your total monthly budget for LinkedIn ads will be, and how you’ll allocate your spend – either emphasizing CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) if your goal is brand visibility, or CPC (cost per click) if your goal is lead generation or website traffic conversion.

LinkedIn Ads work on a bidding process, so depending on the audience you compete for, the price will change to show an ad. Bids are only processed at $.01 more than second-highest bid, so you can set your bids at the top limit of what you consider a fair value for the click or impression.

Step 7: Reporting/Continuous Improvement

It’s essential to monitor and analyze the key metrics of your campaigns on an ongoing basis. This review process is critical for finding opportunities for improvement to your campaigns, whether it’s improving reach, accuracy of targeting, CPC or CPM, website conversions, engagement and much more.

You should use the LinkedIn campaign manager to review all the metrics available on the platform itself, but also refer to your Google Analytics reports to see how successful you’ve been at driving increased traffic to your website as a whole or to specific landing pages on the site. There are also tools like LinkedIn Insight Tag to your website that will help you evaluate deeper insights about your campaign and users to continue improve your LinkedIn, content marketing, and overall marketing goals.

To learn more about how LinkedIn can help drive brand awareness and lead generation as part of your PR or marketing program, feel free to reach out to me directly – [email protected] – and don’t forget to follow Ketner Group Communications on LinkedIn and Twitter for more valuable tips like these.

 

Intern Series: Career Fairs

This blog post has been provided by our intern, Meghan Farrell.

It’s that time of the year again, a day that can fill students with dread – the career fair. Getting dressed up in our slacks and uncomfortable shoes, printing out (hopefully enough) resumes for everyone we speak to and waiting in line nervously, wondering how to stand out from the other hundred plus students in attendance, are just a few things we worry about. But career fairs shouldn’t be something you avoid. These events can be the perfect opportunity to meet your future employer and get meaningful networking experience. And with UT’s Moody College of Communications Career Fair on September 26, we thought it would be the perfect time to roll out some advice on how to tackle these opportunities.

Do Some Research

It’s okay if you don’t recognize every company attending the career fair. However, doing some research ahead of time on the businesses in attendance is imperative, even ones that might not necessarily be on your radar. This is one of the only opportunities where all of these businesses will be in the same place, so make the most of it and explore your options fully. While you don’t need to know every detail about each company, it makes a big difference when you are familiar with what they do. Visit their website or blog and get an idea of the type of work they do. You can ask them about a certain client or case study, or an open position they have listed; this will show that you didn’t come unprepared. It demonstrates that you are interested in what they do and have taken the time to learn about them beforehand. As you wait in those long lines to speak to someone, bring along notes to review so when it’s your turn to shine, you have lots of ammo for the conversation. On top of that, some colleges provide information on every company that will be in attendance on their app, so see if your school offers it and use it to your advantage!

Dress the Part

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have” may sound cliché or lame, but it can make or break a company’s first impression of you. The representatives at each booth came dressed for the part, so you should too. While formal business attire has become less common for employees today, it still plays a part in making a lasting impression on prospective employers. They want to see that you made the effort to get ready for the event, take your career seriously, and that if hired, you would be able to dress professionally. UT also requires that you arrive in professional dress, so don’t make the mistake of preparing for the career fair only to be asked to leave because you showed up in jeans.

Exchange Information

It can be awkward deciding the right time to give someone your resume or business card, but recruiters want them! Even if it turns out you don’t qualify for the position, ask them to hold onto your resume in case something opens up. That company may be looking for someone for a position in the future and remember you and think, “Wow, this person I met at the UT career fair would be perfect for this role, let me go find their resume and contact them.” You worked hard on those materials so hand them out! Even ask for their card; they probably have a stack of about 200 in their office so I’m sure they would love to get rid of one.

Follow Up

A very important step that many students forget is to follow up after the career fair. If you had a particularly memorable or exciting conversation with someone, go ahead and shoot them an email explaining how great it was to meet them. This will lead to the beginning of a professional relationship with that person, and even if you don’t end up working together, it’s always beneficial to have another contact in your field. Even if you felt like the conversation didn’t go so well or was a bit awkward, contact them anyways. It never hurts to let them know you appreciated speaking with them, because at the end of the day they took the time out of their schedule to be at the career fair, too.

Take A Deep Breath

Career fairs can be very nerve-racking, but at the end of the day they are an amazing opportunity to learn about the companies in your area. They give you valuable pitching experience, something that is very beneficial in our field, and provide insight into the real working world. If you want to get hired, you are going to need to learn to vouch for yourself, so get out there and tell these employers why you would be valuable to their company. You have a lot to offer as a young professional, so take a deep breath and take that bull that is the career fair by the horns.

Tips for Developing a Content Strategy

Blogs! Social media! Whitepapers! Webinars and email newsletters! These are only some of the content marketing tactics that hold a tremendous amount of potential for getting your business the attention it needs to grow as fast as it deserves.

It can be truly dizzying for marketing teams to crank out the amount of content needed to make an impact. And unless your marketing team requires a fleet of Uber XLs to get to an office happy hour, it’s just not possible to do it all. Yes, PR firms can be terrific allies in developing and executing on your content strategy, but how should you set one up in the first place?

Brand awareness vs. lead generation

An effective content strategy serves two equally valuable and competing (yet complementary) purposes – brand awareness and lead generation – neither of which your marketing can succeed without. It’s finding out how to balance these that takes work. So, take a step back and work from the top down. Define your organization’s unique needs and goals. Ask questions like:

  • Do our customers know who we are?
  • Is our pipeline flooded or flowing at a trickle?
  • Does our sales team close every sale they work on or are we struggling to convert leads?
  • Do we have a competitor or competitors regularly winning deals over us?

Once you know where you stand, where you’re already succeeding and what gaps you need to address, you can determine the type of information your intended audience would most benefit from. Then, leverage the three overarching channels available to you – owned, earned and paid media – to get it to them.

Owned Media

Think about the advice we’d all give to a friend feeling overwhelmed by a situation, something along the lines of, “you can only control what you can control.” Although sometimes frustrating to take that advice at face value, it’s essential to get the basics right before branching out to more nuanced arenas. Unsurprisingly then, owned media should always be the first and most fundamental element of any content strategy.

Website

To that end, your focus should be on ensuring your website is the rock your content strategy can build off of. It allows you to tell visitors who you are as a company, what you stand for, what you sell and why it’s worth the investment. It has unrivaled power to tell your story how you want it told – everything you want someone to know about your company should live here. You should also have simple components like a ‘Contact Us’ page for lead generation, and any gated whitepapers, case studies, e-books, or webinars can live in perpetuity on your website to generate traffic and leads, long after you publish them.  Managing a regularly updated blog is also a key part of becoming a well-rounded brand; it will serve as an outlet for the promotional and thought leadership messaging you want your customers to associate with your business.

Social Media

It’s not exactly a cutting-edge revelation, but social media channels allow you to disseminate any info you want to the people that follow you. All the content you post to your website should be shared on the social channels you run, as this drives traffic to specific landing pages and your site as a whole, further driving lead generation. Just don’t forget to share and engage with the broader community on your social media platforms, as no one likes a “me, me, me” account!

However, it’s also important to note that not every platform is perfect for every brand or audience. We’ll share another post on social media content marketing in a few weeks (and will link to it once it’s live), but we tend to be major fans of LinkedIn for our B2B retail clients, using Twitter and Facebook as complementary outlets. Based on your audience and goals, pick and choose your platforms so you don’t waste time and resources building a community that won’t drive online engagement.

Email

Often left out of the ‘thought leadership’ bucket, but rarely forgotten by traditional marketers, email can play a key role in reaching an audience of customers, prospects, partners and others who care about your company message and sign up to receive information from you. Don’t just use email to sell; use it to inform, engage and entertain whenever possible to maximize its potential and keep your readers from going for an instant ‘delete.’

Earned Media

Along with content strategy and development as a whole, earned media is the bread and butter of our PR firm, and one of the most compelling reasons to work with an agency with a long history in a given market. Earned media provides a major boost to your brand’s visibility, recognition and authority. But using content to earn media attention doesn’t end with press release pitching.

My colleague Adrienne Newcomb wrote a great blog on using bylined articles to secure thought leadership coverage in key trade publications, and we’ve found that case studies, proprietary research reports, and pitching executive commentary on developing trends (great for sharing on social too) can have a big impact on a brand’s ability to get media coverage.

Whatever content you create for your owned channels, think about how you might be able to convince someone else to use it on their own platform. Without reinventing the wheel, you’ve greatly increased the value of a given piece of content.

Paid Media

Paid media can be a terrific option to supplement your owned and earned content strategies but should rarely, if ever, be relied upon to have a strong impact before the brand has developed those initial content foundations. We recommend thinking of paid media as the final exclamation point on a well-executed organic program that helps take successes to new heights. This doesn’t mean you need to have a killer email marketing program in order to promote high-performing blog posts on LinkedIn, but it does mean you shouldn’t be investing heavily in LinkedIn posts that direct back to a useless website. Determine the gap in your growth plan, create enjoyable content people want to engage with, build an audience that cares what you have to say, and use paid to take you over the top. If your foundation is strong, the potential ROI can be huge!

We’re here to help

Want to learn more about developing a content marketing strategy from scratch or optimizing a program already in motion? Reach out to us. We love talking about content and it’d be our pleasure to help you use your own media effectively and efficiently.

7-Step Guide to Starting Up a Social Media Program

Social media is a key element of any marketing strategy, allowing brands to connect and engage with their audience and grow the business. Whether it’s used to generate leads, showcase new products, deliver better customer service, or manage reputation and brand image, businesses are taking advantage of the benefits of social media platforms to help generate online exposure.

Over the years, we’ve helped clients increase the visibility and impact of their ongoing social media initiatives, but we’ve recently taken on an entirely new challenge: launching a social media program from scratch.

Although creating a social media program can seem daunting at first, with the right plan of action, you can see great results in just a few months – we have! Below are some easy steps we followed to create a successful social media program for a client of ours, with helpful tips we’ve learned along the way.

Step 1. Develop Your Goals
As with any other PR campaign, it’s important to define your goals from the start so you know what success looks like. Then, work backwards to identify the steps you’ll take to achieve that goal. Aimlessly starting a social media program will result in just another content channel with limited purpose, and less impact. Carefully develop an overarching goal, and define campaign strategies and tactics that help you achieve it.

Step 2. Research, Research, Research
Research is key to understanding how to achieve those goals you just developed. There are so many great resources out there that can help you answer questions like:

  • Which channels are the best fit for my company?
  • How often should I be posting on each channel?
  • Should I use paid or organic posts?
  • What sort of content should I be focused on?
  • How do I measure success?

This is also a good time to conduct a competitor audit to understand how your competitors are doing online and what type of social content they are posting. The more you know, the more you can be confident with the decisions you make!

Step 3. Set up Your Accounts
Now that you’ve identified which networks you’ll be active on, it’s time to set up your accounts. Fill out your profiles completely with an easy-to-understand bio (no jargon!) and appealing visuals that are tailored to your audience. Also, make sure to give the appropriate people on your team access to the account so they can manage the pages, too.

 Step 4. Create a Social Media Content Calendar
Go back to your research and see what sort of content you should focus on. Channels shouldn’t be overly promotional, so balance company news and products with thought leadership articles to show that your company has a firm grasp on the impact of the latest industry news and trends.

Tip: Schedule a few posts and fill your page with content before you start following people. That way, people visiting your page don’t see an empty feed with no incentive to follow back!

Step 5. Get Relevant Followers
Start following relevant users who you think could benefit from your channel. Remember, gaining more followers isn’t always the main objective. Look back at the goals and strategies you developed in Step one and target followers that will help you achieve it. It’s also a good idea to send out an email to your employees, encouraging them to follow and engage on your platforms.

Tip: Liking relevant posts is a great way to get more people to find your channel. You can also use hashtags and tag users in your posts to get more views.

 Step 6. Evaluate Your Strategy with Regular Reviews
With so many moving parts, you can’t expect to get your social media strategy perfect the first time around. That’s why testing and evaluating your strategy on a regular basis is necessary to creating an effective campaign. Look to see if you met your short-term goals and assess what you can do to improve the program. After you’ve taken a look at what’s working and what’s not, adjust accordingly. Re-strategize and take action on what you can do to optimize your social channels.

Step 7. Consider Using Paid to Amplify Your Content
Take the value of your strongest-performing content to the next level by putting paid behind your posts. Not only do you get to set your own budget, you can also collect data on the type of people viewing and clicking on your page. If you’re being strategic and really targeting your audience for lead generation purposes, paid social can lead to results that are far beyond industry averages. For example, we’re seeing click through rates (CTR) as high as 1.739% for one of our clients on LinkedIn – way better than the industry benchmark of 0.13% – even while keeping the cost per click (CPC) under the industry benchmark! With constant analysis and tweaking of content messaging and audience targeting, these results only get more impressive.

Tip: LinkedIn allows you to upload a list or specify a segmented audience to target. It also says that the most successful campaigns target between 60,000 and 600,000 membersat a time.

If you don’t have a social media program in place yet, now is the time to start. Feel free to contact our team at Ketner Group to learn more about how we can help your business develop and manage a social media program that meets your business goals!

International House of Branding

IHOP is changing its name. Last week, the company tweeted (from its updated handle), “For 60 pancakin’ years, we’ve been IHOP. Now, we’re flippin’ our name to IHOb.”

In the week between the initial tweet and the official announcement, social media responded. The news definitely sparked my attention, and I haven’t stepped foot in an IHOP in over 10 years.

Many expressed outrage while others offered up guesses of what the “b” could stand for, and the IHOb account responded creatively to tease out the news and keep people guessing. Some notable predictions included breakfast, bacon, and even the right answer: burgers.

While the social media interaction was fun and sparked life into the brand, the big buildup to yesterday’s underwhelming announcement landed as flat as a pancake, in my opinion. I considered it misleading, as the company implied that the name change would be permanent, and instead it’s just a temporary ad campaign.

However, the PR stunt brought up a good point. It demonstrates how crucial branding and identity is to legacy brands. It also begs another relevant question…

When should you rebrand?

Rebranding makes sense when a company is shifting its services or has already made that shift – for example, offering more breakfast options than just pancakes. Apple Computers renamed to Apple, Inc. as they began to expand its product lines and sell more than computers. This was a natural move and made sense as the major brand identifier – Apple – was kept in the rebrand.

On a more personal level, this year yours truly changed our name from Ketner Group PR + Marketing to Ketner Group Communications. We’ve always been more than just public relations and marketing, offering services in social media, content development, and more, but we found it was time to change our name and logo to reflect that. But are we in the same boat as IHOP? Probably not.

Many food and retail brands never undertake such a public (or even private) rebrand, as the company name is the identifier for consumers. If they do, it’s a result of an acquisition, or done before they expand, like Starbucks did in its early years, originally named Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spice. A smarter move for food and retail brands is a subtle logo change. And just a few years ago, IHOP did reveal a new logo. Last month, Best Buy redesigned its logo after 30 years. The font and colors are similar, and the yellow tag is still included to represent the company’s history. By changing its logo, Best Buy didn’t change its identity, but subtly alluded to how it’s adapting to an evolving retail environment.

IHOb is an example of how drastically changing one’s image, values or services can be met with hype, but also intense criticism. When undergoing a new logo design or rebranding – or in this case, just a burger campaign – brands should ensure that its essence is kept in the name.