5 curation tools that can help with your B2B content marketing

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Dan Hanks

One of the biggest obstacles to finding success with B2B content marketing is the need to produce and share high-quality content on a regular basis. Hence, the curation frustration syndrome.

It doesn’t sound like a problem in theory. You should know the industry inside out and you probably already keep tabs on industry news, so you’ll just be writing what you know and sharing things that crop up in your feeds naturally.

But in practice, those doing the writing or sharing isn’t the expert. They’re someone in the marketing team, or within an external agency—and finding the time to pass all the interesting titbits from the expert to the writer/sharer on a regular basis isn’t really cost effective or possible.

Which is where content curation can really help.

What is content curation?

Simply put, it means gathering together different pieces of content from a variety of outlets, which in content marketing terms usually means a way of collecting news stories, social media commentary, videos, and other types of online media in one place.

HubSpot takes this one step further, defining it as “finding information relevant to your audience from a variety of sources and sharing it strategically through your communication channels.”

In other words, not only taking that 3rd party information and using it to write blog posts and eBooks about it. But also sharing it more directly through your social channels (eg: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)—further helping you to become a trusted educational resource in the eyes of your followers and prospective customers.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

A few great content curation tools to try

These days there are a million and one ways to curate content, all designed to save you time, money and hassle.

But while content curation tools are often assumed to be mostly automated, they usually rely on smart thinking and personality to put together—and this human touch is often what stands them apart from their competitors. Because, really, you don’t always want algorithms deciding what information you see (hello, Facebook). You want to know that there is some personal thought behind it. A little like your readers want your content to be engaging and authentic.

Here are a few of the curation tools we’ve found most useful:

Twitter Lists

A Twitter list is a curated group of accounts, which offers you a timeline that shows only the tweets from those on the list. This is something you can set up yourself, but you can also subscribe to other people’s lists too.

This is a vastly underused tool that can really help filter your feed into more manageable chunks, for example separating your friends’ tweets from those in your industry. This makes it easier to spot those all-important nuggets of news or information your business relies on to write about or simply share with your followers.

Storify

This content curation tool allows you to read, search or create your own embeddable stories from a whole host of social media sites—like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. And more specific to brands and publishers, Storify 2 (built on the Livefyre Engagement Cloud), gives content teams even more opportunity to engage audiences with live, continuously updated blog stories thanks to improved features such as real-time multiple-editor collaboration.

BuzzSumo

Less a content curation platform to help you share information, but rather an invaluable and easy-to-use tool to help you find the most shared information by others.

Perfect for scoping out the content your business need to be talking about. Use it to find out what topics are trending this week or were the most shared in the past 6 months. Then identify those key influencers who were instrumental in getting that content in front of a big audience—and either see what types of content they like to share or get them directly engaged in your content.

Wakelet

Wakelet is all about the human element of search, where users can save, curate and share the links to pretty much whatever content they can find on the web through beautiful looking collections called wakes.

Build a wake of all those useful content marketing blog posts, articles, or videos you use for reference and share with your customers. Or even promote your business through a range of easily updated and personalised links to content that perfectly tells your story.

Paper.Li

This is a little more automated than the others, but therein lies the benefit. As they say themselves, it’s a bit like having a social media assistant, sifting through 250 million social media posts per day and analysing 25 million articles on the web. Simply tell it the places you want to search or the topics you’d like it to seek out, and it’ll provide you with an automatic ‘newspaper’ or email newsletter whenever you need it.

Perfect for internal use to give your team the daily scoop on industry news and events, or embed it into your website to create a collection of fresh content for your visitors.

Social Media Scheduling Tools That Can Build The Bottom Line

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Need to schedule your posts, tweets, and chitchats?

There’s an app for that!

App stores are stocked full with many different social media scheduling tools designed to automate posts, tweets, and updates. Some apps are basically similar, and others operate in entirely different ways and address distinct scheduling needs. The key is to know which app best fits your needs and will work the most effectively toward your online communication goals.

Which is the best for your business? We’ve cleared the clutter to get down to the top five apps for you to consider:

1. Buffer

Buffer is one of the most user-friendly and effective social media scheduling tools. Key benefits are:

  • Allows you to set times for the specific dates you want your social media updates to post.
  • Enables you to schedule multiple updates.
  • Helps you determine the best times schedule to maximize exposure based on where your target markets are located.
  • Schedules posts on most social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
  • Offers strategic ideas on topics to post.

2.  Hootsuite

Hootsuite lets you manually compose and schedule tweets. Key benefits are:

  • You can upload 350 tweets and schedule different times you want them to post.
  • Hootsuite can help you find content for your social media venues.
  • In addition to Rwitter, Hootsuite works on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram.

3.  PostPlanner

PostPlanner was created to schedule Facebook posts. Key benefits are:

  • PostPlanner helps you find content to share on Facebook.
  • The app can identify posts that certain audiences respond to through likes and shares.
  • PostPlanner also helps you determine the optimum times to schedule posts to get the most interaction.

4. Tailwindapp

Tailwind bills itself as “Your end-to-end solution for winning on Pinterest and Instagram.” Its key benefits are:

  • It allows you to schedule preset times for posts and pins.
  • Tailwind suggests best times to schedule pins based on topics and when your audience is most likely online.
  • Tailwind offers a browser extension that makes uploading pins into your schedule as easy as clicking on a picture.

5.  SocialOomph

SocialOomph allows you to upload updates into a queue for a logical sequencing of posting times.  Key benefits are:

  • SocialOomph will send your tweets out in an endless loop so your Twitter account never runs out of updates.
  • The app will help you maximize your message by tracking keywords.
  • It reports back mentions and retweets.
  • SocialOomph operates on an intelligence model that helps you identify quality people to follow on Twitter.

Posting updates using social media scheduling apps is a very effective strategy in keeping your accounts active when you’re unable to be online. Automation is a wonderful tool, but keep in mind that social media is about being social.  Your accounts still need to reflect your personality. We’ve all seen repetitive posts and tweets that look robotic. Be careful not to let your messages sound unattached and mechanical because that will cost you followers.

Use social media scheduling tools to keep an active appearance when you truly cannot be online–not to replace the natural interaction that attracts followers.  On the other hand, allowing your accounts to sit dormant for weeks while you are out on business or a vacation is far more damaging. Use social media scheduling tools with caution and thoughtfulness and your bottom line will reap the rewards.

Why Good Leaders want their Best Staff to Leave

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Are you growing your employees to the point where they will gain the talent to pursue more than you can provide? Invest in your staff, because they deserve it (fire those that don’t). Give them the chance to grow as high as your company can provide. Yes, they might take the talent you helped them achieve and move on, but that’s ok. After all, you should see your staff as real people with real lives and real dreams, because that’s who they are. Be proud to provide a growth-oriented environment. Whether your top talent stays or goes, you win. All the good things you do will come back to you. Check out the WSJ on this topic.

Understanding Non-Verbal Communication Signals

Knowing how to interpret non-verbal communication such as body language is a key part in mastering overall communications. Mastering this skill can also be extremely instrumental in successfully negotiating with a prospect…and can make the difference of whether a sale is made or not. Check out this video for a basic primer on body language in business.

Is Your Ad Agency Ripping You Off?

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Charlatans, con artists, and thieves make their way into every industry…and the creative sector is by no means immune from this group.

Ad agencies, public relations firms, and marketing companies are entrusted to represent their clients’ financial best interests when negotiating advertising pricing. Although these entities may be employing their best negotiation skills, clients do not necessarily enjoy the full benefit of the result. This is due to a widespread lucrative practice of pocketing money that exchanges hands underneath the radar.

Agencies typically bill in one of three ways:

  1. Monthly fee – a flat rate retainer for ongoing services which is governed by a strategic plan
  2. Hourly rate – a method for clients that require occasional services
  3. Project rate – a negotiated rate for a special project or short-term campaign

The monthly retainer arrangement is the most common method for companies that prefer to outsource their strategic communication needs. This method benefits both parties. The client company knows how much to budget and it can deduct the expenses from taxes. The agency is able to maximize employee productivity through long-term scheduling and has a reliable monthly source of income.

During the ad buying process, it is not unusual for agencies to negotiate discounts or rebates from media companies on top of lower prices.

Here’s how it works. The agency negotiates several months of radio or television commercial time. The media ad rep gives the agency a discount, typically 15-20 percent.  The ad rep offers to provide two invoices: one that reflects the full price and another that reflects the discounted price. The agency passes on the full price invoice to its client for reimbursement and keeps the discounted invoice for accounting records.

In this scenario, rather than pass the discount on to the client, the agency quietly pockets the commission, which, for a multi-month contract, is a lucrative deal. Keep in mind, the agency bills the client a monthly retainer fee. Unless pocketing the discount goes against the terms of the agency’s contract with the client, pocketing the discount is perfectly legal.

Legal or not, this double-dipping is also perfectly immoral.

K2 Intelligence, a global corporate investigations firm headquartered in New York City, conducted a seven-month probe to look into agencies that are pocketing advertising discounts and rebates. According to the Wall Street Journal, the firm found widespread abuse of this unethical practice. This prompted J.P. Morgan Chase to launch an audit of its ad buyer. As some hidden deeds began to come to light, the agency’s work was suspended on Morgan’s $250 million ad-buying campaign.

A plethora of corporations are following J.P. Morgan’s lead as a result of K2 Intelligence’s findings. As a result, some companies are reviewing and renegotiating contracts to eliminate this practice.

Because of the sheer violation of trust in these situations, a number of contracts will not be renewed. And while K2 said that it was outside of its scope to determine whether laws were violated, it is a fair assumption that corporate counsel will be looking into that matter.

By reason of decency, an agency that receives a monthly retainer simply should not collect advertising discounts that could be passed on to the client. Doing so demonstrates poor character and amounts to a lack of gratitude for the privilege of being awarded the client’s business.

There is nothing wrong with an agency pocketing discounts if doing so is agreed to upfront and is documented in its contract with the client. In fact, some advertising agencies work purely on commission as their fee model.

So how does a business ensure the agency it selects does not engage in double dipping on costly long-term campaigns? Here are a few tips:

  1. While negotiating with an agency ask if they receive discounts from ad reps. If so, have a discussion of how that is factored into in the fees the agency will charge you. Will they pass 100 percent of the discount on to you? Will they work for a lower retainer fee in light of the volume of advertising you intend to buy?
  2. Asked to be introduced to the ad rep and to be cc’d on all email correspondences. Have negotiations take place at your facility in your presence. Although participating in these meetings will require some of your time, it will be worth doing so when engaging in a costly long-term campaign.
  3. Get it in writing. Be sure to confirm language about advertising discounts in your contract with the agency. Insist upon receiving original copies of all documentation from the ad rep.
  4. Ask your agency to work on a month-to-month arrangement. Assure your agent that you are in it for the long haul, but that you believe an agency should earn your business on merit, not through a long-term contract. Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations only offers month-to-month contracts. A job done well and done honestly will keep an agency retained for years. An agency that insists on a long-term contract probably has a good reason for doing so — a reason that is probably not in your best interest.

Advertising agencies, public relations firms, and marketing companies sit in a very crowded field. The field  has an abundance of characters wearing funny eyeglasses and putting on dramatic acts to win business. There are also plenty of honest people in the industry who will put your best interests before their own. Knowing the right questions to ask will help you sort out the good from the bad, and get you the best bang for your advertising buck.

Can Body Language Increase Sales?

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That which is unspoken sometimes speaks louder than that which is said.

Body language, which includes gestures, facial expressions, posture and tone of voice, send nonverbal signals to audiences. These signals can either amplify or undermine our messages. This principle applies equally to an audience of of one or of thousands.

In their song “Stairway to Heaven” Led Zeppelin says, “sometimes words can have two meanings.” The same can be said about the words our bodies speak. For example, a person who is unable to maintain eye contact is often seen as shifty or untrustworthy. I know of a person who cannot look others in the eye for long. However, he is an honest businessman and a generous employer full of integrity and fully trustworthy. He was severely abused as a child and hence suffers a lifelong struggle with self esteem which makes it difficult for him engage in eye contact with anyone but his little girl.

Because body language can convey unintended meanings, it’s important that we learn and master our gestures and expressions. The upside to doing this is that it can help increase sales. Preparing for presentations should include weaving in the appropriate body language at specific and opportune points. Great rock bands like Aerosmith get this principle and so should we.

In fact, body language can create a sort of bonding, particularly in one-on-one presentations. Studies have shown that tactfully imitating someone else’s body language can help connect to that person. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on this topic well worth a read called, “Use Mirroring to Connect with Others.”

Check it out and consider some of the components that may help you better connect to your audiences. As you do, consider how you can transition imitating your prospect’s body language into more quickly gaining your prospect’s trust. The key is to be genuine. That which is forced will be obvious. Having confidence in yourself along with knowledge and belief in your products or services is the first key step. Mastering body language will quickly become second nature once you put it to practice.

Body language habits you should quit

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What is your body language conveying to your audience?

Have you ever listened to a speaker whose body language seemed louder than his words?

Body language is a critical component of communicating. The manner in which one’s body moves can reveal more than what the speaker intends others to hear. Certain movements reveal dishonesty, weakness, or a lack of confidence.

But while body language often gives away more than what the speaker wishes to convey, it’s not always accurate. Sometimes body language, rather than the speaker, is not telling the truth. That’s why it’s crucial to understand and master body language as part of your training for presentations and media interviews.

Click here for an interesting article on how your body language can affect your audience.