Stop Making Viral Videos. Start Making a YouTube Content Strategy

By Lucy Blair & Caroline Bottomley at Radar Music Videos.

Devising A Content Strategy For YouTube

It’s an inescapable fact that YouTube is now the world’s largest music streaming site, and also its second biggest search engine.

As YouTube continues to mature as a content platform and revenue stream, it’s more important than ever for record labels and artists to have a solid content strategy in place for their YouTube content.

YouTube Content Strategy

“YouTube logo” by Rego Korosi via Creative Commons

But with over 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, how do you optimise content creation and make sure your content stands out? We speak to key music industry figures at record labels and MCNs to put together a two-part best practice guide to devising a content strategy for anyone in the music industry working with YouTube.

Part One

  • What’s Possible on YouTube?
  • Developing A Strategy
  • Content Checklist

Part Two

  • Content Scheduling
  • Content and Channel Optimisation
  • Collaborations
  • Measures of Success

PART ONE

What’s Possible on YouTube? Your first step is to identify your target audience and what you want to achieve on the platform. Building subscribers is the foundation for success, whatever you decide success will be. Jeremy Rosen, The Orchard’s Director of Audience Development, outlines the possibilities:

“Ultimately, building a successful channel gives the artist or label a large marketing platform. It can be a creative outlet, a good way to connect with fans visually, a place to test out material, and even a primary revenue source. As tools like Google+ integration mature, I estimate it will also become an important direct-to-consumer hub for artists.”

That direct connection to fans and the increasing importance of streaming music represent the main opportunities for Laura Bruneau, Anjunabeats’ Label Executive:

“YouTube is one of the main platforms where consumers stream music, especially younger audiences. Having a great content strategy means more people will find your music, play your music, and hopefully buy your music. And while they’re streaming they’re earning you revenue too. With the boom of streaming in 2014 with Spotify, Beats Music, iTunes Radio and of course YouTube Music, this is a key platform you can’t afford to ignore.”

So, marketing possibilities on YouTube relate to:

  • Discovery
  • Revenue
  • Cross-promotion
  • Up-selling / creating a D2C sales hub
  • Artist creativity
  • Fan relationships
  • Developing A Strategy

To develop a content strategy, work on tying in your on-YouTube goals to your off-YouTube goals.

Artists and labels will naturally need to focus on creating different kinds of content, according to Jon Baltz, INDMusic’s co-founder and Vice President:

“An artist that is about to go on tour should release videos that further their tour, reminding the audience where they will be and when they will be there. A label on the other hand is juggling release schedules for several artists and tours. The label should be producing art tracks (videos with still image and audio), lyric videos, and official music videos, with a focus on upcoming releases.”

Should established and new artists create different kinds of content on YouTube? Yes, according to Laura Bruneau:

“The most important distinction between an established artist and a new artist is the size of their current audience. If you have an established artist with a big audience, you can focus on creating more ambitious and interactive YouTube experiences. For example, live-streaming or Google+ Hangouts On Air are examples of content that I would recommend more for established artists than a new artist, as you know you have sufficient numbers for your audience to be engaged in a live event. For a new artist, you need to build their personality on the channel alongside their brand. A good way to do this is to create a fan-led, pre-recorded interview series like our ‘Tea With Anjuna’ series, where fans are encouraged to send in questions for the artist via social media in the run-up to filming, and then the questions are posed to the artist on camera. That way, you’re ensuring that the questions asked are what people really want to know about and it makes your audience feel involved. Interviews are also a great way for artists to put across their personalities in a relaxed and enjoyable environment and plug (in a non-salesy way) what they’ve got coming up.”

Content Checklist

What kind of content do you want to create? The possibilities are endless. Content types span:

  • Documentary: self-shooting, artist POV mobile footage, interviews / pieces to camera
  • Live: gigs / rehearsal footage
  • Promo: lyric videos and full blown promos

Here’s a checklist of content that artists and labels should and could be creating and curating on a regular basis: 

  • Official music videos / release videos
  • Audio uploads of music with a static visual (aka ‘art videos’)
  • Live performances
  • Lyric videos
  • Behind the scenes (which could be anything from a ‘day in the life of’ to a tour video diary or the making of your latest music video)
  • Covers
  • Breaking news announcements (e.g. a new album/single/tour, or a big milestone)
  • Tutorials
  • Interviews including fan led
  • Video press kits promoting your latest album/single/tour
  • Playlists
  • Fan-generated videos
  • Competitions
  • Google+ Hangouts on Air
  • Live-streaming (archive-able streaming may be necessary across different timezones)
  • Episodic events

Cost and complexity range from free and easy to expensive and professional. As Jon Baltz says, “Not every video has to be an official music video with a big budget; syncing your music to what you film with your smartphone out of a train window can be just as effective.”

It’s also worth bearing in mind that building engagement doesn’t always mean having to create new content; curating playlists is a great way to mark yourself out as a tastemaker, and will keep your homepage looking fresh and interesting with regular content. Updating your subscriber feed is also key, as Jeremy Rosen advises:

“It’s possible for your subscribers to see when your channel likes, favourites, adds to playlists, or comments. Scheduling this activity to, say, promote a video from a band you’re touring with or a crazy viral video can help keep you at the top of your audience’s mind.”

YouTube Generation

“YouTube Generation” by jonsson       Creative Commons

PART TWO

  • Content Scheduling
  • Content and Channel Optimisation
  • Collaborations
  • Measures of Success

Content Scheduling

The days of aiming to create a one-hit ‘viral’ on YouTube as a marketing strategy are long gone. These days it’s more helpful to think of YouTube as your own TV channel.  Think of content as programming – and not programming for an album cycle, but a 12-month content cycle.

It’s essential to create a programming schedule and produce regular content to drive subscribers, repeat views and watch time, and to give subscribers a reason to return to your channel. As Zac Vibert, Hospital Records’ Head of Digital, puts it:

“If you look at the traditional TV model, scheduling is a big part of it – and YouTube is no different. Have content that viewers can come to expect and look forward to. It is important to have regular content uploads, but also make sure you prioritise quality over quantity!”

Jeremy Rosen advises: “At a minimum, there should be one piece of video content posted to your channel each month. Try to keep it a consistent day of the month, like every third Thursday, and publicise that fact. For a label these would typically be music videos or lyric videos. An individual artist would probably have a short monthly update or Hangout on Air scheduled. You could also consider publishing music on a regular basis or come up with an episodic concept you’ll be able to pull off consistently (like “My Top 5 Listens This Month).”

Laura Bruneau makes an important point about programming unreleased content: “YouTube is a great way to preview unreleased material to your audience – plus your content is monetised and preview content makes it much easier to automatically remove unauthorised 3rd party use of your content. However, it is important to mix up this regular standard content with things like interviews, behind the scenes content and music videos so that your audience does not get bored. I would suggest at least 1 piece of non-release video content per month, or more if you have the time/budget.”

Different types of artist need to cater to their respective audiences when it comes to content programming, according to Jon Baltz: “More established artists have the luxury of being able to widely space out their content because every time they release something people will jump on it. New artists are in the exact opposite situation; they need to be putting out new content constantly, at least once a week.  The goal of releasing videos for a new artist should be growing an audience organically. Producing a viral hit is great, but a viral hit is most valuable when it generates views on older content – that makes fans.”

At Midem, INDMusic also recommended scheduling 6-8 pieces of content to support an ‘activity’ – be it announcing a tour, releasing a single, planning a hangout etc.

Content and channel optimisation

It’s not just about what kind of content you create or how often you upload it; if you don’t optimise your content properly, it won’t get the views or subscribers that you’re aiming for. Remember that YouTube is one giant search engine and, as Zac Vibert advises, “Never underestimate the importance of good data!”

Keywords are the most important factor in making your content easily searchable, so always ensure that your video titles, descriptions, links, annotations, tags and thumbnails are optimised. In addition, use tools like playlisting and in-video programming in order to link your viewers to related content and keep them viewing videos within your channel.

Laura Bruneau points out that monetisation is another key factor: “Other people will be exploiting your catalogue so it’s essential that you are too! Make sure that you have claims set up on your audio so that you are monetising 3rd party content. You might not realise how valuable this is, but the bulk of our YouTube income at Anjuna comes from other people using our songs, rather than our own uploads.”

Collaborations 

Collaborate with your fans: YouTube is one of the most powerful social networks in the world, so focus on building up and engaging your community on YouTube. Tailor your content around the likes/dislikes/needs of your viewers, engage with them and evolve your content strategy accordingly. Consider creating video content to answer the questions/comments of your fans instead of another blog post, tweet or Facebook post.

Zac Vibert advises: “Make YouTube the central hub for your music/artists, and create a community feel to your channel. If you want to build a good following, try to prioritise your channel and make sure you upload your music to YouTube first.”

Collaborate with your peers: artists and labels should also look into creating collaborations with fellow musicians and music networks in order to reach new audiences and cross-promote content across a wider channel network.  As Jeremy Rosen suggests, “Consider approaching YouTube creators to help you. There may be a vlogger or episodic series on YouTube which fits your fans, your style, or are simply fans themselves. Some of the best videos on YouTube have been collaborations between channels and the value in cross-promotion is a no-brainer. Consider it product placement, with you as the product.”

Measures of success

How will you know if your content strategy is delivering the right results? If you don’t measure it, it’s not marketing. YouTube Analytics gives you a detailed insight into what content is and isn’t helping you achieve your YouTube objectives. Check Analytics regularly and keep an eye on not just numbers of views, but also subscribers, watch time, engagement and so on. You can then adjust your content strategy accordingly.

And as a final note, the YouTube Music Playbook PDF is one of the best guides to the platform that there is, so use it to your advantage.

Time to get creative…your fans are waiting!

Radar is an award-winning network of over 10,000 music video directors worldwide. Radar enables labels, artists and managers to commission great music videos for affordable budgets, between $800 and $8,000.

Radar helps music video directors progress their professional careers. It is a free service for labels, artists and managers. We charge a small subscription fee to directors to access and pitch on briefs.
Radar Music Video

 

Related Reading

YouTube Statistics (YouTube.com)
YouTube Multi-Channel Networks 101 (YouTube.com)
YouTube Creators Hub
PDF-YouTube Playbook Guide:Music (11MB download)
YouTube, BPI and INDMusic talk Online Music Video Strategies (#Midem) (Musically.com)

Timeline For Promoting A UK Single Release, A Radar Rough Guide

Timeline for Promoting a UK Single Release

By Caroline Bottomley, Radar Music Videos.

A lot of promo people we talk to say artists and managers often don’t know what professionals do to promote single releases.

So we asked for help from some real professionals (see credits below).
Then we made up an indie band with an established following and a few previous releases. We made up £5,000 to spend.
Then we wrote this rough guide – enjoy and feel free to add your own tips. 

14 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Commission single artwork, even if it’s for download only. Designer £300
* Commission artist photos. Photographer £500

TIP: “Commission nice/weird/cool COLOUR band photos, the brighter the better” David Laurie SiC Records
Start social media engagement. Digital Promotions £500 – £1,000

NOTE: Social media work continues from here up to and after release date.

12 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Engage PR £500 – £1,500
* Release advance copies/links to share to monthly press, for review, eg Q, Mojo, Clash, Uncut.

Start with sending out a simple press release announcing the single and put the single into context, eg from an album or a stand-alone track? Will there be associated shows? PR TIP: There are very few print outlets for singles, a couple of dozen really. It’s ALL about online for singles. David Laurie, SiC Records.

NOTE: Press work continues from this point up to and after release date

TIP: “The press release needs to be straightforward and attention-grabbing “artist releases great new song/album” just isn’t enough. What’s your story? What’s special about you/the song/album and why?” Gillian, Million PR and Naked Press.

* Engage Agent 10% of gross
* Engage Radio & Video Plugger £500-£1,500

NOTE: “I would separate Radio & TV costs. Radio Promotions £1000-2000 and TV Plugger £500-1000 per release. They might be able to get it for less, but this is much more realistic of the going rates.” Prudence, Rocket PR

* Commission the official music video, the aim is to create a stand-out, remarkable video. Producer/director (Radar) £2,000

TIP: “The video must be one that compels you to hit SHARE at the end, that is the idea. Not the new Bammers video but the video where the guy turns into a monkey and eats the aeroplane” David Laurie, SiC Records
TIP: “Commission the video now so it can be ready to service at least 6 weeks before release” Prudence, Rocket PR
TIP: “All video people take longer than they say to deliver, so I give at least 2 weeks ahead of my deadline as the actual deadline” David Laurie, SiC Records.

* Create a lyric or packshot video, the point is have this video on the band’s YouTube channel when radio play begins ahead of release date, capturing early views and interest. Producer/director (Radar) or Digital Promotions £0 – £200

8 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Track/remix completed.
* Book banner/Facebook/Google advertising. Digital Promotions £500
* Advance copies/links to share released to weekly and daily press, for review. PR
* Release show/s booked. Agent
* Radio promotion begins. Single and album promos are presented to radio producers and presenters with a press release and list of forthcoming live dates. Plugger

TIP: “Almost none of them (radio producers and presenters) listen to albums or anything after the first track on a single promo unless there is some headspinning remix” David Laurie, SiC Records
* Build up support through plays on individual radio shows, working towards playlist consideration. Plugger
* Social media begins to focus on the release campaign. Digital Promotions
* Digital store promotions set up. Digital Promotions

4 – 6 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Service video to TV for playlist rotation consideration. Plugger
* Radio playlist consideration. Plugger
* Digital store promotions set up once you have provable ammo from press. Digital Promotions
* Soundcloud stream premiere on a top site followed a day or two later with a blast out to other sites for more embedding, start adding up those NUMBERS to convince radio you are POPULAR. PR

2 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

Securing Music Press

* Secure a video exclusive with a popular music site and general coverage in music media. PR
TIP: “Securing exclusives is PAINFUL and you have to (more or less) only ask one at a time – Pitchfork; Fader; Guardian; Stereogum in that order.

Each one takes at least 24 hrs to get back even if you have a shit hot PR, so running through those top four will take a week and likely they will all pass” David Laurie, SiC Records

* Fan special offers; exclusive tracks, early order discounting etc. Digital Promotions

RELEASE WEEK

* Digital store promotion. Digital Promotions
* Music media coverage. PR
* Paid advertising live. Digital Promotions
* TV rotation. Plugger
* Radio sessions and interviews. Plugger
* Release show. Agent

POST LAUNCH

Post-Launch Promo

* Follow up press campaign to generate further press coverage. PR
* Album and tour news to be associated throughout if appropriate.

NOTE: “It might be an idea to mention that there will be VAT on top of all costs as this seems to come as a surprise to many unsigned acts as they are most likely not VAT registered themselves.” Prudence, Rocket PR

Companies providing these promotion services can be found in Radar’s resources.

This rough guide has been complied with the help of David Laurie at  Something in Construction Records (SiC); Gillian at Million PR & Naked Press**; David Riley at Good Lizard Media**; Prudence at Rocket PR and Caroline Bottomley of Radar Music Videos.

** Willing to advise new artists and labels about promotion strategies.

PS: An important note about paying for services. It’s possible to do just about all these things for free. You do it yourself, get friends to do it, pull in favours. The reason these services are worth paying for is good professionals will do a much quicker and more effective job.

More to the point, people will actually listen to stuff from reputable PRs; press and pluggers are personally connected to press and playlisters; promotions people know which advertising is cost-effective; experienced directors make attractive music videos that get featured on blogs. All that should result in more sales of your single and more tickets sold to your gigs.

Special Thanks to Caroline at Radar Music Video.

WordPress Viral Product Launch: Digital Music Distribution Handbook 2013

Buzzsonic Digital Music Distribution Handbook 

Its been a long time coming.

A couple of years ago now, I finished a series of three blog posts over at Buzzsonic.com which focussed on rounding up all the digital music distributors at the time and giving a bit of a one stop resource for bands and musicians to refer to. Later on I hastily cobbled together the three lengthy posts into one document and posted it over at GDocs for prosperity with the promise of a much needed polish and update.

Finally its well underway and being completely rewritten with many much needed updates and additions and also a great deal of re-organisation and polish!

This time there will be coverage of over fifty digital music distributors, including rundowns on direct-to-fan tools and services and things like chart registration, barcodes and stuff on performing rights societies (PROs), getting paid, vinyl bundling, ISRC codes (and why you need them/what they are!) and the importance of metadata (and SEO).

Sign up to be notified at Buzzsonic. It’ll be in PDF format only initially with maybe a Kindle version a little later. The PDF will be free.

To gather email addresses and do a bit of ‘viral’ pre-release promo I’ve been trying both the Launch Effect WordPress theme (hooked up to Mailchimp) and the Seed Prod Coming Soon Pro plugin (running with Wysija for sign ups).

Seedprod for simple get up and go, took minutes with Wysija for email signups and was well worth the $29 for the premium version. And I’m actually still using the free version of Launch Effect as the post-sign up landing page. Seedprod is a plugin where as Launch Effect is a theme. Wysija it is for now as there’s a mere trickle of signups so something more robust (if needed) can always been upgraded too. Wysija Premium is $99 a year for 2000+ subscribers which compares well with Mailchimps $120.

Related Reading

Launch Effect App (LaunchEffectApp.com)
Seedprod  (Seedprod.com)
How to Create a Viral Launch Page with WordPress (WP.TutsPlus)
Viral Product Launch with Launch Effect (1stWebDesigner.com)
How To Build Your First Online Asset In 48 Hours (SeanOgle.com)
Create A Coming Soon Page With SeedProd WordPress Plugin (WPKube.com)

The Complete Pinterest Resources Guide For Power Users

BzzzSocial on Pinterest
Buzzsonic on Pinterest

OK, so you’ve fallen for all the Pinterest hype and you’ve signed up and got started, now what? I hunted down some of the better resources, tools and how-to’s from the Interwebs and tried to sort through the avalanche to target the best and most useful that’ll help you get the most out of your Pinning. Just in case you’ve been slacking, here’s the official FAQs page if you’re still playing catch up!

“Pinterest is completely visually driven. Unlike other social networks that are focused on what you’re doing right now, Pinterest concentrates more on what you want to be, where you want to go, what you want to build in the future”. Thought  Matrix

First Things First. Tune Up Those Images

One of the main things to remember, and one of the ‘rules’ you should  stick by is the (my label!) ‘attribution etiquette rule’, that is, giving credit to where you  sourced that pinned image from. That means it shouldn’t be as lazy as doing a Google image search and pinning what you find from the search giant.

Mashable recently published ‘How to Make Images Stand Out on Pinterest’ which has a great infographic on how best to present your pinned images and optimise them for everyones benefit.

Pinterest Image Optimisation
Pinterest Image Optimisation

Pinterest Browser Extensions & Plugins

A  browser plugin (for Chrome) I swear by, which streamlines my image searching ten fold is the Tin Eye reverse image search tool, which works by adding an extra search option when you right click on any image in your browser. Click search and off it goes to find alternate sources and sizes of the image you’re looking at.

Pin Search is another simple but extremely useful browser plugin which adds an extra button onto the Pinterest page you’re browsing. ‘Search’ appears underneath the default three options of Repin, Edit and Comment when you hover over an image in Pinterest, zipping off to search Google images to dig out more options on the image you’re interested in.

I always try and remember to click through directly to the source of the pinned image before re-pinning just to make sure it doesn’t take me off somewhere it shouldn’t  (spammy framed redirect-affiliate links was a recent experience).

The Pinterest Pin It button (from Shareaholic) is another essential I use daily and if there is something sleeker and more feature packed, I have yet to stumble across it. It does what it says on the tin, “the easiest way to send images from any website to your pinboards”. Either click the button or right click on the image. Simple’s

One more on the Pinterest browser plugins that I use.  Share As Image Pro (until recently known as PinAQuote) lets you highlight text anywhere on the web and easily convert it into an image and post as a nicely coloured Pin. So, good for all those classic inspirational quotes and snippets of wisdom we all love so much. The ($2.99) Pro version lets you customise the text and background colours you pin. Worth it.

Share As Image Pro Browser Plugin
Share As Image Pro Browser Plugin

There’s an increasing amount of Chrome browser extensions for Pinterest and you’ll find all the official Pinterest tools on the Goodies page. These include a simple browser bookmarklet, follow and Pin It buttons for websites and the official iOS Pinterest App.

Calculate Your Pinfluence !

This is probably as irrelevant as Klout scores (CNN Money had a piece called ‘ Why Klout scores are possibly evil’ last year) but Pinreach is actually a quite useful mixture of ‘influence’ and analytics. The fledgling service analyses your popular boards by using repin numbers and shuffles the data from your boards via repins, likes, followers, pins and comments. You can also get data on your most popular repins.

Its great for gaining some quick insight and stats as to what is working best on your profile and for calculating which board needs more work.. You get a PR (Pinreach) score out of 100 (much like Klout) though I found Pinreach to be of much more  relevance  than Klout.

Pinreach Pinterest Analytics
Pinreach Pinterest Analytics

If you want to get more indepth on the analytics and what traffic Pinterest is sending to your website, Mashable have a very useful guide on How to Track Traffic From Pinterest in Google Analytics.

Pinerly I haven’t yet got access too, but Mashable have (natch!) but ploughs a similar furrow to Pinreach but with more onus on running Pinterest marketing campaigns.  Pinpuff is another of what they’re calling Pinfluence tools, along the lines of Klout, with the promise of ‘pinperks’ but other than that looks very similar to Pinreach.

 Pinterest, Meet WordPress

Pinterest WordPress RSS Widget

When I last looked there was already 86 different Pinterest plug-ins for WordPress bloggers to add to their websites. Naturally, one will be enough for your site, which one depends on your own preferences but the majority of them simply give you the ability to display activity from your Pinterest account either in your sidebar with a drag n drop widget or via short codes, which let you add activity to pages and posts.

I looked and tried a few here on BzzzSocial and settled on the ‘Pinterest RSS Widget’ which enables you to display thumbnails of your Pinterest general feed (or a specific pinboard) in your sidebar and also the ability to add feeds to any posts and pages using short-codes.

Pipped into second place was ‘Pinterest Pinboard Widget‘ which displays some very nicely laid out thumbnails in your sidebar of your activity but unfortunately (as yet) no ability to display from specific pinboards which was the clincher for me. If you just want to display action from all your boards in one neat looking display this is the way to go.

‘Pretty Pinterest Pins’ was my weapon of choice initially but display size options were limited with no thumbnail square option which meant the pins took up much more space in the sidebar. Other than that it allows you to choose from specific pinboards, item count etc.

The neatest (at least for me here) social sharing WordPress plugin at the moment is Digg Digg, which gives you several options to share content, including ‘Pinning’. You can display buttons above or below content or choose the floating social sharing bar (which you can view next to this post). Similar to the one used by Mashable no less. Easy to set up, modify and looks great.

Pinterest, Where’s The RSS?

The Sociable have a great guide on how to pull in RSS feeds from specific Pinterest Pinboards so I wont ramble on repeating what they’ve done so well.

” Following a specific board created by a user via RSS is less obvious. If you visit a user’s Pinterest Board you’ll see that there are no links to subscribe to that board’s RSS feed. But you can still generate a feed for it. To do this, first open the board (e.g. Felicia Day’s Geekin Board), then, Remove the last “/” from the URL and add .rss – your end URL will look like http://pinterest.com/feliciaday/geekin.rss ” read the full post at The Sociable…

12 More of the Most Useful Pinterest Articles from this Year

13 ‘Pinteresting’ Facts About Pinterest Users:Infographic (Mashable) Who are these feverish pinners? According to full service agency Modea, the majority are female mothers — 28 percent have a household income of $100k+.

Shopify Survey: Pinterest Users Spend 2X More (PinnableBusiness.com) Ecommerce store platform Shopify just released numbers on the profitability of Pinterest for their shop owners. They looked at over 25,000 Shopify online stores to see how Pinterest drives sales. The results are dramatic.

The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Pinterest for Marketing (HubSpot) As with any hot new social network that comes onto the scene, marketers are chiming in with, “Can I use it for marketing?” “…and, how?” The short answer? Absolutely. The longer answer? Read on to find out how.

20 Awesome Tools Which Will Have you ‘Pinteresting’ Like a Pro (The Next Web) With such an active community, it’s no surprise that there are a ton of other interesting tools, apps, and sites which aim to enhance the Pinterest experience beyond the Follow Button and Pin It button which can easily be installed on any website.

Proof That Pinterest Drives Sales, And Its Fans Spend Big (Fast Company) Pinterest users not only buy the products they pin, but spend more on average than their Facebook counterparts, according to new data from Shopify.

16 Ways Educators Can Use Pinterest (Infographic) (Mashable) OnlineUniversities.com have put together an infographic, which details how teachers can use Pinterest to organize lesson plans, distribute curricula, collaborate with other faculty, and even encourage student participation.

56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest (CopyBlogger) Think those inspiring vision boards don’t result in referral traffic to websites and blogs? Think again. In January 2012, Pinterest drove greater traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google Plus, Reddit, and Youtube — combined.

Infographic of the week: Pinterest Marketing Strategies (Populate Digital) The infographic gives you 64 marketing tips and tactics that you can apply to your Pinterest account now, to help give you a head start.

Pinterest Marketing Tips & Tricks to Drive Targeted Traffic(Search Engine Watch) Having little experience beyond personal playing around on it, my view was that Pinterest was shaping up to be a fun toy, but had little value for marketers. Of course, I love to be proven wrong when someone can bring the numbers to back up their experience with a new “toy.” Steve Gerencser from Steam Driven Media did just that.

How local businesses can do research and gain an edge with Pinterest (SmartBlogs.com) Sure, it’s easy for big brands such as Whole Foods to be successful but what about small and local businesses? The good news for local businesses is that Pinteret’s search feature makes it incredibly worthwhile for local businesses to be on Pinterest.

Why Online Marketers Better Get An Interest In Pinterest, Fast (Forbes) A few months ago I wrote of the need for brand managers to get “pinterested” due to the fact that women, AKA the one responsible for the majority of household purchase decisions has “developed an affinity for the latest and greatest social media platform.” It would also appear that those in the e-commerce world better also get “pinterested” if they have not already.

The Ultimate Pinterest Guide for Your Online Store (Shopify) The whirlwind of excitement that surrounds Pinterest provides online store owners a great opportunity to leverage it’s popularity (and overall awesomeness) to bring attention to their online store. Whether you’re already setup on Pinterest or you’re a complete newbie, this is a guide that will teach you the basics, and also help the more experienced pinners get the most from this popular social media platform.

Happy Pinning!

And don’t forget to connect with me on Pinterest OK and dig into one of my most popular boards too: Social Media, SEO & Digital Marketing , packed with close to 600 carefully curated resources and infographics on Social Media and SEO.

Follow BzzzSocial on Pinterest

Some Quick Branding Tips and Tools

At Brighton SEO search marketing conference last month I was reminded that the most straightforward of tasks are often the most useful.

Samantha Noble from Koozai gave a presentation called ‘(Re-) Launching a Brand Online Effectively‘ where she bought up several things you should be doing to protect your brand (or launch a new one).

“There are a number of things to consider during the research stage if you are planning on launching or re-launching a product or service online. Even if you are not changing your brand name, there are a number of things that you should review to ensure that potential customers find you easily, but most importantly, that your brand name is protected.”

Register Domains and Social Profiles

Some of the basic pointers she outlined were:

  • Secure the trademark
  • Decide on a date to go live
  • Register and redirect domains
  • Claim all social profiles
Koozai Sam on Branding
Koozai Sam on Branding

One of the first steps I always take myself is to see if the domain name is available for the name I’m planning on using, initially the .com and if that one is available then I’ll grab the .net and .org too. And its not all about the .com anymore either with a whole bunch of newer TLD’s in usage these days (there’s another older post of mine at Buzzsonic that talks about domain name extensions for music businesses), including .dj .tv .ly .la .cd .fm and .it just to name a few.

There’s a complete list of domain name extensions available via governing body IANA here.

MakeUseOf.com have a handy roundup of domain name search tools and ideas in their post, ‘10 Unusual Domain Name Search Tools to Find Hot Domains‘. Be aware though and Samantha did bring this up at her Brighton SEO branding presentation, that should your chosen name be available, don’t leave it until later to register.

I have found, to my dismay that I’ve lost a few good brand name ideas by not securing the domain name straight away. Mysteriously (or not) you could find, the next time you go back to register the name, its been snapped up.

For the more exotic domain name extensions I use 101Domain to see what’s available outside the plain Vanilla .com and .net’s of this world. I recently started snapping up a few names with the Indian extension .in, primarily because there was a $2.99 firesale at my registrar of choice Name.com.

Branding Inspiration & Ideas

Nameboy will give you some ideas by generating a bunch of names from keywords showing you a list of what’s available and  bases its results on a primary word and a secondary word. Domai.nr is another clever idea which generates names as you type in the search box and Namevine  searches for a domain name and matching social media profiles.

Social Name Check

Namechk Social Profile Search iOS App
Namechk.com Social Profile Search iOS App

Once you’ve discovered your domain name is available you’ll want to secure all the major social media profiles (and any you speculate might take-off later) for that name. Not sure you’ll want to go so OTT with 500+ social profiles (cripes!) but Knowem.com will search 575  social networks and over 150 domain names for your brand, which for a rising pay scale, starting at $75 (depending on numbers) will secure the brand for you. Great for those with more money than time.

Namechk ‘only’ checks 159 different social networks (I think that’s probably enough!) and quickly tells you which ones are available, as well as any available matching domain name’s. The site will export the results as a text file for reference too and they have an iPhone app for idea brainstorming on the move. Neat.

Trademark Your Brand 

One final point. Just because you have the domain name and the Twitter and Facebook vanity URL’s doesn’t mean you own the trademark, so make sure you search the trademark registry in your country (here’s the USA and the UK ones for starters).

Check this Dummies post: ‘How to Trademark Your Brand Name‘ too, for a more detailed instructional.

 

Related Resources

Craft an Unforgettable Story for Your Business (ChatterJet)
Reputation Management in a Digital Age (Koozai)
Claim Your Company Profile on Social Sites (ChatterJet)
Online Reputation Management Tutorial (SEO-Hacker)
5 Tips To Manage Your Multinational Social Media (SearchEngineLand)

20 Killer Resources For WordPress Users & Developers

I’ve been using WordPress since 2005 and I swear by it these days, simply because its so versatile, infinitely customisable, robust, oh, and its free too. My early experience with content management systems was with PHP-Nuke, then Mambo, Joomla and B2Evolution (B2/Cafelog, was the precursor to WordPress).

20 Killer Resources For WordPress Users & Developers

But there has been incredible development on WordPress in the following years and I really couldn’t see myself using anything else, such is the support, the plug-ins and the adaptability of the platform. Its something you never stop learning too, learning about plug-ins, themes (free and paid), how to tweak themes, add text widgets….

Anyway, I’ve collected a whole box load of very useful resources over the years and really that’s the thing, if you’re prepared to read a lot you can turn yourself into something of a WordPress guru with a little patience.

Remember that old Chinese proverb:

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

 

I’m not saying this is the definitive list of WordPress resources but its a great starter kit and will save you a lot of time should you be considering whether to go it alone with your own install, or whether you’d prefer to let someone else do the heavy lifting for you!

Getting Started Resources

Getting started with WordPress

Getting Started With WordPress from Tasty Placement is a great instructional that holds your hand with writing and editing webpages on your WordPress site and shows you the basics on how to manage WordPress, including logging in, posting new articles and pages, uploading images, creating and editing menus and widgets and some more advanced features.

Another good easy to navigate WordPress starters guide with easy to understand instructions is ‘A Simplified Users Guide to WordPress’, which, according to the authors is intended to be a simple guide to using WordPress for those new to managing a WP powered site. In particular those who’ve had their WP site set up for them by a web designer or developer.

And another worthwhile guide,if you had any lingering doubts, is from WPBeginner, called ‘Why You Should Use WordPress?’.

WordPress Mentor has a very handy WordPress setup checklist which runs through five difference stages and checklists to tick off. Install: The basic WordPress installation. Secure: Hardening the WordPress installation. Configure: Adjust WordPress settings. Connect: Connect WordPress to online services.Optimise: Adjust WordPress performance. There’s the HTML version or a much neater PDF download which you can get free for an email address. Worth it.

As if that wasn’t enough to read, Tentblogger has a huge series of blog posts under the umbrella, ‘The Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog’. Sit yourself down, strap yourself in, there’s 55 posts on everything from WordPress security settings, SEO tips and tools, recommended Plugins,  setting up Google Analytics and all points in between. Brilliant.

Not forgetting the help pages from WordPress themselves, which of course are very detailed. There’s also support forums and a repository of Themes and Plugins.

Serverpress.Wordpress Desktop-Server

Another useful tool that is aimed squarely at developers, is DesktopServer from ServerPress, which basically enables you to have a server on your desktop machine (PC/Mac) so you can test and develop your WordPress install locally without publishing online until you’re quite happy with the results.

There’s a basic free edition which allows you to create up to three websites, or the paid version which has unlimited website projects. There are several other similar tools for Devs, like Bitnami, Instant WordPress and WampServer (and the Mac equivalent MAMP).

Now We’re Up And Running.

Things to consider after your WordPress install is up and running. Content writing tips, SEO and tech tools.

Ready-Set-Write-The-Ultimate-Guide-to-Blogging.Free PDF download

‘Ready, Set, Write: The Ultimate Guide to Blogging’, is a free PDF guide to getting the most from your blogging experience. Put together by the Content Marketing Institute, the 37 page guide runs through everything from developing your blogging voice and strategy, tips for writing really amazing content, getting your content seen and shared, measuring your impact and ensuring success. There’s a host of tips, case studies and tools here you can use to build and maintain a successful blog that benefits you and your business.

Ways To Create Compelling Content:Infographic.
Ways To Create Compelling Content:Infographic.

And, a really handy infographic on finding inspiration for great content, which today, a lot of the time means re-imagining other people’s ideas as infographics, but, seems to work for many. The title of the piece says it all, ’22 Ways to Create Compelling (When You Dont Have a Clue)’. 

And more content ideas from the Content Marketing Institute. ‘12 Things to Do After You’ve Written a New Blog Post‘ , ideas that I’m going to have to put into action once I’ve finished writing this blog post! But basically the post delves into ideas on how to spread your content successfully using social media, RSS and forums. Its basic stuff nowadays, but if you need some kind of bullet list you could do worse than start here.

Windows Live Writer
Windows Live Writer. Compose WordPress Posts Offline

You don’t always have WiFi when you’re on the move, despite this utopian dream of always on, everywhere, that’s hardly the case for most unless you have bottomless pockets! So, if I get the urge to write offline, Windows Live Writer is my weapon of choice. Why not just use Open Office, MS Office Word or a text editor?

Well, the advantage of Windows Live Writer is that as long as you sync it up with your WordPress blog (or multiple blogs) when you first set it up, it formats everything just like it would in WordPress and it has a preview function. You might even like it so much you could bypass going into the WordPress admin all together and use Live Writer from your desktop. Excellent tool.

Performance & Plugins

How To Speed Up WordPress And Boost Site Performance
How To Speed Up WordPress And Boost Site Performance

Here’s a really cool infographic that lays things out in easy to digest nuggets with instructions on ‘How To Speed Up WordPress And Boost Site Performance’, which kind of speaks for itself and looks into problems and solutions, like database cache and maintenance, javascript and stylesheets. Unashamedly geeky.

More geekiness (I guess!) from DBS Interactive who have an awesome WordPress reference guide, which basically is an online handbook ‘WordPress V3.0+ Template Tag Reference Guide‘, which guides you through the various template tags (obviously!) and is one of the best reference’s I’ve seen of this nature, comprehensive, well laid out and extremely useful. Naturally if you haven’t got to the stage where you want to get your hands dirty with coding then fair enough, but if you do….

And finally a couple of SEO resources.

The first is from Yoast, ‘The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For WordPress Sites‘. Yoast know a thing or two about WordPress SEO, being the people behind the super popular WordPress SEO Plugin and this is one of the most complete SEO guides you’re likely to see. Essential. And if you want a second opinion, DIYThemes have an equally essential, self explanatory guide, ‘WordPress SEO for Everybody’. An ongoing tutorial which the writers say, “in it, you’ll learn how to use ethical, legitimate ways to get your WordPress blog ranking higher in the search engines.” Good enough, and it certainly is.

That should be enough to keep you going for weeks I hope. If you have any further tips and resources I’ve missed out please mention them in the comments and we’ll keep this thing updated.

Related Reading

WordPress Now Powers 22 Percent Of New Active Websites In The U.S. (Techcrunch)
How to install and test WordPress on a local server (CNET)
7 Ways to Build a Business Around WordPress (Mashable)
The Reason You Should Draft Your Blog Posts Outside WordPress (Tentblogger)
WordPress Support Forums (WordPress.org)
The Many Advantages (and Secrets) of WordPress Sites (Blueglass.com)
Manage All Your WordPress Sites From One Dashboard (ManageWP)

Download this article as a PDF.

 

Some Key SEO Tips From The Top

I was lucky enough to be in Brighton UK last month for the increasingly influential Brighton SEO search marketing conference. There was a wide range of attendees, the majority seemed to be from London and the south (naturally) with a handful of Northerners and overseas attendees. And much talk that the 1000 tickets for the event sold out in 13 minutes!

Brighton SEO conference infographic-April 2012
Brilliant Infographic via ShellShockUK

It was a great start with the soundtrack of choice Sabre’s Of Paradise ‘Smokebelch’ welcoming us into the Brighton Dome.

Organiser Kelvin Newman introduced the first panel, which was also one of the best, ‘Ask The Engines’ which included  Pierre Far from Google Europe, Dave Coplin from Bing UK, Martin MacDonald from Expedia and outspoken independent consultant Rishi Lakhani.

The organisers already have video archives of the conference live.

Plenty of questions were raised like is SEO doomed? How does it need to evolve? With responses like “seo will never die, its constantly evolving”, “it’s very much in its infancy, much more fractured organic marketing and skills will evolve”.

Rishi was quick to point out there needed to be a more formal structure to SEO as there is no real recognised industry body, no standards and no ethics board and the people practising SEO services were unqualified.

Bing’s Dave Coplin also pointed out that there was a real passion for SEO and that practitioners were ‘alchemists’ with no rules or career paths.

Google guy Pierre was eager to warn against link buying schemes, warning that Google search algo’s use over 200 ‘signals’ to filter out spam in search results.  There was talk of ‘rich snippets’ becoming more important.

Philip Sheldrake was up next and delved into ‘the Semantic Web and the Internet of Things’. Things got a bit ‘geeky’ at this stage as the stage echoed with discussion of ‘Web 3.0’, RDF’s (Resource Description Framework’s) and Tim Berner Lee’s four principles of linked data. I left for a coffee break with the term IPv4 spinning around my head.

Samantha Noble from Koozai digital marketing was next with great pointers on relaunching a brand online.  She said branding was more to do with the customers perception of the brand and a strong example of a great brand was Virgin, with multiple business ventures but one brand name. When she brought up the question of who had trademarked their brand, only around 10percent of delegates raised their hands.

One of the most useful practices to protect your online brand is to make sure you buy up all the top level domain names. Another great tip she mentioned was to reserve your brand name on all the major social networks  using social profile search tools like Knowem.com.

I used this trick for my Buzzsonic brand and dominate all the SERPs. A unique brand name is key. Consider that some of the biggest online brands, Ebay, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, Facebook are known for the brand name, not the keywords in the name.

As I scribbled away on my wirebound reporters notepad the people either side of me were stroking their iPads like extra’s from ‘Minority Report’.

Black Hat Microformats? Oh My God!

And we were off again with Glenn Jones and Google rich snippets, microformats, RDFa, extra semantic content and social graph API’s. Blimey, and no mention of OPML after all that!

Thanks to the brilliant Katie at iSayDigital for sparing me one of those magic Wonka tickets!

Related Reading

15 Top Quotes & Takeaways From Brighton SEO (ScreamingFrog)
BrightonSEO Conference 2012 – A Round Up (SEOFoSho)
Brighton SEO 2012 Round Up – Top 5 Takeaways from Every Talk (SiliconBeachTraining)
The Best Brighton SEO Round-up Articles (ShellShockUK)
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool
Welcome To The Koozai Blog
SearchBots: Lost Children or Hungry Psychopaths (Cloudshapes)