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How to Beat the Summer Slump With Content Marketing

Published on July 22, 2022

Do you ever feel like your personal productivity goes down during the summer? What about your company’s overall productivity?

If you answered yes to either of the above (and we’ll bet a cool Mai Tai that you did), then you’re definitely not alone. In fact, tons of research indicates that the productivity of American businesses goes way down during the summer months.

In fact, a study from Captivate Network indicated that:

  • Workplace productivity drops 20% during the summer months
  • Workplace attendance decreases by 19%
  • Projects take 13% longer to complete
  • Workers are 45% more distracted

Think about it! How much time do you spend over the summer months traveling? Or what about day-dreaming about traveling? Or how about spending time trying to play catch-up with your clients who are off on vacation, even as you keep working?

And vacations are just the tip of the iceberg! Science says it’s harder to work in the heat and the humidity - and, conversely, in an office that’s too cold from AC!

Basically? Trying to get things done in the summer is a lose-lose proposition - except when it comes to digital marketing.

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What is a Content Pillar? How to Use Pillars to Grow Your Website Traffic

Published on July 14, 2022

If you spend any time at all talking to marketing people, you’ll hear the expression “content is king.” In this age of omnichannel communications, people prefer to educate themselves and would rather learn about a brand via their “own research” (a.k.a. curated content) than be punched in the face with heavy-handed advertising. That’s just science

So if you’re going full speed ahead into content marketing, you’ll need to identify your pillars first to create a strong framework for your overall strategy. Let’s dive in!

Laying your foundation

In construction lingo, a pillar is an essential support structure. In marketing, it’s a basic value, tenet, or concept that relates to your brand. It will serve as a foundation for your content and messaging. Content pillars will help you achieve clarity and supremacy in your niche — and boost your audience reach to the stratosphere. 

You want to position your brand as a subject matter expert, so you become the go-to resource for anything that touches on that topic. This also helps you optimize your content for keywords and search intent. 

Creating a “content cluster” around in-depth ideas will lead you to higher rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). Higher rankings mean better brand awareness and more enthusiastic traffic. 

Cornerstones

How do you choose which topics to use for your pillars? This depends on what industry you’re in. A restaurant owner would obviously want to focus on their style of cuisine, dining experiences, fine wine, cooking, and other culinary-related concepts.

Your brand is unique, so your content pillars should spotlight what makes you stand above the crowd.

For example, a plumbing company with 24-hour availability might want to develop content about exciting new trends in concierge customer service, advances in plumbing technology, water conservation, and sustainability.

Framework

This might seem like a lot of fuss, but it actually makes sense. Arranging your content in pillars helps you stay organized and makes it easier to nurture new ideas and sub-topics that will truly appeal to your audience. 

Main pillar pieces are typically over 3,000 words of deliciously high-ranking content that will keep your readers on your site for a longer period of time. More visitors to your site interacting for a longer period of time means you can collect vast amounts of valuable customer data you can use to build an effective content marketing system to complement your business goals. 

Research is a crucial part of creating any kind of strategy like this, and that always begins with being intimately familiar with your target customers and what they need and want. Keyword analytics will help you drill down to what people search for the most. 

If you haven’t yet created your ideal customer profile, you’re missing out on a chance to get in front of the right people while they’re still in the early stages of their decision-making process.

Crafting your pillars

Once you’ve identified the main key topics you want to focus on, it’s time to start building your content library. This is the perfect time to evaluate and refine your existing content to fit into your content pillar structure. 

For creating new material, you might be wondering where to find inspiration. There, too, the answer lies with your intended audience. 

How-to’s, explainer articles, and knowledgable guides backed up with plenty of links offer your readers a one-stop-shop that increases your brand’s value proposition and leads to higher conversion rates.

Engagement with your social media followers will also give you precious insight into the kinds of content they’re looking for. Reach out and ask them what they need. 

It’s also smart to check out your competitors and see what kind of content they are putting out. What does their engagement look like? Can you build a better mousetrap? Explore the gaps in their coverage and see where you can offer a better alternative. 

A vibrant online community

The ongoing digital transformation has had a huge impact on how companies deal with their customers, and how people make buying decisions and purchases. Everything has changed and continues to evolve rapidly. 

One of the biggest challenges today is staying relevant. In this uncertain world, the customer attention span is shorter than ever. 

How do you regain the love of past buyers while attracting new audiences? Boldly pursuing a new content pillar strategy will give you some power, as people love things that are new and shiny. Update and refresh your site, add new visual appeal, or consider creating a contest related to one of your pillar concepts. 

Microcontent, like daily Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok posts, will help you build a highly engaged online community. This invaluable team of customer ambassadors adds to your organic growth potential. 

The bottom line

Content pillars are a vital competitive advantage in your overarching marketing plan. Customers no longer want cold calling, automated emails, or junk mail. They want useful information at the tip of their fingers, whenever they need it.

And when they Google it, you want to be the first responder, the expert ready to answer any and all questions — and you’re the one they turn to when a purchasing decision needs to be made.

Rich, interesting content pillars will help you grow your business and your traffic by luring customers in with the things they want to know, almost before they know. 

Ready to learn more about content and building a sustainable digital ecosystem? Geek Chicago has got you covered. Reach out to one of our experts today for a guided tour through digital biz, social media, email, web development, and how to create content that sizzles. 

Which Social Media Platforms Should My Business Consider?

Published on March 18, 2022

Are you finding it hard to navigate the sea of social networks available to today’s businesses? Do you find yourself burdened with questions about what platforms you should be on? 

“Are people still on Facebook?”

“Is LinkedIn better for my business?”

“Am I missing out by not being on TikTok?”

Let’s tackle these questions together as we provide you with some underlying knowledge of what platforms can suit you best in today’s market.

We’ll start by breaking our field up into two primary categories: established platforms and emerging platforms. What’s the difference? We’ll admit, in an ever-changing environment it’s a slightly arbitrary distinction. But in our judgment, an “established” platform is one that has been around for over a decade, with a proven track record of helping businesses across all sectors. Emerging platforms are the opposite: they may contain more niche communities that have only been around for a few years or less. Now that we have that sorted, it’s time to dive into the names you’ve already heard of. 

Established Platforms

Google My Business

First and foremost, if you don’t have a Google My Business profile, you’re doing yourself a disservice. While it still takes a good 3 to 4 days to appear after you set it up, this is an extremely crucial mechanism to ensure your local audience knows you’re on the map, literally. Prioritize this first and foremost if your organization is just getting off the ground. This is also a bit of an outlier. While every other “social network” aims at building a community, this focuses more on being more of a tool for Google’s userbase to find and learn more about your business. Google My Business creates a location on Google Maps for your business, allows you to share information about your hours and offerings, and services as a repository for reviews. In our estimation, it also benefits your search engine optimization (SEO) by creating a home on the world’s biggest search engine. 

Facebook

Next up is Facebook. This platform has the largest audience out of its competitors, with 2.7 Billion monthly active users. However, Facebook lacks key search and discovery mechanisms that make organic follower growth typical. Things such as Instagram’s Discovery pages and Hashtags have proven to be invaluable assets to any emerging business wanting to get its name out there. Facebook, absent the widespread use of hashtags, and a defunct explore feed to boot, may seem like the worst option of the major competitors. Nevertheless, there are still a number of moderately effective methods that you can use on Facebook to increase your page growth without the use of paid ads. However, if a paid ad campaign is a part of your Social Media strategy, a Facebook business account is necessary to run ads on this platform. Even though it may be harder to “go viral,” on Facebook, having a business account gives you access to the most amount of eyeballs that an advertising budget can buy. 

Instagram

Instagram is especially useful for any business that has the ability to produce visually-striking content. Bakeries, antique shops, clothing stores, and any business that sells a product they can photograph should prioritize Instagram. Not only do they have a robust system for discovery through the use of account tags and hashtags, but they also have a sizable amount of monthly active users (1 Bil!). It’s no wonder why nearly 3/4ths of U.S. businesses claim to use the platform. It’s the clear successor of Meta’s original product, and the closest you can get to a one-size-fits-all platform. That very trait may also be doing it a disservice as well, with many users growing tired of an increasingly cluttered UI. Nevertheless, Instagram is a safe bet for finding and growing an on-platform audience. 

Twitter

Do you have a lot of content to post, all the time? Do you love to track news cycles and jump in with relevant takes about market forecasts and other trends in your constantly-changing industry? Twitter is the obvious choice for brands that compete in evolving industries with fast-paced news cycles. However, the platform has roughly a third of the monthly active users of Instagram. On top of that, its network reach is dwarfed by Facebook. But proponents of Twitter like that it’s not Facebook. Even though it’s an established brand, it occupies its own niche in terms of the communities and audience that it attracts. If your audience needs to be updated daily, or several times a day, with market stats and headlines, this may be the platform you want to prioritize. Think of your business’s Twitter feed as a makeshift Bloomberg Terminal- purpose-built for a specific kind of follower. 

LinkedIn 

People often forget Microsoft owns LinkedIn. But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Microsoft has built its brand by offering businesses and entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed: Windows, Word, Excel, Teams, etc. It’s best to think of LinkedIn as a similar tool, but for networking. Use LinkedIn if you want to grow your audiences with professional connections based and target certain specific demographics of employers and employees. The narrower your target demographic, the more eggs you should put in your organization’s LinkedIn presence. 

Emerging Platforms

Clubhouse: 

If you’re a company that field lots of questions from current and prospective clients, a FAQ session on Clubhouse could be a great way to reach out to your audience in a unique setting. This platform also offers an aura of exclusivity; at one time it required a direct invite from someone who was on the platform to even access it. Clubhouse is an option you should consider if your business prides itself on direct customer interactions. However, before you go all-in with it, many (justifiably) suspect the platform’s once-booming popularity to be a passing fad. After the company rejected several offers for buy-outs, competitors launched their own clubhouse-like features such as Twitter Spaces, Facebook Messenger Rooms, and Reddit Talk. We recommend consideration of these alternatives before considering Clubhouse itself. 

Spotify: 

Like it or not, Spotify is increasingly becoming a social network in its own right, with the ability to add friends from Facebook, follow users, and collaborate and share playlists on-platform. Nothing makes this more apparent than the ever-present “what your friends are listening to” side panel on the desktop version of the app. 

But if your business has nothing to do with music, no worries! Real Estate agents, Tutors, Bloggers, and all sorts of entrepreneurs host podcasts on Spotify as a way to grow their brand. While it might seem like “everyone has a podcast nowadays,” YOU haven’t been in one yet. Sharing your podcast with your personal network on pre-existing platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and SMS text increases the likelihood that they’ll tune in and subscribe! After all, if your favorite small business started a podcast, your interest would be piqued, wouldn’t it? 

TikTok

If you’re a business that has lots of video content to share, don’t feel boxed in by the traditional aspect ratios of landscape 4:3. Engaging content can do well on Tik Tok, even with black bars on the top or bottom of a phone. After hearing the word “Tik Tok”, many small business owners will understandably have some skepticism. (“But I can’t dance!”) 

Don’t worry, it’s not just for dancing, and it’s not just a Gen Z thing either. In our opinion, Tik Tok is a great place to experiment with repackaging your pre-existing video content to fit the new format. We can’t recommend going all-in on the platform as your primary point of social outreach, but it can serve as a great accessory to the other channels that you may already operate. In other words, if you have video content performing well on Facebook, it wouldn’t hurt to see how it performs with the appropriate tags on Tik Tok. 

P.S. This same piece of advice works for Instagram Reels and Youtube Shorts as well! 

Another thing to keep in mind is Tik Tok’s audience currently skews young. 60% of their users are between the ages of 16-24. However, nearly a quarter of their audience is between the ages of 25-44! These demographics are important to keep in mind when considering an account for your business. Retirement services and accounting firms may not have much luck, but a local brewery, nail salon, or real estate team could have tremendous success in reaching their target customers.   

Bottom Line

You may be wondering about a few platforms we didn’t cover. The truth is, your business doesn't need to be everywhere in order to succeed in growing an online presence. You only need to be in the right places. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Pick the 2-3 platforms you feel matter most to your target audience. Start making content on those platforms first, and once you have a sizable content library, then consider branching out to newer and more unproven platforms. As long as you can produce engaging content that resonates with your audience, you’re on the right track.  

Want to Close More Sales? Great Content Is Your Secret Weapon

Published on March 16, 2022

According to recent studies, 70% of people would rather learn about a company through articles than an advertisement. 68% report feeling more positive about a brand after consuming content from it.

What’s more, research shows that B2B decision makers tend to engage with at least five pieces of content before they buy. And yet, in spite of all of this, there is still a common perception that content marketing is only about bringing in prospects, rather than generating real, substantive conversions.

While content is a vital tool for inbound marketing, it can also be put to work turning leads into customers – at every step along the buyer’s journey, and in a variety of creative ways.

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Online Reputation Management for Law Firms

Published on March 10, 2022

It’s fair to say that practicing law may be one of the world’s oldest professions. That is to say that, as long as there have been laws to enforce, there has been a need for lawyers – going all the way back to ancient Greece.

And, for our Chicago-based audiences, we hardly need to reiterate how important lawyers are – after all, Illinois’s favorite son and America’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, got his start practicing law, as have countless other politicians and prominent figures in world history.

With all that being said, it’s important to realize that the practice of law has always adapted and shifted with the times. The young Mr. Lincoln may not have needed to worry about what people were saying about him via online reviews – but the practicing attorneys at your law firm certainly do!

Whether your focus is on real estate, personal injury, business, family law, estate planning, or any other area where lawyers practice today, it’s important to be able to keep in contact with your audience – so that new clients can always be ready to find you when the time comes.

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How To Write Content That Actually Converts

Published on March 9, 2022

There are countless reasons why your brand needs to be generating unique, high quality content – it primes the pump for social sharing, it cultivates community and loyalty, and it’s a surefire SEO solution for boosting organic traffic.

But blogging has another function, even if we content marketers tend to keep it quiet. The dirty little secret behind most copywriting? While it is a sure way to create value, there’s no escaping that, at the end of the day, your words are there to help sell – to convince users that your site, your brand, is where they should be placing their trust and spending their hard-earned money.

With that in mind, veteran copywriters will be quick to tell you that it’s all-but-impossible to write one golden blog post that will convert every audience member to a customer, every time. (If you know that copywriter, let us know, because we’d love to hire her.)

But there are some important tricks, reminders, and rules keep in mind for writing creative content that converts.

Here are five ways to write content that helps drive conversions – without sacrificing quality: 

1.) Add Emotion

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Launching a New Website? Don’t Forget to Check These 10 Key Elements Off Your List

Published on March 1, 2022

It’s hard to overstate the importance of having a website for your brand. Today, your next customers are connecting with businesses and doing their product research online, via search engines, review platforms, and social media networks - which can all help funnel users directly to your personalized landing page. 

Having a unique, handcrafted website that is functional, responsive, and optimized for search engines can go a long way in helping your business stand out from the crowd. Your brand website is also a powerful marketing tool. It’s your calling card, your elevator pitch, and your sales funnel, all rolled into one. Your website can help your brand reach new audiences on search engines like Google, and help convert curious visitors into lifelong customers. 

If you’re nearing the end of your website design and development process, you’ve probably been over all this - and then some! You’ve talked about design. You’ve discussed creating compelling calls to action and functional conversion tools. You’ve thought long and hard about the importance of UX. 

Now, it’s time to move into the last phase, and start fine-tuning your site so it’s ready to launch. It’s time to look over the little details, to make sure your website is going to appeal to audiences, and rank highly with search engines. Before your site goes live, it’s also important to start planning for the future, and develop a strategy for all of the maintenance, performance, and security tasks to come. 

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How to Rekindle Your Audience’s Passion for Your Brand

Published on February 14, 2022

Maybe you’ve been at a fancy restaurant, only to look over at the corner booth and see a young couple who can’t seem to keep their hands off of each other. They’re canoodling, they’re sharing food, and they’re generally showing to the world that they’re, like, so totally in love.

And then your gaze glides over to another table, and you see, perhaps, an older couple. They’re sitting in silence and swapping bites. For them, the passion seems to be missing, that spark just burned out with time.

In a lot of ways, gaining and retaining clients for your business can be a little like entering into a long-term relationship. At first, it’s all about the thrill of meeting each other, and seeing all the amazing, novel things you can do together. But over time, familiar patterns settle in, and the old tricks just don’t seem to be working as well as they used to.

This is particularly the case when it comes to digital marketing, centered on high-quality content creation. While some things, like blog posts primed for SEO success, only get sweeter with time, the fact is that other elements slow down or stop working on audiences altogether the longer they’re in play.

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LinkedIn 101 – The Basics That Every Business Professional Needs to Know

Published on February 8, 2022

Most business professionals have at least a peripheral understanding of how to market their products or services on social media sites Facebook and Twitter. (If not, Geek Chicago is here to help with those, too.)

LinkedIn, however, is often vastly misused or misunderstood, by businesses and professionals alike.

On the one hand, LinkedIn is the preferred social media network for B2B marketers, it’s able to call itself one of the leading job search sites in the world, and Microsoft valued the company enough to acquire it for more than $26 billion.

On the other side of things, plenty of would-be LinkedIn users have been left scratching their head after creating a profile. Others have told us that they’ve long avoided the process altogether.

Whatever the case may be, LinkedIn remains one of the key social media networking and content marketing opportunities for businesses and individuals, and if you aren't an active part of this community yet, there’s no time like the present to get started.

Here's our 101 crash course on learning the basics of LinkedIn.

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How Many Hashtags Should You Use on Instagram

Published on February 4, 2022

If you're using Instagram to share your content and promote your business, you probably already know the importance of hashtags. But the real question is, how do you make them work for you? Which hashtags should you choose? How many hashtags is too many?

Knowing why hashtags are on Instagram in the first place, and how to use them effectively to promote your content, is one major key to your success on the platform. 

While “the ‘gram” is widely known to make frequent changes to optimize its organic search algorithm, there are truisms about good hashtag use that are seemingly timeless. Regardless of whether these precedents are timeless, here is the latest on how to use hashtags to their fullest potential when working with Meta’s golden child. 

Let’s start by dispelling some myths about Instagram hashtags. Hashtags are not on-platform advertising mechanisms. They are “a tool that provides context about your post” and its content. In other words, they’re there so the algorithm promoting organic reach can do its job better.

Hashtags are also not a “more the merrier” type of deal. Stuffing hashtags into your content won’t do it any favors, and you run the risk of choosing an irrelevant hashtag that someone may have intentionally muted. Let’s illustrate with some examples. Say you’re a tech influencer who’s made a post about the recent Tesla recall, and CES is chugging along as it does in early January (these events coincided earlier this month). Adding #CES to the bottom of your post about the Tesla news can be harmful if it has nothing to do with the annual Consumer Electronics Show. In fact, many tech news consumers may be so inundated with nonstop CES news (or morally opposed to the convention being held during a wave of viral infections) that they mute the hashtag. 

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