In today’s interconnected world, local small businesses face both opportunities and challenges in engaging with their customers effectively. One remarkable tool for understanding customer sentiments and fostering relationships is joining local community Facebook groups. By actively participating in these online communities, small business managers and owners gain valuable insights into their target audience’s preferences, concerns, and expectations. In this blog post, we will explore how joining these groups can help local businesses shape their content marketing strategies, enabling them to connect with customers authentically and foster a strong community presence.
Community Connection and Insights
Local community Facebook groups serve as virtual gathering places where local residents share information, ask questions, and voice opinions about various aspects of their local areas. For local business owners (and managers), these groups are goldmines of customer insights they can use in their small business marketing. By joining these groups, they can observe discussions, identify trends, and gain a deeper understanding of the needs and wants of their local target audience. They can uncover pain points, preferences, and desires directly from the customers’ perspectives. This valuable knowledge serves as a foundation for developing content and product marketing strategies that resonate with the community’s interests and addresses their specific concerns.
Building Brand Credibility
Engaging with customers in local community Facebook groups enables businesses to build brand credibility and trust. By actively participating in discussions and offering helpful insights, business owners and managers position themselves as trusted authorities in their field. Sharing valuable information, answering questions, and addressing concerns demonstrate a genuine commitment to customer satisfaction. This builds positive brand associations and fosters customer loyalty. Moreover, when satisfied customers share positive experiences within the group, it acts as organic word-of-mouth marketing, further enhancing the brand’s reputation within the local community.
Content Creation and Customization
Joining and interacting in local community Facebook groups provides business owners with firsthand knowledge of the topics, interests, and challenges prevalent among their target audience. With these insights, businesses can create tailored content that directly addresses the needs and concerns of their customers. By producing valuable and relevant content, businesses can establish themselves as trusted sources of information within the community. Whether it’s blog posts, social media updates, or informative videos, local businesses can leverage content marketing to provide solutions, educate, and entertain their target audience while subtly showcasing their products or services.
Building Meaningful Relationships
Engagement within local community Facebook groups allows local businesses to foster meaningful relationships with their customers. By actively participating in conversations, responding to comments, and addressing feedback, businesses demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction. This interactive approach helps establish a personal connection and humanizes the brand. When customers feel valued and heard, they are more likely to become loyal advocates and refer the business to their friends and family. Additionally, businesses can utilize these relationships to gather user-generated content, testimonials, and reviews, which further contribute to their small business content marketing efforts. However, one thing that can damage those relationships quickly is not following the group rules. Some Facebook groups only allow company promotion on certain days of the week. Others don’t allow promotion at all. If you are at all unsure, check with a moderator before posting.
Here are some examples from my own local Facebook groups:
Bella Rose Designs is a local boutique. They sell a lot of handcrafted items from crafters in the local area, have a monthly subscription box, and they hold classes each month. In this example, the owner, Sarah Rose, uses her personal Facebook account to post in the local Chatter group about upcoming events. Depending on the circumstances, you might choose to use your personal Facebook account or your business account. You might want to consider creating an individual account that you use only for business purposes.
In this case, a customer had an experience at a local car wash, Kopetsky’s, and posted about it on Facebook. The owner of the business is very active in Facebook groups and responded to her original post. He was able to resolve her issue and she went back to the Facebook Chatter group and let everyone know what came of her original problem. This is an example of being able to mitigate a possible reputation hit by seeing posts about your business.
Another local business is our Biggby Coffee location. While this is a franchise, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be involved in local Facebook groups. In this case, they were looking for workers. Your local community is a great place to find employees who will be invested in the area, know a lot of potential customers, and become local advocates for your business.
As with the car wash example above, residents often post problems with local businesses on Facebook Chatter accounts. In this case, an individual recommended that people not use a local business because of a poor experience. And they attached photos. The owner of this business is not a member of the local Chatter group and did not refute this bad review.
Joining local community Facebook groups opens up a world of opportunities for local small businesses to understand their customers better, engage authentically, and strengthen their small business content marketing strategies. If a business serves multiple communities, the owners should join multiple groups. By actively participating in these groups, businesses can gain valuable insights, build brand credibility, create customized content, and foster meaningful relationships with their customers. Remember, content marketing is not just about promotion; it’s about providing value, building trust, and nurturing lasting connections. By adding engagement in local community Facebook groups to their small business marketing plans, businesses can become an integral part of the community, shaping their brand story while addressing the unique needs of their customers.
In this update of her best-selling first edition, Ann Handley expands on this practical guide to writing better content in the digital age. There are so many great tips in this book and it is formatted in such a way that it is easy to digest and easy to find what you are looking for. This is one of those books that you keep close at hand because you will constantly be referring back to it. I have highlighted and tabbed content from the beginning to end of this book.
You can’t work in in marketing right now without being inundated with articles and information about AI. In this book, Paul Roetzer and Mike Kaput lay the foundation for anyone who works in marketing, because AI will affect all of us. They review how AI will affect various aspects of our roles from advertising to analytics to social media. They even review how to choose the right AI vendors. As this field is moving so fast, I also encourage you to visit their website for more information.
If you have followed me for some time, you know that I have a passion for psychology in marketing. Which is why I love this book. Nancy goes into many audience behaviors that content marketers need to be familiar with such as the human need for control, how to use loyalty and reciprocity, and how labeling can have an impact on audience behavior. There are also many case studies and watch-outs in here that make it well worth a read.
In this update of the first edition of Epic Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi and Brian Piper provide a comprehensive overview of content marketing strategy, how to build communities, and how to work in a changing digital world. They also include interviews with several content marketing leaders in different industries to find out how they are managing their content marketing programs. This book has a ton of resources throughout it for reference.
The 6th edition of this popular content marketing book was published in October. The reason I love this book is because it is chock full of helpful and actionable tips and tricks. As with Everybody Writes, the format of this book makes it easy to digest and refer back to for any topic it covers. This is another book that I have written in, highlighted, and tabbed. This book is very visual, which is another plus in my opinion. One of the quotes from the book speaks directly to this point, “In a desert of text, images are water. Give your readers a drink!”
This month’s content format to try are polls. I love any content format that can serve multiple purposes. In this case, depending on where you put a poll (your own website, social media), you can capture your audiences attention as well as learn something about them. Here are some tips for creating polls:
Choose a topic that your audience will want to give their opinion on. It could be fun or functional, but it needs to be something that people will actually want to answer.
Keep it short. Don’t include too many questions or too many responses. Polls should be quick and easy to understand.
Use visuals when possible. You may not be able to do this on social media, but on your owned properties (like your website), you can make it visually appealing.
Give them the responses. Most people will want to see how their response compares to other people. After they reply, make sure you give them the current results of the poll.
You may wonder how you can use content marketing – which is meant to be more informative than sales-focused – during the more sales-focused time of the year. In fact, the holidays are a great time to share content that helps people celebrate the season. And you don’t need to wait until December to start sharing holiday-themed informational content. People this time of year are stressed about getting ready for parties, buying gifts, being with family, the weather – all kinds of things. You can endear yourself to your audience by providing content that will help them ease their stress. This could include things such as:
Ways to organize a home get together
Lists of gift ideas
Techniques to create calm
Money saving tips
Ways to show gratitude
Now that you have some ideas to start your planning, here are some tips for your strategy:
Start planning now! Decide what kind of content you want to create around the holidays (e.g., recipes, gift guides, DIY projects), then brainstorm ideas.
Create a calendar of events to help you plan your content strategy. Space your content out and make sure that your content formats are appropriate for the channel you are using and the preferences of your audiences on those channels.
Use social media to spread the word about your content. Share links to your posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. You don’t have to share every post on every channel. The content should be appropriate for the channel.
Don’t forget to add a call to action at the end of each post. What do you want people to do after reading or watching what you have posted? Visit your website? Tell a friend? Your calls to action should be determined when you set your goals.
Make sure your web content is optimized for search engines. With Google’s new Helpful Content Update, they are putting more emphasis on content that is helpful for the people visiting your site. Write for humans, not robots.
Include images in your web content. Images make your blog posts more visually appealing and engaging. And be sure to include Alt Text on your images for accessibility compliance.
Write compelling headlines. Headlines are the first thing visitors read when they land on your page. If your headline isn’t compelling enough, readers may leave your site without getting the information you want to share.
What helpful content do you plan on sharing with your audience this holiday season? Leave a comment below or tag me on social media @hijinxmarketing with your answer.
*Note: the first draft of this article was created using Frase.io AI content generator. If you are interested in the new frontier of using AI for content generation, give it a try!
This year’s Content Marketing World conference did not disappoint. Two years after going entirely virtual due to COVID, the conference was back in full force in 2022. With more than 100 sessions, there was something for everyone in the content marketing industry. Whether you focus on writing, SEO, strategy, content creation, or AI, experts from across the spectrum presented the latest information on a wide variety of topics designed to make us all better marketing professionals.
With this year’s theme of “Drive Forward,” we’re taking a look beyond the finish line with some thoughts on this year’s conference from several of the attendees. Buckle your seatbelt and read on to learn what several content marketing experts took from this year’s conference.
A Killer Sales Strategy That Won’t Kill Your YouTube Channel
There is no magic formula to sales on YouTube (darn!) but Tim Schmoyer’s 3 bucket strategy comes as close as you can get.
In Tim’s Content Marketing World session “Creating A Sales Strategy for YouTube That Doesn’t Kill Your Channel” he laid out three content buckets you should focus on creating videos for:
Similar to how you might approach email marketing, Tim’s 3 bucket strategy helps nurture your audience into a sale through a series of videos.
Single-handedly the best slide he shared, Tim laid out what the goal of each content bucket is, the style the video should emulate and the CTA that should be used (thank you Tim!):
Seems easy enough but where do you start? Tim kindly gave guidance on where a business should begin depending on the current standing of your YouTube channel:
New channel gaining momentum → Create mostly discoverable content
Channel has grown and received views but the number of views is very low → Create more community content
Brought people in, have a community, and now are looking to monetize → It’s time for sales content!
“Why does content marketing take soooooo loooooooong to work?” – Andrew Davis, CMW 2022
“Because you’re wasting your best creative energy answering frequently asked questions.” – also Andrew Davis, paraphrased from memory, CMW 2022
Instead, he says, consider answering RARELY ASKED QUESTIONS.
Because instead of battling it out trying to get end user attention in a sea of same (publishing the same keyword-focused SEO articles that everyone and their grandma is creating) you could be creating content for the C-suite and executives who heavily influence buying decisions. He calls it a top-down approach (see influence pyramid).
As someone obsessed with creating truly meaningful content—and repulsed by unoriginal, undifferentiated fluff—it felt like Andrew was sharing a massive secret with me during his keynote. WHICH IS WHAT GOOD CONTENT MARKETING SHOULD FEEL LIKE, RIGHT?
There’s so much pressure to create more content.
To fill in content calendars.
To publish, publish, publish.
But a refreshing theme bubbled up at CMW 2022:
More content isn’t the answer.
More meaningful content is.
Content that resonates specifically with decision influencers—like secrets revealed.
Content that feels like it was written by a person / company with a strong POV and voice (thanks, Ann Handley).
Content business leaders recognize as dramatically different and instrumental in helping them win in tomorrow’s conditions.
See ya later commodity content. You’re no longer relevant.
Companies often shy away from starting podcasts. Rob Walch, from libsyn, spoke at CMW on podcast creation and promotion. I’ve done podcasts for companies before and I’m always curious about how the process can be improved. While I listened, it struck me that there are two big myths associated with podcasting that may be holding you back from starting a podcast.
Myth #1: The podcast “airwaves” are completely saturated. There’s no way to cut through all that noise.
Truth: Yes, there are a couple million podcasts out there, but over 616,000 of those only have one episode. And, of the ~ 1 million podcasts that have produced 10 or more episodes, less than 400,000 are active.
Realization: There isn’t as much competition as you think. It’s probably worth it to start a podcast and move through any initial intimidation.
Myth #2: It’s too much work to start and maintain a podcast.
Truth: Yes, podcasts take time and resources to create and maintain. But— there are parts of a podcast that you can easily outsource. Teaming up with an agency experienced in creating podcasts reduces the amount of time your team needs to spend, while positioning you as the expert and making sure you continue to produce way more than those first 10 episodes.
Realization: There will be work, but you can minimize your time and maximize the impact of the podcast by getting some help to launch and regularly produce episodes. That way, you’re set up from the start to become one of the podcasts that lasts.
Busting these two big myths is great, but I skipped something important:
Why start a podcast?
You’ll have a fantastic series of asset that highlights your brand and your voice
You can establish yourself as a credible thought leader in your space
There is so much repurposing you can do once you have the podcast created
Podcasts can feel like a lot of work for a “saturated” space. If you put those negative and inaccurate beliefs aside and consider how you can use a podcast to your advantage, you might be surprised by the impact.
“The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” (Peter Drucker)
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” (John Wanamaker)
In articles and presentations, these two quotes are used all the time. There are similar quotes from Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates that we use frequently. Did you ever stop to wonder: what do all of these quotes have in common?
They’re all from men!
In a Content Marketing World talk titled “Quote a Woman: Adding Women’s Voices to Your Content Marketing,” Penny Gralewski called out this issue and urged us to do something about it. The Senior Director, Product and Portfolio Marketing at DataRobot, Penny covered the following in her talk:
Why women’s buying behaviors and engagement trends matter
What unconscious bias may be lurking in your content
How to find and validate women’s quotes and research
When to convince leadership or clients that it’s time to add women’s voices
Penny shared ideas for adding relevant women’s voices to our content to better engage, motivate, and convert our audience. I loved this slide from Penny that provides a list of women you can quote from:
Later in the conference, I attended a talk by Jacquie Chakirelis titled “Creating Content to Change the World” and one of her slides contained this quote:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world.”
The quote is from Margaret Mead. Way to go, Jacquie! Perhaps Penny’s pleas are already making a difference.
When People Stop Being Polite and Start Getting Real – The Real World: Content Marketing World
The Teams and Culture and Career Skills tracks offered at Content Marketing World were chock full of honesty and #RadicalTransparency (shoutoutInbar Yagur for making this a weekly hashtag in my LinkedIn feed!).
As I sat in sessions about marketing burnout and imposter syndrome, I couldn’t help but nod my head and think “Me, too,” over and over again. I related greatly to the same challenges faced byMaureen Jann in her attempts to “balance” her work and home lives (is that even possible?!), and also toDivya Bisht who openly shared her experiences feeling like she didn’t belong in a new role.
While the struggle is real, there’s hope.Amy Higgins offered strategies and examples on how to build a happy and productive team. She recommends building “rules of engagement” for your team by having REAL conversations about how each teammate works best, accidental diminishers, and boundaries to help teams work better together – what a refreshing approach that is often ignored because it can be, well, uncomfortable. But we NEED to have these conversations to build trusted, safe environments for our teams.
My takeaway? We’re all human. Have those real conversations. Be open and honest with yourself and your leadership. Doing so will help you bring your best self to your work, and your life in general.
Processes… ugh. For some content marketers, it’s an ugly word. Maybe it feels inferior to the sparklier, shinier, more “creative” work that drew us into marketing.
But I can’t stop thinking about Robert Rose’s quote from his keynote: “Lack of process, ironically, locks us into ruts.”
If your content marketing team is looking to level up their innovation, or to “be more creative,” the answer lies in process. Innovation doesn’t just happen. It has to be baked into the content marketing operations and workflow, so that every innovation can actually go from creative brainstorm to flawless execution in a sustainable way.
Robert reinforced this idea with another humdinger: “Content itself can be copied. The competitive advantage is not the content: it’s creating a strategic, scalable comprehensive content operations function in your business.”
And I heard this idea reinforced through a plethora of other great sessions. Andi Robinson’s session on localizing global assets. Jenny Magic’s talk on getting team buy-in. Andrew Davis’s keynote on Rarely Asked Questions and the Influence Pyramid. And many more, all about the critical work of picking (or creating!) a process and then seeing it through to completion.
The glitz and the glam (and the results) will come in time, but only after you’ve done the gritty work of establishing, documenting, and executing your content processes, from planning and creation all the way to operations and measurement. That right there is the real, roll-your-sleeves-up, hard work of content marketing. And then watch the magic of innovation happen!
– Ali Orlando Wert, Director of Content Strategy, Qlik (LinkedIn)
Community helps build trust
According to Jacquie Chakirelis, “Content can’t change the world, but community can.” Several sessions at this year’s conference focused on building communities to help support your content marketing efforts. Jacquie’s session focused on how we are moving to a system where not just one person holds the mic and speaks the loudest, but many people have a say in the conversation. Community builds advocates because they have “skin in the game” and a vested interest in the success of others in the community.
Kim Olson from Land O’Lakes was a keynote speaker and talked about their farmer co-op structure and how that builds a sense of community, particularly in rural areas of the United States. Her main point was about asking why you are doing what you something before you decide what you will do. One of their key initiatives is bridging the digital divide. It has nothing to do with making butter or selling pet food, which are what they are known for. But it created a sense of community among their co-op members and others in greater physical communities. It was something that was very important to their customers and garnered a sense of trust.
Building community not only helps the company that is leading the community-building efforts, but it benefits those individuals that participate by creating relationships that have value to them above-and-beyond what a brand can do.
We encourage you to follow #CMWorld on Twitter for more conference wrap-ups and information throughout the year. You can follow Content Marketing Institute on their website, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We look forward to seeing everyone for Content Marketing World 2023 in Washington, DC, September 26 – 29.