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Improving Your Organic Position On Google: A How-To Guide For Small Businesses

In the U.S., only 49% of small businesses invest in search engine optimization (SEO). That means more than half of them are leaving traffic, customers, and revenue on the table by not improving their organic position on Google.

When you run a small business, especially one that’s brick and mortar, it can be hard to conceptualize the buyer’s journey to your business. Although word-of-mouth is still a popular form of marketing, it’s not the only way customers will find you. More often than not, they’re using Google searches to research the businesses they plan to buy from long before they make it into a store or the checkout page on a website.

This is why it’s important to improve your organic position on Google with SEO. The concept of SEO can sound scary, and there are a lot of opinions out there about whether it’s worth the effort. However, when you think about SEO as a way to help your customers before they make a purchase, you’ll see that the value pays dividends in the long run.

How to Improve Google Positioning

1. Update your Google Business Profile.

Google Business Profile is a free tool that helps customers find businesses online. This tool works for normal Google searches but it also integrates with Google Maps so customers can find businesses while they’re en route to a destination.

By verifying and updating your Google Business Profile, you can help your business stand out on the search engine results page (SERP) and garner more traffic to your website or your physical store. Here are the most important updates to make on your profile:

Add the correct address, phone number, and store hours
Add your website URL
Include your social media profiles
Update images with new offerings, promotions, and products
Add a photo of your physical business location and building

Each of these points helps a potential customer make a decision about your business. They’ll know how far they need to travel (if at all), where they can find more information about your business, what your products and services look like, and they’ll have information about your latest promotions and sales.

Here’s an example of a Google Business Profile:

2. Get acquainted with ranking factors.

Google has identified four factors that its search algorithm takes into consideration when ranking content. These include:

The words in the query
The relevance and usability of the pages
The expertise of the source
The location and settings of a searcher’s Google account

Although some of these factors are out of your control as a business owner, you can create content with most of them in mind.

3. Optimize your existing content.

Optimizing existing content is typically a faster, more efficient way to target new customers without investing in brand new content. If your business’s website includes a blog or even a simple landing page, you can update these pages to appeal to people who are looking for the products and services you sell.

Well, how do you find those people? And how do you know what they’re searching for?

While it’s impossible to control the exact search terms a potential customer will type into the Google search bar, you can get an understanding of what users have searched for in the past and see predictions of what they’ll search for in the future.

To target specific words in a searcher’s query, you’ll first want to do keyword research on your business, industry, products, and services. You can use HubSpot’s Content Strategy Tool or paid tools like Ahrefs, Moz, or Semrush for detailed, granular keyword data. There are also free tools like Google Keyword Planner. To predict future search demand, you can use the free tool Google Trends.

Featured Resource: SEO Marketing Software

4. Identify content gaps.

A content gap is twofold. It may appear as a topic that is under explored or unexplored in your industry or niche, or it may be a stage in your customer’s journey that isn’t yet covered by content in your existing library.

Both types of content gaps are exciting opportunities to create new content that resonates with your audience and has the potential to generate revenue.

By using some of the same tools in the tip above, you can run a content audit to identify keywords that correspond to content gaps. This makes it simple to see them at a glance and incorporate them into your next blog post, product page, or even on your home page.

5. Include image alt text.

Whether they’re on your website, social media profiles, or Google Business Profile, images are a critical part of improving your organic position on Google. Why? Because of a simple (and often overlooked) field called alt text.

To understand why alt text is so important, we have to think like a search engine. Search engines can’t “see” images the way humans do, so they need another way to process them. Alt-text is a text-based description of an image that lets the search engine know what the image is about and how closely related it is to the topic or keyword it’s associated with on the page.

Without alt text, it’s almost impossible for search engines like Google to effectively recognize and rank your images. As a result, you could miss out on additional traffic and customers who may have found your website through an image pack or an image search.

6. Answer frequently asked questions.

If you have an FAQ section on your website, you’re already making strides to improve your Google ranking. To make it even better, take a look at your FAQ page and search for the same questions on Google. What do you see?

If you own a local hair salon and one of your FAQs is “What’s the difference between balayage and ombre?” you may see this box appear in the SERP:

The “People Also Ask” box is a great way to see additional questions your customers may be curious about. You can add similar questions to your FAQs page which gives you even more opportunities to increase your Google ranking.

7. Take a peek at your competitors.

The final tip we have for improving your organic position on Google is to take a peek at your competitors. We don’t recommend you copy your competitors, though. The point of looking at their keyword strategy with tools like Ahrefs, Moz, or Semrush is to understand their content gaps (remember those from earlier?)

By understanding the topics your customers are looking for that your competitors aren’t covering, you can fill the void with your own content that takes ranking factors and keyword research into account.

Rank Higher in the Google SERP

As a small business, you’ve got to wear many hats, and Google guru is one of them if you want to drive more traffic to your website and more business to your stores. Luckily, you don’t have to know everything about how search engines work to see your business higher page 1 of Google. These tips are tried and true SEO basics that can help your business get more visibility from customers who are looking specifically for you.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2006 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Linktree for Instagram: How It Works + How to Create One [10 Steps]

Features come and go on Instagram – one thing that has stayed consistent is the restricted linking options, with brands and creators only able to share one link in their Instagram bio and on Instagram Stories.

One solution to this is creating and adding a Linktree to your Instagram. Discover how it can help you share multiple high-quality links.

Plus, discover high-quality examples from brands already using the tool.

What is Linktree on Instagram?
Should you use Linktree for marketing on Instagram?
How to Create a Linktree for Instagram
How to Add Linktree to Instagram
Instagram Linktree Tips
Instagram Linktree Examples

If you’re active on Instagram, you might have seen the phrase “link in bio.”

This means that someone is directing users to visit their Instagram profile page and click the URL located in their bio. Driving people to these links often helps Instagram users generate traffic on different websites, like a YouTube channel or website landing page.

You may be wondering why using this tool can make a difference on Instagram, and we’ll discuss this below.

Should you use Linktree for marketing on Instagram?

Linktree allows you to maximize your sharing potential on Instagram. In previous years, brands and creators had to prioritize one link and include that in their bio. Usually, it was a website.

Naturally, as the platform evolved, so did the need for more external linking opportunities.

Users want to link not only to their website, but perhaps to other social channels, recent campaigns, new product launches, or partners.

Although Instagram now offers linking opportunities in Instagram Stories, live streams, and the Shop tab, there are still no in-feed options. As such, users must rely on apps like Linktree to consolidate their most important links into one, easy-to-view landing page.

Otherwise, you’ll likely be constantly updating your bio and having to decide which link takes priority.

In addition, Linktree offers analytics, which you can use to see which links are generating the most clicks.

Did we also mention that it’s free? While the premium version offers additional features, such as custom landing pages, scheduled links, animation, and more, the free version is all you need to get started.

If driving traffic externally is not a top priority, Linktree likely isn’t for you, as it does require upkeep to ensure you don’t share so many links that users get overwhelmed by their choices.

If you want to leverage the tool in your Instagram strategy, let’s review how to create one in the next section.

How to Create a Linktree for Instagram

1. Navigate to linktr.ee/ to create your free account.

2. Follow the on-screen prompts to describe your account’s category.

3. Select your preferred business plan.

4. After selecting your plan, explore your dashboard and add new links.

5. To begin adding links to your Linktree, you have two options:

Select Add New Link and a card (as shown in the image below) will appear where you fill in the relevant title and URL.

Or, you can click on Explore Link to view various link options based on the content, such as music or video links.

Regardless of the method you choose, your completed link should look similar to the image below.

6. Once you’ve added all of your links, the icons at the bottom of the tiles allow you to make card-specific edits.

If you have a free account, you can upload your own tile thumbnail, gate the link for specific audiences, and view the number of times your tile has been clicked.

With a paid account, you can take all of the free actions, in addition to highlighting specific links as priority links, scheduling when certain links go live, and accessing more in-depth analytics.

7. Add all the relevant links you’re hoping to include in your Linktree.

Once you’ve added all your links, you can begin customizations.

Note: The creation tool shows live previews so you can see your final product.

8. Select the Appearance tab on your screen’s top left-hand corner.

9. In the profile window, insert relevant information to the links you’re offering, including profile title, a brief bio, and a business-relevant image.

10. In the Themes tab, select a Linktree theme that matches your preferences. The image below is an example of a customized Linktree.

If you have a paid account, you can design your own theme, and edit background colors, button shapes, and fonts.

Under the settings tab on the top left header, you can further edit your Linktree and add support banners, ecommerce integrations, and social media icons to link to your other social profiles.

With a paid account, you can do everything previously mentioned in addition to adding mailing list integrations for email or SMS.

Once you’re satisfied with your Linktree and how it looks it’s time to put the link in your Instagram profile.

How to Add Linktree to Instagram

1. Within Linktree, find the Share button.

2. Select the Add Linktree to your socials button in the Share dropdown menu.

3. Click Instagram.

4. From here, you have two options: 1) Copy the Linktree URL and add it yourself on Instagram by clicking “Edit Profile,” and paste the link into the Website field in your Instagram profile. Or 2) Clicking “Go to my Instagram” to be taken straight there.

Now that you know how to create your Linktree and add it to your Instagram profile, let’s go over some examples from brands that already use Linktree on Instagram to meet their business needs.

Instagram Linktree Tips

Choose relevant names for your links: You want to use a Linktree to easily send your customers to different sites, so ensuring you name each link in a way that clearly says what it’s linking to increases effectiveness.
Choose your title wisely: Write clear and concise descriptions that will entice your audience to click.
Only include the most relevant links: While it may be tempting to have as many links as possible, it’s best to only place the most relevant links in your Linktree, so users aren’t overwhelmed with options. For example, if you’re running a new campaign, consider only linking to that one and removing links from older campaigns.
Use branded tools: if you have a Linktree paid account, use the custom branded tools that will help your users content your Linktree to your brand assets that they already know and recognize, like custom icons and color schemes.
Continuously monitor your Linktree: Continuously monitor your Linktree to ensure it’s up to date with your current business offerings. This means removing irrelevant links that will distract from what you’re hoping to center and monitoring analytics to see if you need to make any changes to your Linktree strategy.

Instagram Linktree Examples

1. Black Owned Everything

Black Owned Everything is an online marketplace that champions Black-owned businesses and the products and services they sell.

Image Source

It uses a Linktree on its Instagram profile to call attention to its different offerings, as shown in the image below.

Why We Like This:

Black Owned Everything’s Linktree is successful because it includes links that are clearly labeled for users to understand and find what they are looking for, and there are also very few links.

As a result, viewers likely aren’t experiencing decision paralysis and can quickly find what they are looking for.

2. Patsy’s

Patsy’s is a dessert business based out of Brooklyn, NY that sells Caribbean rum cakes made from scratch. They use a Linktree to help profile browsers order their cakes and view recent collaborations.

Image Source

Why We Like This:

Patsy’s uses Linktree as a unique way to call user attention to a holiday ordering guide that walks users through the process of placing an order.

While it could simply share this information in an Instagram post, users may not want to read a lengthy caption. Instead, Patsy’s can direct users to the link in its bio to quickly navigate to the ordering landing page.

3. Sean Garrette

Sean Garrette is an esthetician and content creator who uses Instagram to share helpful content with their audience.

They also have a branded Linktree in their bio where they share links to recent collaborations and partnership discount links.

Image Source

Why We Like This:

You can always post about the partnerships you have on Instagram, but if they’re long-standing, people might forget they exist.

You can place affiliate links in your Linktree to remind users that your partnerships are still running and, if you successfully drive users to your Linktree, all of your traffic will come across these links.

4. Golde

Golde is a business that sells superfood and wellness products. It uses Instagram to provide educational content and product photos and has a branded Linktree in its Instagram bio.

Image Source

Why We Like This:

While Golde does have more links in its Linktree, users aren’t overwhelmed by choices because each link clearly states where it leads, and the emojis provide additional context. If you have multiple links that you want to share with your users without overwhelming them, use Golde’s Linktree as inspiration.

5. TikTok

TikTok uses Instagram to call attention to trends, updates, and high-performing videos on its app. In addition, it has a branded Linktree in bio, pictured below.

Image Source

Why We Like This:

TikTok’s Linktree is a great inspiration because it drives users to critical actions related to the app: downloading the app, understanding trending moments and sounds, and contacting customer support.

It also contains branded links in the footer of the Linktree that users can navigate to and easily understand where clicking will land them.

Should you choose to use Linktree, you’ll be able to share multiple high-impact links with your audience all at once, giving them more ways to interact with your business and become engaged in what you have to offer.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Dec. 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Twitter Name Ideas: The Do’s and Don’ts of Choosing A Twitter Handle

With over 200 million daily users, using Twitter right offers you massive benefits as a new or existing business.

Just as you would spend a considerable amount of time choosing your business name, Having a good handle is always a plus for marketing on Twitter. It’s also crucial to take time to consider your options before choosing or changing your Twitter handle.

This article will show you the do’s and don’ts of choosing a Twitter handle and 25 examples of great Twitter business names.

Twitter Name Do’s

Do use your full business name.

Making your Twitter handle as close to your business name as possible will make it easier for people to recognize you online.

Furthermore, whenever you tweet, you promote brand awareness for your business.

Do use short names.

Another tip is to use a short username. Why? Because it makes it easier to remember and spell for anyone that searches for your brand on the network.

If your business name is pretty long, then you can shorten it.

Do use taglines.

Sometimes it happens that your username has already been taken. When that happens, you could report the account for impersonation(if your business name is trademarked), or you can use an abbreviated form of your business tagline as the new handle.

Do be consistent.

If you already have a following on Facebook, Instagram, or some other social media, it’s a great idea to use the same username for your Twitter handle.

This way, it’ll be easier for your followers on those platforms to identify you on Twitter.

Twitter Name Don’ts

Don’t use numbers or symbols.

Unless a number is relevant to your business name, avoid using it on your Twitter handle. It isn’t a cool look and can be confusing for some users.

Don’t use witty names.

A witty username is excellent for a personal account, but it might not be the right fit for a business handle. Customers expect some level of professionalism, and funny names rarely give that impression.

Don’t overdo underscores.

Underscores separate characters in a username, which can be useful if two or more words make up your business name. However, be careful not to overdo using them. It’s recommended to use no more than a pair of underscores.

Good Twitter Name Examples

Here are 25 examples of great Twitter usernames. This list is divided into existing usernames and imaginary ones. Either option can serve as inspiration as you update your current Twitter handle.

Brand name

Twitter Name

Real Madrid

@realmadriden

Wendys
@Wendys

Taco Bell
@tacobell

PlayStation

@PlayStation

Yves Saint Laurent
@YSL

Cristiano Ronaldo
@Cristiano

CNN Breaking News
@cnnbrk

Slack
@SlackHQ

PayPal Support

@AskPayPal

eBay
@eBay

Union
@JoinUnion

The New York Times
@nytimes

Notion
@NotionHQ

Carolina Hurricanes
@Canes

Bobby van’s Grill DC

@BobbyVansDC

Forever 21
@Forever21

Chipotle

@ChipotleTweets

Chick-fil-A
@ChickfilA

Arby’s Guest Support

@ArbysCares

Chili’s Grill & Bar
@Chilis

ReadWrite
@RWW

Oberto Specialty Meats

@ObertoBeefJerky

MADE.COM

@madedotcom

Netflix
@netflix

Cakes Decor

@CakesDecor

Existing Twitter handles

1. Real Madrid – @realmadriden

Real Madrid FC is the biggest football club in the world and is loved by fans from different parts of the world.

The Real Madrid handle, with “en” indicates it’s the club’s official account in English, making it easy to remember and search.

This Twitter name can inspire you if your business exists in different locations around the world or communicates with customers in different languages,

2. Wendys – @Wendys

Wendys might not be your go-to fast-food chain, but they’re probably one of your favorite Twitter accounts. The burger joint is famous for its savage roasts and rivalries with other restaurants online.

We love this Twitter name because of its simplicity. It’s relevant to the brand’s name, which makes it very easy to find and identify.

3. Taco Bell – @tacobell

Using an underscore or number can differentiate your account, but it also makes it harder to find.

That’s why we like Taco Bell’s Twitter username.

Although the brand’s made up of two names, Taco Bell discards the underscore. Therefore, it’s easier to search for it on Twitter without wondering where the underscore appears.

4. PlayStation – @PlayStation

Playstation makes arguably the most popular gaming console on the planet, so it’s important that its customers can find it on Twitter and other social platforms.

It uses ‘PlayStation’ instead of ‘Playstation’ or ‘playstation,’ which we find interesting.

The capital ‘P’ and ‘S’ are synonymous with PlayStation, so it’s no surprise that it remains so even in its Twitter handle. If your business name has prominent features, something along the lines of PlayStation’s P and S, then you can also retain the feature in your username.

5. Yves Saint Laurent – @YSL

The designer apparel maker has an iconic, and lengthy name. Therefore, it might be rather tedious to find the official handle on Twitter.

Perhaps that’s why Yves Saint Laurent decided to use the ‘YSL’ username. It’s short, memorable, and definitely easier to find.

Do you have a long business name? Then take a leaf out of Yves Saint Laurent’s username.

6. Cristiano Ronaldo – @Cristiano

Cristiano Ronaldo is currently the most popular sportsman in the world, and his personal brand is worth millions of dollars.

It’s no wonder, then, that all his social media accounts, Twitter inclusive, use his easily recognizable name as their usernames.

If your business is tied to your name, you can use your first or last name (or the two). We like the ‘Cristiano’ handle because it’s pretty easy to recall and is quite unique.

7. CNN Breaking News – @cnnbrk

CNN has made a name as one of the most popular news networks in the world. The company has several departments, with some focusing on fashion, sports, politics, and more.

@cnnbrk is the account focused on releasing breaking news as it happens, so it needs to be different from the other official CNN accounts.

If your business runs a similar model, with different departments, then you can draw inspiration from this username.

8. Slack – @SlackHQ

Slack is a messaging platform, and more. It’s become a favorite messaging platform for companies across the world.

It would’ve been pretty easy for it to use the @slack handle — if it weren’t already taken. So, instead of paying off the current owner of the handle, it simply added HQ to the brand’s name.

With the HQ (Headquarters), Slack circumvents the ‘Slack’ username elegantly. You can copy Slack’s example if you face the same challenge.

9. PayPal Support – @AskPayPal

Paypal is a financial platform that facilitates sending and receiving money to and from almost everywhere in the world.

As such, it’s only proper to have a channel where users can reach it on Twitter.

Paypal uses ‘ask’ right before its brand name, which is a nice move for a handle that handles customer inquiries and issues. It’s a brilliant username you can copy when creating customer care Twitter handles for your brand.

10. eBay – @eBay

eBay is a hugely popular ecommerce platform that allows users to sell and buy goods.

Just as PlayStation mentioned earlier, eBay has an interesting Twitter handle. It continues the tradition of lowercase ‘e,’ and uppercase ‘B’ in its Twitter handle. Anyone who uses eBay won’t find it hard to find the Twitter handle.

So if your brand’s name has distinct features like capitalized letters, you can incorporate that into your Twitter handle.

11. Union – @JoinUnion

Union is a digital platform that connects startups to resources and networks across the world.

This handle works because the company is a service-based business, and ‘Join’ aligns with the community mandate of the business.

12. The New York Times – @nytimes

The New York Times is a popular news media company based in the United States.

The media company uses its already popular URL name ‘nytimes’ as its username. Thus, readers will find it easy to find.

You can also use your existing URL name as your Twitter handle to make it easy for people familiar with your website to find you on Twitter.

13. Notion – @NotionHQ

Notion is a tool that lets users manage files, save documents, schedule tasks and generally organize their work.

Like Slack, the Notion handle had already been taken. So what the Notion team did was to add HQ to the end of the brand’s name. Problem solved.

14. Carolina Hurricanes – @Canes

The Carolina Hurricanes is a professional ice hockey team based in North Carolina.

How’d you fit a lengthy brand name like the Carolina Hurricanes into a Twitter handle? By abbreviating it to ‘Canes.’ It’s a simple solution that can inspire business owners with long business names.

15. Bobby van’s Grill DC – @BobbyVansDC

Bobby Van’s is a restaurant that opened its doors in 1996 and is famous for its delicious steaks.

We like this handle because it includes the location of the business in the handle. An advantage of this is how the eatery appears in local searches for eateries on Twitter.

If you run a local business, adding your location in the handle can increase the chances of getting found by users.

16. Forever 21 – @Forever21

Forever 21 is a huge clothing company that sells trendy yet affordable clothing pieces.

Although we said you should avoid using numbers in your handle, this example works because ‘21’ isn’t a random pair of numbers but is part of the brand name.

So if the numbers in your brand name are tightly associated with the brand, then by all means add them to your username.

17. Chipotle – @ChipotleTweets

Chipotle is an American chain of fast casual restaurants in North America and Europe.

Chipotle had to resort to taking a lengthier Twitter handle because its first choice was already taken. This alternative handle works, though, as it reinforces that the handle belongs to an official account.

Adding ‘Tweets’ to your brand name can make your handle more recognizable to users.

18. Chick-fil-A – @ChickfilA

Chick-fil-A is the biggest American restaurant specializing in chicken sandwiches and is one of the biggest fast-food restaurants in North America.

Chick-fil-A could’ve gone for a handle like @Chick_fil_A, but we’re grateful they didn’t. The current handle is simple and doesn’t give searchers a hard time.

Editing a brand name to something simpler and easier to search for makes sense and pays off in the end.

19. Arby’s Guest Support – @ArbysCares

Arby’s is another fast-food company whose Twitter handle offers inspiration to any business looking to create a Twitter account.

The brand prides itself on an emotional connection with customers, and its customer service handle uses a username that conveys sympathy.

When creating a username for your business, you want to go with something that conveys positive emotions and puts the consumer at ease—like this handle.

20. Chili’s Grill & Bar – @Chilis

Like all great business Twitter usernames, this username does a great job of being simple and easy to find.

Users don’t have to search for ‘Chili’s Grill and Bar’ but can find the brand right away by just typing ‘Chilis.’ This is another hack you can use if your brand has a relatively long name.

21. ReadWrite – @RWW

ReadWrite aggregates professional communities dedicated to specific subjects of interest such as connected cars, smart homes, AR/VR, fintech, and APIs.

ReadWrite aggregates content from professional communities dedicated to interests like AI, fintech, APIs, and technology.

A shorter handle makes it easier for people to mention you in tweets without taking a lot of character space. The ReadWrite handle is an excellent example because they’ve abbreviated their name into just three letters.

As ReadWrite shows, abbreviations can be a cool way to create a memorable username.

22. Oberto Specialty Meats – @ObertoBeefJerky

Oberto is a specialty meats company that’s famous for its delicious cuts and beef jerky.

We like this handle because it uses keywords in the handle. Thus, the profile is likely to appear when someone searches for beef jerky on Twitter.

If you offer specific services or products, including it in your username like this example can boost your chances of popping up when people search for them.

23. MADE.COM – @madedotcom

Made designs and retails furniture and homewares online and in showrooms across Europe.

This is a cool handle because it makes it easy for users to remember the brand’s website.

If you’re looking for something non-generic and memorable, then copying this example can be what your username needs.

24. Netflix – @netflix

Netflix is arguably the most popular streaming platform on the planet with millions of subscribers paying for its content monthly.

The main account, @netflix, is simple and a no-brainer to remember. The brand name is consistent on every social platform, including Twitter.

If you’re setting up an account for your brand, it’s best to have a consistent username across all channels as Netflix has.

25. Cakes Decor – @CakesDecor

Cakes Decor is a community dedicated to showcasing beautiful cake decorations that inspire cake makers around the world.

The handle is great because it includes the keywords ‘cake’ and ‘decor,’ which means anyone searching for cake decoration inspiration on Twitter is likely going to come across the page.

So include keywords in your username to increase visibility.

The Perfect Twitter Name for Your Business

Twitter is one of the most popular social platforms on the web today, and how you show up isn’t limited to just what you say, but the name you say it under, too. Choosing the right Twitter name for your brand is key, so follow the tips in this guide and take inspiration from the list of businesses above that did it right. You’ll have the perfect Twitter handle in no time.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2009 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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20 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid in 2022

According to 2021 HubSpot Blog research on social media trends, 77% of social media marketers say social media marketing was somewhat to very effective for their company in 2021.

We often talk about the best strategies to use on social media but do you ever wonder about the top mistakes to avoid? In this article, we cover the top ones categorized by platform.

Instagram

1. Ignoring new features.

Instagram is constantly evolving.

Just this year, the social network has announced several big features it’s either testing or fully rolling out, like the Creators Marketplace, supervision tools for teens, pinned posts, Reels up to 90 seconds – and that’s just to name a few.

What often happens when the platform rolls out new features is that it will prioritize accounts that use them. For instance, when Reels first launched, the algorithm would prioritize accounts that used them – earning them more reach and impressions – than those who posted videos on the feed.

With this in mind, it’s important that businesses stay updated on the latest features coming out and how they will impact the platform’s algorithm.

While a smaller change, like a new button on the Shop tab, may not affect your day-to-day, a new bigger change may warrant a strategy review.

2. Not live streaming.

Live streaming is one of the most powerful tools on Instagram.

In fact, the HubSpot Blog conducted a survey in November 2021 to discover social media marketing trends and found that it offers one of the biggest ROIs compared to other formats.

In fact, marketers surveyed ranked it #2 in the social media trends that brought in the biggest ROI in 2021, behind short-form videos.

In addition, 52% of marketers who invested in it last year say it performed better than expected.

Live streaming is a great way to engage your audience and get real-time feedback that can help you optimize your Instagram strategy.

3. Uploading videos with TikTok watermarks.

When Reels first launched, everyone believed it was in response to TikTok’s success.

This was unofficially confirmed when Instagram announced on its @creators account that it was making changes to its algorithm, specifically which Reels it recommended to users.

According to an article by The Verge, the network spokesperson said users have reported via survey that videos recycled from other platforms can provide a negative user experience. As such, Instagram will start deprioritizing videos that are clearly recycled.

One way to know a video’s recycled? The TikTok watermark. This appears when users upload a video to the short-form video platform, then save it. When it’s shared, the watermark appears.

The lesson here is if you’re going to cross-post on multiple social media platforms, make sure you upload the original content and customize it within the app. This will maintain your content’s quality and ensure it’s not shadow-banned when published.

4. Sharing low-quality content.

The head of Instagram recently said the platform is no longer a photo-sharing app.

While that may be true, visuals are still king and if you’re going to be successful on the platform, you have to produce high-quality content.

Just look at Twitter: Although you can upload images and videos, it is a text-based app. From threads to retweets, the main feed is designed to prioritize written content.

The same is true for Instagram. Visuals are everywhere on the platform and if yours is not up to par, you will struggle to retain your audience’s attention.

5. Forgetting about your bio.

Your Instagram bio is a very small section of your profile but it holds so much power.

For starters, it’s a major point of discoverability. When users search for accounts on the platform, the information on your bio will help them find you. From your username to your business category to your bio description.

Your bio is also a place to convert your users.

Instagram tries to keep users on the platform as long as possible. That’s why today, users can discover a brand and complete a purchase without ever leaving the app.

That’s also why the platform limits when and where you can share external links. One of two places is in your Instagram bio.

With a Linktree, you can include multiple links in your bio and lead your audience to your website, landing page, product page, and more.

6. Having a personal account instead of a business one.

Are you doing Instagram right if you don’t have a business account?

If you’re debating between a personal and a business one, here’s the reason why you should get it: Analytics.

When you have a business account, you have access to a slew of data that you wouldn’t know otherwise. Everything from how your users are finding you to which posts are driving the most traffic.

That insight will be invaluable in building out your Instagram strategy and gaining insights into what resonates with your audience.

7. Buying followers.

If you’re a small business on Instagram and you want to establish some credibility, or perhaps get more post engagement, you might consider buying followers.

After all, they don’t cost much and you can have thousands of followers overnight. But, there’s a catch – otherwise, everyone would be doing it.

Buying followers is like receiving a bad check – you’re promised something of value but in actuality, there’s nothing there.

While you may get a boost in followers, those followers will not help you in the long run. They’re often bot accounts that will not engage, share, or promote your content.

This will also significantly skew your data, making it difficult to know what strategies are actually working. The only way to ensure this is by growing your followers using organic methods.

8. Skipping captions.

If your picture or video is what grabs your user’s attention, your caption can get them to stay.

Many brands overlook the caption, focusing instead on creating great visual assets. However, both play an equal role in engaging the audience.

Your caption can offer more context to your post and drive conversions. So, as you’re prepping upcoming posts, make sure your caption isn’t an afterthought.

TikTok

9. Being too promotional.

TikTok is a place for authenticity.

In fact, a 2021 study by Nielsen revealed that 64% of TikTok users say they can be their true selves on TikTok. In addition, roughly 56% of TikTok users say they can post videos they wouldn’t post elsewhere.

If you go on the platform simply promoting your products and services, you may have a hard time getting any traction.

Focus instead on sharing a lifestyle – specifically the lifestyle of your target audience. Their challenges and pain points can make for relatable, funny content.

The more authentic your content is, the better it will perform on the app.

10. Using viral sounds in ads.

Viral sounds come and go quickly on the app.

The average sound has a shelf life of a week or two – that’s why it’s great to use in your posts. However, it’s not a great strategy for ads.

Why? Well, an ad will likely run for several weeks and by that time, the sound will no longer be popular. In fact, users may be tired of hearing the sound, and using it may hurt your likeability as a brand.

Don’t age your ad by including trends that are sure to die off. Instead, stick with evergreen content that will work any time.

11. Not using filters.

Just as sounds go viral on TikTok, so do filters.

From effects that expand your face to those that take you to space, there’s so much to choose from. For brands, this offers a lot of opportunities to be creative and have fun with your audience.

Of course, with any trend, it’s important to know when to join and when to skip. If something doesn’t align with your values or strategy, don’t participate – as there will be another one around the corner that will be a better bit.

Twitter

12. Ignoring mentions.

Social media is a two-way street. You share, and your audience responds.

Too often, brands focus on sharing and forget to interact with their community. On Twitter, this is especially easy as a text-focused app.

Brands will Tweet away and forget to respond to mentions, which could hold valuable insights into brand perception.

This leads us to our next mistake, in the section below.

13. Retweeting too often.

When a user lands on your Twitter profile, they should have a good idea of what you’re about and know what to expect from your page.

If your page is 90% retweets, it makes it difficult to make that assessment.

Instead, have a healthy mix of tweets, retweets, replies, and threads.

14. Tweeting the same thing.

Imagine stepping into a store and seeing the same item displayed everywhere. Once you realize there’s nothing new to explore, you’ll lose interest and quickly walk out.

Think of your Twitter page like your store: The more variety you have, the more opportunities you have to attract your audience and encourage them to stick around.

While it’s valuable to repurpose high-performing content, the key is spreading it out over a long period so that it seems fresh every time. You should also try to find fresh angles to give a new life to your content.

15. Treating it like other social platforms.

Twitter is one of the few social networks where written content is king.

If you’re active on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram, you may be tempted to use that same approach for Twitter.

However, the golden rule on social media is to adjust your content to the platform, not the other way around. This means that you’ll have to make sure you’ll likely have to swift from a video-first approach to a text- and audio-forward one on Twitter.

Facebook

16. Having a low response rate.

When you land on a Facebook Page, one of the first things you’ll see is the page’s message response rate.

It creates an initial impression of the brand and its relationship with its potential customers.

A high response rate suggests that you have great customer service while a low rate signals that you are either not active on the platform or may struggle with customer service.

While this is a seemingly small part of your profile, it can leave a big impression.

17. Removing negative comments.

Negative comments are a part of every brand’s social presence.

There’s bound to be an unsatisfied customer or a frustrated follower somewhere and sometimes, they land right in your comments.

In an effort to protect your brand’s image, you may want to delete the comment altogether. However, having a solid response to your disgruntled follower may actually work in your favor.

Responding to negative comments shows your audience that you don’t shy away from difficult conversations. It can also appease other customers who may have similar concerns.

18. Not having a custom photo cover.

Everything on your Facebook Page can help or hurt your brand and as we know, the devil is in the details.

A custom photo cover is a great way to stand out from your competitors, who may use their logos or stock photos – or worse, nothing at all.

Instead, opt for something that says something about your brand, and speaks to your values or your culture. Using an image that has emotional appeal will likely have a much better impact than a simple stock photo that tells us about your product or service.

19. Neglecting your community.

Facebook is one of the best places to build community. From Facebook Groups to live streams, there are many ways to interact with your audience.

After all, that’s how you build brand loyalists. It’s not from sharing promotional content, it’s from consistent and genuine interactions.

Once you start seeing your Facebook Page as a community-building tool, you will start seeing results.

20. Ignoring your competitors.

One of the handiest tools on Facebook is the ability to learn about your competitors in your analytics dashboard.

Using inputs from data you’ve already shared, Facebook can compile a list of suggested competitors and tell you how you’re performing against them

This can then serve as a benchmark to determine how well you’re doing and what to strive for.

Knowing what not to do can be just as important as knowing what you should do. Although this list isn’t exhaustive, it’s a pretty good place to start and keep you on the right track.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Feb. 2012 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Trigger Marketing: 7 Steps to Use It in Any Campaign + Examples

Although you may have a desired path for your potential consumers to take when they interact with you online, the truth is you have no control over it.

Trigger marketing enables you to be at the ready, in whatever way your audience chooses to engage. In this article, we’ll cover all things trigger marketing, including its benefits, example, and the steps to leverage it.

What is trigger marketing?
The Benefits of Trigger Marketing
How to Use Trigger Marketing
Trigger Marketing Examples

When you hear about marketing automation, you often think of detailed diagram of emails sent to different segments, broken out by email engagement, drawing a line from lead to customer?

This has become the norm but there’s a flaw in this approach. It starts with the marketer’s timeline rather than the prospect’s.

The marketer sits down and defines what information the prospect will consume next, what actions the prospect will take next, and the path the prospect will take from becoming a lead to becoming a customer.

But if we’re honest with ourselves, we would admit that the world is not as straightforward as that.

Using the traditional stages of the funnel, from a lead to a customer, we often view things in a linear way. The leads download an ebook, then become an MQL once they start a trial, then an SQL when the sales person follows up with that prospect, an opportunity when they do a trial review call, and a customer when they purchase.

But what if they start a trial and then download an ebook? Or what if they get into a sales conversation after just downloading an ebook, never become a customer, and then go cold until they start a trial months later?

The reality is that you can’t control what your prospect does or in what order your prospect does it. What you can control, however, is how you react to your prospect’s behaviors.

This is where automation and trigger marketing becomes powerful.

The “triggering” event can be anything measurable by your CRM and automation software. Here are just a few examples:

Form conversions
Email opens (or lack thereof)
Number of pages viewed
Chatbot interactions
Cart abandonment

Take this example below: On my birthday last year, wine brand McBride Sisters, one brand I’ve engaged with in the past, sent me birthday wishes along with a discount on their product.

In this case, the triggering event was my birthday – a piece of data they collected at some point.

As a result of the triggering event, you can automate tasks and actions with your marketing automation software, such as:

Send them an email (or sequence of emails).
Update their CRM record.
Add them to a list.
Assign them to a sales rep.
Start an internal ticket.

The Benefits of Trigger Marketing

The biggest benefit to trigger marketing is the ability to quickly respond to consumer behavior.

We can’t always predict how users will behave – however, we can make sure we’re prepared with a response that align with our goals.

Trigger marketing also allows you to automate certain marketing tactics so that you don’t miss the opportunity ot convert a lead.

In addition, this strategy is a great credibility, trust, and loyalty builder with your audience. From welcome messages and birthday wishes to order confirmations and discount reminders, all of these interactions enhance your customer experience and promote a positive relationship with your audience.

1. Understand your buyer persona.

It should go without saying in the context of any marketing activity, but in marketing automation, knowing your buyer persona is critically important.

If you think through the lifecycle stages, pains, and motivations of your target audience(s), you can craft better trigger marketing strategies to guide them along their path to purchase.

The goal of marketing automation is to provide a great experience at scale, and part of that means meeting them where they are.

That’s why collecting data early is so valuable as you can use those insights to craft an effective trigger marketing strategy.

2. Think in terms of ‘if’ and ‘then.’

Software is simple. It sees in black and white rather than the complex outcome that you’re moving toward.

However, you can reverse engineer a great trigger marketing strategy using automation by thinking through your outcome and the path to get there as a series of if/then statements:

If X happens, then do Y.
If the prospect fills out this form, then send them this email.
If the prospect has visited the pricing page, then notify a rep.

The “if” is the criteria. The “then” is the action you want to take.

3. Figure out your triggering events.

In order to get your messaging to the right people at the right time, you must identify the “trigger.” (In HubSpot, it’s called “enrollment criteria.”)

This is the “if” part of the equation, the concrete indicator that the software can use as a green light to execute the actions.

Triggering events are limited to the information you have in your system and your marketing automation’s capabilities. Common ones include:

Actions taken on the website.
Criteria met in the database.
Responses to past emails or campaigns.

For instance, if an email subscriber has been disengaged from your last four newsletters, you can trigger an automated unsubscribe button, followed by an email to the subscriber.

4. Determine the actions you want your system to perform.

Once you know your “trigger” or enrollment/starting criteria, then you can decide what happens next. This is the “then” part of the equation.

Common actions include:

Sending an email.
Enrolling in a sequence.
Categorizing the contact in the database.

5. Craft personalized messaging.

Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to purchase after a personalized experience.

If your action (“then” statement) includes a marketing task such as email sends or campaign enrollment, it’s critical to know exactly how this contact is different from others in your CRM and what messaging will uniquely appeal to them. Ask yourself:

Where are they at in their journey?
How can I provide value and move them to the next step?

6. Identify and eliminate repetitive marketing tasks.

If you’re still not sure where to begin with marketing automation, start by creating a list of your most repetitive tasks.

For example, if you send the same email over and over again to multiple contacts, using automation to eliminate this task from your day will increase productivity and, as a result, performance.

This will help you focus on higher-impact tasks that can’t be automated.

7. Increase the value of your CRM.

Your marketing automation is only as limited as the CRM and the data that power it.

If you have messy data, marketing automation may hurt you. If you have incomplete data, you won’t be able to do the advanced personalization and segmentation that will make a world of difference.

With that in mind, understand how to make the most of your CRM. Part of this comes down to using automation to update CRM records and categorize contacts, but ultimately you’ll have to think about how your organization uses its CRM and ask yourself these questions:

What data (and when) can you gather about your prospects to help the effectiveness of your campaigns?
How can you use automation to ensure the cleanliness and accuracy of your database?
How often can you audit your database to ensure the integrity of these efforts?

Trigger-Based Marketing Email Examples

Trigger: Downloaded an educational offer.

This is a great place to start if you don’t have any triggered emails set up, as this is the broadest trigger – engaging the prospects at the earliest stage of the buyer’s journey.

What to Send: Transactional Email With Next Step Call-to-Action

In this situation, your triggered email can be a transactional email — confirming the download and including any information related to that download.

For example, if this is a follow-up to downloading an ebook, include the name of the ebook and a link to the PDF.

Once you’ve covered your bases on the transactional information, it’s time to think about what you want your prospect to do next. You have their attention — take advantage of it.

Do you want them to convert on a middle-of-the-funnel offer like a demo request or complimentary consultation?

Or do you want to encourage them to share this offer with their network, to expand the reach of your content?

Think about that ideal next step, and include a call-to-action for that in your follow-up email.

Trigger: Took one action in a series, but not the next.

Say your prospect gets close to taking the action you want – like making a purchase – but they don’t quite get to the finish line.

This is an opportunity for you to follow up to get them to cross that finish line.

What to Send: Related Content and an Alternative Action

Perhaps they didn’t complete that action because of some hesitation. They didn’t want to fill out the form, or they had some additional questions.

This is an opportunity to follow up with a cart abandonment email reminding them of their items and offering relevant items to consider.

Trigger: Viewed high-intent content.

Say you have high-intent content, for instance, product pages or product-focused blog articles. When website visitors view that content, you can leverage that data to use in future communication with your user.

What to Send: Tailored Follow-Up Content

Whether you trigger an email immediately or save this intelligence for future communications, the data you collect about which content people view can be used to make your marketing that much more relevant on a one-to-one basis.

In this case, a visitor viewing high-intent content could signal someone ready to view a demo or speak with a sales rep.

With this in mind, you can trigger a sequence of emails designed to lead that user further down the buyer’s journey.

The key takeaway here is to think about the various behavioral data points you have about your prospects, and what you can draw from them.

Trigger: Has been highly engaged (or disengaged).

Figure out what your bar is for a highly engaged prospect (perhaps they downloaded at least three ebooks and viewed at least ten blog articles) as well as an unengaged prospect, and respond and market to them accordingly.

What to Send: Timely Next Step Call-to-Action or Re-engagement Campaign

For your highly engaged prospects, you once again have the attention you can leverage. One great option is to encourage them to share the content they just downloaded.

When a prospect becomes highly engaged, this is a great opportunity to notify that prospect’s sales representative that this is a good time to follow up with the prospect. For your unengaged prospects, send a proactive re-engagement email.

You may even want to have multiple trigger points (e.g. haven’t clicked on an email in three weeks, three months, or more) where you send different campaigns to reengage these prospects or unsubscribe them.

When done right, trigger marketing can yield much higher results than the typical linear marketing automation campaign.

Using some of the same technology, you can reorient your marketing to work around your prospect’s timeline instead of your own, while continuing to drive the actions you desire.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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What is Blockchain? | The Ultimate Guide

As cryptocurrency continues to be a hot topic, you may be wondering if your business can benefit from crypto like bitcoin.

But what if I told you the biggest opportunity for businesses of any kind is actually related to the technology that underlies bitcoin — blockchain. Blockchain, the public ledger that records all bitcoin transactions, is more than just a fad — it’s changing life as we know it.

Don’t believe me? Follow along to learn more about blockchain and how it works, who’s using it, and the future of the technology. Feel free to email, bookmark, or jump to the section that interests you most.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a ledger system that uses an open, distributed record to keep track of transactions — transactions could mean cryptocurrencies, NFTs, medical information, voting or home records, and more.

These transactions get packaged into blocks — all of which get verified by other users in the system by completing math problems. Once a block gets verified, it cannot be altered and gets added to a chain of other permanent, previously verified blocks.

The records held within these blocks form a blockchain, and the blockchain’s users all keep track of this record. It’s basically a giant, shared ledger, but in practice, it’s much more exciting than that.

 

 

Let’s say the air fryer you bought last year isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and you hardly ever use it. You could use a third-party seller like eBay to sell it. These sellers act as the marketplace that connects you (the seller) to potential buyers — they make money by charging fees.

In this case, let’s pretend the buyer is from Germany. When you make a sale on eBay, the platform verifies the transaction with your bank and the purchaser’s bank. It also confirms your air fryer and the end buyer both exist. However, if you use blockchain technology to sell your air fryer, you can cut out all the middlemen while still maintaining a safe, speedy, and secure transaction — even internationally.

No eBay, no banks, no fees, and no exchange rate — it’s that easy.

History of Blockchain

Before we dive into exactly how blockchain makes this possible, let’s talk about the history of blockchain. In October 2008, the secretive founder of bitcoin Satoshi Nakamoto introduced the world to peer-to-peer electronic payments.

His cryptocurrency formed the world’s first blockchain. Because bitcoin’s software is open source — allowing anyone to see, reuse, and adapt the code behind it — it didn’t take long before users started modifying it for different purposes.

Early on, blockchain users mostly tried to make better versions of bitcoin. Litecoin, an alternative cryptocurrency developed by a former Google employee, aimed to provide faster transactions. Others, like the meme-inspired Dogecoin, were created for people turned off by bitcoin’s high price point.

Namecoin.org developed one of the first uses of blockchain for something other than cryptocurrencies. The technology uses blockchain to register .bit domain names as an alternative to the primary domain name management system.

Namecoin makes it extremely difficult for external players, like the government, to take control of websites. Because .bit domains get registered in a blockchain, they are nearly impossible to change without knowing the encryption key.

The next significant innovation came in 2013 when a small startup named Ethereum put out a paper outlining a way for developers to easily create entirely new blockchains without relying on bitcoin’s original code.

Two years later, Ethereum launched their new platform, allowing users to expand blockchain’s functionality beyond cryptocurrencies.

Currently, companies and individuals are exploring how to use blockchain technology in healthcare, energy, supply chain management, and many other industries —but more on that later.

How Does Blockchain Work?


There are different ways to set up a blockchain, Harvard Business Review laid out five principles that all blockchains have in common.

First, all blockchains use a distributed database — this means that every user in a blockchain can access the complete database, including its past transaction history.

This transparency allows users to verify any information they need and to complete transactions directly, without any intermediaries.

Secondly, any transactions or communications get conducted between peers. Each user stores records and sends information directly to all other parties in a blockchain.

Because of this technology, intermediaries and central storage institutions, like banks, are unnecessary. Users have all the information they need to vet other users, otherwise known as nodes.

Third, although blockchains are transparent, each user associated with a blockchain can remain anonymous. To protect users’ identities, each user has their own unique “30-plus-character alphanumeric address” that they use in place of a name. Users can choose to share their identity or remain anonymous with their blockchain address.

The alphanumeric addresses are also used to verify transactions. You may have heard the term “mining” associated with bitcoin. When someone “mines” bitcoin they aren’t digging around in the earth in search of a bitcoin filled hard drive … except for that one time.

Here’s how mining actually works: When someone wants to make a transaction and add a new record or “block” to the ledger, they first need to solve what is essentially a math problem.

Computers use their computing power to “mine” for the answer, which is vetted by the network of users. If the answer is correct, the new block is added to the ledger. A token, also known as a coin, is generated when this occurs —almost like a receipt to prove it happened.

Fourth, because blockchain uses a digital ledger, the entire transactional process can be automated using algorithms. For example, when you buy a house, you pay for a lot of other small costs like title registration, mortgage lenders, inspections, and legal fees.

There are all these other people involved to provide access, regulate, and administer a sale from one person to another. But a lot of this complexity disappears with blockchain.

You can record property data and even build in digital rules — called smart contracts — that, once fulfilled, allow the system to automatically transfer a property title or money for purchase.

Fifth, once a record gets created, it cannot change. When miners verify a transaction, that record is shared with every other party in the blockchain as part of the decentralized ledger.

Part of each verified transaction is also used to generate the math puzzle for the next block in the chain. This means each transaction gets linked to the ones that came before it and all those transactions get stored across multiple computers with no single point of failure.

Blockchains can also be public or private —both types of networks share the five characteristics listed here but have one major difference. A public blockchain is open to the general public and anyone can join, execute and verify transactions, and everyone maintains a copy of the decentralized ledger.

The bitcoin blockchain is currently one of the largest examples of a public blockchain network. In a private blockchain, participation is limited to users who receive an invitation to join the network and are granted permission to enter. Think of it like the early days of Facebook when users needed email addresses from certain schools.

Aside from the increased security offered by private blockchains, they are also much more cost efficient since much less computing power is required to verify transactions in a smaller network.

Still confused? I don’t blame you. Here are some talking points on how blockchain works for your next cocktail party.

Blockchains are completely transparent. Any user can view any transaction from now until the end of time.
All transactions get completed between individual users. Say goodbye to intermediaries.
Even though blockchains are transparent, a user’s identity doesn’t have to be. All users are assigned a public address to use in place of a name during transactions.
Because blockchains live online, we can use algorithms to automate future transactions — just like you automatically pay your Netflix subscription every month.
Once a block gets added to a blockchain, it’s there forever — no ifs, ands, or buts.

Got it? Let’s move on.

Benefits of Blockchain

You may be thinking, if blockchain is basically just another way to organize records, why are people so excited about it? Don’t worry! This is the part of the article where we talk about the benefits of blockchain and how it has the potential to change the world.

Blockchain Security

One of the largest benefits of blockchain is its ultra-secure network. Because data transmitted using blockchain is inherently encrypted, it’s much more secure than the standard username-password security system. However, the real security benefits come from blockchain’s network of users.

Decentralized data stored using blockchain makes it extremely difficult to hack into because no “single point of failure” exists. What does all this mean? Let’s say you have all your documents backed up on a single hard drive.

If that hard drive is lost, stolen, or destroyed, all of your documents are gone … forever. But if all your documents are saved on thousands of different hard drives, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever lose your data. That’s the power of blockchain security.

Under usual circumstances, to break into a blockchain, hackers would need to overwhelm over 50% of the network in less time than it takes to create a new block. The amount of computing power required to do this in most blockchain networks is tremendous.

Larger networks are much harder to hack because they are more decentralized and have more computers working to verify transactions.

That’s not to say hacks are impossible. Going as far back as 2017, data shows hackers have managed to steal around $2 billion worth of cryptocurrency as they vulnerabilities in the system. In addition to the 51% rule, the hacks can also occur if errors were made during the creation of the blockchain or if there was insufficient security during an exchange.

Fortunately, it’s easy to detect when a block has been tampered with thanks to hash functions. Hashes from one block are added to the data in the next block. Anyone who tries to alter a block will end up changing the hash completely, setting off a red flag and disabling the block completely.

Blockchain also offers anonymity. Without blockchain, systems use a variety of information like names, addresses, card numbers, and social security numbers to verify transactions. All this personal information is vulnerable to being stolen. In a blockchain, only the private key matters.

Each blockchain user has two keys: a public key and a private key. Their public key is derived from their private key using a mathematical formula and then combined with other information to form their public address for transactions.

Without the private key, it is impossible to verify transactions to the public address. This private key never gets shared with outsiders which means multiple complex formulas stand between a user’s private key and their public address.

You may be wondering if it’s possible to reverse the formula and uncover someone’s private key from their public key? The bad news is that it is possible. The good news is that the chances are very slim.

A private key number is between 1 and 2^256, meaning a hacker has to find the right number between 1 and quattuorvigintillion — a 78 digit number that is estimated to be bigger than the number of atoms in the universe.

Decentralization and Smart Contracts

The second benefit of blockchain comes from decentralization and smart contracts. Presently, smart contracts may represent the most powerful application for blockchain.

HubSpot’s former director of acquisition and resident blockchain expert Matthew Howells-Barby states: “One of the more immediate ways in which blockchain technology is going to impact SMBs is through smart contracts.

Smart contracts facilitate the creation of trustless digital contracts that can be used for all kinds of applications — something that has never been possible before without a third party being involved.

Imagine being able to create digital contracts with contractors that would automatically pay them once work has been completed to a satisfactory standard. This is one of the many applications that smart contracts offer.”

Essentially, smart contracts use blockchain to automate payments and transfers based on a predetermined set of conditions. Using smart contracts, you could automatically pay your electric bill once your electricity usage hits a certain amount.

The transaction would be sent securely to the power company and verified using blockchain. No more late fees, no more stolen financial information — you would never have to think about scheduling a payment again.

Once again, as more and more transactions are automated using smart contracts, the need for middlemen and outside organizations will diminish. Because information gets distributed across the entire network, it’s extremely difficult for one group to seize control of it.

Governments and individuals in positions of power will no longer be able to shut down sources they wish to repress because the information will exist on many computers across the network.

Speed and Efficiency

Third, blockchain is fast and efficient. Manual data entry is tedious and prone to error. Think about it. How many typos do you typically make writing an email? Most organizations maintain multiple record systems for different tasks.

For example, an ice cream store may use one record to track the amount of ice cream and supplies they purchase, another to track hours their employees work, and another to track sales.

Reviewing separate records takes up a lot of time. With blockchain, all this information gets stored and verified as it gets generated.

Blockchain’s verification speed has vast benefits. For example, a simple stock purchase can take up to a week to verify using current methods. Several forms, organizations, and a ridiculous amount of acronyms are involved in the process.

With blockchain, there is no need for third-party verification because all the information needed to complete and verify the transaction gets included in the ledger. That means stock transfers can happen almost instantaneously instead of a full week later. Talk about some serious returns!

Applications of Blockchain

Okay, so we’ve talked about what blockchain is, how it works, and the benefits of using it, but is anyone actually using this technology? Like really using it — not just for trying to get bitcoin rich? The answer is an enthusiastic yes!

In simple terms, bitcoin is only one, tiny application supported by blockchain — there are endless possibilities for the technology. Let’s do a deeper dive on some other applications of blockchain.

FinTech

Payments and Cryptocurrencies

Let’s just get this out of the way — cryptocurrencies are indeed one of the most popular blockchain applications. I know, I know, I said I was going to talk about other applications of blockchain. I promise I will, but it’s impossible to talk about blockchain without taking a look at the application it was originally built for — bitcoin.

Partially because it was the first one and partially because it has the largest network of users, bitcoin is the most valuable cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization.

In fact, bitcoin has become so popular that stores, restaurants, and even bars are starting to accept it as payment. In larger cities like New York, you can live your life only paying in bitcoin, though it isn’t always the most practical approach.

Because bitcoins trade on an open market, investors like the Winklevoss twins were able to make bets on future price movements. Before you go investing in bitcoin, don’t forget that the cryptocurrency is also infamous for its massive price swings.

Other cryptocurrencies like Ripple, Litecoin, and Ethereum can also be used to send payments or for market speculation, but these cryptocurrencies have their quirks. Ripple is positioned to speed up international transactions and reduce transaction fees.

The four to five seconds it takes Ripple to settle a transaction is faster than any other cryptocurrency and significantly faster than the expensive, multi-day process currently in use by most banks. For this reason, companies like top banks have started experimenting with Ripple for international transactions.

Litecoin is also useful for payments but is focused more on the everyday stuff than on purchases across borders. According to its founder Charlie Lee, “Litecoin is targeted more towards payments, faster transactions, and lower fees.”

Then there’s Ethereum and its cryptocurrency Ether. The smart contracts built into Ethereum’s code allow for a wide range of deals to occur automatically once pre-negotiated terms get met. This is a major stepping stone for using blockchain in industries outside of FinTech.

Trade

These cryptocurrencies and, more importantly, the blockchain behind them will have a tremendous impact on trade. Faster verification times, reduction or removal of exchange fees, and elimination of errors will make domestic and international trade easier than ever before.

By implementing blockchain within their internal financing unit, IBM was able to free up $100 million previously tied up in disputes. Imagine how much more could get done by using blockchain for the trillions of dollars in transactions that occur every day in the U.S. financial system alone.

Crowdfunding

Outside the worlds of insurance and international trade, blockchain will also create massive changes in the way businesses and startups raise capital. Sites like Kickstarter, founded in 2009, democratized fundraising by allowing just about anyone to find financial backing from a broad audience instead of traditional sources like banks and venture capital funds.

There’s also a built-in insurance policy since payment only gets collected for projects that meet their funding goal. For this service and for connecting entrepreneurs to potential funders, Kickstarter charges a 5% fee. As of April 2022, the platform has raised over $6.5 billion in funds for various projects.

With blockchain, these fees get eliminated since a network allows for immediate verification and smart contracts allow transactions to take place only once a project is fully funded. Some artists and startups are already experimenting with blockchain crowdfunding in the form of ICOs or initial coin offerings.

The virtual coins function the same way as bitcoin, and investors purchase these coins like shares of stock to invest in the business that offers them. However, unlike in the stock market, purchasing these coins does not mean a user purchased ownership rights — this makes ICOs an extremely risky investment.

Property and Identity

There are few things more important than protecting your identity and property records. Birth, marriage, and death certificates allow you to claim a variety of different rights, including citizenship, employment rights, and voting rights. Pretty important stuff, right?

But in many countries, personal and government records still exist only on paper. During the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, most of the country’s paper land registry files were destroyed — so there’s no way to know who owns what. This has opened the door for corruption and further loss. In the future, blockchain will provide stability during uncertainty.

In addition to being a digital fail-safe for important documents, blockchain is also an extremely secure identity management system. Think about how often you provide personal or financial information over the internet. Once a week? Once a day? Two hours ago when you bought those new boots during your lunch break? Hey, no judgment – I’m just looking out for your financial security.

Being able to accurately verify your identity is essential to all online transactions, but the data you provide can be vulnerable to attacks. Blockchain’s decentralized ledger and unique user addresses make it difficult for hackers to obtain your sensitive information.

Supply Chain

Thanks to smart contracts, many retailers are using blockchain to help simplify their supply chain processes. In early 2017, Maersk, one of the world’s largest container shipment operators, joined forces with IBM to create a digital blockchain-based supply chain system. The goal: To create a faster and more secure and cost-effective way to trade goods internationally.

IBM stated, “The costs associated with trade documentation processing and administration are estimated to be up to one-fifth the actual physical transportation costs. A single vessel can carry thousands of shipments, and on top of the costs to move the paperwork, the documentation to support it can be delayed, lost or misplaced, leading to further complications.” Talk about a logistical nightmare.

With blockchain, all parties involved in the supply chain can access any necessary documents and view transportation events in real time. All of the supply chain information is accurate and secure because no individual party can alter the blockchain without permission from others in the network. This transparency helps reduce shipment time, money, fraud, and errors — getting consumers the goods they need from around the world.

Healthcare

Healthcare – yeah, it’s complicated. It’s so complicated and confusing that I often find myself skipping the doctors just to avoid the massive amount of paperwork and stress that comes along with visiting the office. Don’t look at the screen like that – I know you’ve done it too.

Thankfully, blockchain is here to save the day or at least make these processes easier. Blockchain technology allows patients, insurers, and physicians to view and update medical records in a secure and timely fashion. This access to data can also help doctors recognize early indicators of disease or weakening health.

Blockchain can also help in other areas like reducing Medicare fraud, which has proven to be a costly issue. In 2021, the Department of Justice announced over 100 medical professionals were facing charges in connection to healthcare fraud schemes that cost about $1.4 billion in losses.

Blockchain even makes it possible to pay for procedures based on outcomes instead of predetermined rates. In fact, RoboMed Network other players in the healthcare market are already using blockchain to do this for thousands of patients.

Energy

Once energy enters into an electric grid, it’s impossible to tell if it was generated by a fossil fuel plant, nuclear power, or a renewable energy plant. To track the amount of energy coming from renewable sources, power plants use a complex, expensive system.

Cutting out intermediaries, reducing errors, and building a decentralized record for the sources of renewable energy with blockchain would remove many of these barriers — but it doesn’t end there.

Over the last several years, a new distributed grid has grown in size. This grid consists of solar panels on the roofs of homes and batteries from electric cars. When these systems produce more energy than they need, their owners can sell the excess power back to the power company, but it can take several months to see returns.

In 2017, LO3 Energy began experimenting with a blockchain powered microgrid in Brooklyn that lets users sell their excess energy to their neighbors. Because it’s easier to distribute electricity locally than to send it over long distances, decentralized blockchain microgrids could help prevent power outages and maximize energy use from distributed producers.

Investing in Blockchain

Blockchain is a tough topic to grasp, and it’ll likely be many years before the technology is widely adopted. Small- and medium-sized businesses should wait for blockchain technology to mature before worrying about how to adopt it.

However, there are some ways they can start experimenting with blockchain applications. In this section, we’ll walk through how businesses can start investing in blockchain in a smart, deliberate way.

According to Harvard Business Review, there are two factors to consider when thinking about how quickly new technology will impact a business: novelty and complexity. Novelty represents users’ familiarity with the application. The more novel or unfamiliar the technology is, the longer it’ll take to become commonplace.

Complexity is the number of people needed to adopt an application for it to have impact. For example, a dating app is useless unless a lot of people create profiles. How annoying would it be to swipe left on Chad 17 times before coming across an intriguing profile?

These two criteria help inform executives of the roadblocks they might face and the effort needed to implement a specific blockchain application. Take a look at the chart above. Businesses that are looking for a low barrier to entry should consider implementing single-use cases of blockchain. Single-use cases have a low degree of novelty and complexity.

So what exactly is a single-use case?

Accepting bitcoin payments. HBR states, “… bitcoin is growing fast and increasingly important in contexts such as instant payments and foreign currency and asset trading, where the present financial system has limitations.”

Accepting cryptocurrencies as a form of payment makes it easier for customers all over the world to quickly and securely purchase your products.

If you start accepting bitcoin as alternative payment, your business could then start experimenting with a blockchain application that is increasingly novel but still has a low level of complexity — a private blockchain ledger to record all transactions.

Once you have a good handle on these more simple applications, consider using more complex blockchain applications like smart contracts. The possibilities for how blockchain can help improve business processes are endless — it’s just a matter of how much effort and money you want to invest in an application right away.

Conclusion: The Future of Blockchain

That was a lot. And it’s okay if you don’t understand all of the intricacies of blockchain or aren’t ready to start incorporating it into your business strategy just yet. It’ll take many years and buy-in from numerous different industries before blockchain becomes commonplace. And while we don’t recommend SMBs worry too much about blockchain just yet, it’s important to keep an eye on the emerging tech as larger enterprise businesses start developing more blockchain applications.

So the next time you find yourself sinking into a deep hole of depression because you didn’t scoop up bitcoin while the iron was hot, remember the most rewarding technology — blockchain — is still to reach its full potential.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Blogging Time Management: How to Blog When You Have No Time

Finding the time to blog is a frequent challenge for many marketers. Marketers often wear many hats and it can be difficult to focus long enough to churn out quality articles when you’re pressed for time.

How to blog when you have no time? We spoke with author and marketing expert David Meerman Scotton how to avoid common time management mistakes by developing a routine.

No matter what you’ve got on your marketing plate, it won’t get done without proper time management. Learning how to make the most of your time will greatly affect your productivity and overall success as a blogger.

Why is blogging time management important?

When it comes to creating content, maintaining consistency is key. This is why blogging time management is so important. You may not always feel motivated to create on a regular basis, but establishing a schedule will help you to stay consistent with your blog output.

For example, you may find that you’re better at writing in the mornings. So you can set aside 2 to 3 hours each morning to work on writing based on how many articles you’d like to produce each week.

Create a content calendar to help you plan your content in advance and set reasonable deadlines. Make note of holidays or seasonal events that may impact your content schedule.

Getting organized will help you set and achieve goals for your blog. If you’re starting from scratch, check out our guide to starting a blog.

How to Blog When You Have No Time

1. Use blog templates.

An easy way to jump-startyour creative process is to start with a template. Why suffer through writer’s block staring at a blank document if you don’t have to? HubSpot’s free blog post templatescan help you format your article and get started writing faster than starting from scratch.

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Templates function as an easy to follow outline where you can organize your thoughts and start to flesh out your content. HubSpot’s offer includes six templates ranging from how-to posts to pillar pages and infographics.

2. Develop a blogging routine.

In many ways blogging reminds David of exercising. In order to be successful at it, you will need to develop a routine. “It is programmed in,” David says. “It is about building it into your life and making it a second nature, like running in the mornings or doing yoga after work.”

Dedicate time each day to writing or allocate one to two designated writing days per week. Block time off on your calendar and turn off messaging apps to avoid interruptions while you write.

Once you’ve gotten organized and created a routine, you may find you had more time to write than previously thought.

3. Keep a list of ideas.

One way to save time coming up with content is to make sure you always have a running list of fresh ideas to work with. That way you’re not scrambling at the last minute for worthy topics.

Creating topic clusterscan help you flesh out your blog content strategy. A topic clusteris multiplearticles grouped by a shared topic or related topic. For example, you may have one pillar page that gives a broad overview of a topic. From there, you can create more in-depth, specific articles on related subtopics.

This will not only help you plan content but organize your site architecture as well.

4. Perform research prior to writing.

It’s much easier to write when you have all the pertinent information you want to include in one place. Research your chosen topic before sitting down to write and organize the information in a quick outline.

Include any keyword researchin this process so you can ensure your content aligns with what readers are searching for online. This way when you sit down to write, your only job is to write — not look up new facts.

5. Don’t edit while writing.

When writing it’s very tempting to want to stop and make corrections. Don’t do this. It breaks your writing flow.

Instead, write a rough draft withjust pops into your mind first. Follow your train of thought without stopping to fix typos or edit. The goal is to just get your thoughts on the page. Once your initial draft is written, you can always go back and make changes.

6. Perform article updates.

Another strategy is to build upon existing content by performing an article update. Giving your older content a refresh is not only good for SEO and your readers, but it can be a quick win for adding new content in a time crunch.

With older content, you may need to include additional research and update it for accuracy, but it generally takes less time than writing a new article from scratch. Review your existing content. Are there articles you can do a deeper dive on? Have there been industry advancements you can include? Is there a new angle to explore?

7. Find content ideas wherever you go.

By making blogging a life routine, you will come across creative content ideas much more frequently. Keep an open mind, observe new things that interest you personally and find ways to turn them into fodder for a blog post. By noticing world dynamics that get you excited and relating them to your audience, the process of blogging becomes a lot more natural and fun.

Accumulate content ideas from different situations in life and find ways to apply them to your industry.

8. Hire a freelancer.

Sometimes your workload is just too heavy and your efforts can be better used elsewhere. If you have the resources and budget to do it, hiring outside help may also be a great option.

Sites like Upwork, Contenta, and MediaBistro make it easy to find writing professionals. If looking to generate content on a larger scale, consider working with a content agency.

Blog Like A Pro

Creating content with a consistent cadence is an obstacle busy marketers frequently struggle with. Creating a schedule and mastering blogging time management will allow you to create even when you’re short on time.

This article was originally published in December 2010 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling

Storytelling is an art.

Not a process, method, or technique. And — like art — it requires creativity, vision, skill, and practice. Storytelling isn’t something you can grasp in one sitting, after one course. It’s a trial-and-error process of mastery.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is, and rightfully so because storytelling is a crucial part of the most successful marketing campaigns. It sets vibrant brands apart from simple businesses and loyal consumers from one-time, stop-in shoppers.

It’s also the heart of inbound marketing.

Storytelling is an incredibly valuable tool for you to add to your proverbial marketing tool belt. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide, to help you discover and understand storytelling and weave gorgeous, compelling tales for your audience.

Pick up your pen, and let’s dive in.

Because storytelling can take so many forms, it can be a challenge to create a good story. Here are some quick do’s and don’ts to get you started:

The Art of Storytelling

Since the dawn of human language, storytelling has been how cultures pass on shared beliefs and values. Some of the stories told today come from stories our ancestors were sharing over 6,000 years ago.

Every person has a story, but the art of storytelling can make a story transformative. There are a few qualities that can push a basic story into the art of storytelling.

Narrative

While the setting will influence what a story can be, all great stories have a narrative, a spoken or written account of events.

For example, stand-up comics sometimes tell stories during a set. The structure, setting, and details of this narrative may not feel the same as they do in a Shakespeare play. But both storytellers are sharing a narrative.

Attention-Grabbing

But it’s not enough to just tell the story. The storytelling that resonates with people grabs their attention. There are many ways to grab and keep an audience’s attention in a story.

Creating suspense is one option. Stories that are full of mystery are interesting because of their unanswered questions. Surprising your audience is also a great way to pull readers in.

Another way to captivate your audience is to add details that bring your story to life. A popular way to describe this storytelling technique is “Show. Don’t tell.”

For example, say your company is launching a new product. In your story, you can share details about the moment your team came up with the idea. This is more exciting than telling your customers that you’re about to release the best new product. Talk about the roadblocks and small wins that led up to launch. This makes your audience feel like they’re part of your process.

Interactive

Storytelling isn’t just the story that you tell. It’s also the way that your audience responds and engages. Some kinds of storytelling require the reader to take part in the story, like the Netflix interactive film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

But with most stories, the interaction comes from the relationship that the audience builds with the storyteller. Your audience might be a fan group for the latest Harry Potter movie. And your favorite storyteller could be a TikTok influencer.

That feeling of connection and interaction is essential to storytelling.

Imaginative

Many movies come from popular books. And it’s not unusual for viewers to rate the quality of a book-based movie on its ability to match what they imagined as they read the book.

When someone listens to storytelling they often run a picture show in their mind. This picture show can be incredibly detailed, including characters, setting, and events.

These imaginings often pull up memories for individual readers, or they might see their qualities in one of the story’s characters. No story is complete without the listener or reader adding these imaginative details on their own.

Telling a story is like painting a picture with words. While everyone can tell a story, certain people fine-tune their storytelling skills and become a storyteller on behalf of their organization, brand, or business. You might’ve heard of these folks — we typically refer to them as marketers, content writers, or PR professionals.

Every member of an organization can tell a story. But before we get into the how, let’s talk about why we tell stories — as a society, culture, and economy.

Why Do We Tell Stories?

There are a variety of reasons to tell stories — to sell, entertain, educate or brag. We’ll talk about that below. Right now, I want to discuss why we choose storytelling over, say, a data-driven PowerPoint or bulleted list. Why are stories our go-to way of sharing, explaining, and selling information?

Here’s why.

Stories solidify abstract concepts and simplify complex messages.

We’ve all experienced confusion when trying to understand a new idea. Stories offer a way around that. Think about times when stories have helped you better understand a concept. Maybe your favorite teacher used a real-life example to explain a math problem. Maybe a preacher illustrated a situation during a sermon or a speaker used a case study to convey complex data.

Stories help solidify abstract concepts and simplify complex messages. Taking a lofty, non-tangible concept and relating it using concrete ideas is one of the biggest strengths of storytelling in business.

Take Apple, for example. Computers and smartphones are a pretty complicated topic to describe to your typical consumer. Using real-life stories, they’ve been able to describe exactly how their products benefit users. They use storytelling instead of relying on technical jargon that few customers would understand.

Stories promote and shape ideas.

Throughout history, people have used stories to promote cooperation and influence social behaviors. And there is scientific evidence that stories can change our behavior.

This is because stories engage our emotions. So, even if you’re stressed out and overwhelmed, you can still connect with a story. That connection might lead you to be less critical about facts, less defensive, and more open to changing your ideas.

Data is powerful. But data without storytelling can result in confusion, frustration, and conflicts of opinion. This is because listening to stories engages different parts of the brain than data does.

When you tell a story, you’re asking someone to see a series of events from your perspective. The person listening to that story believes in the truth of what you’re saying.

If you’re good at storytelling, you might influence the future behavior of that person. And cultures often honor skilled storytellers. They appreciate brands that tell stories to promote wider societal values too, like this Ben & Jerry’s example in support of the People’s Response Act.

Stories bring people together.

Like I said above, stories are a universal language of sorts. We all understand the story of the hero, of the underdog, or of heartbreak. We all process emotions and can share feelings of elation, hope, despair, and anger. Sharing a story gives even the most diverse people a sense of commonality and community.

In a world divided by a multitude of things, stories bring people together and create a sense of community. Despite our language, religion, political preferences, or ethnicity, stories connect us through the way we feel and respond to them. Stories make us human.

TOMS is a great example of this. By sharing stories of both customers and the people they serve through customer purchases, TOMS has effectively created a movement that has not only increased sales but also built a community.

Stories inspire and motivate.

Stories make us human, and the same goes for brands. When brands get transparent and authentic, it brings them down-to-earth and helps consumers connect with them and the people behind them.

Tapping into people’s emotions and baring both the good and bad is how stories inspire and motivate and eventually, drive action. Stories also foster brand loyalty. Creating a narrative around your brand or product not only humanizes it but also inherently markets your business.

Few brands use inspiration as a selling tactic, but ModCloth does it well. By sharing the real story of their business, ModCloth not only makes the brand relatable and worth purchasing, but it also inspires other founders and business owners.

What makes a good story?

Words like “good” and “bad” are relative to user opinion. But there are a few non-negotiable components that make for a great storytelling experience, for both the reader and teller.

Good stories are:

Entertaining: Good stories keep the reader engaged and interested in what’s coming next.
Believable: Good stories convince the reader of their version of reality and make it easy to trust and engage.
Educational: Good stories spark curiosity and add to the reader’s knowledge bank.
Relatable: Stories remind readers of the people and places they know. They help their audience recognize patterns in the world around them.
Organized: Good stories follow a succinct organization that helps convey the core message and helps readers absorb it.
Memorable: Whether through inspiration, scandal, or humor, good stories stick in the reader’s mind.

How to Tell Great Stories

According to HubSpot Academy’s free Power of Storytelling course, there are three components that make up a good story — regardless of the story you’re trying to tell.

1. Characters

Every story features at least one character, and this character will be the key to relating your audience back to the story. This main character is often called the protagonist.

Your characters form the bridge between you, the storyteller, and the audience. If your audience can put themselves in your character’s shoes, they’ll be more likely to follow through with your call-to-action.

2. Conflict

The conflict is the lesson of how the character overcomes a challenge. Conflict in your story elicits emotions and connects the audience through relatable experiences. When telling stories, the power is in what you’re conveying and teaching. If there’s no conflict in your story, it’s likely not a story.

3. Resolution

Every good story has a closing, but it doesn’t always have to be a good one. Your story’s resolution should wrap up the story, give context to the characters and conflict(s), and leave your audience with a call to action.

If you’re new to storytelling, there are a couple other elements you’ll want to think about as you build your first story.

4. Structure

Your plot is the structure of your storytelling.

A blog can have great writing and relatable characters. But if you don’t create a natural flow of events, your blog will confuse your reader.

Your “About” page on your website can run through the story of your business. But if you don’t break it into clear and useful segments, your site visitors might bounce before they get to the good part.

Plots don’t need to be in chronological order. There are many ways that you can experiment with the structure of your story.

But your story should have a beginning, middle, and end. This structure is familiar, so it makes your audience more comfortable and open to new information.

5. Setting

The context of your storytelling impacts how your audience takes in your story. The setting is more than where a story takes place. It’s how you can:

Share the values and goals of your characters
Shift the tone of conversations and action
Make it easier to show instead of tell

For example, say you’re creating an ad campaign that features two main characters. One runs a small startup and the other works for a large enterprise. Where would it make sense for these two to meet up? How could their location impact the conversation?

Now that you know what your story should contain, let’s talk about how to craft your story.

The Storytelling Process

We’ve confirmed storytelling is an art. Like art, storytelling requires creativity, vision, and skill. It also requires practice. Enter: The storytelling process.

Painters, sculptors, dancers, and designers all follow their own creative processes when producing their art. It helps them know where to start, how to develop their vision, and how to perfect their practice over time. The same goes for storytelling – especially for businesses writing stories.

Why is this process important? Because, as an organization or brand, you likely have a ton of facts, figures, and messages to get across in one succinct story. How do you know where to begin? Well, start with the first step. You’ll know where to go (and how to get there) after that.

1. Know your audience.

Who wants to hear your story? Who will benefit and respond the strongest? To create a compelling story, you need to understand your readers and who will respond and take action.

Before you put a pen to paper (or cursor to word processor), do some research on your target market and define your buyer persona(s). This process will get you acquainted with who might be reading, viewing, or listening to your story. Understanding who your story is for will also offer crucial direction as you build out the foundation of your story.

2. Define your core message.

Whether your story is one page or twenty, ten minutes or sixty, it should have a core message. Like the foundation of a home, you need to set up your core message before moving forward.

Is your story selling a product or raising funds? Explaining a service or advocating for an issue? What is the point of your story? To help define this, try to summarize your story in six to ten words. If you can’t do that, you don’t have a core message.

3. Decide what kind of story you’re telling.

Not all stories are created equal. To decide what kind of story you’re telling, figure out how you want your audience to feel or react as they read.

This will help you figure out how you’re going to weave your story and what goal you’re pursuing. If your goal is to:

Incite Action

Your story should describe how you completed a successful action in the past and explain how readers might be able to create the same kind of change. Avoid excessive, exaggerated detail or changes in the subject so your audience can focus on the action or change that your story encourages.

Tell Your Story

Talk about your genuine, humanizing struggles, failures, and wins. Today’s consumer appreciates and connects to brands that market with authenticity. Your storytelling should reflect your authentic self.

Convey Values

Tell a story that taps into familiar emotions, characters, and situations so that readers can understand how the story applies to their own life. This is especially important when discussing values that some people might not agree with or understand.

Foster Community or Collaboration

Tell a story that moves readers to discuss and share your story with others. Use a situation or experience that others can relate to and say, “Me, too.” Keep situations and characters neutral to attract the widest variety of readers.

Impart Knowledge or Educate

Tell a story that features a trial-and-error experience, so that readers can learn about a problem and how you found and applied a solution. Discuss alternative solutions too.

4. Establish your call-to-action.

Your objective and call-to-action (CTA) are similar, but your CTA will establish the action you’d like your audience to take after reading.

What exactly do you want your readers to do after reading? Do you want them to donate money, subscribe to a newsletter, take a course, or buy a product? Outline this alongside your objective to make sure they line up.

For example, if your objective is to foster community or collaboration, your CTA might be to “Tap the share button below.”

5. Choose your story medium.

Stories can take many shapes and forms. Sometimes people read stories. Other times they watch or listen., Your chosen story medium depends on your type of story as well as resources, like time and money.

Here are four different ways you can tell your story:

Writing

Written stories take the form of articles, blog posts, or books. They’re mostly text and may include some images. Written stories are by far the most affordable, attainable method of storytelling as it just requires a free word processor like Google Docs or a pen and paper.

Speaking

You tell spoken stories in person, like in a presentation, pitch, or panel. TED talks are an example of spoken stories. Because of their “live”, unedited nature, spoken stories typically require more practice and skill to convey messages and elicit emotions in others.

Audio

Audio stories are spoken aloud but recorded — that’s what sets them apart from the spoken story. Audio stories are usually in podcast form, and with today’s technology, creating an audio story is more affordable than ever. (For great story-driven podcasts, check out The HubSpot Podcast Network.)

Digital

Digital storytelling comes in a variety of media, including video, animation, interactive stories, and games. This option is by far the most effective for emotionally resonant stories and active, visual stories. This is why they can be expensive to produce. But don’t fret: video quality doesn’t matter as much as conveying a strong message.

6. Plan and structure your story.

You have an idea of what you want to include in your story, how you want to organize it, and what medium is best. If you were doing some creative writing, your next step might be to jump right into writing and work on the structure of your story later.

But while storytelling in marketing is creative, it also has a goal in mind. This means it may need a more structured process because every step from intro to CTA needs to meet a specific goal.

Your storytelling should ignite imagination and emotion no matter where you share it. But marketing storytellers are also tracking metrics once their story goes out into the world.

With this in mind, you may want to create a detailed outline of your story. You might develop storyboards, wireframes, or a PowerPoint presentation. These can help you stay focused as you craft your story. They can also help you keep your original vision of your story as you move through the approvals, meetings, and pitches that often come with business storytelling.

7. Write!

Now it’s time to put pen to paper and start crafting your story.

You’ve done a lot of work to get to this point. For many storytellers, this is the fun part. It can also be the hardest part because it can be tough to create on cue.

As of this writing, there are over 215,000,000 links on Google for the search “writer’s block.” If you feel stuck, you’re not alone. But help is on the way.

You might want to check out some quotes about storytelling to get inspired. And these excellent tips for writer’s block can get you writing again if you feel stuck.

Remember, you’ve got this. Every person is a storyteller, and audiences aren’t just waiting for any old story. They want to hear from you.

7. Share your story.

Don’t forget to share and promote your story. Like with any piece of content marketing, creating it is only half the battle — sharing is how your audience can complete your story.

Depending on your chosen medium, you should definitely share your story on social media and by email. Promote written stories on your blog, Medium, or by guest posting on other publications. You can share digital stories on your website, YouTube, or a mobile app. While spoken stories are best conveyed in person, consider recording a live performance to share later.

The more places you share your story, the more engagement you can expect from your audience.

Storytelling Resources

Storytelling is a trial-and-error process, and no one tells a story perfectly on the first try. That’s why we’ve collected these resources to help you fine-tune your storytelling skills and learn more about the different ways you can tell a story.

For Writing

Guide to Becoming a Better Writer
OEDb’s writing resources
How to Write a Blog Post
Copywriting 101
HubSpot’s list of writing tools

For Speaking

The TEDx Speaker Guide
How to Nail Interactive Presentations
Professional Presentation Tips

For Audio Stories

HubSpot’s guide on How to Start a Podcast
The Anatomy of a Perfect Podcast Episode

For Digital Storytelling

Ultimate Guide to Video Marketing
Examples of Interactive Storytelling
Website Examples of Storytelling
How Brands Are Reaching Gamers
Animoto
Ultimate Guide to Making Your Own App

Start Telling Your Story

Storytelling is an art. It’s also a process worth learning for both your business and your customers. Stories bring people together and inspire action and response. Also, today’s consumer doesn’t decide to buy based on what you’re selling, but rather why you’re selling it.

Storytelling helps you communicate that “why” in a creative, engaging way. You are a storyteller. So, pull together your ideas, find the right channel and tools, and share your story.

This post was originally published in November 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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The 17 Best Resume Templates for Every Type of Professional

While an eye-catching resume alone probably won’t land you your dream gig, it doesn’t hurt to put a little extra effort into how you present yourself on paper, so we’ve scoured the web for some of the best resume templates to help you stand out in a sea of Times New Roman and crowded copy.

The right resume design speaks to your skills and personality and can propel your application to the top of the stack. But finding a cool design that also fits your professional identity can be a major hassle. Applying for jobs is already hard enough.

Best Resume Templates

Download 12 free, editable resume templates.

Best for Creatives

These templates emphasize the design, color, and typography skills that creatives need to show.

1. Resume Template with a Photo Background

This template from Polish designer Patryk Korycki is perfect for photographers, graphic designers, and other creatives looking to showcase a sample of their best work. It uses simple graphics to show language fluency and skill proficiency and images to represent an applicant’s interests. The template can be downloaded here for free.

2. Modern and Distinctive Resume Template

This design from freelancer Mohamd Hgag is an elegant take on traditional resumes. The floral illustration adds a playful element, while the two-column layout keeps everything from looking too busy or crowded. You can download this resume design here for free.

This template includes a unique font, social media handles, and space for an image so creative job seekers can personalize their resumes with a headshot or logo.

3. Vibrant and Visual Resume Template

Alessia Curcio, a Copenhagen-based designer, gives us a perfect example of how to incorporate kaleidoscopic color without going over the top. Infographic-inspired elements help clearly display work experience and skills with minimal text.

The colorful header, footer, and accented experience slider add a bright, creative flair to this infographic resume template. This template is perfect for graphic designers, art directors, artists, and other professionals searching for positions in visual arts.

Download Curcio’s free template here.

4. Infographic Style Resume Template

Created by digital art director and freelance designer Fernando Báez, this unique, infographic-inspired resume template helps you organize your work experience and skills into a minimal visual layout.

Báez’s template uses bold graphics to draw attention to important metrics such as years of work experience. This eye-catching template also includes a section for hobbies and interests, which sets it apart from most resume templates. This template is ideal for designers and programmers.

Báez has made the template available for free download here.

Best for Freelancers

These templates emphasize the headshot photo for freelancers who might not meet their employers in person and need substantial text space and a visual to offer something memorable.

5. Resume Template with a Simple Color Accent

Adding color to a resume might seem intimidating at first, especially if you’re applying to a more traditional workplace. However, a few sophisticated pops of color can add some interest without compromising professionalism.

This template from designer Eduardo Ogawa uses bright accents to spice up the traditional layout. In addition, the template includes space for a headshot and a section for passions, letting freelancers add a unique personal touch to their resumes that sets them apart from others in their fields.

You can download it for free here.

6. Bold Classic Resume Template

If you’re looking for a more traditional resume template that still makes a bold impression, check out this creation from Finnish designer Mats-Peter Forss. The template includes space for a headshot and is available for free download here.

This resume template adds a personal touch without distracting from the content by including a bold black-and-white headshot. It is a good fit for freelance designers and programmers.

7. Resume Template with Pops of Primary Colors

Proof that color can be professional, this template boasts a compact, sophisticated layout and bright, colorful accents. It also has room for a substantial summary. Designer David Gómez uses this resume template himself, and he’s been generous enough to share it for free download here.

This colorful resume template is great for freelancers, who can customize it with their headshot and personal brand colors.

Best for Recent Graduates

These templates make great use of empty space through eye-catching designs that help these candidates make a splash in their industry. They’re perfect for students who are still building experience.

8. Graphic and Adventurous Resume Template

This is not a resume template for wallflowers. Instead, it takes advantage of empty space with bold colors and an asymmetrical design that will easily draw any hiring manager’s attention.

This template is perfect for recent graduates searching for entry-level jobs as designers or artists.

The folks at Createer whipped up this daring design as part of a free resume template pack, which you can check out here.

9. Resume Template with an Unexpected Format

If you really want to stand out in a crowded applicant pool, this resume is definitely for you.

This template uses fun icons and geometric shapes to help it stand out in the stack. It’s ideal for recent graduates. The graphics take up space and make the minimal amount of text seem to fill the page.

Graphic designer and freelance photographer Paolo Pettigiani created this bold template for his own professional use but has made it available for free download here.

10. Center-Aligned Resume Template

If you want to mix up your resume format without going too crazy, try a center-aligned layout, like this clean, modern design by Zohan Habib. The custom icons and colored border add a nice creative touch.

This template’s center-aligned layout helps draw your eyes down the page, making it a great choice for recent graduates who don’t have much experience. In addition, with a center-aligned layout, small amounts of text seem to fill the page and leave minimal white space.

This template is available for free download here.

Best for Executive/Upper-Level Professionals

These templates offer ample real estate for candidates to express their deep experience in the plain but formal manner that many employers expect.

11. Black and White Resume Template

Running low on colored ink? Check out this minimal black and white template from editorial designer Bro Luthfi. The simple design is anything but boring, and the custom icons add a fun, personalized element that is sure to stand out.

This template is suited for job seekers in upper-level positions in industries such as graphic design and art direction.

You can download the free template here.

12. Clean and Modern Resume Template

Your resume is your first impression with a potential employer, and this template design from the team at GoaShape is modern without being too edgy.

This two-page template uses a headshot and graphics to differentiate it from other upper-level resumes. It’s ideal for professionals in creative industries.

The template pack includes a two-page resume layout and cover letter design and can be downloaded for free here.

13. Simple Professional Resume Template

The team at Career Reload serves up a simple resume template for more advanced professionals.

This sleek two-column template’s header and contact information icons give the resume a subtle pop of color that helps set it apart in the applicant pile.

Download the template for free here.

Best for People Changing Careers

These templates help job seekers who are changing industries organize their experience by skill rather than employer. In addition, the sections can be customized for candidates who need to show how their background can transfer.

14. Resume Template with an Organized Use of Space

When you’re trying to crunch years of work experience and a laundry list of skills onto a single sheet of paper, things tend to get crowded quickly. This template from Resume Genius invites you to simplify.

This template saves space by placing the contact information, education, and skills in a column to the right of the work experience. This allows the work experience to take up the entire length of the page.

This template is ideal for older professionals who have a lot of employment history.

Download the template here.

15. Playful and Professional Resume Template

Italian designer Martina Cavalieri created this resume template with 16 custom icons to highlight your interests and skills.

This template’s bold two-toned border and custom icons that indicate skills and interests add just enough color to its modern layout to help your resume stand out in the pile.

This resume template is perfect for job seekers who want to add a fun, colorful element to their resumes while keeping them professional.

Cavalieri offers this template for free download here.

Best for Hardcore Marketers

We couldn’t help ourselves. Although every template in this blog post can work for marketers, the templates below are perfect for those who love to brand themselves.

16. Heavy Header Resume Template

“Hey, you!” That’s what I think of when I see this flashy yet classy template. Made by designer Mike Bradshaw, the resume features a variety of sections without seeming too cluttered.

This template is great for marketers who want to make a bold statement. The template’s design evokes the image of a leaflet and is sure to grab a hiring manager’s attention.

Long names might look overwhelming with this header, but it certainly does a good job conveying a breadth of information. Download it for free here.

17. Managerial Resume Template

This last resume was designed by the company, LiveCareer. This classic resume is great for professionals in all industries.

While LiveCareer suggests that this template appeals to people searching for managerial positions, we think it’s perfect for job seekers at all professional levels.

You can customize this template with your initials and brand colors to add a professional yet personal element to your resume that will catch the eye of hiring managers as they leaf through piles of resumes.

Build a resume with this template for free here.

Stand Out From the Crowd

A professional resume template tailored to your industry and level of experience can go a long way. Download one of our resume templates and fill out your information. Then, customize it to fit your style. You’ll be one step closer to landing your dream gig.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October, 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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The Ultimate Guide to Content Creation

Content creation is what happens behind the scenes. It’s how Google can offer the perfect answer to your problem. It’s the videos you watch on YouTube after a tough day.

Content creation is also what helps people discover your business, brand, and products.

And that content helps you attract, engage, and delight prospects and customers. It brings new visitors to your site and ultimately generates revenue for your company.

In other words, if you’re not creating content, then you’re behind the curve.

Why is content creation important?

Content creation is the ultimate inbound marketing practice. When you create content, you’re providing free and useful information to your audience, attracting potential customers to your website, and retaining existing customers through quality engagement.

You’re also generating some major value for your company, as these content marketing stats show:

Almost 40% of marketers say content marketing is an essential part of their marketing strategy. 81% say their company sees content as a business strategy.
B2B marketers have data that says content marketing is a successful tool for nurturing leads (60%), generating revenue (51%), and building an audience of subscribers (47%).
And 10% of marketers who blog say it generates the biggest return on investment.

Content equals business growth. So, let’s get started with the types of content you can create and then review your content strategy.

Content Creation Ideas

1. Blogs

One type of content creation (the kind you’re consuming right now, actually) is blog posts. Blogs can educate, entertain, and inspire your audience through the written word. When someone types a query in Google, the posts that pop up are usually blog posts.

Content Creation Ideas for Blogs

Blogging is worth the time and effort, and 56% of marketers say that blogging is their most effective content strategy.

But it can be tough to narrow your focus and start writing. In addition to opinion pieces and product announcement posts, these are some proven ideas for blog content creation.

Answer a Question

If you’re not sure which question to answer first, start with questions from beginners. These can create a foundation you can use to continue growing your blog.

Another way to use questions as a starting point is to think about the questions you had when you were a beginner. Even questions from your more recent experience can help someone else in your industry.

Once you’ve figured out the right questions, write a complete answer. You might want to skim over the details, but this is where you can add the most value for your readers.

People are often shy about asking questions because they don’t want to sound foolish. Anticipating and answering their questions can help you earn their trust. It can also improve your search engine results.

Compare and Contrast Solutions to a Problem

Another way that you can serve your readers is by helping them make a decision. There are answers online, but it can sometimes feel like there are too many answers.

If you are an expert in your niche, you can share your expert opinion and help out buyers who want to make an informed purchase at the same time.

As you choose what you’re going to compare, make sure that the products have more similarities than differences.

For example, you wouldn’t want to compare a project management tool with email marketing software.

When you’re writing compare and contrast blogs for a product or service, be as open and transparent as you can. List all the possible positives and negatives you can think of. Then, get into detail about how you came to those decisions.

Teach Something

Some of the most popular blogs are educational. If you want to use your blog as a teaching tool, there are a few things you’ll want to think about.

As you choose a topic, it’s smart to start small. So, instead of covering a broad topic, choose a niche topic that people in your industry might be asking about.

For example, instead of writing about website design basics, write about how to design the home page for an automotive dealership.

As you start writing how-to blogs, there are a few things to remember:

Use short sentences and paragraphs and create a clear structure. This will make your instructions easier to follow.
Avoid jargon and technical terms if you can, and use examples to make new information easier to understand.
Keep in mind that your directions should be easy for a beginner to follow, so don’t skip steps or offer shortcuts.

These tips should help your readers learn and bring you more traffic and interest in your educational content.

Daily, Monthly, or Weekly Series

Writing a series of posts can be useful for your readers, and it can help you grow your blog. A series will usually run for a set period of time. You can choose to publish the series every day or on a set day every week or month.

A series can generate content that you can easily repurpose for other channels. For example, if you run a blog about social media, you could turn a blog series about Instagram Reels into a podcast, ebook, or video.

This strategy makes it simple to fully explore a particular topic. It’s useful for building internal and external links, and for establishing you as a thought leader.

Quizzes and Surveys

Blog surveys are a great way to collect feedback from your audience. This can help with more than website traffic.

Responses from quizzes and surveys can also help you:

Figure out other types of content your audience likes
Choose which products to promote and sell
Grow your social media following
Go viral with interactive content
Anticipate customer service issues

For an effective quiz or survey, define your goals before you start creating. Keeping your quizzes short and offering incentives can improve response rates.

Curated Content for Target Audiences

While your blog could appeal to just about anyone, your goal is to connect with your ideal buyer personas.

Curated content will make your most important audience members feel important. This could mean that this audience turns into a group of promoters who share your content and encourage others to buy your products.

With this in mind, it’s a good idea to create curated content that’s specifically for this audience. For example, say you’re selling sandals. You’ll want to write different content for people who wear sandals year-round and people who only wear sandals at certain times of the year.

To curate your content, start with detailed buyer personas and competitor research. Next, create clusters of content that are just for that specific buyer persona.

Curated content is also where you’ll want to highlight quotes and insights from industry leaders. This content shouldn’t just inform a targeted audience. It should make them feel like they are part of an exclusive group.

If you’re looking for help curating your content, check out this useful list of tools.

Celebrate Wins

Most blogs are evergreen. This means that once you publish a blog on the internet, it can be a resource for many years. This makes blogs a great place to celebrate wins.

Whether you’re calling out top-performing employees or thanking customers, you can use your blog to celebrate.

Remember to celebrate the little things. Then use images, videos, and design to make celebration posts feel extra special.

2. Podcasts

Podcasts are like listening to the radio. But anyone can make and broadcast a podcast. This means that professional and beginner podcast hosts are competing for the same listening time.

But they also have a big audience, and 28% of Americans 12 years old and up listen to podcasts on a weekly basis.

Podcasts are extra interesting to listen to when the audience likes the host and wants to learn something from them. Keep reading for more podcast content creation ideas you might want to try.

Content Creation Ideas for Podcasts

Generally, a great podcast will center on a great idea and then expand on that topic with listener and expert feedback. Storytelling podcasts are popular, and so are educational podcasts.

If you are launching your first podcast, be sure to post with a consistent schedule. It’s also a good idea to follow the same structure for every episode.

Other than that, it’s about being your authentic self.

Thought Leadership

This type of podcast content centers on your professional experience. Be sure to include case studies and other real-life scenarios in this content.

Remember that your audience is listening in for different reasons and often have different levels of industry experience. So, offer insights for a range of listeners and share advice that you think your listeners could apply themselves.

Interview Influencers

If you want to add influencer interviews to your podcast, knowing who to interview comes first. Don’t just go for the biggest names. Instead, choose interesting guests who can offer value to your listeners.

Be sure to research your guests and ask original questions. For example, the success of the YouTube show “Hot Ones” comes in part from the well-researched questions its host asks each celebrity guest.

Other ways to get the most out of influencer interviews on your podcast include:

Asking for follower suggestions
Encouraging participation from your featured influencer’s followers

Discuss Trends

Trends are great content for a podcast. Whether you’re discussing a long-term trend or the latest fad, this is a smart context to show how your products are relevant to what’s new.

While many people listen to daily or weekly news podcasts, most podcasts are evergreen like a blog. Many podcast listeners will tune into a podcast years after the podcast was first released.

This means that you’ll want to tie trends to larger topics.

For example, Marketing Against the Grain covers trends like the creator economy on their podcast, but they talk about it as part of marketing as a whole. This strategy grounds what could be a fleeting trend into a topic with more staying power.

Contests and Giveaways

Contests give your podcast listeners a fun way to participate while also giving you a chance to grow your subscribers.

One way to launch a podcast contest is to post to social media about a prize or giveaway. Interactive contests where a listener can call in to be a part of the podcast are another option.

If you plan to offer a prize, make sure it’s unique and fitting for your unique audience.

3. Video

Whether you want to post videos on social media or YouTube, video marketing is a type of content creation that becomes more popular every year. Short-form and long-form videos both have their place in your content creation strategy. So, be sure to come up with ideas for both types of content.

Content Creation Ideas for Video

86% of video marketers say that video is effective for generating leads. This makes original video marketing an important strategy for anyone who is working on content creation.

Some solid video content ideas include behind-the-scenes or time-lapse videos. Let’s go over some other useful ideas for video content creation.

Animate Hard-To-Understand Ideas

Animation makes it easier to understand new or complex information. So, use video to show your viewers how your product works or to talk about the specific problem your product solves.

Choose scenarios that people can relate to that clearly connect to your product. Whether you choose to use digital animation or stop-motion, animation can bring a dry topic to life.

For example, tech products often solve problems that the average user doesn’t deal with every day, like a broken connection with an API.

But what about an animation of what happens when the wireless at home gets cut off? A video with this scenario could make that abstract idea easier for the average user to understand.

Repurpose Blog Content

Another quick video idea is to use the text from your most popular blog as a voiceover. Long blogs make great content for a video series.

You can also break up key points from blogs into bite-size videos for your social media posts.

Then, add your videos to your blog posts. This gives people who find your blog on search engines another alternative to get the information they’re looking for.

How-tos and Tutorials

How-to content is also very popular in video formats. To create a powerful instructional video, stick to short and specific steps. Don’t skip anything, but you also don’t want to overwhelm your viewers with extra information.

Use simple visual steps to help your viewers learn, and offer a clear call-to-action at the end.

It’s also a good idea to engage with the comments on these videos. This reassures your audience that you are available if they have more questions, and could help you come up with more video ideas.

Product Demos and Unusual Use Cases

Product demos can make it easier for potential customers to see how they can use your products. It’s also a chance for you to share some product design processes.

By sharing the problem you initially solved with your product, and how the solution changed through the process, you’re building a relationship with your viewers. This relationship builds trust and makes them more likely to engage with you and your products.

Show how your product works in an interesting way. For example, the “Will It Blend?” video series on YouTube was a winner for Blendtec because it didn’t just show the power of its blender.

They were inventive and asked for customer suggestions for each video. And the videos were blending objects you normally wouldn’t throw in a blender, like cell phones, golf balls, or glow sticks.

You can also personalize your video content. Video product demos are a great option for connecting individual customers to your products.

4. Graphics

In your blog posts, or in your social media posts, you might want to post original graphics. These can be infographics, photography, GIFs, memes, illustrations, or screenshots.

This type of content creation usually requires a graphic designer or a design tool to help you get the job done.

Image-based Content Creation Ideas

Photo and image-based posts are the content types businesses use most to increase audience engagement.

As you begin to create visual content, make sure you have a strong grasp of the basics. These include:

Choose the right subject to illustrate your idea
Think about composition
Use contrast and color
Keep it simple

Visual Storytelling

Visual content is great for quick storytelling. As you start to experiment with storytelling, remember to show, not tell.

For example, say you’re telling a story about meeting a tough sales goal. A picture of a sales rep talking on the phone won’t tell the story as well as an image of that same sales rep scaling a tall mountain.

Try to use setting, clothing, lighting, and motion to emphasize the action and drama of every scene in your images.

User-Generated Content

Fans of your products are often looking for ways to get involved. And there’s nothing like user-generated content to show your followers that you care about their opinions.

To get your users to create and share content for your brand, invite them to get involved. Try a custom hashtag or contest on social media to start. Email is also a great channel for collecting photos, quotes, and stories from your customers.

That said, don’t use content from users without asking for their permission. You also want to make sure you credit users for their contributions. Nothing can damage your relationship with a customer like using their images without consent.

Infographics

There is proof that data visualizations can decrease errors and improve learning and retention by as much as 80%.

If you want your content creation strategy to include infographics, keep these best practices in mind:

Choose the right data for your target audience
Choose the right graph or chart for your data
Do your research
Tell a simple visual story
Don’t add too much data
Make your main points easy to read and remember

Go Behind the Scenes

Sharing industry and product secrets is exciting and interesting for your readers. It’s also an interesting way to share information about how you make, package, and update your products.

To create visuals that take your audience behind the scenes, start with a plan. Whether you’re sharing photos from a tour of your manufacturing facility or documenting an average day on social media, make it cool.

Think about lighting, composition, and the little details. You don’t want a great product shot ruined by a big messy trash can or a warning sign in the background.

At the same time, make your images feel authentic. Don’t set up your photos in a space that feels too perfect to be real.

5. Content Offers

Another type of content is content offers. These are templates, whitepapers, worksheets, or ebooks that your visitors can download. This is gated content — meaning your audience will need to fill out a form and provide their email to have access to it.

Content Creation Ideas for Content Offers

67% of companies use lead generation as the primary metric for content success.

This means that you should combine any content creation efforts with content offers to draw new leads. The best lead magnets solve a problem for your followers. Usually, they solve urgent issues and offer lasting value to your target audience.

To be immediately useful to your users, a content offer should be specific and quick to use. It should also offer value that reflects your high level of understanding and expertise.

This will keep your audience coming back for more and help you convert more leads into delighted customers. These are some content offer ideas for you to start with.

Ebooks or White Papers

Long-form written content creation is where many businesses start for content offers.

Ebooks and white papers can give your readers a deeper understanding of a topic. They can also help them solve an urgent problem.

While ebooks can be intense projects, you can also use existing content, like blogs, to build your ebooks. A great ebook template can also speed up the process.

Original Research

Data drives many businesses, but not every business has the time or the resources to put together the data they need. You can use your knowledge and network to put together research that your visitors can use.

To create high-quality research you’ll need:

Goals for your research
A process for sampling and analyzing your data
Questions
A process for managing the project

It’s important to figure out how much time and what resources you’ll need to complete the research. A market research template can make it easier for you to organize and compile your research.

Then, you’ll want to decide the best format and channels to present your research to create a stellar content offer.

Tools and Templates

A great content offer helps your audience solve a problem faster than they could figure it out on their own. This makes tools like calculators, swipe files, and checklists invaluable. It means that your templates can be useful for your fans both now and later.

And these useful lead magnets don’t just give you a chance to help out your community. They’re also excellent resources for leads and to create advocates for your brand.

If someone uses one of your templates regularly, they’re more likely to tell someone else about it. This makes content offers a great way to grow your following by word of mouth. And word of mouth is one of the most trusted sources for consumers. This makes this type of content offer a win-win.

While some templates and tools need you to have advanced coding or technical knowledge, most are simple to put together. You can easily create a template with tools like Microsoft Excel or Google Docs, tools most people use every day.

As you start building, keep in mind that creating something useful is more important than making it look perfect.

Kits and Workbooks

Once you’ve put together a few of the resources listed above, you might be ready to create a larger content offer.

Kits and workbook content offers usually include a range of different resources that work together. For example, say you’ve made a few different templates for social media captions on different platforms. You can put these together to create the ultimate social media caption kit.

To keep your leads from getting information overload, think about structure. It’s a good idea to break your kit or workbook into bite-sized pieces. You’ll also want to use graphics and other media to break up dense sections of text to keep things engaging.

A workbook or kit might also include:

Worksheets
A Q&A
Checklists
Schedules
Journal prompts

Content Planning and Strategy

You wouldn’t start building a house without a blueprint, a sculpture without a sketch, or a company without a mission statement. So, there should be no content creation without a plan. Otherwise, you risk getting derailed from your objective.

A content strategy includes everything from brand and tone to how you will promote your content and eventually repurpose it. Let’s go over how to create your content plan, step-by-step.

Featured Resources

Content Marketing Workbook
Content Strategy Course

Set your content goals.

Similar to a traditional marketing campaign, your content strategy should be centered on your marketing goals (which should, in turn, be derived from your company goals).

Your goals could range from attracting more visitors to your site to generating more leads to anything in between — as long as they’re SMART goals. An example of this kind of goal would be to increase organic traffic to the blog by 25% in the next quarter.

Once you determine that, each piece of content you create should be aligned with your goal and contribute to your desired outcome.

In sum, start with your goals, then create your content.

Create a buyer persona.

Building a content strategy is more than considering what type of content you want to create. You first need to know who you’re speaking to, how you want to speak to them, and where to find them.

The key to creating successful inbound content is to make each reader feel like you’re speaking directly to them.

The only way to do this is to get intimate with your visitors, leads, and customers — you need to know them like you know an old friend. You should be aware of their obstacles, their pain points, their challenges, and their fears. Similarly, you should understand their best possible outcome, their dream solution, and their biggest fantasies.

Always remember that you are marketing to humans that want to feel connected.

Ideally, you’d know and be able to speak directly to every individual that visits your website, but you can’t. The solution? Create a buyer persona.

Your buyer persona is the person that you want to reach with your content. This semi-fictional character serves as a representation of your target audience, i.e., the people who are most likely to benefit from your message and become customers.

Creating a buyer persona takes a bit of research, some guesswork, and tweaking. But the end result is a clear picture of the person you want to market to and someone who will happily consume your content.

Not sure where to start? Use Make My Persona to build out your buyer persona.

Rely on the buyer’s journey.

If you’ve ever had a headache, the first thing you likely did was try to figure out the cause. Perhaps you were dehydrated, or caffeine-depleted, or maybe you were sick. After you diagnosed the problem, you moved on to solutions — drink some water, grab an espresso, or take some medicine. Finally, you decide between solutions: Evian or tap water? Starbucks or Peet’s Coffee? Aleve or Tylenol? Hopefully, your headache then subsided and you were able to go about your day.

This is a representation of the buyer’s journey. Each of your prospects follows a path to a solution — that path involves awareness, consideration, and decision stages. But each of your prospects is in a different part of that journey, so it’s important to use your content to appeal to each stage.

By creating content for each stage of the buyer’s journey, you’re ensuring that no visitors fall through the cracks and that every individual that comes to your site feels like they are receiving relevant, useful information.

You also want to select a format for your content so that it’s tailored to each stage of the buyer’s journey. A new visitor in the awareness stage won’t want a live demo of your product, but they would read a quick checklist or blog post that helps them better understand their problem. A prospect in the decision stage doesn’t need to know about all the possible solutions, they need a consultation or demo that shows them that your product is the right solution. Always meet your audience where they are.

Here’s a guide to the best content formats for each stage of the buyer’s journey:

Perform a content audit.

Whether you’ve been creating content for a while without any clear direction or you’ve been following a strategy all along, every marketing department can benefit from a content audit. Just because you didn’t start out with a clearly defined strategy doesn’t mean that the content you already have won’t fit into one.

A content audit is simply taking inventory of the work you’ve already done, then organizing it to fit under your new content plan.

The process might involve some re-writing, or it could reveal gaps that need to be filled with content that appeals to your persona and their journey stage.

Here’s how you’d perform your content audit:

Gather all of your content in a spreadsheet.
Create columns for target keywords, buyer persona, buyer’s journey stage, format, and main topic, then fill these in for each content piece.
Add columns for your key metrics, like page views, shares, engagement, etc.
Finally, categorize each post (using highlights or another column) by those that are doing well, need improvement, should be rewritten, or can be merged with another post.

While a content audit may seem tedious, all the manual labor will be worth the increased traffic and leads. Plus, you’ll have a verified plan moving forward.

If this process seems a bit overwhelming, check out this post for some more guidance.

Choose the right format.

Remember that buyer persona you created? You’re creating content for them. That means you should be crafting content in a format that is most easily and enjoyably consumed by your prospects.

The format you choose might be a blog post, video, Slideshare, graphic, ebook, whitepaper, podcast, or whatever your creative mind can conceive. As long as it serves your persona, you’ll be in good shape.

Also, you don’t need to stick to one format for every piece of content that you create. But you should be able to create content — in whatever format — on a consistent cadence. What I mean is, a podcast series might be a great marketing tactic, but if you lack the resources (and patience) to stick to it, then a blog might be a better route.

Digital content creation is the process of choosing the format (usually digital), and then utilizing the right tools to publish and promote your content online.

Use these questions as a guide when choosing your content format:

What stage of the buyer’s journey is this for?
How easy is it for your audience to consume this content?
Where does your persona spend their time online?
What format can you create on a consistent basis?
Are you able to produce this content at a quality level that’s competitive?

Choose capable content creators.

At this point, you’re ready to start creating content, but first, you’ll need to build a team of content creators. To get started, categorize the type of content you want to create and the type of content creator it takes to produce that content. Below is an example list:

Blogs — Writer
Social media posts — Social media coordinator
Podcasts — Podcast host/producer
Graphics — Graphic designer
Webinars/Lead Magnets — Lead acquisition expert (content offer producer)
Videos — Videographer/editor

As you can see, there are many different types of content creators you’ll need to either outsource or hire to produce high-quality content that converts your audience from viewers to customers.

In many organizations, there is one person responsible for a lot of this content, and that is a content marketing strategist. While having one content marketing strategist might make sense, expecting one person to be able to produce all of that content doesn’t.

The best way to go about content creation is to collaborate with freelancers, use influencer marketing to increase your audience reach, and hire a content strategist (or several preferably) to help you organize your content creation.

Promote your content.

What good is it to create all this great content if no one sees it? In a perfect world, herds of people would flock to your site every time you published a new post. In reality — especially when you’re just starting out — you’ll need to entice people to consume your content and even shepherd them into your online space.

Hence why content promotion is just as important to your strategy as whatever content you create.

Your promotion plan should be guided by your persona. Where do they spend their time online? What time of day do they use a particular platform? How often do they want to see content from you? How do they like to consume content? What email subject lines get them to click?

Content promotion varies by medium, and there are specific rules to follow for each.

Social Media

While social media is a relationship-building tool, it can be used to promote content. It’s all about finding the right balance between self-promotion, sharing useful information, and entertainment. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat are all great mediums to both create and share relevant content. The key is modifying that content to fit the platform.

Featured Resources

How to Use Twitter for Business (+ Follower Growth Tracking Template)
30 Days of Instagram: A Guide for Businesses
How to Reach & Engage Your Audience With Facebook

Email Marketing

Email is one of the best ways to reach your audience for any reason, especially to promote content. The reason is anyone on your email list has opted in to hear from you and you can guarantee that they’ll get your messages. Better yet, you can improve your open rates by sending relevant content to segmented lists, meaning they’ll be eager to read everything you send their way.

Featured Resource

The Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing

Paid Promotion

Pay-per-click (PPC) helps you get your content in front of new audiences through targeted, paid advertisements. These ads can run on social media, search engines, or other websites. Once you define your buyer persona, you’ll want to go the paid route so as not to waste money targeting uninterested parties. Once you have your audience down, paid promotion can yield a great ROI.

Featured Resources

The Ultimate Google Ads PPC Kit
Advertising Plan Kit [Free Planning Templates + Guide]

Syndication

Getting your content promoted through authoritative, third-party channels is a great way to build your audience. Syndication gets your brand in front of fresh eyes (and wallets) that you wouldn’t otherwise reach with your own efforts.

Repurpose your content.

When you repurpose content, you’re reusing something you spent a lot of time creating and transforming it in various formats so that it can be more widely consumed.

Think of it as recycling. You want to spend less time creating and more time getting your content in front of your audience. For example, that blog post that you wrote on marketing stats can also serve as a great infographic or even a video.

If you created something in one format, try to think of all the other ways that you could reuse that information that might be just as effective.

Creating a Content Plan

Content exists everywhere, but its success relies on your ability to adapt it to the medium on which it lives. One size does not fit all when it comes to posting on different mediums — or the platforms within those mediums, for that matter.

Social media content varies from blog content, which is different than website content. So, you need to know how to tailor your creation to reach your audience where they are.

Let’s dive into some guidelines for sharing content on various platforms.

Social Media Content

There is an art to creating content for social media. But it’s well worth your time since there are 3.96 billion users across social media platforms worldwide. Plus, someone who follows you on social media is like a warm lead — they already like you and are interested in what you have to say. So, you have an eager audience that’s ready to engage with your content.

Here are a few quick tips for creating content on some popular social channels.

1. Facebook

Facebook can be used to build micro-communities via Facebook Groups or to share to a mass audience on Facebook Pages. When it comes to sharing content, questions and videos reap the most engagement.

2. Instagram

Instagram is best for sharing high-quality imagery and short videos with brief captions. Hashtags work well on this platform as long as they’re relevant to your account and business. Instagram Stories has introduced a new way to engage with your followers, from quick polls to questions to real-time videos.

3. YouTube

YouTube has 1.3 billion users and counting. Users frequent this platform to watch content ranging from DIY videos to parodies. Some of the most successful content on this platform are how-to guides, vlogs, product reviews, and educational videos.

Featured Resources

The Ultimate Video Marketing Starter Pack
18 YouTube Templates for Business

4. TikTok

TikTok has become one of the most popular social media platforms of our time. It’s best known for fun, short-form videos. It can be used to engage with your Millennial or Gen Z audience.

5. Twitter

Twitter best practices include short messages, supporting images, relevant hashtags, and retweets. And, of course, replies go a long way to win over your audience.

Website Content

Website content should focus on three things: your persona, your target keywords, and your solution.

Like your blog content, the copy on your website needs to guide visitors to your solution in a cohesive and natural way.

Think of web content like a map to your product.

Be careful not to turn visitors away through social media feeds and other distracting elements. Once you’ve attracted a potential customer, you must do everything you can to keep them there, and that’s the key function of your website content.

Blog Content

The purpose of blog content is to support your business by attracting strangers and bringing in qualified leads.

Blog content is a free resource that’s not often directly tied to sales, but don’t underestimate the power of a well-crafted blog to ultimately generate revenue for your business.

Research shows that companies that blog more get more traffic and more leads than those that don’t.

Featured Resources

How to Start a Successful Blog
6 Free Blog Post Templates

The Content Creation Process

We, marketers, are busy. We don’t have time to waste on inefficient systems. That’s why we create processes for everything we do. We devise a system, roll it out, tweak it until it works, then repeat that system over and over to generate the results we want.

Think about every marketing campaign you’ve ever done — webinars, autoresponders, surveys. Each of them had a process. Content creation is no different.

Follow these steps to create content, remove the guesswork, and allow for more creative mental space.

1. SEO Research

Creating your buyer persona likely gave you some ideas about what topics to write about and what questions your audience might have, which is a great start.

Now, you need to confirm if those ideas can apply on a bigger scale to a larger audience. Sure, it would be great to write a blog post directed toward a single person, but, boy, would it be a waste of energy.

SEO research — a.k.a. keyword research — will show you the search volume of a specific keyword phrase and whether it’s worth the investment of creating a piece of content around it.

A good way to go about keyword research is to write down some questions that your persona might have based on their obstacles and goals.

Then, perform some keyword research around those queries to see if enough people are searching for them.

A good approach is to target keywords that are attainable, meaning that they have a monthly search volume (MSV) and keyword difficulty that corresponds to your domain authority.

Trying to target high volume (read: highly competitive) keywords when you’ve just started blogging won’t pan out too well for you.

Before we go any further, let’s detour into a quick-and-dirty SEO explanation:

One important factor that helps you to rank in search engines is domain authority. You gain domain authority by how many external sites link back to your content.

In order for this to happen, you need to have a pretty large library of content that is valuable enough to cite.

That means, the longer you write high-quality content, the higher your domain authority and the easier it is to rank for highly competitive keywords that will put you on the first page of Google.

If you’re not quite there yet, the best thing to do is to target long-tail, low-volume keywords with minimal keyword difficulty (<50) — we’re talking 200-1000 MSV. This will give you the best chance at ranking for keywords and getting your content in front of more people.

SEO lesson concluded. Back to our scheduled programming.

There are a few ways you could perform your keyword research:

Use keyword research tools, like SEMRush or Moz Keyword Explorer.
Type your keyword into a search engine and take note of the auto-filled queries.
Check out the related searches section on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Featured Resources

How to Run an SEO Audit [Free Kit]
Complete SEO Starter Pack

2. Ideation

Now that you’ve determined which keywords to target, it’s time to brainstorm some content ideas.

HubSpot research shows that the best way to organize content is through topic clusters, meaning you create a long-form, comprehensive pillar page based on a keyword that then links to content you’ve created on related subtopics (think blog posts).

To illustrate the point, it looks something like this. The topic cluster model makes brainstorming because it gives you a structure to follow.

You can use your main keyword to create a pillar piece that covers that topic in-depth, like … say a guide to content creation. Then, you can create shorter pieces of content like:

Infographics
Blog posts
Templates

These will help your audience dive deeper into the topic and target long-tail keywords.

If you’re stumped for ideas, you might want to consider looking for inspiration from books you’ve read, industry studies, your competitor’s sites, or related searches on SERPs.

Once you have all of your ideas down, you can develop your editorial calendar and start creating.

3. Writing

Your specific content creation strength might be videos or graphics or podcasts, but writing is the foundation of most content generation. Whatever content you make, the creation process follows some pretty similar guidelines.

Let’s go over some helpful tips for great content creation.

Write to your persona.

Use their voice, their euphemisms, even their humor to construct a piece that resonates.

Tell your audience why your content is important to them.

Use titles, meta descriptions, and other teasers to compel your audience to read your content. Put the benefit of your content right in the title to let them know why they should read it.

Create something unique.

Don’t just regurgitate the information that’s already out there. Infuse a unique style or cite new research to emphasize your points.

Stick to one idea.

Then, use your content to reinforce it. Don’t confuse your reader by going on tangents or trying to explain multiple semi-related topics in a single piece.

Stay true to your voice.

Don’t try to impress your audience with eloquent prose or an expansive vocabulary if they don’t speak that way.

Be clear and concise.

You want your audience to relate to you and derive value from your content. So, don’t ask them to sift through jargon or confusing metaphors.

Featured Resource

HubSpot’s Copywriting 101

4. Editing

The way you edit your (or others’) work is a very subjective process. You may want to edit as you go, or you might wait a few days and review the work with fresh eyes. You might care a great deal about grammar, or you might aim for a more colloquial piece.

Either way, there are a few things that you should definitely look out for as you refine your content, like active voice, clear language, short sentences, and plenty of whitespace. Consider having a colleague or manager review your work, too.

Some tools that will help you cut down on your editing time are Grammarly and Hemingway Editor.

5. Uploading

Now that your content is ready, you’ll need to put it somewhere that people can access it. A content management system (CMS) is software that hosts digital content and allows you to display it on your website (or anywhere else on the web).

The benefit to a CMS is that it connects all of your content and stores it in one place. So, you can easily link to a landing page in your blog article or insert a content offer in an email.

Not only that, but you can analyze the results of all the content you created for a specific campaign (which can help with content audits). A CMS saves you from having a disjointed content marketing system.

For example, CMS Hub is home to our blog, where you get access to all of our great content and useful free offers.

6. Publishing

Publishing content is as simple as clicking a button. So, why include a section on it? Well, because it’s not always that simple.

You can publish your content immediately after uploading, or you can maximize its impact by waiting for an optimal time. If you’re just starting out, then clicking publish right away probably won’t impact your audience too much.

But if you have committed to a regular publishing schedule, like delivering a new post every Wednesday, your audience will expect to see posts published on Wednesdays.

Something else to keep in mind is to publish according to trends or time-sensitive events. For example, if you create content about national holidays or current events, then you’ll want to publish those at specific times.

A CMS will allow you to schedule posts for a future date and specific time, so you can click, schedule, and forget.

7. Promoting Content

Finally, it’s time to promote the content you’ve created. You can do this through various mediums including social media, email marketing, and even pay-per-click advertising.

To promote your content, think about what channels your audience is on. Are they on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube? Wherever it might be, it’s important to meet them where they’re at and promote your content on that medium.

Additionally, collaborating with influencers or other brands will help you promote your content and reach more people.

Analyzing Your Content

The final, and arguably most important step in content creation is analyzing your content. Without data, you can’t know what’s working or how to improve it.

There are several data points you could track when analyzing your content, so use your goals as a guide to set some parameters. Whatever you want to accomplish with your content will help you choose your metrics. (Remember that initial goal we talked about?)

What you analyze is completely up to you, but here are some ideas for metrics to track:

Page Views

The number of users that visit your content. For blog posts this page views, but for any type of content, there is usually a “views” metric that will let you know how many times your content has been viewed and by how many unique users.

Organic Traffic

The amount of traffic that comes from search engines. This is unpaid traffic that you get from ranking high on Google or other search engines.

Bounce Rate

The percentage of visitors who leave your site after visiting only one page. This is an important metric to track because it can let you know that people are interested in clicking your posts, but then the content is immediately unsatisfying.

Conversion Rates

The percent of visitors that engage with a CTA — whether it’s a content offer, or filling out a form.

Engagement Rates

The number of people that interact with your content through likes, shares, comments, or in other ways.

Audience Growth

The new subscribers or leads that are generated from a piece of content.

Time On Page

The amount of time a user is on your page, whether it’s a blog post, or a video (for video content this might be average watch time). It’s important to keep track of where users drop off. Do they stay on the page long enough to read the post or consume the content?

Paid Campaigns

The amount of traffic that comes in from paid campaigns. If you sponsor posts on social media or pay for search engine ads, it’s important to track how much traffic comes from those campaigns.

If you need more tips on analyzing your content, check out this free HubSpot Academy course.

Content Creation Tools

While a CMS will help you manage your content, it won’t help you create it. That’s where content creation tools come in handy. These are especially useful if you’re artistically impaired, like me, or if you don’t have the capacity to hire help. From GIFs to infographics, these content creation tools will help you look like a professional, regardless of what kind of content you’re making.

1. Make My Persona

MakeMyPersona is HubSpot’s own nifty tool that will walk you through the process of creating your buyer persona. You can generate a document to reference throughout your content creation process.

2. Blog Ideas Generator

This free tool from HubSpot can give you a full year of blog post ideas in just a few seconds. All you need to do is add a few nouns to get smart and relevant ideas for your blog. This is super helpful, especially if you get stuck while putting together your editorial calendar.

3. Canva

Canva will help you create beautiful designs for any platform, from social ads to Facebook cover photos to infographics. The software features aesthetically pleasing templates that you can customize with colors, images, and text … for free.

4. Giphy

Giphy The GIF has replaced emojis as a completely normal form of communication, and, therefore, an acceptable way to present content. Giphy allows you to search millions of pre-created GIFs in their database or even create your own.

5. Vidyard

Vidyard is a video hosting platform that was made for marketers. The software allows you to customize your video by adding overlays, text, or CTA buttons, split test, transcription, and it also has SEO features.

6. SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey is a leading survey creation platform. Why might you need such a thing? Because a good marketer knows that customer feedback is critical to an effective marketing campaign.

7. Anchor

Anchor is a podcasting tool for beginners. It’s free, allows you to record and store unlimited episodes, and you can easily upload to any third-party platform.

This is far from an exhaustive list of all the great content creation tools out there — this list of content marketing tools is even better!

Content Creation Examples

Now that you’ve got a strong foundation for your content planning, strategy, creation, and analysis, it’s time to get inspired. These are some of our favorite examples of great content.

1. HubSpot Academy

HubSpot Academy offers free online training, teaching marketing, sales, and customer service. It offers a range of valuable certifications and its teachers are leading experts in their fields.

Many courses are short and self-paced, giving users a chance to learn topics in less than 30 minutes.

Why HubSpot Academy is great content creation: If you’re new to marketing, HubSpot’s training is the top industry standard. These courses are also free, which makes them accessible for anyone who wants to learn.

Not every student will become a customer, but every student can experience the impact of these lessons. This means that every student has the potential to become a vocal advocate for the HubSpot brand.

2. Whiteboard Friday, Moz

For 10+ years, Moz has created content for Whiteboard Fridays. Rand Fishkin started this series, and members of the Moz team continue to teach weekly sessions about SEO and marketing.

In this video and blog series, an actual whiteboard takes center stage. The whiteboard features an outline of that Friday’s topic, and then the host breaks the topic down in more detail.

Why Whiteboard Fridays are great content creation: This series uses a simple and consistent visual tool to draw the audience in. They use that format to teach valuable ideas that a wide range of people can use.

This series also lends itself to many different formats. The whiteboard outline can become an infographic, the video narration can be broadcast as a podcast, and the transcript from the video can become a blog for people who’d rather read than watch.

3. Home Buying Stories, NerdWallet

Whether you’re in Seattle, Des Moines, or Madison, it can be tough to buy a home. Besides the initial investment, homebuyers have a range of personal and financial questions they need to process.

This blog series interviews first-time homebuyers in different cities. Each post asks the same questions, but also offers a unique window into the challenge of buying a home. They cover the surprises, challenges, and gifts that come with this intense process.

Why Home Buying Stories are great content creation: Besides offering useful content with a personal touch, this series is an excellent strategy for growing traffic. The series offers a range of ideas to solve a common problem.

At the same time, it’s a topic that’s a regular feature in local news, which means this content is often shared with new audiences.

4. Creative Routines, InfoWeTrust

This attractive infographic uses research to show the habits and schedules of creative thinkers from the past. It’s a stunning example of how an infographic can make data easier to understand and use.

Why Creative Routines is great content creation: Besides showing the value of InfoWeTrust’s services, this content teaches us something. It makes data that could be difficult to understand easy to consume and remember.

It’s also super shareable. People shared this infographic in the press, on blogs, and on social media. This kind of mass appeal is how brands go viral.

5. Trending Quizzes, BuzzFeed

Raise your hand if you’ve taken a Buzzfeed quiz. Quizzes are interactive, so they get your audience involved. They’re also games, and gamification is more popular than ever.

Past quizzes from this dynamic brand include:

Correctly Answering These 11 Logic Questions Means You Have A High IQ
If You’ve Read Over 28 Of These Books From Back In The Day, You’re A Proper Bookworm
If You Did 23/31 Things On This List As A Teen, You Were Definitely A Rebel

Each quiz is unique and appeals to a different buyer persona. At the same time, these quizzes are fun, quick, and easy to share.

Why Buzzfeed quizzes are great content creation: They created design templates that made it easy for people to create and share their own quizzes. Not everyone is great with Photoshop, and these templates made quizzes great to look at. By appealing to both the mind and the eye, they broadened the appeal of their quizzes.

But what’s most important is that people talk about quizzes. When someone takes a quiz, Buzzfeed makes it easy to share the results, which continues to expand that conversation.

Start Creating

Content creation is an iterative process that pays off tremendously with your audience. Once you have the content creation process down, you’ll be able to generate creative work that not only delights your audience but also grows your business.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.