After you publish a blog or YouTube video what do you do with it? Do you promote it? How so?
Whether producing content is a primary or secondary focus, many content producers fail to attract and keep audiences because they don’t market their content. It’s not enough to write posts and create videos that are search engine optimized. Also, it’s not sufficient to publish ebooks and online courses then hope for the best. We need robust content marketing plans that incorporate multiple touch points to attract visitors to our sites, products, and services.
Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. In other words, your content marketing strategy is a content distribution plan (excluding the creation part). In my case, the profitable customer action I’m attempting to stimulate is the purchase of my digital and affiliate products and services.
My content marketing strategy is a blend of manual and automated promotional activities. An example of a manual activity is when I post my latest blog on my Facebook page. Conversely, an automated task is when I create an autoresponse sequence to highlight specific posts. Marketing automation is a category of technology that allows companies and individuals to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks so that they can grow revenue faster.
The Danger with Automation
“Please automate responsibility” is the first thought that should enter your mind when outlining your marketing automation activities. While many activities make perfect sense to automate, others are the subject of much debate, for example, automating likes, retweets, and direct messages on social media networks. Social media automation is the one area I give considerable thought. I want to guard against appearing like a robot by posting too frequently and automating people to death because it could alienate my followers. Also, social media platforms have rules to thwart practices that appear spammy and don’t benefit users.
To offset my social media automation activities, I still conduct several manual efforts such as posting comments, engaging in conversation, and keeping my pins up-to-date to show a real person is behind my profiles. It’s a balancing act that is necessary to build and maintain brand equity.
Offset social media automation by:
- Posting and tweeting in real-time
- Liking, favoriting and retweeting in real-time
- Engaging with and responding to others
- Updating your pins at least once a month
- Creating a separate marketing-only account
Many Tools and Services
I intentionally wrote this post for bloggers, YouTubers, authors, and online instructors because I’m in the same boat. On the other hand, you may be a small business owner or salesperson looking to tackle automation at various points along the sales process, for instance, lead tracking and nurturing to upselling and cross-selling.
Many marketing automation software tools exist to target different customers, for example, end-to-end solutions that address more than just content marketing. However, for content producers who want to keep things simple, marketing automation can be achieved through social media management and email marketing services.
Let’s cover four ways you can automate your content marketing to attract more visitors to your site. Also, by automating your activities, you’ll free up time to focus on other parts of your business for productivity gains.
My Four Marketing Automation Activities
1) Hootsuite Bulk Message Upload
Take a look at my Twitter account. Tweets appear in two-hour intervals, and it isn’t me posting them. Once a week, I upload a spreadsheet of 80 tweets to Hootsuite through their bulk message upload tool (you need a premium/paid account to access). This is the magic that empowers 24/7 social media marketing on your behalf.
Bulk uploading is a way to preset up to 350 posts on all the major social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It’s achieved by setting up multiple posts based on dates and times you specify on a spreadsheet.
At first, bulk uploading demands some playing around with, but once you get the hang of it, it will take roughly five to ten minutes each week to complete the process. You can start with bulk uploading twenty to thirty posts and increase from there as you get more comfortable. Items to keep in mind:
- Only 350 posts can be scheduled at any given time. Solution: delete a few posts if necessary, so that future uploads don’t overlap.
- Duplicate posts are not allowed. Solution: use as a combination of different statements and hashtags.
- You must upload a CSV file, not MS Excel. Solution: not to worry as a CSV file looks similar to an Excel file.
- You can’t include images for bulk uploading. Solution: since you can’t use images, use them in your real time posts. Also, set your blog social media settings to include the correct image.
- Schedule posts at least ten minutes into the future.
- Post times must end in a five or zero e.g. 10:00 or 10:45. Hootsuite will round up and post for all other times.
- Twitter’s 140-character limitation. Just be mindful of your character count.
Duplicate Post Error Message Explained
Hootsuite disallows publishing duplicate posts, but there’s a workaround. As you can see, I’ve set up six posts to upload. In the first example, I’ve differentiated each post by using hashtags and in the second example, by statements. By using different statements, hashtags, and arrangements, you’ll avoid duplication.
Example 1 – Using different hashtags
|“01/09/2014 01:15”||Learn about passive income. Learn more. ow.ly/4nv9H4 #money|
|“01/09/2014 02:15”||Learn about passive income. Learn more. ow.ly/4nv9H4 #financial|
|“01/09/2014 03:15”||Learn about passive income. Learn more. ow.ly/4nv9H4 #income|
|“01/09/2014 04:15”||Learn about passive income. Learn more. ow.ly/4nv9H4 #planning|
|“01/09/2014 05:15”||Learn about passive income. Learn more. ow.ly/4nv9H4 #working|
|“01/09/2014 06:15”||Learn about passive income. Learn more. ow.ly/4nv9H4 #money #working|
Example 2 – Using different statements
|“01/09/2014 01:15”||Learn about passive income. See post. ow.ly/4nv9H4|
|“01/09/2014 02:15”||Learn about working remotely. Learn more. ow.ly/4nv9H4|
|“01/09/2014 03:15”||Learn about earned income. Start reading. ow.ly/4nv9H4|
|“01/09/2014 04:15”||Your million-dollar journey starts here. ow.ly/4nv9H4|
|“01/09/2014 05:15”||Attract multiple streams of income. Learn more. ow.ly/4nv9H4|
|“01/09/2014 06:15”||Make $5K a month in passive income. Start today! ow.ly/4nv9H4|
Primary and Secondary Accounts
It’s possible that you may not want to use your primary account(s) for marketing automation because it may upset/frustrate your followers. This will depend on your post frequency settings and plans. For example, using Hootsuite to publish every 15 minutes as opposed to two hours. I recommend a minimum of one-hour between automated posts irrespective of the social media platform. Alternatively, you can create a secondary or marketing-only account for automation purposes. By doing this, you’ll gain peace of mind from knowing that your core audience won’t be affected by your efforts.
2) Social Media Bots
I keep getting added to Twitter lists and most of the time it’s probably because those users are using Twitterbots. A Twitterbot is a program used to produce automated posts and actions on Twitter. For example, setting a Twitterbot to reply automatically or follow someone. Some Twitter users even program Twitterbots to assist themselves with scheduling or reminders. Twitterbots can be used for good or evil which is why Twitter has an article on automation rules and best practices. Click here for the best Twitter bots and if you fancy Instagram, you can learn about Instagram bots here.
I’ve just begun exploring Twitterbots and have set one up through labnol.org (How to Write your own Twitter Bots without Code). A free account allows you to create one action whereas a premium account ($29.99 and a nice passive income stream for Amit) lets you create up to five. Currently, my bot will reply to a tweet containing the account I specified e.g. @wpplugin with “Check out my post re MailMunch, SumoMe, and Thrive. Thrive is the best way to build your email list. http://bit.ly/1UfcL8N #WordPress” As you can see, my Twitterbot is promoting my content, not me. My next step is to consider how multiple actions could support my content marketing agenda while abiding by Twitter’s guidelines.
Update: After trying the public reply feature, Twitter categorized my action as spam. The smarter play might be to target hashtags to favorite or retweet which will get people’s attention (garnering attention is the first step to getting individuals to explore your content). I’ve gone the favorite route then purge my favorites once a week with Twitter Archive Eraser.
3) Email Auto Response Sequence and New Blog Auto Send
An email autoresponder or DRIP sequence is a series of emails that’s automatically sent out to people subscribed to your email list. Typically, an autoresponder sequence is sent out to new subscribers. My auto-response consist of four emails with the second email (Did You Catch These Posts?) highlighting five must-read posts.
Another function I’m looking into is new blog auto distribution. AWeber offers the ability to do this, “Blog broadcasts enable you to quickly and easily convert your latest blog posts into broadcast messages – an effective way to generate new email content and stay in touch with your subscribers.” The one concern I have is the recurring appearance/formatting of blog-to-email automation, so I’ll test this to a small user group before rolling out in full.
4) Facebook Page Scheduling
I’m in the midst of growing my Facebook page and realize that content has to appear frequently to increase my likes and engagement. However, I don’t use Hootsuite to automate posts to my Facebook page for two reasons. There are conflicting reports (Buffer, Mari Smith) that suggest third party apps produce lower engagement on Facebook. Secondly, posts appear without images and spacing can be an issue which reduces their impact and engagement. Therefore, my personal preference is to post natively or directly through Facebook.
Naturally, I don’t want to post every day, so every Monday I spend approximately 15 minutes setting up five to ten posts for the week. The process is similar to creating a regular post except instead of publishing, I choose “schedule” and specify the date and time accordingly.