Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Curate like Katie, Share the Stories Your Community Craves







Where do you turn for your morning news? How about starting with Katie Couric's new Paper.li, Katie's FYI: the stories and news Katie Couric is curating for her community.

We are thrilled to have author, award winning journalist, T.V. personality and Yahoo News global anchor Katie Couric, as a fellow publisher and member of the community!

As one of America's most most celebrated television hosts, the first female solo anchor on an evening news broadcast and a mega community builder, Katie understands the ins and outs of using various types of media to engage audiences and build thriving communities.

Whether reporting in person on the ground or in the air, sharing via Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, Katie knows how to deliver the news her communities crave. She's timely and topic relevant in everything she does, and we're estatic that she has chosen Paper.li as a service to compliment her style and her digital line-up.

How's Katie leveraging Paper.li? As a content hub and gathering place to share world news, inspiring stories and Katie's own interviews and articles of interest with her community.

How's she curating? With a fine-tuned blend of hand selected sources and the Paper.li bookmarklet to add in content that she and her team find throughout the day.

How did she achieve that fresh look for her paper? With the standard Pro package, a big, glossy banner and a little custom CSS to match her classic, understated style and branding. 

Stay in the know! Subscribe to Katie's FYI and receive daily updates to your inbox with the stories Katie's selecting for you!



Thursday, July 24, 2014

New! Branded Single Notifications and Five Article Newsletters

Great news, Marketers! We've just rolled out two new enhancements to the Paper.li email notifications that you are absolutely going to love.

The Paper.li Curated Email Newsletter service is the most popular Pro feature we offer. Why? Because we make creating and sending beautiful email newsletters to your readers a snap.

But you told us during a recent survey that while our email newsletters are a great timesaver and offer an easy alternative to a hand crafted email newsletter, you needed an option that offered more flexibility: you wanted more content than the Single Alert notification and less content than the Full Curated Email Newsletter. Now you have it!

Paper.li now offers three, fully branded and customizable email notifications to deliver news to your readers.  If you haven't yet tried out Paper.li Pro, this is the perfect opportunity to upgrade.


Here’s what’s new, and how Paper.li Email Newsletters can help you:

1. Single Article Alert 

Clean and simple, this alert boasts your paper’s featured article and is sent to your subscribers, automatically, each time a new edition of your paper goes online.

This alert is included in our Basic package and becomes a mega powerhouse when you upgrade to Pro. With Pro, all of the branding and customization options for the newsletters are now available for this alert, as well as the option to turn off automatic promotion with the notification control setting.

Include your paper’s top banner, a custom subject line and a personalized message or call to action in your alert and you’re delivering a short, sweet and brand-tastic news to your readers daily.

2. 'Headlines Only' Newsletter: New Pro feature! 

This newsletter offers your readers a highlight of what’s in your current edition. The Headlines Only Newsletter default is five articles, but if you would like to include more, no problem.

From your paper, simply switch notification control to on, promote the additional content you would like included in the newsletter to the headlines, and send your email newsletter out.

Who’s this feature best for? Marketers who are using Paper.li as a stand alone service and would like to drive traffic back to their paper. This option pairs well with marketers who switch up paper branding every few weeks, swap out calls to actions in ad units, giving readers a reason to check back in.


3. Full Content Email Newsletter: Pro feature

This option sends the full front page of your newspaper to your readers daily.

Who’s this feature best for? Marketers who have a blog or website but who don’t have time to send a weekly newsletter and want to provide a service to their readers. The full content newsletter is a great way to stay top of mind. Rounding up industry, market or niche content daily takes time and readers appreciate topic relevant news delivered daily or weekly.

This is also a great option if you are using Paper.li within your organization to serve up industry news round ups. Teams and departments will thank you!

Review of Paper.li Pro Newsletter options: 

Paper.li Pro offers numerous customization options for your alerts and email newsletters

  • Banner branding: display the top banner for your paper on your alert and newsletters.
  • Custom subject line: customize it! Change it daily, weekly or not at all.
  • From field: add your name, or your company’s name and make it easier for your readers to identify you as the sender of the incoming mail.
  • Custom message: add a text message, a call to action, a hyperlink or  special offer. Use this area to build a relationship with your subscribers.
  • HTML export: if you use a third party email service, you can export the code and your curated content to your own template. 
The team and I look forward to hearing how the new branding enhancements work for you. Leave a comment or send us a tweet @Paper_li and let us know. 


Monday, June 2, 2014

Pro feature! Promote to Facebook and LinkedIn Company Pages

Today we're excited to share the arrival of a much anticipated new feature: autopost for Facebook Pages and LinkedIn Company Pages. 

This new feature is included in our Pro package and offers publishers two ways to share content:

  • share the Featured Article of the day with the image and text 
  • share the paper itself represented by the publisher's cover image for the paper

A recent Social Media Examiner study reveals that regardless of how you slice and dice it marketers say the best performing platforms for doing business are Facebook and LinkedIn, with Facebook dominating the B2C space (68%) and LinkedIn the B2B space (33%).

Our community let us know that while the auto-post feature is a great help in keeping a supply of topic relevant content flowing to their communities, posting to timelines wasn't enough. They also needed their content where they were building relationships outside of timelines: on Facebook pages and LinkedIn company pages.

Community members who are already using auto-post for their Linked or FB timelines also let us know that the most engagement (meaning interaction) taking place around their content is when they share a featured article, not the paper.li url. This makes a lot of sense: it is simply more inviting to comment on an article than a logo or cover image of a paper and it brings your reader back to your paper.

Here are a few additional tips to ensure that your community will be delighted with the content you are sharing:
  1. Revisit your content sources regularly to ensure that Paper.li is fetching only the most relevant content around around a topic
  2. Push your blog's RSS to first position which will increase the changes of your next article making it into the Featured Article position.
  3. Create a custom message to accompany your post and change the messaging regularly
  4. Read your own paper. If you don't think the content is spot-on, take a few extra minutes to groom your content and don't promote it until you feel your content is ready to please!
Start publishing to your Company Pages today!

Getting started with this great new feature is easy: sign-in to Paper.li, go to your Promotion & Emails tab and activate the platform and Page you’d like to promote content on.

This feature is available under our 9$ Pro package. If you're not a Pro publisher yet, now is a good time to upgrade! Click on the link above and learn how Paper.li can help save you time and effort with your online marketing. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Behind the Scenes: A Look into Paper.li's Data Ingestion Pipeline

Today we're excited to unveil a new series of blog posts that describe how Paper.li works from a technological stand point. These posts will cover the technology, components and processes that take place behind the scenes before a paper goes live. Although this series of posts are technical in nature, we'll do our best to keep them understandable and interesting for all.

This series will be composed of multiple articles:
  • How we ingest and process social content data (today's article, the Input Pipeline)
  • How we generate paper editions
  • How we serve papers to users and curators
  • Which technologies we use for our key components : storage, search, messaging, configuration management
There is a lot of cool stuff happening behind the scenes before a new edition is published. If this series doesn't answer all of your questions or cover the topics you would like to learn more about, please feel free to make a suggestion!

Today we will cover how our backend works and more specifically how we process social data.

At Paper.li, we are driven by the data we extract and analyze. Daily, we analyze around 250 million of posts on social medias and find referenced articles to find valuable information for our publishers.

The main goal of our backend is to allow our users to easily create daily automated content digests capturing the best of what is happening in the social web. Paper.li data ingestion & publishing can be represented by two main pipelines, each of them being event driven thanks to the Apache Kafka distributed messaging system :
  • The first channel is the Input pipeline, whose role is to keep user specified sources up to date and crawl the web for articles
  • The Publishing pipeline, which publish timely digests for our users, will be covered in a future article

The input pipeline actively monitors more than 1 million sources of posts which lead us to either articles, or images, which can then be selected to be part of our users' papers. This input pipeline process is composed of multiple steps:
  1. Scheduling
  2. Sources fetching
  3. Normalization
  4. Extraction
Those processes interact with our Cassandra cluster to save posts, articles, images and videos. The Cassandra workload for fetchers, normalizers, and extractors is only composed of writes, no read operations are done in order to have better performances.

Data Flow example

The input pipeline process start with the scheduling of a source, stored in Cassandra like this:
{:identifier "9d6ea034de36e8da5b71b61ef4bd3a649983e9a7"
:input "#kdtree"
:type "twitter_search"}
This source can then yield multiple posts which are sent directly to the normalizer process. Then, the normalizer receives a post as input, normalize it and store it in Cassandra. A typical post look like this :
{:contributor_id "twitter:424242424242424"
 :identifier "tweet:4242"
 :meta_data {:retweet_count 0 :hashtags ["kdtree"]}
 :published_at #inst "2014-05-01T10:21:25.000-00:00"
 :status "look http://t.co/lb8teemAgR #kdtree"
 :type "tweet"
 :urls ("http://oliverro.com/algorithms/2011/06/21/practical-approach-kd-trees.html")
 :version "2"}
Posts yield by a stream are ordered by publication time for a specific stream. In order to achieve this, we use a Cassandra wide row where we leverage comparators in order to be able to do time range queries :
input_streams_posts :
RowKey: 06431447f55557bc512e0715416abcdab0368255
=> (column=l@1398866895000:s@tweet:4242, value=, timestamp=1398866915761000)
=> (column=l@1398866891000:s@tweet:42429, value=, timestamp=1398866915761001)
=> (column=l@1398866890000:s@tweet:42423, value=, timestamp=1398866915761002)
=> (column=l@1398866889000:s@tweet:42421, value=, timestamp=1398866915761003)
=> (column=l@1398866888000:s@tweet:42423, value=, timestamp=1398866915761004)
The rowkey is our stream id and column names are composite containing the publication timestamp and the post id. After normalization, each URL contained in the post is sent to our extraction process which does the following :
  • fetch the URL
  • resolve potential shortened URLs
  • extract content, title, images, ...
  • semantically analyze extracted content
  • produce a result entity called paper_items which is stored in Cassandra
paper_items can then be assembled and ranked by the publishing pipeline in order to produce paper.li editions for our users. They are stored like the following example:
{:category_score "0.55309199690795715"
:content "I recently discovered and ..."
:crawled_at "2014-05-05T09:52:42.445-00:00"
:source_id "oliverro.com"
:language "en"
:title "Practical approach and requirements for a KdTree implementation"
:language_score "0.9999973492568127"
:url "http://oliverro.com/algorithms/2011/06/21/practical-approach-kd-trees.html"
:uuid "5c70a487f28f47941790db1dd6c2ac8d144c20ed"
:type "link"
:provider_url "http://oliverro.com/"
:initial_url "http://oliverro.com/algorithms/2011/06/21/practical-approach-kd-trees.html"
:provider_name "oliverro.com"
:published_at "2011-06-21T00:00:00.000-00:00"
:topics ({:score 0.1167776386719197 :id "Algorithm"}
{:score 0.09158502577338368 :id "Polygon"}
{:score 0.0650094530719798 :id "Query_string"}
{:score 0.06112491054227576 :id "Big_O_notation"}
{:score 0.058464017522055656 :id "Sorting_algorithm"})
:category "Science"}

Statistics

We listen to over 1 million streams added manually by our users and process a fairly comfortable amount of data daily. We aggregate stats using Graphite and sampling. This gives us important metrics as well as allows us to monitor the input pipeline behaviour via Nagios. On average, we schedule the fetching of 18'000 streams per 5 minutes, which can lead up to 3 million posts seen by the input pipeline. Those posts are then analyzed, and we extract up to 400'000 URLs of potential articles that are crawled per 5 minutes.
The below numbers are a summary of elements processed by range of 5 minutes.
Our input pipeline supports multiple languages, here is a peek of encountered languages while crawling URLs shared on social networks :
* Russian and other languages aren't currently in production

Coming next

Our next article in this series will focus on the publishing pipeline with details outlining the technical process for generating new editions for our users. Leave a comment below with your thoughts, questions or experiences. We look forward to hearing from you.

Interested in working with us ?

We'd love to meet you. Check out our current jobs openings and drop us an email.

Authors: Olivier Bohrer, Reynald Borer

Image: the Paper.li word cloud was created from the 1000 most used English words out of a 2 million article data pool. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

LinkedIn Marketing: Are You Doing it Right?

With more than one third of professionals worldwide members of LinkedIn, opportunities have never been greater for finding future employers, generating business leads, making deals and generating revenue.

In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2014 Benchmark report, LinkedIn has witnessed the biggest jump in B2C platform usage: from 51 percent last year to 71 percent this year.

LinkedIn has chimed in with its most recent statistics and research stating that with over 300 million potential brand advocates, LinkedIn's “ Pro-sumers" - Professional Consumers - are the most sought after audiences for brands. They carry more purchasing power than members active on other platforms, are 152% more likely to be active in online conversations and 80% more willing to pay more from a brand they trust.

Along with those numbers comes some fierce competition. Your professional experience needs to match your and groomed appearance and the quality of the content you are sharing needs to be on-target to grab the right eyes and generate leads.

So are you "doing it" all right?

LinkedIn offers various best practices from how to find a new employer to how to author winning content.  But when I took a look none of the below tips said “wow” to me. They screamed “business, and boring, as usual”:

Best practices found on LinkedIn:

Profile
upload a professional image
ensure your profile is complete
share content your audience is looking for
update your skills, get endorsements

Job-Seekers
build a profile
ask for recommendations
inform your network you are looking for a job
purchase Premium

Content
keep an authentic voice
showcase your expertise
include concrete advice you’d like to give someone new to the field.
talk about what your industry will look like in 10 years
address industry issues or problems, offer your thoughts

How to get ahead on LinkedIn

I don’t personally use LinkedIn for lead generation or heavy networking, but one thing I will be doing soon though is leveraging LinkedIn's latest innovation -- the Publisher Platform.

Will I be alone? I doubt it. Will all of the other LinkedIn member also begin publishing their own content and clutter opportunities? Will publishing long-form posts (in the short-form world) help highlight my professional achievements, expertise and know-how? So far the quality of content I read is outstanding. My bet is that this feature is a game-changer for members.

LinkedIn members, social marketers and influencers alike have begun publishing. Jeremy Waite, Ekaterina Walter, Mack Collier, Cendrine Marrouat, and Sarah Santacroce have all joined the ranks of LI publishers adding an entirely new dimension to the platform.

Alone the visibility of posts in terms of views and shares speak volumes and can't be discounted as a player in building, or increasing, trust and opening doors to new opportunities. A new era of social influence has begun.

Where is this going? 

I believe that a lot of us, myself included, are short on time and see LinkedIn as a nice to have. We don't truly appreciate the power for the platform or truly understand how to leverage it.

This week on #BizHeroes we have LinkedIn and Small Business Marketing advisor, Sarah Santacroce with us to discuss exactly what a business, brand or individual needs to do to shine.

I’ve seen Sarah in action and she's quite impressive. In fact her Tweet (featured in the image) caught my eye I signed up for Sarah’s 2014 “21 Day LinkedIn Challenge: 21 tips to your inbox daily over 21 days”.  I know her tips drive results. I've seen her work magic for others. Now I want to experience it for myself.

If you’re interested in understanding how you can better leverage all LinkedIn has to offer join us and Tweet-Guest Sarah Santacroce for #BizHeroes Tuesday, May 27, 2pm ET.

A word to #BizHeroes: if you’re not familiar with #BizHeroes Chat, it’s our weekly Paper.li community Twitter Chat that takes place Tuesdays at 2pm ET.
We feature guests from the community, as well as industry experts, to discuss topics that are relative to our anyone who is involved in digital marketing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Is Your Social Media Presence 24/7 Automated or "Au Naturel"?

Social Media. It’s a 24 hour business and your community never sleeps. But you do. You also work, eat and spend time with friends and family and do other things "real people" do. 
So when you’re not online, what is your social presence "doing"? Is it resting or still tweeting and posting on your behalf?
Let’s face it. Automation is helpful. I would have a hard time sharing articles and posts with my community if I didn’t schedule tweets. I schedule my Tweets via Buffer and they go out at various time during the day. I think of it as a “sprinkling” of content, not a flood.
Here at Paper.li we use both Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to schedule papers and articles written by the community to promote them to the commuity. If we relied on doing this manually, we wouldn’t manage the balance between helping the community and promoting the community. In fact, I wouldn’t get any other work done during the day if I had to rely on real-time delivery. I simply cannot imagine not automating this process.
But that’s scheduling. What about automation? The fact that people can schedule a recurring event to take place without needing to check the quality of content before it is published annoys people.
Services like Tribbr, Tweeted Times, Paper.li, dlvr.it fall are often cited as noise makers. If we are going to talk spammy tweets, then we need to throw in Tweet Chats and Event Tweets, too, right? 
But these types of tweets happen in real-time so that type of “noise” falls into a different category. And as Brian Fanzo rightfully points out: Friends Don’t Unfollow Friends, They Mute
So who’s to blame? Services that provide the automation, or the people who don’t take the time to check in regularly to see what’s happening.
Recently, Barry Feldman threw out an excellent question to his followers. He was writing an article about content curation and the “contribution” of automated services. He asked this question: does anyone even read a Paper.li?
My response: “ Yes, if the content is curated with care. And, 'set it & forget it' isn’t a strategy”.
Barry and I connected, chatted and I had to agree with him: the people who are curating cruddy content and then promoting are not doing anyone any good. In fact, they are making it really hard on followers, services and themselves. 
Barry wrote this post and included best practices for content curation as well as may suggestions on curating a Paper.li that people will want to read. 
But the sad truth that still remains is this: a lot of people churn content, and automate, without a plan. And that is simply not a strategy.
This week on our #BizHeroes Tweet Chat we’ll be discussing the role of automation and scheduling in our social lives. Here are some questions to think about:
  • What are the rules to abide by?
  • When is the line crossed between informing and spamming? 
  • Is automation really needed? Should we all be pretending we’re open 24/7 like the local 7/11? 
  • What are the downsides of using automation services on social media strategy?
  • How do you tell someone their “spam” is annoying you. Do you have the right? Do you mute? Do you unfollow?
I encourage anyone who uses automation to jump into the conversation and share your thoughts and opinions. And if you are using Paper.li and our automated Tweet or posting feature, share your best practices with us.
A word to #BizHeroes: if you’re not familiar with #BizHeroes Chat, it’s our weekly Paper.li community Twitter Chat that takes place Tuesdays at 2pm ET. 
We feature guests from the community, as well as industry experts, to discuss topics that are relative to our anyone who is involved in digital marketing. 
The chat generates about 10 million impressions a week and the #BizHeroes community is, witty, intelligent and down-right friendly. It's a great place to lurk, learn and meet new people.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Content Creation: Know Your Rights, Keep It Legal


Q: What’s more painful than having to pay $8000 dollars for image copyright infringement penalties?

A: Being sued for $150,000 dollars.

Not too long ago I was asked by someone if they could re-use an image that I had used in a recent blog post. Without thinking twice, I said yes -- as long as they credited the original source.

A couple of hours later I stumbled across this post by Roni Lorin on image copyright and it got me thinking: what if I actually didn’t have the right to use that image to begin with? I asked permission, but what if the image didn’t actually belong to the “owner”? What if I am violating a copyright?

That led me to research a bit further and I ran across these two stories: one about the use of a low grade image of Nebraska by the Content Factory, a company that consults to small businesses, and the other about a community fan photo posted on Goodreads.

The scary truth about Roni’s story, as well as the other two incidents, are that they are not far fetched or something you would shake your head while saying “duh, they should have known better”.  They were going along with what most of us to believe to be best practices, attributing where needed and for the most part, being “thoughtful” about where the images came from.

Images are a crucial in today’s marketing mix and research shows that posts with visuals drive 180% more engagement than those that don’t. As marketers make the shift from longer form content to using more visuals in posts, ebooks and white papers, the good old “use and give attribution” isn't enough. Your images need to be your own, or classified under Creative Commons or outright purchased.

Put aside visual content, the pressure to create any kind of “more entertaining and engaging content” increases the risk of copyright and plagiarism. After all, creating good content is hard work -- taking someone else's content and calling it your own, isn’t. Imagine how surprised Orbit Media was when they found out their entire website had been knocked off. An entire website!

So where is this leading?

If you are a content creator, it's your business to know the following:

  1. What is legal, and what isn’t, when you use other people’s content or images in your post or on your web site
  2. What you can do to protect the images, graphics, posts and website in the case your find your content being used on someone else blog or website without your consent 

This Tuesday on #BizHeroes Tweet Chat, 2pm EST,  we're thrilled to have attorney, writer, educator and content marketing expert Kerry Gorgone as our Tweet-Guest to guide us through what we need to know to keep our content creation, and use, legal.

We’ll be covering copyright, attribution, curation, plagiarism and any other questions you have from the viewpoint of content creator and curator. If you're a hobby blogger, solopreneur or small business owner this chat is for you!

The articles hyperlinked in this post make great pre-reading, as well as this post by Kerry on Protecting your Creative Works Online.


Image credit: CC, Kristina Alexanderson
Co-editor: Magda Torres


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Google+: The Grass is Always Greenest When It's Watered


A couple of weeks ago Vic Gundotra, 'the father of Google+', announced that he was leaving and media outlets jumped on board giving their take on what it all meant for the future of the platform and businesses alike.

TechCrunch published a fairly controversial piece stating what many believe to be true already -- that G+ is Walking Dead and the reshuffling of over 1000 employees around the news of Vic's departure was confirmation.

When Google+ launched back in 2011, it was revered as the platform that would give Facebook a run for its money. Today, there is a lot of contradictory data and two clear camps of marketers have emerged:
So who's getting ahead on G+?

The grass is always greenest when it's watered.

I spend a low to average amount of time on G+ and I can say that my profile probably isn't a statement of success in most people's eyes. I have been circled just over 700 times and boast 153,000 views. Is that good or bad? I don't know. But based on my current activity I find it shockingly positive. 

Set aside numbers and think about this: I receive four to five emails daily from people who have found me on G+ and would like to know more about our service. That is incredible lead generation for very little "activity". 

Who's doing G+ right in my eyes? People like Cendrine Marrouat, Martin Smith, Jason Darrell, Mike Elgan and Sarah Santacroce are just a few proving the point that G+ is neither a Ghost Town nor a Bust. They have made a commitment to invest time on the platform educating and interacting with their community and in return they are reaping the rewards and thriving. 

There are thousands of people and marketers who are taking advantage of clean, non-advert populated timelines to promote their business and are seeing results.  Even Brands and industries that historically have a hard time making headway, like financial services, are thriving. Vanguard is a stellar example. They belong to more than 800,000 circles -- they must be doing something right. 

In the flurry of articles and posts being written around the future of G+, this week's Tuesday #BizHeroes Tweet Chat will focus on the recent events and speculation around G+.  I've invited Marty Smith, Entrepreneur, Internet Marketer, curator and founder of Curagami, the Enterprise Crowdfunding Platform, to share his insights on using Google+. Marty brings both strategic and tactical wisdom to the table and will share best practices, thoughts and tips on the why, what and how to get the most out of G+. 

Below is a round up of a few favorite articles and posts on the topic. 

If you're currently using G+ as a part of your marketing strategy join us and share what's working and what's not. See you at 2pm EST, #BizHeroes

Note: G+ isn't alone in being the object of criticism either. Earning and growth reports for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are prompting a lot of questions and concern over the viability of these platform and consequences for marketers. 

Over the next weeks we'll be dedicating #BizHeroes to covering current events around platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Our next Platform in the Spotlight on #BizHeroes is LinkedIn, May 27th with Small Business and LinkedIn expert, Sarah Santacroce.

Photo credit: sakhorn38

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Top 5 Content Marketing Tactics (And How to Get More out of Them)


Are you wondering if your marketing tactics are effective? You’re not alone.

According to the Content Marketing Institute research both B2C and B2B small business marketers are setting themselves up for success; documented content strategies are increasing along with content marketing usage and tactics, however only 60 percent of B2C marketers and 45 percent B2B of marketers feel their tactics are “effective”.

While there may be slight variances in tactics, approaches or percentages, there are also a lot of similarities between B2B and B2C content marketers.


Take usage, for example. Both B2B and B2C Marketers alike rank their top five content marketing tactics as

1. Social Media
2. Articles on your website
3. eNewsletters
4. Blogs
5. Videos

And although the adaption rates for Social Media continue to grow, both groups of marketers remain unsure of effectiveness.

But some points are crystal clear: when asked to rank their top content marketing metric, web traffic topped the list. And when asked to rank their number one content marketing issue, a lack of time took first place.

So what does this mean? Based on CMI's research and insight, fine-tuning for efficiency and effectiveness might not be as difficult, or daunting, as you think.

Here are three ways you can improve your content marketing efforts, starting today:

1. Focus, focus, focus: 

Marketers across companies of all sizes and industries have ranked the tactics that are working best for them. Use that research to your advantage to focus your efforts on the above tactics, starting with social media.

If you aren't yet seeing results from numbers 1-5, revisit them and see what you can improve before moving down the list to try other tactics.

Put this to work:  Check out  this list of 61 Social Media tools for Small Business from Buffer to see which tools can help support your tactics.

2. Keep visitor needs front and centre: 

Very often when I speak to small business owners about content marketing they aren’t super excited about the state of their own site. Once they get traffic to their site, converting the traffic is difficult: keeping content fresh is a challenge, writing content is time consuming and they feel outside of the services or products they sell, they don't have a lot to offer.

In order to understand what actions need to be taken, you need to first understand what conversion means and how it is determined. Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media is a master at traffic conversion and has authored this post detailing (in plain English) what drives conversion.

There are numerous tools, both free and pay, that can help you assess the motivation and the friction your site provides visitors. Once honed in on what is working and what isn't, you can work on defining a content strategy and tactics that will keep your visitor's onsite and convert them down the marketing funnel.

Put this to work: Join us for our next #BizHeroes Tweet chat April 29th.  Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media co-founder and author of Content Chemistry: An Illustrated Guide to Content Marketing, will be discussing the most effective content marketing practices that drive results. It’s a chat you won’t want to miss!


3. Make mountains out of molehills: Reduce, Reuse and Repurpose.

When I was a kid, my Mom used to tell me I was great at making "mountains out of molehills" or in other words, "something out of nothing". It wasn't a compliment -- it was my Mom's way of saying "stop being a nuisance".

As a marketer, I've spun Mom's words into a personal challenge: to make a content mountain out of whatever I can.

If I have created something so nice that I wish I could use it twice, then I try to do it. In fact, I give content as many lives as I can by reducing, re-using and repurposing it.

Next time you need to create content think about the existing content you have and how you can make more out if it. There's no harm in reusing or repurposing content to give it a second life. In fact, it's a smart move that can make the smallest teams look like content power-houses!

Put these ideas to work:

Start with a simple content audit to see what type of content you have and what you see you’re missing.  Then use one of the three tactics below to "grow more content".

     1. Reduce: have a look at a longer post you may have and break it out into smaller sections. Use those sections as ideas for new post ideas on your blog.

     2. Reuse: take an old interview and list any quotes or statistics.  Find an image on Flickr (cc) or a service like Fotolia that best represents the quote or statistic and create a graphic combing the both. Now you've just created a helpful, snack-sized piece of content to share, with minimal effort.

     3. Repurpose: Magazines love this tactic.  They take an article and convert it to a check list. Or they take a check list, and rewrite it as an article. Take a list from a blog post that you find helpful and and convert the list to a Slideshare presentation. If you have a video, separate the voice and make it an audio file.

The information itself may not be much different that what you created in the past, but the format is new and fresh. Additionally, if you know the information was helpful in one format, chances are it will be just as helpful in its new format.

Which content marketing tactics are working for you and how do you get "more from less" with your content? Share your ideas below, and even better, join us for #BizHeroes and share your experiences and best practices with the community.

Image credit: Beck, 10ch

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Next #BizHeroes! Optimizing your Social Media Presence with Ian Cleary


Today, more than ever, your social media strategy and presence need to be on target to catapult your brand past the competition -- but how? 

Social Media has taken the world by storm. It's completely changed the way we network, communicate and market to an audience. According to Hubspot, US Internet users spend 3x more minutes on blogs & social networks than on email. Twitter and Facebook alone have more than 1 billion users combined!

This week on #BizHeroesTweet-guest Ian Cleary will share tips, tools and tactics to help you optimize and hit your social media bull’s eye.

Ian is co-founder of the award winning site RazorSocial, speaker and a leading global expert on social media tools and technology -- and has the muscle to prove it! He and his partner, Collete, have grown the RazorSocial newsletter from zero to 100,000 readers per month in just more than one year!

Join us and let's pick Ian's brain together on what's hot and what's not in the world of social media!

Date: Tuesday, April 15th
Time: 8PM Central European Time, 11 am PST, 2PM EST 


Topic Questions:

Q1 How can I target the right people for my business?
Q2 How can I get better results with my content?
Q3 How can I convert site traffic to customers?
Q4 Which tools should I use to analyze my results?

PS: You can find Ian @IanCleary  on Twitter. Give him a follow and then head over to the Razor Social newsletter and subscribe. You won't be sorry!


Monday, April 7, 2014

This week on #BizHeroes: "Getting Started with Social Selling" w/ Barbara Giamanco


Is your sales strategy aligned for success and social centered selling?

According to a study conducted by eMarketer in 2013: “Nearly 1 in 4 people in the world use social networks”. There were a total of 1.73 billion social media users in 2013, a number that is expected to increase to a thriving 2.55 billion within the next five years.

Whether you're an entrepreneur, small business owner or part a larger organization, this is a complete game changer if you are in sales.

Join us and industry Social Selling leader, Barbara Giamanco, Tuesday, April 8th for #BizHeroes. Barbara will be sharing tips, tactics and everything you need to know to shift your sales approach from “using social media to sell” to “social centered selling”.

For pre-chat reading dive into our two-part interview with Barbara “Getting Started with Social Selling” and "Speed up Your Sales with Social Selling” and grab a copy of her book, The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media.

If you're not following Barbara yet on Twitter, head over to @BarbaraGiamanco and say hi. She's as friendly as she is knowledgable!

BizHero: Barbara Giamanco
Date: Tuesday, April 8th
Time: 8PM Central European Time, 11 am PST, 2PM EST

Topic Questions:
Q1. What is social centered selling?
Q2. What are the common mistakes of using social media to sell?
Q3. How can I reach my prospects?
Q4. People talk a lot about sharing content, why does that matter?
Q5. Is one platform stronger than another for social selling?
Q6. What can I do in 15 minutes each day to improve?


Monday, March 31, 2014

#BizHeroes with Ekaterina Walter: How to Market Your Business with Visual Storytelling

Khalil Gibran once said that "next to hunger and thirst, our most basic human need is for storytelling".

But in today's world where your consumers are faced with more content than ever before, how do you break through messaging noise to reach your audience and tell your story?

Through visual storytelling!

This week on #BizHeroes Chat Social Media trailblazer, co-founder and CMO of BRANDERATI and WSJ best selling author Ekaterina Walter joins us to talk about how you can effectively leverage videos, image and social media to market your business.

Ekaterina will share her research, strategy, tips, tactics and jaw-dropping stats from her new book The Power of Visual Storytelling.  (You definitely want a copy of this book on your shelf. It's golden!)


BizHero: Ekaterina Walter
Date: Tuesday, April 1st
Time: 8PM Central European Time, 11am PST, 2pm EST

Update: 14 million impression! View the chat transcript here!

Topic questions:

Q1. What is visual storytelling?
Q2. How does visual content strengthen a brand or help grow a business?
Q3. What are the essential elements of visual storytelling?
Q4. How can marketers (with any sized budget) get started?
Q5. Where do I need to be? Which platform and what type of content.
Q6. Ekaterina success tips: what’s your advice on getting started

Join us Tuesday for a knock-out power chat with @ekaterina. She's as awesome as she is knowledgable. You don't want to miss this chat!

See you Tuesday!

Monday, March 24, 2014

This week on #BizHeroes: Blogging for a global audience w/ @cendrinemedia


For author Ernest Hemingway, writing came naturally. "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know”, he once said.

Sounds pretty simple, right? The truth is we don't all have Hemingway's ease with words and putting thoughts together may not always be the simplest of tasks. But, whether we want to teach something, share an opinion or document part of our lives - we all have a story to tell and very innovative tools to help us share it with the world.

This week on #BizHeroes, blogger, author, journalist and owner of Social Media Slant, Cendrine Marrouat will be  discussing "Blogging for a global audience". Join us for a enriching conversation about best blogging practices, inspiration and tips that can apply to everyone, from beginners all the way to advanced blogging gurus.

Our BizHero: Cendrine Marrouat, Blogging for a global audience
Date: Tuesday, March 25th
Time: 8pm Central European Time, 12pm PST, 3pm EST

Follow the transcript here

Chat Topic: Blogging for and building a global audience 

Q1: How do I determine my potential audience?

Q2: Is writing for a global audience different than a local audience?

Q3: Where do you find inspiration and ideas for your articles?

Q4: How do you deal with writer’s block?

Q5: How often should I blog?


Looking to get your blog in top shape and wonder how you can drive traffic to it? Well, if you haven't yet purchased Cendrine's ebook, The Little Big eBook on Blogging: 40 Traffic Generation Tips, I suggest you do. It is a truly fantastic deal and it has just been revised. It includes valuable information on generating traffic for your blog.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Why you should curate content: #BizHeroes TweetChat with @evrenk


We live in the era of content overload where "getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant" as Mitchell Kapor, founder of Lotus Development Corporation once described.

How can we keep the valuable content and toss away the rest? What is the role of the curator and are they helping us tame the content jungle and navigate content shock?

This week at #BizHeroes, Content strategist Evren Kiefer will share his ideas, best practices and tips on the value content curation brings and why we need to be curating content before sharing it.


Our BizHero: Evren Kiefer, Content Curation
Date: Tuesday, March 18th
Time: 8pm Central European Time, 12pm PST, 3pm EST (day light savings! Check here for your time)

View the chat transcript here!

Chat Topic: Content Curation

Q1. Why do you curate content?

Q2. How do you know when a piece of content is relevant?

Q3. How can we evaluate content quality?

Q4. What content do you feel can safely be dismissed? What have you decided not to pay attention to?

Q5. How do your curation efforts communicate your (or your brand’s) values and does it really elicit trust?

Q6. What are the most effective tools for content curation?

Image licensed under Creative Commons by Will Lion

Monday, March 10, 2014

This week on #BizHeroes: Small Business Team Building with @kNoeledge

One of the greatest feelings as a business owner is quite possibly the day you can hire team members to help grow your dream.

But bringing a new dream team up to speed can add unforeseen stress and complexity. Subtle factors such as personality, cultural diversity and current work or life experience can all have a major impact on the success of your team...

So how can you ensure your team's a success? For starters, begin with solid team building.
  
"But there's only a few of us in my company!" you say... I hear you, but don't let the numbers fool you.

A team can be as small as just you and a partner or involve numerous people. Small business owners are putting an increasing emphasis on team building activities to improve productivity, increase motivation, foster problem solving and encourage creativity -- and with outstanding results. 

Ready to get started? 

This Tuesday trainer, coach, team builder and Small Business owner Noel Gray joins us on #BizHeroesto talk about what it takes to get a winning team off the ground and move past surviving to thriving!

Our BizHero: Noel Gray, owner of kNoeledge
Date: Tuesday, March 11th
Time: 8pm Central European Time, 12pm PST, 3pm EST (day light savings!)

Chat Topic: Small Business Team Building

Q1. Is there a process for team building, or does it happen on it's own?
Q2. What (or who!) can get in the way of team building?
Q3. What's the role of the team leader?
Q4. How can you offset conflict in your team? 
Q5. How can we use social media to help team building?

Looking for some pre-chat reading? Here's a post highlighting the four phases teams go through before they can succeed: forming, storming, norming and performing. We'll definitely be talking about this on Tuesday!

Bring your curiosity, team building tips and team spirit and join @kNoeledge@MagdaATQ and myself, @kdhungerford for #BizHeroes!

If you can't make the chat you can view the transcript here.  


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

New! Paper.li dashboard, optimized mobile experience and a fresh new look

Today we are thrilled to announce the release of new version of Paper.li. This latest release is designed to bring publishers numerous benefits such as increased efficiency in curation, promotion and customization and deliver an optimized viewing experience for readers across tablets and mobile devices.

The new version of Paper.li sports an all-around cleaner, more streamlined and modern look and feel. We're really excited about these new features and think you will be too.

Publishers using the free service have been automatically switched to the new version and any papers created from here out will also boast the new look and feel.

All existing Pro publishers will have thirty days to manually switch their papers over to the newest version of Paper.li. You can read more about making the switch here.

New sidebar menu, increased productivity

The biggest boost in this release is the complete redesign of the publisher's dashboard with time saving forefront and center.  Now publishers can add a source, edit content and customize a paper without ever leaving the front page of a Paper.li. If you've been publishing with us for any amount of time, you'll appreciate this improvement.

A simple to navigate right-hand side sidebar menu gives you access to all your paper's settings in once place and a left sidebar provides access to your account settings, favorites and papers.

This new logic not only provides better transparency over settings and options, but helps you publish content easier and faster, shaving minutes off your daily routine.

Mobile optimization, stickier reading experience 

While most publishers use the Paper.li desktop app to curate and edit their papers, close to half of daily readers visit Paper.lis from mobile devices. We expect this figure to grow blow through the roof this year so we've begun the first of a series of improvements for mobile readers. 

For phones we've redesigned the experience to draw readers to your strongest content, your headline articles. Topic section content easily accessible via expandable sections and video and image viewing has been vastly improved by displaying them to readers with a horizontal swipe instead of a vertical scroll. 

On tablets our responsive design allows for optimal viewing across all sizes of screens and the new sidebar menu offers ultra simplified access to paper settings. Now you can curate and promote with ease on the go.

Fresh look and feel, cleaner design

With our last paper refresh taking place well over a year ago, it was time for a paper "pick me up".  You told us that you'd be open to changes without changing the overall look and feel too much, so we made some subtle changes to give your paper a visual boost.

So what's new?

The overall layout of the paper has been updated to carry a softer, more modern look and feel.

One of the most noticeable enhancements is a new "sticky" topics bar that displays all papers sections for that edition. The topics bar remains in a fixed position as your readers scroll down your page, guiding your readers better through your content and lending to an overall better reading experience. 

Share buttons have been relocated to the lefthand side of your paper, making it faster and easier for readers to share your paper.

We've also put more emphasis on the publisher profile and ad units have been readjusted to align better down the right hand side of the paper. Take a look and I'm sure you'll find some other nice enhancements as well.

Let us know what you think!

We're really excited about this new release and we're curious to hear what you and your readers think. Your feedback, ideas and opinions help shape the service so don't be shy! Leave us a note below or Tweet us @Smallrivers with your feedback or questions. We look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Achieve your dreams with actress and entrepreneur @NatashaYounge on #BizHeroes


Confucius once said "choose a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life." We know sometimes it isn't that easy though. It takes a lot of strength and determination to follow personal dreams and professional goals. Have you made your dream job happen yet? 

With three Shorty Awards under her belt for The Younge Hollywood Blast and a thriving digital niche in the world of entertainment, Natasha Younge, a London-trained actress living in Los Angeles, comedian, entrepreneur (and Paper.li publisher) is doing just that. 

At the next #BizHeroes Natasha will share her expertise with us how entrepreneurs can reach their dreams without losing sight of the end goal -- and how social media can help you get there.

BizHero: Natasha Younge
Date: Tuesday, March 4th
Time: 11am PST, 1pm CST, 20h CET

The chat transcript can be found here! 

Topics for this week's TweetChat:

 Q1. What's the first step in realizing your dream? 

 Q2. What's more important when building a business - productivity or creativity ?

 Q3. How do you harness creativity on a daily basis? 

 Q4. As an actress, what platform do you use to show your true self to the world?

 Q5. How can you steer clear of falling victim to your fears?

Q6. How does your online community help you achieve your goals?


Follow Natasha on Twitter @NatashaYounge and get to know her better by visiting her site and reading my interview with her. See you tomorrow night!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to Build Community with @AliceKrueser on this week's #BizHeroes


Communities are awesome and essential for every business. But how do you get started building one?

This week on #BizHeroes Small Business owner and publisher Alice Krueser shares her tips on how she has built a thriving community for art enthusiasts, collectors and artists across multiple platforms.

Date: Tuesday, February 25
Time: 11am PST, 1pm CST, 20h CET

The chat transcript can be found here!

Topics for this week's TweetChat:

Q1. What comes first when starting a new business: community building or finding customers?
Q2. What if a Small business owner doesn’t have a blog?
Q3. What role can curated content play in growing a community?
Q4. Does a “one type of content” approach across platforms work?
Q5. What drives engagement on Facebook?
Q6. Is word of mouth marketing as important for small businesses as it is for known brand

Join @MadgaATQ and @AliceKrueser and share your best practices, tips and advice on building community. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

How to Create Buyer Personas with #BizHeroes @JeremiahJWright & @JessikaPhillips


Have you ever heard the term 'buyer personas' and wondered what those are and why you should care about them?

Join us at the next #BizHeroes TweetChat and find out!
This week Jeremiah Wright and Jessika Phillips, from the internet marketing agency NOWMarketing Group will join us as guest hosts on #BizHeroes, Tuesday, February 18th to talk about why personas are essential for targeting the right people to purchase your service or product and how to get started creating them. 

We were excited to learn that Paper.li is one of their favorite inbound marketing tactics. In fact, NOWMarketing publishes and manages more than 30 Paper.lis for their clients (tailored to buyer personas!) and dominate the curated topic of "Assisted Living Communities".

They've even created an ebook based on their experience with Paper.li. It's full of best practices, useful tips and good, all around helpful information. Definitely worth checking out.

Here are the details for the upcoming chat: 

Date: Tuesday, Feb 18th, 20h CET, 2PM EST
Topic: How to Creating Buyer Personas for your Business
BizHeroes: Jessika Phillips and Jeremiah Wright, NOWMarketing Group

The chat transcript can be found here!

Topic Questions:

1. What are Buyer Personas & Why should you care about them?
2. How are Personas different than Target Markets?
3. What is an Inbound Marketing Funnel?
4. How do you get started creating Buyer Personas?
5. What value do they bring to your marketing efforts?
6. How can you use Paper.li to reach Personas?

Lastly, be sure to check out this video on buyer personas and if you aren't already following @JeremiahJWright@JessikaPhillips and @NOWMG, it's time! See you Tuesday!