Ch2 - Skillbox - Content

(NOTE: You can download a copy of this chapter in PDF format at the very bottom of this page.)

Social Media Marketing Primer

Chapter 2: Skillbox - Content



Introduction


Welcome to the Social Media Marketing Primer. If you’ve come across this material on its own – it has two homes – one is a site where you can download copies of the chapters or read them online, at http://tinyurl.com/casa-mktg - the other is a LinkedIn Group, Social Media Marketing Café, where you can discuss the material and ask questions: http://tinyurl.com/smm-cafe


In This Chapter


In this chapter, we’ll be taking a look at content related to social media, including tools you can use to “do it yourself”. You can think of it as a toolbox of skills, or a skillbox. We’ll take a tour of some of the things I’m suggesting that you’ll want to try when working with social media.


In some cases, if you’re working for a company, or providing services, they will already have systems, and content, and any number of sources of material for posting to social media. Still, there might be the occasional need to develop more, outside the regular systems. And in a learning phase, it can be helpful to know how to do it yourself, so you can get the feel of it – or start straight out making “real” content as you’re learning.


The goal is to introduce you to some concepts and tools that I think are worth trying, including for having material to work with when we take a closer look at social media channels later in the book.


Curation vs Creation vs Collaboration


The general approach I’m recommending with content, especially if you’re just learning about social media marketing, is to think about each of these areas:


  1. Curation: when you curate content, you are going out and finding it, and then sharing, reviewing, commenting on it. You might just be gathering, and collecting. Even if you don’t feel like you have a creative bone in your body, you can certainly go out and find material that might be interesting, and relevant for a company or organization you’re doing social media for. It’s a good way to get started.

    For example, in a blog post, you might go and find a collection of articles on a topic, and write brief summaries/reviews, provide links to the original articles, and then offer some kind of conclusion. Or you might find YouTube videos that relate to a particular topic and either link to them, or embed them in a blog post. Then you might post your blog to social media, and thereby generate some traffic and awareness. You can post text, images, and videos directly to social media, but the general point is to get some awareness about your site, blog (i.e. the company or organization you’re doing social media for).


  1. Creation: This can be the most fun – it takes more time, but it will probably result in the highest quality. Writing an article, a blog post, making a video – this is the best kind of content to share on social media, because it’s more unique, and you can create it to be tailored for the audience. What kind of content you create really depends on the company or organization, but you can basically ask yourself who the audience is, and consider what kinds of things they’d be interested in. And you can ask people – on social media, or directly. It never hurts to test ideas and find out what people are interested in – by going directly to them in some way.

    Even if you aren’t a “media professional”, it can be helpful to at least try developing some basic content; you can always ask others to review your writing, or a video you make, etc. – but trying it out might help you to be in a better position to “source” it. If you end up having the choice, it can be better to “focus on what you do the best, and hire someone to do the rest”.


  1. Collaboration: I think this one is helpful to remember, especially for freelancers, independent business owners, and students. It can be a way to save money, a way to pool resources – finding people you can work with. It might be that you find someone who is a writer, offer to co-write some content or do some research, and get the benefit of their writing skills, or their reputation. If you want to make a video, you might find people who are interested in the same outcome – raising awareness of a particular topic, or people who want to try something new just like yourself.

    In other words, don’t rule out anything – even if you don’t feel confident doing it yourself, can’t afford to hire anyone, and don’t know where to start, you might be able to find people who are looking to collaborate, even if it’s just a learning experience.

    And in a business sense, it could be the same thing. If a single local business owner doesn’t have enough money for a particular project, you might be able to find a collection of business owners who might like to pool resources for some kind of project (ex: a video featuring local businesses). Or, using the Internet, you might be able to find similar businesses, in different areas, where you could develop an article, or video, or content that could be “re-purposed” for each business, so that with slight changes, the material could be re-used.


Create a Google Account/Gmail address


Google has a lot of free tools that make it easier to work with content, and when you have a Google Account, it just makes it easier to sign in to all the tools.


So as a first step, I recommend creating a free Google Account by going to http://mail.google.com and clicking “Create Account”.


Start a blog (or find one)


There are a variety of platforms for blogging, but blogger.com is one of the easiest to use, if not the easiest.


If you’re interested in developing social media marketing as a skill, my general suggestion is to create a blog, and set the goal of posting to it at least once a month (or more often). Choose a topic or tool you’re learning about, or a technique you’re interested in, do some research, gather some links, and get in the habit of developing some ongoing posts. It will help keep your skills current (including research), and it will also be something you can point to, when you’re trying to get clients, or find work.


And even if you already have a blog, or one that’s been untouched in awhile (raises hand), I’d still suggest just trying to create a new one, in blogger. It’s always helpful to be able to learn new tools. Another reason it’s helpful is because you could end up in a situation where a client might want to create a blog, and you can help them get started, by being familiar with and showing them different tools.


This same principle would apply to some of the other tools we’re taking a look at in this chapter. I recommend trying them in some way, both for yourself, but also keeping in mind that they could be useful for showing a client (or potential employer) someday.


So to get started, visit http://www.blogger.com, and either sign in with your Google account, or click the “create an account” link at the bottom.



Then on the blogger site, click the New Blog button.



For practice, I wouldn’t be too concerned with the title – you can change it later easily, and you can also create/delete blogs easily. But feel free to try “Social Media Perspective” as a title.


The title is simply what appears visually at the top of the blog. The “Address” is the opportunity Google gives you to have a custom address. Because it’s a free tool, you might have to experiment a bit until you find one that’s available. Type in ideas in the Address field, and see what happens:



What you’re doing is coming up with the custom portion of the address that you’re blog will be at.



So it turns out for our example, the address socialbuzznews.blogspot.com is available.


So the link for the blog would be http://socialbuzznews.blogspot.com


.Then after you have chosen a title and address, you can choose a template, for the look and feel of the blog, which you can also change later:


After you’ve selected one (I recommend starting with “Simple”), click the Create blog! Button.


With these simple steps, you’ve created a blog and you can start blogging!


You’re mission if you should choose to accept it is to make a sample post, and then share the link on Facebook, or via email with someone.



P.S. One way to “cheat” if you forget the link for your blog, is to click on the View blog button (See screenshot above), which will open up the blog in your browser. Then you can copy the link from the address field and paste it into Facebook, or an email, etc.



To learn more about Blogger, access the settings menu (the little gear icon) when you’re signed into Blogger, and select “Blogger Help”:



There’s a variety of helpful articles:



And you can always go directly with this link:


https://support.google.com/blogger


Or Find One – search drill


I do recommend that you try creating a blog (and even setting a reminder to make a post once a month or more!).


But, I also recommend trying to find a blog that you’d be interested in reading, as an example of “curating” content. Find it on google (ex: “social media blogs”), find an article that looks interesting, and make a note of the link. When you create a Facebook page, that kind of link may be something you’d want to post on your Facebook page. Or, you might want to link to someone else’s blog when you are writing about a topic.


Create a free website


Whether you are developing your own social media presence, or working on someone else’s – it can be helpful to consider making an “official” website for a project, or an event, or campaign, or client. A blog technically is a website, and blogging platforms such as Wordpress (www.wordpress.com – free and paid versions), have grown to the point where they can serve as fully-functional websites, depending on how you organize them.


But it can be simpler at first to think of a blog as a place you post “ongoing” content, such as a library of articles, and your “main site” is the reference material that may not change as often, whether it’s for a business or organization.


In a company setting, knowing how to easily create separate websites can also be part of social marketing, where you make a “microsite”. For example, a company might want to have a special promotion, that is promoted on social media and google ads, and you might be able to put it on their main official website, but there might also be reasons where a separate “microsite” is good – in part because it might be easier than trying to connect with their system, or have to work with their IT people, etc.


Microsites are used often in marketing for a special promotion or offer.


I think Google Sites is a good tool for anyone creating a simple website, and more tools are mentioned at the end of this chapter. I recommend you try making a Google site, and keep it as part of your arsenal. You might even want to have a Google Site be “your” main site, such as your freelance business, etc. – with basic information.


NOTE ABOUT WEBSITE NAMES: with Blogger, and Google Sites, even though you choose a custom “long” address provided by Google, you can also use your own website name. Website hosting companies will sell you website names, or web “hosting” space, where a traditional site can be built using HTML, etc. – another advantage of Google Sites or Blogger is that they’re entirely free, but you can still point your website name to them. A website name like www.toddkelsey.com may cost only $10 a year, kind of like a copyright, whereas a website hosting account, to do a manually-created website, might start at $10/month. As for me, what I noticed over time is that for some simple sites, I preferred Google Sites, because it allowed me to easily post content, there was no monthly cost, and it was basically more sustainable.


And having your own website name comes across slightly more professionally – so you might want to file that away. You can look for names on websites like www.godaddy.com, and start an account (a website name such as www.toddkelsey.com is also known as a “domain” name). And then you can “point” your website name to your blogger blog or google site. If you end up wanting to try that, I’d suggest looking into the help sections on blogger and google sites about “web addresses”, and if you have trouble, go join the linkedin group http://tinyurl.com/smm-cafe - search for an answer, and if there’s none, post a question. Best wishes!


So, to get started, go to: http://sites.google.com


Log in if you need to, or click the create account button.


.Like Blogger, Google Sites packs a lot of power. The other advantage of keeping in mind sites like Blogger and Google Sites, is if you’re not a developer, you don’t need to have technical skills in order to make websites using these tools. So it might be a good alternative for a client where you can provide the service of focusing on the content for the site or marketing, and can whip up a site, without necessarily having to hire a web developer. There are limits, of course, but it can also be a starting point. For example, use Google Sites to gather content to begin with, organize, and “prototype” – and then when you have a better idea of where things are going, hire a designer/web developer, or get costs and let your client choose.


I think the same applies to marketing microsites – say you develop a social media campaign, want to have a microsite. A large part of the battle is just developing the content, gathering it in the first place, and you could start with a free tool, take it to the limits, and then decide if you need to have a more flexible or professional looking design.


One other thing I’d say is that with the rise of mobile devices, the rules of design are changing a bit. It’s not that you would want to ignore design, it’s just that you can’t fit as much visuals on a smaller screen, and the mobile user may be more particularly interested in getting to information. In other words, going to a site that looks ok on mobile (i.e. is more simpler) is not such a bad idea.


So, back to Google Sites.


It’s that easy – just click the Create button.



(And if you’re taking it for granted how easy it is, try going to Godaddy.com, looking at how much effort is required to start a hosting account, get a website started, either with a content management system like Drupal, a “website builder”, or even using a manual tool like Dreamweaver. I guarantee after trying that, you’ll appreciate how much time you’re saving by just being able to click “create”. Thanks, Google.)


Like Blogger, there are some pre-built templates you can choose from – in Google Sites it is a little more tricky to go back and change things later, so until you explore how you can customize things, I’d recommend choosing the Blank template at first.


So you select the template, and then you have to choose an address, just like you do in Blogger.



.You can click in the Name your site field, and type in a name, which is like a title, and can be changed easily later. Then you’ll have to experiment and try different “site location” names. You can also click on Select a theme, or “more options”, but to begin with I’d suggest keeping it simple. (In Google Sites, the “themes” are what you can come back and easily change later, which provide some basic customization in look and feel).




You’ll also have to type in the code (ex: “bitsu” above), before you can click the Create button.


As you’re typing in site location names, Google may tell you that the one you want isn’t available, and you might have to experiment:



And then – voila! You have a new website.


To learn more about Google Sites, go to either of these links, which point to the same place:

https://support.google.com/sites/?hl=en#topic=1689606


http://tinyurl.com/googsite-help

My basic recommendation is to try making a site, including one for yourself, for your portfolio, etc. – or try making one for a potential client, such as an imaginary local business – or a promotional campaign of some kind.


Other Systems:


A couple more options that are popular, and have free/paid options for making website:

http://wix.com

http://weebly.com


Taking a look, trying them out, is worth putting on your roadmap, so that you can be familiar with the options that are out there. Even if you’re an intern in a large corporation, sometimes big companies can use microsites too – especially in marketing situations.



Make/edit a video (or find one)


It’s definitely true that entire books, or sets of books, could be written about each individual section in this chapter, but I’m basically recommending some simple starting points, that are helpful to explore, for making content. With video, as with blogs or websites, it’s something where you may end up wanting to hire an agency or professional to make a video as part of a campaign – but at the same time, sometimes an individual can do pretty interesting things on their own, with something as simple as an iPhone.


Speaking of iPhones, there are a variety of ways out there to make a video – but if you don’t have a video camera or iphone, I recommend considering with getting an iPhone, or just an iPod (yes they still make them), for the purpose of trying video. You can get a used iPhone fairly cheaply, connect it to WiFi, and have the ability to upload videos directly. As of writing, even a new iPod is $200, not too bad, with no monthly cell phone bill required. (It’s also true that a used iphone could be used for making video and some other uses, even over wifi). If you’ve always been wanting an iPad, there are used options there too.


The reason I recommend considering one of these options for experimenting with video is just because it’s simple, but pretty good quality, easy to use, and you can upload the video directly to YouTube. Getting familiar with it, including making simple videos (ex: interviewing someone), and posting them on your blog or website, can be good experiments, good ways to build skills and a portfolio. And in more professional environments, even if you’re going to someone and you’re going to request a budget to hire a professional videographer, you might still want to try prototyping with video.


Keep in mind that some of the most popular videos on YouTube were created with really simple equipment – it was more about the idea than the equipment.


I’m not Apple-biased, it’s just simple, and that’s good for beginners. Point and click and you can make simple videos:



And then you’re one click away from being able to upload to YouTube:



And part of the reason I am suggesting this kind of arrangement is to keep the technical hassles to a minimum, so you can try focusing on content. The easier it is, the more fun it is, the less hassles there are, the more confidence you will build from trying things out. Just a starting point.


By comparison, you can certainly get a digital camera with built in video capability, or any number of dedicated cameras, and then load video editing software on your computer, and then transfer the video to your computer. In fact, I encourage you to explore that at some point.


But to begin with, I recommend getting a cheap iphone or ipod or ipad, including ones that may not the latest, but still have video built in.


Because partly what I’m going to suggest is trying some videos without even editing, or using YouTube’s built-in editor. Meaning you shoot some short clips on your simple mobile device, upload them to youtube. Then edit on YouTube. Simple, fairly easy, lets you focus on the content.


Another option is certainly Android, an alternative to an iPod or iPhone. My general experience is that Apple takes a lot of time to provide a good, simple, fairly stable user experience – whereas with Android, it depends on the manufacturer, and the time you spend on figuring things out may take away from having fun – etc. – so my recommendation is Apple, including used apple devices, to save money. But to save more money, or to avoid apple, Android tablets are an option, certainly.


At time of writing, you can get an Android tablet, with the theoretical ability to shoot video and upload to YouTube, for about $50 USD.




Editing on YouTube


So my recommendation again with this is not worry too much about the video, just try shooting “something” even if it’s really simple, and then upload it to YouTube.


The YouTube Editor is located at: https://www.youtube.com/editor



If you are new to Google Accounts or YouTube, you might need to set up a profile on YouTube:


.Then, what happens is that whatever YouTube videos you’ve uploaded to a particular account will appear, and the YouTube editor gives you the ability to do some basic editing online. So I think it’s nice, even if there are limits, to be able to try video by shooting on a mobile device, uploading directly, and then editing right there online.




As with the other topics, entire books could be written on working video – and you may want to look at some, but I’d also encourage you just to try an experiment of making a simple short video, and not worrying too much about technique yet. I think it will give you confidence, and with regards to social media marketing, I think video is probably one of the strongest, long-term things that will still be around as social networks rise and fall. So getting familiar with how to make video, even if it is rough or simple or mainly informational, is a good thing.


.To learn more about the youtube editor, and how to use YouTube, try going to:


https://support.google.com/youtube



Adjust Digital Images


Another area I recommend exploring for the purposes of social media marketing is working with digital images. This might mean something as simple as looking on google for images, and on windows, right clicking on them and saving them to your computer (or on Mac, holding CTRL down and clicking on the image and downloading). You might just do simple image searches, practice with those images, and then explore royalty-free image collections, and services like clipart.com


The point is, eventually you’ll probably want to at least try playing with adding images to a blog post or website, and it’s a good technique to know how to work with images or pictures, for posting to social media. For example, sometimes you might have a text-based post, but if you can find an interesting, related picture, it might be more likely to get attention.


So my recommendation is, try making a blog post about a particular topic, and either taking pictures, or finding related images.


And then, even though when you upload images to websites or blogs, there might be built-in “resizing” functions when you upload them, you still might want to try a tool like www.picresize.com, so you can try cropping an image, or resizing it.


www.picresize.com



(Try looking at the help section)


In other words, there are online tools you can use, without necessarily having to use an image editing program like Photoshop (paid), or Gimp (free version of photoshop – www.gimp.org)



Screenshots


For grins, and to add some value to blog posts, I recommend trying and learning how to take screenshots, especially for students or interns – or anyone for that matter. Think of it like a way of taking pictures on the Web. For example, most of the images in this book I’m writing are screenshots, where I’m taking a picture of something and then discussing it.


One reason you might want to do this is because in a blog, you might want to add visuals, and taking a picture of a piece of software, or a website, might be an easy way to get a visual.


Greenshot is one free tool you might like to try: www.greenshot.org


On the Mac, you can also just hit CMD+SHIFT+4 on your keyboard.


(See: http://guides.macrumors.com/Taking_Screenshots_in_Mac_OS_X)


So your mission should you choose to accept it is to choose a feature in something like Blogger, or Google Sites, or even Facebook, explore it, take a screenshot or two of it, and put it in a blog post.


Conclusion/Discussion

This chapter has definitely been a whirlwind – there are a lot of loose ends. But my approach is to try and get you started, in a way that’s simple and fun. So if you’ve been glancing through it, I recommend going through it, maybe trying one tool a day, or per week, and getting something going as an example. Then, later in the book, I will probably refer to these tools. Because as you try social media marketing, you’ll want to have material to practice with, and it’s better if you can try making some of your own content.


Best wishes!


Invitation


You are welcome to visit and join the LinkedIn Group at http://tinyurl.com/smm-cafe - if you want to come on and say “huh?” or if you would like to set me straight on something, or just have some feedback.


Remember, there are NO DUMB QUESTIONS. If you have the question, someone else surely also did.


Resources


Free Website Makers

http://sites.google.com – all-purpose, free, some customization.


A couple more options that are popular, and have free/paid options:

http://wix.com

http://weebly.com


http://www.shopify.com – not free, but free trial – for e-commerce sites.



 


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Todd Kelsey,
Jul 10, 2014, 12:08 PM
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