Content Management

Ashley Kingsey
Ashley Kingsey

Public Relations: A Beginner’s Guide for 2019

Of course, you know what PR is! But why do you need it in the era of the Internet? It’s simple: the same laws that work in everyday life apply to the vast online universe. Just like you care about how people perceive you on the individual level, you need to create a positive image of your brand in the eyes of your partners and the target audience. You need to work with the opinions and beliefs of people who interact with the company, its products, and services. And you also have to respond promptly to criticism and act appropriately in times of crisis. 

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Ally Windsea
Ally Windsea

How to Build an Effective Content Marketing Strategy in 8 Steps

By this time, every digital marketer has learned that content is king. If you want to get in the spotlight and reach your audience effectively, you need to produce a lot of high-quality content. Your goal is not just to capture the attention of your potential customers, but to keep them engaged in a long-term perspective. Your content must be there to accompany your prospects throughout their entire customer journey and beyond.

Sounds a bit overwhelming? It is if you approach content marketing haphazardly and without a carefully planned strategy. Jumping right into content creation can be risky: you can invest a lot of time and money in it only to find out that your content doesn’t do anything for your business in the long run. Therefore, it is vital to think your content strategy prior to taking any tangible actions. In this article, we will outline 8 steps of building a successful content marketing strategy to help you crown your own “king”.

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Brenda Peterson
Brenda Peterson

Social Media Checklist: 10 Objectives to Tick in 2019

Every marketer knows that the key to successful social media promotion is the ability to adapt your marketing strategy to the current trends. Social media evolve with an incredible pace, and if you really want to reach your audience effectively, you have to keep up.

The year 2019 is bringing even more exciting developments to the table. If you take your social media marketing seriously, you will need a clear roadmap to adjust your strategy and be ahead of the competition. This is why we have compiled a 10-item social media checklist that will help you draw up tangible objectives for the year. Let’s begin!

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Ioana Hampton
Ioana Hampton

How to Use Pinterest for Business: 8 Tips for Beginners

Pinterest can hardly be called a second-thought solution when it comes to social media marketing. Yes, it is not as gigantic as Facebook and not as trendy as Instagram. But the truth is, its audience is ready to spend money like crazy! Reportedly, 93% of active Pinterest users admit they use the platform to research the market, plan and make purchases. Meanwhile, 40% of Pinners are known to have a household income exceeding $100 thousand. There’s marketing potential businesses simply cannot ignore!

You can benefit from Pinterest in many different ways: raise awareness about your brand, get more public exposure, drive more traffic to your blog, generate more leads, increase sales, etc.

But how to use Pinterest for business purposes? Follow our tips to strengthen your presence on the platform and promote your brand effectively!

  1. Set up a business account on Pinterest

Your marketing campaign on Pinterest starts with establishing an account. If you’re planning to use Pinterest to promote your brand, you will need a business account which will give you access to a few handy features:

  • Pinterest Analytics: a tool which allows you to monitor the effectiveness of your Pins, number of followers, and engagement rate.
  • Rich Pins: a feature that enables you to add additional information to your Pins.
  • Shop the Look Pins: allows viewers to buy products featured in a Pin simply by clicking (or tapping) on them.
  • Promoted Pins: a form of advertising on Pinterest allowing you to promote your Pins to your target audience.

If you’re new on Pinterest, it is advised to create a business account right away. If you already own a standard account, you can easily convert it into a business one. You will not lose any Pins or followers along the way, and the whole thing will look pretty much the same, except that there will be more features available.

  1. Fill up your Pinterest profile

Your profile is the face of your brand on Pinterest, so it should make the perfect first impression. Your profile must include the following:

  • Name: Use your brand name to represent your company on the platform. Make sure the name is the same for all your social media profiles. This will make your brand more recognizable and simplify the search for users.
  • Bio description: Tell other Pinterest users who you are and what you do. Let them know what kind of content they can expect you to pin. Be concise, creative, and don’t forget to use keywords relevant to your business.
  • Profile image: Use your company logo if you promote a brand or upload a well-made headshot if you want to make things more personal.
  • Website: Provide a link to your website so that people could get easy access to more of your content or products. This will allow you to drive more traffic to your site and increase sales. But you will first have to verify your website on Pinterest.
  • Location: Make your location known to the audience.
  • Featured Boards: These are the Boards which will appear on your main profile page. Make sure they are well organized, have appropriate names, and contain compelling thumbnail images.
  1.  Adjust your content strategy

Your marketing on Pinterest revolves around content, visual content. So your goal is to share the best Pins you can get to engage the crowd. You are free to experiment in order to see what resonates best with your audience, but certain types of content are in particular demand on Pinterest, for example:

  • Product Pins: If your business is about selling physical products (especially those related to fashion, design, art, food, health and beauty, etc.), Pinterest is ideal for promoting them. Make sure your product photos are sharp, original, and memorable. Don’t be afraid of being creative and remember that quality is above all. And when you create a Product Pin, link it to a corresponding page of your online store (or consider using a Shop the Look Pins feature) so that customers could make an instant purchase.
  • “How-to” Pins and tutorials: If there’s a chance you can teach your followers something worth their attention and can visualize it, go for this opportunity. Educational content is extremely popular on the platform.
  • Infographics: This type of content is simply ideal for Pinterest (especially when it comes to B2B marketing) as it wraps valuable data in a package of beautiful visuals, making it more approachable for consumers.
  • Blog posts and articles: Pinning your articles is a great way to drive more traffic to your blog and gain public recognition. Remember, it is vital to choose an attractive cover image and add a clear, readable headline to it. In the description, explain to users why your article is worth reading.
  • Videos: Video is getting more popular on Pinterest. If you have a YouTube channel, you can directly upload videos to your profile. And again, tutorials and workshops make ideal Video Pins.
  1. Create your initial Pinterest Boards

Pins are attached to Boards which essentially fulfill the role of content categories on Pinterest. They can be viewed as albums in which you put content. Boards are usually thematic, allowing you to group your Pins around various topics or interests. Thus, your audience can find relevant content easier. This is why it is advised to organize your Boards with due care.

Keep in mind that Pinterest Boards are searchable on Google and other search engines. So the better you optimize them, the more people will find you organically. Hence the importance of naming your Boards properly. Not only should they have clear names explaining viewers what kind of content they can expect to see inside, but also contain relevant keywords by which your Boards will be found.

Start with creating at least five Boards focused on the subjects related to your business or industry in general. The more “specialized” you Boards are, the more targeted audience they will attract. Pin several pieces of content to each Board and make sure their thumbnails look enticing enough for users to click.

  1. Pin, Pin, Pin

At the end of the day, Pinterest is all about pinning interesting content. So if you’re going to use the platform for business, creating and finding engaging Pins will be your top priority. Yes, for your Pinterest campaign to be successful, you have to both come up with your own unique content and share other people’s Pins:

  • Make a Product Pin for every new item you have in stock;
  • Pin your own blog articles;
  • Pin articles by other authors if you think your audience will find them useful;
  • Use hashtags to search for niche-specific content and pin it.

Try to keep the balance between your own unique content and “borrowed” content. Very soon, you’ll see your Boards grow exponentially.

When pinning, pay attention to SEO as well. Pinterest can actually promote your brand on Google and take your content to the top search results. Consider the following tips:

  • Include relevant keywords in the description of your Pins;
  • Keywords must not interfere with the intended message of the description, so make sure your text reads smoothly and naturally;
  • Add industry-related and branded hashtags (up to 20) to help Pinterest users find your Pins easily;
  • Use high-quality images in the recommended aspect ratio of 2:3.

The last but not least, when it comes to the text accompanying your Pins, do your best to encourage readers to click through to your website or online store. Using appropriate vocabulary and convincing calls-to-action may help a lot.

  1. Make use of Rich Pins

Rich Pins are a feature allowing you to add more contextual information to your Pins. Using it is a great way to offer more details about your brand and products organically. Furthermore, Rich Pins update information live. This means that the changes you make on your website are automatically seen in your Rich Pins.

Currently, there are four types of Rich Pins available:

  • Product Pins: provide information about the price, availability, and place where the product can be purchased.
  • Recipe Pins: specify the ingredients, methods of cooking/serving, etc.
  • Article Pins: show a headline, brief description, and author of an article.
  • App Pins: add an install button to your Pin (currently available to iOS users only).

It is worth mentioning though that you have to apply for Rich Pins in advance. The verification process may take up to three weeks, so you should take pending time into account.

  1. Reserve budget for Promoted Pins

Promoted Pins are online ads on Pinterest allowing you to get in front of your target audience quickly and easily. Apparently, this is a paid service, so you have to allocate a budget for it. But the exposure it can potentially give you may be well worth the investment, especially considering the fact that 61% of Pinterest users buy a product after seeing a Promoted Pin.

Promoted Pins appear as your regular Pins but are shown to a broader audience. Pinterest boasts a smart advertising algorithm which chooses the audience for your ads by taking into account what they look for, what content they consume, and which brands they follow. Promoted Pins fit organically in the user feed, allowing your content to reach the right people at the right time.

What is more, once a user gets interested and saves your Promoted Pin to the Board, it will also appear in the feeds of their own followers, thus, giving you even greater coverage.

Unlike other kinds of annoying online ads, Promoted Pins are actually welcomed by Pinners as they help them find the right products and ideas. Remember we mentioned that most people use the platform to plan purchases? Well, this is exactly why your ads will be well received here.

  1. Set up a Pin It button and a Pinterest widget

Using Pinterest for business effectively requires not only being active on the platform but also integrating it with your own website. Adding a Pin It button to your product pages or blog articles will allow people to share them on Pinterest easily, and thus, spread the word about your brand.

Another option is to configure a Pinterest widget that would appear on your homepage (or other pages) displaying your latest Pins and a Follow button.

Pinning is winning

There are countless reasons to use Pinterest for business as it is a platform where people come to discover brands and buy all kinds of stuff. But like any other social network, Pinterest works best for companies that not only showcase their products but also keep in touch with their customers and stay active all the time. Follow our tips, be responsive, engage with your followers, plan your Pins ahead, and you will achieve great results.

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Blake Colwell
Blake Colwell

How to Create a Business Website in 8 Steps

In the modern days, businesses can hardly survive without a solid online presence, regardless of their scale: small, medium or large. The competition is severe, and you just can’t afford not having at least a small business website.

If you have no exposure on the internet, consider yourself in a disadvantageous position. Owning a business website is not just a way to catch up with the times. Today, even the smallest companies realize the necessity to create a business website, let alone private entrepreneurs and home businesses.

The truth is, an enterprise without a business website loses the ability to reach out to a huge share of its target audience. A well-established online presence, on the other hand, makes your brand visible and accessible on the web, expanding your marketing opportunities from “local” to “global”. With a beautiful website, it is much easier to catch an eye of your potential customers and eventually convert them into buyers.

But how to build a small business website that would help you expand your customer base and boost sales? Here’s a step-by-step guide to give you a basic idea about the process and its main challenges.

  1. Decide why exactly you need a business website

Even a small business website can have a wide range of applications. It can effectively serve you as an online alternative for a brick-and-mortar store, an e-commerce platform or just an information desk where visitors can find out more details about your brand and products.

The UI and UX of your site start with a clear vision. With your goals and priorities outlined, the further process of designing and optimizing your business website for users will be less of guesswork. When you know which elements to emphasize and what exactly you want visitors to achieve with the help of your site, you can think of the ways how to engage and retain your audience, as well as lead them all the way through the sales funnel and convert into loyal customers in the long run.

  1. Choose your method to create a business website

There’s no shortage of ways to create a small business website these days. Gone are the times when you had to be a professional coder to develop a website. Today you have options to suit every taste and budget. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to the two most feasible ways of building a website:

  • Hire a specialist: This option completely lifts the burden off your shoulders and saves your time by leaving all the creative work for a web designer. However, this is the most expensive solution as the professional services will cost you around $1.000-4.000.
  • Use a website builder: The most cost-effective and popular option allowing you to make a small business website with minimal effort and time investments. Although the features and abilities of dedicated software vary greatly, you should be able to find the solution that would suit your goals and expectations as most website builders offer a free trial. NING, for instance, specializes in advanced content sharing, community building, and content monetization.
  1. Get a domain name for your business website

In plain terms, a domain name is your website address on the internet. It is displayed as a URL in a browser and lets your audience find you on search engines or access your site by entering the URL directly in the address bar. Also, a domain name affects SEO. This is why it is advised to approach the choice of a domain name with due care.

If you decide to hire a web designer, you will have to buy a domain name from a registrar like GoDaddy and the like. A registrar is a company authorized to sell domain names.

If you go with a website builder, a domain name can already be included in a subscription fee. For example, NING provides its users with a free custom domain name with a ning.com suffix while also offering an opportunity to map a website to an alternative domain.

But how to pick the best domain name for your business website? Here are a few tips:

  • Avoid generic terms and focus on your identity: Your URL should represent your brand in the first place. Therefore, your brand name is the most obvious candidate for a domain name as long as it is unique and recognizable.
  • Keep it concise: The shorter your URL is, the better it looks, and the easier it is to remember.
  • Keep it simple: Your domain name should be easy to type and pronounce. Also, avoid hyphens and special symbols.
  • Don’t forget about SEO: A relevant keyword skillfully introduced in the domain name can improve your visibility on search engines.
  • Use a region identifier if it makes sense: If your desired domain name is already taken or you want to specify your location, consider adding the name of your city/town/state to the main body of the URL.
  1. Select a web host

In addition to a domain name, your business website will need a web host to store all your data assets for public access. Some website builders like NING offer hosting services as a part of a subscription plan. But if you decide to hire a specialist to create a business website from scratch, you will have to research the market and find the most appropriate web hosting provider for your specific needs.

Consider the following aspects when choosing a web host:

  • Hosting type: shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated hosting;
  • Technical parameters: storage and RAM, bandwidth and data transfer, server uptime;
  • Data security;
  • Customer support;
  • Ability to upgrade over time (get more storage, bandwidth, etc.)
  1. Put a good thought into the website design

No matter what your business is about, the design of your website is what sets it apart from many others. So it’s vital to ensure it makes an impeccable impression on your visitors.

When we talk about web design, we usually have UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) in mind, which are closely related. Both define whether your visitors will be able to find the required information quickly and easily on your website and carry out the desired actions (make a purchase, subscribe to a newsletter, etc.)

Professional website designers know how to bring UI and UX of a website in line with your requirements. But if you don’t want to pay extra, you’ll have to design a website on your own using a site builder. Usually, it is achieved in three steps:

  1. Selecting a website template (theme): Most website builders including NING offer a variety of design templates tailored to various purposes and niches. A template determines an overall look of a website, its layout, color scheme, navigation menu, etc. Choose the one that suits you best and proceed to the next step.
  2. Template customization: Advanced website builders allow users to modify various visual elements and parameters of templates to ensure the uniqueness of a website design. For example, you can apply diverse background images, customize a header, footer, and navigation bar, add a brand name and logo, configure the look of menus and buttons, change colors and fonts, etc. With a good website builder, most of the operations require no technical skills at all and can be carried out easily with the help of an intuitive Drag-and-Drop interface allowing you to add and modify custom elements layer by layer.
  3. Optimizing a website for mobile users: It is reported that 67% of users are more likely to make a purchase on a mobile-responsive website rather than a non-optimized site. If your website is built on NING, it is automatically made compatible with mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
  1. Create pages for your business website

Even a small business website should have at least several pages. More pages don’t equal a better website, but the number should be enough to convey the main idea of your business and offer visitors sufficient information. Every page must have its clear purpose.

But what pages should you include? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Homepage: This is the basic page of your business website. It should communicate the idea of your business and point visitors to other relevant pages. Also, a homepage is a perfect place to display the latest website updates, e.g., recently added posts, news, important messages, etc.
  • About Us: Tell your visitors what your brand is all about: what you do, why, and who would be interested in your products and services. You could also tell customers about your team and development history on this page. Don’t forget to spice things up with original and vivid photos to capture visitors’ attention.
  • Product page(-s): This one is a no-brainer. If you’re trying to sell something with the help of your business website, you need an attractive product page (or multiple pages). Fill it with convincing descriptions featuring relevant keywords and insert a bunch of quality product photos to make the best impression on visitors.
  • Blog: Blogging is a perfect way to show your expertise in a subject, share valuable content, and keep your audience engaged. In addition, setting up a blog can significantly improve your SEO.
  • Photo/video gallery: Visual content is a great engagement generator. So why not share your best photos and videos on the website? Your customers would be happy to see your brand from the inside: photos of the staff and manufacturing facilities, videos demonstrating new products, interviews with industry experts, behind-the-scenes videos, etc. Content like that boosts your credibility and enhances customer trust.
  • Landing page: Since you make a website for business, you want your visitors to arrive straight at the page that would provide them with all the necessary information about your brand and product, engage them, and convince to subscribe/make a purchase, etc. In essence, your landing page is your main lead magnet, so make sure it is capable of fascinating your audience.
  • Contacts: The last but not least, the Contacts page is a mandatory addition to any business website, large or small. It should be easily accessible from the main navigation menu and include all the contact details you can provide: phone number, email address, fax, links to social profiles, etc. If you have an office or physical store, don’t forget to specify the address and mark the location on Google Maps.

When building your web pages, keep in mind that your primary goal is to encourage visitors to become buyers/subscribers/members/etc., or at least leave their contact details (leads). This is where punchy CTAs come in. Call-to-action buttons that redirect users to relevant pages (product pages, subscription forms, etc.) should be evenly distributed on website pages to remind visitors that they can take the next step anytime.

  1. Provide means of communication

Communication plays a vital role in the development of healthy customer-brand relationships. Your potential customers may have questions and suggestions you should be able to reply to, while you need feedback to grow and improve.

There’s no shortage of online means of communication these days. The more of them are integrated with your website, the more opportunities will open up to your business.

Choosing NING as your website building solution gives you access to a wide variety of networking features that can help you stay connected with your audience: Private and Group Messages, Broadcast Messages, Forum, Polls, Comments, email services, and even Live Chat.

  1. Set up a monetization platform

Making money is the ultimate purpose of any business, and your website must be ready to accept payments at any time. Usually, websites are connected to third-party payment processors, but some website builders offer their own e-commerce platforms.

Thus, NING has developed an array of monetization features for content creators: Paid Access, Paid Membership, and Donations. Thanks to these, users can easily monetize their websites and receive money online.

Never stop evolving

Even when all is set, and your business website is ready to welcome new prospective clients, it’s no time to rest on your laurels. There’s always much more to be done. Your site needs constant updates to stay relevant. Besides, ahead of you are diverse marketing activities and, of course, hours and hours of content development.

But don’t back down in the face of challenges! You can actually get a lot of joy out of the process and be rewarded you with an unmatched feeling of accomplishment. But most importantly, a well-designed business website will grant you a competitive edge and expose you to a greater audience.

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Brenda Peterson
Brenda Peterson

How to Make a Website for Kids in 9 Simple Steps

In the world where the internet is the cornerstone of learning and communication, we want our kids to master information technologies at a very young age. After all, technology is the key to knowledge nowadays.

Creating a website for kids is a great way to get your children acquainted with the World Wide Web safely, educate them in the field of IT, and impart useful tech skills that will help them in the future.

Why create a website for kids?

Kids websites can be anything you want them to be: either a medium to teach your child how the internet really works or a cozy online destination where kids can have fun online, learn, communicate, and express themselves in many different ways.

Very often, parents decide to create a website for kids for one of the three reasons:

  • Safety: Although the internet has become an integral part of our life, it can sometimes be a dangerous place for a young mind. By making a website for children, you create a safe and controlled online environment where kids can enjoy the web without exposing themselves to any risks.
  • Fun: As long as you know what your kid is into, it is quite easy to design an awesome site with a specific theme in mind: cartoons, toys, games, movies, etc. Make it fun, and your child will have a great time on the website.
  • Education: Learning shouldn’t be all about books. Kids love to spend time on the internet, and truth be told, it can be an excellent source of knowledge. Want to teach your children something new? Fill the website with engaging, educative content and make it fun to interact with. You can even encourage kids to make their own input, for example, by starting a blog.

How to create a website for kids?

The question of how to create a website may baffle a lot of parents who know little about programming or web design. But the truth is, regardless of your tech skills, you can make a child website on your own or together with your kid thanks to website builders like NING. All you need is just a few hours to complete the steps described below.

  1. Pick the right website builder

Make sure to choose a website builder that will allow you to design a beautiful child site with an abundance of inbuilt features your kid will be excited about. Remember, the software should be very intuitive and easy to use, especially if you want to use it together with your child. To save time and money, go for a solution that includes a domain name and hosting services.

  1. Decide on a website theme

No one knows better than yourself what your son or daughter likes most of all. Perhaps it is a superhero? Or maybe your pet? With a clear concept in mind, you can design a website that will appeal to your child and encourage him/her to interact with it time after time.

  1. Choose a website template

Most website builders offer a broad selection of templates determining the overall look of your site (color scheme, page layout, navigation elements, etc.). Select the one that suits the theme or concept you’ve envisioned and proceed to the next step.

  1. Customize the website design

Now it’s time to customize the template you have chosen. This is a very important step as long as you want to make a unique and beautiful site for your kid. So don’t spare bright colors, graphic images, and funny animations to decorate it with and make the whole thing look attractive to a child’s eye.

  1. Fill the site with exciting content

Breath-taking stories, photos, videos – anything your kid will be thrilled with. The more interesting stuff you throw in, the more engaging your website will be. You can even add new content together. This is a great way to have a lot of fun and teach your child to be creative. The result of your collaborative work can be seen immediately after you click “Publish”. Isn’t that a rewarding feeling?

 

  1. Add social features

Your primary goal is to make sure that your website is a perfect place where your kid can have fun and learn some useful skills along the way, for example, the communication skills. For this, consider turning the website into a custom social network for children! Invite your kid’s friends to the site and encourage them to share opinions and interact with each other online, e.g., by leaving comments, exchanging messages, participating in polls, engaging each other on a forum, etc.

  1. Create events

Mark some exciting dates on the calendar for your kid to look forward to: birthday, Christmas, school break, etc. It is also a good idea to invite his/her friends to join the event and create a dedicated discussion on a forum. This will heat up the anticipation.

  1. Start a blog

Blogging is an outstanding way for kids to learn how to express thoughts and convey ideas in the written form. You can encourage them to pick any topic they like talking about and share their opinion or simply write down daily highlights (like a personal diary). This will enhance their writing skills and creative thinking.

  1. Protect the website

You can either make your website accessible for the entire web or secure it with a password to protect your child from the outside threats. The latter option is preferable if you want to guarantee total security and maintain full control over the online environment meant specifically for your kid.

Fun is the law!

Now you know how to create a website for kids and can get to work without further ado. But remember that the whole process should be, first and foremost, exciting and enjoyable for your kid. Try not to make a chore of it and your children will definitely love it!

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