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  • Affiliate Marketing: 4 Reasons Why You’re Not Raking in the Cash

    Tuesday, July 18, 2017 by

    affiliate marketing mistakes

    4 Common Mistakes of Affiliate Marketers

    We live in the age of multiple income streams. My neighbor works for a bank 9 to 5 and instructs Zumba classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. My brother is a former carpenter turned electrician’s apprentice who regularly picks up contract work as he moves toward his master electrician license. Me? I dabble in freelance dev work and WordPress troubleshooting, manage a web hosting reviews site, and handle social media marketing for my aunts’ monogramming business on the side. Affiliate marketing is an excellent way to get some extra cash flowing into your bank account, but there are about a dozen ways to mess it up. Whether you’re looking to make some extra dough while blogging or you want to become the next web leader in product reviews, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s go over some of the most commonly missed opportunities in affiliate marketing.
    • If you haven't yet, consider joining HostGator's affiliate program and earn up to $125 per qualifying signup! Learn more here.

    1. You’re Not Specializing in a Product Category or Niche

    When it comes to deciding what you should promote on your site, casting a wide net doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never go hungry. Affiliate marketing is one of those cases where broader isn’t always better. Carefully choose your product recommendation specialty and stick to it. There are many reasons for this: First, visitors want honest, credible recommendations from authoritative sources; a blog that shamelessly promotes retail promo codes, reviews multivitamins, and compares the top online dating apps in one breath is probably not an authority on any one of those niches. Web visitors will likely write you off as a sleazy affiliate site only out for their hard-earned money. Secondly, Google knows what your site is about, and links (including affiliate links) are a key to seeing your site through Google’s eyes. If a site about health and fitness is ridden with links to Health Magazine, WebMD, and a bunch of nutrition blogs, Google will get the picture. That site’s rankings will likely climb for health-, fitness-, and nutrition-related search terms (barring the presence of any other search engine ranking faux pas). It’s worth noting that it’s equally important that other resources link to your site to back up your authoritativeness in your industry. Finally, you should choose a specialty to hone in on because it’ll make you better able to do your job, which, in this case, is to recommend quality products and services to your website visitors. It’s really hard to be a source for quality information on a dozen different verticals.  

    2. You Look Spammy Rather Than Authoritative

    This is possibly the kiss of death for any affiliate-based site: You come across as spammy. There are many dos and don’ts of affiliate marketing, and this is no-no #1. A few telltale signs that you’ve become a spammy affiliate site:
    • Your content is laden with typos, grammar errors, and inconsistent styling.
    • Your pages load too slowly due to poor-performance hosting and too many ads.
    • Your site is updated infrequently and looks or holds information that is outdated.
    • You’ve overdone it with keywords and/or affiliate links.
    • You’ve got internal 404 pages, overused H1 tags, or hidden links.
    Not only do these red flags turn away users, but they could warrant a Google penalty, too.  

    3. You’re Not Optimizing Your Pages to Convert

    Maybe it sounds like a no-brainer, but adding affiliate links or banners to your site is not a magic switch that makes money fall from the sky. You have to put in some work to encourage potential buyers to click on your affiliate link and follow the conversion funnel—i.e., convert! What makes a click-worthy, conversion-friendly page? Make sure you avoid conversion leaks, or missed opportunities to monetize. While you don’t want to stuff your blog copy with affiliate links, you also don’t want to write an entire article about saving money on business printing costs without mentioning your VistaPrint promo code, either. And while you’re at it, it’s helpful to create custom pages or posts for whatever you’re hoping to drive conversions around (rather than haphazardly throwing in links or banners anywhere). For example, if you’re a HostGator affiliate, having a HostGator-specific landing page is more powerful than occasionally dropping in a link to HostGator at any mention of websites or hosting on your business blog. HostGator affiliate landing page Do your homework, conduct keyword research, and check out what others are writing about whatever product you’re hoping to promote. In addition to competitor research, you’re advised to test your landing page conversion rates often—and consider what you’re really getting out of each individual offer.  

    4. You’re Recommending Based on Payout, Not Product Quality

    Having been on both the consumer side and the affiliate side of this very transactional business relationship, I can’t emphasize this affiliate marketing gaffe enough: DO NOT sacrifice your integrity for a CPA, CPC, CPL, or any other payout model! It’s not worth it. Website visitors don’t appreciate lies; your affiliate partner won’t appreciate the inevitably unhappy (and short-lived) customers you send them; and any success you have won’t last. Plus, you could get black-balled by search engines—shudder. In the industry, they often call it “pay to play” tactics. It’s when an affiliate sells premium placement to the highest bidder, even if the brand or product is garbage. Experts will warn you: Quality trumps quantity in the affiliate game. Your best bet is to leverage a combination of your own experience and other customer feedback:
    1. Test the product yourself and provide an honest assessment and review or rating.
    2. Let the customers do the rest. If users consistently pass over one affiliate offer in favor of another, they’re telling you they like product #2 better. Price may be a strong pull factor, but quality likely plays a role as well.
    “The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing,” or so they say. Affiliate marketing shouldn’t feel like a sketchy agenda with ulterior motives. It should feel like a friend recommending a cool tool they tried or a team they loved working with to another friend. Aim to sound human—crazy, right? It’s simple, but effective.  

    Final Tip: Form More Than a Financial Relationship With Affiliates

    Affiliate marketers often get a bad rap. They’re painted as sleazy, shady, dishonest, and greedy—and those are the nice words. The truth is, affiliate marketing is one of the world’s biggest networking games. Those who are good at relationship-building, and who understand numbers, thrive. By forging actual relationships with your affiliate managers, you establish trust. They have confidence in the work you do for them, and you both know you have one another’s backs. When they come out with new deals, like discounted rates on HostGator servers, you’ll be the first to know and reap the rewards. When issues come up with your account, you won’t be stuck waiting for a chat bot because you’ll have the direct contact info for your personal account manager. My favorite affiliates to work with feel like friends when we get together at conferences. We talk regularly throughout the week, and we want one another’s businesses to do well. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, but, as with all relationships, it takes time and a little effort to make it work!

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  • 25 of the Best Design Blogs You Should Be Reading

    Tuesday, July 18, 2017 by
    Best Design Blogs

    The 25 Best Design Blogs to Follow

    Good web design is something most of us encounter every day. When a website is designed to be intuitive, we often don’t even notice the design behind it that makes that happen. On the other hand, when a website is ugly, hard to navigate, or otherwise appears unprofessional, we notice. 94% of people say a badly designed website makes them lose trust in the business behind it. Whether you’re a professional designer or website owner who understands the importance of good design, it’s always good to keep your design skills fresh and your knowledge of trends and best practices current. These design blogs are all great resources for helping you do so. Create Your Blog

    1.  Smashing Magazine

    Smashing Magazine is one of the most reliable and thorough resources for information on web design and UX out there. Every designer and developer, as well as a good number of business owners, can benefit from following the information published on their blog.  

    2.  CreativeBloq

    CreativeBloq is another well known and trusted resource in the design world that publishes tutorials, reviews of design-related products, and inspiring examples of good design.  

    3.  The Design Blog

    The Design Blog says what it is right there in the name. The blog celebrates all things design by highlighting good designers and good examples of design. It’s a great site for inspiration by example.  

    4.  Onextrapixel

    Onextrapixel is a blog that covers tips, how to articles, and design-related news and reviews for designers and developers. They’re a good resource for staying on top of useful tools and trends in web design.  

    5.  Web Designer Depot

    The Web Designer Depot provides posts on useful tools for designers, roundups of good design examples, news relevant to designers, and good deals and freebies that are useful for web design.  

    6.  99designs

    The 99designs blog covers design trends, especially (but not exclusively) in the world of logos. They share examples of good design, posts on trends in the design world, and marketing advice.  

    7.  Abduzeedo

    Abduzeedo collects examples of first-in-class design to serve as inspiration for designers in a variety of fields – from apps, to advertising, to video games. If your creativity’s ever running dry and you could use an inspiration boost, the site’s a good one to check out.  

    8.  HOW Design

    HOW Design is a blog providing content on an array of topics relevant to designers. In addition to posts on design tools and tips, they also help with information on having a successful career as a designer, top design firms to be aware of, and general design news.  

    9.  Design Bombs

    Design Bombs offers blog posts on design tools, WordPress themes, fonts, colors, and more. Their focus tends towards design topics related to using WordPress, but they also include posts about more general design topics as well. Recommended WordPress Hosting  

    10. Creative Nerds

    The Creative Nerds blog provides tutorials, design examples, and articles on great design tools and resources. Some of their content is focused on helping to round up other helpful content on the web, so they’re a good place for discovering new resources.  

    11. TrendList

    TrendList is another great blog for finding visual inspiration through great examples. The site posts images of design examples that demonstrate current trends that designers should be aware of.  

    12. Good Design Makes Me Happy

    Good Design Makes Me Happy is a blog run by a woman who appreciates good design (hence the name). The site is devoted to collecting examples of design from around the world that the blog owner Hannah finds inspiring and thinks other people might too.  

    13. CreativeBoom

    CreativeBoom is a blog that covers projects that exhibit visual creativity. While its focus is much broader than web design, the blog can provide inspiration to anyone working in a field that involves putting those creativity muscles to work.  

    14. Vandelay Design

    The Vandelay Design blog posts about resources and tools that are valuable to designers, roundups of inspirational design examples, and general tips for doing design well.

    15. Eye on Design

    The AIGA Eye on Design blog provides cultural news and designer interviews for graphic designers. The blog is more about covering the world of art and design than providing specific tips and resources for designers, which gives it a bit of a different bent than many of the others on this list.  

    16. Eye Magazine

    The Eye Magazine blog is the online location for a print magazine devoted to graphic design. The blog provides posts on design and visual culture, including coverage of important events, releases, and trends.  

    17. DesignShack

    DesignShack publishes posts on a wide-ranging array of design-related topics, from design productivity to current trends to design software recommendations and tips. It’s yet another site designers can turn to for tips and resources to help you do your job well.

    18. Co.Design

    Co.Design is Fast Company’s design blog. It tackles design-related news and trends taking a broad view that includes product and city design as well as visual design and UX.  

    19. LogoDesignLove

    Like it sounds, LogoDesignLove is a design blog with an emphasis on logos. The blog collects examples of logos, along with stories of how they came to be. For some inspiration and a little bit of the history of the design world, it’s a blog worth checking out.  

    20. 99u

    99u is focused on creative and design career information. The site’s blog posts highlight well-known professional designers, tips on working in a creative field, and examples of impressive professional creative work.  

    21. Typewolf

    The Typewolf design blog has a much narrower focus than most of those on the list: it’s specifically focused on highlighting different fonts. The site publishes roundups of sites around the web that demonstrate typographic leadership and provides font recommendations.  

    22. Designer Daily

    Designer Daily publishes examples of inventive design, highlights design deals worth considering, and provides posts on general tips and trends for design work.  

    23. DesignBeep

    DesignBeep provides educational posts on an array of design tips and techniques. Their posts include topics like design for advertising and mobile, the best color schemes for web design, and free fonts you can use.  

    24. VisualNews

    VisualNews is another site focused on the career side of things, covering information useful to anyone who works as a visual creative. The blog shares interesting data visualizations, information on the general industry and some of the best places to work within it, and tips for how to turn data into visuals.  

    25. Format Magazine

    Format Magazine covers news in the world of visual art, photography, and design work. It highlights interesting projects for visual artists to know about, tips and tricks for visual artists of all types, and stories that relate to the intersection of current events and the visual arts. Good design makes everyone’s lives better. Seeing great examples of it and learning more about how to do it well can benefit you, your business, and the people who come to your website. Take some time to check out these blogs and see if they get the creative juices flowing. Your website will be better for it.
  • Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Live

    Monday, July 17, 2017 by
    Beginner's Guide to Facebook Live

    Facebook Live for Beginners

    For a few years, the content marketing industry has been enthusiastically singing the praises of video content, and for good reason. One study found that videos get 1,200% more shares on social media than images and text do and 70% of marketers say video converts at a higher rate than any other type of content. Video is clearly powerful, but now there’s a new option gaining steam that could amplify how far your video efforts can go: social live video. The stats for video content were already compelling, but the stats for live video are even more impressive:
    • People spend three times longer watching live video than video that isn’t live.
    • 80% of customers say they’d rather watch a live video than read a blog.
    • 82% say they’d rather watch a live video than see social posts.
    • 78% are already watching videos on Facebook Live.
    Facebook isn’t the first company to dip their toes into the waters of live video. Services like Periscope and Meerkat helped popularize the idea, but with the introduction of Facebook Live last year they quickly became the most important player in the social live video space. If your customers are on Facebook (and most people are these days), then Facebook Live could be a powerful way to connect with them and personalize your brand.  

    How to Use Facebook Live

    Using Facebook Live is intuitive. When logged into your Facebook profile, click on the box at the top as though you’re going to create a post. You’ll see an option that says “Live Video.” Facebook Live Video Click that, then click “next.” The next screen will ask you to provide Facebook with permission to use your computer or mobile device’s camera. Give Facebook Live access to your camera Once you’ve provided permission, click continue and you’ll get a prompt to choose which audience you want your video to go out to. If you only want your video to be accessible to a select group of people, you can create a group in Facebook that just includes the people you want to reach. If you’re thinking the more the merrier, you can make your live video public for all to see. Start Facebook Live Next, you’ll get the chance to write a brief description of your video to help compel potential viewers to pay attention. After this step, you’ll have one last chance to make sure the camera is facing the right way before you click “Go Live.” Then all that’s left is to record your video!  

    7 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Facebook Live

    While the section above covered the basic steps required to use Facebook Live, there’s more to doing it well than simply going through the steps. A good Facebook Live video won’t be something you throw together on a whim; it should fit in with your overall marketing plan and be designed to meet specific goals. These seven tips can help you make sure you make the most of a Facebook Live video.    

    1. Plan your Facebook Live events strategically.

    As with any other piece of your overall marketing plan, your Facebook Live events should be planned out with some thought. Brainstorm the topics your audience is most likely to be interested in that would work well in a Facebook Live format. Could your Facebook Live event help promote another piece of content or a new product launch at your company? Each Facebook Live event you take the time to plan and record should have a role to play in helping you achieve your overall marketing goals, and you should have a plan in place for the general structure of the Facebook Live recording itself. You definitely don’t want to get on camera and realize you have no idea what to say.  

    2. Do a test run-through with a friend to make sure it works.

    The first time you ever do a Facebook Live event for your brand shouldn’t be the first time you use Facebook Live. Create a group of one friend (or a few close friends) on Facebook and invite them to join you for a test run-through. You can make sure your camera and audio look right, test out different lighting and background options to see which provide the best effect, and get feedback from your friends on how your presentation went and what you can do better once you’re really live.  

    3. Promote your Facebook Live videos heavily in advance.

    People are busy. While many consumers say they’re more likely to watch a video than consume other types of content, you’re still competing against a lot of other options for their time. To help ensure your audience actually shows up for your live video, spend some time promoting it in advance. Make a case for why your live video is worth the time and spread it far and wide via your various social media channels, on your website, and maybe even through paid search and social media ads if you want to get some extra reach. Using Facebook Live will be much more worth your time and effort if you can get a good sized audience to show up each time you go live.  

    4. Interact with viewers as you go.

    One of the great benefits of Facebook Live is that it’s interactive. Your followers can provide comments and questions as you go that you can respond to. In order to help things go smoothly, consider putting someone else in charge of reviewing questions and comments who can reply to some in real time, and pass others over to you at the appropriate moment to respond to them on the video. That way you can interact with your viewers without awkwardly trying to read everything they write while sitting in the hot seat.  

    5. Use CTAs.

    Facebook Live events are an opportunity to educate your audience, engage with them, and personalize your brand – but they’re also a valuable opportunity to try to drive them toward the next action you want them to take. In the planning stage (see tip #1 above), figure out what you want your video to accomplish and how you can leverage it to move your audience further down the path of having a relationship with your brand. Your Facebook Live video could be a chance to promote your new ebook. It could present a natural opportunity to talk about the benefits of a product. Or it could simply be a way to broaden your audience base by asking your current viewers to share and like your video in order to help raise awareness of your brand amongst their friends. Figure out the most appropriate CTA for your live video and find a natural way to work it in.  

    6. Re-purpose and promote the video.

    When the video’s done recording, your job isn’t necessarily done. You can continue to share and promote it. Facebook will give you the option to save your video to your mobile device or desktop so that you can share it on other social media websites, on your website, or out to your email list. You can even pay Facebook to amplify the post with your video recording as you would with other promoted posts. Efficient content marketers are masters of re-purposing. Consider what other pieces of content your Facebook Live video can inspire. You could put together a blog post summarizing the points you made, or maybe a post or short video where you answer the questions people asked during your live video that you didn’t have time to answer in the moment. Anytime you can turn existing content into more content, you save yourself some work.  

    7. Use your analytics and feedback to strengthen your next Facebook Live event.

    Facebook provides you with some basic analytics once a live video is done that can give you some insights into how your live video performed and what you may be able to do better next time. You can see how many people you reached, how long they stuck with you, and how much engagement the video got. You can also see at what points in the video people dropped off, so you know when you lost them. If you make good use of the analytics, you can ensure that each video is a little stronger and more relevant to your audience than the last one.   Facebook Live is a good and relatively easy way to interact directly with your target audience on a platform they probably spend a lot of their time on. If you can catch their interest as they’re scrolling through Facebook, you can make a connection with them that could lead to a further relationship with your brand. If Facebook Live isn’t part of your content marketing strategy yet, now’s a good time to get started.
  • 5 Tips for Creating Delicious Photography as a Food Blogger

    Thursday, July 13, 2017 by
    Photography Tips for Food Blogs

    5 Photography Tips for Your Food Blog

    Juicy, yummy food photos. That’s the goal for every food blogger when they snap a picture of a dish. It takes multiple skills to take photos of delicious food. Not only do you have to get the perfect shot, you also have to think about how your photos complement your blog and the best way to promote them. “What separates magazine-worthy photos from their less impressive counterparts isn't a fancy camera or expensive equipment. It's an understanding of what it takes to compose an appealing image and the confidence to execute your vision,” writes Niki Achitoff-Gray, managing editor at Serious Eats. It’s time to upgrade your skill level as a food blogger. Check out these five tips to create delicious photography. Create Your Blog  

    1. Capture the Perfect Photo

    For food bloggers, photos are one of your greatest assets. People love to see what you’re cooking or what meals you recommend.   The photos can help demonstrate how a dish looks at every stage of a recipe. The right photo also can encourage hungry people to visit a new restaurant. To take the perfect photo, consider using different angles. Most bloggers just take an overhead shot, which isn’t useful for every food item. Instead, experiment with a 45 degree angle to get an intimate shot or a 30 degree angle to capture the entire plate setting. Food blog photography You want to think about the lighting when taking a photo. Experts suggest not using an in-camera flash. The best option is to use as much external lighting as possible. So, open up your curtains and get some natural light into your shot. Lastly, get creative with your photos. You shouldn’t feel confined to follow the standards of other food bloggers. You can add your personal touch by arranging the food a certain way or inserting a funny, inanimate object in each photo. Your audience is salivating to see your food photos. So, make it unique with your own perspective.  

    2. Optimize Your Photos for SEO

    With so many food bloggers in the world, it’s possible for all your hard work to go unnoticed. However, optimizing your photos for search engines can help new visitors find your blog. The first step is to use the appropriate file names for your photos. Rather than uploading your image as “Photo1.jpg”, you want to describe the photo in simple keywords. Your file names may look like: Vanilla-Cupcakes.jpg or Chicken-Soup.png. “The images you select for your web site can make or break how your site looks, but how you upload and name that photo for search engine optimization (SEO) will actually determine whether people land on your site or not,” says Meredith Lepore, freelancer writer and content strategist. You want to follow the same rule when creating your alt tags. An alt tag is the text alternative to your image in a browser. By associating the right keywords to each image, you can boost your SEO results. File size matters, too. If your photos are too large, they can slow down your page load speed. The longer your page loads, it’s likely your visitors will get distracted and move to another site. You can use tools like TinyPNG or TinyJPG to compress your photos.  

    3. Share Your Photos on Social

    Social media is one of the fastest-growing marketing channels. People spend countless hours on Twitter and Instagram talking with friends, checking out the latest news, and engaging with brands. As a food blogger, you want to connect with your audience on social networks. The key is to post vibrant, relevant content that entices your followers to learn more about you. A good tip is to follow recurring trends on the social networks. For instance, #TBT (Throwback Thursday) is an opportunity to show off dishes you prepared in the past. Writing funny headlines or descriptions with your photo also adds personality to your brand. It shows fans you’re human and not a stuffy corporation. Angie Dudley at Bakerella offers a perfect example with her French fry sugar cookie cartons. This scrumptious photo is coupled with the playful words: Happy Fri-Yay! Share photos on social media for food blog Remember to include a call to action in your social posts. Simply plopping a good photo online doesn't help you. You can drive traffic to your site by inserting a link to your blog. If you want more social engagement, you also should interact with your followers. That means retweeting their content, liking their posts, and replying to their messages.     Share your photos on social media to build brand awareness. It’ll help you gain new fans and engage your loyal following.  

    4. Distribute Your Photos in Content Upgrades

    When visitors land on your food blog, they may read an article or two and then leave. You have no way of knowing who they are or how to contact them later. The easiest solution is to offer your visitors a content upgrade in exchange for their email address. A content upgrade is bonus material that helps your audience learn more about a topic. You can give away a free checklist, ebook, or short video. Content upgrades usually coincide with the topic of a specific blog post. Your visitors are more likely to want more information right after reading about the subject. Lori Reeves, relationship manager at EZ Portable Buildings and Tiny Houses, offers an example: “If you're a food blogger and you create a post that is a tutorial of making a specific dish, your content upgrade could be an easily-printable copy of the recipe for the dish or a list of substitutions that could make the dish healthier, vegetarian, [or] gluten-free.” The purpose of the content upgrade is to add people to your email list. So, the relationship doesn't end when you deliver the content upgrade. Start talking to your new email subscribers and getting to know who they are. The first question could be: How did you like the content upgrade?  

    5. Build Brand Partnerships

    Many food bloggers look for opportunities to grow their brand and possibly earn extra revenue. If you’re ready to expand your scope, brand partnerships may be your next step. Before you begin researching for the ideal partner, think about what you can bring to the table. Do you have a large following? Are you a niche expert? Write down what makes your blog unique from others. You want a clear value statement that will intrigue partners. The next step is to decide what you’re willing and not willing to do in a partnership agreement. If you’re a vegetarian, maybe you’ll never collaborate with a beef company. After you establish your values and guidelines, do your research and start emailing people about possible partnerships. Always lead with how the company will benefit. Below is an example from Neli Howard at Delicious Meets Healthy. She collaborated with Edible Arrangements for Mother’s Day. Food blogger Instagram Be flexible when building partnerships with companies. Every agreement won’t earn you money. Think outside the box on how you can benefit from the relationship. Maybe you can get access to a VIP event where you’re the exclusive food blogger on location. Or negotiate for the business to add your photos in an email campaign to their 10,000 subscribers. You are more than a food blogger. Take your photos to new heights with partnerships.  

    Serving Mouthwatering Photos

    Being a food blogger isn’t easy. You can’t just take a few photos of a casserole and post it online. Start by following simple guidelines to take eye-popping photos. Share your photos on several social media channels to gain attention. Also, you may want to partner with other brands to build your following or earn additional revenue. Upgrade your skills. Serve mouthwatering photos. Achieve food blogging success!
  • 5 Surprising Ways Your Business Can Use Video Marketing

    Monday, July 10, 2017 by
    Video Marketing for your Business

    How to Make Video Marketing Work for Your Business

    Consumers love video. Over a billion people use YouTube and a full one-third of the time people spend online, they spend watching videos. All that love of video isn’t exclusive to videos made purely for entertainment purposes; video marketing also offers impressive results:
    • Videos in an email increase clicks by 200 to 300%
    • Landing page videos increase conversions by 80%
    • Watching a video makes consumers 64% more likely to buy a product online
    They may cost more to make than some other forms of content, but those statistics make a clear case that the investment is worth it. Of course, as with any type of content format, you have to worry about the issue of oversaturation. If you do the same things with video that every other brand in your space is doing, you’ll have a hard time standing out. Here are a few approaches you can take to video marketing that are a bit less common and can help you break through the noise. Recommended WordPress Hosting

    1. Create a regular talk show.

    The talk show format’s been around for decades, but it’s not something brands have made much use of. That means there’s a good chance you’d be the first (or at least one of the first) to tackle this format if you do decide to give it a try. A talk show format will work best if you commit to doing it with regularity – for example, a new episode every month – so you can gain viewers over time that know when to look forward to a new episode being released. And you’ll need to put the work in to research relevant guests and start cultivating relationships with them to make them more likely to accept an invitation to be on your show. The Wine Exchange, a wine shop in California, uses a talk show format to interview wine makers each week as a way to promote different wines and bring attention to both their own business and those of their guests. Video marketing talk show format Each video they release earns hundreds of views, and their YouTube channel has thousands of subscribers. The videos are entertaining, educational, and relevant to the Wine Exchange’s target audience: people who buy wine. Through the talk show format, they’ve managed to make their mark in a competitive space.  

    2. Use live video.

    With the launch of Facebook Live, live video on social media has come into the mainstream. It’s a great way to reach your audience, since anyone that’s already liked your page on Facebook will see your video as they’re scrolling through their feed (and let’s be honest, we know people spend a lot of time scrolling through their Facebook feeds). Live video gives you the opportunity to respond directly to your viewers as they watch, which makes it more engaging for your audience and more valuable for you. Facebook live video marketing Blue Apron’s live video introducing wines that would go great with Valentine’s Day dinners gave the brand a chance to answer both general questions that were useful to their audience, like what to do when ordering wine at a restaurant, and specific questions about their own products. They were able to be helpful to their audience while also increasing interest in a product they sell at the same time. That’s a balance brands constantly seek in content marketing and one that a strategic and well thought out live video can help you achieve.  

    3. Give your audience a behind-the-scenes look.

    Most consumer interaction with a brand only occurs with the end product, or maybe through a customer service call or email. You can make your business more real and relatable to your prospects by showing them the atmosphere and work that creates the end product they love. Most people use Google every day without thinking too much about how the service we rely on so much actually works. If you’re curious (and over four million people apparently have been), you can watch a video that shows a behind-the-scenes tour of the data centers that keep the popular search engine working.
    Give your customers a glimpse of what your brand looks like from the inside so they have a new level to connect to you on. It makes your brand less of an abstract concept and more something that customers can visualize.  

    4. Make short videos highlighting your employees.

    As much as we hope all our marketing will help consumers connect with a brand, most people have an easier time connecting with other people than any company. Luckily, your business is made up of people. Video gives you a chance to introduce your customers to some of the personalities behind your brand. Freshbooks shared a short, playful video of one of their data analysts Fernando solving a Rubik’s cube, along with likeable videos that give viewers a look at the Freshbooks office and a little bit of information into the personalities of employees that work there.
    Both types of video help to personalize the brand and put real faces to the company. Videos like these show your customers that their decision to buy isn’t just profiting some faceless entity, it’s keeping real, relatable people that (hopefully) like their jobs in work.  

    5. Create a branded web series.

    To be honest, this option is likely to be more costly than any of the others listed here, but if you’re able to make the investment, it could be a great way to bring new interest to your brand. A number of brands have worked with creators to develop branded web series that are entertaining enough to gain wide interest from viewers, while relating to the brand behind them in some way. GoPro, a brand that targets its marketing toward an audience of adventurous types, has a documentary series called the Searching the Maya Underworld that follows explorers (using GoPro cameras) as they delve into a hard-to-reach cave.
    Meanwhile, Nike funded a narrative web series called Margot vs Lily about two sisters who make a bet about getting a new fitness channel off the ground. The series is subtle in its mentions of the brand, but is very in keeping with the types of topics the Nike brand emphasizes in its advertising.
    Both of these examples touch on a couple of things that make branded web series work:
    • They have to be on topics of interest to your target audience.
    • They should relate to your brand, without hitting your viewers over the head with brand mentions.
    If branded web series get the right traction, they can be big. A Contently analysis found that the average number of views for an episode of a web series is over 200,000 (although smaller brands probably shouldn’t count on a number like that, the median number of views is closer to 3,000). If you’re up for the challenge, a well-made branded web series could be a powerful way to reach more people and promote your brand through video. If you can figure out the right idea and approach to create a video that attracts attention and really speaks to your audience, video can be a powerful tool to cut through the noise and encourage more engagement with your users. Carefully consider how best to work video marketing into your content strategy and try to think outside of the box to bring your audience something new and interesting.