What I Learned In 75 Minutes With Mark Schaefer

As a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I’ve had some amazing opportunities other people could only dream of. My sophomore year I watched President Obama speak from atop Bascom Hill. When I finally walk across the stage during my graduation in May, Katie Couric will be in attendance as the commencement speaker. I feel fortunate to go to such a great school and it’s something I will never take for granted.

On February 12th my seemingly perfect undergraduate experience got even better when Mark Schaefer, a globally-recognized consultant, educator, and author, generously agreed to speak with my social media class.

To offer some perspective, five weeks ago I didn’t even know who Mark Schaefer was. But that all changed when I purchased his book, The Tao of Twitter, the best-selling book on Twitter in the world. From the moment I flipped to page one, I couldn’t put it down. I don’t remember ever blazing through a book in a shorter amount of time.front-cover

In it Mark delves into the heart and soul of what makes Twitter one of the most widely used social media channels today. As a graduating college student eager to learn more about social media and content marketing, The Tao of Twitter was exactly what I was looking for.

What made my experience reading the book that much more exciting was the fact that I knew I would get to hear from Mark himself.

When I look back on the 75 minutes Mark spent with my class, two main points stick out.

1. Just Be Yourself

As a budding blogger, I often struggle with finding the confidence to produce content. What do I have to say about content marketing? There are thousands of blogs that talk about SEO or landing pages, how am I any different?

That’s when Mark replied, “Be original. Be yourself.” What Mark helped me to realize is the importance of offering your own personal perspective. Blogging is about finding your own voice. Comparing yourself to others will do you no good.

By having the courage to let your passion for a topic shine through your content, it will be easy for others to see what makes you different. In turn, you can attract your own audience that enjoys the unique perspective and ideas that only you can offer. After all, there is only one you. You have no competition.

If you want to hear more from Mark, check out his blog post, “Why you don’t want to be Chris Brogan,” in which he discusses how the biggest mistake in his early career was trying to be somebody else.

2. Be More Human

People in today’s society are constantly bombarded by advertisements. We’ve all seen those infomercials that want you to, “Pick up the phone and buy now!” The ads pop up so often you can practically recite the script from memory after a few days. shamwow

When it comes to interacting with people on Twitter, Mark offered a refreshing perspective, “Be friendly and helpful to people. Look for ways to be selfless. Give things to others instead of always asking for something.”

Too often people are wrapped up in figuring out what they can get from someone. Twitter is a way to develop more authentic relationships.

For example, Mark developed a lifelong friendship from one simple tweet, “Go Steelers!” You’re probably wondering how is that possible? Well, Twitter is kind of a like a handshake. It is a great way to connect with anyone in the world over a common interest. From there, selflessness can take a relationship to places a simple advertisement never could. The key is to treat humans like humans.

Think about your daily life. When you first meet someone do you ask them to buy something from you or try to shove a blog post down their throat? Of course not. Genuine concern and helpfulness are part of the foundation from which a trusting relationship can blossom. The same rules apply to Twitter. Start connecting and interacting with people the same way you would in real life and watch your network grow.

Want to Learn More? 

Are you interested in reading more about who this Mark guy really is? Visit his blog, Grow, one of the top social media marketing blogs in the world. It’s well worth your time.

Why SEO Matters for Your Business

You’re most likely familiar with the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Marketing experts all over the world consider it to be a crucial factor in determining whether your business is easy to find online. That sure seems like a pretty big deal. But what does SEO actually mean and how can you use it to your advantage.

Let’s start off by talking about what SEO is. SEO refers to the combination of a wide range of tools and techniques used to ensure your website shows up on a search engine’s results page when someone searches for words, phrases, or topics mentioned on your website.

The easier it is to find your site, the heavier the traffic from search engines like Google and the greater chance someone becomes interested in your products or services. Optimizing your content to help users find timely, relevant, and useful information is the ultimate goal.

How Do I Improve My SEO? 

There are dozens of ways to boost your website’s visibility to search engines. Try out these simple tactics if you’re just becoming familiar with SEO:

  • Short and concise URL structure. Don’t confuse readers with URLs that are made up of random numbers and letters. It should be clear what the topic of a page is by glancing at a consistent URL structure implemented throughout the website.
  • Link Building. Focus on getting quality sites to link back to your content while also using your website to link to other sites that may be of use to your target audience.
  • Appropriate Keywords. Identify the keywords your audience uses to find your website by including them in titles, copy, URLs, and tags.
  • Meta Tags. This is a great way to provide search engines with information about what your website focuses on and offers to potential customers.
  • Contact Information. Make it simple for users to get in touch with you by listing your address, city, state, zip code, email, and phone number on each page of your website.
  • Business Listings. Update your business listings on major search engines as often as possible.

One More Thing….

If you’ve implemented some of the tactics discussed above, congratulations! You are helping more potential customers find your website. Now for the bad news. SEO isn’t everything. 

SEO gets the visitor to the door. It’s up to your site’s content to welcome and retain that visitor.

-John I. Jerkovic

Content is king for a reason. It plays a major role in determining whether people will keep coming back to your website. Yes, SEO can help bring people there, but if your website isn’t providing your audience with the value they are looking for, you may not see the results you expected. Be helpful. Offer solutions to problems your audience faces.

If you’re struggling with the idea of attracting customers with strong content they will want to read, take a look at my 4 Tips for Writing Copy that Converts.

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4 Tips for Writing Copy that Converts

Writing can be a polarizing subject. You’ll meet people that love it and others that panic at the sight of a blank page. No matter which side you’re on, writing effective web copy is one of the biggest components of content marketing. You need to know how to write. Most content is made up of copy after all.

So if you find yourself staring at your business’s website, wondering why your content isn’t leading to the sales you want, take a look at these four tips for writing copy that will raise your conversion rates and make a difference in your bottom line.

1.  Know Your Audience

Too often businesses get caught up talking about themselves and how great they are. What they should be doing is asking, “Who cares?” The first step in selling something is figuring out who you are tying to sell to.

Before writing find out:

  • Who your customers are
  • What they care about
  • What they think about when buying your product or service

Focus on serving your audience by providing them with the information and resources they need to  realize that what you offer can make their lives easier. If you don’t know where to start, check out this awesome 5 Minute Guide to More Persuasive Copywriting from Copyblogger.

2. Keep It Simple

Avoid overcomplicating your copy with insider language and other buzz words designed to make you seem credible. Not only do you risk losing any hope of a sale by confusing the reader, but you also miss the chance to begin building a relationship.

Your readers are human, talk to them like it. Write copy that is short and easy to understand. If you’re not sure what that means, take a look at a piece of content on your website.

Does it sound like something you would say to a customer standing right in front of you or are you trying to sound smart with long, complicated sentences? Writing web copy is tough, don’t make it harder than it needs to be with unnecessary jargon.

3. Write A Compelling Headline

Take a page from tip number two by crafting a headline that is both concise and clear. Since the title is the first thing a reader will see, make sure it quickly tells them what the article is about so they can decide whether it provides a solution to a question they want answered.

Don’t forget to build a headline with commonly searched keywords that will drive traffic to your post and improve your SEO.

Still stuck? Take a look at The Minimalists Guide to Writing Great Blog Post Titles from digital marketing expert Don Stanley.

4. Initiate Action

You never want your reader to get to the end of an article and say, “Now what?” Make it clear from the beginning what your call to action is. Time is of the essence. You might only have the attention of your reader for two minutes if you’re lucky.

What do you want them to do? Why do you want them to do it? How will it benefit them? If you can’t answer those three questions when you finish reading neither will your audience.

Stick to the call to action (CTA) and make the sale.

Did I Miss Something? 

What would you add to the list? Comment below to share your tips for writing copy that converts.