(image: MKH Marketing under CC BY 2.0

We all know how important social media is for marketing your business (if you don’t, you can catch up here). YouTube has proved popular for product reviews and ‘how to’ DIY guides, Pinterest is adored by home, beauty and fashion brands (and their customers) and Twitter is effective for pretty much whatever industry you’re in.

But now that you regularly update Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Instagram accounts, what’s next? 

There are a number of new and emerging social media platforms that are rumoured to sky rocket in popularity over the next year or so. Here we let you in on the inside knowledge so you can beat off the competition and get in there early. 

Reddit 

Reddit’s monthly visitors have gone through the roof over the last 18 months and it is now the go-to social site for much of the young male population (source: The Atlantic). And with over 150million unique visitors last month, if one of your target customer demographics is 18 to 29 year old men, it makes sense to utilise this social media and link-sharing community. 

So how could Reddit help your business? Well, funny and interesting pictures or videos are a great way of engaging your audience and directing them to your site in order to boost the amount of unique traffic and possible conversions. 



The only major issue is maintaining these users’ interests once they are on your site. Direct Reddit users to quality copy on your blog in order to boost the average time spent on your site, once there gently push visitors down the purchase funnel and keep bounce rates to a minimum. 


StumbleUpon

Like Reddit, StumbleUpon is a great way of getting eyeballs on your site. StumbleUpon claims to ‘take the guess work out of finding entertainment’ by providing users with an endless supply of content chosen in accordance to their likes and interests. 

StumbleUpon easily allows you to target your chosen demographic through peer-sourcing and social networking principles in order to increase the likelihood of a conversion. And this targeted content really works, StumbleUpon have indexed over 100million web pages for use with their platform!




Ghost

Although we’d always recommend an onsite blog populated with content written by a qualified and experienced copywriter, Ghost could be perfect for your first foray into copy. 

Ghost is ‘just a blogging platform’, similar to WordPress, but minus the website capabilities. Ghost is all about your blog and creating an easy platform for beginners to manage their own content and share ideas with other writers. Its clean lines and simplicity make it a brilliant resource for young writers getting to grips with online content marketing. 

Vine

Many people believe that Vine could become the future of video marketing. Why? Well, according to Unruly Media, branded vines are four times more likely to get shared than branded videos. As a result, Vine for business is a great way to get exposure. 

Vine describes its platform as ‘a world of beautiful, looping videos’ and it’s easy to see how this short-form video sharing service has attracted many users. 

All vines are just 6 seconds long and played on a loop. This gives businesses a short window to sell the benefits of their services or products in a short sneak peak without boring us with pushy sales talk. These vines really get to the point, and designated channels for topics mean you can directly target possible customers according to their interests. 

Atmospheir 

Okay, so technically this isn’t a social media platform but a multiple – bear with us here. Atmospheir is an iPhone app that collates all of your social media feeds in one place. This can be extremely useful for businesses that have numerous social media accounts which are often updated while the account holder is on the move between meetings.   

Atmospheir makes managing and updating your profiles easy, and although there currently exists products which offer these same services, none are quite up to Atmospheir’s standards. 

Do you have any of these social media platforms? We bet you’ll be setting up accounts soon if you don’t yet. Watch this space, they may just be as big as Twitter soon. But in the meantime do you fancy a chat? Ask us a question or simply say hello on @LibertyOnlineUK.

There are always winners and losers in SEO. Certain industries lend themselves towards white hat practices better than others, while certain features of SEO gain more traction and allow small businesses to outrank giant corporations. 

So which industries benefited in 2014? Let’s explore: 

Hard to Say

SEO is a funny thing. Anytime a company gets slammed by Google everybody hears about it, but unless an entire industry jumps up in rankings it goes relatively unnoticed. 

Often, industries that get hammered can help to boost others who are competing for the same keywords. This helps to identity who has benefited from these changes and the reason behind the jumps in ranking.

Local Businesses

Thanks to local listings and Google’s new way of displaying search results, many local businesses benefit from much better rankings thanks to display cards like this: 

Google returns over a billion results for the phrase “Restaurants” but thanks to the ability to latch onto your location and determine the type of business you’re looking for it can pinpoint businesses that are in your vicinity. 

Even with less popular searches like “Bike Shops”, you are returned both web and local listing results that give the local businesses a great chance against much larger companies. 

This is great news for local businesses, as they now have a greater chance than ever before at bringing in relevant, local customers through Google. However, this does not mean that it is a negative thing for large businesses. If they have shops or service provides around the country then, by listing all their locations, big companies are also able to maximise their reach in this way.

eBay’s Slapped Hand

In 2014, eCommerce giant, eBay, was hit by a Google penalty which has a significant impact on many of the business’s target keywords. This saw a huge reduction in traffic that eBay believe cost them around 200 million.  



Bad news for eBay, great news for other eCommerce sites. 

This drop in rankings allowed a plethora of sites that were practicing good SEO to step into the giant’s shoes and really mop up the sales. It wasn’t just one or two websites that benefited from this, but a huge range of sites that were all targeting keywords that were previously dominated by eBay. Even after eBay managed to get back to its feet, these eCommerce sites still benefited from the boost in rankings that were achieved during the down period. 


Payday Websites 


Traditionally, payday sites have not got on well with search engines. This used to be due to the black hat tactics that were used to launch their sites to the top result for certain keywords, but this practice has been stopped by large lenders looking to asset their position within the industry. 

Despite this, payday companies have had notoriously poor rankings within Google. That is, until 2014 when the tides shifted and Google introduced the Payday Loan anti-spam update. This update was much more efficient at slamming the black hat sites, which in turn rewarded those who were following Google’s guidelines. 


What to Expect in 2015 


It is always important to learn from the mistakes of others and use the past to make informed decisions about the future. So what can we expect to happen now? Here is a brief summary of our educated guesses:

Content more important than ever before – we say this every year and every year it’s right
But don’t do content for contents sake, build a relationship with a strategy!
Have a responsive site or GTFO 
Implied links (a.k.a. brand mentions) will become as powerful as links
Continuing the brand mentions theme, expect social signals to gain significance 
For eCommerce, good online security could become a ranking factor 
Visual elements of a website will help to drive rankings in SERPs
Much, much more local search
The faster your website the better everything (yes, everything) is going to be
Increased personalisation by Google means you need to do the same for your audience

Any queries, thoughts or facts you wish to share?  Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!


Our leading digital marketing agency has been awarded Crown Commercial Service (CCS) supplier status! Find out more about the certification and what it means for our customers here. 

Liberty Gets Crown Commercial Certified


We have been awarded Crown Commercial Service (CCS) supplier status on the G-cloud 6 framework for the supply of digital marketing services, in particular for our SEO, PPC and content solutions. But what does this mean?

The G-Cloud 6 is a framework agreement which backs government policy to centrally manage the procurement of common goods and services through an integrated commercial function. In simple terms, G-Cloud 6 on the Digital Marketplace makes buying and selling digital services in the public sector easier through a central, searchable index and therefore, boosts our visibility to public sector organisations.
 


Digital Marketing and Public Sector Organisations


Finding a knowledgeable and reliable digital marketing company has now become easier than ever. The Digital Marketplace helps compare services so you can find the right provider for your needs. 

Compile a list of requirements and tailor your search to find the perfect digital marketing provider for you. Or simply type in a term, say ‘SEO’, to find a company that offers your required services (FYI we come up tops for this). 

The G-Cloud 6 can be used by anyone who works in a public sector position in the UK, whether this be central government, health and education, or non-profit organisations. 

We’re proud to have been awarded Crown Commercial Supplier Status and have made it onto the database. Our MD, Gareth Morgan, has said:

“We think we are the first Welsh digital marketing agency to achieve this status. It is a fantastic opportunity for Liberty and it comes at a time when public sector organisations are increasing their use of digital marketing in their own communication strategies to engage with the general public.”

Liberty already work with a number of public sector organisations. We run YouTube adverts for an environmental agency, provide PPC, SEO and content marketing solutions for a tourist board as well as a Welsh food promotion agency, plus we have recently completed a project for Keep Wales Tidy. 

We hope that this new award will lead to us working with more public sector organisations in the near future.  

Do you work for a public sector organisation which required digital marketing services? Then check out the Digital Marketplace here, or give us a call!

In case you missed it, it was Mother’s Day on the weekend, so big respect to all the Liberty mums out there. We literally wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you, so thanks. 

However, as much as they might deserve it (along with all the chocolate, flowers, cards and er… Simply Red tickets) this post is not an ode to mothers everywhere, no matter how questionable their taste in music. 

The Mother’s Day link is actually a referral to another brilliant bit of content marketing from Innocent Drinks. 

You know, them with the smoothies and the teeny tiny woolly hats

Last week (on the 12th to be exact) Innocent Drinks unveiled some emergency Mother’s Day cards on their blog. Just pick your favourite, click on the pic, and print out a bit of Innocent’s signature silliness to flatter/delight/baffle yo momma. 

They were lush. Take a look. 


You still let me out in lime green satin trousers when I wanted to be Ginger Spice though, didn’t you? 


Apart from your thing for Mick Hucknall, that’ll never be right. 


Where else did I get this razor-sharp wit? 

Anyway, they got down to business promoting these bad boys on their social channels and voila, their efforts got crazy retweets and were also picked up by The Drum

Their head of digital and communities, Joe Mc Ewan, said: 

“Our ultimate goal in social is to create content that’s so good you’ll want to tap your mate on the shoulder and introduce it to them. We’re not interested in dull, generic content. There’s too much of that out there already.” 

So how can you do this for yourself? 

1. Remember, there’s a time and a place to feature your products in your content

 
This one’s direct from Mr McEwan, who says that in his opinion, there are few things more tragic in the world of marketing than a piece of reactive content with a product desperately shoehorned in. 

A small logo in the bottom corner was enough for Innocent, because if the content’s good enough, people will talk about you, and that’s the idea. 

When you’re creating content, don’t get too bogged down in sales funnels and conversions. Think just outside the funnel and you’ll find that you’re gently guiding potential customers to take the plunge instead of shoving them over the edge.

2. Make your content timely and relevant


Brands that do content marketing well will milk their content calendars for all they’re worth, and if you want to ‘do an Innocent’, then you should too. 

You don’t have to jump on every major high day and holiday (especially if it doesn’t suit your brand) but if there’s an appropriate occasion coming up, you need to be prepped and ready to tackle it in advance. 

And ‘appropriate’ is subjective. If you can make it work, then run with it. 

The same applies for relevance. You might think that the premier of a massively popular TV show has nothing to do with your industry, but get creative and it could well do. 

For example, a couple of weeks ago we wrote and promoted a blog post to coincide with the release of season 3 of House of Cards. Timely, yes. But relevant? Yes indeed. 

We took some of Frank Underwood’s more famous quotes and applied them to content marketing, and it did pretty well. We got retweets from industry big boys the CMI, Distilled and Jeremy Waite, as well as republication on Figaro Digital – a lovely bit of brand-building if we do say so ourselves. 

3. Most of all, make it valuable


Emergency Mother’s Day Cards! What’s more valuable than that? But again, value is subjective. 

The value we’re offering in this piece, for example, is useful tips on how to improve your content marketing efforts. And if you actually enjoy reading it that’s an added bonus, and one that might just make you come back again in future (fingers crossed). 

But how do you create value? Some quick tips include: 

Start with your customer

What do they often ask you? What might they need? Answer these questions and you’re already proving yourself useful. 

Focus 

Quality and depth are better than quantity. One brilliant blog post that’s carefully considered is worth a million that hardly scratch the surface. 

Get involved 

Become a part of your industry’s community and figure out what people are talking about. Offer your opinions on a trend or a piece of news, and gain inspiration from the conversation that springs up. 

Share 

If you want to be valuable, you have to stop worrying about giving information away for free. Share a bit of your knowledge and you’ll be rewarded with what’s been referred to as ‘commercial karma’. 

And finally...


We couldn’t let this Mother’s Day related post end without mentioning another brand’s interesting efforts to capitalise. An honest mistake, or a clever marketing ploy? We’ll let you decide. 


#YourMum. Yes, that’s exactly what Penguin Books did last week, much to the delight of Twitter users everywhere. The one above is from our very own @JoeHickers (never one to shy away from a bandwagon, our Joe. Although he’ll insist he was driving it…). 

As well as trending and giving them tonnes of brand exposure, their hashtag faux pas was picked up by the Huffington Post and the Lad Bible, so whether it was on purpose or not, they’re laughing all the way to the bank. Though they’ll have to draw out enough money to buy their mum a bloody big present when they’re there, for exposing them to so many crass/hilarious jokes.

So that’s that. Happy late Mother’s Day. To finish, just like Innocent, we’re not going to go for the big sell. If you’re reading this, you know we’re here, and that’s what really matters. 
(image adapted from: Roleplay Getaway)

If you regularly contribute to a business or personal blog you will have come across some dodgy sounding requests for guest posts on your site – are we right? But figuring out which emails are for genuine contributions and which are simply for a link back can be tricky at the best of times. So what do you do? 

Well, there are a few key signals that you can get a whiff of. Here’s how to smell a guest blogging rat:

Spotting the Spam 


The majority of guest post requests you receive are probably well-intentioned, but all you need is for the odd one or two bad ones to sneak through for all hell to let loose. So how do you sort the wheat from the chaff? You look out for the following things of course:

They Ask for a Link But Don’t Give a URL – So they’re asking you to host a blog including a link to their site, but they don’t mention the company name or provide a URL - what’s the point in that? 

Well, in most cases these requests are probably coming from companies that promise to help you claim back PPI, or are selling ‘genuine’ UGG boots for under £50, or something equally desirable. They know you won’t openly accept a chance to link to their site, so they get sneaky, and try and get you to say “yes” blindly. 

They Clearly Haven’t Looked at Your Site – So this time a link is included, but does this company relate to your blog in any way? And the same goes for the post content – will it fit seamlessly with your existing copy? Often when looking for opportunities a ‘rat’ will send the same email and proposed content idea to dozens, if not hundreds, of blogs in the hope that even one will reply with “let’s go for it!” 

It’s a numbers game: send enough emails, and someone’s sure to say yes – right? Wrong. Unrelated content looks bad, it won’t target your audience and that link isn’t doing anything for you, so if someone contacts you like this, save your blog and dodge the email like a bullet. 
(image: Qwertxp2000 under CC BY-SA 4.0

They Copy and Pasted the Request From Another Email – Generic emails are another casualty of mass outreach. The same basic email is copied and pasted time-and-time-again, with just names and host URLs being updated. For example,

Dear Sir/Madam
My name is (NAME). I am a writer interested in getting my content posted online. I stumbled across your website (NAME OF WEBSITE/BLOG) during my research and thought it would make the perfect fit. Would you be interested in hosting an article I’ve recently completed, including a ‘do follow’ link?
Please reply if this is of interest to you. 
Many thanks,
(NAME) 

 - boringgg! Why would you take the time to consider hosting a post by someone who couldn’t be bothered to take the time to write you a unique email? 

They Offer to Pay You – Any respected digital marketer or copywriter knows that paying for a guest post is a huge no-no. So a guest blog request that hints at any kind of ‘compensation’ for your time or actions will reek of a guest blogging rat. 

Google hates it when people try and do this, so much so that paying for links is mentioned in their quality guidelines. The guidelines state: 

‘Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site. […] 

‘[such as] Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link.’

Ridding the Rodents 

(image created from: anitess and silouettes clipart)

If you see one or more of these characteristics in emails you receive then congratulations! You may have just caught a guest blogging rat. But now you’ve caught them, what do you do? If you let it go, you’re likely to see more annoying emails in your inbox. You need to get rid of the rats for good. 

Sadly, there’s no magic way of doing this (well, unless you’re secretly the pied piper of the internet) instead you have a few basic options:

Delete and Flag it – Don’t want to waste any more time? Then simply flag the email address as junk/spam and delete it. That should mean you’ll keep them out and don’t get bothered again anytime soon. 

Respond – It may be better to take your mother’s advice and if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. But if you are being bugged day-in-day-out by these pesky vermin it’s only natural to want to say something. 

What you respond with is completely up to you, but it’s probably best to be polite or they may continue to bombard you out of spite. Simply state that their post is not relevant, that you only give no follow links and ask to be removed from their email list, unless they want to offer an alternative that fits these guidelines. 

Write a Policy – This may not do a lot in keeping the rats away on its own, but it can be handy additional protection. 

Outlining your guest blog policy on your site will clearly state what you will and will not accept, which should result in better quality (and more acceptable) posts from genuine guest bloggers. 

Although there are many guest blogging rats out there, don’t let us scare you off the real requests. Guest blogging can be an effective way of building a backlink profile, not to mention some of the best posts on the web are guest blogs! 

Have you seen some particularly bad outreach emails? Tweet us a pic! We’d love to see them.

Happy World Book Day to one and all! Oh, and to all parents who had to come up with a last-minute costume this morning and succeeded, we salute you! 

Anyway, we couldn’t let this day pass without a little nod to our favourites, so, if you get ten minutes and are looking for some kick-ass recommendations, who better to get some from than us lot at Liberty? Because we like books, we do. 

We got the copy team, as well as some of the more bookish types from the rest of the gang, to contribute with a quick 100 words on their favourite books. 

We’re book nerds and proud, so have a look and then tell us what your favourite is – the aim is to fill up our reading calendars for the next year. 

1,2,3…. GO! 
 

Joe Hickman @JoeHickers

My favourite book is The Wasp Factory by Ian M Banks. Why? Because it has everything you could possibly want from a book. Mystery, violence, murder and humour. There’s a twist that hits you so hard it makes you completely revaluate how you feel about the entire book and on second reading you notice all the subtle hints that Banksy-boy dropped. Classic book. 


Stephanie Lamerton @StephLamerton

I remember celebrating World Book Day when I was little. I was obsessed with The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis at the time and my mum made an award-winning Snow Witch costume for me out of silver card and cotton wool. 

As an adult, my favourite book (so far) is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It’s even better than Hosseini’s most famous work – The Kite Runner. It’s a must read! 


Philip Woodward @Philmoomp

“My favourite book is (probably) A Season With Verona by Tim Parks. It’s a sociological travelogue that talks about working-class culture, religion, family, racism, politics and the beautiful ridiculousness of fandom through the ever-sexy microcosm of early-noughties Italian football.

It’s sorta perfect – cooler than a semi-naked Paolo Maldini riding a motorbike.

 

Rachel Bloom @RachelBLiberty

The Shock of the Fall is the debut novel by Nathan Filer, a unique and compelling book that tells the story of a young boy and his descent into mental illness. The story cleverly unravels through the voice of Matt, whose open and honest narration draws the reader in from start to finish.  

Due to Filer’s background as a mental health nurse, he has an amazing insight into the subject and captures Matt’s thought processes in a true and poignant way. It is not overly-sentimental and Filer injects humour along the way – it’s a pleasure to read. 
 

Kris Davies @LibertyOnlineUK

The Beckoning Silence by Joe Simpson. Joe Simpson is a climber made famous by his ordeal on Siula Grande and subsequently in the novel and documentary film Touching the Void. Simpson has written a string of books that reflect on his own experiences as well as those of other iconic climbers. This particular book has a dark air about it that all climbers can relate to as Simpson reflects on the attrition of fellow climbers over the years and the personal toll exacted by a life spent in the mountains which culminates in his decision to hang up his boots.
 

Jenna Loman @JennaLoman

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling.  Cheesy answer but oh well! We all know Harry Potter books - my absolutely favourite book is the first novel of the series. In the first book Harry gets to know he is a wizard, discovers his magical heritage and his life changes as he makes his first friends and fights against Lord Voldemort!

This was the first novel I ever read (at the age of 10, it has 224 pages!) and it really got me into reading. I've read it in Finnish, English and Spanish and loved all the versions!
 

Sam Roberts

If you pinned me down and forced me to pick one book as a favourite, it would probably be East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It is an uplifting tale of two poor families succeeding in reaching their goals, and fulfilling all of their dreams and ambitions. 

It isn’t really. It is about real life stuff. 

 

Rosella Pollard @ZellCopy

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell. He’s best known for 1984, but this sobering account of the underworld is - in my opinion – more compelling. The reader is taken on a journey through slimy Parisian kitchens and squalid London dwellings as we follow a young, homeless Orwell struggling to make it as a writer. 

Set in the 1920’s, this semi-autobiographical book is crammed with outrageous characters and vivid descriptions which paint a fascinating picture of life in Paris and London. 

A story which forces you to put life into perspective, I couldn’t put it down. I would recommend it to anyone who loves the classics.


Matt Trevett @TMPRMarketing

Bravo Two Zero by former SAS soldier Andy McNabb recounts his experiences during the Gulf War, where he and a team of soldiers from the elite unit were caught behind enemy lines whilst on a sortie in Iraq. This was a book I started to read and found it very difficult to put down until I had reached the end. Couldn’t help but admire and respect the mental and physical strength of the soldiers as they battled through extreme conditions before being captured and when being tortured by the Iraqi armed forces. I think I’ve probably read the book five times over the years and thoroughly enjoyed it each time.


Natasha Aghalar @NatashaAghalar

One Day by David Nicholls, but asking a bookworm to choose a favourite is almost as difficult as deciding on a favourite chocolate bar; there are too many you love to pick just one. However One Day is definitely up there. Follow Emma and Dexter's relationship through snapshots of just one day - July 15th - over the next twenty years. 

Unpredictable and moving, this novel is one you’ll struggle to put down. If you know what’s good for you, it’s best to give the film a miss. The onscreen chemistry between Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess completely fails to portray the flourishing friendship and romance that’s evident in the book. 
 

Ben Magee @Ben_Magee

For me it was a close call between Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four and Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The Hobbit just about edges it though due to my lasting childhood memories of reading it front-to-back every year on our family summer holiday when growing up. Despite Peter Jackson’s recent venture which dragged it out into three marathon big-screen films with additional creations to cater for a Hollywood audience, for me, The Hobbit will always rekindle fond memories of summers well spent immersed in Tolkien’s fantasy world relaxing with my family and beginning to travel the world.
 

Lianne Jones @LianneMJones

My favourite book is Angela’s Ashes – an Irish memoir by Frank McCourt. It is a beautiful, funny, and heart-wrenching account of his impoverished childhood in Limerick, Ireland, and later of his new life in Brooklyn, New York. My favourite thing about this book is the sheer honestly; this, coupled with the blunt Irish humour and the grittiness of Limerick life, makes it an excellent read.


Mari d’Antonio @MgLikeTheCar

I love pretty much anything Ian McEwan has ever written, with Atonement being my absolute favourite work of his. The story is about how something as small as a child’s bad decision can change people’s lives forever, and how the consequent life-long search for atonement can shape us. It might have a bit of a slow start, but the end result is absolutely worth it. The movie with Keira Knightley is nice, but it doesn’t come close to how great the book is.
 

Siobhan Tumelty @Shabby_Siobhan

 
I change my mind every single time someone asks me this, but today I’m going to go with Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. It’s the last book I read that, when I finished, I wanted to start again. I felt like I should force it on everyone I know (and for those I nagged, I REFUSE to apologise). 

It’s epic. It spans continents and generations – from the burning of Smyrna to the Detroit riots – and interweaves incest, silk worms, hermaphroditism, and, um zebra skin rugs. There are sentences in it that stop you in your tracks. It’s spectacular. Read it now. 

(P.S. That was 100 words on the nose, BOO YA!) 

What's your favourite book?


So that’s our contribution to this most excellent day, a celebration of all things literary! 

We’re all right with words here at Liberty, too. So if you need some for your business’ website, or perhaps you’d just like us to write you a nice poem, then holler at us

And seriously, let us know what books you’ve all been reading, you can tweet us @LibertyOnlineUK – we’re always on the lookout for something new to dip into. 

Unless you’ve spent the beginning of 2015 off the grid, then you’ll probably be aware that the new season of House of Cards is imminent. 

Regardless of the fact that it’s pay day for the vast majority of workers in the UK, it’s safe to say that this weekend there’ll be more than a few hermits staying in to binge-watch the best show on Netflix.  

Francis J Underwood is a charismatic, wise individual. He also looks a lot like Kevin Spacey, who appeared at Content Marketing World last year

In our book, it’s certainly not a stretch to delve a bit more into some of Frank’s choice HOC quotes and pull out a few tasty content marketing titbits.

The man’s an evil genius. His ruminations can sure as hell be applied to content marketing. So, in the name of celebration, we thought we’d share what we’ve learnt on Frank’s steady ascent to power. 

For those who are just starting out in content marketing, as well as businesses that maybe want to have a dabble themselves, Frank Underwood’s got you covered. 

He is the most powerful man in the free world, after all. 

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS! 


1. “Even Achilles was only as strong as his heel.”


Whereas Frank was waxing lyrical about his delicate web of intricately spun lies, we’re going to interpret this little pearl of wisdom in terms of links. 

According to our industry’s own personal Frank Underwood, Matt Cutts,  (ok, he’s a little less murderous but hey ho) guest blogging is on its way out. 

He says it’s becoming an increasingly spammy practice that’s boiling down to money for links. And that’s not cool. 

It’s a bummer, what started out as an authentic way to share quality content has become a low-effort, quick-win tactic that’s spawned thousands of shoddy guest blogging sites and even shoddier posts.

Google is pretty much definitely going to penalise this type of blogger and your link is going down with it, so don’t use them. 

This isn’t to say that guest blogging is completely useless – it’s great for exposure, branding and increasing reach – just that flogging your wares to all and sundry is a pretty pointless tactic these days. 

Think big multi-author blogs (like the CMI, where we recently got a cheeky mention) and shoot for the stars! 

You want Raymond Tusk (pre-arrest) on your side, not (and I’m sorry to say it) little fish like Freddie’s BBQ. 

Frank doesn’t hesitate to cut out those who can harm his rep, and neither should you!  


2. “If you don’t like how the table is set, turn over the table.”


Oh Frank, you’re so wise. This little gem comes from Frank’s less than subtle efforts to influence foreign policy in early season 2, but, like so many of Frank’s insightful sound bites, it can be applied to content marketing, too. 

This point is all about innovation. If you’ve tried your standard written blogs and you’ve dabbled in an infographic or two, and you’re still not getting the results you want, then it’s time to flip that table. 

The CMI defines content marketing as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience, with the objective of driving profitable customer action”. 

The best stuff, the stuff that turns the tables, has elements of the useful and the inspirational, and evokes empathy in the people who see it. 

A tired old once-a-week ‘how to’ guide isn’t going to do that. 

Think clever curation and crowd-sourcing, behind-the-scenes brilliance and quality, brand-building concepts that will stick in the mind of your audience. 

Before you panic – innovative doesn’t have to mean technical. Take a look at this beautiful travel guide to Vietnam. All they’ve done is develop existing content and present it in an inventive way – kind of like how Frank remodelled Peter Russo in season one. Before he, you know, offed him. 


3. “Sometimes, the only way to gain your superior’s respect is to defy him.”


Another of Francis J’s classy asides here – but instead of straight-up saying ‘no’ to the most powerful man in the world like Frank, we’re just going to recommend a subtle ‘do one’ to the most powerful search engine instead.  

This is a risky one, but we’re going to put it out there anyway because it’s damn useful to small businesses that can’t afford to keep on top of the constantly changing minutiae of Google’s algorithms. 

SCREW GOOGLE. 

Wow, we said it. It feels so naughty – do you think they heard us? 

OK – before we get penalised and sent down to the depths of page 101 (it’s like room 101 but SO MUCH WORSE) we’d better qualify this statement. 

According to Rand Fishkin himself, no matter what they tell you, you don’t have to keep up with Google’s day-to-day changes.  

We’re not talking to SEO professionals here – just those trying to get a grip on content marketing. Our pal Rand over at Moz says that despite being constantly refined, Google’s algorithmic evolution is heading one way. If you can keep your eye on the destination, then over time, the journey will be pretty irrelevant. So, forget the silver bullets and focus on quality.
 
Here’s the quote: 

“If, in 2004, you balanced SEO best practices with usability/user experience needs and created a site with content that was optimal for people and engines, you probably had an SEO strategy that would still work today.”

Take that Garett Walker. And Google. Pretty much anyone who stands in our way. 


4. “Treading water is the same as drowning.”


One thing we have in common with Frank here at Liberty Marketing is our dissatisfaction with stagnation (that, and how damn sexy we look in all-black lycra running gear).
 
We believe that maintaining an average position isn’t good enough. We, like Frank, want to be the best, and we want our clients to be the best too. 

So what does this mean in content marketing terms? 

You may be doing reasonably well, you may be pleased with your metrics, but you can always do better. 

5. “Generosity is its own form of power.”


Once again, Frank’s hit the nail on the head here, but instead of dangling a sprat to catch a mackerel (and no, despite our use of that lovely turn of phrase, we won’t be collecting our pension any time soon) we’re talking about purpose-driven content marketing. 

At its most basic level, cause marketing involves the cooperative efforts of a for profit business with a non-profit organisation for mutual benefit. 

It’s a great way for your business to bond with its target audience over a shared interest – namely supporting a cause dear to their hearts. If, as a by-product of your charitable efforts, you happen to create some quality content, then that’s all-the-better for everyone. 

So, choose your cause, be authentic, commit to it long-term, share your tangible results and you could benefit from a halo effect generated by your generosity. 

Not that that worked for Zoe Barnes. But that’s beside the point. 


6. “Of all the things I hold in high regard – rules are not one of them.”


Rules tell you the way that the average person does things most successfully. Applying them consistently can set you on the route to moderate success, but blindly following them is never going to take you to the top of the pack. 

The advice we’re going to distil from this Underwood utterance is this: 

Aspire to more. Yes, it’s scary to step outside the realm of rules and instructions, but when you throw away the paint by numbers, you could potentially create a masterpiece. 

Over the past decade, digital marketers have self-curated a whole stash of unwritten content marketing rules that are often referred to by industry novices. You don’t have to follow these down to the very last detail. 

For example, let’s take a pretty basic content marketing ‘rule’: develop a plan and stick to it. 

While we’re not going to profess to breaking this one every day, we find it certainly helps to be flexible and to adapt as the environment changes around us. 

When you become rule-bound, you set yourselves up to be average. Listen to your customers’ requirements and make up your own rules to reach new heights. 

And if you find Frank Underwood to be a less-than-palatable revolutionary rule-breaker (although we can’t think why you would), think Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, who all flouted a few rules on their way to the top. 


7. “Nobody can hear you, nobody cares about you, nothing will come of this…”


Alright, Frank. No need to put such a downer on everything. 

He’s right though. 

Even if you write the most revolutionary blog post in your industry, create an infographic that explains the theory of relativity in five easy steps, or film a video tutorial of cats doing contouring (that weird makeup thing, FYI), if your content isn’t seen by anyone, it’s useless. 

First and foremost, you need to optimise your content so that people can find it. We know this.

It’s distribution that we’re going to focus on in this point – feeding information to the right people and places, with as much careful aforethought as the former Chief Whip. 

After all, Frank wouldn’t put all his eggs in a search engine’s basket, now would he? 

In content marketing, distribution is everything. 

Content marketers need to think about all of the different pathways people take to find great things. We need to identify how big brands like BuzzFeed are getting their content out there and let it inform our own distribution process. 

Social media, e-newsletters, email signatures and reaching out to influencers are all tried and tested ways to expand your reach. 

Don’t forget things like hashtags relating to topics in your blogs, as a huge percentage of Twitter users regularly monitor hashtags they care about. 

And last but not least, ask your employees. It’s not a revolutionary idea, but it works. And Frank wouldn’t blink twice before asking Doug Stamper to do his dirty work for him. 




The Roundup


Yes he’s a murderer, a master-manipulator, and, quite frankly (ha, FRANK-ly!), a maniac. But the man talks a lot of sense. 

So much sense that we’re going to wrap-up this piece by going for a triple whammy (read it out loud in a devilish Southern drawl, if you please…). 

In content marketing, don’t get disheartened by incremental improvements, after all, “that’s how you devour a whale – one bite at a time”. 

Remember, “we are nothing more or less than what we choose to reveal”. Half the battle is just being present and being a part of the conversation. 

If you’re not talking to your customers, they’re not listening to you. They won’t know you’re there, and they won’t give a hoot. 

And finally, if you want a bit of help with your content marketing efforts, give us call. “It’s so refreshing to work with someone who’ll throw a saddle on a gift horse rather than look it in the mouth.”

*BANGS RING ON TABLE TWICE*


We’ve been speaking at Figaro Digital again; did you see us? If not, don’t worry, here’s a quick round up of what you missed.

Is Content King? 


So you’ve all heard about the importance of content on a website, right? We talk enough about it in this blog. 


Whether it’s regular blogging, guest posts to build links or optimised site copy, digital marketing has seen a huge shift towards quality content over the last year or so, and it looks set to continue into 2015. 

Figaro Digital know the importance of great content and decided to hold an educational event focussing on it. Our very own Digital Account Coordinator, Richard, stepped up to the stage at the Content Marketing Seminar to give the crowd an understanding of the difference between content marketing and marketing content. Do you know the difference? 

Here’s a copy of Richard’s presentation from the 19th February 2015: 


How Did it Go? 


The event was a great success. The Hospital Club in Covent Garden was fully booked for a great afternoon of expert talks on content’s increasingly central role and how to measure its value to your business.  

@LibertyRichF definitely no need for nerves. Great presentation at

Just got followed by @neilpatel and did a Figaro Digital talk all in one day

And as well as our previously deemed ‘Dynamo’ of the digital industry, there were brilliant talks from: 

Andrew Marcus, Deputy Head of Communications, Museum of London
Ian Harris, Founder and CEO, Search Laboratory
Ollie Lloyd, CEO, Great British Chefs 
Stephen Kenwright, Head of Search, Branded3

Take a look at the Figaro Digital website for a round-up of their talks as well as a copy of their presentations. And while you’re there take a look at some of the great upcoming events Figaro have planned for the next few months. Will we be seeing you there? 

Whether you blog for your business or enjoy cataloguing your life’s achievements in your very own virtual diary, you probably want it to be the best it can be, right? Well, here are a few of the most common blogging errors we have seen across the blogosphere. We call them the 7 deadly sins:


#1 Copying 


Although it is a good idea to see what is already out there to figure out what works and what doesn’t, you should never ‘borrow’ work and certainly don’t copy! How would you feel if someone did it to you?

Prevent getting into trouble by telling your readers where the information comes from. Cite it at the bottom of the piece or just write an original piece. 




#2 You Don’t Know Your Audience


Do you know who you are writing for? If you don’t then your copy will become generic and unengaging. Yes you want a lot of people to read your blog but you can’t personally speak to them all. Pick a conversation with your largest demographic and talk to them as you would a friend to make your writing more interesting.  

#3 Blog Uploading is Inconsistent 


How often do you publish articles? Do you use a programme to automate your uploads at regular time intervals? The number of articles you post should be consistent. Don’t upload one a week for a while, forget for a few months, and then shove a load up on the same day. 

A publishing schedule should be predetermined and have a structure to it. Many readers will be put off if they don’t know when (or even if) you are going to post your next piece. 

#4 You Keyword Stuff


Being aware of SEO practises such as using keywords in your copy is great but be careful not to overkill it. Remember: You’re writing for your readers, not the robots that trawl the internet. Don’t keyword stuff! Fit it in naturally only a few times or you will look spammy. Quality content is the most important factor when writing a blog. 

#5 It’s Too Complicated 



Did you ever see that episode of Friends where Joey tries to make his letter of recommendation to the adoption agency sound more intellectual? He ended up making it worse because they thought a child wrote it. 

So step away from that synonyms button and keep it simple and to the point. Using long words won’t make you sound clever or like you know what you are writing about. Next time you write, read through it and see how you can simplify it. Don’t dumb it down, just cut out the waffle. 

#6 You Don’t Show Your Personality


A blog is all about what you have to say, so make sure that it sounds like something you would say. There are probably thousands of blogs out there writing about exactly the same topics as you, so add a little personality to make yours stand out from the rest. 

Your voice and experiences can make a post unique and readers will return to hear from YOU. So be controversial and speak against common beliefs with some added humour. That’s more interesting than conforming. 

#7 Not Engaging With Readers 


There is the ability to leave comments on articles for a reason – so your readers can engage with you! They can ask questions, further your point or maybe just say “well done, that was really interesting!” Make sure to reply to these comments and engage with your readers to make them feel valued and build relationships. They’ll be more likely to remember your blog and return then. 

So do you have any sins to confess? Tweet us and let’s talk about it!




If you have created or paid for an infographic to be made to represent your business and it has not had a good ROI then it may be down to a number of different reasons. 

You may like it but your infographic may stink! Or maybe it just didn’t get enough eye balls on it, but how do you know? Here’s a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of infographics and a few tips for creating them. 

Which category does yours fall into?  

The Good



For an irresistible infographic you first need an original idea that is current and relates to your business. For example, this snippet from a Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo infographic relating to their new Lion enclosure which arrived in summer 2014. 

And once you have the idea you need a creative eye. You can’t just shove a few pictures into a blog post and call it an infographic. An infographic makes information interesting and easy to digest in small chunks. The most important information should be larger to draw attention to it and the whole thing should have a natural flow, so use bright colours and size sensibly to create something eye catching. 

The Bad


(full infographic source)

You may have the most beautiful infographic in the world but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is good – it may not have the right impact or translate the information correctly!

Originality is key when creating infographics. You should learn from others’ successes and failures but don’t copy, develop a unique style. At the same time however don’t go too out-there or make it too complex. It should be easily understood with you being able to describe the topic in one sentence. 

Many people don’t think about their target audience before making an infographic. You would for a blog post so why not for these? An infographic is not just there to build links. A bad infographic will look bad on your business. 

Also be careful not to be too self-indulgent! Yes you are talking about your own product or services but you don’t want to throw it in people's faces. There is no need to be a sleazy salesman, instead use humour and interesting facts to engage your audience and they’re sure to look up the creators of the infographic (that’s you!). 

The Ugly

(image source)

The same goes for an infographic that has the content but is ugly. Yes, they say that true beauty is within, but how will anyone know if they don’t click to open it up. You want your infographic to have it all. 

To make yours look ‘pretty’ limit your design to no more than 2 fonts and think about how readable it is. Do you have subheadings? Do you have to strain your eyes in order to read the small print? And is there coherence throughout? (That last one is very important) 

Limit your colour palette too – you don’t want it to look like a rainbow has thrown up over your computer screen. The finishing touch is a headline that grabs attention. Keep it short and make people curious about the content so that they read on. 

Before you start clicking and publishing make sure to do some essential checks first. Is everything spelt right? And are all your facts correct? Just because they sound interesting doesn’t mean they are true. Quote your reputable sources for credibility. 

So does your infographic stink? Or could you just improve your outreach? Get in contact for more top tips on infographics from us here at Liberty Marketing. 

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