Alice at addmustard using Twitter

10 Twitter marketing tips to employ right this instant

There are 1600 people searching ‘How to get followers on Twitter,’ each month in the UK. That means there are 1600 people each month who don’t get the point of Twitter – and those are just the people actively searching for this term.

The point of Twitter isn’t to rack up endless followers – that’s just one of the metrics which we look at to analyse our success. Followers isn’t the end goal – it’s engagement! What’s better: thousands of followers with little to no engagement, or minimal followers who genuinely look forward to your next tweet?

Google ‘How to get followers on Twitter,’ and you’re served with 28,100,000 results, some published by hefty titles. The featured snippet from one such post includes the tip: ‘Post great content.’

I don’t feel ‘post great content,’ is nearly helpful enough. It’s vaguer than vague: what makes content great? It’s entirely subjective. And yet posting ‘great content’ is what Twitter was developed for, as a news site. If you’re not posting great content, why are you on Twitter? Because you’re a brand and you, er, just kind of have to be? Pah. Get out of town.

Below are 10 genuinely actionable Twitter tips, which I use day to day. These tips aim to get you thinking about your brand’s presence on Twitter: what are you offering, how are you offering it, and are you thinking about the wider picture?

 

10 Twitter marketing tips

1. Have a goal

What is your brand’s purpose on Twitter? Is it to sell? Reckless. Is it web traffic? Better. Brand awareness? Getting warmer. To build a community? Nice!

Find your social media purpose, then build your strategy from that. If you’re only on Twitter because someone said you should be, and all you do is shout about product and price, you’re missing the point.

 

Ritetag tool

2. Be discoverable

The number of relatively small brands who don’t use hashtags on Twitter baffles me. How do you think anyone is going to see your content if you don’t link it? Hashtags are your tweets’ keywords.

Research your hashtags to make sure they’re relevant. Finding hashtags is a mix of common sense, legwork, and a sense of humour. If you target a hashtag that’s entirely irrelevant, you’ll miss your own audience, and irritate another. Tools such as RiteTag are a good place to start if you’re stuck.

 

3. Remember your voice

Just because you’re on a different platform, doesn’t mean your brand’s tone of voice can go out of the window. Your tone of voice is one of the ties your customers have to identify you from your competitors.

Remain true to your tone, but add a pinch of humanity to your Twitter voice. It’s a sociable platform, so be sociable.

 

4. Keep it snappy

On Twitter, you have 140 characters to play with. Aim for fewer. That old adage, ‘less is more’ definitely applies on Twitter.

 

Alice from addmustard using Twitter

5. Bounce off others

No one likes a copycat, but there is nothing wrong with a little creative learning. Keep an eye on your competitors and other brands doing it well. Analyse what works for them, gain inspiration, and apply it to your own content. Once you’re in their position, others will bounce off your content – it’s a sociable process!

 

6. Variety is the spice of life

Have you ever seen a brand that posts the same thing over and over again? And how interesting was that? Not very.

Keep your profile engaging and up to date by varying your content. Share images, video, plain text, links, emojis… maybe even throw in a GIF or two (with caution), which can be especially effective on a #Friyay!

 

Alice from addmustard using Twitter

7. Be kind

This one is so important, and one that is so frequently forgotten. Social media is sociable. We have to engage with our audience, and with the audience we follow.

Put in the effort to reap the rewards. If you’re mindlessly posting and not engaging yourself, why should anyone else engage with you? It’s all about give and receive.

 

8. Dabble in Twitter Lists

Twitter lists are a relatively new one to me – and they’re great! Create lists to monitor your competitors and industry gurus. They’re an easy place from which to employ tip 7.

 

Buffer Chat on Twitter

9. Get involved in Twitter Chats

If you’re not joining in with Twitter Chats – find a relevant one, plug it into your calendar, and make the time to join the conversation.

Twitter Chats are a great chance to really show your brand’s humanity. Begin by joining in, then start the conversations.

 

10. Add value

At the end of the day, if we’re not adding value, we don’t deserve to be on social media. Think about every single thing you post – if it doesn’t, in some way, add value to the conversation, don’t post it.

 

Go on then, what have I missed? I’m no guru, so let me know on Twitter!


People sitting in a cafe, overlooking London skyline

Social Media and learning not to stab in the dark

addmustard’s got a new string to its bow: training budgets. We’ve always had the option of going on training courses, but it fell by the wayside if we're honest. So when individual training budgets were allocated in our company update, which included lots of exciting new mustard perks (hello, flexi-time), there were murmurs of interest.

So, as the skipper of the addmustard social feeds, last week my training budget and I trundled off to two Social Media training courses. Day 1 was a Guardian Masterclass on Social for Business, hosted by Ed Goodman of SocialB. He took us through the nitty gritty of setting up reports, and the importance of goals, before opening a discussion on the wider aspect of social media, it’s purposes, and our aims.

Day 2 found me with Kerry Watkins, of Social Brighton, exploring the realms of Social Strategy. This was the grounding to the wider thinking of the day before. We went through building a strategy, finding your audience, setting up paid ads, and monitoring via Google Analytics.

I returned with our brand new strategy clutched in my hands, and a mind whirling with new ideas and themes. On the train back to Brighton, I tweeted a photo of the class at the event, and the impressions and engagement it received far outweighed that of our previous tweets. I felt like I’d been given a magic key.

Of course, there is no magic key to Social Media. It’s creative, subjective, and colourful. But don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say it’s not measurable. And that’s one of the key things I learnt over my two days of training.

If I had to sum up my key learnings, I’d say:

  1. Reporting - without it, how can we hope to improve?
  2. Just because social is creative, it doesn’t mean we can’t prove its value.
  3. Social is sociable. To reap the benefits, we must be human, and be kind.

 

Phone with google search of analytics

Reporting and Social Media

This was, for me, the most important lesson I took away with me. Reports are often pushed into the ‘too difficult’ pile by those in creative roles: “I’m a wordsmith, not a number-cruncher!”

But in reality, if we’re not reporting on what we’re doing, how can we hope to improve? Reporting on what works and what doesn’t (and there will be plenty of both!) is crucial.

Since the classes, I’ve set up a monthly report, containing figures for impressions, followers, reach, and crucially, engagement, over all of our social platforms. It’s not pretty or complex, but it allows me to record everything I need.

Already I can see themes emerging from what generally does well, and what doesn't. And that’s allowing me to learn from past posts, and importantly, to improve for future ones.

 

Phone screen with Twitter log in page

Proving the value of Social Media

The second lesson I learned was that you can prove the value of Social Media. Being relatively new to it, I’ve already had a lot of people warning me how difficult it is to prove social’s worth.

Nonsense, I say to that!

Sure, historically it was tricky. But today, with all the tools, analytics, and measurement we have at our fingertips, we can see exactly how well each post does. We can see how social affects our web traffic, what pages readers visit, and where they go after that. We have attribution models that allow us to incorporate social clicks, and lastly, we’re fools if we overlook the value of brand awareness.

I also think we Social Media marketers are the luckiest in the industry. We have unbounded audiences! In SEO, Content, and Design, we have to guide our audience to the (relevant and high quality, of course) web pages we want them to see. With social, by using something as simple as targeted hashtags, we can jump into conversations, bring our brand’s personality into perspective, and connect with brand new people every day.

And that’s marvellous.

 

Phone hovered over table, taking photo of food

Staying sociable and being kind

Stay with me for this one – I won’t get fluffy, I promise. I just want to say something that will sound blindingly obvious.

Social Media is sociable.

I think that’s very often overlooked. Our audiences aren’t on Twitter to be sold to. They don’t want to be stalked around Facebook, or bombarded with USPs on Instagram. No. They’re there to socialise. To read stories, to daydream, to be inspired, and to relax.

That’s why, whenever I post as addmustard, I’m fundamentally human. I try to post as I would as Alice: naturally.

I don’t try to cram in keywords and irrelevant hashtags. I try not to hound people and force relationships. And if I see an interesting piece of content, I’ll give it a share or a like without expecting reciprocation.

And that’s where being kind comes in.

Those who simply post, post, post won’t ever ‘succeed’ at social. They’re not engaging with the conversation, or contributing anything of interest. What’s the point if we’re not adding value?

Our audiences are clever, and they’re tired of brands treating them like they’re silly. They’re just as human as those behind brands’ social feeds. So if we just take the time to browse our platforms, give a retweet here and a like there, and perhaps message him or her, we’ll be far closer to presenting the natural personality of our brand than any USP post will.

Why is the Innocent Twitter feed so stunningly popular? Because of its humanity. A smoothie company tweeting about the weather, or the latest TV programme sounds bizarre. But it works.

Both the training days were brilliant, and I came away with a fresh sense of purpose and enthusiasm. Since then, we’ve already been seeing the benefits. Our engagement and reach is up. Our reports are running, and we’ve a shiny new social strategy and policy magnum. We’re putting budget behind posts that we’d like more eyes on, and we’re reaching out to the wonderful Brighton community that we live and breathe.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to both Ed and Kerry. They’re wonderful trainers, and I definitely recommend their courses.


8 reasons why your writing career can excel from home

We’ve all dreamed of working from home, where taking phone meetings from the sofa and brainstorming in our PJs is a reality, not just a trendy Google work initiative. The craving heightens when playing sardines on a commuter train or sitting on hold to the gas company over a lunch break. But does it actually work? Is it productive? Or in reality, just a bit lonely?

Here at addfolio, we work with a hub of fantastic freelance writers, coined Scribblers, so we know first-hand just how successful working from home can be for both employer and employee. Here are our top reasons why, as a writer, revolutionising your work-life balance can be the best decision you’ll ever make.

We also asked Ruth Elvin, one of our fantastic long-standing Scribblers, for her perspective on working from home.

  1. It encourages creativity

Most people’s creative juices do not start flowing at the switch of a button. It’s a sad fact of life that our most inspirational articles or attention-grabbing headlines don’t always come to us at 9am on a dreary Monday morning.

When you’re not chained to squeezing everything into the fairly limiting Monday-Friday work regime, you can choose your days off and complete tasks when your creativity peaks. This provides a less stressful working environment, allowing you to break the routine, without sacrificing deadlines. When this happens, creative freedom flows.

  1. Productivity isn’t strained

When you’re not physically in the office, it’s simply easier to get your head down and focus. You’re able to choose when you go silent on emails, chatting platforms or the phone, safe in the knowledge you won’t be tapped on the shoulder for ‘a quick question,’ every half hour. This allows you to produce better results, faster.

Ruth’s view: I have to set myself hourly goals or I'd easily daydream the morning away. The knowledge that the slower I work, the worse my hourly rate becomes seems to motivate me pretty effectively though!

Frame Of Mind

  1. You can take regular breaks

When it comes to a much-needed respite, instead of spending 10 minutes surfing Facebook, you’re more likely to play with the cat, hang the washing out, or decide what you’re going to make for dinner. This gives your eyes and brain distance from the screen, so you’ll come back to the task with a fresh perspective. There have been hundreds of studies that highlight the importance of regular breaks, but most office cultures haven’t quite caught up.

Ruth’s view: I like a bit of peace and quiet and, though I sometimes miss the office gossip, I've got more time and energy to see my friends and do fun things outside of work now.

It’s also nice for work to be a bit of a haven instead of chaos. I can control the radio (very important), wear comfy clothes, take breaks to sit in the garden, and I don't have to hot desk!

  1. It’s easier to achieve work-life balance

Our modern lives are full of complexities. Tiny humans who we’ve brought into the world, retirement that isn’t all it’s cut out to be, jobs which we love but don’t quite cover the mortgage. Being able to work from home allows those for whom a regular, contracted job doesn’t suit to continue working.

Take Mondays off to pick up the kids. Get to the post office on a Wednesday afternoon. Start at 6am and have all your tasks wrapped up by 3pm. Life doesn’t stop between 9am and 5pm, so make work fit around you, rather than the other way around.

Ruth’s view: It’s all about flexibility. I used to have a three-hour commute to work and my son would often be in bed by the time I got home. I work quite a bit in the evenings and at weekends but it's at a time that suits me - and I get to see much more of my son.

  1. Grow your career prospects

Depending on the type of freelancing you do, this career path can provide more opportunities to take on different and varying tasks. With work across multiple projects, clients and employers, your CV will be far more colourful than if you’d stayed in the same office for your entire career. Plus, Google replaces the trusty tech team, forcing you to learn new skills by solving your own questions.

  1. Enjoy a change of scenery

Working ‘from home’ doesn’t have to be taken literally. You aren’t limited to balancing your laptop on the sofa - work wherever, whenever. With laptops, tablets, smartphones and even watches connecting us, the world is your oyster when it comes to location.

Ruth’s view: The pitfalls

No sick pay! When you have to take time away for illness or caring responsibilities, it can be quite stressful re-arranging deadlines and losing money. Trying to write with an awful chest infection was a low point.

Going from a permanent job to not knowing where your next pay cheque is coming from and what your next project will be also takes some getting used to. It’s exciting though.

AF_blog_people

  1. Be an independent woman/man

Developing the independence to problem-solve, critique, ask questions, interpret briefs, and raise issues, is a necessity when working from home. Without colleagues on hand all day, you’ll write clear and concise emails, because you won’t be able to pop across the office to explain in person. You are forced to adopt sensitivity for others’ schedules, manage your own time, and adhere to deadlines, as there’s no big boss poking you into action.

  1. Economic satisfaction

Not having to commute twice a day can save you a pocket full of pennies (unless your current commute is a walk, you jammy thing). With the average UK commute costing hundreds a month, plus buying lunch and coffee, not to mention a separate work wardrobe, much of your pay cheque ends up feeding back into working life. Surrounded by your home comforts, including the kettle, snacks and your comfiest clothes, say goodbye to unnecessary expenditure.

Ruth’s freelancing story:

I quit my job in Dec 2015 to start freelancing at home so I'm relatively new to it still. I'd been doing freelance writing on the side of my previous job but I just didn't have the time to commit to doing big projects! I've definitely done the right thing - I love working at home and I love writing for a living

So, is working from home for you?

For the right people, working from home provides freedom, creativity and increased productivity. That said, it’s not for everyone. Many crave the routine and structure of putting in 40 hours a week and then signing off for the weekend. Others embrace the freedom and relaxed atmosphere of freelance life, or at least try to blur the lines between home time and work time.

Similarly, working from home doesn’t make sense for every career. It works for writing because deadlines can vary, while lengthy research, quiet and the ability to concentrate is crucial.

What’s your perspective on working from home? Have we missed a benefit, or overseen a detriment? Let us know in the comments box below.


How to proofread like a pro

Plan, research, write, proofread.
Plan, research, write, proofread.
Plan, research, write, proofread.

The process to produce a honed piece of content is hammered into us writers from day one.

Every stage is as vital as the next, deep-rooted so that if one should fall, the entire house would come crashing down. Yet if we’re all completely honest, we know that proofreading often bears the brunt of tight deadlines and demanding schedules. As the final stage in the process, each precursor can eat away into the time left on a project, turning proofing into no more than a quick grammar and spelling check before pinging the piece off to your editor.

Yes, grammar and spelling are the obvious boxes to tick. But what about the larger picture of the context in which the piece sits, its purpose and whether or not it’s an interesting piece to read? These factors are all crucial to content creation, and are as important to your proofing process as the textbook corrections.

Read addfolio’s guide on how to proofread like a pro to polish your piece, and never get called up for miisspelt words and grammatical errors’ again. (See what we did there?)

The finer points

You’ve likely heard many of the tips before, but there are a few nuggets when it comes to proofreading that will always be helpful.

Time

Give yourself plenty of it. After you’ve finished writing, leave yourself enough time to take a step back, ideally a day, before coming back to proof it. You’ll come back to it with a fresh mind and eyes ready to pick out glaring errors that your eyes have skimmed over before.

Print or read aloud

Find what works for you, some like to print out a hard copy and mark changes with a different coloured pen. Others find reading the piece aloud helps, as your tongue will naturally trip over mistakes, forcing you to notice them. Perhaps try emailing it to yourself, walk away from your computer for a few minutes then come back and read it in the email. A new format or structure refreshes the eyes and can make different elements jump off the page.

The small print

It may be obvious, but you must be vigilant with all kinds of grammatical errors, especially ones you often make. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for variant spellings such as colour instead of color. You never can trust a spellcheck.

If little mistakes are starting to slip through, try proofing each line between two pieces of paper so your eyes can’t skim ahead. Also, if you’re unsure about a grammatical rule, it’s definitely worth Googling just to be sure. There is absolutely no shame in sense checking.

Facts and figures

Whenever you come across a fact, figure or proper noun, it’s worthwhile giving it a quick Google to ensure it’s correct (this only really applies if you’re proofing someone else’s work, as you’ll know if what you’ve written is correct!).

Red pen spelling correction on a notepad

The bigger picture

You may be a grammar and spelling whiz, and your content is no doubt spick and span, but that doesn’t make it good. Many a proofer has fallen down by not thinking about the bigger picture, and if your piece is boring, confused and dense, no amount of correctly used semicolons will save it.

Find the goals

Think about the goals of the piece. Why has it been created? Is it for entertaining, informing, spreading the word, or joining a debate? Should it drive sales, build the brand, or engage email sign-ups? Once you’ve thought about where the piece will sit within the context of the strategy, you can critique it to see whether it fulfils those goals.

Keep the thread

Does the piece keep track on its focus, or does the thread of the topic waver around? A little tangent here and there can be interesting and help to keep a piece alive, but too many and your audience will become as confused as the writing is, and you’ll lose them.

Tailor the structure

How is the piece structured? Is it one block of weighty text or is it broken down nicely into meaty paragraphs? If it’s appropriate, relevant headers are a nice way of guiding the reader.

For example with this piece, some readers may have their own grammatical and spelling techniques for proofing set in stone, so they do not need the first section. The handy headers allow them to skip forward to the section they came for, and the bit they really want to read; the bigger picture.

Consider consumption

People spend a lot of time reading and researching online via their mobile phones - where screens are small and heavy blocks of text are not appealing. How users are consuming the content should be considered during the planning phase, but don’t overlook this element during proofing.

Proof as a writer – and then as a reader

Finally, take your writer’s hat off and get in the mind of your readers. Would you read it? Would you share it? If the answer is no then you may need to re-think your approach. It’s so important that content adds value and is shareable, and your opinion on this is as important as anyone else’s.

Use the addfolio proofreading top tips and you’ll soon be on your way to proofreading like a pro. If you’ve got some nuggets that you think we’re missing, let us know – we’re always learning.


It's not just black and white

‘Every time you shift to a different colour or hue you are creating interest. It’s a subtle thing, but it builds content.’ Clyde Aspevig, artist.

Today’s audiences are so busy, and so overwhelmed with internet fodder, that they quite simply judge content by its cover.

A study by Skyword found that content with relevant images gained 94% more views than content without. Now, that’s the kind of BOGOF offer digital marketers go mad for. With the monumental success of content platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat, content marketers are all too aware of how critical visuals are in today’s strategies. It’s predicted that by 2018, 84% of communications will be visual, covering everything from imagery, video, infographics and more.

In part one of our new design takeover duo, we explore how design and content go hand in hand. First up: how colour, or a lack thereof, impacts text.

1. Consider the connotations

Using colour is a good way to enhance a point, catch the eye or even drive a sale. In short, colour connotations can influence your audience before they’ve even read a word. As the most subconscious part of our brain, colour is a hugely powerful tool for content creation.

The colour red causes our hearts to beat faster, and can even instigate the ‘fight or flight’ instinct - this is why shops always use red to signify a sale.

Screen grab of Boohoo's website, signifying the use of the colour red

Blue is an almost universally welcome colour to both men and women - it’s 57% of men’s and 35% of women’s favourite colour. In the UK, the colour blue is culturally aligned with honesty, clarity and trust. Brands who use blue as their main colour, such as Barclays, Facebook, Ford, and Samsung, all operate in industries where customer trust is imperative.

Screen grab of Barclay's website, signifying the use of the colour blue

Orange and brown are respectively 22% and 27% of men’s, and 33% and 20% of women’s least favourite colours. But yet, brands such as easyJet, Amazon, UPS and Timberland thrive using these hues across their website. So remember, one rule doesn’t fit all.

A screen grab of Timberland's website, signifying the use of the colour brown

The thing to remember is people react to colours differently, and the context of the piece or brand is absolutely crucial.

Reece Starr, addfolio’s Head of Creative explains: ‘Colour is what we react to faster than anything else on the page, more so than a shape or a block of text.

A basic analogy is to place two light bulbs at either end of a room, but switching only one on. Our natural instinct is to react to the lit bulb, because it's standing out more than anything else in the room.

This same approach can be applied to a page, by simply deciding where to place the light bulbs.’

Varying pink flowers lie on a florist's workbench

2. Ensure a harmonious palette

The colours of the rainbow and complimentary colours are some of the first things we learn as children, so it’s little surprise that the need for harmonious colours continues into our adult lives.

If you use more than one colour, choose a palette and stick to it. Contrasting colours on one page can confuse readers and cause disharmony within the content.

Choosing your colour scheme comes down to what you want your content, and ultimately your brand, to say. Are you going for expert, sincerity, or excitement? First decide on this, then tailor your colour scheme to these emotions, and implement it throughout your content.

If you’re struggling to find a colour palette, try the Pictaculous free tool, which generates a colour palette that suits your image by using the base colours within that image.

Reece’s view:

‘A successful colour palette can be judged on how well it informs a user, colours can be applied to different actions to help the user to navigate more freely.

Creating a colour hierarchy allows you to connect colours with directions - you’re training users into subconsciously understanding what different colours do, and thus influencing their decisions.’

Screen grab from addfolio's about us page, signifying the use of white space

3. Consider your white space

The white space on a page is a powerful element that can all too easily be ignored or abused. From the space around the text, between headers and even between lines of text, white space is imperative to a successful piece of content.

White space provides better legibility. Room to breathe between and around the words makes the text easier to read, leading to higher comprehension. Cue dramatic white space pause…..

White space also comes with its own tones and connotations. Tightly crammed in text with little white space gives an impression of cheapness, and a desperation to squeeze too much into a small space. The less is more approach can make a page feel elegant, open and relaxed, with a mature understanding of what is crucial, and what can be left unsaid.

Using content to signpost

Content needs recognisable roles to be digested effectively. Dividing a piece into headers, sub-headers and paragraphs provides pointers or ‘signposts’ to guide the reader.

Reece’s view:

‘Clean, minimalistic, well thought out content needs space: space to breathe; space to digest; and if you’re Apple, space to show off the latest tech goodies. Getting the most from your white space is no easy task though - too much and the page seems bare, or even dull, but not enough leads to pockets of clutter, creating an albeit organised mess.’

However, all that said, content specialists, designers, and UX specialists alike must remember that colour is subjective. There is no way of ticking everyone’s box. The best idea is to trial and error:

  • using colours that suit your purpose and your brand,
  • initiating a colour palette and adhering to it sitewide, and
  • making your life (not to mention the reader’s life) easier by utilising the white space available to you.

Next time, we’ll be foraging into the world of content structure in the second of our design takeover duo. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your views or examples of innovative colour use in content in the comments section below.

Sources:
www.skyword.com
www.loyelstudios.com/2016/02/08/visual-content-dominates-digital-marketing-trends
www.colour-affects.co.uk/psychological-properties-of-colours
www.shopify.com/blog/14254569-why-all-sale-signs-are-red-the-science-of-color-in-retail
blog.kissmetrics.com/gender-and-color
www.pictaculous.com

CONTENT & DESIGN: A FIERY LOVE AFFAIR

The lines between content writers, UX specialists, and web designers are blurring. With a huge increase in cross-device browsing and the overwhelming amount of content available, attention spans are shorter than ever, and audiences expect to be visually engaged.

Then there’s that age old question: “Which comes first, the content or the design?*”

Content marketing is no longer simply about creating fantastic quality content. Our content has to be beautifully engaging and logically structured for easy consumption. So following on from our first design takeover – The Colour of Content – this week we take a deeper dive into structure, and the impact it has on our content creation.

1

Minimal Options = Maximum Action

Hick’s Law is the rule of simplicity, and states that the more choices there are, the longer the deciding time, and the more difficult the decision. Sound familiar? As internet users, we come across this problem daily. So cut the distractions and ensure your message is the focal point.

Breaking your content into sections, with relevant signposting, can help the user to scan should they wish. Signposting helps guide the user through the content, reminding them of the key point of each section. It’ll also help consistent delivery across smaller screens such as mobile phones.

Remove all other irrelevant elements. This isn’t to say that topical imagery, call to action buttons, and links should be excluded, but the key is relevancy. Which leads us nicely to….

2

Order makes the world go around

We humans are creatures of habit. While change, creativity and surprise are heartily welcomed, an underlying structure or order will provide buoyancy for your content.

Of course every writer will have their own style, but depending on what you’re writing (white paper, blog post, press release, infographic…), there are uniform elements that the user will expect to see, from the title to the introduction, deeplinking to conclusion.

Putting call-to-actions (CTAs) above the fold instantly presents the user with an end goal. Whether the CTA is pushing social sharing, a purchase, or an email sign-up, having it early on will inform the reader of the page’s intent before they’ve had to scroll further down the page.

Finally, it’s an age-old tactic, but it works in person and it works on paper: tell people what you’re going to say, say it, and then remind them of what you said.

3

Relevance is king

This is a statement that crosses more than just structure in content marketing. But sticking to the subject (because it’s most relevant, see), every piece of content will have a relevant format which can help support its purpose.

For example, listicles are great for quick takeaways, or tongue in cheek pieces that are heavy on imagery. They also make for easy browsing, and translate across devices (as long as you optimise your imagery for both desktop and mobile). White papers suit information-dense articles, with rigorous structures including a contents, indexes and footnotes.

Infographics were made for sharing. They’re visually stimulating, easily digested, and provide useful titbits for people to squirrel away for their next pub quiz/first date/family event (delete as appropriate).

4

One size doesn’t fit all

Interestingly, successful imagery can vary in style once it moves off its host website. Don’t simply choose your photos for the content and then share it on social, expecting fantastic results. One study found images featuring people received less engagement on Facebook than photos without people or with only part of a person in them. Whether this is the models blocking the viewer’s empathy, and therefore emotive reaction, or not, different platforms must be treated differently.

5

Consistency is not conformity

Just as your words should follow a tone of voice, the design and structure of your content should flow with a consistency that’s relatable to your brand.

This is not only relevant to each piece of content, but site and blog-wide, too. Your audience will become used to the regularity of your posts and their overarching style. The reason readers return is because your content is filling a gap in their lives, perhaps they are able to relate, or are informed or entertained. But this isn’t to say avoid change either – content innovation has never been more important. By testing and tracking what is and isn’t working you’ll pave the way for the evolution of your content. By understanding what works, you can consistently do more of it.

Creating engaging content is consistently one of digital marketers’ weightiest challenges. There are no hard and fast rules, only trial and error based on experience and results. However, with online attention spans coming in at a minimal 8 seconds (apparently less than a goldfish), implement these four simple steps for clear, crisp and satisfying content design:

  • When it comes to design – less can often be more
  • Ordering your content can help its creativity float
  • Relevance is king for both form and imagery
  • Stay consistent to your brand… but question every other process

If you think we’ve missed anything off, let us know in the box below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

*We came across an old, but very interesting article, which attempts to answer this very question. ‘Structure, First, Content Always’ is worth a read!


6 TIPS ON WRITING FOR MOBILE

Today, 91% of us use mobile for inspiration when we’re in the middle of a task. 82% of us will consult our phone in a shop, and 51% have purchased from a different brand to the one they intended, because the information provided was useful. These are just three examples from a multitude of stats that put the importance of writing for mobile into perspective.

Think about your own mobile usage throughout the day. We turn to our mobiles for answers, inspiration and entertainment around the clock. Mobile usage peaks far above desktop usage every day, and the competition’s steep. In short, a responsive web design simply isn’t a stand-alone strategy.

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On mobile, users expect to do the same pre-purchase research as they would on a desktop, but a lot faster. Here are our 6 quick tips on writing for mobile.

1. Grab their attention

When writing for mobile you need to put your journo’s hat on. A hard-hitting headline will grab your reader’s attention. Starting your piece with a series of short and sweet sentences will allow them to quickly decide whether they want to read on and find out more.

E-Write propose a ‘Bite, Snack, Meal’ approach to online writing. Treat your headline as the bite – instant gratification of what your piece contains. The snack could be a brief summary in two or three opening sentences. The meal is the in-depth body of your content. A pretty tasty concept, no?

2. Don’t hide the best bits

Generally, mobile users don’t have the time or the thumb strength (who are we kidding, the next generation will have super-thumbs) to scroll right to the bottom of the page. Similarly, they won’t read through every paragraph to seek out the good bits, so don’t hide them!

There’s no point being stubborn – trying to bend mobile users to your will will cause them to bounce. They have no allegiance to your content, so why not make everyone’s lives a little easier and give your readers what they’re looking for straightaway?

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3. Is it legible?

It’s simple, but fundamental. Your content must answer a user’s need quickly – while they’re on the bus, in a queue, or waiting for a friend.

Lengthy words and excessive semicolons will often have mobile readers running for the hills, so present your point in short sentences of punchy words. Ultimately, try to answer their query like you would a face-to-face question.

4. Break it up

We’ve talked about sorting your content into digestible paragraphs before, and we mention it again. Headers, sub-headers and bullet points are crucial for guiding your reader through your text. They allow your reader to scan and find an answer to their query as quickly as possible, leaving them satisfied and far more likely to return to your site in the future.

5.Click to preview

Before you publish – always preview. Your piece might look great on desktop, but if there are misaligned paragraphs, oversized images and bunched sub-headers on a mobile device, your reader will be left dissatisfied. These are all issues that can be eradicated pre-publish.

6.Track, Learn, Grow.

It’s crucial to implement tracking for all content. Use Google Analytics to gain insight into which devices your audience is viewing your content on. With real-world statistics to base changes on, you can optimise your site knowing exactly how your viewers are interacting with your content.

GA is also brilliant at showing you how your users behave on your site – is there a particular page with an irregularly high bounce rate? It could be that there’s something amiss, from site speed to over-weighty content that needs your attention.

Smaller screen: Bigger picture

Today, more than ever, it is imperative content writers, SEOs, UX-ers and designers work together. Our readers are busy, constantly hounded, and clever. They’re also hungry. And so we must provide great content that answers a need in a clear, informative and attractive way across all devices.

Finally, just because your user is on a smaller screen, doesn’t mean they’re necessarily looking for lighter topics. Tackling the deeper issue on mobile is great, and there’s a big place for long-form content. Just make sure to dive in sharpish!


Little Bit On The Side? An Infographic Guide To Self-Employment Tax

So you’ve taken the plunge. You’re tapping into your creativity, spare time and the wonderful world of freelancing. First off, congratulations, and secondly, welcome to the team! At addmustard, freelancing is our bread and butter. Our aim is to create engaging, original content – which is something that without the amazing work of freelance writers, would be a much more arduous process.

However, there’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing lingering in the background when it comes to freelancing. Three little words that cause an inordinate amount of stress. Self. Employment. Tax. How does it work? Will you end up out of pocket, and where do you even begin with NIC? Cue our comprehensive Guide to Self-Employment Tax.

Designed with freelancers in mind, our Beginner’s Guide to Self-Employment Tax can assist whether you’re just starting out or you’ve never quite got to grips with net taxable income. We’ve even compiled all the lengthy information in a handy infographic format so it’s as easy as Pi to save, print, and share, so come tax returns time, you know exactly what to do.

 

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20 COMMON MARKETING ACRONYMS TRANSLATED

Marketing buzzwords are thrown around the office everyday, none more so than the acronym. An acronym is an abbreviation of a phrase, shorted into one word using the initial letters from each word of the phrase. While these might streamline emails and save us milliseconds per sentence, when we take a step back, the quantity of acronyms we use, as well as potentially baffling industry newbies, can be confusing. They also lead us to assume we’re universally understood, something as digital marketers, we should know not to presume.

For something light and refreshing today, take a look at our breakdown of commonly used marketing acronyms (CUMA?). You never know, you might even learn a new one!

SEM

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. One of the pinnacles of digital marketing, SEM revolves around increasing a business’ visibility in search engines’ SERPs (see no. 4) through paid advertisements.

SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, but can also be referred to as ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ optimisation. It is the process of refining the technical and content elements of a website in order to improve its visibility in search engines such as Google and Bing, without the use of paid promotion.

PPC

PPC stands for pay-per-click and is a form of internet marketing whereby advertisers pay ‘per click’ for a visit to their website. PPC advertising is used across search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo! and uses a bidding system to trigger the cost of each click (see no. 7).

SERP

SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. The SERPs are the search results a user is shown after typing a query into a search engine (Google, for example). The results served to the user aim to match the keyword entered, to best aid the user’s query.

CRM

CRM stands for customer relationship management. CRM is concerned with improving and maintaining a business’s relationship with its customers. This is achieved via the monitoring of the customer’s journey and experience with the company e.g on the website, social media, and email or telephone enquiries.

DR ads

DR ads stands for Direct Response Advertisements. This form of advertising is designed to engage an immediate reaction from a consumer. Within each DR ad is a ‘device’ which the user is prompted to react to, i.e. a CTA (see no. 11) to click on to receive a discount for a product.

CTR

CTR stands for Click-Through Rate. CTR is one way of measuring how successful an online or email campaign has been. It enables marketers to measure how many clicks a specific link receives, as a percentage of the total views the link (campaign) achieved.

CPC

CPC stands for cost per click and relates to no. 3: pay-per-click advertising. The CPC is the monetary value of one ‘click’ on an advertiser’s website advert, as charged by search engines such as Google and Bing. The CPC is determined by a bidding system whereby advertisers set their maximum bid. Other variants, such as an advertiser’s Quality Score, also play a part.

CPA

CPA stands for cost per acquisition or cost per action. This refers to how much an advertiser is willing to pay a search engine e.g Google for an acquisition such as a sale or an email sign up.

B2B and B2C

B2B stands for business-to-business and relates to the trading of products or services between businesses. This is opposed to a B2C exchange, which stands for business-to-consumer, and represents a financial trade for a product or service between a business and a ‘regular’ customer.

CMS

CMS stands for content management system, an application used to manage the content on a website. A CMS will allow multiple users access to manage varying content types, such as text, imagery and video, as well as technical site elements including page titles, meta descriptions and alt tags.

CTA

CTA, as a marketing term, stands for call to action. Most commonly a message, link or ‘button’, the objective of a CTA is to promote an immediate response from the reader. For example, ‘click here’, ‘book now’ or ‘read this’.

UX

UX stands for User Experience. It refers to the encounter and experience a person has while using a product, website or application. It’s especially significant in terms of ease of use and satisfying delivery of the product, and is absolutely crucial to product creation.

CX

CX stands for Customer Experience. This refers to the process of keeping a customer engaged and satisfied with a company’s services. This in turn helps a company maintains its position ahead of its competitors.

GA

GA stands for Google Analytics, a free web analytics platform created by Google to track and measure website traffic, performance, and offer user insights.

KPI

KPI stands for key performance indicator, a numeric unit or qualitative measurement used to assess the success of a business’ or an individual’s performance. KPIs are often used as targets in a marketing campaign and may include metrics such as website traffic, email sign-ups, conversions, and sales.

WoW, MoM and YoY

Standing for week-on-week, month-on-month, and year-on-year respectively. These terms refer to the comparison of performance (of anything from website traffic to sales) over the specified time period. For example, a week-on-week comparison would compare the performance on a Monday to that of the Monday in the week previous; month-on-month to the same date the month previous; and year-on-year to the same date one year ago.

ROI

ROI stands for return on investment, a percentage calculation used to measure the efficiency of a business’ investment. ROI is calculated by dividing the cost of the investment (for example, a new website build), by the profit generated (sales), and multiplying this by 100.

RT

RT stands for Retweet. This refers specifically to social media platform, Twitter. Retweeting is the action of forwarding, or reposting someone else’s tweet. You can either add your own message to the original tweet, or simply repost it as is on your own Twitter profile.

HTML

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. HTML is a form of tagging for text files, which enable website creators to customise effects on hyperlinks, font, graphics and colour of pages on the internet.