2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for Dispatches from the Castle. It was a great year!

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 130,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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J & A Creative – Now taking new clients!

JAC
Jason​ and I are super excited to announce that the graphic design portion of J & A Creative is taking on new clients! Our website is up and running here and  you can see more of Jason’s award-winning design work here.

Because we recognize each client has individual goals and budgets we work hard to maximize the investment with custom quoting. For a custom quote (including a new business discount!), please fill out the contact form below!

NewsSpark beta available to Dispatch readers

https://newsspark.com/images/NewsSparkLogo.gif
When I first started in social media and spent a lot more time watching and listening than posting on Twitter several more experienced users of the medium reached out to me and encouraged me to ask questions. They encouraged me to learn more about how to use the social space and spent a lot of time answering questions. One of those people was Chris Ehrlich. Chris Ehrlich NewsSpark He was brimming with knowledge and ideas and genuinely happy to help. Which is why I’m thrilled to be able to repay his kindness.

Ehrlich founded NewsSpark a social content hub. He is also opening the private beta of the NewsSpark digital PR and marketing channel to readers of Dispatches from the Castle.

Readers can access the private beta hub and “stake claims to their industry categories” via my referral link, keeping  “AuroraMeyer” in the referrer field.

Readers can also use the hub’s invite-a-friend feature to invite others into the private beta.

Here’s more about the NewsSpark concept
Original content
NewsSpark is a digital hub where creators publish original content through their favorite mediums. The hub is made in East Grand Rapids, Mich. and metro Los Angeles.

Creators can publish original news, blogs, updates, photos, videos and audio (soon) on every topic — or Sparks. The hub also features catalogs of content creators, brands and groups.

The freemium model NewsSpark is planning to implement paid features, such as branded Content Galleries.

“Looking at the marketplace, we believe we’re the first digital channel dedicated to publishing and consuming original content,” said Ehrlich. “Some may argue the claim, but the hub’s makeup and utility are clearly distinct when compared to other digital channels.”

NewsSpark plans to exit its private beta and launch later this month.

Initial partners
After testing the hub with family and friends, NewsSpark has set up member benefit and/or content partnerships with several organizations during its private beta: the West Michigan Public Relations Society of America, or WMPRSA; stock video production company Uberstock; early stage venture capital fund Start Garden; and Michigan State University Spartan Innovations, the university’s startup innovation division.

“We’re just getting started,” Ehrlich said. “We’ll be forming partnerships on an ongoing basis.”

User-rated content
Sparks can be published by “anyone with great original content,” Ehrlich said.

Creators increase or decrease a Spark’s stoke count — and hub-wide rank — when they “stoke it,” “douse it” or mark it as a “firestarter.”

The hub of user-ranked content is organized by a set of filters and designed to be “a meritocracy and front-line source for anyone who consumes digital content,” Ehrlich said.

“Right now, the community is in its infancy,” Ehrlich said. “It will naturally grow as we grow.”

 

Content marketing problems
NewsSpark is designed to be an “open and organized hub where creators can complete their content marketing cycles,” Ehrlich said.

“The hub lets their content burn and work for them in ways it can’t at other digital channels,” he said.

Ehrlich explained that “almost immediately after it’s posted,” original content “functionally disappears” from other digital channels, where he said content is an ad unit, fleeting, disorganized, unfindable, isolated or in a closed network.

“There’s all this great content being created that gets lost online — as a fleeting mention, one-time broadcast or on a virtual island,” Ehrlich said. “We wanted to create a hub where original content can be planted, judged on its merit and work as an ongoing catalyst for creators — in real-time and long-term.”

The hub is also a platform for creators to package, consolidate and digitally present their complete range of content to their audiences in a professional-grade user interface, such as a plug-and-play social Content Gallery, newsroom or web presence.

“A brand’s content is diluted when it’s only fragmented across channels — and never unified in a single user experience for ongoing discovery,” Ehrlich said.

Sparks flying
The hub is designed to potentially increase multiple near- and long-term content marketing metrics: brand awareness, SEO and social search, audience, engagement, web traffic, coverage by bloggers and media outlets, inbound leads and sales.

“We’re simply engineered from the onset to deliver returns to creators who market their content,” Ehrlich said.

The hub is also designed to deliver cost and staff savings on managing and sharing digital content.

“Trying to manage and use de-centralized content is hugely inefficient for teams,” Ehrlich said. “And when they turn to platforms to package and centralize the content, they often run into technical or pricing obstacles.”

Bigger picture
NewsSpark will donate 5% of its income to The NewsSpark R. D.  Ehrlich Communications Scholarship at colleges across the country, beginning with UCLA and Denison University.

About NewsSpark
NewsSpark™ is the social content hub™ where creators publish original content through their favorite mediums. NewsSpark is made in East Grand Rapids, Mich. and metro Los Angeles. http://newsspark.com/

Social Planning How You Might Be Missing The Mark: Webinar Takeaways

This webinar was centered around the five mistakes most businesses make when creating social marketing plans. Presenters Uri Bar-Joseph, Senior Director of Marketing at Simply Measured, and Lauren Berry, Enterprise Client Partner at Simply Measured, promised a webinar to understand how past performance should influence next steps and how to create a social planning framework to help ensure you hit the mark.

The webinar from opened with a question:
Hardest Part of Social Planning

Bar-Joseph commented that planning is like thinking and you can’t separate it from human nature. We plan because we want to set ourselves up for success.

“Planning should be the starting point of the social media marketing management process,” he said. “Planning is one of the four functions of marketing management, alongside analysis, implementation, and control.”

Twenty-five to 30 percent of your time should be dedicated to planning the social campaigns.

From there it quickly moved into the Social Media Marketing Management Process.
SOcial Media Marketing Management ProcessSocial media marketers should look at each component of the process and then integrate the individual components to come up with the best processes and practices for your organization.

Make sure you have the right goals that align with your business’s goals. Make sure your goals are aggressive, but not too aggressive. The most important reason to set good goals is to improve.

As yourself: What makes a win for the stakeholders? How do you get the rest of your organization to celebrate wins with you? Find someone on that same team to be a devil’s advocate.

Data should be used to enhance performance, not just to have a cool report. Don’t get bogged down in the numbers. Find one to three goals and metrics that will help you map business needs. You don’t need 60 pages to share that information.

Avoid tunnel vision. Your strategy should be multiple components, not just a single one to focus on. This goes hand in hand with not falling in love with the plan. You need to be flexible. By being attuned to what goes on around you and evaluating the plan along the way you will be more likely to meet your goals.

Don’t ignore your competitors, but don’t assume that the first competitors you think of are your actual competitors. Find a competitor set that you can compare yourself against. This should be competitors who are targeting the same audience you want to target. Then look and see what social platforms they are using and how they are using those platforms to engage that audience.

Social is fast, but you still should review the data and the data of your competitors. A competitive analysis is not always about beating someone. It should be easy to get competitor information and glean practical data from that information. That data should also help you create a persona (or personas) for your target audience.

Don’t limit your data to social, you should also talk to sales people and research group that did secondary research on the audience.

Your audience can and should tell you what they care about. When you know that information, don’t be afraid to try it. While it is easy to get distracted by new social channels and predictions of demise of established channels, pay more attention to where you audience is and where they might be.

Look at your audience demographics, those metrics may tell you a different story about your audience than you originally thought it would. Interactions should support the business goals. Goals are not necessarily key performance indicators. Focus on specific goals and find the key performance indicators that will give you the right answers.

When evaluating your plan, make sure to include answers to : do your assumptions still hold? Can you validate those assumptions either way?

Takeaway slide:
Social Planning Takeaways

Promised takeaways were:

  • How to think about planning in context with social analytics
  • Tips for better strategic planning and performance measurement
  • How to collect social data about your brand, audience, and competitors

All three elements were reviewed, but not in concrete or specific examples.

You can see the entire Twitter conversation from the hashtag: #SimplyPlanning.

What do you think?

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 49,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 18 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.