Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

By joepulizzi published November 10, 2009

Top 10 Twitter Basics Questions Answered

Just about every day I answer a question about using Twitter, the microblogging tool. I’ve put them together in this handy post.  Enjoy, and, if you like getting information on content marketing, feel free to follow me @juntajoe.

Question #1
What is the easiest way to find someone’s @ name? If I read an article or hear them speak, how do I easily find their Twitter call sign.

Use Twitter Name Search

Question #2
What are other ways to find twitter names?

If Twitter Name Search doesn’t work for you, try Twellow, the Twitter Yellow Pages.

Question #3
What does the # mean and how do you find out the # for a conference (for example).

The # is called a hashtag. They were created to bring organization to Twitter.  For example, I may send out a tweet about content strategy, and may want to help those interested in content strategy find the tweet by adding #contentstrategy.

For the example below, this person can now coordinate his/her tweets with others about news of the fire.

If you are trying to locate a particular hashtag, try these sites:

For more on using Twitter hashtags, here is a helpful hashtag article from Search Engine Journal.

Question #4
Are their ‘rules’ written or implied on when you should retweet or thank for a retweet?

“Retweet” means to forward someone else’s tweet to your followers. Best practices are:

  • Retweet only if the information would be valuable for the people that follow you. If it’s not valuable, don’t retweet.
  • Public thanking retweets are sort of frowned upon as unnecessary (i.e. @you Thx for the RT), so don’t do them. If you really want to show recognition, you can Direct Message the person back, but since so many users are starting to use DM’s for spamming, your follower may not ever see it.  Also, if you both aren’t following each other, you can’t send a direct message.  Best practice is to just return the favor at some point.
  • Personally, I like to use “via” when retweeting.  It just shows that you didn’t just forward it out without thinking.  See below

Question #5
What is the difference between sent from Tweetdeck or Seesmic?

There are literally hundreds of ways to send and manage your tweets.  Tweetdeck and Seesmic are two ways of managing the process. Tweetie is used often for the iPhone.

In this image, you can see four different ways that people are sending out their Tweets. Web means Twitter.com.

Question #6
What’s a good ratio to keep from Followers to Follows (often called the TFF ratio)?

I’m a big fan of following people that follow me, as long as it’s relevant to my business in some way (around a 1 to 1 TFF).

You’ll get all different viewpoints on this.  For example, some people (like our good friend Ashton Kutcher) will only follow a select crowd.  Obviously, unless your a celebrity, this can come off as a bit elitist.

Truth is, it probably doesn’t matter.  If you have significantly more followers than people following you, it may be harder to gain more followers.  So, best advice, is to grow your followers naturally as you go so your ratios never seem too far out of whack.

But here’s the biggest point – figure out what your objective for using Twitter first. That makes all the difference.

Here is an excellent article that goes into more detail on TFF ratios.

Question #7
How often are personal tweets appropriate?

Couple points here:

  • Understand what your objective is for using Twitter.  Is it personal or is it business or both?
  • If it’s business, determine whether your Tweet would be valuable to your network.  If it’s not, personal or not, don’t send it.

Greg Verdino, who I follow, always sends many more helpful tweets than personal…but every once in a while throws in a personal Tweet.  I like that about Greg.  It makes him more real, but he never overdoes it.

Question #8
Where do direct messages post? Who can read them – only the person you send it to?

A direct message (DM) is only sent to that particular person.  In order to send a DM to someone, you both must be following each other.  Same goes for receiving a direct message.

Think of it like an email to that person – only they will receive it.

NOTE: Be careful using direct messages.  Since some Twitter users have been using them for Spam and Auto-DMs (see this post for more on Auto DMs), people are ignoring or even turning off their DM email settings.

Some, as in the one below from Ambal, are very helpful.

Question #9
How is sending a direct message different from sending a reply to the person?  Does this post public? Just to the person or to anyone in Twitter?

Replying to someone in Twitter (@juntajoe) can be seen by anyone in Twitter.  Sending it with the @ (at) symbol gets another person’s attention.  Basically, it’s like doing a phone conversation over the radio – it’s intended for one person, but everyone can hear it (see it in this case).

When you are replying to someone, it’s important to provide enough context for both the person you are talking to and also possibly be helpful to anyone else paying attention.

Question #10
So, should I even answer the Twitter question “What are you doing?”?

Well, probably not.  Does anyone really care anyway?  They care about themselves, so send out tweets important to your followers.

For more of the basics, check out this Twitter for Beginners article or check out this presentation for Twitter beginners.

Did we miss any?


By joepulizzi published November 4, 2009

Custom Print Magazines – Why Can’t MasterCard Produce Inc. Magazine?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been reading more print magazines lately.  Seems odd at first, but in a way, it makes perfect sense.

I spend most of my business day and night on the computer. When I’m on my computer, I need to get things done.

But when I want to relax and engage in an inspiring story, print is my choice…books and magazines.

At the top of the list is probably Inc. magazine. This month’s article about how 37Signals founder Jason Fried spends his day was priceless.Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published November 2, 2009

Less of Me, More of You – A Stella Pop Content Marketing Video

Big thanks to Mike O’Grady at Stella Pop for putting out the latest edition of eVidmagazine featuring yours truly.  

Although Mike was originally thinking a two or three minute video interview, he decided that the video worked best as a 10 minute segment.  Hey, he’s the expert, so I’m not going to disagree with him.

My biggest takeaway from the video was this – Less of me and more of you (well, not literally since it’s almost 10 minutes of me).  What I mean is that brands are starting to focus much more on you (the buyer) and much less on the “me” (themselves).

In simplest terms, that’s what it means to be a publisher. For example, just pick up your local paper, NY Times or BusinessWeek magazine.  Very little of the content is focused on the publications themselves.  

hmmm, why not? Well, because they want people to actually read it.

Where did corporations go wrong thinking that our customers wanted to hear all about our products and services?  Buyers don’t.  They care about themselves.  Buyers are very selfish.  

So as publishers, corporations now need to give buyers content they need to live better lives or succeed in their jobs.  We talk about this and more in the following video, including:

– What if customers actually requested your marketing?
– Social media doesn’t work without a content strategy.
– Who’s responsible for the corporate story?

I hope you enjoy. And again, great job Mike!



By joepulizzi published October 27, 2009

Personal Branding Success in 15 Steps

Dan Schawbel has put together a first-rate magazine about personal branding called (of course) Personal Branding Magazine. The latest issue includes an article from yours truly, which I’ve included below.  I also included one of my PowerPoint presentations when I do in-person workshops on personal branding (this article was based on that presentation).

If this topic is important to you, I suggest you check out Dan’s magazine (get the free trial issue here). 

15 Steps to Personal Branding Success

Before talking about the how of personal branding, it’s essential to talk about why it’s essential for your business and your life.

Developing your personal brand will help you:

  • Grow your company.
  • Drive your career.
  • Open up partnerships and new opportunities you never thought of before.
  • Shorten sales cycles. Minimize selling your services (since you will be the trusted expert).
  • Become more fulfilled with life.

I can speak first hand about this. It was just a few years ago that I was at the short end of all the areas above. Then, by focusing on a niche and setting tactics (we’ll talk about this in a second), the last few years have been amazing: Trips abroad for keynote speeches, a published book, a growing online business and never a shortage of partnership or new business opportunities.

Are you in?

Look, it’s not that easy, but there is a formula to this that has worked for me, and it can work for you as well.

First, the basics.

  • Commit to doing something and doing it consistently.
  • Focus on what makes you unique.
  • Demonstrate lethal generosity (Give away valuable information all the time. Think of yourself as the publisher.).
  • Then do things that make people want to spread your message.

NOTE: Most importantly, pick a niche. What area of information can you be an expert in? The smaller the better at the start. For example, my expertise is content marketing. Some will be experts in pet attire, others in nanotechnology. Pick one and go.

Here are 15 tips that will make the difference for your personal branding quest.

  1. Update Your Online Profiles. Be sure they tell your story of why you are unique. Focus especially on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and your Google Profile. Plaxo, TripIt and FriendFeed may also be an option.
  2. Buy Your Domain (http://myname.com). This is the place where you can control your message about who you are.  Check out mine as an example (http://joepulizzi.com).
  3. Business Card Process. If you get a business card, make it a habit of getting those people into your online networks.
  4. Professional Picture. No-one wants to see you getting sick at a party last week as your Facebook image. Get a professional photographer to take your picture and be consistent in using it throughout your online profiles.
  5. Start a Blog. Take your expert topic and consistently deliver valuable, relevant and compelling information through this tool.
  6. Comment on other Blogs. In your niche, what are the top 10-15 influential blogs? Read and comment on those blogs consistently.
  7. Write a Book. I’m not kidding. A book is still the best business card around. If you are the expert in your niche, you need to write a book.
  8. Deliver BIG Content. eBooks, enewsletters, white papers, research reports and industry rankings. Pick two or three and publish, publish, publish.
  9. Find Distribution Channels. PowerPoint presentations should go on SlideShare or Scribd. Blog content should be distributed via Twitter and Facebook.
  10. Respond to Those Who Talk about You.  Monitor Twitter Search and Google Alerts for mentions of you.  Be sure to comment on those blogs.
  11. Accept Guest Writing Spots. If it’s in your niche and people want you to write an article, the answer is YES. Always yes.
  12. Pick Two Associations and Get Active. You can’t be involved in every association, but pick two and be VERY active. Work to get on the board.
  13. Speak, Speak, Speak. Speaking in public takes the previous 12 points to the next level. If you don’t feel you have what it takes, join your local Toastmasters.
  14. Always Be Helping. If someone asks for your help, do your best to give it. Pay it Forward really works in today’s gift economy.
  15. Get Behind a Charity/Cause. This can’t just be about you. Find a cause that truly makes a difference in this world and give 100%.

Anyone, and I mean anyone, who follows these 15 points, will see a dramatic difference in your life and career in just six months. Find your niche, and go get ‘em.


By joepulizzi published October 22, 2009

Why Content Marketing? – The Video

Gijs Daemen from Merge Media, a Netherlands-based content marketing shop, did a bang-up job putting this video together on content marketing. The original presentation was directed to his customers in the Netherlands.

Questions I answer in the video:

  • What is Content Marketing?
  • Why Content Marketing?  Why the opportunity?
  • How about web content?  Are people making buying decisions based off of corporate online content?
  • What about all these terms? Content marketing, custom content, custom publishing, customer media, inbound marketing…should you care?

Joe Pulizzi 1 from Merge Media on Vimeo.

By joepulizzi published October 19, 2009

Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) on Content Marketing and Growing Your Business

Gary Vaynerchuck, author of the new book Crush it! and the popular Wine Library TV (where he gets over 100,000 viewers a day), was kind enough to put this video together on content marketing for the Junta42 audience. Thanks Gary!

A quick overview:

Most important message to his followers: Patience. It takes patience to grow a business and is even more important than passion.

Top 3 lessons:

  1. Care about your customers. Identify their pain points and show them you really care.
  2. Nobody cares about you, your products or your brand. Deliver something awesome to them so that they care about what you deliver to them.
  3. Internal communications is key. If your internal culture is not right, it's almost impossible to grow your business.

What if a marketer believes they should create valuable and relevant content for customers, but doesn't have the resources or skill? GaryVee says to partner up.  Find an outside team that can help you deliver your story (this is why we started Junta42).

How do I start a content strategy? Find your expert niche and deliver consistent free content to your customers.

What about metrics? Focus on the long-term. Online content marketing is too knew to really get caught up in analytics.

Most important thing marketing professionals can do right now? Listen!

Related Articles:

By joepulizzi published October 16, 2009

Creating Consistent Content – A Content Marketing Plan

The following is a guest post courtesy of Russell Sparkman from Fusionspark Media, a new media communications company based in Washington state. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Russell on a number of projects, most recently their amazingly successful New Media 2012 conference.

As you will learn from Russell’s post, he’s advocating a content marketing schedule that is quite ambitious, challenging for most companies. We believe this sort of thinking is not just nice to do, but necessary to the overall business and marketing strategy. Check it out and let me know what you think.

This is a story about story budgets. No, not the kind of budget that defines, in dollars and cents, what you’ll spend on a story.

This is about the traditional media use of the term “story budget” to describe the running tab of story ideas that make up a long-term publishing schedule.

If you’ve been following this blog, among others on similar topics, you’ve heard many times that content marketers need to think and act like publishers. One essential step in this process is to create and maintain an ongoing story budget.

An essential component of a story budget is the publishing schedule around which you plan, produce and publish content. If you are embarking upon Content Marketing strategies you will need to establish a publishing schedule that you can plan around, and adhere to, as much as possible. Planning your publishing schedule is easy as 1-7-30-4-2-1 (*see important message, at bottom).

This mnemonic device represents the frequency around which you should be publishing content to your web presence, and across social media sites, other sites, etc., as part of a strategic content marketing initiative. Let’s review these numbers one by one:

1 = Daily

“1″ is the loneliest number, according to a Three Dog Night song. In terms of content marketing strategy, it’s the busiest number. In this case, “1″ is an active number because it refers to the daily basis upon which you are engaged in publishing. Now, you may be sitting there thinking “how on earth can I publish on a daily basis?”

Here are a few tips of what you can easily publish on a daily basis:

  • Twitter updates that offer something of value to your constituents
  • News items you read elsewhere that are relevant to your core content; use Google Alerts to provide you with a steady stream of news relevant to your product, service or cause
  • RSS feeds into your site from other sites offering content relevant to your core product, service or cause.
  • User-generated Content (UGC) in your site, through your own site’s submission functions, or dynamically fed through sites such as Flickr. UGC also includes comments and ratings systems.

7 = Weekly

“7″ is a lucky number in the game of craps. But in terms of content marketing, “7″ refers to the weekly contributions you make in your content marketing strategy. Here are a few suggestions of weekly activities related to your content marketing strategy:

  • A new blog post
  • A photo gallery
  • A short video (one with simple production values, i.e. of someone giving a presentation)
  • Offline media buys, such as Radio, TV, Print
  • Participation in related forums, or discussion groups
  • Update of your product catalog
  • Update of your primary website’s pages and/or sections

30 = Monthly

“30″ is the age over which we didn’t trust anyone. Until, of course, a lot of us passed that age milestone. However, in terms of content marketing, “30″ represents what you can publish on a monthly basis.

As the length of the cycle increases, so do the potential production values of your monthly offering. A few ideas of what you can publish on a monthly basis include:

  • Write a new blog post based on extensive research, or an interview with a subject matter expert, etc.
  • Create and send an eNewsletter
  • Produce a short video (2 to 3 minutes, with increasingly greater production values, i.e. script, location shooting, multiple cameras, etc)
  • Produce a video of one of your executives speaking at a conference
  • Produce an audio Podcast
  • Create a PowerPoint presentation and share it via Slideshare
  • Organize and promote a “Tweetup,” or similar offline gathering
  • Make online/offline media buys, such as Radio, TV, Print, Google Adwords

4 = Quarterly

Taxes are often due quarterly. And so are important content assets of your content marketing strategy.

Look at your quarterly publishing cycle as an opportunity to reach for a bigger bang. Examples of what you can publish on a quarterly basis include:

  • Publish a research-based White Paper
  • Create an E-book series and distribute it in PDF format
  • Produce a video series
  • Create an animated infographic
  • Produce a special issue of your eNewsletter
  • Make an announcement of contest or sweepstakes winners

2 = Bi-annual

Twice a year, you should plan something big as a part of your content marketing strategy. If done correctly, a Bi-annual event would be something worth video-taping, so that you can use the video to fill weekly, monthly or quarterly needs. Examples of Bi-annual content include:

  • Produce an experiential event, and record the proceedings for later use in your weekly, monthly or quarterly cycles
  • Create a new print brochure & offer it for download in PDF format
  • Produce a webcast
  • Utilizing the content you’re producing (stories, photos, images), participate in a trade show or conference

1 = Annual

Birthdays and anniversaries come around once per year. These celebrations are a clue as to what you should think of in terms of producing content on an annual cycle. Your annual content marketing activities should be a celebration, an event, an announcement. Some suggestions include:

  • Produce an experiential event, and record the proceedings for later use in your weekly, monthly or quarterly cycles
  • Host an executive roundtable, and record the proceedings
  • Produce an annual industry White Paper, or eBook
  • Speak or present at an annual conference
  • Announce and launch a contest or a sweepstakes
  • Update your web presence with a new story feature, a new tool set or new functionality
  • Create and launch an iPhone app, a Facebook app

Produce a Game

Altogether, a 1-7-30-4-2-1 publishing schedule amounts to what is increasingly being referred to as multiplatform, or 360 platform, or transmedia storytelling experience. These are content marketing strategies where your content and your story are ubiquitous and you are engaging with your audience anywhere, any time and on any device.

* Important Note: A 1-7-30-4-2-1 publishing schedule is an ambitious undertaking that is well-worth the effort in terms of building awareness, building and engaging an audience, generating qualified leads, etc. However, it’s well understood by the author that there are considerable human bandwidth and financial factors to be considered in producing according to such a schedule. We’re working on it, ourselves. Suffice it to say that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your content marketing story budget. The emphasis here is on planning, and building out your story budget and publishing schedule over time. Starting today! So, get started!

By joepulizzi published October 13, 2009

Content Marketing / Custom Publishing Research – Marketers Telling the Story

Really interesting study on content marketing and custom publishing research led by King Fish Media with help from Hubspot, Upshot and Junta42.

(Note: the study requires name and email to download and the 20-page eBook can be downloaded here).

Here are the highlights from the 189 marketing professionals that took the study:

Beliefs about Content Marketing

  • 93% of marketing professionals create or plan to create content marketing as part of their overall programs in the next year.  The take: We are all publishers now.
  • Almost 67% of marketers believe that the content they produce can have the same or more value than a traditional media company. 8 out of 10 believe they can create content as engaging as media companies. The take: Brands have access to some of the best writing talent in their industries today versus years’ past, so this makes sense (although the number is a bit higher than I expected. Most marketers I talk with on this don’t really “believe” they can do this without proper coaxing.)

Measurement

  • Marketers believe content marketing is 18 times more effective in actually determining ROI than traditional advertising (74% to 4%). The take: Wow! But, this makes more sense when you look further at their marketing objectives.  Since most are heavily relying on lead generation, this seems right since content drives lead generation programs. Still, amazingly high number.
  • 70% of marketers are spending more on content marketing over the last three years. The take: this is consistent with our findings last December that found a 56% increase in content marketing spending in 2009 alone.

Content Where?

  • Top tactics where content marketing is spent: Email marketing, Corporate web site, Social media.
  • Where will the money be going next year: Online video and podcasts, White papers/eBooks, Social media.

How to use this report?

If you need research and statistics in order to get buy-in from your executive team for content marketing, this will be incredibly helpful.  There are a lot more stats in here than the ones I included, so download the entire eBook report here. Thanks to King Fish for putting this together.

Other Relevant Research

By joepulizzi published October 7, 2009

The 4 Step Content Strategy Program – Content Strategy Simplified

Let's face it.  Content strategy is not easy.  Actually, it's pretty difficult.

Those that regularly read this blog know I've been covering it more recently:

Since releasing the Content Marketing Playbook (which is all tactical), I've been receiving more and more emails regarding where to start with a content strategy.  Here is a roadmap to follow to make sure you are on the right track.

Step 1: Define Your Marketing Goals

Goals like "we want more traffic to our website" and "our competitors are doing it" just don't cut it. Think of it this way: "What are the things that need to happen in order for the content program to continue?" Another good questions is "A year from today, what will be different in our business as a result of the content marketing program?"

Here are some direct sales-related examples:

  • More customers
  • More sales from current customers
  • Less customer turnover

There may be cost-saving goals:

  • Spend less on customer service costs
  • Spend less on traditional marketing to replace with more efficient content programs (to get similar results)
  • Get customers to talk about you more (new kind of public relations)

Whatever the goals are, make them tangible and put a number to them.  Recently I've been seeing more analytics-related goals (number of downloads, web traffic, mentions, etc.), but always believe you need to relate these back to an organizational goal (like the ones above) or you'll never be able to prove enough value.

Step 2: Determine Your Customers' Informational Needs

What kind of information do your customers need to help get their jobs done, or live happier lives, that directly relates to your expertise and, hopefully, your products and services.  For example, Hubspot develops content in and around online marketing.  Most of the educational content relates directly to their product (inbound marketing software as a service), but some doesn't. The point is that Hubspot understands the needs of their customers and delivers ongoing and consistent content around those needs. When they are ready to buy, Hubspot is there.

Remember, you need to position yourself as the industry expert. Find the "secret sauce" – the area between your customers' needs and your expertise. 

How do you get that information?

  • Listen using free tools like Google Alerts, Twitter Search or possibly a paid customer listening tool.
  • Read blogs in your industry.  Choose the top 15-20 and make it a point to have someone own this task.
  • Talk to your customer service and sales personnel.
  • Call your customers.
  • Send out email surveys.

Step 3: What Do You Want Your Customer or Prospect To Do?

To reach your ultimate objective in step one, what do you need your customers to do?

  • Share something with others
  • Download something
  • Call someone
  • Go somewhere
  • Buy something
  • Refer you to someone else

Note that these are all measurable actions.  If you can't find anything to measure, keep going back to the smallest increment that you can possibly measure.  For example, with the release of our Playbook, we are looking at a group of actions (downloads, mentions, enewsletter signups, service signups, consulting inquiries). These are prioritized and weighted. At certain increments, we'll measure, discuss and then tweak the program based on what we are seeing.

Step 4: Determine the Ultimate Product and Content Mix

Many novice content marketers start with this step first.  It's seems the most likely. "Let's do an eBook, or a weekly enewsletter." This is the wrong place to start.

If you did, go back and review steps one through three.  Once those are complete, then review these 42 content marketing examples and begin to test and tweak the ones that align best with your content strategy. Also note that many of these tactics can and should be integrated together (custom print magazine, digital magazine, and customer-focused community site may all be part of the same content program).

If you like this and need a bit more information to really take a committed step toward content marketing strategy, our book Get Content Get Customers will get you there.


By joepulizzi published September 29, 2009

Help Me Help You – Spend Content Marketing Money

Well, first the bad news.

After months of trying to work this out, the winner of Junta42’s $4200 in 42 Days Contest, 48HourPrint, decided not to move forward with their project. (for those of you who don’t remember, every project match that went through the Junta42 system over a 42 day period was eligible to receive the $4200 dollars)

When we started this contest, we all thought how easy it would be to give this money away. I mean, who wouldn’t want $4200 to kick-start a content project, be it a blog, a newsletter, a video series or even (heaven forbid) something in print?

Now, the good news.

We have $4200 to try something new.

What should we do? What would you do? Should we give it away (I’m thinking yes)? Should we spend it on our own content (that’s not as much fun)?

How would you spend $4200? Would you go video, blog content, search strategies? Maybe you’d get a content audit and strategy completed, so you’d know exactly what needs to happen with your content marketing strategy?

Drop me a line and let me know…maybe I can give the money to you.