The central component of inbound marketing is content creation. This could mean anything from writing a blog post, having posts and conversation on Twitter or another microblogging service, interacting on groups and pages on Facebook, or creating and administering a page on Facebook. Perhaps it’s creating a video cast or podcast. Content creation can be further narrowed down into two more categories:
- Tasks that are initial and time-consuming but not ongoing. Examples might include creating a custom landing page, writing SEO metadata for your website and doing keyword research for your static pages. Writing static page web copy is another example. These tasks take a long time but then they stop. It may be a full time job for a month, but when you’re done, the time commitment lessens – though it’s not totally over.
- Community management – Writing frequent blog posts, responding to comments, commenting on other’s blogs, interacting and engaging with the twitterati, update your Facebook status, comment on linked in groups, etc.
Another important concern is data analysis. Sure, you have written copy for your website and have metadata. Yes, your Facebook page has a beautiful landing tab with conversion form. The design work is done. But is it doing its job? Are you doing A/B testing to test the effectiveness of your landing page? Are you using your analytics tools to track conversions? Are there new searches and keywords to consider optimizing for? A few hours a week need to be devoted to analyzing and constantly tweaking your content. Perhaps your website still says © 2005 – or worse. Have you updated this?
One of the core content hubs is a blog. A recent post by HubSpot on the fast evolution of SEO makes essential point both about the SEO and lead-generation benefits of blogging and on the time commitment that content creation takes.
What is the most important thing an SMB can do to improve organic traffic?
A Blog. Period.
Write content, have others write content and make it engaging and relevant, then the links will come. I Can’t even begin to tell you the potential here, if you are willing to engage for a few hours a week.
What’s the point? Content creation takes TIME!
The amount of time required in content creation is often underestimated. Yet, inbound marketing practioners say that the amount of time (remember, this is a general rule – it could take less or more time depending on your specific task) is at least two hours daily.
Chris Brogan writes (“How much time should I spend on social media?”) that “2 hours a day is a minimum for MOST efforts.” Matt Dickman of Fleishman-Hillard agrees (“The two hour minimum“) with Chris Brogan. He set the “two hour minimum per day” rule.
Two hours a day? Just to go update Facebook and go on Twitter and do all this unimportant social media stuff is TWO HOURS A DAY? Really? What do you do with the two hours? Chris Brogan and Matt Dickman divide it up differently but the core is: listen, listen some more, interact, engage!
This is how Chris Brogan divides up his time:
- 1/4 for Listening – Start your day by listening and finding what the world is saying about you, your competitor, your marketplace, etc. Need help with listening? See grow bigger ears. In this space, I also count reading (reading other people’s blogs and other online materials).
- 1/2 for Commenting/Communicating – Spend time commenting and replying back to people on the various channels where they reach you. If that’s Twitter, email, or wherever you hang out, fine. In the commenting timeframe, I also include sharing. Be sure to tweet links to great articles, use StumbleUpon, Delicious, Facebook share, and all the other various tools that help people find the good stuff. In Google reader, a simple SHIFT-S gives an article a whole lot of new potential fans. In here, I might also add the act of linking in and connecting with people on various networks.
- 1/4 for Creating – Your efforts in content creation are every bit as important as your connectivity and communication. This might include blogging, making video or audio, creating email newsletters, and anything else you’re building to contribute something to the space. It might be posting those event photos in Flickr and on Facebook. Whatever it is, creating content of some kind should take up 1/4 of your social media efforts, as this is the way you get found. Search engines thrive on new content. Humans seek out new material. The more you can be helpful, the better your opportunities.
Listen – Check your feed reader, check your Google alerts, monitor Tweetdeck, do a Twitter search (unless you’ve added them into your reader), check Technorati (you never know), look at your commenting service (co.Comment/Backtype/etc.) to see who has replied to you. This isn’t a one-time thing, set a schedule through the day and check back for 5 minutes.
Engage – Monitor those conversations through the day and reply as close to realtime as you can. Overnight delays are common and (I think) accepted in most cases. During the workday, however, you can make more impact by replying within 2-4 hours. If you have a blog, write a post or at least brainstorm new ideas based on what you’re seeing.
Discover – Another part of the day should spawn from the listening and engagement phases. You should constantly look for new blogs, people on Twitter to follow, new relevant posts to comment on, etc.
How long do you spend on your inbound marketing tasks? How do you divide them up?