B2B Top 5 Content Marketing Trends Infographic_Prepare1 Image

What B2B content marketing do you create?

Is the content as effective as you would like it to be?

If you’re a B2B marketer who isn’t investing in content creation, you’re in the minority — 88% of B2B marketers surveyed by Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs said their organization used content marketing to further their goals in 2017.

Developing a sound content marketing strategy is worth it: Hubspot found that B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X the traffic as companies that blogged only once per month.

B2B companies are more than willing to spend large sums supporting their marketing plan throughout this year. GroupM predicts that the total marketing services expenditures worldwide will past the $1 trillion thresholds for the first time in 2017. 29% is the average proportion of the total marketing budget that is spent on content marketing. And 39% percent are planning to increase their content marketing spending over the next twelve months.

This Year’s B2B Content Marketing Top Performers At-A-Glance

B2B Success Chart

Does your organization use content marketing?

Content marketing is defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

B2B Using Content Marketing 2017

WHY CONTENT MARKETING?

Most older marketing and advertising strategies have been based on short-term gains. For example, a direct mail piece might convert a handful of recipients, but once it’s sent out, most of the batch gets thrown away and the design is scrapped in favor of next year’s model. A billboard might work well for a few months, but eventually, the design will grow tiresome, and you’ll need to purchase new space to see another influx.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach, especially if you’re seeing a positive ROI, but if you want to be successful in the long term, you’ll need a strategy with a little more staying power.

Inbound marketing strategies, like SEO and social media marketing, are effective in producing a slow build of results, but for my money, there’s no better long-term strategy than content marketing.

Content influences almost every other online strategy

WHY?

  • It attracts new traffic.
  • It builds your reputation.
  • It can influence conversions. 
  • It can make you a separate stream of revenue.
  • It encourages trust and faith in your brand. When a visitor stumbles on your site for any reason, your content can secure his/her confidence in your brand, so long as that content is authoritative, helpful, and well-written overall.

Evergreen content lasts forever

They call it “evergreen” content because it never decays. Trendy content, news content, and other forms of “in the moment” material are all important, and tend to attract a lot of visitors, but some forms of content will always be relevant.

For example, people will always need to know tips for better communication, or advice on how to travel efficiently. There may be new elements to some of these features as new technologies develop, but you can always spruce up old posts with a few new tidbits as relevant. Because content can theoretically last forever, it never loses value, making it a perfect long-term investment.

How B2B Marketers Assess Their Organization’s Content Marketing Maturity Level

B2B Group Experience

What factors do you attribute your organization’s increase in overall success?

B2B Contributing Success Factors

Common Reasons Why Content Marketing Isn’t Working for You

1. You haven’t refined your strategy.

Like any other form of marketing, you need a strategy if you expect to be successful.

I’ve been surprised at how many businesses lack a strategy for their content marketing.

A strategy is crucial for success. Let me provide a few tips related to developing strategy.

  • A successful content marketing strategy starts with defining your KPIs (key performance indicators). Identify what numbers are important to you (e.g., views, shares, traffic, CTRs, conversions, etc.), and track them.
  • Strategy should change over time. You should change your strategy when you realize that what you’re doing is not as effective as it could be.
  • Don’t rely on a content marketing company to make your strategy for you. There are plenty of content marketing companies out there, but they don’t usually get involved in strategy. That’s your job. Their job is to sketch out your editorial calendar, to write your content, and to help you publish. They implement the strategy that you come up with.
  • Publishing content is not a strategy. Content marketing strategy takes in the big picture of marketing — audience, revenue, profit, and brand. Deciding to have a blog and write articles is not a strategy.

2. You don’t spend much on content marketing.

Companies who spend a lot on marketing are able to grow their markets faster than companies who don’t spend as much.

To put it another way, you get what you pay for. If you want results with content marketing, you need to spend enough money to make a difference.

There’s a lot of money being thrown into content marketing.

Ad spend content marketing-44-billion

B2B companies with strategic content marketing generate 67% more leads than companies who don’t. You get the picture?

3. You aren’t promoting your content.

The quickest way to kill your content marketing is to do nothing after you create your content.

Let me explain.

Some marketers think that “content marketing” is simply creating content. Then what? Well, users will find the content, right? Organic traffic will increase, people will read it, convert, and we’ll get more customers, right?

Wrong!

Creating content is only part of content marketing. The other half is promoting it. I saw this as a problem a long time, ago, when I gave this advice to businesses: “Don’t forget the ‘marketing’ in content marketing.

Let’s break apart content marketing into its two main components parts:

  1. Create content.
  2. Promote content.

Which of those two are you doing or not doing? If you do a lot of promoting, but just a little of creating, then you are probably more successful than a company who does a lot of creating, but very little promoting.

Content promotion is just as important as content creation.

How do you promote your content? Here are a few easy ways to promote a single blog post:

  • Email newsletter.
  • Marketing email to a landing page.
  • Tweets. Be sure to tweet it several times, and ask for retweets.
  • Google+ posting.
  • Facebook posting.
  • Sharing in LinkedIn.
  • Pitch influencers in your industry who can share your content.
  • Pitch bloggers and site owners, and ask them to share your content.
  • Mention your content when you comment on other websites and blogs.

The important thing to remember about content marketing is that half the work is creation, the other half is promotion.

Homework: If you aren’t doing any content marketing promotion, adjust your approach to spend a solid proportion of your time on promotion.

4. Your content sucks.

I don’t mean to be rude, but I got to say it. Sometimes, the content just plain sucks.

Content marketing means that you have to produce content, but the quality of that content is of utmost importance. Churning out shoddy content does have an impact on your brand, but it is a negative impact. It makes your brand look bad and perform poorly.

Let me point out a few of the reasons why content sucks:

  1. You don’t know what kind of content to produce. Nearly every business struggles with how to produce engaging content. Coming up with a theme, topics, angles, and something new is challenging.
  2. You’re boring. Lots of content out there is mind-numbingly boring. To be truly engaging, content must be in-depth, valuable, focused, and well-written.

Since everyone today is doing content marketing, it’s harder than ever to stand out in a crowded content marketing.

If you want to succeed, you need to produce better content than the average content marketer. It’s not easy, it’s not cheap, and it won’t happen overnight.

Homework: Make a list of five things you can do to create better content.

FINAL THOUGHTS

As new technologies and new trends permeate the marketing landscape, the form and function of content will evolve. Already, video is starting to overtake written content in terms of popularity, and just a few years ago, semantic, long-tail topics overtook their keyword-focused counterparts in importance. But no matter what happens, content will always be relevant–all that changes is the way it is produced and the way people access it.

Content marketing may be a long-term strategy, but the sooner you start investing in it, the sooner you’ll start seeing the benefits–and conversely, the longer you wait to get started, the longer it will take. If you currently have no content strategy whatsoever, it’s time to establish one. Whether it serves your bottom line independently or as a backbone for your other inbound marketing strategies, you’ll be glad you did.

 B2B-Content-Marketing-Trends-in-2017-HD

About Blair

 5 Golden Rules for Sharing on Social Media

Blair Evan Ball is a Social Media Coach and founder of Prepare1, a company that works with businesses, individuals and non-profits. He is a former executive with a Fortune 50 company, and his national division did $1Billion+ in sales annually.

Blair has written three e-books: Facebook for Business Made Easy, Facebook Pages for Business Made Easy, and WordPress Blog Setup Made Easy.

Blair also educates, trains entrepreneurs and business professionals how to amplify their brand, increase revenues, and raise more funds.

 5 Golden Rules for Sharing on Social MediaThe Race is ON! | PREPARE | Get into the Game and WIN!

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Local Storefront_Prepare1 Image (1)

So many times I’ve heard businesses — especially small businesses — say that social media just isn’t for them. It takes too much time. They’re not sure where to start or how to keep it going. And besides, they should be focusing on actually running their business –not just posting pictures online — right?

Wrong.

Numerous small businesses use social media to repeatedly shove their sales pitch right into the faces of their customers. Then, they complain that their social media campaign is too noisy, expensive and time consuming. They claim that it doesn’t bring sales and thus doesn’t produce a good ROI for any business; that there’s no point to such a marketing campaign at all.

That’s a big fat lie.

In a recent survey of 500 small business owners by Vertical Response, 43% said that they spend 6 or more hours every week on social media.

No consumer likes to get bombarded with consistent sales messages. You need to invest time in building a relationship with your target audience on their choice of social media platform. That involves engaging with them by posting high-quality content and asking their opinions.

TARGET YOUR AUDIENCE

Let me share some stats, to show you why you miss out on a golden opportunity to engage with your target audience and reach more than one potential customer by abandoning social media.

So, where do you start….Facebook, right?

You might be thinking that since Facebook is the biggest social media platform, your target audience will definitely hang out there.

Nope. Not necessarily. 

Because there’s more than one major social media channel out there.

As social media continues to change the way people communicate, it has become an increasingly important tool for small businesses. Let’s face it: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn aren’t going away. While many social media platforms began as a way to connect friends and family, it’s become the norm for all types of business to have some sort of social media presence.

In today’s connected world, customers research purchases online and seek recommendations from friends and family. So, it’s in the best interest of small businesses to have a vibrant and interactive social media presence.

MAXIMIZE YOUR TIME

The time to embrace social media is now. It’s where your customers are, so go to them! Don’t be afraid to get close to them and give them a big squeeze.

Your return on investment for a few hours a week and a few clicks of a button can be huge. You can support and grow your brand while building and maintaining relationships with current and new customers.

Time Commitment Social Media_Prepare1 Image

You don’t have to post all the time on your social media channels. But you do want your messages to get out there on a regular basis. Still, as a general rule of thumb of what and when to post, remember this: Quality always beats quantity.

Remember that customers shop at small businesses for value. Be radically transparent. Don’t be afraid to have a personality online and keep giving your customers something to come back for. When you build your relationships, you build your business.

Focus on community.

It’s been proven by experts that social media marketing can widen your reach, help you engage more audience and create more fans. But social media isn’t like traditional advertising where you put a message out into the world and hope someone responds. It’s more conversational and centered around the idea of a community.

Social media allows small businesses to directly communicate with their customers and has the potential to turn those customers into a virtual sales team. Conversations are two-way street. Make sure you’re replying to people who interact with you on social media. Engage with strong social influencers, such as bloggers that your customers read or individuals with robust followings. Engaging the online community is core to social media and one of the keys to your success.

You’ve invested the time. Invest a little money, too. Don’t be afraid to throw a little money behind your social media efforts.

SOCIAL MEDIA BUDGET

If your budget allows, put some funds toward Google AdWords to help bump your website to the top of search engine results. To do this, you’ll need a defined list of keywords that represent you and are found frequently on your website. It’s important to have both in mind so you get the best bang for your buck.

You also amplify your social media message on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can develop very specific, targeted ads on these networks with just a few clicks. Know your audience, and you can easily promote posts, share offers, gain more followers and drive traffic to your website.
Repeat what worked.

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There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. If your social media efforts were successful, repeat the steps you took to do it again. It’s that simple! And if something doesn’t work, try something else.

Boost your posts. Facebook has added some targeting tools to boosted posts, including the ability to target lists you’ve uploaded through Facebook Ads Manager. Target a segmented email list of local people to make sure they see your important posts.

Promote Facebook events. Hosting local events such as social media breakfasts, lunch and learns, or business after hours increases your visibility both online and off. Create a Facebook event and share it with your fans and friends or promote it.

Everyone invited to the event will continue to see it in their notifications and in upcoming events unless they decline the invite. Again, focus your invites on people who live and work near you.

Just keep in mind, if you incorporate a Facebook ad that didn’t work, for example, don’t ditch the idea of advertising on social media. Try it again, redefining your audience or the amount of your investment.

Social media is a marketing tool like many others small business owners can use. It’s unique in that it can heighten a company’s visibility, broaden reach and engage current and future customers. But it will only work if you do it.

ANALYZE YOUR COMPETITORS

You don’t necessarily need to start with the 5 biggest social networks. Your customers might hang out on a smaller social media site.

Surveying your existing customers to find out which social media site they favor is a great way to understand your audience preferences and appeal to a new potential customer or more.

You can also glance through the audience demographic of various social networks and match them with your prospects. This compilation, by Sprout Social, of major social network demographics, should help.

Or, you can scout your competition and analyze where, as well as how, they perform their social media marketing.

For instance, GrubHub uses Snapchat to surprise their audience, announcing it through a series of snaps.

Snapchat GrubHub

Twitter – On the microblogging network, you can ask your customers to come up with a 140 character creative story that’s centered around your brand.

Dunkin’ Donuts asked its customers to come up with creative stories around how the popular Dunkin’ coffee fits into their life. After receiving an overwhelming response, the company chose several winners and asked them to star in their own Dunkin’ commercial.

Dunkin Donuts Commercial

SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS

Mention – Local businesses might not publish content on their own blog. But, they might get mentions from other blogs, videos and social networks.

That’s where the social monitoring tool, Mention, can help. Y,ou can enter your (or your competitor’s) brand name or an industry keyword.

Mention Social Tool

Also input the sources where you want the tool to search and index your entered keywords.

Mention Manage Social

As soon as you tap the “Create my alert” button, the tool starts its search and returns with your typed keyword mentions.

If you want, you can also get daily email summary alerts.

Ahrefs Content Explorer – Enter your competitor’s domain and tap search. If your competitor has an active blog, you’ll see stats on the number of shares of their content on various social platforms.

Ahrefs Explorer

You can also find out the sharing velocity of the content on various social networks by clicking on the down arrow in the far-right cell.

Ahrefs Explorer Rating

FINAL THOUGHTS

Social media marketing is far from a waste of time and resources. Connecting with your potential customer(s) on their preferred social media channel is one of the greatest ways to generate leads and build real engagement with your audience.

77% of B2C businesses have acquired a customer through Facebook.

Determine, too, the social media site where your customers and prospects hang out. Then, start posting high-quality content that will interest and entertain them.

If you want to quickly gain social media authority, conducting a contest on a social media channel or two is a great idea.

In terms of making the most of your time, spend it on the sites where your customers are. Just because you think you should be on Facebook doesn’t necessarily mean that it will pan out for you.

Survey your customers to find out which sites they’re on, whether in-store, via email, or when they call for an appointment. You’re likely to get a running start on your social media campaign if you “fish where the fish are”.

About Blair

 5 Golden Rules for Sharing on Social Media

Blair Evan Ball is a Social Media Coach and founder of Prepare1, a company that works with businesses, individuals and non-profits. He is a former executive with a Fortune 50 company, and his national division did $1Billion+ in sales annually.

Blair has written three e-books: Facebook for Business Made Easy, Facebook Pages for Business Made Easy, and WordPress Blog Setup Made Easy.

Blair also educates, trains entrepreneurs and business professionals how to amplify their brand, increase revenues, and raise more funds.

 5 Golden Rules for Sharing on Social MediaThe Race is ON! | PREPARE | Get into the Game and WIN!

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Local -Storefront_Prepare1 Image

Are you familiar with keywords?

Do you understand the importance to you and your brand in search?

Those words or phrases that you input into Google or Bing to serve you results are keywords.

LOCAL SEARCH – IT’s ALL ABOUT MOBILE

Local search is critical for a local business.

Optimizing for local search is important, but if you aren’t optimizing for mobile, you’re going to miss out on your most important source of local traffic.

These days, Google serves customized results based on who you are, your search history, your location, and the intent someone on mobile or a desktop might have. For example, on a mobile device, you’re more likely to see the “snack pack,” which is a map and three location listings followed by the option to see more locations.

Local SEO Image

For years, Google has been improving the relevance of local search, from its “Pigeon Update” to Promoted Pins. And since there are more searches on mobile than desktop, it’s no wonder that Google has put a big emphasis on mobile-friendliness in its ranking algorithms.

Small businesses with physical locations and a geographically targeted audience need to do everything they can to get into that snack pack, which appears above the organic listings. Even if your business is number one in the organic listings, the snack pack makes your number-one ranking less important.

Local businesses need to get into the top three results.

The top three results (a.k.a. the “snack pack”) appear above the organic listings.

To get into the snack pack, standardize your name, address, and phone number (sometimes called the NAP) online. For some reason Google struggles when you abbreviate street as “St.” in one place and “St” in another, and spell out “Street” in a third.

Make sure your company name, address, and phone number are identical everywhere: on your website, on all of your social media sites, and on all listings in online yellow pages.

Positive reviews that accumulate organically can also help your business appear in the snack pack. The three critical review sites are Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. (Note: You’re not supposed to ask people for reviews on Yelp; you can only tell customers they can find you on Yelp.)

Mobile and desktop are different

You use your computer differently than your smartphone, right? Your mobile and desktop users do, too.

Since desktop computers tend to be kept at home or in the office, that’s where they get used. As a result, if someone is conducting a local search on their desktop, they probably aren’t looking for instant gratification. Their searches are still important, but they’re more likely to be making plans for the future (that can change pretty easily).

On the other hand, people searching for a local business on mobile are looking for instant gratification. People search on mobile because they have an immediate need, and in this day and age, people with an immediate need want things fast.

So, if you want to win at local search, you need to be the quick answer to people’s problems.

Optimize your site

Identifying your target phrases and keywords is only half the battle. Now you need to work on the site pages you’d like to rank well for mobile searches.

  • Analyze your On Page Optimization
  • Analyze your Off Page Optimization
  • Analyze your backlinks
  • Analyze your alt text on images
  • Do you have Duplicate content
  • What about 404 and other server response code errors
  • Do you have broken links and HTML code errors

Organic search on mobile

Long-tail keywords are a best practice for desktop searches, but when you’re on your phone, you generally don’t type out everything the way you do on a computer… do u?

People don’t make long-tail search queries nearly as often on mobile, so if you’re optimizing for mobile search, it doesn’t make sense to prioritize long-tail keywords.

Instead, it’s better to go after shorter phrases and keywords. After all, that’s what your audience will be typing into their phones. In addition, you’ll need mobile-optimized landing pages if you want those keywords to do anything for you.

Identifying mobile keywords

Remember, desktop and mobile are different — that still applies when it comes to the specific keywords you target. You’re going to need to research your keywords a little differently from the way you do on desktop, and most of the tools out there for keyword planning are not optimized for mobile.

Keywords_Prepare1 Image

Align keywords with business goals

  • Think holistically about how customers could reach you.

Why: Your keywords should reflect all of the different types of user queries that could help someone find you when they’re looking for something you offer.

  • Align your keywords and their management with your overall business goals. 

Why: Different keywords have different purposes, and they should be held accountable to the goal that most aligns with their purpose.

  • Analyze your keyword list and delete low search volume keywords.

Why: Reduce clutter. If keywords aren’t going to drive any traffic for you, there’s no need to keep them around.

Manage match types for growth and control

  • Use broad match to capture long tail queries, reserve exact match for your primary volume and value drivers. 

Why: Maximize coverage on queries relevant to your business while keeping account management reasonable.

  • Don’t create minute variations of phrase/exact match keywords. 

Why: Phrase and exact match types expand to cover close keyword variations, so you don’t need to worry about creating additional keyword clutter in your AdWords account.

Expand the reach of existing keywords

  • Maximize the presence of your keywords by improving their Ad Rank. 

Why: Adding new targeting options isn’t the only way to grow volume. A more aggressive bid coupled with higher quality ads can drive volume on existing keywords.

  • Extend your reach to users that aren’t on Google.com by targeting search partners. 

Why: Get more volume from the same set of keywords in your account.

Identify the Right Keywords to Target

For most advertisers, their AdWords accounts are powered by keywords. There are a host of different sources available to you to find the right ones. Regardless of the sources that you use to generate your keywords, you should think holistically about all the different ways that potential customers could reach you.

Here are the biggest sources you should consider when determining how to find new keywords:

  1. Your Website
    Stay on top of your site’s offerings. Find any gaps between your site’s content and your keyword list.
  2. Your Products
    Be sure that you’re bidding on core product keywords. When your audience is at the end of the buying cycle they’ll be searching for a specific product or service. If you’re a retailer, things like product names and models can make for high-performing keywords.
  3. Your Brand
    Remember the value of your branded terms as well. If you deal with multiple products, add keywords that are combinations of your brand name and high-volume products that people often search for in the same query.
  4. The Research Process of Your Customers
    What are all of the different ways that they could potentially search for what you’re offering?
    Map out their research process and be sure that you’re present at every step.

Pay particular attention to keywords that are rich with commercial intent (a common example is terms with “buy” in them). Think of words in your industry that can reveal a similar act-now mindset.

Manage Match Types for Growth and Control Key Takeaways

• Use broad match to capture long tail queries, reserve exact match for your primary volume and value drivers.

As 15% of queries each day on Google haven’t been searched before, broad match gives you the best chance to capture anything that’s semantically relevant.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Understanding your keywords can unlock previously untapped potential in your account. Connecting with user queries via thoughtful keywords is what search advertising is all about within AdWords.

Your customers are constantly connected—be sure that your keywords account for all the different paths that their journeys take.

If you have a local storefront think optimizing for Mobile first.

About Blair

 5 Golden Rules for Sharing on Social Media

Blair Evan Ball is a Social Media Coach and founder of Prepare1, a company that works with businesses, individuals and non-profits. He is a former executive with a Fortune 50 company, and his national division did $1Billion+ in sales annually.

Blair has written three e-books: Facebook for Business Made Easy, Facebook Pages for Business Made Easy, and WordPress Blog Setup Made Easy.

Blair also educates, trains entrepreneurs and business professionals how to amplify their brand, increase revenues, and raise more funds.

 5 Golden Rules for Sharing on Social MediaThe Race is ON! | PREPARE | Get into the Game and WIN!

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7 Habits of Winners In Business

by Blair Evan Ball March 9, 2017

Do habits affect our winning in life and business? Is there a common thread? Why do some people and businesses always seem to win? The Habits of Winners In Business To succeed greatly in business, there are additional habits that you need to develop, as well. One of these habits is the determination to win, […]

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How to Really Master Any Skill

by Blair Evan Ball March 2, 2017

What is the tipping point for mastery? Is it the 10,000 hours that author Malcolm Gladwell professes in his book outlier? Malcolm Gladwell gave us the 10,000-Hour Rule. In 2008, Malcolm Gladwell published his New York Times bestseller, Outliers. It’s within this book — based largely on the research of Anders Ericsson — that Gladwell […]

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7 Critical Skills to Navigate the Social Media Maze

by Blair Evan Ball February 23, 2017

“If a group of children goes for a walk, which child determines the speed of the entire group?” When I ask this question during my presentations they will always reply and say, “The slowest child.” Exactly. Your “slowest kid” is your weakest key skill. It sets the speed at which you move ahead in your life […]

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Top 10 Overused Buzzwords on LinkedIn Profiles

by Blair Evan Ball February 16, 2017

Have you looked at your LinkedIn profile recently? Do you regularly change the words on your resume, LinkedIn profile or Company page to match the market? New Year. New You! If you’re hoping for a job change in 2017, that move usually starts with updating your resume and LinkedIn profile. Before you start to freshen things […]

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You Determine Your Own Destiny

by Blair Evan Ball February 6, 2017

Is your destiny waiting to happen? Are you settling for a life ordinary? Too many people whine about not having the life they want. The main reason people fall short of their own expectations is the same reason most companies fail to achieve their objectives: poor planning and execution. In fact, I am amazed at […]

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LinkedIn Ranks Top 10 Jobs of 2017

by Blair Evan Ball January 30, 2017

Are you looking to change jobs or career? Maybe someone you are close to is looking for a change. With the advancement of technology, jobs are rapidly changing to match their environment. Social Media career leader LinkedIn is taking the lead. Workers are switching jobs at an accelerating rate and more than twice as often […]

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Why You Need a Social Media Calendar

by Blair Evan Ball January 25, 2017

Do you use a social media calendar? Have you used other calendars? How many times do you get up in the morning, stare at your phone or computer screen, and wonder aloud, “What the heck am I going to write about and post today on social media?” Too many times to mention, I bet. It’s only […]

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