• Why cycling your content ‘philosophy’ can help you to grow

    Why cycling your content ‘philosophy’ can help you to grow

    Keep your audiences guessing — and your business growing — by cycling your content.

    My time working in bodybuilding media made me see many parallels between the pursuit of a more muscular physique and many aspects of life, media and business. Many are obvious, such as consistency, focus and planning, but there’s one that has really stuck with me that I see as being of increasing relevance as we move to a more digital future, for marketers, story tellers and communications professionals.

    It’s the idea of cycling, or periodising your training.

    Bodybuilders and fitness junkies talk a lot about ‘keeping your body guessing’. What that means is, from a training standpoint, mix it up. Maybe your strategy right now is to use low rep ranges — like maxing out at four reps — and subsequently lifting higher weights. Then after about six weeks, you flip it. You lower the weight, increase the reps in your working sets to maybe 12 or 15, and also the number of sets you do. Then, a couple of months down the road, flip it again. Maybe this time you train multiple body parts per session, so that each body part is getting attacked multiple times each week.

    What this does is prevent your body from getting comfortable with a certain type of stimulus. Once your body is comfortable with what you’re doing to it, it no longer has a reason to change.

    People don’t want to change

    What I noticed however is that despite this approach being well-known and scientifically backed, people are very resistant to the idea of changing your training approach continually.

    People will continue to ask: do you train for strength or hypertrophy? Do you train heavy or do you train high-rep? Deep down they know that they should probably be doing all of these things but people want to marry themselves to one philosophy. They want to wear a badge that says, ‘I do things this way’. People want to have that ‘aha’ moment, like they’ve worked it all out, and then they can just execute that forever and keep watching the results roll in.

    The same is true in the digital marketing space.

    We know that sticking to one philosophy is suicide in 2018 because what works in the digital space changes constantly.

    But more than that, it’s because for the same reason that your muscles won’t grow, if you keep giving your audience the same stimuli, the same content, the same old stories, they won’t grow either.

    By dishing out the same stuff, your followers will get comfortable with the knowledge that they’ve seen all your tricks before and they’re not expecting anything new.

    So the next post they see from you, they’ll just assume it’s another motivational video, or it’s another reason why I should use certain hashtags, or it’s a another promise of a six figure passive income per month, and they’ll just ignore it.

    Periodised content

    So what’s the solution? Well, like bodybuilding, the answer is NOT to have a random, haphazard approach either.

    Just because you change up your program, doesn’t mean that each strategy is without rules or concepts. In the marketing and comms space, you have plenty of variables to play with.

    What are the different aspects of your business? Maybe focus on producing content about one aspect this month and then switch it to another.

    Maybe it’s about emphasising your blog for a while and then shifting gears and putting out some great audio content. Then maybe it’s video. Maybe for the next few weeks it’s instructional, then it’s more philosophical.

    Plan your content strategy like you would plan your workouts. Pick a method, attack it for a while — and then flip it. A good way to know when to flip it and whether a particular strategy is working? Adopt another bodybuilding principle: measure everything. The numbers will tell you whether the current approach is working or not.

    But remember, when the growth and the engagement is starting to plateau, the time to switch it up was yesterday. Beat the curve, surprise people and keep putting out great content.

    If you need help creating great content, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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  • 3 (very) basic tips to make your social media videos better

    3 (very) basic tips to make your social media videos better

    Make your social media videos exponentially better with these quick fixes.

    Getting the basics of video right isn’t as complicated as it used to be, so there should be no excuse for some of the horrible video content you seen on social media.

    In your pocket right now is a device with more processing power than the old supercomputers that used to take up entire rooms. It’s so much easier than it was even a decade ago to shoot great video. Your smartphone has a camera that can, in a pinch, shoot really great high-quality video content — feature films have even been shot with this device — if you keep a few simple things in mind.

    Note: these are very basic tips but a lot of small businesses on social media get them wrong.

    1) No vertical videos

    This is probably the biggest mistake we see made on social media. Notice how your eyes sit horizontally across your face? That’s how we see things. There’s no surer sign of an amateur than vertical video. Tilt that phone and, congratulations, you’ve automatically become 50 per cent more professional than half of the small businesses on social media.

    2) Learn to edit — but don’t go overboard

    If you can get things done in one take, great (see below for our performance tips). However, there are cheap (and even free) editing programs and apps that are relatively simple to learn to give your videos punch. A word of caution though: unless you’re a designer, don’t get too fancy with graphics and transitions. Simple is better.

    (And once you reach a certain level, there are businesses — hint, hint —who can help you out with the higher-end content.)

    3) Focus on performance

    For the person in the video doing a talk-to-camera, it’s worth keeping in mind a few things:

    a) Keep your voice clear and your demeanour upbeat. There’s nothing more likely to turn someone off than a low-energy performance. You’re also probably speaking faster than you think you are. Slow it down.

    b) Scripting vs. off the cuff. If you’re good at talking off the top of your head and staying on-topic, great. If not, you might want to think about scripting something out — not the whole thing necessarily but jotting down key ideas in dot point form can keep you on track.

    c) As always, keep it short and snappy. Not only will this get your fans further into your videos, breaking your content into smaller chunks means you have more pieces of video content to work with overall. Try to limit each video to one or two key pieces of information per video.

    Takeaway message

    Sure, these are simple but you would be amazed at how many small businesses on social media get this stuff wrong.

    The good news is, if you’re getting these three things right, you’re well on your way to creating better and better video content for your business.

    If you need more help with your video content, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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  • Plagiarism on social media: Why content theft is bad for your business

    Plagiarism on social media: Why content theft is bad for your business

    Newsflash: you shouldn’t steal stuff

    In the traditional media paradigm, content creators — though we used to be called writers, journalists, designers, photographers etc. — knew that plagiarism was a bad thing. It should be self-evident, right? If you didn’t make something yourself, don’t palm it off as your own creation.

    The digital media world has blurred some of these lines in the past decade or so. Many digital publications base their reporting on one source, often another website, and essentially rewrite the story line-by-line for their site, embedding the same images or videos. Even reputable mastheads have to use this kind of appropriation to up their clicks in order to fund more meaningful and serious work.

    (Related: This is why Buzzfeed has quizzes about which vegetables are trustworthy next to serious reportage about victory over ISIS in Mosul. When anyone tells you Buzzfeed is trash, they just haven’t been keeping up.)

    Considering this, it’s perhaps understandable why a person unfamiliar with the history of changes in the media landscape might not bat an eye at taking, say, a complete workout from a fitness website and publishing it as her own work, possibly even charging people to download a PDF version of it.

    Plagiarism in the fitness industry

    Last year, fitness blogger and personal trainer Sohee Lee described the plagiarism situation in the fitness industry like this:

    “There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other people on social media nowadays stealing others’ hard work. They’ll take images or writing that others have produced and act like it’s their own. Oftentimes, this flies under the radar, and they get away with it for a long time.”

    As a fitness magazine editor, I would sometimes come across instances of plagiarism from freelancers who must not have realised that we editors have access to Google and can search sentences that suddenly appear much better crafted than the surrounding paragraphs.

    To some degree, this is just a bug in the current system of having personal trainers writing articles. Someone not from a journalistic background might not even be aware that plagiarism comes in many forms, including ripping off what might seem like stock-standard instructions on how to do a lat pulldown.

    Some of this, however, cannot be put down to ‘didn’t know any better’. Lee goes on to describe one particular person who systematically stole her social media content and claimed it as her own:

    “I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed when a post of hers popped up…A few lines in, I found myself raising my eyebrows because I quickly realized that actually, those were my exact words.”

    This kind of plagiarism is malicious and inexcusable. This is the kind of plagiarism where the perpetrators definitely know better. They are usually seeking to make money off other people’s hard work. Good social media content is hard to produce, after all. And there’s a generation of people for whom stuff on the internet has always been free. They will not think twice about ripping it off and claiming it as their own.

    The lesson for all businesses

    This is something people using social media for business — any business — need to be doubly aware of when posting. Whether it’s blogs on your website, what you share on Facebook and even the actual text in your Instagram posts, you can’t just steal stuff.

    You know that funny meme you saved as a photo and then posted without attribution or permission to your business page? Not your property. That infographic you wanted to use because it perfectly explained a concept? You’d better link to the source or seek permission (or, hey, graphic designers like getting paid too) before running with it.

    Now, you’re probably not going to get sued over one silly meme. But it’s a habit you don’t want to get into. The next instance mightn’t be so frivolous and you — or your staff — won’t know how to tell the difference.

    And aside from all that, those pieces of content are usually no good.

    The solution

    You need good, custom content and if you can’t afford a company to do it for you, you need to create that content yourself. Think of your brand and how much damage plagiarism does to it. Even if you’re not caught or called out (though you eventually will be), what does it say about your brand that someone else’s work can represent it?

    (As it happens, we at Hook have had our work stolen, which in one sense is a form of flattery. But in another, more accurate sense, it’s common theft and a big energy drainer.)

    In the end, it’s more rewarding to create things of value for your clients or customers. It’s also better for your business overall. Your SEO numbers will be much better at the very least.

    Plus, you won’t be tempted to post crappy memes.

    If you’re interested in good custom content or a social media plan to make it for yourself, get in touch with us.

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