Category Archives for Content Marketing

[CHECKLIST] How to Create a Profitable Online Course in 2 Hours Flat (Even if You Don’t Have a Website)

2-hr online course checklist Socialmediaonlineclasses

That's right: 2 hours to create the course, the community, and launch it online. 

No membership software. 

No video editing software. 

No payment processor. 

No shopping cart.

This is truly Online Course Building for Dummies.

The truth is you don’t need any of those things to launch a profitable course.
In fact, investing in complex course creation tools is likely to do a lot more harm than good.
All you really need is . . .

The Minimum Viable Product

The minimum viable product (MVP) is a simple version of your course you can create & launch quickly to determine if . 

  • your course is any good
  • your market is interested
  • your course will be profitable

Don’t spend one iota of your time learning some complex course creation technology until you KNOW your audience will buy it. 

Here's an outline of what we'll be doing together to create your online course in just 2 hours. Click on the lesson you want to go to:

Why an Online Course?

Here's a real-life story of why I recommend building a simple online course: 

Last week I attended a week-long watercolor workshop taught by one of the top wildlife artists in the world. He's the author of a bestselling book on sketching (now out of print), and has been working over a year on self-publishing an iBook on watercolor.

Let me repeat that: he's been working over a year on an iBook. It's still not done. And probably won't be for another year.

Why not?

Because Apple makes you jump through hoops to have your book fit their iBook technology perfectly.

In short, it's a hassle.

Same with a Kindle ebook. It's a hassle.

But a simple online course? Easy-peasy: 2 hours and you're done!

This same artist told me he has over 20 videos recorded that he's trying to hyperlink in his iBook.

What? You've already got 20 videos recorded and ready to go?

What are you waiting for? Let's create an online course already!

One Rule: Keep It Simple

Simplicity is the guiding principle behind creating a basic online course to test your market fit.

Our goal is to create a good online course & launch it in 2 hours.

Specifically, here's what this will look like:

Course

Description

Length

60 minutes

Format

Video, with PDF downloads

Community

Place where students can ask questions & get feedback from instructor.

Notice what this project is not: a perfect online course. Not a multi-day course. Those come after you've verified your simple course is profitable.

If it's not, don't waste your time or money moving forward with a more expensive version.

Simple Course Creation Tools (You're Already Using)

To keep your course creation process simple, we'll be using readily-available tools you're probably already using. That way you don't have an extensive learning curve.

What are they?

Purpose

Tools I Recommend

To Record Your Video

YouTube Live, Facebook Live, your webcam or smartphone

To Sell Your Course

Vimeo

To Host Your Community

Facebook Group

Let's take a deeper look at why I recommend these specific tools:

To Record Your Video 

You already watch videos on YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook, you've likely already used your webcam, and I know you've recorded a video on your smartphone.

So you're already familiar with all of these tools. No they're not perfect, but they're what can get you up & running with a course in 2 hours.

To Sell Your Course 

Since the course is video with PDF downloads, it's easy to sell without a payment processor: upload the video to Vimeo ( a video hosting platform allowing you to sell your videos).

They deal with the payments, you get the revenue.

A solopreneur's dream.

To Host Your Community 

One of the biggest reasons your audience will buy your course?

Access to you . . . 

. . . to get feedback, their questions answered, and network with their peers.

They're already doing that in Facebook Groups. They're easy to create and manage, and your audience is already there.

Now that you know what tools you'll be using, let's get started!

1. Let's Build Your Course

Congratulations! You're ready to take the first step in building your course: recording your 60-minute video.

What will you record?

If you're an author: record a lecture you give about the lessons in your book.

If you're an artist: record yourself teaching how to create a simple piece. SMOC member Lisa Reber is a fabric dyer and teaches workshops on how to dye your own fabric using some pretty complex math formulas for the dye ratios you'll need.

If you're an entrepreneur: record yourself hosting a webinar, giving a conference keynote, or other educational session. SMOC member Dawn Hartwell is a social media consultant and hosts workshops on the latest social media topics.

If you're a local business: record a recent workshop you've taught. SMOC member Robin Finklestein, owner of The Valley Hive, teaches backyard beekeeping in the Los Angeles area. But what if you don't live in their area and no one teaches beekeeping near you? You can take their online course!

In short, record yourself teaching what you're an expert on.

Here are some of my best tips for overcoming fear of speaking to a group (or on camera):

MY BEST PUBLIC SPEAKING TIPS

  • IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU: Don't worry about what you look like, how you sound, or appear on camera. People are eager to learn what you have to teach. Focus on that.
  • BE NATURAL, NOT PERFECT: Don't worry about making mistakes on camera. We all screw up, even on-air TV personalities. Just move on and your audience will too.
  • GET HELP: You don't have to go it alone when creating your video If you need help in recording a video or using any of the tools I recommend, rely on the resources I recommend throughout this post (see the list at the end of the post). Reach out to me on social media, or join Socialmediaonlineclasses.com. We're here to help.

Let's Record Your Video

Now that you know what content you'll use for your course, it's time to actually record your video.

My top recommendations for video recording tools are Facebook Live & YouTube Live, as they both offer webcam recording with screen sharing if you need it.

Video Type

Tools I Recommend

Record Yourself

YouTube Live, Facebook Live, your webcam or smartphone all work well

Record Your Screen

Facebook Live & YouTube Live are easiest. 

For the purpose of our #1 rule — keep it simple — I recommend the the tools in the table above.

You can also use screen recording software, but that requires a learning curve and is not our focus here. If you're familiar with SnagIt, Camtasia or ScreenFlow, feel free to use those. 

Record your course using Facebook Live

I recommend recording your Facebook live video from your personal profile.

Yes, that's an oxymoron for a business course, but watch this video to learn why and how to record your Facebook Live:

  • Once you're done recording, select Done>>Publish Post. Be patient while Facebook processes your video. When it's ready, you'll get a notification.
  • Download your video recording by going to your personal profile and select  More>>Videos menu, as shown below:
online course facebook live video download locate
  • Select the video you want to download, and Facebook displays the theater box, as shown below. Select the three dot menu (...) and Download Video:
online course facebook live video download

Record your course using YouTube Live

You can use YouTube Live to record your video course even if you don't plan to have people watch it as you broadcast it live.  YouTube automatically records live broadcasts, and this is the only way you can record on their platform.

Here's how to do it:

  • Use a computer with a webcam and select Upload>>Livestream from their Home page as shown below:
online course youtube live stream
  • Tip: YouTube will prompt you to Stream Now by adding live stream encoding software. We're skipping that and using an easier option.
  • Instead, select Events>>Create New Event, and add your course title & description.
  • You can make your live stream Unlisted — that way no one can see your video live unless you provide them with a link. (You can download the video after you're done.)
  • Then select Go Live Now, as shown below:
online course youtube go live
  • You're now live on YouTube, and it records your video. Begin your 60-minute presentation.
  • When you're done, select Stop Broadcast. THIS IS IMPORTANT, as if you skip this step, YouTube won't save your recording. YouTube saves your recording (it often takes an hour or two and you'll get an email notifying you it's ready).
  • Download the video recording by selecting your channel icon at the top right of the YouTube Home screen, and then selecting Creator Studio:
online course youtube download video
  • Once you're in the Creator Studio, select Videos, and from the dropdown menu next to your live stream video recording, select Download MP4, as shown below:
online course youtube creator studio download video

Record your course using your webcam

Both Windows and Mac users can record video using software that comes on your computer. If you use a Chromebook, you'll need to use the Facebook Live or YouTube Live options I outlined previously.

If you use a Mac, you can use iMovie to record your video on your computer: 

  • If you need to record your screen, here's a tutorial on how to do a screen recording using iMovie & QuickTime.

Record your course using your smartphone

Both Android and iPhone smartphones offer native apps to record video using your phone. Here are my recommendations for recording a course on your phone:

  1. Record with your phone in landscape format (sideways)
  2. Place your phone on a tripod or other stationary object. It's more stable and keeps your hands free for demonstrating or communicating.
  3. Download an app to compress your video file. Smartphone videos are excellent quality, but are also huge!

High-five! You've completed the toughest part of this entire process: recording yourself (or your workshop) on video!

Now you're ready to prepare your file for upload, by compressing it to a smaller size . . . 

2. Let's Compress Your Huge Video File to a Smaller Size

Video files are enormous. There's no getting around it. A 60-minute video for your course will be around 1 GB in size.

That's too large to upload to Vimeo. It could literally take all day to upload.

Instead, we need to make the file size smaller by compressing it: that makes it quicker to upload, without compromising video quality.

My favorite free tool for compressing video files is Handbrake (a free download here). Use it to compress your video file by following along with me here:

Now that you're video file is done, you're ready to become the next Stephen Spielberg by creating a video trailer . . . 

3. Let's Hire a Pro to Create a Video Trailer ($5)

Why on earth are we creating a video trailer?

Short answer: Vimeo requires it to sell your course.

Long answer: it's standard practice to give buyers a sneak peek at the video they're interested in purchasing.

The good news is we're hiring this out on Fiverr.com. Sellers here often have a 24-hour turnaround, which frees you up to build your online community and upload your main video file to Vimeo.

On Fiverr, I recommend filtering the Video Editing gigs by a 24-hour Delivery Time and sorting them by Avg Customer Review, as shown below:

online course video trailer fiverr hire out

Once you've hired a Fiverr seller to create your video trailer, you're ready to create your online community.

4. Let's Build Your Online Course Community

No one likes going it alone . . . 

. . . and that's how it can feel when you're learning online.

Make your students feel connected by giving them access to you & their peers in a Facebook Group.

You don't even need a Facebook business page to do it.

Follow along with me as we create your online course community:

Add PDF files to your online course community

 If you have PDF downloads to accompany your online course, you'll add them here in your Facebook group.  Your students can download them from the Files section of the group.

Here's how:

  1. From your Facebook group, select Files from the left sidebar.
  2. To upload your files, select the blue Upload Files button at the top right of the group.
  3. Choose the files you want to upload and select Open.

Awesome! You've got your community prepped for your students.

One question: how will they join it?

We'll make joining part of their buying process on Vimeo.

Now that you've recorded & downloaded your video, compressed the video file, created your Facebook group (and uploaded accompanying files to it). Now you're ready to launch your online course!

5. Let's Sell Your Online Course ($20/mo)

You're at the final and most exciting step: selling your online course by uploading it to Vimeo.

You'll be using Vimeo's PRO level, which costs $20/month. That's a small price to pay to sell your online course without a payment processor, shopping cart, or website.

Vimeo PRO allows you to sell videos on demand (VOD). By uploading your video to Vimeo, you'll instantly have the ability to offer your online course for streaming or download — for any price you choose.

Let's look at an overview of what's involved in selling your course on Vimeo (we'll do these together following this overview):

  • Join Vimeo Pro.
  • Create a new video page.
  • Connect your PayPal account.
  • Tell Vimeo the basic details about your video.
  • Identify where you want to sell your course (current country or worldwide).
  • Upload your video trailer and main video file.
  • Connect your social profiles to the video.
  • Add your video poster & thumbnail (these appear on the video's sales page and I'll link to my tutorial on how to create these).

While this looks like a lengthy process, it's really just a series of forms and uploads: you're giving Vimeo the details it needs to sell your online course.

Let's get started!

online course vimeo pro
  • Now let's create your online course sales page (Vimeo calls that your On Demand page). Create it by selecting your profile icon>>On-Demand Pages>>Create a New Page, as shown below:
online course create new page
  • Vimeo takes you to the Create New Page screen. Select the option to sell a single video. Then add your PayPal account, and select Get Started, as shown here: 
online course 2 hrs flat vimeo create new page
  • Vimeo then displays the Basic Info screen. Add your video details here: the title, description, release year, genre, and tags. All of these details are required. Once you're done, select Save and continue, as shown below:
online course 2 hrs flat vimeo video basic info
  • IMPORTANT: Encourage students to join your online Facebook group in the description of your video. They can search for it on Facebook and request to join the group.  How will you know if they purchased the course? Require them to provide you with their Vimeo receipt via Facebook messenger or email.
  • Vimeo displays the Distribution page. Here you'll tell Vimeo that your video is ready to sell (instead of coming soon), where you want to sell it (worldwide or select countries), and you can even specify a unique URL.  (Note: I don't recommend choosing the Sell your work on your own domain option, as it requires you to have a separate domain ready. Vimeo doesn't provide that). Once you're done, select Save and continue, as shown below: 
online course 2 hrs flat vimeo video distribution
  • Vimeo displays the Pricing page. Give your pricing some thought: I recommend offering only the Buy option. Why? Because if you offer two options, Buy or Rent, you're forcing them to choose between the two. Make the decision simple for them: offer only the Buy option. Then specify the price, and select Save and continue, as shown here:
online course 2 hrs flat vimeo buy or rent
  • Vimeo displays the Videos screen. It's here you'll upload your compressed video file and video trailers we created in steps 3 & 4. You also have the option of adding a Bonus Features video. Upload your videos and select Save. (If you don't have your video trailer yet from Fiverr, select Skip for now.)
online course 2 hrs flat vimeo buy or rent
  • Vimeo displays the Appearance screen. Here you'll upload your the images for your sales page. Vimeo requires both a video poster (think of the movie posters you see in your local theater) and a video thumbnail (the small images you see on YouTube). Fortunately, both are simple to create with our tutorials:
  • Click here for our PicMonkey tutorial.  Use a PicMonkey YouTube thumbnail template to create the video thumbnail. To create the video poster, tell PicMonkey the size of the poster (shown below) and create it.
  • Click here for our Canva tutorial . Use their YouTube template for the video thumbnail. To create the video poster, tell Canva the custom dimensions you need and create it
  • Once you've uploaded your poster & thumbnail, select Save.
online course 2 hrs flat vimeo video poster thumbnail
  • Vimeo displays the Details and Promotions screens, but we're skipping those. They aren't necessary to get your course online.  Select Skip for now.
  • Vimeo displays the Audience screen: you're almost done! Here you decide if you want to allow viewer comments and you add your social network links.  Once you're done, select Save​, as shown below:
online course 2 hrs flat vimeo add social profiles
  • Vimeo displays a preview of your On Demand page for your video course. This is it: you're about to launch your online course: select Publish Page, as shown below:
online course 2 hours flat vimeo publish video page

You did it! You're now the proud creator of an online course in only 2 hours of your own time.

Summary

Vimeo handles the payments and displays your revenue and video stats in your account, so you can see instantly how your course is faring.

Of course, now you need to promote it.

And we can help with that too.

I'd love to hear from you if you've used this tutorial to create your own online course: leave me a comment below, and I'll feature it on my social networks!

Do you know a colleague or friend who would benefit from this tutorial? Share it with them so they can get their talent out into the world and helping others.

Recommended Resources

To record a Facebook Live video: Facebook 101: Develop a Successful Facebook Page

To record a YouTube Live video: YouTube 101 Training Course for Small Business

To reach your goal of creating an online course: Reach Your Goals Every Time bonus webinar

To create your video poster for Vimeo using PicMonkey: The Ultimate Guide to Using PicMonkey to Create Social Media Images

To create your video poster for Vimeo using Canva: DIY Stock Photo Library Video

How to Use Memes in Your Business Marketing

meme marketing how to Socialmediaonlineclasses

Memes — humorous images or videos — spread quickly on the internet. But are they right for your brand marketing? 

Here are comprehensive resources and examples to help you decide - and enjoy the creativity behind the web's best memes.

Geico Insurance Marco Polo Commercial

Insurance brands make the most of meme marketing: after all, no one wants to think about flood insurance, let alone purchase it. But a funny commercial keeps their brand top-of-mind.

Geico uses the swimming pool game Marco Polo for its latest insurance commercial:

Progressive Insurance Thanksgiving Commercial

Flo, the face of Progressive Insurance, plays multiple parts in this Thanksgiving commercial:

State Farm's "Never" Commercial

State Farm's most popular video on its YouTube channel is their spin on the often-heard "I'm never ..." declaration from young audiences:

Better Business Bureau Northwest Tax Deadline Meme

Another topic people dread? Taxes. But BBB Northwest has a great meme image to accompany an article on how small businesses can save money on their taxes:

better business bureau northwest tax meme image

LatinPost's 10 Best Taco Memes

Think your industry doesn't have memes? They do, and they're using them to gain visibility and get new customers. LatinPost gathered a collection of the 10 best taco memes:

best taco memes from latinpost

Using a Photo of a Loved One in Your Meme? Keep a Sense of Humor

Buzzfeed shared this story of a husband uploading his wife's childhood photo to Reddit. As often happens on the web, it went viral when people used the image for their own humor.  His wife thought they were all hilarious:

SproutSocial's Guide to Meme Marketing

SproutSocial offers a comprehensive guide to memes, including the pro's and con's of using them, along with excellent examples:

sproutsocial guide to marketing memes

Bolt's How-To Guide to Viral Meme Marketing

Content marketing brand Bolt offers a comprehensive how-to guide on making your meme go viral:

Bold guide to meme marketing

Debut a Serious Guide with Humor

The Site Edge offers an in-depth guide to local SEO, which can be a dry topic. Instead, they introduce the long blog post with a funny meme to show their brand's personality.

Local SEO Strategy using meme image

Summary

These 9 examples and how-to guides offer you a primer on how to create and use memes for your own business marketing. They're a great way to show your brand's personality and get visibility at the same time.

21 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Content [INFOGRAPHIC]

Your greatest resource as a small business owner is your time — you need to invest it only in activities that pay off over the long term. There's one role you fill in your business that pays handsome dividends: content creator.

Every entrepreneur is a content marketer, so I'm always looking for evergreen campaigns that produce results for years, not seconds (the average attention span of humans is 8 seconds ). 

Much has been published about the fleeting life of social media posts, and with platforms changing constantly, it begs the question: what am I getting for my time investment?  

Ultimately, I wanted to know this: what exactly is the lifespan of different content, and how can we extend it to be as long as possible?

Here's a table of contents to this long post with links to jump to sections quickly:

Let's start with the infographic . . . 

infographic content marketing strategy 21 ways to extend your content

1. The Big Winner: Blogging

A recent study found the average lifespan of a blog post to be 2 years.  For math-lovers, the actual formula used in the study was 1.4x, with x= the first month's pageviews for the blog post.

That means if the blog post you published last month got 100 pageviews, you can expect it to get 1.4x100 = 140 pageviews over its lifetime.

How does that translate into 2 years?  Good question (I wondered that too).  The study showed the traffic generated by the blog post reached 50% of its lifespan on Day 10, 72% on Day 30, 90% by Day 300, and finally 99% by Day 700:

lifetime value of blog post izea halverson group

This follows the pattern of the long tail, which has become a standard in search engine optimization: By selecting relevant keywords and topics, you'll get a significant amount of traffic over time, instead of a post that's popular for a week then its traffic dies off.

My Results

While not scientific, I compared my own blog traffic to the 1.4x formula identified by the study.  What I found was that on average, my own blog posts continued to get traffic for a time period almost double that found in the study: 2.7x.  Our most popular blog post of all time at Socialmediaonlineclasses is from 2011, and it still generates organic search traffic.

How to Extend the Life of Your Blog Posts

How do I continue to get traffic from a 5-year-old blog post? Several ways:

  • I made the blog post "sticky" and easily shared by including an infographic and a video
  • I shared the blog post on multiple social media platforms (it's been shared over 5,000 times on Pinterest)
  • I continue to update the blog post over time

Eventually all blog posts will go to their grave if you don't update them.  Let's face it:  a 5-year-old blog post about social media is practically ancient, but because I've continued to refresh it, it's as relevant as the day I wrote it.

Publishers who spend significant time developing strong content know the key to making it evergreen is to continually add to it: it modernizes the blog post, adds new context, and deepens the relationship with the reader.

Which brings me to a disturbing trend:  many blogs and media outlets are removing dates from their content. I find that hypocritical from an industry that proudly announces its "transparency."  People have caught on quickly that no date = outdated content.

You won't find me removing dates of my content here; instead, I modify the blog post title and first line of the post to show when the content was last updated.

2. Pinterest: Social Media Winner

Out of all major social networks, Pinterest ranks #1 for lifespan, with the average pin driving traffic over 4 months.

If you have a hugely popular seasonal pin (Halloween costumes, Hot Cross Buns), you'll see an even longer return on your content investment.

Note these pins likely originated from a blog post, so combine blogging and Pinterest and you have a powerful content lifecycle.

My Results

I've seen a huge correlation between the popularity of a pin and longevity of my blog posts.  If a pin continues to be repinned for months or even years, the original blog post gains greater life.  

This infographic is the first I published in 2011, and it continues to be the most repinned content from my blog.  Even though I've updated this infographic each year, the original version gets the most repins:

How to Extend the Life of Your Pinterest Pins

How can you give your pins the greatest chance of a long life?

  • Colorful, even garish images demand attention
  • Long pins combining images and text get the most repins
  • Consider boosting your pin with an ad for even more exposure

The original Facebook marketing infographic I shared above is colorful.  Subsequent versions of the infographic are more harmonious and subdued, and didn't get nearly as many repins.

Long-form pins offering both images and explanatory text are the most popular.  How-to pins followed by a link in the description are a powerful combination for driving traffic.

My most popular pin of for the last two years is a shockingly bright infographic I boosted for only one week.  Before that week, it wasn't getting much in the way of repins.  After I advertised it for a week, it was my most popular pin, week after week:

3. YouTube: Long-Term Solutions

YouTube videos come in at #3 with over 20 days of lifecycle. This study found videos receive the majority of their engagement after 3 weeks.  

People go to YouTube to find solutions, and while they may not be engaging with your video, they'll continue to watch it.  

My Findings

This SMOC video from 2013 is a tutorial on how to master Hootsuite in one hour.  It's our most popular video because it offers an easy solution to a pain point:  people find Hootsuite confusing:

Don't despair if your video hasn't taken off after 20 days.  I recorded this video for my book Color Mastery, and it went nowhere for six months.  Then a viewer in Denmark shared it and the views skyrocketed.  It's had over 38,000 views, which for a quilting video is huge:

How to Extend the Life of Your YouTube Video

Want to keep people watching your videos as long as possible? Here's how:

  • Upload videos on evergreen topics - don't focus on short-term problems or solutions
  • Record longer videos to keep people on your channel
  • Make your video easy to find by including relevant keywords in your video title, description and tags

The most-watched YouTube videos on these popular channels are useful how-to videos on common topics:

CHANNEL

MOST POPULAR VIDEO

Home Depot

How to Install or Repair a Toilet

Martha Stewart

How to Fold a Fitted Sheet

Kahn Academy

Basic Arithmetic: Addition & Subtraction

Don't be afraid of recording a long video: people will watch it if there's something in it for them.  Teach them, entertain them, and you'll find your view count increasing over time.

Notice the titles of those popular videos from each channel?  They're to the point: not clever or catchy, but exactly the wording people use when they search for a solution on YouTube.  Make sure you know your audience and their language, and include it in the title, description, and tags.

4. LinkedIn: 24 Hours of B2B

Business-to-business social network LinkedIn ranks #4 in terms of content lifecycle, with posts here lasting an average of 24 hours.  While it doesn't have as many users as Facebook, its longer post lifespan and affluent demographic make it an attractive place to do B2B networking.

My Findings

My most successful post on LInkedIn is, not surprisingly, an infographic about LinkedIn:

Published in 2013, it continues to drive traffic to the original blog post on the SMOC website, far beyond the 24 hours most posts last.  What's kept it alive so long?

Groups.  Most of the LinkedIn referrals come from people in a LinkedIn group who find the infographic and share it with group members.

How to Extend the Life of a LinkedIn Post

Here's how to get the most value out of every LinkedIn post you create:

  • Add your best content to your LinkedIn profile: that automatically extends its lifespan
  • Join groups, engage with members, and share your content in the group
  • Prolong the life of your blog posts by publishing them on LinkedIn Pulse one to two weeks later.

Your profile is the first thing people see about you on LinkedIn. Make a great first impression by putting your best content in a visible place on your profile.  Your post will scroll off the LinkedIn newsfeed after a few hours, but it lasts forever on your profile.

LinkedIn groups are the most affluent community you'll find online.  They're a great place to connect with like-minded professionals and share your content.  Even better is when other group members find your content and share it on their own.

LinkedIn Pulse is the publishing arm of this social network, and you can repurpose your blog posts here after you've published them on your own blog.  They get a new audience, fresh eyes, and the ability to start deep conversations.  SMOC member Lynda Spiegel originally published this post on her blog where it received no comments, but 3 days later on LinkedIn Pulse, it earned over 49,000 views and got 63 comments:

linkedin post lifespan pulse

5.  Instagram Beats Facebook & Twitter

Photo-sharing social network Instagram ranks #5 for content lifespan, with posts here lasting an average of 21 hours.  While not a powerhouse of longevity, it does beat both Facebook & Twitter.

My Findings

Instagram has a focused newsfeed, making it easier to grab people's attention without competing with a sidebar with ads or multiple content streams. Even though your image will eventually scroll off the newsfeed, using relevant hashtags allows people to search for content and still find it later.

People find my infographics long after I've shared them by searching for the #infographic hashtag.  I share our Weekly Top 5 infographics, and they get new followers for me every week:

content marketing instagram hashtag

How to Extend the Life of an Instagram Post

Here's how you can get weeks from your Instagram post instead of just 21 hours:

  • Use bright colors with a lot of contrast in your images
  • Make it easy for people to find your content by using popular hashtags in the caption
  • Identify your most popular Instagram posts and do more of them

My most popular Instagram posts are beautiful images.  Instagram is a more personal glimpse of a brand, so I mix some personal images in with my professional ones:

content marketing instagram bright image

My most popular Instagram post is this colorful infographic, using multiple hashtags so people can find it easily

content marketing instagram personal

I share glimpses of my personal life on Instagram, including my watercolor paintings with hashtag #watercolor

Use hashtags freely here on Instagram: it gives your content relevance & context and extends its lifespan when people search using those hashtags later.

While Instagram doesn't offer analytics (yet), you can use other tools like Statigram and SproutSocial to identify your most popular posts. Learn from those analytics and do more of what people like.

6.  Facebook: Crowded & Fleeting

The giant of social media — Facebook — offers only a 5 hour lifespan for your content, but let's face it: even if only an infinitesimal fraction of its 1.5 billion users sees your content, you've scored a win.

This study found that by sharing links to their content on Facebook, they extended the content's lifespan by 3 additional days.

My Findings

The easiest way to extend your content's lifecycle on Facebook is with an ad.  You boost a post and choose how many days to run it, so you decide how long your content lasts.  I ran an this Facebook ad for over a year:  it took people to a long blog post, and they shared it freely with their friends and colleagues, further extending the life of both the ad and the blog post:

fb perfect post 600 shares

How to Extend the Life of Your Facebook Posts

  • Boost important posts: you can do as little as $1 a day for 10 days
  • Pin your post to the top of your newsfeed: it becomes the first post people see on your Timeline
  • Don't be afraid to repurpose your posts: you reach people on different days & times, so it's unlikely you'll burn out your fans

Boost important posts, especially those announcing big news or promotions. You don't need a huge budget, and you can target your audience to people in your area or interested in your product/service.

Guarantee greater content longevity, by pinning your post to the top of your Timeline.  Facebook used to limit pinned posts to 2 weeks, but that limit no longer applies.

Repurpose the same post over time: our attention spans are short, so even if people saw your post six months ago, they may not remember it or didn't see it the first time around.  I've seen excellent results doing this.

7.  Twitter: Fast & Furious

Coming in last in content lifespan is Twitter, where your tweets last a brief 18 minutes. However, what Twitter lacks in staying power, it makes up for with an abundance of influencers and the ability to post multiple times a day without tiring your followers.

My Findings

I don't expect longevity on Twitter, but I still use it.  It has more influencers than any other social network, because it's simple to engage here.  You can get someone's attention with a creative tweet and make a new connection, and take the relationship from there.

I've interviewed small business owners who get over 70% of their business from Twitter, and they tweet often, as do I.  I tweet up to 12 - 15 times a day, during U.S. business hours.

Tweeting that often doesn't require you to be on Twitter all day; instead, schedule tweets throughout the day, create shortcuts for typing your most popular tweets, and ensure you engage with people who are talking to you:

How to Extend the Life of Your Tweets

You can extend the life of your tweets beyond 18 minutes, and here's how:

  • pin important tweets to the top of your Twitter stream; that guarantees that tweet is the first one people see when they visit your Tweets page
  • Be realistic about how long your tweets last: Twitter is a fast-paced social network, and you're unlikely to get days from a tweet unless you pin it
  • Develop a Twitter success system making it easy to repurpose your most popular tweets (the video above teaches you how)

Similar to Facebook, you can pin important tweets to the top of your Tweets page, which automatically breathes greater life into your best ones.

Be realistic: don't expect days from your tweets: minutes and hours are what you'll get, unless you advertise.

Take advantage of the fast-paced nature of Twitter: tweet often and make it easy to do by developing a system allowing you to spend a few minutes a day scheduling tweets and replying to people engaging with you.

Summary

The greatest investment you can make in your content marketing strategy is to focus on your blog: it has the greatest staying power of any form of content.

Then use social networks to extend the life of your blog post: continue to use the social networks where your audience hangs out, and use the longevity tips I've shared here to maximize the life of your social media posts.

Content is the marketing multi-tool of the 21st century: make yours the best it can be, and then ensure it lasts.  That's what separates the great brands from the rest.

TUTORIAL: How to Automate Blogging (for People Who Hate to Blog)

Ever wish your blog posts could write themselves?

Do you hate to blog? (No worries — I have LOTS of clients who feel the same way.)

This tutorial is going to change your life. Literally.

In this epic article, you'll learn how to put your own blog posts on autopilot: they'll create themselves with little-to-no interaction from you, freeing up your time for family, travel, or other work projects you actually enjoy.

Here's the background: I'm an art quilter, watercolor artist, and author of eight published books. Socialmediaonlineclasses.com is my full-time business, and my art is how I relax.  I now have so many watercolor paintings I wanted to offer some of them for sale on a blog.  But I really don't have time to do yet another blog.

So I systemized the entire blog post creation process: all I do is take a photo of the watercolor painting, and the system takes over from there. It uploads the photo to the blog, adds a title, what type of painting it is (landscape, floral, etc), the price, and even sends it to an e-commerce site where it's listed for sale as well.

one click blog post instagram to blog post zapier automation preview

I created this entire blog post with a single click from my smartphone

THE FINAL BLOG POST

Here's what the final blog post looks like, with each element identified:

one click blog post instagram to blog post zapier automation

Here's what the artwork's automatic listing looks like on the Daily Paintworks e-commerce site:

one click blog post dailypaintworks automation

Let me be clear: this entire process, from uploading the photo, to creating the blog post, to adding the blog post categories, to creating the e-commerce listing on Daily Paintworks was automated by the system I developed.  The only thing I had to do was add a PayPal button to the blog post (which I did later).

Total time for creating the blog post? Less than 1 minute.​

Here's a quick table of contents so you can click the links to go directly to the section you need:​

CREATING YOUR WORDPRESS BLOG POST AUTOMATION

1. Tools You'll Need

First, let's talk about what tools you'll need to create your own one-click blog post system. Most of you know I'm not a "tools" person, so I've kept it simple:

  • ​a smartphone
  • ​image on your smartphone
  • ​Instagram
  • ​WordPress blog
  • Zapier (free)
  • ​if you want to systemize the e-commerce portion of the blog post, you'll need to use a platform that imports your blog posts automatically.  Daily Paintworks does this and costs $12/mo.

​If you don't have images for your blog, check out the  DIY Stock Photo Library and Canva tutorials I offer.

2. Upload a Photo to Instagram

The one-click blog post system starts when I upload a photo to Instagram from my smartphone.  

I add a caption and a unique tag that identifies this post as the one I want to go to my blog:

wordpress blog post automation from instagram

The unique #mariapeagler tag is what triggers this Instagram post to go to my blog automatically

That's all there is to it for Instagram.  Pretty easy, huh?

Then Zapier takes over . . . 

3. Automate the WordPress Blog Post Using Zapier

This is where the magic happens. 

By creating one Zapier automation (they call it a zap), my blog posts are automatically created by Zapier every time I upload a photo to Instagram that uses the #mariapeagler hashtag.

Here's how it works:

  • ​I develop a new zap in Zapier using my Instagram account and my WordPress blog (shown below).
  • ​Anytime I upload a photo to Instagram, Zapier checks it for the #mariapeagler hashtag. If it finds it ...
  • ​... it creates a new blog post on mariapeagler.com using the Instagram image and caption.  It adds several default categories (these are the paintings I do the most) to the blog post.
  • ​Zapier publishes the blog post immediately.  The Zapier zap is shown below:

Here's how to create the zap (automation):

First, create the Trigger, which is a new Instagram image using the hashtag #mariapeagler:

one click blog post zapier instagram wordpress Socialmediaonlineclasses

Second, I create a Filter, allowing me to specify that only images from my account should be used (preventing the automation from using images tagged #mariapeagler from other accounts):

one click blog post zapier instagram wordpress Socialmediaonlineclasses

Finally, I create the Action, which is to create the WordPress blog post from the tagged Instagram image:

one click blog post zapier instagram wordpress Socialmediaonlineclasses

I save the zap, name it, and turn it on.

Now I can create a blog post in less than one minute by uploading an image to Instagram, tagging it #mariapeagler, adding a caption, and I'm done!

Here's another example of a blog post created by this Zapier automation:

one click blog post instagram to wordpress zapier automation

This blog post was created automatically from an Instagram post & Zapier

5. Set Up Daily Blog Feed Imports to an E-Commerce Website

Daily Paintworks is an e-commerce website allowing you to sell your artwork on their platform.  It's an excellent way for artists to increase their visibility, sell their artwork, and expand their brand outside of their local/regional area.

I add my blog feed URL to my Account Information and check the box stating I want it to pull my blog posts at midnight every day:

daily paintworks RSS feed

In my Account Information, I tell DailyPaintworks the URL of my blog feed

Daily Paintworks then automatically creates a listing for my art. I don't have to lift a finger:

daily paintworks grid

Every one of these listings was created by Daily Paintworks by importing my blog feed

CREATE BLOG POSTS FROM TEXT OR VIDEO

If you don't have an image for your blog post, you can still automate the process using other content & applications.  Here are just a few from Zapier letting you automatically create a blog post from Gmail, a Google Doc, or a YouTube video:

Additional Zapier Automations for Blog Posts

zapier gmail wordpress

Create a blog post from content in a Gmail email

zapier google docs wordpress
zapier youtube wordpress

VIDEO TUTORIAL: A ONE-CLICK BLOG POST (10 MIN)

Here's a video tutorial demonstrating the entire process, from creating the Zapier automation to uploading the photo to Instagram to the automatic blog post.  Let me know what you automate to your blog in the comments below, and happy automating!

In the video I promised I would include the code you need for the Instagram image to show up in your WordPress blog post.  It goes in the Content field of your Instagram automation:

INSTAGRAM IMAGE CONTENT AUTOMATION CODE

Be sure to add the Instagram photo URL in between the quotes.​

EXTRA CREDIT: CHANGE BLOG POST TITLE & ADD PAYPAL BUTTON

You've learned the basic process of automating a WordPress blog post from a single Instagram image using nothing but a hashtag & a Zapier automation, requiring no customization from you.

Want the titles to be unique? Want a PayPal button so people can buy immediately? Here's how:

  • If you'd like to give each blog post an individual title, you can edit the post within WordPress to do so.
  • If you'd like to add a PayPal button to the post, you can add it at the same time you change the post title.
  • You can also add the PayPal button in DailyPaintworks by going into your MyPaintworks and selecting which PayPal option you'd like.

I normally do these customizations once a month, so I can change multiple blog posts at the same time:


RELATED POSTS

How to Write a Blog Post in 10 Minutes Flat: Content Generation in the Real World

Our Content Marketing Made Simple bonus webinar is a favorite with our members here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com. I generate a LOT of content here:  what you see in this blog is only about 10% of it.  Our members get access to our classes, infographics, webinars and way more.

How do I do it as a busy entrepreneur, wife, and mom?  I fit my business into my life.  I actively look for snippets of time I can use to work on content while I'm doing something else as well.

Here's a brief look at the tactics I've developed to create cornerstone content in just 10 minutes.   Timestamps & transcript are below the video:

00:15:  10-Minute Content - how we do it

00:25:  Dictate Content (I do this while walking on my treadmill desk and in carpool line!)

01:15:   My Favorite App for Dictating Content

01:26:  How I Dictate Content — Step-by-Step

02:59:  How to Get Content from the C-Suite Easily

03:40:  Create Content Using Templates (tip from when I managed a group of writers)

04:16:  Use Templates for Blog Posts, Images, Slide Decks, Audio, & Video

05:30:  Repurpose Your Best Content

05:45:  Examples of How We Repurpose Content Here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com

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Transcript

Now I know you’re all wondering about number 3, 10 Minute Content. Is it really possible or is it a gimmick? Well, ladies and gentlemen, it is possible and here’s how. You can dictate your content into your smartphone. I do this frequently. I don’t do it every time, but, I have set up for myself a treadmill desk and I do it so that I can get my exercise in so I’m not sitting in front of a computer all the time and I also do it sometimes in carpool line. You know, I’m sitting in carpool waiting to pick up my kids, you know, I’m not talking on the phone but I am talking into my phone and I’m going to show you how you too can do this.

You can dictate into your smartphone using an app. Now, there are several apps that you can use for this. I use Evernote, which I’m sure you’ve heard of, it’s a wildly popular note taking app, but you can also use dictation apps like Dragon Dictation, there are lots of apps that you can use and here’s how you do it. In Evernote, when I’m creating a new note, it has the cursor right here and it’s ready for me to type on my smartphone. Now, I’ve got my smartphone here and I’m doing it this way. Instead of typing it, I click on this microphone button here and I talk into my smartphone and Evernote will take 30 seconds of dictation and transcribe it into text. Now, if you’re doing this in a relatively quiet room it does an excellent job, I’m actually amazed at how well it does. If you’re in a loud room, not so much, but you can dictate 30 seconds of content at a time and then at the end of that 30 seconds, it will paste that content in, you just click on that microphone again, and you dictate your next 30 seconds of content and by doing that you have saved yourself a ton of time typing in a blog post or a white paper or a PowerPoint presentation and then, you can copy and paste this into WordPress or Word or whatever it is that you are using to create your content. You can even email this to yourself. So that’s one way of creating 10 minute content is by dictating it into your smartphone.

Let me also tell you, if you are a small business owner or if you are someone who is in a small business who is tasked with doing social media and it’s really hard to get your CEO’s time, this is a way that you can do this. Go to lunch, you know, when you’re in the car on the way to a meeting, you know, something like that, interview the CEO, you know, get him or her to talk, you know, do an interview, do it by phone there are actually phone apps that you can use, that I’ve used, to do interviews and then you can have that transcribed. You know, doing something orally is actually a really quick way to generate content for people who are just super busy.

The second way that you can create 10 minute content is to use templates. Now, I can tell you that we did this a lot when I was at ExecuTrain(?) and I was managing a team of about seven technical writers. We didn’t create anything from scratch. We did everything from a template and it saved so much time and I still do it now. It helps not only maintain quality and consistency if you have multiple people generating your content, it also saves a lot of time. You can have a template for any type of content that you create. My blog posts, many of them I use, I create starting with a template, especially the ones that are announcing my bonus webinars, that’s the same blog post every time, I just change out the content and the image for the webinar. All of my infographics and checklists I start with a template. I will take a template then fill in the new content and change the colors. Same thing with multimedia, this presentation came from a template. I didn’t even create the template, I purchased it and somebody else did the design and I filled it in. You can do the same thing with videos, you can get a video intro for your business, you can get music for your podcast, and use those over and over again. That helps with your branding and it also cuts down on the amount of time that it takes for you to create that content.

Thirdly, and finally, the last thing that you can do to generate 10 minute content is to repurpose your best content and I’m going to give you some examples of this. Whenever I do a bonus webinar, like this one, you get this content in several forms. It probably started out as an article, but you’ll get the video replay, you get an audio file, and the audio file doesn’t take me any time to do. When I’m editing the video, all I do is save this as an audio file and it takes one minute to do. That does not take a long time. Then I also repurpose the content in an infographic or checklist. So you can take your content, in the way that’s easiest for you to create it and then outsource it or delegate it to a staff member to have them repurpose it into whatever content is best for your audience. If you’re a business to business brand then you would look at doing a white paper or a PowerPoint presentation. If you’re a business to consumer brand, you would look at doing images, possibly some infographics or a video.

Small Business Content Marketing [Case Study]: How to Turn One Major Piece of Content into a Month’s Worth of Marketing

small biz case study fi2Last week I shared with you my content generation & marketing secrets that simplify social media marketing.

This week, you get a case study of how a small business can build one major piece of content and use it as the basis for a month’s worth of content and social media marketing.

Case Study: Your First Business Video Webinar

Every month I offer a members-only webinar focusing on tactics that apply to all social networks. In Oct. 2013, it was Your First Business Video: a webinar demonstrating how simple it can be to make your first video, which most small businesses find incredibly intimidating.

While the webinar was members-only content, I used it as the foundation for a month’s worth of related content & social media marketing, including:

Blog post announcing the members-only webinar

Because I offer a new webinar every month, the blog post is basically the same.  I duplicated the previous month’s post and changed the webinar details:

Blog post announcing webinar, created from a template

Blog post announcing webinar, created from a template

Social media posts

I shared across all social networks to announce the webinar, give member reminders, and offer best member takeaways from the webinar:

content marketing sm content marketing twitter content marketing twitter 2
Images and infographics

I created a webinar announcement image and two infographics.  I created these from templates, which sped up the process considerably.  I updated the content & colors to reflect the new webinar:
bonus webinar first video
youtube infographic
youtube checklist

Blog post on colleague’s website

Mary Ellen Miller guest posted at my local social media blog in 2011 on How to Be Comfortable on Camera.  She was excited about the checklist I developed for the webinar (based on her guest post and video), and shared it on her blog MarketingMel.

Members-only video and audio

Ultimately the main piece of content was the webinar itself, from which I developed these members-only content resources:

  • Webinar video replay
  • the “first business video” example I recorded as a demo during the webinar
  • Mary Ellen Miller’s How to Be Comfortable on Camera video (not developed by me)
  • Audio .mp3 file of the webinar
Socialmediaonlineclasses.com members-only videos & audio

Socialmediaonlineclasses.com members-only videos & audio

 

I could have taken this even farther, and still could in the future.  The possibilities for repurposing this content are immense.

Simplify by using a template for content & images

The secret to simplifying content generation and marketing is to use a template for blog posts and images.  The majority of the work is up front in creating the original template: once you have that, all you do is change the content to suit your new topic.

I used a template for the webinar announcement blog post & image, webinar video intro, infographics, and checklists.

How do they simplify the process?

The blog post template has all the content, subheads, and copywriting I need. I duplicate it every month, updating the details  for the new webinar and hit publish. That takes less than 10 minutes.

My infographics have a distinct branded Socialmediaonlineclasses.com look & feel: the size & shape remain the same. I changed the colors and the content to reflect the new topic. I got bonus points for sharing on colleague Mary Ellen Miller’s website.

My images also have a distinct branded look.  Again, I changed the text to reflect the new webinar topic and uploaded them to my website and social networks.

If content generation isn’t your strength, you can train an employee or outsource to a contractor to use this repeatable process.  Purchasing a membership for them here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com is a cost-effective method for your business to train your staff at their own pace.

How you can adapt this case study for your own small business

Small businesses need to be ruthless about how they spend their time and resources. That’s why this process works beautifully for you:  using templated content for blog posts and images saves an incredible amount of time.

It’s also a repeatable process easily completed by your social media manager: that could be a small agency, someone in-house, or even yourself.

They key to making this process relevant & applicable for your business is to identify your main piece of content and what related content you can develop from it.  The form that content will take will be determined by your market:

  • Business-to-business (B2B) company? A presentation or a white paper is perfect for your audience
  • Business-to-consumer (B2C) company? A blog post or infographic works best for your readers
  • both B2B and B2C can use images and video across all social networks.

How to Develop Your Cornerstone Content

Generating that main piece of content is what this entire process depends on.  It’s the foundation that supports the rest of your content & social media marketing.

What’s the secret to developing an impressive piece of content quickly and simply?

That’s what you’ll learn in the February bonus webinar:  Content Marketing Made Simple.  I’ll be sharing my secrets, including:

  • how to brainstorm content ideas for your entire year
  • the secret to writing a detailed blog post in only 10 minutes
  • how to easily schedule your content so you’re always on track
  • how to outsource content creation if you don’t have time

The webinar is a $297.00 value, free for Socialmediaonlineclasses.com members in February.  I look forward to helping you in your content marketing efforts!

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