Tag Archives: content

Who owns your content and why does it matter?

This shouldn’t even be a question right? Assuming your website or app is your own, it’s all certainly your content, right?

Not so fast.

Some platforms and approaches to websites or apps can rob you of the return you deserve for creating good content. Here are two very common examples.

First, we’ll look at rental websites. I can’t tell you how many companies have come to TKG over the years needing a new website with an urgent need to abandon their old one on a hard timeline. Often the reason for this dilemma is what I call “rental websites.” In other words companies that offer you a very low cost website for a minimal monthly cost. The problem with these solutions more often than not? The fine print. The provider is usually leasing you the platform and design, many times they even have rights to your actual content. They may sound fantastic: “fully hosted solution” … “turnkey websites” … “low-cost, do-it-yourself website.” They sound simple enough, but when it comes time to upgrade or move on, companies often find their hands tied when they realize they didn’t own their own website. That makes carrying your strategy forward much more difficult and expensive, especially if you’ve already gotten some traction.

Next, let’s look at subdomains. A subdomain is often used in inexpensive sites and some “apps.” If your site does not live at your domain, that can be a real problem. Let’s pretend you have a mobile site at a domain other than your own. It might look like “yourcompanyname.nameoftheappprovider.com.” From a search engine’s perspective, all of the content there belongs with the root domain it is associated with, which in this case would be “nameoftheappprovider.com.” So while you may legally own your content, the search engines don’t see it that way – and for good reason. This means that all the while that you think you are building, promoting, advertising and linking to all the great content in your app or website, you’re really just promoting content that isn’t ultimately associated with your brand. How much sense does that make? Some of these software providers may even attempt to tell you that Google and search are no longer relevant. If anyone tells you this, or you read it in their content, do yourself a favor and excuse them from your office and return to Google to continue your search for a digital partner.

I know no one wants to think about all of the geeky stuff that makes your online presence successful for your business. But it couldn’t be more important to get it right so you aren’t throwing your money away.

Feel free to contact me – or anyone on my team – if you have any questions about how it all works. We’re happy to talk geek, and can translate it to real English pretty well, too.

Own the Space You’re In

When it comes to effective content marketing, it’s important to establish your brand as a trusted resource for content that is relevant to your industry. Instead of creating content that is just trying to make a sale, try creating relevant content your audience actually wants to seek out. Whether your content is educational, helpful, entertaining or persuasive, you need to make sure it resonates with your audience and stands out from the competition.

CM

Ways to own the space you’re in:

Brand Journalism
By writing your own authoritative content or curating articles from reputable third party sources, you are able to establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry. If there are no editorial authorities in your area of expertise, start your own conversation – possibly through a blog, podcast or video series.

Social Media
Consistent and compelling social media is one of the best ways to gain exposure to your editorial brand content. Effective social media is visual, interactive and draws users in with headlines that make them curious to learn more. Don’t expect these messages to lead directly to sales; this content adds value in a different way. It helps tell your brand’s story and explains how that story fits into your audience’s interests and lifestyle.

Audience Focus
When you set your content strategy, don’t just think about ways your content will help you sell products or generate leads. Think about the types of information your customers will actually find useful. If you are a razor company, try creating content about men’s heath and grooming (Dollar Shave Club does this really well). If you are a clothing retailer, try creating fashion and lifestyle content (Modcloth is a leader in this space). By creating content that your audience actually wants to interact with, you will make huge strides in establishing brand recognition and customer loyalty.

To sum it up, we recommend content that meets your audience where they are. Your audience wants you to speak to them in a way that is informative, engaging and not overtly promotional. Trust us, when you give them the content they want, your audience will return the favor with likes, comments, shares and repeat purchases.

Want to own the space you’re in? Contact TKG and discover new ways to elevate your digital presence.

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Update Your WordPress (Because Security)

There are a number of reasons to keep WordPress up to date. The main one is security. Sure, it’s nice to have updated plugins and features, but that should come second. The most important features of updating your WordPress would primarily be security, with an added benefit of increased plugin features

.wordPress-ecurity-advices

One of the most popular plugins to install is WordPress SEO by Yoast. This is a great plugin that is designed to provide WordPress sites with the ability to be fully optimized. The plugin also keeps the various SEO optimizations in a simple format. There are two main fields, SEO Title and Meta Description. The SEO Title is one of the main factors that go into search rankings, as it provides both a name and expectations for the content within. The Meta Description is the snippet of information that comes up in a search result, and is best used as a summary of the page with some level of a Call-to-Action.

The other two main features of the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin are the Snippet Preview and Focus Keyword. The Snippet Preview allows you to see an estimate of what the organic search result will be for the page you’re optimizing in WordPress. The Focus Keyword helps to ensure keyword consistency in the page; it is not a Meta Keyword field (which is not at all recommended for use).

All of these pieces compile to make a plugin that provides a good level of benefit for its users. I have seen a number of updates come through for the SEO plugin with updated features and fixes. While these are all well and good, there was one glaring issue recently, security.

We recommend you update your WordPress and plugins at a minimum of every month, if you can. In case you missed it, WPScan discoverd a security exploit in the WordPress SEO plugin for un-updated versions in early March. The un-updated versions of the plugin are vulnerable to Blind SQL Injections. In brief, this security issue could lead to an individual to attack and compromise the entire site. There is a new security fix (version 1.7.4) for the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. I recommend updating this plugin right away.

There are a number of plugins and other add-ons for WordPress that can make the platform easier to use, or expand its overall use. Make sure your WordPress site and plugins are up-to-date to avoid new security risks!

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Want Great Content? Do What You’re Already Doing

One of the biggest concerns I hear when it comes to content is “But we don’t know what to put out there.”

I get it. When you’re involved in the day to day tasks of running your business, it’s tough to think of creating content.

Fortunately, it’s likely you already have good things going on that you can re-purpose, re-use or recycle to make great content. OR, alternatively, you can add something simple to your daily routine that turns into regular content.

But first, allow me to give you a little inspiration.

You might have heard of a little TV hit called Glee, a weekly show about misfit high school students finding their place in the world through music. Maybe you’re a “Gleek” or maybe you think the show is the silliest thing this side of Fonzie jumping the shark, but there’s no denying that this show set a new precedent in cross-channel content marketing.

glee

In fact, ratings aside (which were great the first few seasons), this show set records with singles, albums and even live tours. For instance:

  • The first ever single released by the cast, “Don’t Stop Believin’” received platinum status with over one million sold
  • The cast overtook Elvis Presley as the fastest act ever to have 20 top 40 hits in just 57 weeks (Elvis was 88)
  • By 2011, just two years after the show aired, they had over 36 million digital single sales worldwide
  • By 2011, they had 11 million album sales worldwide
  • The show has several reality spinoffs, DVD and Blu-Ray releases, an iPad app and karaoke games for Wii
  • In 2011, a live tour kicked off…and of course, it wasn’t just a live tour. A concert film based on the tour was released shortly after the tour ended
  • The show has hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide who now create content about the show, often uploading tributes, songs and other manifestations of their fandom to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter
  • And how’s this for power? The casts’ cover of Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” actually increased sales of Rihanna’s original single by 189%

Glee also inspired the mega-hits of Nashville and Empire, country and hip-hop nighttime soap operas, respectively. These shows also release albums and merchandise based on the music written and performed for the show. Nashville, now in its third season, has released TEN albums, the first of which reached number one on US charts.

Now, I’m not saying you need to release an album for your business (though that could be fun!).

What I am saying is that it’s likely that you’re already doing things for your business that could easily translate to content you can use to market yourself (and maybe even generate more revenue). Glee didn’t create “extra” music to give to the masses…they already had it within the premise of the show; they just figured out new ways to distribute it.

Here are a few ideas to create content from the regular things you do for your business:

  1. Do you release a newsletter? Each news item could be re-used as a mini blog post, told as a quick 60 second update to an iPhone video recorder, or recorded as part of a podcast series.
  2. Do you often answer the same questions for customers over and over? Create an infographic with great visual answers, start a helpful podcast that discusses and educates people on your industry, or start a “Pro Tips” section on your website.
  3. Do you have a dynamic and engaging individual in your company who loves working for you? Give this individual freedom and creative space to create short videos, take photos and post to your Social channels for you, about you!
  4. Does your company have a rich history, complete with old photos or videos left sitting in a box or lonely hard drive? Scan photos and release them regularly to your Facebook page or Instagram account with the hashtag #tbt to give customers a glimpse of all the great things that make you, YOU. It’s especially fun if you work in a technical field and you can show how far you’ve come!
  5. Does your company have a process you do every day? Document this process every day or week with a photo, then show the collage one month, six months or a year later!
  6. Do you have a customer or two that just LOVES what you do? Invite this individual to create content for you, either by showing off how your product or service works, or giving a testimonial.
  7. Do you have a series of pdfs or articles about a certain subject in your industry? Combine and edit this information as a free digital whitepaper that prospects can download in exchange for an email address.
  8. Do you have a core group of very loyal customers who buy your product regularly? Consider creating a membership club where these customers get “insider access” to special prices, exclusive products, and of course, short videos, articles or podcast episodes that talk about how you created something special for them.
  9. Do you have a salesperson or leader within your company who is especially knowledgeable about your products, trends in the industry, or common problems? Record a weekly podcast where this individual discusses a topic for 15-20 minutes. Upload to Soundcloud, Stitcher or iTunes at the same time every week and invite customers and prospects to listen and share.
  10. Does your company work with the same vendors time and time again? Profile your vendors on video or on your blog, ask them to explain why they love your working relationship, and post to your respective Social channels.

I’m sure there are many more regular things that you’re already doing in your business that can be converted to content. Don’t overthink! When it comes to content, there’s no need to re-invent the wheel. Nashville has now released two albums of songs by a particular cast member…after those songs already appeared on another album.

It just goes to show you, sometimes content is just about showcasing something you’ve already done in a new and interesting way. So what are YOU already doing?

SEO Tips for PDFs

PDFs, just like HTML pages, can rank in search engines. Accordingly, it is important that PDF optimization is part of your comprehensive strategy for search engine performance. Here are some helpful SEO tips for PDFs:

Save the PDF as Text Based

When creating a new PDF, be sure to save the file as text based, rather than a flat image. Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign allow for this whereas scanning a hard copy of a document will not. From Google’s Webmaster Central blog: The general rule of the thumb is that if you can copy and paste the text from a PDF document into a standard text document, we should be able to index that text.

Optimize PDF Properties

When creating a PDF, there are a number of text properties that should be defined prior to loading to a website. These include title, author, subject, and keywords. To access these, go to File > Properties. Here are some thoughts and recommendations for each of these fields:

  • Title
    • These are similar to the title tags on HTML pages and should follow similar best practices.
    • PDF titles can appear as part of search results
    • Answer this question: How would you name this content?
    • Include a relevant keyword that has search volume
  • Author
    • This field is designated for the creator of the article.
    • Use this space to reference the business, organization, or the individual who deserves credit for the work.
  • Subject
    • The subject field in a PDF is similar to the meta description on HTML pages.
    • Try to keep this field to 150 characters or less
    • Include a call to action
    • Include a relevant keyword that has search volume
  • Keywords
    • As we’ve mentioned on TKgenius, including meta keywords in HTML pages offers no SEO value. This is likely the case for the keyword properties in PDFs as well.
    • If you choose to fill in this field in the PDF properties, separate each keyword with commas and avoid stuffing with similar keywords.

PDF SEO

SEO-friendly File Name

Many content management systems generate the URL based on the file name.  Therefore, when saving the PDF, there are several guidelines to follow:

  • Save the file with a relevant file name (not draft17FINAL2015revisionB.pdf)
  • Separate words with dashes and use lowercase text
  • Avoid overly lengthy file names
  • Include a relevant keyword

Hyperlink Text in the PDF

Include hyperlinks in the PDF that link to relevant detail pages within your site that contain more info. For example, at the end of the PDF, include a call to action such as Request a quote that goes to your request a quote form on your website.

Include Keywords in the Content

Just like a traditional HTML page, include relevant keywords in the copy itself. In general, identify a few overall keywords that define the theme of the content (use the Google Keyword Planner tool to see if the phrases are popular), write the article in its entirely, then review what was written to find a few opportunities to tastefully include keywords where appropriate.

Optimize Anchor Text to the PDF

Once the PDF is loaded to the website, be sure to find appropriate locations across your site to link to the new PDF. When linking to the PDF, avoid linking text such as “Learn More” or “download this PDF” and instead hyperlink the actual words that discuss the content. For example: link the words “optimize PDFs for search engines” in the sentence: Learn how to optimize PDFs for search engines.

By following the guidelines above, you’ll ensure the PDFs on your website are SEO friendly.

Above (and Below) the Fold

For years I would preach about keeping all relevant content “above the fold” on the home page. If you are unfamiliar with the phrase, it simply refers to the area presented to visitors when a web page loads in the browser window. Wikipedia might explain it a little better. Anything included below the fold was most certainly lost forever. Never to be seen again. Yikes!

Why did I hammer this concept home for several years? Because it was truly believed that people didn’t like to scroll down a page to find what they were looking for. And maybe that was true way back when.

I think that concept is one dimensional and isn’t very true anymore.

While you still want to keep your biggest message on top, you can include many details on a page and people WILL scroll if they are motivated to find out more. Another reason to disregard my old advice is because search engines look at the entire page and index content no matter where it’s at. If it’s relevant, then it deserves a place at the table.

I think a large player in this arena is the adoption of smart phones and the necessity to scroll on those devices. People have become accustomed to viewing websites on smaller screens with the need to scroll. Have you ever spent 5 (or 60) minutes scrolling through Facebook? Yep, you’ll just keep going without any worry.

Scroll On

If you’ve lived in fear of the fold maybe it’s time to reconsider things. You may be missing an opportunity to get great, relevant content on your home page that will ultimately help convert potential customers. Not sure where to start? Call us and we can look at your website together.

 

Is Your Website Ready for the New Year? 5 Things You Need to Update

2015All year long you’ve been working on online marketing efforts, putting time and money into your website. We are sure 2014 has been one of your best years ever.

As you head into 2015 and plan to make this next year even better, there are a few items to focus on to meet your new business goals. So we polled our experts and looked back through our archives this year to bring you the top 5 things to think about for your website in 2015

  1. Responsive Design

If your website is not easily accessed from or adaptable to any mobile device, or if you’ve been using mobile workarounds, or if you hear the term “responsive design” and say “huh?” then it’s absolutely time for a change.

(Seriously. We cannot emphasize this one enough.)

With more and more customers approaching access to the Web fluidly from any device, it’s more important than ever that your information and products be accessible and viewable on any screen.

Not only is the user experience of responsive design important, but there are SEO and business benefits as well. In fact, Google recommends responsive design for your website.

Want to learn more? Our TKGeniuses have covered responsive design in depth over the last year. Take a look:

An Introduction to Responsive Design

How TKG Integrates Responsive Design

How Responsive Design Impacts Online Marketing

Responsive Design Tips

SEO Benefits to Responsive Design

  1. Updated Online Marketing Tactics

No matter how good your online marketing strategy is currently working for you, it’s always wise to review your efforts and update them if necessary.

For example, you might place an emphasis on customer service in your business and have your 800 number prominently displayed in your utility navigation on your website. But have you thought about capturing customers sooner with the added convenience of live chat?

Or what about the use of opt-in SMS messaging for coupons or reminders? Sending some of your online ad budget toward Clickbank or Commission Junction? Custom landing pages for specific articles or capture opportunities (e.g. grabbing customers from a trade show)? YouTube, Facebook or Twitter ads? Sponsored Pins on Pinterest? Instagram contests?

If you have an idea, a niche audience or an upcoming campaign, consider tactics that may not have once been a part of your regular online marketing strategy.

Just to get you started, here are a few articles from TKGenius:

Why Manufacturers Should Consider E-Commerce

The New Shift in Online Marketing Trends

3 Reasons Pinterest is Good for Business

Long Tail Ads on YouTube

Keeping Track with Tag Assistant

  1. Clean Up

OK, when was the last time you audited your product listings and made sure every photo was up to date, compelling and showed your product accurately? How about the last time you went through your descriptions and updated them? Or–gasp–are you still listing products you no longer carry?

What about your forms? Are you still using tiny boxes with hard to read fields, or requiring information that makes it hard for customers to fill them out easily?

Do you always remember to update your copyright year on your website? What about your profiles on Social Media? Do they currently reflect your current brand message?

Auditing your site can take time, but is well worth the effort. Here are even more helpful articles from our experts:

Unique Content for Product Descriptions

Product Descriptions that Convert

3 Types of Content to Include In Your Product Descriptions

  1. Messaging

What message is your website REALLY conveying? Is it consistent with your overall brand message?

It’s easy for brands to overlook their messaging online. Cluttered homepages, mis-matched logos across Social profiles, and landing pages that are all text actually detract from your overall message.

We’ve often found that many businesses are really good with their print messaging, but, for whatever reason, this messaging gets lost online. Part of the problem is due to feeling like everything needs to fit on one screen, instead of strategically using content, images, SEO or other tactics to funnel a visitor exactly where you want them.

Making your product or service offering the center of attention and erring on the side of minimalism in your design is actually a better way to convey your message. It’s also easy to employ the use of sidebar stickies or custom slider photos or videos to convey your message. And don’t forget the use of your blog or Social Media to reinforce your message regularly.

And of course:

3 Clever Messaging Tweaks to Grow Your Business

Avoiding Outdated Web Design

Revisiting Website Strategy

Using Video

Improve Conversions with Funneling

  1. Content

Unless you’ve been ignoring the online marketing sphere for, oh, the last eight years or so, you’ve probably heard the term “content” or “content marketing” at some point. But as both consumers, marketers and Google are getting more savvy, regularly publishing compelling content that truly reflects your brand and your message is more important than ever.

So does your content truly show your brand’s personality? Is it communicating your message and promotions clearly? Is it relatable and easy to understand? Does it work in harmony on all your channels? Does it include all types of content, especially multi-media?

Here are just a few articles (of the many) to help you create your best year ever in content:

21 Tips to Make Your Content Marketing More Effective

5 Ways to Use Content to Increase Engagement

What To Do With Past Content

How to Market Your Content Off-Site

3 Inspiring Creative Content Marketing Campaigns

We want 2015 to be your best year online yet. Use these last few weeks of 2014 to comb through and evaluate your website and make tweaks (or major changes!) if needed.

5 Un-Tapped Content Resources in Your Own Business

We get it. Sometimes content creators are departments of one. Even if you have a few more on your team, constantly creating new content can be a challenge for small marketing and content departments.

Fortunately for smaller departments, it’s likely that you have untapped content resources right in your own business. Here are five you can seek out today:

  1. Your Boss

    What vision does your CEO, boss or founder have for your company this year? In five years? In ten? What did he or she dream about before taking this role or position? What does he or she believe will never change about the core values of your company?It might be difficult to get a fresh blog post from a busy supervisor or leader each week, but think of creative ways you can use your boss’ voice in your communication with your customers. Key leaders within your company likely have a bigger picture of your products or services. How can you use this picture to supplement your content?

  1. Your Co-Workers

    Whether you simply highlight your co-workers in an employee spotlight feature, or whether you identify natural content creators in other departments, your fellow employees can be a great help in your content efforts.We often conduct content ideation sessions with a cross-section of employees from the entire company. We’ve found that while marketers have their finger on the pulse of company messaging, other employees bring a unique perspective of the company based on their day to day dealings with customers, other employees or your product and service. How does your administrative assistant view the company? How about one of your repairmen who takes customer calls?

    These individuals are key components to how your company runs, and can bring ideas you may not have thought of to your content offerings.

  1. Your Customers

    We often advocate on TKGenius that you poll your customers to get content ideas, or even ask your customers to supply you with content themselves. So, how are they using your product? Are they taking photos of themselves getting a haircut in your salon? Did they recently enjoy one of your events and tell their friends about it on Social Media?Not only will your customers give you great ideas for content, they are often great content creators without even knowing it. One of our clients asks customers to submit photos of themselves or their children enjoying the brand’s snack foods, then features these customers on their Facebook page. These posts are always fun, and are often the most liked and shared on the page. All the administrator needs to do is post the photo and write a quick caption.

    Bottom line: your customers can save you time and give you the inside scoop on which content best suits them.

  1. Your History

    #tbt! Does your company keep copies of old newsletters? What about old photos, past versions of your products or old videos? All of this content can be resurrected to serve your current content efforts.For example, one of our clients has been in business for over 100 years. We regularly help them publish their vintage advertising campaigns, past photos and previous product iterations on both Social Media and their website. Customers appreciate these glimpses into the past, because they know they’re getting a quality product with a long history of success.

  1. Your Processes Your Processes

    How are your products made? Are there aspects of your production you could show customers? What about how you take calls? What part of “behind the scenes” might your customers like to know and understand? Do you have an interesting inter-office culture you could showcase? What about a specific event or charity your employees like to support?Transparency, when possible, is a powerful way to build trust with your customers. While you may not be able to show exactly how a product makes it from point A to point B, you might be able to show what it looks like when you pack a box to ship, or how a salesperson greets a customer.

    One of our clients will sometimes show through photos what a window installation looks like on a home. Customers appreciate this insight of the service because it both shows how knowledgeable our client is, and takes some of the mystery out of the service itself.

    Want more ideas on how to generate content for your business? Sign-up for our next Breakfast Bootcamp on Content Ideation!

    photo source

5 Unique Ways to Jump Start Content Creation

Maybe you’re neck deep in creating your 2015 content calendar, or maybe you’re creating a calendar for the first time. Either way, mapping out content for six months to a year can be a daunting task (here’s hoping you’re not trying to get it done in one fell swoop!).

As you look for inspiration to plan and create your content, it’s easy to run out of ideas, especially when you are immersed in the day to day activities of your brand and business.

Here are five unique ways to jumpstart your content creation when things start to feel a little rote and routine.

  1. Move
    Research shows that movement and exercise helps boost creativity. So when was the last time you got up from your desk and walked around your office? Take time to notice things around your business that seem interesting.Are there facts about your building or physical structure your audience might find interesting? What about people in your organization that are new that you could profile? Or does your company have employees that have worked for a record amount of time? Does your business have a specific culture? Special days, holidays, or employee milestones you observe?Not only will getting up from your area help get the blood flowing to your brain, it will help you notice things about your business you would never see from your office.
  1. Use Your Audience
    If you are not mining your audience for content, you are missing a huge opportunity to not only connect with them, but to also create content you know will land and resonate. Informal Social Media polls, your audience’s frequently asked questions, and even more formal surveys help to give you better insight into the kind of content they want to consume.If your audience is particularly creative or active on Social Media, you can ask them to contribute their content directly to you in the form of a contest (Instagram is a great medium for this tactic), or simply as a way to highlight how they are enjoying your product or service.
  1. Mind Map
    Content Ideas - Mind Mapimage sourceI still regularly mind map for clients, friends and even myself if I want new ideas or a new perspective on a topic or problem. Mind mapping is particularly effective if you are looking to create new categories for content.The best thing about mind mapping, though, is that it’s a simple exercise to complete on your own or with a group. If using a group, invite people outside of your content department to join you…you never know what perspectives about your business they can bring!
  1. Re-Purpose
    No need to re-invent the wheel if you already have a great cache of content. Instead, go back through some of your most popular pieces of content and determine if you can present the content again in a new and fresh way. Can a great blog post be turned into a script for a new video? Can a popular video be re-imagined into an infographic? Can an informative infographic be the basis for a new white paper?Use your imagination and see how you can present content that worked in your past as content that works in your future.
  1. Get Inspired
    That’s right, Pinterest ain’t just for weddings! Keep boards full of photos, articles and videos that inspire you. Pin what your competitors are pinning. Follow your competitors and other companies in your niche or industry.Already Pinterest addicted? Use tools like Feedly to keep tabs on industry articles, blogs and keywords. Or use your walls or whiteboards to gather great photos. And of course, don’t shy away from simply taking in a great concert, art show or inspirational video. Sometimes our brains just need a taste of someone else’s creativity to spark our own.Want more help creating great content for your business? Check out our upcoming Breakfast Bootcamps!

3 Inspiring Creative Content Marketing Campaigns

Let’s be honest, content marketing can be hard. The Internet is a vast place, and it can be a challenge to come up with new, fresh and exciting content targeted to your audience at all points in the sales cycle on a regular basis. (It was exhausting just typing that.)

It’s enough to want to turn exclusively to posting cat memes for the lifespan of your business. At least you know people like cats.

The good news is, there has never been a greater time to really stretch those creative muscles and think outside the box when it comes to your content marketing efforts. Here are three campaigns to get you inspired for your next campaign.

1. Dumb Ways to Die

This campaign is, hands down, one of my favorites. Metro Trains took really important safety information that many commuters would typically miss on yet another boring old sign and gave it a creative twist.

This Melbourne, Australia train company wrapped up that important safety information in a (ridiculously catchy) song and (ridiculously addictive) mobile app. It’s clever, creative, and sure…just a little over the top. But millions of downloads and views later, this campaign is still going strong, and–according to some research (though some critics disagree)–even saving lives.

Of course, to truly be effective with this sort of information, Metro Trains couldn’t rely on just this one piece of content, but as far as simply starting the conversation…well, it has definitely accomplished that goal.

2. Our Food, Your Questions

Speaking of conversations, I think there’s a misconception that “content marketing” is a lonely, one-sided process where a company must constantly churn out information that gets gobbled up by an audience that’s never satisfied.

On the contrary, content marketing can be a two way conversation, with your audience coming up with the content for you.

Enter in McDonald’s Canada with their campaign, “Our Food, Your Questions,” where they bravely (seriously…BRAVELY) answer each of the 300-400 questions they receive every day through their dedicated website.

Our Food Your Questions

The brilliance of this campaign is that they’re allowing the audience to dictate the flow of the conversation. AND they’re not afraid to tackle the hard questions, either, lending even more weight to their willingness to be open and transparent with their audience…which is always a great way to carry on a genuine conversation.

3. Three Words: Van Damme Splits

If you haven’t witnessed the visual sensation that is Jean-Claude Van Damme gracefully performing the splits between two giant Volvo semi trucks to the soothing sounds of Enya, then you must, immediately. Go. I’ll wait.

Here’s the deal…not everyone has the budget to produce a video of that quality. But the real lesson here is, “How can I show one of the key selling points of my business, product or service in a new and unique way?” While the sensational part of the video is of course, Van Damme doing the splits, the bigger message is, “Yep, our trucks make even this craziness possible.”

What campaigns do you love? What inspires you to be creative with your content?