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We’ve Hit the One Hundred Mark

Cahoots MapThis is the blog of our startup website, cahoots.com.  As a startup every landmark, small or large, stands out and needs to be noted and celebrated for it is these steps that form the staircase that leads to your ultimate goal.  Today we are pleased that we have captured the attention of readers in over one hundred countries from Botswana to Bangladesh, Andorra region to Argentina, and small island nations such as the Maldives and the Faroe Islands.  Most of our views have been concentrated in North America, but after some posts went viral we are also seeing hot spots in unanticipated regions such as Spain.  Getting views from nations with high internet penetration rates is less challenging, so we are happy to see that we are reaching countries with lower internet penetration rates or strict censorship, such as China.

Thank you for reading our blog.  We are going live at cahoots.com in less than two weeks and we had hoped we would hit the 100 mark before we launched.  Please continue to read and take a look when we go live in June of 2013.  We hope to hit 100 countries with our product far faster than we did with our blog!

Thanks for Reading,

Cah{o,o}ts

 

How To Write Killer Headlines for Social Media

headlines content marketing

So you’ve crafted a piece of content to share with the world.  Now you have to get them to read it.  Even a book of a thousand pages has to come up with a single clever title to sell itself.  Garnering the attention of readers is more competitive than ever as content sharing platforms increase in popularity and more and more businesses are employing content marketing strategies.  Headlines need to draw attention to your topic, deliver a message, make a promise, and attract the right readers to read the entire copy.  When it comes to social media there is more competition, more research that can be done, and you can use more than one headline.  Here are some facts, tips, and tricks for writing killer headlines for social media:

The Facts:

  • 8 out of 10 people will read a headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will continue to read the rest of the content. 
  • Research has found that you can increase your conversion rate by up to 73 percent by using the right headline (Jeff Bullas).

Important Aspects of a Good Headline:

  • Brevity:  Headlines need to be short, but not too short.  Most search engines cut healdines off after 70 characters and content sharing platforms like Twitter only give you 140 characters total.  However, just because your headline can’t be a paragraph doesn’t mean you have to sell your content short.  Studies have found that headlines containing 10 words have often outshone their shorter counterparts in terms of attracting readers.
  • Clarity:  Your headline should be descriptive and let the reader know what they will be getting by clicking into the rest of the content. Don’t make promises that your content can’t keep.  Do not try to express more than one concept per headline, it is likely to make the headline grow longer and make it confusing.
  • Keywords:  Your headline should contain relevant keywords in order to get the right search engine hits.  When you are torn between a couple of headlines it never hurts to pull out the google keyword tool and determine which one is the most likely to get hits.

Great Types of Headlines:

  • Lists: For example, our article ‘20 Writing Mishaps to Watch Out For
  • How-to’s: For example, our article ‘How to Use Hashtags Effectively
  • Any of the 5 Ws: Who, what, why, when and where. Eg) ‘Why Social Media Is So Addictive
  • Urgency:  A headline with a deadline is sure to create a sense of urgency in the reader.  “Last chance to vote on our new flavours.”
  • Emotive:  Headlines that tap into an emotion are more likely to create a connection with the reader and entice them to read the full copy.  Great emotions for creating a call to action include fear, desire, and laughter.
  • Speed: Headlines that make promises like ‘How to increase your conversion rates in just 10 seconds’ tend to attract a lot of clicks.

Chris Garrett published a useful list titled ‘102 Awesome Headlines for Social Media‘ that can be viewed and downloaded here.

Major Headline Mistakes:

  • Trickery:  Tricking people into reading your content by using a eye-catching but false headline is sure to irritate and confuse people.  Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  • ALL CAPS: Using all capital letters is distracting, obnoxious, and comes across as desperate.
  • Pride:  Don’t use your headline space to make a statement about how great you or your company are.  Quite frankly, most people are more interested in what value you have offer to them than how valuable you consider yourself.
  • Avoid the Ad: Even if your content is somewhat of an advertisement, your headline should not be a blatant advertisement.  People have trained themselves quite well to ignore ads.

Although attracting readers has become more competitive, it has also become easier to research and measure the effects of your headlines.  With print media such as magazines you cannot try multiple headlines on the same audience: you pick one, it gets printed, and you hope for the best. With platforms like Twitter and Facebook you can share your content more than once (preferably not back to back) and see which headline garners more attention.  For example, we published an article titled ’10 interesting stats about moms and social media’ and shared it, also publishing it elsewhere under the title ‘Moms dominate social media’.  The latter title was a hit while the first title has better SEO, but sparked a little less curiosity.

Different Headlines for Different Platforms

Each social media platform has its own mood, and the headline you use for one may not suit another.  Below is an example of how a headline for a blog post may be re-packaged for different platforms:

  1. Blog: The original title of your blog post should be straightforward, keyword rich, and the best for SEO.
  2. Facebook:  More personal, less business oriented.  This is where the more emotive, curiosity invoking variation of your headline may come into play.   Think of a headline that people would be more likely to share with their friends.
  3. LinkedIn: This is where the value proposition, more professional version of your headline comes into play.  People are more likely to share information that is intellectual and useful on LinkedIn.
  4. Twitter:  On twitter you are relying on words alone, no visuals or summaries.  This is where you need to use the most intriguing version of your headline.  Remember, people will often retweet content without even reading it beforehand based on the tweet alone.
  5. Google Plus:  G+  tends to be more community discussion oriented, so asking for an opinion when sharing content is a great way to open up the dialogue about your blog post.
  6. Pinterest:  This platform is highly visual and image based, so the goal of your headline is to have your image found and shared.  You may need to briefly summarize your content into a series of points combined with images in order to prompt people to seek the full information from your blog.  Infographics get shared a lot on Pinterest.

With all of the different ways to share your content these days the quest for the perfect title is both easier and more competitive.  We hope this article has helped you create shareworthy content.

Thanks for reading,

Cah{o,o}ts

<<7 Characteristics of Shareworthy Content

Reasons Every Startup Should Blog

start up blog

A blog is a great way to open up the dialogue between your startup and the online community.  It is something we (Cahoots) have been doing for a few months now while we refine our concept and product.  Our blog has been a fantastic tool, asset, and outlet for us.  We are attracting a growing audience to engage with on a regular basis. As it turns out the biggest advantage isn’t the traffic, it’s the thought, research, feedback, and encouragement that blogging gives us.  Therefore, we recommend blogging as a cornerstone to any startup.  Here’s why:

1.  The Edge: As of December 2012, there are over 634 million websites (Pingdom).  There are an average of 150,000 new websites and 7.3 million pages added to the internet everyday. A blog is just one more way to get an edge and stand out from the competition. Research has found that companies who blog generate 67 percent more leads than those that don’t (Kanguro).

2.  SEO (Search Engine Optimization):  Blogging will dramatically increase your Google Rank.  Blog entries are indexed by Google every day.  When you write about topics that are likely to be searched by your target audience you gain a lot of visibility.

3. Credibility: Blogging is a great way to share expertise. In addition, committing to blogging regularly demonstrates that you are committed to your startup and persistent.  This will make both investors and the online community take you more seriously.

4.  Validation:  A blog is a great way to obtain the validation that your startup is solving a problem in a way that is congruent with your customer’s needs.  Allowing comments on your blog keeps the conversation on your website, though it is good to have them on social media channels too.

5.  Encouragement:  Doing a tech startup involves spending a lot of long hours at the computer, often in solitude.  Sometimes this can get a little lonely.  Watching your content go viral is very reinforcing and fuels the entrepreneurial fire.

6.  Communication Skills:  Writing is a great way to develop your communication skills. Blogging about your startup or topics relevant to your business is a great way to get used to communicating ideas to complete strangers in a clear, concise, and meaningful manner.

7. Learning:  Writing articles designed to be of use to your audience (such as this one) makes you research a topic, get your facts straight, and organize the information.  By taking these steps for your readers you are also organizing the information for yourself and learning along the way.

8.  Attracting Talent:  We’ve had a few super talented people approach us about our startup via our blog and social media channels.  A lot of the most talented professionals out there are very up-to-date, and part of staying current is reading relevant blogs and being on the lookout for trends.  Blogging is a fantastic way to capture the attention of talent.

9.  Inexpensive: A blog can quickly and easily be set up for free.  The biggest cost of blogging is the time consumption, but we think it is very worthwhile.

When we say you should blog about your startup we really do mean you (yourself, your co-founders, or other involved parties), not hiring someone else to write on your behalf.  In the early stages of your business it is very important to be deeply involved with every aspect of its inception.  You’re building an identity, a brand, and a presence.  In addition, the identity of early stage startups is usually somewhat unclear and you will end up spending just as much time communicating your vision to third parties as you would writing it yourself.  However, getting blog posts edited by others, guest bloggers, and having content that is not related to your company written by other writers is okay- just be sure to read it before it is published.

Thanks for Reading,

Cah{o,o}ts

@cahootstweets

How to Create Viral Content

What makes content go viral?

cat content

The answer is cats of course. Funny cat pictures are the secret to viral content.    Just kidding (sort of…).

If there was a simple, surefire way to make your content go viral everyone would be doing it.  Having something go viral to the same degree as the YouTube video ‘Gangnam Style’ is rare and impossible to plan, but there are some things you can do to create virus worthy content and trigger the infection.

Viral content always has one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Evokes an emotion
  • Shock value/Controversial
  • Universal appeal
  • Novelty
  • Extremely cute, funny, or beautiful
  • Useful
  • Famous
  • Actionable
  • Creates bonds when shared

Cats fit three of the above: humor, cuteness, and universal appeal (people all over the world keep cats as pets).

gangnam style

The YouTube hit ‘Gangnam Style‘  features the Korean pop singer, Psy, dancing in various locations in the Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea- an area known for being high-class and luxurious.  Therefore, dancing around Gangnam like a horse was surprising, humorous, and novel. Psy was already famous in South Korea, which helped trigger the viral wave that sent the music video all around the world. The most powerful characteristic of the music video is the dance, which resembles riding a horse.  The dance has universal appeal that transcends language barriers, is very actionable, and allows people to bond over it.  The video  has had over 1.5 billion views.  Of course Psy and the producers of the video were not expecting or planning the level of international success that ‘Gangnam Style’ has attained, but it does have many of the attributes of viral content mentioned.  Psy has acknowledged that it is unlikely that he will ever be able to repeat that level of success with other videos- which points to the elements of luck, randomness, and spontaneity that contribute to virality.

The French have a saying for this intangible quality:  ‘Je ne sais quoi’ (which translates to ‘I don’t know what’).  We can’t help you find out what your magic ingredient is, but we can offer some advice on crafting contagious content:

  • Be Positive:  In general, optimistic content gets shared more than negative content.  People want to be inspired and uplifted- if you can do that you will be rewarded.
  • Be Useful:  Help people solve a problem or grasp a concept.  The people sharing your content will feel as though they have been useful by doing so.
  • Be Original:  Coming across something novel gives people a sense of discovery.  Be the not-so hidden gem.  After something has become popularized we often see a series of copy cat attempts at leveraging it’s success.  It’s better to be the trendsetter than the copy cat.  See 7 Strategies for Creating Original Content>>
  • Be Emotional: Arousing people’s emotions is very powerful.  Incite anger, instill a sense of awe, play off of fear, or catch your readers by surprise.

Once you have checked your content to see that it has one or more of the attributes of viral content, it is time to edit. It is easy for simple flaws to decrease content virality, such as an obvious spelling mitsake, broken link, or missing picture.  Pay some attention to the packaging before you ship it.

Last but not least you must pull the trigger and share the content.  Remember to share your content through more than one channel, such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Reddit.  This increases the probability that your content will find the right audience who will circulate it for you.  If you find that no one is sharing your content after all your efforts it may be time to acknowledge that this particular piece of content just didn’t have the ‘it’ factor or was poorly timed (Did someone else beat you to the topic? Is someone delivering the same idea in a more clever manner than you?).  After some reflection it is time to get up and try again.

Best of luck!

Cah{o,o}ts

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10 Interesting Stats About Moms and Social Media

Cartoon by Dave Coverly of speedbump.com

Cartoon by Dave Coverly of speedbump.com

Today’s moms are more connected than ever, acting as leaders and early adopters in social media and technology. Moms are 20 percent more likely to use social media than the general population (BabyCenter).  Women are bigger multitaskers than most men, and women with children are constantly juggling their personal aspirations, parenting, and social lives.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that moms are embracing social media, using it to manage their busy lives, connecting on the go, seeking information and recommendations, and accessing it on a variety of devices.  In celebration of Mother’s Day 2013, here are 10 amazing statistics on social mommies:

1.  Approximately 1 in 3 bloggers are moms. (Hubspot)

2. Nearly 40 percent of mothers worldwide say they write a blog. (Forbes)

3. Over three-quarters of American moms use Facebook. (Nielsen)

4.  Moms are more likely to visit blogs: they are 27 percent more likely to visit Blogger and 26 more likely to visit WordPress. (Nielsen)

5.  Moms are 61 percent more likely to visit Pinterest than the average American. (Nielsen)

6.  Among mothers, those with children aged 0-3 are the heaviest social media users and those with children aged 4-12 use it the least. (MarketingCharts)

7. Moms are 58 percent more likely to use a mobile device for shopping. (BabyCenter)

8. In 2014, a projected 63 percent of all online moms will read blogs at least once a month (NextWeb)

9.  89 percent of online moms use their smartphones to check social media. (CommPro)

10.  70 percent of moms claim that technology helps them be better moms. (Forbes)

Why do moms love social media? Here are some of the most commons reasons moms go social:

  • Sharing moments/pictures with family and friends.
  • Online shopping saves time.
  • Organizing events and get togethers.
  • Seeking and writing reviews and recommendations.
  • Finding fast answers and asking questions.
  • Source of support and community.
  • Easy to access on the go (mobile phones).
  • They can socialize online while supervising their children/being at home.

Don’t forget to tweet, Facebook, pin, or blog some praise for your mom this Mother’s Day!

Thanks for Reading,

Cah{o,o}ts

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