White Paper: Content Creation Guidelines: How to Refine Your Feature News Writing and Design Skills to Cut Through the Clutter and Captivate Attention of Millions More People


The North American Precis Syndicate Media Relations team is in constant contact with thousands of professional journalists daily and our experts monitor which content is getting the best usage.  We are uniquely qualified to offer the best creative direction and advice, after maintaining relationships with the staff at more than 10,000 newspapers, 5,000 radio stations, 1,000 TV stations and over 15,000 blogs, and working for high-profile clients, including most Fortune 500 companies, the top 20 PR firms, over 100 associations and many government agencies. 

Following best practices for creating a good story, well illustrated and credibly sourced, is crucial for success for those who want to stand out and get noticed in a crowded space, by journalists who are scrolling through up to hundreds or thousands of messages every day. 

Let this be your guide for doing the content creation job right and avoiding costly mistakes. 

Let’s start with the writing, move on to illustrating your work with the most eye-catching graphics, and then amplifying your message with social media. If you follow our helpful tips, you’ll soon be a star, exceeding the expectations of management with a more professional-looking job and results that will improve exponentially. 

Table Of Contents

I- Best Practices for Feature News Writing and Editing

  • Tips to Avoid Writing Mistakes
  • How to Create a Customized AP Style Guide For Your Project
  • Develop an Editorial Calendar for a Monthly Action Plan
  • Boost Your SEO
  • Build a Following With an Ongoing Series and Watch the Audience Numbers Snowball

II- Graphic Design and Photos

  • Photography Primer for a Strong Foundation
  • How to Create GIFs for Visual Storytelling
  • Design Tips From the Experts
  • Be Aware of Copyright Rules and Avoiding Infringements
  • Developing a Personal Brand With Great Headshots and Images

III- Social Media Amplification

  • How to Strengthen Your Personal Brand
  • Creating a Social Media Calendar That Rocks
  • Creating Viral Content
  • How to Attract Fans With Instagram Stories
  • How to Build Your Feature News Audience With Snapchat Stories

IV- Conclusions

I- Best Practices for Feature News Writing and Editing

Tips to Avoid Writing Mistakes

 1-You Need an Outline: Organization Is the Key to Success

Put together a basic story idea in outline form with a beginning, middle and end. Think about your target audience, who you are trying to reach and what the message is that management would want them to know. 

2- Keep it Simple: Don’t Put Them To Sleep

A short article of about 400 to 500 words is about all most people can focus on in one quick, entertaining read. If you have more to say, consider doing a series of articles instead of jamming in too many facts. 

3- Back Up Your Claims: Be Sure to Source Your Facts

Journalists are unlikely to make a claim that is not attributed to an expert or a government agency. The expert should be credible, such as a doctor, usually not the VP of Marketing. 

4- Don’t Be Too Commercial: Don’t Have Too Many Mentions

Feature news articles are not ads.  Make one or two subtle mentions of your key message in a helpful and engaging way. Journalists want news, not advertising. 

5- Don’t Edit Your Own Work: Rely On Experts to Proofread and Edit

The easiest way to lose interest is to have typos or grammatical errors in your work. Journalists expect trustworthy, well-written, professionally edited articles that can be used easily and immediately, without a lot of rewriting. 

How To Create a Customized AP Style Guide for Your Project

Your style is unique and you need an easy-to-follow guide that can be used to create a standardized look and feel for your ongoing series of feature news articles. 

The AP Style is the most widely accepted and universally appealing manual that you could possibly consider using. You can digest from the overall guidelines to take the most essential points of reference as those relate to your project. 

This will help you to achieve a more consistent and professional look and feel for your body of work. Take the time to establish how you want to be perceived and create rules to follow for excellent work each and every time you put out a feature news article. 

The customized style guide should include the following elements:

1- Mission Statement

Begin with establishing the mission, a formal summary of the aims and values of the company or organization and the topics you will be covering. Be sure that your writing supports that mission and is appealing to your ideal reader. You should be tailoring your content to those whom you hope to engage and influence. 

2- Primary Focus

You will need to digest from the AP Style Guide those primary components that relate to the content to be created.  For feature news articles, there are several recurring themes that can be woven into the customized guide that needs to be developed. For general rules that might be helpful, click here (link to the AP style tips that are already on our site...)

3- Grammar/Punctuation

Some preferences can be established for those items that are subject to personal style. You may want to decide what should be capitalized, how things should be abbreviated, which dictionary should be the first choice and other possible ways of standardization. 

4- Style and Tone

To develop a voice for your articles, you need to consider how you want to sound to the reader. Decide if you want to be passive or assertive, use a byline or write in the third person, use technical terms or, more likely, put things in layman’s terms. You may want to identify any language to be avoided.

5- Personas

Try to think about the audience you are trying to reach as a person with certain characteristics and describe those in your guide, for future reference, when attempting to focus on creating content that will attract attention from your ideal reader. 

6- Multimedia

For transforming your feature news article into various formats for radio, TV, blogs or print, you will need to establish rules for how to do that consistently so the style will be continuous throughout all channels. You could consider the size of the images, if you will be embedding videos, using infographics, charts and graphs, or other visual aids. Clarify how it should look. 

7- Formatting

Feature news should be written in a light, entertaining and informative style. You need to decide if images should align left, right or center. Usually, text wraps around images. Establish a consistent numbering system, the way bullets are displayed, and how sections are headed. 

8- Colors

The most successful content creators are very sophisticated with their choices of colors, which are often researched for preferences to identify the most desirable outcomes. There are many online tools that can help you, including Coolors, Adobe Kuler: Color Wheel, Paletton, Pictaculous, Degraeve’s Color Palette Generator, Colllor and more. 

9- Samples

Show examples of your work as the samples of what you are trying to achieve, to make the process as easy to follow as possible for creative talent. 

10- If you are using a writing service, you should share your customized guide to be sure that you are getting a uniform approach to your content creation. Some good services to try, which charge as little as two cents per word for content creation, include Scripted, Zerys, Upwork, NewsCred, Contently and WriterAccess.  

Develop an Editorial Calendar for a Monthly Action Plan

Satisfying editors in a timely manner requires careful planning and consideration of varying lead times, often several months in advance of deadlines. 

You need to keep on track with a monthly plan, with realistic timelines, and take advantage of commonly used themed seasonal tie-ins, to help you to get your content noticed and keep it relevant.

Here are ideas for a monthly series of articles:

In its own way, every month offers a new opportunity to spread the word about your message. Consider these:


The New Year sees people making (and breaking) resolutions. It’s a good month to run stories about nutrition, weight and finance. It’s also the time many people start to think about their taxes, so stories about how to save on those are a smart idea. January is also a time many stores are having white sales, so an article on home care or decorating will be popular with editors hoping to sell ad space next to it to local merchants. As for your marketing resolution, this may be a good time to rethink how you entice readers. Perhaps you and your team can brainstorm a few new ideas about reaching people.


To make the most of the shortest month, try to tie your articles to the romance of Valentine’s Day and the patriotism of Presidents’ Day. Gifts, especially jewelry, chocolates and flowers, go over well, and food stories, while always popular, are particularly so when you can promote warm food for cold nights. At the same time, warm weather places and ski resorts can build up their business with stories set for February. Meanwhile, you can plan out your PR schedule for the next few months and consider the advantages of adding radio and TV to your mix. According to a Nielsen report, radio reaches 93 percent of adults—including 95 percent of millennials—every week. As for people who watch local news and talk shows, Pew Research says to expect viewership to increase in an election year.

February is also Black History Month, making it a good time to reach out to African-American readers and publications.


The month of the spring equinox is a good time to talk about gardening equipment and seeds. While you’re waiting for the first flowers to bloom, spend some time looking over your past triumphs (and troubles) and analytics adjust your upcoming plans.


The approach of Easter offers an opportunity to talk about fashion and food. Spring break could be your big break for running travel stories and safety suggestions.


Mother’s Day is another opportunity to promote gifts, jewelry, clothes, perfume and flowers. In addition, here’s an idea to contemplate over Memorial Day weekend: Instead of one-shot spots, how about sending out scripts and stories about your brand every month or even every week? Run them under several different logos to see which pulls the best or under a standard one that promotes your organization’s expertise to both editors and readers.


In June, dads, grads, brides and BBQs provide your chances to write about gifts, tools, schools, food and fancy clothing. Many families move in June, so stories on truck rentals, furniture and appliances will have plenty of appeal. It’s also a good time to consider just where you want to promote your product. Should you aim your story at the whole country or just one state or region?


Vacation time! That means it’s a good month to promote travel destinations and equipment (luggage, packable clothes, sunscreen and bug repellent). Also, 4th of July–themed recipes and products that meet the needs of pets with peeves, such as dogs fearful of fireworks and thunderstorms. Speaking of storms, hurricane season means stories about how to protect your home and family, such as those about generators and insurance and articles from doctors and charitable organizations about what to do if disaster strikes. Before you take your vacation, take some time to think about how much of the work of writing, mailing, and so on you want to do yourself and how much you should farm out to PR firms, marketing agencies, mat services and the like.


Time to plan for back to school. You’ll want to run articles on clothes, electronics, and getting the garden ready for the fall. School yourself to think about branding and whether the true meaning of your product is properly reflected in your stories.


With autumn comes a chance to promote warm clothing, home repair and hardy foods. As the days dwindle down, you can think about which technology will get your message to the most people. Editors and bloggers want content in a variety of formats including digital, e-mail, RSS feeds, XML feeds, CDs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, podcasts, and hard copy in camera-ready form and tapes, iTunes and paper scripts for broadcasters. If you have audio, make sure it’s audible, not overwhelmed by background noise or music.


This is Spanish Heritage Month, a good time to tap into that growing market. The U.S. Census says there are over 58.9 million Hispanics living in the United States now and it projects Latinxs will account for a full 65 percent of the nation’s population growth over the next 45 years. What’s more, according to Pew Research, their median age is only 28. By having your best articles translated into Spanish and sent out to Spanish language papers, you can greatly increase your audience.


You can be thankful this month for Thanksgiving and an opportunity to promote food and house gifts—and to make sure your articles give your readers that chance to be grateful to you for providing information that improves their lives.


Happy holidays! ’Tis the season to plan your calendar for next year, as well as to write about gifts, decorating, clothes and food. Bear in mind that everyone is sending information to editors at this time of year, so holiday stories should be devised at least six weeks in advance. You can also think about what changes you’ll want to make to your content, presentations and placements. That can help you have a happier New Year.

Boost Your SEO

Search Engine Optimization, the process of increasing the quantity and the quality of traffic to your article, starts with good content, which will drive organic growth. Here are basic tips to help you to go above and beyond what is typically expected by management and to help you build your relationship with your readers.

1- Content

There are a variety of ways to improve your results with good writing as follows:

  • Write lively, intriguing ideas in headlines and try to include a number.
  • Shorter stories get better pickup and that needs to be balanced with the need for longer stories to provide more scope for the search engine.
  • Use short paragraphs, which are easier on the eye.
  • The active voice will retain the interest of the reader.
  • Use subheads.
  • Where appropriate, use boldfaced type.
  • Create lists.
  • Cross-post to a variety of social media.
  • Update frequently.
  • Include links to more information.
  • Answer frequently asked questions. The story should tell how, when and why things happen and what to do about it.
  • Synonyms can be used to maximize the number of possible keywords.
  • Use a service to help you with expert advice. Some good ones to try include WebFX, Ignite Visibility, PBJ Marketing, Directive, Silverback Strategies, Noble Studios, SEO Brand, Straight North, SEO Inc. and WebMechanix.

2- User Experience

Be sure to post to a site that has good speed so readers will have a good experience with load times and be more likely to continue to read your articles. 

3- Mobile Experience

Mobile optimization will ensure that visitors who access your content from a mobile device will have an experience optimized for that device. With the trend toward people spending more time on their mobile devices and tablets, accounting for different screen sizes and load times is crucial to avoid inadvertently turning mobile visitors away. Consider Google’s move to mobile-first indexing. 

4- Photos

You need beautiful, eye-catching photos to get noticed. Google Images will provide lots of traffic to your content from image-based searches. With the help of an SEO-friendly images plug-in, you can automatically optimize all your posts. 

Build a Following With an Ongoing Series and Watch the Audience Numbers Snowball

Savvy content creators are doing a more thorough job and maximizing potential reach with a cost-effective series for the message that management cares about most. Here are several topics for a series that are popular with feature news editors who need to fill special sections:

1- Health

Offer advice from a doctor or medical expert to protect health or treat an ailment.

2- Personal Finances

Offer tips from a financial adviser to grow wealth, get financing or protect assets.

3- Home Improvement

Provide “How to” or DIY articles for decorating, remodeling, lawn and garden care, energy efficiency or safety. 

4- Food and Beverage

Include recipes, nutritional information, diet, celebrity chefs, cookbooks or cooking contests.

5- Technology

Articles about solving a problem or improving lives with new developments are highly popular. 

6- Auto

Tell readers about energy efficiency, how to save at the gas pump, driving safety, maintenance tips and trends.

7- Travel

Give readers ideas for the vacation of a lifetime, most spectacular sights or making family life more fun. 

8- Pets

Irresistible photos of pets with advice about adoption, nutrition, traveling, emergencies, medical needs and preparing children for new pets are easy ways to get attention. 

9- Environment

Include compelling statistics, information about water quality, going green, energy savings, water waste, jobs, conservation, recycling and basic problem-solving ideas.

10- Charity and CSR

Companies have recognized the increasing trend toward including information about social responsibility and how the public interest is being served, to attract the attention of busy editors and the public who don’t want to be sold a product but will read the message in the context of a story about a good deed or good citizenship.

II Graphic Design and Photos

Photography Primer for a Strong Foundation

Pictures speak a thousand words. A complex idea can be conveyed with just a single picture and the image may convey the meaning or essence of your story more effectively than words alone. You will improve the results of your outreach dramatically by including an eye-catching photo or image. Photos are usually the first impression readers will have of your message and it is important to give careful consideration to selecting or creating just the right one to enhance each and every story. 

Here are some fundamental photography pointers for your consideration:

1- The RAW Story

Technology and innovation have made it possible for even a novice with a mobile device to have the capability to save photos as RAW files, just as the camera captures it, as if it were unprocessed film. That is the optimum format if you plan on using postproduction software, such as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. Changing the exposure or making any other adjustments are easier and you’ll end up with a “cleaner”-looking photo. With Android, you can use Pro Mode to save photos as RAW files. On an iPhone, iOS 10 users can use third-party apps, such as Obscura Camera, Manual, Camera+ and others. On a DSLR camera, it can be done in camera settings. 

2- Understanding Editing

Many photographers tend to overedit their photos, especially at first. Whether it’s Lightroom, Photoshop or Capture One they will all have sliders to adjust certain things to make their photos pop. The problem is, many beginners tend to move the sliders to the extreme, resulting in oversaturated, super-high-clarity, overexposed photos. Before you settle on a shot, experiment with all the sliders to all the extremes to see what works.  Make as many mistakes as possible. Whether it’s a horrible one or a happy one, it’s all a part of learning. Aside from the photography, retouching is also a crucial art form, where the person’s style and process will develop with practice. Bear in mind, however, that if there is lint, dust, hair out of place, or anything that will need retouching in postproduction, try to take care of it during the shoot. It’s much easier and faster to remove dust and lint on the subject with tape or fixing hair than to do so in postproduction. 

3- Appreciate Your Apertures

Experiment with different apertures using the f-stop control. This lets light into the lens and to the camera sensor (to capture the photo). The lower the f-stop number, the bigger the aperture. These numbers can range from 1.2 to 45, depending on the lens. Try shooting a subject with the widest aperture and work your way through until you get to the last number available. Compare each one by seeing how the depth of field is. The widest apertures will give you a low depth of field, which is the blurry, creamy look around your subject, also known as “bokeh.” If you want more of the background to be in focus, choose a higher aperture. This is especially important if you are photographing a group. Remember to adjust the shutter speed each time you change the f-stop. 

4- Be Shadow Smart

Unlike your eye, which tends to filter out shadows to concentrate on the subject, the camera tends to emphasize shadows, making those darker and more pronounced. For the best first impression, when looking through the viewfinder of your camera, remember to adjust for the lighting to keep your image clean. 

5- Be Wary of White

You need to watch out for too much white. If you see a lot of white in your frame, underexpose your photos slightly, especially if the white comes from a cloudy sky, and fix it in postproduction. 

6- How to Compose Yourself

Composition is important. Your photo should be framed so that it highlights and emphasizes what it’s all about. Too many focal points can be confusing to the viewer. Settle for one or two and let the background complement those. To vary things up and make the ordinary look extraordinary, consider different perspectives, such as very low to the ground or as high in the sky as you can get. 

7- Look to the Leading Lines

When you frame your photo in the viewfinder, look for the leading lines in your scene or create your own with juxtaposition. You can find leading lines in nature, architecture or elsewhere, including horizons, trees, buildings, sidewalks, vehicles, the direction someone is glancing and more. The lines will lead your audience to what you want them to see. 

8- Advice From Experts

There are several trade associations that help photographers on a variety of subjects, including American Photographic Artists and American Society of Media Photographers. You can also learn more by reading Professional Photographer magazine. 

How to Create GIFs for Visual Storytelling

Visual storytelling can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including use of animated GIFs, as attractive eye candy to boost your visibility.  There are several tools you can use to create your own GIFs, including GIFs.com, GIPHY, Recordit and EZGIF.com

Here are some photography lessons learned about visual storytelling:

1-  Know Your Audience

Try to speak to people in a language they understand. Be customer focused. Think about your ideal customer and then create images to appeal to them.

2-  Your Hero

To make your work relatable, put your photos in the context of your hero’s journey. Your hero goes on an adventure, faces a crisis, finds a guide, wins a victory and returns home transformed. The journey should frame the photography process. 

3- Illustrate Your Story

Put your photographic work into different categories and then create communications that revolve around those images. Make sure your audience is getting a consistent, cohesive message across all your articles. 

4- Add Layers

Start with one to three stories and then build a priority list of ideas for an ongoing series. The photography starts with taking snapshots, then experimenting with setting adjustments, then learning some advanced techniques. 

5- Trust the Process

Good photography is a process that starts with a plan, prioritization, organization and a step-by-step procedure that will result in success and repetition for ongoing growth. 

Design Tips From the Experts

What happens after a photo shoot can be as important as taking the pictures. This can be an exciting and creative process. 

Follow these guidelines for editing and sequencing your images:

1- First, determine what message you want your picture to send and to whom you want it sent. The photo should communicate and showcase the message that is important to your management.

2- Gather a lot of images.  The cost of the images is minimal, often limited to your time in creating or choosing images.  You can use vertical and horizontal formats, a range of distances and placements, a variety of angles and a variety of color palettes. You want the picture to tell a compelling story, evoke emotions and keep the viewer interested. 

3- From your large collection of photos, eliminate all the ones that are not up to your technical or composition standards.    

4- Walk away for a while. Put the pictures away long enough for you to relax and come back to those with a fresh perspective. 

5- Start to edit but don’t overthink the process.  You’ll know intuitively when you see the images that stand out and help tell your story. 

6- Decide how you want to display the images: in a series, with a timeline in mind or individually. Those should relate your narrative with interesting detail shots.  Some will work better together, or apart or with others. 

7- Get a second opinion.  Find colleagues whose aesthetic opinions you value, and ask what they think about the images.

8- Look at the flow and the rhythm of the overall sequence in a way that is similar to arranging a musical composition. The images should set the tone you had in mind. Some flow tighter or may create a jarring break that needs to be moved or removed.  Use juxtaposition of colors and shapes. The last image should wind up the story. 

You can create a visual journey that others will want to follow. 

Be Aware of Copyright Rules and Avoiding Infringements

When it comes to choosing photos, it’s better to be safe by selecting free images from a variety of sites or, if you simply must have one that is not free, be sure to get professional advice from an attorney who is knowledgeable about licensing, and to give it proper attribution. You don’t want to get notified that you are financially liable for a huge sum of money because you didn’t pay the artist properly.  Choosing and using photos indiscriminately from Google Images may be an unnecessary risk.

There are three ways to avoid copyright infringement for your images:

1- Get Royalty-Free Images From a Reputable Source 

Sites that claim to have free images are expected to be sure that the people who upload images there actually have permission to do so. 

You should thoroughly review the terms of use to be sure that those do not conflict with the manner in which you use the images. 

Here are some reliable, useful sites where you can find free images:

  • Pixabay
  • Unsplash
  • Refe
  • My Stock Photos
  • New Old Stock
  • FoodiesFeed
  • Public Domain Archive
  • Life of Pix
  • SplitShire
  • Pexels

You can also sign up for free with Canva and discover how to create your own designs and templates and edit photos. It’s an easy way to craft personal social media graphics with images, filters, shapes and fonts on the site. There may be a small charge of about a dollar for a few of the layouts and images. 

2- Do a Reverse Image Search

Do a thorough background search on any image before using it, searching by an image, not for an image. Do your due diligence to be sure you have the right to use the image you select. Two good places for reverse image searches are Google Image Search and TinEye. 

3-  Take Your Own Photos 

Be sure to obey any applicable privacy laws

 and make sure that your photos don’t infringe on the intellectual property of another individual or entity. 

If you want to read about the latest developments in copyright laws for images, you can visit the sites of advocacy groups like ASMP and learn about protection of intellectual property for photographers. Sites that offer free photos have most likely already paid the artist a fee, so you don’t have to. 

Developing a Personal Brand With Great Headshots and Images

For a professional, consistent and high-quality photo collection, to build your personal brand and showcase your personality, you can just take a selfie or you can hire a pro. If you want to humanize your work, attract viewers and build connections, you should begin building your following by considering the most important ways to get better photos. 

Take these tips to improve your image:

1- Be Consistent

Establish a positive brand personality to differentiate yourself with your own unique style, and use your brand portrait to effectively and cohesively communicate that in everything you do. 

2- Put Your Heart Into It

Engage customers emotionally to elicit the desired response because most people make decisions on an emotional level and then try to justify those decisions with rationalizations. 

3- Hiring a Professional

Picking the right photographer means finding someone who has a body of work that is closely aligned with what you are looking for. Be sure to look at portfolios to see if the images feel right for what you are looking to achieve. 

4- Background

Decide if you want to be inside, outside or what you want the background to look like for your image, landscape, seascape, cityscape or a graphic design.

5- Creating an Avatar

If you are camera shy or want your personality to shine through in an animated way, you may want to consider using an avatar creator such as Zmoji. 

Follow these guidelines to take your own professional-looking headshot:

  • Balance

Get a friend to help you or use a tripod.

  • Light

Pick a location with good lighting or use additional lighting if needed. 

  • Technology

Use the right camera apps on your phone.  There are many online tutorials to help you. 

  • Timing

Take your time.  Some shoots can take hours to get the desired results just right. 

Ultimately, your image should support the story you are telling and be one that your target audience will identify with. 

III Social Media Amplification

How to Strengthen Your Personal Brand

The relationship you develop with consumers for your business can be strengthened by cultivating your personal brand. With the explosion of e-commerce, B2C interactions on social media have indicated that people still want to do business with people they like and trust. Word of mouth drives consumer spending and accounts for a huge chunk of consumer sales. 

If you want to develop your brand, you are going to need to focus on building connections, and building your personal brand is a great way to do that. You can dramatically affect the way people view your business by using some sophisticated tools that can help reinforce your reputation. 

For the latest trends and some ideas on how to use social media to your advantage, you might want to consider the words of wisdom from professional organizations such as Social Media Association, Social Media Research Association, Social Media Club and WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association). There are also lots of great events that you can participate in to learn more, including SXSW, Social Media Week, Social Media World Forum and many more. 

Here are several steps you can take to help you build your online persona:

1- Have a Plan

Determine what you want to look like to others. Having a clear vision is essential for having an engaging brand instead of a boring one. Giving good advice online is a great way to interest your audience. Let your personality shine through as you let people know about some ideas that can help them. They will begin to like you and trust you as an expert on the topic.

2- Define Your Target Audience

You can tailor your approach toward the group you would most like to reach.  Clearly, you would need to address a group of millennials differently than you would a group of C-suite individuals. This will help you create a foundation on which your brand can be built. 

3-  Get Meaningful Exposure

Start by getting in front of all the audiences you can for free. A great way to do that is by writing a guest post.  The more relevant content that bloggers can provide to their audiences, the better it is for their business, and they would welcome your unique and valuable content that is suitable for their audience. Ideally, they can agree to plug your business at the end of the article. Pick a blog that is read by your targeted audience, for the best results. You may be able to develop a relationship with bloggers who will let you contribute on a regular basis. 

4-  Buy Paid Ads on Social Media

This is a cost-effective way to reach a lot of people and increase the likelihood of developing online conversations. You want to do this in a way that is legitimately offering value to your target audience and doesn’t seem too self-serving or promotional. Don’t make baseless claims to trick people into visiting your site.  People will see right through scam artist clickbait, like “become a millionaire today,” and you will scare people away.

5-  Work With Social Media Influencers

Celebrity endorsements can be used highly effectively, if you can get those and if the celebrity has a real interest in the topic that you are communicating about. It’s rarely possible to get a high-caliber celebrity, unless you are willing to make a significant investment of marketing dollars. There are social media microinfluencers who are celebrities in their communities and are more easily accessible and cooperative, if you have something interesting to say to their audiences. You could reach a more relevant audience for a fraction of what it would cost to hire a celebrity to promote your brand. Often, the only cost is the value of your time to share your expertise with their audience. 

One of the easiest ways to connect with your audience is to show the human side of your business. By appealing to people who use social media to connect with others, you’ll be able to break through to consumers who are tired of generic ads. 

Creating a Social Media Calendar That Rocks

Nearly all content marketers use social media to distribute their content. The abundance of content online is reaching the saturation point and the challenge has become standing out in the crowded space. For the best chances at improving organic reach, an organized approach to social media posting is essential, even for the best possible content. 

Here are a few pointers to help you get stellar results:

1- List Important Dates

Take advantage of the opportunities presented by a special day, week or month.  You can elevate your brand and engage more followers with tie-ins to special dates. 

2-  Schedule Posts

Posting consistently is a great way to build your following across all social media platforms. You won’t have much luck finding followers if your most recent post is from two years ago. Show people that you are invested in the channel to demonstrate that it is worthy of their time. Train your followers to expect to be able to engage with your content on a regular basis and you will develop long-lasting relationships that lead to sales. 

3-  Establish Your Best Content Mix

Don’t just talk about yourself, your latest sale or your newest products. That will bore people. Include some curated content from your industry, user-generated content from your followers, personal interactions and answers to questions. If you have a well-balanced portfolio of content, you’ll keep readers interested and avoid alienating them with too many self-promotional messages. 

4-  Collaborate

You can use cloud platforms such as Google Sheets or Dropbox to share your social media content calendar. You can share information there with stakeholders or keep your own team informed about what is being published and when. This will help you divide the duties so everyone knows what to do at the right time. 

5-  Save Time

Planning in advance and scheduling your posts with a tool such as Hootsuite will save you time.

6-  Avoid Errors

Don’t post the exact same content on every single social media platform. It’s best to make the changes necessary to be relevant to each network. For example, you shouldn’t ordinarily ask Facebook followers to retweet. 

7-  Produce Fresh Content

Don’t overuse certain words or share something too many times. Look back at what you have done to be sure you are not repeating yourself. 

8-  Measure Results

Figure out what works by comparing your publishing schedule to your analytics so you can optimize the best times to post and the best content to post. Doing A and B testing by changing a few words here and there or using different time frames can make a world of difference in building your engagement numbers. 

Creating Viral Content

Your content may become wildly popular overnight if it has the appeal that will make people want to share it. You can get a viral sharing effect that will grow organically if your content is the kind of story that has a broad base of people who want to know or learn more about it. 

Here are some great ways to boost your organic growth:

1- Words of Wisdom

Tell a story that will make people look smart if they share it with their connections. For business, LinkedIn is where most people share their business-related content.

2- Keep it Short

Snackable content of no more than about 500 or 600 words is more likely to get read in its entirety. If you have more than that, think about how to break that up into a series of posts. Make the content easily scannable for busy people with short attention spans. Using bulleted points with subheads works well and draws people to the part that is relevant to what they are interested in. 

3- Humanize Your Story

People are more likely to share content with which they feel a personal connection. If people can relate and apply it to their own lives, they are much more likely to pass it on. 

4- Make it Genuine

People can tell when they are being sold something. It’s better to give people useful advice that they can follow to help themselves, their friends, colleagues and family members. If it works for them, that further enables them to pass their success stories on to others. 

5- Go Interactive

If you ask questions or give people a quiz, they are more likely to engage with your content and may also solicit others to do the same. 

6- Let People Comment

Your chances of going viral will increase dramatically if you can build up a stream of comments on your blog posts.  Getting to know your audience will help you to improve future posts. 

7- Use Lists and Images

People love lists, especially if you have some attractive images to illustrate your points. Each nugget of helpful information clearly stands out and counts toward a well-written story.

8- Create a Compelling Headline

You need to make a great first impression that starts with a catchy headline that people would want to click on to learn more. 

9- Keep the Scope Broad and the Content Reliable

Don’t alienate people with language that could cause them to risk their reputation by sharing what they think is not trustworthy. Be sure to cite your sources, if you are giving statistics or factual information, and make it a topic that interests a large number of people. Controversy is a great way to stir up a conversation, as long as you are truthful and people can rely on the integrity of your information. 

10- Be Appropriate

You probably wouldn’t use LinkedIn to espouse your political views. Those are probably more appropriate on Facebook or another network for personal viewpoints. Make sure to use proper grammar and spell-check. Your content should blend in with other content on the same platform. 

If you follow these proven guidelines, you can greatly increase your chances of going viral.  The most successful on social media are the best storytellers with the most helpful information. 

How to Attract Fans With Instagram Stories


If you want to grow your following and brand awareness and engage more people by using Instagram, here are several ways to captivate, entertain and inform your audience using successful images: 

1- Use Behind-the-Scenes Posts

Show people a glimpse of a part of your business that they don’t usually see.  Make sure it doesn’t look staged.  It should look authentic. 

2- Repost From Employees

Curate authentic content and humanize your business by reposting the photos on the Instagram pages of your employees. Be sure to tag or credit the original poster. This is a great way for your audience to bond with your employees.

3- Educational Posts

Offer helpful tips on how to do something or to solve a problem. Make sure the instructions are quick and easy to follow. 

4- Influencer Posts

Using celebrity photos can be a great way to get attention for your brand as long as the celebrity has a real interest in your product, and is not just posing with it for a price. People can usually tell if someone is being paid to say something and will tune that out. Also, unless your celebrity has some kind of knowledge about the product, just saying he or she likes it may not be enough to convince anyone it’s worth trying. 

5- Motivational Posts

Using an inspirational quote with text over an image is a great way to encourage your audience and amplify the values of your brand. 

6- User-Generated Content

Curate some content from your fans and followers. Tag the posts and post with the hashtag of your brand. This will show your customers that you care about them and value their input. 

7- Newsjacking

This is a way to ride the current trends for the purpose of getting more attention for your own brand, and will work if there is a genuine tie-in to your message. This can be done for special events, current affairs, or seasonal stories. Lighthearted or humorous content works best. 

8- Do a Giveaway

People love contests and free stuff. Be sure to include terms and conditions for your offer.  This will build connections and brand loyalty. 

9- Host a Poll or Quiz

Influencers like to engage audiences by taking quick polls or hosting quizzes. A simple vote for favorite styles or items can help the host get a feel for what followers like so they can offer more of the same in the future.

10- Share Q&As

A Q&A series with an expert can show fans the cool stuff that is being done.  Turn it back to the fans and ask them to direct message any questions. 

Growing your following will take time, energy and a sophisticated plan. It may be tempting to buy followers, as a last resort, but there are many ways to grow your following that are free.  Start following accounts that interest you and relate to your business. Be sure to promote your account on other channels and ask people to follow you. 

How to Build Your Feature News Audience with Snapchat Stories

There are several ways to create compelling snaps and grow your following to develop your brand. The Snapchat audience tends to be younger and the more mature audience is growing as this network becomes more popular. Designing content that disappears has a unique set of challenges and making it a smart investment takes careful planning. 

Consider how to best take advantage of this growing network of users with these tips:

1- How to Snap

Create custom content, rather than repurposing existing content. You need to use the app to take pictures or videos. You can either add the image to your story or send it directly to someone. 

2- Add Effects to Your Photo

These additions are what make photos on Snapchat unique. Snapchat offers a variety of images or phrases to choose from that can be added as stickers. You can customize the size and location of those by pinching and zooming. You can also turn your image into a sticker.

3- Add Text

You can insert your clever caption onto the image or doodle on the image. 

4- Add a Filter

Snapchat filters are image overlays that highlight the weather, your location, altitude and more. There are also branded geofilters that feature a company logo, exact location or other customized imagery. 

5- Before Sending

You have to decide if you want to save the snap to your memories and how much time you want it to display for: up to 10 seconds, or infinitely while the snap is open. You also have to decide which specific individuals to send to or if you want to add it to your story. Your friends will be able to view your snap an unlimited number of times for 24 hours. 

6- Create a Snapchat Story

You can create a series of images and videos from the snaps you have taken that will disappear in 24 hours. To improve the visibility of the content of your brand, be sure to select “Everyone” in settings when it’s time to answer who can view your story.

7- Don’t Reuse Snaps

If you are sending snaps directly to people, don’t also use those snaps in your story. The repetition will hurt the number of views and the completion rate. People won’t want to rewatch the same snaps. 

8- Timing Is Everything

You can experiment with different lengths of time that you display your image for and whether to use various lengths or to make those more of a standardized period of time. 

9- Build a Story Arc

Your story should be about a minute or two long, with a beginning, middle and end. You should include a call to action at the end of the story or just indicate that it’s over by using a  simple text on-screen message such as “The End.”

10- Use a Storyboard

This will help you to organize your thoughts in a way that allows you to look at the big picture without getting overwhelmed with the details. Try out different formats and themes for your stories. Experiment with interactive content to see how people respond so you can plan better for future stories. This iterative process will help you with developing the most interesting content for your audience. 

You can grow your following by cross promoting on other platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Engaging content that will help you build your audience includes behind-the-scenes shots, interactive activities that people can participate in, takeovers, user-generated content, how-to videos, interviews with senior leadership, games, and commentary on news. 

Snapchat is a creative playground where you can test new ideas that can later be translated into other platforms in interesting ways. 

IV Conclusions

There are tried-and-true ways of creating content, nurturing your ideas and building your audience to influence and engage the people you are trying to reach. Practice what you’ve learned and you will begin to see a positive change in the near future. Be creative and thoughtful, and share your good advice with others along the way. You’ll soon be able to impress management with your success stories and be a hero to your team.