Social media

Tired of Fake News? Facebook’s Disputed News Tag Goes Live

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Unless you’ve just crawled out of Sleepy Hollow, you know that there’s a bit of a controversy going on with the news these days—especially the news that’s coming out of the White House. We’re accustomed to never quite trusting our politicians, and while we’d like to have faith that our journalists are entirely objective, the times clearly have changed. The days of Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America, are over. People these days are getting their news from the internet, and they assume that because they read it, it’s true. But scan the morning news, from Breitbart to the venerable New York Times, and you’ll begin to see that the “news” varies dramatically, depending on who’s writing the headlines.

Facebook creates a disputed fact tag for alternative facts posts

As our journalists report on the news coming out of the new Trump administration, the White House counters the facts with what they call “alternative facts”. What? There are no alternative facts. If we do our due diligence, we find that the White House is just plain lying. Again. We’ve never seen anything like this, and it’s lowering the bar on truth and integrity.

Facebook responds to alternative facts

Facebook has decided that, as a public application that reaches more than 1.86 billion monthly active users, they have both influence and a responsibility, so they have created a new Disputed tag that will appear beneath news stories on the site that have been deemed inaccurate.

  • Facebook has added a new Help page outlining how the system works.
  • Stories flagged as fake by users will be reviewed by independent fact-checking organizations, including Politifact and
  • Those organizations will be signatories to a “Fact-checkers’ Code of Principles”maintained by the journalism nonprofit Poynter Institute. The principles include nonpartisanship and transparency in sourcing and funding.

Disputed posts and rankings

There’s no indication yet whether the Disputed designation will have a direct impact on how a story is handled by Facebook’s ranking algorithms. The thinking is that users will be less likely to share stories that have received the Disputed tag, reducing their likelihood of being spread.

A dependency, of course, is that the flagging process itself can take several days, which is plenty of time for a story to get plenty of attention. We all know that a story that is topical and sexy, accompanied by an attention-grabbing image, can go viral within a few hours. The internet and social media have made global communication immediate. One big dependency of the Disputed tag is its due diligence: it takes time to research the verity of a fact.

What does Facebook have to gain?

There’s another imperfection of this system that will likely satisfy nobody. Despite huge public pressure to tackle fake news, particularly from the political left, Facebook has no real motivation to tell its readers what to believe.

Potential for reduced user engagement

From a business perspective, filtering or flagging disputed news stories could reduce user engagement among those who had previously enjoyed a steady diet of alternative facts. The move has already invited scathing criticism from the right, potentially actively alienating a huge swathe of Facebook users who apparently feed on the fake news coming out of the White House.

A final thought: It’s an initial effort by a medium that reaches billions of users/month. While it may or may not be effective or completely successful, it may set the stage for other social media applications to look for ways to censor the rise of alternative facts. I believe that truth and trust are still essential to building good relationships.

Do you need help with your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.

9 Months Later: Microsoft Gives Birth to a New Linkedin

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In June 2016, mighty Microsoft purchased LInkedin, and it spawned a lot of speculation about how the deep pockets and resources of the sotftware giant would affect this social media platform that’s set itself apart by becoming the preferred social media application for professionals.

top of mind marketing_new linkedin

Nine months later, we’re seeing the first big change: a new interface

This wasn’t just a little fluff and powder or a reorganization, it was a major overhaul for Linkedin. And guess what? It looks just like Facebook! The formerly awkward design is now much more intuitive, cleaner, faster and easier to navigate. The biggest change is on the homepage. Just like Facebook, the newsfeed cascades down the middle, just below an entry field for sharing articles, photos, and status updates.

  • There are now 7 core areas on the navigation bar. Home (Your Feed), Messaging, Jobs, Notifications, Me, My Network, and Search. With one simple click on the “more” icon on the navigation bar you can also launch into other experiences that matter to you, like LinkedIn Learning.
  • Richer Feed to keep you informed: Linkedin has fine-tuned your Feed to surface the most relevant content from people and publishers you care most about. We’ll see about this one.
  • Powerful search capability. Click on the Search icon and a field opens up that will give you the option to search people, jobs, companies, groups and schools. Coming soon: ability to search posts.
  • Who’s viewing your content: You can now see who’s reading and engaging with the content you share—by company, job title and location.
  • Suggestions to make your profile stand out: You can more easily see what you need to do to look your best professionally

Stealing from Facebook: blatant and smart

With more than 1.8 billion Facebook users worldwide, Facebook’s interface is the one that people know how to use. Linkedin and Facebook user demographics may vary, but their goals are the same: to get people to connect and share information.

Thoughtful, subtle changes transcend homepage facelift

From a user-experience perspective, it’s clear that Linkedin has thoughtfully implemented these changes. I noticed a subtle difference was when I posted my weekly blog to Linkedin. It was easier to drag and drop an image into the image field, easier to add keywords and publish. I also noticed that I can click on a link on my homepage to view the stats on who’s viewing and commenting on my blogs. In the righthand column, there’s a block that shows who’s been viewing my profile.

Nine months ago there was a lot of speculation about what Microsoft’s investment meant to the social media landscape. This redesign should put to rest to rest any doubts about Microsoft’s desire to own a comprehensive, competitive social network or to suggest that it’s just emulating Facebook. It’s not. And this isn’t a productivity play. The new Linkedin is clearly Microsoft’s attempt to become a bigger player in the social media and digital marketing space.

A little bit boring becomes a little bit cool

Linkedin has always been a little big boring when compared to the newer, flashier social media applications. The new Linkedin is infinitely more accessible with great new features. It may become cool to be using Linkedin. Never underestimate the power of Microsoft.

Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

How to Go Viral on Linkedin

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top-of-mind-marketing_going-viralSmart bloggers and writers are posting their blogs to Linkedin—the premier social platform for B2B users. Previous research revealed that LinkedIn audiences like content that is practical—that which helps them do their jobs or identifies industry trends. If you want your posts to go viral, you’ll have a much better chance if you learn from the research of Buzzsumo, a content marketing website that recently examined 300,000 of 2016’s most shared posts and found that the most commonly used headline phrases of successful posts were:

  • How to
  • You need to
  • Why you should
  • Can learn from
  • The future of

Career advice remains popular

Linkedin users are also looking for jobs, so topics that provide tips on advancing your career, habits to form or mistakes to avoid, and how to be a successful leader or manager also receive a significant number of shares. These are excellent examples of posts that went viral, receiving more than 10K shares.

  • 7 Extremely Common Mistakes That Can Damage Your Reputation (12,700 shares)
  • Will Working Remote Kill Your Career? (11,500 shares)
  • How To Be A Leader When You’re Not The Boss (10,600 shares)

Posts about improving sales also performed well

  • The Greatest Sales Deck I’ve Ever Seen  (39,000 shares). Who wouldn’t click on this one?
  • Two Words Top Sales Reps Never Say (11,900 shares)

Industry trends about content marketing did well

Especially Content Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2016 (10,000 shares)

Write about success: Linkedin users are looking for advice

  • Share advice and make it personal. Whether personal or business focus, make this about you.
  • Focus on work: Will your insights make someone more successful at work? What are things to avoid or what have you learned that you can share?
  • Talk trends and the future: Will your knowledge provide insights into the future of your industry?
  • Stick with what works: If you find a format that works, reuse it.

This analysis focused on the most popular headlines and topics of highly shared content. These aren’t rules; rather, the result of some fairly intensive research with conclusive results about what resonates with LinkedIn audiences. I’ve been posting my blog to Linkedin for a couple of years. When I first began posting, I received a lot of views and comments, but the number has dwindled. I believe it’s more about the sheer number of posts—the competition for eyeballs is huge—than the quality of my blogs.

The takeaway: craft headlines that teach

If you want your posts to be read—and go viral—craft headlines that teach. Use How to, why you should or the future of. Linkedin users are eager to learn.

Time to work on your marketing plan for 2017? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and marketing strategists. 

Hashtags: Grouping Content to Increase Brand Awareness

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We all hear about the power of hashtags, and we’re seeing them all over social media. It turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link. The best way to think about hashtags is that they’re a grouping mechanism. Let’s say I post a blog, identify a keyword phrase, content marketing, and include a hashtag, #content marketing. Anyone who keys #contentmarketing into a search field is now more likely to pull up my blog. If you understand the purpose of hashtags and learn how to use them, they become a powerful tool that will help you reach and engage your target audience and increase brand awareness.


Using hashtags in your social media posts makes them visible to basically anyone who shares your interest. No longer are your posts limited to just your followers; your content now becomes accessible to all other users who are interested in similar topics. Choosing good hashtags can significantly broaden the reach of your social media posts.

Creating an Effective Hashtag

Hashtags can appear anywhere in your posts: front, middle or end. Positioning isn’t as important as their relevance and judicious application. Users are turned off by a post that’s cluttered with excessive or lengthy hashtags, e.g. #thisLongHashtagIsSoPointless. Brevity is critical on social media so a short, declarative post with a few well-chosen hashtags should be your goal.

Limiting the number of hashtags

In general, keep your hashtags to two-three on Twitter; Instagram’s ideal number of hashtags is five. Use hashtags on Google+, Tumblr and Pinterest. An article about hashtags on Facebook showed that engagement fell off significantly as the number of hashtags grew.

A few other things to keep in mind:

  • A hashtag must be written as a single word, without any spaces
  • You can include numbers in a hashtag, but punctuation and special characters ($ and %) won’t work
  • Search for a hashtag using the search bar at the top of any browser window–it’s a searchable link
  • Add context. A message, link, message or call to action
  • Stay relevant. Don’t use a trending hashtag to draw users—even though it has nothing to do with your post. It happens.
  • If you’re just getting started, use hashtags that directly relate to your brand, product or service until you’re comfortable with their use. Start noticing how others are using hashtags creatively and effectively.

Are you thinking about outsourcing part or all of your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts. 

Social Media Belongs in Every B2B Marketing Strategy

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You don’t have to be a social media junkie to understand that this medium has changed the way we communicate. We’re sharing our lives, our personal challenges and triumphs with our communities. We’re also sharing the minutiae, the silly things that humanize us and make us interesting. The collection of our random posts, these snippets of information accompanied by images help tell our stories; they document our lives. This personal component has become an important part of the new marketing paradigm—there needs to be an emotional connection, and people want to know about the people with whom they’re going to be working.

top of mind marketing for B2B

Forget about “not my audience”

Many of my clients are in B2B environments, and they discount social media as a communication tool for kids. I get a lot of “not my audience.” Their single concession consists of a boring profile on Linkedin. But social media isn’t just for kids anymore; creating a social media presence and owning it is a critical part of building your online presence. It has a tremendous impact on your SEO value. Every time your name and that of your business appears in the online space, it contributes to your SEO value. It’s cumulative. Consistent with Google’s last few algorithm changes, there’s an emphasis on quality content. Posts that are thoughtful, timely, well-written and relevant. Use images—people expect to be entertained.

Social media should be part of every B2B marketing strategy

Recent research looking at buyers in the IT sector found that 86% use social media when making a purchase decision. These buyers tend to be the young adults who are also using social media for fun.

But the research also showed where the influential decision-makers tend to hang out:

  • 83% research on LinkedIn
  • 80% check out Twitter
  • 80% look at Facebook business pages
  • 61% review YouTube videos
  • 39% use Google+

Do these numbers surprise you? They shouldn’t

Twitter just celebrated its tenth birthday. Facebook is 12 and Linkedin is now a rambunctious teenager, at 14. And these are just the Big 4. This doesn’t include Instagram, Snapchat and the gazillion or so other social media apps that are popping up and capturing people’s imaginations every month.

Social media is not going away; it’s an accessible communication tool that’s deeply ingrained in our lives. Informed buyers these days expect to do research before purchasing a product or service, and the vehicle to do that is conveniently located in the palm of their hands—the ever-present cellphone. They’ll look at your website, read your About section and your Linkedin profile. They’ll also go to your social media sites to see what kind of presence you have. They’ll want to see what you’re posting and what people are posting about you.

Just one channel in an overall marketing plan

Social media is just one marketing channel, but it should be part of a larger marketing strategy. Many small business owners and entrepreneurs are overwhelmed by social media—they don’t have the resources to really create a robust presence and build a huge community. That’s okay. The important thing is to have a steady, consistent message that’s informative and fun. Don’t become a slave to social media—but you can’t afford to neglect it either.

Need help incorporating social media into your marketing plan? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.


Happy 10th, Twitter!

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Twitter celebrated its 10th birthday on March 21. Happy 10th, Twitter! That’s 10 years of hashtags, re-tweets and favoriting. The platform’s come a long way over the past decade, evolving top of mind marketing_twitter turns 10from a simple text-message based application into an integral part of the wider communications landscape; its real-time stream is now a part of breaking news stories around the world, and it plays an important role in the way we connect and communicate.

Many industries have come to rely on Twitter for real-time data newsfeeds and lively story ideas. As newspaper and magazine circulation has fallen and staffs have been cut back, journalists believe they’d no longer be able to function without social media, and Twitter is the most popular platform. Anyone who follows sports knows that athletes these days are all on social media. These are guys with big egos, and they love to tweet, so our favorite sportscasters have followed them onto this platform. It’s fodder for endless stories about their outrageous antics and opinions.

International incidents meet critical mass

It’s been just a few days since the horror of the Brussels terrorist bombing, a few months since 130 people died in a similar atrocity in Paris. Images and videos quickly went viral, sharing the horror of yet more innocent people dying at the hands of ISIS. Twitter has become a powerful medium with the ability to quickly disseminate these stories of terrorism around the world.

Understanding the power of Twitter

The numbers are impressive.

  • When Caitlyn Jennings used Twitter to announce her transformation, it took just over 4 hours to reach 1M people.
  • During the World Cup Final, there were nearly 620K Tweets every single minute.
  • Sadly, Justin Bieber is the most mentioned person, at 943M Tweets
  • More than 27M Tweets were sent about the Boston Marathon bombing
  • Nelson Mandela’s death: 95K Tweets/minute

Yet Twitter has its detractors, including me

I’m a writer. I have a masters degree and have spent years honing a skill. This platform has devalued the art of communication into 140-character sound bites. For those who were already bad writers, Twitter celebrates mediocrity. While many people are using Twitter creatively and well for their businesses, the majority of what hits my inbox is drivel—some nearly impossible to decipher with their combinations of hashtags, symbols and abbreviations.

I just checked my Twitter account

I’ve been posting to Twitter for a few years now, not really paying much attention—I’m interested in it its SEO value. I have 644 Tweets, 875 followers, and I’m following nearly 1,300 people. Amazing. I never do anything to get more followers—people follow me or Re-Tweet my Tweets, which is nice, thank you. Sometimes I look at these people and they’re from Germany, the UK or Asia. Sometimes they respond in languages that I can’t identify. Their responses can be “father, coffee drinker, social media fan”. So what? A lot of these people call themselves writers/authors. Generally in some dark genre of self-publishing hell. These people are just so silly that I can’t ever take this medium seriously.

I understand the power of Twitter . . .

Intellectually, I understand the power of Twitter, but I don’t really consider it a serious medium for me. As a solopreneur who advises many other solopreneurs and small businesses about their marketing, it’s necessary to make choices about how we spend our marketing dollars—and that includes our time. To make social media really work for us, it takes a concerted effort and considerable time. It’s like a 12-step program—it works if you work it. I believe there are better ways to be spending your valuable resources than focusing on Twitter.

Are you struggling with your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.

Facebook Frames Create New Marketing Opportunities

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When the Supreme Court ruled in June that same-sex couples would have the right to marry in all US states, Facebook users showed their support for all of their gay community, friends, family members and colleagues by activating an option add a rainbow overlay to their profile images.

Support for Charlie Hebdo

We saw this same kind of support in January in Paris. Armed with assault rifles and other weapons, terrorists forced their way into the offices of the satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, killing 11 people and injured 11 others. As if this wasn’t enough carnage, they murdered four Jewish hostages a few days later. These terrorist actions stunned the world. Facebook supporters who deplored the violence added the colors of the French flag, red, white and blue to their profiles.

Now Facebook is rolling out Frames on a broader scale because these screens represent important opportunities to generate revenue from marketing dollars.

How do Facebook’s Frames work?

top of mind marketing_facebook frames



Key in You’ll go to a webpage that has your Facebook profile picture on it—a great opportunity to swap out your photo if you’ve been thinking about this. There’s a dropdown with a list of what seems to be mostly European sports teams—remember that social media isn’t just an American obsession; we’re part of a global community that loves to be connected, and the rest of the world is crazy about soccer. There are line items for movies, Canadian Football League and Major League Baseball. Causes include World Wildlife Federation, Make a Wish, Girl Scouts and Australian Marriage Equality. There’s another feature on this page, another dropdown that lets you create an end date, identifying how long you want your Frame to run before it reverts back to your original unadulterated Facebook profile picture—1 hour, 1 week, 1 month or never.

Don’t like these choices? Wait a while . . .

If you don’t like or aren’t familiar with any of these choices, don’t select them. There will soon be more that will be added to these lists. Given the breadth of options available, it’s pretty easy to envision the monetization potential of these screens. Big brands will love the ability to reach Facebook’s 1.591B active monthly users. For the entertainment sector, this is a great way to promote a new movie and build a connection with their audience. People are passionate about their sports teams—let’s get some of our own American teams into the mix. Causes are endless. Politics? Of course! Don’t be afraid to have opinions. It’s endless. I can’t wait to see how Facebook’s Frames evolve.

Are you struggling with social media as part of your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.

Quality Content: Facebook Takes a Tip from Google

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If you’re paying any attention at all, you know that Google’s last few major algorithm changes have placed an increasing importance on quality content. You can’t trick Google anymore—no more meaningless keyword stuffing or other despicable deceptions to make your website show up on page one rather than page 50. The emphasis is now on quality.

Facebook now ranking posts according to its own criteria for quality

On Monday Facebook announced that it will “rank stories higher in feed which we think people might take action on, and which people might want to see”. It looks like Facebook is taking a page from Google—it’s now ranking posts according to its own arbitrary criteria for quality.

The “action” to which Facebook is referring, of course, are the Likes, comments, clicks and shares that we all like to receive on our posts. As we’ve learned from Google, the message is clear and familiar–provide quality and avoid gimmicks. Pages should avoid encouraging people to take an action—according to Facebook, this is a gimmick. No more “Check out my party pictures” for example.

Facebook has graciously come up with a list of best practices to help us comply with their new rules.

  1. Post frequently. Post frequently to your Facebook Page to drive more referrals and get more fans. A note here: Many (most?) people I know are using their personal pages—not their business pages for the bulk of their messaging, both personal and business. This is NOT best practices for a lot of reasons, including that Facebook has been known to completely take down a page that’s being misused in this way. There are many reasons you want to use your business page, including the ability to generate Likes and metrics.
  2. Use a variety of content, including links and photos. Use a variety of formats including links, photos, videos, and other content. Pose a question; use calls-to-action to encourage engagement.
  3. Upload videos with a call-to-action. More than 4 billion video views happen on Facebook everyday. Upload videos to Facebook to let them play automatically in News Feed and make sure you add a call to action to your video to drive viewers to your website.
  4. Create content with social context in mind. Be thinking about what would increase the likelihood of someone’s sharing your content. Think about identity and emotion — key drivers of sharing — when writing headlines and choosing images. Remember that short posts are most effective, so you’ve got to choose your words carefully to get the most impact.
  5. Tag other Pages in your Facebook posts. Tagging other Pages will make your post eligible to appear in the news feed of people who are fans of those pages, potentially increasing your distribution.
  6. Engage. Host a Q&A session or sponsor a contest.
  7. Use Trending to find popular topics on Facebook and post about them. Trending—on the right side of your News Feed–is a personalized list of the most popular Facebook topics by country. Repurpose these, comment on them, etc.
  8. Embed Facebook or Instagram posts in your website. Once you’ve found a great piece of content on Facebook or Instagram, you can embed it on your website using Facebook Embedded Posts or Instagram Web Embeds. Embeds are fully interactive and bring your webpages to life.

Is it time to incorporate social media into your marketing plan? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.

What’s Content Marketing? Writing Your Way to Relationships

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What’s Content Marketing? Building Relationships with Your Writing

We hear a lot about content marketing these days—how it’s a “more meaningful way to engage with your audience”, but that sounds like a bunch of hooey. What’s content marketing? Think of it as writing your way to relationships. And we all know that relationships are the way that we build and grow our businesses.

You’re probably already using content marketing

If you’re posting to social media, writing a weekly blog and sending out a regular newsletter, you’re employing content marketing. The idea is to share valuable, relevant content on a consistent basis to get people to not just read what you write, but to become customers.

The goal is conversion

Through the course of your postings and articles, your followers will recognize you as an industry expert and want to work with you, which will, in turn, drive profit. While the goal is conversion, content marketing is not about hard-core selling techniques; rather, the emphasis is on education and information-sharing.


It’s all about building relationships

Think about the relationship between advertising and content marketing. Traditional advertising hits you over the head with brand messages and calls to action, while content marketing distinguishes itself by providing useful information and entertainment. It’s much more subtle. Both of these media build relationships with their audiences, but the great thing about content marketing is that you have the opportunity to establish an intimacy that the old forms of marketing—direct mail and advertising—never afforded.

Intimacy: is that too scary?

We live in a world where many of us work virtually; we spend way too much time hunkered down in our home offices, yet we still want to know about the people with whom we’re doing business. We’re interested in their politics; we love that they, like us, are Giants fans, starting to get World Series fever as we power our way through September baseball.

While we tune in for business insights, It’s the occasional posts about sports allegiances, the silly things their kids are doing or community activism that humanizes people–and we love it. We begin to look forward to their newsletters and blogposts because we know we can expect something that’s smart, perceptive and funny. We start to trust these people because they’re savvy and clearly understand their businesses and we want to know them, follow them—and ultimately–work with them. And that’s really what content marketing’s all about.

How to get started with a content marketing strategy? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

The Evolution of Content Marketing: Ad Exhaustion to Digital Mania

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People have wearied of advertising and turned to digital media

In the old days it was easy–we relied on two forms of marketing—direct mail and advertising. But we wearied of advertising. People stopped buying the magazines and newspapers where the ads appeared. They began taping their favorite TV programs so they could skip the ads. The emergence of laptops and digital devices meant that people were online 24/7; savvy business owners realized that they needed to find a new way to reach this audience, and social media, newsletters, blogs and websites were the methodology.

Content marketing represents significant opportunity, but it also makes our jobs a lot harder because now, on top of being the CEO, CMO, CFO and COO of our businesses, we have to be skilled and clever writers and social media experts. And thanks to WordPress and other web technologies, we are now supposed to be updating our website content on a regular basis. We need to be writing clever blogposts and newsletters that showcase our expertise.

There’s a lot to love about content marketing—it’s free, it’s accessible and it doesn’t discriminate. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can become a player in the content marketing space.

But there is a caveat. In order to share your knowledge and be recognized as an industry expert, you have to be a good writer. It’s not enough to just have clever ideas and keen insights. Every time you produce written material about yourself you are putting a line in the sand positioning yourself as an expert. If what someone produces fails to make its point, is full of grammatical and punctuation errors, I think of that person as a whole lot less expert.

Thinking it’s t imd to hire a professional writer to help develop a comprehensive, integrated content marketing program? Contact us at Top of Mind Marketing; we’re content marketing experts.