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Nov

21

2017

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Nov

21

2017

No One Trusts Social Media, but They’ll Keep Using It Anyway [New Data]

I’ll just come right out and say it: The internet has a massive mess to clean up.

You may have heard about it. For instance, earlier this month, you may have followed the testimony from senior leaders at Facebook, Twitter, and Google that outlined, in detail, the quantity and nature of ads purchased and published on their platforms by operatives in Russia and other foreign states.

And yeah, of course — we all have our take on it, and many of us are clamoring to share it.

But my colleague, HubSpot’s own research boss Mimi An, had a better idea: Let’s ask everyone else what they think.Click here to learn about using social media in every stage of the funnel.

And so, in light of these recent events, An’s team ran a consumer study to gather sentiment data from 1,000 U.S. adults to find out just how they feel about this big, steaming internet mess. 

Here are the results.

A Few Notes on the Data

During the week of October 30, 2017,  three major online content-sharing and discovery platforms — Facebook, Twitter, and Google — testified before representatives of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Because those were the three companies present for the testimony, the questions asked of survey responses focused only on them, despite the possible involvement of other social media networks in ongoing election interference investigation.

When we distribute surveys, we describe in as much detail the exact issue that we want participates to respond to. The language used to phrase the survey questions describes what has taken place so far in a continuously developing situation as factually as possible within such constraints of online surveys as character limits and anonymity — and, therefore, an inability to follow up with respondents.

How Russian Ads Have Forever Changed Our Perception of Social Media

  1. Are ads now viewed with distrust?
  2. Are American social media users satisfied with networks’ responses?
  3. Are social networks themselves now viewed with distrust?
  4. Are social media networks responsible for vetting ads?
  5. Will Americans use affected social media networks less?
  6. Will Americans stop using affected social media networks altogether?

1. Ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Google are viewed with distrust.

 

On average, close to half of all respondents would describe ads these platforms as “very untrustworthy,” compared to an average of 5.5% who find them to be either somewhat or very trustworthy. Note that this is the sentiment around the ads appearing on these platforms, and not the platforms themselves.

2. Twitter’s response generated the least satisfaction, but the sentiment is low across the board.

While respondents were generally unsatisfied with network responses to political ad purchases on their respective platforms, it seems as though they have the least faith in Twitter. (The score for “somewhat satisfied,” for instance, was three percentage points lower than those for Facebook and Google.)

It’s worth noting that Twitter first testified before U.S. Congress about this same issue prior to the November events were all three companies were present, when it told representatives that it roughly 200 Russian-linked accounts — a figure that many found to be paltry and underestimated, including Senator Mark Warner, who called these initial efforts “frankly inadequate”.

How much influence that initial testimony (and Congressional response) had on survey respondents is uncertain, but it is an important historical point in the context of the particularly low sentiment toward Twitter.

Although the rates of dissatisfaction are fairly equal across the board, this survey was administered prior to a Recode report that Facebook filed comments with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that indicated its support of rules that would require the network to provide greater visibility and transparency around the political ads used on its site.

However, that support is limited in nature, in that Facebook only indicated that it would agree to these terms around ads pertaining to specific candidates, and not issues — and a significant portion of Russia-bought ads during the 2016 presidential election concerned such highly-contested and somewhat divisive issues as gun control and immigration.

Google, on the other hand, filed comments with the FEC that actively requested more detailed guidelines around issue-based ads, requesting further direction as to how those within its industry can and should better approach organizations attempting to promote propaganda.

Twitter, meanwhile, did file comments, but had little to say other than a request for the FEC to maintain awareness of the network’s character limits when establishing rules.

3. Trust in social media networks has been eroded by the political ads controversy.

In addition to ad content appearing on content-sharing and discovery platforms, it would appear that trust has fallen in the platforms themselves. Facebook was particularly hard hit here, with just shy of half of respondents saying that they find this channel to be less trustworthy.

However, an even higher amount of respondents answered with “none of the above,” signaling the possibility of no less trust in any of these channels. That data is once again reflected with our findings in other areas of the survey, including respondents’ plans to decrease or stop their use of social media — more on that in a bit.

4. 77% of Americans believe platforms need to vet the ads they sell and display.

Across the board, respondents stated a strong belief that it’s the responsibility of the platforms themselves to vet ad content purchased and displayed on their channels. An average of 77% of survey participants agreed with this sentiment, regardless of age, indicating that most social media users expect to see proactive changes in ad policies and best practices.

5. Though Americans are angry about the ads controversy, few plan on using the affected platforms less.

However, despite the general sentiment that these platforms are untrustworthy — as are the ads displayed on them — and need to do better about vetting paid or promoted content, the same respondents have indicated that, for the most part, they don’t plan to reduce their use of Facebook, Twitter, or Google.

In fact, despite being the least satisfied with Twitter’s response to the political ad crisis, less than a quarter of respondents plan to use it less. That number is even lower for Google, and only slightly higher for Facebook.

6. … and, even fewer Americans plan to stop using the platforms altogether.

Even if some intend to momentarily step away from social media, over 75% of survey respondents say they plan to leave these Facebook, Twitter, or Google altogether.

The last of the three is particularly difficult to give up entirely — after all, it’s commonly referred to as a “search giant” for a reason. But even so, a noticeably small number of survey participants would consider ceasing all use of Facebook and Twitter, as well.

But what does all of this information mean? What does it say about our online behavior and habits, and what are the implications for marketers?

The Takeaways

If nothing else, these numbers — and where they almost seem to contradict each other — illustrate a dependence on these contested channels.

Despite the overwhelming distrust in them, as well as the ad content published on them, survey respondents have no plans to curtail or cease using them — perhaps because they need to use them for work (after all, we are marketers), or because they simply enjoy them too much to step away.

That speaks to the power and influence they hold over users day-to-day. We spend a significant amount of time on these channels — about a third of Google’s visitors are based in the U.S., and on average, we spend about 35 minutes each day on Facebook (for context, that’s about 2.4% of the entire day). Thirty-five minutes may not seem like a ton of time, but when you think about how much time you spend on activities that are actually essential to your livelihood — like eating, for example — how does it compare?

The point is, the people behind this political content were likely aware of how much time we spend using the platforms where it was displayed. It’s no wonder that 126 million Americans were exposed to it — there’s a good amount of content to be consumed in a mere 35 minutes.

The main message to marketers, however, is this: These platforms are extremely useful and effective. In fact, that’s why people are highly concerned over the presence of Russian ads — there’s a very good chance that, if the intent behind them was to influence the U.S. presidential election in a certain direction, they worked. That’s why these representatives from these platforms are being summoned before a federal body. This level of effectiveness is a big deal.

By no means is this to say that marketers should cease using these channels to promote content and build brand awareness. As I said: It’s extremely effective and should continue to be used for growth. But with that effectiveness comes great responsibility, and that growth must be built with a commitment to transparency and truth.

That’s how I see it, anyway. 

As always, feel free to chime in. What’s your take on this data? Let me know on Twitter, or weigh in with any questions you have about it.

Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel

 
How to Use Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel E

Nov

21

2017

What is the GDPR? And What Does it Mean for the Marketing Industry?

Published by in category Daily, gdpr | Leave a Comment

Disclaimer: This blog post is not legal advice for your company to use in complying with EU data privacy laws like the GDPR. Instead, it provides background information to help you better understand the GDPR. This legal information is not the same as legal advice, where an attorney applies the law to your specific circumstances, so we insist that you consult an attorney if you’d like advice on your interpretation of this information or its accuracy.

In a nutshell, you may not rely on this as legal advice, or as a recommendation of any particular legal understanding.

If you’re a marketer, we expect you’ve heard about the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) coming into force on 25 May 2018. The legislation will have a big impact on the way marketers approach their work and how organizations obtain, store, manage or process the personal data of EU citizens. This post will give some specific examples of what will change, how we’re thinking about it at HubSpot and the wider industry.

To start, we want to highlight research carried out by the HubSpot team, and unfortunately it’s not good news. Just 36% of marketers have heard of GDPR, while 15% of companies have done nothing, and are at risk of non-compliance. We would go as far to say there’s a worrying lack of action, and most companies are not ready for the GDPR. However, we’re optimistic this blog post will act as a conversation starter and inspire action within the industry.

There are two important parts of the Regulation that we want to highlight. First up, even if you’re based outside of the EU but you control or process the data of EU citizens, the GDPR will apply to you. Secondly, the potential penalties for falling foul of GDPR are going to be severe. Depending on the type of violation, companies will incur fines of up to €20 million or 4% of their global annual revenue (whichever is greater). These big penalties show that the regulators mean business and companies cannot afford to ignore the legislation.

On a more upbeat note, we think the legislation is a positive step. It’s an opportunity for good marketers to continue doing positive work in a way that puts people and their concerns at the forefront. It also means marketers will have to work harder to earn attention and gain the right to communicate with people on an ongoing basis.

But hard work won’t be enough: marketers will be forced to up their game and become more creative if they want to succeed. Again, we don’t see that as a bad outcome at all. Anything that gives more power to consumers and makes marketers get better is to be welcomed.

But those companies which have put their own needs ahead of consumers and indulged in shady or outbound tactics are in for a shock. Their world is going to change dramatically as the GDPR will hasten the demise of marketing tactics like buying lists, cold emailing and spam.

Not only are these tactics outdated, they provide a poor experience for the recipient and they’re becoming less and less effective by the day. Inbound marketing has always been the antithesis to these tactics — it puts the consumer first and attracts them with valuable content. But now, via regulation, others are going to have to adapt their marketing playbook.

Are you GDPR ready? Check out our GDPR checklist.

What impact will the GDPR have on my marketing activities?

You may be asking yourself, “where should I start with GDPR?”. There’s a lot to digest when it comes to the new Regulation so, to help you out, we’ve created a dedicated GDPR web page with a tonne of information about the GDPR, including what it is, why it came about, a glossary of terms and the most important of the changes the GDPR brings to EU data privacy legislation.

With that covered, we’re now going to work our way through the inbound marketing methodology and look at the GDPR principles you should consider at the various stages of the inbound marketing methodology:

 

 

Stage 1 – Data Collection

Transparency

The GDPR was designed to ensure that there will be more transparency between the organizations who collect and control the data (the ‘Data Controllers’) and the individuals whose personal data is being collected (the ‘Data Subjects’). This means that any organization which attracts people to its website and wants to collect data via a form must communicate clearly to that person what the data is going to be used for. The individual will need to give their consent to that use and the consent needs to be clear, in plain English and “informed, specific, unambiguous, and revocable“. Data subjects also need to be told about their right to withdraw consent.

Example: Meet Amy Meyer. She lives in Germany, has a passion for interior design, and we’re going to use her as an example throughout this post. If Amy downloads an ebook from The Paint Company to research what colours she can combine for the decoration of her new house, The Paint Company will need to make sure that they explain to Amy how they’re going to use her data.

For instance, if The Paint Company is planning to track Amy’s usage of its website, wants to send her more information via email, or is planning to share it with their affiliates outside the EU, they need to communicate that clearly and Amy needs to consent to that use. It won’t be sufficient for The Paint Company to pre-tick the box on a form to send information to Amy by email, as ‘opt-out consent’ will no longer be permitted under the GDPR.

Importantly, if The Paint Company decides they want to use Amy’s data for a new purpose at any point during the relationship, they’ll need consent from Amy to use the data for that new purpose. So while it’s clearly important to be transparent at the time of collection, it’s important that organizations remain open and transparent throughout the marketing process, and in terms of how it manages personal data after the relationship has ended.

Data Minimisation

When an organization is collecting data from an individual in order to convert a website visitor into a lead, they must remember that, under the GDPR, they are only permitted to collect data that is adequate, relevant, and limited to what is necessary for the intended purpose of collection. Data collected by the organization which is deemed unnecessary or excessive will constitute a breach of the GDPR.

Example: The Paint Company created a landing page for prospects like Amy to download an ebook on living room colour schemes. Before Amy can download the ebook, she will need to complete the fields created by The Paint Company. It’s reasonable that they might want to collect her name, email address and even details about the project Amy is about to undertake. However, if they were to attempt to collect information about Amy’s family (for example, if she is married or how many children she has) or her health, this would be excessive as that data should not be required by a painting and decorating company.

Stage 2 – Data Storage and Processing

Purpose and Usage Limitation

organizations can only use the data collected and stored by them for specified, explicit, and legitimate purposes. They’re not allowed to use it in any way that would be incompatible with the intended purpose for which it was collected. Also, if they plan to transfer or share the data with another company, they need to ensure they have consent from the person to do so.

Example: After Amy Meyer has downloaded the ebook from The Paint Company, Amy decides that she wants to enroll in an online course to learn more about painting and decorating. If the online course is being run by a third party training company on behalf of The Paint Company, they, The Paint Company will need to ensure that the training company have Amy’s consent to use the data. In addition, the training company will not be able to use the data for any other purpose other than the purposes Amy consented to.

Security

Once data is collected, the organization needs to ensure it is stored in a secure manner and in accordance with the Security provisions of the GDPR. This means they must use “appropriate technical and organizational security measures” to protect personal data against unauthorised processing and accidental loss, disclosure, access, destruction, or alteration. Depending on the type of data collected and the ways it is being used, companies may need to consider encrypting the data, using pseudonymization or anonymization methods to protect it or segregating the data from other data in their systems.

Example: Now that Amy Meyer’s data is stored in The Paint Company’s systems, it is the responsibility of The Paint Company to ensure it is kept safe and secure. Before collecting the data, The Paint Company should have assessed the types of data they planned to collect and work with their security team to ensure that it meets the standards of the GDPR.

These standards will differ depending on the kinds of data collected (for instance, security standards will be higher for sensitive data, biometric data or data about children) and how they’ll use that data. Only employees who need to access that data for the intended purpose have access to it and contracts with any vendors touching that data contain the relevant security protections.

Accuracy

People will now be able to ask organizations at any time to correct or update their data if the information is no longer accurate.

Example: Amy Meyer has bought some paint from The Paint Company and has also signed up to their loyalty program to receive discounts and new design ideas via email. Amy has moved to a new email service provider and wants The Paint Company to update her data so she receives emails to her new email address.

Accountability

The organization is responsible for ensuring they comply with their obligations under the GDPR. Not only will they need to keep records to prove compliance (for instance, records of consent for all of the data collected), they’ll also need to ensure they have policies in place governing the collection and use of that data.

They may need to appoint a data protection officer (DPO) and they’ll also need to ensure they implement a ‘Privacy by Design/Default’ policy, to ensure they’re systematically considering the potential impact that a project or initiative might have on the privacy of individuals. Controllers will have to ensure their vendor contracts are updated so that they include the necessary provisions to protect the data being processed by those vendors on their behalf.

Example: The Paint Company decides to run a marketing campaign targeting people like Amy, offering a place at an interior design webinar run by a third party training company. Before running the campaign, The Paint Company will need to ensure their system has the capability to not only obtain Amy’s and the other participant’s consent to all uses of their data (including sharing it with the third party), but also to record that consent. They will also need policies about how they will use that data, and ensure the contract with the training company includes the necessary provisions required in Processor contracts under Article 28 of the GDPR.

Want to find out more about GDPR? Check out our GDPR guide here.

Stage 3 – End of the Relationship

Retention

organizations may only hold on to personal data for as long as is necessary to fulfill the intended purpose of collection. So if the relationship is terminated for any reason, they need to ensure they have a data retention policy in place which outlines how long they will retain that individual’s data for and the business justification for holding on to the data for that specified period.

In drafting their retention policies, organizations will need to consider whether there is any law or regulation which obliges them to hold on to some of that data for specified periods. For example, they may need to retain some financial data for auditing purposes by law. While this is permitted, it should be outlined clearly in their retention policy and made clear to Amy. Again, the principle of transparency is important, even at this stage in the relationship.

Example: After ordering supplies from The Paint Company and decorating her home, Amy no longer requires the services of The Paint Company and closes her account with them. The Paint Company will need to ensure they comply with their own data retention policy if they want to hold on to any of Amy’s data after her account is closed.

Deletion

If the individual requests at any time that their data should be deleted, the data controller has to comply with that request and confirm the deletion, not only from their own systems but from any downward vendors’ systems who were processing that data on behalf of the organization.

Example: After ordering supplies from The Paint Company, Amy has now found out about a competitor that is offering better products and wants her data to be deleted from The Paint Company’s database. She sends an email to request the deletion and the company follows up quickly with the confirmation of her deletion. The company should ensure that Amy’s data is also removed from it’s vendor’s databases.

Why Marketers Should Welcome the GDPR

There’s lots that organizations must do to ensure they comply with the GDPR, but we welcome it. In fact, we see three big changes coming that will boost the marketing industry:

1) People’s attention will be treated with the respect it deserves.

For marketers to succeed when the GDPR comes into force, they’re going to have to focus on providing even more value to customers. This means the job of a marketer is going to get more difficult. They will have to work hard (really hard) to attract consumers and earn the right to speak with people. But they should — attention is a valuable commodity, and in truth it’s been abused by marketers over the years.

2) Greater transparency between people and the companies that hold their data.

If the GDPR is successful it will provide greater transparency and control to EU citizens over how their data is being used by organizations. Transparency is key. Today, few people see the benefits of sharing data, but they often do because they want to use a service or product. Forcing companies that collect data to become transparent means they will need to communicate and provide value to the person. We expect greater communication and transparency around data collection will lead to better understanding about why people should share data.

3) A higher bar for marketers has been set.

Let’s not fool ourselves — the GDPR is going to (forcibly) raise the bar for marketers. Tactics which don’t have GDPR-compliant consent mechanisms built in will be consigned to the history books. This means marketers will need fresh thinking and have to innovate. The end result is that to succeed in this new reality and comply with the GDPR, we’re going to see better, more creative and thoughtful marketing.

We see the GDPR as a watershed moment for the marketing industry. It’s rightly causing many organizations to rethink how they approach marketing, but it’s also a huge opportunity for businesses to articulate the importance of people sharing their data and how it leads to greater personalization, better products and services, and a more efficient data economy. For too long businesses have remained silent on this issue. A discussion is long overdue and we’re excited to help shape it.

Want to find out more about GDPR? Check out our GDPR website here.

Nov

21

2017

The 20 Best Websites for Wasting Time on the Internet in 2018

There’s a lot of content out there about productivity — everything from hacks to shortcuts to tips and tricks for how to get more done in less time. It’s all about the sprint, the checking things off the lists as quickly as possible, and the downloading of software that’ll block out any and all distractions.

But what about those times when you just want to surf the internet aimlessly? Hey, no one can be totally productive all the time. In fact, studies have shown that taking deliberate breaks after periods of work is better for productivity.Download our complete productivity guide here for more tips on improving your  productivity at work.

The question is, how do you spend those breaks? You could check your email, but that still counts as working. You could check Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, but there’s something so mundane about haphazardly scrolling through your peripheral friends’ photos.

We have a few better ideas. Here’s a shortlist of the most wonderfully entertaining places to waste time on the internet outside of email and social media. Get ready to bookmark your favorites.

The 20 Best Websites For Wasting Time on the Internet

What are the best websites for wasting time on the internet?

  1. WaitButWhy
  2. Mental Floss
  3. xkcd
  4. The Oatmeal
  5. Supercook
  6. Imgur
  7. BuzzFeed “Comments” Section
  8. The Toast
  9. Animal Planet Kitten and Puppy Cams
  10. Zillow
  11. Google Maps Street View
  12. HowStuffWorks
  13. The Onion
  14. Wikipedia
  15. OCEARCH Shark Tracker
  16. Giphy
  17. Wayback Machine
  18. Apartment Therapy
  19. Lifehacker
  20. Oregon Trail

1) WaitButWhy

WaitButWhy is one of my favorite places to spend time on the internet. Every week or so, a guy named Tim Urban churns out one, really long, really awesome article. (Seriously, they’re canonical. You can kill a lot of time reading just one of them.)

His articles are always fascinating, in-depth, and really well written. His writing style is the perfect mix of informative and humorous — making topics like the Fermi Paradox (the what?) approachable for someone like me who’d never heard of it before in my entire life. He writes about relationships, religion, outer space … pretty much everything.

My favorite posts of his include “Everything You Don’t Know About Tipping,” “The Great Perils of Social Interaction,”  and “Your Life in Weeks” (which has some awesome graphics in it, by the way). He even wrote a great post on why procrastinators procrastinate, which anyone reading this article might want to check out.

2) Mental Floss

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Mental Floss is a super addicting online magazine with articles covering a really wide range of topics. Their articles are really well written, really well researched, and usually on topics that don’t get a lot of airtime.

For example, in their “Big Questions” section, they tackle weirdly intriguing questions like why shells sound like the ocean and why yawns are contagious. Readers can even submit their own big questions.

3) xkcd

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If you’re into nerdy humor even the littlest, tiniest bit, there’s a lot to love about xkcd. Each post features a short, stick-figure comic strip on humor about technology, science, mathematics, and relationships. The guy behind it is Randall Munroe, who worked on robots at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia before starting this blog.

Below is an example of one of his comic strips. (He always includes a joke in the comic strip image’s alt text, so if you look at the strips on the xkcd website, be sure to hover your mouse over the image to catch those jokes.)

Source: xkcd

4) The Oatmeal

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The Oatmeal is another one of my absolute favorite places to spend time online. It’s a huge library of awesome content — some comprised entirely of graphics. Even if you’ve read everything already, it’s the kind of stuff you can read over and over again.

Some of my favorite posts include “Why Working From Home is Both Awesome and Horrible,” “How the Male Angler Fish Got Completely Screwed” (I think I legitimately cried laughing when I first read that one), and a whole manner of grammar-related posts like “Ten Words You Need to Stop Misspelling” and “You’re Not Going to Believe What I’m About to Tell You.”

5) Supercook

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If you want to surf the internet in a semi-productive way — but not so productive that you actually have to leave the house — then check out Supercook.

Here’s how it works: You tell it which ingredients you have in stock in your home, and it’ll give you a big list of recipes you can make using just those ingredients. It’s a fun way to stay thrifty, clean out the fridge, and make sure food doesn’t go to waste.

6) Imgur

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Imgur collects the most viral images of the week and collects them all in one place for your mindless scrolling and enjoyment. What I like about Imgur is it’s usually more timely than Twitter or Instagram — more popular sharing networks where funny pictures and memes might appear a week or two later. Use Imgur to waste time and introduce your friends to the funniest stuff on the internet first.wx1

7) BuzzFeed “Comments” Sections

You already know BuzzFeed is a great place to waste time on the internet, but we’re looking beyond the actual article here. Scroll down to the “comments” section of pretty much any article for a hilarious showcase of the crazy (I mean crazy) stuff people are saying. I find it especially entertaining to read the comments on benign topics that shouldn’t make people irate, but do anyway.

8) The Toast

the toast1.png

If you’re into great (and hilarious) fiction writing, then you’ll definitely want to bookmark this site. Every day, writers Nicole Cliffe and Mallory Ortberg publish a post on “everything from literary characters that never were to female pickpockets of Gold Rush-era San Francisco,” reads their About page.

To get an idea of whether it’s up your alley, start with their post, “A Day in the Life of Seth MacFarlane, Human Male (Definitely Not a Swarm of Hyper-Alert Bees and a Metal Jaw.)” It’s just so good.

9) Animal Planet Kitten and Puppy Cams

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Puppies and kittens. What could be better? I have this website bookmarked for whenever I need a pick-me-up. You can check out a live stream from animal shelters in the U.S. to see some of the adoptable cuties in action.

10) Zillow

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It’s fun to check out real estate in areas you might want to live — and it’s just as fun to check it out in places you’ll probably never live, but would love to in a dream world. Go ahead and explore what’s out there. You can set up saved searches (some more realistic than others) to relive your discoveries later.

11) Google Maps Street View

In the same vein as Zillow, it’s wildly entertaining to go to Google Maps and zoom in on the street view in random places around the world. It’s so strange and thrilling to see what life was like at a random moment in time, on a random street somewhere you may never visit in your lifetime.

I recommend the Palace of Versailles in France, Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal, the Swiss Alps, and the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. (Yes, they have underwater cameras.)

12) HowStuffWorks

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This website is dedicated entirely to — you guessed it — how things work. And by “things,” they mean everything: from airbags to regenerative medicine to velocipede carousels. They’ve covered so much on this website, it’ll be hard to run out of things to read about. 

Plus, they have a whole bunch of really cool podcasts that have branched off the main site over the years and are worth checking out. My favorites are “Stuff You Should Know,” “BrainStuff,” and “Stuff Mom Never Told You.”

13) The Onion

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If you haven’t spent some quality time reading the online satirical newspaper The Onion, then you’re seriously missing out on a good laugh. (And you’ve kind of been living under a rock.) But seriously, I sometimes forget how consistently hysterical the articles are.

The publication started in 1988 and they’ve managed to successfully maintain a high standard for humor and writing ever since. Their headlines are laugh-out-loud funny in and of themselves — from “Free-Thinking Cat Sh**s Outside the Box” to “Archaeological Dig Uncovers Ancient Race of Skeleton People” to “Buyer Of $450 Million Da Vinci Painting Sort Of Assumed It Would Come With Frame.”

Of course, their headlines being hilarious makes sense, seeing as the headline is where each story begins. This awesome episode of NPR’s This American Life gives you a really cool peek into The Onion‘s editorial process. 

(Bonus: ClickHole, their sister website that makes fun of Upworthy-style viral content on the internet, is another great place to waste some time.)

14) Wikipedia

You didn’t think I’d write a post on where to waste time on the internet without including Wikipedia, did you? Of course not. You’ve gotta love spiraling into the proverbial Wikipedia black hole: Look up one thing, and then check out something that’s interlinked to it. Before you know it, you’ll have charted the entire Russian Revolution. (Read: This is an actual glimpse into my colleague Corey‘s Sunday morning.)

If you want to get more involved while wasting time online, remember Wikipedia is based on a model of openly editable content — as in, anyone can edit any unprotected page. So if you’re into editing and updating content in your free time, it’s yours to edit. (As long as you follow their guidelines.)

15) OCEARCH Shark Tracker

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Tracking sharks as they swim around the ocean may not be the most conventional way to waste time on the internet … but it might be the coolest.

The Track Sharker tool by Marine Research Group OCEARCH lets you track tagged sharks — who all have names, by the way — as they travel all over the world. You can even zoom in on a specific location to see which sharks are hanging out there and where they’ve been swimming and traveling for the past year. Go, Hilton, go!

16) Giphy

When you need to find the perfect GIF, you can’t just stop at the first result you get for “dancing” or “awkward” or “animals being jerks.” I could spend (… and have spent) hours on Giphy looking for juuust the right GIF. How long do you think it took Ellie here to come up with all ten of the ones in this post? Totally worth it.

17) Wayback Machine

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Feeling nostalgic? Check out what websites have looked like over the years via Internet Archive’s famous Wayback Machine. It lets you pick a date and see exactly what any website looked like at that time. (For a real trip, compare how Facebook looked back in the 2000s to today. Remember the wall-to-wall?)

If you just want to take a quick peek, check out this roundup of what nine famous websites used to look like. All the images in that post were taken from the Wayback Machine.

18) Apartment Therapy

If you’re even a little bit of a fan of home decor or DIY projects, this is a website you might find yourself spending hours and hours on. There’s a ton of awesome visual and written content on here. My favorites include their “before and after” series, their “small spaces” series, and the tours of people’s actual apartments and homes.

Plus, they have a whole lot of helpful articles giving tips on everything from how to redo your stairs to ideas for using that awkward space above your fridge. There’s no shortage of useful and fun information on here, making it prime for endless browsing.

One of our own was recently featured on ApartmentTherapy too — check out INBOUND Elijah‘s adorable spot here.

19) Lifehacker

Lifehacker is a hub of productivity tips, tricks, and downloads. It’s basically an archive of all the information it would be incredibly useful to know, but nobody ever really teaches you. Aside from productivity, they also cover topics such as money-saving tips, clever uses for household items, and so on.

For example, did you know you can buy alcoholic beverages at Costco without a membership? Or that you can peel a mango in under 10 seconds? Or that there are four lengths of naps that’ll benefit you in different, very specific ways? Along with the fun articles, they have some pretty awesome, in-depth articles, like this one on how to plant ideas in someone’s mind, as well as helpful listicles like the top ten obscure Google Search tricks.

There’s so much content on there that it can be hard to find posts on specific topics. Use the Lifehacker Index for an introduction to their top-performing posts and tips on how to find posts on any topic on the website.

20) The Oregon Trail

Here’s a little gift for those of you who made it to the end of this post: Internet Archive — yes, the same one responsible for the Wayback Machine — made it possible for people to PLAY THE COMPUTER GAME “OREGON TRAIL” AGAIN. I can practically hear all the Gen X’ers out there screaming with joy.

If “Oregon Trail” isn’t your cup of tea, the other games made available by Internet Archive include “Duke Nukem,” “Street Fighter,” “Burger Blaster,” “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” “The Lion King,” and “Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer.” Check out the full library here.

Productivity Guide

 
How to Use Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel

Nov

20

2017

How to Make Instagram Stories Like a Pro

These days, social media is all about documentation.

Where you go, what you eat and drink, who you see, and what’s most memorable: These are the typical fodder of Instagram Stories — seconds-long glimpses of people’s lives, shared on Instagram for only 24 hours.

You might know the basics of sharing Instagram Stories, but there are hidden tools within the app that can make the photos and videos you share more creative and more engaging.Download our essential guide to Instagram for business for more helpful tips  and tricks.

So we’ve created this guide to how to share Instagram Stories, and how to make those Stories are compelling and cool as possible. In this post, we’ll cover:

Why Share Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories can drive a ton of engagement and value — whether you’re sharing a Story from a brand account or your own personal profile.

Since launching back in August 2016, a total of 250 million Instagram users have started sharing disappearing content on Instagram Stories — contributing to the huge jump in time spent in-app every day from 24 minutes to 32.

What’s more, a lot of brands have already seen success publishing content to this platform. Instagram Stories have fueled the growth of brands like Teen Vogue, Insider, and Bustle. Whether publishers are trying to grow brand awareness, grow traffic to videos or newsletter outside of Instagram, or share sponsored content, publishers are flocking to Instagram to publish fun disappearing content that infuses brand voice and personality without taking up too much of the average techie’s dwindling attention span.

What’s more, Instagram Stories are credited with fueling the massive growth of Instagram Direct — private one-to-one messaging between users within the app. Instagram Direct has grown into one of the most popular messaging apps in the world with a staggering 375 million users. Even more impressive, TechCrunch reports that one in five Instagram Stories shared by a brand receives a Direct reply — giving brands a direct line to connect with their audience and learn more about them.

How to Make Stories on Instagram

You can make Instagram Stories this successful too — but it requires a few more hacks and tips to make them look like the Stories big brands and influencers share. (Some of my favorite Instagram Stories are shared by chef Chloe Coscarelli, actress Busy Phillips, mattress brand Casper, and interior design app Hutch — and don’t forget to check out HubSpot‘s Instagram Stories, either.)

But first, let’s review the basics of how to share an Instagram Story:

1) Open Instagram, and tap the camera icon in the upper left-hand corner of your phone.

Leela-1-1.png

2) Share a photo or video you’ve already captured by swiping up on your screen to browse your gallery.

Disclosure: Yes, I did a photoshoot featuring my cats. Can you blame me though?

Leela-2.png

3) Or, choose a camera lens to capture a photo or video in-app.

Leela-3.png

You have a few different options to choose from:

1) Live

If you toggle your screen to the “Live” option, you’ll start filming and broadcasting live on Instagram. Like Facebook Live, friends can follow along and leave comments, and when you’re done with the broadcast, you’ll have the option to let the video disappear, save it, or share it Instagram Stories for an additional 24 hours.

2) Normal

It means what it says: Tapping once will capture a photo, and holding down will record a video. Instagram Stories can be 15 seconds in length, so if you want to share a video that’s longer, film in 15-second stints, or use CutStory to split your longer clip into 15-second installments.

3) Boomerang

Boomerang mode films looping GIFs up to three seconds in length. 

4) Superzoom

Superzoom is, on the surface, a video recording lens that zooms in closer and closer on your subject. But turn up the volume, and you can use Superzoom to create a dramatic soundtrack to accompany your video.

As my friend Marissa put it, “It’s like it’s BUILT for cats.”

I will forever be in love with this Insta lens!!!! pic.twitter.com/HvU6rarmNa

— Sophia Bernazzani (@soph_bern)
November 17, 2017

5) Rewind

Use the rewind lens to film a video in reverse.

6) Stop Motion

Use this lens to film cool stop-motion videos: several different still images woven together in one seamless video. Think of it like the video version of a flip book (like this example below):

Stop-motion artist Alex Unger spends months creating incredibly detailed pieces. pic.twitter.com/m6R4MNLIQj

— Business Insider UK (@BIUK)
November 14, 2017

7) Hands-Free

Use hands-free mode if you want to set up your camera to film a video for you. Make sure you prop it somewhere stable before you call “Action.”

4) Once you’ve edited your photo or video (more on that below), tap “Your Story,” or tap “Next” to share it to your Story and to other friends at the same time.

You can also save your edited photo or video to your gallery by tapping “Save” in the lower left-hand corner.

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Now that you know the basics, let’s run through tips and hacks for producing high-quality, clickable Instagram Stories.

7 Pro Tips and Hacks for Instagram Stories

1) Use stickers.

Once you’ve captured a great photo or video, it’s time to jazz it up with some fun stickers. You can access these by tapping the smiling sticker icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen once you’ve captured a photo or video — or swipe up from the bottom of your screen.

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Change the size of your stickers.

You can pinch the sticker once you’ve added to your story to increase or decrease its size. You can also tap and drag it around the frame to change its position.

bigger sticker.png

Check stickers every day for new and unique ones.

Instagram releases unique Story stickers often — whether it’s Monday, a holiday, or a season. Check this section every day for new and timely stickers to add to your Story.

thanksgiving sticker.png

Add location, hashtag, and poll stickers.

Boost the engagement on your Instagram Story by opening it up to other people doing the same things you are. Open up the stickers section, and tap any of these buttons to customize your story:

locationhashtaguser.png

Location

Start typing in wherever you are, and you’ll be able to pull in a geographically-specific sticker to show where you are.

location1.png

When people view your Story, they’ll be able to tap the location sticker and see other photos and Stories happening around the same place.location.jpg

Hashtag

Same concept here: If you add this sticker and type in a hashtag, your Story will appear in searches for that hashtag, and viewers will be able to click it and see who else is using it. #MotivationMonday, amirite?

hashtagsticker.png

Poll

You can add a two-option poll to your Instagram Story, and you can even customize the possible answers so they’re more unique than “Yes” or “No.” Use a poll sticker to gauge if people are really engaging with your content.

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Turn a face into a sticker.

Open up the Stickers menu, and tap on the camera icon.

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Then, take a selfie — or take a picture of anyone else’s face (that will work too). Then, you can use that face to decorate your Instagram Story. Somewhat creepy, but very memorable and funny, too.

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2) Let viewers share your Stories.

Increase engagement and views of your Instagram Story by letting viewers share them with their friends — as Direct Messages. 

Go to your profile, tap the gear icon, and navigate to “Story Settings.”

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Toggle on “Allow Sharing” so viewers can DM your Story to friends to increase your audience reach. Voila!

storysettings2.png

3) Use the pen.

Use the pen to add embellishment, symbols, or more text to your Story. If you tap the pen icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen once you’ve captured a photo or video, you’ll open up your options.

penoptions1.png

From there, you can adjust the thickness of your pen stroke or change the color you’re writing with (more on that later).

I like using the highlighter pen (the third option) to add emphasis to words — or even the highlight of my photo or video.

penoptions2.png

4) Add a background color.

If you want to share a Story with a background color — like the images I’ve shared above — you can actually select it from the color palette.

Take a picture (it doesn’t have to be a picture of anything in particular), and then tap the pen icon to open up the color palette. (Here’s Leela again — my unwitting cat model.)

colors1.png

You can choose one of the colors from the three available menus, or if you want a specific shade of one of those colors, you can open up the full color spectrum by pressing and holding one of the colors.

colors2.png

Then, scribble anywhere on the screen, and hold your finger down until you get the background color you want to appear.

  colors3.png  colors4.png

If you want to get really crazy, you could use the eraser tool (the fourth option) to create new words or shapes from the background, too.

colors5.png

5) Make your text funkier.

The text on Instagram Stories is pretty basic — jazz it up with these tricks.

Customize your colors.

If you’re unsatisfied with the color palette Instagram offers, create your own from one of the colors in the photo or video you’ve captured.

Open up the text icon, and tap the eyedropper icon in the lower left-hand corner of your screen.

dropper1.png

Use the dropper to sample a color from somewhere in the image you’ve captured, and use it when typing out text or using the pen tool.

dropper2.png

Add shading.

If you want to add some extra drama to your text, add highlighting or shadowing by retyping or rewriting your text in a different color. I recommend choosing black or white to add emphasis to a bright color you’ve picked. Then, move the text above or underneath the brighter text to add some drama to your words.

   shading1.png   shading2.png

Turn your words into a rainbow.

This one’s tricky, but you can actually turn your text into a gradient rainbow.

Tap the text icon, and type out your message to add to your Story. Then, highlight your text.

rainbow1.png

This is where it gets tricky: Turn your phone to the side so you can hold one finger down on the right side of your text, and with another finger, tap on a color and hold until the color wheel pops up.

rainbow2.png

Then, slowly drag both fingers across both the text and the color wheel from right to left to create rainbow text. Go slowly, letter by letter until you’ve created a rainbow. (This one took me several tries before I nailed it, and I succeeded using both thumbs to highlight the text and the color wheel.)

I wonder if Leela knows she is my model for when I write step-by-step instructions in blog posts pic.twitter.com/OgcKhmIdNV

— Sophia Bernazzani (@soph_bern)
November 19, 2017

Gradually add text to a Story.

Sometimes, you might want to add text or stickers to an image to build on it — perhaps to promote a content offer or event, or to encourage viewers to swipe up to read a link you’ve shared (this is only available to verified accounts).

Start editing the photo you want to share, post it, and save it to your camera roll. Then, swipe up on your screen to add the screenshot to the next installment of your Story — adding new text or stickers on top of the first photo. Keep doing this for as long as you want the Story to last — just make sure to keep taking screenshots of your latest photo so you can add to it.

  gradual1.png gradual2.png gradual3.png

6) Center your text and stickers.

When you’re moving around text and stickers on your story, you’ll see blue lines appear vertically or horizontally in the frame. These are guiding lines you can use to make sure you’re keeping everything centered.

 centered1.png  centered2.png

Don’t put your text too high or too low on the screen.

That said, make sure you don’t add anything to your Story too high or too low in the frame — or it will be cut off when viewers scroll through your Story, when Instagram adds things like your name and how long ago your story was posted that could block out your carefully-crafted text.

7) Add music to a Story.

This one’s easy: Turn on music using your phone’s native streaming app, and record a video Story. Once you get ready to edit and share, make sure the sound icon isn’t muted so your viewers can jam with you.

Alternatively, if you’d rather your video be muted, tap the sound icon so an “X” appears over it.

 unmuted1.png unmuted2.png

We hope these tips help you post killer Instagram Stories your audience won’t be able to stop following. There are lots of hidden ways to take your Stories to the next level — some we may not even have covered here — so our best advice? Keep clicking around and see what you can do with the latest updates from the app. Happy ‘gramming!

how to use instagram for business

 
how to use instagram for business E

Nov

20

2017

The Most Popular Font Types in America [New Data]

How much thought do you put into the fonts you use for your visual content?

It’s worth taking a moment to consider which font will best communicate your information. For example, most people know that Comic Sans is a faux pas for more professional situations. But what fonts
should
you use?

According to a study we conducted over at Venngage looking at the most popular font types in America, it might be worth basing your font choice on where most of your audience is located.

We analyzed the 50+ fonts we offer to see which font types people favor, and how their preferences vary depending on location. Our analysis focused in on the top 25 most populated cities in America, since they’re the ones creating the most content.

Most fonts can be broken down into 5 distinct types: serif, sans serif, decorative, headline and script.

This infographic summarizes our findings:

 

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Let’s go into what each font type is, and when you should use them in your visual content.

Serif Fonts

A “serif” is a small line or embellishment added to the end of a stroke in a letter. A serif font has serifs! Pretty easy to remember, right?

There are a lot of different fonts that fall into this category. Times New Roman is a classic example. Merriweather and Playfair Display are other examples.

When should you use serif fonts?

Serif fonts have a more classic feel than sans serif fonts often do. They’re reminiscent of traditional print. With that in mind, any situation where you want to invoke traditional print would be an appropriate time to use a serif font.

For example, if you were to create a poster for an arts event, or a writing course, a serif font like Merriweather or Courier New would work well. Or if you were to create an infographic about a historical subject, a font resembling traditional typeface would give your design a more historic feel.

Take this presentation slide that uses Playfair Display for the title:

 

1.png

 

You might also want to use a serif font when you’re appealing to a primarily southern cities. Fort Worth, TX, Memphis, MS and El Paso, TX all used more serif fonts than the rest of the country. Nostalgia runs pretty deep in the South — perhaps that influences their font preferences?

States that liked serif fonts the best on the whole are Delaware, Nebraska and Vermont. Delaware promotes itself as the “First State”, and that love of history might influence its residents’ tastes in fonts.

Sans Serif Fonts

You can probably guess what sans serif fonts are. That’s right…they’re fonts without serifs. Fonts like Open Sans, Arial and Oxygen.

When Should You Use Sans Serif Fonts?

Sans serif fonts have a modern and efficient feel. They are also generally thought to be easier to read than sans serif fonts, although legibility often actually comes down to characteristics like weight and distinct letter forms.

Still, most sans serif fonts will be a pretty safe bet for narrow and low-resolution screens. That’s part of why most websites and mobile apps use sans serif fonts, particular for body text. Open Sans, Roboto and Oxygen are a few popular choices (we use Roboto and Open Sans at Venngage).

What’s more, the minimalist and efficient feel makes sans serif fonts makes them a prime choice for visual content dealing with modern topics like tech, innovation, and productivity.

For example, this social media marketing infographic uses Raleway for the headers and Open Sans for the body text:

Interestingly enough, cities that favor sans serif fonts are pretty spread out. Sans serif fonts are most popular in San Francisco, CA, which makes sense when you consider how many tech companies are located there. They are are also very popular in Houston, TX (another tech hot spot) and Charlotte, NC.

On the state level, sans serif fonts are most popular in Arkansas and Utah. Considering how Salt Lake City is emerging as a tech hub rivalling Silicon Valley, you can see how this mountain west state would appreciate modern sans serif fonts.

Decorative Fonts

Decorative fonts characteristically have plenty of embellishments and quirky themes. They’re generally used in small doses and sized large for headings, rather than used for body text. These are different from headline fonts, which are more basic fonts that are typically used for headers and titles.

Some examples of decorative fonts are Graduate, Bangers and Contrail One.

When should you use decorative fonts?

Because decorative fonts can be pretty out-there, they’re generally not the best choice for body text. Instead, they are perfect for using in attention-grabbing headers. Infographics, blog headers, posters, and social media visuals are all perfect opportunities to use a creative decorative font.

Look for a decorative font that reflects the theme or mood of your visual content. For example, if you’re designing an infographic about the movie industry, writing the headers in Limelight can give your infographic a classic, retro feel.

Decorative fonts are also great for using in social media promotions where you want to get people excited about your brand.

For example, this social media flyer uses Quicksand and Monoton for a fun feel:

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Decorative fonts are most popular in cities like Indianapolis, IN, El Paso, TX and Boston, MA. On the state level, though, decorative fonts were by far most popular in Hawaii. That’s interesting when you consider how much tourism Hawaii gets per year–perhaps advertising campaigns are taking advantage of flashy fonts?

Headline Fonts

Headline fonts are bold, easy to read and full of character. They’re similar to decorative fonts but tend to be less embellished. They’re designed to be eye-catching and impactful.

Archivo Black, Voltaire and Wine One are all examples of headline fonts.

When should you use headline fonts?

Any situation where you want to grab people’s attention is a good opportunity to use a headline font. Blog posts, reports and presentations are all places where you are likely to want attention-grabbing headlines.

Pair a bold headline font with body text in a sans serif font to ensure that your content is super legible (a lot of headline fonts happen to be sans serif fonts for that reason!). While headline fonts don’t tend to be as out-there are decorative fonts, they still allow you to add a bit of flare to your design.

For example, you could create a slide deck that combines titles in Arvos with body text in Dosis for a modern, easy to read presentation design:

Headlines fonts are most popular in Philadelphia, PA, which is funny when you consider that Philly has a reputation for being in-your-face. But Philly is also home to Comcast, one of America’s biggest telecommunications conglomerates. Plus, The Philadelphia Inquirer is one of America’s longest running newspapers. So maybe Philly folks appreciate a bold headline.

Interestingly, West Virginia likes headline fonts on the whole. Outside of that, western and midwestern states like Idaho, Nebraska and Montana like headline fonts best. Keep that in mind next time you create content to appeal to those regions!

Script Fonts

A lot of script fonts get a bad rep, but they deserve a place in your design repertoire. Script fonts resemble handwritten text. That means that they are not as clean-cut and easy to read as basic serif and sans serif fonts, but they definitely bring personality to your designs.

Fonts like Lobster Two, Pacifico, and Yellowtail can all enhance your design when used sparingly. And maybe even … Comic Sans (I’ll leave that up to you).

When should you use script fonts?

The key to using script fonts in your designs is to use them scarcely. They should be used to accent your content — and should definitely not be used for body text.

One place where script fonts won’t look out of place is on a greeting card:

Similarly, you could use a script font in an Instagram visual. Posters and infographics that focus on lifestyle topics like baking or home decor could also make good use of a playful script font.

Script fonts can give your design an inviting and personal feel. For example, you might want to use a script font for the headline in an education poster. Or take this nonprofit campaign poster, which uses Unkempt for the header to make the message inviting.

No one city outranked the rest in its use of script fonts. Nashville, TN topped the list, followed closely by Dallas, TX. Perhaps a connection can be found in the frequent use of Gothic script fonts in typing out religious quotes, since southern states are generally the most religious.

The trend carries into the state level. Nevada tops the list, but it’s followed closely by West Virginia, Vermont and South Carolina.

Pick Fonts That Fit Your Brand

While it’s good to have at least an idea of what your target audience likes, you will have to find what they respond to best through trial and error.

Perhaps more important than putting too much stock into what fonts your audience will like is picking fonts that fit your brand. Pick fonts that help embody your brand’s personality and message and incorporate those into your visual content. After all, cohesive design is an important part of building brand awareness!

 

 

 

Nov

19

2017

#34: How to Achieve More – Succeeding With Your Talents

Published by in category Podcast | Leave a Comment

Heather Madder and I discuss why some people never succeed big with their talents, and how they can. It takes hope, solutions, and a belief that things can change permanently. Sometimes we feel like, “It’s all on me. I’m the only one responsible. I’m the only one I can depend on.” Sometimes we feel alone … Continue reading #34: How to Achieve More – Succeeding With Your Talents

Nov

19

2017

What Would you Do if You Ever Ran Out of Money?

Published by in category Articles | Leave a Comment

I’ll tell you what you’d do: You would you tap into your HIDDEN resources. What are your hidden resources? How do you get to them? If you’ve ever run out of your resources before accomplishing your goal, or, if the resources you needed were ALMOST gone, and it left you feeling stressed or depressed, then … Continue reading What Would you Do if You Ever Ran Out of Money?

Nov

17

2017

Should You Let a Bot Manage Your Instagram Account?

Published by in category Bots, Daily, Popular | Leave a Comment

Doesn’t it feel like most people are falling a little too much in love with automation just because it’s faster and easier?

Sure, automation can save you time and mitigate the grind associated with repetitive tasks. But does it produce better results?

Can a bot truly be effective at replacing human interaction?

Download our essential guide to Instagram for business for more helpful tips  and tricks.We wanted to see the best way to build an engaged audience on Instagram, so we decided to test outbound automation against human engagement — and see which one got better results.

What Do We Mean By Engaged Audience?

An engaged audience contains people who actually care about what you post.

What’s the point in running up a large follower count if the people on that list don’t engage with your content?

It’s easy to artificially inflate your follower numbers, which is impressive at a superficial glance — but it doesn’t indicate that your content actually has any impact.

An engaged audience contains followers who like your posts, comment when you add something, and respond to your comments. It’s about creating a loyal following that opens up conversation and opportunity for all parties involved.

The Experiment

I teamed up with Fouad Tolaib, Founder of Jolted, to develop the framework for the experiment.

We had two initial hypotheses:

  1. The automated account will have more followers. A bot’s ability to reach more people would be more seamless than a human’s.
  2. Automation currently isn’t sophisticated enough to be as effective at connecting with an audience peer-to-peer.

The Profiles

The experiment featured two identical profiles where I branded myself as a digital nomad. The first account, @liveworksee, had Instagram interactions come from a person:

The second account, @work_live_see, was automated.

Rules for the Instagram Experiment

After setting up two Instagram profiles, we set the following parameters around the experiment:

  1. Each account contained the same profile description.
  2. We posted the same content at the same time on both profiles each day, for one month.
  3. Every post contained the same hashtags to drive inbound engagement.

All of the results over 30 days were tracked by Minter.io.

The Human Profile (@liveworksee)

All outbound engagement was done by a human. We defined “human” by using organic engagement — that means a real person commented on and liked other Instagram posts from this account.

The Automated Profile (@work_live_see)

All outbound engagement was controlled by Gramista’s automation software. We allowed it to log in on our behalf, set specific hashtags to target, applied restrictive filters, set the algorithm on ‘auto like,’ and gave permission for the bot to leave a certain amount of generic comments.

The Results

Thirty days later, we found some surprising results.

The average post engagement rate — which we calculated by taking the sum of likes and comments, divided by the number of posts on a profile, then divided by followers — on our organic engagement profile was nearly 3X higher.

That meant one thing:

The Loser: Bots. The Winner: Humans!

In addition to a significantly higher engagement, the organic engagement profile had over 2,000 more likes, and the number of comments was 41% higher.

Follower Demographics

The demographics of followers also skewed significantly. Female followers of the automated account were just 35.8%, compared to 47.8% on the organic engagement profile. At last check, Instagram users overall are predominantly female.

The number of private users that followed the organic engagement profile was also close to 3X more.

The top country of origin for followers on the automated profile was India (28%), followed by the United States (13%). For the human-run account, U.S. was first (22%), and Italy second (8%). On the organic profile, India was sixth, comprising 4% of followers.

Reaching Influencers

We then looked at the number of popular, or influencer profiles. Minter.io defines “popular” or “influencer” according to a user’s  follower-to-following ratio. The more followers that user has, compared to the number of users they follow, the more influential they are per this metric.

Popular and influencer profiles comprised 30.95% of the organic engagement profile’s followers, compared to 15.41% on the automated profile.

image16.pngimage5-3.png

Photo Engagement

Interestingly, despite posting uniform content on each profile, the most engaged-with photos on each account were also different.

The most engaging photos on the human-run profile were:

  • A small harbor in Colombia.
  • A shot of Macchu Picchu.
  • A little boy and woman walking in Viacha, Bolivia.

And on the automated profile:

  • A shot of the moon hanging over a mountain range in La Paz, Bolivia.
  • A man in sunglasses posing next to a bunch of flags left at the top of a mountain.
  • An archaeological site in western Bolivia.

The best performing hashtags on the human-operated profile were #ilovetravel, #neverstopexploring, and #travelgoals, while the automated profile’s top three were #neverstopexploring, #digitalnomads, and #ilovetravel.

The only two hashtags to crack the organic profile’s top ten that didn’t make it on the automated results were #instatravel (just over 1,500 interactions) and #backpack (1,450).

Alternatively, #nomadlife (900 interactions) and #travellife (910 interactions) made the automated profile’s top ten hashtags, but not the human-run profile’s.

The key point here: Automated software may not necessarily detect all hashtags generating a high number of interactions.

Scheduling Future Posts

Minter.io also determined, based on the organic profile’s data, that the best time of the week to post for engagement was Monday night and Tuesday evening.

An aggregate report from CoSchedule confirms that the best time to post is typically Monday mornings and evenings.

However, on the automated account, the greatest time for engagement was on Saturday afternoons.

Lessons Learned

1. Automation Leads to Less Engagement.

The end number of followers on the automated profile was 799, compared to 621 for the personally managed account. Automated tools will run up the follower count faster and get you off to a quicker start, but organic engagement creates a more engaged audience.

Generic comments and rapid liking does not create the same kind of human connection that followers actually crave. The organic profile generated a significantly larger amount of engagement with the average rate being nearly three times more.

2. Organic Engagement Has A Higher Content Reach Potential

For the organic profile, the potential reach of content (regramming, future partnerships, etc.) was also higher as we looked at the number of followers who were influencers or popular. Responding to each comment with a personal touch made for more engagement with private Instagram users as well.

3. Automation Connects More With Bots Than Humans.

We found the automated profile had more automated followers. Yes: bots following bots. In other words, these followers were either scheduling a large amount posts of posts, or leaving very generic messages.

That’s likely due to a bot’s inability to recognize the difference between generic comments and real responses. However, humans will naturally connect more with a thoughtful response and ignore a meaningless “awesome!” comment.

So, How Do I Build an Engaged Audience?

Have someone (yes, a real person) spend two-to-three hours per day per day on your Instagram profile completing tasks including:

  • Replying to all comments
  • Liking other posts
  • Adding insightful comments to other posts
  • Asking followers questions to connect with them
  • Researching emerging content trends and hashtags
  • Reaching out to influencers

From our observations, we believe tailoring your content to your target audience, engaging naturally and consistently with both followers and non-followers, and using targeted tags (up to 30) in your post’s first comment all contribute to an increased rate of post engagement.

Automation can supplement the speed of your growth, particularly in regards to follower count, but it should not be relied on as the only strategy for Instagram.

If you’re tight on time, a combination of automated and manual outbound engagement might work best.

However, when it comes to commenting on other people’s content, there’s no better alternative than a human responding with something specific. This has proved to be true in our case study and resulted in a higher conversion (non-follower to follower) ratio.

After all, this is social media – it’s about human connection and social sharing.

If we all just have bots running our profiles and interacting with each other, what’s the point of doing it at all?

how to use instagram for business

 
how to use instagram for business

Nov

17

2017

How to Learn Social Media Marketing: 30 Resources for Beginners

Social media is no longer an optional marketing channel — it’s a necessary one.

But that doesn’t mean results are a given. When it comes to social media, you’ll either have a lot of success interacting with your customers, or you’ll see little results — and that depends on the level of effort you put into it.

Few brands do social media really well, and those who do, see great things come from it. But for everyone who does social media well, there are hundreds of others seemingly spinning their social wheels with no tangible results.

For many, social media is simply a place to post links to content they’ve created in hopes that thousands will see it, click through, and share with their followers. So they have profiles on every network, and every network looks exactly the same; line after line of self-promotion.

This is not going to bring results. In fact, Facebook’s algorithm now penalizes link-based content, and Instagram has made it all-but-impossible to share a link.

Half-heartedly sharing your content on social media is not social media marketing. It’s spamming.

Social marketing is a lot of work, and it takes time listening and responding. After all, it’s social, and anything social takes an investment of effort and skill.

To hone these skills, check out these resources that will help you develop the skills needed to be effective on social media. (You may want to bookmark this post so you can easily refer to it again later.)

How to Learn Social Media Marketing: 30 Free Resources

Blogs About Social Media

Social marketing is a science involving special communication skills. And the landscape changes constantly.

One of the best ways to develop your social media prowess and to stay up-to-date is to follow experts in the field. These blogs are always fresh with actionable information you can use to improve your marketing:

1) Social Media Explorer

SME is both a strategic services agency and a blog with a bevy of social media and marketing experts. The SME blog is consistently considered one of the most insightful in the industry, and several of its authors have written popular books on several aspects of digital and social marketing.

2) Scott Monty

Monty is a marketing guru who covers a ton of subjects. However, his social media articles are always eye-opening. If you haven’t heard of him yet, check out his “this week in digital” posts — these will keep you up-to-date with all the news on social, and every other aspect of digital marketing as well.

3) Social Media Examiner

Not to be confused with Social Media Explorer, the Examiner is one of the top blogs in the world for social media. Its social media reports are filled with all the important data social marketers want, and the blog posts are filled with valuable tips, as well. If I had to pick just one social media blog to follow, this is the one I would choose.

4) HubSpot Marketing Blog

Right here on the HubSpot Marketing Blog, you can find breaking news and actionable how-to guides on every social network there is.

Ebooks About Social Media

These ebooks will provide deeper information on specific networks and topics.

6) How to Use Instagram for Business

This step-by-step guide explains the reasons to create a business Instagram account and how to execute on Instagram to drive results.

7) A Visual Guide to Creating the Perfect LinkedIn Company Page

If you’re building a company page for the first time, or trying to upgrade your page, this guide will show you exactly how to do everything from crafting an engaging company description to creating an eye-catching banner image.

8) How to Attract Customers with Facebook

This multi-page ebook will show you how to use Facebook to drive real business results for your organization.

9) How to Get More Twitter Followers

HubSpot partnered with the experts at Twitter to provide actionable tips for social media managers starting new accounts to build a following, and fast.

10) The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media

Last, but definitely not least, is this amazing guide from Moz. The 12 chapters in this book are filled with valuable information that every marketer absolutely needs to know. Bookmark this guide, you’ll refer to it more than once.

Videos About Social Media

Videos are my second favorite medium to learn, behind books. Being able to glean from the brightest minds on any subject as if you’re face-to-face is powerful. These videos will give you valuable insights, just how to do social media, but you’ll get insights into the why and what as well.

11) The #AskGaryVee Show

You can’t talk about social media without talking about the speaker, author, and social expert Gary Vaynerchuk. On the Gary Vee Show, he takes questions from his audience and answers them as only he can. If you have a burning question on social media marketing, send it to him.

12) TED Talks: Social Media Marketing

If you aren’t in love with TED, you might want to check your pulse. This is a playlist of videos from TED Talks on social media. There may not be that much actionable advice in these videos, but if you want to become an expert on social media, these videos will give you insight into the deeper subject like “the hidden influence of social networks.”

13) Learn Social Media Marketing

If you’re really new to social media, and you want to learn through a structured lesson experience, consider Lynda’s massive library on social marketing classes.

Podcasts on Social Media

If you like to learn while you chill, work out, or commute to and from work, podcasts are one of the best ways to do it. And these podcasts will help you develop your social media expertise.

14) Social Media Marketing Podcast

Michael Stelzner, from Social Media Examiner, brings you success stories and expert interviews from leading social media marketing pros.

15) The Social Media Examiner Show

Rather than deep dives, the SME Show gives you small, bite-sized content for social media every day. This is a great podcast to get actionable quick-tips on a daily basis. It’ll keep you motivated while you develop your skills.

16) The Social Toolkit

If you like to stay up-to-date on digital tools, apps, and software for social media marketing, this is the podcast for you.

17) The Social Pros Podcast

Every episode of the Social Pros Podcast shines the light on real pros doing real work for real companies. You’ll get insights from Jay Baer of Convince and Convert when you tune in.

Slideshows and Infographics About Social Media

If you’re a visual learner, these slide decks and infographics provide great ways to learn social media.

18) The B2B Social Media Palette

This SlideShare walks you through the channels and tools you’ll need to be most effective at B2B social media marketing. Sometimes, success can be found by using the right tools and channels for the right audience.

19) The Complete Guide to the Best Times to Post on Social Media

Timing is very important when it comes to social media. Post it the wrong time, and your update can go completely unnoticed because of the flood of updates in your audience’s feeds. Being able to master the timing of social media is critical to effective marketing.

20) 58 Social Media Tips for Content Marketers

This slideshow is from the folks at Content Marketing Institute. This deck shows the proper methods for promoting your content over social media. This is a must-read for any social marketer who wants to use those channels to promote content.

21) The Best and Worst Times to Post on Social Media

Again, timing is everything. This infographic lays out the best and worst times to post on each major network. You should save this infographic for referencing when you schedule your social media posts.

Books About Social Media

Books are my favorite way to learn. Many experts agree that if you read a book a week, on your area of expertise, for 5 years, you will have the equivalent of a Ph.D. on the subject. That may or may not be true, but reading books from the experts definitely doesn’t make you a worse marketer. Here are some books to get you started.

22) The B2B Social Media Book

This book covers the specific application of social marketing to B2B companies, to leverage social media to drive leads and revenue.

23) The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users

You’ve got to read this book by the legendary former Chief Evangelist of Apple, Guy Kawasaki. He’s one of the pioneers of social and content marketing, and this book is filled with expert advice from one of the best.

24) The Tao of Twitter

This book is supposed to be for busy marketers who need to get the basics of Twitter down quickly. It shows you how to connect and start creating meaningful connections in less than two hours.

25) The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising

Facebook is one of the most effective advertising and PPC platforms available. You can target a plethora of metrics, allowing you to drill down and advertise to a very specific audience. This book will show you how to optimize your Facebook ads.

26) Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World

Gary Vaynerchuk gives insight into how he uses a conversational, reactionary approach to engaging his audience. He gives concrete, visual examples of great social marketing, as well as not-so-great ones.

27) The New Rules of Marketing and PR

David Meerman Scott’s book on digital marketing is an international bestseller, and worth every penny. Some argue that it should be required reading for any marketer — and in this marketer’s opinion, “Just read it.”

28) Likeable Social Media

Dave Kerpen claims the secret to viral social marketing is to be likable. When someone likes you, they’ll recommend you. But being likable on social networks is easier said than done. This book will help you crack that code.

29) Social Media Marketing for Dummies

One of my mentors taught me to read children’s books on a subject if I just couldn’t grasp a concept. That principle gave way to movements like “Explain It Like I’m 5.” And, sometimes you just need it broken down like you’re, well, less than an expert on the topic, to put it gently. If that’s you, this book is valuable. Go ahead and buy it — we won’t call you dummy.

30) Contagious: Why Things Catch On

This book by Jonah Berger provides a strong foundation to understand how content goes viral — and how to create ideas on social media that are so catchy, your audience won’t be able to help but click them.

The Secret to Social Media Success

No matter how many social networks you set out to master, or how long you work in the social marketing field, there is one secret that will ensure you’re successful: Never stop learning.

This list is massive, I know, and there’s no way to consume all these resources in the next week. But if you set yourself to learning every day, every week, every month, every year, you’ll eventually be the one writing the books that help others learn social marketing.

It all begins with learning.

10 Things I’ve Learned About Social Media:

  1. Social marketing requires listening.
  2. Conversations should be the goal of social marketing.
  3. Team #Followback is a waste of time.
  4. Social marketing isn’t broadcasting, it’s communicating.
  5. Never auto-post your content to your social profiles.
  6. Never copy/paste the same message into every social profile.
  7. Social marketing requires time. It’s relationship-building on a massive scale.
  8. Be helpful. Period.
  9. Social support is faster than live chat, email, or phone calls. Embrace it.
  10. You don’t have to be on every network. Go where your customers are.

Nov

16

2017

How to Create a Professional Promo Video on a Shoestring Budget

There are millions upon millions of blog posts published every single day. That’s been true for a few years now.

And these numbers continue to grow exponentially with the increase in new online sites all competing for the same precious site visits especially when the benefits of organic traffic has become more and more of common knowledge for online marketing.

In turn, content marketing in the form of blogging has become the norm for driving organic, inbound traffic.

Want better search engine optimization? More organic traffic?

Blogging is what most people will recommend. But it’s steadily become one of the most saturated marketing tactics you can use.

How can you expect to compete with thousands of other sites who have already been blogging for years?

It’s a real challenge. Especially when they’re writing longer, higher-quality posts with more backlinks and higher rankings.

Thankfully, there’s an alternative emerging.

Right now, content creation is moving towards video-based mediums. Even for landing pages, videos have shown to convert better than text. So why isn’t every single business abandoning their blog in favor of a video first strategy?

The biggest barrier? Videos have a reputation as an inaccessible marketing tactic, especially for businesses on the smaller side. And while it is partly true that videos are usually more time-consuming and more expensive to create than text-based content, smaller businesses can still have success investing in the tactic.

You Need Video

Video is dominating online traffic. In fact, it’s predicted to take over the internet in the next few years. Cisco estimates that video traffic will account for 82% of all global internet traffic by 2021.

The majority of internet traffic is already video based. And that number is only going to increase. Why? People haven’t stopped reading text-based content, but it’s getting harder to capture and keep their attention.

55% of all pageviews online get less than 15 seconds of attention. Even in an old 2008 study from Nielsen Norman Group, we were seeing the beginning of this trend. That study found that visitors on average only read 20% of a given page online. Meaning 80% of the text and content on your page isn’t even being seen or read by real people.

In a recent study, CoSchedule analyzed their blog pages with heat and scroll maps to detect how people interacted with their page. They found that most readers only read the top 20-30% of their content.

The scariest finding? Only 10% of users who landed on a given post read to the bottom.

People want information immediately.

They don’t always want to read a 5,000-word blog post to get their information. They don’t want to read a long-form sales page to know how the product will improve their lives.

This trend is becoming more apparent in digital marketing as more and more companies are focused on implementing video-based content distribution:

 

YouTube and Facebook Video are slowly taking over the content scene online.

As blogging becomes more saturated and user behavior shifts towards video-based traffic, it’s no wonder why these platforms are gaining traction.

Currently, Facebook has over two billion monthly active users, and YouTube is just behind it at 1.5 billion monthly users.

 

Currently, YouTube boasts nearly two billion monthly users who watch more than an hour of video content daily, on average. Facebook video posts aren’t far behind, either. The total amount of videos on Facebook has increased by 94% annually from 2014 to 2015. In November of 2015, Facebook hit over 8 billion daily video views, doubling the video traffic in less than a year.

The savvy brands who have jumped on this trend are already seeing the benefits of early adoption.

For example, 3D printer ecommerce brand Robo took advantage of this trend and generated $4.7 million in revenue running video ads on Youtube and Facebook.

Video-based content is the present and the future (as we know it). It’s gaining steam, and it’s only poised to gain even more traction as the years progress.

Video content is going to be necessary when it comes to driving more traffic and sales.

The Key Elements of a High-Converting Video

Not all video content converts. You can’t just throw up a random video on your landing page and expect it to increase conversions.

Here we’re going to look at a few of the most important elements of a converting video and companies have used them to drive more sales.

Keep it short and sweet.

This is perhaps the most important element in driving conversions with video-based content. As we went over earlier, studies are showing that people are growing more impatient when it comes to online content.

Very few people want to read a 20-minute blog post anymore.

We are reading less than ever before because it’s too time-consuming. We all want answers now. ASAP. Yesterday.

And to keep up with that, we can’t simply replace a blog post or a long-form landing page with a 10-minute video. Nobody will stick around to watch the whole thing.

According to a 2016 study by Wistia, as video length increases, you see big drops in engagement levels.

 

One to two minutes is shown to be the golden rule of online video content according to this Wistia study. They analyzed 564,710 videos and more than 1.3 billion video views to compile this data.

When you look closely at the graph, you can see that there is a sharp drop-off after two minutes in length:

 

The longer you take to get to the point, the fewer people will stick around. But, if your video strategy needs to be long-form, don’t sweat it.

The second sweet spot that Wistia identified was 6-12 minutes:

 

According to their research, if someone stays past six minutes, they more than likely will continue that engagement for a few more minutes.

Anything more than that and you aren’t going to see optimal results.

The best bet is to keep your video content within the 1-2 minute mark if you want to maximize your impact. An example of effective short landing page video is BuildFire’s home page explainer video:

 

 

“Our current homepage conversion rate for signups is around 22%. It wouldn’t be that high without the explainer video.” – Ian Blain, Co-founder and CMO of BuildFire

They use a promo-style video explainer that lasts for 1:15 and sums up the business and value proposition. And they get straight to the point. They keep it short and sweet by explaining how users can benefit from their product.

Want to create a video that converts at a high rate? Follow the data. Keep your videos between the 1-2 minute mark for better conversion rates.

Optimize your video size and placement.

Everything makes a difference when it comes to video content. You can’t slap together a video and assume that conversions will roll in.

Even the video size, placement, and dimensions can have a big role in conversion rates.

And when it comes to your landing pages, you need to do anything you can to increase conversions. Your business depends on it.

Wistia conducted a study where they crawled 95,000 different pages to understand how size impacts conversion rates on landing pages. To start, they divided the typical landing page into seven distinct zones:

 

 

As you can expect, video content got more plays when it was higher in zones, or above the fold:

 

 

If you want more conversions, make sure to keep your video content in zones 1-3. That means above the fold or just before your page starts to get too long. For example, check out where BuildFire places their video content, in zone 3:

 

 

This helps to warm up visitors with basic introductory content on your landing page without overwhelming them. If you jump straight into a video without context, you might risk lower conversions.

Warm up your visits with a snappy headline and then get into the video content.

But that’s not all. Video height and width are big factors in play rates and conversions. According to Wistia, videos with a width of 401 to 600 pixels are going to be best for driving more plays:

 

 

 

On top of that, the optimal video height is 301 to 450 pixels:

 

 

These are common dimensions that are great for producing video that doesn’t dominate your screen or appear too small to click.

Optimization is key to getting more plays. If you can get more plays, you have a great shot at getting higher conversion rates. To sum it all up, focus on these elements:

  • Play your video in zones 1-3 on your landing page, ideally above the fold after you’ve provided context
  • Use a video width of 401-600 pixels
  • Use a video height of 301-450 pixels

How to produce a promo video with a limited budget.

Now that you know the key elements in a converting video, it’s time to create one on your own with a limited budget.

Keeping conversions in mind, you’ve got to create a short and sweet video. Here’s how to produce a promo video with a limited budget that is sure to convert.

1) Develop a compelling script.

The first step in producing any great promo video for cheap is coming up with your own script. Most marketers will hire a company right out of the gate to develop a video script, but to save money, you can complete this step within your own team.

You need a video script that resonates with your audience. Thankfully, you can often come up with a script based on your existing landing page.

For example, look at how BuildFire structures their landing page.

 

 

First, they use a compelling headline to generate some initial interest.

Next, they use social proof to back up their claims:

 

Now they show you exactly how any user can use their service for success:

 

 

Then they tease it even further with specific features and benefits:

 

 

 

 

The entire landing page flows like a pre-written script, because it is. The keys to your first video are already hiding within your landing page.

To break it down, here are some of the key factors to include in your script:

  1. Use an intriguing opening line to capture attention.
  2. Use social proof to back up those claims.
  3. Show how easy it is to use your product.
  4. Show what your product does and what benefits it provides.
  5. Explain how the user derives value from it (more conversions, better sales, etc.).

2) Find the right style for your target market.

Next up, you need to figure out what style of video is best for your target market. For example, a video on a landing page for a GoPro is going to be vastly different from a SaaS product, right?

The GoPro video will show the product in use in real time, showing actual footage, rather than animated clips. The SaaS product video will likely show the application in use and animated shorts to add style and appeal to the video.

The key here is to understand your market and what they want to see. To get started, conduct some basic competitor research, or search for the top companies in your niche. For example, if you have a mobile app, you can search for the top applications of 2017:

 

Locate a few of them on the list and head to their site to scout the landing page for video-based content. You should easily be able to locate their product promo videos to see what content they feature:

 

 

You can even copy their script style and video type.

The goal here is to get familiar with the most popular companies in your niche to create video that performs just as good if not better than theirs. Once you’ve done this, it’s time to get the video produced.

3) Produce it for cheap to minimize risk.

Creating compelling video content isn’t cheap. Agencies can cost thousands of dollars to produce a single video for your business. And when it comes to getting conversions, you need specificity.

But not when it comes at the risk of bankrupting your budget on a failing video. Minimizing risk is key when introducing a new medium to your landing pages or content marketing plan.

You can’t afford to invest thousands of dollars in something that doesn’t work. The goal here is to identify ways to produce it for cheap, allowing you to test the waters before diving in head first.

A great place to start is by heading to a freelance service like Fiverr, depending on your needs. If you need an animated-style video short for your landing page, Fiverr is your best bet for getting it done on a budget.

 

You can quickly find great video animators and production specialists for minimal amounts of money. Even five dollars can get you a well-done promo video.

If you can’t find a good production specialist on Fiverr, try locating one on UpWork. You can also post a job listing to have qualified freelancers apply to your job. If you prefer to make your own animated video, you can easily do that using Biteable.

It’s a free software online that allows you to create amazing animated promo videos and product explainers. They have tons of pre-crafted animation slides that you can drag and drop to create a fantastic promo video for your business.

If you have an animation-focused product that is online based, Biteable is a great starting place.

Video content doesn’t have to be expensive.

As blogging becomes more saturated and the market gets crowded, marketers will find new ways to reach customers. It’s not always easy moving your budget into new mediums. Especially costly ones like video marketing.

But in this case, it’s necessary.

 

 

Nov

16

2017

7 Soft Skills You Need to Achieve Career Growth

Is there someone (or hopefully, several someones) at your company who it seems like everyone wants to work with?

Maybe they always get pulled into brainstorms, or maybe your team’s leaders consult with them. Or maybe it just seems like everyone on your team just really, really likes them.

It might be because they’re the nicest person in the world, or it might be because they have a finely-honed set of soft skills.Download our leadership guide for actionable advice & guidelines from  HubSpot's Dharmesh Shah. 

What exactly are soft skills, and why are they so important to growing your career? Keep reading to find out.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are the combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and personality traits that make it easy to get along and work harmoniously with other people.

Soft skills can be taught, but they’re not as straightforward as hard skills: those specific qualities and skills that can be clearly defined, measured, and taught for success in a job.

Hard skills can be quantified and advanced. You can learn advanced mathematics or writing skills, and you can get better at shipping code.

But when it comes to soft skills — things like small talk, empathy, and flexibility — it’s not as straightforward.

That doesn’t mean soft skills aren’t worth investing in — and practicing. You need hard skills to land a job, but you need soft skills to progress in your career. So we’ve rounded up a list of the soft skills most critical to building a successful career — and how you can brush up on them.

7 Soft Skills You Need to Achieve Career Growth

1) Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is often referred to as the ability to recognize and manage your emotions and the emotions of others. It’s made up of five key elements:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social skill

You can read more about the specifics of the attributes of emotional intelligence in this blog post if you want to learn more, but in the context of the workplace, emotional intelligence boils to a few key abilities:

  • Can you recognize and regulate your emotions and reactions in the workplace?
  • Can you build rapport and positive relationships with other people?
  • Can you empathize with others?
  • Can you give — and receive — effective, constructive feedback?

It might not sound like the most important skill for job growth and success, but in some cases, it is. In an analysis of new employees who didn’t meet expectations during the first 18 months on the job, 23% failed due to low emotional intelligence. (Take this quiz to rate your emotional intelligence and identify areas where you can improve.)

2) Team Player Attitude

The ability to play well with others is a soft skill you’ve been working on — unknowingly — since your first day of pre-school or daycare. You might not have known it when you were fighting over blocks or figuring out the rules of a made-up game, but you were actually preparing for a lifetime of workplace collaboration.

Whether you’re an individual contributor or a people manager, you have to work with other people — in meetings, in brainstorms, and on various cross-functional projects within your company. A positive, can-do attitude when it comes to working with others is essential to team harmony, which means you need to be able to run an effective and inclusive meeting, be open to new ideas, and work respectfully with others.

Read our guide to running better meetings for all personality types here, and brush up on these rapport-building questions to get to know and work well with any team member you encounter.

3) Growth Mindset

In any job, no matter what the role, you’ll encounter roadblocks, disappointments, and other situations that might frustrate you. A soft skill that’s critical to your ability to persevere is having a growth mindset — a term psychologist Carol Dweck coined to refer to a frame of thinking that reflects viewing your abilities, talents, and intelligence as skills you can grow and improve upon.

Someone with a growth mindset might look at a failure to meet a quarterly goal as an opportunity to identify their strengths and weaknesses to tackle the next quarter’s goal. A person with a fixed mindset, however, might say to themselves, “I’m not good at blogging,” and let that negative outlook — without any belief in the capability of improvement — impact their next quarter’s success, too.

Watch Dweck’s TED Talk to learn more about the growth mindset here — and try to find places in your daily correspondence or reflections where you can reframe your outlook by viewing a challenge or setback as a way you can grow.

4) Openness to Feedback

This is part of emotional intelligence, but especially when it comes to the workplace, being open and able to receive development feedback is critical to success at a job — especially a new job.

Think about it: Constructive feedback helps you do the best job you can, and if you take it personally or react defensively, you aren’t able to hear the feedback and adapt it to your current strategy.

The key to giving and receiving feedback is to come into the conversation from a place of kindness: You aren’t receiving constructive feedback because that person hates you personally, it’s because they want you to be the best you can be. You should be chomping at the bit to receive feedback that can help you more effectively hit your goals.

If you don’t feel comfortable with feedback yet, try immersion therapy — make feedback a part of your daily to-do list. Ask for feedback from more people you work with to get immediate help honing your skill set — and to help make it easier to take.

5) Adaptability

No matter what your role, and no matter what your industry, the ability to adapt to change — and a positive attitude about change — go a long way toward growing a successful career.

Whether it’s a seat shuffle or a huge company pivot, nobody likes a complainer. It’s important not only to accept change as a fact of life in the constantly-evolving business world, but as an opportunity to try out new strategies for thriving in environments of change (remember the growth mindset?).

If you don’t feel comfortable with frequent changes, either on your team or at your company, write down your feelings and reactions, instead of immediately voicing them. By laying out how you feel and why you feel a certain way, you’ll be able to distinguish legitimate concerns from complaints that might not need to be discussed with your team.

6) Active Listening

You probably can tell the difference between when someone is hearing words you’re saying and when they’re actively listening to what you’re saying. If someone is typing while you’re presenting at a meeting, or they’re giving you that slack-jawed look, they probably aren’t really hearing what you’re saying.

Active listeners, meanwhile, pay close attention to meeting presenters, offer up clarifying questions or responses, and refer back to notes in future discussions. They don’t need things repeated to them because they heard them the first time — making active listeners not only respectful colleagues, but more effective workers, too.

If you think you could stand to improve your active listening skills, challenge yourself not to look at your various devices during meetings — instead to focus completely on speakers, and take notes by hand if needed (which is proven to help with memory retention).

7) Work Ethic

You can’t succeed in a role without being willing to put in the time, effort, and elbow grease to hit your goals, and company leaders and hiring managers are looking for people who will put in the extra legwork to succeed without being asked.

If you want to get a new job or get promoted, it’s essential that you hone your work ethic — so quit bellyaching and put in the extra time you need to succeed. Or, if excelling means learning new skills or tools, dedicate time to learning those outside of work hours so you can make your time in the office as effectively as possible.

What weaves all of these soft skills together is a positive attitude. It might sound cheesy, but believing that there’s a positive outcome in any and all challenging situations will help you navigate the day-to-day of your job while making other people really want to work with you. These soft skills are harder to teach, but the payoff might be even bigger, so make sure you’re investing time and effort into auditing and improving your soft skill set.

free ebook: leadership lessons

 
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Nov

16

2017

Keeping my Eyes on the Horizon

We were newlyweds of only one year. My husband and I decided to drive twelve hours to attend a conference which would help us start a business. Tensions were high because we couldn’t afford the trip, and our disagreements left us both feeling hurt and misunderstood. Because of a previous accident the year before, I … Continue reading Keeping my Eyes on the Horizon

Nov

15

2017

8 Proven Ways to Grow Brand Awareness — Fast

Have you noticed that certain brands seem to have just popped up out of nowhere and become overnight successes?

I always wondered how that was possible.

Is it just a matter of having one genius idea that no one else ever thought about? Or is it that these hugely successful companies are started by billionaires who have the money and contacts to create something that the rest of us could only dream of?

As it turns out, the answer to both of those questions is, “No.” All we really need is a bit of creativity.Click here to download our comprehensive guide to effective and measurable  branding.

The SlideShare below takes a look at some “overnight” success stories, to see what some brands did to scale their growth in such a short amount of time — as well as what we can learn from them.

What Is Brand Awareness?

Brand Awareness is the level of familiarity that consumers have with a particular brand — its name, characteristics, logo, and anything else that might be strongly associated with it, as well as its goods and services. It’s especially important during a brand’s earliest days of formation and growth, as it can indicate and predict market share and differentiation from competitors.

How to Build Brand Awareness: 8 Examples

1) Uniqlo

Uniqlo is a Japanese company that ensures it provides casual clothes for all kinds of people.

Growth

uniqlo-1

Idea: Partner with Other Brands

Uniqlo sponsors free admission to New York’s Museum of Modern Art every Friday from 4 PM – 8 PM. That gets its name in front of a brand new audience that it may never otherwise have reached before, and generates positive word of mouth from people who get to enjoy the museum compliments of the clothing company.

Lesson

Partnering with another brand will help you inherit its image and reputation, as well as creating brand evangelists outside of your customer base.

2) Dropbox

Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily with others.

Growth

dropbox-4

Idea: Refer a Friend

Dropbox made it really easy for users to refer Dropbox to their friends by having sharing options for email, social, as well as a link to share via any other method the user preferred. Users did this to get more space, which Dropbox offered for every referred sign up. This helped Dropbox increase its signups by 60%

Lesson

Consider how your product can help promote itself. The Dropbox product created a heap of referral signups because people wanted to get more space. What would your users want in return for referrals?

3) Evernote

Evernote is a tool for note-taking and collaboration.

Growth

evernote-3

Idea: Launch as a Closed Beta

Evernote initially launched as a closed beta, which lasted for four months. During this time, people had to sign up and send invitations to their networks in order to actually use the service. This created a lot of buzz around Evernote.

By the end of the four months of the closed beta, Evernote had attracted 125,000 sign-ups.

Lesson

Exclusivity creates buzz. Plus, mandatory sharing to access a really valuable product will spread the word without costing you a penny.

4) Buffer

Buffer is a social media publishing tool.

Growth:

buffer

Idea: Guest Blogging

By writing 150 guest posts, Buffer grew from zero to 100,000+ users in nine months.

It had to start on smaller sites and work its way up to the most popular in its industry — but Buffer got its name everywhere by creating really valuable content, even though it wasn’t on its own site. In the end, content marketing accounted for over 70% of its daily signups.

Lesson

Be everywhere in your niche. Providing valuable content on other sites outside of your own will build an engaged audience. Once they know, like, and trust you, you can then market your product or service to them.

5) KISSMetrics

KISSMetrics is a web analytics solution that helps increase customer acquisition and retention rates.

Growth:

kissmetrics

Idea: Create Infographics

Creating 47 infographics earned KISSmetrics 2,512,596 visitors, 41,142 backlinks, and 3,741 unique referring domains. The brand credits infographics as one of the main reasons it grew its blog from zero to 350,000 readers a month, in 24 months.

“If you can make complex data easy to understand in a visual format, you can get millions of visitors to your website.” – Neil Patel, KISSmetrics

Lesson

Experiment with the right formats for your audience. Infographics worked well for KISSmetrics, but something else may work for your brand.

6) Qualaroo

Qualaroo is a pop-up survey service used by websites to help improve user experience.

Growth

qualaroo

Idea: Conversion Optimization

In its earlier days, unless a customer upgraded to a paid account, every website built on the Qualaroo platform contained featured text reading, “Powered by Qualaroo [?]”. The question mark was clickable, and lead to a signup page for a free trial of the product.

Lesson

Use your freemium product in clever ways to get your brand name in front of people, and leverage it for marketing real estate.

7) Yelp

Yelp is a user review and recommendations site for restaurants, shopping, nightlife, entertainment, and more.

Growth:

yelp

Idea: Make it Social

Yelp added a human element to the reviewer experience by building a profile behind each one — which made reviews more trustworthy, and reviewers feel like they were becoming part of a community. Plus, it was an opportunity for them to use Yelp as a reputation-building site. Members could interact with each other by becoming friends, chatting online, or meeting at offline events. Yelp has since accumulated over 142 million reviews.

Lesson

Make your user experience human and personal. Build communities that enable your customers to communicate with each other, allowing them to learn from their experiences and interact over a shared interest.

8) Upworthy

Upworthy is a website with curated, viral content.

Growth:

upworthy

Idea: Test Headlines

At Upworthy, the curators need to come up with 25 headlines for every piece of content. They then select their favorite four, and the managing editor selects two, which are rigorously tested. Upworthy saw nine million monthly unique visitors in just nine months.

Lesson:

Coming up with an attention-grabbing headline for your content can help maximize the reach of your content and your brand.

As you can see, there are various ways to grow brand awareness in a timely way. Remember that new trends are always emerging, which is why continuing education for you and your team is critical to success. There are various ways to train your team, including our free Inbound Course and Certification program.

How to build a brand

 
Build a Brand 2018

Nov

15

2017

Experts Share Their Top 8 Holiday Email Marketing Tips for 2017

Ready or not, the holidays are right around the corner. And that means it’s time for email marketers to start planning one of their biggest email campaigns of the year.

To help you prep for all the holiday madness to come, the team at EmailMonks asked a group of seasoned email experts and industry insiders to share their insights on Holiday Email Marketing Tips and Trends for 2017.Click here to download our free beginner's guide to email marketing.

Check out their advice for holiday email trends below, and get inspired to tackle your company’s holiday campaign with style.

The Top 8 Holiday Email Marketing Tips of 2017

1) Start planning way before you think you should.

According to the State of Email Production Report, a mere 20% marketers plan for the peak email season more than 3 months in advance. You’d ask, is it really necessary to start planning for the holidays so early? Well — yes.

Planning well in advance goes a long way, giving you enough time to ensure your email really stands out. “Do get started on your holiday email marketing strategy and planning early,” advises Christopher Donald, the President of Operations & Managing Partner at InboxArmy. “Create planning, creative, production, and deployment calendars to better execute your campaigns. Don’t wait until the last minute to decide what to do.”

2) Focus on the customer, not an aggressive sales agenda.

Marketers send more emails than usual during the holiday season, but it’s important to remember that there’s a real person at the other end of your email communication. The holidays are a busy, hectic time for everyone (not just marketers!) and they probably won’t appreciate having their inbox flooded with hard-sell emails. Respect their time, and adopt a helpful, customer-centric approach.

Kara Trivunovic, VP/GM Client Services, Global Industry Evangelist at Epsilon, believes you need to find out what the subscriber expects from you during the holidays rather than driving your agenda of selling.

It’s the holiday season, after all, you can’t just pen down some sales oriented copy and call it a day. Tap into your subscribers’ emotions, and focus the copy on how you can help them spread joy through the gifts they can buy from you. Even a simple holiday greeting can go a long way in building trust with your customers.

This email from Mutual of Omaha is just about warm wishes.

3) Interactivity and fallback go hand in hand.

Visual, interactive elements like GIFs, cinemagraphs, and gamification will add interest and flair to your holiday messages this year. Interactivity in emails is an engagement tactic that will help to drive attention and generate excitement during this holiday season, according to EmailMonks Director Jaymin Bhuptani.

Innovate content with the help of a drop-down Menu, Accordion, Slider, Flip Effect or maybe gamification in your email. However, with limited email client compatibility, it is essential that you provide fallback support, says Lauren Gentile, VP Creative, Digital solutions at Epsilon. And yes, test, test, and test some more before you send out the emails.

Check out this fun gamification email by Taco Bell:

4) Segment and rule.

According to a Mailjet study, 27% subscribers over 55 years of age believe that the emails they receive are targeted towards millennials. Segmenting your lists to ensure the content appeals to the recipient is essential all year long, but it becomes even more important during the holidays, when emotions run high.

If you’ve been keeping track of information like what your subscribers browse for on your website and what they’ve purchased from you, segmenting will not seem like a Herculean task. The better you know your subscribers’ preferences the better you can segment them and send targeted emails during the holidays, which will ultimately lead to better, more qualified conversions.

“Data is obviously key all year round, but when it comes to the holiday season, focusing your efforts on key customer groups could be more fruitful and a better use of resources,” explains Tink Taylor, the Founder & President of Dotmailer.

5) Get personal.

According to Shanon Strahl, Senior Digital Marketing Leader at Shaw + Scott, personalization will play a pivotal role in the success of your email campaign this holiday season. Dynamic content created on the basis of subscribers’ likes and needs is bound to create a great impression of your brand in the minds of the subscriber and also generate a better ROI for you.

Check out this awesome personalized email from Lyft.

 

C:UsersPrajakti PathakDesktopWORKSeptember 17Hubspot Holiday GBPersonalized email.png

 

Customize your offers and deals according to the behavioral data you have at hand, or if you don’t have any, ask them what they like or what they would like to see in your holiday emails.

Update the content of your triggered emails. What if someone is signing up to receive your emails around the holiday season? You wouldn’t want to send them your regular welcome template, would you? Don’t let your new subscriber miss out on the holiday fever and holiday-specific promotions.

6) Take the responsive route (it’s not just an ‘option’ anymore!).

Imagine a subscriber opens your email on a smartphone or iPad and sees a broken design. This is certainly not the user experience you are wanting to provide, especially not during the peak holiday season! What if the subscriber unsubscribes?

Dennis Dayman, Chief Privacy Officer at ReturnPath, is of the opinion that since 54% emails are now opened on mobile devices, there’s no option but to create a responsive design. If you’ve never designed a responsive email before and don’t have a developer at your disposal, these tips can help you keep it streamlined and simple:

  1. Single column layout
  2. Minimalist design
  3. User-friendly navigation and CTA buttons
  4. Compact images with proper alt-text

7) Get real with real-time content.

The use of real-time content is increasing, powered by the robust technology to support its integration into emails. “Real-time content can let your emails reflect changes in inventory, among other benefits, which is a major concern for holiday shopping,” explains Ryan Phelan, Vice President, Marketing Insights at Adestra. “Having more control over the message means we can make email a more realistic experience instead of the moment-in-time experience it is now.”

Adding a dynamic countdown timer is a great way to create urgency in emails, and there’s no better time to use them than the holidays. Use a timer to promote your sales, shipping deadlines, etc.

Take a look at this countdown timer in Joybird’s email. Doesn’t it create urgency?

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 10.43.00 AM

 

8) Break the boundaries of email and go social.

Your subscribers are looking for gifts for their loved ones (and maybe even themselves too!). But as any holiday shopper knows, you need to browse around for the perfect gift. Offer your subscribers multiple ways to connect and stay in touch, reminding them of your product at every stage of the shopping season.

“Combine social media with email marketing and you’re onto a winner! However, don’t hijack any trending hashtags without robust prior planning and outcome analysis,” advises Sam Hurley, Founder, OPTIM-EYEZ.

This email from Pandora Plus has the social buttons in place so that subscribers, if interested, can connect with them on the platform of their choice.

 

C:UsersPrajakti PathakDesktopWORKSeptember 17Hubspot Holiday GBPandora.gif
Free Download Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing
 
Free Download Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing

Nov

14

2017

What Really Captures People’s Attention is THE Billion Dollar Question in Marketing [Video]

Nov

14

2017

#33: Reality is Not What You Think

Published by in category Podcast | Leave a Comment

This is one of my earliest interviews about my book “The Jackrabbit Factor”. If you are frustrated about the way your life is going, this episode highlights points and principles that can change your reality as quickly as you intentionally apply them.

Nov

14

2017

14 of the Best Advertising and Marketing Campaigns of All Time

I’ve always been a little leery of proclaiming anything “the best.” I never declared anyone my best friend as a kid because I was afraid my other friends might assume I thought less of them.

So it was a little difficult for me to come up with just one “best” marketing campaign of all time — which is why there are 14 in this post instead.

Why are these marketing campaigns some of the best of all time?

Because of the impact they had on the growth of the brand, and because they manage to hit on some universal truth that allows us to remember these campaigns years after they first began. In fact, some of us might not have even been alive when these campaigns first aired.

But first … 

What Is a Marketing Campaign?

A marketing campaign is a variety of content assets centralized around one message. They often use many different marketing channels to get this idea across. The timing of these campaigns are also very clearly defined.

And now, without further do, here they are, in no particular order (but feel free to let us know which one is your favorite in the comments): 14 of the best marketing campaigns of all time, and the lessons we can learn from them.

14 of the Best Ad & Marketing Campaigns (And What Made Them Successful)

1) Nike: Just Do It.

nike-just-do-it-1.jpg

Source: brandchannel

Did you know that, once upon a time, Nike’s product catered almost exclusively to marathon runners? Then, a fitness craze emerged — and the folks in Nike’s marketing department knew they needed to take advantage of it to surpass their main competitor, Reebok. (At the time, Reebok was selling more shoes than Nike). And so, in the late 1980s, Nike created the “Just Do It.” campaign.

It was a hit.

In 1988, Nike sales were at $800 million; by 1998, sales exceeded $9.2 billion. “Just Do It.” was short and sweet, yet encapsulated everything people felt when they were exercising — and people still feel that feeling today. Don’t want to run five miles? Just Do It. Don’t want walk up four flights of stairs? Just Do It. It’s a slogan we can all relate to: the drive to push ourselves beyond our limits.

So when you’re trying to decide the best way to present your brand, ask yourself: What problem are you solving for your customers? What solution does your product or service provide? By hitting on that core issue in all of your marketing messaging, you’ll connect with consumers on an emotional level that is hard to ignore.

2) Absolut Vodka: The Absolut Bottle

absolut-paris.jpgabsolut-new-york.jpg

Source: Burning Through Journey Blog

Despite having no distinct shape, Absolut made its bottle the most recognizable bottle in the world. Its campaign, which featured print ads showing bottles “in the wild,” was so successful that they didn’t stop running it for 25 years. It’s the longest uninterrupted ad campaign ever and comprises over 1,500 separate ads. I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

When the campaign started, Absolut had a measly 2.5% of the vodka market. When it ended in the late 2000s, Absolut was importing 4.5 million cases per year, or half of all imported vodka in the U.S.

So what’s a marketer’s lesson here? No matter how boring your product looks, it doesn’t mean you can’t tell your story in an interesting way. Let me repeat: Absolut created 1500 ads of one bottle. Be determined and differentiate your product in the same way.

3) Miller Lite: Great Taste, Less Filling

miller-lite-campaign.jpg

Source: BuildingPharmaBrands blog

Think it’s easy to create a whole new market for your product? The Miller Brewing Company (now MillerCoors) did just that with the light beer market — and dominated it. The goal of the “Great Taste, Less Filling” campaign was getting “real men” to drink light beer, but they were battling the common misconception that light beer can never actually taste good. Taking the debate head-on, Miller featured masculine models drinking their light beer and declaring it great tasting.

For decades after this campaign aired, Miller Lite dominated the light beer market it had essentially created. What’s the lesson marketers can learn? Strive to be different. If people tell you there isn’t room for a product, create your own category so you can quickly become the leader.

4) Volkswagen: Think Small

think-small-volkswagon.jpg

Source: design shack

Many marketing and advertising professionals like to call Volkswagen’s “Think Small” campaign the gold standard. Created in 1960 by a legendary advertising group at Doyle Dane & Bernbach (DDB), the campaign set out to answer one question: How do you change peoples’ perceptions not only about a product, but also about an entire group of people?

See, Americans always had a propensity to buy big American cars — and even 15 years after WWII ended, most Americans were still not buying small German cars. So what did this Volkswagen advertisement do? It played right into the audience’s expectations. You think I’m small? Yeah, I am. They never tried to be something they were not.

That’s the most important takeaway from this campaign: Don’t try to sell your company, product, or service as something it’s not. Consumers recognize and appreciate honesty.

5) Dos Equis: The Most Interesting Man in the World

the-most-interesting-man.png

Source: The Open Field

You know who he is. He smokes Cuban cigars, is always surrounded by beautiful women, and — most importantly — he drinks Dos Equis beer.

A key component of a strong campaign for an indulgent vice — like beer, desserts, or luxury items — is to make it cool. And when it comes to The Most Interesting Man in the World, he’s one of the coolest commercial guys there is.

And at the end of every commercial, he says: “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Stay thirsty my friends.”

The hilarious hyperbole employed in this campaign makes it memorable the next time viewers head out to buy some beer. And even though Dos Equis recently replaced The Most Interesting Man with a new actor, he is forever immortalized in meme culture and in liquor stores due to this short, sweet, and memorable tagline — and the cool dude vibe it makes viewers harken back to.

6) California Milk Processor Board: Got Milk?

got-milk-wolverine.jpg

Source: Broward Palm Beach New Times

Thanks to the California Milk Processor Board’s “Got Milk?” campaign, milk sales in California rose 7% in just one year. But the impact ran across state borders, and to this day, you still can’t escape the millions of “Got [Fill-in-the-Blank]?” parodies.

Note, though, that the ad didn’t target people who weren’t drinking milk; it instead focused on the consumers who already were. The lesson here? It’s not always about getting a brand new audience to use your products or services — sometimes, it’s about getting your current audience to appreciate and use your product more often. Turn your audience into advocates, and use marketing to tell them why they should continue to enjoy the product or service you are already providing for them.

7) Metro Trains: Dumb Ways to Die

Yes, you read that right: Dumb Ways to Die.

In Melbourne, Australia, Metro Trains wanted to get across a simple message: No horsing around near train tracks. Disorderly conduct could lead to injuries, or even death, but instead of typical warning signs or announcements inside train stations, Metro Trains came up with Dumb Ways to Die, a song that has garnered 157 million YouTube views since it debuted in 2012.

The song is about dumb ways to die — for example, by poking a grizzly bear with a stick, or taking your helmet off in outer space — and it features a catchy little chorus you won’t be able to stop humming to yourself (because singing it is a little morbid): “Dumb ways to die, so many dumb ways to die.”

At the end of the video, after you’ve watched adorable cartoon characters dying in the dumbest of ways, you get to the moral of the story: There are many dumb ways to die, but the dumbest possible way would be if you died while standing on the edge of a train platform, drove through a railroad sign, or tried to cross over a train track.

This beloved, now-famous campaign communicates a simple idea in a creative and memorable way — and you don’t feel like you’re being nagged, the way some public service announcements do. If your subject matter is grim or boring, consider using creativity to get your message across.

8) Apple: Get a Mac

pc-vs-mac-ad.jpeg

Source: Fox News

While there have been many great Apple campaigns, this one takes the cake. The Mac vs. PC debate ended up being one of the most successful campaigns ever for Apple, and they experienced 42% market share growth in its first year. The campaign tells Mac’s audience everything they need to know about their product without being overt — and in a clever way.

A key takeaway here? Just because your product does some pretty amazing things doesn’t mean you need to hit your audience over the head with it. Instead, explain your product’s benefits in a relatable way so consumers are able to see themselves using it. 

9) Clairol: Does She or Doesn’t She?

clairol-does-she-or-doesnt-she.png

Source: Current360

The first time Clairol asked this question in 1957, the answer was 1 to 15 — as in, only 1 in 15 people were using artificial hair color. Just 11 years later, the answer was 1 of 2, according to TIME Magazine. The campaign was apparently so successful that some states stopped requiring women to denote hair color on their driver’s license. When your ad campaign starts changing things at the DMV, you know you’ve hit a nerve.

Clairol did the opposite of what most marketers would do: They didn’t want every woman on the street running around saying they were using their product. They wanted women to understand that their product was so good that people wouldn’t be able to tell if they were using it or not.

The lesson here: Sometimes, simply conveying how and why your product works is enough for consumers. Showing becomes more effective than telling.

10) De Beers: A Diamond is Forever

de-beers-campaign.jpg

Source: BBC News

In 1999, AdAge declared De Beers’ “A Diamond is Forever” the most memorable slogan of the twentieth century. But the campaign, which proposed (pun very much intended) the idea that no marriage would be complete without a diamond ring, wasn’t just riding on the coattails of an existing industry. De Beers actually built the industry; it presented the idea that a diamond ring was a necessary luxury.

According to the New York Times, N.W. Ayer’s game plan was to “create a situation where almost every person pledging marriage feels compelled to acquire a diamond engagement ring.”

The lesson here? Marketing can make a relatively inexpensive product seem luxurious and essential.

11) Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

old-spice-smell-like-a-man.jpg

Source: Coloribus

The very first part of Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign, created by Wieden + Kennedy and launched in February 2010, was the following commercial. It became a viral success practically overnight:

That video has over 51 million views as of this writing. Several months later, in June 2010, Old Spice followed up with a second commercial featuring the same actor, Isaiah Mustafa. Mustafa quickly became “Old Spice Guy,” a nickname Wieden + Kennedy capitalized on with an interactive video campaign in which Mustafa responded to fans’ comments on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites with short, personalized videos.

In about two days, the company had churned out 186 personalized, scripted, and quite funny video responses featuring Mustafa responding to fans online. According to Inc, these videos saw almost 11 million views, and Old Spice gained about 29,000 Facebook fans and 58,000 new Twitter followers.

“We were creating and sending miniature TV commercials back to individual consumers that were personalized, and we were doing it on a rapid-fire basis,” Jason Bagley, creative director at Wieden + Kennedy and a writer for the campaign, told Inc. “No one expects to ask a question and then be responded to. I think that’s where we broke through.”

The lesson here? If you find your campaign’s gained momentum with your fans and followers, do everything you can to keep them engaged while keeping your messaging true to your brand’s voice and image.

12) Wendy’s: Where’s the Beef?

wendys-wheres-the-beef.jpg

Source: AdSoft Direct

Is it enough to say this campaign was successful because it featured a giant hamburger bun and a cute set of old ladies? No? I didn’t think so.

Wendy’s took a more gutsy approach in this marketing campaign: It targeted its competitors. The simple phrase “Where’s the beef?” was used to point out the lack of beef in competitors’ burgers — and it quickly became a catchphrase that encapsulated all that was missing in their audience’s lives.

While you can’t predict when a catchphrase will catch on and when it won’t, Wendy’s (wisely) didn’t over-promote their hit phrase. The campaign only ran for a year, and allowed it to gently run its course. The lesson here: Be careful with your campaigns’ success and failures. Just because you find something that works doesn’t mean you should keep doing it over and over to the point it’s played out. Allow your company to change and grow, and you may find that you can have even greater success in the future by trying something new.

13) Procter & Gamble: Thank You, Mom

I’ll give you a minute to dry your eyes after that one.

Seriously — you wouldn’t expect a household and cleaning products company commercial to pull at the heartstrings like that, would you?

And that’s because P&G identified the story behind the story of Olympic athletes — the stories of the supportive moms who pushed these world-class athletes throughout their entire lives leading up to that crowning moment. And yes, who probably had to do a lot of laundry and cleanup along the way — presumably using P&G products.

Emotional and nostalgia marketing are powerful tactics to get people to make buying choices, so if there’s a bigger, more universal story behind your product or story, tap into it — and showcase it front-and-center.

14) Chick-fil-A: Eat Mor Chikin

chik-fil-a-cows-d3872e7b696b86a5e90d41ae5d2f0e4889960550-s400-c85.jpg

Source: NPR

Chick-fil-A launched this campaign all the way back in 1995, and it still makes me do a double-take whenever I see those cows wearing sandwich boards, encouraging people to eat chicken — presumably, instead of the beef in hamburgers to save their own skins.

The juxtaposition is what makes this campaign so quirky and effective. You don’t usually think about cows as pro-chicken advocates, but it makes sense in the context of Chick-fil-A, a restaurant that specializes in fried chicken. Try juxtaposition in your next campaign to draw people’s eyes — and make them want to figure out what your quirky ad is all about.

Nov

13

2017

14 of the Stupidest Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid

Most job seekers’ cover letters are merely an introduction. An accurate overview of experience highlights and a way to request to be moved forward based on your qualifications.

And then there are the other kinds of cover letters. The ones chock full of TMI, or that generally just miss the mark.

I got to thinking about this while shuffling through cover letters (I’ve read through a lot of cover letters in my various HR jobs over the years), and decided to compile a list of the most bizarre blunders I’ve come across. I hope you find them helpful — or at the very least, entertaining.Use these marketing resume templates to create a killer resume. 

14 Common Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Trying to be a storyteller
  2. Oversharing
  3. Listing less-than-useful skills
  4. Writing your letter like it’s a text message
  5. Excess length
  6. Promising something you might not be able to fulfill
  7. Misfiring with jokes that are actually insulting
  8. Speaking a little too highly of yourself
  9. Alluding to uncomfortable topics
  10. Overplaying your lesser strengths
  11. Choosing the wrong job benefits to highlight
  12. Emphasizing your non-workplace skills and interests
  13. Using hyperbole
  14. Forgetting that you’re writing to a hiring manager

 

14 Common Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid

1) “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Not a great way to start a cover letter. Although I appreciate a story with added suspense, it’s best to be straightforward when describing your experience.

2) Don’t profess the love you still have for your ex-wife.

Aside from being overly personal, it has no connection to the role for which you’re applying. Keep cover letters professional and on-point.

3) “Proficient in Instagram.”

I’ve seen this listed under Skills more than once. Being able to navigate a mobile photo app isn’t a professional skill. The right filter is a matter of opinion and you can let those skills shine on the weekends.

4) “OMG!” “LOL!”

Cover letters are not text messages. Also, try to avoid emoticons if possible 😉

5) Cover Letter and Resume. Page 1 of 6.

The dreaded length disclosure. Anything longer than two pages is too long. One page should suffice for entry level and a few years of experience. If you have 5+ years of experience, two pages can be appropriate. The less verbose, the better. You’ll have the chance to elaborate during your interview.

6) “I know how to penetrate an organization. Have me in. You will not be disappointed.”

The ability to reach decision makers is appealing, but choose your wording wisely. You don’t want to make your recruiter uncomfortable with such aggressive language.

7) “I know the name of that thing you’re too lazy to Google.”

Try not to insult your future coworkers. (For the record, I’m pretty savvy on Bing, too.)

It’s also dangerous to lean on business babble to make yourself sound smart. It can come across as talking down, not to mention it makes a cover letter painful to get through.

8) “This job is beneath me, but I’ll give it a whirl.”

A somewhat unconventional approach. This tactic misses the mark on humility, and also implies you will get bored rather quickly in the job for which you’re applying. Employers are looking for people who will do more than attempt to contribute.

9) “I’ll spare you the gruesome face-crying details in my cover letter.”

Please do. Cover letters are not a forum for heart-wrenching stories. This is a bit too emotional for most recruiters’ taste.

10) “I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed.”

Don’t confess your shortcomings and weaknesses. Emphasize your strengths instead of trying to prematurely ward off objections.

11) “I want free beer and books.”

This is one of HubSpot’s perks — free beer and books. I recommend not to make office perks the focal point for your interest in a company or role. We all love free stuff, but that’s not the only reason you should want a job.

It’s the same case for something like, “I am fluent in remote working.” Don’t emphasize how good you are at not coming to work. To us, it translates to, “Would rather not come in.” And while you don’t have to be in the office to get work done, but it shouldn’t be used as a selling point.

12) “I am a phenomenal office party dancer.”

I’m also a phenomenal dancer, but we don’t know each other yet. Try to hold back until you’ve determined what interviewer/interviewee demeanor is appropriate.

13) “I am the Chief Rainmaking Officer of my own organization.”

While it’s always great to be creative and set yourself apart from the competition, inflated job titles are a turn-off. This was also from an entry level candidate, which raises even more red flags for recruiters.

14) Don’t use “Ahoy, there” as your introduction.

You have my attention, but unless you’re applying for a role as a sailor or a pirate, this isn’t the way to go.

And lastly, a bonus tip: If you manage to avoid these cover letter blunders and have a scheduled phone interview, don’t answer the phone with: “Sorry, it’s so early.” Especially if it’s 10 AM.

Whether you’re a recruiter or a hiring manager, you’ve probably come across some bizarre cover letter blunders in your time. Share the weirdest with us on Twitter, won’t you?

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Nov

13

2017

How To Write Email Newsletters That People Actually Want To Read

A few weeks ago, the CEO of GMB Fitness, Andy Fossett, looked out at a crowd of marketers and said, “Don’t. ever. blast. your. list.”

We all know this. But Andy’s eyes said what we were all thinking, “I cannot believe I still have to say this to a group of marketers. You people should know better.”

And we should. “Blasting” your list is one of those foundational email marketing violations that can get you banished for life from advanced marketing circles. Other violations include: using the greeting “Hi Friend,” not segmenting your list, and “pushing” content to “get the word out.”

Each of these violations makes up a core element of the infamous “Email Newsletter.” You might know them better as the things in your inbox you “Mark as read.”Click here to download our free beginner's guide to email marketing.

Self-respecting email-marketers scoff at email newsletters.

And yet…we’re seeing a resurgence of (dare I say it) GREAT email newsletters cropping up everywhere.

If you don’t believe me, check your own inbox. How many of you look forward to Tim Ferriss’ 5-Bullet Friday (and copied it yourself with a not-so-clever, “Friday’s Top Hits” or some other knock off)? Or Austin Kleon’s famous “10 Things Worth Sharing” Newsletter. Or Ann Friedman’s “The Ann Friedman Weekly,” also sent on Fridays.

Yeah, that’s what I thought. The newsletter is having it’s moment, which begs the question: Why on Earth are these working?!

Every company with internet access has attempted the newsletter and failed miserably, boasting open rates that are lucky to hit 17%.

The vast majority of newsletters get struck by the email-marketer’s-kiss-of-death: “Mark As Read.”

What are these newsletters doing that’s making them work??

I decided to investigate. Spoiler alert: the answers will (not) surprise you. In fact, they’re so #facepalm obvious you’re going to kick yourself for not seeing it. I certainly did.

Here is why the email newsletters don’t suck and how you can make sure yours don’t either:

💌 They’re super niche.

If you work in a traditional company, odds are the email newsletter is your way of satisfying the CMO’s frantic need to “get the word out” whenever he randomly decides he needs to because he didn’t do the hard work of planning a proper launch or promotion strategy.

That is the wrong way to do this.

The right way is to focus exclusively on the kind of people who make up your specific audience and deliver content that only they will appreciate.

Again for emphasis:

Deliver content that only a specific audience will appreciate

You don’t want everyone: just the right people. (Kinda like having product/market fit) This is why they don’t have to segment and can send ONE email to everyone. Their lists are niche and specific.

My favorite example of this is Gary’s Guide  —  a New York specific “digest” of what’s happening in the NYC tech scene. It has the most comprehensive list of events, classes, series A/B/Whatever funding updates, and job listings of anything on the internet. The best part? It looks like it hasn’t been updated since 1992.

 

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And, yet, it’s considered one of the best go-to sources for what’s happening in the NYC startup scene. That’s because it’s not trying to be everything to everyone.

Gary’s Guide is just for startups and people wanting to break into the tech scene in Manhattan. In other words: It’s niche AF.

Tim Ferriss is also very niche, despite his famously massive subscriber numbers. His audience is made up of bio-hackers and aspiring digital nomads and Tim delivers exactly what they want: latest “hacks,” supplements, gadgets, and, of course, stoicism!!! It’s got wonderfully nerdy book and documentary recommendations too.

If you’re not interested in those topics, you won’t appreciate his bullets:

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What’s more is these bullets feel personal (we’ll get to that in #3). Like he’s your friend telling you what he’s reading, watching, and listening to. His readers don’t even care that these are mostly affiliate links because it’s so relevant and valuable to them.

Look:

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Again, this feels like he’s your friend, casually sending you an email. And it’s niche becuase he knows his readers are aspiring top performers and watching TED Talks at double speed, so he includes the detail, “Watch and do not rush.” It’s like he’s looking out for you.

These newsletters work because they cater to a small, specific group of people. Tim and Gary are not trying to please everyone  —  in fact, they’re actively trying to turn people off.

For example, if you get excited from reading this article and subscribe to the newsletters I’m profiling here, you’ll likely be disappointed because they’re not interested in pleasing you. They’re interested in pleasing their people.

💌 The content is actually good.

I told you this would be obvious. You can’t skimp on this one and yet everyone tries to. That’s how “roundup” became such a dirty word. Paper.li, Refind, and other tools started automating curation and sending you pure crap (or simply too much). Newsletters started white labeling those automation services and claiming they were “curating,” but that is not curating.

Curating is hand picking. If you’re the curator of an art gallery you’re not going, “Eh f*ck it,” and just slapping something random on the wall to meet your weekly quota.

To curate is to be discerning. Careful. Methodical. Thoughtful.

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For example, this is a poorly curated photo. It makes no sense right here.

Austin Kleon is the master of this. His links are thoughtful and relevant. You can tell he’s actually read what he recommends and isn’t siphoning the hard work of curation to his latest content manager hire (I’m assuming he has one, but you’d never know by reading the newsletter).

Here’s an example of how he delivers quality curated content:

 

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This takes clickbait to a whole new level. Instead of using a baited headline, he hyperlinks the hook: “Which contains his funny rant about the Broadway musical, Rent.” Who doesn’t want to read that?!?! (ok unless you’re his niche, you probably don’t, but the point still stands)

Kleon knows what his audience cares about because it’s what he cares about. He’s built a career and a brand around creativity and the arts. And funny drawings. And he delivers.

To nail this requirement you need a deep understanding of your audience and what they care about.

If you’re asking, “How am I supposed to know what people care about?” Do yourself a favor and get a degree in accounting and call it a day. I’m not sure you can be saved.

TL;DR: Don’t be lazy. Your audience is trusting that you’re doing the hard work of finding the diamonds in the rough. And they will reward you by coming back, week after week.

If you fail to deliver, (say it with me): “Mark as read.”

💌 Context. Context. Context. And personality. But mostly context.

Again, duh. But let me explain before you shut the screen cursing my name for telling you what you already know.

The reason these “roundups” and “blasts” work is because they’re housed within useful context. They’re not actually a long list of boring headlines you skim.

Let’s break down a bit more how Kleon does it:

 

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  1. It feels like he’s writing this directly to you (“Hey yall”). He’s conversational. Not overly chipper or super buttoned-up (here’s looking at you B2B).
  2. He doesn’t simply hyperlink the headline of an article and move on. He tells you why you should check it out or why he did. By hyperlinking the context he sort of gameifies the content. You don’t know what you’ll get until you click!
  3. He writes in the same pragmatic-and-hilarious tone he uses in his best-selling books (which is how most people discover him) which keeps his core audience happy and feeling connected to him (which is key!).

Ann Friedman is also a master of this. Look how she weaves in a “roundup” of links into a paragraph of context (also a violation of copy-law: never publish a giant unbroken block of text!!!). Yet, she is famous for these giant blocks of relevant articles.

Relevant to her readers. If you’re not a left-leaning progressive hungry for information on current events, women’s issues, race issues you probably won’t enjoy these pieces (see #1).

 

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She follows the same format as Kleon.

She’s personable, relevant, and gamifying the hyperlinks inside of context. It feels like you’re getting a rant from your best friend.

Since that content can get pretty heavy, she does what your actual besties would do: add a hilarious inside-joke GIF.

 

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If you’re her market it’s funny.

Another master of the email-newsletter-blast-that-sounds-like-it-was-written-by-your-bestie is Luvvie Ajayi, famed blogger and NYT bestseller who writes the LuvvLetter. Read this and tell me it doesn’t sound like it’s coming from your bffaeae updating you on her life:

 

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You can HEAR her saying this to you.

These “blasts” don’t feel like blasts because they’re executed extremely well. They emphasize personality, casualness, and respect the rule of email that says it’s not just a one-way communication. These emails feel like 2-way conversations you’re having with friends updating you on their lives.

💌 They don’t visually assault you.

I’m the last person qualified to talk about design seeing as I’m a copy-centric bafoon who frequently ignores the value of good design (I have been proven wrong. many. many times), but here we are.

Newsletters that look like you repurposed a template from MailChimp are part of why people don’t read them. (I know, I am sorry MailChimp. There was a time for those.)

Design exists to serve content. Design showcases content, it is not the star.

You should never say, “Wow, this was well formatted.” You should say, “Damn, I love reading this.”

Even Ann’s “giant block of text” is housed in a sea of whitespace so it’s not competing with colors and fonts and buttons and other noise.

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Same with Austin Kleon’s:

 

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The banners are visually appealing too, without feeling like you’re getting a Well+Good digest (aka: digital newspaper…that’s a whole ‘nother post).

 

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Luvvie is also clean, despite having a lot more content than the other examples. Her newsletter doesn’t read like a digital newspaper bombarding you with stories. Her formatting is simple and (dare I say it) dated, but her audience doesn’t seem to care.

These newsletters are consistent in that they showcase one content block at a time, making it easier on the reader to skim and get downloaded on the content they’re looking forward too (instead of being visually assaulted). Look how clean this is:

 

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This isn’t rocket science.

…And yet the majority of marketing departments get it wrong. Newsletters are not a convenient tool for getting your company-specific information to your customers. They are a vehicle for communicating with your audience — just like all email is.

Listen, I’m as shocked as anyone that one-way communication “blasts” are working, but they are. And after closely examining why, it turns out these newsletters aren’t *totally* violating email marketing laws since they’re upholding the important ones:

  • Don’t “throw” offers at people (don’t throw anything at people).
  • Act like a person. Don’t be weird (like overly chipper or too buttoned up).
  • Write to your readers, not your colleagues, your boss, or your phantom Gary Vaynerchuck.
  • Be divisive. Not the in Trump-V-Hilz way, but in the “this is for people like me” or “this is not for people like me” way. It should be clear immediately who your newsletter is for and who it’s not for.
  • Keep doing what works, stop doing what doesn’t.

If we have any chance at clearing the internet (and certainly my inbox) of clutter, than we need to get this right. It’s not rocket science, but it does require some hard work and legitimate caring about your audience (I mean it. None of that pretending crap. Your readers always know).

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