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Sep

22

2017

Which Blogging Tips Get Results? [New Survey Data]

Published by in category Blogging, Daily | Leave a Comment

When it comes to business blogging, how much time do people put into creating posts? How long are their articles? What goes into them? How often do they publish new content? How do they promote their posts? Do they measure the results?

The answers to any and all of the questions deliver interesting insights on the state of digital marketing. And thanks to the work of Orbit Media Studios, this data has been collected, made available and fun to consume.

For three years running, Andy Crestodina — the web design and development company’s co-founder — and his team have surveyed 1,000+ bloggers about how they create content and compiled their findings into blog posts, infographics, and SlideShares.

And now, behold: We have new data on how marketers view blogging in 2017. Let’s take a look at some of the trends over the years.

Fundamental Blogging Tips

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of blogging ROI, we should establish the basics. When it comes to general, fundamental blogging tips, here are three key ones that we like to follow.

  1. Know your audience. Never before has it been easier to find out who your audience is. Using tools like Google Analytics and more, marketers can find out where their visitors are from (geographically), how long they stay on the page, and more. Plus, you can create buyer personas: semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on market research and real data about your existing customers. Get started creating your own with these templates.
  2. Crowdsource. Now that you understand your audience, reach out. Using forum-like discussions or your social media communities, ask your followers for ideas and thoughts on a topic in exchange for a chance to be quoted. It’s a great way to drive visits back to your blog after the post is published — plus, it builds engagement on your social media channels. This also goes for the readers you already have. If you’re able to, reach out to them and genuinely ask for their opinions on what you’re doing well, and what they’d like to see more of from you.
  3. Teach people something. When you ask someone to read your blog, you’re essentially asking to borrow their brain for the amount of time they spend with their content. Make it worthwhile — entertain and inform. Otherwise, you risk two things: 1) a high bounce rate, or 2) the reader thinking that you just wasted her time. And on that note …
  4. Use a call-to-action. One sign that you’re doing something right on your blog is if readers want more of it. But don’t leave them hanging or asking, “Now what?” A quality CTA should be built to provide your readers with more information on the topic they’ve just read about. But don’t just use it for the sake of lead generation — make sure it actually provides value, too. (Check out this comprehensive list of CTA best practices.)

Now, let’s dive into those trends we promised you.

Business Blogging: A Look at Trends From 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017

2014 …

In the 2014 research, Orbit Media established some baselines and concluded:

  • The majority of bloggers spend two hours or less on a typical post.
  • The typical blogger published several posts per week. 5% published daily.
  • 80% were creating content of 1,000 words or less.
  • Social media was the most common promotion tactic, typically used by 94% of bloggers.

Andy told us that, for bloggers, blogging isn’t a job; it’s a lifestyle. His research indicated bloggers were writing and producing posts everywhere, all the time.

2015 …

In 2015, Crestodina and I collaborated on an infographic to present the key findings, which reported:

  • Average time writing blog posts increased to 2.5 hours.
  • The number of bloggers publishing daily (or more) increased.
  • Blog posts of 1,500 or more words increased by 72%.
  • The use of images increased.

The research indicated more blogging was done during normal work hours. The findings at large inspired Andy to conclude, “Blogging is becoming a more serious, formal discipline.” He also said best practices were emerging.

2016 …

The 2016 results came together in November, and you can find a detailed analysis of the findings here. Once again, we have created an infographic, making its debut below.

I’ll allow it to reveal the findings, which have evolved to include the tactics that business bloggers believe produce the strongest results.

SuccessfulBloggers_Orbitmedia - final.jpg

2017 …

Blogging was at the center of data revealed in the State of Inbound 2017 reports. What we found here is that blogging, when approached and executed with the right tactics and strategy — works. For that reason, it remains a focus of marketing activities and plans.

Specifically, blogging was the second-highest-cited top priority identified by marketers, with 53% identifying “blog content creation” as one of the most important areas of inbound marketing for their companies.

Plus, they know it works. A mere 5% of marketers identified blogging as an “overrated marketing tactic” — for the sake of comparison, 32% said that paid advertising is.

So, there you have it. Curious to see what 2018 has in store? So are we, and we’ll be keeping an eye out.

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Sep

21

2017

Should You Even Bother With Bots? An Expert Weighs In [Video]

Published by in category Bots, Daily | Leave a Comment

 

If you’re a human with internet access in 2017, you’ve probably talked to a bot recently — even if you weren’t fully aware of it.

With over five billion monthly active users on messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, the current tech landscape is set for a veritable explosion of chatbots and AI-based assistants over the next few years. And marketers should be racing to explore the potential power of this exciting new space — with some thoughtful restraint, of course.  

This isn’t the first time we’re talking about the importance of investing early in bots on the HubSpot Marketing Blog, but it’s one thing to recognize the potential of a new technology and quite another to start incorporating it into your exisiting business model.

Especially for businesses on the smaller side, pivoting towards a new strategy can feel like a terrifying leap. You’ve probably asked yourself: should I even bother with bots?

To learn more about practical use cases for bots, we turned to Vedant Misra, the founder and CEO of Kemvi (an AI and machine learning startup recently aquired by HubSpot), and current artificial intelligence tech lead here at HubSpot.

Check out the interview above, and decide for yourself: are bots the right next move for your business?

battle-bots

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Sep

20

2017

6 Interview Questions to Assess Emotional Intelligence

Despite what you might have come to believe after sorting through the internet’s seemingly bottomless slew of articles on the subject, emotional intelligence is more than just a buzzword.

The ability to empathize with others, build lasting relationships, and manage emotions in a healthy way has been proven time and time again to be one of the biggest indicators of workplace and interpersonal success.

Emotionally intelligent individuals can more easily adapt to new environments and relate to new colleagues and clients — crucial skills for anyone working at a marketing agency. People with low levels of emotional intelligence might have difficulty managing relationships and dealing with stress, which could lead to burnout or bigger conflicts down the line.

Among employees who fail to meet expectations during their first 18 months on the job, 23% fail due to low emotional intelligence. That’s the second most prevalent reason new hires fail, following only general lack of coachability.Click here to download our free guide on how to succeed in your new marketing  job.

We know gauging a candidate’s emotional intelligence is pivotal when it comes to hiring the best new talent — but can something so complex be sufficiently evaluated in a brief interview setting?

Some candidates have mastered the ability of seeming emotionally intelligent — responding instantaneously with practiced, too-good-to-be-true responses to classic interview questions, e.g.:

What’s your greatest weakness?
Well, I just care too darn much about my work.

To help you sift through the rehearsed responses and dig deeper into a candidate’s real level of emotional intelligence, we’ve put together the following list of interview questions. Learn what to ask below and how to identify an emotionally intelligent response.

6 Interview Questions to Assess Emotional Intelligence

1) Can you tell me about a time you tried to do something and failed?

Asking a candidate to explain a failed project is not only a great way to see how they cope when things don’t go as planned, it’s also an opportunity to see whether or not they’re comfortable taking full responsibility for their actions.

Look for a candidate who can straightforwardly describe a recent failure without shirking the bulk of the blame on other parties or unfortunate circumstances. Even if some external factors played a hand in the mishap, you want a candidate who is comfortable being held fully accountable, and can discuss even the nitty-gritty details of a failed project with fair-minded focus.

Does the candidate seem like they were able to fully bounce back from the issue without getting defensive? Emotionally intelligent individuals possess an inherent self-confidence that can buoy them through setbacks and lets them assess troubling situations objectively, without harsh self-judgment or resorting to outward frustration.

Be wary of candidates who fixate too much on who or what they blame for the failure. When a project doesn’t work out, the key takeaway shouldn’t be based on blame. Emotionally intelligent people know how to move on and examine a situation without bitterness or resentment clouding their judgment.

2) Tell me about a time you received negative feedback from your boss. How did that make you feel?

One of the most easily recognizable qualities of an emotionally intelligent person is their ability to deal with criticism. People with high emotional intelligence are well-equipped to handle negative feedback without losing stride. They can process even unexpected feedback without letting it damage their self-worth.

That’s not to say negative feedback has no emotional impact on emotionally intelligent employees. People with high emotional intelligence experience emotions like everyone else — they just know how to fully process those emotions with a level head and a clear focus on the facts.

Look for a candidate who can specifically describe the feelings they experienced upon receiving negative feedback, e.g.: “At first I was surprised and a little frustrated by my manager’s comments on the project, but when I looked deeper into the reasoning behind her comments, I realized that I could have definitely given more attention to several key areas. On my next project, I was able to use her feedback to develop a more well-rounded approach.”

A response that acknowledges the specific emotions they experienced and shows an empathic understanding of their manager’s point of view indicates a high level of emotional awareness.

Candidates who say they felt “bad” or can’t really express why the feedback affected them might be less emotionally intelligent. Similarly, if a candidate thinks the feedback was wholly undeserved and doesn’t attempt to understand their manager’s point of view, they might have difficulty stepping outside of their own perspective.

3) Can you tell me about a conflict at work that made you feel frustrated?

Everyone gets frustrated sometimes. It’s how you handle that frustration that really matters.

Hearing how a candidate explains a work conflict can offer some valuable clues into their level of emotional intelligence. Conflicts can stir up a lot of difficult emotions, and asking a candidate to describe a dispute and how they dealt with it can give you meaningful insight into how they manage their emotions and empathize with others.

According to psychologist and author Daniel Goleman, emotionally intelligent people have four distinguishing characteristics:

  • They were good at understanding their own emotions (self-awareness)
  • They were good at managing their emotions (self-management)
  • They were empathetic to the emotional drives of other people (social awareness)
  • They were good at handling other people’s emotions (social skills)

All four of these characteristics are put to the test in conflicts situations. Emotionally intelligent people will be able to explain a conflict situation clearly and objectively, giving a specific run down of how they felt at the time, how they managed those feelings, and how they used social cues from those around them to inform their decisions.

As they explain the conflict situation, consider the following four areas:

  • Can they clearly articulate the emotions they experienced during the conflict? (self-awareness)
  • Were they able to move past any negative emotions and work towards a resolution? (self-management)
  • Do they seem aware of the other person’s motivations and challenges? (social awareness)
  • Were they able to mend the relationship and move past the conflict? (social skills)

4) Tell me about a hobby you like to do outside of work. Can you teach me about it?

Ask the candidate to explain one of their hobbies to you as if you know nothing about it. It can be anything — golf, horseback riding, cookie jar collecting — anything they’re interested in and willing to share details about.

As they explain the hobby, prompt them with questions that force them to simplify, re-explain, and change their communication style to suit your clear lack of understanding. See how they react. Are they getting flustered or frustrated? Are they quick to adapt their communication style to meet your needs?

Emotionally intelligent people remain patient and calm when faced with a communication challenge. They can easily read social cues when their message isn’t clearly getting across, and will deftly pivot their approach to meet the needs of their audience.

5) What would your co-workers say is the most rewarding thing about working with you? What about the most challenging thing?

It takes a deep, well-developed sense of self-awareness (and humility) to recognize what really makes you tick. To gauge how well candidates understand their own strengths and limitations in the workplace, ask them to explain how they think others perceive their positive and not-so-positive qualities.

The question is likely to catch some people off guard, but look for candidates who appear comfortable offering up frank commentary without making excuses or immediately invaliding their co-workers’ perceived criticisms.

6) Can you tell me about a time you needed to ask for help on a project?

Emotionally intelligent people are self-confident without being overconfident. They have a realistic understanding of their own strengths and limitations, and they aren’t afraid to admit what they don’t know. They know that asking for help and collaborating with others is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Be wary of candidates who seem hesitant or embarrassed to admit they need help sometimes. Look for someone who can confidently discuss a time when they sought the help of a colleague due to a gap in their knowledge of a subject.

Emotionally intelligent people will be transparent about their weak points, and will show a real drive to better themselves by collaborating and using all the resources available to them.

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Sep

19

2017

How to Create a Pillar Page

Like the magnificent architectural wonders that hold up The Pantheon in Rome, pillars will help you hold up your blog’s architecture, too.

You have to build them yourself — but we promise it takes less time and effort than building them from marble or concrete.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about pillar pages — how they fit into the new topic cluster strategy we’re advocating, what they can achieve for your blog’s results, and how to actually create one.

What Is a Pillar Page?

Pillar pages help organize your website and blog content architecture according to the changing ways people are now searching for information.

These unique blog posts or site pages are comprehensive guides to a particular topic you’re trying to rank for in search. So, where you might have 20 different blog posts about different aspects of using Instagram in your marketing, a pillar page is an overview guide to all aspects of a particular topic. Then, all of the different blog posts about different aspects of Instagram marketing link back to the pillar page to show readers a route to learn everything they need to know.

By creating pillar pages, you can organize your site architecture to help visitors get answers to their questions and quickly and easily as possible. And that’s more important than ever — because the way people are searching for content is changing.

(But before we dive into why creating pillar pages is so important, learn more about how to define a pillar page in this blog post.)

Why Create Pillar Pages

Like we said before, the way people search for information has changed, and pillar pages are part of the topic cluster model that help your content strategy adapt to this change — and, hopefully, rank higher in search.

Thanks to voice search devices like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa, search queries are becoming longer and more conversational.In fact, 64% of searches are made up of four words or more, and 20% of Google searches are now conducted via voice. So instead of typing into a search bar “how to use Instagram,” you might instead ask your device, “what’s the best way to use hashtags on Instagram?”

Additionally, Google’s search algorithm is doing a better job at providing the exact information searchers are looking for through the mountains of content out there, thanks to advances in machine-learning and semantic search. Google is even better at understanding exactly what you mean when you type in a query and serving results that best answer that question.

And due to these changes, it’s important to organize your blog according to topic clusters — where one topic is anchored by a comprehensive pillar page that links to more in-depth blog posts about specific aspects of that topic.

That way, your pillar page will start ranking in search for the particular topic you’re focusing on, which will help other blog posts rank as well — the expression “the rising tide lifts all ships” applies here. Instead of writing blog post after blog post focusing on different keyword variations of the same topic, you’ll have an organized site infrastructure made up of one pillar page and specific, in-depth blog posts that address content gaps about the topics.

In this model, your blog content is more organized for the reader to jump from post to post learning more about a topic, and your URLs don’t compete with each other for the same long-tail keyword — because they’re all ranking for the same broader topic.

To visualize what this new model looks like, here’s what HubSpot’s blog infrastructure used to look like:

Old structure-2.png

And here’s what our blog looks like now, using the topic cluster strategy:

New structure-2.png

We know it’s tough to think about keywords differently — after years of creating blog content dedicated to ranking for specific long-tail keywords, we feel your pain. This strategy doesn’t advocate for the abandonment of keywords as a strategy — it just calls for focus on topics so you can choose the keywords you base blog posts on more effectively.

(Psst — you can read more about this in our in-depth research report about topic clusters.)

How to Create a Pillar Page

Now that you understand all about pillar pages — and why you should be creating them — here are the key steps to creating a successful one.

1) Choose a topic.

The first step in this process is focusing on topics, and not keywords. At least at first.

Determine who your audience is using buyer persona research, and figure out what they’re searching for, which will determine how broad to make your pillar page. You want the topic of a pillar page to be broad enough to write a pillar page and come up with several more specific keywords related to the broader topic.

In our case using the earlier example, “social media” was too broad of a topic, but “Instagram marketing” is sufficient to create a pillar page and 20-30 related blog posts — HubSpot’s gut-check number for determining if a topic is broad enough.

2) Write (or designate) a pillar page.

Now, it’s time to make your pillar page. You might already have a comprehensive blog post that you can adapt into a pillar page, or you might need to write a comprehensive guide to your topic from scratch. Either way, there are a few key elements HubSpot Staff Writer Aja Frost suggests you include:

  • A definition of the topic or term you’re covering somewhere in the first section
  • A bulleted or numbered table of contents
  • A more specific topic-related keyword in each of your subheadings
  • Content that provides an overview (but not an exhaustive one) of the subtopics discussed on the pillar page (those will make up new blog posts later)

3) Choose keywords.

Once you’ve nailed down your pillar page, it’s time to do some good old-fashioned keyword research — within the bigger umbrella of the specific topic you’re targeting. Choose keywords with a lot of search volume that cover different aspects of the topic, and use those to build your working titles.

4) Start writing.

You already know how to do this — so you can breathe a sigh of relief. Now it’s time to write blog posts based on specific keywords within your topic cluster — making sure to link them to your pillar page to create a streamlined reader experience and help all of your content rank higher in search engine results pages.

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Sep

19

2017

The 27 Best Instagram Accounts for Design Inspiration

Instagram has become a finely curated destination for gorgeous photos, videos, and visual content that all clamor for the best Likes and comments. It’s as if the urge to visit a modern art museum can now be satisfied from the comfort of our own homes — or bus seats, or lunch breaks.

That is, if you follow the right people. As social media generally provides a platform for individuals to become brands, so it goes for the artists and designers who have found Instagram to be a method of building a miniature, digital art gallery — a social portfolio, if you will.

And as for the people seeking remarkable design work? Jackpot.

But to help you narrow your search, we’ve done a bit of our own curation of the best Instagram accounts to follow for design inspiration. We’ve broken the list down by category: illustration, graphic design, pop art and installation, color palettes, street art, photography, typography, and calligraphy — although, you might notice that some of the work below could fall onto more than one list. notice some of their work could fall into a number of different lists.

Check out how these artists are sharing their work with the world — we’re sure you’ll find them as inspiring as we do.

The 27 Best Instagram Accounts for Design

Click on a category below to jump to that section:

Illustration

1) Steve Harrington: @s_harrington

Steve Harrington is a Los Angeles-based designer who describes his own style as having a “psychedelic-pop aesthetic.” His Instagram is full of his brightly colored, playful illustrations, many of which he’s created for brands — most notably Nike, for which he’s designed sportswear, including shoes.

 

Busting out my air max collaboration from last year to rock this year. I’ll be celebrating Air Max Day with @nikesportswear and @kith in NYC over the weekend. We’ve planned a really cool event for Sat and Sun at @kith with more info mañana. We’ll have some special goods available at the shop if you’re in NYC! (Above photo is a look back on my Air Max model designed and released in 2016)👟

A post shared by Steven Harrington (@s_harrington) on Mar 24, 2017 at 9:44am PDT 

2) Rachel Ryle: @rachelryle

Rachel Ryle is an illustrator, an animator, and a storyteller — and she combines all three on her Instagram account. Most of her posts are beautiful, clever, and often super cute stop-motion videos like the one below. She told Mashable that each animation takes 15–20 hours from the beginning concept to final editing, on average. If you like her work, Instagram is the place to follow her: It’s her most dedicated channel for showcasing her work. 

 

Happy National Donut Day! I was thinking, wouldn’t it be nice to be one of “those people” who proudly post a picture of their six pack on Instagram? Let’s face it, donuts happen. So this is probably the closest I’ll ever get to achieving that dream. The good news is that with donuts we can all have a sweet six pack! Whether you’re a believer in this “hole-y” holiday or not, I hope you all enjoy this very special “fried-day”! Diet or not…donut hesitate, go treat yo’self! PS Of course today’s hidden emoji is this 👉🏻🍩👈🏻. See if you can spot it 😉 #ispyemojis #stopmotion #animation #art #drawing #illustration #instavideo #instavid #holiday #baking #doughnut #donut #pink #icing #sixpack #NationalDoughnutDay #NationalDonutDay #🍩

A post shared by Rachel Ryle (@rachelryle) on Jun 2, 2017 at 5:57am PDT

3) Mikey Burton: @mikeyburton

Mikey Burton, based out of Chicago, calls himself a “designy illustrator” — his way of saying he works part time in both. Burton has done work for clients like Converse, ESPN, Target, The New York Times, TIME Magazine, and Esquire. He’s been working on a lot of editorial pieces lately, which he posts proudly on his Instagram — along with other, often-whimsical illustrations both as sketches and as final, published projects.

 

Beer map I drew for @wsjoffduty Thank you @ufoundforest for the gig! Photo by @fmrphoto 🗺 🍻

A post shared by Mikey Burton (@mikeyburton) on Jan 3, 2017 at 5:57am PST

4) Jamel Saliba: @melsysillustrations

Jamel Saliba, a.k.a. Melsy, is equal parts artist and entrepreneur, having quit her job in her mid-twenties to become a successful, full-time fashion illustrator. Her sketches are beautifully done and cover themes like fashion, friendship, and love — all in the style of contemporary chic. Since her initial success on Etsy caught the eye of consumers and brands alike, Melsy’s done client work for Hallmark, T.J.Maxx, and Home Goods.

On Instagram, she posts a combination of illustrations added to her portfolio, as well as those celebrating events or holidays, like the illustration she posted for Halloween.

 

Tag your pumpkin pals!🍁🎃Shop prints online or in person at @artistsandfleas in Chelsea Market starting tomorrow through September 24th daily from 10-9pm! #melsysillustrations #afchelsea #art #pumpkin #pumpkinspice #fall #fallandfriends #friends

A post shared by Melsy’s Illustrations © (@melsysillustrations) on Sep 10, 2017 at 7:35am PDT 

Graphic Design

5) Neil A. Stevens: @neil_a_stevens

Neil A. Stevens specializes in poster design, and he’s particularly good at creating sharp, dynamic pieces.  He’s created posters for many cities and countries around the globe, including a handful for the Tour de France. 

 

Out for a spin.

A post shared by Neil_A_Stevens (@neil_a_stevens) on Aug 3, 2017 at 12:20am PDT

6) Hey Studio: @heystuxdio

Hey Studio is made up of three designers: Ricardo Jorge, Veronica Fuerte, and Mikel Romero — and is one of Spain’s most popular graphic design studios. A lot of their work features stunning geometric shapes, which they post to their Instagram account in combination with pictures of their team during the creation process (and when they’re just fooling around).

Tip: Shuffle through the entire carousel of images in the post below to see the full dimension range of work.

 

Chromatics Lamp 💫 back to 2012 a collaboration with @entresuelo1a

A post shared by Hey (@heystudio) on Jul 13, 2017 at 11:32am PDT

7) Luke Choice: @velvetspectrum

Luke Choice is an Australian living in New York whose work covers graphic design, illustration, and typography. His style is very colorful and very unique — I especially love the 3D illustration work he does, some of which are crazy cool animations. Check out his Instagram feed to see his latest work, from his own personal projects to collaborations with brands like Nike. 

 

“Popping Pixels”

A post shared by Velvet Spectrum (@velvetspectrum) on Aug 30, 2017 at 6:43am PDT

Pop Art & Installation

8) Jessica Walsh: @jessicawalsh

I’m so inspired by Jessica Walsh, both as a designer and as an entrepreneur. She joined the design firm Sagmeister & Walsh, Inc. at age 23 — back when it was just Sagmeister, Inc. Two years later, the firm’s founder Stefan Sagmeister took her on as a partner when she was only 25, and the firm eventually became Sagmeister & Walsh. They’ve designed work for very high-profile clients, such as Levi’s and HBO.

Walsh’s Instagram account is a gorgeous display of her own work, the firm’s, and design inspiration from others. 

 

Excited for another round of @ladieswinedesign NYC this week 💕 big thanks to our awesome sponsor @clos_wines for the amazing wines 🍷😍❤️they have amazing curated wine cases from small wine producers you can order online ✨

A post shared by Jessica Walsh (@jessicavwalsh) on Aug 20, 2017 at 7:59am PDT

9) Daniel Aristizábal: @darias88

Colombian Digital Artist Daniel Aristizábal’s talent is transforming regular, everyday objects into surreal, colorful renditions that are full of character. His work is “saturated with science references, retro hues, strange imagery, bold geometric patterns, and a playful sense of the absurd,” reads his SkillShare bio.

Follow him on Instagram for a peek into how he sees the world, including the collaborations he’s worked on with clients like Toy Nail Polish and Refinery29.

 

A giant in a corridor, for @kaibosh_co, part of “All you can see” series #illustration #art #digital #artditection #3d #pitchzine #stilllife #surreal #fashion #eyewear #kaibosh #velvet #instagood #cgi #fakeasfuck #pitchzine #lazyeyes #octane #danielaristizabal

A post shared by Daniel Aristizabal (@darias88) on Feb 7, 2017 at 5:17am PST

10) Dschwen LLC: @dschwen

Dschwen LLC is a creative studio based in Minneapolis that employs collaborative designers throughout the United States. Their design projects are created mainly for brands — including some big names like Amazon, Apple, Juicy Couture, General Electric, Uber, Twitter, and more.

They’ve won a plethora of awards, including a Design Gold at Cannes Creativity Festival for the second image below, “traffic cone in disguise,” which they created for Twitter and Niche. Their Instagram page is chock full of creative, surprising, and clever designs — including some sweet animations.

 

In Minneapolis, it seems like everyone has a Prince story. The first time we saw him was at Paisley Park in ’09, where he called George Clinton on stage by saying, “Where you at, Snuffleupagus?!” What’s your favorite #Prince story? #RIPPrince #RestInPurple #PurpleRain #PantonePairings

A post shared by Dschwen (@dschwen) on Apr 20, 2017 at 10:11am PDT 

11) Leta Obierajski: @letasobierajski

Leta Obierajski is a New York-based art director and graphic designer with an eye for bright colors, angles, and curves. What I like about her Instagram account in particular is that she writes descriptive Instagram captions that give her followers a behind-the-scenes look at her thoughts and processes, making for an incredibly interesting read.

For example, in her caption for the image below, she describes her collaboration with a fellow designer on this installation for local restaurant Le Turtle:

 

New work! Le Turtle is a French new-wave restaurant founded by Taavo Somer (@taavosomer) & Carlos Quirarte (@cqsmileny). Taking notes from psychedelic symbology and visual occult, @wadejeffree and I sighted references such as The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky, the paintings of Victor Vasarely, the architectural notes of Carlo Scarpa, and Sol Lewitt in order to help us realize our vision for Le Turtle. We put a strong emphasis on raw materials as well as angles and curves to create a distinct brand language for the restaurant. We developed a bespoke typeface for Le Turtle to use on all printed materials as well as an iconography set for web and print. 👁〰🖐🏻

A post shared by Leta Sobierajski (@letasobierajski) on May 4, 2016 at 5:14am PDT

Color Palettes

12) Design Seeds: @designseeds

The folks behind Design Seeds’ Instagram account do a wonderful job of showing their followers just how important color schemes are to beautiful design. They use Instagram to create color palettes inspired by images submitted to them on Instagram using the #SeedsColor hashtag. This is a fun way to share their passion for nature’s beauty while encouraging engagement. 

 

today’s inspiration image for { market hues } is by @rotblaugelb … thank you, Julia, for another wonderful #SeedsColor image share!

A post shared by Jessica Colaluca, Design Seeds (@designseeds) on Sep 8, 2017 at 10:15am PDT 

13) Canva: @Canva

As a design tool, it makes sense that Canva’s Instagram account would be centered around design. Not only do they post gorgeous photos and design work, but I especially love their color palette series, where they create color palettes based on photos, much like Design Seeds.

As an added bonus, they include the names and hex codes of each color and prompt their followers to punch the hex codes into their Canva color wheel to use them in their own designs.

 

Happy Friday everybody! ✨ Here’s our latest color combo: Weekend Wander. 💜 Type the hex codes into your Canva color wheel to get these exact hues in your designs! Tap here to see more: #canvacolors ! 🎨

A post shared by Canva (@canva) on Apr 21, 2017 at 1:29pm PDT

Street Art

14) Jaime Rojo: @bkstreetart

Jaime Rojo isn’t a street artist; he’s a photographer of street art. One of his goals, which he articulates on his website, is to photograph new public art, street art, graffiti, and urban art as they’re created, not just in Brooklyn, but all over the world (thanks to a partnership with Urban Nation Berlin). He keeps an eye on developing trends and strives to lead a worldwide conversation about how these trends affect popular and art culture. His Instagram is a live collection of his photographs, in which he credits and tags the artist when known.

 

Daze. For your eyes only. @dazeworldnyc #daze #streetart #nyc #muralart #urbanart #manhattan

A post shared by Brooklyn Street Art (@bkstreetart) on Aug 31, 2017 at 6:07pm PDT  

15) Biafra Inc.: @biafrainc

Biafra Inc. is an anonymous Minneapolis-based street artist who creates his work via spray paint, screen printing, stencils, stickers, and posters. As he tells it, his work is often “a visual retelling of stories that are apart of his life.” As a self-proclaimed news junkie, he also incorporates socio-political themes in his work from time to time. His Instagram account is an inspirational showcase of his work in a variety of urban environments all over the Midwest. 

biafrainc-instagram-4.png

16) Fumeroism: @fumeroism

“My art is an extension of my character, bold and uninhibited, assertive and unorthodox.” That’s how anonymous street artist Fumeroism describes his colorful, expressive, contemporary street art. His designs are often caricatures of real subjects, like his portrait of fellow street artist Sebastien Waknine in Barcelona in the image below. Follow Fumeroism on Instagram for colorful, bold, and energetic street art in locations all over the world.  

 

Collaboration with @sebastienwaknine and portrait of @sebastienwaknine located at Av. del Parallel, 49 #tresximeneies #barcelona #espana #Fumero #goingglobal #fumeroizing #barcelonastreetart #spain_gallery #spainstreetart #fumeroism #anatomicalgrafstraction #thegrafstract #grafstract #spain🇪🇸 #fumeroized #spain #streetart #nycstreetart in #barcelonaspain #globalstreetart #contemporary #contemporayart #mural #urbanart @sourmatt

A post shared by Fumero Ism (@fumeroism) on Jul 18, 2016 at 12:02pm PDT

17) Banksy: @banksy

Unsurprisingly, the famous British street artist Banksy often goes for long peiods of time without posting to his Instagram account. And yes, it is his official account — Banksy’s publicist Jo Brooks confirmed it in a tweet:

@hookedblog Hey Mark that IS the official instgram account and the only official account

— Jo Brooks (@brightonseagull)
February 25, 2015

But when he does, it’s not something you’ll want to miss.

For example, in February 2015, after almost a year and a half of nothing new on Instagram, Banksy posted a caption-less photo to his Instagram account of a brand new, never-before-seen piece of street art that Paste Magazine theorized appeared to be “done over a door. The location has not been discovered or revealed as of yet.” Follow his account to scroll through some of his great work and to stay in the loop in case a new piece appears.

 

Opened a gift shop today – situated at the back of the Walled Off hotel. Not to be confused with the ‘Banksy shop’ next door – which has nothing to do with me at all. Hand painted mini souvenir separation walls now available. www.walledoffhotel.com

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on Sep 7, 2017 at 5:57am PDT 

Photography

18) VuThéara Kham: @vutheara

When it comes to beautiful photography, there are a whole lot of Instagrammers to choose from. One of my favorites is Paris-based photographer VuThéara Kham, who actually started his career on Instagram and became quite popular in the Instagram community. Follow his Instagram account for gorgeously framed photos of Paris’ (and other European cities’, as per below) landscapes and people.

 

Zurich by night 👫💙 #@visitzurich #visitzurich

A post shared by VuTheara Kham (@vutheara) on Sep 10, 2017 at 3:22am PDT

19) Hiroaki Fukuda: @hirozzzz

Instagram is actually the basis of Hiroaki Fukuda’s photography career, which is why his posts on there are so darn good. Like Kham, Fukuda started as an Instagram hobbyist in Tokyo and ended up gaining a huge following.

When big brands caught wind of his talent and began hiring him for different projects, he became a full-time Instagrammer. Now, he travels all over the world taking photos for companies like Nike and Christian Dior. Side note: He told CNN in an interview that he likes when people comment on his photos … so comment away! 

 

Another one from the 🕷

A post shared by Hiroaki Fukuda (@hirozzzz) on Aug 6, 2017 at 7:01am PDT

20) Dirk Bakker: @macenzo

Although Dirk Bakker is an Amsterdam-based graphic designer, he likes to take photographs of art, design, and architecture — and post it to his Instagram account. He has a keen eye for taking something “normal” — like cranes or a staircase — and transforming it into a stunning image with a great sense of depth. He’s especially talented at capturing repetitive patterns like lines, geometric shapes, forms, and colors, making for striking images with strong visual impacts.

 

Summer Balconies . #Brussels #SeeMyCity #Architecture #Minimal

A post shared by Dirk Bakker (@macenzo) on Jun 27, 2017 at 4:11am PDT

21) Max Wanger: @maxwanger

Max Wanger is a Los Angeles-based photographer who specializes in portraits, including wedding photos. His Instagram posts are a combination of his personal photography and the work he’s done for clients. What I love about his photos is that they have a romantic, personal touch, and often make beautiful use of negative space.

 

hope these cheer up those who need cheering.

A post shared by max wanger (@maxwanger) on Sep 10, 2017 at 5:25pm PDT

Typography

22) Erik Marinovich: @erikmarinovich

Erik Marinovich is a lettering artist and designer and an entrepreneur. In addition to drawing letters, logos, and type for big brands like Nike, Target, Google, Facebook, Sonos, and Sharpie, Marinovich has also co-founded Friends of Type, a collaborative blog and shop, and Title Case, a creative work space that runs workshops and lectures. His Instagram account is a great showcase of his impressive lettering work, from branded design work to impressively cool doodles.

 

A remedy for crazy times. Making a debut at @AlmanacBeer SF tap room today. Blueberry Jack is a collaboration sour ale with their friends at @stillwater_artisanal 🍻

A post shared by Erik Marinovich (@erikmarinovich) on Feb 2, 2017 at 11:50am PST  

23) Ahda: @misterdoodle

Ahda, the man behind the Mister Doodle pseudonym, is a hand letterer who’s done design work for big brands like Element Skateboards, The Sunday Times U.K., Citizen Apparel, and more. His specialty is incorporating his beautiful, curvy hand lettering into shapes and illustrations. Check out his Instagram for photographs of his lettering work, including t-shirt designs and creative showcases of his projects alongside relevant props.

 

Old but Gold 👊 . . . Background image by rawpixel.com via @unsplash . . . . #handlettering #misterdoodle #project #quote #gold #ligaturecollective #typegang #goodtype #handmadefont #typedrawn #designspiration #kaligrafina #belmenid

A post shared by Ahda (@misterdoodle) on Jul 24, 2017 at 5:19am PDT

24) Cyril Vouilloz: @rylsee

Cyril Vouilloz, a.k.a. Rylsee, is a Berlin-based designer with a fun and experimental take on typography. His unique hand-drawn lettering work plays with lines and dimensions — and what makes his Instagram posts so cool is that many of them show his fingers “interacting” with his illustrations, enhancing the optical illusions in a way that’ll blow your mind a little bit. Browse through his crazy cool work on Instagram, and follow him to see what original artwork and distortions he comes up with next.

 

– DONT SLEEP – Today a little flashback on this wall animation I did last year with my G @kloneyourself during one of my trips to Tel-Aviv. We painted each frames of this animation on one of his studio wall, this turned into fun working nights. #dontsleep . _________

A post shared by RYLSEE | Cyril Vouilloz (@rylsee) on Aug 25, 2017 at 10:03am PDT

25) Arabic Typography: @arabictypography

Beautiful typography doesn’t just mean Latin letters. In fact, some of the most beautiful typography in the world comes from Arabic script. There are many features that make Arabic lettering so aesthetic: It’s written from right to left, it can include accents and dots or lines, and its letters can vary in shape depending on their position in a word.

The Arabic Typography Instagram account, run by Egypt-based Noha Zayed, is a collection of beautiful Arabic typography — from signage to street art to tattoos — that’s crowdsourced from all over the world.

 

Found by @azaharaem in #Morocco. #foundkhtt

A post shared by #foundkhtt (@arabictypography) on Jul 31, 2017 at 2:45am PDT

Calligraphy

26) Seb Lester: @seblester

Artist and Designer Seb Lester is one of the most famous calligraphy artists on Instagram, with over one million followers (as of this posting). The vast majority of his posts are actually videos — and for good reason.

“So much of calligraphy is about movement and rhythm, and a short video can capture the beauty and the magic of calligraphy in a very Internet-friendly format,” he told The New Yorker. “Recurring words in people’s comments are ‘mesmerizing,’ ‘hypnotic,’ and ‘satisfying.’ For reasons I don’t fully understand, people clearly enjoy watching the process of something perceived as ‘perfect’ being made from start to finish.”

 

This just seemed appropriate today. Tag someone who might like this. 🙂 Music by Roller Genoa, full credits in comments.

A post shared by Seb Lester (@seblester) on Sep 7, 2017 at 7:05am PDT

27) Lindsay Oshida: @lindsayoshida

Lindsay Oshida is a Los Angeles-based graphic designer who posts beautiful calligraphy work to her Instagram account. She gained a lot of attention on Instagram for her “Game of Thrones” quotes, which she posted once per day during the ten days leading up to the 2015 season premiere.

For example, she did her piece “Kill the crows” (the image below) in black letter with walnut ink, according to The New Yorker, and the black crows were sketched using a crow-quill nib — “a calligrapher in-joke.” She’s since posted quotes both from “Game of Thrones” and other popular TV shows, and claims other calligraphers have followed her lead.

 

“Tonight, we’ll fight. And when the sun rises, Castle Black will stand.” 💀 Some of you may remember this one from last June, inspired by the epic Battle of Castle Black episode. And yes I drew the crows with a crowquill nib. 😂 #calligraphy #blackletter #gothic #GoT #GameOfThrones #NightsWatch #crows

A post shared by Linda Yoshida (@lindayoshida) on Apr 2, 2015 at 11:33pm PDT

We hope this list helped you find some new designers to follow. May your Instagram feed be much more beautiful for it!

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Sep

18

2017

13 Things You Should Never Say in a Job Interview

I never used to understand what people mean when they say that they “interview well.” 

How was that possible? If you’re too prepared, your answers sound robotic, and if you’re too unprepared, you start most answers with a long sip of water to gather your thoughts.

Now, I understand (or at least, I think I do) what it means to interview well: Interviewing well is possible when you speak with confidence and competence about your experiences and your capabilities.

This is easier to accomplish when you apply for jobs you’re qualified for — I definitely wouldn’t come across as confident or confident if I applied to be a neurosurgeon. But once you’ve come across the perfect job opening and have an interview on the books, start thinking about yourself and how you’ll fit into the company, and the role — and the answers will flow naturally, without seeming rehearsed.

That being said, there are a few things you should prepare — what not to say. Below are 15 responses, questions, and words you shouldn’t drop in an interview — if you want to come across as confident and competent, that is. We’ll review what not to say, why not to say it, and what to say instead.

What Not to Say in an Interview: 13 Phrases to Avoid

1) “What do you do here?”

Why Not:

You should know the answer to this question already — because you thoroughly researched the company and your interviewer. Make sure you prepare for your interview by learning about who will be asking you questions so you can start an interesting conversation.

Instead, Say: 

“I read that you helped launch a new product last year. How was that experience?”

Ask a question that shows you’ve done your research — and starts an interesting discussion.

2) “I’m really nervous.”

Why Not:

Confidence is a big part of preparedness, and the role you’re interviewing for will most likely require you to be decisive and confident so you can get things done. So don’t say you’re nervous — it will probably make you more nervous, and it won’t do you any favors with your interviewer, either.

Instead, Say:

“I’m excited to be here!”

It’s okay to feel nervous — just don’t say it. This phrase expresses what might be behind that nervousness — enthusiasm — and will (hopefully) help you relax a little bit.

3) “Um … “

Why Not:

Filler words like “um,” “like,” and “well” are a no-no. You have limited time in your interview to make a great impression, so use the time you have to speak eloquently and thoughtfully.

Instead, Say:

“That’s a great question … ”

If you need to buy yourself some time to answer a question, start your answer with a phrase like this instead. It’s understandable if you need a moment to collect your thoughts, just use the right words to do it.

4) “[A lie.]”

Why Not:

As tempting as it might be to differentiate yourself from other applicants, don’t tell a lie in your interview that might come back to haunt you if you get the job. Whether it’s knowing how to use a certain software or familiarity with a social network’s ad platform, a lie could hurt you if the truth comes out later.

Instead, Say:

“I’m not familiar with that, but I am experienced in …”

It’s okay if you don’t know how to do or use something your interviewer asks about — after all, learning on the job is a real thing. If you run into this question in an interview, pivot to something you do know how to use that’s related — and note that you’re excited to learn more.

5) “I grew our blog traffic a lot.”

Why Not:

If you’re going to toot your own horn, make sure you have some data or evidence to back it up. Anyone can say they excelled in a previous role, but numbers or examples will make you stand out to your interviewer.

Instead, Say:

“Over the course of two years, I grew blog traffic by 150%.”

If you don’t have numbers to use, you might consider leaving out this tidbit — or using qualitative data to toot your own horn instead. “Customers said it was one of the best events with the company they had ever attended.”

6) “I hate my job.”

Why Not:

You’re interviewing for a new job, so obviously your current role isn’t perfect for you. There’s no need to editorialize your reasons for seeking a new role with complaints or bad-mouthing — it makes you seem immature, and it won’t curry you any favor with your interviewer, who, among other things, will be evaluating your emotional intelligence and maturity. Maybe you do hate your job, but don’t say it — instead, explain why you’re seeking a new opportunity.

Instead, Say:

“I like what I’m working on, but I’m ready to learn more about inbound marketing by taking on a new challenge in a content creation role.”

Say what you like about your current role, but frame your desire to seek a new role as an interest in learning more, taking on a new challenge, or expanding a skillset.

7) “My boss is the worst.”

Why Not:

Just like the previous question, it’s critical that you don’t speak ill of your current role or your current team when discussing why you want to pursue a new role. It’s immature and petty — not to mention, your interviewer could be your boss if you get the job. They might not be interested in hiring someone who might turn around and speak ill of them in a future interview.

Instead, Say:

Nothing.

Seriously, don’t say anything personal about your current boss. You could offer an answer like, “It’s challenging to hit goals when leadership priorities are constantly changing,” but honestly, we don’t recommend saying anything that could be perceived as a personal slight.

8) “I don’t know.”

Why Not:

It’s okay to not know the answer to a question, but don’t leave it at that! Make sure your answer acknowledges a gap in your understanding in a way that still gives you authority.

Instead, Say:

“I’m not certain of the answer, I’d need to dig into more data from the email marketing team to know for sure.”

Sometimes, interviewers will spring questions on you to test your on-the-spot critical thinking skills. If you can’t answer the question, at least demonstrate how you’d figure it out if it happened to you in the role.

9) “My greatest weakness is that I’m a perfectionist.”

Why Not:

Self-compliments disguised as critique make my eyes roll so hard. Your interviewer has heard every one of these in the book, so don’t try to trick them into thinking your “greatest weakness” is anything but a special skill on your resume.

Instead, Say:

“My greatest weakness is public speaking, something I haven’t had many opportunities to do in my current role, so I’m hoping to expand on those skills working with a bigger team at this company.”

Be honest and use a real weakness — but make sure you caveat that with what you plan to do to make it a strength, whether that’s by taking a class or by simply practicing.

10) “Sh*t.”

Why Not:

Even if your interview drops a profanity, and even if you know the company culture allows for F-bombs, it’s best to keep your first impression appropriate for all ages. Interviews are a formal setting, and if the role you’re interviewing for involves representing the company externally, your interviewer will want to know that you can rein in your vocabulary if it’s particularly profane.

Instead, Say:

Nothing. Don’t swear.

11) “What’s the salary?”

Why Not:

Don’t ask questions about salary, company policies, or benefits until you’ve been extended an offer. It’s a fair question to ask your recruiter, but don’t waste time during your interview — when you should be talking about skills you’d bring to the role — by asking about salary, work-from-home policies, or how many vacation days you’ll have.

Instead, Say:

Nothing. Wait until you receive an offer to ask specific company policy questions.

12) “I don’t have any questions.”

Why Not:

Come on! You need to come prepared with a final question when you’re inevitably asked this at the end of your interview. It shows that you’re engaged, interested, and that you’ve been paying attention to what your interviewer has said over the course of your time together.

Instead, Say:

“What do you wish you’d known before starting here?”

“What’s the biggest challenge about working in this industry?”

Ask an open-ended question based on what you know about your interviewer to learn more about the company culture or team priorities. This will be useful information for you, and it’ll help you end your interview on the right foot.

13) “When will I hear back about the role?”

Why Not:

When we say you should have a question at the end ready, we don’t mean this one. This is another question for your recruiter, not your interviewer — so don’t be too pushy.

Instead, Say:

“Thanks so much for your time, I really enjoyed learning more about you and the company.”

Or something along those lines. Be gracious, humble, and kind when signing off of your interview to leave your future new employer with the best possible impression.

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Sep

15

2017

The Internet Had a Busy Week. Here’s What You Missed.

Published by in category Daily, HubSpot News | Leave a Comment

The drama of this week’s Apple event is hardly over.

Despite many of the announcements having been leaked in the days leading up to it, the tech world is still positively a-Twitter about what was unveiled, and what will come of it.

Many are wondering if the iPhone 8 models are really that different from the iPhone 7. And even U.S. Senator Al Franken has joined the conversation, in his questioning of Face ID’s possible violation of privacy protections. (He actually makes quite a compelling point. Check out his letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook here.)

But hold the (i)phone, people. There was so much else that happened this week — and we’re not about to let it go unnoticed.

Uber’s Got Some ‘Splainin to Do

The Alphabet Lawsuit

Yes: Uber is currently in the throes of a lawsuit with Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company. Let’s take a step back for a minute for a look at everything that led to this point.

Some Background

Back in 2016, Anthony Levandowski, an engineer for Alphabet’s self-driving division, left to create his own autonomous vehicle startup called Otto. A mere six months later, Uber acquired Otto to create its own internal self-driving department, which Levandowski would oversee.

But that was far from a happy ending. Not only was this move rumored to cause a high degree of contention among Uber’s executive leadership, but it would also result in some major litigation down the line.

This February, Google’s self-driving division — now called Waymo — filed a formal complaint claiming that Levandowski had stolen 14,000 files containing confidential intellectual property from Alphabet, prior to his departure. One of the biggest pieces of information within those files was something called the lidar, which stands for “Light Detection and Ranging.” It’s the technology at the core of all self-driving vehicles, which uses a combination of lasers and radar to sense movement. NOAA has used it for some time to sense movement on the Earth’s surface, but in this case, it’s used to detect things like pedestrians and surrounding traffic.

In other words: Lidar is unequivocally essential to self-driving technology. And it doesn’t come cheap — but Alphabet claims to have reduced the costs by 90% by vertically integrating its build-out. Uber allegedly had access to the details behind it, and Waymo filed an injunction against Uber to keep it from using this information.

The entire situation continued to escalate (Recode has a great summary of what happened up to April 2017), leading to even more accusations from Alphabet, Levandowski’s firing in May, and Uber’s then-CEO Travis Kalanick’s June resignation. Dara Khosrowshahi, previously at Expedia, formally replaced Kalanick as CEO in August.

Where We Are Now

Uber suffered some additional, significant blows this week. A federal circuit judge denied its request to move this case to private arbitration, and on top of that, the company was ordered to turn over a document that Alphabet has been trying to obtain almost since the mess began: a report prepared for Uber when it first began exploring the option of acquiring Otto.

Alphabet claims that what is now known as the “Stroz Report” (since it was prepared by Stroz Friedberg, a law firm specializing in cyber security) contains information that could be pivotal to its side of the case. It’s essentially a due diligence report that includes data captured from an interview with Levandowski, who has been exercising fifth amendment rights to remain mum throughout the ordeal. Much of what he is refusing to say, Alphabet believes, could exist in this document.

These developments have all surfaced among a leaked memo from Uber’s Chief General Counsel Salle Yoo confirming her imminent resignation, which New York Times tech reporter Mike Isaac tweeted:

memo here: pic.twitter.com/8m3aBEydwM

— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac)
September 13, 2017

This lawsuit is just one of many ongoing legal battles currently faced by Uber, including allegations that it tracked Lyft drivers to obtain competitive data, as well as high-level international bribery accusations. As Yoo said herself in the memo, after five years with the company, her work has become “incredibly hard.”

And Speaking of Self-Driving Cars …

Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the The SELF-DRIVE Act, which essentially approves the placement of self-driving cars onto public roadways. Since then, several parties have proudly announced their own movements in the autonomous vehicle space, including Samsung, who yesterday announced a €75 million (just over $89 million USD) investment in TTTech, a maker of digital safety platforms. The move is part of the overarching Samsung Automotive Innovation Fund, which will dedicate $300 million investment in autonomous vehicle technology.

It’s a move that shows an interesting dichotomy between the industries that are investing in self-driving vehicles.

There are the old-school automakers, like Ford (who invested $1 billion in Argo AI), General Motors (who invested $500 million in Lyft), and Volkswagen (who invested $180 million in Mobvoi).

Then, there are the tech sector players. In a somewhat bizarre turn of events, Bloomberg reported yesterday that Alphabet may be investing $1 billion in Lyft, as well. What’s especially odd, the story points out, is that Alphabet’s Google Ventures (GV) also has some stake in Uber, despite the ongoing Waymo battle.

Apple has also hinted at a delve into this type of technolog — CEO Tim Cook revealed to Bloomberg Television in June that the company would be “focusing on autonomous systems.” Check out the video of that interview below.

Samsung is hardly the first — or the last, we anticipate — of the tech giants to announce a throwing-of-its-hat into the self-driving vehicle ring.

More Trouble for Facebook

Following the September 6 revelations that Russian groups had purchased about $100,000 worth of politically-charged ads on Facebook, the social media platform yesterday announced it would further modify its ad guidelines to prevent targeting to hate groups.

When advertisers create targeted content, they’re able to do so by including interests in the criteria. ProPublica recently tested those interests by creating ads and seeing if targeted interests could include anti-Semitic interests. It could — here’s a look at the criteria used by ProPublica to test the process:

Source: ProPublica

ProPublica created three promoted posts using this criteria, and “Facebook approved all three ads within 15 minutes.”

But how did it happen? To be clear, Facebook did not create those categories. Rather, because the platform allows people to add customizable interests to their personal profiles, enough users — roughly 2,300 — included this language for Facebook’s algorithm to interpret them as targeting criteria available to advertisers.

However, ProPublica contacted Facebook with this discovery before the story ran, and the social media channel removed these categories with a formal announcement of changes to its ad targeting policies.

“To help ensure that targeting is not used for discriminatory purposes, we are removing these self-reported targeting fields until we have the right processes in place to help prevent this issue,” the statement reads. “We want Facebook to be a safe place for people and businesses, and we’ll continue to do everything we can to keep hate off Facebook.”

The Equifax Hack Is a Giant Dumpster Fire, but It Taught Us About Marketing

When we use the colloquial term “dumpster fire,” well, we mean it. Bear with us, as we work our way through the saga of events.

Some Background

Last week, Equifax announced that it had experienced a massive data breach somewhere between May and July 2017, when hackers obtained the personal information (things like Social Security numbers, addresses, and license plate numbers) of roughly 143 people in the U.S.

That timing is important: The company was aware of the breach since July, but waited over a month to alert the public. To add insult to injury, three executives sold close to $2 million of their stock in Equifax sometime within that window, which was not part of any 10b5-1 scheduled trading plans.

Once the announcement was made, it was clear that Equifax was completely unprepared to handle the response. Though it made a website available that claimed to let you know if you were affected by the breach, it didn’t provide any tangible information.

I tried it myself and compared my results to a friend’s. Mine told me that my “personal information may have been impacted by this incident,” while her results said that it wasn’t. We were both prompted to enroll in its TrustedID credit monitoring system, which the company said it would offer for free after the breach.

equifax2

But it turned out that the results were meaningless. To test the system, TechCrunch reporter John Biggs entered “Booger” as his name and “123456” as the last six digits of his social security number, only to receive the same result that his “personal information may have been impacted”.

Then, someone discovered that TrustedID’s terms of service would bar its users from entering any sort of class action against the company if they enrolled in its credit monitoring service. People left with no clear answer on the extent to which the breach may have affected them, and they were left with no solution moving forward. Equifax later went on to state that it wouldn’t bar users from lawsuits related to the hack, and that language appears to have been removed from TrustedID’s terms.

What It Taught Us About Marketing

This is not a tough one to figure out, folks: Transparency is everything.

When I first found out that Equifax sat on this realization for so long, I wanted to give the company some benefit of the doubt — this was a big crisis to deal with. There was a PR firm to hire, and a system to establish that would provide users with answers to the myriad questions they were sure to have.

But in the end, that wasn’t the case. As one of my friends put it, “Everyone is scared, and it’s impossible to get information.”

That’s unacceptable in a world where most businesses with a digital consumer-facing presence collect some semblance of information from customers.

While information like an email address or newsletter preference isn’t as high-stakes as a Social Security number, the reality is that we willingly submit and collect personal data with the same casual attitude with which we sneeze. And when that information is compromised, businesses have to be prepared for an avalanche of responses from unhappy users.

It also opens a path for false solutions, such as a chatbot developer that earlier this week claimed it could automatically sue Equifax for $25,000 on your behalf. (TechCrunch promptly put those claims to rest here.)

As marketers, it’s our job to develop honest, thorough messaging that answers their questions, as quickly and comprehensively as possible. Moreover, it’s our job to understand and be prepared to address their fears, and come up with the communication tools to reassure them as much as possible during a crisis — the exact opposite of how Equifax handled the situation.

There Was Also Non-Apple Mobile Stuff

Mobile World Congress Americas

This week also hosted Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA): an event dedicated to the mobile industry that features, among other things, product launches. This year’s edition, in what turned out to be the most unfortunate timing possible, overlapped with Tuesday’s Apple event.

But if I’m being honest, even if the event’s timing didn’t parallel Apple’s, its highlights still may have seemed a bit lackluster. Among them:

  • Apple wasn’t completely absent from the event — Lumion debuted its special iPhone X case … before the phone’s launch was even formally announced. What makes the case special, the unveiling said, is its ability to protect the new and all-glass device.
  • Lenovo Motorola unveiled its MotoX4 smartphone.
  • During his opening keynote, FCC chairman Ajit Pai did not once mention net neutrality.

And Then, There’s Google

Yesterday, Google put some promotional content into the universe that hints at an October 4th debut of the Pixel 2. That pending release has been rumored for awhile now, given that what looks an awful lot like a future edition of the device was leaked by Android Police in July.

Here’s a look at the teaser images from the dedicated landing page:

… as well as the nifty video implying some of the next edition’s features and improvements:

Odds and Ends

No More “The”

Parent company New York Times has combined The Wirecutter and The Sweethome to create a hybrid, rebranded Wirecutter — no “the.” It was mentioned during an interview with GM David Perpich during Code Commerce, which was loaded with tons of great content. Check it out here.

The People Have Spoken, and They Want Mobile

Adobe released some cool new data on consumer preferences — but It doesn’t really surprise us. Among the findings, are that “smartphones are the preferred method for consumption,” and that “Facebook is the leading social platform for mobile referrals.” Read the full report here.

Slack, Strides, and Teams … Oh, My

We’re witnessing a showdown among workplace communication apps. Major announcements came both Microsoft Teams and Atlassian of new products and features that seek to rival Slack — the timing of which was suspiciously close to the kickoff of this week’s Slack Frontiers.

A Troubling Trend

It’s worth mentioning this week’s
New York Times profile SoFi scandal, which documents months of harassment allegations and the way it was handled by the company’s board. Its publication aligns with last week’s settlement in the
harassment case filed against UploadVR by a former employee. This year has seen a ton of cases like these — from
Uber to
Lowercase Capital, more employees are coming forward about inappropriate incidents, and companies are trying to correct it. We’ll keep you in the loop on how these discussions are evolving in the industry.

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Sep

15

2017

17 Data Visualization Resources You Should Bookmark

Whether you’re writing a blog post, putting together a presentation, or working on a full-length report, using data in your content marketing strategy is a must.

Using data helps enhance your arguments by making your writing more compelling. It gives your readers context. And, it helps provide support for your claims.

That said, if you’re not a data scientist yourself, it can be difficult to know where to look for data and how to best present that data, once you’ve got it.

And sometimes, the best way to present the data is visually. There’s a term for that: data visualizations. Those consider of any type of graphic content that visually communicates data to the viewer. (After all, pictures “say 1,000 words,” right?)

To help, we put together the following list of resources. Below you’ll find the tools you need to source credible data, and to create some stunning visualizations. Check ’em out below.

17 Data Visualization Resources You Should Bookmark

Resources for Uncovering Credible Data

When looking for data, it’s important to find numbers that not only look good, but are also credible and reliable.

The following resources will point you in the direction of some credible sources to get you started, but don’t forget to fact-check everything you come across. Always ask yourself: Is this data original, reliable, current, and comprehensive?

1) Statista

Price: Free. A Premium version is available for $49/month.

Statista is a portal of statistics, studies, and forecasts focused on market research and opinion polling. Meant for businesses and academics, Statista makes it easy to find reliable market data based on industry, topic, or country.

One of the best features of Statista is its easy-to-navigate interface and its automatic visualization features. You can easily download statistics and charts you find to PDF, PNG, or Office file formats, to customize and use them accordingly.

data-visualization-resources-statista.png

2) Google Trends

Price: Free

Ever find yourself looking for data about popular topics, online trends, and current events? If you haven’t already discovered it, Google Trends will be your new favorite resource.

Google Trends gives you data on what people are searching for, how trends change over time, and how search interest differs by area, region, country, and so on. It’s easy to search for specific trends or simply browse current trending topics.

The best part about Google Trends? It’s completely free — and super easy to navigate.

Google_Trends-3.png

3) Zanran

Price: Free

Google is great when you’re looking for lots of broad information, but when you’re trying to find specific charts or data points, you might try using Zanran.

Zanran is a search engine designed specifically for finding tables, charts, and graphs online. Keep in mind that Zanran works by first examining images found online, not text. In other words, it’ll only pull up information found on actual tables, graphs, and charts. This gets you to raw, original data fast — but you might find it lacking if you’re looking for short-and-sweet interpreted facts and figures.

Zanran.png

4) Pew Research Center

Price: Free

The Pew Research Center, one of the leading think tanks in the U.S., publishes tons of information and data on public opinion, social issues, and demographics in the U.S. and worldwide.

It’s an amazing resource for finding credible data on topics like politics, the media, internet and tech, social trends, and so on. Bookmark this page when you want to search for specific data, but don’t forget to follow them on social media. This is a great way to stay up-to-date on current trends and continually generate content ideas.

PEW_Research-1.png

5) SocialMention

Price: Free

Similar in function to Google Trends, SocialMention is a search and analysis tool that allows you to monitor user-generated content trends online. If you’ve ever wanted to monitor what people are saying about your brand, SocialMention is a great tool. (HubSpot customers: You can also do this in Social Inbox. Check out this resource for more information.)

The real strength of SocialMention lies in its analysis feature. Simply type in any keyword (like your brand name), and SocialMention tells you the strength (likelihood of being discussed), sentiment (ratio of positive to negative mentions), passion (likelihood of repeat mentions), and reach (measure of influence of unique authors) of that keyword.

Gathering this kind of data about your brand can be useful internally, or you can use it to find data for social-related content.

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6) Think with Google

Price: Free

It’s no secret that Google has a lot of insights and information to share. Luckily, Google put together a free tool for marketers to find the latest data surrounding current trends called Think with Google.

This is a great tool for browsing, and I highly recommend subscribing to it. Since it’s made specifically with marketers in mind, it does a great job of keeping you up-to-date on the latest information you need to know.

Marketer_s_Almanac_Think_with_Google.png

7) HubSpot Research

Price: Free

Another great resource for free marketing, sales, and business data is our very own HubSpot Research. HubSpot Research is the place where we publish new and original reports, statistics, charts, and thought leadership ideas.

If you’re looking for specific stats or charts, it’s easy to browse by category, or use search terms to find the data you’re looking for. And if there are certain topics you want to hear more about, we’ll send you an email when we publish a new report or new data piece about it.

HubSpot_Research-4.png

Resources for Creating Data Visualizations

Now that you know where to find credible data, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to display that data in a way that works for your audience.

At its core, data visualization is the process of turning basic facts and figures into a digestible image — whether it’s a chart, graph, timeline, map, infographic, or other type of visual.

While understanding the theory behind data visualization is one thing, you also need the tools and resources to make digital data visualization possible. Below, we’ve collected 10 powerful tools for you to browse, bookmark, or download to make designing data visuals even easier for your business.

8) Excel

Price: Packages start at $8.25/month per user (as a part of Office Suite Package).

Chances are, you might already have access to Excel at home or work through the Microsoft Office suite. Microsoft Excel is a classic tool used to both analyze and visualize data. Whether you’re doing the analyzing yourself, or just trying to repurpose data into a visual content, Excel is an insanely powerful tool that you can use to create all kinds of graphs, charts, and tables.

Excel can seem like a bit of a beast to figure out at first, so if you’re interested in learning to use Excel, check out these resources here.

How_to_Use_Excel_Sheet.png

9) Infogr.am

Price: Free for Basic. Paid packages fall into three categories: Pro $19/month, Business $67/month, and Team $119/month.

Infographics are a great way to interpret your data by turning it into something that tells a visual, memorable story.

If you have little to no design experience, Infogr.am is a great tool for you. It offers different infographic templates and tools for customizing your infographic. You can use charts, graphs, maps, images, and icons to really spice up your data and make it visually appealing.

infogram examples.png

10 & 11) Photoshop & Illustrator

Price: Pricing models start at $19.99/month for a single app.

If you’re more experienced with data visualization or design, using Adobe products can be a great way to create more elaborate, creative data visualizations. Both Photoshop and Illustrator allow you to create charts and graphs, and they’re both great tools if you want to create longer form infographics.

Photoshop-1.png

12) Tableau

Price: Subscriptions are offered at two price points: $35 per user per month (Personal) & $70 per user per month (Professional).

If you’re looking for some really sophisticated data visualization capabilities, Tableau is the king of data visualization software. By connecting with other data tools like Excel, Tableau makes transforming your raw data into stunning visuals really easy.

Note: Tableau is not the kind of software you would use for designing visuals every now and then. It’s a powerful, expensive tool meant for organizations that are working with lots of raw, big data all the time. Still, if you’re looking for a step up from Excel’s visualization capabilities, Tableau is definitely a tool you should check out.

Tableau.png

13) ZingChart

Price: One-time fees range from $199 (Website) to $9,999 (Enterprise).

Ever wanted to create animated graphics and charts, but weren’t really sure where to start? ZingChart might be the tool for you.

Using Javascript, ZingChart gives you a full library of different types of charts, graphs, and maps that you can animate and use to create awesome visuals for your website and blog posts.

The best part about ZingChart is its flexible and adaptable capabilities. All of its charts have responsive design, ensuring that your charts will look great on any screen.

ZingChart.png

14) Timeline JS

Price: Free

One type of data visual that often gets overlooked: timelines. They’re a great way to display your data by looking at changes or events over time.

While you could design a timeline on various graphic design platforms such as Illustrator, this free tool makes it easy to create slideshow-based timelines to embed on your website or blog.

Timeline_JS.png

15 & 16) Google Charts or Google Sheets

Price: Free

If you’re looking for a tool like ZingChart that lets you embed graphs and charts onto a web page, check out Google Charts.

Google Charts is an API tool that lets you create custom charts for embedding. These charts can be animated, but they have a similar look and feel to the .png charts you can create on Google Sheets (Google’s version of Excel).

If you like the look and feel of Google’s charts, but really just need to create graphics for a .jpeg or .png file (to upload or embed in a document), you can also use Google Sheets to create graphs and charts much like you would use Excel.

Google_Charts.png

17) Piktochart

Price: Free lifetime account. Paid options are offered at two levels: Lite $15/month & Pro $29/month.

A similar tool to Infogr.am, Piktochart makes it easy for you to create and customize infographics within its templates. This tool is meant for users with little design experience who want to create awesome infographics.

Note: If you’re going to be using one of these two tools often, try using them in combination with one another. That will give you access to more templates, which you can use to vary your content.

PiktoChart-3.png

data-visualization-ebook

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Sep

14

2017

The 6-Step Brand Build to Grow Your Business on a Budget

In marketing, it seems like the word “brand” is used a lot — the leading brand, off-brand, personal brand … you get the picture. 

But there’s often confusion around its meaning in business. What does it entail? Do I need to hire an expert? Branding is expensive, right?

To that very last point, it doesn’t have to be. As it turns out, there are some pretty creative ways to brand your business without a ton of cash. And while it can require an investment of time, the ROI won’t go unnoticed — in some cases, it can actually help you save money, while also growing your business.

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Building your brand is a crucial part of developing your business. As you’ll see below, it’s the foundation of giving your organization a voice, identity, value, and awareness among consumers. And, thanks to the plentiful number of resources, tools, and platforms available today — a brand build might not be as burdensome (or costly) as you think.

So read on, and see how you can use the following six steps as a guide for your brand build.

Listen to an audio summary of your post:

The 6-Step Brand Build to Grow Your Business on a Budget

1) Know your personas.

It’s no coincidence that 82% of companies with better value propositions also use buyer personas — the semi-fictional “characters” that encompass the qualities of who you’re trying to reach.

The needs, goals, and behavior of your potential customers dictate how you convey your product or service. Understanding those things helps you determine what kind of media your personas are consuming, what motivates them, and where they “live” online. You can see why having that information helps develop a compelling, effective brand — it helps you reach the right people.

Figuring that out doesn’t have to come at a price. A great way to get started is with our free MakeMyPersona tool, which guides you through a series of questions about the ideal person you want to reach. Take your time with it. The questions are meant to get you thinking about how you want to be perceived and by whom — and that shouldn’t be a quick process.

2) Develop an identity and a voice.

Once you’ve identified your buyer personas, your brand can start to take shape. That involves creating a brand identity — the things that make people aware of what your brand is — and its voice, which is the tone you use in any copy or public communication.

As a writer, I’m particularly interested in the voice aspect — but what does that like for you? Figuring that out follows a process not unlike the one that’s used to determine your personas. But instead of answering questions about your target audience, you’re answering questions that are a bit more introspective to your brand. What are its values? What does it represent? How do you want people to talk about you?

Even if you’re not starting from scratch, establishing a strong(er) brand voice can be valuable. Just take the instance of the Zoological Wildlife Foundation — during its recent rebrand, finding its voice was a top priority. The results? Its overall online presence increased by 343%, with website traffic alone seeing a 63% boost.

3) Have a consistent social media presence.

So, we know who your personas are. And now, we know what to say to them — and how to say it. But where are they?

Since you might have a clear picture of the different pieces of your audience, it’s important to figure out where they’re spending the most time, especially on social media. We’ve talked before how effective it is to reach people where they’re already present — that includes their online behavior, too.

We recommend checking out Pew Research Center’s Demographics of Social Media Users, which profiles the users of five major social media platforms — Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Pay attention close attention to the data. Maybe the majority of your personas spend most of their time on one network. While that doesn’t mean you should ignore the others, it does give you an idea of where to dedicate the most resources.

And once you do establish that presence, maintain it. How many times have you gone to a brand’s Facebook Page only to find that nothing has been posted in the past three months? Chances are, it didn’t have a positive impact on your perception.

That can be avoided by diligently planning and scheduling social media posts like you would with any other marketing calendar. Something like our free Social Media Content Calendar can help, and get you thinking about things like the seasonality of what you post. That’s a huge part of staying relevant to your audience — by sharing content that pertains to what they’re likely thinking about at a given time of year.

4) Blog. 

We’ve covered the importance of blogging before, and we really can’t emphasize it enough. It’s a core part of our Inbound Methodology, especially the “attract” stage — the one that turns strangers into visitors to your website.

In fact, blogging might be the most fundamental step of inbound marketing. It helps you reach qualified customers, like your personas, by creating the informative content that matches the information they’re searching for. That’s why it’s so important to make it relevant to this audience — when you’re writing, make sure the content is optimized for those searches.

Believe us — your personas are definitely looking for the information that you’re able to provide — if you write about it. After friends and family, blogs are the third most trusted source of information. Plus, that content will also serve as material to populate your social media networks, and we’ve already covered what a crucial part that plays in branding on a budget.

While blogging is fiscally inexpensive, one of the biggest struggles we hear about is the cost of spending time on it. For that, we reference the joke about a doctor asking his patient, “Would you rather work out one hour per day, or be dead 24 hours per day?” The inbound marketing version of that question would ask, “Would you rather blog for one hour each day, or always have insufficient content to draw in visitors?”

Like planning your social media presence, having an editorial calendar for your blog can be helpful in maintaining consistent timing and fresh content. That’s why we put together a free blog editorial calendar template, complete with instructions and content management tips.

5) Make customer service a priority.

When we hear the name “Zappos,” most of us immediately think, “unparalleled customer service.” The online apparel retailer built this level of service into its core approach to doing business — and into its core values.

Why is that so important? For Zappos, making excellent customer service the cornerstone of its brand actually saved money on marketing and advertising. That’s because it created word-of-mouth among existing and potential customers, which is what we call earned media — the recognition that your brand has earned, not paid for, from people talking about something remarkable you did. (Psst — U.S. businesses, as a whole, lose about $41 billion dollars each year because of bad customer service.)

Whether you’re serving customers or clients, the goal is to create a delightful, sharable experience. And when the client or customer experience is a priority, it shouldn’t cost you much for them to talk about it — remember, your work earned it.

But that revisits the importance of your identity and voice. As you go through these brand-building steps, think about the values that you want to be resonated in those things. Is excellent service one of them? Those values are what shape the brand’s culture, and that influences the voice you project to an audience.

6) Take advantage of co-branding.

I’ll never forget what my colleague, Lisa Toner, told me when I asked her about negotiating co-branding agreements.

“Larger companies may have a large reach,” she said, “but what do they not have?”

When you’re just starting to build a brand, you might not have the reach that Toner’s talking about. You can take the steps to build it, like we’ve described so far, but that takes time. Until then, one way to get your name in front of a broader audience is to partner with a brand that has one.

But don’t just pick any old brand to work with. Make sure it’s one that’s aligned with yours — the partnership has to make sense in the minds of your audience. Here’s what we recommend in seeking a co-brand:

  • Consider your partner’s audience. Would it be interested in your brand? Is it that difficult for you to reach without this partnership? How well does it trust your co-brand? That’s crucial to getting them to listen to you, too — people don’t trust traditional advertisements anymore. So make sure your partner reaches the audience in a way that instills confidence, not doubt.
  • Have something to offer your co-brand. Just like Toner asked, “what do they not have?” The experience should be a win-win-win: for you, your co-brand, and the consumer.
  • Consider selecting a well-known and respected nonprofit as a co-brand. More and more people’s purchasing decisions are based on a brand’s social responsibility — in fact, 85% of millennials say that makes them more willing to recommend a brand.

Get Branding

Building a brand might seem like a huge undertaking, especially when resources are limited. But as we’ve seen, there are plenty of economical ways to not only get started, but to continue the momentum you start with these efforts.

And please, have fun with the process. Of course, there has to be a degree of strategy and logic involved — that’s why we’ve built the tools to help you determine what the different pieces of your brand will be. But it’s a creative exercise, so keep that in mind if you get bogged down in technicalities.

free guide to social and PR branding

  

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Sep

14

2017

How Frequently Should I Publish on Social Media? A HubSpot Experiment

Social media can be an overwhelming place — even for the experts.

Which networks should they use, what should they write, how frequently should they post, and does the time they post really matter?

Manage and plan your social media content with the help of this free calendar  template.

I analyzed HubSpot customer data for one week during the month of June — comprised of a total of roughly 10K different accounts on each different platform, as well as 15K posts to Linkedin company pages, 25K posts to Facebook business Pages, and nearly 60K posts on Twitter.

I wanted to answer these questions for marketers once and for all: How frequently should social media marketers post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to get the most bang for their buck? And when they should do it?

When’s the Best Time to Post on Twitter?

Time generally doesn’t matter — that’s right, you heard it here. There’s some uptick in the number of clicks at the very end and very beginning of the day, but we also see a lot less volume during that time so it’s not a statistical trend.

Post on Twitter whenever is convenient for you. Your focus should be on content, not on the time of day.

best time to post on twitter clicks.png

Which Is the Best Day to Post on Twitter?

For most tweets, there’s no difference in the day of the week that you post.

For really good tweets — the ones in the 95th percentile — there could be some benefit to posting on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, but it is not terribly significant.

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What’s the Optimal Publishing Frequency on Twitter?

Twitter is still mostly a chronological social network, and therefore the more marketers post, the more visibility, and total clicks their posts get.

On Twitter, publishing more is better.

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For marketers with at least 100 followers on Twitter, each message earns marketers a median of 2.5-3 clicks. This isn’t license to publish terrible posts — that’s not beneficial to your brand or for clicks — but as a temporal platform, it’s not as critical to have perfectly polished prose as it is on other social apps.

When’s the Best Time to Post on LinkedIn?

The median number of clicks doesn’t vary at all, but the 95th percentile of posts does show a dropoff with posts that are published late in the evening — after 5 p.m. or so. Therefore, schedule posts on LinkedIn to go out during business hours (after all, it is a business networking site), but the focus should be on content, not the time of day.

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Which Is the Best Day to Post on LinkedIn?

Posts published Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays don’t perform as well as posts published Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Audiences must be too busy working to check LinkedIn on Mondays, and who wants to think about work over the weekend?

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are especially good times to publish on LinkedIn — they have a generally higher median as well as 95% percentile clicks.

 

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What is the Optimal Publishing Frequency on LinkedIn?

Once you publish more than 5 times per week (for most companies, this means once per work day) the return on investment drops substantially.

What is likely happening is LinkedIn doesn’t want users’ feeds to be overwhelmed by posts by the same company, so the second post in a day that a marketer publishes can cannibalize the performance of the first.

total linkedin weekly clicks.png

For pages with at least 100 followers, the first two posts on LinkedIn per week will typically bring in two clicks each. However, the 10th post in a week for those channels only adds about 0.5 clicks. The marginal effectiveness of creating content for LinkedIn maxes out at 2 posts per week, so we suggest sharing between two and five posts per week on LinkedIn to get the maximum value from the network for the time spent creating the content.

When Is the Best Time to Post on Facebook?

At the median, most posts on Facebook don’t do very well. But at the high end (95th percentile) there’s a lot of variability, especially at the beginning and end of the day. Since there are fewer posts during the beginning and end of the day, these aren’t statistical trends that marketers can count on. We suggest marketers focus on the content, not the time of day or day of the week when publishing — more on that later.

time of day facebook.png

Which Is the Best Day to Post on Facebook?

days of week on facebook.png

Wait, there’s no median. Actually, that’s not a typo. The number of median clicks for all accounts is actually 0 — because only really good content on Facebook gets surfaced highly. There isn’t an ideal day to post on Facebook. However, it’s slightly better to post on Sundays, and there’s a natural dip in post frequency and engagement on Friday and Saturday.

What Is the Optimal Publishing Frequency on Facebook?

Similar to LinkedIn, once you publish more than five times per week (for most companies, that’s once per workday) the return on investment drops substantially.

For Pages with at least 100 followers, the first two posts on Facebook earn a median of a single click on them, and after the 10th post, each additional post nets just half a click, and then continues to fall. Therefore, we suggest publishing between two and five times per week on Facebook.

total facebook weekly clicks.png

Facebook prioritizes “fresh” content and doesn’t want to overwhelm users with just one company in their feed, so when companies publish more than once in a day, their first post can be cannibalized by the second. Publishing more than once per day won’t just earn you diminishing ROI — Facebook could even punish your Page with the algorithm if you don’t get a lot of engagement with your posts.

That said, if your posts are consistently getting many likes or comments — at least more than five on each one — then it makes sense to post more. The key with this platform is engagement — so as long as your audience likes what you’re writing, Facebook will continue to reward you and show it in the News Feed.

So … Why Publish on Facebook at All?

There are three big reasons to keep publishing on Facebook:

1) Publishing on Facebook shows leads and potential customers that you’re actively in business. Many people go to Facebook simply to research companies and look for thought leadership — and if your Facebook page is incomplete and inactive, they may go with a competitor who is more prominent on the platform.

2) It’s easier to go viral on Facebook. The number of outliers that we see at every level is substantial — which means that when you go viral on Facebook, the upside is very, very high. The maximum clicks that a single Facebook Page received during this timeframe was 8K — and the Page published just five times that week.

The peak number of clicks that a single account on LinkedIn received was about 1K, and the peak on Twitter was just under 7K … but that Twitter account published more than 100 times that week. The lesson here? When you go viral on Facebook, you can go viral more than on other networks.

3) Facebook Ads offer some of the highest ROI of social ads you can buy, especially if you are doing any retargeting. And once you’ve published on Facebook, it’s the easiest platform from which to boost posts and get more distribution (and followers).

What Does This All Mean for Your Social Media Strategy?

When it comes to posting on Facebook and LinkedIn, remember that you may only have between two and five posts per week that will get distribution by the networks’ news feeds. With that in mind, focus on the quality of each post (and the content preferences of your audience), and aim to get more likes, comments, and shares as your metrics of success to build up your audience and to make the news feed algorithms work for you.

And when it comes to Twitter, post freely — the timeline updates so frequently that you’re at an advantage posting more often to reach more people.

 

Many thanks to Monty Solomon, Kelsey Dietz, Dan Kulla, and Lincoln Bryant for helping with the data.

Learn more about HubSpot Classroom Training!

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Sep

13

2017

Yesterday’s Apple Event Was as Bananas as We Expected

Published by in category Daily, Mobile Apps | Leave a Comment

When it comes to product-centric events and announcements, advance leaks and rumors are nothing new for Apple. But something about this round was different. The pre-emptive reveals came with more detail, more clamor, and — at least for us — more excitement.

“This,” we thought, “is going to be completely bonkers.”

For the most part, our expectations were accurate. Most of the rumored product announcements, names, and price points turned out to be correct, and yes — the seats at the brand new Steve Jobs Theatre were as plush and comfortable as promised (more on that later).

But in case you didn’t have time to attend or stream the two-hour event, fear not — we covered it for you. Behold: Here’s what you missed.

The Apple Event Was Totally About the iPhone 10th Anniversary

The Venue

Part of the anticipation leading up to September 12, 2017 was the fact that it was the inaugural event for Apple’s Steve Jobs Theater. The morning kicked off with a tribute to its namesake, in the form of his voice speaking on the heart and mission of Apple, and one line of text displayed on a large-screen black backdrop: “Welcome to the Steve Jobs Theater”.

Watch Apple’s moving tribute to Steve Jobs at the start of the iPhone X event. pic.twitter.com/dhrYjVsxal

— Recode (@Recode)
September 13, 2017

“I love hearing his voice,” were the opening remarks of Apple CEO Tim Cook. “We dedicate this theater to Steve, because we love him, and because he loved days like this.”

The theater is merely one segment of the much larger landscape of Apple Park: an allegedly billion-dollar investment to make into a reality what is said to be an age-old vision of Jobs himself. Even the theater’s leather seats were said to be valued at $14,000, and according to this tweet from TechCrunch, that came with quite to ROI.

The seats were said to cost somewhere around $14,000 a piece. They feel like it. My buttocks are cupped by their supple flesh #AppleEvent pic.twitter.com/hPbwze6v7t

— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch)
September 12, 2017
 

It’s as if the venue was a preview to the commemorative nature of the event in its entirety. Sure, new products and features were announced with vim and vigor, but not without credit where credit — according to Apple — was due. Be it Jobs himself, customers, or the technology that served as a foundation for what was unveiled, there was an undertone of “what came before it” to everything that was showcased.

And it began with a place so many of us know well: The Apple Store … but with a new name.

Retail

The first major player to take the stage after Cook was Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s SVP of retail. Gone are the days of the Apple “store,” she said — instead, these flagship retail locations will be known as “town squares,” with locations slated for New York’s 5th Avenue, Paris, Milan, and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.

The in-store experience is also getting an upgrade, including a new initiative called Today in Apple, which will provide workshops and other hands-on ways for customers to learn how to use Apple products to pursue their passions. A big part of it, of course, is the idea of creating a live community rooted in a love for the brand — a sentiment that aligns with the neighborhood-esque naming (and what we anticipate to be design) theme of the new retail presence.

This summer, Today in Apple launches at retail locations, focused on community, workshops. #AppleEvent pic.twitter.com/cQ8HVEY4IU

— CNET (@CNET)
September 12, 2017
 

Apple Watch

Once upon a time — no pun intended — a watch served the purpose of letting its wearer know if she was late for a meeting. After yesterday, there are no two ways about it: Watches are high-end items that are used to make a statement, help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, or in the most extreme cases, alert you to a potentially life-threatening situation.

The Series 3, which is the latest generation of the Apple Watch — now the “number one watch in the world,” according to the announcement — has completely redefined the concept of a watch. The more expensive version (priced at $399) has cellular connectivity, allowing you to make and receive calls on the same number you use for your phone, assuming it’s an Apple device. Not only that, but it comes with streaming music capabilities, boasting its ability to let users go for a run and leave their phones at home.

But the Series 3 also comes with a new emphasis on health and wellness, most notably on heart health. Using the new Heart Rate app, Apple says it will collect and synthesize heart rate data from users to not only compile its Heart Rate Study, but also to alert users when something appears to be irregular. For the moment, however, the Series 3 has a built-in feature to let users know when their heart rates elevate while at rest — what one reporter relatably joked as “blogger mode.”

“This is what we at apple call ‘blogger mode'” https://t.co/SKjKd7y0o5

— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac)
September 12, 2017

What’s interesting is that the casing for the Series 3 is about the same size as the Series 2, which is quite impressive, considering all of its capabilities. Here’s Apple COO Jeff Williams breaking it all down:

Apple TV

There was less buzz around Apple TV leading up to the event, which was reflected in the announcements today. The biggest unveiling to come from this category is the introduction of Apple TV 4K, which boils down to image quality and viewing experience. Yahoo! correspondent JP Mangalindan concisely described why it matters:

Cue’s talking about why we should care about 4K images. Long story, short: It’s sharper and more colorful. #AppleEvent

— JP Mangalindan (@JPManga)
September 12, 2017

One other pivotal Apple TV announcement was that it will now come with live sports, which might signal to some a further decline in the need for cable television — keep in mind, live sports coverage has been available digitally/via live stream for a while now through Twitter and other platforms.

I’ll be honest: At this point, it seemed like no one was really too concerned with Apple TV, and was itching to get to the iPhone announcements — at least, I was. Keep in mind that 2017 marks the 10-year anniversary of the original iPhone debut (Seriously? How has an entire decade gone by since then?), and many of us anticipated that the event would pay some level of tribute to that chronological landmark. Whether or not that would take form as product, we weren’t sure — but in the end, it did, and it was, as they say, “Some next-level sh*t.” 

The Main Event: iPhone Announcements

iPhone 8 & iPhone 8 Plus

I know. I know — you want to hear about the iPhone X. We’ll get to that, but first, we have to talk about the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. (Notice, by the way, how Apple conveniently skipped a “9” edition.)

The iPhone 8 models aren’t exactly anything to sniff at. Pricing starts at $699 — an even higher point than what most people thought was a stratospheric price tag for Google’s inaugural Pixel — and the phones come with some impressive new features, mostly in the realms of display and augmented reality (AR). Plus, its speakers have improved volume capabilities.

As for the improved visual features, that credit goes to its new retina displays, it was said at the event — what Apple calls “3D touch tech” is built into these models for True Tone display. The camera, too, is vastly improved from previous editions, with a 12-megapixel sensor that offers better image stabilization. In one of the sample photos shown at the event, the image quality was so precise that the photographer’s reflection could be seen in the subject’s eye. Even cooler: The new camera app has machine learning facial recognition capabilities, so that lighting can be adjusted according to individual facial features.

Source: The Verge

Then, there are the AR features, which will undoubtedly bring joy to gamers. Apple has been trying to make a pretty big deal about its ARKit developer tools and resources, which its website describes as “a new framework that allows you to [take] apps beyond the screen, freeing them to interact with the real world in entirely new ways.” Think Pokémon GO, but much, much more sophisticated and realistic.

Two representatives from Directive Games took the stage to demonstrate what was an impressive and — if we’re being honest — downright cool look at how ARKit technology will manifest itself in the new iPhone’s features. Have a look:

Source: The Verge

But what really brought glee to charger-forgetters everywhere was the introduction of wireless iPhone charger capabilities. A new flat charging mat — which didn’t come with any release or availability date information, other than “next year” — will be powered by Qi technology, and is promised to work universally across all of your latest-generation Apple devices. If that technology sounds familiar, that might be because it’s been supported by Samsung devices for some time now, and you may have seen something similar in certain shops like Starbucks: a flat, circular feature built into some sort of surface that claims to be able to charge your mobile device. (Personally, I’ve never been able to get it to work, but if you’ve had any success, please report back.)

iPhone X

Imagine: It’s the future. You live in a world where your phone not only has wirelessly charging and eerily realistic AR capabilities, but also has no home button. It’s a world where your phone — not to mention, your stored payment information — is unlocked by looking at it, and emojis are now “Animojis”: animated characters that reflect your facial expressions and can speak on your behalf.

Yes, it was quite a morning, if for no other reason than that the audience being treated to Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi making animal noises to demonstrate that last feature.

Face ID

But really, for anyone else who grew up watching shows like “Star Trek,” this was really something. It was clear that Apple has invested hours upon hours into technology like Face ID — which, unfortunately, malfunctioned when Federighi tried to demonstrate it.

That moment aside, the explanation behind how this technology came to fruition — and how it was tested over, and over, and over again to ensure its security — might perhaps be what sets Apple apart as a leader in the realm of mobile technology. How does it work? With the TrueDepth camera system, which we’ll let Apple’s official statement explain:

“The IR image and dot pattern are pushed through neural networks to create a mathematical model of your face and send the data to the secure enclave to confirm a match, while adapting to physical changes in appearance over time. All saved facial information is protected by the secure enclave to keep data extremely secure, while all of the processing is done on-device and not in the cloud to protect user privacy. Face ID only unlocks iPhone X when customers look at it and is designed to prevent spoofing by photos or masks.”

Face ID is also designed to adapt to any temporary changes to the way your face might be presented — things like growing a beard, cutting your hair, or wearing a hat. And yes, there is a one in 1,000,000 chance that someone else’s face can unlock your phone. That’s a fairly small chance, and it’s worth noting that the team behind Face ID even enlisted the help of Hollywood makeup artists create myriad, life-like masks to test and perfect the feature.

Setting up Face ID is similar to the way current iPhone users do so with Touch ID — by pressing your thumb at a variety of angles to get the device to recognize only your unique fingerprint. Think of this new iPhone X method as an angular facial recognition setup process.

Source: TechCrunch

To be clear, Face ID will replace Touch ID, leaving some to wonder how to unlock your phone, should Face ID malfunction. Given that users have the option of opting out of Face ID, there must be an alternative, and from the looks of Federighi’s experience, there might the option to enter a numerical passcode, which is what users are prompted to do when Touch ID doesn’t work on current iPhone models.

For many, Face ID raises concerns of privacy and security, especially since it can be easily attached to the user’s payment information. Apple has stated that personal facial recognition data won’t be sent to the cloud — more detail can be found about that in the iOS security white paper.

Everything Else

The iPhone X will boast some pretty cutting-edge features — as juvenile as it might seem, it is pretty compelling to see technology that makes an emoji speak with the exact dictation and facial movement as yours — but the Face ID demonstrations and explanations took up the majority of the iPhone X time slot.

Like the iPhone 8 models, it will come with wireless charging capabilities, as well as even better camera features, like a zero shudder lag that results in high-quality photos of moving subjects. It comes with a “super retina display,” as well as battery life that lasts two hours longer than the iPhone 7. And, of course, it comes with an equally heavyweight-class price tag: iPhone X models start at $999, are available for pre-order on October 27, and will ship starting November 2.

But we couldn’t leave you with a classic, goosebump-inducing Apple promo video. So enjoy — and if you end up getting your hands one one of these fancy new devices, let us know how it goes.

Source: Apple

Featured image: Apple

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Sep

13

2017

How to Structure Your Editorial Calendar in the Age of the Topic Cluster Content Model

Here on the HubSpot blog, we’ve been writing content for a long time — more than 10 years.

And for much of that time, our strategy for determining our editorial calendar has stayed the same: We’ve identified keywords we want to rank for in search, written a blog post about it, and moved onto the next one.

And for a while, that strategy has worked for us, and we were able to start ranking for competitive keywords in search engine results pages (SERPs). But eventually, after years and years of creating content in this same vein, our blog became cluttered, it was tougher for searchers to find the exact answer to questions they asked — and our URLs started to compete with one another.

After all, how many different ways are there to write about Instagram? In our case, the answer is … a whole lot of ways.

Enter topic clusters, a new way to organize your website infrastructure that helps you rank higher in SERPs and provide a more organized user experience to your visitors. In this blog post, we’ll review topic clusters and how you can use them to organize your editorial calendar.

What are Topic Clusters?

Topic clusters are a way to organize a site infrastructure so content about a particular topic is grouped together — and anchored by a pillar page (more on that next).

Remember the old blog structure I described? It involved a ton of blog posts — but resulted in a disorganized experience for someone trying to search for information on your site:

Old structure-1-1.png

Topic clusters focus on — you guessed it — topics over keywords. Instead of simply choosing particular long-tail keywords to write and optimize a blog post about to try to rank in search, this model more intentionally organizes a site architecture into topic groups.

In this new structure, each topic has a pillar page that broadly covers the main points about a given topic, and that pillar page links out to blog posts that target those long-tail keywords that are related to the pillar page’s topic. Here’s what it looks like in action:

New structure-3.png

What Is a Pillar Page?

A pillar page is the basis on which a topic cluster is built. It covers all aspects of a particular topic on a single page, with room for more in-depth coverage in more detailed cluster blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page.

If you check out the structure of the more organized site above, these are the basic components:

Cluster model-3.png

The pillar page is at the center of the topic cluster, and it shares links with supporting blog posts that deep-dive into specific aspects of the broader topic.

For example, on the HubSpot domain, we have an Instagram marketing pillar page. It’s a broad topic, so the pillar page is lengthy and provides an overview of every aspect of the topic. Here are some of the details it covers:

instagram pillar page example.png

Then, further down on the pillar page, the content contains hyperlinks to blog posts that dive deeper into particular aspects — like Instagram caption tips and details about the algorithm.

instagram caption pillar page-1.png

You can see one of those blog posts here — which links back to the pillar page above.

instagram captions blog example.png

Structuring your blog content this way helps more of your blog posts and web pages rank in search, and it provides a reader experience that makes sense — they can start at the pillar page and dive deeper into particular aspects, or they can start with a blog post and go back to the pillar page to learn the basics.

So, how do you get started with turning your editorial strategy on its head and optimizing your entire blog for this new structure? That’s next.

How to Structure Your Editorial Calendar to Optimize for Search

1) Identify topics.

This might be how you choose blog posts already, or it might be totally new — but the first step in this process is focusing on topics, and not keywords. At least at first.

Decide on topics by using your buyer persona research skills — identify your audience and what they’re searching for, and determine how broad to make your pillar page. In our case, “social media” was too broad of a topic, but “Instagram marketing” is sufficient to create a pillar page and 20-30 related blog posts.

2) Choose (or create) a pillar page.

Depending on how extensively (or not) you’ve already covered a particular topic on your blog, you might already have the content you need to create a pillar page — or, you might need to start from scratch.

HubSpot Senior Content Strategist Leslie Ye, who took up the lion’s share of reorganizing the HubSpot Sales Blog into topic clusters, suggests asking the following questions to determine if a blog post can serve as a pillar page:

“Would this page answer every question the reader who searched X keyword had, AND is it broad enough to be an umbrella for 20-30 posts?”

Ye’s rule of thumb is: If a blog post is targeting one particular, narrow long-tail keyword, it can’t be a pillar page. But, if it explores many aspects of a broad topic more generally, it could serve as your pillar page.

Take your list of topics determined in Step One, audit your content to decide which blog posts can serve as pillar pages, and note content gaps where you need to create new pillar pages (which you can read more about here.)

3) Identify keywords.

Once you’ve nailed down your topics and your pillar pages, now it’s time to start focusing on keywords. Conduct keyword research related to each topic to identify keywords and terms that dive into aspects of your broader topic in greater detail.

These keywords will serve as the main focus of blog posts that will make up your topic cluster — and link back to the main pillar page.

Remember the example above? Where “Instagram marketing” is the topic that makes up the cluster, “Instagram captions” is a more narrow keyword that we wrote a blog post about within the topic cluster.

4) Start writing.

You know how to do this part — get to writing.

Organize your editorial calendar by identifying content gaps in your topic clusters, and filling them out as quickly and efficiently as possible. The faster you write and publish blog posts that answer all questions about your topic, the higher these clusters will rank in search.

I might suggest working on a few different clusters at once, so you can keep your recent blog posts varied and interesting for your readers — instead of publishing several consecutive blog posts within the same topic.

5) Add internal links.

Before pressing publish, make sure you’ve leveraged internal links to spread the SEO wealth amongst all of your pillar pages and blog posts. Make sure that your pillar page links out to cluster blog posts — for example, the Instagram marketing pillar page links out to the Instagram captions blog post.

Then, make sure the cluster’s more specific blog posts link back to the pillar page — using the anchor text of the broad topic to help the pillar page rank higher in search. For example, in the Instagram captions blog post, it links back to the Instagram marketing pillar page — with the words “Instagram marketing” hyperlinked:

instagram captions blog example-1.png

If you’re confused, don’t worry — this model is new to us, too. Luckily, HubSpot’s new Content Strategy tool can do the work for you. Dive into the in-depth guide to using Content Strategy to take your SEO to the next level, or watch this video to learn more about the principles:

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Sep

11

2017

5 Pillar Page Examples to Get You Started With Your Own

Earlier this year, a handful of my extremely bright and capable colleagues compiled a report on topic clusters: a method using a single pillar page as the main hub of content for a given topic. All of your content assets related to that topic link back to the pillar page — and to each other.

Cool, huh?

But it’s not just a nice, clean way of organizing content that brings glee to the most Type A of marketers (read: yours truly). It also keeps Google happy. As it turns out, the search engine giant has changed its algorithm to favor topic-based content, making pillar pages a requirement for content marketers who want to maintain a high SERP ranking.

Let’s dive in — read on.

What Is a Pillar Page?

My colleague, Sophia Bernazzani, does an excellent job of summarizing pillar pages (and comparing them to HubSpot Marketing Blog’s own previous method of topic organization) in her post on the subject here. As the previous paragraphs suggest, she says:

“A pillar page is the basis on which a topic cluster is built. A pillar page covers all aspects of the topic on a single page, with room for more in-depth reporting in more detailed cluster blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page. Pillar pages broadly cover a particular topic, and cluster content should address a specific keyword related to that topic in-depth.”

What’s more, however, is that the idea of a pillar page is to cover broad content in a way that is highly linkable itself — that is, external sites would link to it as a canonical resource for the topic. So, to put it into visual terms, here’s what our blog architecture used to look like using this old playbook:

Old structure-2.png

This is where the search ranking piece comes in: the topic cluster model. Using topics you want to rank for, create content based on specific keywords related to that topic that are inter-(hyper)linked — that can support efforts for greater search engine authority. Here’s what our blog infrastructure looks like now using that model:

New structure-2.png

See how the site architecture is more deliberate in this model? The visual above shows how it organizes content assets together to help searchers more easily find information within your domain.

It has three main components:

  1. Pillar content (your pillar page)
  2. Cluster content
  3. Hyperlinks

Cluster model-2.png

Okay, you get it — pillar pages are both nice and important for SEO. After all, on average, a page that ranks #1 in Google will also rank well for around 1,000 other related keywords. But what are they supposed to look like? Are aesthetics important? How do you organize all of your content assets on a pillar page?

Actions speak louder than words — says the writer — which is why we sought answers to those questions by way of pillar page examples that do an excellent job of organizing and linking to content assets.

5 Great Examples of Pillar Pages

1) Typeform: Brand Awareness

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 3.14.45 PM

At first glance, it’s hard to ignore the positively inbound-y nature Typeform’s Brand Awareness pillar page. It was built to inform, and lives up to its tagline: “Nearly everything you need to know.”

Not only is it aesthetically pleasing — the color palette is, somehow, at once both soothing and bold — but it’s quite easy to navigate. The table of contents appears immediately, and once you begin to consume the content, it’s clear, comprehensive, and quotable. Notice how the information is interjected with CTAs to tweet various stand-out quotes:

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 3.22.27 PMAnd while there are several links throughout the pillar page, the vast majority of them don’t link to other Typeform content assets. In fact, it’s not until toward the end of the pillar page that those links to other Typeform pages begin to appear, and even them, they’re used sparingly, and typically used to support points and direct readers to solutions.

2) Matthew Barby: Customer Acquisition Strategies

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 3.32.13 PM

HubSpot’s Global Head of Growth and SEO, Matthew Barby, is no stranger to the HubSpot Marketing Blog, or the people who comprise its team. We regularly quote him here, and frequently pester him with our own questions. Naturally, his website is a go-to resource for marketers who want to learn about SEO — and it includes an exemplary pillar page on customer acquisition strategies.

Similarly to the Typeform example, there’s a noticeable shortage of promotional hyperlinks within the first section of the page. In fact, as you scroll down the page, you’ll also see that links to Barby’s other content assets are both tastefully and seamlessly inserted between large pieces of tactical information.

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 3.37.51 PM

But these links are supplemental and relevant, and there aren’t tons of them — all of them direct the user to Barby’s tools on the topic at hand, which is customer acquisition. Instead of bombarding the user with numerous in-text links, well-designed CTAs are used to allow readers to click to learn about these tools.

3) The Atlantic: Population Healthier

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 3.44.09 PM

Pillar pages are also an excellent way to organize and create sponsored content with a co-marketing partner. Case in point: The Atlantic partnered with athenahealth to compile a report (and pillar page) on healthcare in the U.S. 

The content is absolutely bananas — in the absolutely best way possible. It begins with a story about a historical building in the Massachusetts town of Lowell, which forays into a full-blown interactive, animated, and highly information report about the state of healthcare coverage in cities like this one as the user scrolls down. But the entire time, there’s a helpful plus-sign along the left side of the page that, when clicked on, presents a table of contents. 

Here, links to additional content found on theatlantic.com are a bit more prevalent than the previous example — but remember, this pillar page was created to support sponsored content. Therefore, it presents an organized, non-intrusive way of linking to this sponsored (but still informative) content that relates back to the central topic of healthcare in the U.S. 

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 3.47.51 PM

The Atlantic achieves that by placing well-designed, but noticeable links at the end of each section, which match the visual theme that precede them — such as with the link to “The Culture Wars” content in the example above.

4) ProfitWell: SaaS DNA Project

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 3.59.38 PM

We love content that makes good use of examples to point out best practices — just have a look at what we’re doing in this post. But in a move similar to Typeform’s in its Brand Awareness pillar page, ProfitWell’s pillar page on “The Anatomy of a SaaS Marketing Site” incorporates plenty of “in-the-while” instances of both what to do when it comes to SaaS marketing content — and what not to do.

Building that sort of information into a pillar page — or any content, for that matter — preemptively answers the question of, “I know what I’m supposed to do. But what should I avoid at all costs?”

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 8.42.07 AM

Once again, there’s a noticeable lack of link inundation here. Within each chapter, a visual CTA lingers along the right-hand side of the page that allows users to download the full Anatomy of a Saas Marketing Site guide, as well as a single click-to-tweet option for one line of quotable text from the section. It’s a no muss, no fuss approach that fits in well with a text-heavy site, which doesn’t distract from the main content. 

5) GoodUI: Evidence

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 8.47.31 AM

We’re absolutely delighted by the concept of “Easter eggs” — those little hidden, puzzle-like treasures on the internet that turn up cool tricks or nuggets of information. And to us, GoodUI’s “Evidence” pillar page is one big Easter egg.

The page consists of data — or “evidence” — from multiple A/B tests that have uncovered patterns for higher conversions. Clicking on any data point throughout the page will direct the viewer to an expanded, detailed view of the test leading to that information. It’s a treasure trove of eye-catching, compelling experiment results.

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 8.47.31 AM

Within that sub-content, there’s a CTA at the bottom of each dedicated test section to share your own test, providing the reader with an opportunity to contribute her own content and findings to an already impressive plethora of information.

Want to learn more? Check out the video below.

 

 

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Sep

8

2017

7 Social Media Fails to Avoid in 2017

Chances are you’ve witnessed a social media fail sometime in the past year. It usually results from a sense of urgency, or a miscommunication that ignores common sense, all for the sake of gaining attention.

It’s true: Follow just a bit of poorly-advised posting on social media, and you, too, can create your very own brand fail in a matter of minutes.

Many brands are over-concerned with posting frequency and speed, and not concerned enough with tactics that ensure quality and proper context. A single spur-of-the-moment tweet can cause irreparable damage. And even after it’s deleted, the examples below show that content on social media never truly dies — so make sure you have a plan in place that establishes clear boundaries and best practices.

As proof, here are seven of the worst social media fails you might ever come across.

7 Social Media Fails to Avoid in 2017

1) Meet-And-Greet, but Don’t Touch

Humor is a wonderful thing, especially on social media. A funny meme, GIF image, or video can reap a wealth of positive interactions. It’s common practice for celebrities to produce goodwill online by sharing one-on-one experiences with fans — meet-and-greets, and surprise appearances, for example, all have the potential to go viral. Unfortunately, the viral effect doesn’t always have the end-result you might wish for.

It doesn’t get much more uncomfortable than Avril Lavigne’s now infamous meet-and-greet photo session. Fans paid almost $400 for a chance to meet their idol before finding out there were some serious restrictions on their experience: no touching allowed. That meant no hugging, wrapping arms around each other, or anything else that tends to make celebrity meet-and-greet photos warm and cozy.

The pictures, as they say, are worth a thousand awkward words.

2) Rhode Island or Iceland?

Good intentions fell flat for the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation in 2016, when it made one grave error in a $5 million promotional video — and used footage not of the great state itself, but instead, of Iceland.

The mistake went viral and gained far more attention than an Iceland-free version of the promotion would have, but it wasn’t exactly the type of publicity we imagine the bureau of tourism was hoping for.

Thanks to the social media skills of Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, you can enjoy your very own private viewing of this social media fail.

Help tell Rhode Island’s story by sharing our new brand video #weareRI https://t.co/alIIcZ2DIghttps://t.co/qh3YtF0q0s

— Gina Raimondo (@GovRaimondo)
March 29, 2016

3) Ten Cents off Your Next Playstation

In 2015, Amazon created #PrimeDay as its own corporate version of a Cyber Monday. Unfortunately, at that point, many of the discounts and offerings didn’t quite live up to consumer expectations — and the hashtag went viral for all the wrong reasons.

One kicker came when Amazon offered a whopping $0.10 discount on the Sony PlayStation 4 Console. It didn’t take long for #PrimeDayFail to start trending on Twitter.

Damn been waiting for the PS4 to go down 10 cents 😩 #AmazonPrimeDay pic.twitter.com/eIiThMX9IT

— lupe (@cherryyyybomb)
July 15, 2015

4) #bendgate

Any time a brand winds up with a trending hashtag that includes the word “gate” in it, you know there’s trouble.

In 2014, Apple released the iPhone 6 with great fanfare, with one of the most aggressively highlighted features being that the phone wouldn’t bend under pressure in, say, your back pocket.

In a video that now has more than 69 million views, Unbox Therapy squashed Apple’s claims by demonstrating how easy it was to bend the iPhone 6. Once the damage was done there was no going back. A war of words promptly took place between avid Apple fans and detractors, garnering even more attention on social media. 

 

 

5) How to Turn a Fail into a Win

Robots aren’t always smarter. In 2014, a Google bot mistakenly attributed an offensive slogan to U.K.-based bakery, Greggs. Hilarity — to some, at least, ensued when Greggs’ Digital Brand Manager, Neil Knowles, turned a potential brand disaster into a monumental win.

Thanks to the clever back-and-forth between Knowles and the Google team, and the massive publicity garnered by the exchange, Google’s original error wound up being one of the best things to ever happen to Greggs.

Hey @GoogleUK, fix it and they’re yours!!! #FixGreggs pic.twitter.com/d5Ub7qtrLG

— Greggs (@GreggsOfficial)
August 19, 2014

6) Coca-Cola vs. Russia and Ukraine

If you’re going to create a huge promotion that displays a giant map of Russia, it’s generally a good idea to make sure that map is accurate. Or, better yet: When in doubt, don’t show a map.

Coca-Cola received massive backlash from Russian citizens when it posted a promotional branded image made to look like a map of Russia — which left out Crimea. In response, many consumers took to Twitter to post images of themselved pouring Coke into their toilets, leaving a trending impression.

Then, in response to the backlash, Coca-Cola published an updated map that included Crimea — which was promptly bombarded by outcries from Ukrainian citizens, due to tensions resulting from Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Lesson learned: Don’t publish original content that’s inaccurate, and has the potential to be highly (and globally) controversial.

833

Source: The Guardian

7) A Giraffe for Ghana

Sometimes, all it takes to avoid a social media fail is a simple Google search.

During the 2014 World Cup game between the USA and Ghana, Delta sent out a congratulatory tweet to the U.S. soccer team. The tweet included an image of the Statue of Liberty with a “2” representing the U.S. score, and a giraffe with a “1” that was meant to represent team Ghana’s score.

There was one tall problem: Ghana doesn’t have giraffes. Of course, Twitter users jumped all over that one. 

PHOTO: Delta Airlines thinks there are giraffes in Ghana. There aren’t. http://t.co/9VsWsCfQSe pic.twitter.com/pGMJ6p0ljA

— theScore (@theScore)
June 17, 2014

Just remember: It’s always best to take extra time to conduct some easy research, and avoid social media gaffes — no pun intended — like this one.

Wrapping Things Up

You might have noticed a pattern in some of the “fail” examples. Twitter is not to be trifled with. Once something goes viral it lives on forever. The best way to avoid a social media brand fail is to establish a meticulous social media management approach. This allows you to control the types of content you post and the messaging your brand communicates with.

Regardless of how small your audience is or how innocent something might seem, there’s always a reason to quality-check before posting.

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Sep

7

2017

How to Develop a Content Strategy: A Start-to-Finish Guide

Whether you’re just starting out with content marketing or you’ve been using the same approach for a while, it never hurts to revisit your content strategy plan — to make sure it’s up-to-date, innovative, and strong.

After all, you’ve got more competition than ever. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of B2B marketers surveyed say they are creating more content this year than they did in 2016.

The first step to getting a leg up on the competition is to have a solid, smart content marketing plan in place. If you’re having trouble planning for the upcoming year or need some fresh ideas to include in your plan, read on.

In this post, we’ll dive into why your business needs a content marketing plan and the exact steps you will need to take to create one.

What is Content Strategy?

In short, your content strategy is the piece of your marketing plan and development that refers to the management of pretty much any tangible media that you create and own — written, visual, downloadable — you get the picture.

You may have heard how important content creation is, but as we’ll get into throughout this post, it needs to have a well-planned purpose. When you develop a content strategy, there are some key things to consider:

  • Who you’re creating it for
  • The problem it’s going to solve for that audience
  • How it will be unique
  • The formats you’ll focus on
  • The channels where it will be published
  • How you will schedule and manage creation and publication

Why Do Marketers Need to Create a Content Marketing Strategy?

Content marketing helps businesses prepare and plan for reliable and cost-effective sources of website traffic and new leads. Think about it — if you can create just one blog post that gets a steady amount of organic traffic, an embedded link to an ebook or free tool will continue generating leads for you as time goes on.

The reliable source of traffic and leads from your evergreen content will give you the flexibility to experiment with other marketing tactics to generate revenue, such as sponsored content, social media advertising, and distributed content. Plus, your content will not only help attract leads — it will also help educate your target prospects and generate awareness for your brand.

Now, let’s dive in to learn the specifics of how to create a content marketing plan.

7 Steps for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

1) Define your goal.

What’s your aim for developing a content marketing plan? Why do you want to produce content and create a content marketing plan? Know your goals before you begin planning, and you’ll have an easier time determining what’s best for your strategy. (Want help figuring out the right goals? Download this goal planning template.)

2) Conduct persona research.

To develop a successful plan, you need to clearly define your content’s target audience — also known as your buyer persona.

This is especially important for those who are starting out or are new to marketing. By knowing your target audience, you can produce more relevant and valuable content that they’ll want to read and convert on.

If you’re an experienced marketer, your target may have changed. Do you want to target a new group of people or expand your current target market? Do you want to keep the same target audience? Revisiting your audience parameters by conducting market research each year is crucial to growing your audience.

3) Run a content audit.

Most people start out with blog posts, but if you want to venture out and try producing other content pieces, consider which ones you want to make. For instance, if you’ve been doing weekly blog posts for the past year, creating an ebook that distills all your blog posts into one ultimate guide would be a one way to offer information in a different format. We’ll go over several different types of content you can use further down on the list.

If you’ve been in business for a while, review your content marketing efforts and the results from it in the last year. Figure out what you can do differently in the upcoming year and set new goals to reach. (Pro tip: Now is a great time to align your team’s goals with the rest of your organization’s goals.)

4) Determine a content management system.

Have a system in place where you can manage your content. A few vital parts of content management include content creation, content publication, and content analytics.

If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can plan, produce, publish, and measure your results all in one place using HubSpot software. Other content management system options include CoSchedule and WordPress (although we can’t speak to the full range of capabilities of these sites).

5) Brainstorm content ideas.

Now, it’s time to start coming up with ideas for your next content project. Here are some tools to get the wheels turning:

  • HubSpot’s Website Grader: HubSpot’s Website Grader is a great tool to use when you want to see where you’re at with your marketing. From your blogging efforts to your social media marketing, Website Grader grades vital areas of your marketing and sends you a detailed report to help you optimize and improve each area. With this tool, you can figure out how to make your website more SEO-friendly and discover new content ideas.
  • What To Write: Get your mind gears going with What To Write’s unique content idea generator. This tool asks you questions that will help jumpstart your brainstorming. It also generates several blog post ideas for you after you’ve completed the questions, so you can use those ideas in your content marketing plan.
  • HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator: Get blog post ideas for an entire year with HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator. All you need to do is enter general topics or terms you’d like to write about, and this content idea generator does all the work for you.
  • Feedly: This popular RSS feed is a wonderful way to keep track of trendy topics in your industry and find content ideas at the same time.
  • BuzzSumo: Discover popular content and content ideas at BuzzSumo. BuzzSumo uses social media shares to determine if a piece of content is popular and well-liked, so this information will help you see which content ideas will do well.
  • Content Forest: Content Forest offers free tools, which include KeywordKiwi and ContentIdeator. These tools will help you find popular content from your competitors, effective keywords to use in your content, and great content ideas all in one spot.
  • Blog Post Headline Analyzer: CoSchedule’s tool analyzes headlines and titles and provides feedback on length, word choice, grammar, and keyword search volume. If you have an idea in mind, run a few title options through the Headline Analyzer to see how you could make it stronger, and to move your idea further along in the brainstorming process.

6) Determine which types of content you want to create.

There are a variety of options out there for content you can create. Here are some of the most popular content formats marketers are creating and tools and templates to get you started.

Blog posts

If you haven’t already noticed, you’re currently perusing a blog post. Blog posts live on a website and should be published regularly in order to attract new visitors. Posts should provide valuable content for your audience that makes them inclined to share posts on social media and across other websites. We recommend that blog posts be between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length, but experiment to see if your audience prefers longer or shorter reads.

Check out our free templates for writing great how-to, listicle, curation, SlideShare presentation, and newsjacking posts on your own blog.

Ebooks

Ebooks are lead generation tools that potential customers can download after submitting a lead form with their contact information. They’re typically longer, more in-depth, and published less frequently than blog posts, which are written to attract visitors to a website. Ebooks are the next step in the inbound marketing process: After reading a blog post (such as this one), visitors might want more content from an ebook and submit their contact information to learn more valuable information for their business. In turn, the business producing the ebook has a new lead for the sales team to contact.

Templates

Templates are a handy content format to try because they generate leads for you while providing tremendous value to your audience. When you provide your audience with template tools to save them time and help them succeed, they’re more likely to keep engaging with your content in the future.

Infographics

Infographics can organize and visualize data in a more compelling way than words alone. These are great content formats to use if you’re trying to share a lot of data in a way that is clear and easy to understand.

If you’re ready to get started, get our templates for creating beautiful infographics in less than an hour.

Videos

Videos are a highly engaging content medium that are shareable across social media platforms and websites alike. Videos require a bigger investment of time and resources than written content, but as visual marketing increases in popularity — after all, it’s 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content — it’s a medium worth experimenting with.

Podcasts

Starting a podcast will help audiences find your brand if they don’t have time or interest in reading content every day. The number of podcast listeners is growing — in 2016, an estimated 57 million people listened to podcasts each month. If you have interesting people to interview or conversations to host, consider podcasting as another content format to experiment with.

Here’s our comprehensive guide to starting a podcast.

External Content

Once you’ve been regularly publishing content on your own site for a while, it might be time to start thinking about distributing your content on other sites. This could entail a few things:

  • Publishing website content on social media sites, such as LinkedIn
  • Repurposing content into new formats and publishing them on your blog or social media sites
  • Creating original content specifically for external sites, such as Medium

And speaking of Medium, if you’re considering that platform, check out our insights from our first year of publishing original content on ThinkGrowth.org.

When you’re ready for more ideas, there are a plethora of different content types to diversify your website. Check them out below:

types-of-content_(1)-1.jpg

7) Publish and manage your content.

Your marketing plan should go beyond the types of content you’ll create — it should also cover you’ll organize your content. With the help of an editorial calendar, you’ll be on the right track for publishing a well-balanced and diverse content library on your website. Then, create a social media content calendar so you can promote and manage your content on other sites.

Many of the ideas you think of will be evergreen — they’re just as relevant months from now as they are today. That being said, you shouldn’t ignore timely topics either. While they may not be the bulk of your editorial calendar, they can help you generate spikes of traffic.

Most people count on incorporating popular holidays such as New Year’s and Thanksgiving in their marketing efforts, but you don’t have to limit yourself to these important marketing dates. If there are niche holidays that might appeal to your audience, it could be worth publishing content on your blog or on social media. HubSpot Staff Writer Sophia Bernazzani compiled this ultimate list of social media holidays — keep an eye on it when you’re planning your calendar.

Ready to Get Started?

We know this is a lot of information, but the work has just begun. It takes time, organization, and creativity to grow a successful content marketing strategy. From building the foundation of your content marketing plan to adding tools to better manage your content, setting up your strategy for the new year won’t be a hassle if you follow the steps and explore the resources here. For additional guidance, use HubSpot’s Marketing Plan Generator to create a 12-month strategy in just a few minutes.

Happy creating.

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Sep

7

2017

Facebook Is Seriously Cracking Down on Fake Accounts and Ad Spend

Following its April 2017 white paper investigating the potential misuse of its platform, Facebook announced yesterday that it would be instituting new efforts to detect and block content — and accompanying ad spends — from fake accounts.

It’s the latest result of investigations into potential use of the social network during the 2016 U.S. presidential election to interfere with voter outlooks and decisions. As the official statement points out, “these are serious claims,” and Facebook has been reviewing a number of activities on its site to aid a broader investigation — and among them is all ad spend between June 2015 and May 2017.

The findings: During that time, a total ad spend of approximately $100,000 — which was associated with about 3,000 ads — was discovered to be connected to about 470 “fake” accounts and Pages — essentially, those that violated Facebook’s policies and weren’t associated with an official brand or organization. What’s more, the managers behind these Pages were found to be interlinked, and based in Russia.

But this isn’t a political post.

Rather, to us, this news is a major signifier of the effectiveness of social media advertising, as well as a reinforcement of its presence in our lives. The average user spends anywhere between 35 and 50 minutes on Facebook per day. That much exposure is often equated to many eyes on a given brand, cause, or organization by advertisers — but in addition to forming a strategy behind that ad content, this latest development shows that it also requires some advanced planning of knowing where it might appear.

“I think it’s telling that people who wanted to influence the election took to Facebook. It was clear to them it’s the best way to influence the most people,” says Marcus Andrews, a product marketing manager at HubSpot. “Ads aren’t at fault here — the manipulative humans who abuse them are.”

What does that mean for marketers? Let’s go over what we know.

What Facebook’s Latest Information Operations Announcement Means

What We Know

For many months now, Facebook has been emphasizing its efforts to prevent and reduce the use of its platform to distribute fake accounts and misinformation. Some are rooted in laws that, as a business, Facebook must follow to aid in high-level investigations, while others are the result of “protecting the integrity of civic discourse,” as the statement reads, that require advertisers to follow certain rules. One major step in that path to purely authentic information sharing is the banning of Pages that are found to repeatedly distribute and promote fake news on Facebook. 

But part of those efforts have to be preventative — which means implementing technology and practices to keep accounts that engage in this sort of activity from being created and able to advertise in the first place. That means creating ways to determine the nature and intention to figure out if Page meets that criteria as soon as it’s created. The answer to that, Facebook largely believes, lies in automation and other digital improvements. Among them, the statement outlines:

  • “applying machine learning to help limit spam and reduce the posts people see that link to low-quality web pages;
  • adopting new ways to fight against disguising the true destination of an ad or post, or the real content of the destination page, in order to bypass Facebook’s review processes;
  • reducing the influence of spammers and deprioritizing the links they share more frequently than regular sharers;
  • reducing stories from sources that consistently post clickbait headlines that withhold and exaggerate information;
  • and blocking Pages from advertising if they repeatedly share stories marked as false.”

It’s a fairly comprehensive action plan — but it does bring up a few connotations for content creators.

Why It Matters

When I alerted my colleague, Senior Director of Marketing Ryan Bonnici, he was immediately reminded of an incident from earlier this year when heavy-hitting brands began to pull their ads from YouTube, resulting in a loss of roughly $25 billion in ad revenue for the video sharing platform. The motivation behind it? The ads were appearing in the pre-roll for videos from content creators with which these brands wanted no affiliation — the types of content creators, it seems, Facebook is attempting to keep off its channel.

That series of events resulted in a promise from Google — which owns YouTube — to implement better procedures for ensuring that advertisers had more control over where their content appears. However, according to Bonnici, the reverse has always been an option. “YouTube allows big brands to pick and choose whose ads appear before their videos,” meaning that if you wanted your ad to appear in the pre-roll of content created by someone with a name as big as Coca-Cola’s, for example, you could do so … if you spent enough.

However, on Facebook, that isn’t the case. Visual content created exclusively on and for that platform doesn’t come with a pre-roll — not yet, anyway — leaving less concern from brands around the possibility of negative content appearing on their Pages.

There’s also the matter of the fact that social networks are, at the end of the day, businesses for profit. Anyone, for the most part — minus those that don’t get through Facebook’s new and in-progress filters — can create an account and advertise on these platforms. Higher-profile brands, of course, have more to lose by not following proper protocol. “But smaller ad accounts,” notes Bonnici, “are more difficult to manage” and have less at stake, in terms of a bottom line, when it comes to the content they create and promote. In essence, it’s easier for them to slip through the cracks, and we can’t imagine that Facebook has an easy road ahead in its efforts to diminish actions in violation of its policies.

For marketers that are concerned about what these developments mean for them, we have a few words of advice: Know where your ad spend is going, and know where your content might appear. When you create a targeted social media promotion or advertising strategy, keep these rules and past experiences shared by other advertisers — even if unintentional by the platform — in mind.

As for our own internal marketers, the move from Facebook hardly comes as surprise. “Facebook has spent much of this year cracking down on inauthentic and low-quality content,” says HubSpot Staff Writer Sophia Bernazzani. “Mark Zuckerberg said himself he wants to take stock of the impact of Facebook, ever since reports and allegations surfaced of the app swaying crucial opinions. It’s a positive sign that his team is taking journalistic integrity not just as a social network — but as a news outlet — seriously.”

We’ll be keeping an eye on the investigation as it unfolds.

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Sep

7

2017

What is SEO in 2017? How It’s Changed, and Where We Are Now

Published by in category Daily, Technical SEO | Leave a Comment

As marketers, we’ve gotten quite good at evolving our playbooks when it comes to SEO. But the changes we’ve seen to this point are nothing compared to what’s coming next.

We’re no longer in the “early stages” of a new era of search — we’re here, now, witnessing new trends and best practices unfold in real time.

First, it was an era tied closely to patterns such as mobile, social, and voice search, among other things. But many marketers are past the point of being on the cutting-edge of those patterns, and want to know, “What now?”

Now, we also have topic clusters and messaging apps. Make no mistake: Mobile, social, and voice search are still major players in the SEO game. Prior to their entrance onto the landscape, SEO predominantly revolved around browser-based search engines. More precisely, it’s been linked directly to Google. That’s where all the search activity has been. That’s where content consumption has historically started.

But now, new universes of search are taking shape outside of the browser window. In many of them, the rules for optimization have yet to be defined — but why does that matter to marketers? Well, in a nutshell, changes in the way people search indicate changes in the way they discover your content. They’re using new keywords and shaping queries in different ways; e.g., what may have once been a query for “Boston restaurant” might now look more like, “Where should I eat tonight?”

Let’s dive back into these four search patterns that are changing the face of SEO.

What is SEO?

Despite these changes, SEO still stands for “search engine optimization” — for marketers, the “optimization” part is what requires agility. Google defines the strategy as “the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.” And while that, to some extent, remains true, we’ve widened the circle around the search engine results page (SERP). Of course, keep your eye on your ranking, but also, look farther out on the horizon.

You’ve likely heard the word “organic” associated with SEO. That’s because, when done properly, your content should be a natural result of search engine queries for the topic at hand.

Sound good? Great. Let’s have a look at some of the new ways users are organically discovering this content.

What SEO Looks Like Now: Four Patterns to Consider

1) Mobile Search

Here’s a fascinating little tidbit that changes everything. We all know the lion’s share of web usage has moved from desktop to mobile devices. At last count, 71% of U.S. internet use took place on mobile. It’s a figure, somehow equally astounding and obvious, that once led expert Benedict Evans to nudge, “We should stop talking about ‘mobile’ internet and ‘desktop’ internet. It’s like talking about ‘colour’ TV, as opposed to black and white TV.”

“Mobile is the internet,” he declares.

Now, that would be change enough, but the fascinating little tidbit I’m talking about? That’s still to come. According to Flurry Insights, it turns out that 92% of the time we spend on phones is spent in apps. So, if internet activity is growing on mobile, and mobile activity is predominantly spent in apps, what does that mean for search engines?

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Source: Flurry Insights

Over the years, user experience improvements have been made to app searches — which was somewhat inevitable, as Spotlight search as the sole option for searching within apps (and, in some cases, even bypassing Google to bring you some web results) wasn’t a sustainable solution.

Let’s have a look at how the search capabilities within these apps themselves have also evolved — there are certainly repercussions for marketers there, too. Once thought of strictly for GPS capabilities, map apps are now being used as geographical search engines in-and-of themselves. Google Maps is a prime example — consider all of the information now contained in a single business listing.

IMG_0632IMG_0633IMG_0634

So, we’re beyond the initial days of SEO for apps and the content within them. Messaging apps also play a vital role there — we’ll get to that in a bit.

2) Social Search

Something has been happening on our favorite social channels. Over the last few years, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have all released features that collectively signify a massive shift in the priorities of social channels: to make it just as easy — if not, easier — to search for content as it is to search for people and brands.

It’s an interesting move for a number of reasons, one of which is to see the role of connections and influencers in search results. For example, have a look at some of my content suggestions from Instagram:

IMG_0635

As a rule, I don’t follow a ton of celebrities on Instagram — unless, of course, you count certain famed dachsunds — and yet, Instagram curated a collection of images from them that it algorithmically believed I would want to see. It’s an indication that optimizing for social channels is an entirely different game than optimizing for Google — one that takes into account a user’s behavior within an app, such as likes, tagged locations, and accounts followed. The far-right photo in the second row, for example, is from the account of an influencer based in Milwaukee, where I happen to spend a significant amount of time.

The second search-related change on social has to do with how these channels are beginning to treat content. We call them social “channels” because these sites have historically been a pass-through for businesses and publications — a way to promote content and get viewers back to your websites. But consider recent changes within Facebook, however, designed to keep viewers on their sites and in their apps, with no pass-through — e.g., Instant Articles, which contain the full article within the Facebook app rather than requiring a clickthrough.

Social media has long been considered a powerful channel through which visitors find content on your website. These less-than-subtle changes, however, are reshaping the face of content discovery. And as content becomes more decentralized away from the website, optimization of that content will likely continue to change, too.

3) Voice Search & Personal Assistants

In the last few years, we’ve been introduced to Siri, Google Now, Cortana, and Alexa — voice-activated personal assistants created by Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, respectively. The emergence of voice-activated personal assistants has run alongside the rapid development of connected devices beyond the desktop computer or smart phone. Everything from watches to scales, home speakers to lights are now connected to the internet and its never-ending sea of information. As our access to the internet has diversified, so has our search behavior. How so? Let’s take a look.

  • Natural language: Each morning, explains HubSpot Vice President of Marketing Meghan Anderson, “I get up, stagger to the coffee pot and utter the phrase: ‘Alexa, what’s new?’, and Amazon’s Alexa — which is based on a speaker on my countertop — dutifully answers: ‘Here’s Meghan’s Flash Briefing.’ She then plays news and weather relevant to me and my location. I don’t structure the search query. I don’t use keywords. Alexa is smart enough to associate natural language with a request.”
  • Expanded search windows: Because of the prevalence of connected devices, we’re no longer only searching when seated at our desks or in a convenient place for typing on our phones. With a vocal command (read: “Hey, Siri”) or push of a button, search can happen anywhere, at any time, just by asking our devices, “How do I quickly remove soy sauce from a white shirt?” Just saying. In any case, this development influences both the volume of the searches we’re conducting, and their composition.
  • Context and history: Unlike browser search engines which still rely heavily on the expressed search terms, personal assistant searches pull upon the searcher’s history and context. If I’ve ordered dog food before, Alexa pulls in the exact brand from past orders and asks me if I’d like to re-order it. If I have a flight leaving at 6 p.m., Google Home will let me know if it’s delayed, or if traffic is particularly bad and I need to leave early. These searches — if you can even call them all that — remove a step, or several, from the research and get me to the point of action more quickly.

#Alexa, be more human
– via @benfoxrubin @CNET #voicefirst #AI #bot
cc @BrianRoemmele @JimMarous @SpirosMargarishttps://t.co/EJlT2x6upj pic.twitter.com/3TBeqlS0Xc

— Theo (@psb_dc)
August 30, 2017

When the internet is suddenly all around you, it becomes more and more common to discard your keyboard and directly ask the universe for what you want. This changes the structure of these queries. What you want may be less specific and structured than traditional search queries. Take our restaurant example from earlier — it means that marketers need to optimize for queries like, “What should I do tonight?” as opposed to structured searches like, “Best Sydney Area Restaurants.”

4) Messaging Apps

Simply put, people shop and buy in a world of immediacy — and, for that reason, messaging is how they communicate. Think about the last time you actually called someone to make plans. As for myself, I can’t actually remember it.

That’s only one reason why messaging apps have grown in usage and popularity — whether it’s Facebook Messenger, on-site chat, or bots through a number of platforms, including social media and Slack. Buyers ask questions and get a quick response, which can be enabled by this technology.

It’s also a sign of the growing number of methods for users to seek an immediate answer when they need information. That means brands need to optimize their content and copy to respond to these queries to address this sort of omnipresence of communication options: on-site, in-app, and messaging. Plus, it’s just another example of how people are going to expect solutions when they use natural language — which means that marketers need to build out messaging platforms, like bots, to be able to provide conversational answers that actually provide the answer the user needs.

One of our favorite examples here is Pegg, a financial assistant designed for startups and small businesses. Pegg’s bot, HelloPegg, embodies the principle that, in this capacity, chatbots don’t necessarily need to be loquacious — they just have served the purpose solving real problems from real people with the same (or better) ability as a human.

And to Top It All off, We’ve Got Topic Clusters

Topic clusters are a foundation of content strategy that my colleague, Matthew Barby, once described as “enabl[ing] a deeper coverage across a range of core topic areas, whilst creating an efficient information architecture in the process. That sounds more complex than it is in reality. What I’m saying here is that through aligning sets of web pages into topic clusters, you can manage the internal linking between each more efficiently and also provide a better user experience for visitors.”

This video explains it nicely:

But why do topic clusters matter?

With each of these trends — mobile, voice, messaging, and social — the common theme has been, “the way people structure their searches will be different.” We’re approaching a point where users will stop using disjointed long-tail queries, and will just ask questions, without context, whenever they need an answer.

Thankfully, topic clusters can shift your search strategy to something more topic-based, where — in a world where to get found, marketers need to consider how people are actually searching — can help you structure and build messaging with natural language, based on these topics and the input data around them.

Changes in behavior always precede changes in strategy. The point of drawing attention to these new search patterns is not to raise alarms — rather, it’s to raise eyebrows. While the future is uncertain, one thing is clear: The world of search is not ending, it’s expanding. And expanding worlds call out for exploration.

Editor’s Note: A version of this post titled, “Why You Won’t Recognize SEO in 5 Years” was published in 2016 and syndicated by third-party outlets. This updated version explores how those trends have been shaped in 2017.

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Sep

6

2017

8 Brainstorming Ideas to Inspire Brilliant Pitches

Coming up with fresh, new ideas isn’t easy. And when your job requires churning them out on a daily basis, it can be easy to hit a wall. (Not to mention frustrating.)

That’s why brainstorming sessions can be so helpful. But, as many of you probably know by experience, some brainstorming sessions are more productive than others.

Ever been to one where you left feeling like your team didn’t really come away with anything useful? It’s draining — and it can feel like a waste of you and your team’s time. Great brainstorming sessions, on the other hand, can be wonderfully revitalizing.

The best way to get the creative juices flowing isn’t by sitting your team around a conference table and asking them to shout out ideas as they come to them. It’s by creating an atmosphere that breaks people out of their traditional mindset.

Here are a few creative ways to help liven up your brainstorming sessions to improve your team’s output of ideas.

8 Brainstorming Ideas to Inspire Brilliance

1) Come up with bad ideas first.

The best brainstorming sessions come when everyone in the room feels comfortable throwing out all of their ideas, regardless of whether or not they’re gold. But some members on your team might be worried they’ll sound stupid or uninformed if they pitch ideas that aren’t well thought-out. Studies have shown people are especially apprehensive when people in positions of power are present — this apprehension can lead to major productivity loss in brainstorming groups.

One way to loosen people up and get the ideas flowing? Start out brainstorming sessions by spending 10 minutes coming up with a bunch of bad ideas first. You might throw one out yourself first to show them what you mean. This will help you set a much more open and playful tone than a formal atmosphere would. Gerry Graf of Barton F. Graf 9000 has his team come up with 4,000 bad ideas before coming up with good ones.

Once you’ve spent some time sharing throwaway ideas and having a few laughs, you can refocus on brainstorming ideas that could work. And who knows: An idea that isn’t so great on its own could spark some really ingenious ones that inform the direction of the rest of the meeting.

2) Break and build ideas.

One way to turn a few ideas into many is by breaking them down or building them up. If you’re starting with a really general theme, try breaking it down into parts and details and seeing if other ideas branch from it. Or, you can do the opposite, and build up a more specific idea to have it cover a broader perspective.

One way to break down or build up ideas is to have each person in the room jot down two or three ideas on their own pieces of paper. Then, have them trade papers with other members of the team, and build off their coworkers’ ideas. You can rotate papers several times, and start a discussion based off the new ideas that emerge.

3) Play word games.

Word games can be powerful ways to help remove you from the traditional mindset that tends to produce generic, unoriginal ideas. If you’re trying to get out of an idea rut, try adding a few games to your meeting to drum up some out-of-the-box thinking.

One great word exercise is creating a “word storm.” To create a word storm, write down one word, and then brainstorm a whole slew of words that come to mind from that first word. Try thinking about the function of that word, its aesthetics, how it’s used, metaphors that can be associated with it, and so on. Let the ideas flow naturally, and don’t over think it — this is meant to be a creative exercise.

Once you’ve listed out a bunch of words, group them together according to how they’re related to one another. The goal? To come up with those less obvious words or phrases your audience might associate with whatever project you’re working on.

Source: CoSchedule

You can record the word storm on a piece of paper or a whiteboard or by using this online word storm tool to create a visual map — which you can save, export, and send to the team after the meeting.

Mind mapping is another powerful brainstorming tool to visualize related terms and ideas. Create a diagram starting with a central idea, and then branch out into major sub-topics, then sub-sub-topics. You can create mind maps either on paper or a whiteboard, or by using something like MindNode app.

Finally, another word game you could try is coming up with what Creative Bloq calls “essence words”: Words that capture the spirit, personality, and message you’re trying to put across — even if they seem crazy. You might find that it helps spark other ideas down the line.

4) Create a mood board.

Combining imagery, color, and visual-spatial arrangements can help surface emotions and feelings that will spark fresh, new ideas. It’s also been proven to significantly improve information recall in comparison to more conventional methods of learning.

While there are many ways to use visual prompts in brainstorming, creating a mood board is one of the most common — especially in coming up with new branding and design concepts.

A mood board is simply a random collection of images, words, and textures focused on one topic, theme, or idea. Like with mind mapping, the visual components of the mood board can be anything branching off that central topic.

Source: Behance

Mood boards can either be physical boards (e.g., a poster or cork board) or virtual (e.g., a Pinterest board). You can also use a tool such as the MoodBoard app to help you collect, organize, and share all the visual components needed for your board.

5) Play improv games.

Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like a little improvisation. This may sound silly, but hear me out: The more relaxed and playful the environment is (without being distracting), the more your team will feel comfortable thinking and sharing freely with one another.

Corey Blake, the CEO of RoundTable Companies, told The Huffington Post about a time he and his executive team opened a brainstorming session with a series of improv games. “That experience opened our minds and readied the team for play before diving into more traditional brainstorming,” Blake said. “The result was a deeper dive into our exploration and more laughter and fun, which increased our aptitude for creativity.”

If your team can relax briefly and laugh together, your creative energy will be much higher when you refocus on the project at hand.

6) Doodle.

Did you know that doodling can help spur creative insight, increase attention span, and free up short- and long-term memory?

Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution, wrote that, “When the mind starts to engage with visual language, you get the neurological access that you don’t have when you’re in linguistic mode.”

While many brainstorming sessions are based on talking and reading, doodling helps people break out of the traditional mindset and think about familiar things in a different way, perhaps leading to unexpected connections.

What should you doodle? Here are two ideas from Brown’s book:

  • Take an object and visually break it down into its tiniest parts. So if you start with the word “dog,” you might draw paws, a tail, and a collar. Thinking about all the elements of that object and the environment it is found in will allow you to view an object in a new way.
  • “Take two unrelated things, like elephants and ice cream, and draw them in their atomized parts,” writes Jennifer Miller for Fast Company. “Then create drawings that randomly fuse these parts together. Like trunk-cones or melting ears. Brown has used this technique to help journalists think up unique story angles.”

Source: FastCompany

7) Change your physical environment.

Switching up your physical environment isn’t just a fun change of pace; it can actually affect the way your brain works. Neurobiologists believe enriched environments could speed up the rate at which the human brain creates new neurons and neural connections. That means where you conduct your brainstorming sessions could have an affect on the ideas your team comes up with.

Try holding brainstorming sessions in rooms that aren’t associated with regular team meetings. If you can’t change the room itself, try changing something about the room to stimulate the brain, such as rearranging the chairs or putting pictures on the walls. Another idea is to have your team stand up and walk around while brainstorming, to encourage fluid creativity.

8) Don’t invite too many people.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a rule when it comes to meetings that applies to brainstorms too: Don’t invite more people than could be fed by two pizzas.

Now, we’ve all probably crushed a pizza on our own before, but generally speaking, two pizzas could comfortably feed between six and 10 people — but more than that, and people will be hungry — not to mention, unproductive.

Keep brainstorms smaller so everyone has a chance to surface ideas — and so the conversation doesn’t become cacophonous with interruptions and diverging tangents. A group of 10 people or fewer will still be able to feed and build off each others’ ideas — without drowning anyone out or getting too off-track.

Sep

6

2017

What Is a Pillar Page? (And Why It Matters For Your SEO Strategy)

Just when you thought you understood SEO … search changed. Again.

“Understood” is a strong word. Search engine algorithms change at such a rapid tick, it’s hard to keep up with the best strategies to optimize your blog to rank on the first page of SERPs. But this change is a biggie, so hang onto your keywords for this one.

Human search behaviors have changed, and so have the technologies used to interpret and serve up search results. Optimizing blog content to rank for long-tail keywords is no longer the best way to rank in search engine results — and your blog architecture has something to do with that.

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the ways search has changed, the scoop on topic clusters, and how pillar pages fit into the equation.

What Are Topic Clusters?

As we mentioned before: The way people search has changed, and in turn, that’s started to change the way SEOs and bloggers create content. Here’s a basic primer — but for more details, read our latest research and blog posts about the evolution of search.

People are submitting longer, more conversational search queries.

Picture yourself before entering a Google search. If you were trying to find a place to eat sushi, would you search for “restaurants,” or would you search for “Japanese restaurants near me”?

If you’d go with the second option, you’re among the majority: 64% of searches are four words or more, and we’re seeing a growing number of these longer-form conversational search queries that help people find the exact information they’re looking for.

This is, in part, due to the rise of voice search. Between Siri and Google Assistant, 20% of mobile Google searches are conducted via voice search, and thanks to the rise of Amazon Echo and Google Home devices, this percentage will surely be on the rise.

But voice search isn’t the only reason people are submitting longer queries. For one, there’s a lot of content out there — and quality is greatly outweighed by quantity. People are submitting more detailed queries to sort through the junk get the information they need, faster. People are also skimming content more — often relying on the headers of blog posts or Google’s featured information to get simple answers to questions quickly.

Search engines are getting better at sorting through the thousands of pieces of content out there to serve up the best, most accurate results possible, too. More on that next.

Search engines are better at providing exactly what searchers want.

Google’s algorithm is constantly evolving to provide the best possible answers to searchers’ queries. Some of these changes include penalizing too many irrelevant internal links, interpreting conversational queries as an entire thought instead of individual keywords, and using machine-learning to serve up more accurate interpretations of specific terms.

What all of this means: Google is helping searchers find the most accurate information possible — even if it isn’t exactly what they searched for. For example, if you searched for “running shoes,” Google will now also serve you up results for “sneakers.” This means that bloggers and SEOs need to get even better at creating and organizing content that addresses any gaps that could prevent a searcher from getting the information they need from your site.

Now, your site needs to be organized according to different main topics, with blog posts about specific, conversational long-tail keywords hyperlinked to one another, to address as many searches as possible about a particular subject. Enter the topic cluster model.

Topic clusters help more pages rank to give searchers better answers.

The way most blogs are currently structured (including our own blogs, until very recently), bloggers and SEOs have worked to create individual blog posts that rank for specific keywords. The result is disorganized, and hard for the user to find the exact information he or she needs. It also results in your own URLs competing against one another in search engine rankings when you produce multiple blog posts about similar topics.

Here’s what our blog architecture used to look like using this old playbook:

Old structure-2.png

Now, in order to rank in search and best answer the new types of queries searchers are submitting, the solution is to use the topic cluster model: Choose the broad topics you want to rank for, then create content based on specific keywords related to that topic that all link to each other, to create broader search engine authority. Using this model, this is what our blog infrastructure looks like now — with specific topics surrounded by blog posts related to the topic, connected to other URLs in the cluster via hyperlinks:

New structure-2.png

This model uses a more deliberate site architecture to organize and link URLs together to help more pages on your site rank in Google — and to help searchers find information on your site more easily. This architecture consists of three components — pillar content, cluster content, and hyperlinks:

Cluster model-2.png

Next, we’ll dive into pillar content — which represents the primary topic bloggers and SEOs are trying to rank for, by creating more specific pieces of cluster content.

What Is a Pillar Page?

A pillar page is the basis on which a topic cluster is built. A pillar page covers all aspects of the topic on a single page, with room for more in-depth reporting in more detailed cluster blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page.

Pillar pages broadly cover a particular topic, and cluster content should address a specific keyword related to that topic in-depth. For example, you might write a pillar page about content marketing — a broad topic — and a piece of cluster content about blogging — a more specific keyword within the topic.

Pillar pages are longer than typical blog posts — because they cover all aspects of the topic you’re trying to rank for — but they aren’t as in-depth. That’s what cluster content is for. You want to create a pillar page that answers questions about a particular topic, but leaves room for more detail in subsequent, related cluster content.

For example, here’s our pillar page about Instagram marketing. It provides a thorough overview of how to use Instagram, and it’s hyperlinked to specific pieces of cluster content — like this blog post about how to write good Instagram captions. In this case, we’re trying to rank for topics related to Instagram. The pillar page serves as a 101 guide to Instagram marketing, and the piece of cluster content dives into one specific aspect of Instagram marketing — writing great caption copy.

How to Create a Pillar Page

The first step to creating a pillar page is to stop thinking about your site in terms of just keywords. Start thinking about the topics you want to rank for first — then, brainstorm blog topic ideas based on more specific keywords related to the broader topic.

Think about the top interests and challenges of your core audience personas to give you ideas for pillar page content. Choose a topic that’s broad enough that it can generate more related blog posts that will serve as cluster content, but not so broad that you can’t cover the entire topic on a single pillar page.

For example, in our case, “social media” was too broad of a topic, but “Instagram captions” would have been too narrow. “Instagram marketing” is broad enough that we’re able to link many more blog posts that dive into Instagram in greater detail, but still specific enough that we could write a comprehensive pillar page about it.

Pillar pages should answer any question or query a searcher might have about a topic — which will make them want to click on your pillar page when they enter a Google search term that your page ranks for. Then, they’ll click into your pillar page to get the answers to their questions, which will link out to more specific pieces of cluster content hyperlinked on the pillar page.

For example, here’s what that looks like on our Instagram marketing pillar page:

instagram caption pillar page.png

These paragraphs cover aspects of Instagram marketing, and these hyperlinks direct to more specific pieces of cluster content related to the topic. Make sense?

If not, don’t worry — we’ll teach you more about pillar pages and how to construct them soon, along will more killer examples. Dive into our latest research to learn more about this new way to organize and build your content, and watch the video below to see how the topic clusters and pillar pages work in action.

content-strategy-tool

Sep

5

2017

12 of the Best College Logo Designs (And Why They’re So Great)

What makes a college logo great?

Think about your alma mater for a second. Do you have a school bumper sticker with the logo emblazoned on it? A hat? A sweatshirt? A flag? Or perhaps all of the above?

If you still bleed your school colors and rock your school swag whenever possible, then chances are, your university did a pretty good job designing its logo. According to the principles of great logo design, the best logos are simple, memorable, timeless, versatile, and appropriate.Click here to download our ultimate toolkit for social and PR branding.

Want to see some examples of awesome college logo designs? You’re in the right place. I chatted with my colleague, Tyler Littwin, art director here at HubSpot, to choose 12 of the best college logo designs from American universities. Check them out and learn what about their design makes them stand out — in a good way.

12 of the Best College Logo Designs

1) University of Texas

university-of-texas-logo.png

Source: University of Texas

University of Texas’s longhorn silhouette is the hallmark of classic and timeless logo design. The logo hasn’t changed since its introduction in 1961, and it remains one of the most iconic college sports logos in the world.

“Any logo that works as a single color design is fantastic,” says Littwin. “It’s simple, iconic, and has a great tie-in to the ‘hook ’em horns’ hand symbol.”

hook-em-horns-hand-sign.jpg

Source: Awful Announcing

2) University of North Carolina

unc-monogram-logo.png

Source: Carolina Athletics

The interlocking NC, one of the University of North Carolina’s athletics logos, features another timeless design — this time with attention-grabbing colors. Walk into a packed crowd at the Dean Dome, and you’ll see a sea of Carolina Blue, the official school color of UNC that dates back to the late eighteenth century.

Tyler gives UNC’s logo two thumbs up. “Classic,” he says. “A+ from me. Beyond the logotype, the color is a great bit of branding.”

3) Ohio University

ohio-university-attack-cat-logo.png

Source: Ohio University

The “Attack Cat,” which represents Ohio University’s bobcat mascot, replaced a simple green paw print in 2002 as the school’s official athletics logo. While many OU alumni were disappointed with the change — citing it as too intense — Littwin likes the new design.

As an objective observer, he says, “It’s a good integration of an illustration with type. The whiskers create a nice baseline for the arced text. There’s also an overall nice balance: The bobcat is recognizable and ‘Ohio’ is still 100% legible.”

4) University of Oregon

oregon-university-logo.png

Source: GoAbroad Blog

University of Oregon’s “O” logo has hidden meaning: The inside of the “O” represents the shape of the school’s track, Hayward Field, while the outside of the “O” represents the shape of Autzen Stadium, the school’s football field.

“As iconic and simple of a logo as you could ask for,” says Littwin. “I am also a huge fan of the yellow and green color scheme. It reminds me of the Oakland A’s, the Norwich Canaries, and so on.”

5) University of Notre Dame

notre-dame-logo.png

Source: Wikimedia

The Notre Dame monogram is the university’s most recognizable logo, and it’s used for athletics and academics alike. The school’s official brand standards call it “recognizable,” “representative,” “welcoming,” and “approachable.”

As for what Littwin thinks? “I’m a sucker for really basic logotypes like this one, UNC’s, and Iowa State’s. They’re wonderfully old-school and no-nonsense. Always going to get my vote.”

Even Notre Dame’s trademarked “Fighting Irish” logo is impressively well-designed for such a unique mascot. “I prefer the stylized ‘ND’ logo, but there’s something really vintage and cool about this surly Irishman,” says Littwin. “Normally the more cartoony logos lose me, but this one is a keeper.”

notre-dame-fighting-irish.png

Source: fathead

6) University of Miami

university-of-miami-logo.png

Source: Wikimedia

A reporter from the University of Miami’s official student newspaper said it best: “There are thousands of universities across the nation, but only one gets to be The U.”

The Miami athletics’ iconic split-U logo wasn’t created until 1973, several years after the student-athlete scholarship fund first commissioned a logo redesign. It was designed by publicist Julian Cole, the first graduate of UM’s radio and television department, and graphic artist Bill Bodenhamer, who both were also responsible for designing the Miami Dolphins’ current logo.

“If you think about it, it was quite a stretch,” said Lisa Cole, one of Cole’s daughters. “They took the U and said, ‘This is the university.'”

But it worked, and a hype surrounding the “U” developed over the following few years. It was used for slogans like, “U gotta believe.” Littwin calls it “minimalist and recognizable to a brilliant degree.”

Even an effort to find a logo replacement in 1979 by Henry King Stanford — the university’s president at the time — failed, thanks to heavy student campaigning against the change. Nowadays, as with the University of Texas’ longhorn symbol, the “U” has its own hand symbol. “Throwing up the U” means holding your hands in the air like this:

throwing-up-the-u.jpg

Source: PalmBeachPost.com

7) Clemson University

clemson-university-logo.jpg

Source: UNC Charlotte

Clemson’s tiger paw logo is another one of the most widely recognized collegiate logos in the United States. Although it seems timeless, it actually wasn’t introduced until 1970 — the end of a rebranding campaign that began when the school first admitted women and minorities in 1950.

The logo itself represents a tiger’s paw print, rough edges and all. An actual tiger was chosen as the subject for the logo, and the print comes from a cast that was made for the design. In fact, do you see the slight indentation at the bottom of the paw print? According to Clemson’s official website, that comes from “a scar that the tiger who had been chosen as the subject for the logo had received before the cast was made.”

The genuine paw print makes for a cool design. “The rough paw print is great and somehow works when paired with the more formal-looking type lockup,” says Littwin.

Another subtle intricacy of the logo? The 30-degree angle represents the 1:00 p.m. kickoff typical for football games at the time.

8) Bowdoin College

bowdoin-college-logo.jpg

Source: Bowdoin College

While Bowdoin’s mascot has been the Polar Bear for over 100 years, this particular version of its logo is fairly recent: It was made official by the university in 2008. A student reporter for the school’s official student newspaper explains: “The new logo is intended to serve as a consistent and timeless graphic identity for the College.”

Previously, the polar bear logo had been unofficial — and it had been represented by everything from a “cartoonish” running polar bear on student keycards, to a “more aggressive” profile of a bear with its mouth open as if it were snarling.

“Noting that in the wild, polar bears have no predators other than man, and that a ferocious, growling mascot was not the image the college was looking to project,” wrote the student reporter, “[VP for Communications and Public Affairs Scott] Hood said that there’s ‘something appealing about having a mascot that is looking directly at you.'”

Littwin agrees — that’s what makes this logo so strong. “The polar bear seems remarkably calm and composed,” he says. “I trust him.”

9) Hofstra University

hofstra-university-logo.jpg

Source: CAA Sports

The Hofstra Pride logo was “developed to build a strong visual identity” for its athletic department, according to its official usage guide. It’s represented by a pair of lions, male and female, that appear to be charging in the same direction. Furrowed brows and windswept manes give them a sense of determination and strength.

“The Pride conveys both the teamwork and togetherness that are traits of lions living in a pride, that have a close bond and work together for the good of the entire group,” reads the guide. It was created for the university’s athletic department in 2005.

“A very clever and awesome design,” notes Littwin. “It’s rare to see a university get both sexes of a mascot into the same logo. Well done, Hofstra.”

10) Missouri Western State University

missouri-western-state-logo.jpg

Source: American Association of Colleges of Nursing

Missouri Western State University started using the Griffon logo in 1973, several years before the school became a fully funded four-year state college. Why a Griffon? Because “it was considered a guardian of riches, and education was viewed as a precious treasure,” reads the school’s official website.

The logo symbolizes more than just a mythical animal, though. Notice anything special about its shape? If you look closely, the outline of the Griffon resembles the shape of the state of Missouri. Check it out:

state-of-missouri-outline.jpg

Source: ArtFire

Littwin loves the hidden message. “It’s a clever design that also works even if you don’t pick up on the geographic reference,” he says.

11) Florida International University

florida-international-university-logo.jpg

Source: Florida International University

The Panthers (originally the “Golden Panthers”) replaced the Sunblazers as Florida International University’s nickname in 1987 when Roary the Panther became its official mascot.

The logo represents a cool perspective — it seems to be coming out of the logo directly at the reader.

Littwin agrees. “I love the head-on perspective of this,” he says. “There’s something atypical and nicely menacing about it.”

12) University of Hawai’i

university-of-hawaii-logo.jpg

Source: Miracle Mamaki

The University of Hawai’i “H” logo was created for the athletic department in 2000. While the “H” clearly stands for Hawai’i, the school’s official website says it also represents the Hawaiian expression “ha,” meaning “breath” in Hawaiian. “The spirit of life passed on to us from one person to another, generation to generation, with lessons and success,” the website reads.

The cool patterns you see on either side of the “H” were inspired by Hawaiian kapa designs, which derive from native Hawaiian art. “I really like the kapa aesthetic and the simplicity of a one letter logo,” says Littwin.

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