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Apr

18

2017

Is Technology Actually Making Us Less Productive? [New Research]

Published by in category Daily, Editorial, productivity | Comments are closed

productivity_tools_compressed.jpg

After working in my role here at HubSpot for almost eight months now, I’ve started to go into autopilot when I turn on my computer every morning.

I open up my email app, my calendar app, my organization and productivity app, my grammar-checking app, my note-taking app, my analytics tool, and my blogging tool.

And that’s only when I first get into the office.

By the end of most days, my browser is full of different tabs, and so many apps and tools are running that they eventually start shutting down of their own accord. When all of these sites, apps, and tools are working, I spend a significant portion of my day using them: to write, to proofread, to extrapolate data, to keep track of what I’m working on, to update notes — all in the name of efficiency.

But as it turns out, the tools and apps that we marketers use every day could actually be making us less efficient. If you feel the pain of switching between 1,000 apps per day like I do, read on for new data from HubSpot Research.

The Trouble With Tools

We surveyed more than 2,000 business owners, salespeople, and marketers in the U.S. and U.K. The biggest finding from our research? Marketers and salespeople are using too many productivity tools and apps, and it’s actually making us less efficient.

Marketers are using a ton of tools.

You probably knew this one already from your own day-to-day experience, but it bears repeating: There are an enormous number of marketing tools out there, and marketers are using a lot of them to get their jobs done every day.

HubSpot Research analyzed our customer base of over 20,000 websites, and we found that each website has an average of 13 tool integrations — one website even had 88 tools and apps. The marketing app and tool landscape is incredibly crowded and constantly evolving, a phenomenon Chiefmartec.com chronicled in this extremely busy graphic:

marketing_technology_landscape_2016_3000px-1.jpg

Source: Chiefmartec

Now, before you keep reading, think about how many tools you use every day to do your job. Keep that number in mind as you keep reading the results of our survey.

Marketers underestimate how many tools they’re using.

When I counted up the number of tools I use every day, my initial count landed at seven tools and apps. But then, when I started digging into my internet history, I realized the number was actually higher. HubSpot’s internal communications platform is a tool I didn’t consider. The same goes for our file-sharing service, my social media scheduling tool, and an analytics bookmark.

By the time I fully audited every single tool and app I use in a given day to do my job, the number was in the double-digits. And as it turns out, I’m not alone.

When we asked our survey respondents how many technologies they used in their day jobs, their answers were surprising — and perhaps too low.

Tools-report-graphics3-1.png

Source: HubSpot Research

The majority of survey respondents said they only use between one and five tools to do their jobs every day, and we think these numbers err on the conservative side for the same reason my initial number was so low. When technology becomes a part of your day-to-day routine, it’s easy to forget you’re using it — and to notice that it could make your day less efficient.

When apps and tools are built into your workday as browser extensions, bookmarks, homepages, and push notifications, for example, it can be easy not to count them. But as it turns out, using them is taking up valuable time.

Too Much Tech = Too Little Efficiency

In an ironic twist, tools designed in the name of productivity and efficiency could be impeding those results.

Marketers are wasting time.

We asked marketers to estimate how much time they spend each day logging into, using, and jumping between the different tools and technologies they use. The results were surprising: Marketers are losing up to five hours per week managing and operating apps to get their jobs done.

Tools-report-graphics6-1.png

Source: HubSpot Research

Marketers are getting frustrated.

The two biggest pain points for survey respondents were how much time it takes to work in and operate the myriad of different marketing tools out there, and how much time it takes to switch between tools using different logins and passwords.

Tools-report-graphics1-3.png

Source: HubSpot Research

That hour lost to managing different tools and technologies each day is all the more aggravating if the tools share functional capabilities, and a majority of the marketers we surveyed think up to five tools they use could be redundant.

Tools-report-graphics10-1.png

Source: HubSpot Research

I don’t know about you, but there are definitely redundancies between some of the tools I use. Heck, I use two to-do list apps and still write my list down with a pen and paper every day. How many tools do you use that work to do different versions of the same functions?

Marketers could be using that time to do other cool things.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the inefficiency of tools is that time spent managing tools takes away from time that could be spent tackling big-picture challenges, creating content, or closing prospects. Here’s what the marketers and salespeople we surveyed said they wished they could be doing with that time:

Tools-report-graphics5-1.png

Source: HubSpot Research

The three things marketers would prefer to focus on — growing web traffic, creating content, and converting new leads — might look familiar. They’re critical pieces of the inbound and content marketing funnel, and without ample time to dedicate to these tasks, marketers might not be able to generate as many leads as needed for their sales teams’ success.

What’s the Solution?

So, let’s recap.

The results of this survey aren’t great. Marketers and salespeople are having trouble being as efficient and productive as possible because they have to manage so many different tools. They’re sacrificing time to work on projects of greater impact and magnitude to log into tools and extrapolate data.

But not to worry — we suggest two steps to maximize efficiency and stay productive in the face of hundreds of productivity tools to choose from.

1) Do an audit.

If you didn’t do it earlier while reading, sit down and write down (or type) a list of all of the websites, tools, apps, extensions, and bots you use every day to get your work done. From your sticky notes app on your computer to your pen and paper to-do list, make an exhaustive list of everything you use to get everything done.

2) Consolidate and integrate.

Then, try to categorize your tools and apps into different functionalities to identify any redundancies in your productivity system. If you’re using three different types of to-do lists, as I do, can you cut two and just use one? If you’re spending time reporting data from three different analytics programs, sit down with your team to determine if there’s a more efficient way you could be reporting, or if your KPIs are up-to-date with your team’s needs.

The ultimate goal should be to create a system of tools that are easy to use and make marketers’ jobs as productive as possible. To learn more about how we’ve done that here at HubSpot, read about our completely integrated Growth Stack here.

How much time do you think you lose each day to redundant tools and apps? Share with us in the comments below.

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Apr

7

2017

6 New LinkedIn Features You May Have Missed

Published by in category Daily, Editorial, Social Media | Comments are closed

linkedin_changes_compressed.jpg

If you’ve logged into LinkedIn over the past few weeks, you may have noticed something different. Actually, everything is different, because LinkedIn completely overhauled its desktop site.

After Microsoft acquired the job search and networking website in 2016, LinkedIn announced it would redesign its desktop website to more closely mirror its mobile apps.

Download our free two-week planner on running LinkedIn Sponsored Content  campaigns with ease. 

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking platform, with more than 467 million members worldwide. However, LinkedIn members aren’t actually spending much time on the site. In fact, only 23% of LinkedIn users visited the site every month at the end of 2016. That’s not a great monthly active user number, and the website redesign was meant to “create more value” for LinkedIn members — and, hopefully, make them want to spend more time on the site.

For example, the LinkedIn desktop homepage used to look something like this:

linkedin_old_homepage.pngSource: LinkedIn

And this is what my LinkedIn homepage looked like when I wrote this article:

new_linkedin_homepage.png

There’s a lot behind this slick interface. Let’s dive into some of the biggest changes to the site since the redesign and how marketers and users might take advantage of them going forward.

6 Changes to LinkedIn You May Have Missed

1) A new homepage feed

Using a combination of human editors and new algorithms, LinkedIn will start surfacing more content and fewer status updates. The homepage feed will start suggesting organic, sponsored, and native advertising content users might be interested in reading. The feed will also help users follow trending stories … sound familiar? If LinkedIn is trying to make its user base engage more on the platform, modeling a feed in the style of Facebook is a safe bet.

2) More analytics

LinkedIn now provides more analytics about how other users interact with the content you share — not just who views your profile or who likes one of your posts. Now, users can see not only who likes their content, but which companies they come from and what roles they’re in.

Here are analytics from an article I posted recently on LinkedIn:

linkedin_analytics2.png

linkedin_analytics.png

The platform also suggests other articles I might share with my network for even more engagement.

3) New (and missing) search features

LinkedIn refined its search capabilities so users can search all of LinkedIn with a single, unified search experience based on certain keywords. Now, users can easily toggle between different categories related to search terms without having to move between different categories of the site.

Check out what the results look like when I search for “content marketing:”

linkedin_search.png

Whereas previously, LinkedIn users had to go into each of these sections (“People,” “Jobs,” “Companies”) in order to conduct searches, now users can search from one place to get all of the results they’re looking for.

Notably, LinkedIn removed some of the Advanced Search filters that were previously available on LinkedIn Premium and are now only available for the more expensive Sales Navigator tier of LinkedIn Premium. These filters include “years of experience,” “function,” and “seniority level.” 

4) Chat-like messaging

Soon, LinkedIn will roll out messaging that allows users to send InMail like a chat instead of an email. Users won’t have to navigate to another pane to send a private message — instead, they’ll be able to send a direct chat without leaving the LinkedIn homepage feed, as shown in the image below:

linkedin_messaging.pngSource: TechCrunch

In another nod to Facebook’s Messenger layout, this change helps users easily spend more time clicking around the site. Plus, users might be less likely to send the dreaded default InMail message if they know it will appear like a chat instead of an email.

5) Calendar chatbot

Next, LinkedIn is introducing a chatbot. It will look at two connections’ calendars and find and set times for them to meet directly within LinkedIn’s messenger platform. It hasn’t been rolled out as of the time of this posting, but in another nod to Facebook Messenger and other bots, this is an addition designed to keep users spending time on the site. Stay tuned for more news when the bot launches fully.

6) New blogging interface

LinkedIn also now features a slick new publishing platform. Before, publishers had to navigate to LinkedIn Pulse to write an original blog post. Now, users are one click away from a slick, easy-to-use blog publishing platform.

Check it out:

linkedin_blog.png

Blogging on LinkedIn could garner more attention to your brand’s site if LinkedIn grows in popularity. In fact, content consumption on LinkedIn has increased over the last few years, so marketers should consider LinkedIn as a platform for reproducing or creating original content.

What’s Next For LinkedIn?

Amidst these changes, marketers should keep an eye on where their audience is spending time. If LinkedIn’s number of monthly active users increases in its next quarterly report, it might be worthwhile to invest more resources in running campaigns and creating content for the site.

We’ll keep you posted on more changes to the platform and its usage as that news unfolds. In the meantime, click around the new website and experiment with the new analytics capabilities to see if your audience wants to spend time on LinkedIn with you. And if you need guidance for running a strong LinkedIn ad campaign, download our guide here.

Do you publish original content on LinkedIn? Share with us in the comments below.

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Mar

31

2017

How Twitter Is Fighting Harassment & Cyberbullying

Published by in category Daily, Editorial, Social Media | Comments are closed

twitter_harassment_cyberbullying_compressed-1.jpg

I’ll say it: I love Twitter.

I use Twitter to follow breaking news stories, to promote my work and the work of colleagues and peers I admire, and to consume and laugh at jokes and memes. I like spending time on the platform to stay informed and connect with people.

But it goes without saying that I would like Twitter a lot less if I were being bullied and harassed every day.

Harassment has been a growing problem on Twitter over the past few years. Incidents like Gamergate, actor Robin Williams’ death, and the backlash over actress Leslie Jones’ casting in an all-female remake of Ghostbusters shed light on the ugly side of Twitter — the side where individuals hide behind egg profile photos and false names and use hateful, discriminatory language. In this post, we’ll dive into the history of the issue on Twitter and what the site recently announced it’s doing to fight it.

Twitter Fights Harassment: A Long Time Coming

There have been reports of Twitter harassment for almost as long as the site has existed. Blogger Ariel Waldman was one of the first users to chronicle just how difficult — and sometimes, impossible — it was to get Twitter to intervene in cases of repeated, pervasive harassment back in 2008. A stalker published her personal and contact information on the platform, which prompted a string of threats, stalking, and abusive tweets. Waldman started reaching out to Twitter and CEO Jack Dorsey for help — only to find out that its terms of service were “up to interpretation,” and that the company wouldn’t intervene on her behalf.

Since then, prominent Twitter users have demanded Twitter take a harder line and shut down accounts that only exist to spew hate. Celebrities and public figures on Twitter have been able to get Twitter to suspend bullies’ accounts, but users demanded a better system for reporting, censoring, and silencing abusive language on the platform.

To make sure we’re all on the same page, Twitter Rules specifically prohibit the kind of abuse we’re talking about here — threats, hate speech, impersonation, and harassment on the basis of users’ race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, ability, disease, or nationality. However, until changes as recent as March 1, 2017, there haven’t been a lot of options for users who are being targeted to report and stop the abuse.

In December 2016, Dorsey asked for general user feedback — where else, but on Twitter:

Following in the footsteps of Brian Chesky: what’s the most important thing you want to see Twitter improve or create in 2017? #Twitter2017

— jack (@jack)
December 29, 2016

A lot of people asked for the ability to edit tweets (I want that capability myself), but a huge portion of responses centered around harassment: providing more and better capabilities for users to stop and report it, more transparency into how abuse is handled by Twitter, and more swift punishment and suspension of repeat offenders.

Twitter started rolling out its responses to user demands in early 2017. Most of these features are operational, but some haven’t been fully implemented, so keep an eye out for these new measures if you ever have to report a tweet.

7 Ways Twitter Is Fighting Cyberbullying and Harassment

1) Expanded notification filtering

NotificationFilterAll_1.pngSource: Twitter

Twitter users can use this tool to filter which types of accounts they receive notifications from. For example, if you don’t want to receive notifications from a user without a profile photo, you could specify that. This tool is meant to filter out abuse from unverified accounts or specific people users have identified as unwanted.

2) More ways to mute content

MuteKeywordTimeline_2.png

Source: Twitter

Twitter expanded on the mute button’s capabilities so users can mute keywords or entire phrases from their notifications sections. Users can also decide how long they want to mute those words — whether it be for a day, a month, or indefinitely. In this way, you can customize which content you see in your notifications and when you see it.

3) Greater transparency around reporting

ReportNotification2_0.png

Source: Twitter

Whereas previously, users had a hard time understanding when or if their reports of abuse were even being processed, Twitter is now providing transparency. Users will receive notifications when and if Twitter decides to take action so they can keep track of previous reporting.

4) Twitter “time-out”

twitter_timeout.png

Source: BuzzFeed

In a recent article, (warning: explicit/offensive language) BuzzFeed reported that some Twitter users were seeing another new feature, similar to the time-out we all experienced as children (unless you were better behaved than I was). If users’ tweets are flagged as abusive or otherwise in violation of Twitter Rules, their tweets are temporarily limited from view by users who don’t follow them. Hopefully neither you nor your brand’s Twitter will see this notification, but the company is hoping it will send a message to abusers to stop what they’re tweeting or risk further punishment. 

5) Safer search results

Machine-learning algorithms will filter search results so users aren’t served content from accounts that have been reported, muted, or otherwise marked as abusive. The content will still be on Twitter if users are really looking for it, but if it could potentially be abusive, it won’t be served up as a primary search result.

6) Collapsing abusive tweets

AE_TweetDetails_Final.gif

Source: Twitter

Twitter will start identifying and hiding tweets that are deemed “low quality” or from potentially abusive accounts so users see the most relevant conversations first. Like the safe search feature, those tweets will still be on Twitter — but users have to search for them specifically.

7) Stopping creation of new abusive accounts

Using another algorithm, Twitter will prevent abusive and flagged users from creating multiple new accounts they can use to spam and harass other users. The algorithm will scan for multiple accounts from the same email addresses and phone numbers, for example, as a way to spot potential bullies.

Machine Learning to Prevent Cyberbullying

If your personal Twitter or your brand’s Twitter are targeted by abuse and harassment on the platform, you have a host of new tools available at your disposal to make sure it stops and that your reputation isn’t affected.

I’m curious to learn more about the new algorithms’ efficacy to block one-off and repeated offenses, and it’s gratifying to see how seriously Twitter is taking this problem. Similar to Facebook’s prompt response after learning about the impact of pervasive fake news stories on the platform, it’s heartening to see social media platforms listening to what users ask for — and working to make social networks a safe place to be.

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Mar

16

2017

Are Notifications Driving Us Crazy?

Published by in category Editorial, productivity | Comments are closed

How do you start your mornings?

If you’re like me, your morning routine might look something like this: You check email from your phone before even getting out of bed, you scan headlines on Twitter while you brew your morning coffee, and you look at Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat during your commute to work to see what your friends are up to.

I do all of this because I’m curious to see what’s going on online, but I also do it to clear out the red symbols that pop up when I have an unread email, text message, like, snap, or tweet.

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As it turns out, there could be a downside to all of the benefits mobile technology provides. We might be able to work from anywhere on our smartphones or tablets, but such mobility and accessibility come at a cost — and too much technology could actually be making us less productive.

In this post, we’ll explore how notifications impact your brain and your mental and physical health, and what you can do with your devices to help minimize the negative impacts of the little red dot.

Notifications, or Drugs for Your Mind

Studies have shown that receiving text messages and other mobile notifications triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward-seeking behaviors and addiction. And like drug or alcohol addiction, notifications can make us feel great when we’re receiving them — and go into negative feelings of withdrawal when we aren’t. That’s right, people — notifications are sort of like drugs.

Constant information overload puts our decision-making and productivity skills at risk, too. According to Microsoft Research, it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back on task after being interrupted by an email notification during the work day. Multiply that by however many emails you receive in a given day, and think about how much time you could be wasting.

canva_notifications1.png

Push notifications, or notifications that are automatically sent to your phone, are particularly pernicious. A study of more than 2,000 workers in the United Kingdom found push notifications were causing toxic levels of stress, especially when email notifications were left unread. This issue was most prevalent among media, marketing, and PR professionals, 60% of whom used push notifications as part of their day-to-day job.

FWC_email_study.png

Source: Future Work Centre

Additionally, excessive social media use, especially Facebook, is linked to negative feelings of social comparison and the fear of missing out (FOMO). Research shows that users who check social media apps often start to believe their friends lead better lives, and these feelings of FOMO and competition can lead to social anxiety, feelings of loneliness, and mood swings.

This constant liking and seeking behavior — eagerly clicking to learn what the email, notification, or text says — is impacting our ability to pay attention to things, especially the written word, says Emily Yoffe at The Atlantic. It’s also hurting the dopamine centers in our brain and making these behaviors stressful and less enjoyable the more we do them over and over again.

To prevent all of this, there are a few steps you can take to avoid notification overload — while still being able to use your phone and do your job.

What You Can Do to Minimize Push Notification Anxiety

1) Turn off notifications for specific apps.

Turn off desktop notifications, sounds, and icons that will distract you during work hours so you only receive notifications when you choose to look at them.

How to turn Gmail notifications off:

Navigate to your Settings gear icon and select “Mail notifications off” on the Desktop Notifications menu.

gmail_desktop_notifications.png

gmail desktop notifications-1.png

How to turn Slack notifications off:

Tap the bell icon to manage your notification preferences. From there, you can customize how and if you want to receive desktop notifications by clicking “Notification Settings.”

slack notifications.png

You can even turn off the pesky red dot that indicates any unread activity if you really need to focus.

slack desktop notifications.png

You can also manage notifications settings for specific channels by tapping the gear icon at the top of each channel.

slack_channel_notifications.png

2) Turn off notifications entirely.

Turn off push notifications for every app you don’t absolutely have to check immediately. A recent study showed push notifications can be as distracting as a phone call — even if you don’t immediately check the notification. Turn them off entirely for apps where you can manage how often you jump in to check on things, like social media or gaming apps.

How to turn off notifications on iOS devices: 

Navigate to your Settings menu, tap Notifications, and scroll down the list of your apps. There, you have the option to turn off “Allow Notifications.”

steponeiphonenotifications-1.png

step2iphonenotif-1.png

How to turn off notifications on Android devices: 

Navigate to your settings menu, select “Sound & notification,” tap into “App notifications,” and block notifications from specific apps, as shown in the second image below.

androidstep1-1.png

block-toggle-1.png

3) Customize notifications.

Customize the sound or vibrations patterns different applications make so you know what messages you receive without having to check your devices. For example, create a longer tone for text messages, and a shorter tone for incoming emails.

How to customize notifications on iOS devices: 

Navigate to your Settings menu, select “Sounds,” and scroll down to “Sounds and Vibration Patterns.” From there, you can click into different events (“Ringtone,” “Text Tone,” “New Voicemail”), and choose a specific pattern for each.

mobile notifs 2.png

mobile_notifs2.png

mobile_notifs3.png

How to customize notifications on Android devices: 

Navigate to your Settings menu, tap “Sounds and notifications,” then “Vibrations, and click “Vibration intensity” and “Vibration pattern” to change how different events sound and feel when you receive alerts.

android_vibrations_final.png

Source: Inside Galaxy

4) Change how your mobile device displays are organized.

Organize your mobile device desktop and move less important apps to your second screen off your default phone screen. That way, when the notifications do pop up and start flashing, you’ll only have to access them by choice when it’s time to see what’s going on.

For example, if you’re an iOS mobile device user, you know the App Store has a near-constant red notification symbol indicating an available app or device update. This isn’t an exact science, but I’ve organized my iPhone’s two screens by moving my notification-prone apps to the second screen. This way, I have to decide to go look at them instead of getting stressed and distracted when I open my phone to make a quick phone call or text.

homescreen_1.png

homescreen_2.png

The notifications are still there (unless I turn them off), but at least I’ve achieved some separation and minimized distraction from the dreaded red number icon.

5) Designate specific times for answering emails, texts, and social media messages.

Try turning off your email push notifications when you leave the office at the end of the day. Set time limits on when you can use your social media apps during your personal time. At the very least, try to enforce one limit on yourself so you feel like you have enough time to check your notifications, and enough time to enjoy life without notification stress.

You could also monitor your usage habits on a productivity tool to restrict the amount of time you spend on websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others — especially while at work. Here are a few you might like using:

6) Delete apps you don’t use.

This one’s simple enough. It’s easy enough to forget about an app you’ve downloaded but aren’t using anymore. If there’s an app that’s sending you notifications you don’t use, just delete it from your browser or mobile device.

How to delete Chrome browser extensions:

Tap the three dots on the right-hand side of your browser to access your Chrome settings on the drop-down menu. Then, go to the Extensions menu, and either disable notifications or delete the extension altogether by clicking the trash can icon.

chrome_extensions.png

How to delete iOS apps:

Delete iOS apps by holding your finger down on an app icon until all icons start floating with small gray x symbols in the upper left-hand corner. Then, simply tap the x icons of the apps you want to delete.

delete ios apps.png

How to delete Android apps:

Head to the Settings menu, click “Apps,” then tap on the name of the app you want to delete. From there, tap “Disable” or “Uninstall.”

uninstall.jpg

Source: UpToDown

How do you deal with push notification stress? Share with us in the comments below.

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Mar

11

2017

Another Day, Another Attempt to Unseat Snapchat: Facebook Unveils Messenger Day

Published by in category Editorial, Social Media | Comments are closed

facebook_messenger_day_compressed.jpg

“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

This is a lesson Facebook has perfected over the last year as it continues to launch products to compete with Snapchat, the app it tried and failed to purchase back in 2013.

The battle over the disappearing social media story continued yesterday with Facebook’s launch of Messenger Day. Messenger Day works like Snapchat Stories, Instagram Stories, and WhatsApp Status: Users share photo and video messages embellished with text, drawings, filters, and emojis with friends that disappear after 24 hours.

As of yesterday, the new feature was being gradually rolled out to all iOS and Android Messenger apps. In this post, we’ll cover what Messenger Day is all about, how to use it, and how this announcement changes the ephemeral messaging competition heating up between Snapchat and Facebook.

What Is Messenger Day?

Messenger Day lets users curate a slideshow of photos and videos that’s visible to their friends on Facebook Messenger for 24 hours before it disappears. As the name suggests, this rollout is a part of Messenger, Facebook’s standalone messaging app used by one billion people worldwide.

Messenger’s in-app camera lets users add text, drawings, stickers, emojis, filters, and lenses to photos and videos before adding them to their Messenger Day or sending them to individual friends or groups. Here’s what Messenger users can tailor images to look like with the camera:

Facebook_MessengerDay1.jpg

Source: Facebook

Before we teach you how to use Messenger Day, here’s the lowdown on what it’s all about and how it’s similar to other ephemeral messaging apps and products out there.

Commonalities

Like Snapchat Stories and WhatsApp Status, Messenger Day displays users’ ephemeral messages in a vertical list. From there, users can click on specific photos and videos they want to check out, or they can go down the line to watch all of the images at once.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of what each of these three looks like:

snapchat sotyr.jpeg     whatsapp-status1.png    messengerday.jpg

Sources: Guiding Tech; Facebook

Pretty similar, right?

The cameras for each of these apps and features have different lens and filter styles, but for the most part, photo editing abilities are remarkably similar, too. Each of these apps let users send disappearing messages privately to individuals and groups, in addition to sharing on their Story, Status, or Day.

Now, let’s dive into how Messenger Day is different from other apps.

Differences

The biggest difference that sets Facebook apart from similar products and apps on social media? The size of its user base. I’ll get into the implications of this below.

Another difference between Messenger Day and similar products is its intended use. While Snapchat and Instagram stories are focused on sharing what you’re up to in the moment, Facebook has positioned Messenger Day as a way to make plans with friends and communicate about getting together. In the blog post announcement of Messenger Day, Messenger’s Head of Product, Stan Chudnovsky, said users can post images to their Days to “show what they’re doing, how they’re feeling and to invite friends to join them for activities.”

Here’s Facebook’s video of how it envisions Messenger Day will change how people communicate to make plans:

Now that you understand what Messenger Day is and what it’s for, here’s a step-by-step guide of how to use it.

How to Use Messenger Day

1) Update your Messenger app for iOS or Android.

Navigate to the App Store on iOS devices or Google Play on Android devices and make sure you’re using the latest version of Facebook Messenger.

2) Open your Messenger app and tap the circular camera button in the bottom-center part of the menu.

3) Take a photo, record a video by pressing and holding the capture button, or turn the camera to face you to snap a selfie.

4) Add art, effects, emojis, and text to your photos and videos by tapping the smiley face, sticky note, and squiggle icons. Tap “Aa” to add text and caption your image.

Facebook_MessengerDay2.jpg

Source: Facebook

5) Once you’ve created your finished product, tap the arrow in the lower right-hand corner of your screen.

From there, you can choose to send your image to one friend, a group of friends, or post it to your Messenger Day. You can also save it to your camera roll by tapping the download icon in the lower left-hand corner of your screen.

Facebook_MessengerDay4.jpg

Source: Facebook

You can also add photos or videos to your Messenger Day after you’ve already sent them to individual friends or groups. Within a direct or group message, tap “Add to your day” under the image to, you guessed it, add it to your Messenger Day.

Facebook_MessengerDay3.jpg

Source: Facebook

Messenger Day is in the process of rolling out to all global users, and my app wasn’t updated with Messenger Day at the time of writing, so I can’t give you a sneak peek at my Day yet. However, Facebook gave a few content creators early access to start creating on Messenger Day, so you can see what it looks like in action below:

Can Facebook Beat Snapchat at Its Own Game?

At this point, it’s no secret (in fact, it’s become a running joke) that Facebook is trying to replicate and dominate Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc.’s, success. And so far, it looks doable. The Facebook vs. Snapchat showdown is a story of user base vs. user engagement, and the outcome of this social media arms race will be watched closely in the coming months.

To recap: Facebook started adding filters to the Messenger camera back in the summer of 2016. Facebook-owned Instagram launched a near-exact replica of Snapchat Stories, called Instagram Stories, in August 2016. And in December 2016, Facebook unveiled a new in-app camera in Messenger, featuring lenses, more filters, stickers, and drawing abilities.

If you look at what photos and videos look like across the different apps and features, you’ll see a lot of similarities, like the ones we outlined above. But there are a few key differences, too.

Perhaps the biggest advantage Facebook and Messenger Day have over Snapchat is number of users. While Snapchat has 158 million daily active users, Messenger alone has one billion users all over the world. Snap Inc. cited Instagram Stories as a primary reason for slowed Snapchat user growth in its S-1 filing to go public in February 2017.

For users, Instagram Stories arguably presents a better experience than Snapchat because video and photo ads aren’t shown between Stories as users scroll through their list of friends. This might prompt users to move over to Instagram to view Stories uninterrupted. Messenger Day is only one day old, so we don’t yet know if the app will show ads between images, but parent company Facebook might forgo that given the success of Instagram Stories.

For marketers, Facebook and Instagram provide more detailed and more easily accessible analytics for understanding the reach and engagement of ephemeral content than Snapchat. Snapchat’s only metrics for Stories are the number of views and screenshots, and these numbers must be recorded in 24 hours before the content disappears.

… Or Will Snapchat’s Engagement Rates Win the Day?

One common theme among Snap Inc.’s competitors is that all were copies of the original, innovative Snapchat product: an app for sending messages that disappear. And as it turns out, that’s a very sticky idea.

Snapchat was a first mover in the ephemeral messaging space, and its devoted user base spends an average of 30 minutes on the app every day. Additionally, a huge portion of its user base is concentrated in the 18-34-year-old age range, and they could become bigger sources of revenue as time progresses.

I asked HubSpot Social Media Manager Marissa Emanuele what she thought about Facebook Messenger’s announcement, and she noted that Facebook’s huge user base could be a disadvantage, too.

“The big advantage Snapchat has is that it’s highly curated with only the people you care about,” Emanuele said. “I’m friends on Facebook with somebody I met once in college and my neighbor from when I was a kid. I don’t really want to see what they’re doing every day, and I don’t think they want to see what I’m doing, either.

“I believe the only way that Facebook Messenger Day will be successful is if they have a much more curated version, where users could build lists of people they wanted to hear from,” she concluded.

Emanuele’s point? The massive size of Facebook networks contrasts with how curated and one-to-one Snapchat is. Users might be more interested in sharing authentic content with a select few than with an enormous number.

What’s Next?

The takeaway for marketers? Experiment with where your audience likes to consume ephemeral content. If you have a highly engaged audience that you communicate with on Facebook, especially on Facebook Messenger, then experiment with Messenger Days. On the other hand, it could be worth engaging with audiences on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram if you have different active audiences on different platforms.

What’s more, companies are starting to use messaging apps to communicate with customers. Creating content on Facebook Messenger could create a more unified communication approach to customers if you’re already serving them there.

Whichever ephemeral app is your favorite, download the Facebook Messenger update and experiment. We’ll keep you posted on new developments in the competition heating up between Facebook and Snapchat. In the meantime, we have guides for marketers on how to use Facebook and Snapchat if you need help getting started.

What’s your take on Messenger Day? Is Facebook on its way to beating Snapchat? Share with us in the comments below.

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Mar

8

2017

Micro-Influencer Marketing: A Comprehensive Guide

Published by in category Editorial, Social Media | Comments are closed

micro_influencer_marketing_compressed.jpg

Has a celebrity ever convinced you to buy something?

It’s okay if the answer is yes — we’ve all been there. In fact, just recently, a famous dog helped convince me to purchase a GoPro camera. For a creature who can’t speak, he’s a pretty effective marketer.

Loki the Wolfdog’s Instagram post is a successful example of influencer marketing, which involves developing relationships with influential personalities to promote your brand to the influencer’s audience. Loki the Wolfdog has over 1 million Instagram followers GoPro may not have otherwise been able to reach with posts on its own profile.

Download our complete guide to using Instagram for business here to improve  your brand's Instagram presence.

A newer concept known as micro-influencer marketing recently joined the social media scene. It’s the same concept as influencer marketing, but on a smaller scale: Brands partner with individuals with smaller followings on social media to promote products with authentic, visual posts instead of sponsored ads.

In this blog post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about micro-influencers, including what brands are using them successfully and how you can connect with these individuals to promote your brand.

What Is a Micro-Influencer?

Micro-influencers are social media users unlike typical celebrities, experts, or public figures. They’re individuals who work or specialize in a particular vertical and frequently share social media content about their interests. Unlike traditional “influencers,” micro-influencers have a more modest number of followers — typically in the thousands or tens of thousands — but they boast hyper-engaged audiences.

For example, a yoga influencer might boast millions of followers and operate several yoga studios. A yoga micro-influencer might have only a few thousand followers and post instructional videos on Instagram for their fans to try at home, but their average post receives a healthy amount of engagement relative to the size of their follower base.

The Value of Micro-Influencers

Using micro-influencers may seem counterintuitive. Why would you seek out someone with a smaller following to promote your brand?

There are several reasons to believe micro-influencers might get better results for your brand. 

Micro-influencers have better engagement rates.

Markerly studied Instagram engagement and found a surprising trend: As an influencer’s number of followers increases, their number of likes and comments from followers decreases.

In its analysis, Markerly determined the following:

  • Instagram users with fewer than 1,000 followers generated likes 8% of the time
  • Users with 1,000-10,000 followers earned likes at a 4% rate
  • Users with 10,000-100,000 followers achieved a 2.4% like rate
  • Users with 1-10 million followers earned likes only 1.7% of the time.

Check out Markerly’s graphical breakdown of how likes and comments decline as followers increase:

like_follower_correlation.png

comment_follower_correlation.png

Source: Markerly

Markerly recommends brands pursue micro-influencers with Instagram followings in the 1,000-10,000 range. With micro-influencers, brands can achieve higher engagement rates among a large enough audience. In a recent study, Experticity learned micro-influencers have 22.2X more conversations than the typical Instagram users — largely because they’re passionate and knowledgeable about their particular interest area.

Micro-influencers have more targeted audiences.

Markerly also notes that micro-influencers have more targeted follower bases than influencers with follower numbers in the hundreds of thousands and millions.

Think about it: If a clothing brand partnered with a celebrity with millions of followers on Instagram, the celebrity could reach their huge pool, but a large portion of them might not be interested in fashion. Instead, if the clothing brand connected with 100 fashion bloggers with 1,000 followers apiece, it would be able to connect to a smaller but far more targeted and engaged audience.

Markerly CEO and co-founder Sarah Ware told Digiday that partnering with the Kardashian and Jenner sisters to promote a weight-loss tea on Instagram led to a significant number of conversions. However, Ware also noted that working with 30-40 micro-influencers achieved a higher conversion rate than when the celebrities were promoting the tea. In fact, 82% of customers surveyed by Experticity said they would be very likely to follow a recommendation from a micro-influencer.

Micro-influencers are more affordable.

Micro-influencers are typically more affordable than celebrities or profiles with millions of followers. Celebrities sometimes charge up to $75,00 for a single Instagram post promoting a product. In contrast, 97% of micro-influencers on Instagram charge less than $500 for a promotion post. Granted, brands usually work with more than one micro-influencer to maximize reach, but even 100 micro-influencers would cost less than a single celebrity on Instagram at these rates.

For micro-influencers with smaller followings, brands may even be able to compensate them in the form of free products. According to Digiday, La Croix Sparkling Water (more on them below) sent a micro-influencer vouchers for free products instead.

Micro-influencers are more authentic.

Micro-influencers are real people, so their Instagram content is real, too. Instagram users with a few thousand followers likely post their own content, reply to comments, and behave more authentically than a brand or a celebrity with a social media manager might. If a micro-influencer engages with a promotional post on Instagram, their followers might be more inclined to click to learn more about the brand they’re posting about.

It’s also worth noting that Instagram recently changed its algorithm to mirror Facebook’s. Now, posts from profiles users follow and interact with are shown first in Instagram feeds, and authentic, quality content is prioritized over promoted content from big brands. This might make micro-influencer content more visible than content from celebrities if the algorithm determines users might be more interested in it.

One note: If you were wondering why we’re only mentioning Instagram in this blog post, it’s because micro-influencers as a marketing strategy has taken off primarily on that platform. Because Instagram is so visual, it’s easy for micro-influencers to post photos of products and brand experiences instead of writing a promotional tweet or Facebook post. That’s not to say that micro-influencer marketing can’t be done on other social media platforms, but Instagram’s Explore tab helps users find and interact with micro-influencer content easily.

You’ll see what we mean when we dive into different micro-influencer strategies brands are using successfully below.

4 Brands Using Micro-Influencers Successfully

1) La Croix Sparkling Water

La Croix Sparkling Water started tapping into micro-influencers to promote its brand in a competitive marketplace. It relies primarily on social media marketing to get discovered, especially by millennials.

La Croix identifies micro-influencers on Instagram and asks them to share product awareness posts on Instagram. It finds micro-influencers by searching branded hashtags, such as #LiveLaCroix, and when users tag the brand on Instagram. It specifically targets profiles with lower follower counts to maintain a feeling of authentic “realness” that appeals to millennial Instagram users. Then, La Croix reaches out to them with product vouchers or other offers to post pictures with the sparkling water.

If you check out La Croix’s Instagram page, you’ll see it features a lot of content posted by micro-influencers, such as this photo below:

 

Lending a hydrating, helping hand. ☺️(📸:@charleyraee)

A photo posted by LaCroix Sparkling Water (@lacroixwater) on Feb 4, 2017 at 1:49pm PST

By tapping into smaller, more targeted networks of micro-influencers, La Croix cultivates a social media presence that’s authentic and fun, and ensures its product is in front of the eyes of similar users. If you have a physical product that looks great on camera (like an eye-popping can of La Croix), try engaging with micro-influencers by sending free product for Instagram promotions.

2) Kimpton Hotels

Boutique hotel chain Kimpton uses Instagram takeovers to connect with micro-influencers. These consist of micro-influencers creating original content for the brand’s Instagram and posting the content as themselves. Takeovers connect new audiences with the brand and help generate new followers, more engagement, and eventually, new potential guests at Kimpton Hotels.

Curalate Marketing Director Brendan Lowry wrote about taking over some of Kimpton’s Instagram accounts and posting photos of his own, like this one:

 

I couldn’t leave town without seeing this view. Thanks for following along during my takeover, y’all. Hopefully you enjoyed the photos — I had a blast taking them. Until next time… 👋👋👋. — This is Part 11 of an Instagram takeover by photographer @BrendanLowry. — #IGBoston #Kimpton #KimptonHotels #KimptonLove #IGersBoston #VisitBoston #VacationBoston #BostonPublicLibrary

A photo posted by kimptoninbos (@kimptoninbos) on May 22, 2016 at 4:30pm PDT

The caption links easily to his personal Instagram, which links back to the Kimpton account, helping his more than 27,000 followers find and interact with the hotel’s content.

Try an Instagram takeover by a micro-influencer to provide behind-the-scenes or unique looks at a brand or product. It’s more creative to feature photos taken by different people, and it directs Instagram traffic between the brand’s and the photographer’s accounts for mutually beneficial results — namely, more engagement and more followers.

3) Stitch Fix

Personal shopping website Stitch Fix invites micro-influencers to contribute content that the brand then promotes on Instagram.

In the post below, Stitch Fix’s Instagram bio linked to a post featuring a Q&A with a fashion blogger micro-influencer about how she dresses for her body type:

 

“I want every woman to know that being fashionable is as much about confidence as it is about style.” Read more about how @sassyredlipstick embraces her shape at the link in bio. #MyBodyMyStyle

A photo posted by Stitch Fix (@stitchfix) on Feb 6, 2017 at 7:30am PST

The micro-influencer also shared the image, mentioned Stitch Fix, and shared the blog post link on her personal Instagram profile.

This micro-influencer strategy works because it drives traffic to a brand’s blog and Instagram profile. Try reaching out to micro-influencers and offer to publish their content and cross-promote it on social media to generate engagement from their followers and readers.

4) Hawaiian Department of Tourism

Hawaii’s Department of Tourism tapped into the power of micro-influencers for its #LetHawaiiHappen Instagram campaign. It partnered with Instagram users who are travel bloggers or Hawaiian natives to share content promoting events and destinations so visitors and Hawaiians would be interested in traveling to check them out.

Hawaii’s Department of Tourism connected with photographer Rick Poon to showcase his visit to Hawaii and attract his audience to come visit.

 

We can’t resist following @rick_poon and his travel and food adventures on Oahu and Kauai this week! Double tap if you’re craving some guava chiffon pancakes and kalua pork benedict right now. #LetHawaiiHappen

A photo posted by Hawaii (@gohawaii) on Sep 12, 2015 at 8:22pm PDT

After the campaign, 65% of people who saw the posts said they wanted to visit Hawaii (talk about effective). If you want to attract new followers and Instagram engagement, try reaching out to micro-influencers to promote an event or a location that their followers might want to check out.

Think Small

Are you on board with micro-influencers? Before you answer, consider the following.

There are a few downsides to this strategy. Notably, micro-influence works well on Instagram with visual products, such as a bright can of sparkling water or an eye-catching outfit. This might not be the best strategy for promoting complicated software or other technology. But remember, you can be creative. As long as you can find a micro-influencer to share an Instagram post that’s compelling, you might be able to generate much more engagement.

Additionally, it’s a lot of work to work with several micro-influencers. Brands have to reach out to them on Instagram and manage several different relationships. However, we think the payoff is worth it for authentic and engaging Instagram posts.

Keep an eye on Instagram users tagging your brand or using a branded hashtag — they might just be your next biggest promoter. And if you want to learn more about influencer marketing or Instagram content promotion, read our guides on these topics next.

Have you ever tried influencer or micro-influencer marketing? Share with us in the comments below.

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Nov

20

2015

Does IQ Matter in Business?

What determines success in the business world?

Is it your leadership ability? Negotiation skills? Unique perspective? What about your IQ?

While it’s likely that most businesses don’t require employees to take an IQ test as part of the application process, IQ tests and scores have long been used as a measure of a person’s intelligence and predictors of their success.

Although many would argue that it’s a trivial number, IQ scores actually do matter to some groups of people. For example, a child’s IQ score might affect whether they’re placed in a special education program, while someone who wants to join the military’s IQ score might affect whether or not they’re eligible. 

But what about in the business world? Can a number on a scale from 0–200 accurately predict someone’s success in the real world? The question it all boils down to, really, is this: What measures real-world success, and to what extent does what IQ measures play a part in it?

What Does IQ Measure?

IQ stands for “intelligence quotient,” and it’s meant to measure a person’s ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

That first part — the ability to acquire and apply — is key. IQ doesn’t measure a person’s general knowledge of facts and figures, like whether they know the capital of Russia. It’s meant to measure intelligence functions like problem-solving skills, pattern recognition, mathematical logic, and finding connections among verbal concepts.

For example, you might see a world analogy problem on an IQ test, like: “Kitten is to Cat as Puppy is to _____.” To solve this problem correctly, you’d need to understand the relationship between a kitten and a cat, and then apply that relationship to that of a puppy and a dog.

Other questions look for spatial reasoning skills. For example:

iq-test-sample-question.png

Image Credit: Pearson Clinical

(Don’t worry. I’m not testing you on this one.)

So where does the “quotient” part of “intelligence quotient” come from? From how IQ scores are calculated. The original IQ tests, developed in France in the early 1900s, were meant to help predict which children were most likely to experience difficulty in school. 

IQ was originally calculated by dividing your “mental age” (measured by the test) by your actual age, and multiplying the resulting quotient by 100. That resulting number is your IQ score, and it’s compared to that of the rest of the population on a scale of 0–200. 

While many tests have been developed since then, the major thing all IQ tests have in common is that they measure a person’s cognitive ability — but specifically their ability to solve simple and theoretical problems. 

Many questions on an IQ test for how well a person can learn new information, for example. The test might do this by teaching the test-taker new information in a simple format, and then seeing how well they retain that information. While this works well for simple information like recalling word lists and retelling simple stories, Psychologist W. Joel Schneider warns that it’s difficult to design a test that measures retention of complex information (like a person’s memory what happened in a long, complicated board meeting) without the test being “contaminated by differences in prior knowledge.”

While IQ tests are still mostly used to study children, many have wondered aloud whether adult tests have a predictive power that’s useful in the workplace, too — particularly when it comes to hiring new people or predicting performance. 

Does IQ Matter in Business?

The problem with relying on IQ, or even IQ-style, theoretical questions to predict business success isn’t with what IQ actually measures. In fact, cognitive ability is certainly important for many jobs. Rather, the problem is with what IQ doesn’t measure.

Your IQ score won’t tell you (or your boss, or your hiring manager) anything about your emotional intelligence, your creativity, or your practical intelligence, i.e. “street smarts.” As much as we sometimes wish they did, real business problems don’t always have a single right answer reached by a single method, and they aren’t removed entirely from outside experiences.

Real business problems — practical problems — require you to recognize the existence of a problem, seek out information to help solve it, gather various acceptable solutions, and evaluate those solutions in the context of prior experience and relationships. They also require you to be motivated and involve yourself personally.

While the cognitive intelligence and specific skill sets you might need to score high on an IQ test may correlate to some success depending on your job, there are other, sometimes more important ways to measure success in the business world.

If Not IQ, Then What?

One major example of an alternative indicator of success? Your emotional intelligence. This refers to your ability to identify and monitor emotions — both your own and others’. It’s critical for problem solving and relationship building in the business world. It doesn’t matter if you can stand up and recite the Fibonacci sequence on the spot; if you have trouble handling change and developing and managing productive relationships, you’ll find it challenging to find major success in many business roles.

While there’s still disagreement on exactly how much emotional intelligence contributes to career success, even the most skeptical studies find that emotional intelligence is “probably as valuable as your intellectual and technical skills.”

Another interesting measure of success? Something called “grit.” Studies at the University of Pennsylvania found that students who don’t have the highest IQs in their class but still received high grades share “grit” in common.

What’s that? Grit is less about cognitive ability and more about cognitive control; i.e. your ability to delay gratification in pursuit of your goals, control your impulses, effectively manage upsetting emotions, hold focus, and possess a readiness to learn, according to Psychologist Daniel Goleman.

What’s more, a 30-year study of more than 1,000 children found that cognitive control predicted success better than a child’s IQ, and better than the wealth of the family they grew up in.

There’s decades’ worth of research out there on the many factors that contribute to a person’s success, whether that means financial success, fame, or something else. We have an affinity toward measuring things — even things as intangible as intelligence.

To that end, I like the way Schneider puts it: “Our society at this time in history values the ability to make generalizations from incomplete data and to deduce new information from abstract rules.”

These deductions are what lead to scientific breakthroughs, and they serve as an amazingly helpful jumping off point. But that doesn’t mean your IQ score will tell you with much accuracy whether you — or your next hire — will be successful at a job.

By itself, a high IQ won’t guarantee you’ll rise above your peers. Success relies on much more than that. 

What do you think: Do IQ scores have a place in the business world? What other skills do you correlate with business success? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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Nov

10

2015

Which Marketing Tactics Are The Most Overrated? [New Data]

If you were to ask a room full of marketers from all over the world which marketing tactics they think are least worth the investment, you’d probably get a flurry of strong opinions.

But what if you asked them to name the most overrated marketing tactic? Would their answers vary that much?

We surveyed 4,000 marketers and salespeople around the globe for our 2015 State of Inbound report and found that, no matter where they came from, marketers agreed on the #1 most overrated marketing tactic.

Specifically, we asked our survey respondents to rate the following marketing tactics on how overrated they think they are: blogging, social media, sales enablement, collateral development, SEO, email marketing, traditional paid advertising, online paid advertising, and PR.

Here’s what we found.

What’s the Most Overrated Marketing Tactic?

According to our research, marketers around the globe agree that traditional paid advertising is the #1 most overrated marketing tactic.

Click to Enlarge

Even outbound marketers think so: We found that 32% of outbound marketers said outbound marketing tactics, like traditional paid advertising, are overrated.

Interestingly, while agencies and vendors agreed traditional paid channels are the most overrated, nonprofit marketers cited social media as the most overrated tactic.

When we segmented these results by region, here’s what we found:

In Australia and New Zealand (ANZ): More people (42%) cited traditional outbound marketing tactics — like print ads, outdoor ads, and broadcasts — as the most overrated marketing tactic than anywhere else in the world. According to folks in Australia and New Zealand, the second most overrated marketing tactic was social media (14%), followed by online paid advertising (11%). The least overrated marketing tactics were blogging (1%) and collateral development (2%).

In Asia-Pacific (APAC): Most people (28%) cited traditional outbound marketing tactics as the most overrated marketing tactic. The next most overrated marketing tactic, according to people in Asia-Pacific, was online paid advertising tactics (15%), followed by social media (14%). The least overrated marketing tactics were sales enablement (4%) and blogging (5%).

In Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA): Just over one-third of people (34%) cited traditional outbound marketing tactics as the most overrated marketing tactic. The next most overrated marketing tactic, according to folks in this region, was online paid advertising (13%), followed by social media (11%). The least overrated marketing tactics were collateral development (4%) and sales enablement (4%).

In Latin America (LATAM): Just over one-third of people (34%) cited traditional outbound marketing tactics as the most overrated marketing tactic. The next most overrated marketing tactic, according to folks in this region, was social media (15%), followed by online paid advertising (14%). The least overrated marketing tactics were collateral development (3%) and sales enablement (3%).

In North America (NORTHAM): Most people (41%) cited traditional outbound marketing tactics as the most overrated marketing tactic. According to people in North America, the next most overrated marketing tactic was online paid advertising (16%), followed by social media (11%). The least overrated marketing tactics were sales enablement (2%) and SEO (3%). 

A Few Observations

Even outbound marketers think outbound marketing is overrated.

When it comes to generating leads and filling the top of your sales funnel, traditional outbound marketing tactics — where marketers push their message out far and wide in the hopes that it’ll resonate — isn’t as effective as it used to be.

It comes as no surprise that more marketers year-over-year are universally embracing inbound marketing tactics (where marketers help themselves “get found” by people already learning about and shopping in their industry) over outbound marketing tactics. Our data shows that in most regions of the world, content marketing tactics like blogging and collateral development were cited as the least overrated marketing tactics.

But, according to our data, it’s not just inbound marketers who rate outbound marketing tactics as overrated — even those who identify as outbound marketers think so. Roughly 32% of survey respondents whose companies identify as primarily outbound organizations called paid advertising the most overrated marketing tactic — the number one answer by a wide margin.

overrated marketing tactic

Image Credit: HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2015 Report

While this could be explained by large companies (200+ employees) dedicating money to paid as a sort of diversification of their marketing portfolio, it’s worth repeating that the smart money is on inbound.

But outbound efforts can be great supplements to your inbound efforts.

Although marketers across the board rated outbound tactics as the most overrated of all marketing tactics, that doesn’t mean marketers should cut them out of their strategy completely.

If it’s in your budget, online outbound marketing tactics like social media advertising and PPC are actually great supplements to those more effective inbound marketing efforts.

When done right, ads can play an important role in giving proven content a more prominent stage, whether it’s in maximizing reach to an existing audience or launching campaigns in a new market. For example, users who are retargeted to are 70% more likely to convert. And native ads that include rich media boost conversion rates by up to 60%.

And because these tactics are done online, it’s easier to measure their ROI — especially if you have the right tools. One reason online outbound tactics were rated as one of the most overrated marketing tactics under offline outbound tactics is likely because many marketers still haven’t been able to measure their efforts — though current tools can help you do that much better. (HubSpot customers: Read this post on our customer blog for tips on measuring the ROI of social using HubSpot.)

That being said, each social network comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. Read this blog post to learn more about the pros and cons of advertising on each platform. If you want a more comprehensive guide to social media advertising, download and read our free ebook, The Essential Guide to Social Media Advertising.

Are we seeing signs of social media fatigue?

Finally, you’ll notice social media was the one inbound marketing tactic that was considered overrated in several regions of the world. For instance, although folks in Latin America have broadly adopted social media, 15% of marketers in that region said social media was overrated. In Australia and New Zealand, 14% cited social media as overrated. Not to mention, social media was the third most overrated marketing tactic in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and North America.

What does this say about the state of social media marketing? Where is the fatigue coming from?

After all, social media activity actually has potential to help increase website traffic and sales. It impacts your organic search presence, helping your content rank higher in search engines. It’s also a way for businesses to speak directly with their customers, which helps build customer loyalty. For example, a company called Coffee Groundz started using Twitter as a direct order channel with customers and increased sales and market share via Twitter by 20-30%.

Marketers experiencing social media fatigue are likely having trouble strategizing and picking the right tools to achieve the results they’re looking for.

  • For some, it could be an efficiency issue — which is why we recommend streamlining your efforts by using a social media content calendar.
  • For others, it’s a lack of a solid social strategy. According to data analysis from SOBCon Founder and CEO Liz Strauss, a significant number of marketers “are using social channels in a non-useful manner: posting randomly, without a goal and without a true understanding of what can be accomplished on any particular social channel.” According to her analysis, consistency (even more than frequency) is the key to making an impact with your social media activity. When, how often, and which types of content to post will depend on a combination of research and your own testing.
  • For others, finding relevant conversations in a sea of irrelevant ones can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. This is where it helps for social media posting to become a contextualized part of your marketing, sales, and customer service strategies. (HubSpot customers: Social Inbox plugs your social media accounts into your contact database so you can see which folks engaging with your content are strangers, leads, and customers.)

What observations do you have from the results of our survey on overrated marketing tactics? Do you agree/disagree with our survey respondents? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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Nov

6

2015

Job Expectations Around the World: What Do People Care About Most? [New Data]

Companies are always looking for ways to hire exceptional employees. In fact, finding and hiring top talent was one of the top challenges marketers reported in 2015.

But what do job seekers actually look for in a new company? How concerned are they about the culture at your company, or how much they’re paid, or whether they’re working in a particular industry? And how do these priorities differ depending on where you are in the world?

To help answer these questions, we pulled some data from our 2015 State of Inbound report, which comprises research we collected from 4,000 marketers and salespeople around the globe.

Specifically, we asked these folks to rate the following priorities, in order of importance: culture, compensation, work-life balance, quality of sales leadership team, company performance, industry, perks (like tuition, child care, and so on), colleagues/team, and opportunities for growth.

Turns out, it isn’t all about the ping pong tables. Here’s what we found.

What Do People Around the World Consider When Looking For a New Job?

According to our research, in every region of the world, people are primarily looking for opportunities for growth when they look for new jobs.

We also found that, in every region of the world, employee perks like tuition, childcare, and so on were at the bottom of the priority list.

Image Credit: The 2015 State of Inbound Report

Here are our results broken down into more detail, by region:

In Australia and New Zealand (ANZ): Most people (27%) prioritize opportunities for growth, followed by company culture and work-life balance, which tied for second place (21% each). There’s a significant drop-off after that, with compensation in third place (9%), then industry (8%), and company performance (7%). Folks in Australia and New Zealand are least focused on employee perks (1%). 

In Asia-Pacific (APAC): Most people (29%) prioritize opportunities for growth. Their next priorities are culture and compensation (both 15%), followed closely by work-life balance (14%) and then company performance and industry (10% each). People in Asia-Pacific are least focused on employee perks (1%) and the quality of the sales leadership team (2%).

In Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA): Most people (29%) prioritize opportunities for growth, followed by work-life balance (20%), culture (15%), and then compensation (13%). Respondents in this region are least focused on employee perks (1%) and the quality of the sales leadership team (3%).

In Latin America (LATAM): More people in Latin America prioritize opportunities for growth (31%) than anywhere else in the world. Work-life balance takes second place in this region (21%). After that, there’s a significant drop-off to compensation (11%), and then culture and company performance (10% each). Folks in this region are least focused on employee perks (3%) and their colleagues and teammates (3%).

In North America (NORTHAM): People in North America prioritize opportunities for growth less than in other regions of the world, and these growth opportunities are tied for first place with company culture (20% each). Not far behind is compensation (18%), followed closely by work-life balance (16%). Marketers and salespeople in this region are least focused on employee perks (1%).

Key Takeaways

1) Prioritize employee growth.

A huge takeaway here is that no matter where you are in the world, if you want to hire top talent, you must invest in opportunities for your employees to grow.

In fact, according to a LinkedIn survey of 7,350 members across five countries, the #1 reason workers quit their job was because they sought greater opportunities for advancement. The best job candidates are attracted to companies that give them room to grow, develop their skills, and move up in the organization — and if your company doesn’t offer opportunities for them to do that internally, then they’re going to look elsewhere.

But we know that many employers find it challenging to balance employee development and growth with more immediate concerns, like making deadlines and focusing on direct revenue producers. Luckily, Harvard Business Review found that the vast majority (as much as 90%) of learning and development takes place on the job, rather than in formal training programs. This means continuously giving employees new challenges, developmental feedback, and mentoring. It also might mean investing in management training, as “employees’ direct managers are often their most important developers,” according to HBR.

2) Build a thriving culture.

Another takeaway? It’s important to build a thriving culture and allow your employees a reasonable work-life balance. Both priorities took one of the top three spots for most regions of the world, especially Australia, New Zealand, North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Why is there such an emphasis on culture nowadays? As HubSpot’s co-founder and CTO Dharhmesh Shah explained in a LinkedIn article, product is to marketing as culture is to recruiting. “Just like attracting customers is much easier with a great product, attracting amazing people is much easier with a great culture,” he wrote.

Additionally, a well-defined culture helps you avoid hiring people that end up being bad fits — which can have a corrosive impact on your organization, even long after they’re gone.

3) Allow flexibility in the workplace.

As for work-life balance? Well, it tends to mean different things in different areas of the world. For some, great work-life balance is France’s labor law that requires folks to disconnect from work emails and calls after-hours. For others, it’s Denmark’s notable initiatives for paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. And, of course, there’s always the argument over who has the most vacation days. (Turns out the winners include Austria, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and New Zealand.)  

At the end of the day, though, it’s all about offering flexibility in the workplace. “Flexibility . . . and being able to balance work activities with non-work activities can end up making employees more productive,” wrote HubSpot’s Erik Devaney in his blog post on work-life balance. “And that’s good for business.”

4) Focus less on perks.

Finally, while tuition money, gym memberships, and catered lunches are all fun benefits to offer employees, they aren’t the reasons candidates choose to work where they work. In fact, it’s the least of their concerns when looking for a new job, regardless of where they live. While perks tend to get hyped up in the media, it’s more important to focus on the specific things folks in your region of the world are looking for when they seek out new job opportunities.

What do you think about these findings? How do they reflect or differ from your own experiences? Share with us in the comments.

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Nov

5

2015

The Doom Boom: Inside the Survival Industry’s Explosive Growth

Are you prepared for the unknown?

Prior to attending the National Preppers and Survivalists Expo in Louisville, Kentucky, I hadn’t put much thought into it. In fact, most days, I don’t even know what I’m going to eat for lunch, let alone what I’d do in the event of lean times — or worse, an apocalypse. 

Turns out, more and more people are interested in learning survivalist techniques. The event was expected to draw in more than 7,000 people over the course of two days — and this is just a small representation of the 3.7 million Americans who classify themselves as preppers or survivalists.

With this many people actively practicing emergency preparedness, you can bet that this already multibillion-dollar business will only continue to climb.

So what’s the secret behind this niche industry’s explosive growth?

An Industry on the Rise

“The first year we did this, we had about 4,000 people and just 45 exhibitors. This year, we’ve nearly doubled.” Ray McCreary, Show Director of NPS Expo, told me. 

While the impressive turnout at the event made it abundantly clear that this industry wasn’t showing any signs of stopping, I was determined to learn more about the uptick in interest surrounding survivalist behavior and preparedness techniques. Why now? 

I sat down with Charley Hogwood, resident Chief Instructor on emergency preparedness and disaster readiness at P.R.E.P, and author of The Survival Group Handbook: How to Plan, Organize, and Lead People for Short or Long Term Survival.

“A lot of [the industry’s recent growth] is based on the current culture at any given time,” Hogwood told me. “People get excited about things like the election, and that causes things to get bigger.”

Hogwood’s explanation reminded me of Wharton Professor Jonah Berger’s work on the transmission of ideas. In short, Berger believes that one of the principles that drives people to share and talk about an idea is triggers — environmental or societal instances that serve as a reminder to make us think about something.

And when it comes to survivalists, it appears that events such as the election bring about enough concern to trigger an increased awareness for the importance of preparing for uncertain times. To see what I mean, just take a look at the following Google Trends chart:

You’ll notice a big spike during November 2012 for the search term “prepping” — the month in which President Obama was elected to a second term. I’d say it’s safe to assume that this is no coincidence.

While this was a fascinating discussion, I wanted to know more about the specifics. What were people thinking about as they started collecting nonperishables and brushing up on their survival skills? What were their core motivations? And still, why now?

Understanding the Core Motivations for Preparedness

“People conjure up a bad image when we talk with them about being a prepper. But it simply means we prepare for things — known and unknown,” explained Panteao Productions instructor, Kyle Harth.

For preppers and survivalists, the “known and unknown” can mean a lot of different things. And contrary to the stereotypes, not all preppers are gearing up to take out zombies in an ominous, apocalyptic world. In fact, the reasoning behind people’s decision to live a prepared lifestyle is often reflected in their individual stories of awakening. 

My husband also lost his job right when our first (turned out to be only) baby was born. Those first few years were rough,” prepper D’Ann explained in an article detailing how certain preppers got their start.

“My start at prepping began three days after 9/11/2001. While hearing the reports of what was going on and happening in NYC, my wife described the scene as best she could without losing her voice,” another prepper, Jack, wrote in the same article. “I am and have been blind since age 24 . . . When my wife described it to me I turned to her and said, ‘Our world has changed now.'” 

Aware that people often expressed vastly different motivations for preparedness, Dale, host of the Survivalist Prepper podcastrecently polled his Facebook community to gain a better understanding.

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According to Dale’s poll, the top three concerns were an economic collapse, grid failure, and natural disasters. 

Having seen economic stability rise and fall across the world, many preppers are concerned that the global economy will soon fall and not get back up.

“I firmly believe it’s [economic collapse] one of the most serious threats we face,” urges Robert Richardson, founder and editor of Off Grid Survival.

“Economies around the world are crashing, countries are drowning in record amounts of debt, and governments continue to pile on new debt like there’s no tomorrow. At some point this debt train is going to come to a screeching halt; when that happens we are going to see panic and chaos like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” he goes on to explain.

As for grid failure, it’s likely that recent instances like the scattered power outages which hit the State Department, White House, U.S. Capitol, and Justice Department back in April, have driven people to become more aware of the vulnerability of America’s power grid.

And with the devastating outcomes of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, Typhoon Haiyan, and the 2010 Haiti Earthquake being broadcast all over the internet, it seems logical that uncertain environments have altered people’s attitudes towards prepping in recent years, pushing more and more people to join in the movement. 

Making Preparedness More Accessible 

The growth of this whole movement can’t just be attributed to increasing concern over economic, environmental, and infrastructure concerns. There are also several reasons why this issue’s reached such a huge audience worldwide.

The Rise of Survival Entertainment

On August 30, 2000, 51.7 million viewers tuned in to find out who would be crowned “Sole Survivor” during the season finale of Survivor: Borneo. The Survivor series — an American reality survival series that chronicles the journey of a marooned group of strangers — began airing in May of 2000, and recently kicked off its 31st season in Cambodia. 

“When Survivor started, there weren’t a lot of shows like ours on the air,” explained host and executive producer Jeff ProbstHowever, since then, it would appear that the series has pioneered the way for a new wave of survival entertainment to surface.

Here’s just a small sample of the survival shows that have launched since Survivor first aired:

  • Survivorman – 2004
  • Man vs. Wild – 2006
  • The Colony – 2009
  • Man, Woman, Wild – 2010
  • Dual Survivor – 2010
  • Doomsday Preppers – 2012
  • Naked & Afraid – 2013
  • Doomsday Castle – 2013
  • Lost Survivors – 2013
  • Marooned with Ed Stafford – 2013
  • Survival Live – 2014
  • Alone – 2015

What’s interesting about many of these series is that they’ve taken the shape of a social experiment of sorts.

For example, the Emmy-nominated series, Naked & Afraid chronicles the survival experience of a man and a woman who must learn to survive together for 21 days in a rural location. When you tune in, you can’t help but wonder: How will they divide the work? Will gender influence their behavior? Can they work together? It’s pretty fascinating.

“With a social experiment, you genuinely feel like the people are going through something that feels real and authentic. We’re seeing how people react to a certain situation in a real and authentic way,” explains Matthew Kelly, VP of Development and Production at Discovery. 

So while there’s no denying that the show — like most reality shows — is edited to an extent for entertainment, past participants at the expo insisted that what they endured was very real, and at times very painful.

“I found out after just five steps that Tanzania would put thorns in me where I never knew they could go. I knew I could go through this experience and challenge myself, but I didn’t expect it to be this big. I’m graciously glad that it is, and now I want to get survival out to as many people as possible. It will save your life,” three-time Naked & Afraid survivalist EJ “Skullcrusher” Snyder told us. 

Reminiscent of early shows like Big Brother and The Real World, this fusion between reality television and social experimentation has become increasingly popular in modern programs like Married at First Sight, Dating Naked, and other survival series like Alone and Survival Live.

And given the unconventional nature of these experimental survival series and their overall abundance, it’s likely that they’ve had an effect on the industry’s growth. In fact, if you refer to the Google Trends chart we mentioned earlier, you can see that the search volume for prepping begins to steadily increase from 2012 on, when a vast majority of these programs were released. 

Television aside, there’s also been an increase in survival-related film — from blockbuster hits to documentaries and docudramas — that have helped propel the preparedness movement. 

While waiting for a class to begin at the expo, I chatted with an attendee, David, who had traveled from Maryland to check out the events and expand his skill set. When I asked David how he’d gotten his start with prepping, he explained that he became interested in learning more about emergency preparedness after viewing a couple of related documentaries: After Armageddon and American Blackout.

“I realized that this was something I should consider. I wound up passing the documentaries around at work and many people made the decision to start prepping after seeing them too,” he told me.

A Foundation in Education

As I made my way around the expo, I’d noticed that while a lot of booths were pushing things like essential oils, canned food storage, and “bug out” trailers, many of them were more focused on sharing knowledge. 

For example, husband and wife duo Kevin and Tammy, along with their daughter Montanna, were excited to discuss their educational training card game, Survival Simulator, when I stopped by their booth.

How it works is simple: Players draw and discard cards that prompt them to act out a skill-testing scenario.

“This deck plays on the necessity of repetition for training,” explained Kevin. 

But Survival Simulator wasn’t the only education tool that attendees could get their hands on. There were water procurement classes, instructional DVDs, waterless cooking demonstrations, and even some live-action learning on “friction fire 101” thanks to Naked & Afraid participant, Clint Jivoin.

By the end of the day, there were two things I knew for sure: 1) My survival abilities were laughable … no seriously, people laughed at me. 2) Education was the lifeblood of this industry.

To get a better sense of of how this community was creating and sustaining educational content outside of events like this, I took to Google to see what was out there.

I was surprised to find that there weren’t just a few blogs or forums dedicated to prepping and survivalism … there were hundreds:

What was even more interesting was the social share counts some of the articles received:

It became clear that the community was not only creating resources, but preppers and survivalists everywhere were also actively sharing them. And while this type of social transmission has undoubtedly helped educate and raise awareness, blog articles weren’t the only piece of content they were creating.

I found videos:

And calculators:

And individual and group education programs:

While there was no shortage of self-education resources, I found the group trainings to be most interesting in terms of the advancement of this industry. This is because per my conversation with Charlie Hogwood — who runs the show at P.R.E.P. — I discovered that Mutual Assistance Groups (MAGS) are a huge part of the world of preppers and survivalists.

These groups of similarly minded individuals or families form to assist each other in times of crisis, and work together to ensure that everyone in their circle is educated in all aspects of survival and preparedness. 

“This is the ‘people’ part of prepping,” Hogwood explained.

I liked the sound of that. It meant, if nothing else, the reason why many of these people are drawn to the lifestyle is because it provides them with a sense of belongingness — a common motivation fueling many successful movements.

Ready, Set, Prep

So why the sudden urge to prep? Why the explosive growth? Why now?

While it’s seemingly impossible to pin down one, concrete answer to these questions, the rise in prepared living seems to stem from uncertainty. Whether or not they’ll need to put these plans into action is yet to be determined, but this movement doesn’t seem to be loosing steam anytime soon.

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Nov

4

2015

Comic Sans, Helvetica & Times New Roman: A Brief History of 6 Iconic Fonts

Close your eyes and picture a one-page, typed document — maybe a resume, or a letter — that uses the font Times New Roman. Now, change the font of that document to Courier. Now to Comic Sans.

The look and feel of the document would change entirely depending which of those three fonts you employed, right? That’s because different fonts were designed specifically for certain contexts.

I like the way Vincent Connare, the inventor of Comic Sans, put it: “A typeface is an answer to a question. Everything I’ve ever done [in typeface design] is a solution to somebody’s problem.”

Over time, the use cases for different fonts have evolved — in some cases, away from their original intention. Let’s take a look at the brief history of six iconic typefaces from their invention to how they’re used today.

Get tips for using fonts in your content and web designs in our free guide to visual content creation here.

The History of 6 Iconic Fonts

1) Comic Sans

Ah, Comic Sans … arguably the most controversial typeface in history.

Countless books on typeface design talk about it from both sides of the fence. In the past few years, designers initiated a campaign against it called “Ban Comic Sans,” calling it “tacky” and an “epic fail.” And according to the inventor of Comic Sans himself, the main designer at Twitter tweeted that the font takes up the second most server space used by complaints — after airlines and before Justin Bieber.

But its original intent wasn’t to polarize the masses; it was to appear in an application meant for young users. Remember those friendly little cartoon assistants that used to help you out on Microsoft Word? You know, the ones that would pop up with a speech bubble reading stuff like, “Looks like you’re writing a letter. Would you like help?” 

Well, it turns out the font Comic Sans was originally designed for the text inside the speech bubbles for one of the very first versions of those assistants.

Vincent Connare, who was working at Microsoft at the time, designed the font for the digital assistant Microsoft Bob, a comic software package designed for kids. Times New Roman was the original pick for the font that would go inside the assistant’s speech bubbles, but Connare thought it looked strikingly inappropriate for the comic context. He wanted it to look more like comic book writing.

“It only took about three days to get the basic font down,” Connare told The GuardianHe consulted comic books and drew the letters with a mouse to get the “wonkiness” he wanted.

While Microsoft Bob didn’t last, Comic Sans became a font option on Windows 95 and quickly gained popularity among young children in primary schools and other childcare organizations. The debates arose when other, more supposedly professional organizations began adopting it for use in documents, signage, and on their website. It gained popularity among “regular people who are not typographers or graphic designers,” said Connare.

To this day, whether or not Comic Sans is a viable font for professional organizations remains a controversial topic.

2) Times New Roman

Whereas Comic Sans became famous for being funky and playful, Times New Roman gained its popularity from its normalcy and relative anonymity. It’s been dubbed a serious font — even what some call “quintessentially British.”

The Times New Roman font can be found all over the place, from the default fonts of your word processors to the pages of your favorite books, and it would be pretty difficult to find someone who has never come across it before.

Far older than Comic Sans, Times New Roman was invented way back in the days of printing presses. In 1929, the Times of London (the font’s namesake) hired a typographer named Stanley Morison to create a new text font for the newspaper. Morison worked with an advertising artist for the Times named Victor Larden, who was the one who ultimately drew the letterforms. Check out the image below to see how Times New Roman (left) compares to the font it replaced (right):

Image Credit: New York Public Library

You’ll notice Times New Roman is a bit narrower than most text fonts, including the one on the left. That’s because a narrower font is better for newspapers, as it can fit more text per line. During the design process, Morison’s goal was to create a typeface that was narrow, but still easily readable.

Times New Roman was released in 1932 as the official typeface of the London Times. It took a while for others to adopt it, though, because it looked its best with more ink and a higher quality paper than many printers were willing to pay for. It wasn’t until 1941 that it had its first big American client, Woman’s Home Companion, followed by the Chicago Sun-Times in 1953.

After securing these deals, it quickly became popular among printers. Interestingly, although the typeface is now a popular default for books, the Times actually specifically noted that it wasn’t appropriate for books. “It is a newspaper type — and hardly a book type — for it is strictly appointed for use in short lines — i.e., in columns,” they wrote.

Since the advent of personal computers, the 83-year-old typeface remains one of the first fonts available for each new device.

3) Helvetica

Helvetica is another font that appears virtually everywhere — more often in branding and signage, rather than in books and newspapers. For example, famous brands like BMW, Oral B, IBM, Target, Staples, and Panasonic all use Helvetica for their logos. The U.S. Government uses Helvetica for all its official forms. It’s the default font for Brussels’ entire transport system, and became the font for the NYC subway system’s signs and maps in 1970.

Image Credit: Kaneva 

But where did Helvetica come from? It was actually a Swiss byproduct of post-war Europe, a time when European companies were searching for ways to modernize their brand, including the look and feel of their advertisements and signage. Previously, it’d been popular to use fancy, decorative typography, but many brands had begun searching for something more neutral, clearer, and edgier.

Enter Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann, who invented the typeface that would become Helvetica in Switzerland in 1957. It was originally called “Die Neue Haas Grotesk,” but in 1960, the name was changed to Helvetica (Latin for “Swiss) to make it more marketable internationally.

And it served as a solution for what companies were looking for in a modern typeface: It was entirely neutral. At its very core, Helvetica was intended “to not give any impression or have any meaning in itself,” according to Web Designer Depot

Thanks to its neutrality, Helvetica is an incredibly adaptable font and can be used for a wide range of design projects — especially when italic, bold, and other weights are added. Starting in the 1960s, it began to gain a reputation overseas, “particularly among the design executives on Madison Avenue,” according to Fast Company.

Since then, it’s become one of the most widely used fonts of all time; and its clean-cut, professional, and neutral style has made it timeless.

4) Arial

Arial bears a striking resemblance to Helvetica thanks to its simple, modernist look. But there are clear differences between the two, as you can see below in the characters “G,” “Q,” R,” and “1”:

Image Credit: I Love Typography

Some suspect that Arial, which was invented 25 years after Helvetica in 1982, was actually created to copy Helvetica directly as a way of using a popular font without forking over any money.

Here’s how: Arial was originally designed by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders specifically for IBM’s bitmap font laser printers. It became free with the release of Microsoft Windows 3.1, the popularity of which spurred widespread global use of the Arial typeface. But why did Microsoft choose Arial as their standard typeface instead of sticking with the classic Helvetica? Some say it’s because Helvetica’s license fee was too high, so this was Microsoft’s way of supplying a Helvetica-like font without paying royalties to the folks who owned rights to Helvetica.

Regardless of what you believe, Arial still stands as one of today’s most popular typefaces. It’s used for a wide variety of design projects, including hotel and vehicle signage, Tommy Hilfiger products, and even all of UPS’ stickers.

Image Credit: Design Work Plan

5) Calibri

In the mid-’00s, digital content consumption was on the rise, both on personal computers and mobile devices — and businesses like Microsoft were noticing. To make on-screen reading more enjoyable, the folks at Microsoft released six new typefaces created especially for extended on-screen reading in a bundle called the ClearType Font Collection.

“The ClearType fonts, unlike some compromises and adaptations in modern typeface design, were conceived from the outset as a marriage of technology and the best in design expertise,” reads Microsoft’s website.

Calibri is one of the six fonts from Microsoft’s collection, and it replaced Times New Roman as Office’s default body type in 2007. Unlike Helvetica and Arial, its rounded stems and corners give it a softer and friendlier vibe.

“The [Calibri] family has a generous width that makes reading easier by emphasizing the reading direction,” said Lucas de Groot, the man who invented Calibri, in Microsoft’s promotional booklet.

Every time you open up a new PowerPoint presentation, you’ll see Calibri as the default typeface. While it’s certainly a very readable font, it’s a little predictable for PowerPoint and SlideShare presentations. If you want to spruce up your presentation a little bit, check out our list of 35 great free fonts you can download to use in your presentations and marketing.

6) Courier

Let’s be honest … The Courier font family isn’t a particularly pleasant one to read. As a monospaced typeface, though, it’s the picture of uniformity: Each letter takes up the exact same amount of space on a line. I always think of it as one of the default coding fonts and plain text emails.

Image Credit: Hivelogic

Despite being a bit difficult to read, Courier remains one of the most recognizable fonts out there — even though the days of typewriters are long over. It has its uniformity to thank for its longevity.

Courier was designed in 1955 by Howard Kettler with the original name “Messenger.” It’s probably most recognizable as the default font for a typewriter because IBM and other companies used it for their typewriters at the time of its invention. (IBM failed to secure the rights to the design, though, and would later redesign the font for their famous Selectric typewriter series.)

By the 1960s, Courier had become the default typeface for official documents. Even the U.S. State Department made it the official font until 2004, when they replaced it with Times New Roman. When typewriters gave way to personal computers, Courier bridged the gap simply because of its popularity at the time. 

Although many consider it a little plain, boring, and frankly illegible in comparison to other typefaces, Courier is still a symbol of bureaucracy and stability. Interestingly, it’s also still the preferred typeface for screenplay drafts. Why? Because of the consistent character spacing: According to Screenwriter.io, standard screenplay format is designed so that one page of a screenplay is approximately equal to one minute of screen time, so that consistency is important.

So, there you have it. Every typeface has its own personality, and some have stuck far more effectively than others. Take a look at how typography is used around you, and soon, you’ll begin to recognize the differences between each one and why they’re used in different contexts.

Which of these classic fonts is your favorite? Which is your least favorite? Share with us in the comments.

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Oct

23

2015

How Long Should It Take You to Write a Blog Post? [New Data]

It’s no secret that if you want to drive traffic to your website, convert that traffic into leads, and establish thought leadership, you should be publishing blog posts on a regular basis. The more often you blog, the more opportunity you have to drive traffic and leads, right?

But … when it comes to writing a new blog post, how much of a time commitment are we talking? How long should it take to write a typical blog post?

That’s a totally fair question. After all, a lot of marketers are creating content with limited resources. Knowing how long other marketers are spending on a single post can help you benchmark your own blogging efforts.

To help answer this question, we pulled some blogging data from our State of Inbound 2015 report. The SOI report comprises research we collected from 4,000 marketers and salespeople around the globe. We asked how long it typically takes them — or someone on their marketing team — to write a 500-world blog post.

This is what we found.

How Long Should It Take You to Write a Blog Post?

According to our research, in every region of the world, most marketers spend 1-2 hours writing a 500-word blog post.

Asia-Pacific (APAC) is the only region where roughly an equal number of marketers are spending either 1-2 hours, 2-3 hours, or 4+ hours on a single blog post.

In Australia and New Zealand (ANZ): The majority of marketers (42%) spend 1-2 hours writing a typical blog post. In the same region, 27% of marketers spend 2-3 hours per post, 17% spend 4+ hours per post, and only 5% spend less than one hour per post.

In Asia-Pacific (APAC): 27% of marketers spend 1-2 writing a typical blog post — but not far behind them are the 26% of marketers who spend 2-3 hours per post and another 26% who spend 4+ hours per post. Only 11% of folks in Asia-Pacific spend less than an hour writing a blog post.

In Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA): The majority of marketers (35%) spend 1-2 hours writing a typical blog post. In the same region, almost a quarter of marketers spend 2-3 hours per post, 17% spend 4+ hours per post, and 10% spend less than an hour per post.

In Latin America (LATAM): The majority of marketers (32%) spend 1-2 hours writing a typical blog post. In the same region, 21% of marketers spend 2-3 hours per post, 18% of marketers spend under an hour per post, and 12% spend 4+ hours per post. Latin America was the only region where more marketers reported spending under an hour per post than marketers who spent 4+ hours per post.

In North America (NORTHAM): The majority of marketers (38%) spend 1-2 hours writing a typical blog post. In the same region, 29% of marketers spend 2-3 hours writing a blog post, 29% spend 4+ hours per post, and only 8% spend less than an hour per post.

Does that mean 1-2 hours is the “right” amount of time to spend on a blog post?

The question of how long to spend writing a blog post is related to the question of how long your blog posts should be. The answer? As long as it needs to be.

Blog posts should be as long as they need to be to serve their purpose — whether that’s thought leadership, driving leads, explaining a new concept, etc.

Some quick posts could take under an hour to write; others might take several hours if they require you to go really in-depth. The time to write each individual blog posts can vary, but we’ve found that — on average — marketers are spending 1-2 hours per post.

(Want more in-depth blogging tips? Read this blog post for more on how to write a blog post — complete with blog post templates.)

How long does do marketers on your team spend writing a 500-word blog post? How does that compare with the marketers who responded to our survey? Share with us in the comments.

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Oct

21

2015

Design Disruptors: The Story Behind One Startup’s Decision to Produce a Feature-Length Documentary

Many a marketing team, big and small, has gathered around a conference table to brainstorm a list of crazy ideas. You know what I’m talking about — those “big, hairy, audacious goals” discussed so often that they’ve earned a place in the business lexicon.

Much more rarely, though, do teams actually execute on these crazy ideas.

David Malpass and the folks at InVision are the exception. Not only did the small marketing team from the growing startup take on the challenge of creating a feature-length documentary, but they managed to release a trailer in less than a year’s time. A trailer that has garnered international attention, might we add. 

Why take on something so ambitious? Quite simply, they have a story to tell that they want to get out to as many people as humanly possible. 

Their documentary, Design Disruptors, will be released for free in early 2016. And as for the story they’re so keen on telling? Well, spoiler alert: It’s about design. 

With no forced connection to the InVision brand, the documentary will explore how design has risen to become one of the most important roles in modern business. So much so that companies like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, AirBNB, Spotify have all prevailed in a world rife with pop-up competitors — all because they’ve placed an emphasis on a top-notch user experience and great aesthetics from the very beginning.

To uncover more about idea’s inception, the company’s intentions, and how this project has taken shape over the past year, we took some time to chat about the upcoming documentary with Mallpass, InVision’s VP of Marketing. 

Planting the Seed

When Malpass joined InVision as their VP of Marketing in July 2014, it became instantly apparent that, across the company, InVision innovates by doing the unexpected.

For the InVision team, the film was a powerful, long-term project that could happen in the background. In other words, they’d outsource the filming, editing, and so on, while focusing their efforts on constructing the narrative and planning promotion for the release.

“Our content is the backbone of our marketing,” Malpass told me.

“We’re always ambitious and innovative with the content we’re putting out there — whether it’s blog content, ebooks, webinars, and so on. We never sacrifice quality for quantity, so this [documentary] is the ultimate example of the team going big, doing something very ambitious, and setting the tone for the content we put out in the future,” he went on to explain. 

InVision has always encouraged these big ideas. Companies may not do big things like this because there’s risk involved — but if you’re comfortable with introducing a bit of risk into the equation, you can often achieve exponentially greater results.

Image Credit: Design Disruptors

Is This a Marketing Play?

Going into the conversation with Malpass, I was fascinated with the concept of creating a documentary to market your company and your product. How was the film was connected with the InVision brand? How are they using it to sell their product? Where are all the calls-to-action going to be?

I quickly found out that the film isn’t actually connected with InVision in any overt way. Nothing in the film or the trailer or the website directly promotes the InVision brand. It lives on its own URL, where the only clues that it’s linked to InVision are a subtle mention on the page and the shortened URL in the click-to-tweet buttons. The Design Disruptors URL isn’t linked to anywhere on the InVision website, either. In fact, the company isn’t even mentioned in the film itself.

Why did the folks at InVision choose to spend so much time and so many resources on a documentary if they weren’t going to use it to market their company? Why wouldn’t they just write an ebook or something?

“We’re not trying to sell our product. We’re trying to bring attention to the increased importance of design in a company’s success,” Malpass explained. 

“A lot of our work is based on doing things that’ll create a positive effect on the design community and that will elevate the role of the designer within their organization.”

They are, after all, giving this documentary away for free. When it’s released in early 2016, it’ll be shown for free online at the Design Disruptors website, at movie theatres, and on Netflix.

That’s not to say the documentary won’t benefit InVision in any way. Given that their community is comprised of smart, passionate designers, this documentary serves as a great opportunity for them to educate their audience by showcasing some of the industry’s most talented minds. 

He added it’s also positive for InVision because they’re the platform that most of the companies in the film go to for their design process, of course.

As for why they didn’t write an ebook instead, Malpass says the goal is to get this story in front of an audience that expands beyond designers and businesspeople. While an ebook or a webinar would reach InVision’s target audience, they wanted to break out of those limits to reach people who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to that content.

“A designer came to me and said, ‘My mom saw the trailer and she called me and asked me if that’s what I do,'” Malpass told me.

In other words, Design Disruptor’s target audience includes designers and their moms.

Measuring Success

The great thing about ebooks and webinars is that people sign up to see the content, so marketers can collect email addresses and capture leads. When you’re giving away a film for free, how do you measure its success?

Since releasing the trailer in early October, InVision’s growing marketing team — which has gone from three to twenty-five since Malpass joined — has already seen an overwhelmingly positive response.

“Design Disruptors” was trending on Twitter for three days, and at one point, it was the fourth most tweeted thing in the world. However, other than social shares, site visits, and articles written about the film, most of the film’s success is intangible.

“We want designers to feel empowered to share this film with their organization, and for non-designers to recognize their success and elevate them,” explained Malpass.

“Oh, and it’s got to have a good score on IMDB,” he joked. “No one wants to look back in ten years and have made a bad film.”

For a sneak peek at the documentary, you can watch the trailer here

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Oct

5

2015

The 12 Best Cities in the World to Start Your Career

Thankfully for all you recent college grads out there (and your parents), the job market’s looking up for folks who’ve recently gotten their diploma. More employers plan to hire recent college graduates in 2015 than in previous years, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

And for those of you about to graduate, things are looking good, too: Two-thirds of employers who responded to NACE’s “Job Outlook 2015 Spring Update” survey reported they expected to increase or maintain current hiring levels for the Class of 2016.

Woohoo! But … where do you actually go about finding these jobs?

When college graduates decide where to move to begin their careers, they aren’t just packing up and heading in droves to the usual suspects, like New York and San Francisco. In recent years, a surprising number of cities both in the U.S. and around the world have shown they can offer more entry-level job opportunities, higher incomes, better quality of life, lower cost of living … and in some cases, all four.

We’ve scoured the web for studies, reports, and news stories to find some of the best places in the world to start a career after college graduation. Whether you’re aiming to begin a career in technology or finance or healthcare, or at a huge company, a startup, or a nonprofit, check out our favorites below, which are listed in no particular order.

Already looking to apply to companies in these cities? Download these free resume templates to help put your best foot forward.

12 of the Best Cities to Start Your Career

1) Austin, Texas

Image Credit: White Blaze Media

Austin is one of the top tech hubs — not just in Texas, but in the whole of the U.S. It’s home to offices of some of the country’s top employers, including Google, Apple, Facebook, Cisco Systems, eBay, Blizzard Entertainment, Samsung, and more.

“Entrepreneurs say it’s easy to start a business there, networking is top-notch, taxes are low, regulations are light, and hiring is a breeze,” writes Jose Pagliery for CNN.

But Austin isn’t just a twin of San Francisco: First of all, it has a low cost of living compared with other capital cities in the U.S. Notably, it was #1 on WalletHub’s list of cities to start a career based on quality of life, #3 for population growth percentage, and #11 for entry-level opportunities.

If you’re intrigued by a lively music and cultural scene, Austin’s friendly, funky vibe might just be the cherry on top. It’s a liberal city in an otherwise conservative state, and ranks #1 for “small business friendliness” according to a survey from Thumbtack. Its annual South by Southwest event — an annual set of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences — is a great example of the interesting mix of tech and art the city’s population holds dear.

2) Amsterdam, Netherlands

Image Credit: Theo Winter

If you’ve ever been to Amsterdam or know someone who has, then you’ve likely gotten a taste of how beautiful and unique it is. With its gorgeous, 17th-century canals, parks, and paths, it’s a big city with a small-town feel. 

It has very bike-friendly roads — WIRED ranked it the second most bike-friendly city in the world in 2015, after CopenhagenPlus, it’s super easy to get from Amsterdam to pretty much anywhere in the world: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has repeatedly been voted one of the best airports in the world, and it has high-speed trains connected to cities all over Europe.

Beauty aside, Amsterdam’s economy is also thriving, making it an attractive place for young career-seekers. It has one of the lowest costs of living in Europe, and the Netherlands’ excellent tax laws are attracting tech companies to move there — and with them, job opportunities. It’s one of the most competitive business locations in Europe and host to a variety of industries, including a flourishing start-up scene. The Expatcenter works with the Dutch government to help highly skilled migrants and their families with residence permits, work visas, and taxes.

Another reason to love Amsterdam? The culture. In the Netherlands, the Dutch refer to their culture as “Gezelligheid,” an abstract noun that has no true English translation. “It can mean quaint, cozy, friendly, warm, and/or welcoming,” writes Lisa Miller for The Huffington Post. The friendly community, the vibrant culture and nightlife, the great job opportunities, and the healthy work-life balance all make Amsterdam a great choice for starting your career. 

3) Santiago, Chile

Image Credit: International Health Strategies

Although it might be far from home for most of you, hear me out. Not only does Santiago have relatively low corruption, low debt, and some of the lowest business and income taxes in the developed world, but it’s also quietly positioning itself as a new hub of entrepreneurship and innovation in South America.

Because it’s a pretty small country, Chile only graduates about 1,400 engineers every year — and most of that talent ends up going into natural resource industries. After all, the copper industry accounts for almost half of the country’s income.

Chile’s government has recognized the need to attract talent from abroad — and made changes to accomplish that. The innovation strategy it’s been building is meant to attract the best and brightest from all over the world. One way it’s doing it? With the Startup Chile program, which it implemented with the goal of transforming the Chilean entrepreneurial ecosystem.

4) Washington, D.C.

Image Credit: E. David Luria

For college graduates interested in public policy, government, nonprofits, and a growing startup scene, Washington D.C. is a great place to start and grow a career. Mashable gives it the #1 spot for networking opportunities. College grads will also be in great company, as almost one-third of the city’s population is between the ages of 20 and 34.

WalletHub ranked it #3 in both quality of life and professional opportunities. And according to Fortune Magazineit has a “reasonable cost of living for a city of its size.” The well-functioning public transportation system also spans to close by Virginia and Maryland, which have even more affordable housing options.

If that hasn’t convinced you, then here’s the kicker: D.C. was named the best U.S. city for single people, scoring highest in the U.S. in “mating opportunities,” according to WalletHub. After all, with 58% of the population being single, there are plenty of fish in the sea.

5) Denver, Colorado

Image Credit: City-Data.com

The combination of plentiful entry-level opportunities for young professionals, quality of life, and a gorgeous setting makes Denver a great place for young people to live and grow their careers — especially those who love the great outdoors.

According to WalletHub, Denver is #8 on a list of 150 cities for professional opportunities for entry-level workers, and #13 for quality of life. WalletHub also found the “extraordinarily varied local economy generates lots of jobs, relatively high starting salaries, and robust income growth.”

The city’s also well known for its vibrant art scene and the virtually unlimited list of things to do outside, including skiing, snowboarding, and hiking at over a dozen nearby local mountain resorts. It has a whopping 300 days of sunshine most years, and 80 miles of trails within the city limits alone.

6) Houston, Texas

Image Credit: City-Data.com

Houston was #1 of 150 cities on WalletHub’s list for the highest starting salaries adjusted for cost of living. In fact, the median annual income there is 3X higher than in Honolulu. And although Houston is the United States’ fourth most populous city, its real estate prices don’t reflect that, according to CNN.

The city has a great entrepreneurial business climate with little government intervention. The Atlantic called it “America’s #1 job creator” in 2013 after it became the first major city to not only regain all the jobs lost in the downturned U.S. economy, but also the first city to add more than two jobs for everyone one it lost after the crash. That’s just impressive. Its most lucrative industry? Energy, as you may have guessed, given its proximity to oil.

7) Raleigh, North Carolina

Image Credit: Cox Media Group

Raleigh is one of the smaller cities on our list, but it’s become a go-to spot for college graduates interested in financial services, software, energy, retail, and its famous “Research Triangle.” The triangle is formed by three cities: Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill — all three with major research universities. You’ll also find the 7,000-acre Research Triangle Park here, too, which is one of the best tech research and development centers in the United States.

Along with a solid economy, it’s been rated with a high quality of life (it’s accessible to both beautiful mountains and beautiful beaches) and low cost of living. Although the cost of living is beginning to creep up: One study found that a little under 72% of Raleigh-area homes are deemed affordable at the median income level.

But many people who move to Raleigh after college end up settling there, which speaks to how attractive a place it is to live. Forbes named it the #1 place to raise a family in the U.S. 

8) Montreal, Canada

Image Credit: The Odora

If you want to live affordably in a big city and you’re willing to learn a little bit of French, then Montreal could be the perfect place to launch your career. The cost of living is lower than many North American cities, including other major Canadian cities like Vancouver and Toronto. Plus, the city’s employment growth rate is among the highest for major U.S. and Canadian cities. Its key industries are information and communications technologies, aerospace, and creative industries, according to Montreal International.

Montreal is also one of the most culturally rich cities in North America, with a thriving live music and arts scene and a significant percentage of the population coming from cities and countries around the world. It has the second most diverse population in Canada after Ottawa-Gatineau. 

And let’s be honest … any city that dedicates an entire week to poutine (a delicious combination of fries, cheese curds, and gravy) and an entire month to igloos has their priorities straight.

9) Boston, Massachusetts

Image Credit: Dan Hulubei

Boston is host to students from more than 100 colleges and universities including Harvard, MIT, Boston University, and Boston College — many who end up sticking around after graduation. In recent years, the city has “gone to great lengths to stop young alumni from fleeing to bigger cities,” according to Thrillist. And it’s worked: Now, the city has the highest concentration of people ages 20 to 34 of any major U.S. city.

Despite a higher cost of living than most of the cities on this list, salaries in Boston are overall attractive, sitting at 34% above the U.S. average. It’s a great place for college graduates who want to live in a big city, but who are overwhelmed by huge, sprawling cities like New York and Los Angeles. It’s also a great place for sports fans.

(Oh, and did I mention HubSpot’s hiring in our Boston-area office?)

10) Dallas, Texas

Image Credit: Huston-Tillotson University

That’s right: Another city in Texas made the shortlist. Why? Because of its many opportunities for entry-level employment, along with a healthy balance of low cost of living, high salaries, and low unemployment, according to a study by Apartments.com and CareerBuilder.com.

Dallas is home to the headquarters for a lot of major corporations, including J.C. Penney, GameStop, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Dave & Busters, Frito-Lay, and Rolex. Its most thriving industries? Telecommunications, technology, and manufacturing. But And CNN reports that startups have been flocking there because of its low taxes and minimal government interference.

11) Minneapolis, Minnesota

Image Credit: John Weeks

With its stable economy, low cost of living, and relatively high salaries, Minneapolis has earned its place as one of the best places to start your career after college. It was named one of Fortune Magazine‘s top cities for finding a job, and is host to many well known companies like Target, 3M, General Mills, Wells Fargo, and the Mayo Clinic. According to NerdWallet, “Minneapolis is young, affordable and thriving economically, making it a solid choice for recent graduates.” The most popular industries for job seekers are in marketing, banking, and retail. 

Not only is rental housing affordable, but it’s plentiful, too: More than half of homes in the city are rentals, and about 5% of them are unoccupied. NerdWallet found that Minneapolis residents with a bachelor’s degree who are 25 years old or older will spend 21.8% of their income on housing, and in many cases, rents are under $1,000 a month.

If you’re into staying fit, then you’ll fit right in, as that’s something the city’s well known for. It ranked #2 in the American Fitness Index’s list of fitness cities, and more than 80% of the city’s residents say they engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day. It’s no wonder, seeing as the city’s full of parks and trails that encourage an active lifestyle. You’ll have to stay motivated through the freezing winters, though.

12) Sydney, Australia

Image Credit: WikiProject Sydney

The thriving startup community, cosmopolitan spirit, and high quality of life are the biggest allures of Australia’s largest city. According to Virgin Entrepreneur, “Sydney is now home to a raft of start-up accelerators and incubators, which have resulted in a rapid expansion in microbusinesses in the city. … Australia produces some great talent and creative and innovative people — and in the tech sector, these people gravitate to Sydney. The Australian lifestyle also attracts smart people from around the world.”

Alongside a strong but friendly business culture, you’ll find an excellent lifestyle and a culturally diverse population. The downside? A pretty high cost of living in comparison to other cities in Australia. It’s a tradeoff for an arguably better quality of life, if you think about the proximity of beaches and national parks to the city center. (And good news: HubSpot’s hiring here, too.)

Which cities do you recommend for recent college graduates, and why? Share with us in the comments.

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Aug

18

2015

Why Your Memory Sucks: The Science of Remembering in the Internet Age

Take a second and think about the three most important people in your life.

Got ’em? Okay, now here’s a quiz: Do you know all three of their phone numbers off the top of your head?

If you don’t, you’re not alone. Why waste brain space memorizing phone numbers when you can look them up on your cell phone whenever you want, right?

Not too long ago, we used to outsource information we didn’t know to friends and family. Instead of remembering the information ourselves, we’d remember who knows what. Dad knows how to change a tire; Grant knows all the baseball stats; Julia knows how to get to Grandma’s house.

Now, we outsource memory to technology and the internet. The answer to any question in the world is only a Google search away. Our smartphones, our emails, WikiHow — they’ve all become a part of our external hard drive.

But that reliance on the internet and less on our own memory isn’t just changing our lifestyles. It’s actually changing the structure of our brains.

We’ve changed the way we take in new information. Our attention spans have become shorter. The massive amounts of information we expose ourselves to forces us to be more efficient about what we convert to long-term memories.

Has memory become obsolete thanks to the ubiquity of the internet? Let’s take a look how our dependence on technology and the internet has affected our brains and how we think, learn, and remember.

How We Make Memories

To understand how technology is changing how we make memories, let’s take a quick look at how we make memories in the first place.

Every time you learn a fact or have an experience, this information enters your working memory, also known as your short-term memory.

Your working memory is a fragile place. A new piece of information lives in there for only about 60 milliseconds before it’s either forgotten, or it moves to your long-term memory system. What determines its survival? Sometimes, it’s your own decision, whether conscious or unconscious: You decide whether the information is noteworthy or relevant enough to warrant becoming a long-term memory. Other times, a simple break in your attention can make you forget it.

Only when facts and experiences enter your long-term memory can you weave them into more complex, big-picture ideas — a process that’s a trademark of our depth of intelligence, argues WIRED‘s Nicholas Carr.

It’s that jump from short-term to long-term memory that can be most profoundly affected by our digital lifestyle.

Why? For one, because our working memories can get overloaded with more information than our brains can handle. Secondly, we’ve trained ourselves to trivialize the information we learn online in the first place.

Information Overload

When we go online to learn things, we often end up exposing ourselves to more information than our brain can possibly process and store.

Ever found yourself in one of those Wikipedia black holes, where you go in looking up the name of a Russian prime minister and emerge, hours later, having read through the entire history of the Russian Revolution?

That’s called “cognitive overload.” It can also happen when you go online look up the name of that Russian prime minister and end up also reading your emails, scrolling through your Twitter feed, and skimming through a few articles within the same time frame.

All this activity online is an interactive process that requires a lot of quick decision-making. This is why neuroimaging studies have shown frequent internet users have extensive brain activity when actively surfing the internet.

But that’s not necessarily a good thing. All the skimming we do and the notifications we receive while spending time online can easily lead to cognitive overload. When the amount of information entering our working memory exceeds our ability to process and store it, we lose our ability to retain that information in our long-term memory or draw connections with other memories.

“Our ability to learn suffers, and our understanding remains weak,” writes Carr.

A Different Type of Memory

The 2011 study “Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips” found that people who have access to search engines tend to remember fewer facts and less information overall because of the knowledge that they can find the answer easily using the internet.

In other words, when faced with a question we don’t know the answer to, we’ve conditioned ourselves not to recall the information itself, and not to stretch our memories to figure out the answer — but to know how to find the answer using a search engine.

It still means we have to remember things, it just means we’re remembering a different type of thing. We’re remembering how to find the information — best practices for online search queries, the websites that might have the best answers, clues for verifying a reputable source. It’s kind of like the use of calculators in the classroom: Students are expected to do less rote memorization, and are instead trained more on how to find the answers to complex questions.

“The internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves,” reads the study

However, that does mean we’ve trained our brains to treat online information as trivial and less worthy of our undivided attention. Each time we check email or Facebook or the news, we prepare ourselves for skimming, not for learning. In a way, we’ve conditioned ourselves to forget the information before we even read it. Our brains are less apt to focus, digest information, and convert it into long-term memory. Instead, we have an increasing appetite for more stimuli.

Adapting to Our New Reality

The folks at Academic Earth put it best: “If the goal is to forge a creative mind through critical thinking, our Google amnesia may be problematic.” Like Carr said, the human ability to translate memories into complex thinking and analysis is part of what makes us uniquely intelligent.

But it’s not like we’re losing the ability to think critically altogether. Frequent internet usage is our new reality, and the answer isn’t to turn it off or blame the kids — it’s to adapt so we can lessen any negative impacts on converting facts and experiences to long-term memory.

Put simply, we’ll need to teach ourselves how to consciously prioritize information so we can process — and I mean deeply process — the most important stuff. But how? Just as we’ve trained ourselves to trivialize online information, we can also train ourselves to consciously commit information to memory.

Repetition is one way to remember things more easily. When you do or read something once, a neurological pathway is created in your brain. When you repeat that action and experience the same reward again, that neurological pathway gets a little bit thicker; and the next time, even thicker. The thicker that pathway gets, the more implicit recalling it becomes. That’s why re-reading important articles, for instance, can be a helpful way to process and store the information in them.

Another tip? Removing the interruptions that can break your attention and make you forget things stored in your short-term memory to begin with. This means closing our email and turning off notifications when we’re working. (Or even when we’re reading our favorite newspaper.)

The ubiquity of the internet — and its effects on the way we think and how are brains are wired –can be overwhelming at times. Not to mention, a little creepy.

“We become part of the internet in a way. We become part of the system and we end up trusting it,said Daniel Wegner, the UCLA psychology professor who headed the “Google Effects on Memory” study.

So, how will our brains continue to develop as a result of technology and the internet? I’m sure we’ll see much more research on our dependence on — and even interdependence with — technology in the years ahead.

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