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How Chance the Rapper Made Millions By Giving Away Things for Free [Video]

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How Chance the Rapper Made Millions By Giving Away Things for Free [Video]




15 Uncomfortable Things That Will Make You More Successful

Published by in category Daily, Management, Office Life, pop culture, Professional Development, TOFU | Comments are closed


In a truly beautiful letter to his daughter Yolande, Sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois extolled the virtues of being uncomfortable.

Yolande was headed to a new school halfway around the world from the neighborhood and people she knew. It was years before women had the right to vote, and decades before the Civil Rights Movement.

Du Bois knew she would have more than a few fish-out-of-water moments. Instead of trying to shield her from them, he asked her to revel in them:  

Don’t shrink from new experiences and custom. Take the cold bath bravely. Enter into the spirit of your big bed-room. Enjoy what is and not pine for what is not. Read some good, heavy, serious books just for discipline: Take yourself in hand and master yourself. Make yourself do unpleasant things, so as to gain the upper hand of your soul. Above all remember: your father loves you and believes in you and expects you to be a wonderful woman.”

I am no W.E.B. Du Bois. I have neither his fortitude nor his stunning way with words. What I do have, however, is a small history of uncomfortable experiences that have made me stronger, and an endless sea of animated GIFs through which to illustrate those experiences.Boost your resume and join 30,000 marketers by getting inbound  marketing-certified for free from HubSpot. Get started here. 

Here are a handful of uncomfortable situations in which you should take De Bois’ advice and “Take the cold bath bravely.” You’ll be better off as a result.

(And remember: Investing in your career and developing new skills can often feel daunting — especially when you have a day job. If you’re looking for something you can work towards at your own pace, check out this on-demand marketing course.)

15 Uncomfortable Things That Will Make You More Successful

Brace yourself. It’s about to get awkward.

1) Learning to Take a Compliment

Source: Reaction GIFs

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You work exceedingly hard. You’ve honed your skills. You know when you’ve done great work and take a quiet pride in it. And yet, the moment someone verbalizes it in the form of a compliment you can’t seem to string two words together. Instead, you revert into one of the following

  • The babbling-response.
  • The self-deprecating response. 
  • The total and complete blackout. 

That nonsense has to stop. Here’s how to take a compliment:

  1. Realize that someone is paying you a compliment.
  2. Let them finish.
  3. Seriously, let them finish. 
  4. Take a breath.
  5. Smile and say “Thank you. That’s really good to hear.” 
  6. Move on in the conversation. Don’t over-explain. Don’t undercut yourself. Just thank them sincerely and move on with a question about how their work is going. 

Why is this so hard? According to a study by Acknowledgment Worksnearly 70% of people associate embarrassment or discomfort with the process of being recognized. Sometimes, this response is caused by the dissonance we feel when someone contradicts our own self-doubt.

But that doesn’t explain why people who are genuinely proud of themselves still balk at hearing that same praise from others. For those people, it often comes down to a learned-response. In other words, you are awkward when you receive compliments because I am awkward when I receive compliments — or, if not me, then your mom; your co-workers; your icons. We’re all making each other squirm. 

One way to turn that discomfort on its head is to realize that the compliment has more to do with the person giving it than with you. “When someone is complimenting you, they are sharing how your actions or behaviors impacted them,” explains Business Psychologist Mark Goulston. “They are not asking if you agree.”  So don’t rob them of that moment. 

2) Public Speaking


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You knew this one was coming, right? Fear of public speaking is so common it has its own phobia name: Glossophobia.  

Now, I don’t think I need to go into the reasons behind this particular juggernaut of discomfort. We’ve all been there. Having that many eyes and ears on you is stressful. It makes you feel as though any mistake or imperfection will be amplified a thousand times. I’m also certain you realize how compelling a good public speaker can be, and how much it can advance your ability to lead and inspire.

So all that leaves is the classic glossophobia question:  How do you get over it? The answer is a mix of substantial and superficial changes.

Know the essential points.

Do not attempt to memorize your speeches. Instead, memorize your key points and your pivot lines. Pivot lines are the sentences that will move you from one key point to another. They act as navigational guides for your audience and a momentary comfort zone for you. Use these pivot lines to reset, take a breath, and move to your next key point. 

Understand that everyone wants you to succeed.

You are not going into battle. You are not facing a firing squad. These people you are talking to are all decent, interested folks. Many of whom also suffer from glossophobia. So know they are friendly, and talk to them like it.

Fake it.

For this last point, I turn to Harvard Associate Professor Amy Cuddy. She is a brilliant researcher and a  self-proclaimed introvert who noticed something fascinatingly simple about skilled public speakers: They all looked comfortable, and they all appeared to be in command — even if that appearance was all a big ruse.

So she studied what happens to people’s mindset when they stood up straight, casually used the space around them, and otherwise “power-posed.” Turns out the physical act of power-posing can send biological triggers to your brain to reduce cortisol levels and increase testosterone, calming you down and empowering you simultaneously.

(Here’s a blog post on science-backed tips for better public speaking if you want to learn more.)

3) Working With Data


Source: Reddit

If you don’t take to math easily, then delving into data can be intimidating. But learning to use data to find opportunities and underscore your points is a game-changer in your career.

The trick to mastering data is to learn it in context. Start by getting to know the core metrics that reflect your work. Play with spreadsheets at the close of a month. Learn to recognize trends. Alter the data to see how moving one metric would influence the others. The more time you spend with the data the more natural interpreting it will become.  Once you’ve done that, you can dig into the tougher stuff. Here are a couple of resources to get you started:

4) Waking Up Early

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It’s exhausting, this modern life. While it may seem like you should squeeze as many extra minutes of sleep out of the morning as possible, the opposite is usually true. Your energy, focus and mental capacity are at their highest during the morning hours and proceed to wane throughout the rest of the day.

Take advantage of that time before breakfast when the chaos of the day has yet to set in. For most people, waking up early is a learned practice. 

First, make sure you’re cognizant enough to make the decision. Putting your alarm clock right next to your pillow is bound to result in you hitting snooze from a dazed state. You can’t be expected to make smart choices while you’re still dreaming. In addition, waking up early needs to become a pleasant experience. So if the thought of going straight from your warm bed to a shower or treadmill seems abrupt, then don’t do it. Instead, move from your bed to the cozy corner chair in your living room and read for a bit with a mug of coffee. What you do early on doesn’t matter, what matters is that you use the time in productive ways. (Read this blog post for more tips on becoming a morning person.)

5) Taking Critical Feedback


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This one stings sometimes, but it’s important. Learning to hear criticism without turning your back to it can be one of the most fortifying achievements of your career.

Think of critical feedback as a cheat sheet. In giving you direct feedback, your manager or colleague is giving you a shortcut  — your own personal konami code — to becoming better at your job.

Sometimes, even with the best intentions, taking feedback well can be a struggle. Your impulse will be to protect yourself; to get defensive, or stop listening. So, be conscious of it. Much like accepting a compliment, take a breath when you realize critical feedback is coming your way. Listen to it all without interruption. Write down what you can. Then, ask questions to make sure you’re interpreting it right. 

6) Giving Critical Feedback

Source: Giphy

The only thing worse than taking critical feedback is giving it. I’ve written about this before: Whether you’re a manager or a friend, feedback is an opportunity to help someone get better. Don’t waste it. Good coaches give feedback directly and with respect. Don’t try to soften the blow or talk around the feedback. Doing so may make you feel better but it will only serve to confuse them.

If you’re struggling to be direct, try one clear line followed by detail. For example, “John, what you’re doing isn’t working. Let’s talk through why…”

In addition, feedback is always most constructive if accompanied by recent concrete examples. Telling someone they have a bad attitude isn’t helpful — it’s far better to point to a precise moment in which that bad attitude showed up, and then explain how moments like that can become detrimental in aggregate. Ultimately, knowing how to improve is as important as knowing what to improve. The person receiving the feedback should leave the conversation feeling empowered to change, not broken down. (Here are some more tips on how to give negative feedback without sounding like a jerk.)

7) Fighting through Conflict

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You know what’s more uncomfortable than fighting through a conflict with someone? Settling for an uninspired compromise, and then gossiping about that person over drinks with your coworkers. That’s WAY more comfortable than conflict. (Not to mention, way less productive.)

There are two ways conflict negotiations get botched: Either one side gives in too easily, or both sides are too inflexible to make resolution possible. The cleanest way through conflict is to try to discover what’s motivating the other person. Comment trolls aside, it’s pretty rare for someone to be argumentative for no good reason. Discovering the reason will help you find a better route to solving the conflict. That’s why your best asset in settling conflict is a collection of genuine questions and a patient ear to hear the answers.

8) Exercising

Exercise Gif

Source: Giphy

I keep waiting for the study that says that exercise isn’t all its cracked up to be. It’s fair to say that study isn’t coming. Not only is exercise good for your physical health, the ties between exercise and mental capacity are becoming undeniable. (Thanks, science.)

If you like working out, skip right ahead.  If you don’t, here are the only things I’ve found to work. 

Find your reason.

Maybe you want to lose weight. Maybe it helps you think more clearly. Maybe you have three kids, a constantly buzzing phone, and a dog all demanding your attention and exercise is your only chance to be alone. The reasons don’t matter.  Just find the one that feels authentic for you and use it. 

Make the time.

Treat exercise like you treat showering. It’s just something you do; a non-negotiable daily ritual. (Psst … here are 10 little ways to sneak in exercise at work.)

Get over it.

I used to hear about “runners’ highs,” a sort of delusion that sets in after you’ve done it enough that actually makes you believe jogging is fun. That may be the case for some people. It never happened for me, and wanting to like running made it easy to give up when I ultimately didn’t. Du Bois’ advice is worth hearing again here: “Make yourself do unpleasant things, so as to gain the upper hand of your soul.”

Find your genre.

The softer alternative to the above point is to find the exercise format that you hate least. If a crowded gym makes you want to run for the hills, then work out at home or outside on your own. If you find jogging boring, join a class or sports league. Work at it — it’s worth it.

9) Unplugging

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I love the internet. And smartphones? They’re like personal escape hatches that you carry with you all the time. But maybe “all the time” is not such a good idea.

According to a TIME poll of more than 5,000 people, 84% of respondents said that they could not go a single day without their cell phones, and 20% said they check them once or more every 20 minutes.

It’s not the frequency of usage that’s the problem; it’s what that level of usage does to our focus. Using our smartphones at night can make it a lot harder to sleep. When we use our smartphones nonstop it can be harder to think clearly.

So, here’s an experiment. For two weeks, set aside some screen free time blocks in your day. During that time fight the urge to open your laptop, watch TV, or glance at your phone. Sustain it for 60 minutes or more and see if you’ve gained better focus at the conclusion of the experiment. Then, go find some cat videos on YouTube to celebrate.

10) Networking and Making Small Talk


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Everyone has a small-talk formula. Some people start with the weather (nice, mild winter we’re having, eh?), while others ask how things are going with you at work. But here’s the trick to mastering small talk: Get fascinated by it and the person wielding it. It’s a little like being dealt a hand of cards, you can use what you have to get to bigger and more interesting plays.  

If someone asks you how work is, don’t say “fine” — or worse, “busy.” Tell them it’s good and follow up with, “You know, there’s one project in particular that you may find interesting.” If you’re doing the asking, take any opportunity to dive deeper. Use each question as a spring board to the next one. Eventually, you’ll hit on something substantial. 

11) Admitting a Mistake

Source: ReactionGIFs

You know that moment right after you realize you’ve accidentally made a mistake? You know, that moment when the dread plummets into your stomach in one sweeping motion? Uncomfortable doesn’t even begin to describe it.

However, even that can be turned around. The most effective way to replace that sinking feeling in your gut is to assess the situation and take action. Ask yourself:

Is it immediately reversible?

On my last blog post, I had a glaring typo. This was not some extra spacing after a period, this was a blatant blemish smack in the middle of my post. And I missed it. Thankfully Claire Autruong caught it and let me know via Twitter so I could edit the post before it was too late. Claire is my favorite person of the week. (Incidentally, she is also a full-stack freelance marketer — inbound certified and nice as can be — if you’re looking.)

Who should know?

Whom does your mistake affect? Who is in the position who can help you solve it? Quickly scan the list of people that need to know about your mistake and contact them explaining what happened and what you’re doing about it.

What’s your plan?

If the mistake isn’t immediately reversible, you’ll need a plan of action. A good plan is the best antidote to mistake-induced discomfort. Shift from panic to determination as soon as possible, and that discomfort will subside.

12) Getting in Over Your Head

Source: ReactionGIFs

Of all the uncomfortable moments, getting in over your head is probably the one most worth pursuing. Sure, it’s a little scary , and there’s always the chance of failure, but nothing stretches you more or makes you more creative than having no idea what you’re doing.

So how do you put yourself in an over-your-head style situation? Raise your hand. When there’s a project no one wants, step up. When there’s a problem that has existed for years, have at it. Then break it down. Take big challenges and tackle them piece by piece. It may not always be fun, but you will almost always be better for the effort. 

13) Disagreeing With Your Boss


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There’s a reason my boss is my boss. He’s really freaking smart. He’s exceptionally good at what he does. So in the times I find myself disagreeing with him there are usually a few moments of internal back and forth before I’m ready to say so aloud. But I do so because I’ve learned that staying quiet is more damaging than polite.

It took me becoming a manager myself to realize how constructive disagreement can be. A perspective that is never tested grows shallow. Sometimes a dissenting opinion will make you reconsider. Sometimes it will make your stance stronger. Either way, the exercise of hearing different angles advances your thinking and improves your outcomes.

So spit it out. “I disagree on that point.” If that feels too direct consider framing it as a question. “What about a different approach?” Most importantly, don’t save up for a major disagreement. Practice coming at issues from different angles now. The more you present constructive counterpoints the easier it will become, and you’ll be more likely to speak up when it matters most.

14) Promoting Yourself


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Periodically we survey our team to get a sense for how each employee is feeling about the company and their own career development. One theme that sometimes comes back is how to get ahead without being self-promotional. Usually the comment goes something like this: “It seems like the company always recognizes the same people. I do good work, but it seems like no one notices.”

The honest response to these comments is: You’re right.

Growing companies are chaotic. They churn with activity: breakthroughs and setbacks, new projects and discoveries. Keeping up with it all isn’t practical, so managers rely on signals, and tasteful self-promotion is a valuable signal. 

Self-promotion is sometimes misused to serve the ego, but there’s a way to pull it off that also also serves the company.

We are taught not to be overly self-promotional. We are encouraged to value the achievement rather than the accolades. That message is almost right. It focuses on what matters most but fails to recognize that talking about an achievement can fuel its fire. Promoting an achievement can galvanize others to bring their ideas to it and ensure future efforts learn from it. And yes, it can get you noticed.

The trick here is being judicial. Not everything you do deserves broader attention. But some things do. In those cases, talking about them doesn’t make you an attention junkie it makes you a good communicator. If the personal attention makes you uncomfortable, focus your advocacy on the work itself. Draw attention to the discovery, milestone or lessons uncovered by your effort. The company will be better for it and you will too.

15) Admitting You Don’t Understand Something


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I was a good six months into my job as a product marketer for a software company before I finally owned up to not knowing what an API was. I mean I knew what an API was. I’d Googled it, obviously. API stands “application programming interface” and constitutes a set of “subroutine definitions, protocols, and tools for building application software.” Thanks Wikipedia. (I’ll hit you up on that next fundraising round), but for all my internet research, I didn’t really understand what an API did.

Then it came time for me to explain that my company, HubSpot, was opening up more of the helpful little buggers to the public and I did not know where to begin. So, I went to my product manager and did what any ego-protecting protagonist would do, I tried to fake it.

“How would you describe this  —  in layman’s terms — to the average reader?” I asked.

Smooth. Always blame the reader.

“Well, developers are pretty accustomed to APIs so don’t worry about needing to educate them on it.”

Not smooth.

I folded.

“Ok, then, how would you explain it to me? I mean, will you explain it to me? I don’t get it. “

And thus began my relationship with APIs. I still don’t understand all the details of how they work, but I’m much smarter for having gotten over myself and asked the question.

Don’t fake it until you make it. Get over yourself and ask the question.

I’ll stop there …

… but this is really just the beginning. Who knew there were so many uncomfortable things in the world? (Michael Cera. Michael Cera probably knew.)

From negotiating salary to reading “some good, heavy, serious books” as Du Bois suggests, this list could go on and on. Hopefully it will, in the comments below.

What uncomfortable moment have you conquered as a professional? Which are you still working on that you’d add to this list? Share with us in the comments. 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.

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6 Digital Storytelling Lessons from Pottermore

Published by in category Content Marketing, pop culture | Comments are closed


As technology continues to lower the cost of content production, today’s end user is asked to digest more stories than ever before — in conversation, in written text, at the movies, in advertisements, and even through web design. With so much to absorb, it’s essential for digital marketers to differentiate their content and deliver an incredible experience.

To better understand recent advancements and best practices in digital storytelling, look no further than the creative writing greats. J.K. Rowling, the famous author of the Harry Potter book series, has sold 450 million Harry Potter books in print, worldwide. Though the first book in the series was published nearly 20 years ago, the content continues to take new shapes through her site, Pottermore.

Launched in 2012, Pottermore is the global digital publisher of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, “dedicated to unlocking the power of imagination.”

In this post, I’ll discuss six ways Pottermore pushes the digital storytelling envelope. Apply them to your own strategy to deliver content that strengthens relationships with your community.

6 Lessons in Digital Storytelling from J.K. Rowling

1) Offer Unique, Exclusive Content

Pottermore is the host and primary retailer of the enhanced editions of the Harry Potter books, but its unique content doesn’t stop there. Visitors also gain access to new writing released by J.K. Rowling, free of charge. Her pieces flesh out existing plot points and provide further context to the original stories. To the delight of many fans, the site additionally posts sanctioned articles on all things Harry Potter that dive into niche topics and plot points.

In short, Pottermore is the destination for Harry Potter content.

This is a primary goal for digital storytellers: to develop a lauded reputation for a certain content type. This is achieved through time, consistency, and promotion. To build hype for the first release of Pottermore in 2012, a restricted number of early birds were granted access to help put the finishing touches on the site. This layer of exclusivity drove press coverage, ensuring the larger release gained significant attention.

Takeaway for Marketers: As you build your own digital storytelling world, commit to a specific angle and consider how you can present it in a way that showcases what makes it valuable and original. Perhaps it’s a noteworthy writer, the fact you stay up to date on a specific trend, or that you leverage someone’s distinct professional experience.

On Pottermore, it’s J.K. Rowling’s words that draw fans in, but the most popular features of the site aren’t about the author — they’re about the user.

2) Develop a Custom Experience

As J.K. Rowling describes in this original introductory trailer, “It’s the same story, with a few crucial editions. The most important one is you.”

In keeping with this vision, Pottermore asks visitors to create an account in order to access certain information. This allows Pottermore to learn and save information about each individual, and create a personalized experience.

To drive signups, Pottermore gates one of their most popular features — quizzes. In order for visitors to assess their Hogwarts house, Patronus, or wand type, they must create a login.


After creating an account, quiz results are saved, and users can return to read more about their results and view any purchases made to their personal account. With the information gained through the quizzes, Pottermore creates a user profile that reflects each unique individual and allows them to learn more about themselves in the context of this world.

Takeaway for Marketers: Information-gathering is the key to creating a custom experience. When you learn more about each individual user, you’re able to deliver digital stories in a way that resonates.

Pottermore uses quizzes, but you can also use less direct means to learn more about your readers, such as through Google Analytics’ suite of tools. You can always, however, ask for information directly. Users are often happy to submit information when they know the output will be an experience suited entirely to their tastes.

3) Create a Sense of Belonging

After completing Pottermore’s sorting quizzes, users are assigned to respective “houses.” This house, similar to the membership signup, creates a sense of belonging within the larger Pottermore community.

Ironically, this might be the single thing Harry Potter fans crave most from the original content: to finally join the book’s secret wizarding society that allegedly lives right under the reader’s nose.

To further foster this sense of community, Pottermore is also launching a new book club that will encourage discussion among users through a Twitter chat.

Takeaway for Marketers: To create a sense of belonging among your own community, you need to give your audience a way to identify as a part of the larger whole and participate. It helps to pay special attention to the language you use in your marketing efforts. J.K. Rowling placed heavy emphasis on the reader in her introductory trailer, referring to her fans as a “wonderful, diverse, and loyal.” Digital storytellers, too, must invite their audiences to enjoy content in a way that lets them know their perspectives and experiences are understood and appreciated.

Pay careful attention to the language you use in your invitation to resonate with your target audience. Use identifying phrases that help your readers understand that your content is especially for them.

4) Build a World

Your visitors will more likely feel a sense of belonging if you go so far as to create a digital “world.”

Luckily, you don’t need to be a fantasy author to create a content universe — but it can be helpful to take a few cues from them. Part of what turns a fiction fan into a fanatic is that they’re invited into a unique world that is so fleshed out, it seems real. This augmented sense of reality makes it easier to forge a connection with the content, and imagine yourself inside of the story.

How, then, can you make your story, brand, or idea so well-fleshed out, that a user feels connected and a part of your universe?

Takeaway for Marketers: Like Pottermore, your “world” should be branded to have its own identity that attracts people to become a part of it. Another brand that pulls this off is REI. Its award-winning marketing campaign #OptOutside is an example of how consumers can attach themselves to the qualities associated with a company. By making it extremely clear what their brand represents, REI grew their community by throngs not for their products — but for their ideals.

5) Provide Regular Updates and News

Another way you can continue to build the world of your story or brand is to regularly provide new content.

On Pottermore, in honor of the fact that the first book in the Harry Potter series was published nearly 20 years ago, posts that explore and celebrate the first book’s themes, moments, and characters are released every Friday.

The site also includes an entire page dedicated to official information and news around latest happenings related to the content. Several newsworthy pieces are released each month. This content keeps visitors informed, and also protects the brand from speculation, rumors, and incorrect reporting on other sites.

Takeaway for Marketers: When you take control of the news that’s shared about your organization, you develop a reputation as a trusted and transparent resource. You also appear more active and responsive to relevant current events. Establish a cadence for content creation, and stick to it to build an expectation and trust with your community members.

6) Reimagine Existing Content

Perhaps most trendsetting of all, Pottermore sells enhanced editions of the original books that reimagine the stories. In the spirit of magic, the new editions are complete with animations and interactive artwork. Their goal is to engage your imagination and create a new reading experience that brings you closer to the content than ever before.

The enhanced editions, and the site in general, are shining examples of how storytellers are taking it to the next level to create incredible experiences for their readers.

Takeaway for Marketers: When you work hard to publish valuable content regularly, it can feel disheartening to consider its digital shelf life. To make the most of your evergreen content, and avoid reinventing the wheel, think through what improvements you might make to the experience to wow and delight your readers. Whether you update key facts and statistics, add a video message, or reimagine the page’s design, you can add components that elevate existing pieces of information in new and exciting ways.

At its heart, Pottermore exists to create a phenomenal storytelling experience. You, too, can send a message to your community and the industry at-large when you focus on the end user.

The Magic of Digital Storytelling

When you create a unique experience for your community that centers around delight, you invite your readers to feel as if they are a part of something. This, in turn, increases their loyalty, and makes them more likely to consume your content again and again, and refer your brand to others. Case in point: the brilliance of even the name of J.K. Rowling’s site, Pottermore.

What marketing lessons have your favorite books taught you? Let us know in the comments.

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May Social Media News: The Fight Over the Disappearing Message Continues

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


In life, there are a few certainties: death, taxes, and Facebook.

This month, we’ve seen the competition continue to heat up between Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat over how to create the most engaging and marketable disappearing message.

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Instagram and Snapchat continue to innovate — and copy each other — to win when it comes to user base and engagement. Instagram Stories have millions more users than Snapchat, but Snapchat has the advantage of entrenchment with millennials. In fact, 35% and 46% of Snapchat users can’t be reached on Facebook or Instagram, respectively.

Snapchat versus Instagram isn’t all that’s new in the social media world this month. The list isn’t exhaustive, but you can expect to learn the major highlights — what was launched, what changed, and what these stories could mean for marketers.

13 of the Biggest Social Media News Stories This Month

Snapchat News

1) Snapchat launched new features.

Snapchat launched a ton of brand-new features this month to innovate in the face of heightened competition from Instagram and Facebook. Here’s a rundown of what’s new in the app:

Sponsored world lenses: Last month, Snapchat launched World Lenses, which let users add augmented reality (AR) elements to their Snaps. Now, brands can get in on the action by buying AR ads users can get creative with. Adweek notes Warner Brothers, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Netflix are the first brands to purchase these elements, so keep an eye out for them in your app.

Magic Eraser: (No, not the cleaning sponge.) Snapchat’s new Magic Eraser lets users erase elements from Snaps with the click of a button. Here are before-and-after shots of the same Snap — one of which I used the Magic Eraser on. It’s not perfect, but it does the trick for a quick edit on the go:


Custom Stories: Users can now create Snapchat Stories that are viewable only for a certain group of friends. Custom Stories can also be further customized with Geofences, which limit Story viewing to a specific location. Here’s the demo video from Snapchat:

Now that Snapchat is part of a company in fierce competition with much larger social media apps, it’s doing all it can to be at the cutting-edge of innovation to keep users engaged on the app. There’s no telling when, but we can be almost completely assured a version of these new capabilities will be rolled out on Instagram soon.

2) Snapchat launched Instagram-inspired features.

This isn’t to say Snapchat is completely innocent: It’s also launched a couple features that might look familiar to fans of Instagram Stories. Here are the features that were “inspired” by Instagram and Instagram Stories:

Looping videos: Inspired by Instagram’s Boomerang, Snapchat now lets users create looping videos that play infinitely — instead of expiring and needing to be replayed after the maximum length of 10 seconds. The sender has to make this option available when editing a Snap, and if it’s enabled, the viewer doesn’t send a notification they’ve replayed a Snap.

Self-serve ads manager: This isn’t strictly Instagram-inspired, but the rollout of a self-serve Snapchat ads manager is a nod to its desire to maintain and grow its user base among smaller brands, too. This will make it easier for brands without the budget of Coca-Cola or Walmart to advertise on Snapchat — and without having to go through a sales team to do it.

3) Snap Inc. hosted its first earnings call as a public company.

Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, hosted its first earnings call for investors since its initial public offering (IPO) back in March. Here are a few of the highlights we gleaned with the help of The Motley Fool:

Snap Inc. raised $3.4 billion last quarter. That’s the largest social media IPO since Twitter’s back in November 2013.

Snap Inc. experienced slowed daily active user (DAU) growth. DAUs are growing 36% year over year, but Snapchat added only 8 million more DAUs in its first quarter as a public company — missing analysts’ target growth of 9-10 million users. User growth is highly concentrated in North America and Europe, which will make it tough to grow at the pace needed to keep up with the competition.

Snap Inc. invested heavily in research and development, and increased its engineer headcount by 260%. This further reinforces our previous notes about the competition heating up — facing increased pressure from Instagram and Facebook, Snapchat is trying to innovate and create new things as quickly as possible.

Revenue decreased and losses increased — making its path to profitability even longer. Snap Inc. is spending so much on R&D, and the ads business is in still in such a nascent stage, that analysts don’t predict Snap’s profitability anytime soon.

TL;DR: Snap Inc. is growing slower than anticipated. It’s responding to increased competition by hiring like crazy to innovate and roll out new, differentiating features, but it will need to expand worldwide to keep growing its user base.

Instagram News

4) Instagram launched a new feature.

Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) launched a new feature for Instagram Stories, its own Snapchat-inspired answer to the ephemeral messaging craze. Here’s what’s brand-new with Instagram this month:

Archive option: Users are starting to archive Instagram posts — instead of deleting altogether. For whatever reason, if you want to hide a post from view, you can now archive it, where you can view it privately or restore it to your feed if you change your mind. This change hasn’t been rolled out to my app yet, so it’s safe to say it’s still in a testing phase, but stay tuned.

5) Instagram launched Snapchat-inspired features.

Like Snapchat, Instagram lifted a few features from the playbook of its biggest competitor. Here are a few of Snapchat’s greatest hits, now living within Instagram Stories:

Face filters: In a move that’s possibly the biggest Snapchat ripoff (er, we mean, “inspiration”) yet, Instagram unveiled face filters for the front-facing camera. Like Snapchat Lenses, users can add augmented reality filters and masks to their selfies to make them silly and fun. Here’s what a few of them look like in action:

instagram-face-filters.pngSource: Instagram

Location and Hashtag Stories: In a nod to Snapchat’s Story Search, Location and Hashtag Stories let users search to see what other users are posting about. You can now search content across cities and hashtags used — the one differentiator between Snapchat’s search feature launched earlier this year. Here’s what it looks like in action:

instagram-hashtag-stories.pngSource: Instagram

With these two changes in place, there isn’t much left that’s proprietarily different about Snapchat over Instagram, so it might start coming down to user preference. Instagram has been advertising on the platform longer than Snapchat — plus, verified brands can add links to posts on Instagram Stories — which might continue the wave of brands and publishers that are choosing Instagram for their ephemeral messaging needs.

Facebook News

6) Facebook updated the News Feed algorithm.

Facebook has made more adjustment to its News Feed algorithm this month. Here are the biggest changes to how Facebook adjusts what you see when you log in every day:

Facebook will further downgrade publishers that publish clickbait headlines. The algorithm will now start downgrading posts based on individual instances of clickbait and based on a Page’s past history of being clickbaity (if that’s a word yet). Additionally, posts will be downgraded in the News Feed if the headline overexaggerates the content in the link itself — a nuance that signals a deepened commitment to its position as a news site.

Facebook will downgrade links to sites that provide a low-quality experience or are inundated with disruptive ads. This means pages that post links to sites that offer “little substantive content” or disruptive, “malicious” ads will be downgraded in the News Feed and may be ineligible to be promoted on Facebook.

TL;DR: Don’t publish clickbait and don’t link to low-quality sites when you post for your brand on Facebook for maximum reach and exposure in the News Feed.

7) Facebook is testing joint notifications across Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram.

Facebook wants to make it easier than ever for its users to stay within its apps by launching joint notifications for Messenger and Instagram within Facebook notifications. In a statement to CNET, Facebook said it was running a “very small test” of this feature — here’s what it will look like if it’s rolled out everywhere:

facebook-instagram-messenger-notification-integration.pngSource: CNET

8) Facebook Live launches — now with friends.

Facebook Live launched something new, too. Now, users can go live with another Facebook friend in a shared screen. This could make interviews easier conduct via Facebook Live, a highly engaging content format on the platform, or it could be a fun way to connect with friends. Either way, it looks like Google Hangouts and FaceTime on the News Feed:

9) Facebook inked a deal with Major League Baseball to livestream games.

Facebook made a deal with Major League Baseball (MLB) to livestream 20 free games this summer — roughly one per week. This is a clear nod to Twitter’s dominance in livestreaming — the app broadcasts pro football, hockey, baseball, and basketball games, as well as live news coverage that attracts millions of viewers. You can watch the live stream of the first MLB game on Facebook here.

We’ll see if viewers gravitate toward Facebook and away from Twitter to watch baseball for free this summer — we’ll keep you posted. (And I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to root for the Boston Red Sox.)

10) Facebook announced it will hire 3,000 Facebook Live monitors.

In response to growing backlash against the lack of oversight over Facebook Live videos depicting violent crimes, Facebook announced it would start the process of hiring 3,000 people specifically to monitor live video content. In a Facebook post, CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said monitors will serve to get people help if they need it and remove offensive content from the platform.

It’s unclear how effective these monitors will be — and Facebook certainly can’t prevent violence in the first place — but Zuckerberg cited the fast prevention of a suicide mentioned on a live broadcast, so we’re cautiously optimistic this will decrease violent incidents on the platform.

Twitter News

11) #NuggsforCarter set a new record for the most retweets ever.

It started as an innocent question — Carter Wilkerson wanted to know how many retweets would be a high enough achievement to earn a lifetime supply of free chicken nuggets from Wendy’s.


— Carter Wilkerson (@carterjwm)
April 6, 2017

When the Wendy’s social media team gave him a number, Wilkerson made it his mission. And although he hasn’t hit 18 million retweets yet, he hit another milestone: This month, his tweet dethroned comedian Ellen Degeneres’ infamous Oscar selfie to become the most retweeted ever on Twitter.

If only Bradley’s arm was longer. Best photo ever. #oscars

— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow)
March 3, 2014

12) Co-founder Biz Stone returned to Twitter.

After selling visual search engine Jelly to Pinterest earlier this year, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone announced in a Medium post that he was returning to Twitter to focus on company culture, team morale, and people operations. Twitter has experienced a lot of executive turnover in recent years — in addition to intense scrutiny over abuse and dissemination of fake news on the platform — so a morale boost is coming at a good time for Twitter.

13) Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o inked a movie deal — based on a tweet.

This news might be the best of all, depending on your music and film tastes: Hollywood might see its first film that originated thanks to a simple tweet.

Actress Lupita Nyong’o and musician Rihanna were spotted sitting together at a Paris Fashion Week runway, and someone tweeted a photo of them that spawned into a discussion — looping in director Ava Duvernay — of creating a heist movie together.

Rihanna looks like she scams rich white men and lupita is the computer smart best friend that helps plan the scans

— kateria 🌸 (@1800SADGAL)
April 18, 2017

I’m down if you are @rihanna

— Lupita Nyong’o (@Lupita_Nyongo)
April 21, 2017

I’m in Pit’z

— Rihanna (@rihanna)
April 23, 2017

@MikelleStreet @rihanna Lights set. Camera’s up. Ready to call action for these #queens. 👑

— Ava DuVernay (@ava)
April 24, 2017

No word yet on when this inevitable blockbuster is coming out, but Netflix bought the rights to it — making it what might possibly be the most 2017 movie of all time.

Did we miss any big social media stories? Share with us in the comments below.

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14 of the Best Snapchats to Follow for Inspiration

Published by in category Ecommerce, pop culture, Social Media, TOFU | Comments are closed


It used to be that Snapchat was seen as a platform geared mostly toward teens and pre-teens. But over the last several years, Snapchat has added features and made changes that have helped to move it into a much broader space.

No longer is it a niche photo-messaging service — it’s become an established media platform valued at over $19 billion and with over 161 million daily users. As for the age range of its user base, eMarketer reports that 34% of all Snapchat users in the U.S. are between the ages of 18 and 24, and comScore found that 69% of U.S. smartphone users ages 13 to 24 use Snapchat. New Call-to-action

That’s why brands from every industry and with all manner of target demographic — from Sour Patch Kids to General Electric, and even HubSpot — are using Snapchat to connect with fans and customers in a way that’s low-cost, but highly personal and engaging. You’ll notice the content these brands post on Snapchat isn’t polished: it’s raw and scrappy and fun. After all, Snapchat is all about letting your brand personality shine and relating to your target audience on a totally human level.

Before we list the best brands to follow on Snapchat, let’s be sure we all know how to follow brands on Snapchat and view content in the first place.

(Click here to skip ahead to the best brands on Snapchat.)

How to Follow Brands on Snapchat

To follow brands on Snapchat, you’ll first have to make a Snapchat account of your own. Snapchat accounts are nothing fancy: no profile picture, no bio, no URL to your website. All you really have to do is download the free Snapchat app (for iOS here or for Android here), and then create an account by entering your email, a username, and a password.

Once you’ve made an account, you’re ready to find and follow brands (and other users).

Step 1: Open the Snapchat app and swipe down on your screen. You’ll be taken to your home screen (below).

Step 2: On the home screen, add friends by clicking the “Add Friends” option.


Step 3: Time to add some friends. You can add friends in a few ways: by username, from your address book (i.e. your phone’s contacts list), by Snapcode, or from someone nearby.


To add folks by username, you’ll have to type in exact usernames to find people, as there is no account suggestion option like other social networks have. For example, Sour Patch Kids’ Snapchat username is @sourpatchsnaps, not @sourpatchkids — but you’ll have to type that.

To add a user by scanning a Snapcode, simply take a picture or screenshot of a user’s Snapcode with your mobile device. Then, find the “Add by Snapcode” option by following the steps outlined above, and choose the photo you took of the Snapcode. The app will recognize the Snapcode and add the person automatically.

(The list of brands below includes each brand’s Snapcode, so if you’re reading this post on your mobile device, you can try adding these brands on Snapchat by screenshotting the Snapcodes as you read. Then, later, open the Snapchat app and find “Add by Snapcode” — and you can add each brand one-by-one by finding the corresponding screenshot in your saved photos.)

Step 4: Once you follow the brands you want on Snapchat, you can view Snapchat content the same way you’d view your friends’ Snapchat Stories: Open the Snapchat app, and then swipe the whole screen left to get to your Stories.

Brands aren’t set apart from other users, so you’ll have to find the brands among your friends. Click on a brand’s username to view its Story.


Now that you know how to find and follow brands on Snapchat and view Stories, let’s get into the best brands to follow on Snapchat.

14 of the Best Brands on Snapchat

1) Sour Patch Kids

Username: @sourpatchsnaps


Many of the earliest adopters of Snapchat were teenagers, which gave the snack company, Modelez, an incentive to hop on the platform to promote its Sour Patch Kids candy brand.

In 2014, one of the company’s major goals was to grow awareness among its core demographic: candy-loving teenagers in the United States. Because teenagers were reportedly spending more and more time on Snapchat, the brand decided to go there to create fun content teens could share with one another.

The video below is an excerpt from one of its first campaigns back in 2014, called “Real-life Sour Patch Kid.” For the campaign, the company teamed up with Logan Paul, a social media influencer and comedian, who spent five days recording pranks around New York City via Snapchat. It was a play off the brand tagline, “First they’re sour, then they’re sweet,” as the pranks went from “sweet” at the beginning of the five days to more “sour” pranks as the week went on.

Each month, new Stories were released showing the “Real Sour Patch Kids” acting like regular teenagers. Below is an example of them showcasing their “favorite Halloween costumes”:


Source: Shorty Awards

More recently, Sour Patch Kids started experimenting with Snapchat Spectacles to film a Tasty on BuzzFeed-style “recipe” video — although it’s not quite the same. The Snapchat Story purports to show viewers how to bake cookies with Sour Patch Kids in them, but the baker is as mischievous as the candy Kids. This silly snap showcases the fun and prankster spirit the brand is known for while also demonstrating the neat circular video filmed using Spectacles.

Source: Ad Age

2) Everlane

Username: @EVERLANE


The retail company Everlane was another early Snapchat adopter, but with an even more daring approach to the then-new social platform. In November 2015, it wrote this on its official blog: “We’re here to make a bold claim. Snapchat is going to become the de-facto social channel for Everlane. Over the past month, we’ve been testing it in small batches and we’re in love.”

Why did Everlane love it so much? Because it found it was an even better way to showcase its radical approach to transparency than other social networks like Facebook.

“Facebook is a spot for updating our community and having one on one conversations,” read the post. “But Snapchat is completely different. Snapchat gives us the chance to explore transparency in a completely new way. No fancy cameras. No editing. Just raw, live, footage. It’s beautiful, and it’s the platform for the modern generation.”

Almost two years later, Everlane hasn’t turned back. The folks at Everlane use Snapchat as kind of a backstage pass into its ecommerce business, events, and culture. It uses the Snapchat Story feature to create narratives around giving tours of Everlane spaces, interviewing customers in brick-and-mortar stores, and previewing new products. As Everlane’s social media lead told Business Insider,

We’re trying to find little bits of what’s going on here daily at headquarters to share with our consumers. I think it’s a rare opportunity for them to see how a brand is being built day in and day out. A lot of bigger companies have already established their brand, so what they’re seeing is something that’s a finished product, whereas we have such a long way to go.”

On #TransparencyTuesday, for example, Everlane uses Snapchat to record a walkthrough of its business or factories — every single one of which team members personally visit.


Source: Tech Insider

The social team also personally answers questions sent via Snapchat:


Source: Tech Insider

3) Cisco

Username: @wearecisco


Let’s face it, networking and telecommunications technology aren’t the most engaging topics on social media. (To be honest, I’m not totally sure what those mean.)  So instead of trying to explain or show highly technical devices on its Snapchat channel, Cisco showcases the other side of its organization: the humans who work there.

In Cisco’s “Day in the Life of an Account Manager” Snapchat series, it chronicles the workday of an account manager as he or she visits different cities and plans on behalf of Cisco. Using emojis, jokes, and lenses, the star of the Story gives the brand a more human side.

Cisco’s Snapchat is a great lesson for B2B marketers who want to engage on social media but aren’t certain of the subject matter. If you don’t think your product or service is that exciting, focus on other aspects of your organization, such as the company culture or lives of employees. Things like events, parties, and behind-the-scenes tours will give your brand personality and will give you more ideas for content to feature.

4) General Electric

Username: @generalelectric


Would you ever have guessed that General Electric, a multinational conglomerate corporation, would have an active and effective presence on Snapchat?

The brand has actually done an awesome job of using its platform to showcase its geeky personality and to encourage interest in science — something GE has done well on other social media networks like Instagram and YouTube.

One of the best ways GE uses the platform is in a series in which it answers users’ questions by explaining scientific concepts in a concise and fun way. For example, it recently shared some of its findings from its emoji science curriculum, which GE established along with the National Science Foundation.

.@WhiteHouse In honor of the #WHScienceFair we’re doing some #EmojiScience on our Snapchat. Check it out! cc: @POTUS

— General Electric (@generalelectric)
April 13, 2016

In addition to sharing emoji science findings, GE also encourages Snapchat followers to interact directly. “Just add ‘generalelectric’ on Snapchat, send us an emoji, and we’ll send you some science,” GE wrote on its Tumblr. Here’s an example of the “science” followers might get in return:

GE’s global director of innovation Sam Olstein said about Snapchat, “The disappearing nature of its content encourages repeat usage and provides us with a unique way to celebrate invention with an expanding community of young fans.”

(To learn more about GE’s creative content, check out this episode of The Growth Show.)

5) Gatorade

Gatorade doesn’t have a Snapchat account of its own, but thanks to its epic sponsored lens Snapchat at the Super Bowl last year, we think it deserves a place on this list. (Note: A Snapchat lens is essentially a creative filter for your selfies. It’s what you see when your friends send Snapchats of them puking rainbows. Learn how to use Snapchat lenses here.)

Here’s what Gatorade did: When a football team wins a game, it’s customary that the team dumps whatever sports drink is in the team cooler onto their coach’s head. During the Super Bowl football game in 2016, the folks at PepsiCo-owned Gatorade released a genius Super Bowl Snapchat lens that let anyone give themselves a Gatorade bath, too.


Image Credit: Adweek

To create the ad, the folks at Gatorade partnered with Snapchat to purchase a sponsored lens, which costs around $450,000 per sponsored lens on normal days, and up to $750,000 on “peak days” like holidays and the Super Bowl.

Then, Gatorade had professional tennis player Serena Williams — whom Gatorade sponsors — star in the ad above. The ad shows her getting virtually “dumped on” by a cooler of orange Gatorade, thanks to the lens. The company tweeted out a GIF of the Snapchat to get the momentum going, and by the end of the day, the sponsored lens had reportedly been viewed over 100 million times.

6) Warby Parker

Username: @warbyparker


At Warby Parker, Snapchat is used for a variety of topics: everything from showcasing products (“Today on Snapchat, we try on our favorite Crystal frames in 15 seconds”) to giving users a chance to hear from the company’s co-founder Neil Blumenthal (“Our co-founder Neil Blumenthal is inside the secret room today. Tune in on Snapchat as he answers your questions!”).

Warby Parker has several Snapchat series, including one called “Desk Job.” In one recent Snapchat Story, Warby Parker featured one of its brand creative managers for his five desk essentials. Once a Snapchat Story is up, the brand promotes them on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. (I noticed it didn’t promote them on Facebook, which is probably a good thing: On Facebook, it’s important not be selective about what you publish and focus on quality, rather than quantity, of posts.)

Tune into Snapchat for Desk Job—today, Brand Creative Manager Matt discusses his five desk essentials!

— Warby Parker (@WarbyParker)
April 19, 2016

7) GrubHub

Username: @grubhub


GrubHub, also an early Snapchat adopter, has been putting out content on about a weekly basis since late 2013. But Grubhub uses Snapchat a little differently than many of the folks on this list. Rather than producing one-way content, GrubHub focuses on building out an active community by sending out Snapchat messages that require responses, like exclusive coupons, contests, giveaways, and promotional codes.

The screenshots below are from a story it released where followers could send back a Snapchat of a “food doodle” for a chance to win a prize. (You can watch the Story in its entirety here.)


Image Credit: Fast Company

During the 2016 holiday season, GrubHub set out to “deliver joy” by posting Snapchat Stories filmed from the perspective of a delivery person wearing Snapchat Spectacles. Snapchat is all about authentic, behind-the-scenes looks at a brand, and most people don’t think of the point-of-view of a delivery person when they think GrubHub. This campaign gave the brand a more personable, human side while showcasing some cool new tech.

8) The New York Times

Username: @thenytimes


The writers, editors, and other folks at The New York Times use Snapchat a little differently — sometimes poking fun at their misunderstanding of it, other times using it as a storytelling platform (and then analyzing it in writing later).

For example, check out the Snapchat Story below from Nick Bilton, one of The Times’ writers. The Story is very meta: It shows his friend teaching him how to use Snapchat so he can write a story for The Times about how to write Snapchat Stories.

Like other brands, it’s very much a raw, behind-the-scenes look into the life of the writer. “I’m not actually writing right now. I’m just kind of pretending,” says Bilton at one point during the Story.

Here’s another example of a Snapchat Story from The Times that’s a little more serious. This one was part of an analysis of what makes an objectively good Snapchat Story, which later culminated in this piece by Talya Minsberg. For the piece, she recruited journalists at The Times to participate in a mobile challenge to create an objectively good Snapchat Story.

So, what makes an objective good Snapchat Story? Minsberg says it’s nearly impossible to define, but “the best Snapchat stories generally are ones that tell a narrative in a personal, visual way that pulls in and keeps the viewer.”

Another important takeaway from her piece is this: “Even Snapchat stories must uphold the same standards as anything else published by The Times. There are just more doodles and emojis in a Snapchat story than you would see in print!”

9) DJ Khaled

Username: @djkhaled305


DJ Khaled may not be your typical brand, but he has single-handedly redefined the celebrity presence on Snapchat — and there’s a lot brands can learn from him. In March 2016, less than a year after DJ Khaled had even heard of the app, it was reported that his Snapchats were attracting around 3 million to 4 million viewers each.

What’s his secret? First, his style of shooting videos is really effective. He likes to pair mundane daily routines — like putting on deodorant and watering his plants — with funny commentary and one-liners.

He has some mantras he repeats like “another one” and “bless up,” which he’s parlayed into some really expensive merchandise. He also likes to share “keys to wisdom,” and even got his own geofilter on a road trip to Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve (which anyone can do, by the way).

The combination of backstage pass-like topics, hilarious one-liners, and fun use of emojis makes Khaled’s account very shareable and followable.

10) Domino’s Pizza UK

Username: @DOMINOS_UK


The folks at Domino’s Pizza have never been afraid to experiment with new social media channels. It was the first brand to use Tinder as part of a 2015 Valentine’s Day campaign, and its “Tweet to Eat” campaign let fans order pizza via Twitter by sending a pizza emoji.

As for its global presence, Dominos’ social media teams around the world have adopted the platform at different times. For example, Domino’s Australia started using Snapchat as early as 2013, sending out Snapchat Stories (like the one screenshot below) that aligned with campaigns the brand was doing elsewhere on social media.


Image Credit: brandchannel

The U.K. team at Domino’s Pizza didn’t get on Snapchat until January 2016, but it started out with a pretty cool experiment that led to a lift in orders. On January 20, 2016, Domino’s U.K. turned its Snapchat Story into a short film, titled “Dough to Door.”

The film follows the journey of a Domino’s delivery driver who hits a few obstacles on his way to deliver a pizza to a customer — including an alien invasion. According to The Drum, it also showed a sequence of random letters throughout the film that amount to an exclusive discount code customers could then use online.

The folks at Domino’s found that the low-budget effort led to an increase in orders. “The film drove a lot more orders then we would’ve expected even though it wasn’t really a massive driver for us,” Nick Dutch, Dominos’ head of digital strategy, told Business Insider.

Because Snapchat doesn’t offer much in the way of analytics (unless you are using Snapchat for paid advertising), the only way Dutch’s team was able to attribute that increase in orders to Snapchat was because of the unique discount code — so keep that in mind when you’re creating Stories of your own.

11) The Washington Post

Username: @washingtonpost


The Washington Post uses Snapchat to cover breaking news stories. In fact, starting this year, the newspaper will begin covering breaking news for Snapchat. The Washington Post covers each and every breaking political and news story out there, and by sharing Snapchat coverage, the paper can provide its followers with a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on in Washington much faster than if reporters had to write up and publish an article.

Here’s a Snapchat Story The Post recently published about the President’s joint address to Congress. The story features narration and captions to explain what’s going on, behind-the-scenes details, and includes short video hot-takes with members of Congress that viewers wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Check it out below:

In just a few minutes, The Washington Post used Snapchat to cover a story that might require a lot more time to read or watch on the news. If you create content for a blog or publication that covers breaking news, experimenting with Snapchat might be an easy way to get stories out faster.

12) NASA

Username: @nasa


NASA publishes fantastic explainer video series on its Snapchat, and it makes them entertaining and easy to follow whether you’re a space nerd or a casual visitor. It uses Snapchat to cover breaking news stories about space, to explain complicated concepts, and to interview people.

In the Snapchat Story below, NASA reviews the return of Astronaut Scott Kelly a year after the end of his yearlong space mission. It also hypes a new study NASA is running based on DNA samples from Kelly and his twin brother to investigate the viability of long-term human missions to Mars.

This story is undeniably cool — who isn’t curious about what’s on Mars? It’s also a well-constructed Snapchat Story that uses narration, images, text, and emojis to tell a story quickly and effectively.

13) Bustle

Username: @bustledotcom

bustle snapcode.png

Bustle uses its Snapchat channel to produce original or repurposed content in the same style as content on its website: listicles. Bustle produces a ton of entertaining and informative list-style content, and it features instructional videos and lists in step-by-step format on Snapchat.

In this Snapchat Story, Bustle provides DIY beauty instructions in a fun, easily replicable way. The useful and affordable beauty hack caters to its target audience of real women.

In another Story, Bustle creates a Snapchat version of a Black History Month booklist. It echoes the structure of a lot of its list-style blog posts. The summaries are a nice touch to pique viewer interest, too.

Marketers can easily create original or repurposed content in this Snapchat format. Break down a recent blog post, give followers advice, or simply record a behind-the-scenes look at how your organization does a common process. It’s unique, engaging, and doesn’t require a ton of creative lift behind it.

14) HubSpot

Username: @hubspotinc


While there are a lot of B2C brands doing cool things with Snapchat, there are far fewer B2B companies that have successfully built a following. This is a challenge we wanted to take on here at HubSpot, which is why we launched our Snapchat channel in March 2016.

To make our Snapchat channel valuable, we’re using it to serve as both a marketing and a recruiting channel — a place where we can showcase our unique culture and perks, our awesome employees, and the inbound philosophy.

On the marketing side, we like to give followers a good look inside the company and showcase our culture. The goal here is to be educational, informative, and lovable, which are very familiar goals on our marketing team.

For example, when MTV News Editor Rachel Zarrell (formerly of BuzzFeed News) came to HubSpot to speak about viral content, we showcased some of her talk — and what employees thought about it afterward — on Snapchat.


On the culture side, we want to position HubSpot as a destination — and hopefully spur viewers to check out our other online offers like our blog, website, careers page, and so on. The key for us is using a human voice that fits in the Snapchat world, rather than a voice that’s stuffy or ultra-professional.


We’re also committed to community service and involvement, so we like to feature that aspect of our culture on Snapchat, too. Here are our chronicles of a recent bone marrow registry drive we hosted for HubSpot employees:


What are your favorite brands to follow on Snapchat? Share with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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From the Phonograph to Spotify: The History of Streaming Music

Published by in category Canonical, pop culture | Comments are closed


Introducing “Posts as a Podcast”: Explore something new on your daily commute, at the gym, or from the comfort of your desk. We’re turning our favorite posts into bite-sized podcasts for your listening pleasure. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and let us tell you a story.

Once upon a time, in a land that some of us are so lucky to remember, people had to leave the house to buy music. We would count down the days until a new album dropped, and sometimes, we would even line up outside of the record store to make sure we could get our hands on a copy — because, believe it or not, there was a time when albums actually sold out.

Yes — I’m speaking of the era when music wasn’t a downloadable, streaming product.

And it really wasn’t that long ago, either. I remember the days before CDs became a commodity, before I even started buying my own cassettes, when the walls of my childhood home were lined with shelves just crammed with vinyl records. I had a box of my very own 45s. I couldn’t dream of a day when, to get the latest music or even learn about new artists, I wouldn’t have to go out or even turn on the TV. That information would be presented on a computer. Download our full collection of free content marketing templates here. 

But music consumption has a far, far greater history than the days of classic record stores and 45s. It has prehistoric roots that somehow led to an era in which we enjoy multiple online and mobile options for listening to, well, pretty much whatever we want. So, how did we get here? It’s a fascinating tale — with a remarkably fast plot progression.

From Napster to YouTube Music: The History of Internet Radio

Live Performance

Woman_kithara_CdM_581.jpgSource: Brygos Painter Français, via Wikimedia Commons

Historians believe ancient humans created flute-like instruments as part of hunting rituals and primitive cultural gatherings. It’s estimated that this earliest form dates back about 35,000 years.

From there, live music progressed through ancient Greece, where it was an essential part of different celebrations and life events, like weddings, religious ceremonies, and funerals. It’s said that the Greeks of this era were responsible for inventing many of the fundamental elements we use to compose music today, like octaves, as well as terms like “scale” and “diatonic.” Much of that was built upon in ancient Rome, where the Greek fondness of attending and spectating at live events in amphitheater-like settings was shared.

People began recording music by hand — that is, what we today think of as sheet music. Before the sound itself could be captured mechanically, written instructions existed on how to reproduce pieces of music that were previously played. Some estimate that this practice dates back to the Babylonian era, between 1250-1200 B.C.

But many scholars say that our modern traditions of live music truly began in the European middle ages, when churches served as venues for what could be deemed live performance. Sacred melodies like Gregorian chants and the growing presence of pipe organs in houses of worship paved the way for classical composers like Johann Sebastian Bach, whose earliest work was often written and performed in churches.

Eventually, there was a desire or idea to consume music outside of a venue, and to be able to hear it without someone else performing it in front of an audience. That’s where an inventor — who you might have heard of — comes in: Thomas Edison.


The Phonograph

Edison_and_phonograph_edit1.jpgSource: Levin C. Handy, via Wikimedia Commons

Surprisingly, Edison didn’t set out to create the phonograph as a way of consuming music. Rather, its 1877 invention was more of an expansion upon his earlier work on the telegraph (invented by Samuel Morse) and the telephone (invented by Alexander Graham Bell and Antonio Meucci). He thought that a spoken message — like a verbal version of a telegraph, but recorded — could be captured and reproduced. As it turns out, it worked, which he found out after testing a rhyme on the earliest prototype.

But when Edison published “The Phonograph and Its Future” in an 1878 issue of the North American Review, he hypothesized, “The phonograph will undoubtedly be liberally devoted to music. A song sung on the phonograph is reproduced with marvelous accuracy and power.”

He was right. Within a year, “pre-recorded cylinders” — what we know as records — were being sold, and as they became more popular, their manufacturing was improving for multiple plays until they were finally made in vinyl — though that format wasn’t available until after World War II.

But not long after these were available for sale — around the 1890s — phonograph parlors were established, were patrons could pay a nickel to listen to a recording. It was a precursor to both the record store and the juke box, and could be called a milestone in the evolution of music consumption.

The Record Store

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Spillers, a record store in Cardiff, U.K., claims to be “the oldest record shop in the world.” It was founded in 1894, within the era of phonograph parlors, for the “sale of phonographs, wax phonograph cylinders and shellac phonograph discs.” The store still exists, but has since relocated. The oldest U.S. record store, Pennsylvania-based Bernie George’s Song Shop, was established in 1932, and also continues to thrive — it even now boasts two locations.

Some speculate that musical recordings came second to a song’s sheet music. In Vinylmint’s written history of the industry, it’s said that “the music business was dominated not by major record labels, but by song publishers and big vaudeville and theater concerns.” People wanted to reproduce the music to play it themselves, it seems, and listening to a recording of it was almost a consolation prize. But as the record technology improved — and the stores selling them grew in number — they became more popular.

Vinylmint also claims that the contemporary practice of signing artists to labels began in 1904, when an opera singer named Enrico Caruso signed with Victor — today known as RCA, a subsidiary of Sony. The roots of Victor are fuzzy at best, but according to The Fabulous Phonograph, it was founded in 1903 as the Victor Talking Machine Company. But Caruso’s signing was a precursor to the Copyright Act of 1909 that required record sale royalties to be paid to the writers and publishers of songs, but not to the people who performed them. Perhaps it had something to do with the $5 million in sales that Caruso earned for Victor.

But 1909 didn’t see the end of copyright and royalty issues — future digital distributors of music would find themselves in sticky situations because of them, once they came to fruition. It also wouldn’t see the end of financial implications for record producers — thanks, in large part, to the onset of music being played on the radio.

Broadcast Radio

Although radio technology had existed long before, the alleged first commercial American radio station, KDKA, didn’t begin broadcasting until 1920. Within the next six years, five million U.S. families were said to own broadcast radios. Keep in mind that the years prior to KDKA — between 1914-1921 — saw a 2X growth in overall record sales. But by the time music comprised much of what was played on broadcast radio (roughly 66%), record sales were beginning to see a massive decline, especially in 1929. It’s worth noting, however, that the record sales decline might have had something to do with the Great Depression beginning that same year.


Eventually, the recording and broadcast industry found a way to work together — otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to listen to music on the radio today. But this history shows that the distribution of music can be tricky, with major implications for both the listener and the businesses behind it.

Music Consumption Formats

Vinyl and Cassettes

CassetteTypes1.jpgSource: Malcolm Tyrrell, via Wikimedia Commons

So, who here remembers the cassette tape? I do. Anyone else remember holding a microphone from a tape recorder to the radio, in order to have your very own copy of the songs broadcasted? Ah, memories.

But before there was the cassette, there was the vinyl record, which was actually the result of limited manufacturing supplies during World War II. Because “shellac supplies were extremely limited,” explains the Record Collectors Guild, and vinyl was generally cheaper and more widely-available, “records were pressed in vinyl instead … for distribution to U.S. troops.”

In the 1960s, the listening medium continued to evolve, with more options being offered, like the Philips compact cassette. It was one of the earliest formats of portable music listening — but the real game-changer may have been the eight-track tape, invented in 1964 by Bill Lear. Soon, tapes could be played in cars — and in 1979, Sony debuted the first major portable cassette player: The Walkman.

Compact Disc

At first glance, 20-30 years might seem like a long timespan. But in the context of technological developments, it’s actually fairly short — and also roughly how long it took for cassettes to cease being the dominant music consumption format. That was due to the introduction of the compact disc, a.k.a., the CD. A major turning point took place in 1981, when ABBA’s The Visitors was the first pop album pressed to CD. By the following decade, economies of scale led to CDs being the primary music consumption format, with similar portable playing options — like in-car players and the Discman — emerging.

Vinyl never went extinct — it’s still a prized possession for many collectors, DJs (since it provides a “direct manipulation of the medium”), and a cultural population called hipsters that’s known for its love of vintage items. Plus, audiophiles have long claimed that the quality of sound from vinyl is simply superior to other formats, especially as record-pressing technology continues to improve.

Record Store Alternatives

Around the era of CD rule, something interesting happened — businesses began offering alternatives to buying music from a record store, or even having to leave the house to obtain it. One of the first developments in that direction was the invention of the now-defunct 1-800-Music-Now, an order-music-by-phone hotline, in 1995. But it didn’t last long, and two years later, it ceased operations. That sequence of events was mentioned in the 1997 Economist article “Tremble, Everyone,” which warned of the internet cannibalizing nearly every industry — music included — by introducing online buying options.

Today, that’s almost eerie to read — perhaps because a world without the option to digitally procure music is difficult for many of us to remember. And four years later, the iPod was born, which may have permanently revolutionized the consumption of music.

The (Permanently) Digital Era

spotify-1360002_960_720.jpgSource: Pixabay

It Started With File Formats

Before the invention of the iPod, there was the late 1980s creation of the MP3 — “a means of compressing a sound sequence into a very small file, to enable digital storage and transmission.” And although it’s far from the only audio file format available today, its introduction prompted a larger conversation about the digital transfer and consumption of music.

That was seen as an opportunity by Shawn Fanning, John Fanning, and Sean Parker — the people who invented Napster: “a simple, free peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing service,” and perhaps the first of its kind to have a household name, which rose to multi-million usership by 2001, the same year the iPod was unveiled. Dann Albright of MakeUseOf hypothesizes that its alignment with the market penetration of MP3 players could be a major factor contributing to Napster’s rise to fame. Plus, it was free. Apple didn’t unveil the iTunes Store until 2003, and even then, each song cost $0.99. Sure, it came with a price tag — but it was legal.

Napster’s practices weren’t. It came under very public fire by the music industry, and despite its effort to promote the brand with a free concert series, it could be argued that the brand never truly recovered. It underwent many changes, but is today alive and somewhat well.

And Then, Radio Came Back

Despite its own instability, Napster set the tone for continued opportunities in the realm of streaming music. The iTunes Store continued to expand its music library, and also began offering paid movie and TV show downloads. But developers and entrepreneurs alike began creating solutions to the problem presented to many by iTunes — the ability to discover new and listen to music digitally, without having to download song files or pay-per-track. Thus, internet radio was born.

Many point to Pandora — a free, personalized online radio app — as the true pioneer in this space, but it came to fruition around the same time (the early 2000s) as a few others offering similar services, like But these apps didn’t just provide a simple service. They were starting to get smart about algorithms — hence the personalization element. By indicating that you liked a particular song or artist, these new services had developed the algorithmic technology to figure out what else you might like, and stream it automatically.

Plus, they were able to monetize — fast. It wasn’t long before Pandora was airing ads between songs, and eventually offered a paid, ad-free option for listeners.

But a lot of progress was being made in the space, and in a short period of time. The 2007 release of the iPhone was even more of a game-changer, with these formerly desktop-only apps offering a mobile option. That made it rival iTunes even more — consumers weren’t beholden to Apple for music download or streaming options. That effect was exacerbated by the premiere of Spotify the following year, which now outranks Pandora. Like the latter, Spotify offers both a free and premium (read: ad-free) version.

More Music, More Money

There’s been some discord among artists as to how profitable Spotify is for them. Some, like major artists, get a significant payout, while others aren’t so sure of their gains. But if for no one else, this digital (r)evolution seems to have been profitable at least for the likes of Spotify, which is even stirring talks of an IPO and valuation in the billions. That’s partially because the revenue isn’t just coming from ads and membership fees anymore. It’s built partnerships with multiple corporations and brands ranging from the New York Times to Starbucks. It’s even co-marketed with the TV show “Mind of a Chef” for a special promotion.

And It’s Only Getting Bigger

Today, streaming music options are hardly limited to Pandora and Spotify. Apple Music entered the landscape in 2015 with its own (paid) radio and subscription options, and YouTube was quick to follow suit with its YouTube Music App (Apple | Android) in 2016. Plus, let’s not forget the often understated Amazon Prime Music.

It’s hard to believe this journey began in a prehistoric era with a flute made of bones. But my, what progress the past few thousand years have shown. Even when I asked my colleagues if they remembered having to beg their parents to drive them to a record store back in the day, it seemed like a celebration of nostalgia. “My first album was ‘Tommy’ by The Who,” said our Art Director. “Mine was the Space Jam soundtrack,” remembered our Senior Video Editor & Animator. And mine? There were too many trips that I begged for to count — though I do recall once disrupting a family vacation with my insistence on finding the latest KoRn album.

My point being, while this mind-blowingly rapid advance of digital music might seem borderline scary, it does bring us that much closer to something by which we’re all influenced: Music. And maybe, with a growing number of ways to experience audio in our day-to-day lives will come a growing number of memories made possible by a particularly great song — old or new.

In any case — we’re listening.

What’s the most remarkable part of the digital music evolution to you? Let us know in the comments.

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30 Secret Santa Gift Ideas Your Coworkers Will Love

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They see you when you’re slacking. They know when you come in late. They know if you’ve been bad or good so be good for your work’s Secret Santa exchange.

But that’s not how the song — or the Secret Santa exchange — really goes …

You spend all day with your coworkers, but come time for your annual gift exchange, you’re stuck trying to figure out exactly what Suzie will want that’s also in your price range. Download more holiday resources to help your business succeed this season from  HubSpot's #HolidayHub

We want to help. We’ve compiled a list of awesome Secret Santa gift ideas that are bound to meet all different budgets and personality types. From hot sauce kits to leather mouse pads, this roundup should take some of the stress out of your shopping experience.

30 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Your Coworkers

$10 and Under

1) Engraved Pencil Set

Price: $8.00

Whether you type your notes or take them by hand, these hand stamped pencils are just plain cool. The sets come in a variety of different themes — from motivational words to Harry Potter references — and they’re guaranteed to make putting together a to-do list a lot more fun.

Willing to chip in a few extra bucks? Pair a set of these pencils with a journal for a thoughtful and practical gift.

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2) Toaster Grilled Cheese Bags

Price: $9.99

While almost every office has a toaster, few have a stovetop. This rules fresh, delicious grilled cheese off the list of lunch options … or does it? When you give the gift of toaster grilled cheese bags, your recipient can toast up the perfect sandwich in minutes. The reusable, Teflon-coated bags can also be used for heating up other foods like pastries and leftover pizza.

Got a gluten-free coworker? They can even protect their food from cross contamination using these handy bags.


3) Printed Socks

Price: $8.00

Nothing beats a great pair of socks, am I right? Not only does everyone need them, but there’s also such a wide variety of options available online that you’re bound to find a pair for any and every personality.

Know of a few pizza lovers in the office? This pepperoni-clad pair would make the perfect gift.


4) Sushi Pushpins

Price: $9.00

Shopping for the office sushi addict? Look no further than this trendy desk trinket.

Stuck in a maki cushion, each pearl-shaped fish egg is a pushpin in disguise. Pin up your favorite notes, photos, and menus using these handy tacks — or just admire the holder on your desk.


5) Waterproof Notepad

Price: $7.00

You never know when your next great idea is going to strike. In fact, it might even be the shower.

With a waterproof notepad from AquaNotes, you can jot down important shower notes before they slip your mind — perfect for whipping up impromptu grocery or to-do lists.


6) Tech Cloth

Price: $9.99

Between oil, dust, spills, and smudges, our devices take a beating. But with a Smart Cloth on hand, you can polish up the screen on your smartphone, tablet, camera, or computer without having to worry about scratching the surface. No liquids or sprays needed.

You can even toss The Smart Cloth in the wash, making it easy to keep germ-free.

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7) Reusable To Go Box

Price: $9.99

There’s no shame in brown bagging your lunch at work, but why opt for a brown bag when you can reheat last night’s homemade Pad Thai in style?

This eco-friendly container is reusable, microwavable, and dishwasher safe. What more could you want?
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8) Portable Hot Sauce

Price: $9.99

Coming from a hot sauce addict, there’s nothing worse than suffering through a bland meal without access to your favorite spicy condiment.

Thanks to this convenient set of Sriracha2Go key chains, you can carry a personal stash of the good stuff around with you at all times. Simply toss it in your purse or attach it to your keys to ensure you’ve got access to heat when you need it most.


9) Dry Erase Sheets

Price: $6.16

Use these sheets as an impromptu discussion tool, a place to post motivational quotes, or a home for your to-do list. Each sheet has a full-adhesive backing that leaves behind no residue, making them easy and convenient to tack up in the office or at home.


10) Cord Keeper

Price: $9.99

While the world of technology continues to push us in the direction of a more wireless world, we’ve all got a pair of standard headphones we keep holding on to — no matter how tangled the cord gets.

Lucky for all of us, these handmade cord “wontons” exist to help keep our headphones, USB cords, and other accessory wires nice and neat. They come in a pack of three, so you can throw one in your car, keep one on your desk, and toss one in your bag.

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$25 and Under

11) Salsa Grow Kit

Price: $12.00

Got a coworker with a green thumb? Gift them this awesome salsa growing kit, complete with six seed packets for Roma tomatoes, jalapeños, verde tomatillos, cilantro, scallions, and beefsteak tomatoes.

Once the seeds sprout in the recycled egg carton planter, transfer them into larger pots until they’re ready for picking.

Not sold on salsa? There are kits available for pizza and cocktails, too.

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12) Wine Infused Coffee

Price: $19.95

Gift hunting for a coffee drinker who also loves wines? Why not pick up a bag of Merlot-infused coffee beans.

This brew is made with 100% Arabica beans that are aged in oak wine barrels. Serving as the perfect post-meal treat, this unique gift will be a hit with any adventurous coffee enthusiast.


13) Plant Nanny

Price: $16.95

Don’t let the burden of watering plants keep your coworker from taking time off to relax and recharge. With the help of these terracotta watering stakes, they can throw on their OOO message and hit the road without having to hire a plant sitter.

How does it work? It’s simple: The stakes house a recycled bottle that’s designed to release just enough water to keep plants alive and well.  

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14) Smartphone Card Game

Price: $19.99

The name of the game is “Game of Phones.” And the rules are pretty straightforward: Grab your smartphone and have one player (the judge for the round) draw a card. Everyone else gets 60 seconds to dig up a funny response to the prompt on the card using their phone. It’s like a digital scavenger hunt — and it’s bound to be hilarious.

This one’s perfect for anyone that loves to host friends or family for game night.


15) Travel Cup

Price: $14.99–$19.99 (+$3.99 for travel lid)

There are a ton of travel mugs out there to choose from, but Tervis tumblers seem to offer it all: customization, portable cooling, self-warming system, dishwasher armor, and a lifetime guarantee.

Whether you’re buying a gift for an avid golfer, shopper, foodie, or Patriots super fan, there’s bound to be a Tervis that lines up with their interests and personality.


16) Adult Coloring Book

Price: $12.18 (Paperback)

Coloring isn’t just for kids anymore. Believe it or not, this trendy hobby offers more than a dose of nostalgia — adult coloring books are actually believed to relieve stress, too. In fact, while The American Art Association doesn’t think these books are enough to replace therapy for those who need it, it does support the use of coloring books for “pleasure and self care.”

There are a wide variety of books to choose from, but we recommend “Color Me Calm” by Lacy Mucklow: a Zen coloring book that supports meditation and relaxation. Trust us, your stressed out deskmate will thank you.

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17) Fruit Infuser Water Bottle

Price: $18.65

Stay hydrated and enjoy the sweet taste of your favorite fruits with this handy water bottle from Fruitzola.

Fill the inside tube with fruit or a combination of your choice — strawberries, lemons, kiwis, watermelon, and mint all work well — and enjoy the taste of fresh, flavored H20 all day.


18) Musical Pillow

Price: $19.19

For many, listening to music, a meditation app, or a podcast before bed can make it easier to drift off to sleep. Trouble is, it’s tough to get comfortable with a pair of headphones in.

Enter: The Sound Asleep Pillow.

Deep inside this unique pillow lies a built-in speaker that connects to your phone or music player via a headphone jack. The coolest part? The sound from the speaker is only audible to the person resting their head on it, which is great if you don’t want to disturb your spouse or significant other.

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19) Espresso Sampler

Price: $23.00

Treat your coworker to this four-part specialty espresso sampler from Seattle’s world-renowned roasters. Each sampler comes with tasting notes, roaster profiles, and brewing tips. (If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll share.)

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$50 and Under

20) Smartphone Projector

Price: $31.95

Transform your smartphone into a big screen projector with this retro-inspired cardboard structure. Simply slide your device into the compartment for an instant cinema-like feel.

You can make this gift even better by throwing in a box of popcorn to complete the viewing experience.


21) Make Your Own Hot Sauce Kit

Price: $34.95

Whether you’re making chili for a rainy day, wings for the big game, or tacos for Tuesday’s dinner, a little homemade hot sauce can make all the difference.

With this awesome kit, recipients can whip up six signature sauces that are seasoned to their exact liking. The kit even includes customizable labels for a fun, personalized touch.

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22) Bottle Loft

Price: $38.00

Seriously, how cool is this? These handy storage strips adhere to the ceiling of your refrigerator and can hold up to a six pack of bottles of your choice. Plus, the magnets are super strong: they can hold over 3X the weight of an average 12 oz. bottle.

With all the space you’ll save, you’ll have plenty of room for snacks. It’s the perfect gift for your office beer enthusiast.

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23) Leather Mouse Pad

Price: $36.00

Looking for a sophisticated, practical gift option? Grab a leather mouse pad from Ugmonk’s shop.

Not only does this sleek pad provide a smooth surface for your mouse, but the leather is also known to weather and darken slowly over time to take on a one-of-a-kind look. How cool.

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24) Gourmet Marshmallows

Price: $30.00

Step your hot chocolate game up with a box of gourmet marshmallows. From boozy flavors like bourbon to sweet flavors like eggnog, these handcrafted marshmallows are good enough to eat straight from the box.


25) Streaming Stick

Price: $49.99

The Roku Streaming Stick works with any television that has an HDMI port, and offers over 1,200 apps, including Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and many more. It’s a perfect gift for nearly any coworker.


26) Tea Drops

Price: $34.00

Enjoy hot and fresh tea on the go thanks to these dissolvable, pressed tea drops. Made from just a few simple ingredients — finely-sourced tea, sugar, and spices — these tiny morsels are perfect for a busy coworker looking for an easy, healthy beverage to sip on.

This particular sampler set includes five drops of each of the following flavors: citrus ginger, vanilla white, rose earl grey, sweet peppermint, and matcha green tea.

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27) Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Price: $35.00 (17 oz.) / $45.00 (25 oz.)

We’ll admit it, we actually have a crush on this water bottle from S’well. Yes, a water bottle crush. Not only is it sleek and stylish — it comes in tons of colors and prints — but it’s non-toxic, non-leaching, vacuum sealed, and BPA free.

What’s more, it keeps your drinks cold for 24 hours, and hot for 12.


28) Wireless Speaker

Price: $39.99

Wireless speakers are the perfect gift for anyone in your office. Whether they use it to listen to podcasts while they cook, bring tunes to the beach, or create a custom surround sound movie experience, this little Jam Plus speaker packs a big punch. (Full disclosure: I love this speaker so much I bought another one … and one for my brother.)


29) Cacti Coasters

Price: $31.00

Help your coworkers keep their desk nice and neat with this buildable set of cacti coasters.

The set comes complete with six green leaf coasters that you can mix and match to create different landscapes within the pot. Build them up or stack them close, they’re there when you need a place to put your drink — and still look really cool when you don’t.


30) Mobile Lens Kit

Price: $26.00

If you pulled your social media manager’s name out of the Secret Santa hat, we’ve got just the thing: Help them up their Instagram game with this handy mobile lens kit. The kit includes fisheye, wide angle, and macro lenses, complete with a universal clip that’s compatible with most smartphones and tablets.

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What are your go-to gift ideas? Share them with us in the comments section below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Visit the holiday resource hub for all your holiday marketing needs.




How to Experiment With Controversial Content (Without Alienating People)

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Content marketing continues to dominate as a key component of a successful marketing strategy, but to see strong results, you need to regularly produce content — specifically content with a high-viral potential.

Most marketers would argue that no one can predict whether or not something will go viral, but a lot of these same individuals simply aren’t satisfied with run-of-the-mill results. In their ideal world, an investment in content marketing should deliver exposure that rivals celebrity headlines and breaking industry news.

The problem? They’re failing to recognize that many of these high-profile headlines gained traction because they were highly controversial.

You see, polarizing ideas work because they trigger an emotional response — and this kind of reaction has a huge ripple effect due to the innate self-interest generated. Remember, though, that brands walk a fine line when it comes to controversy. That’s why we’ve put together a few things to keep in mind below that will help your team stir the pot while not crossing any boundaries.

How to Experiment With Controversial Content (Without Alienating People)

1) Produce something that will resonate with your target audience.

For controversial content to work, it has to be rooted in more than just shock value. In fact, it should aim to provide real value to your target audience, too.

Who could forget the Ad Council’s incredibly successful “Love Has No Labels” video? The organization’s mission — to “produce, distribute, and promote campaigns that improve everyday lives” — aligned perfectly with the clip, which promoted tolerance through acceptance by taking an interesting look at each other’s differences.

The idea was quite simple: Using an X-ray machine, passersby saw different sets of skeletons showing different signs of affection to one another before revealing identity — their gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, and so on. This approach forced viewers to rethink any unconscious biases they might have and appreciate that love is love no matter who is involved.

The result? More than 57 million views on YouTube alone, and currently holds the title of the second most-viewed community and activism campaign of all time.

2) Use a familiar, credible, and relatable data source.

In order to mitigate any backlash from publishers and readers, your campaign should feature reliable content and credible sources. The last thing you want is the validity of your content to become a point of contention, especially for something that is already controversial.

Consider UN Women’s “Auto-Complete Truth” campaign from 2013. The concept of each ad was simple: Using the world’s most popular search engine (Google), the images highlighted real search results of female-focused queries like “women need to,” “women should,” and “women cannot” to reveal some of the most appalling opinions women face around the world.

What made this campaign work is that it relies heavily on a data source that is both familiar and credible: Google’s autocomplete feature. And by presenting the data in a visually striking manner — each ad’s fine print reads, “Actual Google search on 09/03/13” — the message reached a wider audience without being diluted.

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The campaign instantly went viral, earning spots on Adweek, The Guardian, and Fast Company. This encouraged the brand to revisit the campaign, where it saw similar results.

3) Offer a unique perspective.

Another thing successful controversial content does well? It offers a different look at a familiar subject.

Fractl is no stranger to controversial content, and for our client — a California-based organization that provides resources to individuals struggling with eating disorders — we produced this campaign that reimagines superheroes to reflect more realistic body types.

With the help of Photoshop, comic book icons like Batman, Iron Man, and Captain America shed their bulging biceps in an effort to look more like an everyday individual. When paired with the originals, the stark contrast between the two images offered a new way to discuss body issues, particularly for men.

The project was incredibly successful: In just nine days, the campaign earned more than 200 pickups and nearly 90,000 social shares in 20 U.S. states and 25 countries as visualized below.


4) Don’t go in with an agenda.

Think about the last time you read an article that seemed like it was only presenting one side of a story — specifically the side that benefitted the author. You probably didn’t think too highly of the news source after, right?

The same thing goes for polarizing content. To keep your campaign from being too negative or one-sided, you shouldn’t come across like you have an agenda. For instance, many believed that McDonald’s crossed the line in its “Carry On” campaign. Audiences felt like the commercial was propaganda, trying to parade itself as an exemplary model of corporate kindness when most people believed otherwise.

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5) Avoid shaming one group over another.

Although polarizing content should easily resonate with its target market, it shouldn’t alienate other groups entirely either — particularly through any sort of shaming. Remember there’s a fine line between assurance and arrogance.

Last year, U.K. fitness brand Protein World ran billboards that featured a skinny woman in a revealing swimsuit with the provocative tagline, “Are you beach body ready?” Unsurprisingly, a lot of people were unhappy with the bold weight-loss ads, arguing that it encouraged an implied standard of beauty.

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Although the brand did see significant, short-term results — in large part due to the massive exposure generated by the controversial tagline — the campaign ultimately failed because of the narrow-minded treatment of the ad.

6) Respond to disagreement respectfully.

People are going to disagree with your content; that’s a given. To minimize backlash, you need to make sure that you respond to criticism in a cool and collected manner. However, this same principle works when producing your content — specifically if it’s in response to an idea your brand disagrees with.

Airbnb got into some hot water back in 2015 with its passive-aggressive ads that told San Francisco citizens what to do with the several million dollars in back-taxes the startup finally paid due to the city’s 14 percent hotel tax. “Dear Public Library System, We hope you use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep the library open later. Love, Airbnb,” read one ad.

“Dear Board of Education, Please use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep art in schools. Love, Airbnb,” read another.

Although the ads were intended to inspire gratitude in San Franciscans for the additional funds, they mostly ticked people off. Citizens lambasted the ads all over social media, forcing Airbnb to pull the campaign.

Airbnb Billboards.png

Final Thoughts

Producing a polarizing idea isn’t a kiss of death for your brand. As these examples prove, many marketing teams can find success in controversy — it’s just a matter of finding the right balance on an incredibly fine line.

Remember that in a web full of clutter, you need to stir the pot to get noticed, but the recipe calls for something a little more than vanilla.

What tips do you have for experimenting with controversial content? Share them in the comments.

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How to Experiment With Controversial Content (Without Alienating People)

Controversial Content.jpg

Content marketing continues to dominate as a key component of a successful marketing strategy, but to see strong results, you need to regularly produce content — specifically content with a high-viral potential.

Most marketers would argue that no one can predict whether or not something will go viral, but a lot of these same individuals simply aren’t satisfied with run-of-the-mill results. In their ideal world, an investment in content marketing should deliver exposure that rivals celebrity headlines and breaking industry news.

The problem? They’re failing to recognize that many of these high-profile headlines gained traction because they were highly controversial.

You see, polarizing ideas work because they trigger an emotional response — and this kind of reaction has a huge ripple effect due to the innate self-interest generated. Remember, though, that brands walk a fine line when it comes to controversy. That’s why we’ve put together a few things to keep in mind below that will help your team stir the pot while not crossing any boundaries.

How to Experiment With Controversial Content (Without Alienating People)

1) Produce something that will resonate with your target audience.

For controversial content to work, it has to be rooted in more than just shock value. In fact, it should aim to provide real value to your target audience, too.

Who could forget the Ad Council’s incredibly successful “Love Has No Labels” video? The organization’s mission — to “produce, distribute, and promote campaigns that improve everyday lives” — aligned perfectly with the clip, which promoted tolerance through acceptance by taking an interesting look at each other’s differences.

The idea was quite simple: Using an X-ray machine, passersby saw different sets of skeletons showing different signs of affection to one another before revealing identity — their gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, and so on. This approach forced viewers to rethink any unconscious biases they might have and appreciate that love is love no matter who is involved.

The result? More than 57 million views on YouTube alone, and currently holds the title of the second most-viewed community and activism campaign of all time.

2) Use a familiar, credible, and relatable data source.

In order to mitigate any backlash from publishers and readers, your campaign should feature reliable content and credible sources. The last thing you want is the validity of your content to become a point of contention, especially for something that is already controversial.

Consider UN Women’s “Auto-Complete Truth” campaign from 2013. The concept of each ad was simple: Using the world’s most popular search engine (Google), the images highlighted real search results of female-focused queries like “women need to,” “women should,” and “women cannot” to reveal some of the most appalling opinions women face around the world.

What made this campaign work is that it relies heavily on a data source that is both familiar and credible: Google’s autocomplete feature. And by presenting the data in a visually striking manner — each ad’s fine print reads, “Actual Google search on 09/03/13” — the message reached a wider audience without being diluted.

UN Womens Campaign.png

The campaign instantly went viral, earning spots on Adweek, The Guardian, and Fast Company. This encouraged the brand to revisit the campaign, where it saw similar results.

3) Offer a unique perspective.

Another thing successful controversial content does well? It offers a different look at a familiar subject.

Fractl is no stranger to controversial content, and for our client — a California-based organization that provides resources to individuals struggling with eating disorders — we produced this campaign that reimagines superheroes to reflect more realistic body types.

With the help of Photoshop, comic book icons like Batman, Iron Man, and Captain America shed their bulging biceps in an effort to look more like an everyday individual. When paired with the originals, the stark contrast between the two images offered a new way to discuss body issues, particularly for men.

The project was incredibly successful: In just nine days, the campaign earned more than 200 pickups and nearly 90,000 social shares in 20 U.S. states and 25 countries as visualized below.


4) Don’t go in with an agenda.

Think about the last time you read an article that seemed like it was only presenting one side of a story — specifically the side that benefitted the author. You probably didn’t think too highly of the news source after, right?

The same thing goes for polarizing content. To keep your campaign from being too negative or one-sided, you shouldn’t come across like you have an agenda. For instance, many believed that McDonald’s crossed the line in its “Carry On” campaign. Audiences felt like the commercial was propaganda, trying to parade itself as an exemplary model of corporate kindness when most people believed otherwise.

McDonalds Tweet.png

5) Avoid shaming one group over another.

Although polarizing content should easily resonate with its target market, it shouldn’t alienate other groups entirely either — particularly through any sort of shaming. Remember there’s a fine line between assurance and arrogance.

Last year, U.K. fitness brand Protein World ran billboards that featured a skinny woman in a revealing swimsuit with the provocative tagline, “Are you beach body ready?” Unsurprisingly, a lot of people were unhappy with the bold weight-loss ads, arguing that it encouraged an implied standard of beauty.

Vagenda Magazine Tweet.png

Although the brand did see significant, short-term results — in large part due to the massive exposure generated by the controversial tagline — the campaign ultimately failed because of the narrow-minded treatment of the ad.

6) Respond to disagreement respectfully.

People are going to disagree with your content; that’s a given. To minimize backlash, you need to make sure that you respond to criticism in a cool and collected manner. However, this same principle works when producing your content — specifically if it’s in response to an idea your brand disagrees with.

Airbnb got into some hot water back in 2015 with its passive-aggressive ads that told San Francisco citizens what to do with the several million dollars in back-taxes the startup finally paid due to the city’s 14 percent hotel tax. “Dear Public Library System, We hope you use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep the library open later. Love, Airbnb,” read one ad.

“Dear Board of Education, Please use some of the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep art in schools. Love, Airbnb,” read another.

Although the ads were intended to inspire gratitude in San Franciscans for the additional funds, they mostly ticked people off. Citizens lambasted the ads all over social media, forcing Airbnb to pull the campaign.

Airbnb Billboards.png

Final Thoughts

Producing a polarizing idea isn’t a kiss of death for your brand. As these examples prove, many marketing teams can find success in controversy — it’s just a matter of finding the right balance on an incredibly fine line.

Remember that in a web full of clutter, you need to stir the pot to get noticed, but the recipe calls for something a little more than vanilla.

What tips do you have for experimenting with controversial content? Share them in the comments.

download enviable marketing examples




The Evolution of Virtual Reality [Infographic]


Imagine being able to transport yourself to a completely different place — an idyllic beach paradise, a front row seat at a Paul McCartney concert, an unexplored planet — with the click of a button? Thanks to technological advancements in the world of virtual reality (VR), these immersive experiences define just a small taste of what’s possible.

NASA defines VR as “the use of computer technology to create the effect of an interactive three-dimensional world in which the objects have a sense of spatial presence.” And the level of personalization and immersion that VR provides makes it a great opportunity for brands to engage with their tech-savvy audiences. 

In fact, brands such as The North Face, Coca Cola, and Sony Pictures have already started using VR to delight their consumers and build loyalty in ways that are highly innovative and, in some cases, very affordable.

To learn more about how the evolution of virtual reality — from the 1930s to present day — check out the infographic from Communications@Syracuse below. (And to learn more about other game-changing trends you should incorporate into your marketing strategy, check out this blog post.)

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11 of the Best Olympic Marketing Campaigns, Ads, Commercials & Promotions This Year


The 2016 Summer Olympics are officially over. But for two weeks, billions of eyes from around the world watched athletes attempt to break records and bring home the gold. What a perfect opportunity for marketers, no?

Many brands jumped on the Olympics bandwagon, leveraging its popularity for their own campaigns. Some of these brands created particularly inspiring campaigns, both to viewers and marketers alike — whether for the emotion they elicit, or for the reminder of exactly how to execute a remarkable ad or marketing campaign. Download even more examples of remarkable marketing and advertising campaigns  here. 

We rounded up the ones that tugged at our heartstrings as viewers, or inspired us to be better marketers. (Sometimes both.) Check out this list of 11 of the best campaigns from the 2016 Summer Games and what made them so great.

11 of the Best Olympic Marketing Campaigns, Ads, Commercials & Promotions This Year

1) Under Armour: Rule Yourself

The Under Armour brand doesn’t just value the success that comes from hard work; it values the hard work and 24/7 dedication that leads to that success. Their emphasis is on self-improvement and self-reliance — which is why they acquired the fitness tracking platform MapMyFitness back in 2014.

Under Armour’s ad campaign for the 2016 Summer Olympics perfectly embodies these deep-seeded values. It focuses on the side of athletic achievement that no one sees. For Michael Phelps, that’s the ice baths, cupping therapy, and 12,500 calories he has to eat every day. For an ordinary person, it might be taking the stairs, getting a full night’s sleep, or tracking your meals using their MyFitnessPal app. But the message is the same, and it’s a powerful one: “It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.”

2) Proctor & Gamble: “Thank You Mom”

For the 2012 Summer Olympics, Proctor & Gamble created a campaign called “Thank You, Mom” that showed flashbacks of Olympic athletes from all over the world growing up and practicing their sport with support from their mothers. That same campaign is back again this year, featuring athletes and their mothers from this summer’s Games.

This year’s campaign shows athletes’ mothers helping them through times of stress, cheering them along, and supporting them. Notice the clickable link they added to the video that takes viewers to a web page where they can send a personalized thank-you note to their own moms. Take a look … and maybe grab a tissue.

3) Panasonic UK: #Superfans

Cheering on your country is a lot easier when you’re the one hosting the Olympics, as Great Britain did in London in Summer 2012. With the Games in Brazil this year, Panasonic, a long-time official partner to the British Olympic Association, wanted to help Great Britain keep up the fan-fueled momentum. So in April 2016, they announced a crowdsourced campaign called #Superfans, which invited fans of Team GB to post pictures on social media using the hashtag to encourage engagement.

“It is a great opportunity for us to share our passion for the Olympics as a company and to connect with consumers on an emotional level,” said Managing Director of Panasonic UK Andrew Denham. “This is why Panasonic’s heritage as a global Olympic partner is so important to me – it adds some real spark and colour to the brand.”

All the fan photos posted with the hashtag #Superfans was posted on a dedicated web page on Team GB’s official site, and Panasonic UK offered extra incentives like Twitter contests.

Here’s a sampling of the fan-sourced content on Twitter:

Even the U.K.’s premiere parachute display team got in on the action:

4) Apple: “The Human Family”

What makes the Olympic Games so special? The elite athletic competition, yes — but also the bringing together of people and cultures from all over the world. And it’s that second part that the folks at Apple chose to focus on in their Olympics commercial.

The ad showcases beautiful photos and videos of people all over the world taken using an iPhone, and it’s set to Maya Angelou reading excerpts from her poem, “Human Family.” What a beautiful message.

5) Coca-Cola: #ThatsGold

Not all of us can be Olympic athletes — but the folks at Coca-Cola make the case that even ordinary people like you and me can experience the feeling of winning gold. To do this, they launched the campaign #ThatsGold, which they first integrated into a TV ad (shown below) with the “Taste the Feeling” campaign they launched in January 2016.

The Olympics commercial tied to the campaign is all about drawing a parallel between the thrill and excitement of winning a gold medal at the Olympics and the thrill and excitement of having a good time with the people in your life. They did a great job of drawing those parallels with compelling quotes and visuals, and nailed the ending with the line, “Gold is a feeling anyone can taste.”

In addition to the commercial, they set up a fully operational “real-time marketing” global hub in Rio that monitored the #ThatsGold hashtag during the course of the Olympics and created content around key moments in real time on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and more.

6) Virgin Media: #BeTheFastest

Virgin Media is all about being fast, advertising their WiFi speed as “fast,” “superfast,” even “ultrafast.” So it comes to no surprise that they chose to pay tribute to Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, for their Olympics campaign this year.

Bolt set the World Record for the 100-meter sprint at 9.58 seconds at the 2009 Berlin World Championships in Athletics. To demonstrate what 9.58 seconds feels like, Virgin Media created an advertisement that strung together ten, 9.58-second vignettes that each cast light on a different part of Bolt’s life. The purpose? Both to celebrate Bolt’s spectacular accomplishment and to emphasize the importance of speed.

7) Airbnb: “Alternative Accommodations” Sponsorship

Back in March of this year, Airbnb became the first official “alternative accommodations” sponsor of the Olympics — the first time the Olympics has ever had an alternative accommodations sponsor, according to local Olympic officials. Why’d they do it? Mashable reports that when Rio won the Olympic bid in 2009, it had just half the 40,000 beds required for the games — so it was definitely a win for the city, the games, and Airbnb.

In exchange for an undisclosed amount to local Olympic organizers, Airbnb was included in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games’ ticketing platform by way of a specific landing page where customers were able to rent private homes and apartments in Rio. They also got a link to their site on the official Olympic website, along with calls-to-action encouraging people traveling to Rio for the Olympics to use the service for rentals.

Here they are in the first spot on the official Rio Olympics 2016 website’s homepage:


To help promote homes and apartments for rent in Rio, they created Rio-specific videos and content for their larger #StayWithMe campaign, which invites Airbnb hosts to post photos or short videos on social media to showcase their countries. Here’s one Airbnb published right before the Olympics started, in June 2016:

8) Chobani: #NoBadStuff

Goodness is a choice you make, claims Chobani with their Olympic-inspired campaign #NoBadStuff. From a literal standpoint, their campaign is about the good, healthy ingredients in Chobani yogurt; metaphorically, it’s all about having a positive attitude, working hard, treating others well, and properly fueling your body.

Their campaign has a few moving parts, starting with a page on their website where you can meet the U.S. athletes they’ve partnered with who embody the positive, hardworking attitude that defines their campaign. Each athlete’s story includes an interview about their biggest challenges, how they stay positive, their favorite meal growing up, and so on — along with, of course, a giant picture of them enjoying Chobani yogurt


Their campaign also includes a TV ad, content where U.S. athletes give advice on things like how to stay cool under stress, and — my personal favorite — a few limited-edition yogurt flavors inspired by Brazil.


9) Folger’s: “Coach”

“Olympic glory doesn’t just belong to athletes, and it doesn’t just happen every four years. It happens one morning at a time, and one cup at a time.” That’s the message coffee company Folger leaves us with in their commercial, “Coach.”

Instead of focusing on the athletes, the folks at Folgers used their ad time to focus on the coaches that help those athletes get to where they are. Specifically, it follows the relationship between a boy and the coach that helped him through every win, every loss, every injury, and every moment of glory before he was eventually chosen to represent Team USA.

10) NBC & BuzzFeed’s Olympic Parternship

NBC is known for doing a thorough job covering the Olympics, from its online live streams to its TV interviews with medalists. But their roots are deep in old-school media like cable, which isn’t the most well-used and attractive medium for the younger generation. That’s exactly why the folks at NBC decided to partner with BuzzFeed for the Olympics this summer, where they produced special Olympic features and posted them to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.

They sent “about a dozen” BuzzFeed staffers to Rio to create social media content, including a daily edition on Snapchat Discover, which is one reason this co-marketing partnership was a win-win for both brands. According to Steven Perlberg of Wall Street Journal, the President of NBC Olympics, Gary Zenkel, “wants to give BuzzFeed free rein to connect with Snapchat’s young audience.”

What kind of content did they produce? “The U.S. women’s gymnastics showed how friends have your back, like when they prevent you from texting your ex or have an extra hair tie,” wrote Perlberg. The women’s wrestling team destroyed watermelons. Swimmer Natalie Coughlin tested out waterproof makeup. The U.S. men’s gymnastics team took off their shirts, and readers were asked to guess the abs.”

Here’s a screenshot from a Snapchat Story featuring Olympic Swimmer Townley Haas, who showed off some tall people problems:


Image Credit: BuzzFeed/NBCU

11) Budweiser: “America is in Your Hands”

Nothing says “America” like a can of Budweiser — and I mean that literally, thanks to their campaign leading up to both the 2016 Summer Olympics and November’s U.S. presidential election. In May, Anheuser-Busch announced it would be replacing the Budweiser logo with “America” on its 12-oz. cans and bottles this summer. The temporary re-packaging was accompanied by their summer campaign, “America is in Your Hands.”

The campaign itself has had mixed reviews, with complaints mostly surrounding the brand tapping into the polarized political climate. But the campaign did help increase Budweiser’s ad awareness and purchase consideration, at least initially. A week after the campaign began, the company reached its highest purchase consideration level of 2016 (i.e., the number of shoppers 21 and older who said they’d consider Budweiser the next time they bought beer), although that numbers have dropped back down since.


Image Credit: STL Today

There you have it. We hope you found these examples inspiring. What other Olympics campaigns have inspired you, in 2016 or from previous Olympics? Share with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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A Workaholic’s Guide to Relaxing on Vacation [Infographic]


There’s a big difference between having a strong work ethic and being a workaholic.

When you have a strong work ethic, it means you have a strong sense of responsibility, you put in your best effort, and you care about the quality of your work — but you also cut yourself a break every once in a while to recharge. Workaholics, on the other time, have a hard time taking breaks, cutting themselves off from work, and relaxing.

But using your vacation time to relax and recharge is important for your physical and mental health and for your overall productivity at work. No one can operate on high all of the time without eventually burning out, and that’s neither good for you nor your team. 

So if you find yourself having trouble relaxing and not working when you go on vacation, take a look at the infographic below from OnlineHealth. It’ll walk you through how to prepare for your vacation so leaving work won’t be as stressful, how to avoid the temptation to work when you’re supposed to be relaxing, and how to settle back into work again afterward without feeling guilty.

Follow this advice and I’ll bet you’ll feel happier and healthier in your personal life, and happier, more productive, and more creative at work.


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The Role of Emotions in Shareable Content: An Analysis of 100 Viral Reddit Images


These days, we’re inundated with digital noise from the moment we wake up. Once we silence the alarm on our phone, we’ll spend the next few minutes on various apps and sites, dodging unwanted ads and unappealing headlines along the way.

However, you’ll find that some posts are simply unavoidable — who could forget “The Dress” debate of 2015? It was truly viral content at its best, and the site that sold the dress reaped the benefits: Their organic traffic increased by 420%, and sales of the dress saw a whopping 560% increase.

How can something that seems so pointless influences our behavior?

New research indicates that an emotional connection paired with more nuanced combinations of additional dimensions like arousal and dominance have a significant impact on our sharing habits.

Intrigued? Let’s dive into the research …

Why Certain Emotional Combinations Make People Share

My team at Fractl recently used the Pleasure-Arousal-Dominance (PAD) model to analyze the emotional responses to 100 of the top images from Reddit’s r/pics community to determine the ideal emotional combinations for viral images.

We began by asking 400 respondents one simple question: How does this image make you feel?

The results revealed the top 10 emotions for viral images as shown below:


An obvious trend? The top viral emotions tend to be extremely positive, which echoes previous research. However, although negative emotions like hate, reproach, and resentment were reported far less than positive emotions, our data indicates that they can still generate a viral hit — you just have to strike the right combinations of arousal and dominance.

Researchers Jacopo Staiano of Sorbonne University and Marco Guerini of Trento Rise studied the roles that valence, arousal, and dominance play in generating viral content — three dimensions that help shape individual emotions.

Consider their individual contributions below:

  • Valence is the positivity or negativity of an emotion. Happiness has a positive valence; fear has a negative valence.
  • Arousal ranges from excitement to relaxation. Anger is a high-arousal emotion; sadness is low-arousal.
  • Dominance ranges from submission to feeling in control. Fear is low-dominance; an emotion someone has more choice over, such as admiration, is high-dominance.

When we looked at how these levels varied among viral images, our analysis revealed that there are three ideal combinations of arousal and dominance that accompany highly viral emotions. Take a look at the list below:


What Does This Mean for Marketers?

Additional research indicates that emotional responses to content are actually more influential on purchasing decisions than the content itself, so brands need to make sure they hit the ideal levels of arousal and dominance and include the right emotional elements if the want to drive conversions.

For example, we know that the top viral emotions are incredibly positive (e.g., happiness and admiration). When paired with an element of surprise, the resulting high levels of both arousal and dominance can generate massive shares.

A great example is Dove’s highly successful “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign. The video features a forensic artist who draws a series of women from behind a curtain, completing the sketches based on each woman’s verbal description of her own appearance. These were compared to drawings he also completed based on strangers’ accounts of the same women.

In most cases, the sketches based on the strangers’ perspectives resulted in more accurate and flattering portraits than those based on the women’s own somewhat self-deprecating descriptions. The success of this highly emotional clip speaks for itself: To date, the video has more than 66 million views on YouTube.

As far as success with negative emotions, remember that everyone loves a happy ending, so success relies on pairing feelings like sadness with something more joyful like admiration.

In “Fireman Saves Kitten,” GoPro obtained footage of a firefighter who rescued an unconscious kitten while wearing GoPro’s HD Hero3. GoPro reused the video and released it on its YouTube channel, and it’s earned more than 31 millions views since it went live.

Again, it’s a very emotionally-charged clip, but the combo of low-arousal and low-dominance emotions like fear and sadness is what helped this campaign succeed.

The good news? Your next viral hit doesn’t require your marketing team to win a coin toss. Research continues to prove that virality isn’t a matter of chance — it’s actually the result of a powerful emotional experience.

When outlining your next campaign, take a look back at the top 10 viral emotions and figure out the ideal combination of arousal and dominance that will help your content not just get read but shared.

What is your favorite example of viral content done right? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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15 Hidden Snapchat Hacks & Features You’ll Wish You Knew About Sooner


Snapchat, the one-to-one messaging app with more than 150 million daily active users, has earned a reputation for fast growth and innovation.

But despite its success, it isn’t the most user-friendly app I’ve ever played around with. Many of its best features are so buried within the app that a lot of people don’t even know they exist. In March 2016, Snapchat added even more features in their release of a new version, and some of these features have totally reshaped how people use the app in the first place.

For example, did you know that you can use Snapchat to make a live video call? Or that you can add emojis to your Snapchat videos — and make it so they move and scale with specific objects? What about the trick where you can save data by turning the app on to “travel mode”?

There are a whole lot of cool things you can do with Snapchat that you may not have known about. But before we jump into them, it’s important that you know the basics. For more on how to use Snapchat — as well as a look at how HubSpot uses the platform — check out this post

Already have the basics down? Read on for some more advanced tips and features.

Note: Before getting started, make sure you’re operating on the latest version of Snapchat. At the time of posting, the latest version is

15 Hidden Snapchat Hacks & Features

1) Use Snapchat for voice and video calls.

One of the biggest changes Snapchat made during its most recent update in March 2016 was the addition of a voice and video chat feature. There are two ways you can use voice and video chats: By sending 10-second recordings (of your voice or a video of you), or by “calling” them to start a live voice or video chat lasting any amount of time.

The voice and video call functionality is located within Snapchat’s chat feature, so you’ll need to open up a chat conversation with someone to begin. If you’ve updated your Snapchat app, you’ll see the phone icon and a video icon below the chat box.


To leave a 10-second voice or video message, hold down on the voice or video call icon and it will begin recording immediately. When you release the button by picking your finger up from the screen, the recording will stop and send immediately with no do-overs. In other words, make sure you’re ready to record and send the voice or video message before you begin.

To start a live voice or video call, just tap the voice or video call icon and it’ll begin ringing the other person immediately. If they don’t answer within a few seconds, you’ll see a pop-up notification asking you if you’d like to send a voice or video message instead. These voice and video messages are identical to the 10-second voice and video messages described above.

Here’s a GIF showing what it looks like to live video call another user:


Note: Voice and video chat will only work if both you and the person you’re trying to call have updated their app to the most recent version.

Also, remember that there’s no verification once you tap or hold down on one of the icons — it’ll start ringing or recording right away. (I learned this the hard way when I tapped the video icon accidentally.) Otherwise, it’s a very intuitive and easy-to-use functionality.

2) Turn on two filters at once.

Can’t choose between giving your photo a blue hue and letting your friends know you’re going 0 mph? Thankfully, you don’t have to make that difficult decision. You can use both filters at the same time with a very simple trick.

To add a second filter to a photo, all you have to do is hold the screen with one finger and swipe left or right with another to find your second filter. (To add that first filter, just swipe your finger left or right over your photo to rotate among them until you settle on one.)

3) Add, resize, and rotate emojis and stickers to your photos.

If you’re looking to dress up your Snapchats outside of the text box, you can add an emoji (or five) and place them anywhere you want on your photo or video.

In addition to the emojis you’re probably familiar with, Snapchat added 200 new stickers in May 2016 that are similar to the stickers that are so popular in other messaging apps like Facebook Messenger. These new stickers are super cute — everything from cacti to snarky kittens to walruses celebrating Hump Day.

snapchat-stickers-1.png snapchat-stickers-2.png

To access the emojis and stickers, start by taking your photo in Snapchat. Then, tap on the folded paper icon on the top of your screen next to the “T” text icon. Scroll through the available stickers and emojis until you find the one you want. Tap on it to add it to your photo, and then use your finger to move it around.

You can use two fingers to rotate it or resize it by pinching and zooming. Add as many emojis and stickers as you’d like.


To delete a sticker or emoji, simply drag it to the trash icon, which appears in place of the folded paper icon once you hold your finger down on the emoji in question. 

Another creative way to use emojis on Snapchat? Create your own filters using some of the more transparent emojis by enlarging them until they cover the whole screen.


4) “Pin” emojis to objects in your videos.

In addition to adding stationary emojis and stickers to your Snapchat videos, you can also “pin” — or attach — emojis and stickers to different objects in your video. This allows the emoji to automatically move, rotate, and scale with whatever object you pinned it to.

To “pin” an emoji or sticker to an object in a video, start by recording your video in Snapchat first. Then, tap on the folded paper icon on the top of your screen, located to the left of the “T” icon.

Scroll through the available emojis and stickers until you find the one you want. Tap on it to add it to your photo, and then use your finger to move it, and hold it in one place above an object to “pin” it to that object. 


5) Make your videos go in fast-forward, slow motion, or rewind.

Snapchat recently added features for videos allowing users to make them go in fast forward, slow motion, or rewind. These features work just like a filter, so to access them, record the video first and then swipe sideways to find them.

Here’s how they work:

  • Snail icon = slow motion
  • Rabbit = fast-forward
  • Backward-facing arrows = rewind


Image Credit: TechCrunch

6) Draw in black or white.

You may have noticed that the color palette in Snapchat’s drawing tool doesn’t offer black and white — but that doesn’t mean that you can’t access both of those colors. All it takes is a few quick finger maneuvers.

To access the available colors, you’re used to holding your finger down on the color palette and dragging it up or down. But to access black and white, you’ll need to drag it toward the upper left corner of your screen (white) or the bottom right corner of your screen (black).


7) Change the color, size, and orientation of your text. 

Think you’re limited to white text? Turns out you can actually change the color of your text to whatever you want, including black (see previous tip).

To change the color of your text, start by taking your photo or video, then tap the “T” icon at the top of your screen. Tap the “T” icon again to make the text larger and remove that shadowed background, and then tap the text itself to open up the color palette. Drag your finger along the palette to change the text color.

To change the orientation and/or size of the text, use two fingers to rotate it or resize it by pinching and zooming. You can move the text around to wherever you want on the screen simply by holding your finger on the text and moving it around.

snapchat-change-text-color-1.png snapchat-change-text-orientation.png

8) Make your text fit neatly in one line.

If you’re anything like me and hate when your text awkwardly goes just over one line, rest assured: You can actually resize your text so it fits neatly into a single line (or however many you’d like).

To resize your text, tap the “T” icon at the top of your screen, then tap on the text to get into text editing mode. Next, use two fingers to pinch-and-zoom to resize it while it still spans the width of your screen.


9) Exceed Snapchat’s text limit.

Even though Snapchat recently extended their text limit on Snapchat to 33 characters, that’s still not always enough. Luckily, there’s a hack that’s been going around for a little over a year now for how to exceed Snapchat’s character limit.

To add extra text, you just need to type your long message into your Notes app (a native app for iOS users), copy it, and paste it into the text field in Snapchat. Alternatively, you can copy a range of blank text in your Notes app and paste it into the text field in Snapchat, and then write in your text.

snapchat-notes-exceed-text-limit.png snapchat-exceed-text-limit.png

10) Turn on “travel mode” to save data.

When I first started using Snapchat on a regular basis, I noticed right away that it was draining my battery faster than any of my other social media apps. Thankfully, Snapchat actually has a built-in feature to help conserve your data, in the form of “travel mode.”

When you set your Snapchat app to travel mode, snaps and stories won’t download automatically. Instead, you can choose when you want to load a snap or a story.

To turn your Snapchat app to travel mode, go to settings, which you can access by opening Snapchat, tapping the ghost icon in the top center of the screen, and then tapping the gear icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen.



Once you’re on the settings page, tap “Manage” under “Additional Services” and toggle “Travel Mode” on.


11) Create your own geofilter.

In February 2016, Snapchat started letting anyone — whether you’re a business or an individual — create custom “on-demand geofilters.” On-demand geofilters are filters users can add when they take photos and videos from specific locations.

There are two different kinds of geofilters: a personal geofilter and a business geofilter.

  • A personal geofilter promotes a personal event or location like a birthday party, wedding, graduation party, and so on, and you can set them for up to 30 days. They can’t include marks, logos, branding, or businesses.
  • A business geofilter promotes a business or a brand, like for an upcoming sale, an ad for a certain location, or something along those lines. Business Geofilters need to meet Snapchat’s Business Guidelines.


Image Credit: Snapchat

To create them, you’ll need to upload an image with a transparent background (or use one of Snapchat’s premade templates), upload it to, pick a date, time, and location for it, and submit it to Snapchat along with your payment. The Snapchat team promises to review submissions within one business day.

The announcement said this feature is available in the U.S., U.K., and Canada for now, with new locations coming soon. You can learn more about how to use them on Snapchat’s website here.

12) Add music to your videos.

Here’s a small tip that can make a big difference in your Snapchat videos. After all, the folks at Snapchat claim that sound is a big part of what makes Snapchat videos so appealing. In June 2016, they claimed that two-thirds of Snapchat’s 10 billion daily video views are watched with the sound on.

Adding music can add a unique touch to your Snapchat videos, and it’s simple to do. All you have to do is play the song you want through your favorite music player app (like Spotify or iTunes), and then record the video on Snapchat while the song is playing. The video recorder on Snapchat will pick up the music and it’ll automatically become part of your video. 

13) Turn the sound off in your videos.

Like I said before, sound is a big part of what makes Snapchat videos unique. Although the default settings for video on both Facebook and Twitter have the volume turned off, Snapchat has done the opposite: its default setting has the volume on.

“The nature of Snapchat, in terms of user-experience, plays into the prominence of sound on the platform,” said Brian Nguyen, group communications strategy director at Droga5. “Users on Snapchat simply expect sound, whereas on Facebook, they don’t.”

But if you’d rather not have sound in your video, it’s helpful to know that there is a way of turning it off. This might be best if you’re recording a video that has unnecessary, loud, or jarring noises that don’t add to the video in a way that you want them to.

To turn sound off on your video, first record your video like you would normally for a Snapchat video. Then, tap the microphone icon on the bottom left-hand side of your screen once so that the sound waves are replaced with an X.





14) Save a Story as a video clip by downloading it. 

Anyone might want to save a Snapchat Story to view later, but this is especially true if you’re working on Snapchat content for your business so you can show your team the Stories you’ve put together and view them later to see what styles worked well. You can save Stories by downloading them to your device. (From there, I’d recommend emailing it to yourself so you don’t accidentally lose it.)

To save an entire Story as a video clip, open up Snapchat and go to the “Stories” view, which you can do by swiping right from the default camera view. Your Story will appear at the top.

Tap the three dots on the far right-hand side of the screen to bring up the download button to the left. Then, tap the download button to save the entire story. 

To save one Snap on your Story as a video clip, open up Snapchat and go to the “Stories” view, which you can do by swiping right from the default camera view. Your Story will appear at the top.

Then, tap on your Story and swipe up on the Snap you want and hit the download button at the top of the screen. 

15) Delete single snaps from a Story.

If you’ve published a snap to your Story, you can still go back to it and delete it at any time — even if you’ve published other snaps after it.

To delete a snap form a Story, simply open up Snapchat and go to the “Stories” view, which you can do by swiping right from the default camera view. Your Story will appear at the top. Swipe up on the Snap you want to delete and hit the delete button.


Image Credit: Snapchat

There you have it. We hope these tricks and features help you use Snapchat to connect with your friends, fans, and even customers in a way that’s low-cost, but highly personal and engaging.

Happy snapping!

What other Snapchat features can you add to this list? Share with us in the comments.

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48 Instagram Stats That’ll Help You Improve Your Posting Strategy


With over 400 million active users, brands are quickly recognizing the need to have a presence on Instagram.

But, as with any social network, the brands that are getting the most out of Instagram are the ones who are smart about what they post, when they post, how often they post, and whom they’re targeting.

But how do they know what’s “smart”?

That’s where the data comes in. There’s a whole lot of research out there about Instagram — everything from the demographics of its users and how often brands are posting, to how caption length affects engagement and what the most popular emoji is on Instagram. (See #32.)

For example, did you know that a brand would need about 2,325 Instagram followers to get 100 Likes & comments on a post? Or that brands posted an average of 4.9 times per week on Instagram in 2015? Read on to uncover more Instagram stats that’ll help you get ideas and improve your own Instagram posting strategy.

48 Instagram Stats

Click on a category below to jump to the stats for that category:

  1. Instagram’s Growth
  2. Audience & Demographics
  3. Brand Adoption
  4. Instagram Post Content
  5. Instagram Posting Strategy

Instagram’s Growth

1) The Instagram community has grown from 90 million active users in January 2013 to more than 400 million active users in September 2015. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: Statista

2) Instagram’s more than 400 million active users place it well ahead of Twitter (310 million active users) Snapchat (200 million active users), and Pinterest (100 million active users). Tweet this stat! (Source)

3) The proportion of online adults who use Instagram and Pinterest has doubled since Pew Research Center first started tracking social media platform adoption in 2012. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: Pew Research Center

4) Instagram’s user base is growing far faster than social network usage in general in the U.S. Instagram will grow 15.1% this year, compared to just 3.1% growth for the social network sector as a whole. Tweet this stat! (Source)

5) Between 2016 and 2020, eMarketer predicts Instagram will add 26.9 million users — almost double the incremental users expected for Twitter, and far more than any other social platform tracked. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: eMarketer

6) In 2016, 9.5% of Facebook’s global mobile ad revenues (20.1% in the U.S.) will come from Instagram. By 2017, Instagram’s share will grow to 14.0% globally (28.0% in the U.S.). Tweet this stat! (Source)

7) Instagram and Snapchat are tied for the second-highest used messaging app (behind Facebook Messenger) for millennials at 47%. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: Refuel Agency

8) Other than Instagram’s own account, the most-followed Instagram account as of March 2016 is run by American singer Selena Gomez, followed by celebrities Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian, and Ariana Grande. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: Statista

Audience & Demographics

9) 52% of teens use Instagram, and nearly as many (41%) use Snapchat. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: Pew Research Center

10) 28% of adult internet users used Instagram in 2015, up from 26% in September 2014. Tweet this stat! (Source)

11) 55% of young adults (ages 18–29) used Instagram in 2015, compared with 37% who did so in 2013. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: Pew Research Center

12) In 2015, 59% of Instagram users used the platform daily, including 35% who visited several times a day. This 59% figure reflects a 10-point increase from September 2014, when 49% of Instagram users reported visiting the site on a daily basis. Tweet this stat! (Source)

13) It was predicted that more than one-third of mobile phone users (roughly 89.4 million Americans) will be on Instagram at least once a month in 2016. By 2017, an estimated 51.8% of social network users will use Instagram. Tweet this stat! (Source)

14) More than 75% of Instagram’s user base consists of people living outside of the U.S. Tweet this stat! (Source)

15) In September 2015, the greatest share of traffic to Instagram (23.94%) was from the U.S. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: Statista

Brand Adoption

16) In one social media study, of five industries analyzed (beauty, apparel, big box, electronics, and home goods), only 43% engaged with their consumers via Instagram, despite Instagram’s 237% average follower growth rate. Tweet this stat! (Source)

17) Despite the rise of Instagram adoption among young adults, it was the least adopted social channel in most retail categories, with adoption rates ranging from 26% to 32%. Tweet this stat! (Source)

18) The apparel industry’s Instagram adoption rate (84%) was double or triple that of other industries. Tweet this stat! (Source)

19) In one 2015 study, 31% of B2C marketers said Instagram was a “very important” social channel and 27% said it was “not important,” while only 8% of B2B marketers said Instagram was a “very important” channel and 58% said it was “not important.” Tweet this stat! (Source)



Image Credit: RivalHQ

Instagram Post Content

20) More than 80 million photos were shared on Instagram each day in September 2015. Tweet this stat! (Source)

21) On Instagram, photos showing faces get 38% more Likes than photos not showing faces. Tweet this stat! (Source)

22) In a study of 8 million Instagram images, images with a single dominant color generate 17% more Likes than images with multiple dominant colors. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: Curalate

23) On Instagram, images with a high amount of negative space generate 29% more Likes than those with minimal negative space. Tweet this stat! (Source)

24) On Instagram, images featuring blue as the dominant color generate 24% more Likes than images that are predominantly red. Tweet this stat! (Source)

25) There’s little correlation between caption text length and engagement rate on Instagram. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: Simply Measured

26) When Instagram first introduced video in June 2013, more than 5 million were shared in the first 24 hours. Tweet this stat! (Source)

27) Despite more brands posting videos than ever before (13.2% of all posts), photos still see higher average engagement. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: Simply Measured

28) In a study of 100 top brands, the brands’ Instagram captions averaged 2.5 hashtags per post. Tweet this stat! (Source)

29) In one study, posts with 11 or more hashtags received nearly 80% interaction, compared to just 22% when using ten and 41% when using two. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: QuickSprout

30) Instagram posts that include both a hashtag and a location tag see higher engagement. Posts with multiple hashtags also perform better than average. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: Simply Measured

31) Posts tagged with a location see 79% higher engagement than posts not tagged with a location. Tweet this stat! (Source)

32) The red heart is the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram, which is shared 79% more than the next most popular symbol, a smiling face with heart eyes. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: Curalate

33) Four of the top five most popular emojis are positive smiley faces (including the laughing-so-hard-I’m-crying icon). If you look at the top 20 emojis, smileys comprise half. Tweet this stat! (Source)

34) The American flag is the only flag emoji to break the top 100, ranking #59. The next most popular flag comes from Italy, ranked #125, followed by the French flag at #160 and the Japanese flag at #166. Tweet this stat! (Source)

35) Pizza is the most popular Instagrammed food, behind sushi and steak. Tweet this stat! (Source)

Instagram Posting Strategy

36) In a study of 55 brands, the brands posted an average of 1.5 times per day. Tweet this stat! (Source)

37) By late 2014, 73% of brands were posting at least one photo or video per week, a 35% increase from 2012. Tweet this stat! (Source)

38) The best times to post on Instagram are Mondays and Thursdays at any time except between 3:00–4:00 p.m. in your target audience’s time zone. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: Elle & Co.

39) The most common posting frequency for brands on Instagram is 11–20 times per month, with almost one-third of companies measured falling into that bucket. Tweet this stat! (Source)

40) 90% of the Interbrand 100 companies now have Instagram accounts. Of all 100 companies, 80% post at least one Instagram photo or video per week. Tweet this stat! (Source)

41) Of the Interbrand 100 companies, the number of brands that post on Instagram more than 50 times per month has doubled from 7 in 2014 to 14 in 2015. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: Simply Measured

42) Many posts by top brands take more than 19 hours to hit 50% of their total comments, and another 10% of comments coming after 19 days. Tweet this stat! (Source)

43) Many posts continue to receive low-level engagement for days and weeks after posting. Most brand posts continue to receive Likes and comments 18–24 hours after posting, just at a slower clip than the initial fast pace. Tweet this stat! (Source)

44) People miss, on average, 70% of their Instagram feeds. Tweet this stat! (Source)

45) While Instagram is still by far the best social network for organic engagement, its per-follower interaction rate of 2.3% is barely half what it was in 2014. Tweet this stat! (Source)


Image Credit: Forrester Research

46) In a study of 100 top brands, engagement per post has grown at a rate of 53% year-over-year. Tweet this stat! (Source

47) In a study of several thousand brand posts, the average engagement rate is 4.3% and the median is 3.5%. That means that the average post in this sample saw 4.3 activities (a Like or a comment) per 100 followers. Phrased another way, to get 100 Likes and comments on a post, a brand would need approximately 2,325 followers. Tweet this stat! (Source)

48) One brand added 36X its typical number of new followers each day during the 4 days it ran a set of sponsored posts on Instagram, increasing its follower count by 18.15%. Tweet this stat! (Source

What other Instagram statistics can you add to the list? Share them with us in the comments. 

how to use instagram for business




7 Tech Predictions That Totally Missed the Mark


How far will technology advance in the next 20 years? That’s kind of a difficult question to wrap your head around, isn’t it?

Of course, that hasn’t prevented people from offering up their own (sometimes bombastic) claims for what the future will hold.

From forecasting the demise of certain companies and technologies, to predicting the mass adoption of particular products, tech fortune-tellers have long been waxing philosophical about what’s to come. 

But in many cases, these predictions have proven to be categorically, unequivocally, wrong.

Here are some of our favorite examples of tech predictions that completely missed the mark.

7 Tech Predictions That Totally Missed the Mark

1) “I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.” – Robert Metcalfe (1995)


Image Credit: Ohio University

This is one of the most well-known failed tech predictions. And the person who made the prediction, Robert Metcalfe (who co-invented Ethernet, FYI), even acknowledged how off the mark he was a few years after making the prediction. During a keynote speech at the International World Wide Web Conference, Metcalfe put a print version of his InfoWorld column that featured the infamous prediction in a food processor and — quite literally — ate his words.

2) “Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet — which there isn’t — the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.” – Clifford Stoll (1995)


Image Credit: Newsweek

It turns out that Metcalfe wasn’t the only seemingly intelligent person to predict the demise of the internet back in 1995. In an article for Newsweek, astronomer Clifford Stoll explained why the internet wouldn’t be as transformative as many had been claiming. Specifically, Stoll called out the idea of “cyberbusiness” (read: ecommerce) as being totally impractical. As Stoll wrote:

We’re promised instant catalog shopping — just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations, and negotiate sales contracts.

Flash forward to today and … yep, we can do all that. What’s more, in Q1 of 2016 alone, total ecommerce sales in the U.S. were around $92.8 billion. Needless to say, we’ve solved the whole “sending money over the internet” thing.

3) “I’d shut [Apple] down and give the money back to the shareholders.” – Michael Dell (1997)


Image Credit: Inc.

This one isn’t really phrased like a prediction, but it definitely hints at Dell CEO Michael Dell’s vision of the future. The quote above was given in response to a question about what Dell would do with Apple if he were in Steve Jobs’ shoes. (Jobs had just rejoined Apple at the time.)

Of course, when we look back now — knowing that Apple is currently the most valuable brand on the planet — Dell’s plan for Apple’s future seems incredibly foolish. But to be fair, lots of folks were discounting Apple at the time. Case in point, this quote from a 1996 Fortune article: “Apple’s erratic performance has given it the reputation on Wall Street of a stock a long-term investor would probably avoid.”

4) “Two years from now, spam will be solved.” – Bill Gates (2004)


Image Credit: Tech Insider

I mean, come on. This one was just wishful thinking. At the 2004 World Economic Forum, Bill Gates made the bold claim that spam email would be gone in two years.

Bad news, Bill. It didn’t happen. A report published in 2014 — 10 years after Gates’ prediction — showed that, on average, 54 billion spam emails are sent everyday.

5) “Everyone’s always asking me when Apple will come out with a cell phone. My answer is, ‘Probably never.'” – David Pogue (2006)


Image Credit: The New York Times

In 2006, the above quote from tech journalist David Pogue appeared in The New York Times. In 2007, Apple released the first generation of its iPhone. Sooo yeah, a definite swing and a miss.

But even after the iPhone was released, tech soothsayers still weren’t sure it’d be a success …

6) “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.” – Steve Ballmer (2007)


Image Credit: The Telegraph

Back in 2007, then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer thought the iPhone would be too expensive to earn widespread adoption. In an interview with USA Today, Ballmer even put a number on it. He argued the iPhone might end up with “2% or 3%” of the market share, but no more.

Ballmer was wrong. Apple ended 2015 claiming around 16% of the global smartphone market. And when we look at just the U.S., that market share figure jumps to 40%.

7) “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” – Ken Olsen (1977)


Image Credit:

From the 1960s through their acquisition by Compaq in the 1990s, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) was a major player in the American computer industry. But for founder and former president and chairman of DEC, Ken Olsen, the computer didn’t seem like it would ever become a household consumer good (at least not in 1977, when Olsen made the comment above).

Today, more than 84% of U.S. households have computers.

Know of any other famously inaccurate tech predictions? Share them in the comments section below.

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Breaking Down Virality: An Analysis of 4 Posts That Went Viral


Trying to go viral? It seems like everyone is these days. 

That’s because having a post take off can benefit your brand’s reputation tremendously — just look at how the blue and black dress (or was it white and gold?) affected BuzzFeed’s traffic.

While the success of a viral post often hinges on chance, my team at Alexa set out to uncover some of the common characteristics of viral content to help others inform their content strategies.

In doing so, we examined four “viral” posts using our competitive intelligence tool to analyze website traffic, and BuzzSumo and SharedCount to analyze total social media shares. It’s also worth mentioning that we chose to focus on smaller sites for the sake of this analysis to get a better idea of how one viral post can affect traffic, reach, and page rank.

Here’s some of what we learned …

Measuring the Effects of Virality: An Analysis of 4 Unique Viral Posts

1) “Dad Sings Anti-Bullying Song to Daughter” a social website with interesting and inspiring videos — shared a video of a dad singing an anti-bullying song to his daughter. Within a couple of months, the site’s global ranking had jumped by 43%.


  • Including a strong emotional hook in your content can help increase the chance for viral success.
  • Knowing which emotional themes resonate most with your audience and weaving those into your content is important.
  • Utilizing videos will help grab the audience’s attention fast and create a strong emotional response.


2) “14 Quotes That Prove Amy Poehler Gives the World’s Best Advice”— a media site geared to millennials — shared a list of empowering quotes from Amy Poehler. The site’s reach nearly tripled two weeks after the article went live.


  • Writing catchy and compelling headlines can pique curiosity in social audiences.
  • Placing pop culture references in your content can help boost virality.
  • Sticking with universally popular topics is a great bet.


3) “A Mom’s Social Media Post Shatters Lives” — a sibling of Advertising Age that showcases creative content — posted an AT&T advertisement about the dangers of texting and driving. Over the next couple of months, the site’s global ranking increased 29%. 


  • Utilizing an element of surprise is extremely effective for grabbing the audience’s attention.
  • Incorporating current cultural and social issues into your comment will add interest.
  • Including a broadly understood and relatable topic will ensure extensive audience reach.


4) “No, It’s Not Your Opinion. You’re Just Wrong” — a Houston-based entertainment source — shared an opinion piece about how, well, you just might be wrong. More than 36,000 people shared it on Facebook.


  • Surprising and shocking audiences can help to ensure success.
  • Controversial and polarizing content often sparks discussion.
  • Making sure your content topic appeals to a wide audience will increase viral potential.


3 Quick Tips for Creating More Sharable Content

1) Emotional content strikes a chord.

Emotions play a big role in our decision-making, but there’s a fine line between piquing interest and being misleading. Readers are wary of clickbait, and an over-the-top headline can feel like exploitation. However, when used properly, emotional content serves as a way to provide value. Your audience wants to feel a connection to content, and as long as it’s relevant, emotional content can help you establish just that. 

The emotion you choose to tap into is entirely up to you. While the video from Faithtap demonstrates how to leverage feel-good emotions, content that makes people feel uneasy can also have an impact — as demonstrated by the terrifying advertisement from AT&T shared by

2) Know your audience.

There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for creating highly sharable content. In fact, what you create will have a lot to do with who you’re creating it for.

For example, a list of celebrity quotes like the one published on might not fare as well on a website with an older audience and a more serious focus. But for their audience, it was a perfect fit: Mic’s audience is primarily made up of women between the ages of 18 and 44, and Poehler, known for her roles on “Saturday Night Live” and “Parks and Recreation,” is something of a millennial icon.

3) Breaking the rules isn’t always a bad thing.

When it comes to viral content, don’t be afraid to think and work outside of the box.

The AT&T film mentioned earlier is nearly four minutes long — a risky move when 33% of video viewers lose interest after just 30 seconds. Yet, the video had a profound impact on its hosting website: Three days after it went live, the site’s reach skyrocketed sevenfold, and page views increased eightfold.

And what about the “No, It’s Not Your Opinion. You’re Just Wrong” article? Pretty edgy and controversial title, wouldn’t you say? Well, it worked: The 1,200-word opinion piece was shared more than 36,000 times on Facebook.

Moral of the story: Think boldly, but be sure to act accordingly. When you’re creating content, always keep your audience’s best interest in mind. Don’t deceive them. And don’t offend them. Instead, focus on creating something they can connect with — something they’ll want to share with a friend, or two, or three …

What tips do you have for creating “viral” content? Share them with us in the comments section below.

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49 of the Best Snapchat Drawings We’ve Ever Seen


For most people, adding a caption, emoji, or even a cool filter to a Snapchat before shipping it is enough to satisfy their creative needs. And that’s perfectly fine. There are plenty of people and brands doing really cool things on Snapchat without going all “Van Gogh” on their pictures and videos.

… But there are also people who prefer to go that extra mile when it comes to dressing up their Snaps.

You see, Snapchat lets you draw on your pictures and videos before you send them to your friends or your Story, like this:


Image Credit: Mashable

While most of us (myself included) use Snapchat’s drawing tool for crude drawings and scribbling extra words, there are folks out there who see this as an opportunity to create incredible works of Snapchat art. And some of them are really darn good at it.

We searched far and wide for the best Snapchat drawings out there and created the list below. This collect serves as a mix of artwork from “professional Snapchatters,” brands, and just normal folks who happen to be really good at drawing on their phones.

Check ’em out, and get ready to be inspired to create your own Snapchat art. You may not become the next Picasso … but you might at least make someone laugh. (And read this blog post to learn more about how to use Snapchat, including a detailed look into HubSpot’s own Snapchat strategy.)

49 of the Most Impressive Snapchat Drawings We’ve Ever Seen

1) Making breakfast a little more interesting.


Image Credit: Dbatsnap

2) Ahhhhhh zabenyaaaa.


Image Credit: Snapchat Mi

3) Ah! Get it off of me!


Image Credit: @geeohsnap

4) Presidential pals.


Image Credit: emgarber

5) Oh hey there.


Image Credit: Tech Insider

6) Getting abstract.


Image Credit: Dbatsnap

7) This needs a caption contest.


Image Credit: @geeohsnap

8) On cloud nine.


Image Credit: Snapchat Mi

9) Plug puns.


Image Credit: emgarber

10) That right angle though…


Image Credit: Dbatsnap

11) Oh hey, Bacchus.


Image Credit: Snapchat Mi

12) SWIM!


Image Credit: Dbatsnap

13) Can this be real life?


Image Credit: @geeohsnap

14) Better than Ellen’s Oscar selfie?


Image Credit: Tech Insider

15) Saving the world one Snap at a time.


Image Credit: Dbatsnap

16) The name’s Gatsby, Jay Gatsby.


Image Credit: BuzzFeed

17) It was him!


Image Credit: @geeohsnap

18) Once you go Dunkin’, you never go back.


Image Credit: Dbatsnap

19) Single and ready to flamingle.


Image Credit: Dbatsnap

20) Squad goals.


Image Credit: thetrinitykiller4

21) To the Alps, by unicorn!


Image Credit: Snapchat Mi

22) Another year older, another year wiser?


Image Credit: emgarber



Image Credit: @geeohsnap

24) This guy is more excited than you.


Image Credit: Tech Insider

25) Hey there, lil guy.


Image Credit: Dbatsnap

26) He’s in it for the marshmallows.


Image Credit: Dbatsnap

27) Yo, what’d you do to my eggs?


Image Credit: @geeohsnap

28) Seeing dots.


Image Credit: Tech Insider

29) And then I woke up.

toxic-waste-snapchat.jpg dinosaurs-into-birds-snapchat.jpg

Image Credit: emgarber

30) Feel FRIDA call me.


Image Credit: Dbatsnap

31) Are we sure this is a drawing?


Image Credit: Dbatsnap

32) Getting literal.


Image Credit: emgarber

33) You’ve got a friend in me.


Image Credit: BuzzFeed

34) He asked for it, amirite?


Image Credit: Smosh

35) Tigers are the best princess sidekicks.


Image Credit: Snapchat Mi

36) That eye will haunt my dreams.


Image Credit: Reddit

37) We mermaid for each other <3


Image Credit: Smosh

38) Mer wine, please. 


Image Credit: Dbatsnap

39) Better than a face tattoo.


Image Credit: Dbatsnap

40) Rock climbing. 


Image Credit: emgarber

41) Mad (cat) scientist. 


Image Credit: Tech Insider



Image Credit: Smosh

43) No, I am the walrus.


Image Credit: Dbatsnap

44) Hmm. Just humans.


Image Credit: @geeohsnap

45) Do you want to build a snowman?


Image Credit: Snapchat Mi

46) The deep blue sea amber ale.


Image Credit: @geeohsnap

47) Go fish.


Image Credit: Dbatsnap

48) You can stand under my umbrella.


Image Credit: Snapchat Mi

49) Un-BEAR-ably cute.


Image Credit: @geeohsnap

Which Snapchat drawings are your favorites? Share with us in the comments.

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A Visual History of Internet Firsts [Infographic]


Back in 1995, less than 1% of the world’s population used the internet. During that same year, Newsweek published a now-infamous article (originally titled, “The Internet? Bah!”), which surmised that the internet would amount to little more than a fad.

Flash forward to today. Around 40% of the world’s population is connected to the internet, representing over 3 billion people. (And yes, that number is continuing to grow as you read this.) Over the past few decades, the internet has evolved from an intriguing experiment to — as Bill Gates once put it — “the town square for the global village of tomorrow.”

To help highlight all of the developments that have shaped the internet over the years, the team at created the infographic below. From the first email, to the first tweet, you can learn about all of the internet’s many “firsts.”


Know of any other “internet firsts” that aren’t featured in the infographic? Share them in the comments section below.

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