• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • BeverlyMay
    Beverly May on August 13, 2014

    Countdown to the UX Awards: Get Discounted Tickets and Vote Now for the Winners!

    We're a partner with the UXies, the premier global awards for exceptional digital experience, which is in downtown San Francisco on September 11 after 3 years in New York!
  • Using content marketing to build exposure and credibility for your growing company? Don’t go Rambo. Here are 3 compelling reasons to cite relevant outside parties in your company blog and similar content.

    For content marketers, citing to external sources in your company blog may initially seem like an act of self-sabotage. The company has designated you, after all, to act as its voice and showcase its value. Why reference an outsider, shine the spotlight on someone else, and potentially redirect traffic away from your site?

    A number of reasons! The counter-intuitive reality is that going Rambo with your content marketing is a misguided strategic maneuver and surefire way to handicap your blog’s growth and effectiveness. Here are three compelling reasons to cite smartly and frequently in your company blog, and how you can these citations to amplify and empower your content.

    1.  Establish Credibility

    For starters, the underlying purpose of the blog is to add value to your readers and thus show that your company can add value to its customers. When you cite to a highly credible source (a Business Review, Academic Journal, study by a major research group, etc.) you’re actually establishing your own credibility as well.

    Content marketing is a long-term game that requires time and consistency. For startups, time is a luxury you may be struggling to afford, so you need to streamline this process as much as you possibly can -- citing to third-parties is your ideal solution. It’s swift, it’s effective, and it doesn’t cost a dime.

    While your content generator’s path to credibility may be at the mercy of Father Time, citing to reputable sources is a great way to expedite the process and give credibility where it truly matters anyways, your company. For example, you sell enterprise software that measures how well a company optimizes a given process. Citing to quality sources like this and this in posts relating to each topic will not only help further your credibility, performing the research itself will lead to better ideas, a more refined understanding of consumer interests, and in turn, more effective blog posts.

    2. Compound Exposure

    Second, and probably most important, is the ability to use citations as a tool for cross-promotion. One of the most challenging aspects of maintaining a blog is figuring out how to optimize the distribution of your content across the various social media channels.

    Last week, I wrote a blog post on how Millenials and Technology are impacting the American workplace. I cited heavily to a major industry study by the MIT Sloan Management Review.

    Over the weekend, I tweeted out a link to the post from our company twitter account, and within hours, MIT Sloan had retweeted it. Our company has 375 twitter followers. MIT Sloan has 46,0000. Now, I’m no data scientist, but I’m pretty sure that this single retweet just created an exponential increase in exposure for our post.

    3. Find New Allies

    The business world is a competitive jungle your company traverses daily. References to articles, other company blogs, and business and industry leaders vastly expands your ecosystem, offering opportunities to acquire critical new allies that can jumpstart your oganization.

    Put simply, citations open up your content to a much larger world than that of your customers.  Citing to journalists, professional organizations, businesses and other blogs gives you an “in” to begin building a relationship with not only the entities themselves, but their readership and customer bases.  

    The ways that these citations can manifest powerful new distribution channels and means of exposure are as varied as they are numerous.

    • Cite to a major Forbes, Wall Street Journal, or Business Insider article and establish a point of contact with that journalist.

    • Cite to an expert blogger in your industry and increase the potential that he or she promotes, references, or profiles your post and your company.

    • Cite to a major organization within your industry and publish the post in the organization’s LinkedIn group. (Ambition’s favorite: American Assoc. of Inside Sales Professionals)

    The list goes on. The bottom line is: Your chances of survival in the jungle will improve dramatically if you use citations to build powerful new allies in your industry.

    Cite Early. Cite Often.

    How frequently should a company use citations in its posts? I would advise content marketers to incorporate at least one or two citations in every post that discusses an industry topic. It’s also important not to overdo third-party citations, for two reasons.

    • Your content should primarily consist of your original thoughts; citations merely act as supplements to these thoughts.

    • Incorporate too many external links in your post, and you run the risk of appearing to direct the reader to leave the site.

    In my experience, finding the right balance here is pretty intuitive. Focus on the quality, not quantity, of the citations you are integrating into your content.

    Ultimately, content marketers who start incorporating citations will come to find that citing in your content will not only provide these aforementioned benefits, it will increase the efficiency of the writing process itself. That alone makes adding citations to your content a worthwhile exercise.

    It’s time to change the way you think about digital marketing. A lot of what we once “knew” about marketing no longer applies, especially when it comes to using social media as a marketing tool. It’s time for an update, for new stats about digital marketing and how you can use them to your advantage.
    It’s time to change the way you think about digital marketing. A lot of what we once “knew” about marketing no longer applies, especially when it comes to using social media as a marketing tool. It’s time for an update, for new stats about digital marketing and how you can use them to your advantage.
     
    Tip #1
     
    Women use Pinterest four times more often than men do. As you are crafting a marketing message for Pinterest, keep in mind that your audience is going to be about 75% women and 25% men.
     
    Tip #2
     
    Instagram can now boast more than 55 million photos being posted daily. That means millions of active users, engaging in the platform.
     
    Tip #3
     
    Instagram is also leaking into Twitter, with about half of what’s being shared, being shared on both platforms.
     
    Tip #4
     
    Pinterest bests Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn in the amount of time spent on the website and the amount of referral traffic to a webpage. That means, if you aren’t taking advantage of this platform, you are missing out on millions of site visitors.  Of course, it has to be relevant to your practice and your patients!
     
    Tip #5
     
    Instagram isn’t just for selfies or pictures of dogs. National Geographic is one of the most followed accounts, and their pictures are informative and valuable. Even if your products or services are not fashionable or particularly visual, you can find a way to make use of this platform, even if it is just through visual text posts.
     
    Tip #6
     
    Of the nearly 700 million Twitter users, about 3% of those accounts are fake. Don’t waste your time trying to buy bot traffic on Twitter—it doesn’t work and it may even get your account shut down.
     
    Tip #7
     
    About 30% of people say they use Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest to discover new things that they want to buy. If you are not on social media, this means you are only getting a fraction of the traffic and sales you could be making.
     
    Tip #8
     
    Hashtags improve engagement with a Tweet by more than 20%--especially if you have two hashtags, but no more than three. Two or three hashtags is the sweet spot.
     
    Tip #9
     
    If you have a video on your landing page, you are more than 85% more likely to turn a conversion than if you did not have a video.
     
    Tip #10
     
    Only 7% of Americans have no idea what Facebook is or how to use it. Are those 7% even in your key demographic? This means that 93% of Americans either know about, are familiar with, or use Facebook on a daily basis—those are people you want to reach, aren’t they?
     
    Tip #11
     
    Mobile banner ads are notoriously terrible. Consumers hate them and about 50% of the traffic they generate is accidental and amounts to nothing. That means only half of the traffic they draw actually wants to see your page—now, narrow that number down by the percentage of people that actually make a purchase. Are mobile banners worth your time?
     
    Tip #12
     
    The shorter your Facebook post is, the more likely it is to draw engaged readers. Less than 250 characters (that shouldn’t be too hard, that’s 110 more than Twitter gives you), is the sweet spot.
     
    Tip #13
     
    Social media takes serious time. The people who saw the most engagement spent more than six hours a week working on their social media pages. Think of what you could do if you used six hours a day to promote yourself on social media?
     
    Tip #14
     
    Almost 50% of women say that the blogs that they read regularly have an effect on their buying decisions. Is your blog one of them?
     
    Tip #15
     
    Almost 50% of Pinterest’s traffic comes from mobile devices like tablets. Is your website mobile friendly enough to handle this traffic when someone clicks through a pin to your website?
     
    Tip #16
     
    Even business to business marketing can benefit from social media—60% of traffic for these kinds of businesses and their B2B marketing comes from social media, especially LinkedIn.
     
    Tip #17
     
    Social media is the new word-of-mouth, with plenty of small businesses using their social media to engage with their customers and encourage those customers to share their business with their friends.
     
    Tip #18
     
    Think a traditional commercial will bring you new customers? Think again. YouTube views top every single network, especially in demographics like 18-24 year olds. If you want to get hip with the kids, it’s time to stop focusing on TV and start focusing on media like YouTube instead.
     
    Tip #19
     
    Does your favorite restaurant have a Facebook page? Nearly half of people use Facebook when looking for somewhere in their area to eat. If they do have a page, they should make sure it has their location and hours of business clearly posted.  Do the same with your dental practice!
     
    Tip #20
     
    While Pinterest is great, bloggers are more likely to draw traffic when women are looking for new food or decorating ideas. A blog with posts that can be easily shared to social media is your best chance for drawing traffic.
     
    Tip #21
     
    Want to leverage your Pinterest posts to get even more clicks? Make them DIYs, recipes, or tutorials. These pins see 42% more clicks than various other pins.
     
    Tip #22
     
    If you sell electronics, don’t neglect Twitter, as studies show that people take to Twitter to find out about electronics and what to purchase—far more than any other social media or marketing venue.
     
    Tip #23
     
    A third of people who use Google to search for something click on the very first result. How does your search engine optimization stack up?
     
    Tip #24
     
    Almost 60% of bloggers say that they have drawn customers through their blog. That’s a surprisingly high rate.
     
    Is there any greater source of emotional debate and mis-information on the web today than Facebook reach? Part of the reason for so much confusion is that the truth is hard to come by. The real numbers are hidden behind company administrative accounts. There are only a few companies in the world with access to enough of these Facebook pages to make a meaningful statement about the true nature of Facebook reach.

    Is there any greater source of emotional debate and mis-information on the web today than Facebook reach?

    I recently had a little debate on this subject with a person who wrote a glowing article on the promise of Facebook reach — despite what appears to be pretty bad news in this corner of the web.

    I challenged him: Why write an article that seems to be so counter to the facts? “I’m tired of so much negativity about Facebook,” he said. “I wanted spin the facts in a more positive way.”

    With so much at stake and so much mythology out there, it is certainly difficult to know who to believe or what to believe any more...and we certainly do not need to be “spinning the facts.”

    Part of the reason for so much confusion is that the truth is hard to come by. The real numbers are hidden behind company administrative accounts. There are only a few companies in the world with access to enough of these Facebook pages to make a meaningful statement about the true nature of Facebook reach.

    The truth about Facebook reach

    One of these rare companies is AgoraPulse, and my friend Emeric Ernoult (the company’s founder) was kind enough to share his raw data with Tom Webster and me to dissect on our latest episode of The Marketing Companion podcast. We were able to dive into the numbers behind 8,000 Facebook pages over the past 12 months and we found some surprising facts:

    • More than 70 percent of all companies across 104 industry designations had a decline in organic reach of 30 percent or more in the past year. I think it is accurate to say the decline in Facebook reach has been incredibly steep and rapid.
    • While Facebook brand pages reach an average of 6 percent of their fans, there is wide variation by company and industry. The declines ranged as low as 1 percent to as high as 65 percent.
    • Only 6 percent of the industry categories have seen Facebook organic reach grow or remain steady in the past 12 months.
    • There is definitely a “hierarchy of conversation” among brands that leads to higher Facebook reach. Certain types of companies are just more conversational, leading to better reach. For example, nearly 550 pages consistently still have organic reach of 40 percent or more. Media companies and sports-related brands top the list.

    This last point was especially interesting to Tom and me, and one of the things we discussed on the podcast was the concept of using the data as a predictive model — could you guide a Facebook strategy based on a number that indicates potential engagement level?  Let’s look at some of the numbers:

    high facebook reach

     

    low facebook reach

    The decline in organic reach was steeper and more rapid than I expected. No wonder marketing strategies are in turmoil if organic reach has declined 30 percent or more for some companies in such a short period of time:

    facebook reach 3

    What’s the recipe for higher organic reach?

    AgoraPulse gets to see more Facebook success stories than almost any company out there. So what is the key to success? The company’s founder Emeric Ernoult shared these tips:

    “As with everything in the online world, there’s no one-size-fits-all recipe. But to help focus on some success themes, I’ve hand-picked four Facebook pages that are doing extremely well and enjoying an average post reach above 50 percent of their fan base. Let’s learn from them.”

    Animals Australia

    OK, granted, this non-profit is about protecting animals and people love visuals of animals (and love their pets!). But they don’t only post good looking puppies, they also post a lot of very interesting content relating to their cause. You’re in the animals business? Facebook will make you happy.

    The Daily Muse

    Career advice? Yes, the Muse is a real business with a real business model (selling job postings to employers) but they also have so much content (very helpful and insightful content!) that their fans are engaged way above average.

    Super Chevy Mag

    Car lovers love to share their passion. And they usually love to read magazines that focus on that passion. Having a Facebook page for such a magazine cannot be a bad idea.

    Maxxess

    Maxxess is a French e-commerce site selling motorbike accessories. There is no doubt that motorbike owners are very passionate about their bike and the biking lifestyle. If you sell stuff to people who have a passion, Facebook is a must.

    Episode 31

    What do these 4 pages have in common?

    • They target an audience with a strong passion
    • They publish very good content (at least, very good for their target audience)
    • They publish very consistently (at least once a day, often more)
    • They get a LOT of shares (thanks to the 3 points above), and shares are what offers the highest level of “viral” visibility for a page’s content.

    I’m sure you’ll agree this is pretty interesting stuff but to get the inside scoop, you’ll want to check out our new podcast, which also covers a hilarious new social media app called “Get a Room!”  Check it out:

    Or Click on this link to listen to Episode 31

    Other Ways to Listen to this Podcast:

     

     

     

     

     

    Marketers the world over better become aware of this next big thing for it is coming and it will more than likely affect everything they do. As usual "it" goes by an acronym as we all know everything in marketing has to have some sort of acronym, right?

    What is this "next big thing" I reference in the title? Before I reveal just what "it" is... try this on for size:

    Peter Middleton, research director at Gartner: ”The growth in [[this]] will far exceed that of other connected devices. By 2020, the number of smartphones tablets and PCs in use will reach about 7.3 billion units. In contrast, [[this]] will have expanded at a much faster rate, resulting in a population of about 26 billion units at that time.”

    I am no math genius by any means, but last time I checked 26 is a higher number than 7.3. I gave away a clue as to what "it" is in the above quote from Peter Middleton with the use of the phrase "connected devices." In 2010, McKinsey & Company wrote that it “has great promise, yet business, policy, and technical challenges must be tackled before these systems are widely embraced.”

    What Is It?

    As usual "it" goes by an acronym as we all know everything in marketing has to have some sort of acronym, right? Well this one is IoT.

    Know what it stands for? If you don't know don't worry, you're not alone. According to a study conducted by Edelman Berland for GE nearly half of business executives worldwide had never heard of "it," either.

    What "it" is the Internet of Things. And in very laymen's terms, it means in the very near future many devices, regular household devices, etc., will be connected to the internet.

    Another way of saying it is this...

    "The Internet Of Things will make many of the familiar devices and objects in our lives — from door locks to toll booths to refrigerators — suddenly Internet-connected, smartphone-accessible, and responsive.” – Business Insider

    Get the picture now? See the incredible opportunity all businesses and brands will have? But just look at the staggering percentages in the chart to the right corresponding to those who checked the box "never heard of it." That is truly frightening boys and girls.

    To no one's surprise, at least not mine, IT and high tech folks were the ones who responded they had not only heard of it, but they are also planning for its arrival. However, there are still nearly 1/3 of these folks who claim they never of Iot, either. Incredible.

    Not Just Retail

    This past April I wrote a post for Forbes This Could Be The Biggest Thing In Retail And It's Not Mobile. In that piece I obviously touched on one sector/industry: retail. But clearly IoT will impact any industry that makes its bones using the internet in any way, shape or form. Be it B2C or B2B or whatever, if your business currently does business via the internet, this affects you.

    And you better be ready.

    Image sources: eMarketer, Google Images,Phillips County Community Foundation

    The good news about the widespread dialogue on Facebook Messenger is that it brought to light the issues that surround privacy of data. Further implicating what some of us have always known: “When the service is free, the user is the product.” In other words, when companies like Facebook create applications that we use in our everyday lives, the real price is what we sacrifice for the right to use the application for free: our data.

    Over the last month there has been an unfathomable amount of content published about the massive privacy intrusion that is Facebook Messenger. With the ability to intrude into the lives of its users in ways that the NSA would never think to, it isn’t a surprise that the new download brought such strong opinions - many of which served as recommendations not to download the application.

    The good news about the widespread dialogue on Messenger is that it brought to light the issues that surround privacy of data. Further implicating what some of us have always known: “When the service is free, the user is the product.” In other words, when companies like Facebook create applications that we use in our everyday lives, the real price is what we sacrifice for the right to use the application for free: our data.

    Internet of Things, Big Data and Jargon, Contextualized

    Perhaps the only word more abused and used in the tech space than “Internet of Things” is “Big Data.” In itself, Big Data means very little. It is merely the massive collection of information that resides out in cyberspace that is waiting to be somehow organized, visualized, contextualized and “-ized” in some other TBD capacity.

    For Big Data it comes down to what you do with it; otherwise it is like an English major staring at endless strings of PHP or Java. It’s meaningless.

    Having said that, what Big Data really is and has meant is a revolutionary approach to marketing. It is our behavior online that helps brands and organizations learn about us in ways that they can contextualize and apply to their marketing strategies, and from the time that this became so eerily apparent, marketers have been seeking out ways to exploit it.

    In a world where the web is moving from a search state to a semantic state it is without question our data that makes this possible. In a recent series of articles I posted about the semantic web it talked about the marriage that is taking place between Big Data, Semantic Search and User Generated Content that is shifting the way we explore the web.

    If you consider this as a possibility or a reality then you will quickly realize for the web to be semantic, it is dependent upon us as users to feed it our data. And in order for the web to collect our data, we need to voluntarily (even if not knowingly) give up our privacy so websites and brands can sell and use it to create this new online experience.

    Our Privacy Died When We Grew Obsessed With Free

    With Social Media users well over a billion and a growing mobile and wearable trends that puts us online almost around the clock, we are ever connected and endlessly sharing what seems like our every idea.

    This feeling of connectedness undoubtedly gives many a sense of community and happiness as it is through the sharing of our everyday lives that we are able to garner the feedback we seek and the validity that we need.

    However, if we are fooled for even a moment as to what all of this is really about - the desire to have us tethered without wires and connected without cost - then we are delusional.

    I for one can say that I have almost never read the privacy policy of an application I downloaded. As a millennial, I suppose this puts me in the group of about half of us that are okay with trading our privacy for a potentially better experience online. Now, whether having more targeted ads and content during our everyday browsing is really a better experience is yet to be seen.

    As a society, it really came down to our insatiable desire for free: free content, free social media, free productivity tools and free games. We want to be connected and we want to play with the latest games, toys and widgets, but by and large we don’t want to trade our cash for them. So instead we trade something else: our data and our privacy.

    As long as you know what you are giving up and you make that choice, then you are fine. But know that whatever you know, “They” know, and that is the way it will be.

    So here’s to a better web experience, marketers that know more about what we want than we do and a complete and total loss of privacy that really makes minimal difference in our lives. Heck, we share it all anyway. Don’t we?

    But one thing is for sure, on the Internet of Things, there is no privacy.

    This post was first seen on Forbes and can be found here.

    Image: Facebook Messenger