• 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.
  • While there is an immense amount of power in an inspiring headline, there is success in an inspiring story. You can't change a user's behavior with one line, but with a story, you can change their life.
    As the buzz around Facebook's clickbait crackdown begins to hit mass media, it's apparent that many content marketers are taking action and trying to salvage their clever headlines that have brought many pieces of content to reach viral levels for their brand. Facebook launched an update last Monday that will help to weed out clickbait from users' news feeds. If clickbait has been such a successful marketing tactic, why remove it?
     
    "Facebook’s goal is to distinguish between good click bait — catchy headlines that deliver real stories that back up the tabloid lure — and evil click bait — catchy headlines that are nothing more than a traffic generating bait-and-switch.” (Salon.com) If you're not familiar with the term "clickbait", the first thing you need to know is that, as of this moment, you're a victim of it. Clickbait is a tactic that content marketers use to capture a reader's attention by enticing them with a highly engaging headline that gives a user just enough information to want to see the outcome, but cleverly disguises what they may actually experience. More often than not, we could easily replace the term "clickbait" with "clickbait & switch".
     
    If you are like me, you're always skeptical about reading articles that are the product of clickbait, and the majority of readers skip the intro paragraphs to get to the earth-shattering climax that the clickbait promised. This behavior is totally natural because the majority of us have come to realize that most clickbait-titled articles are 100% unfulfilling and taught us nothing new.
     
    It's true, many content marketers have abused the power of clickbait to catch readers' attention just enough to click a link, but could truthfully care less about whether or not anyone actually engaged in the content. It's all about clicks, shares and page views, right? Most marketers understand this mentality will destroy any content strategy. It's not enough to get users to quickly thumb through content, but to actually engage, become inspired, motivate action, and promote change.
     
    Being the cofounder of a content analytics platform, I constantly find myself hungry to enhance user experience as it relates to content marketing, and to never pursue any form of marketing that can't be measured. This isn't because I think unmeasurable forms of marketing don't work, rather, I believe that learning helps us to understand how to better serve our people and how to create more inspiring ideas that promote inspiration. While there is an immense amount of power in an inspiring headline, there is success in an inspiring story. You can't change a user's behavior with one line, but with a story, you can change their life. This is the exact reason Facebook is cracking down on clickbait. It's not necessarily because they are fed up with clickbait trespassing on users' newsfeeds, it's because Facebook wants to uphold their reputation of providing the most valuable content as it relates to each individual user. If there is a heavy amount of content that is loitering and performing bait and switch tactics on their users, they are taking action against what is demoting their image.
     
    Great content is one of the best tools to use for inspiring action among your target audience. When creating content, as marketers, let's focus on the root of inspiring user behavior, rather than focusing on topical tactics that will create short-lived vanity metrics and will never lead to brand affinity. 
    Suddenly typing stopped being a job or a career and it became a skill every entry-level employee needed to have. Eventually it worked its way up the corporate ladder and eventually even senior executives would type at least some of the own communications. Social media is a lot like typing.

    In the mid-twentieth century, you would find groups of women working side by side in what was known as a typing pool. Good professional typists could churn out 70 - 90 words a minute, which may not sound like an accomplishment on a computer keyboard, but try to do that on a manual typewriter without the keys locking up.

    These women controlled company communication. If they didn't type it, it didn't get disseminated. Only women took typing in highschool, and most executives were men, so few executives could type.

    Then along came word processors, and the women who embraced the new technology became even more important. They had job security. Well, at least until the arrival of the desktop computer.

    While most senior executives never learned how to use computers, younger managers did. Instead of waiting around to get the information typed and disseminated, they simply typed it themselves. If you could type, you could get your ideas in front of more people. Assuming they were good ideas, you moved ahead.

    Suddenly typing stopped being a job or a career and it became a skill every entry-level employee needed to have. Eventually it worked its way up the corporate ladder and eventually even senior executives would type at least some of the own communications.

    Social media is a lot like typing. As Facebook and Twitter burst on to the business scene, there was a feeling that this was something that you hired a specialist to do. Typically, someone young, who knew how to use that "Facebook stuff" was hired so business leaders could focus on the serious elements of business. But just like the advent of the personal computer, the role of social media is changing. Today, social media is not a job function, but a mandatory skill for every employee..

    Forget the excuses:

    You don’t have time to learn? Guess what, the senior manager who was passed over for the job I got at Carrier thought he didn't have time to learn to type either. While he was waiting for a secretary to type his report, my proposal was on the desk of the general manager.

    Social media is for young people. Seriously? Would you let a 17 year old manage your ad budget? Of course not, that is real money. Well, so the time spent on social media. If you want to know if the resource is being spent well you have to get in the game. You have to know enough to direct the activities.

    The change has come. Up and down the corporate ladder people are embracing social media, some more often than others, but any good CEO knows social media is now a required part of their skill set, just like typing.

    Campaign settings are pretty basic, but many times we overlook a basic thing and wonder why things aren’t going as smoothly as we anticipated. Here’s a quick rundown of his idea of the basics.

    Do you have the right campaign settings?

    Andrew Lolk has an interesting illustration about the importance of this topic when he says, “Compare it to running a marathon, but you forgot to put on your shoes. Yes, you can do your best to walk ahead, but you’ll never go full speed and you definitely won’t  finish first.” He has written A Guide to Optimal Campaign Settings for AdWords in 2014 for Savvy Advertisers over on Search Engine Journal to explain the way he approaches this foundational topic.

    Campaign settings are pretty basic, but many times we overlook a basic thing and wonder why things aren’t going as smoothly as we anticipated. Here’s a quick rundown of his idea of the basics:

    1. Focus on one network at a time: don’t include search and display together.
    2. Always include the search partner network when starting a new AdWords campaign.
    3. Target the languages the demographic in your location targeting speak.
    4. Use specific areas within the area you want to target.
    5. Stick to manual CPC bidding and potentially enhanced bidding.
    6. Ensure your ads show every time users search for your keywords.
    7. Apply ad scheduling that fits your business objectives.
    8. Rotate your ads so you can make a cost-benefit analysis including ALL important metrics — not just one.
    9. Work smart and let Google worry about misspellings, plurals, and close variants.
    10. The optimal campaign settings are determined by your goals and circumstances.

    I think the most important tip to keep in mind is #10. Your online marketing strategy in all its forms is optimal when it is specific to your goals and circumstances, because then you are speaking to the people most apt to respond at the times they are most apt to listen.

    Because of the way Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm works (or has until this week), a clickbait rolling stone headline will gather a very large amount of moss indeed. Or to put it another way, every time one of your friends clicks on one of those articles, it becomes more likely to show up in your feed.

    Fed up with seeing those blatant clickbait headlines in your Facebook news feed? You know, the “this cute kitten / starving puppy was attacked/ rescued / cuddled by a baby / chihuahua / alligator. You won’t BELIEVE what happens next!!!” ones (if you’re still not sure, spend a few happy minutes with this clickbait headline generator). If nothing looks familiar, you have super-intellectual friends – well done!

    Apparently, a few Smart Cookies are making megabucks from these sites; this is how it works. They dredge the internet, and other “viral” type sites like Reddit, for content which ticks the shareability buttons, come up with alluring headlines*, and republish that content onto their own websites with the clickbait titles added. Then, they feed those links into Facebook, often with an initial advertising budget to start pushing them into people’s news feeds as Boosted Posts, and wait for the traffic to start flooding in.

    Because of the way Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm works (or has until this week), a clickbait rolling stone headline will gather a very large amount of moss indeed. Or to put it another way, every time one of your friends clicks on one of those articles, it becomes more likely to show up in your feed. If you click too, you’re passing on the joy to your friends. So with that initial investment in a boosted post, the article gets traction throughout Facebook and starts sending lots of traffic back to the original Smart Cookie’s website….which they can then monetise by selling ad space on the basis of all those zillions of page views.

    So basically, the Smart Cookies have been exploiting Facebook to deliver traffic to their own sites, for their own reasons.

    Strangely enough, Facebook aren’t very keen on this, and have now announced that they intend to knock the whole thing on the head.  For one thing, someone else is cashing in on their customer base; for another, all those lovely clicks are departing Facebook and landing on the Smart Cookies’ websites; and for a third thing, some users possibly find those headlines annoying. We’ll leave it to you guess which of those three things are the official reason for the algorithm change they’ve just announced which will reduce the visibility of these articles…

    Here’s the full official release if you’d like to read a slightly less snarky view of the whole story: News Feed FYI: click baiting

    * alluring in the way that a carrier bag of cheap chocolate is alluring. It’s hard to ignore but will leave you feeling kinda nauseous and grubby if you go there.

    Schools are becoming places were kids are connected to the internet the minute they step in the classroom. With so many people and devices accessing the internet it's important for schools to have the proper security protocols in place to protect their students.

    The task of keeping a business network secure can be a daunting one, full of its own challenges and setbacks. Now imagine the added complexities of network security when the organization involved is a school or university. Education has become a prime target for cyber attackers. According to one security institution, 15% of all recorded security breaches have occurred at an educational facility. The number of incidents are on the rise as well. 2012 had the highest number of cases of compromised records in higher education since 2006. With these incidents on the rise and attackers more willing than ever to go after schools, the importance of network security for education cannot be overstated.

    (Tweet This: One study says 15% of all security breaches happened at an educational facility. #security #education)

    Schools and universities face a number of challenges that businesses and other organizations don’t have to encounter. Whereas companies have their employees to monitor and grant access to, schools have to worry about teachers and students, who can range anywhere from five-year-olds to full adults. In the case of schools with young children, those kids often don’t have the same legal obligations or face the same legal ramifications if they should, intentionally or accidentally, access a network without authorization. Students also tend to not understand the security threats out there related to the internet and are more likely to use unsecured networks, download infected files, or expose devices to malware. School structure can also be a major problem, with many institutions of higher learning using a decentralized approach that creates multiple networks that need protection. Schools are also dealing with students bringing more of their own mobile devices to class, which itself can present many security issues. Couple all these challenges with shrinking budgets, and it’s easy to see how things can quickly get out of control. All of this underscores the need for an effective network security strategy.

    For many schools, network security isn’t just an option, it’s a necessity. We’re long past the days where each classroom had a single computer; students now regularly have smartphones and tablets. Online access has also turned into a crucial tool for learning. To make sure important school data and files are protected, administrators need a stable security environment, which is where network security comes in. A well-managed network security system will feature measures where administrators can efficiently control and monitor what students and teachers access while online. While web filters can certainly play a role in restricting certain websites, network security can go much further by taking a more proactive approach in monitoring online activity and blocking sites that may lead to security compromises.

    This blocking action can go beyond the internet. Mobile devices have shown to be a major source for malware, and oftentimes, students will be using an infected device without even knowing it. Network security, often through network access control, can detect when a device has been infected. When this happens, the device is then blocked from connecting to the network and alerts IT about the infection. IT workers can then go and clean the infected part of the device, which not only protects the network but the user as well. Network security systems can also be robust and flexible, allowing for various types of devices to connect provided they’re able to pass the standards set by administrators.

    A good network security system found in schools will feature other security measures such as anti-virus protection, firewalls, encryption, password protection, and the latest upgrades and patches. All of these allow administrators to better monitor individual devices and authenticate them for use on the network. This evaluation before a device is granted access can be crucial for preventing attacks on network systems. With so many sensitive records and files, administrators need to know exactly who and what is accessing the network, which is why network access control is such a vital part of network security.

    Securing educational networks is not something that should be treated lightly. Security breaches aren’t a rare thing anymore, which can be seen by the more than 650,000 student records that were compromised a couple years ago at the University of Nebraska. Schools and universities that recognize the threats and the damage they can cause will be in a better position to protect their teachers and students. As more and more come to realize the importance of network security, they’ll be able to respond quickly to future attacks and threats.