• 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.
  • alexmoffit
    Alex Moffit on September 4, 2014

    John Doerr on OKRs and Goal Setting at Google and Intel [VIDEO]

    “Ideas are precious, but they’re relatively easy. It’s execution that’s everything,” says John Doerr, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and the man who introduced Objective & Key Results (OKRs) to Google. Google widely credits OKRs for helping the company grow from 40 to 40,000 employees. Other businesses including LinkedIn and Twitter have also embraced OKRs.
  • Greg Gerik
    Greg Gerik on September 16, 2014

    Shaking Up Social: Attending the Social Shake-Up in Atlanta

    Last year, the Social Shake-Up was one of the best social conferences to attend and this year promises to be even better. Here are a few of the hottest topics and sessions at the Shake-Up this year that are sure to deliver and drive this industry forward.
  • ddarnbrough
    Drew Darnbrough on September 19, 2014

    The Power of Hindsight: Using Historical Twitter Data to Make Better Decisions

    WEBINAR: Tuesday, September 23rd, 11:30am EDT How many times have you looked back and thought, “If only I’d known x”? We’ve all experienced the power of hindsight, and luckily now businesses can harness that power by analyzing historical social data.
  • You’re keeping your blog filled with content. You’re sharing it across multiple social media channels. When you check your analytics, however, it’s like looking at binary code.

    You’re keeping your blog filled with content. You’re sharing it across multiple social media channels. When you check your analytics, however, it’s like looking at binary code (that’s all 1′s and 0′s in case you missed it). At this point you’re asking friends and family to like and share as much as possible to drum up interest. Why isn’t anyone reading your stuff? Maybe because your headlines stink.

    According to Copyblogger, only 8 out of 10 people who see your headline actually read it, and only 2 of the ten will actually read past the headline. That’s depressing, but it’s also a roadmap for success. The more you know about what works and what doesn’t, the better you can adapt to overcome. If you can get your readership over 20% of the eyeballs your posts are reaching, you have accomplished something. Here are three ways that you can improve your headlines to get them shared.

    SHINE Them Up

    KISSmetrics took the time to compile opinions and data about what makes a good headline a few years ago, and the results still apply. Good headlines SHINE. That is, they have Specificity, they’re Helpful, they have a sense of Immediacy, they’re Newsworthy, and they’re Entertaining. Every time you write a headline you should make sure that it meets each one of these requirements in some way.

    Follow the Formula

    Blogger and digital enthusiast Lenka Istvanova determined her own formula for what makes a headline go viral. While it can still meet all of the SHINE requirements, it concentrates more on the type of words you should choose and in what order they should fall. If this is all you use your headlines might become boring soon, but it’s definitely a formula you can pull out when you get stuck.

    The formula is Number + Adjective + Keyword + Rationale + Promise. Examples include 10 Bitchin’ Tips for Writing Irresistible Headlines and 7 Things That Will Improve Your Life Today.

    Watch Your Words

    Keep your headlines to six words or less as often as possible. The same KISSmetrics report also showed that most people scan over headlines as much as they do any other text online. The result is that they generally only register the first three and the last three words in a headline. If you keep most of your headlines under six words, you’re automatically increasing the chances of the headline being read. Which increases the chances of the rest being read, interest being generated, and conversions to sales

    being made. It all starts with the headline.

    Keep in Mind

    Formulas and statistics are great starting points for increasing your social influence, but they aren’t the end-all-be-all. Your specific customer base has their own quirks, and the best results will come from analyzing those who already read your content or purchase your products and services. It’s often a good idea to hire a social media manager who can provide you with social analysis customized to your specific business for the best results.

    What is so important about Hummingbird? Firstly, it affected over 90% of the search requests submitted to Google. The main aim was to focus on relevant concepts and intent instead of singular keywords.

    Hummingbird, the latest update from Google, created a lot of hum. What is so important about Hummingbird? Firstly, it affected over 90% of the search requests submitted to Google. The main aim was to focus on relevant concepts and intent instead of singular keywords. The Hummingbird update stresses on ‘conversational search.’ This is its key feature. In this regard if you are told that SEO is suppose to be dead soon, then it’s wrong. The rankings and their impact are still prevalent and nothing major is really going to change.

    As far as your content strategy is concerned, it will remain similar unless it is stuffed with keywords. You do not need keyword rich content. You just need quality and relevant content. So everyone who told you that ‘content is king,’ was right. On the SEO part, the legitimate back links are still crucial and so are the earlier tried and tested methods like the use of properly placed keywords, used in moderation. The only difference is that Google’s new algorithm defines the way a browser searches. So what has actually changed with the application of Hummingbird? This latest update from Google breaks away the old search habits. When you search for a particular question, the algorithm picks up specific words in them and generates results accordingly.

    Post the Penguin and Panda updates, it was a natural choice for Google to revamp its search algorithms so that they are smart enough to concentrate on the context rather than considering each word in the query as separate entities. This is a more intelligent way of looking for a required result. The new technology has been combined with the existing model to ensure that the users get more relevant information for their queries. It achieves this end by picking up long tailed keywords and provides actual results instead of focusing on the keywords. This is the reason why it is advisable to come up with good and relevant content. If you have rich and unique content it will appear on the search engines. Thus, your SEO does not depend anymore on the keywords only.

    Conversational Search is a new feature that is easily visible on Google Chrome. There is an icon of a microphone in the search box. If you click on it and the microphone is properly configured in your system, you can ask your query aloud. The question along with the results will be displayed on the screen. Moreover, if the answer is there in Google’s Knowledge Graph, then an Information Card will appear with more information on the query and a list of reference websites. For those who have already used Google Speak know that more conversational your query, the better results will be yielded.

    The big question for SEO professionals is how can they take advantage of this update? In a situation where keywords are of less value and phrasal keywords are more important and links are crucial too, what can be done to help the websites? Your answer lies with content. Since the search engines are picking up specific queries, you have to expand the landing pages. These pages must have original content. If you are still unsure about how the latest updates will affect your websites, there are several SEO tools which can help you. In this regard, you can check out http://www.paradoxseo.com.

    Hummingbird provides you an opportunity, but how you can make use of it effectively depends on your creativity and strategy. But one thing is for sure, this Google update does not disrupt your search engine rankings, provided you are not resorting to black hat SEO. 

    Drive a successful social media marketing effort means content curation. Content has become the glue that holds the whole social marketing process together.

    Anyone who aims to drive a successful social media marketing effort will need to get comfortable with content curation. Content has become the glue that holds the whole social marketing process together.

    It is not enough to write and promote your own content. To establish expertise in your field, you need to read, understand, filter, and share good materials from other smart likeminded people or companies. This is the whole premise behind content curation.

    It is easy to get online, set up some social profiles, and start sharing to your heart’s content. But like anything, there’s a right and a wrong way to curate content.

    Below are nine tips to keep in mind if you want to succeed at content curation. If you want to build a network of loyal friends and followers, do your best to follow along with all nine of these ideas. Over time, doing it the right way will work if you stick to it.

    1. Know Your Target Audience

    Anyone who has worked with me on website and content strategy will tell you that I am a huge proponent of identifying buyer personas early in the process. The rationale behind that position is simple – how can you engage an audience if you have no idea who they are up front?

    There are many ways to figure out who your target audience is. If you lack budget, it’s okay to make a guess and testing to see if your gut was correct. You can adjust as you go.

    If you have bigger budgets and more resources, you can go a few steps further by way of market research. You have options – either by using standard existing reports by research firms or by fielding your own surveys and primary research studies.

    In most cases, you built your product or service to meet a specific need. The need naturally suggests whom the target audience is, so I always recommend starting out with a “best guess.”

    Once you define the “who,” you can more easily identify the “what” (i.e. topics of interest to the audience). Content curation is meant to serve a specific audience, and you may or may not be a member of that target segment. Be sure to share for them, and not just based on what you like.

    2. Be Consistent

    To succeed at content curation, it’s important to become a resource for your target audience. There are wide ranging opinions about how frequent you should be pushing out content, but frequency can vary. They key is to be consistent – you don’t want to burst out a ton of links at one time each day or week and then vanish from the social web the rest of the time.

    Users are online at different times, and it is important to spread out your curation over hours and days. It is also important that you keep a steady flow of good materials coming, lest your followers possibly lose interest and stop paying attention. If you want to be a content curation resource, plan to stick with it and make it a priority.

    3. Use Content Curation Tools for Efficiency

    Obviously, life and work will require you to be away from the computer at certain times. You can’t be tethered to a device 24×7. But you need to spread out sharing over days and hours.

    This is where content curation tools come into play. There are many tools available that provide scheduling features for your content curation efforts. At the entry level is HootSuite, which is free for up to five social profiles and a darn good tool (I use it all the time). Or you can go for a solution that offers more premium capabilities like Buffer or SocialOomph, both of which come with a wider range of features for managing and measuring your social presence in addition to the basic, free feaure set.

    If you want to review some other options, check out the top 10 tools for managing your social presence here.

    4. Stay On Theme

    Although it is okay to take a few liberties with content curation so long as it suits your target audience, it is important to maintain a theme. The theme should naturally dovetail with your product or service offering in some way.

    For example, my company specializes in SEO, SEM, Content Marketing, and Social Media Strategy. If you observe how we curate content on Twitter, you will see a heavy focus on these topics and similar subject matter. Given our heavy focus on the SMB space, we also touch on topics such as entrepreneurship, business processes, and marketing as a whole. But we spend the bulk of our time reinforcing the strategies that we are best qualified to help build and execute. And it works very well for us.

    5. Be Selective

    Not all content can be great content, so it matters to filter for only the best and most on-point materials. I see some companies simply automating tweets and shares from specific web properties.

    Efficiency matters, which is why we have content curation tools in the first place. But content curation and automation are completely different strategies. Successful curators take the time to personally review and evaluate the content items before sharing them. There’s no way to automate selectivity with content, and you need to share only the most insightful or inspiring materials to become a trusted resource for your target audience.

    6. Promote A Wide Variety of Sites

    If you want your audience to stay engaged and interested, you will need to mix up the sources of content when sharing it. This is part of the issue with automating content sharing – if you pick 2-3 sites and simply share everything they post, why should anyone follow you?

    As soon as they realize you’re just sharing a couple of sites, most people will go to those websites directly for the content. It’s very easy to just follow them on social and get it directly, subscribe to the RSS feed, or join the mailing list.

    But when you share remarkable and interesting content from a wide range of sites, your effort becomes follow-worthy. I will share good content from any reputable website. But I filter heavily for quality, and it works very well.

    7. Don’t Just Share Big Media Content

    In the spirit of promoting a wide variety of sites, make sure that you aren’t over focusing on websites that everyone already knows. If you look at the top sites shared, you will see that Upworthy, Mashable, The Huffington Post, and other huge media names are already being shared widely with or without your help.

    On the other hand, there are thousands of great but less well-known blogs and news sites out there looking for exposure. In my early days of blogging, I was on “Cloud 9″ when anyone was gracious enough to read and share my content. While I remain very thankful for any support I receive today, it was groundbreaking for me back then.

    In the same way, I always love to share great content from sources that are not already peppered all over the social web. It’s fine to share from the big names, but mix it in with links from websites that your target audience may be excited to find. This type of discovery is one of the biggest benefits you can offer your audience during your content curation efforts.

    8. Spark Discussions

    When you curate content, do you just share it or also add commentary? Content curation can serve a stellar role as a conversation starter. Some of the best content curators I’ve seen in action do this very well – they always state why a piece of content is interesting, and add some of their own opinion or context. They often float out a question to get you thinking and engaged.

    If time is limited, it’s fine to merely share the materials and move on. But at least some of the time, take a few seconds to comment on why you think a piece of content is especially of note. I’ve found that it increases CTR and raises the likelihood that someone will engage with you in a follow up discussion. It also raises the odds that they will share forward, which can in turn help increase your exposure even more via their followers and friends.

    9. Add Value

    When curating content, always ask yourself, “How am I helping my followers by promoting this piece of content to them?” It’s most important to add value.

    Some examples of adding value include:

    1. Helping them fix a problem
    2. Educating them on a topic or issue
    3. Sharing unique data or research that is not readily available elsewhere
    4. Telling a story with a lesson
    5. Entertaining or inspiring the reader
    6. Making them aware of an event or breaking news item

    The list could go on much longer, but these few examples should be a great place to start. If you use these criteria to evaluate whether a content item is worthy of your curation, you will be off on the right foot.

    Summary

    Content curation is the key to successfully marketing yourself on social media. Instead of blindly sharing content or automating the process, put in the time and effort to build out the right content and processes. Hopefully these nine tips help you build your presence successfully and quickly from day one.

    Photo Credit: Content Creation/shutterstock

    It’s a critical component of nearly every website ever built. It directly affects the user experience. And most people don’t think about it–until it doesn’t work.

    It’s a critical component of nearly every website ever built. It directly affects the user experience. And most people don’t think about it–until it doesn’t work.

    It’s the information architecture, and when it’s broken or not well-thought out, people visiting your website can’t find what they’re looking for.

    Poor Information Architecture: The Causes
    When website navigation isn’t intuitive, easy to find or missing altogether, there’s usually one cause: poor planning.

    There are essential steps that must be followed to make sure a website is built correctly, and one of those steps is the process of content categorization, which involves arranging elements of the website into groups or categories based on business objectives, user needs and content.

    This process allows web producers, content managers and designers to work together to ensure that the global and relative navigation works with the copy, content and design. When the process is skipped–either due to a lack of understanding of the process, a lack of resources or a lack of time, the end result is broken information architecture.

    Content Categorization: Where to Start
    There are many ways you can categorize your content, but industry-best practices focus on five areas: task, product category, user, location and date.

    Which structure works best for your website depends on what it is you’re trying to accomplish:

    • Websites organized by task guide users to specific activities, or tasks, that the users have come to the website to complete. They are very functional, well-organized and incredibly easy to use.

    • Websites organized by product category are all about information. They are structured to allow users to easily search for and find information on a wide variety of topics that are all somewhat related to one another.

    • Websites organized by user often have one basic layout but allow users to personalize the look and navigation so the things that are most important to them are at the top of the page.

    • Websites organized by date are organized in chronological order–the most recent content is the first things users see.

    As you can see content categorization starts early in the design process.

    Password protection has become a hot topic in recent months, what with the leak of naked celebrity selfies and the constant threat that one wrong click will send our most private of communications into the wrong hands. So what can you do about it?

    First Adobe and now Gmail?

    If you’re not familiar with the latest privacy scandal that’s got the world on edge, just last week it was discovered that over 5 million Gmail usernames and passwords have apparently been leaked and shared on a Russian Internet forum.

    Slightly unnerved? Freaking out?

    You wouldn’t be the only one.

    Password protection has become a hot topic in recent months, what with the leak of naked celebrity selfies and the constant threat that one wrong click will send our most private of communications into the wrong hands.

    So what can you do about it?

    Well, let’s just say that cold turkey isn’t an option. We’ve all become just a little too entrenched in the digital world to start pushing for a complete withdrawal.

    The truth is, now everything from paying your bills to RSVPing to your friend’s wedding will probably take place online. There’s very little we can do to completely remove ourselves from the influence of the internet.

    Prevention trumps avoidance

    Knowing that simply closing up shop and permanently absconding yourself from the internet isn’t an option, the onus now comes down to you making an effort to adequately protect yourself.

    Just as we get insurance to cover our houses and cars, passwords are a form of protection to keep safe our online information.

    So for heaven’s sake, don’t take them lightly!

    With the rise of cloud-based platforms, more and more people are entrusting their treasured photos, personal emails and private documents to the security of 8 or more characters.

    Why not make the most of those 8 characters?

    In the wake of the Adobe password scandal that rocked the digital world, Mashable published a piece listing the 20 most popular passwords used by Adobe customers that had been hacked.

    No surprises, some of the offenders featured in the Top 10 were the all to familiar ‘password‘ and the classic ‘1234

    How do you protect yourself from a password hack?

    Get creative with the shift button and start adding a variety of numbers and symbols to your passwords.

    If you find that tricky to remember, substitute numbers or symbols for letters that look similar (i.e. m@keb3le1ve instead of makebelieve)

    Are you one of those people that uses the same password for their internet banking as they do for their Facebook page? Well, I’ve got three words for you: stop doing it!

    If someone hacks just one of your accounts, they will literally find themselves with all-you-can-eat access to a smorgasbord of personal information.

    I cannot stress the importance of ensuring you use a variety of passwords online. Having the same password across multiple platforms is like building your security on a house of cards, if one falls the rest quickly follow.

    I know it’s a pain, but so is having the entire contents of your iPhoto folder shared with the world. Set yourself a calendar reminder to change passwords periodically so that if any account is compromised, it doesn’t stay that way indefinitely.

    A fantastic security measure that is definitely worth the hassle of setting up. Several services now offer two-factor authentication to protect yourself from a remote hack.

    Google offers two-factor authentication with a handy Google Authenticator app that automatically generates unique codes on your tablet or smart phone.

    Everyone knows your maiden name or your husband’s date of birth. And even if they don’t, those answers are pretty easy to find out with some basic snooping.

    Go for something that’s more subjective, a favorite teacher or best childhood friend. That way, even if someone was familiar with all the names of your high school faculty, they still wouldn’t know which one was your top teach.

    Keep em’ guessing!

    • Numbers and symbols are your friends
    • Don’t use the same password across different platforms
    • Change your password every couple of months
    • Start using two-factor authentication
    • Make those password recovery questions tricky