• 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.
  • Duo Consulting
    Michael Silverman on October 15, 2014

    4 Reasons Drupal Is the Best Social CMS

    It turns out Drupal and Social Media are a match made in heaven. Because of Drupal’s system of modules, integration with external websites can be as easy as installing a module that fits your site’s needs. And once these modules are installed, you will have a central place to manage profile information and plug-in modules, such as follow and share buttons.
  • You know infographics work. But you may not know you can make them, in under an hour, with zero graphics skills. Can Easel.ly help you go faster for free with your infographics?
    Breaking news: a picture tells a thousand words. Ok, so you maybe had that intelligence brief already. Here’s the update on that story: Pictures get shared a thousand times more than words.  
     
    Fine, it's a slight exaggeration. But it is true that for most topics, posts with visuals get shared much more than ones without.  And the ultimate visual post is, of course, the infographic. At BuzzSumo we analyzed 100 million articles to see what gets the most shares. What’s the most popular type of content? The (erm) graphic says it all:
     
     
      
    Proof, if you really needed it, that sharable infographics need to be at the core of your content marketing plan.  This one on Ebola from the Washington Post is making some impact: 15k shares and counting. 
     
    In some ways they should be a total gimme in your content marketing playbook. You’ve already created insightful source content – a blog, report, guide. Making it visual is a freebie piece of content to out there to boost the signal. And now the downside: Unless you’ve got your art direction chops, they’re not quick to produce. You need time and skills. 
     
    I know from personal experience that it’s painful to get graphics pros – insourced or outsourced – to make infographics. They do a super job, of course – but it takes too long. They’re busy. They’re perfectionists. The story’s over by the time it’s out there. You need a more rapid response.
     
    That’s where Easel.ly makes a nice addition to your toolkit: infographics made fast and easy. 
     

    How may I Easel.ly graphic your info today?

    Let’s see if I can get an infographic on how to make fast infographics done in an hour. And let's see if you can read it faster...
     

    Step 1: Pick your canvas

    Like most graphic tools, you start by choosing a layout that suits you. They’re sorted into several categories – a mix of topics (animals, science, sports) and formats (process, checklist, timeline). It’s easiest (and fun) to have a poke around until you see something you think you can work with.
    Nice to explore but we’ve only got an hour… 
    So let’s look at the marketing ones:
     
    A lot of options here.  A bit of sub-categorisation by type might help with the search-  marketing is a bit broad. 
    I want to create an infographic about good practice, I’m going to assume I’ll find a decent template under ‘checklist’. So here are my options:
     
    smtoolbox infographics
     
    Actually, there are lots more than this. But you get the idea.
    I’m going to use the ‘walkway’ theme as my base. I could also freestyle and do my own. But I don’t have time and the world’s not ready for my original artwork just yet. 
     

    Step 2: Get your title set up 

    So here’s my theme ready to be edited. You’ve got all the control you’d expect to have over text: 
     
    infographics tool
     
     
    So here I am actually losing a little time - It’s a bit fiddly to be honest. You can’t edit the text directly, you need to do it in the editor and then publish to see what it looks like, which is a bit old school in a WSGIWYG world. Also the font choices are not in the named font, which is sort of weird. 
     
    easel.ly
     
    But it’s not that big a deal once you’re used to it. I’ve dropped in my title and can do the usual font colour, size, opacity tweaks.  Now I choose a banner from the object list from the top to drop in behind the title, good if somewhat short set of choices here. 
     
     
     
    It's a simple drag drop, resize, send to back routine. If you've been to PowerPoint, you know the drill. A little playing around with background image and text and we get to a reasonable place.  
     

    Step 3. Lay out the content 

    Into the detail now. Moving text and images around is very easy. If you want to find an image to help tell your story, use the objects drop down.
    There’s a library of images to drop in – not massively extensive but enough to get going. And you can upload your own images too. If you’re doing something in any way unique, you’re going to need to do this. 
     
     
    To move at speed I decided to stick with the general layout and tweak rather than invent or upload new images. Using the path / sign visuals already in the basic theme, it was very quick to start getting my content in place. 
     
    You can also drop in a range of charts including pie charts, bar charts, spider diagrams to help visualise data:
     
    infographics smtoolbox
     
    Charts need a bit of work though. They’re a new feature, and good to have a range of options. But you need to create the labels yourself, or at least I couldn’t figure out how to generate them from the input. Which isn’t ideal in a hurry (this isn’t real data by use of tool, just to show how to create a chart quickly).  There also doesn’t seem to be any color change options for the charts, so apologies for the splash of random in this one.
     
     
    On we go, time’s a wastin’. And on that subject - the cloning feature is quite handy for quickly replicating images or clusters you’ve already made. 
     

    Step 4: Save and share 

    Once you have it the way you want it, you can down load it as low or high quality jpeg or a PDF
     
     
     
     You can then save it, and go back to your home page in Easel.ly to share your masterpiece  (don't judge me because I did rush, and I'm no artist...)
     
    [[{"fid":"186526","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_caption[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_caption[und][0][format]":"filtered_html","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"final infographic","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"alt":"final infographic","style":"height: 495px; width: 750px;","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]
     
    If you work with others – for example in education – you can set up a group to view and share with each other. Useful if you’ve got a mini production line and you’re helping each other out. 
     
    Overall – yes, you can make infographics fast with Easel.ly. And often, fast response to a trend is the name of the content marketer’s game. It’s got a few areas to improve in:
     
    No auto-save: always risky when working into a browser and things get fiddly. 
    The charts are a bit limited in format 
    The range of images – if you use it a lot, you will start running out, though no doubt there’s more to be added 
     
    Minor quibbles aside, it’s quite easy to use overall, you can definitely make infographics in less than an hour, and it’s free. It won’t make you the Picasso of data visualisation (if you find the app that does, do let us know) -  but that’s not what we’re aiming for here. For quick and easy infographics, you should definitely check out Easel.ly.
    You have limited (if any) control over what others share about you, but you do have control over what you share about yourself and others. Just because you have someone’s personal information doesn’t mean you have to share or act on it. Remember: It may not be your story to tell.

    Sometimes a life lesson smacks you right upside the head—and if you’re anything like me, it may take a day, a month, or even a year or ten before you “get it.” Fortunately, this particular life lesson hit home quickly, and has quietly reminded me of its truth over the years. However, with my more recent focus on big data privacy, this lesson’s reverberations have become almost deafening.

    About the life lesson. The colleague/friend balancing act has always been a tricky one. Earlier in my career, when the internet was still making a name for itself, a dear colleague/friend was going through a challenging time in her personal life. I knew some of what was going on, but not much—given that it wasn’t any of my business and it wasn’t anything we really talked about. But due to the nature of our company roles and the relationships we shared in the company, I was often asked by others about my colleague/friend’s situation. The questions made me uncomfortable, yet each time, I responded with, “You need to ask her.”

    One day, I mentioned to my colleague/friend that I was being asked a lot about her personal situation. Instead of her responding with the expected “yea, so-and-so asked” or “who’s asking” or “what are you saying” questions, she said rather indignantly, “Why are they asking you? It’s not your story to tell!” Needless to say, the discussion ended there.

    Little did she know that I wasn’t telling her story, yet through this brief exchange, she gave me a not-yet-realized, valuable life lesson: “It’s not your story to tell.”

    Why this matters. Just like “I see data. All the time. It’s everywhere.”, I marvel at how technology, the internet, and this digital age have forever changed how we share our personal information—and how others (individuals, companies, and governments alike) share ours.

    And at the heart of all this sharing is our personal privacy—and the privacy of others. Even though technology has made it easier for us to exchange information, we can’t nor should we depend on technology to protect us from the use and abuse of it. This is where trust, an important human element, comes in. In this data-intensive economy, trust between individuals, companies, and government agencies needs to be earned, respected, and maintained. Without this trust, I firmly believe the data ecosystem will crumble.

    Situations to think about. Let’s briefly look at some examples of how big data privacy issues are impacting what we share:

    • The NSA. We all know about Edward Snowden and his need to tell the story of how the US government and several large companies are sharing information about us. He’s now sharing a similar story in New Zealand. Is this his story to tell? The debate rages on.
    • Home Depot. One of the latest retail data breaches – larger than Target’s – has hackers sharing our personal information on the black market. It wasn’t their story (or their data) to tell (or sell). Who’s to blame? Who can we trust?
    • Celebrity photos. Privately-stored intimate photos of various celebrities were ferreted out and stolen over Labor Day weekend and continue to be shared in the public social sphere. These are visual stories we should have never heard about.

    Now let’s bring it closer to home: Let’s say you share a funny video on Facebook of your youngest son running around the backyard in his birthday suit. (Is this your story to tell?) Your mom comments and tells your 534 friends about when you took a dump in the community pool when you were a kid. (Is this her story to tell?) She then asks you how to scan and upload the picture.

    We laugh at stories like this while we jokingly call it “TMI” (Too Much Information). But this is big data privacy in action. Did you realize that the videos and images we share of ourselves and others are just types of “big” data that we are sharing through big data applications (like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.)?

    You’ve heard me say it before: We are living in a big data world. While this Facebook example may seem harmless to some, there’s a lot more “big data” out there that can and is being used to harm individuals, companies, and government agencies. Let me leave you with…

    One final thought. Big data privacy is about you, me, them, and us. You have limited (if any) control over what others share about you, but you do have control over what you share about yourself and others. Just because you have someone’s personal information doesn’t mean you have to share or act on it. Remember: It may not be your story to tell.

    Welcome to another Social Media Today webinar as part of the Best Thinker webinar series, this time on the topic of Social Media at Work: Employee Advocacy Success Stories.

    This week I moderated another Social Media Today webinar as part of their Best Thinker webinar series, this time on the topic of Social Media at Work: Employee Advocacy Success Stories. We assembled a diverse panel to give us their perspective on this topic: Zealous Wiley, the Senior Digital Marketing Leader at HP; Lorrie Sole, the Senior Interactive Marketing Manager from Kelly Services; and Denise Holt, the CEO and Founder of Collaborative IQ. This webinar was also sponsored by Everyone Social.

    Denise started us off with some research from Edelman on trust which shows that employees are more trusted than even the CEO of a company. For the last 5 years this dynamic has continued to hold true and even increased. This puts the power in the hands of the employee to have a stake in the future of the company and actually be leaders from within.

    Lorrie took over after Denise and talked about how Kelly Services developed a social advocacy program. She talked about the old “manual” way that Kelly Services approached employee advocacy and the new and improved way they approach employee advocacy using Everyone Social. She also talked about how she built a strong foundation with social policies and lots of education to get her program to work.

    Zealous then finished off the presentations with a deep dive on how HP uses employee advocacy in their software division. They have over 200 HP Software Ambassadors who represent more than 456,000 connections. These Ambassadors have shared 15,700 pieces of content, received 6,500 engagements and 30,000 clicks/reads of the shared content. Moreover, HP Ambassadors are expected to: share HP content from platform 2-5 times per week and provide feedback to the team.

    Now, if you have ever been on a Social Media Today webinar before, you know they are very “participant-driven” and we love to ask your questions of our panelists. Some of the questions we covered were: What kind of culture change did it take to get the adoption of your employee advocacy program? What types of education did you use (internal or external) and if external what sources would you recommend?

    If that piqued your interest, you will want to hear the replay of this webinar or review the slides from this webinar. Otherwise we hope you will join us on another Social Media Today webinar! The next webinar is What Does Customer Experience Mean for Your Social Business? Sign up for it or view the schedule of upcoming webinars here.

    To follow the play-by-play Twitter action, check out the following Storify:

    Digital Darwinism - when technology and society evolve faster than a company’s ability to adapt - is a very real phenomenon. Technology has changed everything about how people connect, communicate, and ultimately make decisions as consumers. The key challenge is for businesses to meet the call of these new, connected customers…or face extinction.

    Blockbuster. Circuit City. The classified's section in your local newspaper (or even the newspaper itself). Kodak. Nokia (as the world's largest manufacturer of mobile phones). The creative destruction is all around us. It has been accelerating and expanding into new industries and today every executive in every industry should be asking not "if" but "when" will technology become the primary external factor shaping their organizations.

    Author and Altimeter analyst Brian Solis describes what we are seeing today as "Digital Darwinism" and in a recent blog post he describes how companies can embrace digital transformation to address this challenge.  He writes:

    "The answer to digital Darwinism is digital transformation. Digital transformation is the use of technology and methodology to address shifts in behavior by upgrading or overhauling processes and systems that amplify existing and unforeseen opportunities."

    But as Brian goes on to point out, embracing new technology, new processes, and even new business models is not easy -- he calls this Darwinism because as in Darwin's theory of evolution, not all organisms will thrive given changes in an ecosystem. As in an often quoted paraphrase of Darwin's theory by Louisiana State University business professor Leon C. Megginson:

    “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” 

    Throughout the history of civilization, the organizations we have created to develop, produce, and distribute good and services have undergone change brought upon them by external factors. Sometimes, as in the period of the middle ages called the "little ice age," the external factor has been climate. Sometimes, as in the fall of the Roman empire, the external factor was geo-political. During the Renaissance the primary factor was arguably the influx of wealth from the new world into Europe. But the interplay between different factors has always existed and technological innovation has certainly played a role at many of these moments.

    Today, however, technology has emerged as the dominant factor -- not reducing or eliminating climate, politics, or resource extraction as factors but decidedly dominating them and even impacting how those other factors will play out in the decades to come as forces for change in their own right. Today technology is one hoped for avenue to ameliorate climate change, to maintain geo-political stability, and to identify more powerful methods for extracting oil or mineral wealth from our environment. 

    But for most organization the impact of technology has a more immediate resonance -- how it is changing the way people live, work, play... Brian Solis refers to the emergence of a new "Generation-C" where the "C" stands for "connected." Digital technologies are definitevely and permanently changing expectations for how we will do our jobs, by products, experience services... and organizations MUST react to these changed expectations.

    This Friday at 12:00 pm EST (9:00 AM PST) Brian Solis and I will be conducting a webinar on this important topic -- what is happening, why, and what your organization should be focused on to address these challenges.  You can register by clicking this link for The Rise of Digital Darwinism and join us for the presentation and discussion.  We will also be making a new white paper from Brian available following the webinar.

    I hope you can join us for what should prove to be an engaging and informative discussion!

    According to the 2015 Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends reports, 1 out of 3 B2B marketers who have an opinion think they're NOT effective at content marketing. #uhoh

    If you haven’t read the 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, you’re behind. Go read it now. Then come back.

    The report is the result of one of the few consistently administered surveys that documents the state of content marketing in business. And our hats are off to its creators.

    However, a conscientious reader will notice that some of the data points aren’t very optimistic. Of course, it takes a careful reading of the document (because marketers are pretty good at spin), but there are sections and stats that should make marketers question the strength of the industry and it’s practitioners.

    The statistic I want to dissect today answers the question: Overall how effective is your organization at content marketing?

    • 38% said “effective or very effective.”

    • 42% replied “neutral” **

    • 19% said “not effective, or not at all effective.”

    cmminds-1in2marketers.jpg

    Let’s look at the 38% and 19% first. I know numbers are hard, folks. But let’s work through this together.

    38% + 19% = 57%.

    19% is ⅓ or 20% of 57%

    giving us the following deduction:

    1:3 B2B marketers who have an opinion think they’re NOT effective at content marketing. (tweet this) Or, probably, that content marketing isn’t effective. That’s just slightly more than my 1:1 friends who don’t know what content marketing is when I say I work in the field.

    Isn’t that an interesting and noteworthy data point? And something we should actually delve into?

    I think it is, so let’s dig.

    Why Do Marketers Think That Content Marketing Isn’t Effective?

    Unfortunately it might not be the strategy that’s failing, but the support behind it.

    One glaring resource missing from content marketing departments is a strategy. A whopping 53% of marketers don’t document their content marketing strategy, or don’t have one to speak about at all. That means one-third of the the 86% of marketers who claim to be leveraging content marketing are doing so willy nilly.

    “Content marketers who lack the right resources, strategy, and company support won’t produce very effective content,” says Content Marketing Manager Liz O’Neill Dennison. “That might lead them to think that content marketing in general is not effective.”

    What Does This Mean for the Industry?

    It means marketers might run into continued trouble when trying to get executive buy-in for content marketing. Despite the fact that content marketing seems to be growing at rapid rates (45% of B2B companies said they planned to hire for content marketers in 2014), and traditional media is making space for the volume of news generated by the industry (like VentureBeat’s announcement of its new Marketing Channel), content marketing still might not get the budget or support it needs from higher-ups.

    Here are some common reasons:

    • Execs still see content as “just a lot of social media posting.”

    • Execs don’t see the value or return from content marketing.

    • Content marketing seems cost-prohibitive.

    Valid concerns. But if you’re on the other side of the hump, you’ll quickly realize that those fears aren’t realistic.

    Content marketing isn’t just a bunch of social posts and doesn’t need to be cost-prohibitive. It’s not a tactic, but a comprehensive strategy that leverages marketing automation technology, email marketing, paid digital advertising, and company websites to deliver more qualified leads to sales teams. This process of nurturing leads—and weeding out the good ones from the bad ones—saves companies an average of 13% in overall cost per lead. It’s also shown to increase overall revenue by 5X.

    But let’s go back to our original stat, 1 in 3 B2B marketers who have an opinion think that content marketing isn’t effective, but at the same time other marketers are purporting a 5X spike in revenue...

    What’s the Difference?

    The difference lies in the initial planning. Marketers need to treat content marketing as a full approach and strategy, and not as an augmented social plug-in to their core objectives. (tweet this)

    The first step is to write down a strategy. Those 53% of marketers without one should start by grabbing a piece of paper and mapping out a plan. It’ll speed up efficiencies, and be foundational for measuring revenue returns.

    The next step is to read The Blueprint to a Modern Marketing Campaign. This comprehensive guide gives marketers step-by-step guidance about how to create a content marketing approach that really does result in bigger, better sales and increased revenue.

    (**) The last step is to track effectiveness. I could write an entirely different post on the sheer fact that 42% of marketers are neutral about their effectiveness. What does that even mean? I’m guessing it indicates they just don’t know how to tell whether or not they are effective. It’s simple metrics, folks, with regular cadence.

    And if you leave this article with one thing, let it be this: Be a critical thinker. A critical marketer. Check your data, your sources, your intuitions. If you don’t understand your findings, keep digging deeper.

    Comments below are welcome, or shoot me a line @jeanwrites.