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Snap is getting absolutely crushed after falling short of Wall Street's expectations

 Snap may have had a successful IPO, but that was pretty much wiped out after it reported its first-quarter earnings - where it completely whiffed on what Wall Street was expecting. The stock is down more than 20 percent in extended trading after it reported its first-quarter earnings. In short, it doesn't look good. Read More
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Stories are the new News Feed

 If the camera is the new keyboard, then the future of social media will look more like a slideshow than a Word document. So while Snapchat invented Stories, we'll have to get used to using them everywhere. Read More
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SEO Checklist for Content Marketers: 21 Common Mistakes to Avoid

With so much content being created, published and promoted online every second-as well as consumers becoming increasingly self-directed in their quest for answers-competition to capture your audience's attention has never been more fierce.

As a result, quality and strategic SEO has probably never been more important for helping you be the best answer whenever and wherever your audience is searching.

But as seasoned marketers know, SEO has gone through a tremendous evolution since its early days of keyword-focused content. With more than 2 trillion searches happening on Google every year, today's SEO is about finding the perfect balance between user-centric content and convincing search engine crawlers that your content is supreme.

Of course, on the journey to creating the perfect content for both humans and search, you may make some mistakes. But the good news is that may are easily avoidable.

Below we dive into some of the most common SEO mistakes, as well as tips for helping you avoid or remedy them.

#1 – Optimizing content around one keyword.

In the “old days” of SEO, it was common practice to optimize web pages with a specific keyword that you wanted to rank for. Today, that practice not only provides a poor user experience for your audience, but it's simply ineffective since search engines are becoming increasingly better at determining search intent.

Tip: Simply put: Do not optimize any pages for just one keyword. Instead, think bigger about the need your content can fill and hone in on keyword topics that include a variety of relevant and related search terms.

Think bigger about the need your #content can fill and hone in on keyword topics. @CaitlinMBurgess #SEO
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#2 – Neglecting dated content.

Let's face it. You've probably created a ton of content in the last couple years that you haven't touched since it first published. But you could be leaving opportunity on the table if you're not regularly looking for ways to refresh it and keep it relevant for searchers.

Tip: Dig into your analytics to find your top and worst performing pages and blog posts, paying special attention to evergreen topics. Then conduct some keyword research to discover new opportunities for updating that existing content to continue or improve ranking momentum.

#3 – Forgetting mobile users.

Whether you're a B2C or B2B brand, much of your audience is likely using a mobile device to find good content. If your content isn't mobile friendly, the user experience will be negatively impacted.

Tip: Take steps to ensure that your website and its content is mobile friendly and responsive. Also, focus on creating content for users that would typically use a mobile device.

#4 – Not optimizing for site speed.

This one is pretty simple. Faster sites have a better crawl rate and provide a better user experience.

Tip: Use site speed tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom, or WebPageTest to analyze your site speed score. Some of the most helpful tips to improve site speed include leveraging browser caching, optimizing images and minifying JavaScript.

#5 – Failing to include relevant and helpful internal links.

If you've attracted people to your content, you have a captive audience that's interested and probably looking for more. As a result, internal links are critical to keeping people engaged and signaling that you have more to offer.

Tip: Always be on the lookout for opportunities to link to other content on your website. In addition, use keyword variations for anchor text to expand visibility for the keyword topic that content represents.

Be on the lookout for opportunities to link to other #content on your website. @CaitlinMBurgess #SEO
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#6 – Failing to include relevant and helpful external links.

Just like internal links, external links have the ability to provide your users with more helpful and relevant content. In addition, quality external sources can also signal credibility to search engines and users.

Tip: Make sure that all external links open in new windows to allow users to venture to other content, but also make it easy for them to go back and stay engaged with your content.

#7 – Serving up hard-to-read blocks of content.

Users are often looking to find and absorb content quickly, and move on if they are unable to easily see the value in the content they've clicked on. In addition, studies show that people read online content in an “F” pattern. As a result, large blocks of text can be a big turn-off for many, especially those using mobile devices.

Tip: Utilize headline tags to break up content. This will not only make it easy for users to scan content, but also send a positive signal to search engines.

8. Forgetting about image optimization.

The images on your website or blog add an important visual element that can positively impact user experience. But they can also help you tell your story to search engines.

Tip: Cover all your bases by making sure image filenames and alt text contain relevant keywords. Also, to ensure your page loads quickly, optimize the image size for each screen size and/or lazy load the images.

9. Not having unique content.

While it can be tempting to reuse some of that great content you've already created, be careful. Search engines will not be fooled, and you could be penalized if you duplicate content across pages.

Tip: Don't publish duplicate or similar content to your site, including title tags and meta descriptions. When it comes to the technical stuff such as title tags and meta descriptions, just take the little bit of extra time it takes to create something unique. When it comes to full pages of content, if you have existing content that fits, take a repurposing approach to make it personalized and different.

10. Focusing on quantity over quality.

In today's competitive world of content, it can be tempting to try to out-create your competition. But publishing more content than the next guy doesn't guarantee results, especially if that content isn't a quality piece that actually helps your audience.

Tip: Create a content strategy that includes audience and keyword topic research. In addition, study the other content that is already out there and look at what your competitors are doing. This will allow you to identify content gaps and help you create content that fills them. In addition, shoot for writing longer pieces (600 to 1,000+ words), that are optimized for scanability and include visual elements.

11. Not optimizing URLs or site structure.

Many marketers leave the title of the page or the post as the URL, which can lead to long URLs that do nothing to help your search rankings.

Tip: Keep URLs short, concise and optimized with keywords. In addition, make sure that your URL structure is consistent throughout your site to make it easier to crawl.

Make sure that your URL structure is consistent throughout your site to make it easier to crawl. #SEO
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12. Neglecting broken or redirecting links.

During our technical crawls and site evaluations, TopRank Marketing often finds that many sites have broken links or links that redirect instead of linking directly to the target page.

Tip: Conduct a technical audit to identify all broken links and internal links that redirect to a different page. Then update with links that connect directly to a target page. This will help search engines crawl your site more efficiently.

13. Not auditing the redirect rules for a site.

For websites with multiple redirect rules, there's an opportunity to remove redirect chains and errors that make it more difficult for search engines to crawl.

Tip: Audit the redirect rules to make sure you're properly using 301 or 302 redirects and remove any redirect chains you might have.

14. Focusing on meta keywords.

Meta keywords are not used by Google and can be a sign of spam from Bing.

Tip: There typically isn't a reason to add meta keywords to your site. If you choose to utilize the meta keywords field, make sure you limit the amount of keywords to less than five.

15. Forgetting analytics or misusing metrics.

Data is an incredible tool to not only measure the impact of our marketing efforts, but also help inform those efforts. So, neglecting our analytics reports outright or not using the right metrics can have a costly impact.

Tip: Use the right metrics to inform your content and SEO strategy, and decrease the importance you put on vanity metrics. In addition, leverage Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools to get a better understanding of what people are actually searching for.

16. Not allowing your site to be crawled

This one is pretty obvious. If you're site is blocking search engines, your content will not be found in search results.

Tip: It's simple. Don't block your site from search engines in your robots.txt file or a “noindex” meta tag.

17. Not taking advantage of Local SEO.

All businesses have an opportunity to take advantage of local SEO and visibility. At the very least, your business should claim and optimize your Google My Business listing.

Tip: At the very least, focus on getting local citations by using tools like Moz Local or Whitespark.

18. Incorporating too many PDFs.

While PDFs are a great way to provide users with information that can be easily downloaded, it's not ideal for search. First of all, most websites don't track PDF views in Google Analytics, making it difficult to see if that content is having an impact on users. In addition, PDFs don't allow you to create a custom experience for users easily.

Tip: Change PDFs to HTML format to be able to create a consistent experience and get the most search benefit from each content asset on your site.

19. Not optimizing for other search engines.

While Google is pretty much the King of Search, other search engines-including those within social media channels-deserve your attention, too.

Tip: Take steps to optimize your content for other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo. In addition, optimize the content you're putting out on social media sites such as LinkedIn and YouTube.

Optimize the #content you're putting out on #socialmedia sites such as LinkedIn and YouTube. #SEO
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20. Not focusing on getting quality backlinks.

While link building and link earning gets a bad rap sometimes, the number of quality backlinks a website has is still an important ranking factor for search engines and links deliver interested users to your content.

Tip: Conduct outreach to relevant influencers and websites to earn quality links back to your quality content.

21. Having too many blog categories or tags.

When you create a blog category or tag, you're essentially creating a new page on your website that can be indexed by crawl bots. However, if those categories or tags don't have a decent amount of content associated with them, you could be signaling thin content to search engines and it could potentially hurt your crawl budget.

Tip: Remove categories or tags that contain orphaned content, and retag or recategorize that content within a relevant and more robust category.

How do you find the perfect balance between quality, user-centric content and optimizing for search? Share your tips in the comments section below!

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2017. | SEO Checklist for Content Marketers: 21 Common Mistakes to Avoid | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post SEO Checklist for Content Marketers: 21 Common Mistakes to Avoid appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Twitter Phasing Out Buy Button?

Twitter appears to be waving bye-bye to its buy button.

E-commerce platform Shopify was one of several sites to launch the feature in October 2015, and Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch reported that merchants using Shopify are being notified that Twitter is “pivoting away” from its e-commerce focus.

TechCrunch reader Brody Berson shared the message from Shopify with Lunden:

Starting Feb. 1, the Twitter sales channel will no longer be available as a result of the Twitter team pivoting away from its e-commerce focus.

Saying goodbye is never easy, but you can choose between many other sales channels to sell on including: Facebook Shop, Pinterest, Messenger, Amazon and more.

Email the Shopify support team at support@shopify.com if you have any questions.

Lunden reported that Twitter's donate button will not be affected by the change.

The Twitter buy button debuted in September 2014 with Fancy, Gumroad, Musictoday and Stripe as launch partners.

The social network announced in September 2015 that Shopify, Bigcommerce and Demandware were integrating the feature.

Readers: Did you ever use Twitter's buy button, either as a seller or a customer?

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The Future of Digital Media: More Video, Smaller Screens (Report)

Digital content marketing has grown increasingly complicated, a result of more dynamic audiences and a general shift toward video as a primary focus. A report from content marketing and distribution agency Valnet examines what's coming for content marketing and content in general in 2017.

It's not enough to just create content for the web anymore. With the proliferation of devices, content needs to be both mobile-focused and platform-agnostic to meet the needs of a diverse audience. 88 percent of consumers surveyed by Valnet report reading and viewing content on multiple devices and use on average 2.42 devices simultaneously.

Indeed, multiple devices has become an integral part of how people consume content. What's more, video consumption is higher than ever, but screens are getting smaller and smaller, which creates a strange dichotomy for videostreaming services. 51 percent of all video is now viewed on mobile, and 50 percent of U.S. households used streaming services for the first time during 2016.

Speed is vital for maintaining the attention of viewers, for whom switching between service and device has become second nature. Another defining result of this behavior is the creation of niche networks and services. Content suggestion methods and algorithms have created siloed audiences, and audiences have responded positively to these changes.

For more insights on the impact of virtual reality and information on the proliferation of niche audiences, download the report.

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3 Common Google Analytics Gaps You Need to Plug

Google Analytics is the de-facto industry standard analytics tool.

It's installed on almost every single business site. (It's even looked at too, sometimes, too.)

It provides a tremendous amount of data that you can manipulate, along with customization options for advanced features that power users crave.

Also, it's free.

Google Analytics excels at providing surface level, top-of-the-funnel, aggregate data.

Here's an example of where that comes in handy, along with a few problems it presents.

Where Google Analytics Excels

That super-duper-in-depth Quote Request forms works fine on your desktop. But what about for mobile and tablet users?

It's a mobile world, and we're just living in it. Not only are more searches done on mobile than desktop, but mobile usage in general (and growth) continue to eclipse desktop usage.

Today, the best sites are mobile-first from the ground-up, ridden of legacy issues like poor UX, IA, and speed that shackle conversions.

Like, for instance, long-ass forms.

With just a few keystrokes inside Google Analytics, your answer is waiting for you.
Easy.

While tablet conversions compare favorably to desktop, mobile suffers a bit.

You can extrapolate this further: pull up a basic spreadsheet and plug in the desktop conversion rate multiplied by your average lead value. Do the same for the lower mobile one. Hit enter. Find revenue or cost discrepancy.

Now you've got a cold, hard case to bring to your boss or client to fight for additional resources.

Google Analytics also does admirably with traffic channel source and page behavior.

For example, organic search will (generally speaking) be your top driver of traffic (whether that's a deliberate strategy on your part or not).

Let's take a quick look at which specific pages are performing best, so we can:

Identify ways to improve them and get more people to convert from them. Reverse-engineer their success so we can start cranking out new content like them.

Again, if you know where the proverbial bodies are buried, you can pull up the most popular content on your site and add a 'secondary dimension' to highlight Source or Medium.

Awesome, a lot of older blog posts are performing well!

Perfect. Let's make a few general notes of the topics that are performing well, and other 'variable' patterns they might have in common (like the images used, the category or style of content, the word count, etc., etc.).

But oh no, look at those bounce rates!

Maybe it's time to reinvest in that old stuff and breath new life into it so we can better capitalize on all those search visits that are coming in.

They can probably use some new statistics and data as the world has evolved over the past few years. Today's blog posts also tend to be more visual and step-by-step tactical, so let's flesh out some of those high-level sections too.

With the help of a few basic Google Analytics reports, you can quickly spot high-level trends like this, and get decent reporting metrics on how your day-to-day tactical stuff (like blogging, tweeting, ads, etc.) are affecting new leads or purchases.

If you're scrappy, you can even run some advanced tactics like split tests directly inside Google Analytics too.

However…

For all the good, there's some bad.

There's a few problem areas and obvious gaps where Google Analytics drops the ball. And you're most likely going to need other software or tools to augment it in order to get the full picture.

(After all – Google Analytics is free. We can only complain so much.)

Here's where Google Analytics struggles (and how to get around those problems).

Where Google Analytics Falls Short

Analytics for low-priced products are surprisingly cut-and-dry.

Extreme volume can always present a problem. But otherwise it's a direct shot from A -> B. Point, click, and buy.

Google Analytics will show you product revenue in line with conversions, and you don't always have to overthink what you're looking at.

Consumers don't overthink the process either, going from Stranger to Customer all in one fell swoop (or session).

Unfortunately, we can't say the same for other organizations.

If you have a complex sales cycle, or a multi-step conversion process (like most SaaS apps) that go from Visits -> Free Trial -> Paying, you're going to need to connect the dots.

And with Google Analytics, that sometimes feels more like you're reading tea leaves as opposed to making data-driven decision.

Here's why.

1. Attribution Problems & Last Touch Bias

Want quick, at-a-glance performance stats to draw surface-level conclusions? Open up GA.

However when it comes to tracking specific campaign performance (and comparing it to others), or looking further down the funnel at how leads are turning into prospects, sales opportunities, customers, and loyal promoters… it begins to get cumbersome.

Google Analytics is 'session based', looking mostly at individual visits. That means it can tell you what happens (more or less) during one visit. But if that visitor takes off, and comes back next week, there's (mostly) no way to know that.

That brings about a whole host of attribution problems which can misinform your marketing decisions.

For example, let's say you sell insurance. Here's how that typical flow looks:

Prospect gets a new, high paying job, just celebrated their one-year anniversary and has a baby on the way. Now they realize they should probably get some life insurance! So prospect begins doing general 'unbranded' searches for what type of coverage they might need and how much it's going to cost. After becoming a little more informed, they start doing specific searches around individual products and vague terms (like 'riders'). They read a few articles on a few different websites, and begin researching companies or brokers to reach out to (by typing in commercial keyphrases like, “life insurance quotes”). They click around on a few websites, and possibly opt-in to one or two to begin the sales process.

Ok, let's stop for a minute.

There's still a ton of stuff that needs to happen. The majority of those leads are never going to become a customer, but already there's a few glaring problems.

Problem #1. Within Google Analytics, you can only see step 5. Not anything before that.

Problem #2. You take a gander at conversion sources, and you're only seeing that commercial-keyphrase search done in step 4.

Confirmation bias. No duh – heavily commercial keyphrases are gonna convert well.

You can bid directly on those, but have you seen “life insurance” CPC ranges lately?!

And what happens, is that your company neglects or ignores all the other steps (specifically, 1-3) that lead up to this point, along with the marketing requirements it takes to deliver those things – like how your social media work increases reputation and credibility, how SEO for unbranded topics to increase brand awareness, how design and UX affects first impression, which conversion paths are most effective, and more.

Because you can't see any of it! At least not in Google Analytics alone.

That's where you need to layer in other tools to assign each user an individual ID and compile all of their visits (that sometimes happen over days or weeks) leading up to a lead opt-in or purchase.

TL;DR? Real-life is nuanced.

Google Analytics will show you that a conversion happened after a paid search.

BUT that visitor originally came to your website through an organic one. And then they came back because of a social one.

Those first two campaigns deserve a bit of credit, and any eventual share of the revenue that was generated as well (because the eventual paid conversion may not have happened without their assistance).

The Kissmetrics Revenue Report

Another side benefit of this approach: you'll get more accurate visits/sessions and pageview data as well.

For example, GA doesn't combine one person's site view's and activity over several different devices or browsers – so you're getting skewed, inaccurate information that could possibly be 2-5x more views than you're actually getting.

2. Campaign Measurement Difficulties

Let's revisit our hypothetical “life insurance” example to see where the next problem arises.

The 'converting' campaign was a paid search one for “life insurance quotes”.

If campaigns are tagged properly you can kinda track this work.

Another hack or workaround is Oli's inbound traffic segmentation, where you create dedicated pages for each source or channel – even if they're the same information – for measurement purposes).

Image Source

But… an AdWords 'campaign' doesn't = a larger promotional or advertising campaign.

A company-wide, revenue generating campaign involves multiple touchpoints and channels. Unlike offline, those channels help assist each other online (as we saw in the first step).

And our bosses (or clients) want to see how Campaign A compares with Campaign B across all marketing initiatives (not granular, leading indicators of the CPC from one term vs. another).

Thankfully, the recent updates to the new funnel report can help tremendously, picking up all of the various touch-points that contributed to your campaign's success.

First, you want to create events that pick up all of your tracking codes and landing pages with that specific campaign variable.

You can then also add the desired revenue-generating steps to see how the entire campaign – across channels – performed. And most importantly, you can compare this campaign's success to other recent ones this year, or prior ones from previous years for context.

You can also dive deeper into these conversions paths, including multiple 'variables' along the way, like if there are two possible ways to 'complete' a single campaign.

For example, let's say – like most companies – you have multiple ways for customers to contact you. There's the dedicated landing page you spent so much time on, but many people will still click away from that page, browse around your site for a bit, click on your Contact Us page or call the number in your footer.

The Funnel Report allows you to assign both conditions, like both a Signup form and a Demo Page.

You can click between the two to get individual results, helping you figure out which path, conversion point, or page is most effective at driving your goals.

Like with the mobile example earlier, you can identify the 'opportunity cost' associated with one underperforming page against the better one.

Just imagine if you funneled all those wasted visits from the low 'Request Demo' to the higher converting 'Signed Up' page.

That arms you with powerful insight into how your campaigns line-up against each other, but also which campaign tactics to repeat or improve in the next one.

3. Post 'Conversion' Events

So far so good.

We've gained better insight into how different marketing channels have contributed to driving conversions in one or two sources.

And we've been able to finally prepare and deliver a comprehensive campaign performance report that gives you the ability to compare-and-contrast results against other campaigns (and pinpoint areas of improvement for the next one).

But we still have a problem.

Many times a 'conversion' only means a lead. There's still a TON of stuff that needs to happen before those leads become honest-to-God paying customers.

Which most, unfortunately, won't.

The objective here is the same, whether we're talking about good old-fashioned lead nurturing or app onboarding – increase engagement along 'micro-conversions' until that person's ready to sign on the dotted line (or enter their billing info).

These little 'micro-conversions' are success milestones; the key interaction points that turn passing interest into devotion.

For example, watching a video.

Videos on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%. But the important part, is what happens after people watch a video.

For example, after watching a video:

64% of viewers are more likely to purchase the product 50% of executives look for more information 39% of executives call a vendor

Wanna increase sales? Turn more prospects into customers? Convert more trial-ers into buyers?

Get people to watch that damn video.

GA can show you general video views as an aggregate engagement metric.

But that information is useless if you can't decipher what those visitor's lead status is or if your specific prospects are viewing it or not.

Solve this by creating a Funnel Report and identifying those that HAVE NOT done the specific event you're looking for:

You can also get fancy and add different variables here (like we did in the last step); one for people who DID view, and those that DIDN'T.

Now you get the cold-hard data:

Now you can see (and prove), empirically with your own data, that people who view the video have higher sign-ups.

You can then also add more steps to this funnel to see if there is anything specific causing a bottleneck in your onboarding process, and/or identify whatever-it-is that's holding back your leads from watching the video in the first place.

We're using videos as an example in this case. But these variables for your business could be anything that gets people to start taking ownership of the process.

You increase those big numbers (sales revenue) by increasing the number of people completing all the success milestones along the way.

Conclusion

Google Analytics is great.

It gives you access to helpful aggregate data within seconds of opening it up (if you know where to look that is). Also, free.

The problem, is that there are a few places where Google Analytics falls short too. There are gaps where you (as marketer and decision maker) aren't getting the full picture. And that either leads to stagnation, or bad decisions.

You need something that gives you a detailed view of individuals (and not just sessions). Of campaign performance (and not just individuals channels). And of pre-identified success milestones based on someone's lifecycle stage as opposed to generic event data.

You don't need to replace Google Analytics outright.

You just need to augment it with a tool or platform that excels where it doesn't.

About the Author: Brad Smith is a founding partner at Codeless Interactive, a digital agency specializing in creating personalized customer experiences. Brad's blog also features more marketing thoughts, opinions and the occasional insight.

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Content Marketing: 10 Daily Habits to Create More Powerful Content

Marketing is a game of inches. We tweak a headline to get fifty more clicks. Add visual interest for ten more subscriptions. Change the button on the landing page to get five more conversions. All the little gains add up over time to generate real results.

Writing more effective copy is a game of inches, too. You don't write Twilight one week and Moby Dick the next. Instead, every day you can work to be a little bit better than the day before.

The tricky part is if you're not steadily improving your writing, you're actively moving backward. There's no such thing as maintaining the status quo-it's self-improvement or bust.

The following ten daily habits can help you make steady incremental improvement. Try as many as you can for 28 days, and be amazed at how those daily inches add up.

10 Daily Habits to Create More Powerful Content

#1: Read at Least One Marketing Article

There is a massive amount of informative marketing content out there, with more coming every day. These articles can help inform and improve your marketing, but that's not the only reason to read them.

How It Helps: Marketing articles are really content marketing targeted at marketers. And it's hard to market to marketers. We already know the ways copy can be persuasive. We soak in it. So effective marketing posts with thousands of shares are guaranteed to have top-notch writing.

 

#2: Read an Article about Literally Anything Else

As in any industry, it's easy to get stuck in the marketing “bubble.” You read marketing content. You write it, too. Over time, it gets hard to write anything that doesn't sound like it was written by marketers, for marketers. If marketers aren't your target audience, that's a bad situation.

How It Helps: Reading a good variety of content gives you different voices to try on for your own content. See how Harvard Business Review covers a story versus Mashable versus Buzzfeed. Browse Medium for hundreds of unique voices you can borrow tricks from. All this input is invaluable in keeping your writing flexible, and building your own voice.

 

#3: See What Your Audience Is Sharing

One way to make sure your content is worthy of being shared is to borrow tips from content already resonating with your audience. Check out BuzzSumo's trending content for your topic. See what the top SlideShare presentations are in your industry. Even a search for the most-watched videos on YouTube could be informative.

How It Helps: You can discover what topics are most valuable to your audience and see how others have addressed them in an effective fashion. You might even get ideas for how to write a better version for your audience.

 

#4: Do a Free-Writing Exercise

The hardest part of any writer's day is the beginning. The blank page is our worst enemy, sapping motivation, inviting self-doubt, and generally keeping things from getting done. A free-writing exercise eases your brain into content creation mode, while keeping the stakes low. Try these random prompts to get started.

How It Helps: Free writing gets you in productive mode faster, but it also allows you time to let your creativity flow and find new pathways for your thoughts to flow. That refreshed creativity will reveal itself in everything you write.

 

#5: Revisit Old Content

If I have a personal writer's hell, it's full of the short stories I wrote when I was 16. Or 18. Or 28. Heck, the stuff I wrote six months ago is embarrassing. It can be downright painful to look at your old content. But if you have the courage to go back and revise it, old content can help you improve.

How It Helps: First, it shows you that you're making real progress. If an old blog post makes you cringe, it's because you're so much better now. Second, the act of rewriting it up to your current standards is fantastic for reinforcing good habits. And hey, you might end up with a piece you can repurpose for a new audience, too.

 

#6: Watch a Viral Video

It's worth taking 2-3 minutes out of your day for the .gifs or Vines (RIP) or YouTube videos that everyone can't stop talking about. These new cultural touchstones are fascinating. It's a way to see what captures the attention of the widest swath of humanity at a time. And it keeps you from looking out-of-touch on Facebook.

How It Helps: Viral content got that way for a reason. Something about it compelled people to link to it. So watching a viral video or two is a window into the zeitgeist, and can contain swipeable ideas to make your content more compelling.

 

#7: Change Part of Your Routine

We've all heard about famous writers' routines. Nabokov wrote on index cards. Charlotte Bronte wrote standing up. Ernest Hemingway wrote in a pair of pink penguin pajamas. There's this idea that you need to find the magical combination of quirks that will produce great writing. Odds are your writing routine is nearly set in stone.

How It Helps: Hemingway wasn't a great writer because he wore pink penguin pajamas. The pajamas were within him the whole time. Truth is, if you're stuck in one particular routine, it can make your content start to come out routine as well.

Change it up: Stand up if you usually sit, or vice versa. Write before your first cup of coffee. Take your laptop to a different part of the office. Whatever it takes to shake you out of the status quo a bit.

 

#8: Drink More Water

If you work in an office building you are likely living in a state of perpetual dehydration. The air exchanges are drying your skin and throat to a papery crisp. Get a refillable water bottle and keep it on your desk at all times.

How It Helps: A lot of the headaches, fatigue, and fuzzy-headed feelings you get throughout a day can be caused by dehydration. Ditto the cravings for endless snacks even though you just had lunch (I can't be the only one). Drink water to stay sharp, be better focused, and improve your overall health.

 

#9: Write the Seth Godin version

Seth Godin has the gift of getting to the essence of a topic in 250 words or less. His micro-blogs are as insanely popular as they are concise. If you're looking to cut the fat from your writing, Seth's is a great place to start. Take the topic you're writing on and try to write the Seth Godin version. You can flesh it out after, but start with his get-to-the-point mentality.

How It Helps: We can't all get away with publishing 250-word blog posts. Most of my clients wouldn't stand for it. But writing the bare-bones version can help create better-structured, easier-to-read, more compelling content.

 

#10: Give Yourself Five Mindful Minutes

One of the most powerful things you can do for your marketing mind in a day is nothing. No screens. No phone calls. No email. Nothing to distract you from what you're doing-which, again, is nothing. Unhook your brain from as many entanglements as you can, close your eyes, and let your mind wander. You may have to work your way up to five minutes, though. It's amazing how long that seems in the age of smartphones.

How It Helps: The creativity that drives engaging copy comes in the quiet moments when you let your brain do its own thing. Most of us are adept at filling every waking minute, precisely so we don't have those idle moments. Your brain is likely starved for a nothing break. Let it bump out of its familiar ruts and you'll be surprised where it takes you.

 

Turn Inches into Yards

Becoming a better marketer is a lifelong journey, not a destination. Use these tips to continue your content creation development. Just think: In a year, you might read the post you just wrote today and be amazed at how far you've come.

Are you passionate about creating great content in an educational, supportive and fun environment? TopRank Marketing is hiring.

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2016. | Content Marketing: 10 Daily Habits to Create More Powerful Content | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Content Marketing: 10 Daily Habits to Create More Powerful Content appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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A Social Media Manager's View on SEO

If you're a social media manager, you may see the world of search-engine optimization as arcane Google trickery mixed with quasi-technical babblings.

Allow me to show you how to make Google and the various folks who do SEO your buddies.

First, Google what you think you should be ranking on.

I did a search on “Facebook dollar a day” just now and was happy to see our articles in the first two organic results. There is one ad ahead of us, and one of the folks that we taught how to do Facebook ads is the third organic result.

Incidentally, if you want to see search results that are not biased by your search activity, make sure you add “pws=0” to your query string, which means “personalized web search” is off. The geeks out there will also note that even if you simulate logged-out search results, Google is still personalizing based on your location and user agent.

Oddly, we didn't intentionally try to “SEO” for this or any other key phrases. That's because SEO (getting rankings in search results) is the result of strong content marketing, not some activity you do.

Some people might say this is a competitive search because there are 187 million pages chasing this query (see first screenshot). And the SEO smarties will say that using the in-title tool yields a more accurate competitive set of 8.5 million (still a lot):

Back in 2007, we ranked No. 2 on Google organically for “Facebook ads.”

And while that might sound good, what actually happened is that I got overwhelmed with tons of random requests for consulting–mostly unqualified.

We had no lead magnets or filtering process, so I ended up doing a lot of free consulting to find out which leads were serious. So I learned the hard way that rankings are less important than driving high-quality traffic.

Here is a snapshot from our Google Search Console (used to be called Webmaster Tools), which should be part of your Google Analytics:

While the “dollar a day” tactic is something that I happen to think is important, it's not in the top 50 things that people are searching for where we show up in Google. So the folks who are strong at SEO know that it's smarter to listen to what the market wants than what you or the big boss happens to think is important.

In this case, you can clearly see that people want to know what social media consulting should cost. And if you do a search on Google for this, the type-ahead results confirm all flavors of this:

If you believe in the principle of amplification, which is to take a good thing and make it better, then you'll use this signal to get more of what Google thinks you're good at.

Here we are ranked No. 4 organically for “social media consulting fees”:

I had no idea there were so many people searching for this, and that if I made an effort to write a few more articles, we'd be able to “throw fuel on the fire” here.

So I went ahead and shared this article on Facebook:

And because it's already worked well in search, it will likely work well in social–especially if I boost it for $1 per day against the audiences that Google Analytics already says have enjoyed this content. It's like cheating.
 
I'll bet that if you look at your search console, you'll also find that what the market wants and what you think they want are two different things.

We could even update this article with quotes from other people that are authoritative–not just to send a stronger signal to Google, but to make a better article that deserves to rank for this search.

Use your social media superpowers to get other properties to talk about your content. They don't have to link to you or even use your keywords as hypertext (the blue links)–social mentions do count, and building relationships count.

Simply sharing it on various channels, perhaps with a boost, will increase awareness, more people reading the content, more people linking to your content (if it's worthy), and better search-engine rankings.

Thus, by simply doing your job in social, you're helping your brand's Google search results. And the person whose job is to do SEO should be producing great content for you and other webmasters, which helps your social results.

SEO, public relations, social media marketing, content marketing and word of mouth are increasingly becoming the same discipline. There are different tools and different channels, but in common is the production and sharing of content that is worthy of distribution.

Image on homepage courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Is this a good business idea? Avoid these 10 mistakes in choosing a business idea.

Choosing a business idea is probably the thing we help our members with most.

It's understandable. You don't want to put a bunch of time and effort into building a business, only to realize later on that there was a major flaw in the idea that will forever stunt your company's growth.

Of course you're worried about your business idea. You should be. Ideas matter. If you're going to dedicate years of your life to your business, you want that time and effort to pay off. A good business idea is the foundation of everything to come.

Business ideas are tricky because there is never 100% certainty that an idea is going to work. There is only confidence. Your job is to find a business idea you can feel confident about moving forward with, even though you'll never know many things for sure until you start actually working on the idea.

We all make mistakes building businesses, whether you're a new freelancer or the next Elon Musk. Some mistakes you can recover from, some you can't. The best thing about being at the idea stage of a business, is that there are some important mistakes you can avoid before you put all that effort in. Avoiding these mistakes now can save you a tremendous amount in the future.

We're going to share the top 10 biggest mistakes we see people making. At the end of this, we want you to be able to answer “is this a good business idea” for yourself, much better than you can right now, so you can find the idea that gives you enough confidence (not certainty) to move forward.

In case you aren't familiar with what we do here, Fizzle is training for small business builders. We've built a library with over 40 individual courses, and a community of 2,000+ other entrepreneurs building businesses that matter. Plus, you get access to the Fizzle Small Business Roadmap, which guides you through every step of setting up a business in a way that it's actually going to work.

Membership in Fizzle costs just $35/month, about a dollar a day, and you can try Fizzle completely free to see if it's right for you. Learn more about Fizzle membership and start your free trial today »

Here are the 10 biggest mistakes we see in choosing a business idea:

1) Choosing a business idea that no one actually wants

This one is the biggest mistake you can make in choosing a business idea. The biggest goal of a business is simple: make something people want. Starting off with an idea nobody wants is like setting sail with big, giant, gaping hole in your boat.

Let's say you find yourself writing on a whiteboard with a dry erase marker. Then you find yourself setting that dry erase marker down to grab your water bottle. Then you pick the dry erase back up again. And over, and over, and over, you repeat this.

So you decide, man, why isn't there a water bottle with a dry erase pen attached to it? A dry-erase water bottle. Problem solved.

But does anyone really want that? Just because something solves a "problem" and doesn't exist yet, doesn't make it a great business idea.

People have to want your idea for it to be a great business opportunity.

"But wait, I'll just explain to everyone how awesome my water bottle dry erase marker is, and how much time it saves."

If people aren't already frustrated by a problem and searching for a solution, you're starting an uphill battle. Don't start your business at an avoidable massive disadvantage. You'll have plenty of other disadvantages to overcome.

Unless you have incredible patience and a massive advertising budget, you can't manufacture demand. You can't educate your market. You have to tap into existing demand. Make something people want.

2) Choosing a business idea that you aren't capable of pulling off

This is another doozy: choosing a business idea that you aren't capable of pulling off. Something that is too big or complicated for you to execute. Biting off more than you can chew.

This is probably the biggest reason why businesses fail to even launch, to ever have a product for sale, because the business is trying to do way too much, to run before it even learns how to walk.

This is why we (Fizzle) exist. Because the reality is not that most businesses end up toiling away, creating a product, launching it, and then going through this long period of trying to find buyers, and yadda yadda.

The reality is most businesses never even see the light of day because they *fizzle out.* They die a quiet death because the entrepreneur behind it hits a bunch of hurdles because he tried to take on something that is just too big, too daunting, too difficult and takes too long to finish.

The tendency is to want to create a perfect product right away, one that fulfils our grand vision for a complete solution.

The reality is that businesses succeed by addressing one small problem really well.

Uber didn't start as a global force in transportation with hundreds of thousands of drivers in 70 countries. They started by operating one kind of vehicle (black towncars) in one city (San Francisco) for one kind of customer (rich tech elites).

You have to choose an idea that you're capable of pulling off. You have to assume that things are going to be much harder, and that they're going to take far longer than you think they will. Projects always take longer than we think they will. It's Hofstadter's Law:

Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

3) Choosing a business idea that doesn't stand out enough

Problems worth solving attract lots of competition. People are thirsty, so there are millions of beverage choices out there.

Does the world need yet another new beverage? That depends.

To make your business idea work in a crowded, established space, it has to stand out. If it stands out enough, you could tap into the massive existing demand and build a huge success story.

Take razors, for example. Huge, established, old market. Billions of dollars in sales. Massive major entrenched players with ridiculous advertising budgets.

And yet, two guys turned a small razor startup from nothing into a billion dollar acquisition in five years. Mark Levine and Michael Dubin might have seemed crazy to start a razor company with such intense competition, but they knew something important. They knew the market was frustrated by expensive razors.

Dollar Shave Club stood out by simply delivering cheaper razors via a subscription model straight to customers by mail. They hammered the point home with their brilliant launch video “Our Blades Are F***ing Great” featuring CEO Michael Dubin. The simple differentiation backed by an incredible video attracted big venture capital money and led to an impressive exit less than five years later.

How many other razor companies came and went in that time? Those that failed failed to stand out enough from the competition. Differentiation is essential. Your business idea needs a unique selling proposition.

You have to give your customers a reason to choose your product over the rest, otherwise they won't choose yours. They'll just move on to a competitor who gives them a reason to choose. That's what standing out means, giving someone a reason why your thing matters more in some way than another product.

Bonus Onion article: Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades

4) Choosing a business idea where you don't understand the target customer enough

If you don't understand your customers deeply, if you don't know them well, how will you solve a problem for them? How will you find them?

Understanding your customers is how you make your business idea stand out. It's how you choose a business idea that people actually want, because you understand the customer intimately. Ideally you want to be able to explain your customers' problem better than they can express it themselves.

You might be thinking, wait a second, that's impossible. How would I know my customers' problem better than they do? But this actually happens all the time, because customers are busy. They've got a lot going on in their lives and they have this thing that's annoying them, but maybe they haven't really sat down and spent months thinking about this thing. It's just something that comes up and nags them every once in a while.

So you, as the business owner, if you get to understand that person and a bunch of other people like her, who have that problem, then you have this advantage of being able to synthesize all of that information and articulate it back to them in a way they never thought about before. Then they're like holy crap this business really gets me. This business really understands that I'm tired of going to the store to buy expensive razors, I want to buy decent priced razors online.

This understanding your customers thing, it doesn't have to be innate. You don't have to have known these people for a decade. It can be learned. You can get to know your customers by talking with them and asking the right questions. That's the goal of our course on customer conversations, to help you ask the right questions, so you can really understand a group of people and the problems they face.

We've made a whole course on winning business insights from customer conversations. You can take the course in a free trial of Fizzle, no contracts or payment or anything, if you'd like. Check out the video »

5) Choosing a business idea that doesn't tap into your personal skills, background or experience

Starting a business is a big, difficult, scary adventure. It's a serious problem to deal with on it's own. That's why it's so important to try and leverage any existing skills, background or experience you already have when starting your business.

Why would you throw away all of your skills and experience and knowledge on a topic and try to gain a bunch of new skills and learn how to build business at the same time?

This happens a lot. The tendency is, you're tired of your job, you're tired of the life that you live right now, you want to jump into some fresh, new business idea. Some podcast episode or blog post comes across your screen, about how XYZ is the hottest business trend this year.

So then you're going to try and start a business, which means learning a whole bunch of new things, and at the same time, you're going to learn an entire new topic as well? It's no wonder most small businesses fail.

The point here is that if you have some sort of really useful skill or some experience within a topic, see if there's a way for you to leverage that. Don't throw all of that away. See if there's a way for you to leverage some of that within your business.

It doesn't mean you have to be an expert at the thing you're trying to get off the ground. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be an expert on razors, if you want to start Dollar Shave Club. But it does mean that because we're often one-person businesses, you better at least have some of the skills it's going to take, like maybe making videos if a video is going to be a key part of your strategy, or building websites or whatever it is.

If you have some skills, experience, expertise, talents, whatever, see if there's a way for you to incorporate those into your business idea. Don't make the mistake of not leveraging what you already have.

6) Choosing a business idea that you're not going to want to run

A lot of us jump into an idea because we're enthusiastic about it as a business opportunity, only to find out months, or sometimes years later, that this is just not a business that I enjoy running. Maybe it doesn't support my lifestyle, maybe I don't like the customers, or maybe I don't like the product that I have to maintain. It just becomes mundane for some reason.

You have to think ahead. What will this business look like if it's successful a couple of years? What will it be like to run this company?

If we don't include this as a factor in choosing our business idea, it's easy to end up with a business that isn't compatible with the life you want to live.

It's a lot like relationships. How many of us sit down before we find a spouse and create a checklist of what would make a compatible person in the long run? Very few. Instead, we get excited and fall in love because of attributes that attract us in the short-term. This happens with business ideas as well.

It's much smarter to sit down and write out a list. Three to five years from now, if this business is successful, what would I want it to be like? What would I like my day to day to be like? How would I like to interact with the customers? What sort of tasks, and hours, and locations and employees would I want?

For example, let's say you think you want to be a speaker. The idea of delivering talks to groups of people excites you. You love the idea of being on stage and entertaining or inspiring people. But then a couple of years into it, you realize what a pain in the ass the travel is, and that you hate being on the road multiple times every month, but your income is dependent on it. You feel trapped by the day-to-day reality of running your business.

Don't choose a business idea that you're not going to want to run in a few years. There's a reason you're starting a business in the first place, and it's not just to create another job for yourself.

7) Choosing a business idea because it seems like the easiest option

We all probably have friends who have jumped from one business idea to the next. They had this like chronic entrepreneurialism sort of thing, but nothing ever sticks. They read the Four-Hour Workweek and then they think it's just supposed to be easy.

So they're just looking for that easy get-rich quick kind of thing. They heard a radio ad about flipping houses or somebody's told them about this multilevel marketing thing. They picked up the latest issue of Entrepreneur magazine and there's 50 hot business ideas that you start in 3 weeks or less.

This is a big red flag. If you're looking for a business idea because it's going to take minimal effort to get off the ground it probably means you're going to struggle all along the way.

If a business idea finds you from a list of business ideas, like if someone reaches out to you like, oh bro, you've got to check this out it's really easy… Or if someone sells you on a multi-level marketing idea… Or a podcast or blog post proclaims Amazon FBA to be the greatest and easiest opportunity of 2015. Any business idea that finds you in that way is suspect. You can still consider these, but be skeptical.

Real business opportunities take lots and lots of hard work. There aren't any shortcuts. If you're considering a business idea only because it seems easy, you might not be cut out for entrepreneurship.

8) Choosing a business idea that customers can't/won't pay for

This one is a simple question. Can my customers pay and will they pay?

Even if you make something people want, your business could still fail if your customers aren't willing or able to pay for your product or service.

This might seem like a "duh" point to make, but trust us, this one trips people up all the time. All of us on the Fizzle team have built businesses that ran into this problem in the past, where we built a business around a real problem, only to discover our audience either wasn't willing or able to pay for a solution.

Some problems aren't valuable enough. People might want a solution, but only if it's free.

Unfortunately, this isn't always an easy question to answer. Customers might tell you they want a solution and will pay for it, until it's time to actually break out the credit card.

Like we said in the beginning, you'll never be 100% certain about a business idea. Your goal is to gain enough confidence to move forward. The same is true of knowing whether customers will pay.

There are a few ways to find out whether customers will pay:

Pre-sell your product (like kickstarter campaigns) Look for evidence that people are already paying for similar solutions Talk to customers and ask what they would be willing to pay (be careful, this is notoriously unreliable evidence)

Ultimately, the only way to find out whether people will pay is to put a real product in front of them and see if they'll buy. The best way to mitigate the risk of having built something no one will pay for is to create a minimum viable product, something small that proves whether your business idea works.

9) Choosing a business idea that you don't care enough about

If you don't care about your business idea enough, it's going to be very difficult to execute at a competitive level.

There's a difference between passion and caring. Passion is often a fleeting thing. You don't have to be passionate about creating a solid cheaper razor option, but you do have to care about it enough to put in the years of effort necessary to build a viable business.

When you don't care about an idea enough, you'll see this evident in losing steam and momentum after just a couple of months. It's easy to have passion and enthusiasm early on in a business idea, but what really matters is that you still care 6 months, 12 months, 24 months later and beyond, when things get really tough.

When the going gets tough, where do you continue to find the motivation?

Caring can be a huge advantage, especially in crowded markets.

Caring trumps opportunism every time.

Caring isn't everything, but it's an important part of a solid foundation. And you can find care in different places. You can care about the problem, or the solution, or the audience, or the greater good.

10) Choosing a business idea that you can't explain simply

We hear all the time from people who are trying to articulate an idea that they have swirling around their head that they haven't quite distilled down enough. This doesn't mean that your idea is doomed, it might just mean that you're not quite there yet.

Because if it's too complicated, if you can't explain your idea simply enough, it means it's probably too complicated, too vague for you to identify a really specific problem, a specific group of people, and to create a product that will serve that specific audience in some tangible way. Because it's just too broad at this point. You haven't boiled everything down.

When you have a hunch about a problem and a group of peole, but it's still hard to communicate it in a clear and concise way, that's OK, but it means you're on the road. You're in the process of refining your idea. You need more input and experience and time. You need to find out if this problem is real and if it is, you'll eventually find a way to make it simple.

If you feel like you could explain your idea, if you just had 5 minutes, you need to realize that you're not going to get 5 minutes. You get a headline, or a tweet, or the 80 characters that fit in an advertisement.

Your language needs to be sharp, and compact, and compelling.

This applies not only for customers but also for potential employees, potential investors, and partners. Anyone who's coming in contact with your business is going to have to understand it and it's a big problem if you can't explain it simply.

“Is this a good business idea?”

I hope you'll be better able to answer that question for yourself, now that you know about these 10 common mistakes in choosing a business idea.

If you decide to move forward even though you're making one of these mistakes (knowingly), you might still be able to overcome the flaws in your business idea. But two or three or more of these mistakes will likely keep your business from ever making the impact you hope it will.

Remember that a business idea is just the first step and there is this whole other thing called execution, which is pulling off the idea, which is building the product and finding the people and as Derek Sivvers likes to say, ideas are just a multiplier of execution.

Execution is the hard part; ideas are relatively simple in comparison. Do your best to choose a solid idea and then prepare yourself for the months and months of hard work ahead.

Want to avoid even more mistakes? Get Fizzle's free guide to the Top 10 Mistakes in Starting an Online Business »

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Top #RoadToRio Instagram Posts Leading Up to 2016 Summer Olympic Games

Which athletes had the top Instagram posts with the #RoadToRio hashtag leading up to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro?

The top #RoadToRio Instagram posts (embedded below), by likes, came from:

Paul George Harrison Barnes Serena Williams Hope Solo Ryan Lochte Carli Lloyd Christen Press Ali Krieger Morgan Brian DeAndre Jordan Nathan Adrian Allie Long Elena Delle Donne Lindsey Horan Jake Dalton Allyson Felix Colleen Quigley Brittney Griner Allison Schmitt Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton Elizabeth Beisel Natasha Hastings Christian Taylor Helen Maroulis Russell Holmes Kerri Walsh Jennings Kelsi Worrell Courtney Frerichs

Readywith my guy @watergate_trey! One of the best trainers out! #RoadtoRio

A video posted by Paul George (@ygtrece) on Jul 6, 2016 at 11:45am PDT

See @usabasketball play before heading to Rio. Follow @shockdoctor for tickets! #Unite #RoadtoRio

A photo posted by Harrison Barnes (@hbarnes) on Jul 21, 2016 at 9:55pm PDT

No one can define you; no one can put a label on you. Proud to represent #TeamUSA on the #RoadtoRio. See my full #DefyLabels interview with @MINIUSA here. MINIUSA.COM/Serena

A video posted by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on Jul 29, 2016 at 12:09pm PDT

Off to Brasil….Finally! ⚽️#roadtorio #comingsoon #waitforit…

A photo posted by Hope Solo (@hopesolo) on Jul 27, 2016 at 3:37pm PDT

Who said you can't have fun doing what you love! @cammileadams @ebeisel34 #smile #lilsis #bigsis #roadtorio

A photo posted by Ryanlochte (@ryanlochte) on Jul 22, 2016 at 8:21pm PDT

"I Can. I Will. End of story." 8 days. #roadtorio : Brad Smith @isiphotos

A photo posted by Carli Lloyd (@carlilloyd) on Jul 26, 2016 at 4:43pm PDT

#squad finally on the actual #roadtorio

A photo posted by Christen Press (@christenpress) on Jul 27, 2016 at 6:17pm PDT

Thank you KC for an amazing atmosphere last night!! Much love!! #RoadToRio❤️ #isiphotos @bradsmithimages

A photo posted by Ali Krieger (@akrieger11) on Jul 23, 2016 at 3:01pm PDT

My heart melted a little seeing this.. ❤️saaaaaacuteeeeee! #roadtorio #gameday #isiphotos:Brad smith

A photo posted by Morgan Brian (@moebrian) on Jul 22, 2016 at 11:54am PDT

Obrigado! Brushing up on my Portuguese with my @usabasketball teammates and @Cisco #RoadtoRio

A video posted by DeAndre Jordan (@deandrejordan6) on Jul 20, 2016 at 6:40pm PDT

Puppies. Everyone loves puppies. See more puppies here: http://bit.ly/PawsitivelyCute. @nbcolympics #RoadToRio #Repost

A photo posted by Nathan Adrian (@nathangadrian) on Jul 21, 2016 at 10:07am PDT

America, We Outtt. @alexmorgan13 #roadtorio

A photo posted by Allie Long (@allie_long_) on Jul 27, 2016 at 7:05pm PDT

#Repost @catchin24 with @repostapp ・・・ Only rt for @de11edonne to be leading the @usabasketball pack into @udbluehens gym! Catch the game vs France tonight at 730p on @nbatv & @Facebook! Gooooo USA!!! #SoBlessed #ChangingLives #Inspire #RoadToRio

A photo posted by Elena Delle Donne (@de11edonne) on Jul 27, 2016 at 10:50am PDT

Off to Brazil with the fam!!!!! #RoadToRio #7days

A photo posted by Lindsey Horan (@lindseyhoran11) on Jul 27, 2016 at 11:53am PDT

Last full day of training here! Leaving tomorrow! #RoadToRio #TeamUSA @ou_mgymnastics

A photo posted by Jake Dalton (@jake_dalton) on Jul 25, 2016 at 5:26pm PDT

Catching up with coach before a big day of training #earlymorning #RoadtoRio #OneCupAtATime #ad #Folgers #coffeelife

A photo posted by Allyson Felix (@af85) on Jul 26, 2016 at 8:40am PDT

A little over a year ago Shalane and Emily were begging Jerry to add some more women to the group… This year there are 7 BTC women going to the Olympics!!! We had to celebrate a little on our afternoon off yesterday #Bowermanbabes #photoshoot #altitudecamp #roadtoRio #Olympics2016 (not pictured: @sainabetsy)⚡️ : @aconroy4

A photo posted by Colleen Quigley (@steeple_squigs) on Jul 28, 2016 at 6:33am PDT

To you dad! My father was apart of the United States Marine Corps (Once a Marine always a Marine) and I thought and still think he was a superhero for putting his life on the line for us! I wanted to be him so bad that I decided to join the force and when I was done go into law Enforcement like he did! I didn't know I was going to find basketball like I did and I didn't know it would take me down a different path than I had plan! Well now I am able to wear USA across my chest and play for my country on the biggest stage there is! I am truly honored to be where I am right now! #USA #marineslittlegirl #marinecorps #RoadToRio

A photo posted by BrittneyGriner (@brittneygriner) on Jul 30, 2016 at 10:16pm PDT

A stadium full of fans cheering us on as we PRACTICE, a pool filled with swimmers working hard and encouraging each other, and a deck full of coaches helping us get better every day… It's AMAZING and an absolute HONOR to represent and be a part of TEAM USA #roadtorio #teamusa #camp

A photo posted by Allison Schmitt ❤️ (@arschmitty) on Jul 16, 2016 at 3:21pm PDT

We're off to the Olympic Games! Our #RoadtoRio part 1 video is up. To see what goes into getting us out the door, head to weareeaton.com. #weareeaton #endeavoralways #whatsyourgold #rio2016 #olympicgames #olympics #heptathlon #decathlon #travel #packing

A photo posted by Eaton (@weareeaton) on Jul 23, 2016 at 9:59am PDT

Some turn action for all the IMers out there #roadtorio vc: @russellmark1226

A video posted by Elizabeth Beisel (@ebeisel34) on Jul 25, 2016 at 10:47am PDT

So often we become so focused on the finish line, that we fail to enjoy the journey! ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf I hope this touches someone the way it did me this morning. Happy Monday loves! It's almost here! Countdown to Rio! ❤️ #MotivationMonday #NatashaHastings #400MDiva #RuleYourself #UARun #UAWomen #RoadToRio

A photo posted by Natasha Hastings (@natashahastings) on Jul 25, 2016 at 10:16am PDT

Huge thank you to @nike and @tiger_balm_us for supporting me on my Road to Rio. I don't take any of this journey for granted. Thank you @teamusa for allowing me to represent this great country on this amazing stage. @usatf #ilovemyjob #blessed #gatorspikes #nike #RoadToRio #triplejump

A photo posted by Christian Taylor (@taylored2jump) on Jul 27, 2016 at 4:08am PDT

2016 Olympic Wrestling team #teamusa #roadtorio

A photo posted by Helen Maroulis (@helen_maroulis) on Jul 20, 2016 at 4:00pm PDT

Finished the first day of our last week of training and preparation before sending our boys off to Rio. Just 1️⃣1️⃣ more days. #roadtorio #rio2016 #usavolleyball #mizuno #molten #volleyball #teamusa #12

A photo posted by Russell Holmes (@russellholmes12) on Jul 25, 2016 at 10:04pm PDT

The #roadtorio event in #venicebeach was AWESOME!!!! Sitting on stage with true legends of their sport is always @janet_evans @tonyazevedo8 #tamikacatchings THank you for having me @la2024 I'm so so eager to get to Rio & to do it right #golden ( @heffjobbs )

A photo posted by Kerri Walsh Jennings (@kerrileewalsh) on Jul 23, 2016 at 2:24pm PDT

Hard to believe our first training camp has come to an end! Loved rooming with this girl ☺️ on to the next one! #roadtorio #teamusa #tan @tyrsport : @russellmark1226

A photo posted by Kelsi Worrell (@kelsiwhirl) on Jul 20, 2016 at 10:28am PDT

Look out Rio, the Bowerman Babes are comin' for ya! #squad #roadtoRio

A photo posted by Courtney Frerichs (@courtneyfrerichs) on Jul 28, 2016 at 8:55am PDT

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How Facebook Sees How Thousands of Devices React to Code Changes

Why is there a wall featuring thousands of mobile devices, older and newer, in Facebook's data center in Prineville, Ore.? It's not there for decoration.

Facebook production engineer Antoine Reversat described how Facebook examines the impact of code changes on thousands of devices in a blog post.

Reversat wrote:

Initially, engineers tested code by running CT-Scan on a single device that they had at their desks. This didn't scale-we needed to be able to run tests on more than 2,000 mobile devices to account for all the combinations of device hardware, operating systems and network connections that people use to connect on Facebook. Today, in our Prineville data center, we have a mobile device lab-outfitted with a custom-built rack-that allows us to run tests on thousands of phones. The process of building a lab in our data center wasn't a direct path, and we learned a lot along the way as we worked to scale out the promise of CT-Scan.

However, before the mobile device lab came the sled, the gondola and the “slatwall.” Reversat explained:

Our first setup was “the sled.” On the sled, phones were placed on a metal rack, which slid into a metal case. When you slide a bunch of metal sleds into a metal rack, you end up with too much metal, and we lost all Wi-Fi.

Our second version was named “the gondola” and allowed us to deploy 100 devices for testing. The gondola was a plastic rack-which didn't interfere with the Wi-Fi-but the short length of the USB cables caused a lot of issues. The gondola was a tangled mess.

Next up, we built “the slatwall.” The slatwall took up an entire room, and we were able to deploy 240 devices. To accommodate 2,000 phones (our target number based on several factors, including the number of commits per week, the number of iterations needed per test to get statistically significant results, etc.), we'd need to scale to nine of these rooms in our Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters within a year. This wouldn't work, so we decided to move our mobile device lab into a data center.

For much more on the challenges faced by the team working on the mobile device lab in Prineville, as well as future plans, please see Reversat's blog post.

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The Iconfactory Launches BitCam Retro Camera App on iOS

Twitterrific company The Iconfactory released BitCam, a retro camera application for iOS. The app allows users to take black-and-white pictures in three pixel resolutions: Super-Res, Standard and FatBits.

The BitCam app allows users to take photos with their devices' rear and front-facing cameras. Users can also turn on an “Instaphoto Size” filter to take square pictures. While pictures will be in black-and-white by default, users can unlock color graphics via an in-app purchase.

BitCam's store description explained the inspiration behind the app:

BitCam is the digital camera you would have used on your mini pocket computer back in 1996. We made it to celebrate the Iconfactory's 20th anniversary of making cool things with pixels.

The design brief for this app was simple: “What would we design today given the constraints of the past?”

What we ended up with shows how much technology has improved since we first started writing software for Apple's products.

BitCam is available to download for free on the iTunes App Store.

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Customer-centric Marketing: How market research and listening to customers informs website optimization

At the heart of every test or optimization effort should be an informed hypothesis. However, best practices can lead us astray. So where can marketers find inspiration for their next experiment?

The answer often lies with our customers.

This week, our sister company MarketingSherpa has a team of reporters at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago, hosting the official Media Center of the ecommerce event.

Courtney Eckerle, Senior Managing Editor, MarketingSherpa, sat down with Matt Clark, Global Head of eCommerce and Digital Marketing, Newark element14, to discuss how marketers can watch and listen to their customers to discover pain points on their sites and in their purchase funnels.

 


Three steps to effective ecommerce sites

To start, Matt outlined three steps marketers should take to ensure their websites effectively serve customers:

Make it easy to find. Make it compelling to convert. Make it easy to use.

Matt shared an analogy that highlights the particular importance of that last step:

“It should be like a hotel where when you walk in, you know the light switch is on your right-hand side, the remote is on the table. If it's not like that, if it's not that seamless to a customer, you're going to lose some customers along the way.”

 

Three steps to make your website and optimization customer centric

Step 1. Conduct market/customer research

Matt said the team will put both the current web experience and a proposed experience in front of their ideal customers. The only instructions are to buy a particular item. The team then steps back and observes the unaided process.

“Pretty quickly you'll find that too many of the customers are doing things that you weren't expecting. … A lot of times you'll see you made pages too complex or put too many steps in where they lose interest,” he said.

 

Step 2. Listen to direct customer feedback

Matt said the team collects all customer feedback across their 40+ global websites.

“Each month … we go through all of the negative feedback. You'll see 'Your site's slow,' 'It's too hard to find something' or 'The registration process in Germany is consistently broken,'” Matt shared. “That hurts because they're kind of calling your baby ugly.”

While the process can hurt, it has become a valuable step in their strategy.

“It's on our calendars and it's a process we use consistently.”

 

Step 3. Visit call centers

The team also sits in at their call centers. This provides them insight into a multitude of areas customers seek help with. While some might be more product or service oriented, the team has learned of pain points they can directly address with email or site optimization.

“For instance, in our customer service group, we found that like 50% of their calls at times were based on 'I can't find my order status.'”

The team was able to take that feedback and make the order status more prominent in emails and on the website. By listening and addressing this need digitally, the call center can focus on other, more valuable customer activities.

“I think it's really about doing a little bit of research and really listening to customers consistently, like really listening – mostly to the bad stuff. The good stuff takes care of itself.”

To watch other interviews from the MarketingSherpa Media Center, visit our IRCE 2016 Media Page.

 

You might also like

Call for Speakers – Share your story for your chance to speak at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017

How to Construct a Customer-Focused Remarketing Campaign

Customer-centric Marketing: 3 landing page pitfalls to avoid

Inbound Marketing: How three IRCE attendees use social media and content to turn customers into brand enthusiasts [From MarketingSherpa]

E-commerce Marketing: Top takeaways from the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE

 

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Real humans

 Technology has many societal impacts, but perhaps one of its most visibly evident is how the tools we use change how we communicate with each other - so, literally, how technology rewrites language itself. Read More
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Daredevil just crossed the Atlantic in the most epic way

Well, that's one way to get an ab workout.

A South African man named Chris Bertish has just become the very first human being to cross the entire Atlantic Ocean on a stand-up paddleboard.

He made the fierce 4,050-mile journey alone at sea over 93 days, The Guardian reports, crossing from Agadir, Morocco to Antigua's English Harbor.

SEE ALSO: New coral reefs study finally gives us some good news

He stood, he paddled, and he prevailed, traveling an average of about 43 miles a day and pulling through an incredible 60 miles on one of the last days.

Of course crossing the second largest ocean in the world doesn't come without its challenges. Upon arriving in Antigua, Bertish said at a press conference that his last night was so intense, he didn't know if he'd survive. Read more...

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How Sermo increased the opt-in rate for a rented list by 197%

Are rented lists effective? What can I expect for a conversion rate on one? Are my emails even getting read when I rent a list?

These are all good questions, and the answer is…

It depends.

The best we can do is look at what other people have done and try to apply similar principles to our rented email list campaigns.

With that in mind, here's one campaign run by a company called Sermo. Sermo is a physicians-only social network that charges pharmaceutical companies for access to their audience.

It begins with a rented list from Fierce Pharma.

Sermo wanted to use some survey data that they had gathered from their audience as an opt-in offer for an audience of pharmaceutical companies.

Once the audience clicked on the download button, a pop up showed that asked for email and information.

Sermo ran several tests with single article emails, and the results came up inconclusive over and over again.

What they found, however, when they looked closely at the metrics of those tests is that each campaign's conversion rate varied widely.

That told the team that the main thing affecting the conversion rate on these emails was the content itself.

The team hypothesized that if they created a send with different content options in the same email, the opt-in rate might improve significantly. So they created a treatment email and tested it.

 

They found a significant increase in opt-in rates for people who clicked twice on the email (their most qualified prospects).

By examining the data in their rented list campaigns and creating an informed hypothesis, the team at Sermo was able to increase email capture rate by 197% on their most qualified prospects.

Here's the full case study for you to use in your own presentations…

Sermo Article Email Case Study from MECLABS Institute

You might also like:
Download the free Quick Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization
Are Letter-Style Emails Still Effective?
Email Messaging Test: 104% increase in conversion from rented list
Email Conversion and Lifecycle Messaging: How Marriott Rewards generated 86% more email-driven revenue

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Medium lays off 50 employees, shuts down New York and D.C. offices

 It's not the happiest new year at social publishing platform Medium, apparently. According to a blog post from its CEO Ev Williams, also co-founder of Twitter, the well-funded startup is laying off 50 employees in non-engineering roles and shuttering its offices in New York and Washington, D.C. Williams took the rosiest possible angle on changes happening at Medium, titling his… Read More
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Cats on Instagram wish you a meowy Christmas and a happy mew year

One of the saving graces of the holiday season and all the stress that comes with it, are those certain pet owners with iron wills and a love of costumes.

SEE ALSO: Watch this voguing Santa officially 'sleigh' Christmas

#ChristmasCatsOfInstagram is a hashtag that exists - for no other purpose than our pure enjoyment. And it's life changing - just see for yourself. 

There's really nothing like a disgruntled cat dressed as a Christmas elf to brighten one's spirits.

Two tails are better than one

The holidays are better when shared. Though to be fair, the joy of sharing is highly dependent on the company with whom one find themselves. Good thing for these cat duos, they go together like a daggy knitted sweater and holiday cheer. Read more...

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This humanitarian tells us how to stay real when you're Instagram famous

Turia Pitt is hilarious. She loves a laugh. And when she speaks, people listen.   

And it's not just because in 2011, she made headlines for miraculously surviving a Western Australian bushfire, leaving her in a coma with burns to almost 70 percent of her body. It's not just because she's now an unparalleled motivational speaker whose resilience has inspired people ever since her accident. 

It's because she's so damn real.   

SEE ALSO: Instagram's next big feature will be live video

Like most 29-year-olds, the mining engineer, humanitarian and athlete loves social media. But rather than comparing herself to other people or falling prey to Instagram fatigue, the Tahitian-born Aussie manages to strike the perfect balance - motivating people online while not being glued to her phone either.    Read more...

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Millennials Driving Change in Marketing, Media (Report)

Social media marketing has become a great disruptor, turning the industry on its head and redefining what it means to create success in marketing. However, the true disruption is more likely generational, with millennials taking a different approach than Madison Avenue baby boomers.

A report from video editing software provider Magisto examines how millennials influence marketing and what that means for the industry.

Millennial marketers are adapting to the changing market a lot faster than their baby boomer counterparts. Among the 500 small and midsized businesses surveyed, millennials spend 58 percent of their budget on digital media, compared with 14 percent of boomers. Similarly, 41 percent of millennials surveyed spend the bulk of their budget on mobile, compared with just 10 percent of boomers.

According to Magisto chief marketing officer Reid Genauer, the disparity is because many millennials are digital natives with a culture of innovation:

For them, digital and mobile-first marketing is not a shift but rather the natural order. Failing fast and being agile is not a concept: It's a way of being. Creating and publishing mobile-first content is not novel its central. By dissecting, adopting and tailoring a marketing playbook that has already been written by digital natives, legacy businesses can effect bold change with minimal risk.

Millennials recognize the power of social marketing, and it's a core aspect of their approach. 44 percent of all SMBs surveyed depend on social ads for brand awareness, yet the split between millennials and boomers is 68 percent to 27 percent, respectively. 41 percent also rely on social ads for revenue, and there's a similar split–60 percent to 27 percent.

Boomers also lag behind millennials when it comes to testing their marketing, innovation and embracing video marketing. Millennial markets have the edge on all fronts when it comes to creating and understanding the future of marketing. Spoiler alert: The future lies with video and social, not with print and television.

Check out the full report for more details.

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A deeper look into Twitter's history

Twitter has been in the headlines lately after a failed deal to sell the company to Salesforce and even rumors of a Disney bid. Get to know the company a little better with "Hidden History."

'Willy wanging' TV gaffe is another delightfully rude blooper

Blood Orange's mesmerizing 'I Know' video will lift you up

This 'Stranger Things' and Peanuts mashup is perfection

Watch Trump supporters attempt to say something nice for Hillary Clinton's birthday Read more...

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Instagram castrated Snapchat like Facebook neutered Twitter

 This is the strategy behind Instagram Stories. Snapchat invented a brilliant format for sharing day-to-day life: photo and video slideshows jazzed up with commentary that disappear after 24 hours so you'll share an unpolished window into what you see. It quickly eclipsed the popularity of Snapchat's 10-second exploding private messages, and made the app grow to 150 million daily… Read More
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8 Social Media Marketing Hacks to Boost Engagement

When it comes to effectively and meaningfully reaching your audience, I think it's pretty safe to say that all marketers understand the important role social media plays in that quest. Not only does your audience seem to live on social networks-posting vacation selfies and checking into newly opened restaurants-but they also rely on them for information, entertainment and engagement.

As a result, social media marketing has become a necessary tool for meeting your audience where they are. And it's all about creating a connection with your audience by encouraging them to engage with you and the quality, informative and entertaining content that you share.

Unfortunately, inspiring that consistent and meaningful engagement can be challenging at times, am I right?

First of all, you're competing hard for your audience's attention. I mean, everyone is on social media these days. According to the Content Marketing Institute and MarketProfs 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends-North America reports, 90% of B2C and 93% of B2B marketers say that social media is the most used content marketing tactic, outside of blogs. In addition, you may not have a social strategy in place or are working with limited resources, which can hinder your ability to maintain a consistent social presence.

But the good news is that there's several things you can do to give engagement a nice little boost. And the great news is that anyone can do them-and that's why we're calling them hacks.

So, without further ado, here are eight easy hacks that can lend your social media marketing strategy a hand and boost audience engagement.

#1 – Ask interesting and creative questions to get a conversation going.

One of the best ways to engage your audience, is to simply ask them to do so by posing thought provoking, interesting or creative questions. To get the best reach and to catch their eye, include a video or image with your question.

ModCloth is a popular women's clothing brand that offers vintage-inspired clothing and accessories for every body. They do a great job of showcasing their brand, while also encouraging audience engagement through questions. This Instagram post is sweet and simple. Going up just a week ago, it already boasts over 6,700 likes and 67 comments.

#2 – Conduct polls.

Polls are any easy and effective way to generate engagement because they don't require a lot of effort to participate in. They're also a fabulous way to get new information about your audience.

For example, TopRank Marketing's CEO Lee Odden conducts a weekly Twitter poll to engage his followers, as well as mine for interesting insights.

How many searches do you think there are on Google each month?

- Lee Odden (@leeodden) July 18, 2016

#3 – Tag and mention commenters, sharers or those you've collaborated with.

Tagging or mentioning other people or brands in your posts can lend credibility to your post, as well as notify those your tagging that they're being talked about and compel them to share with their audience.

If you're sharing content that could include multiple tags or mentions, don't go too overboard and try to fit them all in. This doesn't create a good user experience for your audience, nor does it give the people or brands you're mentioning enough credit. Instead create multiple, unique posts that are more personal and schedule them out over a few days.

#4 – Use hashtags.

This one may seem like a no-brainer to some, but it's definitely still worth mentioning. Hashtags help people find your social content, so including them where they're relevant is a must.

To find relevant hashtags, search social media networks natively or take a look at databases such as Hashatit or Hashtagify.me. Also, do some research on hashtag best practices for each social network, as they often vary.

#5 – Use compelling images and video.

It's been said before and I'll say it again: humans are visual creatures. In fact, research shows that an estimated 90% of the information that comes to our brains is visual. So, using interesting images and videos as part of your social media marketing strategy will get people to stop and look or watch.

Take advantage of opportunities to give your audience a sneak peek at new products or events. These types of posts often do well because you're inviting your audience to be a part of something unique.

# 6 – Use current events to spark timely engagement.

Interesting events and news items are never in short supply. Use them in a relevant way to spark conversation and encourage people to share their thoughts.

Take a look at the trending news topics sections on Twitter and Facebook to see what people are talking about. Google News is also a helpful spot to find interesting topics.

# 7 – Launch a cool contest.

While social media contests are a common engagement tactic, you can't argue their effectiveness when done right. Create a contest that is unique and easy for people to participate in.

As an example, Welter Heating, a family-owned HVAC company to put on a social media trivia contest, with the prize being a set of four front row tickets to an upcoming baseball game. The goal was to drive social awareness and engagement, as well as website traffic.

In the end, we saw a 166% increase in overall website traffic as compared to the same period the previous year.

If a contest makes sense for your brand, make sure that you abide by specific contest rules that are outlined by the different social networks to avoid any penalties.

#8 – Utilize social media management and engagement tools.

While the above seven hacks are easy and effective, they can only reach their full potential if you're consistently posting and engaged in what's happening on your pages. Social media management and engagement tools can be easily integrated into your daily routine. They typically give you a place to schedule your posts and also help you keep up on social activity, so you can respond quickly and keep conversations going.

There are a number of tools-both free and for a fee-out there. Some of those include: Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Sprinklr, Spredfast and Buffer. Choose the one that best matches with your budget, goals and the networks you're using.

All in all, there are dozens and dozens of things you can do to more effectively engage your audience. Hopefully, these hacks provide you with a place to start building your engagement efforts. Just remember, social media is all about building that relationship. So, be consistent, be creative and be compelling.

What are some of the social media marketing hacks that you use to boost engagement? Tell us in the comments section below.

Disclosure: Welter Heating is a TopRank Marketing client. 

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Why scientists think your social media posts can help prevent suicide

Take a moment to look at your emoji keyboard. Scroll through the angry face, ghost, stiletto, doughnut, flashlight and cigarette until you reach the hearts. 

There it is: love. Amid the mundane and humorous, those vibrant, colorful little shapes can easily become a rapid-fire display of affection to a friend, parent or partner. But notice, too, the broken and blue hearts, and their restrained reminders of sadness, loneliness or grief.

SEE ALSO: How to help someone who shares suicidal feelings online

It turns out that these little characters are more important than we could imagine. Linguists, psychologists and computer scientists are discovering that what we collectively share on social media, and when, can signal information about our mental health. Some of these researchers believe machine learning, algorithms and mathematical analysis can give health care providers tools to help solve one of our most intractable public health epidemics: suicide.  Read more...

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Storytelling, Emotional Engagement, and Conquering the Status Quo: An Interview with Lee Odden

“We make decisions emotionally and then justify them logically.” That statement is one of those unattributed, unattributable quotes that pops up everywhere from neuroscience to content marketing. There's probably a poster of it you can hang on your office door. Probably with a picture of an adorable kitten, or perhaps a whale jumping over a rainbow.

But behind the cliché is an undeniable truth for marketers: Emotions matter. Emotional engagement is crucial for any kind of marketing, from presenting at a conference to writing a long-form blog post. That kind of engagement requires more than just a passing understanding of your audience. It requires genuine empathy.

As CEO of TopRank Marketing, Lee Odden has spent over a decade learning how to foster exceptional empathy with an audience. Lee recently sat down with Ph Creative CEO Bryan Adams to talk about creating and amplifying emotionally engaging content. You can listen to the interview on Bryan's Getting Goosebumps: The Power of Storytelling podcast:

Read on for the takeaways from Bryan and Lee's discussion.

Public Speaking Is about More than the People in the Room

When you give a presentation, Lee says, keep two goals in mind:

Make a connection with the people in the room Optimize your presentation to connect with the thousands of people not in the room.

If you can inspire the audience in the room, they will share your message with their network, which grows your audience exponentially.

Keep that larger, hidden audience in mind when you create your presentation assets as well; make your visuals worth sharing and make them readily available after the presentation.

Marketing's Biggest Obstacle Is Often the Status Quo

Many buyer decisions are not choosing between multiple vendors, but choosing to take no action at all. Fear of the unknown and fear of change can make buyers wonder if the status quo is really so dire that it needs a shakeup.

It's up to the marketer to challenge the status quo on an intellectual and an emotional level, Lee says. Just citing the measurable benefits of making a change might not be enough to spur action. Instead, it's important to tell two stories: the story of what the buyer can accomplish with your solution-what their life will look like if they make a change-and the story of what will happen if they don't.

Make clear not only what they can gain from your solution, but what they lose sticking with the status quo. A combination of inspirational success stories and cautionary tales can be a powerful emotional motivator.

Find Your Ideal Audience and Really Learn Them

Lee suggests investing time in identifying your best possible buyer. That means going beyond just finding a target audience and really zeroing in on those who would be best to work with. Turn your marketing magnifying glass around and try telling yourself the story of your ideal buyer.

Once you nail down the specific buyers to pursue, go deep. According to Lee, too often brands focus on what they think the market needs to know about their brand, disregarding their audience's deeply-felt needs. So take time to learn their goals, their pain points, the questions they ask. Let their needs drive your creation of best-answer content. It's the only way to engage on an emotional level with any authenticity.

Let Your Audience Research, Not Trends, Drive Your Content

Marketers have a tendency to focus on the newest magic bullet that promises to work for any audience. While some of these new tactics can be effective, not every tactic is right for every audience. Lee cautions against pursuing a particular channel just because it's the next big thing.

For example, video content is a great way to make an emotional connection with your buyer-if your buyer is interested in watching videos from your brand. If they prefer blog posts and you're sending them YouTube playlists, you may fail to engage completely.

The most important thing is to do that audience research that tells you where your audience is, what they want to hear, how they search for information, and how they consume content.

Great SEO Is Transparent

Another advantage of creating content based on smart research is that it has SEO baked into it. Think of keywords as more than little phrases with numbers after them that indicate search volume. Keywords signify intent, Lee says. They provide insight into the mind of the buyer, letting you know exactly what language will resonate with them.

Smart research enables you to create content that speaks your target audience's search language. Which gives you good SEO without compromising readability or sounding stiff.

Co-Create Content to Preload Promotion

The old marketing model is to create content, then create a plan to amplify it. Lee recommends co-creating content to have a base level of amplification built in. That doesn't mean just including influencers in your content, though. You can co-create with your internal staff, all of whom have their own networks. Or existing customers that have already invested in your brand.

Or, for a more radical approach, you can co-create content with potential customers. It's a strategy that has worked well for us in the past, and we continue to pursue this kind of creative partnership. Essentially, you create an emotional bond by co-creating something awesome. You get the amplification benefits of influencer marketing, plus you establish a relationship you can nurture to turn a potential client into a paying customer. 

Empathy Begins with Knowledge

All of the ways Lee and our team engage an audience emotionally start with a deep understanding of that audience. Without genuinely taking an interest in their wants and needs, we wouldn't be able to empathize with them in a real and affecting way. Once you have the kind of empathy that comes with deep understanding, it will inform every part of your content strategy, from SEO to amplification.

Need help creating content that moves your audience TopRank Marketing can help!

Header image via Ph.Creative. 

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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2016. | Storytelling, Emotional Engagement, and Conquering the Status Quo: An Interview with Lee Odden | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Storytelling, Emotional Engagement, and Conquering the Status Quo: An Interview with Lee Odden appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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