How to Get Twitter Followers FAST

posted on 12 May 2015 15:49 by womanlycity6183
The Startup WorldRecently I took a dive to the startup world. In the United States, there\'s simply no other site that folks would use to share their vacation photos, pictures from their bands\' shows, their wedding photos, pictures of their kids, and also pictures of their lunch. In the United States, there is certainly simply no other site that people would use to share with you their vacation photos, pictures from their bands\' shows, their wedding photos, pictures of their kids, and even pictures of their lunch. I can remember when photos were introduced and it was a totally new ball game, previously profile pictures were the sole pictures about the site.

In the past, E-mail marketers were in a position to supply the impression of the personalized e-mail with rudimentary techniques such as addressing the recipient by his first name, but nowadays there are approaches to add much more personal touches such as past interactions, favorite products, and random preferences. As time passes, even one of the most enduring forms of promoting will have to evolve and give method to more effective ones or risk being left within the dust. As time passes, even probably the most enduring forms of marketing will have to evolve and give way to more effective ones or risk being left in the dust. It allows just about anyone to share information via messages, videos, and images. This is an age-old concept in advertising, plus it works especially well on photo sharing platforms because what inside a caption are enough to explain the tale within the photo.

This point goes hand-in-hand with determining your niche, as your chosen topic will dictate for you the sort of person that is going to become interested inside your content. publishing your Tweets to Facebook, or posting your Instagram photos to your Twitter stream, etc. Though, Google is trying to change that as quickly as possible. Though, Google is attempting to change that as fast as possible. In this guide, you will discover how to promote your podcast.

How to Make Money Using Twitter: a Complete guide To Twitter Marketing And Monetization (Get More Twitter Followers And Make More Sales Online With Social Media, Sell More, Web Traffic)Amazon Price:. You could probably drill even deeper. The human voice s a sudden connection together with your listeners that blog posts or articles simply can\'t. You could probably drill even deeper. Social Media.

So how are you going to accomplish that?. . . Making a fantastic product is only half the battle, now you\'ve to get it out for the world and show it to people. It\'s one of my favorites.

The Content Strategist Strategist

posted on 22 Apr 2015 13:58 by womanlycity6183
The Content Strategist StrategistHow ING Built Europe's 'Best Branded Web Mag' in Just One YearWhy Are Brands Suddenly Embracing 4/20?Infographic: 2015's Biggest Content Marketing TrendsMap: How Manhattanites See New YorkContent Marketing's Future Is in the Hands of Two Groups, and They're Not TalkingContent Catchup: Our Secret ROI Formula, Social's Surprising New Weapon, and More Must-ReadsTagging Content: The Simple Thing Most Brands Get WrongStory Hackers: How the Hottest Startups in Silicon Valley Are Using Content to Fuel Their GrowthThink With Google: How the Search Giant's Online Mag Is Schooling MarketersThe Ultimate Content Marketer's Guide to Syndication and Licensed ContentThe Hot New Weapon in the Social Platform Wars: ContentBrian Grazer and Ron Howard Are Making a TV Series for GEWhat Gallup's Most Admired People List Tells Us About ForgivenessHow We Calculate the ROI of Our Content Marketing--in One Duck-Themed TaleTellUsYourStory Tumblr Reveals the Tone-Deaf Social Media Strategy Brands Use Way Too MuchContent Down Under: Aussie Bank ANZ Kicks Back and Lets Content Propel Its Marketing7 Pieces of Tech That Will Make You More ProductiveContent Catchup: Amex Raises the Bar for Brand Storytelling, Content Marketing Soulmates, and More Must-ReadsJason Nash Is Kickstarting the First Vine Feature Film, and He Might Just Pull It OffWhat the Hell Is a Microsite and Why Do I Need One?Contently Comic: The First MarketersThe 10 Best Songs in AdvertisingContent Express: How Amex Raised the Bar for Longform Brand Storytelling7 Things Marketers Should Know About Working With Journalists25 Stats Content Marketers Need to Know Content marketing industry news and analysis, by Contently Tue, 21 Apr 2015 21:58:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mon, 20 Apr 2015 21:43:52 +0000

Meet the brand magazine structured similarly to "This American Life."

The post How ING Built Europe's 'Best Branded Web Mag' in Just One Year appeared first on The Content Strategist.


A little more than a year ago, the Dutch bank ING Group decided it needed to change the magazine it had been giving shareholders.

The magazine, published in print and transposed to the web, was the sort of inwardly-focused corporate publication going out of fashion these days. The content was almost exclusively about ING, and the opinion pages served as a platform for the bank's senior leaders to opine on global trends--regardless of whether those trends fell under their areas of expertise.

Instead, Head of External Communications Egmont Philips and his team chose to embrace a new format, one that put both the digital experience and the reader first. In May 2014, the company, a digital quarterly magazine that broadened the editorial scope to include thoughtful analysis of the business world at large. In doing so, ING has been able to reach an audience beyond the small slice of highly-interested shareholders who used to read the old print magazine. In fact, the sleek, insightful publication now sees up to 35,000 unique visitors per issue and recently won an award for being Europe's best branded web magazine.

"By revamping our magazine, we have attracted a completely different audience, which was our target, and the reach has been higher as well," Philips said. "Basically, we were surprised by its success. We had hoped it would work, but we actually have had greater reach than we had aimed for."

The new publication, published in both English and in Dutch, is structured similarly to the popular public radio program "This American Life," as each issue has a theme that is explored from several angles.

For instance, the theme of the most recent issue of is "family," a topic delved into with a feature story on how important family businesses are to the economy, and an interview with the Dutch psychologist Frans de Waal comparing the way humans and animals relate to their respective family members.

Each issue is released alongside ING Group's quarterly financial results and includes both a roundup of ING news and a video interview with CEO Ralph Hamers. Philips said the magazine's primary goal is to help its readers get ahead in their lives and in business.

By choosing broad topics and exploring them from angles that don't always have to do with finance, is able to provide readers with content that is relevant to their interests even if they are not ING customers or lack financial literacy.

"There's different content, and different audiences start by reading different articles," Philips said. "It's a bit like how a painter has a palette with different colors and blends it into one painting. That's how we do it as well."

From a visual standpoint, the publication relies on large photos, white space, and a clean, responsive design to pull the reader into an experience that feels somewhat shielded from the rest of the white noise of the Internet.

Each issue is crafted by two ING employees--who also have other responsibilities at the firm--and two employees from the creative agency Born05. Some of the articles are written in-house, while others are done by freelancers. ING Group's central corporate office in Amsterdam, which publishes, works with the regional offices in the 12 countries it has retail banks to make sure the magazine does not interfere or contradict with the content each office is producing locally.

For instance, the head office is responsible for and press releases, but the company's retail banking branch in Belgium is responsible for the print content found in its offices and online packagesthat educate customers about the different financial tools they will need for life milestones such as going away to college or buying a house.

When it comes to distribution, the company's primary tools are its website and social media. In addition to the organic reach of its owned channels, ING amplifies its social distribution by asking employees and influencers featured in the magazine to share the publication from their personal accounts.

ING will also pay to seed its content in targeted LinkedIn groups that have members interested in finance. The company, at one point, tried placing banner ads for on a Dutch financial news site, but while the effort drew lots of clicks, most of the readers left the site almost immediately. This last bit is important because the bank considers attention time a crucial metric for determining the success of its content.

According to Dagmar van der Plas, an ING senior advisor who manages the publication's distribution strategy, strives to keep its audience members on the page for at least two minutes. Otherwise, it's unlikely the reader will have had time to absorb a typical story.

The amount of time someone spends on a piece of content is the difference between whether ING successfully engaged with the reader or merely communicated with him.

"When you communicate, you spread your message and that's about it, but to reach a real engagement with your reader, you have to be really at the heart of what they want to hear from you," van der Plas said. "Our profession is 'communications,' but I believe more in 'engaging,' so I would prefer to be called an 'engagement manager' rather than a 'communication manager.'"

By the looks of things, ING is succeeding in developing a base of readers that do, in fact, want to engage with its content. According to its internal metrics, the publication is getting more than three times as many readers per issue as the old magazine, and an impressive 60 percent of those readers return to the magazine a second time.

In a corporate culture, it can be tough for a company to take a step back and make such a drastic overhaul to its marketing strategy. But ING is a great example of what can happen when content informs the reader rather than just promoting a company's services. And as ING continues to build long-term relationships with consumers, it can now bank on content to drive its business forward.

The post How ING Built Europe's 'Best Branded Web Mag' in Just One Year appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Tue, 21 Apr 2015 21:01:26 +0000

Pepsi, Spotify, and more are getting in on the reefer madness.

The post Why Are Brands Suddenly Embracing 4/20? appeared first on The Content Strategist.


The nation's attitude towards marijuana is changing, and with that, we're starting to see more brands let loose and embrace cannabis culture.

Just a few years ago, we were hard-pressed to find a ton of brands acknowledging April 20, a.k.a. Weed Appreciation Day. But this year, major brands like Pepsi, Spotify, and HBO came out in droves to drum up engagement around the big day on Twitter.

Many content marketers still suffer through layers of legal and PR restrictions to get a simple white paper published. So how did these big brands get away with maybe-kinda-sorta encouraging their audiences to smoke weed?

Alec Rochford, CEO of Duby, a social networking app for cannabis enthusiasts and medical marijuana patients, has been particularly invested in this shift of attitude.

"If you think about the fact that almost 10 percent of the country consumes cannabis--depending on what industry you service--you could have a lot of cannabis consumers in [your audience]," Rochford told me.

He pointed to the gradual legalization of marijuana--especially for medical purposes--in the U.S. as a reason why we're starting to see the media present weed as more acceptable.

"Over the last year, since it's gone legal in Colorado and few other states, you're seeing people starting to be open about cannabis that you would never expect to consume it, and I think that that is right in line with brands starting to come out and talk about it," he said. "And it's not just brands that are in cannabis, but we're seeing it with outside brands and a lot of larger brands now. I think that they're slowly starting to come out."

Major social platforms are also aiding this trend, with moderators becoming more lax about posts and pages that promote cannabis use. For example, Rochford noted that Facebook and Instagram have started to allow more cannabis businesses to create pages, whereas in the past, they just got shut down.

In fact, if it weren't for Apple's ease of attitude towards marijuana use, Rochford could have never launched Duby.

"Apple wasn't allowing cannabis apps," he said. For example, Apple kicked MassRoots, an social network app for cannabis users, out of the Apple store for a couple of months. But recently, they were brought back in. "They wouldn't have allowed us to launch there four months ago, but now they are allowing us."

Rochford's app invites anonymous users to "light up" a new Duby in the form of a picture, video, or text post, and pass the message to a designated number of anonymous users nearby. The more influence you have (based on popularity of posts), the more users your message gets passed to. Taking a page from Tinder, Duby users can swipe left to "put out" a Duby and swipe right to keep it spreading across the map.

While Rochford doesn't plan to monetize his app just yet, he has seen a good deal of brands create accounts on the platform in just the two weeks since it launched. These brands are, of course, mostly marijuana dispensaries like Weed Maps, Stoner Daze, and Bud Puff. But now that brands like Ben Jerry's and HBO are comfortable playing up 4/20 on social media, could they one day produce content for an app like Duby?

Down the road, Rochford says he could monetize his app by posting certain brands' ads in certain locations to target users who might be interested in their products. Given that the app is already accessible to users in Canada, the Netherlands, Jamaica, Guam, the Virgin Islands and the 23 U.S states with medical marijuana laws, there are no shortage of audiences to engage with.

Until that happens, we'll continue to marvel at how comfortable brands felt to joke about marijuana use on social media. And, oh, did I say brands? I meant police departments.

Screenshot (6)

The post Why Are Brands Suddenly Embracing 4/20? appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Tue, 21 Apr 2015 16:27:32 +0000

We still don't have flying cars, but we do have some fascinating trends.

The post Infographic: 2015's Biggest Content Marketing Trends appeared first on The Content Strategist.


Earlier this year, we tried to help you sound wiser at your next meeting by offering 10 content marketing predictions for 2015 from the pros. And now, with 2015 almost halfway through (and still no flying cars), we're starting to see just how accurate some of those forecasts were.

Visually and JBH offer some insights into the state of content marketing with a new infographic that includes stats from marketers and tips for boosting your content strategy.

The first prediction from our article, that content marketing budgets would reach record highs, seems to be accurate thus far. As visualized in the infographic, 50 percent of B2C marketers plan to increase their budgets this year. Why? Because content marketing has become the most commercially important marketing trend of 2015, with almost 30 percent of marketers saying it's the most crucial strategy for driving results.

Marketers are also understanding how to get the most value out of the content by engaging audiences with helpful and/or entertaining information. With that in mind, it's no surprise that the top goal for marketers in 2015 is to build customer relationships and loyalty.

For a few industry leaders like HubSpot, KISSmetrics, and Moz, building those relationships is contingent on maintaining a top-notch blog. HubSpot reportedly receives 37 percent of traffic share from its blog, whereas only 13 percent of traffic is flowing to their homepage. Likewise, KISSmetrics receives a whopping 70 percent of traffic share to its blog, which features a healthy mixture of articles, marketing tips, and infographics.

To feel even smarter about your content strategy, scroll through the whole infographic below.

The post Infographic: 2015's Biggest Content Marketing Trends appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Mon, 20 Apr 2015 18:05:44 +0000

Based on precise mathematical data.

The post Map: How Manhattanites See New York appeared first on The Content Strategist.


*Based on precise mathematical data.

The post Map: How Manhattanites See New York appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Mon, 20 Apr 2015 15:44:17 +0000

The rapid growth of content marketing has left many initiatives living in silos--disconnected from a brand's broader content strategy.

The post Content Marketing's Future Is in the Hands of Two Groups, and They're Not Talking appeared first on The Content Strategist.


Over the last four years at Contently, we've seen content marketing go from something no one was talking about, to something brands found interesting (but not worthy of much budget), to the #1 digital priority for brands. To say money is now pouring into content marketing would be an understatement. It's happening now from all sides, from inside the CMO's office and through their agency partners alike.

Lasting content marketing success requires more than writing a check, however, and the rapid growth of content marketing has left many initiatives living in silos--disconnected from a brand's broader content strategy.

Nowhere is this more true than the gulf between those responsible for formulating and enacting a brand's long-term content strategy (usually someone in the CMO's office), and those responsible for getting that content in front of the right audience (the media agency).

Why is this a problem? Well, as the industry inevitably moves beyond "check the box" mode--where just doing some form of content marketing is enough to show progress--to more mature programs that require real business results to justify the expense--it will be necessary to break down the silos in order to build content marketing programs that really work.

Here are a few areas where we've seen our customers succeed in bridging this gap:

1. Agency cooperation

Having a brand's agencies as the driving force behind content strategy and adoption helps generate a holistic strategy. When PR, media and creative agencies collaborate on content strategy, it means all the bases (creation and distribution) can be covered from the outset.

2. Media agencies moving beyond campaign-based thinking

The true power of content marketing is building owned audiences--putting the brand in a position where it's connecting directly with its potential customers, instead of relying on the traditional media properties of old. The infrastructure now exists for media buyers to drive traffic to owned properties at scale, it simply represents a change in thinking.

3. Brands fostering a culture of content

The content teams that sit within the brands can do a better job of packaging up their content and making it available to their agency partners. There are tools that can help them do this, but it's also about fostering a culture of content and evangelizing their work internally. Long-term, it's going to take buy-in at the highest levels.

Content marketing is here to stay--but content without proper distribution can't be effective, nor can distribution work without a coherent content strategy. The best content marketers will find a way to bridge the gap.

Joe Coleman is the CEO of Contently.

The post Content Marketing's Future Is in the Hands of Two Groups, and They're Not Talking appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Fri, 17 Apr 2015 19:34:37 +0000

Here's what you missed while wondering whether your cost-of-living raise will take into account your growing fondness for happy hour gin and tonics.

The post Content Catchup: Our Secret ROI Formula, Social's Surprising New Weapon, and More Must-Reads appeared first on The Content Strategist.


Here's what you missed while wondering whether your cost-of-living raise will take into account your growing fondness for happy hour gin and tonics...

For many content marketers, the only thing more terrifying than ROI is the lingering image of that time Steve from accounts had seven too many drinks and decided to show you his very--um, personal--tattoo. But fear not. Contently VP of Content Sam Slaughter is here to let you in on the secret of how we tie each piece of our content to hard revenue figures. Read it.

All your favorite platforms are gearing up for their next big battle for your attention, with content as the weapon that's changing the game:

There's a fundamental shift underway. Social media used to be about technology platforms that connected you with friends and got out of the way. But now, the world's biggest platforms are increasingly trying to keep your attention with extra content. After all, that content might be better than what your friends are offering. It's not that your friend's seventh blurry Snapchat message from the bar isn't interesting, it's just that National Geographic snapped you and--my god--that bear is amazing. Read it.

HBO's Silicon Valley gets a lot right about the startup world out west--the social awkwardness, the brogrammers, the insane VC rat race--but the one thing it's missing? A whole bunch of content marketers. That's because, as Tessa Wegert reports, the hottest companies in the cradle of innovation are getting a leg up on the competition in old-school fashion--through print mags and other content. Read it.

In his latest epic post, Shane Snow takes us through the history of syndication and what it means for content marketers today.

My personal interest in syndication stems in part from my own company, where we help brands become publishers of education and entertainment in order to build loyal audiences. (We provide software tools and freelance talent to create original content, engage readers and viewers on the web, and optimize the process over time.) As our business has grown from three guys in coffee shops to 80 employees and the world's largest network of freelance journalists, we've debated: Should we get into syndicated content, helping brands like Coca-Cola to license articles from traditional publishers like CNN? Or should we stick to helping brands just do original content? Read it.

Have a stupendous, beer garden-filled weekend. We'll see you Monday.

The post Content Catchup: Our Secret ROI Formula, Social's Surprising New Weapon, and More Must-Reads appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Thu, 16 Apr 2015 15:55:37 +0000

The simple act of using tags and tracking their performance is often enough to get content marketers a seat at the big table.

The post Tagging Content: The Simple Thing Most Brands Get Wrong appeared first on The Content Strategist.


In meeting after meeting, I run across content marketers who worry that their work isn't being taken seriously by the rest of the company. I like to give them an analogy to explain why:

Imagine that you've just been named the CRO of your company, and you're trying a lot of new tactics to grow the business--hiring new people, opening new offices, or changing the price of your product. After a month or two, it would be reasonable for others to ask how each move affected the company's bottom line. If you can't answer with quantitative results, you're left to conjecture--which, in our data-driven world, is a fast track to getting fired.

Unfortunately, this is how a lot of marketers are treating their content strategies; do a lot of things, but then only look at the total end result. In a way, this is understandable; content marketing is still new, and there's a lot of debate about the best way to measure its effectiveness. Marketers are rightfully wary of investing time in the wrong content measurement strategy, but I've found that many are shooting themselves in the foot before they even get started.

Time and again, we see that there's a simple, overlooked fix that produces huge results: tagging content is the foundation for successful content marketing operations.

You may be thinking that you can put this off--perhaps content isn't a company priority, your operation is small-scale, no staff to backfill--but having a robust taxonomy can solve all three of those problems. It helps you demonstrate that content is supporting key business goals, compare content's value in cross-channel campaigns, and optimize what your staff works on. The simple act of using tags and tracking their performance is often enough to get content marketers a seat at the big table.

Creating an effective taxonomy isn't easy, but it's not rocket science either. It's important to know that at the start, you're going to be wrong, and that's okay! To cover the basics, considering the following categories: topic, type of content (by length, media type, etc.), audience (potential buyers, info-seekers, advocates), marketing campaigns (if you have multiple messages in digital), and business themes/goals (leads, signups, awareness).

It's that simple. At the end of the quarter or month or week, check the results. For those that have been riding their intuition, the results can be shocking: what you thought was a great recurring topic or format may turn out to be a dud, while another may be surprisingly effective. But the important thing isn't what's performing--it's that you're accountable.

That's the only way content marketers are going to get the budgets to play with the big boys.

The post Tagging Content: The Simple Thing Most Brands Get Wrong appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Thu, 16 Apr 2015 15:37:18 +0000

Content marketing can get a startup out of the blocks--and on the track to growth--fast.

The post Story Hackers: How the Hottest Startups in Silicon Valley Are Using Content to Fuel Their Growth appeared first on The Content Strategist.


When people look at Silicon Valley, they probably associate startups with billion-dollar valuations, whimsical company t-shirts, office foosball tables, and technology products. And to some extent, these tropes ring true, which makes it easy to lump together tech companies under an umbrella of stereotypes.

But beneath the surface, many of these startups have unique stories worth sharing with their customers. What's the appeal? Original media assets help startups gain the exposure, traffic, and trust they need to ensure a steady trajectory of growth. In other words, content marketing can get a startup out of the blocks--and on the track to growth--fast.

If you lined up Uber, Airbnb, and Buffer, they'd all have one thing in common: They've fueled their growth with compelling content.

Driving home engagement

At first glance, it might seem odd for Uber to invest in a print magazine--until you understand just how important drivers are to the company's culture.

In March, Uber launched Momentum specifically for its 150,000 drivers. Since the company expanded to 210 new cities last year and is currently adding 50,000 new drivers per month, those workers can now learn about Uber's new markets, read about some of the company's very first drivers, and learn how to stay healthy while working on the road.

Travis Kalanick, Uber's co-founder and CEO, once told Fortune, "In the beginning, (Uber) was a lifestyle company." Though Uber has since been referred to as everything from the "future of logistics" to "the family chauffeur," its focus on lifestyle has remained consistent.

Since Uber drivers come from all walks of life, the company has the chance to tell some incredible stories just by looking within and profiling its employees and satisfied customers. Take a video like, "Why uberX Is so Popular in Australia," for example, which follows a freelance CEO, a radio personality, and a model as the trio travels around Sydney in car driven by an uberX driver who's working toward financing his upcoming wedding.

In addition to the print magazine, Uber has made video a priority. Its YouTube channel is brimming with creative content that's split in categories like The Uber Experience, Spotlight on Uber Cities, and Behind the Wheel. Clips profile driver partners, demonstrate value through interviews with global users, and showcase corporate social responsibility efforts. They're also used to get potential customers interested in the service, which is now worth an estimated $40 billion.

One element that sets Uber apart from other startups is its appeal to celebrities, who can use the premium service as an alternative to limos and cabs. The company has taken advantage of this unique position by teaming with celebrities for its videos. For instance, Uber recently documented the adventure that ensued when impromptu uberX driver and world-renowned musician Deadmau5 picked up Toronto passengers in his McLaren.

These tales are helping Uber connect with new customers and stay relevant with existing customers. After all, the relationship between a taxi driver and a passenger is very distinct; both parties have to share a small space for a short amount of time. To call attention to that in a positive way requires a commitment to content. And Uber's content team has shown the ability to use these uncommon relationships to tell personal stories, one fare at a time.

Making room for storytelling

Like Uber, Airbnb, the hospitality service that helps travelers find rooms from local hosts, has an insanely large audience of people that come from all over the world. Plenty of people have stories about their homes, or where they stayed on vacation, so it wasn't a surprise when Airbnb started using those stories of adventure and hospitality to market its services.

The company's content strategy might best be described as "more is more." In the past three years alone, it has created a series of neighborhood guides; released close to a dozen Economic Impact Studies displaying its positive effect on cities; created a groundbreaking crowdsourced Vine; released several short films; and launched Pineapple, a quarterly print magazine targeting both hosts and guests.

Pineapple is designed in-house in the style of a traditional print magazine, full of glossy photo spreads that highlight vibrant places people visit around the world. But to be clear, it's not just a blatant marketing brochure that runs fluff pieces about the best places to stay in each city. As Christopher Lukezic, the magazine's publisher, told Fipp: "This isn't a magazine about homes, it's about the connections that our community makes in the environments where they live or travel. For us, print was the perfect medium to tell these stories."

The latest issue of Pineapple includes longform stories that look at London, Seoul, and San Francisco. Putting together a print publication that runs 128 pages required an immense amount of collaboration. "We... enlisted excellent writers, photographers and illustrators, all very local to each city," Lukezic added. "The process has brought together people from different departments within Airbnb, from the photo, video and design teams to those working on social policy."

Besides Pineapple, Airbnb also runs Stories, a microsite that profiles hosts and travelers with video profiles from within the community, going in-depth to reveal motivations for why certain people have opened up their homes or, conversely, decided to uproot their lives and travel the world with Airbnb.

Clearly, there is a lot of interest on both sides of the company's business model. A recent Barclays research report predicts Airbnb could be booking 129 million room-nights per year by 2016, a mere eight years after the service launched. People will always want to travel and explore new areas, and as long as Airbnb is dedicated to connecting hosts and sellers, there will be plenty more stories to tell.

A buffer for connection

A broad variety of storytelling has served Airbnb well, but are there benefits to taking a more contained approach? Buffer, startup that helps people use social media more effectively, is proving there are.

The social media company only has 29 employees, but now has over 2 million registered users. With such a small team, Buffer's chief customer acquisition methods are blogging, video, social media, and "excellent customer support."

Buffer differentiates itself from other content marketers by producing videos that adopt a relatable, laid-back style. In part, that's out of necessity. The company's use of employee-generated content allows it to skirt geographical constraints. A video might consist of a one-on-one conversation about business transparency, one of Buffer's core values. Or it might feature social marketing tips filmed inside a team member's home.

Because Buffer ranks substance and a chummy tone above upscale production quality, there's an added gain: The company's hustle and passion shines through.

"I think that enthusiasm makes a difference," said Courtney Seiter, Buffer's head of content marketing. "[Our informality] feels like a good match to the personal attention that we try to show our audience on social media and on the blog, where we hope they get to know Buffer not as a company, but as a team of individuals."

That blog has proven indispensable. Buffer uses it to share helpful content and demonstrate thought leadership. Social media management tips are interspersed with interviews, like those featuring Rand Fishkin, co-founder of software company Moz.

Buffer also gives old evergreen posts new life by promoting them on Facebook and Twitter. When the startup asked new users how they heard about the company, between 30 and 40 percent of respondents pointed to a Buffer blog post. And according to Seiter, 8,686 of Buffer's signups from the last month came directly from the blog.

In the future, Buffer plans to focus on producing more video and possibly a podcast. Whatever they do, remember that you don't need a team of hundreds or thousands to create meaningful content. As long as you focus on building a following with high quality content that targets an audience in a meaningful way, customers will take notice.

"Our North Star is to ask, 'Would the reader email this article to someone, like their friend or coworker?'" Seiter said. "If it doesn't provide that level of quality in terms of educational value or actionable tactics and strategies, we don't publish it until it does."


As the publishing operations at Uber, Airbnb, and Buffer show, content marketing is helping Silicon Valley brands both large and small take their businesses to the next level. Whether the product is a taxi-service app or a social media tool, there's a good chance the company that built the product has a story to tell. And making the conscious effort to tell those stories with owned media properties is how smart companies are building long-lasting relationships with consumers.

Startups out West may be known for being callow, but as consumers get to know them from the inside and hear their respective stories, that's all going to change for good.

The post Story Hackers: How the Hottest Startups in Silicon Valley Are Using Content to Fuel Their Growth appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Thu, 16 Apr 2015 15:15:19 +0000

Google graciously pulls back the curtain on its data dominance.

The post Think With Google: How the Search Giant's Online Mag Is Schooling Marketers appeared first on The Content Strategist.


As someone who writes about content marketing, I've always wanted to have the opportunity to pick Google's brain. The data piling up from all all of our searches reveals so much about who we are and what we care about that most marketers would seriously consider giving up their champagne iPhones for good if it meant being able to peek behind the curtain.

Thankfully, none of us will have to make such sacrifices.

Google is very secretive about some details--its search algorithm is locked up tighter than Fort Knox--but for marketers, the company has been surprisingly forthcoming. Key to this outreach has been its publication Think with Google, launched in 2013, which covers some (keyword: some) of the most pressing content trends on the Internet.

Since then, Google has built up a stockpile of data-driven content on the site and paired it with a very clean design. You won't find any think pieces or hot takes. What you will find, however, is a mixture of articles, infographics, and data visualizations that break down emerging marketing trends across industries. For example, you can read about how evolving user behavior has affected NCAA tournament search traffic over time in "More Fans, More Moments: Basketball Madness Begins" and then scroll down to check out "The Changing Face of B2B Marketing," which goes over myths and realities for today's B2B marketer.

As Allison Mooney, Think with Google's editor-in-chief and the head of trends and insights for Google Marketing, told me over email: "We spoke with a lot of our partners about how we could best help them access the same data, analysis, and insights that inform our own strategies, and Think With Google was a result of those conversations."

To package that data for an audience of agency and brand decision makers, Mooney works with marketing, sales, data, and research teams at Google to come up with story ideas. Every idea needs a content brief that synthesizes the most important information--like who an article is specifically targeting and what metrics are most important for this particular piece--and makes it easy for the editorial team to evaluate. According to Mooney, once an idea gets approved, it takes about seven weeks to go through the editorial and legal approval processes before it can run on the site.

What makes Think with Google so interesting is how proactive the search giant has been in terms of helping out advertisers. Historically, Google has been much more of a gatherer than a sharer. It can easily just sit back, take its cut from brands, and keep user data to itself. Its total ad revenue for 2014 topped $59 billion, which buys a lot of pia coladas.

Nonetheless, publishing an editorial site full of marketing insights makes a lot sense for Google. If the company can arm content marketers with insider information that helps them create better content, that will ultimately boost its bottom line since it will be able to charge more for high-quality ad products (and ideally have more people click on those ads).

A prime example of the data Google uses to guide advertisers is the site's hallmark series, a YouTube ads leaderboard, published monthly. The leaderboard details the 10 most popular ads for a given month, how many views they racked up, and the creative agencies that produced them.

With video content set to dominate the coming years, the leaderboard offers a useful snapshot of which brands and ad styles are making the most impact on consumers. If you look at the list every month, certain trends start to get clearer. For example, even though one might expect shorter clips to appeal to the most viewers, the videos that make the most impact have actually gotten longer. Mooney said that the 10 most popular ads on Youtube in 2014 lasted an average of three minutes each, which was almost a 50 percent increase from the year before. The most effective ads on Youtube are hardly ads at all. They're more like short films--a supremely valuable piece of information for those tasked with content creation and ad buys.

Mooney also points out the importance of creator know-how for video content, referencing the successful partnership between Purina Friskies and BuzzFeed that led to the "Dear Kitten" cat videos--the first of which now has over 20 million hits on YouTube.

In 2015, understanding what consumers want from their advertisements is all about data. At this point, basing marketing off of intuition is little more than an outdated stereotype. That's why a site like Think with Google has so much value.

"Our users are generally in two 'modes' when they interact with our content: active and passive," Mooney explained. "During planning periods, they're actively searching our site for data, research, and insights. That's when a research report, slide deck, or tool might be the most useful. But most of the time, they're just skimming their inboxes and social feeds. That's when a shorter article or an infographic might catch their attention."

Now that marketers can see these trends on Think with Google, it takes some of the guesswork out of creating content and makes it easier for everyone to do their jobs more efficiently. The site even contains a Databoard section with a "Build Your Infographic" tab that lets marketers mix and match Google's studies to create custom data reports for their own publishing efforts.

"We're constantly improving the site experience for our users," Mooney said. "We recently debuted a brand new home page and a 'Marketer's Almanac' section that makes it easy to find trends by time of year. We're also rolling out new article templates that are really well suited to the data-driven content we've been focusing on. There's lots of other exciting things on our roadmap."

Wherever that roadmap goes, expect content marketers to be right behind, ready to do whatever it takes to get inside Google's head.

The post Think With Google: How the Search Giant's Online Mag Is Schooling Marketers appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Wed, 15 Apr 2015 18:38:00 +0000

Today, syndication is still a big part of traditional media's business model. But like everything else, it's being tugged apart by technology.

The post The Ultimate Content Marketer's Guide to Syndication and Licensed Content appeared first on The Content Strategist.


In 1884, a 27-year-old kid named Samuel Sidney McClure launched a startup that would define the media industry for 130 years.

Previously the co-founder of his student newspaper at Knox College, young McClure had moved to New York City to make his way as a newsman. At the time, the burgeoning--and unregulated--advertising industry was beginning to make newspapers around the world more sensational.

It was a tumultuous atmosphere bearing remarkable similarities to today's digital rat race that would launch news giants like Pulitzer and Hearst. But amidst the chaos, McClure began paying writers for what present-day pundits would call "slow journalism": longform investigations, books, and deeply reported features. Instead of publishing the stories himself, he bought the rights and sold the stories to publishers around the world.

He called it "syndication." His company, McClure Newspaper Syndicate, went on to represent some of the most influential writers of the day, from William Jennings Bryan to Teddy Roosevelt to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The company established a business model that traditional media companies would follow for more than a century, generating billions of dollars in revenue.

McClure and its successors gave publishers something they couldn't get themselves: access to top content and talent from the world's far corners--and for cheap. Because a syndicate could sell a book or article or comic strip to various buyers, it could charge less and make more profit. It became the paradigm for television (pilots and reruns), artists (musical and graphic alike), and printed works (whose books and stories could be resold in different languages and locales). This is not unlike the software business: Create something once, then sell copies of it ad infinitum.

A "syndicate," by dictionary definition, is "a group of individuals or organizations combined to promote some common interest." In media, this means legally publishing someone else's content, typically in exchange for a fee or credit. The modern buzzword "licensed content" is often used interchangeably with "syndicated content."

Today, syndication is still a big part of traditional media's business model. But like everything else, it's being tugged apart by technology. Recent shifts in the way people publish, access, and consume media--social media and content marketing being chief change agents--pose challenges for the syndication model, specifically for news content.

My personal interest in syndication stems in part from the my own company, where we help brands become publishers of education and entertainment in order to build loyal audiences. (We provide software tools and freelance talent to create original content, engage readers and viewers on the web, and optimize the process over time.) As our business has grown from three guys in coffee shops to 80 employees and the world's largest network of freelance journalists, we've debated: Should we get into syndicated content, helping brands like Coca-Cola to license articles from traditional publishers like CNN? Or should we stick to helping brands just do original content?

The key questions in my mind as we've explored the syndication model are the following:

Is licensing content effective for brand publishers, who have different business goals than traditional publishers? Is it worth paying for?

Will syndication in general continue to work as the media landscape evolves?

After much research, the short answers are:


In some cases.

If you don't want to read the long answer below, feel feel to tweet this and close the tab:

Research shows: Licensed content doesn't work in content marketing. For brands, original content always wins.

Syndication and traditional media

Originally, what made the syndication business work were access and options. Or, rather, a lack of them.

E.g., A local magazine in Kentucky couldn't get Rudyard Kipling to write for it in 1920. But it might buy a reprint license for Kipling's poems.

E.g., A newspaper in Oregon couldn't ship a reporter to New York to cover an election in 1955, but it could buy a story about it from a news wire like the Associated Press.

E.g., A cable TV channel probably couldn't afford to make something as popular Seinfeld in 1999, but it could buy the right to rerun it.

In each of these examples, the second publisher doesn't need to create something new; it can buy a copy of the original and give its own audience access to it. Notably, there would be little point in a New York newspaper licensing content from another New York newspaper, if each could send its own reporters to cover the same stories. And a New York Post editor would rather swim naked in the Hudson than rerun a story by the Daily News. But a Kentucky paper and a New York paper aren't competing for the same readers, so a syndication arrangement is a win-win.

Until the Internet, that is.

Today, licensing and syndication only really works for content that people are willing to pay for, or content under strict access control. This is why movie theaters are still open and Comcast and Hulu Plus rake in millions. Local print papers still license stories from news wires, but it's a tough business, and one that doesn't translate to the web. It no longer makes sense for a local paper to republish a national Reuters story on its website when online readers could get that story elsewhere.

Most of the time, syndication just doesn't make sense for free content. The one place it does work, however, is when one publication has a loyal audience that doesn't overlap with a smaller publication that produces specialized content.

People habitually visit only a handful of websites every day, most popularly search engines, portals, and social media sites. If a news site is lucky enough to have you as a loyal reader, it has an opportunity to show you content from other sites you might not frequent.

If you're a small publication or an individual blogger, you likely want to be syndicated by one of those bigger sites. My own blogs are occasionally syndicated by publishers like Business Insider or Time, and this builds my audience. Those publishers can benefit from in-depth content (much like the kind that S.S. McClure brokered) that their audience hasn't been exposed to, and I can reach more people with my brand.

However, I have little incentive to pay to republish a Business Insider story on my blog. My readers may as well go to directly.

As Moz's Rand Fishkin explained in a recent interview with The Content Strategist:

"If you're a small or mid-sized website and you're licensing content from the AP and the Times, you're probably sunk. That's not going to do much for what you're building. That's not going to do much for your SEO...

On the other hand, I see folks like Slate and Salon and The Washington Post and this fantastic blog post that was written by this author in this smaller space. That can be awesome. They have a huge megaphone and they can amplify a great piece of work that maybe has only been seen by a very, very small niche community."

It might be valuable for me to link out to interesting BI stories from my social accounts, but syndicating those stories to my blog in their entirety doesn't do much, and it doesn't make me look better to my readers than simply tweeting the link to the original story. In fact, my research indicates that a smaller publisher syndicating content from a bigger publisher might leave a weird taste in readers' mouths.

Which brings me to...

Licensed content and brands

The typical licensed content sales pitch to commercial brands goes like this:

"It brings credibility to your content marketing campaigns."

"It helps you scale content and publish quickly."

"It fills coverage gaps."

"It generates strong social media value."

"It's good for SEO."

"You get more bang for your buck."

"The ideal content mix is 1/3 licensed, 1/3 original, and 1/3 user-generated content."

Unlike a media company, whose business aim is to show advertisements to the largest number of people possible, the overarching goal for most content marketers is to reach specific groups and build relationships with them. Brands anticipate that those relationships will eventually yield brand advocacy, trust, or sales. Traffic does not equal success.

In today's media environment, most people arrive at content through social media, search, and email. Few media sites receive relatively large percentages of direct traffic.

With that in mind, let's take a look at each of the above points:

"It brings credibility to your content marketing campaigns."

This claim is overblown at best. At worst, the opposite is true.

Last year, I surveyed a panel of 378 Internet readers from ages 18 to 60 about what they thought when a brand published licensed content on its blog for thought leadership. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said it did nothing for their opinion of the brand, and 32.8 percent said licensed content made the brand look worse, even if the content came from a respected name.

More comprehensive research needs to be done in this area, but these survey results indicate that unoriginal content from brands can put a weird taste in people's mouths. If licensed content is really good, it can make a commercial brand look good only if it appears that the brand created the content itself. Most licensing agreements, however, require a prominent citation of the original source. This puts content-licensing brands in a double bind: In the same survey, 32 percent also said that a hard-to-find disclosure of authorship would make a brand look worse. Yikes.

"It helps you scale content and publish quickly."

"It fills coverage gaps."

These are both true. However, for brands, the goal should not simply be to publish. So these points are moot. Filling coverage gaps makes sense if you're the only game in town (e.g., a local paper back in the day, or a cable provider like Comcast today). It doesn't make sense if you are a small publisher or a site that receives most of its traffic through search, social, and email. If someone logs on to your site directly every day, then yes, filling coverage gaps is a good idea. But for content marketers, this is putting the cart way before the horse. There isn't a brand publisher on Earth with a significant portion of traffic coming directly every day.

"It generates strong social media value."

There doesn't seem to be much evidence to support this, compared to simply sharing external links to the original content via social media (which is much cheaper than licensing content and then sharing it). In fact, sharing links to others' original content is generally viewed as good social media citizenship. I'd argue that sharing links to others' content that you've republished on your own site doesn't provide stronger value on social platforms than giving credit and linking to the publication where the article originally appeared.

"It's good for SEO."

This one is patently false. As we've written before, Google looks down on unoriginal content more than ever. Cyrus Shepard, SEO expert and head of content at Moz, recently told me, "Syndicated content is like giving popcorn to children. It will keep them busy for a while, but that's it. All the value is having something original." This is from the top SEO firm out there.

Once again, if you're the bigger fish in the syndication equation, you're generally not going to be hurt by this, according to the Moz crew. But there's no value in it if you're the smaller fish.

"You get more bang for your buck."

The going rate for licensed online articles tends to be between $25 and 38 per story, which is 10-20x cheaper than a typical, well-researched original article. Unfortunately, as seen above, licensed content appears to provide little or no bang no matter how many bucks a brand spends. Producing 10x the amount of ineffective content is still, well, ineffective.

"The ideal content mix is 1/3 licensed, 1/3 original, and 1/3 user-generated content."

This, it turns out, is an arbitrary suggestion recommended by only one company (see below) that sells licensed content. There's no research to support that this has worked for any commercial brand, much less as sweeping advice for all brands. Experts in categories from social to SEO to creative agencies tend to disagree with this statement, universally saying that high-quality original content, including user-generated content, is far more effective than non-original content for brands.

Old dogs with old tricks

As of 2015, I could only find one remaining company actively touting licensed content as a strategy for brand publishers. According to data, this company's own SEO authority has decreased in the last year, despite publishing over 600 pieces of content to its blog, many of them licensed from publishers like Business2Community and Forbes. (For comparison, we published a similar amount of original stories to our own blog and grew our SEO authority significantly. Our monthly unique readership is over 200,000 as of last month.) So it appears that what experts say about syndicated content is true: It's hurting the company's content marketing.

Heck, if this company is paying any attention to its own content performance, it likely knows that its licensed content is inferior. A year ago, I used social data to chart how the company's own original content outperformed its licensed content by a factor of 10.

Other companies that broker licensed content for traditional publishers--folks like Bloomberg--have ramped up original content production studios for their brand clients that want to do content marketing. I'm yet to see a case study of a successful content licensing program for a brand that has resulted in real brand results (and not superficial metrics like "reach"). The big syndicates appear to be going all-in on original content for brands, and leaving licensed content for traditional media.

There's plenty of evidence that original content works for building audiences and is good for getting licensed by bigger publishers, but that licensing content in the other direction does nothing for brands. If anything, a marketing strategy based on licensed content may be worse than one with no content.

The bottom line:

For content marketers, it's far better to be syndicated than to syndicate.

Tellingly, when McClure Newspaper Syndicate wanted to build its own brand and sell its own services, it used original content to do it. Here's the comic strip McClure sent to prospects in 1943:

Syndication will still have a place in the media ecosystem for some time. But we'd be amiss if we applied its old model to modern content marketing.

The post The Ultimate Content Marketer's Guide to Syndication and Licensed Content appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Wed, 15 Apr 2015 15:01:36 +0000

Social media platforms desperately want your attention, and your high-school classmate's baby pictures aren't going to cut it.

The post The Hot New Weapon in the Social Platform Wars: Content appeared first on The Content Strategist.


In the Anchorman-style battle royale between the world's leading social media platforms, the hot new weapon isn't a piece of technology. In this battle, it's all about content.

You see how important content is it in the launch of Snapchat Discover, in LinkedIn's quest to become the definitive professional publishing platform, in Facebook luring the world's biggest media companies inside its walls.

There's a fundamental shift underway. Social media used to be about technology platforms that connected you with friends and got out of the way. But now, the world's biggest platforms are increasingly trying to keep your attention with extra content. After all, that content might be better than what your friends are offering. It's not that your friend's seventh blurry Snapchat message from the bar isn't interesting, it's just that National Geographic snapped you and--my god--that bear is amazing.

LinkedIn doesn't have bears, but it does have Richard Branson and a legion of other high-profile writers who gained massive followings when LinkedIn launched its Influencer platform and exclusive blogging program in the fall of 2012. The program was a hit, so LinkedIn opened its publishing platform to everyone else 14 months ago. The company also doubled down on content by creating impressive internal pubs like the wonderfully dorky LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog. With the recent purchase of and its suite of high-production job training video courses and online education experts, LinkedIn is closer to its goal of being the provider of all of your professional content needs--from job training to all of the mystical benefits of thought leadership.

And then there's Facebook, perhaps the most ambitious fighter in this battle, which is trying to convince the media world to publish inside the platform and is reportedly close to a big win. The New York Times,the publishing world's student body president, may be the first to come on in. Earlier this year, I wrote about how much power Facebook had since it drives one-quarter of all Internet referral traffic, but it seems the social giant is wondering what would happen if those people never left at all.

Every social media platform is locked in a turf war for people's time, and many platforms are realizing good stories--better stories, longer stories, more polished stories--will make an audience want to stick around. Even chat apps like Kik are courting publishers to bulk up on content. It's a safe bet Instagram and Pinterest will follow suit and aggressively upgrade their unique content offerings in the next few months.

This storytelling arms race is leading to a very interesting time in the content world. Even social media platforms--once digital publishers' best friends--are turning into competition. And every publisher, from legacy media to digital upstarts to brands to social media platforms, is getting better at telling stories. The competition is heating up, coming at you from all sides, and sometimes you don't even know what it looks like. For example, earlier this year, nearly 650,000 people read my boss Shane Snow's LinkedIn post examining whether height affects career success... but was that time they could have spent reading The Content Strategist instead?

As the editor overseeing two online magazines here at Contently, contemplating all that competition can be sort of terrifying, but it's also exhilarating. The only way to stay afloat is to improve rapidly, so you might as well get started.

It's 2015 and everyone's a publisher, so you better be a damn good one.

The post The Hot New Weapon in the Social Platform Wars: Content appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Tue, 14 Apr 2015 22:36:26 +0000

Science, tech, and Ron Howard are coming to National Geographic--all in the name of GE.

The post Brian Grazer and Ron Howard Are Making a TV Series for GE appeared first on The Content Strategist.


This Wednesday, National Geographic will be announcing its new lineup of programs, and nature enthusiasts aren't the only viewers excited about it. Content marketing nerds (myself included) will be salivating over Breakthrough, a new documentary series about science and tech, co-produced by General Electric.

The six-part series, which launches in November, will highlight scientific innovation, covering subjects such as the human brain, alternative energy, and biotechnology.

General Electric's content marketers already mastered the art of the brand magazine with GE Reports. Now, for the small-screen, they're enlisting all-star talent like Academy Award winners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard of Imagine Entertainment. As The New York Times reports, GE will be handing the storytelling responsibilities off to Imagine and co-producers at Asylum Entertainment. GE, however, picked the topics for the show and opened its research centers for producers to mine story ideas. For each hour-long episode, the corporation is handing over the reigns to different directors, including Hollywood mainstays like Angela Bassett, Akiva Goldsman, and Paul Giamatti.

We've seen big brands take on storytelling for the sliver screen before with LEGO's critically acclaimed feature film and Chipotle's Farmed and Dangerous series for Hulu. We've also seen companies team up with third-party outlets to produce awesome content in a field that's relevant to their values and consumers, like whenBMW partnered with Medium to start Re:form, a hub for stories about design innovation. And hiring respectedHollywood talent, such as when Gap hired Sofia Coppola to make videos for the holidays, isn't new either. But have we seen anything likewhat GE plans to do on National Geographic? Not really,unless you count PG's soap operas. But those were mostly vehicles for advertising PG's soaps during the commercials.

Fornow, GE does not have plans to run its own commercials during National Geographic's "Breakthrough." But, really, why would they have to? They've already secured six hours of (potentially great) brand promotion on the network.

The post Brian Grazer and Ron Howard Are Making a TV Series for GE appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Tue, 14 Apr 2015 18:39:02 +0000

Gallup's "Most Admired People" list can tell us a lot about forgiveness.

The post What Gallup's Most Admired People List Tells Us About Forgiveness appeared first on The Content Strategist.


In mythologist Joseph Campbell's famous story template, The Hero's Journey, an adventurer leaves home, faces the unknown, and returns as a changed person. In every such tale, a low period Campbell calls "The Abyss" becomes the turning point for the hero. Rock bottom, we might call it.

There's something deeply human about the path that the monomyth's hero treads. The leaving of the nest, the abyss, and transformation are relatable stages to us in our own life journeys. And like the heroes in Lord of the Rings and Star Wars and Hunger Games, we often adulate those who've been to the bottom and back.

For instance, Robert Downey Jr., today's highest paid actor, famously burnt himself out on drugs and alcohol and stewed in rehab before making a tremendous comeback. Kweisi Mfume spent his teen years fathering various children, and his early adult years in and out of jail before turning his life around and becoming a congressman and the president of NAACP.

My own friend and mentor, David Carr, who passed away suddenly this year, was a crack addict, drug dealer, and abusive husband before he got clean and became an incredible journalist and role model. People adored him, and his redemption story was a big part of that.

I've been thinking about The Abyss and redemption this week, after I devoured Jon Ronson's latest book,So You've Been Publicly Shamed, which explores the lives of people who've been ruined by the Internet. Ronson shows how a single tweet or photograph has destroyed everyday people--in some cases people who've been completely taken wrong or out of context. The mobs of social media make it difficult to make a mistake anymore and live to Google yourself.

It was curious to me that people like RDJ and Mfume and Carr can bounce back strong and respected after committing shameful actions, while nobodies like the woman who flipped off her friend in front of the veteran memorial sign are told by Twitter that they are "tainted forever." (It wasn't funny, but we also judged her incredibly harshly, and without context.)

The inconsistency with which we throw people under the bus for small crimes and misunderstandings can be astounding. For instance, we toss 600,000 people in jail and 40,000 people in prison every year for marijuana possession, something that's no longer a crime in several states. Many of those people will face stigma and wear the label "ex con" for the rest of their lives. Yet our last two presidents each smoked marijuana, as well as three of the finalists who ran against them (Palin, Gore, and Kerry). None of them saw the inside of a cell for having pot in their pocket.

After reading Ronson's book, I wondered: How much forgiveness have we given the people we look up to the most as a society? How harsh are we about our heroes' indiscretions?

As luck would have it, Gallup compiles a list of the "most admired people" every year. I took a look at the current list to see what stigmas they'd weathered.

2014's 10 Most Admired Men:

Barack Obama: drugs

Pope Francis: controversy around Argentina's "Dirty War"

Bill Clinton: affair while president (and lied)

Rev. Billy Graham: anti-Semitic remarks (that he apologized for)

George W. Bush: drugs, DUI (also: lied about a very big war)

Ben Carson: controversial gay/prison remarks

Stephen Hawking: left both of his wives*

Bill Gates: drugs, cutthroat/anti-trust issues with his business

Bill O'Reilly: has had sexual harassment scandals, generally bullied and threatened people from his position of power, and recently: lied about his "war zone" reporting

Benjamin Netanyahu: two divorces* and multiple affairs

2014's 10 Most Admired Women:

Hillary Clinton: has a history of pseudo scandals (recently: emails)

Oprah Winfrey: hard drugs when she was younger

Malala Yousafzai: has a pretty clean record

Condoleezza Rice: pretty clean, though she's had criticism for supporting waterboarding

Michelle Obama: has a pretty clean record

Angelina Jolie: drugs, two divorces*

Sarah Palin: drugs, various lies and gaffes on camera

Princess Kate: has a pretty clean record

Elizabeth Warren: claimed to be Native American to get minority status at Harvard

Laura Bush: ran a stop sign and accidentally killed someone at age 17**

* We can't necessarily fault someone for getting divorced, or consider making the mistake of marrying the wrong person a scandal. But from a public stigma perspective, the adage, "divorce me once, shame on you; divorce me twice, shame on me" is probably rather accurate.

**Compiling the above list made me surprisingly uncomfortable. These are all public figures, and this info is all publicly available, but something about confessing a whole bunch of people's worst moments makes me feel self conscious about my own private mistakes.

A significant percentage of the list of people we collectively admire mosthave had to recover from stigmas, from small to serious, intentional actions to honest mistakes. Some of them haven't been shamed publicly, but few of them are not blameless.

They've been to The Abyss, and made it back.

This is great news for the rest of us imperfect beings. However, there's something a little inconsistent about the people we forgive and the things we let slide as a culture. It's shocking, for example, that infractions like tweeting a distasteful joke can result in an everyday person's decimation while the people who tweet rape threats in retaliation to said person face no repercussions. And how is it that some people can keep jobs and respect after committing plagiarism (Fareed Zakaria) while others lose their careers (Jayson Blair)?

Is it the severity of the crime that determines our willingness to forgive? (Blair did more plagiarism than Zakaria.) Is it the looks or popularity or accomplishments of the criminal that makes it easier for us to let the past be the past? I've never smoked marijuana or dropped acid at the time of this writing, though sometimes the lists of leaders and geniuses who have make me wonder if I should. However, if I did, how could I guarantee that I'd end up on an admired person list rather than in jail?

Ronson concludes in his book that in order for us to relegate someone to "unforgivable" status, we have to decide that they are no longer human, that they are beyond repair. He writes:

"I suppose it's no surprise that we feel the need to dehumanize the people we hurt-- before, during, or after the hurting occurs. But it always comes as a surprise. In psychology it's known as cognitive dissonance. It's the idea that it feels stressful and painful for us to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time (like the idea that we're kind people and the idea that we've just destroyed someone). And so to ease the pain we create illusory ways to justify our contradictory behavior."

Ronson, Jon (2015-03-31). So You've Been Publicly Shamed (pp. 80-81). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I asked around: Are there any crimes that truly dehumanize the perp? Crimes for which we have a zero forgiveness policy? Mistakes that take a person "beyond repair?"

What about murder? David, of Old Testament fame, bounced back after basically murdering the husband of a woman he was sleeping with. It took time--and much pleading and psalmsing--but he got our respect again. And some modern murderers have left the slammer and become influences for good.

How about rape? I can't think of a crime I abhor more. And yet we've let Mike Tyson have his life and fame back.

Cruelty to animals? Michael Vick's comeback is a testament.

Fraud? How about Frank William Abagnale Jr., the reformed bank fraud and identity thief who now runs a security company and gives motivational speeches?

The only crime I could come up with that lacked a redemption example was pedophilia. And that actually points back to Ronson's explanation of our redemption criteria: the end of the Hero's Journey, where the hero becomes a changed person. (Pedophiles, society says, don't change.)

We seem to allow redemption for people who do evil things--or make mistakes--but we don't redeem people we believe are evil at their core.

This is why we've let Mike Tyson back in, but not Bill Cosby. Tyson did terrible things, but on the whole we believe that he's an okay person now. Cosby, the rapist, presently appears more monster than human.

This is why we can forgive Macklemore for appearing on stage in garb that appeared to mock conservative Jews, for which he apologized profusely and sincerely, whereas it feels like Mel Gibson will never live down his anti-Semitic comments. We don't believe Macklemore is an anti-Semite, but we are pretty sure Gibson is--his track record of abusive treatment of people makes us think that he's a creep deep down.

On the other hand, if MellieGibsons apologized and made us feel like he was a changed man, we might change our minds about him. In part, as weird as it sounds, because he makes great movies.

It's not the crime; it's the pattern that makes us decide a person is "bad" rather than mistaken or flawed. Problem is, with strangers on Twitter or everyday people on the street, we have little opportunity to see the pattern.

I'm a firm believer in, you know, not breaking the law. I prefer not lying,not disparaging others, and notviolence. On the other hand, nobody's perfect. Most of our "most admired people" have done stupid or awful or uncomfortable things at some point and yet we now respect them--sometimes because of the hard journey they've been through and the mistakes for which they've paid. We've managed to separate what they've done from who they are, and who they could become. Why don't we do the same for people who haven't won elections or become movie stars?

We humans love a good redemption story. Perhaps we should get in the habit of giving our peers--not just our heroes--the chance to have one.

The post What Gallup's Most Admired People List Tells Us About Forgiveness appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Tue, 14 Apr 2015 14:23:27 +0000

Soft talk doesn't fly when you're in the room with the CFO trying justify your content spend--so let's look at some numbers.

The post How We Calculate the ROI of Our Content Marketing--in One Duck-Themed Tale appeared first on The Content Strategist.


Tying content to revenue is hard. Actually, let me rephrase that. Tying content to revenue is hard to dowell. The Internet is awash with examples of people doing it badly, using metrics like traffic, reach, and influence as proxies for actual ROI, or cloaking their lack of hard numbers with smoke and mirrors (or,in this case, Tina Fey GIFs). But that kind of soft talk doesn't fly when you're in the room with your head of financetrying justify your content spend--trust me, I know this from experience.

Here 'round Contently way, we're still working on a refined ROI formula for content--one that can be applied across an entire organization. For a formula to scale it needs to take into account dozens of inputs--from how content affects outbound sales efforts, to what stories are most effective at pushing prospects into contract, to how share of voice affects a brand's bottom line. That said, we've managed to do a decent job tying the content we produce here directly to our sales funnel. Every deal is different, especially in a B2B company of our size, but I want to take a look at one new customer to illustrate a little bit about how our content directly drives sales and ROI.

McDuck Enterprises HQ

The story concludes in March, with a contract signed by a new Contently client--a company that we'll call McDuck Enterprises. But it begins a month earlier, with a simple article. Using a powerful if often misused tool called Marketo, we're able to work backwards and track the whole customer journey--from the first time they found out about us, to the day they signed on the dotted line, and beyond. And what do you know: Content played a part almost every step of the way.

First contact

Our initial contact was the senior marketing manager at McDuck Enterprises--let's call her Webigail Vanderquack (Webby for short). Webby first encountered Contently on February 16, when she read an article we'd written on the 12 best content marketing blogs of 2014. She went on to check out almost all of the blogs on the list, and then return to The Content Strategist to read a story on how brands can build owned audiences.

Cost of these two articles: $700

More touchpoints

Ten days later, on February 25, Webby was back, again reading two articles:

12 Startup Blogs That Are Killing the Game

These 4 Companies Prove Content Marketing Is Essential to Startups

What's interesting about the first four articles Webby read is that they were all over two months old, and none of them mentions Contently. This illustrates two really important tenets of content marketing:

1) No self promotion or product placement! The key is to establish a reader's trust--the fact that you wrote the article in the first place is product placement enough.

2) The articles weren't new, which shows the compounding return of publishing consistently. Contently commissioned and paid for those articles months ago, and yet they continue to drive interest from potential clients. The marketing cost of these is basically zero.

Those two articles cost another $700, bringing the tab up to $1,400.

Down the funnel

Two days later, our content marketing really started to bear fruit.

On February 25, Webby decided she wanted to talk to us about what we do, so she went to Contently's homepage and filled out a lead form. When that happens, red lights and buzzers start to go off in the windowless cave where we keep our sales team (not really), and one of our sales strategists reaches out to Webby, setting up a call for the next week.

On March 2, in the hours leading up to that call, Webby checked out our homepage, a couple examples of work we've done for clients, and a couple of case studies (which cost us around $450 each to produce). She also looked at the portfolio of one of our writers, Ritika Puri, who had not coincidentally authored the story on startup blogs.

By the time she got on the phone with Luke and Ali from our sales team, Webby mainly wanted to talk about McDuck Enterprises' content goal: launching a content hub for its B2B customers. It didn't take long for her to decide we were a good potential partner--two days later, she brought in two other members of her team for a demo.

The final push

At this point, Webby moved from being a prospect to being an opportunity --that is, there was a reasonable likelihood of her becoming a customer. But she still wasn't convinced.

Webby's main question: Why shouldn't she use her budget to hire two writers in-house, as opposed to spending it on a vendor like Contently. Luckily, Ali and Luke had an answer--you guessed it, another story. In this case, "Build vs Buy,"an examination we'd done about the pros and cons of hiring in-house vs. partnering with a vendor.

Cost: $350

Webby called back the next day and asked for proposal. After spending a few hours on the phone negotiating with Luke and Ali, McDuck Enterprises came onboard. The total value of the contract: $82,000.

Between the time she came in the door and the time she was ready to sign a contract, Webby read five articles and two case studies. She visited seven pages of our website, and spent a total of about five hours on the phone with our sales team. Attribution is tricky, and there's no set standard, but here's a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation:

We decided to attribute 50 percent of the revenue to content and 50 percent to sales, since the first touchpoint came from an article (for outbound leads, sales would get a higher percentage of the credit).

Sales revenue: $41,000

Sales cost: $6,500 (this is basically the cost of the sales team's time and commission)

Sales ROI: 6.3x

Content revenue: $41,000

Content cost: $2,650

Content ROI: 15.5x

We can also break down the content ROI a bit further by attaching a value to each article. (Note: We give the first and last touch points more value, usually 20 percent of the total.) Here's how it breaks down:

"12 Best Content Marketing Blogs": $8,200 (23x ROI)

"Build vs. Buy": $8,200 (23x ROI)

"12 Startup Blogs Killing the Game": $3,280 (9.4x ROI)

"How Brands Use Influencers to Build Owned Audiences": $3,280 (9.4x ROI)

"These 4 Companies Prove Content Marketing Is Essential to Startups": $3,280 (9.4x ROI)

Case Study #1: $3,280 (7.3x ROI)

Case Study #2: $3,280 (7.3x ROI)

Now for the caveats.

One important thing to note is that this just looks at a single deal--some of our clients spend a lot more time in our marketing funnel, and spend a lot more time looking at content before they buy... and some spend less. It's also true that a single story can (and does) impact multiple deals. Another very important note is that I haven't addressed the cost of our content marketing as a whole, which includes, among other things: stories that don't impact the sales funnel, my own inflated salary, and the cost of the software we use to manage the process--that's a story for another day (soon).

But by taking these basic calculations and applying them out across our entire publishing operation and sales funnel, we're able to get a pretty accurate picture of just how much revenue our content is driving. And it's a lot.

The post How We Calculate the ROI of Our Content Marketing--in One Duck-Themed Tale appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Mon, 13 Apr 2015 15:44:10 +0000

Brands want everyone to be storytellers... but only about how much they love their brand.

The post TellUsYourStory Tumblr Reveals the Tone-Deaf Social Media Strategy Brands Use Way Too Much appeared first on The Content Strategist.


You're at dinner with a big group of your friends. "Guys," you say, "I want to hear your story about how much I mean to you."

There's some awkward laughter. Then a few beats of silence.

"No guys, seriously," you say enthusiastically. "Really, tell me your story, the one about how much I mean to you. I want to hear your story."

A few more awkward beats. "That's kind of self-centered," your friend Pete says.

"Oh no," you respond. "You don't understand. I want to hear your story. I care about you. So much so that if your story is good enough, I'll amplify it on my social channels."

Even though it's completely ridiculous to imagine yourself acting this way, the scenario is still cringe-worthy. Yet, it's the approach many brands take with their social and content strategies. "Tell us your story!" they plead. Sometimes, the type of story is specified: "Tell us your story about this brand-related thing!"

"Tell us your allergy relief spray story!"

"Tell us your electrical lineman story!"

"Tell us your adult diaper story!"

These calls to action are all real examples captured on the hilarious Tell Us Your Story Tumblr, created by ad copywriter Brian Eden. It's pretty simple: Just a collection of many, many, many brands demanding that people tell their stories (about brands).

According to Click Z, the idea came to Eden when he was drinking Dr Pepper, which, of course, asked him for his story. "I was drinking a soda, and the can blindly said, 'Tell us your story at,' and it seemed really funny to me," Eden said. "What story were they looking for? My life story, or my soda story? As an advertising writer, I started seeing this trend everywhere, and it occurred to me that it was getting a little silly. All these products wanting to know my story about their products, and I don't have a Dr Pepper story to share. My story is I bought it and I drank it."

TellUsYourStory Tumblr Reveals the Tone-Deaf Social Media Strategy Brands Use Way Too Much

TellUsYourStory Tumblr Reveals the Tone-Deaf Social Media Strategy Brands Use Way Too Much

Screenshot (3)

Scrolling through Eden's Tumblr, it's a little shocking to see how many brands employ this lazy strategy, which never seems to work. It's a bizarrely self-centered request that doesn't naturally occur in any social context. If anyone did this in real life, they'd never be invited out to dinner again. I'm not sure if some brand advertisers are that delusional about their importance in the universe or if it's just an easy way for brands to fake a heartfelt social strategy and side-step the challenge of telling people stories about things they're actually interested in. My suspicion tells me it's the latter. Then again, I don't work inside the belly of big brand advertising, so if you do, email me at and, you know, tell me your story so I can use it to report a story people hopefully find interesting.

The post TellUsYourStory Tumblr Reveals the Tone-Deaf Social Media Strategy Brands Use Way Too Much appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Mon, 13 Apr 2015 15:20:04 +0000

Australians are known for being a little more extreme than the rest of us dullards, and at ANZ, that carries over to their content marketing, too.

The post Content Down Under: Aussie Bank ANZ Kicks Back and Lets Content Propel Its Marketing appeared first on The Content Strategist.


Australians are known for being a little more extreme than the rest of us dullards: They have the most intense sunshine, the wildest wilderness, the weirdest of food pastes, not to mention the world's most adorable marsupials. But what about the global financial service industry's most unique take on content marketing? Well, of course they do (otherwise this lede wouldn't work). How else would they take on content marketing down under if not in stark contrast to the rest of the world?

While most of today's financial services content focuses on accessibility with a lifestyle feel aiming to educate consumers about their money, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, also known as ANZ, boldly produces financial content that is downright wonkish. Think economic trend pieces on Indonesia and Myanmar, or a heady debate about the biggest global economic stress points of 2015. And while these pieces may not be generating thousands of social shares from the general public, they're accomplishing exactly what ANZ's new blog BlueNotes set out to do when it launched last year: engage policymakers, academics, and shareholders.

(Full disclosure: ANZ is a Contently client.)

Successfully honing in on that target is one of the main reasons Australia's 2014 BEfest Awards named BlueNotes "Brand Site of the Year" before it had even been live for a full 12 months. Managing Editor Andrew Cornell attributed the win to the site's "new form of quality journalism" that is trustworthy enough to be republished and cited in traditional media outlets.

Even though ANZ has won awards and reached a high-value audience in a short timeframe, polishing their approach still took trial and error.

"It's been an interesting journey," says Paul Edwards, group general manager of corporate communications for ANZ. "Traditionally, we tried to reach our audience though media relationships and traditional publications. One of the issues with media relations is you never really understand who you've reached."

With such a specific audience in mind, not knowing who's listening or reading can be a huge roadblock, one ANZ solved by establishing an owned media property in BlueNotes that gave them the freedom to build personal relationships with readers on their own turf.

A Thoughtful approach to thought leadership

Audience ambiguity is no longer an issue for ANZ. With BlueNotes, the brand knew exactly who they wanted to reach. In some ways, they'd been building this audience for years, sending executives to meet with members of their three key demographics. Thanks to those previous efforts, ANZ had already built up a sizable, well-targeted social media following. On Twitter, they had 50,000 followers, and on LinkedIn, they had 164,000 followers. ANZ just had to decide how to then engage them.

"BlueNotes is really the child of our social media strategy," Edwards says. "To have an effective social media strategy, we had to have a great content strategy to run alongside that. BlueNotes is the content engine for social engagement."

The challenge then became developing the right content to feed those social channels in such a way that allowed ANZ to stimulate an audience of rather sophisticated financial minds.

"The opportunity, from our point of view, was to not just broadcast our point of view to that audience," Edwards adds, "but to build a conversation and to use that to deepen our relationship with those people."

With such a specific, well-educated following, thought leadership became the angle of choice for the blog. Content pillars include the economy, technology and innovation, business and finance, leadership, sustainability and inclusion, and "The Asian Century," which covers the economic rise of Asian countries.

All of these pillars fall under the fitting tagline "Connecting News and Insights," which is at the heart of what ANZ hopes to deliver to its audience. For example, a recent article authored by two ANZ economists featuring internal research shows Australia's major project spend is in decline and what that means for the nation. Other stories focus more on global financial news, like "A Slow Start No Surprise for Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect," or on general insights on financial topics, such as "Philanthropy Isn't Just for the Wealthy."

Conquering with quality

When engaging such an educated audience, the bar for quality is inherently high. From the very beginning, ANZ knew BlueNotes needed seasoned professionals and editorial transparency to succeed. This includes contributions from company executives and chief economists, who bring a level of expertise to each article or video, as well as established journalists.

"One thing we did well was hire a very respected senior journalist to run BlueNotes, which immediately gave us enormous credibility," Edwards explains, "and then not publishing stuff that seemed to be too self-serving. We try to put everything through that filter so we aren't publishing stuff that is just corporate PR."

In "Financial Services Still Has a Gender Problem," for example, one writer analyzes the hot-button issue of gender equality in finance without trying to claim the company is above reproach. The story simply explores the results of a study while leaving room for a commenter to mention ANZ could do better on the issue themselves.

For many financial services companies, the legal labyrinth of compliance departments can water down content, compromising its quality, relevance, and journalistic integrity. But because of BlueNotes' thought-leadership focus, rather than a consumer marketing focus, ANZ was able to avoid some common obstacles that get in the way of successful publishing.

As Edwards says: "Every piece of content has to be signed off by me, but unless there is particular reason to, we don't run anything by compliance or legal. That gives us flexibility, but also a big responsibility."

Thus far, that process has served ANZ extremely well, coloring BlueNotes with polish, professionalism, and relevance, three common traits for just about every premium publisher.

If there's such a thing as proof of quality, it could be buy-in from established financial media outlets, such as The Australian Financial Review. After ANZ CEO Mike Smith's recent trip to Europe and Asia, BlueNotes created an eight-minute video of Smith explaining why the Reserve Bank of Australia should resist cutting interest rates, based on the global economic insights he'd gathered during his meetings. Before distributing it themselves, they offered it as an exclusive to The Australian Financial Review.

"And that's the kind of page one read that is our content, that we've got complete control of," Edwards says. "It's completely changed the way we interact with the media and have positioned our executives as thought leaders."

Taking an Australian strategy global

With 75 percent of BlueNote's readership based in Australia, there's plenty of room to grow--and that's exactly what ANZ plans to do next. Developing content for their niche audience on the blog has proven to be so successful that the brand is now developing more publications to reach new audiences. For the financial firm from Down Under, these new media properties could potentially target female executives, small businesses, and corporate clients.

Yet even as they explore launching trade pubs, ANZ is still very committed to growing its core audience on BlueNotes. The brand's next focus is New Zealand, where ANZ has the largest presence of any bank. After that, the next stop is a big one: Asia. ANZ already has locations in more than 20 Asian countries, and BlueNotes has channels for content focused on North Asia, South and Southeast Asia, and Greater China, some of which is translated into simplified or traditional Chinese.

"More content for different geographies is what we're focused on," Edwards says. "But we're pretty happy with what we've done so far."

By committing to building a owned audience with high quality content and a focus on sharp thought leadership, ANZ has positioned itself nicely for long-term growth regardless of where it tries to expand. Their unorthodox decision to focus on niche demographics may not look like the strategy you'd expect from a financial services company, but it allowed them to have a clear plan for their content from day one. After all, being an outlier is kind of Australia's thing.

This piece was adapted from the Contently e-book, "On the Money: How 5 Finance Brands Built an Audience By Investing in Content." Download it below.

The post Content Down Under: Aussie Bank ANZ Kicks Back and Lets Content Propel Its Marketing appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Mon, 13 Apr 2015 15:03:20 +0000

A little increase in productivity can mean the difference between affording a vacation and barely getting by.

The post 7 Pieces of Tech That Will Make You More Productive appeared first on The Content Strategist.


This piece originally appeared on our sister site, The Freelancer, and has been modified slightly.

There are plenty of distractions we succumb to every day--everything from coffee trips to Twitter feeds. And let's not even talk about the biggest time suck of all, cat videos.

Even for those of us who are diligent about staying on task, a little increase in productivity can mean the difference between affording a vacation and barely getting by. The equation is simple: The more productive you are, the more money you'll make, the more successful you'll be. Below, we review eight tech solutions that can help you accomplish more throughout the day.

Social media has been a game-changer for creatives, helping us find jobs, support colleagues, and contact editors and clients. But it's also a double-edged sword when it comes to productivity. There's a fine line between staying active and wasting time reading BuzzFeed articles "in the name of research." For those who want to maximize their efficiency on the social network, Hootsuite can simplify the process. You can manage up to 35 social profiles in one handy dashboard. Schedule future posts, track how followers are engaging with your accounts, and monitor your analytics all in one spot.

Not every writer has the luxury of being able to type away on a beach. Writing can be stressful, and stress can hinder your productivity. That's where Ommwriter comes in, an app-meets-word-processor-meets-meditation practice that lets you customize screen color, music, and keystroke sounds to create a tranquil writing environment.

When you're juggling multiple projects, it can be difficult to focus on one task for a long period of time. Interruptions and breaks can help you recharge your batteries for a few minutes, but they can thwart productivity if you take too many breathers.

The people who created the free 30/30 app must have had us creative types in mind. It's relatively simple--you set activities for certain amounts of time and your phone alerts you when it's time to take a break and for how long. But sometimes that sort of straightforward time management scheduling is all you need to stay on task.

Setting up meetings and fielding emails can take a toll on your schedule--and take you away from important creative work--so if you have the means, hire a virtual assistant to free up some time. Zirtual specializes in assisting entrepreneurs and will match you with someone who works remotely to complete administrative tasks, make travel plans, and handle preliminary research.

For most people, scanning is on its way to being obsolete. But for those some jobs, scanning documents is still part of the routine. Unfortunately, most scanners out there are slow, bulky, or part of the printer. Doxie, on the other hand, is a lightweight and portable scanner that has a removable lid for those tough-to-scan items. According to the website, you can even scan while sitting on the couch. For anyone who fills out multiple W-9s every year, that's progress.

In coffee shops and bookstores, it's not that uncommon anymore to see people working on tablets. These people have their portable keyboards, which are useful but a bit clunky. But there are more convenient alternatives out there, like this foldable Bluetooth keyboard. Flyshark, which received funds through a Kickstarter campaign last year, has created the iLepo360, a keyboard that folds into a pocket-sized square. Now you can stay productive and type wherever you are--the DMV, the doctor's office, the subway--and then put the keyboard into your jeans when you're done.

Backing up a computer can be a daunting process. You pray that everything makes it over to your flash drive, which will inevitably get misplaced in a few months. Instead of putting all of your trust into a tiny gadget, you should also back up your files in the cloud. Carbonite will automatically back up your files and it doesn't have any storage limits, which means more time and peace of mind for you. You can try it for free and then pay to continue for about $5 per month after that.

For those of us who feel like we need 25 hours in every day, hopefully these tech solutions can help you become more productive. If you use any apps that help you work more efficiently, tweet us @Contentlywith suggestions.

The post 7 Pieces of Tech That Will Make You More Productive appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Fri, 10 Apr 2015 18:16:42 +0000

Here's what you missed while trying to figure out how to tell your boss that reading the Quarterly report over the course of 873 vines is a terrible idea.

The post Content Catchup: Amex Raises the Bar for Brand Storytelling, Content Marketing Soulmates, and More Must-Reads appeared first on The Content Strategist.


Here's what you missed while trying to figure out how to tell your boss that reading the quarterly report over the course of 873 Vines is a terrible idea...

Content Express: How Amex Raised the Bar for Longform Brand Storytelling

A lot of brands talk about "committing to content," but Amex showed what that overused phrase really means when they embedded a reporter in a North Carolina startup, Buchi Kombucha, for three months to document their unique and compelling story, writes Celine Roque:

"The Journey" is a prime example of what happens when a company executes its content marketing with an ambitious editorial mindset. Each of the story's seven chapters contains high-quality photos of the founders, their staff, and the 180-acre property that holds their farm and brewery. There are three short video documentaries that intimately profile the Buchi team, and the written part totals over 10,000 words. Read it.


As brands get serious about storytelling, a lot of marketers find themselves just now working with journalists for the first time, and they're inexperience with this relationship can lead to some frustrating and poisoned relationships. Ryan Galloway has the scoop on what marketers need to know.Read it.

Sun Life Financial Content Marketing

It's finance content marketing week here on The Content Strategist, and in this piece, we look at Sun Life Financial, which turned their content strategy around by doing something that's not exactly intuitive for brands--they stopped talking about themselves.

Brighter Life shaped itself as a resource by focusing on useful tips and tools about money, health, family, working life, and retirement. Sun Life made sure their content served consumers, not the company's bottom line.

"Consumers are quick to dismiss content that's little more than thinly veiled sales messaging," Brenda Spiering, manager of content strategy at Sun Life Financial and editor for, said. "Brighter Life articles do not discuss Sun Life-branded products and services. Instead, the site looks to engage consumers with content that's credible, unbiased, written in plain language, and free of marketing tactics."Read it.


Content marketing savant and best-selling author Jay Baer spends his days traveling the world and helping brands turn their content marketing around. In an in-depth interview, he reveals what your brand is doing wrong--and what you need to do to get it right. Read it.

Who's Your Content Marketing Soulmate

A little fun to end your week--because you know you're dying to know. Take it.

The post Content Catchup: Amex Raises the Bar for Brand Storytelling, Content Marketing Soulmates, and More Must-Reads appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Fri, 10 Apr 2015 16:27:45 +0000

Vine is full of talented people, and Jason Nash wants to bring them all together for one big social media adventure.

The post Jason Nash Is Kickstarting the First Vine Feature Film, and He Might Just Pull It Off appeared first on The Content Strategist.


What do you get when you mix TV and film stars like Rob Corddry and Busy Philipps with social media celebrities likeGlozell and Brittany Furlan? Jason Nash is going to find out. After about a year of building his own social media fame, he's on a mission to get Vine stars on the big screen.

Nash launched a Kickstarter last week to fund his next project, FML: A Social Media Adventure, with his Vine partner and best friend Brandon Calvillo.

Nash stared creating Vines about a year ago in an effort to promote his movie, Jason Nash Is Married, which came out in June of last year. That film was based on his web series of the same name, and was the first feature released by CC Studios, Comedy Central's digital arm.

Loosely based on his real life, Nash says the plot for FML emerged from his friendship with Calvillo, who is half his age. "I just thought it was a super good idea for a movie," he said. "What I was going through, being 40 and having two kids, and what he was going through, being 19 and working at Gamestop, and how we were brought together by this app."

This will be the first-ever film by and starring Vine stars, whom Nash wrote as exaggerated versions of their real selves. It will also feature many of the same actors who were in Nash's first movie, such as the previously mentioned Corddry and Philipps.

He hopes that the movie can start a conversation about social media and the role of digital technology in modern life--both good and bad. "You develop feelings towards people that may or may not be true, like, 'Why isn't this person texting me back?'" he said. "We all kind of go inward and that's what the movie is about, going inward and having less human contact." He says that he sometimes gets trapped in allowing likes on his social media platforms to dictate his self-esteem.

Of course, with some of his Vines getting as many as 80,000 likes and 4 million loops, he's racking in a lot more social media currency than the average (Internet-savvy) bear. He says the ideas for his hugely popular Vines often come from things he sees around him--or by parodying bad movie tropes, "You know, you're watching an action film and they always say, 'You have 24 hours,' and it's like, why do they say 24 hours? Why don't they say 12? Why don't they say 6?" he said.

Nash started the Kickstarter after being unable to find funding through traditional routes, and hopes that fans will voice their support for the project on the Kickstarter site.

"The thing about Kickstarter is you know right away if you have something good. You know right away if people want to see the film," he said.

And with $21,707 raised so far of the $200,000 goal, from 223 backers, it's still up to the fans to decide if they want to see the movie made.

Even if Nash's project doesn't end up with the funding it needs, the influence of Vine cannot be denied. The company announced earlier this year that it reached 1.5 billion loops per day of its six-second videos. Brands are taking notice of the platform's popularity and young user base, hiring Vine stars for Vine-specific advertising and product placement. Last year, Vine star Megan Cignoli partnered with Lowe's for the "Fix in Six" campaign, using the platform to create bite-sized advice for home improvement.

FML also isn't the only example of Vine stars expanding beyond the six-second loop. Many are now releasing singles, touring the country, and acting in TV pilots. Nash emphasizes that this amount of talent he saw on Vine was a major motivation for him to write this film.

"I just really thought that this group of people had acting abilities and real comedic chops and they were meant for something larger," he said. "I see this group of 20-year-olds as the future of comedy."

The post Jason Nash Is Kickstarting the First Vine Feature Film, and He Might Just Pull It Off appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Thu, 09 Apr 2015 19:10:30 +0000

Admit it: You're probably not sure what a "microsite" actually is.

The post What the Hell Is a Microsite and Why Do I Need One? appeared first on The Content Strategist.


One of the most frequently tossed-around terms in the content marketing lexicon is "microsite." If you think it's used interchangeably with "branded blog," "communication platform," or "independent campaign," you're right. They're all essentially the same thing: a website on which your brand publishes content, and to which your desired readers (hopefully) visit.

Since there really hasn't been a formal definition of a microsite, I'll go ahead and create one:

A microsite is a branded content site that lives outside of the company homepage and/or brand URL.

That's it, really. What differentiates a microsite from a company blog or newsletter or any other branded platform is that it has its own independent URL--likely one that doesn't include the name of the company sponsoring the site. If you have to register a new domain name, you've got yourself a microsite.

But wait! you cry. Can't microsites exist within a brand's own site?

Sure. All rules have exceptions. But generally, if a microsite lives on the company's URL, we'll call it a "branded vertical." Like this one.

Now that we've gotten the semantics out of the way, let's break microsites down by their type and value. All microsites can be subdivided into two categories:

1. Sites based around a campaign

Campaign-based microsites are independent sites (i.e., their own URL) created for the sole purpose of anchoring and/or supporting a branded campaign. They're launched, populated with content (be it written, video, visual, etc.), amplified using whatever strategy the brand sees fit, and then left alone.

An example is Prudential's "Bring Your Challenges" site, which offers interactive features about the financial life cycle of the average middle-class American. You can watch videos, take quizzes, and track stats that might be relevant to your life. The Prudential-branded site, which lives on and is almost entirely self-contained (you won't get spit out to, is part of a multi-platform campaign including TV and print ads and plenty of digital buzz.

The advantage of sites like this is pretty clear: You build it, you amplify it, you leave it. If you've tackled the hard part of creating a great site--which plenty of brands are doing--then you can pat yourself on the back while the traffic rolls in. Whether you update the site every occasionally or amplify it on an ongoing basis, the bulk of the work is behind you. Your evergreen microsite stays forever green.

2. Sites that publish regular, ongoing content, presumably for the indeterminate future

These sites act like media sites, in that they publish original content on a regular schedule--and they never, ever quit (unless someone pulls the plug).

A familiar best-in-class example is Red Bull's aptly named Red Bulletin. It functions like a healthy online magazine in just about every capacity--daily publishing, full staffing, regular redesigns, constant iteration, and steady growth.

This category is a lot harder to pull off successfully. For one, it's not easy to launch, grow, and maintain a content site that stays relevant, and that people actually want to read. If these were simple tasks, mainstream media sites--run by creative professionals who do this for a living--would have an easy time finding a fit in the digital marketplace, and then growing ad infinitum.

This scenario, of course, is not the case. Finding white space in the marketplace (a.k.a., "finding an original way to write about topics that people care about and that aren't already being covered to death on other sites") is a challenge for anyone launching anything on the Internet. If you get this part wrong, your site is doomed.

Even if you get it right, as Red Bull did, you have to go bigger and bigger (and, often, use bigger budgets) to keep that audience, and to top other sites in the same space.

There's also the basic truth that creating new content, day in and day out, takes a level of work and commitment that would make most people run for the hills. The Internet is a beast that must be fed nonstop, and keeping it sated takes budget, time, and resources. This means hiring a team, overseeing and managing that team, then meeting and tracking and iterating and relaunching and all the other expensive, tricky tasks required to maintain and grow a content site. There's no end in sight, no guaranteed reward. Years of toil on a microsite might still result in meager readership. The Internet owes you nothing, whether you're a newbie blogger or a C-suite exec.

Are ongoing-content microsites worth it? It depends on the details of your situation. (And the discussion of microsites' ROI is worth its own column--coming soon!) If you can pull a microsite off successfully, there's a big upside: You'll have a powerful way to communicate directly with an audience, and build relationships over time.

Without question, though, before you embark on a microsite, you need to lay out a careful strategy to determine which of these two categories it should fall into, and why. Whether your microsite becomes the next Red Bulletin or dies a silent death depends on it.

Melissa Lafsky Wall (@Lafsky) is the founder ofBrick Wall Media.

The post What the Hell Is a Microsite and Why Do I Need One? appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Thu, 09 Apr 2015 19:02:43 +0000

Before there was fire, there was branding.

instant instagram followers

The post Contently Comic: The First Marketers appeared first on The Content Strategist.



Previously in Contently Comics

Size Matters

The Industrial Content Complex

Are You Ready for Some X-Treme Content Marketing?!

Is This What Your Content Marketing Brainstorm Looks Like?

The Super Bowl Commercial Store

The post Contently Comic: The First Marketers appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Thu, 09 Apr 2015 15:43:49 +0000

Rather than create their own jingle, many brands now find a third-party tune that's so catchy that consumers will forever associate the track with the brand.

The post The 10 Best Songs in Advertising appeared first on The Content Strategist.


Ever since 1926, when the Wheaties quartet sang the cereal's praises, music has been an integral part of advertising. But in the ensuing near-century, the way companies use music has been modernized. Rather than create their own jingle, many brands now find a third-party tune that's so catchy--and matches their product so perfectly--that consumers will forever associate the track to the brand.

Here are 10 songs in advertising that top the rest:

1. United Airlines, "Rhapsody in Blue"

This ad is from a four-part United Airlines series called "Fly the Friendly Skies." If you ever complain that there's not enough room on your flight, you should think about booking United--all of those instruments actually fit on one of their aircrafts. Plus, since "Rhapsody in Blue" is such a classic, people are likely to remember the sight of a full orchestra on an airplane again.

2. Play 60, "The Power Is On"

It can be risky for a company to use an obscure song in their commercial. If the tune isn't already familiar, consumers might be more likely to forget the ad. But "The Power Is On" by the Go! Team, is catchy enough that people are compelled to look up the tune. I'd never heard this song before I saw the commercial--now it's officially on my workout playlist. And every time I hear the beat, a part of me thinks about the NFL. Advertising mission accomplished.

3. Amazon Kindle, "Fly Me Away"

"Fly Me Away" by Little Ashley is the kind of song that you put on repeat while snuggling with a book by the fireplace. What's that, Kindle is the new book? Ah, the magic of advertising.

4. Volkswagen, "The Clapping Song"

Advertisers get major bonus points if they can start a new trend with their commercial. I think everyone should have to clap out this song--aptly named "The Clapping Song"-- instead of doing the traditional "punch buggy." My arms have enough bruises from overeager children, thank you very much.

5. Sony, "Heartbeats"

Before seeing this video, I didn't realize that I needed to know what thousands of bouncy balls looked like rolling down a hill in slow motion. Trust me when I say that you need this knowledge in your life. Set the beautiful sight to the sweet sounds of "Heartbeats" by Jos Gonzalez, and you've got an unforgettable ad. Hell, you might even watch it again.

6. Apple iPod, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?"

The unique visuals alone are enough to set this ad apart. But with some cool dancing silhouettes in the mix, you've got a perfect song-brand pairing. After this ad was released, the Apple iPod forever became synonymous with "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?" In fact, the band Jet became so popular after this ad that Mashable labeled the art of bringing an obscure artist into the limelight the "Apple Effect."

7. Southern Comfort, "Hit or Miss"

I adore this ad because it makes viewers palpably uncomfortable. No one wants to watch an overweight man in a speedo strut down the beach for two minutes--but they do it anyway. Over 2 million times.

This ad would be positively creepy without music. Seriously, watch it again on mute. It's the happy-go-lucky song that makes this commercial such a hit.

8. John Lewis, "Your Song"

The song in John Lewis' Christmas is so sad and sentimental that viewers are going to need tissues the moment they hear the first notes. Come on, look at all these people clumsily wrapping gifts for their loved ones! Listen to the sad song! It's just too much!

Really, though, it's just enough. "Your Song," by Ellie Goulding, brought the singer so much attention thatshe was invited to perform at Prince William's wedding reception the following year.

9. Vodafone, "Bohemian Like You"

While commercial shows a bunch of people doing things that are totally not related to a phone service, the trendy song, "Bohemian Like You" by the Dandy Warhols, makes you completely forgive that fact. Feel tempted to buy that song? You're not alone. Like so many other once-obscure bands, this commercial brought the Dandy Warhols major commercial success. As one of the band members from the Dandy Warhols told The Independent, "As far as I'm concerned, Vodafone saved rock'n'roll."

10. Nike, "Revolution"

This is the kind of ad that only Nike could afford to make. No indie bands involved here--just, y'know, the Beatles. If you're a company with the money to pair your brand with one of the most famous songs in history, you should definitely do it. Because ever since this ad, sneakers and social rebellion have been a little bit more synonymous.

What are your favorite songs in advertising? Holler at us @Contently.

The post The 10 Best Songs in Advertising appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Wed, 08 Apr 2015 17:27:01 +0000

Amex spent three months covering a single story. The result? One of the most impressive pieces of branded longform content yet.

The post Content Express: How Amex Raised the Bar for Longform Brand Storytelling appeared first on The Content Strategist.


During the fall of 2013, Asheville, North Carolina, wasn't home to any calamity, revolution, or major world event--yet American Express assigned a reporting team there to cover a single story for three months. Why? Because the credit card company made a serious commitment to longform storytelling. And more than a year later, this investment led to"The Journey," a rich nonfiction multimedia project that chronicles the daily triumphs and trials of Buchi Kombucha, a brewing company specializing in kombucha, a type of fermented tea.

(Full disclosure: American Express is a Contently client.)

Content Express: How Amex Raised the Bar for Longform Brand Storytelling

"The Journey" is a prime example of what happens when a company executes its content marketing with an ambitious editorial mindset. Each of the story's seven chapters contains high-quality photos of the founders, their staff, and the 180-acre property that holds their farm and brewery. There are three short video documentaries that intimately profile the Buchi team, and the written part totals over 10,000 words. To complement these components, there's also a section devoted to journal entries from the founders, including daily ratings on a scale of one (very challenging) to 10 (perfect), written for each day during the three months they were being profiled. And to cap it all off, there are infographics illustrating the business's highs and lows over that time period.

Content Express: How Amex Raised the Bar for Longform Brand Storytelling

American Express is one of those rare companies that was already a brand publisher generations before "brand publishing" became a buzzword. Ever since the company started offering travel services in 1915, Amex has been publishing guides, booklets, magazines, and sponsored content for its audience.

One hundred years later, they're produced arguably their most refined content.

Finding the right story

When American Express launched OPEN Forum in 2007, small-business owners finally had a site dedicated to their needs. The site publishes blog posts, videos, and longform guides that help entrepreneurs make better business decisions, and it hosts a thriving community where readers can network, ask for advice, and share their own stories. Just recently the site has been redesigned to highlight four essential areas where small business owners need help the most: planning for growth, managing money, getting customers, and building their team.

This content-driven culture behind OPEN Forum makes it possible for Amex to experiment with richer content like "Local Business Stories," a series of long, interactive narratives that cover small businesses making an impact in their respective communities. Along with their recent redesign, they've also launched "Growth Stories," a new series that focuses on the emerging businesses and nonprofits that have found their home at Ponyride, a 30,000-square-foot building in Detroit's Corktown area.

American Express hasn't been the only brand in the last few years to seek out and share the stories of small-business owners in the U.S. In 2014, Ford Trucks underwrote This Built America, a 50-week documentary series profiling small businesses that are rebuilding communities across the country. And Basecamp, a Chicago-based software company, puts out an independent online magazine called The Distance that publishes one longform feature a month about a business that has been around for more than 25 years.

"The Journey" separates itself from these other storytelling endeavors with an unmatched level of in-depth reporting. Rather than covering several businesses, the project offers a glimpse into the daily life of a single business--an approach that requires an unusual amount of time and resources.

"What we wanted to do differently with 'The Journey' was to capture the story as it unfolded to get an unfiltered view of running a business," said Courtney Colwell, director of OPEN Forum and content marketing at American Express.

The first step of that process was finding the right startup to profile. OPEN Forum wanted to search outside of hubs such as New York or Silicon Valley, since these places already receive adequate press coverage.

As Colwell put it: "We wanted to show that there are a lot of amazing, fast-growing businesses across the country, operating in a variety of industries."

That's how Amex landed on Asheville, North Carolina, an emerging entrepreneurial hub powered by local initiatives such as Venture Asheville, an entrepreneurship program from the Economic Development Coalition and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.

The lead journalist of "The Journey," Darren Dahl, lives in Asheville and covers the small-business beat for publications like Fast Company and The New York Times. Dahl helped OPEN Forum find local companies they could consider for the project, and eventually they settled on Buchi.

Amex realized that Buchi's story of two female founders and mothers living and working in close proximity to each other would offer a unique look at how entrepreneurs balance personal and professional lives that are deeply intertwined.

"We were fortunate to find a company like Buchi that was gracious and, frankly, brave enough to open their doors and themselves to a reporting team and have them on site for so much time," Colwell said. "Through this account, we get an objective inside view of a business at what turns out to be a fairly pivotal moment for their growth."

Documenting this in real time meant one thing: American Express had no idea where the story would end up.

Going inside the machine

Given the scope of the story, Amex could've approached "The Journey" from a number of angles: covering it chronologically, organizing ideas by topic (such as hiring or sales), or focusing on a single interview subject. One idea the team initially committed to was publishing field reports to take snapshots of the narrative in real time. But the OPEN Forum team soon realized field reports were not enough. The story behind Buchi needed to be a focal point.

There was just one problem: The existing article templates on the OPEN Forum site were mostly static pages that wouldn't have suited such an expansive story.

"We put design and development into building more immersive content templates and connected chapters to lead you through the story," Colwell said. As a result, the redesign of "The Journey" received a major upgrade full of smooth scrolling and multimedia treatments.

For example, the fifth chapter, "The Daily Grind", opens with a full-width photo of two Buchi employees packing kombucha bottles. This photo fades out as the reader scrolls down to read the text. The rest of the page itself is simple, clean, only including the text, an infographic, and crucial pull-quotes. The overall design is responsive, making the story look stunning across different displays. And OPEN Forum members have access to another layer of interaction since they can follow the Buchi founders within the OPEN Forum community as they would on Twitter or Facebook.

This enhanced layout provided readers with a richer experience beyond what's typically available from the OPEN Forum blog, but because of the additional time needed for developing the custom experience for "The Journey," the publishing schedule was delayed by almost a year.

"As time passed, there were questions of whether it was now stale," Colwell said. "We then realized there were a number of benefits to be had with additional time--a key one being that we could now end the story on 'what happened since' and share the results of those decisions made a year ago."

As the story grew, AmEx learned how to adapt. The extra content that collected over time eventually became the final chapter, titled "Buchi Now," which gives readers some closure to Buchi's emotional story. The audience learns about Buchi's new products, an 86 percent increase in sales, and even how a new investment in an expensive head brewer didn't work out. The last chapter succeeds because it leaves readers wanting more, feeling connected and invested in how the business fares long-term.

"You don't need to run a business, though, to appreciate 'The Journey,'" Colwell said. "At its most basic, it's a story about these authentic, entertaining characters, working together to achieve a dream. Like we say in the introduction, running a business is a series of ups and downs--financial, emotional, even physical. We hope it makes readers think of the journeys behind small businesses they encounter every day."

The post Content Express: How Amex Raised the Bar for Longform Brand Storytelling appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Wed, 08 Apr 2015 16:17:53 +0000

Here's what you need to know in order to attract--and keep--the kind of journalistic talent that drives great content marketing.

The post 7 Things Marketers Should Know About Working With Journalists appeared first on The Content Strategist.


The freelance journalist you hired to cover SXSW just filed her first story. Only problem: You don't like the way she refers to your industry, and you're a little irked that she mentioned one of your competitors.

So you ask her to revise it. She makes your changes and files again. You show the revision to your boss, who alerts you that it's too long. You request another revision, this time asking her to cut 200 words. When she files the next version, you show it to another colleague who decides it might go over your audience's head. You ask her to revise yet again. Now you're past your publication date, your boss is upset, and your journalist is on the verge of quitting. Oh, and she still hasn't been paid for the project.

I've seen this happen countless times, and it never ends well.

That's largely because few marketers know how to work with journalists. The two industries rarely interacted in the past, but the content marketing boom is bringing these two formerly disparate professions together. Here's what you need to know in order to attract--and keep--the kind of journalistic talent that drives great content marketing.

1. Journalists are not copywriters

Hoo boy. This is mistake #1, and it's a doozy.

Here's the thing: journalists and copywriters are two very different animals. Copywriters expect every paragraph of web copy, every product description, and every promo email to be endlessly workshopped and iterated. Journalists, on the other hand, turn in an article and move on to the next assignment, because that's how journalism works. Their editor may request a revision here and there, but that's relatively rare. That's because they know what their editors expect in terms of length, voice, style, and POV.

This doesn't mean you should be afraid to ask a journalist to rework a piece, but you do need to keep this sort of thing to a minimum and make clear what changes you want the first time you request a revision. So how do you avoid too much reworking? Well...

2. Be clear about what you want

Most revisions happen when marketers don't express their expectations at the start of a project. You have a clear vision of what you want (if not, you're not quite ready to commission content), so make sure you articulate that vision to your journalist in the form of a short but informative brief.

For example, how long should the piece be? Do you want them to cite a specific source? Should they interview someone? Are there words or concepts they should avoid? What about mentioning competitors? Does your brand have a specific stance on this particular topic?

This means you need to do a little work up front, but it'll pay off in spades when you don't have to work through multiple revisions to get it right. While we're at it...

3. Build a style guide ahead of time

Your company almost certainly has a set of clearly defined brand guidelines: colors, fonts, preferred terminology, etc. Start with those guidelines and use them to craft a style guide for your content campaigns. Major publications like The Economist have sprawling, comprehensive style guides, but you can get away with a shareable doc that's four or five pages long. Be sure it includes:

What your content goals are and how you'll be measuring them

Who your audience is, why they're reading your content, and what you want them to take away from it

What your overall voice and tone of your content should be (formal, conversational, authoritative, lighthearted, etc.)

The topics you want to cover and how you want to cover them

Terms and topics to avoid. Include any competitors you'd prefer not to mention

Examples of content they can use as a reference

This is your best bet for getting consistently on-brand content. It's also going to save you time by keeping the number of edits down in a major way. Check out our second Ultimate Content Strategist Playbook for a step-by-step guide to creating a style guide.

4. Don't cheap out

This one's simple: You get what you pay for. If you want great content, be willing to pay your talent a respectable rate. If your budget is flexible, ask the journalist how much they normally charge for a project like yours. If it's not so flexible, make it clear up front how much you can spend, and ask if that rate works for them. Even if they decline the project, they'll appreciate your honesty and respect for their time and expertise.

So what's a good rate? For most projects, start at a dollar per word and use that to come up with a flat rate for the project. Does the piece require extensive interviews or research? If so, pay more. Will web research suffice? If so, you can pay a little less.

If you absolutely must pay by the word, make sure you set boundaries with language like: "$1 per word up to a maximum of 800 words." Otherwise, you'll be in a bad spot when your writer turns in a 2,000-word epic that shreds your content budget.

5. Give them time to do good work

I recently worked with a marketer who was furious that a journalist couldn't produce a 3,000-word white paper in two days. "He's got two full days!" she said. "Surely that's enough time."

Guess what? It's not enough time. And he doesn't have two full days, either. The journalist in question is a highly in-demand professional with a lot on his plate. He had other deadlines in play during those two days, and he needed some leeway to fit this project into his schedule. Had the marketer planned more effectively and started the project sooner, none of this would've been an issue.

Build yourself an editorial calendar. Know what you want to publish and when. Commission pieces as far in advance as you possibly can. And keep a few stories in your pocket, just in case.

6. Give them a byline

For journalists, compensation isn't just about the money. Bylines are a form of professional currency in the industry, and having your name attached to a great story or a respected publication (or both, ideally) is massively important to your career. Too many publishers shy away from this for reasons I don't fully understand, but doing so is a mistake for three reasons:

It removes a powerful incentive for journalists to do their best work

It discourages top talent from writing for you

It makes your content seem less trustworthy

This last point is critical. As Jess Adamiak, one of Contently's own brand editors, often says, "Good content is trusted content." Your content appears far more trustworthy when it's coming from a human with a name than when it comes from the Acme Blender Content Team.

7. Trust them

A good journalist takes his or her craft seriously. They want to find the smartest angle and the best sources. They want to turn in clean, concise copy. They know what they're doing because their skills have been honed by years of practice.

So trust them.

Let them do what they do. Unless they really missed the message--or unless you're an experienced editor--resist the urge to twiddle with their stories. I've seen too many marketers fail to resist this urge, and the results are invariably negative. Think about it like this: You don't tell the plumber what wrench to use or the dentist which implement of torture to stick in your mouth. So why would you micromanage a journalist?

The takeaway

Working with a journalist probably means stepping outside of your comfort zone. Be prepared. Know what you want and communicate your vision effectively. Compensate them appropriately. Trust them to do great work, and try to stay out of their way. If can do all these things, you'll get great content that exceeds your expectations.

Oh, and pay them on time, please. You don't want to end up here.

The post 7 Things Marketers Should Know About Working With Journalists appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0 Tue, 07 Apr 2015 21:47:06 +0000

Take in the numbers, ye content marketing nerds, and rejoice.

The post 25 Stats Content Marketers Need to Know appeared first on The Content Strategist.


As content marketing continues to evolve, so too do the stats surrounding its practice.

That's whywe've put together 25 of the best, most recent stats to reflect on the present and future of content marketing. We also put together a framework for how the best content marketing is done--you'll find the statistics below each key phase in creating the most effective content.

Take in the numbers, ye content marketing nerds, and rejoice.

It's all about strategy

1. 43 percent of B2C marketers with a documented strategy considered themselves effective, vs. 33 percent of those without. --Content Marketing Institute(Tweet this!)

2. 36 percent of B2B companies with a documented content marketing strategy considered themselves very effective, three times more than those without a documented strategy. --LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community(Tweet this!)

3. 84 percent of B2B marketers said brand awareness was a top goal. --Content Marketing Institute(Tweet this!)

4. 68 percent of content marketers back original content over licensed content. --Contently(Tweet this!)

And following through

5. 70 percent of B2B organizations and 69 percent of B2C organizations report that they made more content in 2014 than in 2013. --Content Marketing Institute(Tweet this!)

6. Creating more engaging content was B2B marketers' top initiative for 2014. --Content Marketing Institute(Tweet this!)

7. 48 percent of B2C marketers and 42 percent of B2B marketers now publish more than once a week. --Content Marketing Institute(Tweet this!)

8. 57 percent of organizations now have two or more people dedicated to content marketing. --Contently(Tweet this!)

9. 24 percent of organizations now devote 50 percent or more of their budget to content. --Contently(Tweet this!)

While using social to get eyeballs on your content

10. Facebook now drives 25 percent of all Internet traffic. --Shareaholic(Tweet this!)

11. Facebook posts earn 340 percent more shares than each of the other four major social networks--except for food content, which does better on Pinterest. --Buffer(Tweet this!)

12. LinkedIn accounts for 21 percent of shares of high-engagement publications in the business vertical. --Buffer(Tweet this!)

13. 63 percent of B2B marketers rate LinkedIn the most effective social media platform. --Content Marketing Institute(Tweet this!)

14. 51 percent of high-engagement publications are shared on Pinterest. --Buffer(Tweet this!)

15. Pinterest drive 5 percent of all traffic on the web, nearly three times as much as all non-Facebook social networks. --Shareaholic(Tweet this!)

16. 25 percent of Gen Z'ers left Facebook in 2014. --Adweek(Tweet this!)

And measuring success

17. 77 percent of marketers are confident in their data-driven approach. --MediaMath(Tweet this!)

18. B2B marketers cite web traffic (63 percent) and sales lead quality (54 percent) as their top metrics. --HubSpot(Tweet this!)

19. 69 percent of data efforts are being focused on targeting of offers, messages, and content. --MediaMath(Tweet this!)

20. Leaders in data-driven marketing are more than six times more likely than laggards to report achieving competitive advantage in increasing profitability (45 percent vs. 7 percent) and five times more likely in customer retention (74 percent vs. 13 percent). --Forbes(Tweet this!)

21. 47 percent of content marketer reported better campaign measurement and 33 percent reported better campaign ROI as the primary benefits of using a tag management service. --eMarketer(Tweet this!)

To drive results

22. Having a documented content strategy nearly doubles the chance that you're successfully tracking ROI. --Content Marketing Institute(Tweet this!)

23. Inbound marketers who measure ROI are more than 12 times more likely to generate a greater year-over-year return. --HubSpot(Tweet this!)

24. Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13 times more likely to have a positive ROI. --HubSpot(Tweet this!)

25. Kraft estimates that it generates the equivalent of 1.1 billion ad impressions a year and a four-times-better ROIthrough content marketing than through even targeted advertising, according to Julie Fleischer, the company's director of data, content, and media. --AdAge(Tweet this!)

The post 25 Stats Content Marketers Need to Know appeared first on The Content Strategist.

]] 0

Instagram Post Notifications: This Week in Social Media

posted on 20 Apr 2015 06:09 by womanlycity6183
By Cindy King

Published April 11, 2015 Printer-Friendly

social media researchWelcome to our weekly edition of what's hot in social media news.

To help you stay up to date with social media, here are some of the news items that caught our attention.

What's New This Week?

Instagram Adds Post Notifications: Instagramintroduceda newfeature that allows you to receive push notifications "when your favorite accounts posta photo or video."

Instagram Adds Post NotificationsInstagram's new feature sends push notifications when your favorite accounts post.

Facebook Launches Web Version of Messenger: Facebook introduced "a dedicated desktop experience with the launch of"

Messenger dedicated web is available to English-speaking users globally.

Twitter Introduces Tailored Trends on Mobile: Twitter has made "some updates to the trends experience on mobile to make them more informative and easier to find."

Twitter tailored trends"Trends are a great way to find out what people are talking about on Twitter at a given moment and at a single glance."

Twitter Launches Retweet with Comment Feature: "'Retweet with Comment' allows users to embed a tweet in their own tweets, which lets them get around Twitter's 140-character limit when they writetheir own commentary."

Instagram Adds Two New Creative Tools--Color and Fade: "Use the Color tool to tint the highlights or shadows in your photo...The Fade tool allows you to bring a quiet tone to your photos by softening colors."

Instagram color and fade tools"You can choose from yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, blue, cyan or green to add a colorful flair to the moments you share."

Vine Update for Windows Phones: The latest version of Vine for the Windows phone "introduces a bunch of features" like new camera tools, messages and feed activity.

Vine update for Windows Phone"You can import videos from your camera--from the capture screen, simply tap the new icon in the bottom-left corner."

Other social media news worth following:

YouTube Confirms Plans for an Ads-Free, Subscription-Based Service: In an emailto its partners, YouTubedetails plans to "offer consumers the choice to pay for an 'ads-free' version of YouTube for a monthly fee."

LinkedIn Acquires Online Education Platform LinkedIn believes this partnership will "make it even easier for professionals around the world to accelerate their careers and realize their potential through the learning and development of new skills."

Here are a couple of cool social media tools worth checking out:

Spider: A powerful, real-time social listening tool for Twitter.

Spider Listen Tool"Find everyone relevant to your business on Twitter and capture them in a searchable social database that's analyzed, measured and ranked by influence for engagement."

Dashlane Inbox Scan: A new tool "which will automatically search your email inbox for vulnerable information, including passwords you've shared."

Dashlane Inbox ScanInbox Scan will "scour your emails for vulnerable information."

Weekly Video Tip:

Howto Customize the Web Address for Your Facebook Group Page

Join the Social Media Marketing Society

At Social Media Marketing World 2015,Social Media Examiner announced the Social Media Marketing Society, a new online community to help marketers stay on the leading edge of social media. Designed to help you avoid trial and error and focus on what works to market your business, the Society will feature live expert webinars, QA sessions and a discussion forum where you can get all of your questions answered.

Join the Founder's List now to receive exclusive video courses with actionable ideas that you can use immediately to improve your marketing--free. ONLY Founder's List members will be invited to join the Society when it launches in late April 2015, so register today at


Some interesting studies to note:

The 2014 Social Commerce Breakdown:Ecommerce marketing platform AddShoppers analyzed data from over 10,000 merchants, 1.69billion page views and 304million unique shoppersfor 2014. Based on the activity tracked, AddShoppersfound thatFacebook accounts for the bulk of all social shares at 73.68%. Ecommerce site content shared by shoppers worldwide via Facebook received an average of 1.10 clicks in 2014, making it the toptraffic driver among all social sources as well. StumbleUpon (0.98), Twitter (0.97) and Wanelo (0.94) followed, butno other site broke 0.90 clicks.

The State of Video Ads:Mixpo surveyed125 U.S. agency, brand and publisher executives runningsocial ad campaigns on whichsocial video advertising metrics they tracked most. The findings show thatadvertisers are more interested in trackingengagement with interactive elements (47%) and shares (43%) than views (34%)and CTR (30%).The survey also found thatwhile more advertisers ran video ad campaigns on YouTube (77.8%) than on Facebook (63%) last year, this year more plan to run a campaign on Facebook (87%) than on YouTube (81.5%).

Social Login Trends for Q1 2015: Janrain's latest report,Social Login Trends Across the Web: Q1 2015, reveals that Facebook dominates social login trends, capturing a 45% share of all social logins. After leading theB2B vertical with a 35% share of social logins in Q4 2014, LinkedIn logins decreasedby10% in Q1 2015.Google+ also sawadecrease from last quarter, with a total share of 37%.

How Often Companies Should Blog: HubSpotpulled blogging data from over 13,500 customers to study hownumber of blog posts published per month and in total affect traffic and leads. As expected, both B2C and B2B companies that published more frequently (16+ blog posts per month) gotalmost 3.5timesmore web trafficthan companies that only published 0 - 4 per month. When the data was segmented by company size, it shows thatcompanies of all sizes had the most significantjumpin traffic and return on leads when they published more than11 blog posts per month.

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