lundi 30 juin 2014

Growing Your Business the Social Media Way

Growing Your Business the Social Media Way image Growing Your Business the Social Media Way 600x313

Already owning a business? Looking for ways to grow it significantly? Well, get connected – that’s the key mantra. For any business to perform well, getting connected is the ultimate thing necessary. You need to feel the pulse of your customers, competitors and other stakeholders and get connected to each one of them to spread the word about your business in the most effective manner. These days, it is not extremely difficult as well to remain connected to others. You have the power of social media now – a thing, which, if properly leverages, can give you an upper hand in the competition.

Connect with Fans and Others on Social Media

Social media makes the process of connecting with your customers and other stakeholders easier than ever before. And when you communicate with them constantly, you grow a relationship with them. Thus, you can ask for their help to spread the word about your blog when you are developing it. This comes in handy to spread the word about your business. If you maintain a blog, you can provide backlinks to the blogs of the other competitors or mention the name of their blog. Besides, you can mention the names of some of the other blogs in your social media updates as well. In return, they are also expected to provide links to your blogs in their write ups and social media updates. Besides, on the social media platform, use images to connect with the fans. Hence, it is likely to increase traffic to your blog within a short time. The other blogs will also enjoy similar advantages.

Market Your Website Using Social Media

It is important to use social media to market your website as well. It might not be possible from the moment you conceive an idea for a website. For example, if you are planning to develop the content of your website, you will go for a professional service provider. There are quite a few companies, which offer web content writing services. However, social media comes in handy when you are planning the marketing part. Each of these companies depends on social media to ensure that the marketing of the website is done in the best possible manner. They provide the links of different pages of the website in several social media updates, thus driving traffic back from there. This can come in handy to increase revenues from your business. Besides, you can also engage in tweeting about your blog and ask your co-bloggers to help you in the process. If you have already been able to build a relationship with them, you are sure to get overwhelming response from them.

Give Fans on Social Media Reasons to Share Your Links

Remember, it’s your fans who will help you the most. If you can connect with them well, they will provide you with all kinds of assistance that you need to market your business. So, what should you do to increase shares of your business updates? The first thing you need to do is build a relationship with your fans on different social media platforms. Create pages for your business and communicate with them through the page. Engage in different discussions and announce about different types of discounts for your products and services on social media. These will also provide your fans the perfect reason to share your social media updates. Once they are interested in your offers, they will surely like to share it with their friends as well. Thus, it will increase your brand awareness, which can help enhance the revenues.

Share Unique Ways to Use Your Products

Why will your customers buy products from you? What will they do with it? Well, you can be their guide for this as well. Make the best use of social media for this. Connect with them on these platforms. Besides offering the products, tell them how to use these products best. Use social media for this purpose. When planning your social media posts, include links from different websites, such as Pinterest and others. Make sure that these links show them the unique ways of using the products that you are offering. This can encourage them to go for these products and thus, will play a major role in increasing your business revenues significantly.

Provide Showcase of Products for the Fans

Make full use of websites like Pinterest or Slideshare. These can help you share images. Thus, you can create a showcase of products for your fans and potential customers on the social media platforms. They can also pin the products that are relevant to your offerings. Thus, you can check out the images of the products and can also share them on different social media platforms to ensure that others are also able to see them. This is likely to help increase customer awareness for your products, which will help to enhance the sales. Thus, using these image-based social media platforms will also help to increase your business revenues in the long run.

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Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer Urges Marketers To Get Behind Native Advertising

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer has waded into the debate on native advertising, and whether it is a dirty form of advertising, and has effectively said that if Yahoo can change their ways then so should advertisers and brand marketers. She pointed out many of the positive attributes associated with sponsored content, while announcing that Sponsored Posts from Yahoo owned Tumblr can now be published across various Yahoo channels.

On the negative side of the debate are those that believe native advertising is underhanded and dishonest. Ads should be displayed as ads, in some peoples’ eyes, and content should not be masked to appear as though it is a piece of content from the site on which it is displayed.

On the other side of the debate are those that think it is a natural progression of digital marketing. It may not be written, produced, or created, by the owner or the publisher of the site on which it is displayed, but it is created to look native, so benefits the reader. What’s more, it can, they say, generate exceptional results.

Mayer is clearly on the side of this latter group. She slated those that believe the Internet should content in the centre and stickers on the sides, and she threw some figures around to back up her beliefs too.

Apparently, 46% of millennials that noticed branded content, or native ads, consumed the content itself and one third of those actually shared it. That’s impressive engagement figures for any form of advertisement, and it shows that, when done well, native advertising can prove to be highly effective and extremely efficient.

Regardless of which side of the fence you sit, native advertising is here. Newspapers like the New York Times and the Guardian offer it. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter offer it. Search engine/media portal/advertising networks like Yahoo not only offer it but clearly see it as a way in which they can advance their own goals, while helping advertisers improve their own results.

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The Cost of a Midlife Crisis

Have you been uncharacteristically fixated on your health? Suddenly want to reform your body image and do things that help you feel young again? Do you feel that you must live each moment 100%? If you said yes to any of these things you may be experiencing a midlife crisis.

Creeping up around the early 40s, the midlife crisis can affect one in a number of ways. In addition to being a part in one’s life where a lot of money is spent unnecessarily, it also has many emotional triggers that leave the people suffering with their midlife crisis feeling hopeless and inadequate. Especially in those who put most of their time and effort into caring for others instead of nurturing their own interests, a midlife crisis is exceptionally likely.

Big ticket items are a key part to what makes the midlife crisis so damaging. Aside from being emotionally taxing, it’s easy to run up high credit card bill when you’re feeling bad about yourself. The quintessential midlife crisis sports car is an accurate stereotype, as well as needless plastic surgery, and extravagant vacations.

Take a look at this infographic for more on what to expect with a midlife crisis emotionally, mentally, and financially. Let us know your thoughts in the comments and don’t forget to like and share with your friends!

The Cost of a Midlife Crisis image mid life crisis costs1

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6 Steps To A Winning Work Ethic

6 Steps To A Winning Work Ethic image work ethic jpg 204x300 Our marketing agency has been lucky to find some truly talented people to work for us. More times than not, however, we’ve hired many who were unmotivated, incurious, and indifferent about learning their craft.

Is this endemic of something bigger? Not necessarily. For every unmotivated person I believe there are five who are motivated and really, truly want to excel at what they do and get ahead. Nonetheless, many of us have our own pasts to draw from as to how we conducted ourselves when young and in the workforce and – as many colleagues have seconded in our discussions – we don’t see the same drive and motivation in many of these young adults as we saw in earlier times. For many of us, it’s the mystery that affects how quickly we’re able to fill spots – and it’s not exclusive to one or two of us. All our companies are as different in culture, flexibility and variety as ballet is to jazz.

Jobs are available, but many employees and potential employees cancel themselves out of spots over issues that they may or may not be aware of. As a result, we feel it’s productive to offer some guidelines for those entering the workforce (and many who are currently there) as to what some of us feel might help you get ahead, stay ahead, and get recognized for you talent and skills. Most of these should be familiar, but in case they’re not:

  1. Show up for interviews

    Throughout my career I would never, ever have considered not showing up for an interview without letting the company or potential employer in question know I cannot make it. I understand some in the young workforce have cultivated the mindset that whatever is not in your interest is not worth acknowledging or will not affect you – and, sure, maybe you decided that this was not the job for you and would be a complete waste of your time to come in. Nonetheless, we wait for you. We reschedule our day for your interview. If you cannot show up, call or email in a timely manner. It shows respect for other people’s time other than your own.

  2. Show up on time

    There have been maybe a handful of times in my life that I have not been able to get somewhere on time. The reason for that is I always think ahead, account for traffic, trains – any number of things – and am actually as embarrassed at showing up in a meeting late as I was if I had showed up late for class in high school. That’s a motivation. While some workplaces have great flexibility in their hours, it’s not always just about your time. Have respect enough for others to keep them aware of your situation. And never forget that a text takes three seconds to send.

  3. Always keep learning

    There are two types of employees. Those who hunt and those who expect to be fed. By hunting, we mean you, the employee, spend time and energy researching your craft, reading up on new developments, devouring books, asking questions, and, in short, learning on your own. More than any other time in history we have unlimited information at our fingertips. The employees I search for are inevitably those who come back to work in the morning excited about something new they learned in Photoshop, something they read on the future of social marketing or some new app they mastered. Not so coincidentally, many employees we’ve had over the years with that characteristic have gone on to start successful companies of their own or hold high positions in big agencies or marketing firms.

  4. Pay attention

    The number of people I’ve had in my office that I had to say, “Are you writing this down” is legion. The likelihood of mistakes being made because employees feel they’ll “remember everything that was told to them” is 100%. Write down what your boss or co-worker says. He or she expects you to. They’ll be glad you did. Mistakes happens. Making mistakes for not listening shouldn’t.

  5. There is no upside to a sense of entitlement
    We had an employee who decided there were certain programs she didn’t feel the need to learn because “they will be obsolete soon.” First of all, the program in question will hardly be obsolete in the near future, but the bigger issue is this was one of many excuses she had based on her belief of what her job should be and shouldn’t be (despite what it actually was) and what she felt was beneath her (despite being out of school for one year).Feel entitled? Keep it out of the workplace. While we all want people working for us who feel our company is as good a fit for them as they are for us, the bottom line is that many jobs, particularly for the just-out-of-school worker, require some form of paying dues and doing tasks you don’t want to do. If you fancy yourself the next Mark Zuckerberg, more power to you. Go off and create that life-changing app, service, or product. However, if you decide to work for someone else it is not an environment built to cater to you and your particular wants and needs. If you don’t like where you work, do what I’ve done many times – quit.

  6. Become invaluable
    I had a position many years back that I desperately needed. I was making very little money, but I had to pay my bills and was getting no help from anyone for that (no trust funds here). As a result, I committed to my job and spent my free time trying to hone my other skills so I wouldn’t be laid off (I was a freelancer). That attitude took me from lowly administrative assistant to Art Director in less than a year-and-a-half due to making myself invaluable to the company. The upside of paying my dues was that I left that agency with a portfolio and a skillset that guaranteed I could get more work. Whether it’s desperation or enthusiasm, if you make yourself invaluable it can only get your noticed. Even if it doesn’t, you leave better off and more educated than where you started.

The working world is hard. Life is hard. Some people are difficult. Some are easygoing. There are good employers and bad employers (I’ve had my share of both). Nonetheless, your work ethic says more about you than anything else on the job and, whether it’s your employer or your client who’s in consideration, it will decide a lot about how your future unfolds.

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Google Wants Girls to Learn How to Code

In an effort to introduce more girls to the benefits of computer science, search engine giant Google recently introduced “Made with Code,” an initiative aimed at encouraging women to enter the growing field. According to an official Google press release, the program was created in collaboration with other groups who hope to promote technology education for girls. Partners include Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of the USA, MIT Media Lab, National Center for Women & Information Technology, SevenTeen, TechCrunch, Chelsea Clinton, and Mindy Kaling. The initiative also has support from Chelsea Clinton and Mindy Kaling. According to Daily Digest News, “Made with Code,” made its official debut in New York City with 100 girls from local organizations and public schools.

The program, which launched online this week, includes small coding projects aimed at introducing girls to coding basics, videos of successful women explaining the benefits of learning how to code, and a resource directory for girls and their parents to explore local events, camps, classes, and clubs. The hope is that, by showing girls how coding applies to their everyday lives, they might be able to attract girls into the growing field of computer science.

“Nowadays, coding isn’t just a skill useful for working at a tech company; engineering isn’t just for engineers,” wrote Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, on Google’s official blog. “Interior design. Medicine. Architecture. Music. No matter what a girl dreams of doing, learning how to code will help her get there. Their future — our future — is made with code. Let’s do what we can to make sure that future is as bright as possible.”

Many experts cite the low numbers of women in technology as a problem for the future labor force for women in general.

“The numbers hurt: Women constitute more than half of the professional workforce, but only a quarter of workforce in tech,” Lucy Sanders, CEO and co-founder of NCWIT, said in a statement quoted in Google’s blog. “It’s a problem, bordering on a crisis. We won’t solve it easily, or quickly. But Made with Code is a great step in the direction of reversing this trend, and getting more and more girls to use coding to accomplish amazing things by doing what they love.”

According to, in addition to the investment into “Made with Code,” Google has also promised a donation of approximately $50 million over a three-year period. The money will go to a range of initiatives aimed at getting more young girls interested in computer science. This investment adds to the $40 million Google has already donated to the cause since 2010, when they began collaborating with organizations including, Technovation, Black Girls Code, and Girls Who Code.

“Coding is a new literacy and it gives people the potential to create, innovate and quite literally change the world,” Wojcicki stated. “We’ve got to show all girls that computer science is an important part of their future, and that it’s a foundation to pursue their passions, no matter what field they want to enter. Made with Code is a great step toward doing that.

This article was originally published on

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The LinkedIn Empire: Rise of the Content Revolutionaries

When it comes to consuming online video content, YouTube is the go-to platform; when it comes to sharing that content, Twitter and Facebook are the main players. However, there seems to be a revolution in the world of content consumption that all marketers and creators should join in on: the rise of the LinkedIn platform as a mecca for sharing and engaging with content—online video and otherwise.

According to The 2014 Professional Content Consumption Report, LinkedIn members are consuming and sharing professional content at an all-time high, with over 1.5 million publishers using the LinkedIn share button to spread content.

So, what do you need to know about these LinkedIn members who are leading the consumption charge, the “Content Revolutionaries?”

LinkedIn is their go-to source for professional content. 91% of them are using it weekly to view relevant content vs. only 29% for Twitter and 27% for Facebook.

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Content Revolutionaries spend eight hours a week (that’s the equivalent of an average workday) consuming professionally relevant content.

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Sixty-one percent of these Content Revolutionaries consider professional content necessary for success.

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They are much more likely to consume and share content that is specifically crafted to meet their needs.

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LinkedIn is not simply a means to prove that you have 500+ professional connections; it’s a platform to benefit from those connections. Online video is not restricted to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. For professionals looking to share content, what better space to do so than on the premiere professional network?

Relationships matter and so does your online video content. LinkedIn represents the largest group of influential, affluent and educated people—a substantial opportunity to deliver relevant content in a professional context.

When it comes to driving engagement of online video using social media, thou shall always remember the wise words of Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari’s character in Parks and Recreation): “Everyday I start by hitting up Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. Sometimes, I like to throw in LinkedIn, for the professional shawties.”

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Signature Thinking: Creating Memorable Experiences – #2

The power of storytelling
“Your ‘story’ is not the end – it’s the means to the end.” That’s just one of the many memorable little lessons I’ve learned from artist, book author and learning software developer, Peter H. Reynolds.

Signature Thinking: Creating Memorable Experiences – #2 image Create bravely poster blog thumbnail1 300x226

Co-created stories drive shared learnings and actions

In a recent interview Reynolds and his twin brother and co-collaborator, Paul, conducted with my team for client research on learning experiences, he shared an even more intriguing gem: “A story is a short piece of string with a knot in it somewhere. Untying knots. . . that’s critical thinking.”

For me, the points are strong and simple: learning should be less about consuming and more about creating. Many of us are used to the idea of a teacher or author as a dispenser of information and knowledge… kind of like a hamster and a water bottle. One drop at a time. But this is completely changing. Hands-on learning, co-creation, communal storytelling – all stimulate innovation, creativity, and shared value. And they make for more memorable lessons and experiences. Some call this ‘story-doing’. (See, for example, the corporate work being done by JWT North America’s Ty Montague and others:

EXPERIENCE TIP: Use storytelling to create a new vision. And open the vision up to others.

When you tell a story, you create a new vision in the minds of the audience – driving new possibilities and realities. This is the essential first step in transforming ideas into action. Once your story illustrates how you’ve addressed the audience’s challenge or problem, your call-to-action highlights the desired behavior and the rewards that can result from it. Make the audience’s story part of your story.

It amazes me – not in a good way – when working with clients, that they still often tend to see the business world from the ‘inside-out’… that is, from their product, service or solution’s point of view. It’s understandable: there’s a lot of intellectual property, financial and material investment, and stakeholder reputation on the line to meet a quarterly or pipeline quota – not just on a ‘widget’, but on the way it fits a complex market view designed to kill the competition, or at least eat away at their market share. (This is especially the case in business technology, where I spend most of my professional time.) Problem is, even though the widget may help them, customers don’t view the world this way. They’re, by definition, ‘outside-in’. And it’s the job of the business to help persuade the audience that it actually sees the world ‘their way’. Businesses must demonstrate empathy for their customers and prospects. This often begins simply with a good story – one that demonstrates understanding, and offers a shared path to solution. “Once upon a time, there was this Chief Marketing Officer who had so much customer data, she didn’t know what to do with it.” (Now there’s a knot to untie. Let’s see how we can help.)

The power of storytelling is the ability to make the story transformational for others. Use your story to help shape a concept or idea for others. We are all works in progress. So why not invite everybody in? Help them co-author the story to help them find out who they are.

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Podcasting for Beginners: The Complete Guide to Getting Started With Podcasts

Podcasting for Beginners: The Complete Guide to Getting Started With Podcasts image Copy of Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post 9Content marketing comes in many different shapes and sizes. Creators like you have a lot of options: blog posts, social media updates, visuals, video, slide decks, and even more. You can even add podcasting to this mix.

Audio is being used in clever ways to fit into the content plans of some of the top forward-thinking websites and blogs. Tim Ferris—author of The Four-Hour Work Week—recently started a podcast on his blog. Copyblogger runs their Lede podcast amid their traditional awesome marketing posts.

Podcasts seem to be a growing trend that is here to stay. Have you thought about starting your own? If so, here’s what I dug up for how to get going in this new content direction. Read on to learn the ABCs of podcasting for beginners.

How to overcome your fears of starting a podcast

I have always been podcast averse but never quite able to put my finger on why. Then I read a pitch from Copyblogger for a podcast seminar. Demian Farnworth listed pretty much all my fears.

“My voice sounds weird.”

“The technical skills needed to record, upload, and store audio files are so far out of my wheelhouse.”

“The cost of quality equipment exceeds my small budget.”

“I want to pee my pants when I think of speaking in public.”

That’s me in a nutshell. I am not used to the sound of my own voice. I have no idea what’s involved in getting audio recorded and edited. I cringe at spending money on a microphone. And I’m rather uncomfortable speaking extemporaneously without the safety net of rough draft after rough draft after rough draft.

So what can someone like me—and maybe someone like you—do about it?

Reasons to jump headfirst into podcasting

When was the last time you listened to a podcast?

If it’s been awhile for you, chances are that someone you know has listened pretty recently. Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults listen to podcasts at least occasionally.

Commuting–be it by train, subway, or car—along with the ubiquity of mobile devices represent a huge opportunity for the growth of podcasts. People who listen to podcasts via cell phone grew 10 percent from 2010 to 2012.

Then there are the strategic reasons, too. Michael Wolf, chief analyst of NextMarket Insights (and a notable podcaster), sees podcasting as a less crowded content channel than blogging. It has deeper engagement, as listeners tend to stay tuned in longer than with blog content. Podcasts work as multitasking options, too—you can listen to a podcast while you cook or while you drive. The same can’t be said for blog posts or any form of visual content.

Done right, there are many advantages to starting a podcast of your own—new audiences, less competition, and greater intimacy among them. And it takes less than you think to get started. Here’s all that’s needed for a beginner to create an amazing podcast.

Gear to get started

A quality podcast will mean quality equipment. Sure, you can scrape by with a bare minimum setup. You can record a podcast with nothing more than your smartphone, but it’ll sound like just that—a phone call recorded on a mobile device.

Have you heard of the MVP concept? It stands for Minimum Viable Product, and it is a startup-y term for pushing out the bare bones version of whatever you have, seeing if people enjoy it, then building it up from there. It’s a lean approach we love at Buffer, and I think it makes sense for getting started with podcasts, too.

Invest enough to create a quality podcast, see if people like it, then advance from there.

Step one: Buy a microphone.

Audio quality begins and ends with a microphone. The better microphone you buy, the sharper your podcast will sound. And audio quality reigns supreme when a person’s podcast choices include heavyweights like WNYC, NPR, and ESPN.

Fortunately, it won’t break the bank to get a good-enough microphone.

USB microphones—like the Snowball by Blue Microphones—start around $60. Most buying advice you’ll read about podcast microphones is to purchase a dynamic microphone that is front-firing with good rejection, meaning it picks up your voice clearly without the unwanted sounds of wherever you’re recording.

You can also pick up a headphone/microphone headset for around $30. This is a great option if you’ll be podcasting with cohosts or with guests (more on this below). If you opt for the standalone mic, you can always grab a separate set of headphones—even some you have lying around—and you might also consider buying or fashioning a microphone stand so that you’re comfortable for your podcast.

Recording, uploading, and promoting

Before you press the record button, there are a couple final steps to prepare for your podcast.

  1. Format: What’s your podcast going to look like?

  2. Content: What’s your podcast going to say?

Podcasts can take many forms: one-man shows, cohosts, guests, call-in, etc. Metafilter founder Matt Haughey, who has put in hundreds of hours on podcasting, recommends that your show involve two or three hosts.

I listen to a lot of podcasts and the most typical format is 2 or 3 hosts and sometimes one guest. I’ve never subscribed to a single-person podcast before because I’ve yet to find a single-person-talking podcast that is interesting enough to stick with… Two or three people chattering to each other is the most common format but it’s possible to take it too far.

Stick to 2-3 people on your show.

Your best bet for a podcast that sounds organized and professional is to practice beforehand by figuring out what you’re going to say and coming up with an outline for your recording. You don’t have to go so far as to script things out. Just have a road map for where you’re headed and what you want to touch on.

Here’s a sample outline to consider, via

  • Show intro (who you are, what you’re going to talk about): 30-60 seconds

  • Intro music (repeat for each show so listeners identify the jingle with your show): 30-60 seconds

  • Topic 1: 3 minutes

  • Topic 2: 3 minutes

  • Interlude (music or break): 30 seconds

  • Topic 3: 3 minutes

  • Topic 4: 3 minutes

  • Closing remarks (thank audience, thank guests, talk about the next show): 2 minutes

  • Closing music (suggest same as Intro music jingle): 2 minutes

When it comes time to do the actual recording, the easiest solution might be a simple recorded Skype call. You can call up your co-host or guests via Skype, and record the call with special Skype recording software. When you’re finished, an editing application can help with the clean up, processing, music, and publication.

For Mac users, here is what you could use:

For PC users:

(Note: If you have cohosts, you might consider each of you recording your end of the conversation and stitching the separate audio files together in post-production. This makes for cleaner audio.)

Your final audio can be uploaded to a number of different places. Here are a few of the big ones:

After you’ve finished recording, editing, and producing your podcast, you can upload it to hosting sites like Libsyn, Soundcloud, and TuneIn, or you can aim to get your podcast live on iTunes. Here’s what’s involved in taking your podcast onto iTunes.

Step 1: Create an RSS feed for your podcasts. If you upload your files to a site like Libsyn, the feed creation is done automatically for you.

Step 2: Click on “Submit a Podcast” in the iTunes Store. Open iTunes, navigate to the store, click on Podcasts from the top menu, and the “Submit a Podcast” link will be in the right column under Quick Links.

Podcasting for Beginners: The Complete Guide to Getting Started With Podcasts image podcast in itunes

Step 3: Enter your feed URL and fill out the other information required (Name, Author, Description, etc.)

Step 4: Click submit.

iTunes will give you a confirmation message, letting you know that there may be a review process for your podcast. Typically within 24 to 48 hours, you will receive an email letting you know if you’re approved. Three to five days after that, people can begin searching and finding your podcast in the iTunes store.

For promotion and sharing of your podcast, a lot will depend on the site where you upload. Places like Soundcloud, for instance, offer a robust set of sharing options built in. You can share directly to Twitter, Facebook, and more, and you can embed the audio directly into your blog posts.

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Embedding audio is perhaps the best way to sync your podcast with your blog content. Many top blogs use their podcast as an additional blog post, adding the audio directly into the body of the post and providing either a full transcript of the podcast or a list of topics and resources covered in the podcast. (Complete transcripts can be helpful for SEO and accessibility.)

The ideal everything for podcasts

We get quite a kick out of learning the ideal length and frequency for a number of different types of content, and podcasting is no exception. There’s less research out there about podcasts, so what I couldn’t find, I ran the numbers myself.

Ideal length of a podcast: 22 minutes

Stitcher, an online radio and podcast site, says that the average listener stays connected for 22 minutes. The science of attention spans supports this number, too. TED Talks have an 18-minute maximum because scientists believe we can’t hold our attention on a single presenter for any longer before we check out.

Best day to post a podcast: Tuesday

To find this conclusion, I pulled the numbers for the Top 25 podcasts in the iTunes store and noted their publishing schedule and the frequency with which they published new podcasts. There was a large variety of posting schedule among the Top 25, but a small trend did begin to develop. Sixty percent of podcasts with a regular schedule posted early in the week, before Wednesday. The most common single day was Tuesday (which just so happens to be the day when new music hits the iTunes store, presumably meaning more visits who might see a new podcast).

Best frequency to post a podcast: Weekly

Forty percent of the Top 25 podcasts with a regular posting schedule publish once per week. The next most common frequency is twice per week. Of the Top 25, only three podcasts did not have a discernible schedule to their posting. It seems that some publishing rhythm is preferred over no rhythm.

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Podcasts to learn from

We love taking inspiration from others and learning how to best tackle new media like podcasts. As I mentioned up above, several key sites are exploring podcasts, and they’re doing so in really interesting ways. Here is a breakdown of five of the top ones and how they do podcasts.

Tim Ferriss – Four Hour Work-Week blog

  • Average length of the past five podcasts: 48 minutes (Ferris sprinkles in short “audio essays” of 10 to 20 minutes alongside his longer podcasts of over an hour)

  • Podcast frequency: Twice per week

  • Embedded audio: Libsyn

  • On iTunes? Yes

  • Full transcript in post: No

  • Show notes: Yes


Coypblogger – The Lede podcast

  • Average length of the past five podcasts: 24 minutes

  • Podcast frequency: Weekly

  • Embedded audio: Flash player

  • On iTunes? Yes

  • Transcript in post: Yes

  • Show notes: Yes



  • Average length of the past five podcasts: 44 minutes

  • Podcast frequency: Weekly

  • Embedded audio: Libsyn

  • On iTunes? Yes

  • Transcript in post: No

  • Show notes: Yes


Convince and Convert – Social Pros podcast

  • Average length of the past five podcasts: 48 minutes

  • Podcast frequency: Weekly

  • Embedded audio: Flash player

  • On iTunes? Yes

  • Transcript in post: No

  • Show notes: Yes


Social Media Examiner

  • Average length of the past five podcasts: 40 minutes

  • Podcast frequency: Weekly

  • Embedded audio: PowerPress player

  • On iTunes? Yes

  • Transcript in post: No

  • Show notes: Yes



At the top of the post I mentioned a few of the fears that stand in my way for thinking about podcasting.

“My voice sounds weird.” “I hate public speaking.” Many of the best podcasters began with the same fears, and once you hear the wide variety of voices in podcasts, you’ll feel okay, too, about starting your own.

“I don’t have the technical skills needed to record.” Technical skills are easier and easier to come by nowadays with the technology available. And there’s really not much editing to be done with a simple podcast.

“The cost of quality equipment exceeds my small budget.” Forty dollars should be within most everyone’s budgt, and that’s all you may need to get a viable microphone set up and begin podcasting.

Hopefully you’re feeling better about those fears now.

What questions do you have about podcasting? If you’ve already dabbled with podcasts, what lessons have you learned along the way? What podcasts do you like the best? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

P.S. If you liked this post, you might enjoy our Buffer Blog newsletter. Receive each new post delivered right to your inbox, plus our can’t-miss weekly email of the Internet’s best reads. Sign up here.

Image credit: M. Keefe

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7 Reasons It’s Getting Harder To Pick Blog Topics

Every blogger faces it sooner or later – a big fat wall that slows or prevents the build out of great posts. In most cases, it isn’t the actual process of writing that is the problem. It is just getting harder and harder to find blog topics that will help you stand out.

If you have dealt with this problem, you most certainly are not alone. I personally blog for Return On Now, and we also work with clients to drive content plans and execution. When your overall business model is heavily dependent on content, great blog topics are a must.

I have always believed that the first step to healing is to better understand the problem. Today, I’m sharing my own personal observations on blog topics, the related creative process, and what in the world has made it so darn tough to stand out.

Why Picking Blog Topics Is Getting Tougher

1. You’ve Covered A Lot Already

If you blog frequently, and especially if you beat the pavement to contribute guest content to other websites and blogs, you should have a lot of ground already covered. This is especially true for those of you who focus heavily on a tight topic or niche.

While this is a real and challenging issue to deal with, it is by no means a roadblock. The way I have gotten around it is to designate out some sub-categories of topics. I can then lean back on those subcategories when looking for new ideas to cover. For example, take SEO. There are many sub categories, from link building to local SEO to technical. Even beneath those sub-categories, you could take it one level deeper into specific types of link building or technical optimization.

There are some outstanding bloggers (Jon Loomer, Jen Smith, Amy Porterfield, Mari Smith) who focus all or most of their attention on Facebook. Heck, Jon manages to post nearly every day of the week when he’s on a roll, and that content is deep and insightful. Just takes some creativity to identify new blog topics.

2. All the Obvious Topics Are Already On Other Blogs

In the same vein, a good writer will want to cover blog topics that aren’t already covered by everyone else. Eliminate that thinking from your thought process.

If a ton of bloggers are already talking about a specific topic, it means there is an audience for it. It also means that there is room for new ideas and angles. Instead of shying away from a topic, consider how you might offer a unique or fresh perspective on it. Challenge the going opinion with your own angle. I guarantee you that you can come up with something new or intriguing, so keep the faith.

3. Lack of a Coherent Content Strategy

This is the biggest one I see causing issues with selecting blog topics. In fact, I’d wager that it’s a reason behind why we’ve seen so many abandoned blogs over the years.

Ask yourself: Where does the blog fit into my overall content strategy? We have worked with clients who thought the blog was the content strategy. If that’s how you have been approaching it, you should not be surprised to find yourself struggling when trying to map out blog topics.

A content strategy is so much more that a series of blog posts, or even content marketing execution itself. It’s the overarching themes that you plan to support with the execution, blogging, etc. What messages are you trying to communicate? How are you building your story? What is the intended reaction from readers and followers? Who are you targeting in the first place?

If you can’t answer these questions, perhaps you should take a step back and work on them. Once you have the framework in place, blog topics flow like a wellspring.

4. The Crap Content Phenomenon / Content Shock

Over the past couple of years, there has been some growing backlash against the idea of pushing out content for content’s sake. I find myself frustrated more often than I’d expect when using Twitter some days. Why? Because I see a ton of links, but very little of interest, very little that really grabs my attention. Just a lot of the same old stuff being repackaged by blog after blog.

Rather than complain about the situation, I offer this to you: Hold yourself to a higher standard. Yes, there are ample blog topics available for you to cover. But don’t just write junk or pithy commentary to get a post out the door. Write fewer, and deeper posts. Really dig into an issue. We average 1500+ words per post on Return On Now, and that’s by design. If we aim to cover a topic, we want to come strong. You should too.

If you want an extreme viewpoint on this topic, read more about what some in the industry are referring to as Content Shock. While I find the post linked in the previous sentence as a bit pessimistic, there are some important points in the article about public reaction to poor content. It also hits on some very interesting ideas about whether more content levels the playing field or just helps the big guys get that much farther ahead.

5. Shortage of Time and Open Brain Cycles

Even for companies and bloggers with well-developed content strategies and solid imaginations, cooking up remarkable blog topics takes time and creativity. Between getting a job done, taking care of family responsibilities, and trying to stay dialed in via social media and smart phones, many of us are pushing the limits of our brain capacity. That’s also a ton to juggle!

This is where balance comes in. Although many of us claim to be good at multi-tasking, it’s simply not possible. Stop fooling yourself; open up time and brain space to do things right.

Jumping from task to task frantically just makes you do everything half as well as it should be done. Take a step back, close your email client, put the phone on silent, and dedicate yourself to brainstorming possible blog topics for a bit. You’ll find it gets much easier without all the distractions.

6. Variety is the Spice of [Blogging] Life

I mentioned previously that there are amazing bloggers who hyperfocus on a specific niche or topic. While that is technically true, each and every one of them does a great job of building a variety of subtopics beneath their overarching subject matter.

You are not the only one who will get bored if you spit out the same dry topics every day, week, or month (however frequently you blog). Your audience is also unlikely to stick around for six angles on the same exact blog topics.

Variety is key. Think about the different problems people face. Separate the symptom from the actual problem, and cover them both separately. Start thinking back to the root cause, even further upstream. Every blog topic can look at things like:

  1. How to diagnose some problem

  2. How to fix the problem

  3. What the nature of the problem is

  4. What you could have done differently to avoid the problem

  5. How to put metrics in place to measure whether you’ve moved the needle

  6. Tips and tricks to solve a related need that avoids causing the problem in the first place

You get the picture. These are all distinct blog post ideas that can be mixed and matched on nearly any area of your niche.

7. Trying to Be A Thought Leader is Hard

If you are blogging and it is not solely for SEO purposes, you’re probably trying to become an expert or thought leader in your area of focus. And really, there’s nothing wrong with taking that approach.

Here’s the rub – when you see someone who is a well-respected expert in any field, they’ve been working at building that image for years. You don’t just start blogging and become a thought leader. You have to work really, really hard. It takes consistency, diligence, and a lot of elbow grease. It takes self promotion, great networking, and oftentimes, a lot of luck.

So go easy on yourself. Would it be great to be one of the top minds in your field? Of course! Build a long term plan to get there, and set milestones along the way. Stick with it for the long haul, and the blog topics will come naturally as you expand your knowledge and footprint. But be okay with the blocking and tackling part of the game, because in the end, that’s the way you will reach your goal.


Selecting blog topics can feel daunting to us at times, and there are darn good reasons why that happens. There are a few items that you can balance and build out that will help get past writer’s block. Keep these seven areas in mind when you find yourself struggling again in the future. Hopefully my thoughts will be helpful in you getting the creative juices flowing again, and making things happen successfully.

Did I miss any other reasons for how tough this has gotten? Are you struggling with something else worth discussing below? Please share and we can talk it out!

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The Importance of the Buyer Persona

If you don’t know who your customers are at the micro level, how can you expect to be able to sell to them? The better you understand what makes your target audience tick, the better you will be able to deliver solutions that make them choose you over the competition.

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Before you wave me off and say “Nah. There’s no way I can get to know every one of my customers,” or, what I hear more often, “I know all about my customers and what they want and need!” let me explain. There’s something we in sales and marketing call buyer personas that are a huge boon to helping you get to know your customers and tailor your offerings to fit their needs.

And no, you don’t have to interview every single one of your customers to create them (but at least 5 to 10 would be a great place to start!). It’s all about gathering the right information and extrapolating the good stuff.

Start with What You Know

You already probably have a bit of useful information on your clients, so start there. If you collect client data through the checkout process or in your customer relationship management platform, this is valuable data you can use. If you regularly interact with customers, you likely also know a bit about their background.

Add to the Data

Now you’ll want even more information to build out your buyer persona. This could come from many sources:

  • Surveys you send clients (SurveyMonkey is a great resource)

  • Focus groups

  • Interviews

  • Social media

  • Response to questions via email

Keep in mind your goal: you want to understand who this buyer is, what her problems are, and what leads her to your company. You want to know anything else that’s important, like her role in her company (if you’re B2B), how much money she has to spend, and where she researches products like yours.

Sort this data so you have several buckets you can then turn into personas that describe the majority of your clientele.

Create the Persona

With the data you’ve put together, write a narrative describing each persona. You should have several. As an example, let’s say you run a mobile app development company targeting small business. Your personas might be:

  • Programmer Paul: He’s a programmer at heart, and the founder of his company. He doesn’t have time to build his own apps, but is highly technical.

  • Marketing Maybelle: She’s been tasked with finding a development company to help build an app. She’s less technical and more focused on features and design.

  • Mogul Mike: He’s the business owner with a small level of technical understanding. He needs to be educated on why he needs an app. He’s also really busy and has little time.

You can enhance these profiles as much as needed. While each buyer won’t mimic every detail of the persona, being able to categorize a lead as one of them will help you in targeting your marketing to their specific needs. After all, you don’t need to walk Programmer Paul through the technical details like you do Mogul Mike, so you’ll need a different approach in the content you provide to them on the buyer journey.

Continue to tweak your buyer personas until you have a model that is effective at reaching each through inbound marketing strategy.

Image: PhotoSpin

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Facebook’s Grand Experiment Fail or….?

Facebook’s Grand Experiment Fail or….? image Fotolia 13246747 XSFirst a little backstory on this in case you’ve had your head in the sand for a week or so.

A research paper released at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by Facebook’s data scientists tells us they have been manipulating user’s newsfeeds to see if negative or positive emotions are as contagious on social networks as they are in real life. Basically they targeted users and manipulated their Facebook newsfeed to show more of either positive or negative emotions to see if exposure to those emotions changed their own posting behaviors. Read the abstract of their testing here.

Their summary

We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.

Now my first reaction is, well, bullshit. Posts were determined to be positive or negative based on the use of certain words signifying an emotion. This kind of “sentiment” analysis has never been terribly accurate. Take me for example. I am fairly sarcastic by nature on Facebook and am likely to say things like “I hate it when ___ happens” when I actually love it. Or “Oh, don’t you JUST LOVE missing your bus and having to walk 5 miles?” when actually I hate it.

Seth Grimes wrote a post about measuring sentiment here that explains this in detail. Of course we can expect Facebook’s team to have more advanced measurement and a whole lot more data than the average company, but it’s still an issue. (Don’t you hate it?)

Enough about the backstory

I could go on for days, but that’s not the point here. The point is that Facebook used us as test subjects without permission and this goes way beyond testing ad copy to see if it works. It’s more advanced and insidious than that. This is manipulating the emotions of people without controls. Were some of those people moved to do bad things? Were some more depressed? If one assumes that the emotions of Facebook are roughly equivalent to that of the United States, 1 in 17 have serious mental disorders according to this NIH post. Unless Facebook had algorithms to take that into account they could have caused harm here.

Did they consider the public reaction to this news? Nah, they were so proud of themselves they wrote and presented a paper on it. Adam Kramer, one of the authors defended it on Facebook saying: “the result was that people produced an average of one fewer emotional word, per thousand words, over the following week.”. Oh, well, OK then (I’m being sarcastic again.)

Facebook’s Grand Experiment Fail or….? image Screen Shot 2014 06 30 at 12.44.12 PMResponse to the news about this project has been varied. From Facebook board member Marc Andreessen simply suggesting we either : a) get over it or b) don’t use Facebook in a discussion about it on Twitter and suggested it was no different than A&B testing an ad, to Pando Daily saying the company is more powerful and un-ethical than we thought.

Even though the Wall St Journal posted a commentary on the awesome power of Facebook, it certainly didn’t hurt their stock prices.

I asked a few of my social media friends about it.

Facebook expert John Haydon said: “Despite the backlash regarding the ethics behind their “experiment”, users will not leave Facebook because that’s where all their friends are. Lawyers, internet activists and politicians will probably make a big hoo-ha about this, but most normals will soon forget that it even happened.

I have to agree that the majority of people will stay on and after the dust settles forget it ever happened. Is that OK?

Beth Kanter wasn’t too surprised either: “It feels creepy that Facebook is trying to manipulate our emotions and understand how to keep us addicted as users. But given Facebook’a track record, no surprise there. Should nonprofits leave? If this PR crisis is like the others, it will blow over and we’ll go back to using Facebook and the people that nonprofits want to reach will too. Maybe we will have a little bit more awareness about how FB is manipulating us. I keep wishing that the pr crisis will blow up and FB will start a nonprofit ad grant program to show its good side.

Yeah, Facebook, you’re gonna have to come up with something good this time. I’m already using Google+ more (no it’s NOT dead). That said, SocialBakers reports that brands are starting to see engagement on the rise on their Facebook pages. Should we wait around and see?

Oh, and in case you’re frantically going back through your posts to see if you were targeted, this study was done in 2012. We all slept right through it.

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3 Resources for Mobile Design Inspiration

Designing for mobile takes a special touch. With so much less room to work with, every pixel counts. So where should you look for resources? We asked three experts to tell us which sites and apps they turn to when they need a little inspiration for their mobile designs.

Dan Maccarone, Co-Founder of Charming Robot (New York)

Inspiration: Pttrns, Dribbble

For mobile design inspiration, we check Pttrns or Dribbble for sites that we like. But generally, we look at other apps for the given device (iPhone vs. Android vs. iPad) that seem to be creating or using best practices. One of the most important things with any design—but for mobile especially—is to not get caught up in the gimmicky interfaces that a lot of products use. This includes taking advantage of technology for technology’s sake, such as the accelerometer on iPhone. In the end, it really depends on what the product is that we are designing. Content, commerce, and games all require different inspiration. That’s why we research the challenges users are facing in that realm to find our solutions—and often make them up ourselves.

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Nahuel Asuad, Graphic Designer (Austin, TX)

Inspiration: Communication Arts

Communication Arts is a great source of not only inspiration but a way to keep up with what’s trending in the design world as far as styles, looks, and multimedia navigation. When designing for mobile, it is very important to keep it simple and clean, and to focus on the content vs. the functionality. When a user is navigating from a phone or tablet, you want things to load fast; nobody wants to wait for a site to fully load before they can start using it. Leave your fancy buttons, parallax effects and transparencies for the desktop version, and just focus on the content for the mobile version. “Less is more” has a whole new meaning when it comes to responsive design.

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Morgan Grimshaw, Graphic Designer (Denver, CO)

Inspiration: iTunes, Google Play

When I need inspiration for mobile designs, I always look at the top apps in the iTunes or Android stores. These apps are created by developers who spend many, many hours developing slick user interfaces. I like to harness the efforts of successful designers and take elements from their designs that work within the framework of my app. When designing for mobile, my process always starts with keeping it simple. The most popular and user-friendly apps all have an extremely simple user interface that has been narrowed down to the essential functions. I aim to focus my design on answering two questions: “what does this app need to do really well?” and “how will the user need to access information?” Also, considering the user’s gestures is key. If you can use the app with just your thumb, you are heading in the right direction.

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We hope these tips help inspire your mobile app designs. Share your comments below!

The post 3 Resources for Mobile Design Inspiration appeared first on .

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‘Community’ To Get 6th Season On Yahoo

Six seasons and a movie! Community has been cancelled and renewed more times than I can count but it looks like Joel McHale and the rest of Greendale Community College may actually reach their goal. Yahoo has picked up the series for at least one more season.

Yahoo broke the news on Tumblr, writing: “And the crowd goes wild… the Darkest Timeline is over. Community is coming to Yahoo! Beginning later this Fall, tune into Yahoo for the highly-anticipated sixth season, with 13 new episodes available exclusively on Yahoo Screen.”

‘Community’ To Get 6th Season On Yahoo image joel mchale

Community has built up a cult following over the years but the series was never able to score major ratings. The series has been living in the shadow of cancellation since season three. Major stars have left the show (Chevy Chase and Donald Glover) and show runners Dan Harmon has been both fired and rehired. But it looks like #SixSeasonsAndAMovie could become a reality.

Harmon said: “I am very pleased that Community will be returning for its predestined sixth season on Yahoo,” comments Dan Harmon. “I look forward to bringing our beloved NBC sitcom to a larger audience by moving it online. I vow to dominate our new competition. Rest easy, Big Bang Theory. Look out, Bang Bus!”

The fans aren’t the only ones excited about the news.

Are you excited for the 6th season of Community? Do you think Yahoo we’ll produce a movie?

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7 Reasons Why You Need Online Marketing

Content marketing, Internet campaigning, Web-based advertising, online outreach — whatever you want to call it, modern marketers understand the benefits of utilizing websites and social media to boost customer interaction and sales.

Whether you’ve already launched online campaigns or are contemplating outsourcing a marketing company, there are plenty of factors to consider before making any investment. To help, I thought I’d share a few of the top reasons companies need to use online marketing.

1. Brand-Controlled Press

Websites, Facebook pages, blogs, and other online assets are owned by you. Because of this, you’re better positioned to leverage the benefits of your products and services than ever before.

The “press” you publish is usually in a press release format and pushed through an online agency. In addition, you’re more than able to post updates, discounts, and major announcements through social media.

2. Customer Interaction

This is a big one for Web-based companies, not to mention businesses with little customer interaction. With social media, you’re able to ask your customers and clients what they think about certain products, pricing, and updates. It is much more efficient for a customer to respond to a Facebook comment than send in a survey form, after all.

3. Competition

The “If your competitor is doing it, you should, too” idea applies to social media and online marketing more than anything. In fact, the modern customer is more likely to look up a business on social media or Google. If you don’t have the right online assets, the odds of them finding you is much, much lower.

The trick, of course, is to launch campaigns that outdo your competition and work in favor of your brand.

4. ROI

The return-on-investment for content and social media marketing is incredible. For a few hundred bucks a month (from most firms), you can reach thousands of customers on social media, talk with industry leaders through blogs and LinkedIn, and build up a stronger market base.

Better yet, online marketing is easy to monitor. This allows you to see just how effective each of your online assets is.

5. Opportunities

Most businesses use a combination of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, blogging, websites, and press outlets to market on the Internet. These online assets give an in-house or outsourced marketing team much more to work with than traditional billboard and news advertising.

6. Targeting

Local businesses with a strong emphasis on online marketing are able to target specific markets and customers. With Facebook, for instance, you can promote your page to certain cities and demographics. This is another reason content marketing has such a high ROI for smaller, local businesses.

7. Branding

Branding, of course, is the big one. Businesses that initiate online campaigns are capable of positioning their brands higher up on search engines, appear more professional to customers, and reach out to new markets while building a stronger brand.

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A Yankees Fan in Boston?! Sports Fandom in the Age of Social Media

As a kid growing up, more often than not we root for the home team. We root for the team that plays in our city, wears our town’s name and dominates the talk among friends and family. But in the age of social media, sports fandom is no longer quite so determined by geographic boundaries. Even though most of us are still rooting for our childhood teams, many of us are doing so from new cities, countries and even continents.

While you may not see many Yankees caps on the streets of Boston, you can be sure the Bronx Bombers faithful are there. Now social media allows them to connect with fellow fans in New York and across the globe—you can always feel at home. Here are 3 ways social media is changing sports fandom.

Watching the Game With Friends and Fellow Fans, Wherever You Are

The 2014 World Cup is underway and the US finally made it to the elimination rounds. Americans in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America are getting up at all hours to watch and support their team. And while some of them may be celebrating with fellow Americans in bars or basement, many will be watching the game from their bedrooms or living rooms, alone… but not really.

Social media has made it incredibly easy to watch the big game with your friends from wherever you are in the world. People post and engage on Facebook for every big goal or bad call, and that conversation runs from kickoff to the final whistle. Each team and each game has a hashtag to help fans and friends engage on Twitter.

For me personally, reddit has become an incredible addition to my sports fandom. As a Montreal Canadiens fan living in Vancouver, I experienced our recent playoff run alongside hundreds of Canadiens fans who shared their joy and anguish on daily hockey threads posted to both the Hockey and Habs subreddits.

On another level, streaming sites themselves have become social networks for the masses who can’t watch the game on TV. Most of these sites come with chat windows where all people viewing the stream can discuss and comment on the game. These forums do see opposing sides smack talk with one another, but friendly fans also enjoy the game in each other’s company.

Showing Your Team Pride Without Isolating Yourself

At times, being a vocal fan in a different city can be a trying experience. Wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey in Baltimore is a great way to earn yourself unwanted attention. The same can be said about wearing a Vancouver Canucks jersey in Boston.

Thankfully, social media is opening up new avenues that allow us to show our sporting pride without being concerned of how others will take it. From Facebook profile pictures to Twitter backgrounds, there are countless opportunities to show the world who you cheer for using social networks.

In fact, for the 2014 World Cup Twitter introduced a series of features to help users show their team pride. These include the easy selection of team flags and logos for you profile picture as well as the reintroduction of hashflags— a small flag emoji that appears when you hashtag the three-letter code of your country.

Even though you might not wear your team’s jersey on the bus, you can proudly Tweet about their most recent win and make your fandom public, even global.

Making Sports Events a Work-Friendly Activity

The dreaded moment for many global sports fans— the big game right in the middle of your work day. During the Sochi Olympics this past winter, North Americans often found themselves one or two hours into the work day when their favourite athletes were vying for a medal. I’m lucky enough to work in a company of sports fans who united to watch Canada win hockey gold while hammering away on laptops, but most people aren’t so fortunate.

Well social media is helping many of those people stay on top of the action, even while at work. The real-time nature of social media means you can now follow games and competitions on networks that many of us are using for work anyways (and if you’re not, you should be!).

During this World Cup, for example, Twitter has introduced Match Timelines, a special feature that “shows Tweets about specific matches that are happening in real time to help you keep up with the latest goals, saves, fouls and more — even if you’re not near a TV.” Similarly, professional sports teams have begun live-Tweeting their own games. We saw this on display with the New York Rangers and L.A. Kings in the 2014 Stanley Cup final.

Social media may not pack the same punch as watching the game unfold live on television, but that’s kind of the point. At work, you can’t sacrifice your productivity to watch sports. Social media presents these activities in a quickly digestible way, so you can savour the victories and continue on with your project.

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Can You “Hear” Your Marketing Performance?

Picture this: you’re at symphony hall, patiently waiting for the performance to begin. One by one, the musicians start tuning up – a violinist plays her violin while a harpist plucks her strings and a percussionist adjusts his tympani. Each instrument eventually starts playing a different snippet of music, and musical chaos quickly ensues. Then the conductor taps his baton and suddenly the room falls silent. Finally, the moment everyone has been waiting for – the orchestra begins playing the evening’s program and beautiful music fills the hall.

Much like making music, marketers need all of their channels to work in concert to maximize the quality of their performance. Today, organizations are tasked with making sense of all the data being produced by more channels than ever before, and marketers are under constant pressure to measure and prove the success of each of their efforts. Cross channel attribution – the process of allocating credit to all of the marketing touchpoints that contributed to an eventual conversion – provides you with a way to “hear” which channels, campaigns and tactics are delivering the most value. But in order to gain insight into this performance, the data from every marketing channel must be read from the same sheet of music.

The Same Sheet

Different marketing channels are often managed by different teams, departments, locations and even third-parties such as agencies. This makes it very challenging for organizations to establish a common set of data rules and formats required to piece together disparate data in order to perform cross channel attribution. But unless a standard data format is defined and enforced, the disparate data will remain disparate, chaotic and unusable.

What’s Essential to the Performance

There are two crucial data components used to measure and optimize your overall marketing performance: the attributes that describe specific marketing tactics (publisher, creative, frequency, etc.), and the metrics that describe the results of those tactics (revenue, ROI, conversions, impressions, etc.). These attributes and metrics are essential to the marketing attribution process to enable more accurate marketing spend decisions, across all your channels.

Depending on the marketing channels you’re using and the data you’re gathering, the attributes and metrics across all of your channels may not be exactly the same, but they do need to be mapped and aligned into the same categorization format in order to be compared correctly. For example, the creative copy used in display media would be comparable/mapped/aligned with the advertising copy used in paid search ads. Display ad impressions would be comparable to email opens, etc. You need to establish the categories into which each data element from each of your data sources (both attributes and metrics) should be mapped. That way, when all your data sources are combined within your marketing attribution solution, comparable data is fully aligned.

The Sooner You Start Playing, the Better

Since a statistically significant quantity of data is necessary to generate meaningful cross channel results, a good marketing optimization strategy takes time to develop. The sooner you begin collecting data, the sooner you will generate enough data to derive actionable insights and further visibility into your marketing performance. Like making beautiful music, ensuring that the performance of each your channels can be analyzed in concert with the others will enable you to “hear” and “tune” the performance of your overall marketing ecosystem.

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Scouting For The Perfect Video Shoot Location Part 4: Comfort and Amenities

Alright location scout, you’re practically a pro by now. You’ve mastered the art of choosing a video shoot location that provides the best flexibility for shot composition. Your eyes have adjusted to see the best and worst lighting options and your ears are finely tuned to listen for audio challenges. Now, you are ready to pick your spot and start shooting! That is, unless you’re interested in taking that extra step and transcending to the highest plane of video location scouts?

The Secret Sauce

When most people think of shooting video, typical challenges come to mind: lighting, audio, framing, etc. – technical skills that most average Joes and Janes might not feel comfortable with. And, those challenges should not be taken lightly. However, even if you’ve done everything else right, there always seems to be something on the day of the shoot that sneaks up on you. It’s Murphy’s Law and you better believe it happens on a video shoot. How do you prevent it? By popping the lid off a can of details and sprinkling it around while you determine if a location will work for your next video shoot.

There are more details?

Yep, if you want to go beyond simply shooting video that looks good and get to the place where your video production can run smoothly and everyone involved actually enjoys the experience, then focus on a few of the finer details when you are scouting video shoot locations. You and everyone involved will thank you.

You’ve got the power. Right?

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There’s nothing quite like showing up to a video shoot location and setting up your camera, lights, and audio only to find out the nearest power outlet is 100 yards down the hall. While scouting, take a look around to ensure there are plenty of power outlets available and within reach from any angle you might set up on the day of the shoot. Of course, you’ll want to pack extension cables and power strips when you come back to shoot, but you’ll still want to consider your power situation ahead of time.

Temperature control is temper control.

Will your potential location afford you the ability to control temperature? It might not be a dealbreaker, but any ability you have to reduce the temperature of the room, especially if you play to bring in additional lighting and/or an entire crew of hardworking people. The last thing you want is an interviewee getting frustrated or uncomfortable. Sweaty, angry people don’t make great videos – except for pro wrestling. Wait, those aren’t great videos either. I stand by my first statement.

Craft services, or at least a water bottle.

Did you know there’s a term for the delicious looking spread of fruit and tiny sandwiches you see on a production set for a blockbuster or TV show? Yep, that’s craft services. All joking aside, if your video shoot is going to run through lunchtime or keep people busy for more than a couple of hours, providing an appropriate amount of food options will keep everyone’s bellies satisfied and, perhaps even more importantly, spirits high. Imagine the positive affect you can have on your video if everyone knows you’ve thought about them ahead of time and they feel special. At the very least, provide some cold water bottles and maybe a few small snacks. Think about this while you scout locations. Will you have access to a refrigerator? Will the venue allow drinks or snacks? Could the venue provide this for you as a service?

The comfort kit.

Finally, think about that person you know (maybe your mom, or a girl you liked in school, or the robot sidekick you built in your garage) who always seems to have what you need in a pinch. Bandaids, towel, pen – you know the situation. Someone asks for something that everyone thinks should be within arms reach, but after two awkward minutes everyone is still scrambling to find it. Regardless of what location you choose, I recommend you pack a kit of things like this so you can become the hero who keeps the production running smooth as silk. A list of these items can include: a notebook, pens, hand towel, bandaids, and a pocket mirror.

So, there you have it. Once you’ve mastered the arts of scouting a location for what it brings to the table in composition, lighting, and audio options top off your skills with these tips for keeping the production comfortable. Smiling, content people can bring up the energy and production value of a video shoot as much as a fancy set of lights. Now, get out there and scout for your next video shoot location! And, if you want some help shooting the video once you find it, we’d be happy to oblige (especially if you’re serving those tiny cheesecake bites on your craft services cart).

via Business 2 Community

What Successful People Read That You Don’t

What Successful People Read That You Don’t image shutterstock 110529455I was finalizing a purchase with a new company this weekend and because it was a new vendor, I had to complete the deal by registering on the company’s website. The sales representative was charming and extraordinarily knowledgeable throughout the entire negotiation, so it didn’t surprise me when she wanted to coach me through this last “mile.” We sat together while I completed some forms online.

When the website wouldn’t take capital letters and persisted in translating everything I input to lower case, I laughed and said,

“Wow, your company will think you’re doing business with e.e. cummings.”

“No, we don’t do business with an e.e. cummings, “ she replied. “At least not in my territory.”

Because I am both an educator at UCLA Extension and a working MBA, my heart sank a bit. I know we teach you sales, business, accounting, marketing, operations, human resources, manufacturing, and then some in business school. But if that’s really all you know, we have failed you by graduating you.

The most successful business people read.

They read way beyond their business field. They consume poetry, fiction, science, philosophy, science fiction, science fantasy, religion, psychology and then some. Without these references, you are doomed to lose prestige when your product knowledge is no longer at issue.

We may have done you a real disservice if you have an undergraduate business degree.

Consider whether you have an education deficit, which is more of a liability than you might think. Consider what subject areas would expand your point of view, like anthropology, fine arts, sociology, physical science, biology, mathematics, linguistics, political science and the whole host of topics that enliven the world with different perspectives.

You can be an autodidact, a MOOC-addict or at least a casual reader in these other fields. However, nothing comes close to being engaged by a teacher or mentor who is dedicated to challenging you on a new subject.

Successful people actively widen or deepen the shallow areas of their education . They never stop learning – really learning, not just apprising themselves of a topic with a Buzzfeed style list.

Read and learn to get a richer framework for life, and life brings you greater riches.

via Business 2 Community

Interview with Sean Ellis: Taking a Proactive Approach to Customer Feedback

Interview with Sean Ellis: Taking a Proactive Approach to Customer Feedback image Screen Shot 2014 06 23 at 12.02.20 PM e14035651839901Sean Ellis is a startup marketer with experience growing early-stage products into household brands (his work includes Dropbox, Eventbrite, Lookout, Xobni, and more.) Today, Sean is also the CEO of qualitative insights survey platform Qualaroo. Follow him @SeanEllis, on his blog, or as an active contributor on

As one of the formative voices behind the growth hacking movement in Silicon Valley and beyond, Sean spends a great deal of time discussing the benefits of conversion rate optimization and A/B testing. We recently asked him to share tips for running better experiments and his outlook on the optimization industry.

Optimizely: What do you think is the most common misconception about Conversion Rate Optimization and A/B testing?

Sean: The number one misconception is that A/B testing is simply about running a test here and there and hoping for improved results. Without an optimization process that focuses on continual improvement A/B testing often fails to live up to its promise. Without organizational rigor to make A/B testing a priority, companies give up failing to see early wins, which ultimately costs them the long-term gains that come from a systematic approach to optimization.

Do you think that most companies online are effectively communicating with their customers? Why or why not?

Most companies lack a process for regularly collecting and then taking action on user feedback. Users provide feedback in numerous ways, from bouncing off of web pages, to taking surveys, leaving reviews, filling out customer support tickets and posting on social media. With all of this feedback coming in, you’d expect companies to be constantly processing it and using it to improve the visitor experience, and ultimately, their business. But more often, feedback is triaged to manage customer complaints rather than used for true learning and business improvement. The most successful companies have a process for collecting, parsing and using customer feedback to improve their business.

What is the best way to get actionable data from a website survey?

The single best way to get actionable qualitative data from a website survey is to use them to try to understand specific user behavior. For example, using a website survey on pages that have high bounce rates, or pages within your conversion funnel have high drop-off rates, can give you insights right from the customer that help you understand why they’re leaving. When you understand why a behavior is happening, it’s much easier to take action on the feedback and try to change the behavior.

Do you have any tips on how to choose which feedback should be incorporated into your testing pipeline?

Feedback from qualified people is the most important. The people that are potential customers who aren’t converting are the ones you want to focus on. Ignore the people who aren’t qualified or interested in what you’re offering from the beginning. For example asking people who converted a question such as “What almost stopped you from signing up?” or “What made you decide to sign up?” helps you understand the needs of qualified visitors. This qualified feedback will help you sort through the data from exit surveys that include both qualified and unqualified responses.

What would you tell someone who is looking for help creating strong hypotheses for their tests?

There are two ways to create a hypothesis. In the first case you can look at the data and then spend hours or days with your team trying to interpret what the data means and what you should test next. You can create hypotheses from your interpretation and from your team’s opinions. Or you can ask visitors to that page what the actual problem that they’re encountering is. No need to interpret data, just ask visitors and get immediate feedback. I believe asking visitors what issues they’re encountering on your site, conducting user research, is the best way to formulate strong hypotheses that make for valuable tests.

How do you think companies should approach staying focused when it comes to optimization? How do you measure the progress of your CRO program?

Having the organizational rigor to stay focused on conversion optimization is the hardest part of this process. A/B testing is not a one-off project—rather it is a continuous process of improvement that needs to be in motion at all times. eConsultancy reports that 87% of companies doing A/B testing run between 1 and 5 tests each month. The best companies run many times that number.

Companies need to commit to A/B testing as a core part of their digital marketing program and invest in it accordingly. Stick to the process and eventually it will become an addictive habit, with the organization constantly trying to outdo its previous test. Systematic, ongoing A/B testing is going from a competitive advantage to a competitive necessity. It’s a key requirement for online success today.

Sean will be joining Optimizely for an instructional webinar about how you can improve your A/B testing win rate this Wednesday, June 25th. Spots are filling up quickly, so make sure to register ASAP!

via Business 2 Community