Baer Facts – Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting Fri, 25 May 2018 14:13:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Baer Facts – Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting 32 32 How to Build Customer Trust Instantly Wed, 23 May 2018 13:00:00 +0000 Build customer trust before the consumer receives the product or service—you'll stand out and create loyalty and word of mouth. From Jay Baer, two case studies here of proactive customer service and trust-building: Dr. Glenn Gorab and Twelve South.

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How to Build Customer Trust Instantly

Oral surgery is, at best, a suboptimal way to spend an afternoon.

Uncertainty about the procedure is common. Concern about lingering pain is almost a given. Confusion about payment is typical, especially among patients without dental insurance.

Most oral surgeons and their staffs endeavor to answer these questions and quiet doubts when the patient is in the dental office. The best oral surgeons telephone patients the night after surgery to check on discomfort and residual bleeding and to confirm they’re following postoperative instructions.

But then there is Dr. Glenn Gorab of Clifton, New Jersey, who builds all-important trust with his patients not AFTER a procedure, but before he’s ever seen them.

How One Oral Surgeon Built a Trust Empire

Every weekend, Dr. Gorab calls each patient that is coming to the office for the first time the following week. His typical greeting is as follows: “Hi, this is Dr. Gorab, I know we have an upcoming appointment for you next week. I just wanted to call to introduce myself and ask if you have any questions prior to your appointment.”

This simple, remarkable gesture—connecting with a patient before he or she comes to the office instead of after—sets Dr. Gorab’s oral surgery practice apart and attracts constant attention.

Dr. Gorab says patients aren’t really sure what to make of the calls because they are so unexpected. “Most people are shocked that a doctor would call them prior to their appointment. They’re almost dumbfounded. It’s so out of the ordinary. They say, ‘No one has ever done this for me before.’”

These patients tell their friends about Dr. Gorab’s calls, and they deliver new patients through his front door on a consistent basis. His commitment to proactive customer service clones customers.

“I had two new patients just this week who said, ‘I understood from my friend that you were the guy that called her prior to the appointment, and I thought that was so nice, I wanted to come see you.’” These patients drove out of their way to visit Dr. Gorab, bypassing dozens of highly reputable oral surgeons located closer to their homes.

Dr. Gorab says 80 percent of patients mention the calls once in the office for their appointments. “They say, ‘Thank you so much for your call on Saturday.’ Or, ‘I’m sorry I wasn’t home to take your call. Thank you for leaving me a voicemail,’” he told us.

This is so simple. Quite literally every physician—every professional service provider, even—could mimic it, yet they do not. Why?

Because we have been conditioned to believe that customer service starts once the transaction has been completed, and the consumer has received the product or service.

A much better approach is to understand that the most impactful customer service is that which transcends the transaction, ideally preceding it.

Build customer trust

Twelve South Gets Ahead of the Customer Trust Curve

Just this week, I had an outstanding experience with a company that—like Dr. Gorab—has changed the time horizon on their customer interactions.

A year ago, I bought the Apple AirPods wireless headphones. For a while after they launched, I thought the whole premise was stupid. I didn’t want to give in to Apple’s naked cash grab, triggered by wholly eliminating the headphone jack on the iPhone 7, 8, and X.

But I travel so much that the convenience of a wireless listening experience wore me down. I succumbed. Turns out, I LOVE the AirPods. The audio fidelity is good (not great), but the size, convenience, and ability to easily take phone calls won me over.

Lately, however, I’ve been on more long-haul airplane flights that have the media screens in the seat back in front of you. This presents a tiny dilemma (admittedly, a first-world problem in every way): Wireless, Bluetooth headphones don’t work with those screens. Consequently, even though I’m a big fan of the AirPods, I still have to carry wired earbuds to plug into the audio on the plane.

The team at Twelve South—an innovative designer and seller of Apple aftermarket gear—decided to solve this issue by creating the AirFly, a Bluetooth transmitter that plugs into the airplane’s screen, and enables you to use your wireless AirPods. Smart!

Within about eleven seconds of receiving the email announcing the launch of AirFly, I had this gadget in my shopping cart. Later that day, I was checking my upcoming flight schedule to try to predict when I would be able to try AirFly when I received an email from Twelve South.

I expected a shipping confirmation. But it wasn’t. It was much, much more, and it instantly reminded me of Dr. Gorab.

The email Twelve South sent wasn’t trying to sell me something else. It was 100 percent about building trust and doing so before the product was even received.

They provided a detailed guide—including animated GIFs and a video—showing me exactly how to set up and use the AirFly. The messaging at the top of the email was perfect:

Thank you for purchasing AirFly! We’re packing up your order and getting it ready to send. As soon as your package arrives, we know you’ll be anxious to get set up—here’s everything you’ll need to get started with AirFly.

Brilliant! This email builds anticipation for the arrival, while also cutting down on possible customer service questions downstream by providing help docs when the customer is MOST LIKELY to actually open and read the email—right after making the purchase.

Everyone can—and should—think about building customer trust ahead of time. It’s not difficult to do. You just have to change your perception of when the relationship and the trust-building can and should commence.

Bravo, Twelve South. I hope the product lives up to the promise. I think I’ll be able to give it a try next weekend, and I’ll update this post with my reaction.

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11 Things You Must Know About B2B Influencer Marketing Wed, 16 May 2018 13:00:00 +0000 B2B influencer marketing shares many of the same best practices as does B2C. But there are several important differences that should be kept in mind. Jay Baer breaks them down here, including how to best find, educate, and motivate B2B influencers.

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11 Things You Must Know About B2B Influencer Marketing

Because paid advertising is increasing in expense and, in some cases, decreasing in effectiveness, companies of all sizes and shapes are turning to earned exposure through influencer marketing.

In theory, it makes perfect sense. Consumers trust one another more than they trust messages from brands. Thus, if we can get human beings to carry our marketing water on behalf of the company, not only do costs go down, but persuasiveness goes up simultaneously.

There are some critical challenges with this type of marketing, including scalability, disclosure, and the tendency of companies to confuse influence with audience when selecting persons with whom to align. But the genie is not going back in the bottle. With hundreds of influencer marketing software firms in play, powered by venture capital, this is a marketing sub-genre that’s going to be around awhile.

But the overwhelming majority of influencer marketing software and industry chatter focuses on the use of influencers to pitch consumer-focused products. Instagram is rotten with influencer appeals (many of them ham-fisted) for all manner of B2C doo-dads and gadgetry.

In reality, however, influencer marketing is more important for B2B than for B2C. After all, the average purchase size in B2B typically dwarfs that in B2C, and the impact of referrals and word of mouth are more critical to the success of the organization. Note that 19 percent of the overall US economy (B2B and B2C) is driven specifically by word of mouth, but 91 percent of B2B transactions are at least influenced by word of mouth.

In short, without word of mouth and influencer marketing, B2B purchases would grind to a halt, because nobody takes a flyer on B2B products and services the way they gamble on consumer-focused items.

Many of the tenets of influencer marketing work the same for B2C and for B2B. But there are several important differences that I’ll focus on in this piece.

11 Things You Must Know About B2B Influencer Marketing (and Why It’s Different from B2C)

Lengthen Your Time Horizon

Because the factors that go into a B2B purchase decision are often more nuanced and comprehensive than consumer purchases, the impact of B2B influencer marketing will naturally take longer to take root. Consumers goods companies can—in theory—pay some models to hawk bikinis on Instagram, and purchases will roll in almost immediately. It doesn’t work like that for B2B.

Further, because most B2B purchases involve multiple decision makers, it is likely to take longer for the impact of B2B influencer marketing to touch a plurality of those people. This is why, incidentally, we all should be using more influencers in cooperation with account-based marketing.

In the estimation of me and our strategist here at Convince & Convert, you shouldn’t expect results from a B2B influencer marketing program for at least six months, and you should seek to work with B2B influencers one year at a time. This differs a lot from B2C influencer programs, which can be as short as 30 days.

Don't expect results from your B2B influencer marketing program for at least 6 months.
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Look First for Existing Advocates

Categorically, I’ll say that companies are too eager to look outside their existing ecosystems to find “fresh” influencers. In many cases, outstanding advocates with pre-baked topical knowledge are already associated in some way with the brand.

The first step—once you know why you want to engage in B2B influencer marketing at all—should be to carefully analyze and evaluate your existing customers, fans, business partners, and employees for evidence of advocacy and influence.

Something as simple as using a tool like Cision (a Convince & Convert partner) or FollowerWonk to examine the relative social influence of everyone who follows the brand on Twitter can yield remarkable insights. Social chatter is so diffuse now that it’s entirely possible influencers are routinely talking about your brand without you even knowing about it (until you make a specific effort to identify them).

These people constitute the first pool of potential B2B influencers because they already have a proven affinity.

Look Second for Who Influencers Your Customers

Advertising is about influencing potential customers. Influencer marketing is about influencing the people that influence your potential customers. It’s one step removed.

If you want to figure out who is really going to resonate as a B2B influencer—and you do—it really helps to know who your customers are already listening to, reading, and watching. I love the Affinio software for this purpose, as we used it to determine who influences fans of Convince & Convert, and used that list to help select podcast guests, among other outcomes. It’s slick.

But, if you don’t want to purchase a software license to do that kind of analysis, launch a quick survey of your customers using Typeform or something similar. Ask them specifically who they listen to, read, and watch. We’ve done this kind of research too, and I suggest you add a question about trust—something like, “Among this list of B2B influencers you’ve acknowledged you listen to/read/watch, please rank them by how much you trust them.” This is incredibly helpful information, as influencer marketing is all about trust for B2B.

Don’t Focus Only on Social Strength

Of course, social media reach is often used as a key measure of influence, but it’s by no means the only way to gauge B2B influencer marketing viability. In fact, some of the most powerful influencers in the world are not active at all in social media. On the marketing front, for example, Seth Godin is, by any measure, a massive influencer. Yet his use of social media is modest to non-existent.

When we create B2B influencer marketing programs for clients, we also look at potential participants who may not be social mavens but are respected authors, speakers, thinkers, podcasters, and researchers. Yes, using social footprint as the sole criteria makes it easier and faster to run a report to “find” influencers, but I can absolutely guarantee that doing that alone will miss a lot of truly influential people that your customers respect.

Social media reach

Create B2B Influencer Dossiers

Once you have a list of potential influencers, it’s incredibly useful to be able to compare them using consistent data and a common format. This is why I always strongly suggest preparing influencer dossiers.

This is a document—usually in Keynote for us, but it doesn’t really matter—that discusses the strengths, weaknesses, history, and passions of all candidate influencers. For each person, chart:

  • social channels
  • engagement ratios
  • topics covered
  • hashtags used
  • geography
  • best-performing relevant posts/content
  • history of influencer work/relationships in the industry
  • any red flags or warning signs
  • non-social influence platforms like books, speaking, podcasts
  • media coverage
  • results of your research into how relevant this person is for your customers

(If you’d like a sample dossier template, send us a note at and we’ll send it to you.)

Be Hyper-Aware of B2B Influencer Conflicts

Many B2C influencers make all or part of their living doing just that: recommending products. That is not the case with B2B influencer marketing. Most B2B influencers have a “day job” and are influential in part because of that position.

In some cases, the influencer may be a sole proprietor or may run a company, but she is still tied to that organization. Consequently, B2B influencer marketing programs are much more likely to have circumstances whereby a proposed influencer cannot participate, or at least can’t participate in a way your brand would find ideal, due to existing relationships, company partnerships, or job restrictions.

This is another reason why you need to make sure you give yourself enough time to find and activate B2B influencers. In our estimation, 60 days is the minimum lead time necessary to research and approach influencers, and then figure out what’s possible, what creates an untenable conflict, etc.

Time to find B2B influencers

Build Relationships with Trends and Predictions

When working with a B2B influencer for the first time, it’s wise to build those bonds incrementally. Unless they are already huge advocates, they’re unlikely to jump immediately at the chance to work on something together.

A better approach is to tap into the influencer’s wisdom and connections by putting together a curated collection of influencer thoughts. You’ve almost certainly seen these kinds of pieces, like “23 content strategists predict 2018 trends” or similar. Here’s one we created for Cision, called “Listen: 5 Audiences Brands Can’t Afford to Ignore.” It features Scott Stratten, Jeff Bullas, Mark Schaefer, Neal Shaffer, and myself.

This is a great first step when building relationships because it doesn’t require a ton of the influencers’ time, and it’s a nice entrée into the brand, its products, and its messaging. After finding success with an initial trends/predictions report, expand and enhance the relationship to include more detailed and comprehensive content co-creation and promotion. Also, if you have a brand-led podcast, that’s another good way to break the ice with potential influencers.

Spend the Time to Educate on Products

When you’re ready to expand the relationship beyond a trend piece, it is imperative that you spend time truly educating the people in your B2B influencer marketing program about your company, products, customers, competitors, and culture. This step, unfortunately, gets overlooked quite a lot. I think it’s because brands think they may be imposing on their influencers if they require so much education time. But in my experience, if the influencer is truly engaged with the company, they want to know as much as possible, for two reasons.

First, the best influencers have genuine passion for the industry and for the company, so spending time learning more about the ins and outs is a joy rather than a burden. Second, B2B influencers—especially those who have some experience with these kinds of programs—know that the more they learn, the more effective they can be because they’ll be able to better tell company stories in their own words.

Focus on Co-Creation

B2B influencers aren’t just supposed to parrot your party line and retweet your brand account word for word. If that’s the game plan, just buy some ads. The more influencers put their own spin on the benefits of the products and services, the more impactful and persuasive they are on your behalf.

The best way to move the needle with B2B influencer marketing is to find the right people and educate them. Next, explain clearly what you are looking to accomplish with influencers, and why. Then, just listen. Let the influencers come up with ideas on how to create interesting content, how to promote your events, how to engage with key customers, how to enable your sales team, and more.

Let them pitch you ideas. This works so much better than you and your marketing team concocting a content initiative and just recruiting influencers to amplify it. Influencer led co-creation breeds better outcomes and is much more interesting for the influencers, as well.

It’s Okay to Have Fun with B2B Influencer Marketing

B2B doesn’t stand for “boring to brainwashed.” Almost universally, the best B2B influencer marketing programs are those that have a heavy dose of creativity.

This piece last year from LinkedIn called “Great Marketing Stories Read by Top Influencers” is one of my all-time favorite examples. In that program, the company worked with a dozen marketing influencers and asked them to select a favorite, recent digital marketing blog post or articles.

Then, each influencer created an audio recording of themselves performing a “dramatic reading” of the blog post, which the company then published as a holiday-themed playlist.

Discovering that Scottish marketing genius Chris Marr chose to read my blog post (in full brogue) about why you shouldn’t post quotes of yourself in social media was a delightful surprise.

Attract Influencers to Your Brand

In most cases, you’ll go out and “recruit” people for your B2B influencer marketing program. But it doesn’t have to be that way every time. In fact, some of the most successful influencer programs in history turn this relationship on its head. In these cases, the company creates enough great content and community that influencers show up and participate without having to be asked to do so.

Hubspot’s recently deceased community is an example of this influencer attraction in practice. The best conferences do the same. Joe Pulizzi’s Content Marketing World and Mike Stelzner’s Social Media Marketing World collect digital influencers like Kim Kardashian collects weird baby names.

The events are good enough that influencers want to be there.

(We’re doing the same thing at our CONEX event we’re producing with our partners at Uberflip. It’s going to be a KILLER event. August 20–22 in Toronto. Tickets on sale now.)

It’s by no means a certainty that you’ll be able to pull off the reverse attraction. It requires a huge commitment to killer content and a truly thriving community. But it can work, and when it does, it creates self-perpetuating momentum that you rarely see in B2C.

B2B influencer marketing can be a tremendous boon to your brand, and many of the best practices are similar to how you’d handle B2C programs. But there are important differences you should keep in mind. I hope this article will help you along your journey. And if the team and I can help you, please do let us know.

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9 Reasons Instagram Will Overtake Facebook Wed, 09 May 2018 11:43:00 +0000 Facebook usage is down for the first time in history. Jay Baer says Instagram could be more popular than Facebook by 2020. Learn the nine reasons why.

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9 Reasons Instagram Will Overtake Facebook

In 2012, $1 billion seemed like an awful lot to pay for Instagram, given that the photo-sharing network had just 30 million users.

But, Facebook was weak on mobile in those pre-IPO days, and the purchase of Instagram allowed an immediate shoring up in that area.

Mark Zuckerberg was lauded for his commitment to keeping Instagram independent, and not just Frankensteining the technology into the parent Facebook app. Now, six years later, his quotes are even more interesting:

“For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.

We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.

That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.”

Not only have they kept Instagram independent, but we’re entering an all-new era in the Facebook/Instagram relationship: the era where the child bests the parent.

Instagram’s Future Is Brighter Than Facebook’s Future

Earlier this year, I reported on groundbreaking new data from Edison Research that found Facebook usage declined for the first time ever. The same survey uncovered that while Facebook diminished, Instagram flourished.

I don’t think that’s an accident, and I don’t think it’s likely to change any time soon. In fact, I predict that by 2020, Instagram will overtake Facebook in total usage in the United States.

Prediction: Instagram Overtakes Facebook in Usage in the USA by 2020. Here's why:
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You may have some hypotheses of your own, but here are the nine reasons I believe Instagram is up, and Facebook is down.

1. Instagram Is More Mobile-Friendly

Given that it was a mobile-only platform for many years, and its narrower array of content types, it’s no surprise that Instagram is a better mobile experience than Facebook. Facebook has come a long, long way in this regard, but Instagram is made for the phone, period.

And with 80 percent of social content being consumed in a mobile environment, that structural advantage is significant.

2. Instagram Has Better Stories Integration

Again, this one isn’t a shock, since Instagram is where Zuckerberg and friends first incorporated the “stories” function that was stolen from inspired by Snapchat. Facebook has stories of its own now, but the interface tie between Facebook News Feed and Facebook Stories is murky and tenuous, at this point.

Instagram Stories are also far more popular than Snapchat’s version.

3. Instagram Is Trending Up Among Young Americans

The Infinite Dial study from Edison showed that among Americans ages 12 to 34, usage of Facebook declined sharply between 2017 and 2018, with increases in Instagram and Snapchat usage.


Since the data was released, Snapchat has had their own problems with user growth and loyalty, driven by an endlessly changing interface, and a $1.3 billion dollar drop in valuation linked to a tweet from Kylie Jenner.

Consequently, I believe that Instagram will continue to win over youthful social media users, who are of course the future core of any social network.

4. Instagram Is More Commerce Friendly

Direct commerce on Facebook has been tried several times, with only modest success.

But commerce on Instagram is woven so tightly into the experience, that it feels like a very natural extension of the platform. I’ve personally bought a bunch of stuff on Instagram, and the sophistication of the targeting algorithm is very strong.

And the experience is going to get even better, for users and for advertisers. Just this week, Instagram announced that they are rolling out in-app payments, meaning that you can buy from the photo directly, without having to leave Instagram to visit a website. This is going to transform Instagram into a commerce powerhouse for products.

5. Instagram’s a Better Place for Brands

From a marketing standpoint, the constant changes to Facebook’s display algorithm for News Feed make it increasingly difficult (some say futile) to try to gain organic reach for company posts. In comparison, while Instagram makes changes, to be sure, they are less draconian, and the brand/user coexistence on Instagram is much better overall.

There are many brands whose content is genuinely a pleasure to encounter on Instagram. Not sure that’s often the case with brand Facebook posts.

6. Instagram Has Better Discovery

Due to the heavy emphasis on hashtags from the beginning, and the widespread use of five to 20 of them in posts, it’s easier to discover content that you like on Instagram. Because of the ability to get content “found” on the platform, publishers have flooded the hashtag system and gamed the system. As a result, the Instagram Explore tab has declined in quality recently. Mark Zuckerberg announced that a new Explore is on the way, with better curation.

7. Instagram Is a More Positive Place

I’m not suggesting there aren’t trolls and misanthropes on Instagram—there are. But in comparison to Facebook, where even the banalest of posts seems to devolve into some sort of politics-laden, us versus them food fight, the discourse (as it were) on Instagram feels—at least to me—more consistently positive and uplifting.

I’m not alone. An unscientific poll I launched on Facebook found that 87 percent of my friends (219 took the survey) believe that Instagram is the more positive social network.

Of course, positivity alone isn’t enough for Instagram to overtake Facebook in usage. But social media is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be an escape. It’s not supposed to be the place you confront your demons, or your accusers, in most instances.

Now, whether or not all the perfect photos on Instagram make you feel better or worse about yourself is the matter of quite a bit of academic study right now, but at least you don’t have as many people yelling at you in the comments section.

8. Instagram Has Messaging Built-In

Facebook Messenger is an unqualified hit. Adoption is soaring, and Messenger is perhaps the best real estate for branded interactions right now, powered by bots and chat (including from Convince & Convert partners like Intercom and ICUC).

But Instagram chat/messaging can do at least some of the things that Facebook Messenger can do, and that gap is closing, as video chat is coming to Instagram soon.

If, given the option, you could keep your messaging function and your social network in one app instead of two, wouldn’t you do so? I know I would.

9. Instagram Is Opening Up To Developers

As Facebook grows more cautious about developer ecosystem and data usage due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and similar transgressions, it’s simultaneously embracing MORE developer engagement over at Instagram.

This duality is fascinating and indicates that Facebook continues to be quite serious about keeping Instagram as a totally freestanding community.

Just recently, the company announced that users will be able to use third-party camera effects and stickers.

And, in a nod to Instagram’s present and future role as users’ preferred social network, they will be allowing users to share stories to Instagram from other apps, such as Spotify, GoPro, and others. This is also fascinating, as it sets up Instagram stories as the de-facto, highly flexible repository of users’ real-time experiences, even if those experiences were initially captured outside of the Instagram application.

Facebook is still a behemoth and is the only social network that approaches ubiquity. But, Instagram is turning into a BETTER social network, in my estimation. If that continues, it’s entirely possible that Instagram becomes more popular than Facebook by 2020, at least among users in the United States.

What do you think? Chime in over at Linkedin (ironic, I realize).

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How to Reverse Atomize Your Content Marketing Wed, 02 May 2018 14:00:00 +0000 Atomizing your content into "bricks" and "feathers" (as we call them at Convince & Convert) helps you squeeze more juice out of your content marketing. Here's what it looks like in action.

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How to Reverse Atomize Your Content Marketing

When we work with our clients on content marketing strategy here at Convince & Convert, two of our most consistently used maxims are “bricks and feathers” and “content atomization.”

“Bricks and feathers” describes the two primary types of content marketing. Bricks are hefty. Bricks are permanent. Bricks require more production time. Bricks are saved, shared, or printed. A webinar is a brick, for example.

Feathers are lightweight. Feathers are ephemeral and somewhat disposable. Feathers are easier to create. They are noticeable but less persuasive than bricks. This blog post is a feather, for example.

“Content atomization” (coined by Todd Defren) means taking your content marketing “big idea”—usually a brick of some sort—and deconstructing it into a series of smaller feathers. This gives you more juice for the squeeze, increases the efficiency of your content creation efforts, and allows the brick premise to live in multiple places and formats (social media, for instance).

Typically, we advise a one-to-eight ratio for atomization. That means you should repurpose and repackage each brick into at least eight feathers.

For more on bricks and feathers >>>

For more on content atomization >>>

Reverse content atomization

Reverse Content Atomization

Last week, I was sent a very interesting example of content marketing from ManageFlitter where the atomization process was turned on its head. Instead of splitting a big idea into a bunch of smaller executions, they took a large batch of feathers and rolled them up into a brick. Here’s how they did it.

#SocialROI is a recurring Twitter chat that takes places each Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET. This weekly feather is hosted by consultant and Twitter expert Madalyn Sklar (who was a great guest on my Social Pros podcast), who is joined by a special guest. But, like all good Twitter chats, the tuned-in community participates significantly too, asking and answering questions with aplomb.

The Australian Twitter optimization software firm ManageFlitter is the exclusive sponsor of #SocialROI, and this reverse atomization system maximizes the value of their sponsorship.

Feather: Each week, ManageFlitter posts social graphics on their accounts promoting the show and that week’s special guest.

Join us today for the #SocialROI Twitter chat hosted by Madalyn Sklar with guest Shaun Ayala.

Topic: Strategies for…

Posted by ManageFlitter on Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Feather: At the conclusion of each chat, Madalyn conducts a Facebook Live chat with the guest, amplifying the episode and providing a cross-channel boost.

#SocialROI “After” Chat with host Madalyn Sklar and guest Peg Fitzpatrick talking about Creating Twitter Visuals That Drive Conversion

#SocialROI “After” Chat with host Madalyn Sklar and guest Peg Fitzpatrick talking about Creating Twitter Visuals That Drive Conversion

Posted by ManageFlitter on Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Feather: Approximately 72 hours after each chat concludes, ManageFlitter posts a comprehensive recap blog post that includes all questions asked of the guest and the best answers from the community.

Feather: ManageFlitter cross-posts the Facebook Live videos to their YouTube channel as a playlist just for #SocialROI.

Brick: With 52 weekly Twitter chats worth of content at hand, plus hundreds of accompanying Feathers, ManageFlitter reverse atomized the content by rolling up the greatest hits from the series into a downloadable PDF Brick called “#SocialROI: 25 Topics Covered by 25 Social Media Experts.”

The ebook is very interesting. Lots of good perspectives, and an excellent example of reverse content atomization.

Back to the Future

I’m sure I didn’t invent reverse atomization, but I first took a stab at it when I launched my own Twitter-based interview series in 2008, called Twitter 20Joseph Jaffe was my first guest on the show, and after a few dozen “episodes,” I rolled them up into a Slideshare download, just like what ManageFlitter has done here.

Great to see that content extension through atomization is alive and well!

If you’re not pursuing a one-to-eight or eight-to-one strategy, start thinking about atomization in your content marketing planning process. It will help you a lot.

(And if the team and I at Convince & Convert can assist, please let us know.)

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When Your Great Customer Experience Drives Your Employees Crazy Wed, 25 Apr 2018 13:00:00 +0000 The customer experience of Olive Garden's free breadsticks is amazing. Their employees think differently. Machine learning can help us understand the balance between customer experience and employee experience, from Jay Baer.

The post When Your Great Customer Experience Drives Your Employees Crazy appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

When Your Great Customer Experience Drives Your Employees Crazy

Hick’s Law states that the more choices we face, the harder it is for us to make a selection. Perhaps best explained in the terrific book The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz, Hick’s Law is why you stand slack-jawed when trying to make a cereal selection at Kroger: too. many. kinds. of. cereal.

Increasingly, we try to shortcut our decision-making by relying upon aggregate opinions of other people who have already experienced the thing we seek. Psychologically, this is what powers ratings and reviews sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor,, (plastic surgery reviews), and the hundreds of other sites that collect opinions and present them with one- to five-star scores.

The companion trend giving rise to these sites is our relative distrust of messaging from companies and organizations and our comparative embrace of the feelings of our fellow humans. Oft-cited research from BrightLocal says that more than 80 percent of people believe at least some online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends and family members. Companies, on the other hand, are trusted about half the time.

I suspect our reliance on ratings and reviews will continue to escalate. After all, who has time to figure out the best whatever in your area? Just compare their average ratings, and make a decision that way.

A fascinating sidebar of the rise of ratings and reviews, however, is the application of similar data collection to employers. and are the leaders in the fast-growth category of employer reviews. Both firms use these ratings as a robust content marketing initiative that spurs awareness and interest in their recruitment and job placement services.

Both sites are red hot. Website traffic places Glassdoor as the 202nd busiest site in the USA and Indeed at number 27, according to SimilarWeb data.

Further, more and more companies (including consulting clients of ours here at Convince & Convert) are increasingly interested in how they are portrayed on these sites. Why? The current labor market is almost historically tight, with job seekers holding the cards in ways they have not for many years. If you’re looking for a job in retail, or hospitality, or insurance, or healthcare, or homebuilding, or anything else, and you have multiple options, why would you NOT compare your potential employers on sites like these to see what current/former employees have to say about the policies, culture, and environment?

Thus, sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor provide a snapshot of how well companies are meeting customer expectations, while sites like Glassdoor and Indeed offer a similar glimpse into alignment with employee expectations.

It is a long-held maxim that companies that deliver a good customer experience typically also provide a good employee experience. This correlation is not an accident, as it often speaks to underlying culture and values. In fact, many researchers believe that one begets the other; treating your employees well naturally manifests in improved customer experiences. Just to cherry-pick some examples, leaders in customer experience like Southwest, Ritz-Carlton, and USAA are generally known to be good places to work.

But sometimes, what customers want and what employees prefer veer in opposite directions, like magnets with opposing polarity, or the Gallagher brothers at a family gathering.

Customer versus Employee Experience at Olive Garden

A new research project from Brain+Trust Insights demonstrates how this can happen, this time at Olive Garden Restaurants. Brain+Trust Insights is a new consultancy that uses big data and machine learning to uncover interesting and applicable truths about brands and behaviors. The firm is led by my brilliant friend Christopher S. Penn, who is unquestionably the most interesting person I know.

For this project, Chris and his team digitally ingested (using IBM Watson Analytics) 2,547 Glassdoor reviews of Olive Garden, the prominent, 844-location Italian food restaurant chain owned by the Darden Restaurants group.

Across all reviews, the company has an average score of 3.5 out of 5, as of April 2018. 64 percent of workers would recommend the company to a friend, and 76 percent approve of the company CEO. These numbers are pretty solid for a national restaurant chain.

In comparison, Outback Steakhouse and The Cheesecake Factory average 3.6, and Chili’s maintains a 3.4 rating.

Despite these generally positive marks, Olive Garden should seek to improve the experience and attitude of its employees, for three reasons:

  1. Happier employees provide better service, improving customer retention and profit.
  2. Employee churn is a colossal expense for all restaurants, costing millions of dollars in training costs for a chain as large as Olive Garden and reducing the on-floor experience and expertise of the staff due to turnover.
  3. In a tight labor market, remaining fully staffed may be easier if Olive Garden could meaningfully creep ahead of competitors in average Glassdoor score.

It’s worth it to move from relative contentment to genuine happiness within the employee ranks at Olive Garden. And the analysis by Brain+Trust Insights shows that this is actually occurring already. Negative comments and low review scores among employees have dipped consistently since 2014. But more can and should be done. How?

The Curse of Free Breadsticks

Change the free breadsticks policy.

You may know that a signature Olive Garden experience is breadsticks delivered to your table once you’re seated. And one of the most popular menu items is the $11.99 unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks combination.

Restaurant patrons love the breadsticks. Many employees loathe it, and the data shows this to be true, as many team members leaving Glassdoor reviews specifically mention that the breadsticks, in particular, set them up to fail because they are either constantly having to re-fill the breadsticks basket, or because the breadsticks are decidedly less tasty when they sit for a few minutes.

Specific comments include, “You are nothing but a breadsticks slave,” and, “Unlimited salad and breadsticks sucks.”

Operationally, Olive Garden has to balance the rampant, almost cultish popularity of the soup/salad/breadsticks combination—which spurs nearly 80 percent of all social chatter about the brand, according to Penn—and the companion fact that the very thing customers love is also driving dissatisfaction among team members.

This is a classic game theory quandary. What does it require to recruit new customers consistently if you do NOT have the breadsticks offer, and how does that compare with the costs and impacts of a partially dissatisfied workforce?

There are two lessons here. First, in our heightened zeal to provide better customer experiences (usually a good thing), we may trigger unintended consequences. And second, the application of machine learning to peer into previously opaque data sets and derive insights is useful and interesting in many contexts.

I guess there’s no such thing as a free lunch, even if it’s just breadsticks.

Download the entire report from Brain+Trust Insights here.

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Who Wins the Marketing Fight Between Robots and Artisans? Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:00:00 +0000 The age of AI-assisted marketing is upon us, but do we want the robots to take over for the artisans completely? Jay Baer ponders an uncertain future.

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Who Wins the Marketing Fight Between Robots and Artisans

Do you hear that spooky rustling of the leaves outside your window? It’s artificial intelligence and machine learning, creeping around in the marketing woods like a Blair Witch comprised solely of ones and zeroes.

The story advanced by MarTech companies is that robot marketing assistants, powered by the big data gleaned from customers and prospects, will automagically create hyper-relevant landing pages, emails, social posts, display ads, push notifications, and all matter of digital communiqués.

There are two benefits, they say. Because they use first-, second-, and third-party data, the resulting messages should be more palatable to recipients. Also, the labor necessary to create such finely targeted marketing executions falls to near zero (once you’ve paid your license fee) because the robots do the drudgery.

This is inexorable and unavoidable, at some level. Unless we have a TOTAL and COMPLETE reimagining of data gathering and usage norms, artificially intelligent digital marketing will quickly come to dominate the landscape, especially in mid-sized and large organizations that need scale.

It’s not dissimilar from the long-ago move from manual bid management in the paid search community to automated optimization and cultivation using software. In the fight for efficiency, robots remain undefeated.

I’ve said in several podcasts and interviews that I’m generally fine with the advance of marketing AI because once the robots are doing the dirty work, the strategist becomes king. As a strategist myself, it’s not the worst outcome. If all competitors bring roughly the same knives to a knife fight, the knife strategist (I don’t think that’s an actual job) is the key, because the knife practitioners will cancel each other out (perhaps literally, in this tortured analogy).

And ultimately, software can only execute on rules developed by human masters, right? We command the robot army, and it goes crazy with A/B testing and next best offer creation and such, until our prospect forks over their money. Humans still hold the steering wheel, because we’re the ones that have the ability to create and craft and curate and combine. We are artists in ways that AI never can be.

Ummm, maybe not.

There’s a an experimental new podcast about life in a fictitious town, from UC Santa Cruz PhD student James Ryan, written and “voiced” entirely by Sheldon, an artificial intelligence platform he created. Based on listeners’ habits and storytelling “threads” uncovered by the machine, each episode of the Sheldon County show is imagined and produced entirely by a robot. The prototype shows are available now on Ryan’s Soundcloud.

The next iteration of the technology is that every listener will receive an entirely different story in each episode, developed and created on-the-fly by the SHELDON system. It would, of course, be impossible for me to record 50,000 different versions of my SocialPros podcast for each listener. But Ryan’s robot can do this with relative ease, once he completes the programming to do so.

In an interview on Motherboard, he described how the behaviors of the artificial characters in the show are interpreted by the system, which then creates new storylines:

“The characters may decide to start a sort of utopian town that is built on the ideals they hold in common,” Ryan said. “So, for example, there could be a group of characters who all believe in law and order and stoicism, and who all despise merriment, so they start a town rooted in these principles. Critically, characters in the simulation hold town hall meetings, where they may propose new legislation and vote on it; if the legislation passes, it can actually affect how life in that town is simulated.”

I have two reactions to Ryan and the Sheldon County podcast:

  1. Holy cow, this is amazing.
  2. Is this what we want?

If we can train robots to be storytellers, what does that mean for the myriad human creators who use their skills to make stuff we enjoy, whether it’s “art” or “content” or something in between?

What really shook me up was the juxtaposition between the Sheldon County podcast and the work of Michael Breach, an exceptionally talented barista artist I met at an event in January. Michael creates works of art using latte foam, including a human-powered magic trick where he paints your portrait while you wait, like one of those boardwalk caricaturists, but with more caffeine and a far less forgiving medium.

Here are samples of his work from his must-follow Instagram account:

Transfixed, I watched Michael work for nearly thirty minutes. A true artisan, he works with a tiny brush, pushing and pulling colored foam around a cup of real coffee.

Could someone create a latte robot that could spit out a facsimile of Michael’s work, and do so faster and less expensively? Almost assuredly. But doing so squeezes every drop of joy and wonder out of the affair, and replaces it with expediency and efficiency.

I can make a business case for the robots doing it all in marketing and creative: strategy, operations, execution and all the rest. But the emotional case? I’d prefer to keep riding with artisans like Michael Breach as long as possible.

I’m really not sure if we’re aligned on this. Are we? I’d love to talk about it on LinkedIn, where this article is also posted.

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Easy Feedback Mechanisms Are Key to Customer Experience Optimization Thu, 12 Apr 2018 13:00:00 +0000 Why gathering feedback from more customers is crucial in live environments, and new technology for capturing customer experience optimization data, from Jay Baer.

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Easy Feedback Mechanisms Are Key to Customer Experience Optimization

In digital environments, it’s fairly simple to gauge customer attitudes—at least in part—based on the behavior of those customers. If they come back to the website over and over, they are very satisfied with what they find there, they are gluttons for punishment, or they are your Mom.

Email provides its own built-in success metrics in the form of open rates, click-through rates, unsubscribe rates, and the rest.

Online forms have conversion rates to infer similar achievements.

Social media has engagement rates to determine success at the individual piece of content level.

Videos have dwell time—the length and percentage of each video watched.

Even webinars have show-up and re-watch rates to use as measures of customer satisfaction.

But what if your customer interaction is mostly or entirely offline?

If a customer has actually appeared inside your place of business (retail, restaurant, professional services office, theater, car dealership, or anything that might reasonably appear on Yelp), gathering feedback from that customer AT THAT TIME is critical.

This is not a hypothetical customer—like a webinar attendee. This is a real, live, breathing human who has just presumably given you money in exchange for goods and/services. Effectively gathering the opinion of as many of these people as possible can have a massive impact on your customer experience and overall business trajectory.

But does this happen today? Do we routinely provide feedback within an in-store setting, before we hit the parking lot? No. Are we ever even asked for our feedback while we are still in the store? Typically, no.

How Businesses Screw Up Offline Customer Feedback

Business owners currently rely on the shaky efficacy of a three-step process and hope for the best.

  1. Nudge the customer to provide feedback once they’ve left the business, via a review on Yelp (or similar) or a request to call a survey phone number shown on their receipt.
  2. The customer, who has about 1,237 other things to worry about, will at some point in the future remember that they were nudged to provide feedback and feel compelled to do so.
  3. The customer takes the time to visit an online ratings portal or call a survey phone number.

What percentage of customers actually get through all these steps? Less than one-half of one percent, according to Kevin Berk, CEO of ServiceGuru, a customer feedback platform.

If you’re trying to optimize your customer experience—and you should be—it’s pretty difficult to do so when your data pool consists of .5 percent of your in-person transactions. Companies and organizations are starting to understand this, which is why you’re seeing a rise of “smiley face” feedback collection.

HappyOrNot Customer Survey Kiosk

One of the most prominent players in this category is HappyOrNot, founded by Finnish entrepreneur Heikki Väänänen in 2009. Now installed in thousands of locations worldwide, these smiley-face kiosks gather feedback from approximately 20 percent of customers, according to the company. That’s of course much better than .5 percent, especially since customers generate the feedback while still on-site.

But what do you really learn from a happy face versus a sad face? You get overall satisfaction as a baseline metric, and nothing else. Customers have no ability to provide context or details surrounding their experience, making this a blunt instrument for data gathering.

Very few customers follow through on leaving feedback

The Future of Effective Offline Customer Feedback

Berk’s ServiceGuru (disclosure: I am an advisor to the company, as is Shep Hyken) marries the ease and timeliness of HappyOrNot’s feedback mechanism, with additional nuance and detail that makes it far more useful for generating actionable insights.

ServiceGuru sets up a kiosk at the exit of retail stores and restaurants. The kiosk uses a regular iPad to display feedback collection options to customers.

In addition to the top-level satisfaction score (one to five stars instead of smileys, but it’s the same principle), ServiceGuru also allows customers to provide additional detail about their satisfaction or lack thereof, as well as indicate who in the store/restaurant assisted them. This provides far more useful information to managers.

ServiceGuru usage is incredibly high in test locations, with a chain of hardware stores seeing up to a 2,700 percent increase in feedback collection among customers.

Also, asking customers who helped them in the store appears to trigger a psychological “nudging” effect. Customers are seeking out managers to make sure they know that they experienced great service.

A beta user of the system had this to say: “One of the unforeseen benefits of using the Guru has been the customers asking to speak to the store managers. I have been called over by team members so the customer could tell me directly how well our associate did. During morning team huddles, I let the team know how many reviews we received, and which associates have a perfect, 5.0 score.”

To optimize customer experience, you must have data. It’s easy to come by online—less so offline. Feedback provided in-store is better than feedback provided later via reviews site or a phone survey. Certainly, simple experience “score” mechanisms like smiley kiosks can deliver a high ratio of customer participation. But what do you really learn in that scenario?

The future of offline customer feedback is a blend of on-location, simple feedback collection (making it obstacle-free for nearly all consumers) and a short list of more nuanced and useful data points that give management actionable insights.

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The 26 Best Topics in Healthcare Content Marketing Wed, 04 Apr 2018 13:00:00 +0000 Ceralytics' new data reveals the top healthcare content marketing topics, analyzed by Jay Baer.

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The 26 Best Topics in Healthcare Content Marketing

Content marketing is hard.

Content marketing in healthcare is REALLY hard.

healthcare-content-marketing-downloadThe good news is that healthcare content marketing has a very large audience. The bad news is that competition is fierce, and the breadth of potential topics is almost too vast.

Let’s say you’re tasked with building an engaged audience for your healthcare company, using content marketing and related tactics. About what do you create content? Wellness? Food? Maladies? Trends? You can’t be topically authoritative about everything, so what topics do you pick?

Our friends at Ceralytics shed some light on this tricky question with their new research: 2018 Healthcare Content Marketing Report (grab it at no cost here).

In this research, the Ceralytics team analyzed more than 16,000 healthcare topics and evaluated more than three million social shares. They also looked at search engine popularity, web traffic, and other inputs.

They also ingested every speck of content from nine very large and prominent creators to see what topics they actually cover day-to-day and the popularity of those topics. Included in the study were Kindred Healthcare (a Convince & Convert client), HCA Today, United Healthcare, Norton Healthcare, Cleveland Clinic, Kaiser Health News, Aetna, CVS, and Mayo Clinic.

(The Ceralytics tool is great for this kind of topical analysis. They help us figure out what to write about here at Convince & Convert.)

Based on this data, Ceralytics uncovered the 26 most popular topics for healthcare content marketing in 2018, according to actual behavior of content consumers, in order of popularity. Of course, many of these topics are combined in searches and in content executions:

  1. heart disease (95,000+ social shares on this topic alone)
  2. diet (82,000+ social shares)
  3. tips
  4. recipes (best performing recipe: brussel sprouts!!)
  5. pain (exceptional performance in social sharing, less so in search)
  6. brain
  7. symptoms
  8. women
  9. stress
  10. stroke
  11. health
  12. truth
  13. heart attack
  14. blood sugar
  15. children
  16. diabetes
  17. foods
  18. heart
  19. weight loss
  20. adults
  21. sleep
  22. smoking
  23. high blood pressure
  24. blood pressure
  25. Americans
  26. drugs

In the full report, Ceralytics also provides a list of the 26 topics that are actually used most often in content marketing among the nine large healthcare organizations studied. There’s quite a bit of crossover between the lists, but by no means a one-to-one overlap.

What Ceralytics’ New Data Means for Marketers

This indicates that there are still topical opportunities for healthcare content marketers that want to go deep in areas that aren’t as well-covered. For instance, “heart disease” is the most effective topic (see above), but is only the 23rd most commonly used content marketing topic.

Health and healthcare/wellness tips rank third in topical demand (see above) but do not even make the top 26 in terms of topics being executed today. That’s an opportunity.

From the perspective of topical adjacencies, I find it interesting how many of the top 26 above are related in some way to heart health. Number 1, 2, 7, 9, 10, 13, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24 can all reasonably be connected to heart health. In fact, according to Ceralytics data, 19 percent of all content marketing about “diet” is also about heart disease.

In addition, number 1, 13, 18, 23, 24 above are specifically tied to heart health.

Based on this analysis, which should of course be buttressed by your own research, if a healthcare brand asked me and the strategy team at Convince & Convert where to focus content marketing efforts, I would initially look to do a deep dive on all things heart health-related.

Thanks much to Ceralytics for this report. Take a peek at the whole thing here.

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The SEO versus Social Battle Has a New Winner Wed, 28 Mar 2018 13:00:00 +0000 SEO has pulled back in front of social media as a referrer of website traffic. Jay Baer explains why this happened, why it's unprecedented, and what to do about it when pondering your search and social approach.

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The SEO versus Social Battle Has a New Winner

Social media’s reign as a top source of referred, inbound traffic to websites may be over, according to new research from Shareaholic.

The most recent version of the rolling tracking study that measures traffic sources for more than 250,000 websites found a steep drop in visits from social media. Across more than 400 million visits, the top six search engines sent 34.8 percent of traffic. The top 13 social networks sent 25.6 percent of visitors.

seo vs social media traffic battle chart

Since 2014, search has lagged behind social, but the roles have clearly reversed, and there’s a new winner in the battle between SEO and social media as a traffic source.

For the first time in 3 years, search is responsible for more website traffic than social
Click To Tweet

4 Reasons Why Search Is Back in the Lead versus Social Media

There are, of course, many intersecting trends and tweaks at play here, but these are the three primary reasons social is dipping and search is creeping upward.

1. Reduced Use of Social Overall

As I wrote about recently, Edison Research found that Americans are actually using social media LESS, especially Facebook. And given that Facebook is far and away the largest social network, a decline there is significant. (Read 6 Unexpected Trends in 2018 Social Media Research for more.)

2. De-prioritization of Companies and Organizations in Social Algorithms

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have all rolled out new algorithms in the past two years that fundamentally diminish exposure for company and organization content in favor of content published by individuals. This probably makes for a better, healthier stream of content, but it certainly impacts the number of clicks that social content can accrue to websites.

Shareaholic data shows a 25.8 percent drop in Facebook referred visits in one year. (I wrote about how to handle this in my article: 9 Antidotes to the Facebook Algorithm Squeeze.)

seo vs. social media traffic chart

3. Less Exposure for Posts Containing Links

Some of the algorithm adjustments in social media have given more reach to video content and, to some degree, photos. Simultaneously, the algorithm gives posts containing links less priority. This also has an impact on click-through traffic—so much so that our community management team at Convince & Convert is testing putting no links in social posts, but instead including links as the first comment.

4. Search Indexing More Social Content

Search engines are doing a much better job of indexing social media content right on their SERPs, making it possible for consumers to click through from search, instead of going to a social network and clicking through from there.

In the same period where Facebook referred traffic dropped 25 percent, visits coming from Google increased 21 percent.

Do Not Sleep on SEO

Smart marketers have paid attention to search throughout social’s rise, but this data clearly show that social’s days as the number one driver of traffic are at an end (and I don’t foresee them returning).

Google is certainly working hard to stay in front, as any decline in their ability to drive traffic is almost an existential issue for them, financially. It would be wise to follow their cue and re-prioritize search in your overall digital marketing plan.

Get Serious About Pinterest and Instagram

Facebook, despite its steep decline as a traffic source, is still the top social referrer. But notice the huge gains made by Pinterest? It’s now a clear number two in social and drives more traffic than every other non-Facebook social network combined. In fact, according to Shareaholic’s data, Pinterest is responsible for nearly half the traffic that Facebook delivers, and among a much smaller user base.

Instagram’s growth is skewed a bit due to the relatively recent addition of clickability on the platform. But the mobile photo/video platform is now tied with Twitter as a traffic source; a tremendous shift given that Instagram has historically been about “engagement” and Twitter has been thought of more as a traffic creator (in addition to its role in conversations and customer service).

Is LinkedIn Next?

Certainly, LinkedIn focuses on its business audience, which makes it relevant to only a subset of the population. But the newfound emphasis on content on Linkedin makes me wonder if it will see a spike in its referred traffic in the next report, similar to what Instagram experienced in this study.

For my own interactions, and the content we create here at Convince & Convert, we are putting more effort into Linkedin than ever before, pulling resources away from Facebook.

This report fascinates me because it is VERY rare in business, technology, and marketing for a lost lead to be regained. Apple was nearly dead as a computer maker and was then resurrected. But Apple has never outsold Windows PCs. Once Chrome took over as the dominant web browser, Internet Explorer didn’t rally back and pull in front again.

What we’re witnessing currently in the fight between SEO and social media for website traffic referral preeminence is nearly unprecedented, and it should make you reconsider how you’re allocating your resources across the full sweep of your digital marketing.

If we can help, let me know.

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7 Email Marketing Problems and 9 Medicines to Fix Them Wed, 14 Mar 2018 13:00:00 +0000 Most email programs are sick in one way or another. Jay Baer lays out remedies for even the worst email marketing problems.

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7 Email Marketing Problems and 9 Medicines to Fix Them

There is NOTHING in digital marketing more important than email, right?

Even with social media, bots, apps, and all the rest, email is still how we communicate to most of our customers and prospects.

But the problem is, most email programs have a nagging cough and a persistent fever. Most email programs are sick in one or more ways.

“Open rate is down.” “Click rate is down.” “Conversion rate is all over the place.”

These are all symptoms of a sick email. But, there are REMEDIES for every malady. But instead of logically looking at what is wrong and what to do about it, so many marketers make important decisions about emails based on stories, not math.

My friend Tom Webster from Edison Research has a fantastic saying: “The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data.’” But so many email programs today are governed by what we believe to be true based on stories we’ve been told or stories we choose to tell ourselves. Even now, in 2018, with a cavalcade of available data the size of Jay-Z’s ego, we still aren’t often managing email in a fully data-driven way.

I set out to fix that with my friends at Emma (a fantastic email services provider, based in Nashville). Recently, we partnered on a webinar called 7 Email Marketing Problems and 9 Medicines to Fix Them.

7 Email Marketing Problems

I believe if you have even a tangential responsibility for email in your organization, you’ll find this webinar quite useful. Feedback from live attendees was exceptionally positive. You can get the entire replay here, plus a written ebook that goes into A LOT more detail here.

For your convenience, however, I’ve summarized many of the key points here, and I hope it whets your appetite for watching the replay or reading the ebook.

Key Email Marketing Metrics

There are a lot of data points to which you could pay attention in your email program. These are the ones that matter most:

Key Email Marketing Metrics

  • Delivery Rate – Successful deliveries as a percentage of list size.
  • Open Rate – Number of subscribers who open as a percentage of emails delivered.
  • Click Rate – Number of clicks within an email as a percentage of opens.
  • Unsubscribe Rate – Number of recipients who unsubscribe as a percentage of emails delivered.
  • SPAM Complaints – Total number of recipients who mark the email as “SPAM” or junk for each email send.
  • Active Ratio – Number of email recipients who consistently open and interact with emails as a percentage of list size.
  • Post-Click Activity – The volume of leads generated, products sold, or other brand-specific objectives completed as a result of email marketing to a targeted audience.  Note: Metrics for post-click activity are usually available within a website analytics (e.g. Google Analytics) or e-commerce analytics (e.g. Shopify) platform.

7 Email Marketing Problems

How do you know when your email program is having issues? When some or all of the key metrics above start to decrease, or increase, depending on the metric.

But do not make big decisions based on one or two data points. A big mistake made by many email marketers is mistaking weather for climate. Give yourself enough time—and enough email sends—for a true pattern to emerge before you make significant changes.

A big mistake from many an email marketer: mistaking weather for climate.
Click To Tweet

These are the most common email marketing problems:

  1. Low Delivery Rate
  2. Low Open Rate
  3. Low Click Rate
  4. High Unsubscribe Rate
  5. High SPAM Complaints (usually seen in concert with #4)
  6. Low Active Ratio
  7. Limited Post-Click Activity

9 Email Marketing Medicines

Here’s what you should try if you are experiencing one or more of the email marketing problems (again, more detail in the full webinar and the companion ebook):

  1. For low delivery rates, you’ll want to consider using a tool for list validation and take a look at your subscription process.
  2. For low open rates, testing means everything: Test your subject lines to see if you can find something that better resonates with your audience.
  3. Also for low open rates (and this one doesn’t get tested enough), try different “from” names. or or whatever can have a big impact!
  4. For low click rates, think about your content alignment using what I like to call “The Mom Test.” If you’re about to send something, and your mom wouldn’t love it, don’t send it!
  5. Also for low click rates, look at your call to action in the email itself. Is it clear? Are there too many options? Does it work on mobile?
  6. For high unsubscribes and high SPAM rates, look at your subscription process. How are people getting on your list? Do they know what they will receive from you, how often, and when?
  7. Also, if your unsubscribe and SPAM rates are high, consider segmenting your list. Relevancy is the key to email success, so think about sending more specific emails to smaller list segments.
  8. If you have a low active ratio, consider sending a re-engagement campaign to get people loving your email again, and weed out those that don’t care any longer. (Find nine great examples here.)
  9. If your post-click activity is sparse, it’s either because the content between email and landing page/website isn’t aligned, or your overall call to action is unclear or misleading.

Know how to find problems

Email isn’t going to be perfect. Nobody’s THAT good. But if you identify your email problems, know the medicines to fix them, and are ready to test those fixes, all you have to do is get started.

Commit to the principle of ABT: Always. Be. Testing. It will make you a better email marketing, and a better marketer in general.

Watch the entire webinar here, or download the much more comprehensive ebook about email metrics and success here.

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6 Unexpected Trends in 2018 Social Media Research Thu, 08 Mar 2018 20:00:00 +0000 2018's latest social media research shows that this year may be the one where everything changed in social. Jay Baer breaks down new data from Edison Research about why America is using social media LESS, not MORE.

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6 Unexpected Trends in 2018 Social Media Research

2018 social media research is teaching us at least one thing: This may be the year that social media changed forever.

Released hours ago, a new report from my friends at Edison Research and Triton Digital uncovered a trove of statistically significant social media usage irregularities that may herald a dramatic shift in how and why Americans use social media (or don’t).

The Infinite Dial 2018 report continues the annual research series that consistently produces important findings that describe how we use social media, podcasts, and online audio services.

2018 social media trendsI highly recommend you grab the entire report, as the highlights I cover below are a VERY small selection of the insights contained in The Infinite Dial 2018.

Here are the six extremely important 2018 social media research trends that this report surfaced.

Social Media Usage Is Down Overall

For the first time ever, fewer Americans are using social media than the year prior. Edison Research contacted 2000 people aged 12 and older, using random digit dialing techniques, the same methodology used each year.

In 2018, however, they found that 77 percent of Americans use social media, compared to 80 percent in 2017.

This is a nearly four percent drop in social media usage nationwide. While not massive as a solo data point, remember that social media usage has increased a minimum of three percent, and an average of 7.77 percent, for the past nine years.

{new research} Social media usage in America increased an avg of 7.77% for the past 9 years. This year.....down 4%.
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In terms of what we consider to be the primary “social networks” (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, et al.), we may have reached “peak social media.” It’s likely that we’ll see a subsequent decline in usage in 2019.

This is because young Americans are embracing messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and others, while using the core social networks less. I certainly don’t foresee a massive “extinction event” that would cause a collapse in social media usage, but the migration away from public social toward private social is very, very real.

Any drop in social media usage is unprecedented, and indicates that Americans are not wholly satisfied with social in ways they may have been in the past.

Facebook Usage Is Down Overall

Facebook is the biggest contributor to the overall decrease in social media usage. Last year, more than two-thirds of all Americans said they use Facebook. This year, usage dropped from 67 percent to 62 percent, the first decline in Facebook’s history.

Perhaps the constant arguing (about politics, mostly) on Facebook is making it a less joyful experience and chasing people off of the platform. I don’t think that’s the only reason for the decline, but it’s certainly part of it.

I wrote an entire blog post about other reasons why Facebook’s audience is slipping: Facebook Usage Declined and the 3 Reasons Why.

It will be interesting to see what Edison’s upcoming 2018 social media research findings show for Facebook usage in Canada and Australia. That data might yield some clues as to whether America’s toxic political climate is having an impact on Facebook usage that is USA-specific.

Facebook Usage Is WAY Down Among Young People

Facebook’s demise as a hangout for young Americans has been long rumored, but the math finally supports the premise.

2018 social media research facebook usage

Among 12 to 34 year-olds, Facebook usage declined a staggering 15 percent in one year. Usage is still high, at 67 percent of young Americans, but such a precipitous decline does not bode well for the future of the platform.

{new research} Facebook usage among young Americans declined by 15% in the past year.
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And in a related trend, for the first time ever, Facebook is more popular among middle-aged Americans than it is among young Americans. This is remarkable, considering that Facebook was developed as a platform that ONLY students could use.

Twitter Usage Is Also Down

While the decline in Facebook usage represents the biggest share of America’s reduction in social media time spent, Twitter experienced a similar falloff.

Twitter’s overall usage is—as it has been for a long time—about one-third that of Facebook.

But this year, Twitter’s usage also declined for the first time ever. This pattern mimics Facebook’s almost exactly, with a bump between 2016 and 2017, and then a retreat in 2018.

2018 social media research social network usage

This 2018 social media research found that 21 percent of Americans 12 years or older use Twitter, making it the sixth most popular social network.

Twitter is used by 21% of is now the 6th most popular social network.
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Snapchat and Instagram Are Pulling Away Among Young People

In 2017, 19 percent of Americans 12 to 34 used Snapchat more than any other social network. Instagram was best-loved by another 18 percent.

This year, Snapchat is the favorite social network of 29 percent of 12 to 34 year-olds. This is a huge climb in just 12 months. Instagram also saw growth, with 22 percent now saying it’s their favorite.

What are these young Americans using less, so that they can use Snapchat and Instagram more? Facebook, which declined as a favorite from 48 percent to 35 percent in one year.

2018 social media research favorite social media platforms

Photo-Driven Social Media Is Ascendant

Every social platform features a lot of photos. But only three are almost entirely photo or video dependent: Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat.

Among the top six social media destinations, only those three saw an increase in usage in the past year, with Instagram moving from 34 percent to 36 percent, Pinterest moving from 30 percent to 31 percent, and Snapchat moving from 29 percent to 31 percent.

The more text and opinion-oriented platforms (Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter) were either flat or experienced a decline in usage.

In a complex and conflicted world, the relative escapism offered by thumbing through photos on Instagram, or creating the ultimate wish list on Pinterest, may be a welcome respite from the snark of Twitter or the sales pitches on LinkedIn.

Download This 2018 Social Media Research (and More)

This report provides some of the first evidence of a potentially massive shift in how and why social media is used. The team at Convince & Convert and I will continue to monitor these changes and document them for you here.

Meanwhile, I highly recommend you download The Infinite Dial, as it contains many more insights into smart speakers, podcasting, social media, and online audio trends.

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13 Ingredients in the Perfect Social Media Contest Fri, 02 Mar 2018 13:00:00 +0000 Social media contests require careful planning and nimble execution. Here's a checklist from Jay Baer on the 13 ingredients necessary to do social media contests right.

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13 Ingredients in the Perfect Social Media Contest

With the competition for attention online at an all-time high, the struggle to keep followers engaged with your company’s social channels is real, and ongoing. In addition to the smart use of visuals, businesses often turn to social media contests and promotions to stir excitement and drive activity from their audience.

It’s not as easy as tweeting “Who wants to win an iPad!?”, even though we’ve all clicked on that at one time or another. Excellent social media contests require substantial planning and nimble execution. They have many moving parts and potential points of failure.

Here’s a checklist of 13 ingredients you’ll need before launching the perfect social media contest:

1. Venue

Where will this contest take place? Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? Or will it be present in multiple venues, like a photo contest where participants can enter on Facebook or Instagram? Remember that each time you add a venue for participation, your oversight responsibilities grow geometrically.

2. Entry Mechanism

How do people qualify to enter your social media contest? There are hundreds of variations, but there are six main categories of participation mechanism. They are: Sweepstakes (nothing required—most common on Twitter); Connect (like/follow the company’s social account to enter); Like (like a particular piece of content to enter); Share (share a piece of content to enter); Vote (state preference from among multiple pieces of content to enter); Create (develop user-generated content and upload to enter).

Remember: The more you ask your audience to do, the fewer will do it. Remember too that the younger your audience, the more comfortable they will be creating content for your contest.

The more you ask your audience to do in a social media contest, the fewer will do it.
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3. Theme and Name

Is this contest seasonal? Does it tie into a particular product or service? Remember, the theme/name will guide the rest of the creative. Take some time to come up with something that resonates. Try to keep your contest name short, as long names eat up valuable characters in tweets and ad headlines.

4. Timeline

This is where you coordinate the major elements of the social media contest. The best approach here is to work backward from the date that you want to announce winners. From there, figure out when judging starts/ends (if applicable), when entries close, when entries open, when promotion starts, and other key milestones. Be sure to account for time to develop the creative, get approval for the contest rules, and any other internal hurdles that you need to cover before launch.

5. Visual Identity

In today’s social media landscape of visual billboards, you’ll need strong graphics and video to support your contest. Graphic needs may include cover and profile images, logos, headers, landing pages, emails, promoted posts, carousel images, or ad images (to name a few). Videos explaining and promoting the contest should be in both vertical (Snapchat, Instagram) and horizontal (YouTube, Facebook) formats, and likely various other lengths to maximize impact across different social channels. To make sure your design team doesn’t mutiny, use your timeline from step four and give them a single list of everything you need, including specific pixel dimensions and required language or copy. For Facebook, remember the 20 percent rule when creating graphics for promoted posts and ad images.

6. Prizes

What will winners receive? This is a place for you to be creative, and most social media contests are far too obvious here. (See “win an iPad” above.)

Remember, the prize itself can be the theme for the contest, as with the legendary “best job in the world” campaign from Tourism Queensland. The best contests have prizes that tie directly back to the company itself. This becomes particularly important when you consider the downstream results of this effort. You want to activate and attract people who are genuinely interested in your business, not just “contest hunters” who enter everything they can find. If you sell fishing gear, give away fishing gear as a prize, not an iPad.

7. Editorial Calendar

Here’s where you map out (via Excel, a custom Google calendar, and/or your social media management software) all the social media posts, email messages, advertising support, and other communications about your promotion. You don’t necessarily have to write all of the messages in advance—although it’s not a bad idea, and your legal team may require it. Remember that your social media contest (and corresponding communications) has five phases: pre-launch, launch, last chance, completion, and winners. You need to plan multiple messages across multiple platforms for each phase.

8. Seeding Strategy

This applies to the pre-launch and launch phases of your social media contest. This is where you figure out how to give your promotion the best chance of lift-off in the critical early days of the promotion. What you’re trying to do here is make sure that the people who already love you, and the people who have a disproportionate number of social connections, are fully aware of the contest and are ready to participate and spread the word the minute the promotion begins. This could include special “Shh, Coming Soon” emails to key customers and social influencers, making sure all employees are aware of the event and other opportunities.

Remember: You do not want to “soft launch” a contest. This is especially true on Facebook, where the algorithm dictates that slow starters get buried.

9. Amplification Strategy

With the exception of simple Twitter contests and basic Facebook contests that are managed within your timeline, you will probably need some sort of amplification to ensure that your contest has the reach (and garners the attention) you desire. This may include Facebook and Instagram ads (think about custom audiences ads shown only to your email subscribers), Facebook promoted posts, Twitter promoted tweets, ad opportunities on Pinterest, amplification networks like Outbrain, Taboola, and Stumble, and other options. Remember that even if your contest takes place on one platform, you can use multiple platforms to amplify it.

10. Rules

I purposefully put rules and legal advice tenth on this list because I have found it is much easier to have legal weigh in on the entirety of the program (including seeding, editorial, amplification) all at once, instead of having them look at the mechanism and prizes first, and then going back to them later with a second round of inquiries about the other elements. As with the design team, make legal’s job easier by giving them the total picture up-front. Be proactive by doing your research first on what each venue allows for contests, and have the links ready to share with legal. (Here’s Facebook’s Pages Terms.) It’ll make them happy, and you absolutely want to keep them on your side.

11. Community Management

Participants and prospective entrants will have questions and comments about your contest. Some will be easy to address. Others may not be so simple. It is absolutely critical (even for simple contests) that you have a defined plan for who is moderating and overseeing your social outposts. This doesn’t just mean the channels where the contest is located and normal business hours. What is your plan for coverage on nights and weekends? Your day-to-day community management realities will likely be modest compared to what you need to accomplish during a contest. Plan for this.

12. Crisis Plan

You should already have a social media crisis plan. If you’ve never created one, the launch of your new contest provides excellent leverage for getting it finished. Will something go massively awry with your contest, causing you to activate your crisis plan? Probably not. But if it does, and you don’t have that crisis plan to turn to in that critical moment, the chances you’ll ever get to do another contest are just about zero. Consider this to be the “I’m not about to get fired because of a contest” ingredient of this recipe. (See my popular “8 steps to manage a social media crisis” post and slides here.)

13. Software (Sometimes)

As with amplification, you may not need software if your social media contest is very straightforward. But for any sort of contest that requires data collection as part of the entry mechanism, you’ll need software to help build and manage the affair. There are literally dozens of software packages that help you do this, either as their sole function or as part of a larger suite of social media management capabilities. Here at Convince & Convert, we’re familiar with most of them but haven’t used them all first-hand.

Software I can personally recommend (please feel free to nominate others in the comments) includes:

  • Wyng: For mid-sized companies on Facebook and beyond, this software packs tons of campaign and content templates and ideas.
  • Shortstack: For small businesses up to large agencies, this is one of the legacy providers for contests on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
  • Strutta: For medium/large companies hosting contests on Facebook, Instagram, or their own microsite, their DIY and custom packages make this software accessible for most.
  • Woobox: This software is designed for mid-sized companies and large brands that make Facebook a top priority.
  • Wishpond: This tool works best for medium/large companies connecting contests to lead generation.
  • Rafflecopter: This is one of the best options for bloggers and solopreneurs looking to run a simple giveaway with multiple entry points.

Those are the 13 ingredients of the perfect social media contest. What did I miss?

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Why Good Is a Four-Letter Word Wed, 28 Feb 2018 14:00:00 +0000 Customer expectations continue to skyrocket, and businesses must level up their customer experience over and over to stay in front. Here's an example of great CX, from Jay Baer.

The post Why Good Is a Four-Letter Word appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

Why Good Is a Four-Letter Word

One of my favorite sayings from my time in advertising is the quote attributed to Jay Chiat: “Good enough is not enough.” Today, that maxim is more true than ever, and not just in advertising, but in every facet of business.

Customer expectations are now liquid. They slosh over from one category or industry to another. Your customers do not give you a pass because you’re a small biz. Or because you’re B2B. Or in higher ed. Or healthcare. Or financial services. Or because you’re family owned. Or in a boring industry.

The greatest companies in the world are teaching your customers what is possible, and they will come to expect the same from you and your business, sooner rather than later.

The greatest companies in the world are teaching your customers what is possible.
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Every company must continuously strive to get better, faster, and more human.

I just finished my new book, Talk Triggers, written with my good friend Daniel Lemin. (The book will be out October 2. Go to, please, to get alerts.) It’s all about word of mouth and its capacity to build businesses. One of the examples we include in the book is Enterprise rental cars. For many years, their key differentiator was, “We’ll pick you up.” They mentioned it in every commercial to make certain consumers knew they offered this extra service.

Now, Enterprise doesn’t talk about that. Why? Because in the era of Lyft and Uber, being given a ride by your rental car company seems pointless, or not particularly special.

Customer expectations will continue to ratchet up, and there isn’t anything you can do about it other than continue to try to stay in front of them.

The truth is that what passed for a terrific email marketing program, or guest relations program, or new customer orientation program, or video blog in 2014 is commonplace today. It wasn’t that long ago that Amazon popularized free shipping and very recent that Zappos pioneered free two-way shipping. Now? Both are almost universally anticipated by customers.

Customer experience, customer service, and word of mouth are never DONE. You just reach a particular checkpoint, catch your breath, and then push forward to the next checkpoint on the pathway of heightened consumer expectations.

Exceptional brands understand that the customer experience finish line is a mirage, and are constantly upping their game. I witnessed this first-hand last week.

JW Marriott Takes Customer Experience to the Next Level

I stay in a LOT of hotels—somewhere around 120 nights per year for the last 12 years.

Consequently, I have uranium-level points at most places. As a result—and also because I travel a lot to give presentations, and the meeting planner sometimes tells the hotel that I am “the speaker”—it’s not uncommon for me to find a thank you note and a small snack or something when I get to my room. It’s delightful. But because it’s happened in the past, it’s not a massive surprise now.

The JW Marriott in San Antonio Hill Country understands that customer expectations rise over time, and that to continue to be memorable, and to trigger word of mouth, they have to up their own game accordingly. And they have.

The Griffin pin

When I checked in to the hotel, the front desk representative (Robyn) gave me a small, silver griffin pin. She asked me to wear it while on the property, to indicate that I was Platinum Elite status. It’s a nice pin and all. And the griffin is the logo of the JW Marriott brand. But I was a little wary about this pin-wearing gambit. It felt a little like a scene out of The Sneetches. I was curious, however, what the pin might actually accomplish, so I attached it to my sweater.

After hanging up my clothes, I took a picture from the balcony of my room, overlooking the golf course and the grounds. I posted it to Instagram.

I went down to the restaurant for dinner. Sitting at the bar, I had a nice evening. Excellent food, and a killer tequila list. Spying my pin, the bartender (Teddy) proactively gave me a free ice cream sundae. After a massive chicken quesadilla, I definitely didn’t need that, but it was a very nice gesture.

I checked Instagram on my way back up to the room, and PRESTO the resort had commented on my photo, posted just a couple hours previous, at night. Terrific responsiveness by the JW social media team!

The Instagram comment

The next morning, before my presentation to 500 owners of Tire Pros franchises, I found a personal thank you note from Robyn, who checked me in the night prior, underneath my door. Wow!

I have seen perfunctory thank you notes from a general manager. I have never seen a personal note from a front-line staff member.

I’m pretty jaded about hotels, and about customer experience in general.

And I realize that my experiences on the road are different than they are for most people due to how many points and miles I accrue, and all that.

But, it takes a lot to get me to say “these guys really have it working on all cylinders” and the JW Marriott on San Antonio did just that.

In just 12 hours, they accomplished not just one thing I didn’t expect or anticipate, but three:

  • A status indicator that made me feel special
  • A very timely social media response that made me feel special
  • A personal thank you that made me feel special

There Is No Obstacle

None of the things that happened to me at this hotel are, in a vacuum, all that extraordinary. I’d argue that any hotel—and really, almost any business—could mimic much of this. But yet, they don’t. Why?

Based on the research we conducted for Talk Triggers, it’s because most businesses believe that if they do a satisfactory job at their core product/service, that’s enough. They focus on having “good” food. Or “good” customer service. Or “good” beds.

Good enough is not enough.

Good is the minimum prerequisite required for you to remain in business.

Good does not create conversations.

Good does not turn your customers into advocates.

Good is not the goal.

Good is a four-letter word. Don't settle for it.
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Facebook Usage Declined and the 3 Reasons Why Wed, 21 Feb 2018 12:00:00 +0000 New research reveals that, for the first time ever, Facebook usage has gone down. Jay Baer identifies three possible reasons why.

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Facebook Usage Declined and the 3 Reasons Why

Each year, Edison Research and Triton Digital produce the comprehensive and well-regarded Infinite Dial study which probes how Americans use social media, audio services, and other technology.

The 2018 edition was released on March 8, and includes a shocking finding:

For the first time ever, usage of Facebook went down.

(Get the 2018 Infinite Dial Report to learn a lot more about Americans’ usage of social and other tech. It’s the most recent, comprehensive, and accurate data available.)

That’s right. The behemoth of social media saw a decline in usage, from 67 percent of Americans ages 12 and older to 62 percent of that same audience, according to Edison and Triton’s survey of 2,000 randomly selected persons.

This drop is seen in every age and gender demographic as well. It’s not as if only young people, or older Americans, or women are using Facebook less. Every studied group is using Facebook less.

Facebook Usage Decline per Infinite Dial 2018

Facebook Usage Decline per Infinite Dial 2018

Of course, 62 percent of Americans is still a huge group of people. But this number puts Facebook’s 2018 usage in line with the 2015 penetration rate. Facebook just gave back two full years of user growth.

And a drop from 67 percent to 62 percent is a decline of eight percent overall in one year. Again, not enormous when looked at in isolation, but given Facebook’s steady, upward trajectory since the first Infinite Dial study in 2008, it’s quite a difference in pattern.

Facebook usage dropped 8% in USA since 2017, the first drop in its history. Here are 3 reasons why.
Click To Tweet

Why, after a decade, did Facebook finally see a reduction in usage in the United States? I believe there are three explanations.

1. Increased Distrust of Facebook

It hasn’t been a great year for Facebook as an organization. The mainstream media has consistently covered Facebook’s role (or at least complicity) in the world of “fake news.” When you combine this with the company’s other missteps in the areas of privacy and accountability, you end up with an environment where the users of the platform may not fully trust the motives and judgment of those that operate the platform.

Given that Facebook has access to many of our most important personal data points, photos, and feelings, a drop in trust could create a drop in usage.

2. Increased Discord on Facebook

If you’re a Facebook user, I’m sure you’ve seen this in your own News Feed: someone who says they are logging off of Facebook for good because of the rampant negativity present on the platform.

In the shadow of the presidential election, there has been a continued polarization of thought in America, and an acceptance that the new normal is a climate of “us” vs. “them.” This is tiring. Each time you express an opinion on Facebook, you must defend that opinion from segments of your “friends” who are now “the opposition.” This squeezes the fun out of Facebook, like Fergie squeezing propriety out of the national anthem.

When additional Infinite Dial data is released, we’ll have more insight on this point. But I predict we’ll see an even greater drop in daily usage. While there are some people who have signed off of the platform entirely due to discord, anecdotally, I believe the bigger change is people using Facebook a couple times a week instead of every day.

3. Increased Disinterest in Facebook

Indeed, I believe reduced trust in our Facebook overlords along with reduced willingness to argue amongst ourselves on Facebook contribute to this first-ever reduction in usage in America.

But a third explanation is that this drop represents a natural shifting of users to other parts of the Facebook ecosystem. While Facebook’s usage declines, Instagram’s usage continues to march upward, as does the number of people consistently using Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

This may be a purposeful segmentation approach by Facebook. It’s particularly true among young Americans ages 12 to 24, where Edison Research observed the largest drop in usage.

After all, one of Facebook’s most attractive elements is that you can do a LOT of different things on the platform. But that’s also one of its great weaknesses. Is Facebook the BEST place for video? Probably not. Is it the BEST place for photos? Probably not. Is it the BEST place for messaging? Maybe.

As Facebook usage goes down, Instagram and WhatsApp and Messenger usage go up because they offer a more tailored experience. As social media progresses, it is natural for our own usage to gravitate toward one or more platforms that offer a more specialized experience that is more relevant to what we personally enjoy best about social media. Thus, some people gravitate toward Instagram. Others, Linkedin. Others still, Snapchat.

Coca-Cola is doing the same thing. They just rolled out four new flavors of Diet Coke, enveloped in a chic, skinny can. These new adjuncts will assuredly reduce consumption of old-school Diet Coke, but they hope that this move will grow their overall market share, across all five beverage flavors.

Last year, I wrote about Facebook mimicking all of Snapchat’s features and baking them into Instagram. At that time, I predicted that while Snapchat’s user base would shrink as a result, it would actually be better for them strategically. Casual users of Snapchat (like me) would leave the platform and use Instagram instead (like me). Thus, the remaining Snapchat user base would become more homogenous, allowing them to charge a greater premium for advertising. And Snapchat just announced their first-ever profitable quarter, so that may be precisely what occurred.

Distrust. Discord. Disinterest. These are the 3 reasons for Facebook’s decline in usage.

But is it really a problem?

Distrust. Discord. Disinterest. These are the 3 reasons for Facebook’s 8% decline in usage.
Click To Tweet

Facebook’s vision—as articulated by Mark Zuckerberg many times, and in many ways—is to be the way humanity connects. And they are when you look at the entirety of their holdings. But, when you look at the do-everything workhorse that is Facebook per se, the bloom is finally off the rose. Too big, too boring, too noisy, too everything.

Should Facebook be concerned about this drop in usage? Yes. But as long as they are growing their user base across everything they own, they’ll continue to dominate social media, and beyond.

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Non-Creepy Personalized Marketing Must Have Youtility Wed, 07 Feb 2018 14:00:00 +0000 Personalized marketing is reaching new heights, combing big data and machine learning. But for consumers to embrace it, personalized marketing must be truly, inherently useful writes Jay Baer.

The post Non-Creepy Personalized Marketing Must Have Youtility appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

Non-Creepy Personalized Marketing Must Have Youtility

Is personalized marketing good, or evil?

I’ve been asked some form of this question so many times, in so many places, by so many different types of companies. I figured I should answer it here, in writing.

Actually, you may have ASKED this question—if not of me, of someone. Maybe of yourself?

The question often sounds like this: “When does personalized marketing cross the line and become creepy?”

We think that this line is thin, and that just the slightest push toward additional customization based on behavior or inferred intent will send potential customers running, afraid that “big data” has run amok.

We think that personalized marketing is like the famous line from Spinal Tap: “There’s a fine line between stupid and clever.”

The reality is that the line is actually pretty wide. Customers are, in fact, exceptionally tolerant of personalization (even hyper-personalization) as long as ONE THING IS TRUE: The personalization must either inform or reduce friction, period.

In short, the personalization must be a Youtility.

This may seem axiomatic to you. “Of course, if we’re going to personalize, it should be in service of an enhanced customer experience,” you may think. But that is by no means always the case, is it? If you’ve ever bought a product and then seen ads all over the damn internet for the SAME PRODUCT YOU JUST BOUGHT, you know that personalization isn’t always useful, and sometimes can be downright irksome.

Understanding that personalized marketing must be useful—so useful that people would pay for it, to quote the definition of Youtility—is critical. Because we are very quickly entering an all-new era of digital marketing; an era where the availability of big data makes it very, very easy to personalize customer communications and interactions in a way that would have been unthinkably complex just a short time ago.

We’ve talked about the power of 1:1 marketing for a long, long, LONG time. But now, artificial intelligence and machine learning have teamed up with real-time data collection to give just about every marketer the option to personalize some, or a lot, of the customer experience.

And that power is intoxicating in ways both good and bad. The option to give customers just what they want, when they want it, and where they want it based on what we know or can ferret out about them SHOULD improve CX. But the ONLY way to insure that it does is to start every personalization project with one, simple question:

“How does this improve the customers’ lives, regardless of its impact on the company?”

Ask yourself that, and your personalization efforts will always contain enough incremental usefulness that customers will largely embrace it, even when it is FREAKY.

Look at Netflix, for example.

Netflix Uses Potentially Creepy Personalized Marketing, but With Youtility

In an extraordinary column on Medium published last month, Netflix data engineers described, in detail, precisely how they create as many as a dozen different pieces of “cover art” for every Netflix show.

Based on other shows you’ve watched, Netflix automatically serves you the artwork that the algorithm believes best matches your thematic and actor preferences, subtly encouraging you to watch more, because the graphic makes you believe, “This show is exactly what I want to watch!”

For the movie Good Will Hunting, for instance, Netflix serves up different images based on whether it thinks your affinity is stronger for Robin Williams or romantic comedies.

Someone who has watched many romantic movies may be interested in Good Will Hunting if we show the artwork containing Matt Damon and Minnie Driver, whereas, a member who has watched many comedies might be drawn to the movie if we use the artwork containing Robin Williams, a well-known comedian.

But the machine learning behind these personalized artwork decisions is much more dynamic and robust than just Minnie Driver versus Robin Williams. For the hit show Stranger Things, for example, Netflix included in their Medium post a collection of nine very different images, each designed to appeal to different members based on their preferences (!!!):

You might think this is at least a little invasive. It’s definitely fascinating, looking at the same programs on Netflix when you’re logged in as yourself versus as your spouse, to see what the algorithm has determined each of you prefers.

But we tolerate this data mining because it has enough Youtility for us. The trade-off between loss of privacy and more compelling video content recommendations seems like a good deal.

You may not have a room full of data scientists cooking up this kind of personalization. (When I first read the Netflix post on Medium, when I got to the part about HOW it works, my head almost exploded.) But you don’t need scientists. You need to understand that personalization is just a value exchange, the same way that asking for an email is a value exchange.

The same way that connecting with someone on Linkedin is a value exchange.

The same way that paying someone to mow your lawn so you have more time to do other stuff is a value exchange.

You Don’t Get to Decide What’s Good Personalized Marketing, But They Do

As marketers, assisted by robots, our ability and opportunity to personalize with data is wizardry made commonplace. But we cannot ever forget that our audiences—not us—are those that decide what is satisfying and what is creepy. They decide what is clever and what is stupid. They decide what is in bounds and what is out of bounds.

And in almost every case, that decision is based solely on whether or not the personalization makes their lives better, or just helps you sell more stuff.

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Who Are the Best Content Marketing Speakers? Wed, 24 Jan 2018 14:00:00 +0000 Content marketing has a great new event. Jay Baer and Convince & Convert want to know who you think are the best content marketing speakers.

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Who Are the Best Content Marketing Speakers

I am so THRILLED to tell you that the Convince & Convert team and I are partnering with our friends at Uberflip to co-produce Conex: The Content Experience, a fantastic event for smart content marketers in August, in the great city of Toronto.

This is year three of Conex. I was one of the speakers for years one and two, and I was so impressed by how good the event was that I asked to partner and co-produce with Uberflip in 2018, and into the future. Plus, I’m an investor in Uberflip (I love their Content Hub technology), so it’s a natural fit.

For my entire career, my rule has been “do not produce events.” Too much time. Too many details. I speak at dozens of events every year, but have never produced one—until now. Why the change? Six reasons:

1. Conex Is Intimate

We’ll have 750 to 950 people at this year’s event—big enough to be dynamic, but small enough to interact and network.

2. Conex Is a BLAST!

Uberflip is known for being irreverent, and some say the same about me and my team. From the first minute until the last, this event is going to be fun.

3. Conex Is Super Relevant

Uberflip helps tons of companies succeed with content marketing. So does my firm. Plus, I’ve written multiple books on the subject, and produce The Content Experience show, which is all about content marketing success. This event is for content marketers and is put together 100 percent by content marketers.

4. Conex Is a Very Strong Event

Terrific speakers teaching the latest and greatest content marketing tips and tactics. There’s no fluff. NO PANELS. No bad speakers. All meat. No bun.

5. Conex Is in a Killer Location

Toronto is one of North America’s great cities. There’s so much to do, and it’s very easy and affordable compared to many big places in the USA. Also, it’s super convenient, and there are reasonably priced flights for just about everyone. And the event itself is at the remarkable Royal Conservatory of Music’s TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning. Beautiful!

And perhaps most importantly . . .

6. Conex Is a Great Deal

Until February 15, full conference passes are just US $499. (Save $400 on this early bird deal.) There is simply no better value for a content marketing event, in my estimation.

Plus, for just another $300 you can add a pre-conference workshop called “How to Create the Perfect Content Marketing Editorial Calendar.” Tickets are limited to about 50, and it will sell out because this exclusive workshop is being taught by the tremendous Anna Hrach, one of the Analysts on my team here at Convince & Convert.

I just approved the curriculum for this workshop, and we’ve loaded it with our best stuff. Tons of value!

The Content Experience event for content marketing

I am 110 percent sure that if you’re in content marketing, you will LOVE this event. I want you to be there. We’ve got a while until Conex kicks off August 20, but I wanted to make sure you knew about the January 31 cutoff for the very best price.

The Best Content Marketing Speakers

I believe in Conex so much so that I’m co-producing it and helping select the speakers.

And that’s where I need your help. I want to know who YOU think is a great content marketing speaker. Who is super interesting, and relevant, and smart, and awesome? Who do YOU want to see on stage at Conex?

I would be very grateful if you’d leave a couple of recommendations here. If you do, I promise you I’ll do whatever I can to get them to Toronto.

If you have any questions at all about the event, our workshop, or anything else, just ask here. Either me or Kelly Santina, our Head of Operations, will answer back right away.

Many thanks. Hope to see you in Toronto. Remember, best price ends February 15.

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9 Antidotes to the Facebook Algorithm Squeeze Mon, 15 Jan 2018 14:00:00 +0000 Facebook algorithm changes don't mean you should abandon the Facebook News Feed. Here are nine ways you can still succeed, from Jay Baer.

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9 Antidotes to the Facebook Algorithm Squeeze

The Facebook algorithm is changing again, and it’s bad news for brands who want to show up in the news feed.

In a recent, inscrutable, Kremlin-esque press release, Mark Zuckerberg and team announced that they are changing the Facebook algorithm and will henceforth . . .

“. . . prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to—whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.”

In this release, they also acknowledge that organic reach among business pages will dwindle, and that “engagement bait” posts such as “click like if you want this puppy to live” will be algorithmically punished.

Reactions to this move were immediate among the social media cognoscenti, and ranged from full-blown “The sky is falling” mode to “So what?

Now that everyone has engaged in their newsjacking (the Social Media Examiner BREAKING NEWS video got 273,000 views, and spawned a ton of traditional media opportunities for Mike Stelzner—well played!), let me tell you what all of this really means.

The Facebook Algorithm Separates the Wheat and the Chaff

First, this move should come as NO SURPRISE. Many people (including me) have been predicting this for years.

Remember this: Facebook is a public company. They have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize profits for their shareholders. They do not have a responsibility to maximize your profits. Of course, if they can further entice you to buy more ads by minimizing free exposure, they will do so eventually.

Facebook's responsibility is maximizing profits for shareholders, not maximizing YOUR profits.
Click To Tweet

Further, it is also true that many company posts do not succeed on Facebook today. This is not because Facebook is evil and is trying to convince you to buy ads (although that’s somewhat accurate), but more so because a lot of business content on Facebook SUCKS. It’s a Yellow Pages ad masquerading as an organic social post. It DESERVES to fail. Facebook is just hammering the last nail in the coffin.

Ask yourself this: When was the last time you saw something on Facebook and said, “Wow! That’s great content from a business. I cannot believe it doesn’t have more engagement?” Rarely, if ever. The truth is that Facebook’s algorithm already does a pretty good job of separating the wheat from the chaff, at least among business content. Whether they can keep #FakeNews at bay is a different issue for a different post.

The Facebook Algorithm Change Doesn’t Mean Abandon Ship

Will this move make it harder and more expensive for businesses to succeed on Facebook? Probably. But it’s not as if you can just log off the platform, throw up your hands, and go home. There are two billion people using it. Don’t give up. You just need to get better, and get smarter.

Thus, here are the 9 Antidotes to the Facebook Algorithm Squeeze. None of these are “buy more ads.” Follow them, and you’ll very much still be able to succeed on Facebook, even as a business page.

1. Post Content That Solicits Thoughtful Responses

The key phrase in the press release is that Facebook is prioritizing posts that “spark conversations and meaningful interactions among people.” Given that this all has to be sorted out in a nanosecond, Facebook has to look for behavior that indicates “conversations and meaningful interactions.” What might that be? It’s not “likes” or “shares” or even “comments” per the release. While they don’t overtly describe the desired behavior, my bet is that they are looking for comments of a certain length, and replies to comments.

This is a “conversation” in social media, a threaded back and forth rather a passive clicking of a like button.

So, when you add content to Facebook, try to post about topics that have more than one opinion. Complex, non-obvious topics will work better than topics that everyone agrees upon.

2. Get Serious About User-Generated Content (UGC)

Right in the release, Facebook admits that posts from real people will take priority over posts from brands. This has been the case for a while but will become even more acute. The more you can encourage your actual customers to post on their personal page (and mention your business), the more likely you are to reach a decent audience.

This is the Facebook version of prioritizing consumer-driven word of mouth.

3. Get Serious About Employee-Generated Content (EGC)

Similarly, most of your team members have a personal Facebook account. They will likely have a better chance at Facebook engagement than will your company account.

This will be a boon for employee advocacy software programs (I am an investor in a great one, Trap.Itas companies try to encourage their team to carry the messaging water on behalf of the organization.

4. Post How-To and Youtility Content

Facebook says they will de-prioritize viral videos and other content that is passively consumed on the platform. However, they will give extra credit via the Facebook algorithm to content that attracts conversation. Think about how you can post how-to videos, video FAQs, and other interactions that encourage viewers to ask questions.

Using Facebook for customer service and customer support and showing off interesting and innovative product use cases, etc. could be very successful in this new algorithm environment.

5. Use Live Video

Reading between the lines, it sounds like Facebook is going to push recorded video down the priority list a little, in favor of live video. This is because live video is often more urgent and important, but mostly because it routinely generates more conversation. In the press release, Facebook says live video gets SIX TIMES more interactions than regular videos.

If you’re using video on Facebook, it’s time to ask yourself why that video isn’t live. Do you lose some production polish? Possibly. But if the Facebook algorithm is going to push live video up, and recorded video down, it’s absolutely worth trying to make it work live.

6. Create Facebook Shows

Similarly, it’s time to stop random acts of content (one of my 10 Content Marketing Commandments for 2018). This is particularly true on Facebook. If our overlords at FB want conversation, the best way to achieve that is for the people likely to create that conversation to actually KNOW WHEN THE CONTENT IS COMING.

Think of your Facebook strategy like a TV network thinks about their schedule. Every Wednesday, they have the same shows. The shows do not change. Viewers know when to tune in, or at least set their DVRs. You need to do the same. Create one to three Facebook shows and replicate them every week at the same time.

7. Engage Your Community with Facebook Groups

Already, some of the most rewarding elements of Facebook are contained in Groups. Group-created content performs better in the news feed and is often delivered to members via email, depending upon how they have their notifications configured.

If you don’t have a Facebook Group for your best customers, prospective customers, employees, fans, or some other cohort, 2018 is the year to experiment with it. For business, Groups work in ways that the news feed simply does not.

8. Use Messenger Bots to Deliver Choice Content

Messenger and WhatsApp are still Facebook’s play to take over the person-to-person messaging space. Already, I bet you’re getting way more notes from your friends on Messenger than you were six months ago. Why? Because it breaks through the clutter of the inbox, and it’s easy to add multimedia.

Adoption isn’t universal yet, but it’s moving quickly. If you can develop a solid Facebook Messenger bot that can deliver solid content to your audience, the response rate is MUCH HIGHER than for email, and INFINITY HIGHER than for the news feed. You want people to see your stuff? Get them to subscribe to your bot.

Want to see how it works? Click here to subscribe to my bot, and I’ll send you cool stuff now and then.

9. Use the Mom Test

Remember that when you publish content on Facebook that does NOT succeed, it impacts the likelihood that the next piece of content will succeed. This means that the rich get richer, and the boring get forgotten. When in doubt, do NOT PRESS PUBLISH unless you’re fairly certain the content will indeed create conversation.

I use “The Mom Test” to help with this decision. I ask, “Would my Mom, who loves me unconditionally, engage with this content?” If the answer is “yes,” then at least you’re on the right track. If the answer is anything else, think very long and very hard before posting, because if your Mom doesn’t love your post, I’m almost positive that Zuckerberg and Co. won’t love it either.

Facebook not giving you the ability to send mediocre content to your customers for free isn’t the end of the world. In fact, they are probably saving businesses from their own worst instincts, in some cases. But all is not lost. You can still succeed on Facebook WITHOUT SPENDING A TON OF MONEY if you follow these nine antidotes.

If my team and I can help you think through these necessary shifts, let us know. Convince & Convert works with many of the world’s most interesting brands. What do we do? We’re personal trainers for digital marketing and word of mouth. If you want to shape up, holler

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The 10 Content Marketing Commandments for 2018 Wed, 10 Jan 2018 14:00:00 +0000 Content marketing success is more elusive than ever. More competition. More cynicism from audiences. Artificial intelligence and robots being used to create hyper-relevant, just-in-time content. This game isn’t easy. Our consulting team helps big brands figure it out and make content marketing succeed disproportionately. And if we can help you, let’s talk. Meanwhile, as we […]

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The 10 Content Marketing Commandments for 2018

Content marketing success is more elusive than ever. More competition. More cynicism from audiences. Artificial intelligence and robots being used to create hyper-relevant, just-in-time content.

This game isn’t easy. Our consulting team helps big brands figure it out and make content marketing succeed disproportionately. And if we can help you, let’s talk.

Meanwhile, as we kick off a new year, I’ve been keeping track of what the team and I tell our clients, and how we advise them to do content better. I collected them here, in this list of the 10 Content Marketing Commandments for 2018.

1. Thou Shalt Not Engage in Random Acts of Content

Have a strategy and an editorial calendar, and stick to it.

2. Thou Shalt Not Be a Content Coward

The only way you can really succeed is to be someone’s favorite blog/podcast/video/webinar/email. And that only happens if you have the courage to be SPECIFIC about your topic and point of view. Content that’s about everything is about nothing.

3. Thou Shalt Not Embrace False Metrics

Content consumption (views, downloads, plays) is a symptom of success but is not the sole measure of it. The goal is not to be good at content. The goal is to be good at business because of content. (More on the four types of content metrics here.)

4. Honor Thy Audience as a Messenger

Human beings trust one another far more than they trust companies. It is wise to find ways to encourage customers and partners to create content; it is often more successful and persuasive than company-created content.

5. Thou Shall Be Mobile-First (For Real)

We know mobile is important. But mobile-first means that you use the mobile view as the primary visual canvas. After all, if you say “mobile-first” but you’re constantly using a 34-inch, 4K monitor to create everything, you’re not really mobile-first, are you?

6. Thou Shall Create Talk Triggers

Same is lame. If you’re going to the trouble of making content, wherever possible do so in a way that creates conversation. Talk Triggers are purposefully created differentiators that make word of mouth involuntary. Here’s a great one from LinkedIn. Talk Triggers is also the title of my new book with Daniel Lemin, coming October 2.

7. Thou Shall Atomize Content

Take your big, tent-pole content executions and deconstruct them into a series of smaller, nimbler content executions. For clients, we use the 1:8 Principle: Each big piece of content should spawn at least eight smaller pieces of content. This approach makes your content execution much more efficient.

8. Thou Shalt Not Cross-Post

While atomizing your content, however, you should not be posting the exact same thing in multiple places. Audiences choose a platform or content archetype for a reason, and to not customize and optimize your content for each disrespects their choice, and rarely succeeds.

9. Thou Shalt Not Pray at the Altar of Volume

Creating more content is not a measure of success. Creating just enough content to exceed your business objectives is the goal. In fact, creating too much content (e.g. sending too many emails, posting too often on social) often has a negative impact on results.

10. Thou Shall Covet Moving Pictures

Video. video. video. video. If it doesn’t move, it may be a snooze.

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How Content Marketing Can Save Newsjacking Wed, 03 Jan 2018 14:00:00 +0000 From Jay Baer, 4 ways content marketing is a better way to implement a newsjacking strategy, in comparison to social media.

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How Content Marketing Can Save Newsjacking

Timing is everything.

This is more true than ever today, as the atomic half life of brand communication continues to shrink, victimized by algorithmic masters that dole out attention like Pez.

The massive flood of content created every second of every day about every topic and happening results in overwhelming competition for attention, as has been well-documented by Mark Schaefer, and others.

The antidote—at least in some circles—is newsjacking. Coined by David Meerman Scott in his book of the same name, where he defines the concept thusly:

Newsjacking is the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story so you and your ideas get noticed.”

The important part of this definition is “breaking news story.” The intent of newsjacking as originally conceived is that your brand’s angle is the second paragraph in traditional media coverage of whatever is happening. The actual story is paragraph one.

Newsjacking was published in late 2011, and became deservedly popular, especially among public relations practitioners who saw it as a reliable recipe for merging long-lead story pitching with real-time earned media.

Oreo Killed Newsjacking

Just fifteen months later, however, the now-legendary Oreo Dunk in the Dark tweet was sent. With one tweet, Oreo and their agencies ushered in the era of “real-time marketing,” and “RTM” disciples rushed to set up Twitter war rooms to capitalized on every trending hashtag.

This shifted the notion of newsjacking from a way to get earned media coverage to a way to get more likes and shares on owned social media outlets. In short, Oreo’s Dunk stunt moved newsjacking from a PR tactic to a social media tactic.

Oreo's Dunk in the Dark tweet shifted newsjacking from a PR tactic to a social media tactic (unfortunately).
Click To Tweet

This post from the Get Spokal blog illustrates the outcome. Nearly every one of their 15 newsjacking examples is a tweet, and essentially none show evidence of earned media coverage whatsoever (other than perhaps trade press talking about the clever tweet, thereby earning ego points among marketing peers, but not creating any real business value).

I am not a fan, and have never been a fan, of this kind of marketing. (In fact, my post “17 Mostly Failed Brand Tweets from The Oscars” is still one of the most-read posts in the history of this site.) For more, here’s a short video rant on why most brands are trying to hard to be clever, in real-time.

My three biggest problems with real-time marketing are:

  1. Expensive to execute as you need always-on personnel + software
  2. Ripe for missteps, especially when brands try to jump on hashtags and trends spawned from misfortune (as I covered comprehensively in “The 3 Social Media Rules for Death and Tragedy“)
  3. Minimal impact. Even done well, do these real-time tweets create customers or keep customers? It feels so often like social media marketers doing marketing for the enjoyment of other social media marketers, and we don’t play that game at Convince & Convert.

Content Marketing Can Save Newsjacking

But all is not lost for the newsjacking premise. Today, it is easier than ever to create on-trend content in nearly real-time. With everyone carrying around a mobile production studio in their pants at all times, there’s not much excuse for not being able to produce content on the fly, beyond inertia and corporate process obstacles.

Further, with the one-click availability of live video, creating reaction content that inserts your angle into a breaking news story is as easy as making a sandwich (maybe easier if you insist on using a panini press).

4 ways using #contentmarketing for #newsjacking is better than #socialmedia
Click To Tweet

This approach—using content marketing for newsjacking rather than social media—has multiple advantages:

  1. Can more fully express your ideas, especially with video
  2. Can host the content marketing somewhere and give it a longer shelf life. Also, strong SEO benefits if the trend/story persists long enough for search traffic to accrue
  3. You can still use social, but instead of social BEING the newsjack, social AMPLIFIES a more substantial piece of content that inserts your angle into the story
  4. If desired, more ways to promote the newsjack with paid. Given that most social media newsjacks are on Twitter, your options for paid are… Twitter. With a content marketing newsjack, you can use paid Twitter, Facebook, IG, Linkedin, SEM, display, etc.

Anyone Can Use Content Marketing for Newsjacking

You do not need to be a big brand with an in-house video studio to engage in this form of content marketing as newsjacking. In fact, from a nimbleness perspective, I might argue that you’re better off being a small and scrappy business that can turn on a camera and record without sign-offs and hand wringing.

Dr. Tim Wood of Mission Family Chiropractic in Kelowna, British Columbia is a terrific small business example of content marketing newsjacking.

This year, the Kelowna area—the major city in Canada’s Okanagan region—has received a tremendous blanket of snow, far more than is typical for this area. Local media scrambled to cover the storms, with advice and counsel for local residents and visitors.

The last time this happened was in 2015, which was when Dr. Wood created his content marketing newsjacking: a video showing local residents how to shovel snow without injuring their backs:

It’s a useful, safe, three-shovel approach that I’m going to try next time we get a lot of snow here in Indiana! is a large digital media platform for the region, and when this year’s snows rolled in, they discovered Dr. Wood’s video and promoted it on their site, and in their social media.

Newsjack accomplished!

Lessons from This Newsjack

  1. Your content marketing newsjack attempt does not need to be highly polished. In fact, it’s authenticity is probably higher if it’s not perfect
  2. Unlike social media newsjacks, if your content marketing is actually useful and has a home (Youtube, in this case) its newsjacking potential persists. Remember, Dr. Wood’s video was shot two years before it was picked up by local media
  3. If and when your newsjack succeeds, re-amplify it yourself. This is the one flaw I see in Dr. Wood’s execution, as he did not re-post the video to his own social channels, even after it was picked up in the press.

Newsjacking was originally about earned media through real-time public relations. It was co-opted by social media to become more about “riding the hashtag” but that has limited upside and potentially large downside, in my estimation.

Instead, since we now have the ability to make credible content marketing (especially video) instantly, use that opportunity to pursue a newsjacking strategy that is rooted in content marketing, with social media as the amplification layer.

Big hat tip to my friend Jan Enns for bringing this case study to my attention, via a Linkedin post. 

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Our Top 10 2017 Social Media and Content Marketing Articles Wed, 27 Dec 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Top 10 social media and content marketing articles from Convince & Convert in 2017, including tips, tricks, templates, and more.

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Our Top 10 2017 Social Media and Content Marketing Articles

As we close each year here at Convince & Convert, I like to take a look at our most popular articles, posts, and podcasts over the preceding 12 months. It’s not 100 percent scientific because articles get traffic in multiple ways (search, social, email, etc), but looking at the top 10 from among more than 300 pieces of content does give an indication what you—the amazing audience that visits our corner of the web—found most valuable.

It’s also a good compendium of useful content for folks that may have fallen behind on their reading and want to catch up. Here are our top 10 best-performing posts this year.

The 11 Critical Podcast Statistics of 2017

The 11 Critical Podcast Statistics of 2017

This is the second or third year I’ve written this piece, inspired by an annual study by our pals at Edison Research. Podcasts continue to soar in popularity (do you listen to our own Social Pros, Content Pros, or Experience This!)? I love that so many people find value in this summary every year!

How Social Media Has Evolved Over the Past 12 Years

How Social Media Has Evolved Over the Past 12 Years

We ran this last January and it FREAKED ME OUT. I mean, you obviously know that social has changed a lot in a decade, but to have it all spelled out in one article? Wow. It really hits home. Great job on this by Matt Banner.

4 Goal-Specific Ways to Measure Influencer Marketing ROI

4 Goal-Specific Ways to Measure Influencer Marketing ROI

The success of this post doesn’t surprise me. Nothing was as hot in social/content circles as influencer marketing in 2017, and this straightforward article by Kim Westwood helps frame up some potential measurement protocols. We’ll cover this topic more next year, as well.

The Truth About How Often to Post in Social Media

The Truth About How Often to Post in Social Media

This was one of the mini-rants I wrote this year (I think I’m getting cranky in my middle age). Our friends at CoSchedule released a roll-up post about social media posting schedules. Good advice there, but my take is that you should publish . . . when you have something worthwhile for your audience. This one got a lot of chatter on Facebook and LinkedIn too.

8 Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Page

8 Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Page

This one is super helpful because it includes step-by-step walkthroughs and specific screenshots of where to click and what to do. A great one from Ann Smarty that could be updated just about every quarter, considering how many changes Facebook constantly throws at us.

An A-to-Z Guide to Google Analytics for Content Marketers

An A-to-Z Guide to Google Analytics for Content Marketers

This was quite a collaboration! Andy Crestodina and Orbit Media Studios wrote a terrific post on Google Analytics. Then, Payman Taei used the Visme tool to create a nifty infographic of the key concept. Payman pitched us to run his summary and infographic on Convince & Convert, and voilà! One of our most popular posts of the year. Thanks to everyone involved. The info and insights in this one are spot on.

11 Visual Storytelling Tools and How They’ll Help Your Content Marketing

11 Visual Storytelling Tools and How They’ll Help Your Content Marketing

Kayla Matthews is one of the best in the business at writing posts that round up useful tools and apps. Here, she used that superpower to pull together a great list of recommended tools (a bunch I’d never heard of) that content marketers can use to improve their visuals (which is SO important now).

The Formula to Calculate Content Marketing ROI_

The Formula to Calculate Content Marketing ROI

This one of my favorite posts this year. There’s so much confusion out there still about what ROI actually is, and how to calculate it legitimately for content marketing. Warning: This one has math (but that didn’t seem to hurt its popularity!).

6 Trends in Digital Advertising That Take Us from 2017 to 2020

6 Trends in Digital Advertising That Take Us from 2017 to 2020

Loved this future-casting from our very own Zontee Hou (who co-leads our strategy division). Are robots going to be doing ALL the digital advertising by 2020? Maybe!

The Proven Mechanics of Successful Social Media Writing

The Proven Mechanics of Successful Social Media Writing

I mentioned CoSchedule above and their meta-study of social media publication cadences and timelines. Nathan Ellering led that initiative and also contributed a killer post here at Convince & Convert, full of VERY specific templates for how to phrase your content on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and beyond. Bravo, Nathan!

On behalf of all of us at the Convince & Convert blog, huge thanks to the millions of you who spend time with us every year. We appreciate your trust, and we’re looking forward to a great 2018 together!

~ Jay Baer, founder

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