Category Archives: Marketing

8 Daily Digital Marketing Challenges

It’s not as difficult as being President of the United States, but digital marketing is hard work. Most people think we just play on social media all day and create a few web pages. I wish that was true. Digital marketing is a fun career choice but can be very challenging due to several factors.

  1. Digital marketing is in a state of constant change. Search engine result pages (SERPs) change more than 75% on a daily basis.  New social networks and tools pop up every few days.  Just when you think you’ve figured it out Facebook announces privacy changes or Instagram changes its terms of service.  Whatever the state of flux what works today, may not work tomorrow.
  2. Educating others as to what’s important. For those that don’t live, eat and breath digital, there’s a large knowledge gap. A big part of my day can be spent educating others as to why certain aspects of digital marketing are unique and important.
  3. You have to play the long and short game. Even B2C ecommerce sites that can show quick conversions from email, paid search and social. But they still have to consider where there brand will be positioned a year from now, 5 years from now, etc. B2B with longer sales cycles know this well enough but again you have to educate your co-workers that
  4. It’s hard to find quality relevant data. Yes there are tons of stats on Mashable, Techcrunch and other news blogs on conversion rates, open rates, etc. But many times they are aggregated across millions and billions of sessions, users stats, log files, etc. Finding relative comparative benchmarking data is challenging and can be expensive.
  5. You have to be a part time geek.  Not just someone that loves technology but you have to understand how the web and other digital platforms work at certain levels.  Digital marketing works when the underlying infrastructure and technology support the goals and objectives of the campaign.  Without a robust framework and platform the best campaigns can quickly fail.  Understanding how the pieces work together is critical for success.
  6. You have to test on many browsers, operating systems and mobile devices. Sure your website, app, email looks great on your computer but what about the person in the cube next to you on an older browser. Or your CEO that is on his iPad. Or your customer that still uses a Blackberry.  At some point you have to cut bait and fish but the testing and revisions are important and time consuming.
  7. Traditional marketing is still important. The old rules may not always apply but lessons learned from past campaigns can provide insight into how people may respond to your campaign.  Marketing is not about selling, it’s about creating interest, awareness and demand for your product. The selling comes afterwards.
  8. There are many digital channels and associated strategies. Do I create a mobile website or mobile app? Are microsites the best strategy for a campaign. How much organic and paid search do I need to reach my goals?  Add in video, social, email, content marketing, and whatever is around the corner. Not every digital channel is applicable for each campaign, but each must be considered and reviewed.
So what do you think? Is digital marketing hard work in your opinion?Enhanced by Zemanta

Content Marketing Automation and Integration

With all the digital media channels out there you can spend a huge amount of time curating and sharing content across multiple social networks and channels.  Integrating content across networks and channels via an automation strategy can save time and money spent doing repetitive tasks.  But I want to note that this is not an all or none strategy and should not be adopted for all your communication.  Instead I approach content automation as a strategy to integrate original content with curated content in order to develop a stream of content.

Some of the basic tactics necessary to deploy this strategy include establishing a digital diet of content.  Content aggregators and curation tools are a great way to do this.  Creating great content day in, day out is a challenge.  There’s no reason why you should not view curation as a way to keep your social media streams active and healthy.  Every social media expert will tell you share great content in addition to creating your own.
Think of your content marketing automation as a daisy chain, whereby each event links to another.  There are several ways to do this.

Search to Syndicate

Search queries on Google and Twitter allow you to create an RSS feed.  These RSS feeds can be displayed on your blog or can feed a social media account like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+.  You can also use email to syndicate content via email to add articles to a queue.  So here is how I do it.
I use content curation tools on my iPhone and iPad like Zite, Flipboard, Pulse and other sources.  Articles that I read and think my friends and followers are interested I share by sending via email to Buffer.  Buffer allows you to schedule and share content on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and set up a schedule according to what day and times you want to share for each network.  My buffer feeds my personal Twitter, LinkedIn and the Square Jaw Media Facebook page.
Remember the daisy chain I mentioned earlier?  Here’s where that comes in.  Buffer only hits 3 sites but I want to also share to my Square Jaw Media Twitter as well as save to my bookmarking account on Pocket.  Here’s where my trigger tool comes in.  If This Then That (ifttt.com) is a trigger based tool that allows you to daisy chain your content automation to several networks.  So I have one trigger that is activated when my Facebook page shares a link and post it to Twitter and a second that bookmarks the article on Pocket for archiving.
Here’s where the daisy chain effect comes in.  I don’t want my personal and brand page to push out the same link at the same time.  So I use IFTTT to push out my Square Jaw Media tweet at a later time by staggering my Facebook fan page Buffer queue.  That way there’s some time distance between the two tweets.
At a less complex level Facebook, YouTube and other tools allow you to port links to other networks when you add or bookmark content.  For example when you you add a video to YouTube you can have it post a tweet and status update on Facebook.  At the same time you can also do this for content that you save as a favorite.  This is a great opportunity to share content that is relevant to stakeholders.
Another great syndication tool is NetworkedBlogs. If you are reading this post on Facebook, NetworkedBlogs did that!  NetworkedBlogs allows you to syndicated your blog to your Facebook page and profile when you publish.

Repurpose Content

The concept of repurposing content on social media should not be overlooked.  One way to accomplish this is to use the Tweet Old Post WordPress plugin to share older posts along with more current content.  As long a your content is relevant and timely this works well to drive traffic to your site.
RSS feeds have so many uses in content automation it’s hard to list them so I’ll mention a few.  If you host events or blog about them many times you want to include links to other blogs and sites that reference your event.  In the past this meant going back to articles and adding links.  But you can use In Post RSS Plugin to update a post without having to login to your blog.  By adding a link to a bookmarking site like Delicious or Pocket it will add the link to the post dynamically.  Remember to use tags to separate and segment content so you don’t spam our post or feed with unrelated links.

Don’t Forget the Sidebar

Sidebars are a great place to display content on our website or blog.  Videos, slides, photos, links and other curated content can be shared on every page of your site or segment the content and share only the specific relevant links for specific vertical markets like health care, technology or manufacturing if necessary.
In conclusion, these tactics are not a replacement for interacting and responding with users on social networks. If you try that you will soon find out that your readers will call you out and you will lose some level of trust with your audience. Instead employ a content automation strategy to augment your content marketing efforts.

How Social Is Your TV?

At the February Triangle Social Media Club event I had my eyes opened to the world of “social TV.”  The speakers were Gregory Ng (@gregoryng), Tim Arthur (@timarthur), Damond Nollan (@damondnollan) and the MC was Ryan Boyles (@therab).  The panel showed what their entertainment centers consisted of, their top 5 shows and one guilty pleasure as well as shared insights, wants and desires of social TV.

Social TV integrates social networks and television, movie and music habitsThe rise of digital enabled devices has allowed for greater integration of social networks and websites with our TVs.  All four on the panel had a gaming device such as Wii or Xbox to stream video but the setups were different in other areas.  For instance Damond’s strategy was to reduce his monthly entertainment expense while allowing everyone in his household to have their own streaming device.  While Greg preferred to subscribe to Direct TV for sports as well as the ability to watch live events as they happen.

The presentation embedded at the end of this post gives a great view into the different setups.  The panel also listed their favorite shows and guilty pleasures.  All four panelists picked “The Walking Dead” as one of their top 5 shows.  While I’m not a fan of Zombie genre, I was interested to learn why they were enthusiastic.  The show had a big following and even the largest cable debut of the season.  Combined with fan chats, celebrity after show appearances; The Walking Dead created a community of fans and a forum.

That’s where social TV has real potential.  It’s one thing to check in to a show and share that on Twitter and Facebook.  This can lead to shared interests among your social circle.  But where it takes off is creating a true fan community that works similar to bulletin board forums of the early 90s.  Ryan explained how super fans create private blogs on Tumblr with their own language and rely heavily on aliases.  Most best practices posts will tell you to be authentic, but in the world of social TV DISQUS did research that showed that alias communities had greater interaction and participation.

What does all of this mean to marketing and advertising folk like me? It represents a new opportunity to build relationships with fans in a new way.  While Ryan recanted GaryVee’s mantra of “marketing ruins everything” it does not have to.  The panel discussed how media companies can build respect and report with users versus just selling to them.  For instance, what if a social TV app could provide live channel notifications and share that among friends?  The idea that sharing old school living room experience allows for more intimate content and engagement with a global audience is truly unique.

Tonight the Oscars is being broadcast and I’ve already seen hype around the fact that this will be the most social and interactive award show to date.  That’s an easy claim if the majority of last year’s activity was Twitter and Facebook chatter.  But as social TV develops there is opportunity to engage fans and talent in real time.

I want to thank Ryan for hosting the panel and sharing the presentation on his SlideShare space as well as the other panelists for sharing their frank and honest views on the tools, technology and changing landscape of social TV!  Plus Greg’s guilty pleasure of “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant” was classic!  Also I was finally able to meet Tim Arthur in person after several months of chatting on Twitter and blogs and found out that we have many similar interests including Breaking Bad and Californication, two of my favorite shows!  Also thanks to WNCN NBC 17 for hosting the event and studio tour from Kim Green @producingk.

6 Content Curation Tools For Your Daily Digital Diet

You hear that content is king and the latest curations applications and tools allow you to take advantage of the content kings to manage your daily diet of news and information.  With the large volumes of content being produced today by everyone from the major networks, businesses and local bloggers and enthusiasts, individuals have a huge amount of content to curate and share with others.  RSS readers where the early innovators in curating the constant firehouse of information into our shotglass attention span but they were cumbersome and text heavy.

A few years ago I wrote about how aggregators like NetVibes and Pageflakes were allowing us to create mash up pages in minutes.  These tools are great for listening stations and but lack the intelligence that the new generation of curation tools offer.  These tools are also driving clicks like never before. These curation tools are helping us fill Facebook and Twitter streams, driving significant traffic volume, making corporate brands take notice.  I’ve even noticed how Delicious has updated their interface since the last update a few months ago with the release of stacks.

Scoop.it

Scoop.it is a nice tool to gather and distribute content from around the Web based on your interests and passions.  Scoop.it creates a page with previews and links to content you “scoop”and has good community tools for following other curators. Most of these sites have the ability to “Re” post content another user has already flagged.  Scoop.it has some great B2B curators in specific vertical markets and found it to be good resource to gather industry-specific content.

Scoop It website allows for content curation
Marty Smith's "Business Intelligence Revolution" on Scoop.it

Paper.li

Paper.li seems to be the most used of the content curation tools among people I follow on Twitter and probably has the most traffic of any This site has really done the best job of attracting uses and generating links. The aspect of publishing a daily paper based off your articles of interest and giving recognition for the source as a key contributors via Twitter is both annoying and brilliant. Even though I don’t want a daily paper for myself I find myself clicking through to friends papers and enjoying the clean interface.  And if you use Paper.li change your title to differentiate the daily tweets other than the typical tweets of “The YOUR NAME HERE Daily is out…”

Paper.ly Daily Newspaper Style Curation Site
Phil Buckley's "The 1918 Daily Amalgamation" on Paper.ly

Pinterest

Pinterest is the latest media story as it started popping into the list of sites driving the most traffic on the internet last month.  For the most part the initial growth was driven by women using it as a virtual scrapbook for visual items of interest such as clothes, interior design and food.  Pintrest is one part bookmarking and one part image gallery with a clean interface that allows you to create a more engaging curation.  You can only “pin” images to a board, but the link is preserved to allow for the click thereby driving traffic to the source site.  Also other community members can post comments similar to Facebook wall posts threads.  Pinterest is different from traditional bookmarking sites like Delicious, Digg and StumbleUpon in that it pins an image, movie or other media object with link to page.  However the ability to visually scan designs and rich media content is very nice.

Pinterest is driving major traffic and users to create electronic pinboards

Zite

My wife @MCDezigns showed Zite to me and we both love it.  Zite not only has the best content for what I’m interested in reading it also has great one-click bookmarking, easy social sharing with flexibility using multiple accounts.  I recently downloaded the iPhone app and use it everyday to quickly scan articles of interest and either read or bookmark them to read later in the day.  Zite has simple thumbs up/down approval tool similar to Pandora to customize your content.  The stream will even draw from your social stream with lesser presence than Flipboard.  Zite has a large library of Sections to choose from and they have groomed their content well in terms of quality and frequency.

Zite seems to have the best content and overall user experience.

Flipboard

Flipboard definetly captured everyones attention when iPads first came out.  Using simple swipe navigation it offers a great magazine of news and social media content.  For social media content I like how photos are previewed in larger sizes and it’s easier to view photos than on your Facebook wall or Twitter stream as well as photos sites like Instagram.  The latest release allows for multiple accounts so that you can share on iPad for multiple users as well as new iPhone version.

Flipboard creates personalized magazine of content from news sources and social media

Google Currents

The latest entry tinto the curation space is Google Currents. Matching the new Google interface design it works best with Google+ but has sharing and bookmarking integration. No doubt that curation and clicks resulting from Google Current users are are going to factor into how the Google ranking juice is made.  Currents has a library of major content sites as well as the ability to pull from any RSS feed in your Google Reader.  There is also a trending list of links that you can browse that is similar to search results you would see in the “News” result of a Google Search.  The clean interface and design is similar to Flipboard and Zite with the ability to simply swipe between pages and topics.  What I think Google should have done was skip the redesign of Google Reader and instead migrated it into Currents with a website interface.

Google Currents offers library of content sources and trending stream

The last three tools listed here are only avaiable as a tablet or smartphone app. Scoop.it, Paper.ly and Pinterest all offer websites to create your pages and manage your account.  These tools have bookmarklets and other simple tools to tag a page and categorize the content.

What’s your content curation tool of choice?

Stack up Your Delicious Links

Last year Twitter was all abuzz about Yahoo! possibly shutting down Delicious the social bookmarking site. Myself along with several other quickly voiced our frustration with Yahoo! Within 15 minutes we were tweeting instructions on how to download your bookmarks and debating what site to migrate to. Eventually Yahoo! did sell Delicious to AVOS systems in April of this year.

About a month ago I logged into Delicious and noticed that the front page had changed. Gone was the clean and simple interface of links that I was accustomed to. Now the front page looked like every other media and news aggregator on the web. I know that people love pictures and I do as well, but I was not digging the change. Frustrated, I pondered once again about migrating my links to one of the other bookmarking sites.

I’m glad that I did not give up on Delicious. Upon further investigation I found that the new design offered some interesting new features to make my links come off the page more. Also the new stacking feature allows you to group links and display them in different layouts. Previously grouping links was done through what Delicious called link bundles. The bundles allowed you to group links but I found it unnecessary and just more work. Unless I was sharing link bundles there was not much benefit in grouping links that I could aggregate via the individual tags.

With stacking you are grouping links in a stack (i.e. bundle) but the big difference is now you can choose from and I’ll explain and provide a sample of each in this post.  The example I’ll be using is the stack I created for the recent Internet Summit held in Raleigh.

List View

Delicious Link View
List view is the traditional view of links, with description and tags that the legacy version of Delicious displayed.  This is bookmarking at it’s most basic, text, links and tags.  Nothing fancy here but good view if you’re a text scanner like me.

Grid View

Delicious Grid View

Grid view is the view that many news and aggregator sites use these days.  The grid view snags a photo or image from the page and creates a large thumbnail.  Some links will create a thumbnail of the whole page. Delicious should take a hint from LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook where you can scroll through possible images to use.  Grid view is good view if you want to create a more visually appealling stack.

Full View

Delicious Full View

Full view uses the same thumbnail as grid view in the left column and then displays the title, link URL and any description text in the main column.  If you take the time to enter descriptions into your links or if the site uses excerpts this is a good option to list view.

Media View

Delicious Media View Scroll Bar

Media view is good to use if most of your links are videos, presentations or photo libraries.  This view will not include all links like blog posts or basic web pages unless they have rich media embedded on the page.  Media view uses a left/right scroll bar for the thumbnails with the selected link media played below.

Some other observations from creating Delicious stacks:

  • You can create a header for the stack that includes either text or images.  At this time you cannot upload images, you must select images from one of your linked pages.  Test different images as Delicious will stretch and center the images and sometimes you get a grainy, messy result.

Delicious Stack Header

  • There is a comment box that you can enter text in below the header image with some basic formatting options.
  • I have not been able to determine what view is he default for the stack.  It appears that the full view is used but I was able to set the media view but could not replicate it.
  • Once you create a stack you can then share the stack via email with the share link on the main stack page.  I’m surprised there’s not more social sharing options/buttons.  Let’s hope to see them in future releases.
Delicious also has a nice video (who doesn’t these days, right?) that demonstrates how to create stacks.
So what are you waiting for, go create your Delicious stack and share it with me in the comments along with any tips, tricks, likes and fails you discover.