Publishing Is To 2007 As eCommerce Was to 1997

first_img   In the process of weathering the storm, these l Amazon certainly stands out, but relative to the amount of new company formation (and venture money spent on super bowl ads), there were very few large, sustainable, profitable corporations created by this industrial structure disruption. The industrial structure of the publishing industry is at an interesting historical point. dramatically impacted by the ecommerce disruption. The industry disruption is good news for the social bookmarking sites like Digg and YouTube; the (very) few top bloggers that can aggregate enough traffic to make the economics of advertising work; and the plumbing suppliers like Feedburner, Google, etc. were The reality is that the mom & pop retailers I suspect it will look similar to the way we look at retail in 1997 today. I think of it as Google is to Publishing is to 2007 This industry disruption is potentially bad news for established content producers, such as the The Boston Globe, The USA Today, and the LA Times. However, the major corporations (Target, Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, Gap) weathered the storm by Originally published Mar 9, 2007 1:01:00 PM, updated March 21 2013 figuring out how to leverage the technology and combining it with hard to acquire strengths in inventory management and logistics to fight off new entrants. Amazon is to eCommerce is to 1997. I suspect the smaller players at the margin with less editorial resources will have a hard time competing because they do not have hard-to-acquire resources (high barriers to entry) and will not be able to figure out the technology in time. This industrial structure in the publishing industry in 2007 is a lot like the industrial structure in the retail industry in 1997. eventually Most large newspapers and magazines will eventually weather the storm by figuring out how to leverage the technology and combine it with their hard to acquire editorial strengths. arge publications will face some layoffs (i.e. Boston Globe shuttering overseas bureaus), end up experimenting with interesting business models (i.e. USAToday releasing web2.0 features), and take medium-term market cap valuation haircuts. It is hard to say how we will look at the current publishing industry disruption from 2017, but The disruption lead to very few new eCommerce giants. I suspect that many of the independent bloggers selling ads on their sites will end up going away as the economics just won’t work and this will be our publishing equivalent to the sock puppets.  I suspect there will be a few new large media players created, other than Google. The internet, search, social bookmarking sites, blog software, Google Adsense, and RSS in combination are acting as a disruptive technology to the publishing industry by lowering the barrier-to-entry (no printing costs!) for new entrants and improving consumption patterns for consumers (more specialization). as Many predicted that the disruption would wipe out the brick & morter retailers (i.e. Barnes & Noble) who had much to lose and give rise to a slew of ecommerce giants and plumbing vendors who had much to gain. In 1997, ecommerce software and the internet were a disruptive technology to the “brick & morter” retail industry by lowering the barrier-to-entry (no stores!) for new entrants and improving consumption patterns for consumers (from home). Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

Google Using Humans for Search Results – Good for Your Business

first_img Topics: Today the New York Times wrote an article about how Google is using humans to make some search results better.  This lead to a number of comments on the article itself, and a ton of articles in the blogosphere discussing the topic.  All I want to point out to the readers of this blog is that this is GOOD for all of you.This means is that Google is dedicated to getting the “right” search results, so much so that they are hiring people to help.  Using humans to help generate better search results will continue to remove spam websites from search results and focus on listing only quality websites in search results.  This will be a blow deal by the humans at Google to the black hat SEO websites and will help make websites that truly have good content rank higher in Google for any given search term. (Read this article for some discussion about black vs white hat SEO.)To rank high and get traffic, leads and customers from inbound marketing, just focus on the basics of white hat SEO: writing good content, doing on-page SEO and off-page SEO.  Simple and effective.  Doing a good job of white hat SEO is actually good for Google, since it helps them understand what your website is actually about, and helps them more easily deliver good search results, with or without humans.If you want more info about SEO, read these articles:Shortest Tutorial Ever on SEO7 Signs You Should Run Screaming from an SEO ConsultantPaid Search vs. Organic Search Originally published Dec 20, 2007 10:21:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 Google Updates Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

How to Size Up a Market in PPC

first_img Topics: This article is part of a 4-part series on Getting Started with Pay-Per-Click and Google AdWords. If you’d like to review these posts, click the links below: Getting Started with Pay-Per-Click and Google AdWords How to Size Up a Market in PPC How to Get Started with Google AdWords Tweaking Google AdWords for Higher PerformanceIn this second post of four on getting started with PPC and Google AdWords, we look at how to size up a market.  (If you missed the first post, read that one first – Getting Started with Pay-Per-Click and Google AdWords).  The goal today is to know whether there’s enough traffic to justify an invest PPC advertising.As such, not every market drives online volume comparable to its brick and mortar activity. So, to determine whether PPC makes sense for your niche, consider these 3 questions:How strong is demand for this product? How competitive is this market?How much will clicks cost?How strong is demand for this product?Come up with a keyword phrase you think people will use most often when searching for your product. Now go to the Google Traffic Estimator Sandbox and enter your keyword phrase.  If we leave the second field in #2 blank, Google will return traffic estimates based on a payout sufficient to yield the top position on the page 85% of the time.The tool gives a Google search volume estimate on a 1 to 5 scale, plus an estimate of the number of clicks you can get at a given bid price.  Now, we can see whether the search volume for a given product is healthy or anemic.  These are the traffic estimates for the terms we entered:How competitive is this market?At the Google homepage, you can get a fast and dirty idea of how competitive a market is. Figure if there are 50 or more bidders on a search term, it’s cutthroat but very lucrative for the winners. Fifteen or fewer, it’s relatively easy to compete although there may not be a big revenue base to go after.Enter the term weight loss. Thirty-three pages of paid ads turn up for about 327 bidders. Enter the term cockatoo. Only four bidders appear on the first page and that’s it.  But, the real measure of competition is the bid price per click, so let’s turn to that.How much will clicks cost?As we saw earlier, the Google Traffic Estimator Sandbox provides a way to check the price for various keywords without having to log into your AdWords account. Assume you’re selling a $50 weight loss supplement, the profit is $40, and the conversion rate is 1%. This means 99 of 100 clicks don’t buy. At the high end of $2.73 a click for the broadest version of the term weight loss, you’ll eat about $270 before you make your first sale. Moreover, this scenario would repeat itself 46 times a day! Ouch.For the exact term, weight loss, the high end runs $870 per day. At a $40 profit per sale, you need nearly 22 sales to break even. This would require an 8.6% conversion rate. By bidding for less competitive positions on the page (to reduce your outlays) and by improving ad copy and landing page effectiveness (to boost conversion rates), a profitable opportunity might exist with this keyword phrase, but you need to be careful.Conclusion In our next post, we’ll take you through the process of creating a Google AdWords account, delve deeper into the mindset needed to succeed and look at some advanced tools Google provides. Originally published Mar 20, 2008 11:32:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 PPC Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

Top 5 Inbound Marketing Articles to Start the Week: Google vs. Bing

first_img : query matching in the domain name; exact match domains by top-level domain (TLD) extension; keywords in subdomains; on-page keyword usage; link counts and link diversity; TLD extensions; length of domain, URL and content; website homepages; and anchor text link matches. Some of his best tips?  Make sure your experiments have clear goals, conduct your experiments in labs that aren’t on your main website or online presence, and don’t be afraid of failure or to get your hands dirty. Author: Her article covers tips for choosing the right screencasting tool, putting together a script, capturing the actual screencast and editing it for the best quality and results. 1. Audrey Watters Inbound Marketing of SEOmoz Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Rand’s analysis and conclusions cover the following SEO factors that contribute to how a website/page is ranked Our top Author: SEO is constantly changing. Understand how search engines rank websites to ensure you’re optimizing your pages appropriately. To help you create these types of posts for your own blog, Rohit highlights some common features that make an article an ideal fit as a content time bomb: Marketing Takeaway: Think critically and creatively about trending topics to come up with unique, yet valuable, takeaways for your readers. Kimberly Turner Rohit Bhargava Ever wonder how you can take advantage of hot, trending topics in the news and current affairs for your blog?  Kimberly’s article identifies that, no matter what your niche is, there is often a way to apply trending topics to your topic to make it interesting for readers.  They key, she says, is to take the time to research and understand the individual story’s details and think creatively about how it can apply to your Think about creating some great content time bombs in your own industry that stand the test of time and help generate additional traffic long after they’re initially published. niche. Author: Screencasts are a great type of Don’t be afraid to do some marketing experiments of your own. Take a risk, try something new and apply the lessons learned to future endeavors. On-Demand Webinar: How to Use SEO & Social Search for Lead Generation Claudio Gennari Content time bombs are valuable because they are written for the long term (e.g. a timely news post is Chris Brogan Author: Download the on-demand webinar now Marketing Takeaway: on Influential Marketing Blog It engages a broader audience. article of the past week provides some great research and insight into the way Google and Bing compare in how they rank websites for search engine results. 2. 4. Tips for Making a Screencast for Your Startup of Marketing Takeaway:center_img “‘content time bombs’ are 3. online video Marketing Takeaway: inbound marketing not blogging 5. Photo by Using the Blogosphere’s Trends for Your Niche Rand Fishkin that are written to remain online until someone needs to know about that specific topic, and then they ‘explode’ as those people find them (usually through search engines). They are the social media equivalent of land mines, but in a good way.” According to Rohit, ! How often do you experiment in your marketing?  Brogan’s article emphasizes Originally published Jun 14, 2010 8:00:00 AM, updated July 19 2013 keywords How Writing “Content Time Bombs” Can Double Your Blog Traffic Screencasts can be a great instructional tool for your company’s products or services. Try creating one for your business. Topics: Join Mike Volpe, VP of Marketing at HubSpot for insights on how to generate leads with SEO and social search. Author Rand Fishkin’s article compiles his research on the different ranking elements of Google and Bing, providing valuable information for people looking to optimize their websites for these specific search engines. of ReadWriteWeb frequently. It can remain “dormant” until needed. It uses She proves her point by providing a number of examples of recent, timely news stories and how they were successfully and creatively covered by bloggers in unexpected niches. Marketing Takeaway: pieces of content The Vital Importance of Labs to showcase and explain how a new product or feature works, but how do you create one?  Audrey’s article offers some great advice for creating screencasts, outlining the step-by-step process to help you get started. Author: It targets a specific audience or need. an example); they address common questions people ask. on Problogger the importance of experimentation Google vs. Bing: Correlation Analysis of Ranking Elements , stressing that it is a vital element in the growth of any business and that the most innovative companies are constantly experimenting.  He offers some of his best advice about using labs for experimentation.last_img read more

3 Benefits of Making Your Website Blog-Driven

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack SEO Originally published Jun 16, 2010 3:00:00 PM, updated July 03 2013 Join HubSpot Experts for a live session for website review and optimization, providing tips for getting found online.Date & Time: Every Tuesday at 1:00pm ETSubmit your site now for optimization by HubSpot Experts! (2 will be selected)center_img After hosting several Website Optimization Webinars, I’ve noticed that many companies have useful content on their websites, but have trouble blogging.The problem with many of these companies is not that they are incapable of entering the content mindset. It’s that they stop having this mindset once they launch their site.Websites are static, but blogs are dynamic. All these companies need to do is turn their static content into dynamic content.3 Reasons Why Your Website Content Should be Dynamic1. It Keeps Your Visitors InterestedYou want people to have a reason to come back to your website. If your website content is static, visitors can just browse your site once and they’re done. But if you’re putting out new content all the time, they have reason to come back. And if your content is truly interesting, they’ll even subscribe to your updates via RSS or e-mail.2. More Pages = More SEO JuiceEach blog post is a new page that search engines see, and therefore a new opportunity to get found online. Packing as much content as possible into a few pages is not an effective search engine optimization strategy.3. Incentive to Create More ContentAfter companies pack their websites with useful content, they often avoid adding new content to their sites. If you don’t have a blog, adding more content means redesigning the site and complicating the layout.Shouldn’t you put yourself in a position that encourages you to provide more useful information to your site visitors?Example: LaBelle WineryLaBelle Winery in New Hampshire is doing a lot of the right things. They use their website to announce events, upload photos, and offer wine-related recipes. Their website is full of rich, useful content!While I reviewed their site in our webinar, I suggested that they put their future content updates into a blog. By doing so, they will reap all the benefits I’ve mentioned.Creating a blog will also give LaBelle Winery the flexibility to share a wider variety of relevant information. They no longer need to be confined to just events, photos, recipes, and news. This should additionally make the rest of their site cleaner.Marketing Takeaway: Make Your Website Blog-DrivenPresenting the dynamic parts of your site in a blog will help you gain followers, improve your SEO, and encourage you to produce more useful content for your site visitors.Your website should contain some information about your company, outside of your blog. However, this should be reserved for basic information that does not change often. The information that does change, such as news, offerings and events should be in a blog.Many companies are already doing the right thing by offering useful content. They just need to make the change from presenting information in a static way to doing so dynamically through a blog.Live Website Optimization: Using Website Grader For Marketing Success Topics:last_img read more

10 Ways to Take Your Clients from “Eh” to Electrified

first_img 8. Stay out of SPAM folders.Ending up in the SPAM folder is the kiss of death for any e‐marketing piece. Before you send an e-mail or e-newsletter, be wary of the things that can get your e-mails deleted before they are even opened. All e-mails receive a SPAM rating that is affected by a variety of factors. As your SPAM rating increases, so do the chances of your e-mails being sent directly into recipients’ SPAM folders. To avoid the “forbidden folder,” watch the words you use (e.g., excessive use of “win” and “money” can send you straight to SPAM), avoid flashy colors and designs, and use a SPAM-checking service to review your messages. Photo Credit: Kyle May 7. 6. Create surprising offers and people will pay attention!If you offer something of real value for free, people will listen. In fact, “free” can convert price shoppers into loyal customers. This is the model that online print company Vistaprintused to generate over $500 million in revenue in 2009. The “free” offer the company makes has a certain appeal to their target market: small businesses. While these companies need printing, they’re often very cost-conscious customers. So Vistaprint offers 250 business cards for free, with a nominal $5.67 shipping and processing charge. Today, 66 percent of Vistaprint’s business comes from returning customers. In the first quarter of FY 2010, they acquired 1.4 million new customers—many who started with a free order. Inbound Marketing Originally published Sep 13, 2010 3:00:00 PM, updated March 21 2013 10. Become the media.One of the most powerful ways to gain exposure, increase your credibility, and get people talking is to get media coverage. Fortunately, today you don’t have to wait for the media to come to you. You can become the media. You can do so by using some newer tools that are available for free and right from your desk: Create your own blog. Host your own recorded radio show. Write your own articles or opinion pieces. 2. Create your simple, repeatable statement of value.A simple marketing message is transmitted easily and without degradation of the meaning and content. A short, clear message is best. When creating yours, ask yourself: Who am I? What is my business all about? Who are my customers? What is something unique about my business? 1. Build your connections—even introverts can do it!You might not be the type of person who loves to socialize, attend big parties, and network. If so, that’s okay! One of the more surprising things I discovered when interviewing notably successful businesspeople for my first book, The Connectors, was that those who were masters at leveraging their business relationships did not focus on creating relationships with everyone. But they did have a plan for reaching those with whom they wanted to meaningfully connect. It doesn’t matter whether you are introverted or extroverted; what matters is that you’ve spent some time thinking about which relationships are most vital and why. 5. Find the compelling benefits.Compelling benefits answer the question, “Why should I care?” But do you even know what your clients truly care about? And do your marketing messages address this? List benefits based on what your customers—not you—believe is valuable. Remember, every word needs to show the reader “What’s in It for Me.” Getting new clients can often be stressful and intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be. Business development isn’t a secret formula, instead it is about doing a few important things well. Here are 10 ways to electrify your clients to help win more business and retain current clients. Create a website And the Clients Went Wild! How Savvy Professionals Win All the Business They Want 9. Call them to action.Make sure that your marketing messages include a clear and specific call-to-action. Your audience needs to feel that they are part of a select group that’s been chosen to receive a special offer or value, and they need to be convinced after they put your piece down that the sooner they respond to your offer, the better. To call your customers to action, provide a specific offer such as a coupon or discount, add a sense of urgency, and repeat the offer at least three times in the marketing piece. Social Media The following is a guest post by Maribeth Kuzmeski, author of 3. Brand consistently.The variety of marketing efforts available today could easily confuse customers, send conflicting messages—and result in a fractioned brand. Every interaction a customer has with your brand must be integrated across all marketing channels. For example, your website content and e‐mail campaigns should be fully incorporated with your offline efforts. All should proclaim a single, clear branding message and design throughout. Topics: that is as unique as your business.Recent statistics indicate that people form an opinion of a website in seven seconds, and will decide within that timeframe whether to browse within the site—or move on. Keeping this in mind, it is important to have a website design that downloads quickly, is aesthetically pleasing, and tells users right away what’s in it for them. Simply put, your site needs to stop visitors in their tracks. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack 4. “Wow” your clients with frequent communication.In today’s world, the more frequently you contact clients, the better the relationship is likely to be. For important clients, make sure there is always a “next activity” scheduled. You could give them a call, invite them to lunch, e-mail them, or simply drop a note in the mail. Plan your next contact or appointment with a client during your current one; it is a sure-fire way of maintaining consistency and implementation.last_img read more

5 Steps to a Successful Email Lead Nurturing Campaign

first_img Read more about how to set yourself up for smarketing success here. Deliver Results with Automated Email Lead Nurturing Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack When prospects first come to your site, they’re researching information and aren’t ready to have a sales conversation. You need to create content that attracts them to your website and provides educational thought leadership content. Then as they continue to do their research and are ready to learn about your product, you want to have content that connects their problems to the solutions you offer. You need this combination of content to match leads at every stage of the sales and marketing funnel. Flickr photo by If you’re generating great leads but your sales team isn’t following up, your effort is wasted. Make sure you’re set up for success by working with the sales team effectively. Step 3: Map Content to Every Stage of the Sales Funnel Do not skimp on this step. It will direct your entire campaign – audience, content, and success metrics. Are you trying to reawaken cold leads? Increase lead quality? Generate new leads? View the Full Presentation with Example Campaigns Well, not a PhD or special expertise. Here are Step 2: Select a Persona and Business Problem judepics Step 4: Set Yourself for Smarketing Success 5 steps to creating a successful email lead nurturing campaign. Who are you trying to reach? What problem are you helping them solve? This is key for helping you create the content for your lead nurturing campaign. Your persona should be a pretty vivid picture of who you’re ideally trying to reach. Go as far as giving them a name, a job, responsibilities, hobbies.center_img Topics: Marketing is not a set-it-and-forget-it job. Things change quickly and regularly. Make sure you know what’s working and what’s not so you can continue to improve. Have metrics in place that tie to your goals set in step 1. Looking to drive branding and awareness? Measure branded search or direct traffic to your website. Looking to increase lead quality? Measure quality conversions or lead ratings over time. Interested in generating new leads or email opt-ins? Measure how you’re growing your database from your lead nurturing efforts. Step 1: Determine Your Goal . I encourage you to get your first campaign up and running immediately. You can spend months putting together a complicated campaign that may or may not deliver results. In the meantime you could be nurturing your leads and learning how different types of content or campaigns perform with your audience. I had the great pleasure of geeking out about lead nurturing at the American Marketing Association in Tampa Bay last week. It’s not often you can get a room full of marketers to get excited about lead nurturing, which is unfortunate because View more presentations from What does it take to put together a successful email lead nurturing campaign? lead nurturing is such a powerful marketing tool Originally published Mar 22, 2011 9:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 HubSpot Internet Marketing Lead Nurturing Step 5: Measure and Improvelast_img read more

3 Reasons Why Marketers Get No Respect

first_img all the leads you get for them The only person marketers have to blame when they get little to no respect is themselves. You can whine all you want about how your sales department doesn’t appreciate Real-Time Marketing for Business Growth , how your boss is ignorant and doesn’t understand your strategies, or how finance shouldn’t question your expenses for a direct mail campaign. I’ve been in marketing for more than 20 years, and each time I feel I’m not getting the respect I deserve, I know it’s not “their” fault; it’s really mine. Image credit: Most good marketers I know are opinionated – and I mean that in a good way. They are smart, have good insight into issues, and are not afraid to voice their opinions. When positioned incorrectly, this can come off as being arrogant or stubborn. You can quickly be identified as ‘not a team player,’ and once that’s affixed to you, it’s hard to rub off. the ROI on a campaign The key to getting respect is to collaborate as much as possible. Reece says “marketing is uniquely positioned to align the entire organization around the customer.” Instead of building up your department or showing people how smart you are, you should be trying to break down the barriers between departments and collaborate, because your goal and your company’s are one and the same – to meet the needs of your customers. Reason #2 for Lack of Respect: Department Mentality Rodney Dangerfield Album Cover Marketers can bring the intelligence (i.e. research) to help sales better understand their customers and prospects Originally published Jun 20, 2011 11:39:00 AM, updated July 03 2013 : Reason #1 for Lack of Respect: Communication Topics: Too often, marketers think of themselves as part of the marketing department. Technically, they may be correct, but practically, that’s the best way to separate themselves from others. And when you act separately, you set yourself for an “us” vs. “them” mentality. According to Monique Reece in her book What do you think? Do you feel you get the respect you deserve as a marketer? . Marketers can position the products around the needs of the customers. Marketers can find new ways to reach new prospects. And they can do all of this by collaborating with everyone else in the process. When they collaborate, sales will get a better understanding of what marketers bring to the table. Your executives will appreciate your leadership skills, and finance will finally get a handle on the ROI that marketing can bring. Marketers are responsible for creating and communicating the positioning and messaging of their company. The problem is they do a bad job communicating internally to their bosses, the sales team, finance, customer service, operations, etc. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Branding . By communicating your efforts in a timely and effective way, you can avoid many of the issues that give marketing a bad reputation. Internal PR is really a marketer’s best friend. There is nothing a sales person hates more than seeing an ad the same time their prospect does. Executives don’t have time to read through a 30-page report, no matter how wonderful it is. And your CFO’s job is to challenge your expenditures and see “Organizations need to think beyond marketing as simply a department because the role and meaning of marketing has evolved way beyond this. It’s time for CEOs, marketing and sales professionals, and other business executives to work together to create a new definition of marketing. This role should include priorities such as leading change, deepening the organization’s understanding of customers and how to build loyalty, and implementing new communication and alignment processes to improve strategy execution.” Reason #3 for Lack of Respect: Opinionatedlast_img read more

How to Squeeze More Lead Gen Juice From Your Social Presence

first_imgAre you juicing your social media presence for all it’s worth? Sure, social media engagement can be a great way to connect and interact with fans, prospects, and customers alike. But are you aware of its potential as a lead generation tool?The next time you tweet a link, post a message on Facebook or LinkedIn, or upload a video to your YouTube channel, consider the following 10 tactics to make sure you’re squeezing out as much lead gen juice as possible from your social media strategy.10 Ways to Squeeze More Lead Gen Juice From Social Media1. Promote your social presence via email, your website, and your blog. In order to generate leads from social media, you first need followers and fans who actually care about your updates. Don’t forget about easy ways to promote your presence in social media and attract new followers. Add social media follow buttons to various pages of your website, your blog, your personal email signatures, and your email marketing messages so people know where else to find you.2. Make sure every blog post you share includes a CTA. In general, it’s a best practice to include a call-to-action on every blog post you publish in general. While blog articles don’t directly generate leads, they’re a great way to direct visitors to landing pages where they can convert into leads. Make sure every blog post you share in social media includes a CTA to support lead generation.3. Share more landing pages in social media. Blog posts shouldn’t be the only type of content you share in social media. Pump up your social media lead generation efforts by sharing more landing pages for downloadable content like ebooks and webinars. This will cut out the lead gen middle man (i.e. blog posts) and enable visitors to convert in fewer clicks, which will increase your chances of generating leads.4. Include social sharing buttons throughout all content and landing pages. Easily expand the potential reach of your content by adding social media sharing buttons for sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to every piece of content you produce as well as every landing page you create. Include these buttons on every blog post you publish and on every single page of the ebooks you launch. By making it virtually effortless for people to share your content with their connections, you will attract new eyes to your content, expand your reach beyond your direct network, and ultimately, generate more leads!5. Create custom landing pages on Facebook. Create a custom Facebook page tab, and use it to promote your best lead generating content. Or take it one step further with HubSpot’s Welcome Application for Facebook, which enables you to create a custom tab with a form to generate leads directly within Facebook!6. Participate in LinkedIn Answers. Regularly monitoring questions pertaining to your industry and expertise in LinkedIn Answers will enable you to identify opportunities to share your thought leadership. In your responses, be sure to include a link to a piece of content that provides more detailed information to support lead generation.7. Launch a contest that includes a lead gen element. Launching a contest in social media is a great way to attract new fans and followers, and, when done correctly, help you generate leads. Consider making lead generation the way someone must enter your contest. Something as simple as “Download our new ebook, and you’ll be entered to win a new [insert enticing prize here]!”8. Include CTAs in videos you upload to YouTube. Just as every blog post you publish should include a call-to-action, so should every video you produce. Including the URL of a landing page with a simple CTA at the end of the video will suffice. This way, if someone embedded your video on their website or blog and others viewed it outside the context of YouTube, your CTA would remain intact. Furthermore, you should also include links to landing pages in your video’s description when you upload it to your YouTube channel.9. Use your social media bios wisely. Use opportunities in your social media account bios to link to your content. Many social media sites enable users to include a link or two in their forward-facing bio or profile; use it wisely.10. Increase your social reach. It’s an easy concept to understand — the more fans and followers you have, the more chances you’ll have to generate leads. Spend some time working to increase your social media reach and increase your fans and followers, and those lovely leads will follow.How else can you squeeze more lead generation juice out of your social media presence?Image Credit: Keith Williamson Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Social Media Topics: Originally published Oct 5, 2011 5:00:00 PM, updated March 21 2013last_img read more

9 Video Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

first_imgIn case you haven’t noticed, YouTube recently made some design changes, one of which included an updated video end-screen. Before, when you finished watching a video, YouTube would feature one video with a giant thumbnail, and then a couple others with smaller thumbnails. Now, you are given a choice of 12 videos, each evenly sized, to “make it even easier for you to find the next great video to watch,” according to YouTube.This update reminds us that the world is constantly surfing YouTube, which is likely why the company is constantly trying to improve user-browsing ability. And to be a successful inbound marketer, you must recognize the need to live where the consumers live—but do so properly.Here are nine mistakes you may be making with your video marketing. 1. Not Making VideosAmerica’s Funniest Home Videos was the first time many of us realized, hey, it’s hilarious to watch people do stupid things! That same idea has been translated into the online sphere. While you don’t have to make all your videos funny, we’ve learned that people enjoy watching videos online. So create interesting videos that are relevant to your target consumers, brand message, and industry.2. Not Saving Your PasswordI know this sounds silly… but I can recall at least three occasions where I’ve heard of a company or organization who created a YouTube account predicting that videos would eventually be uploaded… but then never saved the password or username email address. There goes your YouTube name. Now when people search for you on YouTube, they’ll be led to an empty page.3. Uploading Only One VideoIf you decide to jump on the video train (which hopefully you have by now), don’t simply upload one video. The new YouTube feature allows users to see up to 12 other videos from your account, so take advantage of this free promotion. Consistently create video content, as you would blog content.4. Posting Videos on the Wrong AccountOften, marketers find it easier to simply upload a video to their own account. Or worse—you upload one of your own videos to your work account. You think it’s easier and you can log in with one email, but really it’s simply unprofessional. It provides that personal video the opportunity to pop up as a suggestion after a company video, and you want to promote the brand, not your latest shenanigans with your pal. This will also mess with your analytics when it comes time to measuring how well your account is doing.5. Thinking You Need Fancy StuffYou don’t need a studio, or expensive cameras, or any of that stuff. A simple flip cam, or even iPhone, can shoot the kind of basic video you need to get your video marketing going. From there, you can slowly build your quality by purchasing some basic equipment further along the line. The only thing you need to worry about is volume—investing in a small and low-priced microphone that can plug into your camera would be highly beneficial.6. Make Videos Too LongPeople have low attention spans. The likelihood of someone watching a video that is longer than 5 minutes is rare-to-never. If, however, you are providing a how-to tutorial, people will likely be willing to watch close to 10 minutes worth for the sake of learning. But other than that, keep it short, a minute maybe two at the most.7. Forgetting Your Target AudienceJust because your company thinks something is hilarious or solid information, does not mean the world will. Really think about who your target audience is and produce content they will enjoy. Nothing wrong with your company enjoying it too—just make sure its relevant to your prospects and leads.8. Obsessing Over ResultsI mean, have you seen the movie that Beyonce stars in? Obsession is not okay, and the same applies here. Everyone wants to see how well their newly posted video is doing five seconds after it is posted. You want to see the views skyrocket and comments appear before your eyes! But views build over time, and sitting there refreshing the page constantly to see the watch the views increase is not healthy, or an adequate use of your time. (Seriously, you can make a whole new video in that time).  Track how your video is doing, but don’t let it take over your life.9. Fogeting a Call-To-ActionEvery video you upload has the potential of containing a call-to-action—but do so with caution. Throwing a million links all over your video as it plays and being all up in peoples faces with exclamation points isn’t the right approach. Instead, throw your CTA in a a clear and contextual manner. At the end of the video, add in a link that recommends a webinar or eBook that would benefit the viewer. Hopefully they’ll navigate on over to your site, fill out a landing page, and now, now we’re in business. What are other mistakes you’ve seen with video marketing? How do you suggest improving online video marketing efforts?  Topics: Originally published Oct 24, 2011 11:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 Video Marketing Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

20 Ways to Increase Content Visibility on the Top 4 Social Networks

first_img Topics: With all the content and information cluttering the web, it’s a constant struggle to get people’s attention online. And with so many different social media channels available to marketers, it’s difficult to make your content truly stand out.As soon as you follow a few hundred Twitter users, a few hundred Twitter users are inundating your Twitter feed with information that may or may not pertain to you. So the question is, as a marketer, how do you cut through the clutter and direct the attention of prospects and customers to your social media content and messages?To help make your content stand out, we’ve come up with a list of 20 tips for increasing content visibility on the top four social networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.How to Increase Content Visibility on Facebook1. Create a business page for your company or brand that shows what your company does beyond make money.2. Do something different. Everyone has a Facebook page now, and most brands are learning that they need to constantly engage with their followers. Start an interactive contest. Offer exclusive content only available to Facebook fans. Give your fans a reason why they should “like” you.3. Experiment with Facebook ads. They allow you to target your audience more accurately and help drive more people to your page.4. Don’t stop with text on Facebook pages: include videos and pictures! YouTube isn’t the only channel you can use to leverage video content and increase brand awareness. Furthermore, include infographics and pictures of people interacting with your brand. Make your Facebook a visual experience for those who visit.5. Create a custom landing page tab to promote content right off the bat. Make it the default landing page tab for new page visitors, and encourage them to like you and download a content offer such as an ebook.How to Increase Content Visibility on Twitter1. Leverage hashtags to not only keep track of who is talking about your company or event, but also to promote content.2. Start discussions with influential people on Twitter. The next time you share an interesting article, they may be the one retweeting it to their thousands of followers.3. Ask questions when you tweet about your content. It gives people a reason to respond, interact, and want to share your information.4. Share pictures on Twitter that relate to your content. Many people just skim their tweets, but if they see a photograph included, they may take a second look.5. Utilize Twitter lists. It helps you keep track of followers who may have previously engaged with you. That way, you can better target your tweets and get the continued attention of people who should be listening.How to Increase Content Visibility on LinkedIn1. LinkedIn isn’t about having the most number of connections. Start discussions on appropriate, industry-related LinkedIn groups to network with other people. When appropriate, link to content you’ve created that addresses a specific discussion topic. To really stand out, create your own group on an industry topic.2. Use LinkedIn Answers to answer industry-related questions and position yourself and your business as a thought leader on a particular subject. Just as in groups, link to your content as well if it supports your answer to the question.3. Create and optimize your LinkedIn Company page. Spend some time generating a following for your company to expand the reach of the content you share through your company updates.4. Share remarkable content through personal accounts, too! Many people don’t think of LinkedIn as a resource for content, but personal status updates give you the opportunity to share professional content. Encourage your colleagues to leverage their personal accounts to share your company’s content, too.5. Respond to others’ posts with references to your content. This will get others interested in some of the content you are posting and help you potentially reach a new audience.Ways to Increase Content Visibility on Google+1. Leverage your Google+ business page. If you haven’t already, create a Google+ business page, encourage your fans to add the page to their Circles, and optimize your page to expand the reach of your content on Google+. Google+ is a social network that thrives off of visual content, so incorporate images often in your Google+ marketing strategy.2. Be strategic about your Circles. When you share content and information, use the Circles to determine who will be the most interested in that information.3. Think outside the box…errr Circle. Consider sharing content using Google Hangouts.4. Tag others in your posts. Not only does it engage them, but it helps to spread your content to their connections, too.5. Make Your Page Eligible for Direct Connect. Google is starting to include Google+ posts from businesses with Direct Connect in its organic search results. Make your page eligible for Direct Connect so you can take advantage of Google+ being part of the most powerful social engine around.How do you make sure your content cuts through the clutter in social media?Photo Credit: The Cake Guru Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Social Media Strategy Originally published Nov 16, 2011 4:30:00 PM, updated February 01 2017last_img read more

17 Foolish Mistakes to Avoid as a Guest Blogger

first_img Topics: Guest blogging can provide a variety of awesome benefits: it can do wonders for your search engine optimization, be a great way to get exposed to a brand new audience, help you improve your thought leadership, and better establish you as an expert in your industry.That being said, getting your guest posts accepted by and published on the blogs of others is no easy feat. As a guest blogger, you need to have the skill sets of an SEO expert, a public relations professional, and obviously, a blogger , in order to be successful. Talk about a jack of all trades!As a blog manager, I receive quite a few guest post submissions every week, many of which don’t even deserve more than a passing glance. So to help you excel with your own guest blogging efforts, here is a look at the mistakes guest bloggers commonly make when strategizing, pitching, and writing guest blog posts — so you can avoid them and increase your chances of guest blogging success! Mistakes in Guest Blogging Strategy 1) Having NO Strategy This is your first big mistake. Guest blogging, like any other marketing tactic, should be strategic. Before you start trying to ramp up your guest blogging efforts, make sure you come up with a strategy that supports your goals for guest blogging. Which means — yes — you’ll need to define your goals. Are you trying to rank in search for a particular keyword ? Then your strategy should probably involve creating content that allows you to work in that keyword ( and an inbound link, but we’ll get to that later) and getting published on blogs that cater to and already rank for that topic. Are you hoping to get in front of a new audience? Then you probably want to identify blogs whose audience is appropriate for your business, but different than your own blog’s readers. 2) Targeting the Wrong Blogs Most guest bloggers do this as a result of having no (or a poorly crafted) guest blogging strategy. Once you’ve solidified your guest blogging strategy, you can then identify the right blogs to target. This will involve a bit of research. For example, as we mentioned before, if your strategy involves improving your search engine rankings for particular keywords, your strategy should involve creating content around those keywords and targeting blogs that will cover that topic on their blog and rank for those keywords . In this case, you’ll want to do some Google searches for those keywords in order to identify blogs that you should be targeting. If your strategy involves getting in front of a new audience, conduct some research to identify blogs that cater to an audience different from the types of people your own blog typically attracts. 3) Not Keeping Outreach Records Failing to keep a record of your blogger outreach, especially if you’re investing a lot of time and effort into guest blogging and are communicating with multiple blog managers, is bad news. Keeping outreach records will help you manage your communications, stay on top of your progress, and prevent careless mistakes like reaching out to the same blogger twice with the same pitch. This record could be as simple as a spreadsheet that keeps track of the bloggers you’ve reached out to, the goals of guest blogging for him/her, and the status of the communication (e.g. reached out, not interested, ready for article, sent article, published). Mistakes in Pitching Guest Posts 4) Addressing Your Email to “Blog Manager” If you have any experience in media relations, you know this is a big no-no. As a blog manager, receiving an email that is addressed to “blog manager” instead of my actual name shows carelessness and is destined for my trash bin. Do your homework. Check the blog’s contact page (if there is one) to determine who the blog manager is, or research published authors to identify appropriate email addresses. Do a Google site search (in Google, search site:www. insertblogURL .com ” insert search term ” ) to find any information about how to submit guest posts. (In this case, replace insert search term with terms like “guest blog” or ” guest blogging guidelines ” that will help you find any material that blogger has published about guest blogging for him/her — and if the blog even accepts submissions!) 5) Not Leveraging Connections for Introductions Blog managers (especially the ones with popular blogs) are very busy, and they’d much rather focus on perfecting the content they produce internally than evaluating one-off blog posts they receive from complete strangers. So as a blog manager, I generally pay more attention to guest blogging pitches if the guest blogger was introduced to me through a mutual connection. Whenever possible, leverage the power of your personal network. Check your LinkedIn connections. Do you know someone else who works in the blog manager’s company who is willing to offer an introduction for you? It never hurts to ask! 6) Grammatical/Spelling Errors in Pitches If you can’t even craft a professional sounding and grammatically correct pitch about the blog post you want published, why should the blog manager you’re pitching think your blog post will be any better? Spend time on your pitches. Proofread them (or have a colleague who has an eye for editing take a look). To a blog manager who is evaluating a guest blog post from you, your email pitch is a writing sample. Make sure it’s representative of the quality of your blogging. 7) Not Including the Post/Post Idea Don’t ever email a blog manager asking if you can contribute a guest post without providing any indication of the blog post you’d contribute. Case in point:As a blog manager, how am I supposed to know if I’m interested if I have no idea what you’re offering? Busy blog managers don’t have the time for back and forth emails with guest contributors, so you need to put it all out on the table from the beginning. In your pitch, provide a working title for your post, and explain what you’d cover in the article — even consider providing a brief outline. This will give the blog manager an idea of whether the article you’re proposing is a good fit for their blog. 8) Suggesting Topics That Have Already Been Covered Suggesting a blog post about a topic or angle that the blog has already covered in the past is a sure way to get denied a guest blogging opportunity. Conduct careful research about the blog you’re pitching so you can propose a unique and original article that adds value. The best way to do this is by doing a Google site search like we mentioned earlier (in Google, search site:www. insertblogURL .com ” insert search terms ” ). If you’re hoping to write a post about a certain topic to help achieve your keyword goals, do a site search for those keywords to identify posts already published about those keywords. This will enable you to see what the blog has already covered and help you come up with a new angle for that topic. 9) Not Selling Your Writing Ability If you can’t get an introduction to a blogger from someone in your network who can vouch for your writing ability and industry expertise, you’re going to need to vouch for yourself. Sell yourself! Explain why the blogger you’re pitching should consider a guest post from you. Do you write for a successful blog? Do you have an expansive social reach? Include some of these stats, and link to a couple of writing samples. Some of the busier bloggers won’t have the time or desire to check out your samples, but for those that do, checking out other posts you’ve written might make them evaluate your pitch more seriously. 10) Being Ruthless There’s nothing more off-putting to a blog manager than a guest blogger who ruthlessly tries to get published on your blog. If your pitch has been denied or the blog manager is unresponsive, move on. You’re better off putting your time and effort into a pitch to another blogger than pitching the same one over and over — who rejects you every time. Mistakes in Writing Guest Posts 11) Not Adhering to Guest Blogging Guidelines As I mentioned earlier, blog managers will rarely spend time with guest contributors helping them perfect their posts, so it’s the near-flawless contributions that usually make the final cut. If you’ve gotten the go-ahead from a blog manager to draft a post based on your topic suggestion, make sure you strictly follow any guest blogging guidelines they’ve published or provided. The Google site search will come in handy here again. If you can’t find any published guidelines, carefully examine past guest posts’ length, structure, number of inbound links allowed to the guest bloggers’ web properties, etc. as a guide. You can also ask the blog manager if they have any specific requirements for guest bloggers before you get started. 12) Not Writing for the Blog’s Audience When writing for another blog, it’s extremely important to understand the nuances of that blog’s particular audience, especially if it’s drastically different than your own blog’s. This is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to guest blogging, since it can take even the most seasoned bloggers months — even years — to truly understand the ins and outs of their audience. Spend some time researching who reads the blog you’re writing for, and try to get a good sense of what those personas’ problems, needs, and interests are. Read the existing comments on the blog to help you get inside readers’ heads. Read existing blog content to see how writers address the blog’s audience. Does the content use different jargon than you would on your blog? For example, where you might address potential buyers as “prospects,” this blog might address them as “consumers.” 13) Not Aligning Your Tone/Style With That of the Blog Your guest contribution shouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb to the blog’s readers; rather, it should jive with the rest of the content that gets published on that particular blog. Before you start writing, examine other posts to identify the tone and style of the content that gets published there. Is the writing conversational or formal? Does it include injections of humor at times? If it doesn’t sound and feel like the other posts on the blog, there’s a greater likelihood it will get rejected. 14) Providing Low Quality Posts Just because the article you’re writing isn’t going to get published on your own blog, doesn’t mean the quality of it should be any less important. If anything, the articles you write for external blogs should be even higher in quality. You need to both impress the blog manager enough to publish it, and capture the attention of the new audience you’re exposed to so they’ll want to check out your own website/blog. Put the time and effort into your guest writing. Just because a blog manager has agreed to review a post from you on the topic you proposed doesn’t mean they’re required to publish the end result. Make sure the quality of your contribution is on par with the quality caliber of other content on that blog. 15) Including Zero/Bad/Too Many Inbound Links Sometimes I’ll receive a really great guest post and be astounded that the guest blogger has failed to include any inbound links to their website. One of the most valuable benefits of guest blogging is the opportunity to build inbound links into your website to boost your SEO — and to have more control over the anchor text and URLs for those inbound links. As you write each guest post, include 1-2 links to the web pages you want to drive traffic to. Include these links as anchor text using the keywords you want to rank for in search engines. This is your chance to design your perfect inbound link, so make sure you get what you want! Example: The following would be a great inbound link for a blogger who wants to generate more traffic to by ranking for the keywords lead generation , used here as the anchor text of the link.In the world of guest blogging, blog managers understand that the trade-off for free content for their blog is an inbound link or two back to the guest blogger’s web page of choice, so take advantage of it! Just don’t go overboard and stuff your post with inbound links (or expect the blogger to promote one of your own offers as the call-to-action of the post). Check the blog’s guest blogging guidelines to see how many inbound links it allows per guest post; and if the blog doesn’t publish any guidelines, stick to one or two within the body of the post. 16) Making Your Post Difficult to Upload Make it as easy as possible for the blog manager to load your post into their individual blogging software. Ask them how they’d like you to submit your draft: do they prefer a Word doc or a Google doc? Perhaps they have a special login for their blogging platform that guest bloggers can use. When in doubt, make it simple. The best guest blogging submission I’ve ever received was in a Word document, and it included basic HTML tags to format elements such as inbound links, bolded or italicized text, and headers. The Word doc was attached to the email, and so were image files (with their appropriate attribution). All I had to do was copy/paste the text into the HubSpot blogging tool ‘s HTML, and voila!Look at existing content on the blog to understand how its blog posts are typically formatted. Do they use headers? How are bylines structured? How are images attributed? Mimic the formatting as best as you can. Making it easy for the blog manager to upload your post to their blogging software will increase your chances of getting re-published on that blog later. If a blog manager remembers how easy you were to work with, they’ll be much more likely to consider future contributions. 17) Not Perfecting Your Byline First things first: the blogger you’re submitting your guest contribution to shouldn’t have to ask you for a byline, so don’t forget to include it along with your post. Check the blog’s guest blogging guidelines and, if there are none, look at other guest posts already published on the blog to see how it handles bylines. Be sure to keep it short and sweet (1 longer sentence or 2 short sentences at most), and consider your byline to be your elevator pitch to that blog’s audience. What do you want them to know about you and your business? Include a link (with optimized anchor text, of course) back to your website where they can learn more about you — whether it’s to your blog, your business’ ‘about’ page, or somewhere else. What other mistakes have you noticed guest bloggers typically make in guest blogging — and how can they avoid them? Image Credit: Brandon Rhodes Guest Blogging Originally published Mar 13, 2012 4:30:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

How to Run a Twitter Campaign the Right Way (#JayZSyncShow)

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Mar 14, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: Twitter Marketing Examples You’ve probably heard about SXSW, currently in full swing in Austin, TX. But did you hear about Jay-Z’s South by Southwest Amex Sync Show? It was an interactive, 90-minute event hosted Monday night that was broadcast live in Austin, live on YouTube, on the Vevo mobile and tablet platform, and now on-demand until March 19th on Xbox Live and the American Express Twitter account and YouTube channel.The event was free to attend in Austin for American Express cardholders, and fans who couldn’t attend in person and wanted to interact were invited to tweet song requests to Jay-Z using the hashtag #JayZSyncShow.So what was all this hoopla for? And who cares?About the #JayZSyncShow CampaignIt was a campaign to promote the new American Express and Twitter relationship that lets you “sync” (it’s all coming together now, right?) your Amex card and Twitter account, tweet special hashtags, and then redeem couponless offers from the participating companies. This Jay-Z concert was the official launch of the cardholder’s program, and one of the 25,000 tickets to the show was offered to every cardholder, for free, who synced their Amex card and Twitter account.Okay, I still haven’t answered the second question — who cares? Aside from what a great idea the Twitter and Amex couponless offer relationship is, marketers should care because this is an example of not just one brand, but many brands coming together and actually executing a large scale Twitter campaign correctly. Whether you’ve tried one yourself in the past or have just seen other brands fall flat, you probably know that’s not so easy to do. If you’re a marketer looking for new ways to use Twitter other than posting new content, then this case study is the place to look for inspiration. Let’s break down exactly why this Twitter campaign was successful, and the best practices marketers should extract from it to transfer to their own.How to Run a Successful Twitter CampaignDon’t talk about yourself directly.Okay, calling this a Jay-Z campaign is a little misleading…but it’s one of the reasons the campaign was so effective. This campaign isn’t actually about Jay-Z at all. It’s about American Express and the brands participating in its new program. But Amex understood that no one really cares about yet another credit card discount program. After all, how unsexy is that?So hey, all you “unsexy” industries out there (I work at a SaaS company, so I know a thing or two about the subject): this is proof that social media campaigns can work for you, too. The trick is, you can’t talk directly about yourself. In fact, no matter how sexy your industry is, it’s probably wise not to talk about yourself too directly when launching a Twitter campaign (more about that in the next section). Using a hashtag or campaign name that highlighed American Express is unremarkable. Free tickets to a Jay-Z concert and the ability to request the next song he performs? That’s way more interesting, and it spreads like wildfire.Don’t let negativity be an option.Lots of brands have suffered the wrath of negative Twitter backlash on what was supposed to be a positive campaign. Remember the McDonald’s campaign in February, better known as the #McDStories fiasco? Twitter users were asked to share fun stories about their experiences at McDonald’s. Maybe hindsight is 20/20, but how could they not have envisioned a barrage of tweets like this one?I’d pet a million stray pit bulls before I’d eat a single pink-slimy McBite. #McDStories— Laura Goldman (@lauragoldman) February 4, 2012The sentiment behind #McDStories was positive, but it was so vague and too closely associated with the brand to prevent the PR nightmare. In short…it was too easy to make fun of them, and poking fun is something tweeters love to do.But it’s pretty hard to be negative — or even emotional — about the Amex campaign’s hashtag, #JayZSyncShow. The only allusion to American Express is the word ‘Sync,’ but tweeters would only know this association if they’d already gotten engaged in the campaign and realized it supported the syncing of Twitter accounts and American Express cards. Plus, it’s hard to be negative about a very helpful campaign — helping consumers get discounts for popular companies like Best Buy,, and Whole Foods Market in a fast, paper-free way.This campaign was able to find something that brings people together — music — as the focus of the campaign instead of something polarizing — credit card companies — that could cause a PR backlash and hashtag hijacking.Give people a reason to participate.Access to the content of your campaign should be simple but still provide value for your business. American Express had a compelling enough offer — simply sync your Twitter account with your credit card, and get a free ticket to a Jay-Z concert. And for remote viewers, all they had to do was give the hashtag some visibility, and in return they got to request a song from Jay-Z. These are both pretty low barriers to entry, but provide appropriate value for all parties.Launch at the right time, at the right place, to the right people.Finding the right audience to get your campaign off the ground is crucial. American Express launched the promotion at SXSW on Twitter — a congregation of a highly engaged audience of influencers who are Twitter power users. Just take a look at this graph from Topsy that shows the huge spike in mentions of the hashtag #JayZSyncShow.This SXSW group alone would not have made the campaign as successful as it was, but their discussion of and excitement over the campaign is what spread it to the rest of the country who was not in Austin, TX, causing the spike in hashtag mentions you see represented in the Topsy graph.The timing of the launch is also crucial to the event’s success — timing it for the evening ensures people are at home, able to watch the live stream of the concert, actively tweet song requests to get the hashtag more mentions, and wait to see if their request is performed — Jay-Z songs actually showed up in the Top 10 Trending Topics on Twitter many times as a result. This timing provided for optimum engagement with the campaign nationwide, not just at SXSW.Make sure there’s something in it for everyone.Not only did remote and live viewers get something — entertainment and, for some of them, access to coupons — the brands participating in the campaign received coverage that incentivized them to leverage their large social networks to bolster the campaign’s success. Jay-Z ended up in the trending topics. American Express synced thousands upon thousands of cardholders’ Twitter accounts to their credit card. The brands partnering with American Express to offer coupons to synced Amex cardholders received press and will soon receive countless sales from members redeeming their paperless coupons. Making your campaign beneficial for all gives each participating party a vested interest in the success of the campaign, which means you have more people working actively toward a common goal.Even Twitter and American Express get something out of the deal, other than the publicity, of course. Amex has successfully launched a customer loyalty program that gives customers something truly useful for their everyday lives — coupons for groceries, not airline miles many will never redeem. And Twitter offers their users one more reason to return to its platform on a regular basis, not to mention they will likely reawaken some inactive users, and generate brand new ones.Distribute campaign content far and wide.Like all of your best content, it should be easy for people to consume. The content of this campaign — both in real time and afterwards — was so easily accessible. To recap, you could watch this concert live in Austin, live on YouTube, and on the Vevo mobile and tablet platform while the performance was occurring. Or, if you missed it, you have until March 19th to watch on Xbox Live, on the American Express Twitter account, or on its YouTube channel. By making it available even after the fact, Amex is giving people the opportunity to learn more about the campaign and keep the buzz going.Have you used Twitter to run a marketing campaign? Share what you learned — good and bad — with us in the comments!Image credit: simonwheatleylast_img read more

Wrote a Negative Online Review? It’ll Cost You $3,500

first_img Online Reviews You know that time the sweater you ordered was more blue than black? Or the time your friend’s birthday present showed up two weeks too late, even though you ordered it months ago? What about the time one of your returns didn’t process?Bad experiences with companies online aren’t anything new — which is why once in a while, we all take to the review sites and leave a negative review. Sure, some people are overzealous, but most people reading this blog are probably pretty discerning, reasonable people, jotting down their experiences so others can learn from them and make good choices about where they spend their money.For one such person, it cost her $3,500.How One Woman Was Fined $3,500 for Leaving a Negative Online ReviewHere’s what happened. Jen Palmer ordered a package from a business called KlearGear a few years ago, but never received the package. When she couldn’t get in touch with them, she wrote a negative review on Ripoff Report.Pretty standard, so far.Three years later, KlearGear got in touch saying she had to either remove the negative review, or suffer a $3,500 fine. Here’s what their notice read, courtesy of Mashable:If you check out that first sentence, you’ll notice the phrase “your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.”In other words, when she did business with KlearGear, she checked that “Agree to Terms and Conditions” box you’ve clicked a hundred times before, but never read. And it came back to bite her in the … well, in the wallet.And if you think this is all totally screwed up, hold on to your hats, because it gets worse. According to Mashable, Ripoff Report refused to delete the post unless they were given $2,000. Because Palmer was unable to shell out the cash, she suffered subsequent financial hardship because of the credit dings.Oh, and one more thing. Other KlearGear negative reviews say the company charges an additional $50 when you dispute a charge with your credit card company because your order wasn’t received. Said one reviewer:”They promised delivery within 10 days. After three weeks and unsuccessful attempts to contact them about my order – I cancelled the charge with my credit card company. A few weeks later I received an email from KlearGear’s legal guru “Stephen Gutman” informing me that I owed KlearGear $50 for canceling my order due to the terms of service I had agreed to.” Luckily, Palmer’s story is receiving coverage, and my hope is that she gets the backup she deserves. I suppose you can consider this post a little holiday shopping tip from me to you.Have you heard other similar stories about online reviews taking this turn? Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Nov 19, 2013 10:40:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics:last_img read more

The Definition of an Inbound Marketing Campaign [In Under 100 Words]

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Inbound marketing campaigns are concentrated efforts that align all of your marketing channels around a single message and goal.It starts with a marketing offer — something valuable and relevant for your audience that you promote through your marketing channels.Then, you nurture the leads from that offer and move them along your marketing funnel so they can become your customers. And don’t forget to measure and analyze your campaign.And that’s how you run an inbound marketing campaign! Get started with this quick-and-dirty campaigns checklist or a deep dive on how to run inbound marketing campaigns.Now get your campaign underway! Topics: Originally published Jan 11, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Marketing Campaignslast_img read more

Coin Canisters: The Low-Tech Fundraiser That Can Make You Rich

first_img Topics: Originally published Apr 8, 2014 4:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Nonprofit Fundraising In the first part of this series, I explained what cause marketing is and how businesses and nonprofits are working together on win-win partnerships. In this second post of the series, I’ll guide you through one of the easiest and most successful cause marketing strategies out there.There’s nothing sadder than an unloved coin canister. We’ve all seen one of these abandoned canisters, also called donation boxes. Dirty, neglected, and empty, we conclude, “Why would any nonprofit want to use a coin canister for fundraising? What a waste!”I used to think the same thing until a business partner of mine raised tens of thousands for my nonprofit with coin canisters. Following that success, I did some research on other organizations that had successfully used coin canisters. Some nonprofits have raised millions in quarters, dimes, and nickels. Check out these examples of coin canister fundraisers:The problem isn’t with coin canisters, but with how, when, and where we use them. Here are my five guidelines for coin canister fundraising success.Rule #1: The busier the better.The busier the business the more money you’ll raise. Sure, you can put coin canisters in a car dealership. But how many customers does a dealership see each day? Well, a lot … but not as many as a supermarket, coffee shop, or bakery does.There’s a good reason why McDonald’s raises $50 million annually with its coin canister program. The burger giant has over 34,000 stores that serve 68 million customers a day! Rule #2: Cash is king. A while back, a jewelry store called me about using coin canisters. I told them to choose something else. How many people are buying gold and diamonds with cash, much less quarters, nickels, and dimes?Target businesses where customers pay with cash. My most successful coin canister program was with a chain of bagel shops. People would buy a bagel and coffee for a few bucks and drop their change in the canister. I raised $25,000 the first year!Rule #3: No tips allowed. You’ll find tip jars at many businesses. If you’ve ever worked for minimum wage, you know how important these tips are to earning a living. A Starbucks barista once told me that tips added $50 to her weekly paycheck. The takeaway is that if you put your charity coin canister next to a tip jar, it won’t be there for long.Not every business has a tip jar — and many are removing them because it makes employee pay too unpredictable. My tip to you: If your business partner has a tip jar, choose a different fundraiser.Rule #4: Stay front and center. I’ve found coin canisters in the strangest places, including one in a store’s restroom. The best place for a donation box is next to the cash register. I like to say, “Don’t give people an excuse to say no.” A coin canister anywhere else is just begging to be ignored.  Rule #5: Security is key. Theft is a serious problem with coin canisters. It’s demoralizing to the business and the nonprofit when canisters get swiped. A business I know stopped theft by installing heavy-duty donation boxes that were locked in the back and bolted to the counter. Regardless of what type of canister or box you choose, empty them regularly. Don’t let a bulging canister become a target for thieves! Still not convinced that the lowly coin canister is the right fundraiser for you? Here’s a nickel’s worth of advice. While there is much talk — particularly from me! — about mobile donations, hashtag fundraisers, Facebook contests, and all sorts of new and interesting fundraisers, the vast majority of money raised from businesses occurs at the register with point-of-sale programs like coin canisters.Cause Marketing Forum researched the top checkout programs in 2012. Not only did these 63 fundraisers raise nearly $360 million, but a coin canister program was in the top three! Pocket change can really add up.In the last post of this three-part series, I’ll jump from low-tech to high-tech and talk about the future of cause marketing. You’ll get a glimpse into a wired world where global citizens, purpose-driven businesses, and impact-focused nonprofits will usher in a golden age of GOOD!last_img read more

11 Helpful Tips for Becoming a Better Networker [Infographic]

first_imgThis post originally appeared on HubSpot’s Sales Blog. To read more content like this, subscribe to Sales.My freshman year of college, I had a roommate who participated in an internship program in Washington, D.C. At the end of the internship, the students in the program attended a networking event with alumni in the city. She told me that she and the other interns competed to collect business cards — the “winner” was the one who ended the night with the most.Hopefully, this isn’t the way you’re networking.Of course, it’s important to close a conversation by getting the person’s contact information, but treating networking with a “gotta catch ’em all” attitude is a mistake. Networking isn’t about franticly gathering business cards and phone numbers as fast as you can and then hitting up your new “contacts” for favors. It’s about establishing mutually beneficial relationships — and to do that, you have to do more than speed through a conversation.Being strategic about the people you meet is more important than attempting to strike up a rapport with anybody who comes across your path. But don’t limit yourself to only those people more senior than you — meeting professionals at every level and across industries is critical to truly diversify your network.If you’d like to hone your mingling skills, check out the infographic below from Business Insider for 11 handy tips on how to network like a pro.1K+Save Originally published May 31, 2015 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlackcenter_img Networking 1K+SaveWhat are your best networking tips? Let us know in the comments below.last_img read more

Where Time Gets Lost at Work (And How to Get It Back) [Infographic]

first_img Time Management We’ve all been there: heads down on an important project, cranking away, and then  woosh. You fly into a meeting. And then woosh, you fly into another meeting. Your stomach grumbles. It’s lunchtime. You decide to work at your desk so you can keep cranking on that project. But then ping, there’s a message from your manager. You have to drop everything and help put out a (digital) fire. By the time you get back to your important project, it’s 6 p.m. and everyone is packing up to go home.What the heck happened to the day?!?If you believe in the supernatural, you might be tempted to think that a Bermuda Triangle-esque time warp has opened up in your office, and you’ve been unwillingly sucked into its swirling vortex of temporal confusion.But for a more scientific answer to the question, the team at Scoro has got you covered. Their infographic highlights some of the workday’s biggest time-wasters, along with suggestions for how you can avoid them.438Save438SaveHave any tips for how you can use your time more productively at work? Leave a comment below. Originally published Apr 25, 2016 6:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

What Is Whitespace? 9 Websites to Inspire Your Web Design

first_imgEmpty space is not always wasted space.In fact, when it comes to web design, it’s a best practice to give your content a little breathing room.Today’s website visitors are content-scanners. They scroll quickly, skim posts, and get distracted by busy layouts trying to accomplish too much. The key to getting your visitors’ undivided attention is simplicity — and that starts with an effective use of whitespace.Free Workbook: How to Plan a Successful Website RedesignIn this article, we’ll take a brief look at why whitespace matters, what it means for conversion-driven web design, and how eight websites are using whitespace to lead their visitors towards the desired action.What Is Whitespace?Whitespace is the negative areas in any composition. It’s the unmarked distance between different elements that gives viewers some visual breaks when they process design, minimizing distractions and making it easier to focus.Intentionally blank areas aren’t just aesthetically pleasing — they actually have a big impact on how our brains take in and process new material. Too much information or visual data crammed into a small, busy space can cause cognitive fatigue, and our brains have difficulty absorbing anything at all. It’s information overload at its very worst.Why We Need WhitespaceTo understand the importance of whitespace, think about how difficult it is for your brain to process an entire page from the phone book or white pages. All those columns of teeny tiny text get squished together into one indigestible chunk of information, and it can be a real challenge to find what you’re looking for.While phone books are designed to display maximum information in minimum space, the majority of print layouts are created to be more easily understood — thanks to whitespace.To illustrate how effective whitespace is at helping our brains process information in print, check out the example below from Digital Ink:See the difference? The layout on the left uses the vast majority of available space, but it looks crowded and severe — not exactly something you’d feel comfortable staring at for a long time to read.In contrast, the layout on the right uses wider columns and more distance between paragraphs. It’s a simple design shift that has a major impact on making the article look more approachable and readable.In addition to making layouts easier to understand, whitespace can also place emphasis on specific elements, helping the viewer understand what they should focus on. Using whitespace to break up a layout and group particular things together helps create a sense of balance and sophistication.Take a look at this business card example from Printwand:The business card on the left does include negative space, but the elements are still crammed into one area, making the whole card look cluttered and unprofessional. The card on the right uses whitespace to a better effect, spacing the individual elements out so the composition is easier to make sense of.When it comes to designing websites, whitespace is crucial — not only from an aesthetic standpoint, but also from a conversion optimization perspective. Using whitespace effectively can make your website more easily navigable, comprehensible, and conversion-friendly, directing users more smoothly to call-to-actions and encouraging them to convert.In fact, classic research by Human Factors International found that using whitespace to highlight or emphasize important elements on a website increased visitor comprehension by almost 20%.Just take a look at these two website layouts:On the left, the call-to-action button has no room to breathe — it’s wedged between busy dividers and tightly packed text. There’s too much distraction around the button, making it difficult for visitors to focus on what matters.On the right, the call-to-action has been padded with some much-needed whitespace. The button now appears to be a focal point on the page, encouraging visitors to stop and take notice. You’ll notice that adding some whitespace around our call-to-action has caused some of the other content on the page to be pushed down — and that’s perfectly okay. Not everything has to be above the fold (the part of the website that appears before the user starts to scroll). In fact, designers shouldn’t try to stuff a ton of content before the fold of the page, since it will end up looking cluttered and overwhelming.9 Websites Using Whitespace Marketing to Their Advantage1) ShopifyThe homepage for ecommerce platform Shopify has a simple objective: Get visitors to sign up for a free trial.To direct users to this action, they’ve surrounded their one-field sign-up form with plenty of whitespace, minimizing distractions and ensuring visitors can’t miss it. The site’s main navigation is displayed much smaller than the form text, and placed out of the way at the top of the screen to avoid taking attention away from the central form.2) EverlaneWhitespace doesn’t have to mean the complete absence of color or pictures — it means making sure page elements are generously and strategically spaced to avoid overwhelming or confusing your visitors.To show off its latest clothing collection, fashion retailer Everlane opts for a minimal set up: The full page background shows off a photograph of its “GoWeave” blazer, and a small, expertly placed call-to-action appears in the center of the screen, encouraging users to click and “shop now.” It’s a perfect example of leading users towards an action without being pushy or aggressive. 3) WistiaUsing whitespace strategically can be as easy as making sure your forms and call-to-action buttons are noticeably separated from the rest of your content. This simple change makes a huge difference in how your content is perceived. Wistia, a video platform, anchors their homepage with a friendly question and a drop-down form. The two central CTA buttons serve as the central focal point(s) of the whole page, and it’s given plenty of space to set it apart from the site’s main navigation and image.4) WelikesmallDigital agency Welikesmall proves that whitespace doesn’t have to be boring, empty, or even static. Their homepage displays a fullscreen demo reel of their recent video projects, filtering through a variety of exciting vignettes to immediately capture the visitor’s attention. Full-screen video in any other context could seem busy and aggressive, but since the layout is designed with generous whitespace, it looks polished. With all the focus on the video background, the text is kept minimal. The agency’s logo appears in one corner, and a folded hamburger style menu appears in the other. Welikesmall’s slogan — “Belief in the Making” — is fixed in the center of the screen, along with a call-to-action button linking to the agency’s full 2016 demo reel.  5) SimplaThis homepage from Simpla demonstrates the power that a relatively empty above the fold section can have. This simple, decidedly minimal homepage uses whitespace to urge users to keep scrolling.Beneath the logo and navigation, a large portion of the site has been left unmarked. The top of a photo — along with a short paragraph of text and an arrow — invites visitors to keep reading to learn more about the company and their mission.This unique use of whitespace not only looks sophisticated, but it strategically draws visitors further into the site. 6) Harvard Art MuseumsThe Harvard Art Museums might be known for displaying antiquated paintings, but their homepage is decidedly modern. The whitespace here provides the perfect backdrop for the featured art, making sure that nothing distracts from the pieces themselves. It’s about as close to a digital art exhibition as you can get. The masonry-style layout gives the user a reason to keep scrolling, and also ensures that none of the images are crowded together. To maintain the minimal gallery aesthetic, the site’s navigation is completely hidden until the user hovers their mouse towards the top of the page.7) BurnkitWhen working with whitespace on your homepage, you’ll have to make some tough decisions about what’s important enough to display, since there’s less room for a pile of cluttered content. This design agency shows us that you can display a wide variety of content in a minimal layout, without squishing things together and muddying the composition. Burnkit’s homepage features blog content, key excerpts from the agency’s portfolio of client work, and behind-the-scenes looks at the agency’s culture. So how did they manage to fit so much onto one page without overwhelming the visitor? Whitespace. Lots and lots of whitespace. Each article is given generous padding, and the user can keep scrolling to reveal new material. 8) MediumMedium cleverly uses whitespace to get readers to keep scrolling further down the page by enticing them with notes showing how many people have “clapped” for a post, how many people have commented on it, and what related content is next on the docket for them to read.The whitespace pushes the reader to look at the center column of their screen, featuring a compelling title and cover photo — and uses social proof to show readers why they should keep scrolling.10) AhrefsAhrefs’ website is another example of whitespace that decidedly isn’t white, and its homepage uses both whitespace and text formatting to focus the visitor’s eyes on the glowing orange button — to start their free trial.In bold, large font, Ahrefs offers its software’s value proposition, and in smaller, center-justified text, it uses whitespace to guide the viewer to click the CTA button. Smart, right? Topics: Originally published Oct 16, 2017 9:52:00 PM, updated October 17 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! Website Designlast_img read more

Is AI Capable of Creativity? 4 Fails, and 3 Successes

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! 7) Google Creative Lab: AutoDrawOkay, the jury might be out on this one. We’re calling it a win, because it makes for a fun way to pass the time, say, while putting off one’s blog-writing duties.AutoDraw, another Google AI experiment, helps novice artists — er, those who like to doodle on the internet — create better quality images with the help of machine learning.For example, here’s what happened when I tried using it to draw a picture of my dachshund-mix dog: … as well as our team’s response when it was shared over Slack:The Successes5) Primordial Research Project: Hack RodSelf-driving cars, are making many headlines these days and are even the stuff of high-profile lawsuits. But before the likes of Google, Lyft, and Uber began fighting over who would reign supreme in the area of autonomous vehicles, there was Hack Rod: one of the first artificially intelligent automobiles that had people talking.The project began as a research-based side gig that was rooted in co-founder Felix Holst’s background at Mattel, where he worked on Hot Wheels toy cars. First, he and co-founder Mouse McCoy built a team to create a high-performance race car, which was later driven by a human through the Mojave Desert. That’s where the cool part comes in: The team was able to capture the driver’s brainwaves. That, combined with information collected from sensors placed within the vehicle itself, was converted into data that served as a foundation for the machine learning that would create what Fast Company once referred to as the car’s “nervous system.”Hack Rod has been noticeably absent from recent self-driving headlines, but there’s little doubt that it paved the way — if you’ll excuse the pun — for autonomous vehicles to come.  6) Manny Tan & Kyle McDonald: The Infinite Drum MachineWe’ve heard cases of AI-created musical composition, like Emily Howell, the classical-music-composing machine created by UCSC Professor Emeritus David Cope.But we haven’t come across as many examples of AI-powered musical composition that allows the user to create its own audible masterpiece. That’s where The Infinite Drum Machine comes in: an AI experiment that uses machine learning to capture thousands of sounds we hear in day-to-day life, like a bag of potato chips opening or a file cabinet opening, and organizes them to create percussive patterns.And thanks to Google’s AI Experiments site, everyday tech nerds like us can play with it.  Granted, I’m not exactly a brilliant artist — but I did find it interesting that AutoDraw couldn’t recognize the subject of its own work being copied.So, is AI capable of creativity? Sure. But in terms of its ability to completely replicate what a human mind might do — write a screenplay, accurately create and name paint colors, or emulate a teenage girl without offending the masses — it’s not quite there yet.Are we on our way? Probably. But in the meantime, we’ll be preparing our popcorn and watching Sunspring on repeat. Topics: The Fails1) Microsoft: TayOh, boy. Where to begin, with this one?Here’s the thing about machine learning: Typically, if it works properly, it’s designed to function based on its users. Sometimes, that can be a good thing, like when Spotify’s algorithm uses your listening behavior to curate playlists of songs it thinks you might like.But in the case of, a Twitter bot designed by Microsoft to function like any “normal” teenage girl using the social media channel, things went terribly wrong.The problem is that, as “smart” as it might be, AI isn’t quite capable of establishing its own ethics. Its only sense of right and wrong is what’s dictated by its algorithm, and even then, machine learning AI is still generally informed by the humans it’s determined to engage with. That’s why Russian ads on Facebook, for example, may have been so effective during the 2016 U.S. presidential election — based on users’ behavior on Facebook (likes, follows, comments, clicks, and more), its algorithm is “informed” enough for that content to accurately reach the people it was meant to influence.Such was the case, somewhat similarly, with Tay. As the story goes, Tay began to emulate the behavior — or in this case, the language used in tweets — of the users engaging with it. Unfortunately, that language was charged with anti-Semitic and anti-feminist sentiment, causing Tay to tweet out such offensive content that Microsoft had to take it offline.Source: Quora2) IBM: Chef WatsonI like to call this one “The Great Chocolate Burrito Incident of 2015.” That same year, Watson — the IBM AI robot that once beat a reigning Jeopardy champion — became “Chef Watson” and released its first cookbook. Watson developed the recipes almost completely independently using its flavor algorithm, with only a bit of help from Institute of Culinary Education human chefs to make a tweak here and there.There was reason to be optimistic. Prior to the cookbook’s publication, a few tech writers had been sent a complimentary bottle of BBQ that was also formulated by Watson, and earned positive reviews. But then came the Austrian Chocolate Burrito: a recipe with results that ranged from “a bunch of little balls of quasi-dryness in my mouth” to “so bad that I thought it had to be good.”(It wasn’t all bad — the Washington Post, evidently, had better luck with the same recipe.)We have yet to test the recipes ourselves, but in the meantime, um … bon appétit?3) Research Scientist Janelle Shane: AI-Named Paint ColorsWhen someone pens an article about AI titled, “We’re Pretty Sure the Robot That Invented These Paint Colors Is a Stoner,” our guess is that it’s about an experiment that either went very well or very wrong.In this case, it bordered on the latter. When research scientist Janelle Shane trained a neural network to create new paint colors — which are already so interestingly named, like my favorite, Benjamin Moore’s “Custis Salmon” — the results were … different. The AI was designed to create new shades, and assign names to them, but the two were often mismatched.Case in point:So, maybe that last one on the list is, um, fitting. But how does one explain the pinkish hue of “Grass Bat,” or the bluish-purple one of “Caring Tan?”Maybe we just don’t have the artistic eye to appreciate these, but until we do, we’ll go ahead and categorize this one as “not quite a success.”4) Oscar Sharp and Ross Goodwin: SunspringHave you ever wondered what would happen if scripts from classics like Ghostbusters and the original Bladerunner were fed to a neural network for the purpose of creating an original, entirely AI-written screenplay?The results can be summarized by Sunspring, a short film that was acted and filmed entirely as the machine that wrote it intended. We’ll let the work speak for itself … Cute! After about 50 seconds, AutoDraw figured out that I may have been drawing a dachshund. But here’s what happened when I tried to replicate its own work: The robots are coming here.We know — we’ve been over this. Messenger and live chat are quickly becoming customers’ preferred methods of communication. And for both, bots are often the first line of defense: the triaging system that connects the user to the right human being who can solve the problem … if it even needs to get to that point.In other words, bots are eliminating some level of need for human labor.It’s a hotly-contested point, one that’s met with a lot of questions rooted in concern.”Is my job in danger?””Will I be replaced?””A bot can’t do everything — what about the creative stuff?”Aha. It’s that last question that often sparks the most debate around here.Learn more about bots and AI here.Is artificial intelligence capable of truly creative work?As it turns out, there’s no truly definitive answer. There have been cases when the response is, “Of course,” and those where attempts to make an AI-powered presence creative fell completely flat.So, we sought out to find instances of both. There are quite a few — some amusing, and some horrendous. Here are seven of the best examples we could find.Is AI Capable of Creativity? 4 Fails, and 3 SuccessesMicrosoft: TayIBM: Chef WatsonResearch Scientist Janelle Shane: AI-Named Paint ColorsOscar Sharp and Ross Goodwin: SunspringPrimordial Research Project: Hack RodManny Tan & Kyle McDonald: The Infinite Drum MachineGoogle Creative Lab: AutoDraw Originally published Nov 27, 2017 6:00:00 AM, updated November 27 2017 Artificial Intelligencelast_img read more