How Do Consumers Really Feel About 2017’s Digital Trends? [Infographic]

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As we approach the year’s second quarter, Google is already returning over 46,600 results for “digital trends 2017.” And if you’re in the digital marketing space, there seems to be an unspoken rule that you must always have an opinion on what the key trends will be for the year ahead.

But could it be that we’re all stuck in an industry echo chamber? As it turns out, some new research from Code Computerlove might burst that bubble.

Code Computerlove surveyed 1,000 U.K. adults to find out what they really think about these trend predictions — things like voice search, virtual reality, and chat-bots. That data was then compared to what’s actually making the most noise online. Some key findings included:

  • Mobile payments are the most sought-after technology in 2017.
  • 9 out of 10 consumers claim to have no interest in using augmented reality in the near future.
  • 1 in 5 people surveyed aim to spend less time in front of screens this year.

With that many people aiming to spend less time in front of screens this year, brands have to make their digital interactions count — a poor initial digital experience can carry a long-term impact. Curious to know what else your brand needs to know about these trends? Check out the infographic below.


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March Social Media News: Facebook vs. Snapchat, WhatsApp for Business & More

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March is known for a few major holidays and events. St. Patrick’s Day, U.S. college basketball tournaments, and the start of spring, to name a few.

After this year, in the marketing world, March 2017 will also be known as the month when Facebook officially took on Snapchat.

The world’s biggest social network launched ephemeral sharing apps on Messenger and Facebook itself to compete with Snapchat’s key feature. Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram have also recently launched disappearing sharing features on Status and Stories, respectively.

But Facebook isn’t the only story in social media this month. We’ll discuss new features on Instagram, a new social video app by YouTube, and of course, Facebook. The list isn’t exhaustive, but you can expect to learn the major highlights in the social media space this month — what was launched, what changed, and what these stories could mean for marketers.

Check out our discussion in the video below, and read on for more in-depth explanations of each story.

13 of the Biggest Social Media News Stories This Month 

1) Facebook launches Messenger Day

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Source: Facebook

Facebook launched Messenger Day, its answer to the popularity of Snapchat Stories. Facebook previously launched ephemeral, or disappearing, messaging features on Instagram and WhatsApp, and this installment is the latest attempt to dominate Snapchat in the photo and video-sharing space.

Facebook is likely banking on Messenger’s huge user base — 1 billion people worldwide — to propel Messenger Day to popularity. It’s also positioning Messenger Day differently: Instead of sharing what they’ve been doing, Facebook wants users to share what they’re going to do later so they can make plans with friends. 

2) Facebook starts experimenting with Stories

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Source: Business Insider

Soon after the unveiling of Messenger Day, Facebook unveiled Facebook Stories — located at the top of the News Feed. Facebook confirmed to Business Insider that Stories would function identically to Instagram Stories — users could post them to Facebook, where they would disappear after being available for viewing for 24 hours. At this point, Facebook Stories are being rolled out to only a few countries, but we’ll report more when we can.

TL;DR: Facebook is coming for Snapchat. Snap Inc., Snapchat’s parent company, cited the rise of Instagram Stories as a major hindrance to its user growth in its S-1 filing for its massive initial public offering (IPO) earlier in March. We’ll keep you posted if these innovations by Facebook are on the way to taking down Snapchat, or if Snapchat’s popularity among millennials and user engagement will keep it afloat.

3) Research demonstrates native Facebook videos are shared 1000% more than other formats

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Source: quintly 

Quintly analyzed over 6 million Facebook posts to gain insights on how many videos, and of which type, were shared on the platform. It found that 90% of Facebook profiles and Pages analyzed shared Facebook native videos, or videos created and uploaded on Facebook, and not hosted on another platform that the user links to on Facebook. On the other hand, only 30% of the analyzed profiles and Pages had shared a YouTube video on Facebook during the months the study was conducted. Furthermore, quintly found that native Facebook videos were shared 1055% more than other videos and achieved an 186% higher interaction rate overall.

The lesson here for marketers? Take the extra step to upload videos into Facebook to earn higher engagement rates. We recommend a distributed content strategy to earn new followers from different audiences, so you could even promote video content on Facebook and other hosting sites and analyze the results.

4) Facebook introduces a 360 app for Samsung Gear VR

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Source: Facebook 

Another Facebook launch this month comes from its video team, which created a Facebook 360 app for Samsung’s Oculus Gear VR (virtual reality) device. The app creates a more immersive 360-degree viewing experience for Facebook users, who can comment, interact with, and share posts they like within the app while wearing the device. In the announcement blog post, Facebook also notes that users have shared 26 million 360-degree photos and videos to date. These VR devices are fairly affordable at $79.99, so we’re curious to see if this app makes 360 sharing, or Gear VR use, increase. 

5) Facebook allows more ads on Instant Articles

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Source: Facebook

Facebook announced it would give advertisers more freedom to monetize Instant Articles — by letting them place ads every 250 words instead of every 350 words, as were the previous rules. Facebook Instant Articles let publishers create and republish content within Facebook to get more readers without asking them to leave the social network. 

This news isn’t the best for anyone who enjoys reading online content uninterrupted — but it also reflects Facebook’s growing interest in collaborating with journalists and news publications. Earlier this year, Facebook launched the Facebook Journalism Project to address fake news, but also to collaborate with the people making the news. A huge percentage of Americans get news primarily from social media — especially Facebook — and this move notes another attempt to make it more appealing for publishers to work directly within Facebook so Facebook can grow and strengthen its user base.

6) Instagram rolls out “Suggestions for You”

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I noticed this change while scrolling through my Instagram notifications. Instagram now suggests users to follow based on your Instagram friends, Facebook friends, and other posts you’ve liked. Instagram is honing its algorithm and making it easier for users to discover other profiles they might be interested in. This is great news for marketers publishing content on the platform — keep it up, because now, you might be found even more easily by new potential customers.

7) Geostickers now available in Instagram Stories

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In another step toward total Facebook domination of disappearing messages, Instagram started offering Geostickers for Instagram Stories. One of the only remaining differentiators between Snapchat Stories and its imitator on Instagram, these Geostickers are more customizable than those on Snapchat, which might make them more appealing to Snapchat users considering a switch.

Stars are already starting to move from Snapchat to Instagram for sharing ephemeral content, where their content can be more easily searched for and discovered. Snapchat cited Instagram Stories as an obstacle in its quest for user growth, and it will be fascinating to see how new, seemingly copycat features, impact that trajectory.

8) WhatsApp to allow businesses to chat with users

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Source: Reuters 

Reuters reported that WhatsApp has started testing letting some businesses communicate directly with WhatsApp users as a potential future revenue model. WhatsApp is testing this feature with businesses that are a part of Y Combinator, a competitive startup incubator that fostered Airbnb and Dropbox in previous years. WhatsApp is also surveying users to ask them about spam messages they’ve received on the platform.

We’ve started to see other businesses using messaging apps — such as Facebook Messenger — to communicate with customers. These experiments likely signal WhatsApp’s first foray into that space, so if you’re a user, keep an eye out. And if you’re a marketer with a global audience, WhatsApp could be a path to communicate with customers — WhatsApp has over 1 billion users worldwide.

9) Pinterest acquires search engine Jelly

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Source: Biz Stone 

AskJelly.com is a human-powered search engine (think Quora or the now-defunct ChaCha) where users can submit questions and answer them for other users. Co-founded by Biz Stone, one of the co-founders of Twitter and Medium, Jelly was recently acquired by Pinterest.

Pinterest launched Lens last month, a new in-app camera that lets users shoot an object and get suggested pins based on what they photographed. This acquisition of a search engine could be Pinterest’s effort to improve the app’s search capabilities. Alternatively, The Verge suspects it was a talent acquisition to bring new developers, and Stone himself, on board.

10) Many Twitter accounts are actually bots

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Source: Twitter 

A study released by the University of Southern California revealed that 9-15% of Twitter users are actually bots, capable of liking, retweeting, and replying like a human Twitter user. If the high end of this estimate is true, that means roughly 48 million of Twitter’s 313 million active users aren’t real people — which spells trouble for the microblogging site. 

Twitter’s user growth is on the decline, along with its share of global social media users overall. It’s launched live video streaming within the app and forged partnerships with major news and sports networks to increase user engagement and attract new people to the site — especially those millennials who aren’t using cable TV packages.

11) YouTube launches social video app, Uptime

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Source: The Verge 

Google’s new startup incubator, Area 120, was created so employees could spend time creating their own business ideas. This month, Area 120 announced the launch of Uptime, a social video app wherein users can watch YouTube videos in group messages with their friends. Like other live-streaming apps and features, such as Periscope and Facebook Live, users can comment, like, and interact with videos they’re watching in real-time with friends. At this point, it’s only available for iOS devices with an invitation, but we’ll keep you posted on new developments with Uptime.

12) YouTube will end unskippable 30-second ads next year

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Source: YouTube

Do you ever find a YouTube video you really want to watch — only to realize you have to sit through a 30-second ad that you can’t skip after five seconds? 

The good news: Those are on the way out. The bad news: You still have to wait a while longer.

A Google spokesperson told BBC YouTube will no longer support 30-second unskippable ads in 2018 and will shift focus to ads that bring revenue for advertisers without creating a bad experience for the viewer.

YouTube will still offer some unskippable ads — in 5 and 15-second increments — as well as ads between 30 and 60 seconds that can be skipped, but this is great news for everyone. By focusing on shorter and more engaging formats, YouTube will create a better experience for viewers, and potentially better results for its advertisers.

13) Heinz Ketchup adopts social media and ad campaign from Mad Men 50 years later

Any Mad Men fans reading this post? Heinz Ketchup has decided on a new advertising campaign — the one fictional creative director Don Draper pitched on Mad Men nearly 50 years ago.

If you remember the episode, Draper didn’t win the account with Heinz, so it’s neat to see his pitch coming to life in the modern era. Heinz is putting up bold billboards featuring the “Pass the Heinz” tagline in New York City, as well as running the campaign on social media channels. Keep an eye out for promoted tweets and Facebook ads featuring this neat union of popular culture, great copywriting, and creative advertising.

Did we miss any big social media stories? Share with us in the comments below.

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Introducing: HubSpot Guerrilla Marketing

At HubSpot, we’re big believers in the power of inbound. Time and again, the inbound approach proves its effectiveness in helping businesses grow while providing real value to customers.

We also believe in delighting our customers and giving them the tools they need to stand out in a crowd. Literally.

That’s why we’re thrilled to officially announce a program that’s been in development for some time, the HubSpot Guerrilla Marketing program.

Guerrilla marketing is a creative and cost-effective approach to reaching your audience. On-location activations help brands grow brand awareness through shareable moments and word of mouth — by making a bold, clever statement.

Our new program will offer end-to-end guerrilla marketing services, including:

  • Market Research and Brand Analysis
  • Creative Services
  • Site Production
  • Street Team Management
  • Measurement and Reporting

Be sure to tune in to HubSpot’s Facebook Live at 11:30 am EST, where we’ll be showcasing some of our beta customer guerrilla marketing campaigns, discussing the program rollout and meeting the members of our new team.

The HubSpot Guerrilla Marketing program will be led by HubSpot newcomer, Lisa Rajako, a creative agency veteran often recognized for her previous Cannes Lions award-winning work on  for a global CPG brand across Europe.  And her work with industrial-grade, exploding ketchup packets for the release of horror film, Saw XXVI? The stuff of marketing legend. 

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The Ultimate Cheat Sheet of Social Media Photo & Image Sizes [Infographic]

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When you’re selecting cover photos, shared images, and other social media assets, knowing the basic image dimensions might not cut it. What if you want to make sure a certain part of your cover photo isn’t obstructed by your profile photo? And what’s the difference between shared link thumbnails, or in-stream photos — are the dimensions different for those?

As it turns out, sizing images correctly for social media is no simple task. Even just among your Facebook marketing, photo dimensions vary according to where and how it’s shared — from cover photos, to timeline images, to profile pictures.New Call-to-action

But if you’re looking for a detailed guide on social media image sizes, you’re in luck — this infographic from Spredfast has you covered. It’s a valuable resource to keep on-hand for the next time you’re designing or selecting visual content for your social channels. And for quicker reference, scroll down to seea written list of essential social media image dimensions.

So, without further ado — let’s get visual.


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Quick References

All dimensions below are in pixels, width x height.

Facebook

  • Cover image: 828 x 315
  • Profile image: ≥180 x 180
  • Shared image: 1200 x 900
  • Shared link preview image: 1200 x 628

Twitter

  • Header image: 1500 x 500
  • Profile image: 400 x 400
  • Timeline image: 506 x 253

Google+

  • Profile image: 250 x 250
  • Cover image: 1080 x 608
  • Shared image: 506 pixels wide
  • Shared video: ≥506 x 284
  • Shared link image thumbnail: 150 x 150

Instagram

  • Profile image: 110 x 110
  • Image thumbnail: 161 x 161
  • Shared images: 1080 x 1080
  • Shared videos: 1080 pixels wide

Pinterest Image Sizes

  • Profile image: 180 x 180
  • Board cover image: 214 x 100
  • Pin preview: 238 pixels wide

LinkedIn

  • Banner image: 1850 x 200
  • Profile image: 400 x 400
  • Cover image: 1536 x 768
  • Shared image: 350 pixels wide
  • Shared link preview: 180 x 110
  • Logo image: 400 x 400

YouTube

  • Channel cover images: Varies by viewing platform
  • Channel icon: 800 x 800
  • Video thumbnail: 1280 x 720

Tumblr

  • Profile image: 128 x 128
  • Image post: 500 x 750 | 1280 x 1920 maximum

Snapchat

  • Geofilter: 1080 x 1920

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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How Twitter Is Fighting Harassment & Cyberbullying

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I’ll say it: I love Twitter.

I use Twitter to follow breaking news stories, to promote my work and the work of colleagues and peers I admire, and to consume and laugh at jokes and memes. I like spending time on the platform to stay informed and connect with people.

But it goes without saying that I would like Twitter a lot less if I were being bullied and harassed every day.

Harassment has been a growing problem on Twitter over the past few years. Incidents like Gamergate, actor Robin Williams’ death, and the backlash over actress Leslie Jones’ casting in an all-female remake of Ghostbusters shed light on the ugly side of Twitter — the side where individuals hide behind egg profile photos and false names and use hateful, discriminatory language. In this post, we’ll dive into the history of the issue on Twitter and what the site recently announced it’s doing to fight it.

Twitter Fights Harassment: A Long Time Coming

There have been reports of Twitter harassment for almost as long as the site has existed. Blogger Ariel Waldman was one of the first users to chronicle just how difficult — and sometimes, impossible — it was to get Twitter to intervene in cases of repeated, pervasive harassment back in 2008. A stalker published her personal and contact information on the platform, which prompted a string of threats, stalking, and abusive tweets. Waldman started reaching out to Twitter and CEO Jack Dorsey for help — only to find out that its terms of service were “up to interpretation,” and that the company wouldn’t intervene on her behalf.

Since then, prominent Twitter users have demanded Twitter take a harder line and shut down accounts that only exist to spew hate. Celebrities and public figures on Twitter have been able to get Twitter to suspend bullies’ accounts, but users demanded a better system for reporting, censoring, and silencing abusive language on the platform.

To make sure we’re all on the same page, Twitter Rules specifically prohibit the kind of abuse we’re talking about here — threats, hate speech, impersonation, and harassment on the basis of users’ race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, ability, disease, or nationality. However, until changes as recent as March 1, 2017, there haven’t been a lot of options for users who are being targeted to report and stop the abuse.

In December 2016, Dorsey asked for general user feedback — where else, but on Twitter:

A lot of people asked for the ability to edit tweets (I want that capability myself), but a huge portion of responses centered around harassment: providing more and better capabilities for users to stop and report it, more transparency into how abuse is handled by Twitter, and more swift punishment and suspension of repeat offenders.

Twitter started rolling out its responses to user demands in early 2017. Most of these features are operational, but some haven’t been fully implemented, so keep an eye out for these new measures if you ever have to report a tweet.

7 Ways Twitter Is Fighting Cyberbullying and Harassment

1) Expanded notification filtering

NotificationFilterAll_1.pngSource: Twitter

Twitter users can use this tool to filter which types of accounts they receive notifications from. For example, if you don’t want to receive notifications from a user without a profile photo, you could specify that. This tool is meant to filter out abuse from unverified accounts or specific people users have identified as unwanted.

2) More ways to mute content

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Source: Twitter

Twitter expanded on the mute button’s capabilities so users can mute keywords or entire phrases from their notifications sections. Users can also decide how long they want to mute those words — whether it be for a day, a month, or indefinitely. In this way, you can customize which content you see in your notifications and when you see it.

3) Greater transparency around reporting

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Source: Twitter

Whereas previously, users had a hard time understanding when or if their reports of abuse were even being processed, Twitter is now providing transparency. Users will receive notifications when and if Twitter decides to take action so they can keep track of previous reporting.

4) Twitter “time-out”

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Source: BuzzFeed

In a recent article, (warning: explicit/offensive language) BuzzFeed reported that some Twitter users were seeing another new feature, similar to the time-out we all experienced as children (unless you were better behaved than I was). If users’ tweets are flagged as abusive or otherwise in violation of Twitter Rules, their tweets are temporarily limited from view by users who don’t follow them. Hopefully neither you nor your brand’s Twitter will see this notification, but the company is hoping it will send a message to abusers to stop what they’re tweeting or risk further punishment. 

5) Safer search results

Machine-learning algorithms will filter search results so users aren’t served content from accounts that have been reported, muted, or otherwise marked as abusive. The content will still be on Twitter if users are really looking for it, but if it could potentially be abusive, it won’t be served up as a primary search result.

6) Collapsing abusive tweets

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Source: Twitter

Twitter will start identifying and hiding tweets that are deemed “low quality” or from potentially abusive accounts so users see the most relevant conversations first. Like the safe search feature, those tweets will still be on Twitter — but users have to search for them specifically.

7) Stopping creation of new abusive accounts

Using another algorithm, Twitter will prevent abusive and flagged users from creating multiple new accounts they can use to spam and harass other users. The algorithm will scan for multiple accounts from the same email addresses and phone numbers, for example, as a way to spot potential bullies.

Machine Learning to Prevent Cyberbullying

If your personal Twitter or your brand’s Twitter are targeted by abuse and harassment on the platform, you have a host of new tools available at your disposal to make sure it stops and that your reputation isn’t affected.

I’m curious to learn more about the new algorithms’ efficacy to block one-off and repeated offenses, and it’s gratifying to see how seriously Twitter is taking this problem. Similar to Facebook’s prompt response after learning about the impact of pervasive fake news stories on the platform, it’s heartening to see social media platforms listening to what users ask for — and working to make social networks a safe place to be.

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6 Steps to Transform Your Agency Leaders Into Consistent Content Creators

If you’re fortunate enough to work at an agency full of brilliant individuals, you’ve probably experienced the following:

You’re in a leadership meeting debating different approaches to solving a problem, and a lot of ideas are on the table. Suddenly, someone’s voice cuts through the noise, and what she shares is so inspirational and well thought out that you find yourself scrambling for a pen and paper to write it all down.

She’s one of your agency’s subject matter experts.

She understands the industry, your clients, and your company so well that ideas and solutions come to her like in a dream. You know your audience would benefit from her knowledge, and you know she should be creating content.

But how does your team turn that realization into reality? Here’s what you need to do to transform your internal expert into a consistent content creator.

First things first: Put yourself in her shoes. If you’re active in your industry, involved in your company, and leading your team forward in such a way that you’re a great candidate for thought leadership, do you think you’ll have extra time to get into the weeds with any one area of your agency — especially inbound marketing? It’s just not realistic.

You can’t go up to this leader and say, “Hey, all those amazing things you said in our meeting? I’d love for you to write 800 words about it, follow these publication guidelines, and fit the documented content strategy that Marketing put together. Thanks!”

She’s going to need a team to help her. Whether you budget for an in-house content marketing team or decide to outsource, you’ll need at least a project manager, a content strategist, a writer, an editor, and a distribution specialist.

Next, you need to think about tools. You’re probably already using a number of different tools to support your marketing and advertising efforts today — about 12 of them, on average. Take stock of what you’re working with already, and compare their functions to what you need to make content creation easy for internal experts. Different teams may want different platforms to help with their specific functions, but there are three types of tools every team can benefit from:

  • A knowledge bank: This customizable tool stores and organizes all those amazing ideas your thought leader has.
  • An editorial calendar: Built with your agency’s goals and capacity in mind, this calendar keeps your team and your content on track.
  • Social distribution tools: Content isn’t finished once it’s live; it’s up to your team to distribute it to your audience.

Finally, consider the process. The process your team puts in place to work with your thought leader can make or break the experience — and the success of your agency’s efforts. Some experts are natural writers and may want a larger role in the process; others enjoy the act of storytelling but prefer to leave the details to their teams.

Each agency’s process is unique. Based on my personal experiences and what I’ve learned from five years of leading a company that helps thought leaders create content, the best processes include these six steps:

1) Discover the thought leader’s passions and expertise. 

To keep your thought leader engaged, tackle topics and projects that truly interest her. In those first meetings, encourage your team to uncover what she’s passionate about and where her strongest expertise lies. What they learn in this step will guide their content strategy.

2) Determine the best strategy to communicate that passion and expertise. 

Next, your team will need to document the strategy that will help your thought leader communicate her passion and expertise. It can be as robust or as simple as your team likes — as long as it includes a description of your agency’s goals for thought leadership, which publications you’re targeting, who your audience is, and how you’ll bring those elements together. Documenting this strategy will remind your expert of the rhyme and reason behind the content your team creates, and it will align your various marketing efforts.

3) Set up a process for knowledge extraction that plays to the thought leader’s strengths. 

Knowledge extraction is your team’s way of drawing expertise, examples, and personal stories from your thought leader to fuel the content. Rather than ask for a write-up from your expert, your team can ask her specific questions to gain the raw material needed to craft an article. That material can be stored in your knowledge bank and even used to write future pieces of content.

A Q&A process works well here, and depending on your expert’s strengths, your team can aim for a written Q&A or an interview in person or over the phone. Tailor the approach to how your thought leader best communicates and what saves everyone the most time.

4) Create awesome content she’ll love.

This is your thought leader’s chance for a break. With the answers collected in the knowledge extraction phase, your team’s writers and editors can get to work crafting the content. By removing the thought leader from the heavy lifting of actual writing, your team utilizes her time intelligently — and all that extra time means she’ll have the chance to review the finished work and ensure it’s written in her voice.

5) Coordinate publishing.

Unless your thought leader’s expertise somehow happens to be in online publications (and she has the time to manage those editorial relationships), your content team should take the reins here, too. Enlist your distribution specialist to pitch content to your target publication, work with the editors there to make any necessary changes, and publish your thought leadership content.

6) Coach her on promoting the published content.

Take advantage of the time between content acceptance and publication to prepare materials to help your thought leader promote her published content. Encourage your team to write social media posts, and suggest online communities for your thought leader to participate in. Draft emails to share content with your partners and clients. Prep your sales team on ways to leverage this content in sales conversations. The better her content performs, the better your shot will be at contributing to that publication again.

Remember, your subject matter experts probably won’t have the time or know-how to run a full content team, become a published thought leader, and maintain consistency all on their own. Pair your internal experts with a fantastic content team, the right tools, and a solid process, and you can create engaging, authentic content that drives results for your agency.

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How to Customize Your Facebook News Feed to Maximize Your Productivity

Facebook is still the leading platform for marketers. From our State of Social Media 2016 report, we found that 93 percent of marketers are actively using Facebook for their business.

As social media marketers, we spend a lot of time on Facebook, managing our Pages, engaging our fans, finding good content, and creating ads.

In this post, I’d love to go through some of the less-known ways of customizing your Facebook News Feed to help you cut through the clutter, save time, and be more efficient.

Let’s jump right in.

Customize your Facebook News Feed

4 Key Areas of Your Facebook News Feed to Customize (and How to Customize Them)

For easy reference, here are the few sections we’ll cover duing this post:

  1. News Feed
  2. Left sidebar
  3. Right column
  4. Right sidebar

Facebook homepage with annotations

Section separator

1. News Feed

Set your preferences

The News Feed is where we get most of the content and information on Facebook. With a few quick customizations, we can ensure that we see the most relevant and useful posts.

Facebook has made it really easy to set your preferences for your News Feed. To edit your News Feed Preferences, click on the drop-down arrow (Arrow) in the upper-right corner of any Facebook page and select “News Feed Preferences”:

News Feed Preferences

Alternatively, click on the three dots (Triple dots) beside “News Feed” on the left sidebar and select “Edit Preferences”:

Edit News Feed Preferences

In there, you will be able to adjust a few preferences:

Preferences

  • Prioritize who to see first: This allows you to choose whose posts would always appear at the top of your News Feed. You can select up to 30 people or Pages to see first, and they won’t be ranked (ie. your second selection wouldn’t be seen second). In this window, Facebook shows your friends first. If you want to select Pages to see first, click on “All” and select “Pages only”.
  • Unfollow people to hide their posts: This allows you to choose whose posts you want to stop seeing on your News Feed. You can filter by “Friends only”, “Pages only”, or “Groups only”. Only you will know who you have chosen to unfollow.
  • Reconnect with people you unfollowed: This allows you to follow a person, Page, or group that you unfollowed in the past. While checking this setting, I noticed I accidentally unfollowed a friend previously. So it might be worth checking this setting even if you might not have wanted to unfollow anyone.
  • Discover Pages that match your interests: To help you add more variety to your News Feed, Facebook also suggests some Pages you might like.
  • See more options: This section includes things like the apps you have previously chosen to hide from your News Feed.

Leverage notifications

Taking it a step further, you can even be notified whenever your favorite Facebook Page post something. Facebook gives you the option to choose the types of posts you want to be notified about.

Go to the Facebook Page, hover over the “Following” tab, and click on the pen icon (Pen icon) beside “Notifications”.

Page notifications

In there, you can adjust the notifications for the Page’s posts, events, and live videos.

Adjust notifications for pages

See most recent stories first

Facebook’s algorithm by default shows you the top stories from your friends, Pages you liked, and groups you are in, at the top of your News Feed. If you want to see the stories in the order they were posted, click on the three dots (Triple dots) to the right of “News Feed” on the left sidebar and select “Most Recent”.

Most recent settings

Your News Feed will automatically return to the default Top Stories setting when you visit your Facebook homepage again.

Teach Facebook’s algorithm your preferences

You can also “teach” Facebook’s Algorithm to stop showing things you don’t want to see so that it will show you what you want to see. This is a bit more manual and tedious but it allows you to curate the best content on your News Feed.

Whenever you see a type of post you want to stop seeing or see less of, click on the drop-down arrow (Arrow) in the upper-right corner of the post and you will see these options:

Hide post, unfollow Paul or hide all from Transformers

(I wouldn’t want to unfollow Paul or hide all from Transformers, though. 😉)

You can do the same for ads, too:

Hide ad

Adjust your video settings

Videos are becoming a big part of Facebook, and you are likely seeing more videos than other types of posts on your News Feed. Adjust your video settings to give yourself the best experience. You can change the default quality, stop auto-play, show captions, and customize captions display.

To access these settings, click on the drop-down arrow (Arrow) in the upper-right corner of any Facebook page and select “Settings”. Then, select “Videos” at the bottom of the left sidebar. (Or click this quick link to access these settings.)

Video settings

Section separator

2. Left Sidebar

The left sidebar is for you to quickly access different parts of Facebook. You will see three main categories: “Shortcuts”, “Explore”, and “Create”. The one we can customize is “Shortcuts”.

According to Facebook,

Shortcuts are quick links to some of your Pages, groups, and games. Shortcuts are selected automatically by default, but you can pin something to your shortcuts so it’s always shown at the top or hide it from the list.

When you hover over “Shortcuts”, an “Edit” link will appear. Click on that and you will be able to edit your shortcuts:

Shortcuts settings

For each Page, Group, or game, you can choose to sort it in the list automatically, pin to the top of the list, or hide it from the list. I’d recommend pinning the Facebook Pages and Groups you are managing to the top of the list.

Use friend lists

Just like Twitter, you can create lists to organize your friends. This allows you to see Facebook posts of certain groups of friends whom you are more interested in keeping in touch with.

You can find the “Friends List” option under “Explore” on the left sidebar.

Friend Lists

To help you get started, Facebook has created three lists for you:

  • Close Friends: Friends you may want to share exclusively with. You will get notifications when they post but can turn these extra notifications off at any time.
  • Acquaintances: People you might want to share less with. You can choose to exclude this group of people when you post something, by choosing “Friends except Acquaintances” in the audience selector.
  • Restricted: This list is for people you’ve added as a friend but just don’t want to share with (maybe your boss). When you add someone to your Restricted list, they will only be able to see your Public content or posts of yours that you tag them in.

These lists are empty to start with. Once you click through to any list, there will be an “Edit List” option for you to add and remove people from the list.

You can also create your own friend lists by selecting “Create List”.

Bonus: Facebook also creates Smart Lists for you. Smart lists are automatically updated based on profile info your friends have in common with you (like your work, school, family, and city). You can also manually add and remove friends from the smart lists to make them more accurate.

View other feeds

Apart from the News Feed you see on the homepage, there are two other feeds you can view.

1. Pages Feed of pages you have liked with your personal account

Pages Feed

This feed shows you the recent updates from the Pages you’ve liked. I believe these updates are also arranged using Facebook’s algorithm as they aren’t arranged chronologically.

You can access this feed by clicking on “Pages Feed” on the left sidebar under “Explore”.

2. Pages Feed of pages you have liked as your Facebook Page

Your Page's Pages Feed

There is a feed that shows you only the posts from other Pages that you have liked as your Page. This is a convenient way to engage with other Pages using your Page or to conduct research on other Pages.

You can choose to like and comment on these posts as yourself or your Facebook page. To change this setting, click on the tiny profile image in the lower-right corner of each post.

Liking and commenting options

The option to see this feed isn’t quite on the left sidebar. To access this feed, go to your Facebook Page and click on “See Pages Feed” on the right column.

See Pages Feed

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3. Right column

Get a quick overview of your Facebook ads

On the right column of your Facebook homepage, you might see a section with information about your Facebook ads. I believe this section appears if you are using or have used Facebook ads for any of your Facebook Pages.

Page Summary

You can switch between your Facebook Pages to see their respective ad results. Click on the drop-down arrow (Arrow) beside the name of your Facebook Page to toggle between your Pages.

Switch between pages

The Page you select will become the default.

In this section, there will be

  • a tip for Facebook ads
  • this week’s ad results
  • latest unread message for the Page
  • today’s ad results (you can toggle to yesterday’s or lifetime results)
  • options to create an ad or a post

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4. Right sidebar

Show or hide games, tickers, and chat

On the right sidebar, there are three sections:

  • Facebook games
  • a real-time ticker of your friend’s activities
  • Facebook chat sidebar

Right sidebar (Games, Ticker, and Chat)

If you find the games and ticker distracting, you can turn them off by clicking on the gear icon (Gear icon) in the lower-right corner and selecting “Hide Games” and “Hide Ticker”.

It can be quite handy to leave the Facebook chat sidebar there. HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 report found that 38 percent and 24 percent of marketers prefer to use social media and messaging apps respectively for business-related communications. With the chat sidebar, you can quickly send a fellow marketer a message if you two prefer to connect through Facebook.

If message pop-ups tend to distract you, you can also choose to turn off chat. Messages from friends will automatically go to your inbox for you to read later.

Bonus: There are advanced chat settings where you can turn off chat for certain friends or lists of friends.

Advanced chat settings

If you find the right sidebar too distracting, you can turn it off entirely, too. Click on the gear icon (Gear icon) in the lower-right corner, and there will be an option to “Hide Sidebar”.

Use the Messenger web browser app

If you use Facebook Messenger for your work but don’t want to be distracted by your Facebook notifications, I’d recommend using Facebook Messenger’s web browser app.

Facebook Messenger standalone app

I have been using it for more than a year now, and it has been really helpful in preventing me from being distracted by new notifications.

Over to You

Facebook is one of the best platforms (or the best) for social media marketing. By taking the time to make some slight tweaks, we can greatly improve our productivity while working on our Facebook marketing.

What are some of the Facebook productivity tips I have missed?

It’d be fun to get your help to crowdsource more ideas. If you have any customization tips to share, it’d be great to hear from you in the comments below!

Image credit: Facebook

How to Re-Manufacture Your Marketing: An Inbound Marketing Guide for Manufacturers

manufacturer-1.jpg

Manufacturers have the chance to reach a wide audience, improve their sales, and increase their revenue with the help of inbound marketing and automation. While older marketing techniques such as cold calling, print ads, and trade shows remain effective to a degree, supplementing these strategies with effective online marketing can help you get better results.

Why is Inbound Marketing Important for Manufacturers?

A majority of B2B customers perform research online before making a buying decision, and the types of people that manufacturers target aren’t just any B2B customer. These companies market to serious individuals including scientists, plant managers, and engineers. These customers are also looking for complex and expensive services and products that need to give them exactly what they need.

By taking advantage of inbound marketing, manufacturers can effectively boost their ROI while further separating themselves from competitors that are performing poorly. There are many ways you can utilize inbound marketing to enhance your overall marketing strategy.

Generate More Traffic Through Inbound Marketing

While you may already have a website, you may not be getting the kind of traffic you have the potential to attract. Consider the main objectives of your marketing efforts, which are to attract, convert, and close. Without the ability to attract, the rest can’t follow, making inbound marketing through your website crucial to success.

Unlike other marketing methods such as print ads and mailers that rely on outreach to customers’ locations, inbound marketing can help bring in a steady stream of traffic from people actively looking for your services.

The key to getting plenty of high-quality traffic to your website is to write large amounts of relevant, valuable content that draws and engages readers. It’s also important to maintain a blog with regular updates that keep people informed while consistently boosting traffic.

Many businesses underestimate the value of a blog with fresh content, but the kind of people manufacturers want to attract will be actively looking for more information for these products and services. An in-depth blog can educate visitors regarding common roadblocks in the industry, tell them how your products or services can help solve their problems, and which issues they might be facing that you can help ease.

It’s important to refrain from being too promotional with a blog. However, educating prospects and showcasing your company as an industry authority can boost traffic and help you rank higher for certain long-tail keywords that people search.

Different types of content can also help carry people through the sales cycle, giving them more incentives to share the messages you convey.

Increase Brand Awareness

Another benefit of inbound marketing is a higher level of visibility, resulting in more brand awareness. Because of this visibility, you can gain a better reputation that helps convince potential customers to choose you over competitors.

Valuable content such as blog posts, guides, ebooks, white papers and videos can all work together to provide prospects with valuable information. Webinars can also be a great asset to your marketing strategy. You’ll likely find that these types of content are more effective at brand awareness than other offline strategies, lending your business credibility that it might otherwise lack.

Experience Better Lead Generation

If your business isn’t targeting people specific to your products or services, your marketing efforts will be too broad to be efficient. You need to make sure that you’re only targeting a select group of people who will benefit from what you have to offer, separating “leads” from uninterested parties.

Manufacturers often sell expensive equipment or high value services, which makes lead generation more of a challenge because of highly selective buyers. At the same time, leads become more valuable when they’re willing to spend more on a product or service.

Rather than relying only on cold calls or print ads, you can see a better reach and response when you use inbound marketing and marketing automation in conjunction with other marketing efforts. Utilizing valuable content offers as promotion in your traditional print ads or cold outreaches will help increase the demand for such content pieces. This will help you attract and convert more leads, making some of the traditional marketing methods more effective as well as warm up prospects for a sales conversation.

Because leads are at the start of the sales process, you should focus on creating “top of funnel” content such as blog posts and videos that helps attract visitors and build brand awareness. Then use content offers as lead magnets such as guides, white papers, free consultations to improve conversion and the volume of leads generated from inbound marketing.

Improve Lead Nurturing Abilities

Once you’ve attracted high-quality leads, your work has only just begun. It’s time to nurture them and see them through the sales cycle to become long-term customers. This process can take months or even years in the manufacturing industry.

Keep in mind that each prospect is likely to be in a different stage of the sales process, with some further along than others, but most will need a long period of nurturing before they make a purchase.

Fortunately, inbound marketing can help automate this process and nurture those valuable leads, using content that guides them along. This gives your leads plenty of attention and information, while allowing you to spend more time focusing on running your business.

One effective way to nurture leads using inbound marketing is to deliver automatic targeted emails that guide prospects to convert them into customers. These emails can direct them to ebooks, guides, consultations, and case studies that convince them that you can meet their needs.

Take Full Control Over Your Marketing

Inbound marketing also gives marketers better insight into how well their campaigns are performing, while making it easier to adjust them accordingly.

Ultimately, inbound marketing is integral to a successful marketing campaign for manufacturers. You’ll be able to attract, engage, nurture, and convert leads more effectively while wasting less resources and money in the process.

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The Argument Against Traditional Content Marketing

Content marketing has succeeded too well.

A victim of its own success, content marketing is a model that has been so highly adopted it no longer works as optimally as it used to. As much as we’d like to believe that content of value will rise above the din of marketplaces—like a solitary tower in a green field—it no longer always works that way.

Tower in green field

In this piece, we look at where we are and what’s gotten us here. Then we’ll break down how to optimize a content marketing strategy in today’s world for it to find true success.

Traditional Content Marketing’s Effectiveness Has Been Diluted

Let’s define content marketing. From the Content Marketing Institute (CMI):

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues.

Now I hate to do this, but I have to get pedantic. Further into the defining piece, CMI puts the emphasis on “valuable” and “relevant” as the differentiators between just plain marketing and content marketing. Which is cool. I like value and relevance as much as the next guy.

But that doesn’t mean I, or the audience of the brands I work with, are always looking to engage with valuable, relevant content. Sometimes, there has to be something that happens before that content to tilt an audience’s interest toward value. Sometimes there needs to be an attention-getter that might not be of any real value at all.

Why? Because as odd as it sounds: there’s arguably too much valuable, relevant content out there now! There’s too much content full stop.

That’s right. As marketers, we’ve done such a good job of buying into the “valuable, relevant” content idea that we’re drowning our audience in it. In so doing, we’ve brought the need for advertising (gasp!) back into favor. The future of content marketing success drives through advertising. Social media ads (Check out Larry Kim’s 10 Killer Social Media Advertising Hacks For Content Marketers). Display. SEM. Native advertising. TV ads. And so on and so forth.

To Win With Content Marketing, You’ll Have to Pay

Other, smarter people have taken swipes at this topic before. Tom Webster’s piece on content arbitrage from way back in 2013 still jumps to the top of my mind.

In this piece, he writes about how much easier it used to be get a blog off the ground. Why? Because the first movers in a space have the advantage of being ahead of the impending noise.

In the case of modern marketing, that’s brain space—a new idea on a topic people are just starting to get interested in. It’s also distribution space—a new channel in which there’s relatively little noise and the right audience for the topic starting to gather. Those winners bought low and sold high on a content type and channel.

(Mark Schaefer takes a bit more of a “link-bait and scare tactic” approach to the same idea in his 2014 piece about “content shock.” Still worth reading.)

Every channel has this period of time, with first mover success stories. That magical overlap where someone sees a green field in which to build a singular tower. To be the only one found. And therefore, to truly use content marketing in its purest form: creating content of value that’s easily found by the right audience and thus, works.

Chicago towers

The rest of us must pay to build our tower at least ever so slightly taller than the others that now litter what used to be a green field.

Enter “Paid-to-Earned Content Marketing Models”

How do we resolve wanting to market with content of value, and being cool with paying for the attention? How about creating “paid-to-earned content marketing models?”

That’s right. Let’s push the idea of content marketing closer to paid marketing. Let’s do so with the intent to shift budget from paid promotion to more content creation over time as we gain more earned media.

Image Source: Centerline Digital

Selling Ownership of an Area of Expertise

In this model of “paid-to-earned content marketing,” we change the goals of our paid media. We don’t look to make a sale right away. We look to sell ownership of our area of expertise.

Most marketers make decisions between paid media and content marketing based on measuring short-term “low hanging fruit” gains in sales versus long-term “build customers for life” gains. What if instead, the goal of our paid media shifted from driving sales to gaining interest? That would change the types of messages we put into our paid media. It would make our ads less pushy, more worthwhile. The conversion might no longer be “buy,” but “subscribe.”

Yes, this will delay the ROI measurement we crave, which is so much more pressing when it comes to paid. (Figure out the best way to Determine Your Content Marketing ROI with Michael Brenner.) But it’s a good way to approach building audience, and there’s precedent to this as a means to positive ends. For example: Amex OPEN forum.

Marketers point to the Amex OPEN forum as a success model for modern content marketing. And in many ways, it is. It’s become the go-to resource for small business owners in need of guidance in marketing, sales, management, IT and more. It’s a lightly-sponsored hub featuring content of unprecedented value. It provides access to world-changing business leaders that small business owners could never afford to talk to on their own. Echoing the words of CMI, Amex, “is providing truly relevant and useful content to their prospects and customers to help them solve their issues, instead of pitching products or services.

Amex OPEN forum content marketing example

But the flow of small business owners that flock to the site day after day was sparked by a seven-figure ad budget for Small Business Saturday and other campaigns. Lucky for Amex, they were also the first tower in a green field! The two things together—paid media to spark a path toward a content arbitrage moment—is, quite literally, gold.

We should also look at the type(s) of content that used to hold the banner of relevant and valuable. That has dramatically changed as people’s expectations of value have become more sophisticated.

Less Content; Higher Quality

In the paid-to-earned model above, we’re actually talking about creating less content. What we’re looking to drop in terms of volume, we’ll more than make up for in quality. Let’s look at what that really means.

Some content marketers fell into bad habits because volume of content alone used to be able to build a tall, strong tower out in the green field. By creating lots of content at a rapid, regular clip, you could start to own certain search terms. In turn, by owning those terms you could make yourself appear to be the foremost authority by simply overwhelming the first Google search engine results page (SERP). The content to achieve this was often short and superficial. It was keyword-laden rather than value-laden. It was listicles and linkbait.

Thank Google for spotting the flaw in a world built on volume alone. Marketers have begun to identify that it is specific people we really want to target, rather than “anyone and everyone.” Quality is now the more important trait.

However, quality is also an elusive trait. I’ve gone on way too long about what “quality content” really means already. So I’ll summarize. Quality isn’t simply about the production value of a video or the cleverness of an infographic title. It’s about content that actually addresses a verified audience need, that speaks to them in the way they would like to be spoken to, in their channel of preference. It’s content that meets the context of their situation. And it’s content that truly provides value.

That results in fewer, more in-depth, more targeted pieces of content. That’s what builds a tower that stands the test of time, rather than something tall but rickety. And the paid promotion of quality content helps establish your thought leadership as the most influential tower.

How to Go With the Right Flow

So far we’ve established that content marketing—in its traditional form—now needs optimizing to maintain its effectiveness. We marketers took too much advantage of the initial opportunity. Go us.

Therefore, we have to adjust our thinking in two ways. We need a greater focus on quality content that actively eschews quantity. And we need to attract a flow to our content with paid means, rather than relying solely on organic paths. What’s the third leg to a successful content-centric marketing platform? Ensuring we target the right audience with much more specificity.

Luckily, this is something you’re already tilting toward if you’ve started reducing the quantity of content you’re making to focus on quality. Why? Because a quantity focus means you’re hacking together less-specific content for the masses, rather than highly specific content for the few. A quality focus, on the other hand, means you’re getting deep into the specific details that matter to the much more invested members of your audience. Along with CRM, automation, and social listening technology, you can further personalize content and experiences with the time freed from trying to publish too often.

A paid push to create an audience flow to your highly-specific content gets even better when you apply the same thinking and technology. Programmatic ad buys allow you to get the right ad, leading to the right audience member, in the right channel, at precisely the right time.

The additional requirement for this is better audience understanding and segmentation based on data, rather than gut feeling. Again—more achievable when you’re less concerned with playing the quantity game.

To Sum Up

Content marketing is an amazing way to build a relationship with audiences that ultimately leads to revenue. Can it stand alone as your only means of success in promoting your service, product, or offering? I don’t think so. At least for most, finding the green field in which to build a singular tower in an area of expertise in a burgeoning channel is, at best, a game of timing and luck. Using paid media to amplify the audience for your content significantly increases the effectiveness of your content marketing.

To read more about content marketing and the changing shape of the PESO media mix (Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned), look here! If you love content marketing and want to get ahead in a content marketing career, download The Ultimate Guide to a Content Marketing Career eBook, a joint production between Curata and LinkedIn.

The post The Argument Against Traditional Content Marketing appeared first on Curata Blog.

About the Author: How to Write a Quality Author Bio

How-to-write-a-bio

If contributing guest posts is part of your content distribution and promotion strategy, you’re probably familiar with the following scenario: You write a great article for a guest publication, and at the end, you’re compensated with a teeny, tiny paragraph about yourself.

Unless you wrote the article for purely altruistic reasons, this paragraph, though short, is quite critical. Not only does it connect you to the article on a level beyond your byline, but also, it provides space for links back to your website or social profiles. And who wouldn’t want even that little bit of glory?

But what are you supposed to write in that brief paragraph, anyway? How do you make your author bio compelling, powerful, and effective — without a whole lot of space?

Download our free guide to copywriting here to learn how to be a better copywriter yourself. 

As it turns out, there are quite a few seemingly small ways to approach your author bio that can help it have a much bigger impact. But what do they look like, exactly? Read on — you’re about to find out.

How to Write an Author Bio

1) Write in the third person.

Different publications will have different standards — Forbes, for example, seems to encourage guest contributors to write in the first person, as per below:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 8.42.08 AM.png Source: Forbes

However, the general practice is to write your bio in the third person. If it feels a bit self-congratulatory, that’s okay — you can even turn it into a joke, like Mark John Hiemstra did in his bio for a post on the Unbounce blog

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 8.38.54 AM.png Source: Unbounce

Once you’ve written the bio, be sure to re-read it to make sure you’re not overusing “he” or “she.” And if you are, try replacing some instances of these pronouns with your name to improve the flow.

2) Remember: It’s not really about you.

Even though this paragraph is allegedly about the author, it’s not actually about you. It’s about your reader, and what that person is looking to learn or gain from your article. It helps to think of this setup as a well-composed sentence — you’re the object, and the reader is the subject.

That concept can be a bit confusing without context, so have a look at how Matt Southern pulled that off below:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 8.38.54 AM.png Source: Search Engine Journal

Notice how Southern’s bio focuses on both himself and the reader. By explaining that his real passion is to help marketers, it serves as a nod to his readership — after all, your readers are the ones who ultimately decide if your piece is worth sticking around until the end, sharing, or discussing. Write for them.

3) Establish credibility — truthfully.

As the digital landscape only becomes increasingly crowded, it’s important to have a prepared, accurate way to answer the masses asking, “Why should I listen to you?”

Readers are right to ask that question, especially with many now questioning the accuracy and reliability of news. So, in your bio, establish your credibility, and be honest. Why are you qualified to write on this subject? Why should readers believe you?

If you write about conversion optimization, for example, explain what kind of experience you have with it. If you have academic degrees, list them — but only if they’re relevant to the publication or article. A bachelor’s degree might not be considered outstanding enough to warrant a mention in your bio, though there are exceptions to that rule. Let’s say you’re writing about women’s issues. If you attended a women’s college, it might be worth mentioning in that particular instance. 

Let’s have a look at how this concept looks “in the wild.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 9.36.03 AM.png Source: Forbes

When Forbes contributor Ian Morris wrote the above article on a mobile device, he used his one-line bio to explain why he’s qualified to write on that subject. “I cover mobile,” he explains, as well as “internet services and the good and bad of tech.” And in his full bio, he expanded even further on that:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 9.21.12 AM.png

4) And while you’re at it, explain what you do.

It’s the inevitable — and often dreaded — question of any social or networking gathering. “What do you do?”

Chances are, someone reading your work will have the same question — it goes along the same lines of explaining why you’re credible enough to be writing about a certain topic. So think of your bio as an opportunity to answer it — after all, it’s a meaningful fact about you, and it deserves a line.

Notice how Yvette Tan immediately addresses that question in the first sentence of both her author and Twitter bio, highlighting the importance of keeping information consistent across different channels: 

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 10.07.12 AM.png Source: Forbes YtanTwitter.png

And Kiel Berry does the same thing for his contribution to the Harvard Business Review:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 10.13.33 AM.png Source: Harvard Business Review

5) Be (appropriately) personal.

 

You’ve probably come across the occasional author bio that features a personal tidbit thrown in, like “cat lover” or “coffee addict.” But when is that okay or smart — or even more important, appropriate?

To answer that question, you need to think about where your article is appearing, and who’s likely reading it. Not every publication, for instance, is going to be the best fit for a quip about your affinity for craft beer. That said, it’s also good to remind readers that you’re human, especially among your professional credentials. Still, keep it to a minimum — readers are only marginally interested in your personal life, so your bio isn’t the place to divulge a lot of those details.

Buffer’s Alfred Lua uses his bio to share his hobbies like swimming. But by keeping it short, and sandwiching his personal interests between his job title and his personal one, he’s able to show personality, while maintaining his credibility: 

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 10.26.55 AM.png Source: Buffer

6) Focus on value.

It can be tempting to turn your bio into a celebratory display of your interests and accomplishments — you’ve won awards, started a billion companies, and have been published in top journals. But readers, more often than not, might be responding with, “Who cares?”

That’s because they want to know what’s in it for them. By putting content out there, you’re essentially asking readers to borrow their time for what you’ve written. Sure, your status might be impressive, but they don’t really care unless they have something to gain from it. That’s where the idea of value comes in.

Use your bio to communicate that bio, and what you can do for your readers. Danny Wong does that well in his guest bio on ConversionXL’s blog: 

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 10.35.44 AM.png Source: ConversionXL

Notice the key word in the second sentence: “Teach.” That’s the kind of value that might help Wong connect in a meaningful way — by telling them, “I teach people, and I can teach you, too.”

7) Don’t be afraid to brag.

Let’s have one more look at Wong’s bio:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 10.35.44 AM.png Source: ConversionXL

After he explains the value he can provide to readers, he uses the opportunity to mention a pretty big accomplishment: Founding what sounds like a highly profitable business.

When done correctly — like Wong did above, by combining it with a value proposition — bragging can be both effective and appropriate. But it might be easier to do so in the third person. “She co-founded a multi-million dollar company” sounds a bit more humble than, “I co-founded a multi-million dollar company.”

Don’t be afraid to toss out a few awards that make you the proudest — just make sure that they’re relevant to the subject matter and the publication.

8) Avoid writing something obnoxiously long.

Just as you want to avoid bragging too much, you should probably avoid saying too much in general. Writing a super long bio might make you seem less than humble — if all the other authors on the site have three lines and you have thirty, it only emphasizes your sense of self-importance, even if that’s not what you intended.

Author Richard Ridley recommends that authors “keep it brief.” Here’s how he explains it:

Brevity is the soul of wit. Even if you’re William Shakespeare, you don’t want to write an author bio that fills up the entire back cover. In an odd twist of logic, the more accomplished you are as an author, the shorter your author bio can be.”

It’s okay — we all have an ego. We just have to keep it in check sometimes. Here’s a great example of a short-and-sweet bio from Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 11.07.45 AM.png Source: Orbit Media

9) Customize it.

If the publication allows you to occasionally update your bio according to the season, take advantage of the ability to customize it. A universal bio that you copy/paste everywhere is okay, but tailoring it to a specific scenario can help enhance it for a particular outlet.

Here’s how HubSpot’s Lindsay Kolowich does that with her bio:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 11.16.53 AM.png

By fine-tuning it to resonate with the season, your bio stands out against some generic messaging you might be used to seeing.

10) Add a CTA.

Ah, the call to action, or CTA. It’s a powerful force in the marketing world, and it’s no different in your bio.

After your audience reads about you, they should take further action — but what action do you want them to take? Most often, it’s reading more of your material, or following you on social media.

In those cases, common CTAs would be to follow you on Twitter, or visit your blog. And while these options are effective, make sure the CTA is strategic within the given context.

For example, when Heather Hummel’s work is syndicated by Huffington Post, her author bio contains a CTA to check out her books, creating a source of possible sales:

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 11.21.19 AM.png Source: Huffington Post

Of course, some outlets might not have the bandwidth or allow such a full-scale dedication to this kind of CTA within an author bio. But if the opportunity is available, use it to your advantage.

11) Steer clear of the word “freelance.”

Freelance writers are an exceptional group of people who are skillful, qualified, and expertly positioned to write great content. But there’s something about the word “freelance” that, for whatever reason, can chip away at credibility. It suggests that you might be more of a generalist, and less of an expert — which, while not necessarily true, has grown to connote that while you might be good at writing, you might not excel at a particular subject.

If you’re a freelance writer, we tip our hats to you. But in your bio, there are ways to replace the word “freelance,” for the reasons above. Here are some examples:

  • “Fred is a conversion optimization writer, specializing in split testing best practices and cognitive biases.”
  • “Angie, a Portland-based author, helps people unleash their inner interior designer.”
  • “As a marketing writer, Todd’s favorite place to publish uncensored marketing content is his own blog.”

Ready to Write?

The best way to create a meaningful bio is to write it with care and intention. Think about your readers, establish your credibility, and make it memorable. But go ahead and have some fun with it — you want to prove that you’re human, too.

At the end of the day, your little bio matters. People care. They’re going to read it. Make it count.

And please — don’t judge me by my bio.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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