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The Content Strategist » Strategist

The Content Strategist » Strategist10 More Content Marketing Buzzwords That'll Make You Want to Stick Forks in Your Eyes'We've Gone All In': Why The Daily Beast Wants to Save Journalism Through Sponsored Content5 Things Content Marketers Need to Know About Dubsmash, the New Viral Lip-Syncing App6 Tips Content Marketers Need to Know About Mobilegeddon, Google's Big SEO ChangeWhy Are Brands Suddenly Embracing 4/20?Infographic: 2015's Biggest Content Marketing TrendsHow ING Built Europe's 'Best Branded Web Mag' in Just One YearMap: How Manhattanites See New YorkContent Marketing's Future Is in the Hands of Two Groups, and They're Not TalkingContent Catchup: Our Secret ROI Formula, Social's Surprising New Weapon, and More Must-ReadsTagging Content: The Simple Thing Most Brands Get WrongStory Hackers: How the Hottest Startups in Silicon Valley Are Using Content to Fuel Their GrowthThink With Google: How the Search Giant's Online Mag Is Schooling MarketersThe Ultimate Content Marketer's Guide to Syndication and Licensed ContentThe Hot New Weapon in the Social Platform Wars: ContentBrian Grazer and Ron Howard Are Making a TV Series for GEWhat Gallup's Most Admired People List Tells Us About ForgivenessHow We Calculate the ROI of Our Content Marketing--in One Duck-Themed TaleTellUsYourStory Tumblr Reveals the Tone-Deaf Social Media Strategy Brands Use Way Too MuchContent Down Under: Aussie Bank ANZ Kicks Back and Lets Content Propel Its Marketing7 Pieces of Tech That Will Make You More ProductiveContent Catchup: Amex Raises the Bar for Brand Storytelling, Content Marketing Soulmates, and More Must-ReadsJason Nash Is Kickstarting the First Vine Feature Film, and He Might Just Pull It OffWhat the Hell Is a Microsite and Why Do I Need One?Contently Comic: The First Marketers

Content marketing industry news and analysis, by Contently Wed, 22 Apr 2015 20:57:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Wed, 22 Apr 2015 17:28:38 +0000

Once again, it's time to turn on the burners and take down some truly awful, overused buzzwords.

The post 10 More Content Marketing Buzzwords That'll Make You Want to Stick Forks in Your Eyes appeared first on The Content Strategist.


My last two buzzword columns attracted a large amount of readers, and I learned something as a result: Some of you people are really defensive about your buzzwords. I guess you have to defend the honor of a buzzword if it's in your tagline. It's just that you sound like a protractor, "360-degree agency" guy, and nothing is going to change that.

Between SXSW and helping plan our upcoming Summit, I heard enough buzzwords that I seriously considered sticking forks in my eyes. (Something that may or may not have happened this past weekend when a group of us went down to the Angola Prison Rodeo.) The only way I can heal is to turn on the burners for a third time.

1. Big data

Six years in, BIG DATA is the buzzword that just won't die--one that becomes more meaningless the longer it lingers, like Justin Beiber's career or your ex's creepy habit of liking every photo you post with your new boyfriend. Most marketers toss around the term big data, but few can use it in any constructive way. The majority of the time, it's like handing a three-year-old a Lego set made for those over the age of 10. It's too much; they're not ready. They'll end up putting things in their mouths that don't belong there, and then you have to listen to them cry.

2. Brandscaping

Can we all agree to avoid marketing buzzwords that sound disturbingly like manscaping? Don't make me imagine Captain Crunch going through his special routine before hitting the pirate bars. This a family site.

3. Brand journalist

At first, I thought that those who insist on using this term were just cleverly trolling the journalism world; but really, it's just straight-up masochistic. The phrases "brand journalist" and "brand journalism" are 75 percent of the reason a lot of media folks hate content marketing and continue to bash the practice. To them, it feels like a weird attempt at identity theft.

Marketers, repeat after me: There is no such thing as a brand journalist. A brand can employ trained journalists who tell stories and do damn good reporting, but when you're doing work for a brand, you're leaving your "journalist" badge at the door. It's kind of like a cop doing some security work on the side at a night club. You're bringing all your cop skills to the table, but you're not on duty as a cop. If you catch someone doing lines in the bathroom, you may throw that homie out and tell the club boss to get his shit together, but you're not making an arrest.

The job is different. Let's start using the term "brand writer" before Jeff Jarvis strangles someone with his Twitter account.

4. Always on

Always on is the favorite buzzword of agency folks justifying exorbitant fees. Why the $500,000 in billable hours last night? Because our brand strategy is ALWAYS ON, guys. We are literally always working. Hell, here at McGary Content Social Price, we don't even hire anyone unless they already have a recreational Adderall prescription and an enthusiastic willingness to abandon everything in their lives to monitor your brand's Twitter mentions like it's a matter of national security. Have you seen our brand newsroom? Look at all those fancy monitors. And that's our editorial director, Rick. He sleeps in that cage.

5. Tailored content

I'm not sure why content marketing shops want to make themselves sound like a Men's Wearhouse, but it's actually sort of fitting. When brands pick a content marketing shop to work with, it's kind of like shopping for suits. You can go to an industrial shop selling $90 writers just like you can go to a Men's Wearhouse and get a $90 suit, but very rarely is that decision going to make you look particularly impressive. And then there are brands that buy the $500 suit and stitch, "Finger lickin' good," across the butt.

6. Brand ambassador

How did we come to just accept this term as anything but completely insane? Mary in North Dakota, who just tweeted about your tupperware, is not an ambassador; she's not about to hop on a 27-hour flight to broker relations between Glad and Cambodia. At best, she's going over Linda's house, and chances are they're just going to drink moderately priced wine and discuss The Last Man on Earth. (Which is absolutely overrated, by the way.)

7. Scale

If you're ever in over your head in a creative marketing discussion, just ask about scale. "Does it scale? Can we scale our reach? IS IT SCALABLE?"

Asking marketers about scale terrifies them. The vast majority of good marketing ideas are never even tried out because of the fear that the brand won't be able to immediately throw it in the faces of 100,000 people. (And lots of awful, terrible ideas are greenlit because there's a way to force-feed them half of America.) Ask about scale, and creatives will assume you are an agent sent to stomp on all decent ideas and force them at gunpoint to design banner ads.

8. Content consumption

Somewhere along the way, we started talking about people reading, watching, and listening to media like we're in Weight Watchers. "How do we get users to consume content? How do we get them to consume the right content? How to we effectively measure and attribute the consumption of content? Did someone say scale? Now I feel fat."

This buzzwordy, sterile way of talking about media is a plague. It's one we're criminally guilty of at Contently as well. The other day, I found myself at our edit meeting explaining, "The amount of time people are spending consuming our content per session is up 20 percent, which is great." I immediately hated myself and secretly hoped my team would drag me onto the roof and hold me over the edge of our building. No one's consuming content. They're reading stuff, and they're watching stuff. But they're not shoving this stupid listicle down their throats out of the necessity to survive.

9. Branded emojification

This past week, a source in Digiday explained the significance of brands using emojis like this:

"Emojis are doing what the tone of voice did on the telephone and what gestures, tones and facial expressions did in interpersonal communication," agreed Mitchell Stephens, professor at NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. "It gives people something that has been missing in writing for the past five and a half thousand years."

Um, no. This is brands figuring out how to contextually use smiley faces and panda bears and pictures of poop. It's not a revolution in human language. Let's not  ourselves here.

10. Low-hanging fruit

A lot of marketers expect their trip to content island to resemble a Club Med video brochure, when really it's more like Lost. You expected to survive on all that low-hanging fruit, but instead you got raging polar bears trying to mess up your every move and the occasional smoke monster whispering threats into the wind. It may just be in your head, but it sounds like he's talking about ROI.

Previously in Content Marketing Buzzwords:

10 Content Marketing Buzzwords You're Going to Hear Way Too Much This Year

10 Content Marketing Buzzwords You'll Hear Way Too Much at SXSW

The post 10 More Content Marketing Buzzwords That'll Make You Want to Stick Forks in Your Eyes appeared first on The Content Strategist.


0 Wed, 22 Apr 2015 15:51:39 +0000

For many in the media industry, native advertising spells doom and gloom for journalism. But at The Daily Beast the perspective is far sunnier.

The post 'We've Gone All In': Why The Daily Beast Wants to Save Journalism Through Sponsored Content appeared first on The Content Strategist.


Some in the media industry still view native advertising as the shapeshifting beast that will bring the downfall of journalism as we know it. But at The Daily Beast--where sponsored content now brings in the vast majority of the publisher's revenue--the perspective is far sunnier.

"We have gone all in," said Mike Dyer, The Daily Beast's chief strategy officer. "We like our approach. We like how much we can handle. The last published [revenue] number was 55 percent. I can tell you it's much higher than that. There is not a lot of room left to go."

Dyer made a name for himself at marketing agency Hill Holiday, where he was far ahead of the curve when he launched the agency's renowned content marketing services in 2008. Since arriving at The Daily Beast in December 2012, he's been leveraging that experience to build an industry-leading sponsored content offering by developing a robust content marketing network--filled with hundreds of veteran editors, creative directors, journalists, and other content creators--to execute ambitious content marketing campaigns such as The New Alphas, a series of high-quality profiles of young leaders for Lenovo that ran over a seven-month period, and The Art of Now, a hub of summer-themed trend pieces sponsored by Lexus.

The Daily Beast's sponsored content is of genuine interest to the Beast's audience, a relative rarity in the publishing world. (This piece of sponsored content was shared over 14,000 times, for example.) And ensuring that those stories resonate with Beast readers is crucial. While other publishers pump traffic to their sponsored content through Outbrain and paid social distribution, the Beast organically drives readers to sponsored content through homepage and newsletter placements.

While there's a strong church and state divide between the Beast's editorial and advertising teams, there's also an enthusiasm for sponsored content atop the masthead. To editor-in-chief Jon Alvon, creating a sponsored content model that flourishes while protecting the integrity of editorial is an immensely important challenge for journalism--and even democracy.

"Let me get on the soap box for a second about why financial independent matters," Alvon said. "Journalism is the only profession that's mentioned in the Constitution. We have the opportunity to reimagine how journalism monetizes, how the economics of it works. If we fail at that so all of a sudden it is simply a large 'S' flag, that ultimately is dangerous to democracy."

Finding that long-term solution means rejecting the head-in-the-sand approach that many in the journalism community have taken to sponsored content: "All journalists need to be engaging and thinking entrepreneurially, and I think it's one of the challenges and opportunities of our time," Avlon said. "We don't have the luxury of simply saying that's someone else's problem."

If Avlon is passionate about finding a financial solution that will allow journalism to survive, he's even more passionate about protecting the editorial integrity of his company from financial dilemmas related to sponsored content. "You need to keep that separation completely clear to preserve your integrity and your independence," he added.

While Condé Nast is breaking down the wall between editorial and advertising by enlisting editors to manage branded work through its new '23 Stories' content studio, The Daily Beast remains committed to keeping that wall intact. None of the journalists who work on the Beast's branded content write for the site's editorial side, and there is almost always an editor and creative director, who has already worked with brands, managing the project.

"It's a dangerous game," Avlon said of letting edit staff work on sponsored content.

"A creative director and advertiser can no more take John's place than John could take their place. They are different," Dyer said. "Yes, it's content, but they don't do the same things."

The Daily Beast's branded content services extend past the content that shows up on the site. In the mode of a content marketing agency, they also help brands create content for their own websites as well. But in the short term, Dyer believes the majority of the content The Daily Beast creates for brands will run as sponsored content, simply because most brands aren't yet ready to make the commitment to building an owned publication.

"You have to care and feed it," Dyer said. "It's like having a puppy. Are you ready for that?"

While Dyer believes more brands will build owned media properties--a trend on full display with the recent launches of Marriott and Starbucks' media companies--he also thinks native advertising is poised to explode across the industry as publishers continue to see more of their traffic come from mobile devices, which spells trouble considering that desktop ad units are worth four times as much as mobile display. Dyer sees sponsored content as the solution that can save publishers from financial catastrophe.

Simultaneously, however, he's worried about publishers treating sponsored content like display advertising, using services like TripleLift to programmatically sell sponsored content spots to brands without any editorial oversight. "I don't think most publishers are making smart decisions," he explained. "That's an insanely bad position, because that will do to content marketing CPMs what remnant advertising and programmatic buying did to display CPMs, which is wreck them."

And if publisher sites are flooded with bad sponsored content, the entire practice will be in peril because readers will learn to avoid it like the plague.

So even as The Daily Beast works on more sponsored content, Avlon and Dyer are committed to setting an example for the industry. It's not just an advertising issue--it's about the future of the fourth estate.

"All journalists need to be engaging and thinking entrepreneurially, and I think it's one of the challenges and opportunities of our time," Avlon said. "We don't have the luxury of simply saying that's someone else's problem."

The post 'We've Gone All In': Why The Daily Beast Wants to Save Journalism Through Sponsored Content appeared first on The Content Strategist.


0 Wed, 22 Apr 2015 15:16:26 +0000

Lip-syncing is taking the media by storm, and Dubsmash is riding the wave.

The post 5 Things Content Marketers Need to Know About Dubsmash, the New Viral Lip-Syncing App appeared first on The Content Strategist.


Pop quiz: When Rihanna released her new single last month, with which app did she choose to tease it? It wasn't Vine, Snapchat, Instagram, or even the new live-streaming platform, Periscope. She actually used Dubsmash, a new app that invites users to record short videos of themselves lip-syncing to audio clips.

Sound random? It might be. Sound shareable? You bet.

Lip-syncing is already taking the media by storm. Sean Hayes went viral across social media last month for his lip-syncing YouTube videos, and Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show lip sync battles inspired a whole TV series on Spike that's racking up millions of views on YouTube.

Despite its fun and silly service, there's no telling if Dubsmash will have a long life. It took three separate launches for the app to gain traction, and there are already talks of copyright infringement, given that Dubsmash's sound library is comprised of unlicensed audio clips from TV shows and movies. But with several high-profile celebrities already having fun with the app, it may be some time before the Dubsmash hype dies down. And if that's the case, brands will be looking to get in on the action.

Here's what they need to know before getting started.

1. More than 20 million people are using Dubsmash across 192 countries

Since founders Jonas Drüppel, Roland Grenke, and Daniel Taschik launched Dubsmash for the third time in November 2014, the app has been downloaded more than 20 million times. It quickly became the number one app in the iOS store of the founders' home country, Germany, later climbing to the same spot in 29 other countries, including the U.K. and France.

A quick YouTube search for Dubsmash compilations already turns up a bevy of Dubsmash video montages, similar to ones we've seen of Vines.

So, why is the app so popular? Probably because it has a simple user interface that makes process quick, easy, and stupidly fun. Users can choose any sound they want from Dubsmash's Soundboard and film a short video (up to 10 seconds) of themselves lip-syncing to it. Taking the user-generated content to the next level, Dubmash also invites iOS users to upload their own dubs with the Dubloader, with this feature set to come for Android devices.

2. Celebrities are loving it

We know Rihanna's on board, inspiring fans to make their own dubs of a clip from her new single. But she's not the only one.

Adam Levine is having fun with the app, sharing his NSFW dub of a classic line from Pulp Fiction.

Lena Dunham and Jack Antonoff used Dubsmash to share some Alanis Morissette love.

And Saturday Night Live's Cecily Strong went on a Dubsmash rampage on her Instagram last weekend.

Now, we're just waiting for Sean Hayes to hear about the app and launch his own viral Dubsmash series.

3. It's not a social network, but its content is extremely shareable

The app doesn't have a timeline or news feed like Instagram, and the content isn't set up to be shared in the app, like on Snapchat. But the videos can be saved to users' Camera Rolls and shared across chat apps and social networks of their choosing.

As Complex pointed out last month, almost 400,000 videos have already been uploaded to Instagram alone, with users tagging their videos with #DUBSMASH, or their home countries, like #DubsmashEgypt or #DubsmashGermany.

4. It stands out from Vine, Instagram, and Snapchat

Since Dubsmash isn't a social platform, it's not poised to directly compete with Vine, Instagram, and the chat apps. But it does take features from each to form its own unique service. Users can add filters like on Instagram, add text like on Snapchat, and produce short videos like on Vine.

The goal of lip-syncing to a short audio clip is simple, but given the available combinations of which clip to choose, who to lip-sync it with, and where to film it, the possibilities for funny content seem endless.

5. Dubsmash is just waiting for brands to use it

Celebrities may be playing around with the app, but there hasn't been any news-worthy brand uptake on Dubsmash yet, so the field is wide open for experimentation. Some brands may be worried about the inherent copyright issues, but co-founder Grenke told TechCrunch this has yet to be a problem, and should it become one, they have a "take-down" policy for when a license holder complains.

Grenke also said he believes that brands will eventually want to work directly with the app, perhaps giving explicit permission for users to create dubs with their audio content. For example, maybe the marketing team behind Spike's star-filled Lip Sync Battle will take to the app to promote new episodes or encourage users to submit their own dubs of featured songs, which they presumably have the licenses to use.

But really, who could beat Anne Hathaway's "Wrecking Ball" reenactment? Well, maybe Steve Kardynal.

The post 5 Things Content Marketers Need to Know About Dubsmash, the New Viral Lip-Syncing App appeared first on The Content Strategist.


0 Wed, 22 Apr 2015 14:43:44 +0000

First, calm down. You calm? Good. Now it's time to fix your site.

The post 6 Tips Content Marketers Need to Know About Mobilegeddon, Google's Big SEO Change appeared first on The Content Strategist.


Since nothing is worth talking about unless it's tantamount to the end of humankind, "Mobilegeddon" is now upon us. If you've somehow missed the panic that tore through the Internet this week like Godzilla through Tokyo, the world's most popular search engine will now factor mobile friendliness into its algorithm for smartphone searches, damning the search rankings of sites still living in a desktop-focused world to new depths.

There may be plenty of hyperbole surrounding Google's algorithm change, but legitimate concern on behalf of content marketers is not unfounded. Getting knocked down in Google's search rank costs real businesses real money. According to a 2014 Advanced Web Ranking study, 71.33 percent of searches lead to an organic click for sites on Google's first page of search results. That's only true for 5.59 percent of searches on the second and third results pages. What's more, the first five results on a search page account for an astounding 67.60 precent of all clicks.

Here are six things you should know about Mobilegeddon.

1. You need to put Mobilegeddon in perspective

If Mobilegeddon has whipped you into an incapacitating panic attack, calm down. Despite such panic-stricken headlines as "Google is making a giant change this week that could crush millions of small businesses" and those freaking out about the unprecedented scope of the change, Re/code predicts Google's "latest SEO tweak is not likely to reverberate as much as earlier ones." That's because Google has given plenty of advance warning on the change, as well as providing tools to help site owners evaluate and improve its mobile-friendliness.

Google is even downplaying the consequences of the algorithm change. "While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results," a Google spokesperson told Re/code. High-quality content, for example, could boost a site's rankings considerably even as mobile kinks are being worked out.

And if you are behind on mobile-optimizing your site, you won't be punished permanently. "Unlike previous algorithm tweaks," reports CNN Money, "websites can upgrade their 'mobile-friendliness' at any time to appear higher in Google's search results."

2. But you still need to act

Yes, you. We see you there, eagerly raising your hand in the back of the class, clamoring to point out that you've read that Mobilegeddon only affects mobile searches, and you think your traffic doesn't come from mobile. If that's true, it could be because your website looks terrible on mobile devices, but it's most likely just flat-out false. According to CNN Money, mobile searches make up about half of all Google queries, and that number is rising. A Flurry analysis found that time spent on mobile grew in the U.S. by 9.3 percent over just nine months in 2014. Even if you're not seeing your traffic come from mobile devices now, there's a good chance you will in the near future.

3. And rely on Google's evaluation of your site

You may think your site looks fine and dandy on mobile. You may be wrong, according to Google. And now, Google is the judge and jury of mobile friendliness. You need to meet its expectations, not your own (or anyone else's.)

The Internet is full of marketers offering to evaluate the mobile-friendliness of your site, but but guess what? So is Google--for free. Google's Mobile Friendly Test not only tells you how friendly any website is, it also explains why ("text too small to read," "links too close together," etc.) and how to improve. If you still can't figure out how to get your "Page appears not mobile-friendly" result to upgrade into an "Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly," feel free to hunt down some marketing help. But still use Google's tool as the litmus test.

4. But don't overcomplicate your fix

According to Forrester Research, 38 percent of sites for companies that have 1,000 or more employees--those one might assume have pretty decent tech budgets--don't meet Google's criteria for mobile-friendliness. Comparatively, for a small company funneling all of its resources into creating great content, the prospect of optimizing a content hub for mobile might sound daunting, but the technology is out there to make it less complicated.

Marketing firm Econsultancy recommends a simple responsive design on your site that "will [load] faster and allow your users to find, share, and link to your content more easily. It also means Google's bots will be able to crawl and index your site's content faster and more efficiently."

Another option is an adaptive web design approach, which automatically changes the HTML of a website on mobile, but the user-agent detection can result in errors. When it comes to mobile, simpler is better.

5. You need to optimize your content for mobile, too

While chasing Google's standards for a mobile-friendly site, don't forget about your brand's standards. Econsultancy recommends the following tips to reach your content goals as you become more mobile-friendly:

Short, entertaining headlines with easily readable text are key. Also ensure links are far enough apart so fingers don't bump the wrong one.

Make sure your content's structure and layout doesn't require readers to scroll down, down, down to get to the majority of your content. Front load your important content at the top.

Place your call to action within your content. Mobile readers shouldn't have to thumb all the way to the end of the page.

6. You did this to yourself

Yes: If your website isn't yet legitimately mobile-friendly, Mobilegeddon could make your search ranking plummet. Did you think this day wasn't going to come? Mobilegeddon isn't the canary in the coal mine of consumer mobile behavior; it's the massive rush of gas killing off the miners who ignored the canaries in the first place. CNN Money explains that Mobilegeddon is an "obvious tweak" to Google's search algorithm. Its mobile-friendly test has been around since February, but for whatever reason, the public panic only started this week.

The bottom line is that consumers already were turning to their mobile devices for online content. If the mob-branded "Mobilegeddon" is what it takes to get enterprise attention, companies really have no one else to blame but themselves. But who needs to assign blame anyway? For giving them the extra push to go where the market is headed anyway--toward mobile--this SEO change could have content marketers thanking Google in the end.

The post 6 Tips Content Marketers Need to Know About Mobilegeddon, Google's Big SEO Change appeared first on The Content Strategist.


0 Tue, 21 Apr 2015 21:01:26 +0000

Pepsi, Spotify, and more are getting in on the reefer madness.

The post Why Are Brands Suddenly Embracing 4/20? appeared first on The Content Strategist.


The nation's attitude towards marijuana is changing, and with that, we're starting to see more brands let loose and embrace cannabis culture.

Just a few years ago, we were hard-pressed to find a ton of brands acknowledging April 20, a.k.a. Weed Appreciation Day. But this year, major brands like Pepsi, Spotify, and HBO came out in droves to drum up engagement around the big day on Twitter.

Many content marketers still suffer through layers of legal and PR restrictions to get a simple white paper published. So how did these big brands get away with maybe-kinda-sorta encouraging their audiences to smoke weed?

Alec Rochford, CEO of Duby, a social networking app for cannabis enthusiasts and medical marijuana patients, has been particularly invested in this shift of attitude.

"If you think about the fact that almost 10 percent of the country consumes cannabis--depending on what industry you service--you could have a lot of cannabis consumers in [your audience]," Rochford told me.

He pointed to the gradual legalization of marijuana--especially for medical purposes--in the U.S. as a reason why we're starting to see the media present weed as more acceptable.

"Over the last year, since it's gone legal in Colorado and few other states, you're seeing people starting to be open about cannabis that you would never expect to consume it, and I think that that is right in line with brands starting to come out and talk about it," he said. "And it's not just brands that are in cannabis, but we're seeing it with outside brands and a lot of larger brands now. I think that they're slowly starting to come out."

Major social platforms are also aiding this trend, with moderators becoming more lax about posts and pages that promote cannabis use. For example, Rochford noted that Facebook and Instagram have started to allow more cannabis businesses to create pages, whereas in the past, they just got shut down.

In fact, if it weren't for Apple's ease of attitude towards marijuana use, Rochford could have never launched Duby.

"Apple wasn't allowing cannabis apps," he said. For example, Apple kicked MassRoots, an social network app for cannabis users, out of the Apple store for a couple of months. But recently, they were brought back in. "They wouldn't have allowed us to launch there four months ago, but now they are allowing us."

Rochford's app invites anonymous users to "light up" a new Duby in the form of a picture, video, or text post, and pass the message to a designated number of anonymous users nearby. The more influence you have (based on popularity of posts), the more users your message gets passed to. Taking a page from Tinder, Duby users can swipe left to "put out" a Duby and swipe right to keep it spreading across the map.

While Rochford doesn't plan to monetize his app just yet, he has seen a good deal of brands create accounts on the platform in just the two weeks since it launched. These brands are, of course, mostly marijuana dispensaries like Weed Maps, Stoner Daze, and Bud Puff. But now that brands like Ben Jerry's and HBO are comfortable playing up 4/20 on social media, could they one day produce content for an app like Duby?

Down the road, Rochford says he could monetize his app by posting certain brands' ads in certain locations to target users who might be interested in their products. Given that the app is already accessible to users in Canada, the Netherlands, Jamaica, Guam, the Virgin Islands and the 23 U.S states with medical marijuana laws, there are no shortage of audiences to engage with.

Until that happens, we'll continue to marvel at how comfortable brands felt to joke about marijuana use on social media. And, oh, did I say brands? I meant police departments.

Screenshot (6)

The post Why Are Brands Suddenly Embracing 4/20? appeared first on The Content Strategist.


0 Tue, 21 Apr 2015 16:27:32 +0000

We still don't have flying cars, but we do have some fascinating trends.

The post Infographic: 2015's Biggest Content Marketing Trends appeared first on The Content Strategist.


Earlier this year, we tried to help you sound wiser at your next meeting by offering 10 content marketing predictions for 2015 from the pros. And now, with 2015 almost halfway through (and still no flying cars), we're starting to see just how accurate some of those forecasts were.

Visually and JBH offer some insights into the state of content marketing with a new infographic that includes stats from marketers and tips for boosting your content strategy.

The first prediction from our article, that content marketing budgets would reach record highs, seems to be accurate thus far. As visualized in the infographic, 50 percent of B2C marketers plan to increase their budgets this year. Why? Because content marketing has become the most commercially important marketing trend of 2015, with almost 30 percent of marketers saying it's the most crucial strategy for driving results.

Marketers are also understanding how to get the most value out of the content by engaging audiences with helpful and/or entertaining information. With that in mind, it's no surprise that the top goal for marketers in 2015 is to build customer relationships and loyalty.

For a few industry leaders like HubSpot, KISSmetrics, and Moz, building those relationships is contingent on maintaining a top-notch blog. HubSpot reportedly receives 37 percent of traffic share from its blog, whereas only 13 percent of traffic is flowing to their homepage. Likewise, KISSmetrics receives a whopping 70 percent of traffic share to its blog, which features a healthy mixture of articles, marketing tips, and infographics.

To feel even smarter about your content strategy, scroll through the whole infographic below.

The post Infographic: 2015's Biggest Content Marketing Trends appeared first on The Content Strategist.


0 Mon, 20 Apr 2015 21:43:52 +0000

Meet the brand magazine structured similarly to "This American Life."

The post How ING Built Europe's 'Best Branded Web Mag' in Just One Year appeared first on The Content Strategist.


A little more than a year ago, the Dutch bank ING Group decided it needed to change the magazine it had been giving shareholders.

The magazine, published in print and transposed to the web, was the sort of inwardly-focused corporate publication going out of fashion these days. The content was almost exclusively about ING, and the opinion pages served as a platform for the bank's senior leaders to opine on global trends--regardless of whether those trends fell under their areas of expertise.

Instead, Head of External Communications Egmont Philips and his team chose to embrace a new format, one that put both the digital experience and the reader first. In May 2014, the company introduced, a digital quarterly magazine that broadened the editorial scope to include thoughtful analysis of the business world at large. In doing so, ING has been able to reach an audience beyond the small slice of highly-interested shareholders who used to read the old print magazine. In fact, the sleek, insightful publication now sees up to 35,000 unique visitors per issue and recently won an award for being Europe's best branded web magazine.

"By revamping our magazine, we have attracted a completely different audience, which was our target, and the reach has been higher as well," Philips said. "Basically, we were surprised by its success. We had hoped it would work, but we actually have had greater reach than we had aimed for."

The new publication, published in both English and in Dutch, is structured similarly to the popular public radio program "This American Life," as each issue has a theme that is explored from several angles.

For instance, the theme of the most recent issue of is "family," a topic delved into with a feature story on how important family businesses are to the economy, and an interview with the Dutch psychologist Frans de Waal comparing the way humans and animals relate to their respective family members.

Each issue is released alongside ING Group's quarterly financial results and includes both a roundup of ING news and a video interview with CEO Ralph Hamers. Philips said the magazine's primary goal is to help its readers get ahead in their lives and in business.

By choosing broad topics and exploring them from angles that don't always have to do with finance, is able to provide readers with content that is relevant to their interests even if they are not ING customers or lack financial literacy.

"There's different content, and different audiences start by reading different articles," Philips said. "It's a bit like how a painter has a palette with different colors and blends it into one painting. That's how we do it as well."

From a visual standpoint, the publication relies on large photos, white space, and a clean, responsive design to pull the reader into an experience that feels somewhat shielded from the rest of the white noise of the Internet.

Each issue is crafted by two ING employees--who also have other responsibilities at the firm--and two employees from the creative agency Born05. Some of the articles are written in-house, while others are done by freelancers. ING Group's central corporate office in Amsterdam, which publishes, works with the regional offices in the 12 countries it has retail banks to make sure the magazine does not interfere or contradict with the content each office is producing locally.

For instance, the head office is responsible for and press releases, but the company's retail banking branch in Belgium is responsible for the print content found in its offices and online packages that educate customers about the different financial tools they will need for life milestones such as going away to college or buying a house.

When it comes to distribution, the company's primary tools are its website and social media. In addition to the organic reach of its owned channels, ING amplifies its social distribution by asking employees and influencers featured in the magazine to share the publication from their personal accounts.

ING will also pay to seed its content in targeted LinkedIn groups that have members interested in finance. The company, at one point, tried placing banner ads for on a Dutch financial news site, but while the effort drew lots of clicks, most of the readers left the site almost immediately. This last bit is important because the bank considers attention time a crucial metric for determining the success of its content.

According to Dagmar van der Plas, an ING senior advisor who manages the publication's distribution strategy, strives to keep its audience members on the page for at least two minutes. Otherwise, it's unlikely the reader will have had time to absorb a typical story.

The amount of time someone spends on a piece of content is the difference between whether ING successfully engaged with the reader or merely communicated with him.

"When you communicate, you spread your message and that's about it, but to reach a real engagement with your reader, you have to be really at the heart of what they want to hear from you," van der Plas said. "Our profession is 'communications,' but I believe more in 'engaging,' so I would prefer to be called an 'engagement manager' rather than a 'communication manager.'"

By the looks of things, ING is succeeding in developing a base of readers that do, in fact, want to engage with its content. According to its internal metrics, the publication is getting more than three times as many readers per issue as the old magazine, and an impressive 60 percent of those readers return to the magazine a second time.

In a corporate culture, it can be tough for a company to take a step back and make such a drastic overhaul to its marketing strategy. But ING is a great example of what can happen when content informs the reader rather than just promoting a company's services. And as ING continues to build long-term relationships with consumers, it can now bank on content to drive its business forward.

The post How ING Built Europe's 'Best Branded Web Mag' in Just One Year appeared first on The Content Strategist.


0 Mon, 20 Apr 2015 18:05:44 +0000

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The post Map: How Manhattanites See New York appeared first on The Content Strategist.


*Based on precise mathematical data.

The post Map: How Manhattanites See New York appeared first on The Content Strategist.


0 Mon, 20 Apr 2015 15:44:17 +0000

The rapid growth of content marketing has left many initiatives living in silos--disconnected from a brand's broader content strategy.

The post Content Marketing's Future Is in the Hands of Two Groups, and They're Not Talking appeared first on The Content Strategist.


Over the last four years at Contently, we've seen content marketing go from something no one was talking about, to something brands found interesting (but not worthy of much budget), to the #1 digital priority for brands. To say money is now pouring into content marketing would be an understatement. It's happening now from all sides, from inside the CMO's office and through their agency partners alike.

Lasting content marketing success requires more than writing a check, however, and the rapid growth of content marketing has left many initiatives living in silos--disconnected from a brand's broader content strategy.

Nowhere is this more true than the gulf between those responsible for formulating and enacting a brand's long-term content strategy (usually someone in the CMO's office), and those responsible for getting that content in front of the right audience (the media agency).

Why is this a problem? Well, as the industry inevitably moves beyond "check the box" mode--where just doing some form of content marketing is enough to show progress--to more mature programs that require real business results to justify the expense--it will be necessary to break down the silos in order to build content marketing programs that really work.

Here are a few areas where we've seen our customers succeed in bridging this gap:

1. Agency cooperation

Having a brand's agencies as the driving force behind content strategy and adoption helps generate a holistic strategy. When PR, media and creative agencies collaborate on content strategy, it means all the bases (creation and distribution) can be covered from the outset.

2. Media agencies moving beyond campaign-based thinking

The true power of content marketing is building owned audiences--putting the brand in a position where it's connecting directly with its potential customers, instead of relying on the traditional media properties of old. The infrastructure now exists for media buyers to drive traffic to owned properties at scale, it simply represents a change in thinking.

3. Brands fostering a culture of content

The content teams that sit within the brands can do a better job of packaging up their content and making it available to their agency partners. There are tools that can help them do this, but it's also about fostering a culture of content and evangelizing their work internally. Long-term, it's going to take buy-in at the highest levels.

Content marketing is here to stay--but content without proper distribution can't be effective, nor can distribution work without a coherent content strategy. The best content marketers will find a way to bridge the gap.

Joe Coleman is the CEO of Contently.

The post Content Marketing's Future Is in the Hands of Two Groups, and They're Not Talking appeared first on The Content Strategist.


0 Fri, 17 Apr 2015 19:34:37 +0000

Here's what you missed while wondering whether your cost-of-living raise will take into account your growing fondness for happy hour gin and tonics.

The post Content Catchup: Our Secret ROI Formula, Social's Surprising New Weapon, and More Must-Reads appeared first on The Content Strategist.


Here's what you missed while wondering whether your cost-of-living raise will take into account your growing fondness for happy hour gin and tonics...

For many content marketers, the only thing more terrifying than ROI is the lingering image of that time Steve from accounts had seven too many drinks and decided to show you his very--um, personal--tattoo. But fear not. Contently VP of Content Sam Slaughter is here to let you in on the secret of how we tie each piece of our content to hard revenue figures. Read it.

All your favorite platforms are gearing up for their next big battle for your attention, with content as the weapon that's changing the game:

There's a fundamental shift underway. Social media used to be about technology platforms that connected you with friends and got out of the way. But now, the world's biggest platforms are increasingly trying to keep your attention with extra content. After all, that content might be better than what your friends are offering. It's not that your friend's seventh blurry Snapchat message from the bar isn't interesting, it's just that National Geographic snapped you and--my god--that bear is amazing. Read it.

HBO's Silicon Valley gets a lot right about the startup world out west--the social awkwardness, the brogrammers, the insane VC rat race--but the one thing it's missing? A whole bunch of content marketers. That's because, as Tessa Wegert reports, the hottest companies in the cradle of innovation are getting a leg up on the competition in old-school fashion--through print mags and other content. Read it.

In his latest epic post, Shane Snow takes us through the history of syndication and what it means for content marketers today.

My personal interest in syndication stems in part from my own company, where we help brands become publishers of education and entertainment in order to build loyal audiences. (We provide software tools and freelance talent to create original content, engage readers and viewers on the web, and optimize the process over time.) As our business has grown from three guys in coffee shops to 80 employees and the world's largest network of freelance journalists, we've debated: Should we get into syndicated content, helping brands like Coca-Cola to license articles from traditional publishers like CNN? Or should we stick to helping brands just do original content? Read it.

Have a stupendous, beer garden-filled weekend. We'll see you Monday.

The post Content Catchup: Our Secret ROI Formula, Social's Surprising New Weapon, and More Must-Reads appeared first on The Content Strategist.


0 Thu, 16 Apr 2015 15:55:37 +0000

The simple act of using tags and tracking their performance is often enough to get content marketers a seat at the big table.

The post Tagging Content: The Simple Thing Most Brands Get Wrong appeared first on The Content Strategist.


In meeting after meeting, I run across content marketers who worry that their work isn't being taken seriously by the rest of the company. I like to give them an analogy to explain why:

Imagine that you've just been named the CRO of your company, and you're trying a lot of new tactics to grow the business--hiring new people, opening new offices, or changing the price of your product. After a month or two, it would be reasonable for others to ask how each move affected the company's bottom line. If you can't answer with quantitative results, you're left to conjecture--which, in our data-driven world, is a fast track to getting fired.

Unfortunately, this is how a lot of marketers are treating their content strategies; do a lot of things, but then only look at the total end result. In a way, this is understandable; content marketing is still new, and there's a lot of debate about the best way to measure its effectiveness. Marketers are rightfully wary of investing time in the wrong content measurement strategy, but I've found that many are shooting themselves in the foot before they even get started.

Time and again, we see that there's a simple, overlooked fix that produces huge results: tagging content is the foundation for successful content marketing operations.

You may be thinking that you can put this off--perhaps content isn't a company priority, your operation is small-scale, no staff to backfill--but having a robust taxonomy can solve all three of those problems. It helps you demonstrate that content is supporting key business goals, compare content's value in cross-channel campaigns, and optimize what your staff works on. The simple act of using tags and tracking their performance is often enough to get content marketers a seat at the big table.

Creating an effective taxonomy isn't easy, but it's not rocket science either. It's important to know that at the start, you're going to be wrong, and that's okay! To cover the basics, considering the following categories: topic, type of content (by length, media type, etc.), audience (potential buyers, info-seekers, advocates), marketing campaigns (if you have multiple messages in digital), and business themes/goals (leads, signups, awareness).

It's that simple. At the end of the quarter or month or week, check the results. For those that have been riding their intuition, the results can be shocking: what you thought was a great recurring topic or format may turn out to be a dud, while another may be surprisingly effective. But the important thing isn't what's performing--it's that you're accountable.

That's the only way content marketers are going to get the budgets to play with the big boys.

The post Tagging Content: The Simple Thing Most Brands Get Wrong appeared first on The Content Strategist.


0 Thu, 16 Apr 2015 15:37:18 +0000

Content marketing can get a startup out of the blocks--and on the track to growth--fast.

The post Story Hackers: How the Hottest Startups in Silicon Valley Are Using Content to Fuel Their Growth appeared first on The Content Strategist.


When people look at Silicon Valley, they probably associate startups with billion-dollar valuations, whimsical company t-shirts, office foosball tables, and technology products. And to some extent, these tropes ring true, which makes it easy to lump together tech companies under an umbrella of stereotypes.

But beneath the surface, many of these startups have unique stories worth sharing with their customers. What's the appeal? Original media assets help startups gain the exposure, traffic, and trust they need to ensure a steady trajectory of growth. In other words, content marketing can get a startup out of the blocks--and on the track to growth--fast.

If you lined up Uber, Airbnb, and Buffer, they'd all have one thing in common: They've fueled their growth with compelling content.

Driving home engagement

At first glance, it might seem odd for Uber to invest in a print magazine--until you understand just how important drivers are to the company's culture.

In March, Uber launched Momentum specifically for its 150,000 drivers. Since the company expanded to 210 new cities last year and is currently adding 50,000 new drivers per month, those workers can now learn about Uber's new markets, read about some of the company's very first drivers, and learn how to stay healthy while working on the road.

Travis Kalanick, Uber's co-founder and CEO, once told Fortune, "In the beginning, (Uber) was a lifestyle company." Though Uber has since been referred to as everything from the "future of logistics" to "the family chauffeur," its focus on lifestyle has remained consistent.

Since Uber drivers come from all walks of life, the company has the chance to tell some incredible stories just by looking within and profiling its employees and satisfied customers. Take a video like, "Why uberX Is so Popular in Australia," for example, which follows a freelance CEO, a radio personality, and a model as the trio travels around Sydney in car driven by an uberX driver who's working toward financing his upcoming wedding.

In addition to the print magazine, Uber has made video a priority. Its YouTube channel is brimming with creative content that's split in categories like The Uber Experience, Spotlight on Uber Cities, and Behind the Wheel. Clips profile driver partners, demonstrate value through interviews with global users, and showcase corporate social responsibility efforts. They're also used to get potential customers interested in the service, which is now worth an estimated $40 billion.

One element that sets Uber apart from other startups is its appeal to celebrities, who can use the premium service as an alternative to limos and cabs. The company has taken advantage of this unique position by teaming with celebrities for its videos. For instance, Uber recently documented the adventure that ensued when impromptu uberX driver and world-renowned musician Deadmau5 picked up Toronto passengers in his McLaren.

These tales are helping Uber connect with new customers and stay relevant with existing customers. After all, the relationship between a taxi driver and a passenger is very distinct; both parties have to share a small space for a short amount of time. To call attention to that in a positive way requires a commitment to content. And Uber's content team has shown the ability to use these uncommon relationships to tell personal stories, one fare at a time.

Making room for storytelling

Like Uber, Airbnb, the hospitality service that helps travelers find rooms from local hosts, has an insanely large audience of people that come from all over the world. Plenty of people have stories about their homes, or where they stayed on vacation, so it wasn't a surprise when Airbnb started using those stories of adventure and hospitality to market its services.

The company's content strategy might best be described as "more is more." In the past three years alone, it has created a series of neighborhood guides; released close to a dozen Economic Impact Studies displaying its positive effect on cities; created a groundbreaking crowdsourced Vine; released several short films; and launched Pineapple, a quarterly print magazine targeting both hosts and guests.

Pineapple is designed in-house in the style of a traditional print magazine, full of glossy photo spreads that highlight vibrant places people visit around the world. But to be clear, it's not just a blatant marketing brochure that runs fluff pieces about the best places to stay in each city. As Christopher Lukezic, the magazine's publisher, told Fipp: "This isn't a magazine about homes, it's about the connections that our community makes in the environments where they live or travel. For us, print was the perfect medium to tell these stories."

The latest issue of Pineapple includes longform stories that look at London, Seoul, and San Francisco. Putting together a print publication that runs 128 pages required an immense amount of collaboration. "We... enlisted excellent writers, photographers and illustrators, all very local to each city," Lukezic added. "The process has brought together people from different departments within Airbnb, from the photo, video and design teams to those working on social policy."

Besides Pineapple, Airbnb also runs Stories, a microsite that profiles hosts and travelers with video profiles from within the community, going in-depth to reveal motivations for why certain people have opened up their homes or, conversely, decided to uproot their lives and travel the world with Airbnb.

Clearly, there is a lot of interest on both sides of the company's business model. A recent Barclays research report predicts Airbnb could be booking 129 million room-nights per year by 2016, a mere eight years after the service launched. People will always want to travel and explore new areas, and as long as Airbnb is dedicated to connecting hosts and sellers, there will be plenty more stories to tell.

A buffer for connection

A broad variety of storytelling has served Airbnb well, but are there benefits to taking a more contained approach? Buffer, startup that helps people use social media more effectively, is proving there are.

The social media company only has 29 employees, but now has over 2 million registered users. With such a small team, Buffer's chief customer acquisition methods are blogging, video, social media, and "excellent customer support."

Buffer differentiates itself from other content marketers by producing videos that adopt a relatable, laid-back style. In part, that's out of necessity. The company's use of employee-generated content allows it to skirt geographical constraints. A video might consist of a one-on-one conversation about business transparency, one of Buffer's core values. Or it might feature social marketing tips filmed inside a team member's home.

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Facebook f8 Announcements Mean Opportunity for Brands | Social You Should Know

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By: Lisa Braziel  |   March 29, 2015  |   View Comments

5 F8 Announcements You Should Know

Didn't have time to make sense of the Facebook f8 announcements this week? Have no fear, our very own Erin Ledbetter has summarized the announcements that matter to you in her recent blog post, "5 f8 Announcements Brands Should Care About". Long story short: Facebook videos are now embeddable, 360 degree video capabilities are coming in a Facebook newsfeed near you, Facebook Messenger is adding bells and whistles and opening up to third party developers to make it a more social and attractive application for brands, and Facebook is positioning Messenger as a customer CRM and brand communication tool.

Twitter Teams Up With Foursquare to Provide Location Tagging

Twitter announced that tweets will soon be able to be tagged with location, thanks to a partnership with Foursquare. This provides an obvious sharing experience to Twitter users that was missing for quite some time, while opening up new advertising, targeting, and real-time opportunities on Twitter for marketers to take advantage of. Does this move make Foursquare more irrelevant, or does this integration give Foursquare a unique advantage from other review-sites like Yelp? We think the latter, as combining the reach of Twitter with the functionality of Foursquare could open up unique opportunities.

Nielsen Research Confirms Value of Video

If the social network arms race to win video views isn't enough to convince you to produce more video content, a Nielsen study conducted by Facebook reveals the value of a Facebook video ad can be linked to improving brand awareness, message association, and brand recall. What's even more fascinating is that measurable value can be attributed to a video ad, even under a second of viewing. Read a snapshot of the findings and implications for brands here.

And lastly, in the slew of photo editing social applications available, Instagram is now getting in on the action. This week, the company announced a new application called "Layout from Instagram", as a way to allow Instagram and Facebook users to showcase photos in custom collage layouts designed for social. The application also has a "Photo Booth" feature to give users a countdown and instantly add a series of photos to a layout.


Tell us about yourself and sign up for our weekly newsletter, Social You Should Know. You'll receive the latest social media news and insights from Jim Tobin and the Ignite Social Media team.

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