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Five Tips For Improving Your Content Marketing

July 11th, 2014 by Joe Square

Content marketing is more than just a buzzword, it’s a sophisticated approach at marketing that delivers value and entertainment to readers, while meeting your marketing goals.

This strategy is the response to our society’s collective choice to ignore advertising, to skip commercials on their DVR’s or intuitively tune out banner ads. “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Here’s 5 quick tips to get you off on the right foot.

1. Know your audience.

target audience
Hands down, most important rule: know who you’re speaking to and write specifically to them. You could create amazing content, but if it doesn’t connect with the reader, it will do nothing to better your brand.

2. Give ‘em the good stuff!

content marketing

We’ve seen countless botched attempts at content marketing “pretending” to provide content for their users, but really it’s just poorly disguised marketing copy. To be successful, you have to provide users with valuable content, then cleverly find ways to relate that to your brand.

3. K.I.S.S.

kiss logo
Keep it simple, sweetheart. This rule applies to most everything, especially content and writing. Unless your audience has a highly technical or specialized background, it’s safe to assume they may not understand all of the jargon or details surrounding your brand or products. Deliver them short, sweet content that gets to the point and leaves them feeling content, not confused.

4. Write once, publish everywhere.

writing content
Chances are, your brand has more than one channel of communication (read: blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn group, Email Newsletters, the list goes on), but it’s unlikely that many of your customers tune into more than one of said channels. When you’ve written a good piece of content, it can be used in multiple applications to cut down on work, and still provide customers with insightful information. Be sure to edit each piece to fit the context of the platform (remember rule number 1?), but rejoice knowing that one well written article can provide content for multiple platforms.

5. Be consistent

consistent
Your brand should have a unique and distinctive voice, and in every piece of content that you produce, it should always be represented the same way, even if you have more than one person writing content. There should always be guidelines for tone, writing style and general “do’s and don’ts.” By giving readers consistency, you’re building a more significant relationship where they know exactly what to expect from your material.

by Joe Square

Facebook Under Fire

July 1st, 2014 by Michelle Comendul

Facebook is taking heat for a study that affected users’ moods

Facebook Logo

Over the past few days, debate has developed about a 2012 study Facebook conducted with Cornell University and University of California San Francisco that manipulated the content of users’ newsfeeds for the purpose of gathering information about how status updates affect mood.

The study altered the content of news feeds by prioritizing either positive or negative statuses to measure if a user would then post more negative/positive updates themselves.

Facebook claims there was “no unnecessary collection of people’s data,” which is, of course, the go-to ethical concern with social networks. However, unnecessary manipulation of individual experiences on site with intention of influencing their emotional state is just as unethical as collecting and disseminating private information.

When doing a research experiment that will affect the participants in the study, in this case ~700,000 Facebook users, individuals should have been required to provide consent before being included. Failure to do so is a big “no-no” in the academic community.

When researchers conduct studies, there are certain checks and balances they must pass in order to complete studies that affect people, which, in case Facebook forgot, applies to it’s user base.

 

We couldn’t have said it better.

Justified In the name of Science?

The summary of the article written by the experimenters reads:

“We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.”

In a statement released by Adam Kramer of Facebook, there are no apologies for the ethical concern of manipulating users emotional states, only condolences that their intentions we’re not made more clear in the description of the experiment.

Kramer writes :

“The reason we did this research is because we care about the emotional impact of Facebook and the people that use our product. We felt that it was important to investigate the common worry that seeing friends post positive content leads to people feeling negative or left out. At the same time, we were concerned that exposure to friends’ negativity might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook. We didn’t clearly state our motivations in the paper.”

So you mean, the manipulation of users’ emotions is justified in the context of commerce and concern of losing your user base should too many people post negative status updates?

Well, when you put it like that, carry on!

“In hindsight,” wrote Kramer, “the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety.”

According to voices from the academic community, the study has no actual scientific foundation, and the results cannot even begin to be generalized to the greater population.

“I don’t know that the benefits we’re gaining from this research are all that significant,” … “The correlations were so tiny that they’re meaningless on an individual level. It’s not really the kind of research that’s significant in the way they’d have us to believe. For example, there’s no real proof that if a bunch of your friends post something negative, you’ll then post something negative. At least not at this small scale. Perhaps, if you read thousands and thousands of posts, you might.”

Says Dr. John Grohol in an article for Buzzfeed. However, we argue that whether Facebook has gained usable and relative data from this study is a completely separate matter from, number one, the violation of their users by attempting to manipulate emotional states without consent, and number two, the wider implications that social networks could potentially influence their users by altering the content they see.

“Oh, it’s okay that Facebook toyed with my emotions for science, due to poor study design they weren’t able to gather substantial results from their experiment.” Said no one, ever.

Facebook definitely needs to find a way to save face after this, and it should serve as a cautionary tale for other networks. Too often it is forgotten that virtual networks represent real people, with real rights, even as research participants. Terms and conditions aside, that pesky informed consent is a cornerstone of the research community, and social networks should not be made exceptions.

by Michelle Comendul

Technology On Fire

June 26th, 2014 by Joe Square

Fire Phones, Instant Purchases and Why it’s Good for Your Bottom Line

Amazon Fire Phone

Your mornings are hectic. Wouldn’t it be nice if your technology did more for you? Earlier this week, Amazon unveiled their first smartphone offering, the “Fire Phone.” While it may not brew your morning coffee or eliminate your commute to work, the Fire Phone unveils some uniquely useful features for the busy, tech-savvy consumer.

One of the phones star features is called Firefly, which acts as a bar code scanner doing everything from scanning products for purchases, to finding out what the name of that song is you heard on the radio.

But… back to that morning brew. You can use your Firefly application to track your caloric intake (with the barcode scanner) and add more coffee grounds to your Amazon cart when you start running low. Dubbed the “cash register in your pocket,” the Fire Phone makes online purchases easier and smarter than doing so in-person.

The Fire Phone’s instant purchase feature is every marketer’s dream. For one, instant purchasing is essentially painless. Research suggests that those who use credit cards are less likely to question their purchases, while payments using cash increase the consumers awareness of cost. Imagine how seamless a purchase would be with a single touch on your phone.

The Fire Phone is capitalizing on an excellent marketing strategy by using this instant purchase feature as research shows an increasing portion of consumers doing their shopping online and on smart phones. With over $74 billion in sales, Amazon proves it is ahead of the curve to in digital marketing.

Without the barrier of the traditional method’s “pain of purchase,” Amazon has achieve the ultimate in instant gratification. Just what the doctor (A.K.A Amazon) ordered.

by Joe Square