Archive for ‘Marketing’

March 18, 2015

How to use social media like a marketing executive [Report]

SocialSharingTwitterThanks to a recent study of over 1,000 marketing executives, digital agency Leadtail has published their insights into how current heads-of-marketing are changing their use of social media. Among other things, the study looks at the most-shared, mainstream, industry, and social sources, along with the brands and people who are most likely to be  influencers of CMOs. It’s clear that the digital marketing landscape is changing. Here are few trends that caught my eye:

1. Facebook content isn’t as sharable as you think. When it comes to cross-platform content sharing, Facebook lags far behind its top competitors. In other words, content found on YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram are (at least) twice as likely to be shared on Twitter, than content found on Facebook. Marketing executives’ sharing of LinkedIn content on Twitter is up by 200%, so if you want to get noticed, you better step up your game on LinkedIn because CMOs are consuming and sharing that content.

2. (Visual) content is king. If you want a marketing executive to share your content, you better make it visual because this study found that pieces of content that had a visual component were more likely to be shared. I would argue that this isn’t just for CMOs; much of our own content is more shareable if it’s visual. See for yourself – head over to and look for your tweets with the most engagements. Mine are always images, with very few exceptions.

3. Location-based social networks are dead. Only 5% of marketing execs check-in (down from almost 30% from 2 years ago). Remember Foursquare? Yeah, nobody does. Three years ago I stopped checking-in on Foursquare. Before that, I was a consistent user checking in to the bus station, bus route, different buildings on campus, and even different carafes at Starbucks (Yes, the jugs they hold the different types of coffee in). I finally felt that all this checking-in was feeling like a chore and had little or no reward attached to it, so I stopped. I imagine others felt the same way.

For the cost of your contact details, you can download the full report from their website. It’s a great piece of content marketing about content marketing.

February 26, 2015

Who else wants stats for ANY Instagram account?

Stats are good, right? I’m always searching for ways to look at how my content is performing, whether it be on my blog, twitter account, Instagram profile, etc. Stats provide an understanding of who your audiences are, what they like, and what are your most engaging pieces of content. While looking inward is always a great way to gather insights to improve your practice, it’s sometimes nice (and informative) to see some data on how other high performers within your industry, or your competitors, are doing.

HubSpots’ Dan Zarella has recently released an Instagram app called that lets users see details about any non-private account.

Once you login with your Instagram account, you’ll see stats on your own account; then you can search any other account by username. The app provides data on the usual metrics, like top likers and commenters, “like” activity, most-used filters, etc., but then it goes on to add some interesting details about how each of the following areas affects likes and comments:

  • Filter choice
  • Tags choice
  • Number of tags used
  • The effect of tagging users in your photos
  • Caption sentiment
  • Reading grade level
  • Caption length

Remember, this app doesn’t just tell you how complex your language is in your captions; it relates this complexity to the effect it has on engagement (likes and comments).

The site is beautifully laid out and visually appealing. Make sure you pay particular attention to the small grey question marks that appear just to the left of each title of the graph – this is where you get a more complete description of what the chart is showing you. Admittedly, this took me a bit to find, but once I did, the utility of the site jumped right out at me.

Here’s what the stats look like for the most-followed consumer brand on Instagram – Nike:


Sorry for the size of the text in this image. I zoomed out to try and capture as many charts as I could to give a visual representation of the types and number of charts the site offers. If you head over to you can read all the details.




February 2, 2015

Does your blog have a mission statement?

After nearly 5 years, my blog finally has a mission statement. If you asked me about it six months ago, I would have had to admit that I had never really thought about it before. Since then, I’ve been reading Joe Pulizzi‘s latest book, Epic Content Marketing, and it has me itching to put some of his suggestions into action. It seems that the first step to becoming an “epic content marketer” is to take some time and write a mission statement for your blog, website, or wherever you publish your content. Joe details his idea in Chapter 13 of his book (and yes you should buy the book), so I thought I’d take it to heart and write the mission statement.

I tried to follow Joe’s model of writing a successful mission statement. He suggests that you need to communicate:

  1. Who the core audience target is
  2. What you will deliver to the audience
  3. The major audience take-away

So without boring you with all the internal struggle, numerous revisions, and trepidation about (finally) inscribing in stone what the purpose of this blog is, I’ll get right to what I came up with:


Create and curate engaging content for Digital, Marketing, and PR professionals. Posts are designed to help us (myself included) better understand how social media connects with our profession and how it can be used to take advantage of opportunities that were never before possible.

Now the challenge is to stick to my newly-articulated mission. Many of my previous posts deliver on this mission, and I will ensure that all future posts do. I have posted this mission statement as the first thing on my about page and plan on referring to it when I come up with a blog post idea that I’m not too certain fits this blog. If it’s not covered in my mission statement, I won’t publish it.

This was a fun exercise that helped me articulate exactly why I write here. If you’re a content creator, I suggest giving it a try. What’s the worst that can happen?

Joe: If you’re reading, and you’re probably not, I’d love to hear what you think. Feedback = Awesome.

UPDATE (02/02/15):

Well, it took Joe less than 12 hours to get back to me with a little feedback via Twitter:



January 15, 2015

Think twice about using the #MLKday hashtag to promote your brand – remember last year?


The day this blog post was published, January 15, 2015, would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 86th birthday. Each year, Americans observe a national holiday on the third Monday of January to recognize Dr. King and the American Civil Rights Movement.

Marketers, PR folks, and advertisers are always looking for ways to get their message in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Often, this means trying to piggyback on an existing major event, celebration, or holiday. A great example of this was Oreo’s famous “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet sent during the power outage at Super Bowl 47. It was clever, timely, and a bit funny as it made light of an awkward situation. The Super Bowl blackout had nothing to do with cookies, but after this tweet, it did.

MarCom professionals can run into challenges when they apply this strategy to events with a very serious nature: Remembrance Day (Common Wealth Nations), Veterans Day (US), Martin Luther King Jr. Day, etc. Brands run the risk of looking too opportunistic as they try to cash in on the importance and sacrifice of others.

Last January, several public figures and brands made questionable (to put it nicely) social media posts trying to cash-in on the popularity of the #MLKday hashtag used to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Reviewing a few of these missteps from last year has led me to three key thoughts on the subject.

The tone of your message should match the spirit of the observance

As a brand, you should seek to create and share content that serves to match and even enhance, the serious nature of the holiday. A few examples from last year that missed the mark:

1. Book a party bus for MLK Day?

2. The infamous “Freedom to Twerk” event that was planned for the good folks in Flint, Michigan drew attention to itself after the promoters Photoshopped Dr. King’s head onto a body of a Man wearing a gold watch, chain, and medallion while making what appears to be a “west side” hand gesture. After this poster gained notoriety, the party was eventually cancelled. Several people weighed in on the issue, including MLK’s daughter, Dr. Bernice King, who was appalled by the poster.


3. Sarah Palin’s tasteless political grandstanding starts with quoting Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech, and concludes with her telling President Obama “no more playing the race card.” Yikes.

You may not be as funny as you think

Humour is tough. Attempts at humour during otherwise serious situations may be interpreted as your brand’s attempt to make fun of, or devalue the purpose of, the event.

1. This misguided tweet from Nyquil reads like a joke that didn’t quite hit the mark.

2 & 3. Two other notable attempts at humour came from the Chive, and a pornographic website. In both instances they used humour in a way that some would consider distasteful, but considering that the source of these jokes were the Chive and a pornographic website, they pretty much lived up to expectations. Instead of posting these attempts at humour on, I’ll let you google those two tweets yourself.

Don’t make a big stretch to connect your brand with the event

This is obvious self-promotion. It looks insensitive, self-interested, and opportunistic. If you are going to run an MLK Day promotion, make sure it makes sense within the context of the observance. Be aware of the nuanced difference between an event designed to celebrate as opposed to one dedicated to recognize something. What the heck do potato stamps, cereal,  apples, diapers, or a day at the salon getting pampered have to do with the civil rights movement?


This Pampers Facebook promotion is particularly cringe-worthy because (as a current diaper customer) I can tell you that 10 rewards points is what you get for buying about $5 worth of baby bum wipes. They almost couldn’t have offered less.

For any organization thinking about joining the #MLKday trending topic this weekend, I encourage you to focus on respect, not referrals; honour, not sales; legacy, not leads; person to person, not business to business; and to make sure your content reflects the nature and tone of the observance. Without question, Dr. King serves as a hero to millions of people around the globe, and is absolutely a hero of mine.

September 29, 2014

The Science of Marketing – 6 Key Takeaways [Book Review]


August is the only month on my calendar where I get a bit of time to catch up on my personal reading list. This year, I spent much of that month reading book after book about social media, marketing, communications and leadership. One book that had immediate actionable content for social media community managers, was The Science of Marketing (2013) by Dan Zarrella. Working for HubSpot since 2009, Zarrella has access to the tens of thousands of data-sets he uses to identify trends and make process and content recommendations on how to improve your organization’s social media presence. Once you get past Zarrella’s description of himself as a “Social Media Scientist”, you’ll find some rather useful information that can help you benchmark and experiment with the social media communities you manage.

This is a tactical book, not a strategy book. If you are looking for ways to tweak your Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, email marketing, blog, and lead generation efforts, this book is well worth the 200-page read. A few key takeaways:

  1. Content is still your biggest ally, and the most important piece of the social media puzzle. Zarrella’s response to the question “how much should I be blogging/posting” is “more than you are now”. He even suggests that, to increase engagement and shares, the optimal amount of blog posts is three per DAY.
  2. Blog posts published on Saturday and Sunday get more comments than posts published during the week. Zarrella considers two reasons for this. First, weekends allow users more time to actually read a blog post. Second, fewer companies publish content on the weekend, which means less competition for attention. In fact, Zarrella suggests that we should seek to publish our content when others are not. He calls this “contra-competitive timing”.
  3. Sentiment is important. Posts that are positive get the most comments, shares, and likes. The second most effective are negative posts, which leaves neutrality as the last place finisher. In other words, neutral is boring. If you are going to post something, make sure it contains your tone and think positive first.
  4. Calls to action work. The primary example used in this book is the correlation between retweets and asking for retweets. Zarrella found that simply asking people to retweet your content delivers four times more retweets than tweets that don’t make that request. I wouldn’t use this tactic for every piece of content I tweet, but it’s good information to know if you are responsible for managing an emergency/crisis situation where you need information to spread very quickly.
  5. If you want to catch your audience’s attention on Facebook, photos are by far the best option. Zarrella’s research indicates that photos are the most sharable form of content on Facebook, blowing text, video, right out of the water.
  6. He even gets down to a very granular level of detail by looking at where within a tweet is the best place to include a link in order to maximize clicks. The answer: right in the middle. He even provides lists of the most, and least, sharable/retweetable keywords.

All of these ideas, and about 100 more, are laid out in simple language and charts in this book. The author is quick to mention that his findings are in no way the set-in-stone way to do things that will guarantee success on social media. They are merely data-backed observations that can help marcom professionals tweak and tailor their social media program. In essence, what Zarrella has presented in this book is a look at trends in social media engagement. It’s now up to us as social media managers to use this information to benchmark and experiment and see what works in our communities.

You can find this title on Amazon for about $20, well worth the investment.

December 12, 2013

Infographic: Consumers are 64% more likely to purchase a product after watching an online video

YouTubeFormulaWe all know that content is king on the Internet; and when it comes to types of content, it looks like video is at the top of the food chain. Video is everywhere online, from feature-length films, to sales pitches, to amateur videos of people at the zoo. Year over year, YouTube comes out with statistics showing staggering growth in videos uploaded and viewed.

The good folks at MultiVisionDigital published the infographic below to put into perspective how the omnipresent video is affecting consumer decision-making and behaviour. If you are trying to sell products or services, you may want to add video to your online strategy (if it isn’t there already) as consumers are 64% more likely to purchase a product after watching an online video.

The most unexpected finding was that video has a lifespan of 4 years. That’s an eternity. Considering that the average lifespan of a Facebook post is 3 hours and 7 minutes, a four-year shelf-life for a video is astounding. To put it in perspective, exactly 4 years ago, on the date this post was published, Taylor Lautner was hosting Saturday Night Live making jokes about Kanye’s stage crash of Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs…but you know what, I still like that Kanye video so the 4 year lifespan checks out.

The infographic also shows that video is not just used for traditional B2C decision-making, but executives are using videos to inform their B2B purchasing choices.

  • The average user spends 88% more time on a website with video
  • 60% of consumers will spend at least 2 minutes watching a video that educates them about a product they plan on purchasing.
  • 96% of IT decision makers and tech buyers watch videos for business
  • 75% of executives watch work-related videos on business websites once a week


What do you think? Do online videos impact your decision-making? When was the last time you made a medium-sized or large purchase without checking out YouTube to see the product in action? Leave a comment and let me know.


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