Category Archives: Marketing Strategies

Do We Trust Anything Anymore? Surprising New Data From SXSW

Events kicked off today for SXSW — a multi-day series of festivals and conferences in Austin, TX — with a jam-packed, star-studded lineup of interviews and panels on the convergence of interactive, film, and music.

Among those sessions was the “SXSW Report on Trust: Gov’t, Tech & Media”: a discussion with journalist Dan Rather on the annual Trust Barometer, which is a flash poll of SXSW attendees conducted with the help of communications firm Edelman to measure trust in future technologies, media, government, and business.

Rather was joined by a panel that included WP Engine’s Heather Brunner and Edelman Digital’s Jess Clifton, to discuss the results of the poll. The conversation was moderated by Edelman CEO Richard Edelman.

Here are the findings that stood out.

Live From SXSW, Day One: Do We Trust Anything Anymore?

The Majority of SXSW Attendees Trust the Media

What the Survey Results Say

The Trust Barometer indicates 61% of SXSW attendees trust the media (compare that to the global average of 43%), with a scant 14% believing that media is “broken beyond repair.”

However, the panel was sure to make a distinction between the media as a collection of reporters, publications, and news applications — and social media platforms.

“Social media and search [are] not media,” said Clifton, during the panel discussion. “Social platforms are not media publishers. It’s a community that’s publishing content, and we have to delineate.”

Apparently, the audience polled was able to make that distinction, with 98% responding that “media” meant journalists.

That could explain why 84% are more trusting of traditional media outlets, while a significantly smaller percentage is trusting of search engines (44%) and social media (20%).

That low faith in social media could be tied to the ongoing allegations of it being weaponized to spread misinformation by outside agents. Nine out of 10 members of that same polled audience seemed to have significant concerns in this area, saying they’re worried about false information or fake news being published with negative intent.

That aligns with new research from MIT which shows false news is 70% more likely to be re-tweeted than accurate information. While at first glance a high rate of trust in the media may come as surprise, the distinction between traditional sources of news (and those who report it) and the platforms used to share it is crucial.

Trust in Business, Government, and Future Technology Is Down

What the Survey Results Say

While the Trust Barometer surprisingly indicated that trust in the media is up, the audience also reported a declined level of faith in business (31% — 21 percentage points lower than the global average). Government is even lower, with 26% of respondents saying they trust it, which is 17 percentage points lower than the global average.

There wasn’t a great deal of context around these results discussed, though many of them echo the overall sentiment discussed around the trust in media and concerns about social platforms and search engines. The latter two are often managed by publicly-traded businesses, falling under the category that 31% of respondents say they trust. 

What was even more surprising, considering the interactive nature and enthusiasm at SXSW, was the fairly low percentage of the audience polled trusts future technology. The lowest was blockchain technology, which garnered only 27% of attendee trust.

That was followed by autonomous vehicles at 33%, with the same percentage reporting trust in virtual reality (VR) platforms.

While blockchain and self-driving technology do raise concerns about security and safety (a Reuters/Ipsos poll from January indicated two-thirds of Americans are less-than-thrilled about the idea of riding in an autonomous vehicle), the wariness of VR is not quite as easy to explain.

It could come down to the idea many don’t see the practical relevance or applicability of VR. That might also explain why it has yet to become truly mainstream (we’ll be covering a SXSW session on that very topic next week), and why some marketers question its usefulness in campaigns and communications. 

Self-driving technology and blockchain were designed to solve problems — like traffic management and driver safety — as well as the security of transaction-related information. VR, it seems, originated largely in entertainment, but hasn’t reached a price point that makes it accessible to all interested consumers.

Where We Go From Here

While most content creators are not frequently considered traditional journalists or members of the press, the panel emphasized that brands, and those responsible for their messaging, play a crucial role in this widespread distrust of the social platforms often used for marketing purposes.

Consider the changes to Facebook’s algorithm made earlier this year, for example, to surface less content from brands in the News Feed and more from individual users’ friends and family. Since those changes took effect, people are actually spending less time on Facebook — an aggregate drop in usership by about 50 million hours each day.

One must wonder if that’s due to the phenomenon that Edelman called “self-sourcing,” in which many consumers only engage with the news and information that aligns with what they already believe — a sentiment echoed by Henry Franco, HubSpot’s brand marketing associate, when YouTube began labeling state-funded content.

“It all boils down to psychology,” he said at the time. “People tend to believe what aligns with their existing values.”

And that, said Edelman, can make some content creators “more inclined to be in the thought bubble.” So, what is a brand to do to address this issue?

“The intersection of humanity and expertise is what people are looking for,” said Brunner.

“A guide for that,” she added, is asking, “What’s right for your employees? What’s right for your customers?”

That begins, she explained, by building advocacy from within and building trust among your own team and employees. That trust is mirrored in the content the brand and employee advocates broadcast externally.

“If [employees] trust the business, they’re going to be more bought-in,” Brunner said, “and bring that level of authenticity to your customers.”

Rather weighed in here, agreeing brand consistency across all facets of communication is key.

“You can’t be one thing with your employees,” he said, “and another one with your clients and customers.”

I’ll be here throughout SXSW to cover the latest events, announcements, and insights. Feel free to weigh in on Twitter with questions, or let me know which news topics interest you the most. 

If You Think Twitter Is Unhealthy, You Can Now Apply to Study It

In a series of tweets sent out yesterday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that the social network would be enlisting the help of outside experts to measure its health.

Acknowledging that the network has become more divisive — abused and leveraged for judgment rather than conversation — Dorsey also spoke to Twitter’s own mishandling of how it has been weaponized. He considered its use for harassment, or for bot accounts created for the sole purpose of tweeting our controversial content.

Twitter needs help, admitted Dorsey — who is now inviting experts to apply for funding to study its health metrics and potential solutions to these issues.

The request for proposals (RFP) comes after more than a year of heightened scrutiny over Twitter — as well as its other social media and online counterparts like Facebook and Google — for the alleged weaponization of the platform and its influence on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Since then, the social network has continued to not only face backlash, but also address and remedy the issue of harassment, spam, bot presence, and the spread of misinformation and divisive content in a way that many users find less than satisfactory — which HubSpot’s own research has also found.

HubSpot’s research has also found that, in recent months, some social networks have made users feel worse as a result of spending time on them. And while results indicate that Facebook overwhelmingly instills the most negative sentiment, Twitter is directly behind it.

Facebook makes users feel the worst of any social network emotionally after using it

Twitter is the first social network to actively request the public’s help in identifying solutions to these ongoing issues.

And while Facebook has tested some methods of user feedback, like the ability to flag or downvote abusive content, no other networks have gone quite so far as to call for formal proposals.

The announcement coincided with the release of research from not-for-profit organization Cortico on the strongest indicators of healthy use and dialogue on social media:

  1. Shared Attention — an indication that the conversational topics taking place on social media overlap.
  2. Shared Reality — an indication that these conversations are grounded in the same facts (not to be confused with the same opinions).
  3. Variety — an indication that while these opinions may contrast from each other, they are still grounded in the aforementioned shared reality.
  4. Receptivity — an indication that we are “open, civil, and listening to different opinions”.

The deadline to submit a proposal is April 13, 2018, which applicants can do here. Those selected to participate in the study will work alongside Twitter employees on the research, with access to public data and “meaningful funding” for the organization completing the work.

As always, we’ll be monitoring the process as it unfolds.

I Tried Five Morning Routines So You Don't Have To. Here's What Works.

I’m not a morning person.

My morning consists of waking up as late as possible and feeling personally victimized by my alarm clock. And no matter how many times I wake up to my alarm, my first thought is always, “Why are you doing this to me?!”

It has caused a love-hate relationship between my phone and myself. 

Disgruntled, I then scroll through my Instagram feed. Oh, did I say, “As late as possible”? I should mention I give myself ten minutes to get out of bed.

Here are (a few) things I do NOT do in the morning:

  • Work out
  • Make a to-do list
  • Meditate
  • Visit my personal trainer
  • Hang out in my home gym
  • Address critical emails
  • Read all the tech industry headlines
  • Call family members
  • Say goodbye to my kids

Maybe that’s why I am not a widely famous life coach, rich entrepreneur, CEO or founder of any major corporations, creator of any mega-popular social media channels, or author of any best-sellers. 

And that’s also why, for five days, I decided to try the morning routines of five highly successful people: Elon Musk, Gary Vaynerchuk, Sheryl Sandberg, Jack Dorsey, and Tony Robbins.

At the end of it, did I actually become more productive? You’ll just have to read to find out. 

1. Elon Musk

The famous figure behind Tesla and SpaceX gets six hours of sleep, typically waking up at 7:00 a.m. From there, his routine looks roughly like this:

  • Addresses critical emails for 30 minutes
  • Drinks coffee — but is too busy for breakfast
  • Sends kids off to school
  • Showers and goes to work

To prepare for my Elon Musk morning, I stayed awake until midnight to ensure accuracy. He doesn’t get more than 6 hours of sleep, so neither could I. 

 

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on Apr 24, 2017 at 11:49pm PDT

That meant my “address critical emails” time was partially cut short — in my half-asleep state, I flung my cell phone behind my bed and needed to take some time to move the bed to retrieve it. How Musk runs two multi-billion dollar companies on six hours of sleep is beyond me.

I soon realized I had another problem with the address critical email activity. As you might imagine, being a marketing blogger doesn’t require quite as many critical back-and-forth emails as being founder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. So, I refreshed my email and replied to the six emails in my inbox, which took about seven minutes — leaving me with 23 minutes to spare.

I’ll admit that I didn’t love starting my morning with emails. I wasn’t fully awake, so I can only hope my responses resembled something coherent. Plus, by the time I got to work, I had to re-read the emails because I forgot what they said.

But I understand why Musk does it. Emailing can put you in a task-oriented mindset: “Okay, here are the things I need to tackle first when I get to the office.”

Showering is also something I also do every morning — and likely the only thing Musk and I have in common — and I don’t have any kids to say goodbye to. And while I respect that he only drinks coffee in the mornings (with only six hours of sleep, I needed it, too), by the time I got to work at 8:45, I was starving.

So, although Musk skips breakfast, I allowed myself a banana. After all that hard work responding to critical emails — not to mention, moving my bed frame — I figured I deserved it.

2. Gary Vaynerchuk

This entrepreneur, author, and speaker wakes up at 6 a.m., followed by these tasks:

  • Reads Techmeme headlines, Business Insider, and ESPN, among others
  • Checks out Twitter and Instagram
  • Works out with his personal trainer, “Muscle Mike,” for 45 minutes to an hour
  • Calls a family member

How Vaynerchuk — better known to some as “Gary Vee” — devours this much information and actually retains it at 6 a.m. is nothing short of miraculous.

 

A post shared by Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk (@garyvee) on Jan 22, 2018 at 9:44am PST

But I made a list of these links in my Notes app the night before, and at 6:01, I opened Techmeme and read the headlines. I then made my way through Business Insider, ESPN — which I barely skimmed, since I don’t understand sports at any time of day — Twitter, and Instagram.

It felt like a ton of information to devour before getting out of bed.

While reading these articles in their entirety wasn’t entirely feasible due to time restrictions, checking out “what’s going on” in one’s industry in the morning seems a good idea. The article headlines inspired me to jot down some new ideas before I even reached the office.

For the next time, however, I don’t have a personal trainer — but I do have Shaun from the T25 “high-intensity” workout DVDs. I figured that was close enough. And I’ll admit: It felt really good to get the workout over with. I was energized and refreshed by 7 a.m. and didn’t have to worry about fitting in a workout after work.

That said, it’s also really hard to do a high-intensity workout without any breakfast. So buyer beware: You might feel like passing out.

After that, Gary calls a family member on his way to work. I called my brother and spoke to him for exactly 47 seconds, mostly about why I was calling him that early and thought it was okay to wake him up.

3. Jack Dorsey

The founder/CEO of both Twitter and Square wakes up at 5:30 a.m., followed by meditation and a six-mile run.

After checking emails during my Elon Musk morning and devouring news outlets during my Gary Vee experience, I was enthusiastic to meditate during Jack Dorsey’s morning. Granted, I was less thrilled to run six miles — but we’ll get to that later.

I’m a meditation rookie, so I downloaded a meditation app called Simple Habit. I didn’t think I could do real meditation if I tried to do it on my own — in fact, I’d probably just fall asleep.

The Simple Habit app starts you off slowly. My first lesson was only seven minutes long, mainly focused on my breathing. Admittedly, at 5:30 a.m., staying awake was the biggest obstacle — which I actually managed to accomplish

Surprisingly, I enjoyed meditating that early. It was easier for me to focus first thing, before my thoughts had the chance to ramp up. Plus, the research behind meditation has indicated numerous benefits to the well-being of employees — things like creativity, focus, decision-making, stress-reduction, and more. 

Of course, then I had to get up off my meditation floor and run. Keep in mind that I’ve taken about five months off of running outdoors, because Boston winters are, in a word, brutal. But Dorsey lives in San Francisco, so I believed it would be unrealistic to re-enact this part of his morning. Oh, shucks.

But then, I did some research and found that Dorsey’s average morning weather in San Francisco is about 39 degrees — which, on this particular morning, was actually colder than Boston’s. So, I got out the running gear. It wasn’t easy, and about three miles in, I took a full-mile walking break upon the impression that my frozen lungs had collapsed.

But I did it. It took me about an hour — so I’m not sure I can make it a standard part of my morning routine.

Six miles seems like a lot, but I see the appeal. Meditation and running can encourage you to start your day in a healthy mindset. Meditation reminded me to stay present and focused throughout the day, and running got my endorphins and energy going. And, once again, I got my workout out of the way — which meant I could spend my evening relaxing.

4. Sheryl Sandberg

The author and Facebook COO wakes up early, in order to get to the office by 7 a.m. And before then, she manages to:

  • Spend an hour responding to emails
  • Work out in home gym
  • Drop her kids off at school

Once again, I ran into the same predicament I had with Musk’s morning. I have about four emails first thing in the morning, and Sandberg has an hour’s worth.

So I took my time responding to those four emails, then scrolled Facebook for a bit, and — in a nod to my Gary-Vaynerchuk-day — read some headlines, and checked Instagram and Twitter.

I missed my Dorsey-meditation-morning.

 

A post shared by Sheryl Sandberg (@sherylsandberg) on Nov 29, 2017 at 2:14pm PST

Unfornately, I don’t own a home gym — but I do own a yoga mat, the aforementioned T25 DVDs, and my very own state-of-the-art staircase. My home-gym exercise consisted of me completing one of those DVD workouts, followed by 10 laps up and down my stairs, topped off with a dash of yoga. And when I think about it, Sandberg’s home workout might not be so different.

Silicon Valley executives: They’re just like us.

I don’t have any kids to drop off at school, but after the investment in creating my make-shift home gym, that might be a good thing  — I wouldn’t have had time.

5. Tony Robbins

This motivational speaker gets three-to-five hours of sleep, waking up between 7 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. After that, he:

  • Performs a breathing exercise
  • Expresses gratitude
  • Experiences connection
  • Visualizes success

I left this morning routine for Friday because it sounded — well, the easiest, if you will. But admittedly, I didn’t follow the three-to-five hours of sleep part. If I had, I wouldn’t be writing this post right now, and would probably be sleeping in HubSpot’s nap room instead.

Robbins curated his own personalized morning routine, which he calls “priming,” which is supposed to bring you into a positive and energetic mindset at the beginning of each day.

First, there’s a breathing exercise, more accurately known as Kapalbhati Pranayama. Robbins sits up straight, closes his eyes, and inhales through his nose as he simultaneously lifts his arms — think of the way you’d do that during a shoulder press.

Then, as he exhales through his nose, he brings his arms back to his body, palms up. He does three sets of thirty, with short breaks in-between.

Truth time: I felt ridiculous doing this on my bedroom floor first thing in the morning.

 

A post shared by Tony Robbins (@tonyrobbins) on Apr 28, 2017 at 3:08pm PDT

The breathing was nice, but without my meditation guru — a.k.a., my Simple Habit app — my mind kept wandering. What should I eat for breakfast? How many reps is this? What time is it?

Next, Robbins spends three minutes thinking about what he’s grateful for — roughly three items per minute). Three minutes doesn’t sound like a long time, but when you only have three objects per minute, it kind of is.

My first minute went something like this: Okay, I’m grateful for my family … and, my health … and, hmm, I am grateful for clean drinking water.

I processed these thoughts for what seemed like an adequate amount of time, only to open my eyes and realized it had only been 20 seconds.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve thought of things to be grateful for, but it was the first time I’ve tried visualizing the list. And even though some items are tricky to visualize, it did make the exercise more genuine. At first, for example, I imagined the word “family”. But when I realized I needed to spend more time on it, I started visualizing specific relatives, and what it is about each one that I’m truly grateful for.

After finishing his gratitude exercise, Robbins moves onto an “experiencing connection” activity, in which he imagines a light flowing through his head, energizing him, and then imagines the light flowing back up through his head and outward to his loved ones and strangers.

This step is supposed to last three whole minutes. My light entered and exited my body in about 20 seconds, so I had to close my eyes and do it again. And while I appreciated the gesture, I’m not sure if this particular exercise is going to become a enduring part of my morning routine.

For the last three minutes, Robbins spends each minute on one goal and imagines how it will feel to accomplish that goal. And for me, that one was easy.

Visualizing success is similar to prioritizing your day, which I noticed seems to be a theme throughout the morning routines of many famous, successful figures. After visualizing three big goals, I was able to organize my day better, by choosing tasks that immediately supported that goal.

In a way, it actually made my day less busy. I visualized high-level goals, then narrowed down my to-do list to ensure these goals were met first.

Long-Term Takeaways

What I’ll Do Next

At the end of my five-day morning routine experiment, I considered going back to my ordinary routine. But there were some morning activities I actually enjoyed — and therefore, some that I’m going to adopt.

First, I agree that working out, even a little bit, is a great way to start the day. But I also enjoy attending late-evening workout classes, so I’ve created a moderation schedule. On Monday and Friday mornings, I now do a T25 DVD or go for a run, inside on a treadmill, weather permitting. On the remaining weekdays, I plan lunchtime or after-work workouts, because let’s be real — I have more time to do Barre classes than Gary Vee does.

I’ve fully adopted tiny increments of morning meditation. And although I haven’t gone full enlightenment, I found it’s easy to switch out my morning Spotify playlist for a seven-minute breathing exercise, which I can do on the train — so I have no excuses.

I don’t like waking up and starting my day with emails or industry headlines, mostly because — as previously stated — I’m only half-conscious in the morning. I do think it’s a good idea to tackle these things early, but since I’m not Sheryl Sandberg, it can usually wait until I’m in the office.

And finally, I’m not going to continue visualizing any lights going through my head and into my soul — sorry, Tony. But instead of a full ten minutes of Instagram in the morning, I’ve switched to seven minutes on Instagram and three minutes dedicated to gratitude.

I’ve done that primarily for two reasons. Not only do I have more time to visualize things I’m grateful for in my own life, but it also leaves less time to feel envious of other people’s “Insta-perfect” lives.

What Else I Learned

And while they didn’t get their own full sections in this article, I came across two other interesting takeaways in the course of my research. First, I learned that Mark Zuckerberg once said he dresses the same way each day, as it gives him “one less decision to make.”

I’m no Mark Zuckerberg, but I will admit that he has, at the very least, proven himself successful. No matter what he wears — or what else people might say about him — he can come into work and no one is going to think, “Wow, what a lazy slacker.”

But on the first day I planned on wearing my Mark-inspired uniform — a grey t-shirt and jeans — I looked into the mirror and realized I looked like someone who had either overslept, or didn’t really care about my appearance. And I’m not the founder of any companies. So I changed, because this early in my career, appearance is still an indicator of effort.

But I like the premise behind Zuckerberg’s routine. Why am I wasting fifteen minutes deciding what to wear each morning? While I don’t want to wear the same thing every day, I can choose my outfits the night before. 

The second thing I discovered is there are both good and bad times to drink coffee in the morning.

As it turns out, your body’s cortisol generally peaks between 8 and 9 a.m., which is when your body is naturally “caffeinating” itself. If you drink coffee during that window, you’re probably not getting the full effects of your cortisol — or your coffee. Plus, your body builds up a higher tolerance to coffee during this time, because it’s thinking, “We don’t need any more of this.”

Now, I try not to drink coffee until 9:30 a.m., when my cortisol levels are dipping. So far, so good.

Give It a Try

And with that, it’s your turn. Try these morning routines for yourself, and see how successful you can become.

If you need a “cheat sheet” to get started, here are seven commonalities of successful people’s morning routines:

  1. Wake up early.
  2. Decide and review what to do for the day, and set goals.
  3. Work out.
  4. Have a healthy breakfast, or at least a smoothie. Whatever you do, don’t start with coffee.
  5. Maintain a journal or visualize how you’re grateful.
  6. Meditate.
  7. Tackle the day — early on — with emails and/or industry headlines.

Why Every Public Speaker Should be Using Messenger Bots

A few weeks ago, I gave a talk at the Multifamily Social Media Summit in Napa, CA. It was my second consecutive year attending the event, and I wanted to give the audience something fresh  —  my talk was going to be about Facebook Messenger.

A few days before the talk, a member of the HubSpot Academy team asked me if I would be using Messenger to educate the audience on Messenger (very meta — I know). I surprisingly hadn’t thought much about it, but since our Academy team is full of smart people who know a thing or two about teaching, I decided they were probably onto something.

So, on the six hour plane ride from Boston to San Francisco, I built a Messenger bot to use during my presentation

Setting Goals: Why Do I Need a Bot During My Presentation?

I started by setting a few goals to ensure my bot would truly serve the objectives of my presentation. Here’s the list of things I decided my bot needed to accomplish:

  • Teach the audience about Messenger: The core purpose of my presentation was to educate the audience about Messenger. If my bot wasn’t going to help reach this goal, then there was no reason it create it.
  • Engage the audience during the presentation: The bot couldn’t make the presentation more complicated or challenging to follow. It had to contribute to a better audience experience overall.
  • Collect NPS after the event: The bot needed to enable audience members to share feedback on the presentation in a fast, friendly, and ultimately simple way.
  • Share slides with attendees after the event: Tracking down a speaker to get their slides after a presentation sucks. The bot had to make this experience easier for everyone involved.
  • Drive traffic to my personal pages to connect with the audience after the event: The bot had to encourage users to continue the conversation with me.

Once I had the goals and function of the bot firmly established,  it was time to build.

Creating and Unleashing the Bot

The first thing I did was build a temporary Facebook page to connect Messenger for the event.

Then, I developed a custom QR code with the event logo for audience members to enter the bot experience.

null

This is no longer active, FYI.

This QR code was tied to a sequence designed specifically to accomplish my goals for the event.

The first message in the sequence welcomed users into the bot and allowed me to understand the audience’s familiarity with the subject before my presentation.

This gave me a good idea of how I’d need to adapt my presentation to meet my audience’s expertise level and expectations.

null

About 20 minutes into my talk, I sent another quick message asking for audience questions. Instead of waiting for a prompt at the end of the session when time was running short, the bot enabled audience members to ask questions without needing the floor. It also helped me plan the rest of my talk accordingly.

Once the talk ended, it was time for NPS. I set the bot up to send this 20 minutes after my scheduled talk.  The results were great:

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Two days after the event ended, I sent the slides to everyone who opted in to my Messenger bot.

And finally, for some icing on the cake, I set up a persistent menu that would allow the audience to connect with me on Twitter and Medium. Oh, I also linked them to get a free HubSpot CRM, too.

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Did People Actually Use the Bot?

The results of this mini experiment were great. Here are some quick hits:

  • 70 people opted in to the bot, ~50% of the audience members in attendance
  • 51% of people responded to the NPS
  • 100% of NPS respondents were promoters (woo!)
  • Messages sent during the event had open rates of 
    98.5%, 96.9%, 93.8%, and 93.9% (not too shabby)
  • 85% of attendees opened the broadcast message 2 days after the event which included slides from the event
  • 25 people clicked to follow me on Twitter, 11 on Medium, and 5 clicked to get their free HubSpot CRM

As you can see, the numbers really speak for themselves.

By using Messenger before, during, and after my talk , I was able to effectively engage the audience and create a lasting, personal connection. Additionally, due to the topic itself being Messenger, I was able to educate the audience on the channel’s capabilities with tangible examples.

If you’re a public speaker, I honestly cannot imagine a reason not to be using Messenger before, during, and after your talks — even if you aren’t discussing Messenger.

The potential of the channel is unmatched. And, if you’re a speaker talking about Messenger, you can’t afford to miss this opportunity!

battle-bots

Build a Better B2B Website in 3 Steps

Today’s B2B buyers rely on digital channels through every stage of their journeys — even long after in-person sales interactions with reps.

As a result, commercial organizations’ efforts to identify, nurture, and pursue opportunities “serially” — first through digital engagement via marketing, followed by a hand-off to sales for in-person interaction — is failing to support the way customers actually buy.

Instead, the best companies must evolve a “parallel” commercial engine, where digital and in-person strategies complement each other at every stage of the buyer’s multi-channel journey.

In other words: We have all worked hard to create for our organization a “seamless view of the customer.” Now, it’s time to build a seamless view of our organizations for customers.

To get there, most suppliers will have to re-think — and ultimately, re-design — their websites, as customers aren’t just buying digitally. They’re relying heavily on suppliers’ websites to do so.

In fact, we found suppliers’ websites to be the most frequently-consulted digital channel for customers at every stage of the purchase process.

And yet, the vast majority of B2B websites aren’t designed to support that kind of buying behavior. Instead, they’re primarily designed to “broadcast.”

Specifically, we’re all seeking to tell the world three things: (1) who we are, (2) what we do, and (3) how we help.

To help buyers buy, however, B2B websites will have to meet three critical — and very different — design principles moving forward.

1. Give customers an entry point on their terms.

After reviewing hundreds of B2B websites across every major industry, we found only a handful that purposefully invite customers into a conversation. To do that, suppliers need to stop talking so much about themselves.

Rather, they should provide customers with an opportunity to share something about who they are, and what they’re looking to do — on their terms.

Really, it’s no different than common courtesy at a cocktail party. No one wants to be stuck talking to the person droning on about who they are and what they do. Yet that’s precisely what the vast majority of B2B websites do.

Not only is that kind of self-centered approach disengaging, but it also leaves the buyer wondering, “Do they even know who I am? Or what I actually do?” Or worse, “Do they even care?” It’s impersonal at best, and off-putting at worst — fostering questions rather than connections, and distance rather than assistance.

That said, we found a handful of websites that do, in fact, actively invite customers to engage on their terms. Square, for example, asks customers to identify their business sizes and types as a first step to entering the site. It’s the first — and nearly only — thing a visitor encounters upon landing on the home page. That information allows Square to offer customers what feels like a much more customized web experience.

Another example is vAuto.com. A division of Cox Automotive, vAuto sells enterprise software to auto dealers around world. Among those dealers are both used and new car sellers, along with wholesalers — some franchise-based, and some independent.

Those distinctions matter — not only for finding the appropriate vAuto solution, but they help to identify how that customer thinks about themselves.

vAuto has designed the front page of its website to allow buyers to self-identify along the dimensions most important to them, prior to going any deeper. The customer’s first choice upon landing at vauto.com is declaring, “I’m New Car,” “I’m Used Car,” or “I’m Wholesale.”

Notice that even the pronouns are specifically chosen to position the website as a learning and buying tool for customers, rather than a broadcasting tool for the supplier.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. How do our customers define themselves?
  2. In their minds, which aspects of their identity most affect the way they look at suppliers like us?

2. Signal your solutions in customers’ language.

Just as the best websites invite customers into a conversation, they also guide buyers to supplier solutions using the language of customer outcomes — rather than supplier capabilities.

The best companies take the time to understand the specific business objectives customers are seeking to achieve, then organize their sites using language immediately recognizable to customers along those particular outcomes. That way, customers don’t have to translate.

Here’s another place where vAuto excels. The company employs actual customer-articulated business problems as the organizing framework for diving deeper into their broad solution set. It organizaes this information around headings like, “No one’s buying my inventory,” and, “The internet is killing my profits.”

At every step, the goal is to make online learning and buying as easy and as resonant as possible — all through an easy-to-follow path of breadcrumbs leading directly to vAuto’s unique solutions.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What help are customers seeking from a supplier in your category?
  2. What specific language would best resonate with your customers to describe that help?

3. Help customers do what they are on your site to do.

Finally, the best websites identify and then facilitate the specific tasks that customers come to your website to complete.

Take something like a cost calculator embedded directly into a website. A tool like that enables customers to independently calculate the costs of (in)action, rather than relying on sales reps to make the case for change. It’s a simple, practical idea, but it’s deployed with single-minded purpose: to allow the buyer to easily progress along the journey, while remaining in her preferred channel of choice.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What specific buying tasks are your customers coming to your website to complete?
  2. How easy is it to find support for those tasks on your site right now?

There’s a great deal to be learned from the handful of world-class websites we found as part of our work. For a more detailed discussion, check out this video, where you’ll also find examples and a practical worksheet to plan next steps. 

download 50 examples of brilliant homepage design

 
download 50 examples of brilliant homepage designs

20 SEO Myths to Leave Behind in 2018 [Free Ebook]

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an evolving science. While some of the core principles may stick around forever, the more nuanced parts of it are subject to continuous change. As a result, many of the “proven” tactics people have used in the past — keyword stuffing, link schemes, and so on — are now the stuff of legend.

In our new guide, 20 SEO Myths to Leave Behind in 2018, we revisit some of the SEO trends that should continue to guide your strategy through 2018, while also highlighting how the practice has changed over the course of 2017.

Here are two myths to give you an idea of what to expect in the world of organic growth this year:

Myth: ‘Keyword optimization is THE key to SEO.’

Not anymore. Today, a new artificial intelligence (AI) system called RankBrain is helping Google understand the relationships between topics and search terms. What does this mean to you? It’s time to dial back the exact keyword matches — your content may be hitting the wrong audience.

Myth: ‘Local SEO doesn’t matter anymore.’

I’ll just leave this here:

“If you are a local business, having a website isn’t enough to rank well in Google’s local search listings,” says Kristopher Jones of the SEO agency LSEO.com. “If you want to rank well you need to unlock, verify, and optimize a Google+ Businsess Page.”

He’s right. Local SEO couldn’t be more important today, and growing companies are consistently crushing it under local search queries. In fact, national or global companies are advised to stay away from local search terms because they don’t stand a chance against local Google+ business pages.

Unless your organization benefits from a dedicated SEO marketing specialist who can work on this stuff day-in and day-out, keeping up with the latest changes in the world of SEO can be a struggle. But in the end, adjusting your strategy based on search ranking algorithm updates or changes in the way search results are displayed visually can be incredibly impactful on business results.

Check out the SEO Myths PDF to learn more about what changes you’ll need to make with your SEO strategy moving forward.

20 YouTube Tricks, Hacks, and Features You'll Want to Know About This Year

When people talk about today’s most popular social sharing websites, YouTube often gets left out of the conversation in favor of sites like Facebook and Twitter.

But don’t be fooled: YouTube has a lot going for it. Although Facebook might be the largest social networking site, YouTube has the second greatest reach after Facebook in terms of general usage. It’s also the second biggest search engine behind its parent company, Google.

And there are a ton of cool things you can do with YouTube that you might not know about, whether you use YouTube to watch videos, post them, or both. For example, did you know YouTube has its own virtual reality (VR) setting to view any video in 360 degrees? Or that you can create a YouTube time link that brings viewers to a specific moment in the video?

Mind-blowing stuff, people. To help you make the most out of the still very popular platform, we’ve put together a list of 20 of the lesser-known hacks, tips, and features YouTube has to offer.

20 YouTube Tricks, Hacks, and Features You’ll Want to Know About

1. You can turn any YouTube video into a GIF using the URL.

Everyone loves GIFs, but knowing how to make them isn’t common knowledge. Well, it should be, because all it takes is a little YouTube URL trick.

To create a GIF from a YouTube video: Select a video to watch on YouTube and find the URL at the top of your browser. Add the word “gif” right before the domain name so it reads, “www.gifyoutube.com/[your-video-tag].”

This will bring you to gifs.com, with your video already uploaded and ready for editing. Here, you’ll find a menu of options to the left-hand side with a timeline bar along the bottom of your video. You can set the GIF duration, crop its frame, add captions, and more.

YouTube trick to create a GIF from a video.

Click “Create GIF” on the top-right and it’ll prompt you for a GIF title and set of tags. Then click “Next,” and you have a handy landing page from which to share your newly minted GIF. Keep in mind you can only download this GIF to an offline file by signing up with gifs.com.

2. You can create a link that starts a YouTube video at a certain time.

Ever wanted to send someone a YouTube video, but point them to a specific moment? Let’s say you’re trying to recruit your friends to learn the dance in Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” music video with you.

Instead of sending your friends the general YouTube link and instructing them to fast-forward to the 0:50 minute mark, you can actually send them a specific YouTube time link that starts the video at whichever time you choose. Click here to see what I mean.

Alright, here’s how to do it:

To create a link that starts a YouTube video at a certain time: Open up the video and click “Share” to the far right of the video title. Then, in the window of options that appears, check the box next to “Start at:” and type in the time (in hours:minutes:seconds) you want. Alternatively, you can pause the video at the time you want it to start and that field will autofill.

YouTube time link of a Justin Bieber video.

After a few moments, you’ll see a tag add itself to the end of the generic YouTube link (in this case, ?t=50s). Simply copy that link and paste it wherever you’d like.

It’s worth noting that you can’t embed a video so it starts at a certain time; you can’t only link to it.

3. You can easily see the written transcripts of people’s videos.

Did you know YouTube automatically generates a written transcript for every single video uploaded to its website? That’s right — and anyone has access to that transcript unless the user manually hides it from viewers.

I can think of a number of different situations where video transcripts can come in handy. For example, maybe you want to write down a quote from a video, but the tedium of pausing-and-typing, pausing-and-typing would drive you up a wall. Or perhaps you need to find a specific section of a video, but don’t want to rewatch the whole thing to find it. With a transcript in hand, you can find information like this without doing it all by hand.

To see a video’s transcript: Open the video in YouTube and press the “More” tab underneath the video title. Choose “Transcript” from the drop-down menu.

YouTube's more tag to find the video transcript.

(If you aren’t seeing this option, it’s because the user chose to hide the transcript.)

This transcript will appear as a new module in the same window. In many cases, the user who uploaded the video will not have gone back and manually polished the transcript, so it won’t be perfect. But it’ll certainly save you some time and pain.

Example of a YouTube transcript.

4. You can help your video get found in search by editing or uploading a transcript.

Both YouTube and its parent company Google look at a number of factors when ranking videos in search to determine what your video is about, and your transcript is one of them. (An even bigger ranking factor is your video’s description, which is why Digital Marketing Consultant Ryan Stewart suggests that you actually paste your transcript right into the description box, too.)

To add a transcript to your video: Open the video on YouTube, and you’ll see a row of icons just below the play button. Click the icon on the far right for “Subtitles/CC.” (CC stands for “Closed Captions.)

YouTube closed captioning (CC).

Set your language if you haven’t already. Then, you’ll then be prompted to choose among three different ways to add subtitles or closed captions to your video …

  1. Upload a pre-written text transcript or a timed subtitles file. (Learn more about the file types you can upload and more here.)
  2. Paste in a full transcript of the video, wherein subtitle timings will be set automatically.
  3. Type them in as you watch the video.

The folks at YouTube have done some great things to make that third option (typing as you watch) as painless as possible. For example, if you check a box next to “Pause video while typing,” it’ll make the whole process a lot faster. Here’s a GIF showing that in action:

YouTube transcribe page.

Learn more about optimizing your YouTube videos for search in the below video.

4. You can use YouTube to easily get free transcriptions of your videos and audio files.

This is the last one about transcripts, I promise — but I’ll bet you never thought about them this way. As you know from #2, YouTube automatically adds a transcript to every video. But if you’re looking for a one-off transcription of an audio or video file and don’t want to pay for a service, YouTube’s built-in captioning system isn’t a bad place to start. You can always clean it up later.

To get an automated transcription for a video: Simply upload your video to YouTube, open it on YouTube’s website, press the “More” tab underneath the video title, and choose “Transcript” from the drop-down menu. The transcript will appear as a new module in the same window. If you want to clean it up, follow the steps outlined in #3 for a user-friendly experience.

To get an automated transcription for an audio file: You’ll need to upload your audio recording to YouTube using a service like TunesToTube. It’ll take anywhere between 2–30 minutes for YouTube to upload it. Then, follow the instructions for getting an automated transcription for a video, outlined above.

5. You can create, share, and collaborate on video playlists.

Just like on your other favorite media sharing sites like Spotify and iTunes, you can create a “playlist” on YouTube — which is really just a place to store and organize the videos (your own and others’). You can keep playlists private, make them public, or even share them directly with others.

Playlists are useful for many different types of users, from an individual collecting cooking videos for their upcoming dinner party to a brand that’s segmenting its YouTube video content by topic. For example, Tasty’s YouTube playlists break up recipes by meal type, making it easier for people to browse and find what they’re looking for:

Tasty playlists example.

To create a playlist on desktop: Go to your Playlists page by clicking here or clicking your account icon in the top right, choosing “Creator Studio,” clicking “Video Manager” on the left, and choosing “Playlists.” Then, click “New Playlist” on the top right and choose whether you’d like to keep it private or make it public.

YouTube create new playlist page.

To create a playlist on mobile: Click here for instructions explaining how to create new playlists using your iOS or Android mobile devices.

To add a video to a playlist: If you’re adding a video to a playlist while you’re watching it, click the “Add to” icon below the video title and check the box next to the playlist to which you’d like to add it.

Add to button for creating YouTube playlists.

If you want to add a video to a playlist right from your Playlists page, simply click “Add Video” and either paste in a video URL, choose a video from your uploads, or search for a video on YouTube. Once you find the video you want to add, select the “Add to” menu from that video and add it to the playlist.

Your friends can contribute to your playlists, too. All you have to do is turn on the ability to collaborate on playlists. Once you turn it on, anyone you share a playlist link with can add videos to that playlist. (They can also remove any videos they’ve added, too.)

To add friends to a playlist: Go to your Playlists page again and open the playlist you want to collaborate on. Click “Playlist Settings” and choose the “Collaborate” tag. Toggle on the setting that allows collaborators to add videos to the playlist, and from there, you can send them a link where they can add videos to the playlist.

YouTube collaborate playlist setting.

Once your friend’s been invited to a playlist, they’ll be able to add new videos to it and remove videos they’ve added in the past. They just have to follow some on-screen instructions first to confirm they want to be a contributor and to save the playlist to their own account.

When you add a video to a playlist you’re collaborating on, your name will appear next to the video in the playlist, and everyone who’s been invited to collaborate on that playlist will get a notification that a new video has been added.

(To learn more about how to manage contributors, stop accepting contributions to a playlist, and so on, read this YouTube Support page.)

6. You can save videos to watch later.

Ever seen YouTube videos you wished you could bookmark for later? Maybe you aren’t able to turn the sound on at the moment, or perhaps you just don’t have time to watch it. Well, YouTube took a page out of Facebook’s … book … by adding something very similar to Facebook’s “Save for Later” feature. On YouTube, you can save videos to a “Watch Later” playlist to access whenever you want.

The “Watch Later” playlist operates just like a normal playlist, so the instructions are identical to the previous step (except you can’t invite others to collaborate on your “Watch Later” playlist).

To add a video to your “Watch Later” playlist: Open the video on YouTube and click the “Add to” icon below the video title and check the box next to the playlist you’d like to add it to, just like you did in the previous step. The steps are very similar on mobile, but click here if you want the full instructions from YouTube’s Support page.

To access those videos: Simply go to your YouTube homepage and choose “Watch Later” from the menu on the upper left-hand side of your screen.

YouTube watch later option.

From there, you can watch the videos you were saving, as well as easily remove videos from that list that you’ve already watched.

7. You can create your own custom YouTube URL.

Want to give people an easy-to-remember web address to get to your YouTube channel? You can actually create a custom URL, which you can base on things like your display name, your YouTube username, any current vanity URLs that you have, or the name of your linked website. HubSpot’s, for example, is https://www.youtube.com/hubspot.

Important Note: Before you do this, make sure you’re positive this is the custom URL you want — because once it’s approved, you can’t request to change it, nor can you transfer it to someone else. Keep in mind that it’ll be linked to both your YouTube channel and your Google+ identity, too.

Unfortunately, not everyone’s eligible for a custom URL. To get one, you have to have 100 or more subscribers, be at least 30 days old, have an uploaded photo as your channel icon, and have uploaded channel art. If that sounds like you, keep reading.

To claim your custom URL: Open up your YouTube account settings and click “Advanced” in your name section.

overview_youtube_screenshot.png

If you’re eligible for a custom URL, you’ll be prompted to claim yours by clicking a link.

advanced_youtube_settings.png

Select the box next to “I agree to the Terms of Service.” Then, once you’re absolutely sure it’s the URL you want (since you can’t ever change it), click “Change URL” to make it final.

8. You can add an end screen or cards to promote content.

In 2008, YouTube began allowing clickable links YouTube called “annotations” that you could insert into your videos. These annotations worked kind of like call-to-action buttons for directing people to subscribe to your channel, see merchandise or a fundraising campaign, visit another resource to learn more, and so on.

In order to make them more natural parts of the viewing experience, YouTube has replaced annotations with end screens, where you can display more visually pleasing call-to-action cards in the last 30 seconds of your content.

How to Add an End Screen

Do your favorite YouTube creators have a fancy closing screen that encourages you to keep watching their videos? For example, here’s one from Saturday Night Live:

SNL_youtube_end screen.png

You can create a customized end screen, too. They help keep viewers on your channel by suggesting other videos and sites they can check out. Here’s how to do it:

Navigate to your Video Manager, tap “Edit,” and select “End screen & Annotations” from the drop-down menu:

YouTube end screen call to action.

From there, you’re taken to the End screen creator studio, where you can play around with different templates and background to determine how you want your end screen to appear. Then, click the “Add element” menu to decide where you want to send viewers from your end screen.

addelement_youtube.png

Any YouTube creators can add an end screen to customize their channels. Here’s an explainer article with more details and inspirational ideas.

How to Add a Card

You can use cards to advertise products used in your videos or links on your website you want to market on YouTube. If viewers tap the “i” in the upper-right hand corner of a video, the cards expand, as in the example below:

To add a card to a YouTube video, head to your Video Manager, tap “Edit,” and select “Cards” from the drop-down menu.

Then, choose where in the video you want cards to appear, and tap the “Add card” drop-down menu to choose what you want the card to promote. From there, customize the content that will appear to viewers when they tap the “i” while viewing your video:

add_card_youtube.png

9. YouTube has a big library of high-quality, royalty-free sound effects and music you can browse and download.

Want to add some cool sound effects or music to your YouTube video (or any video)? YouTube is there for you. It has a whole library of high-quality, 320kbps audio tracks and sound effects that you can download royalty-free and add to your videos. (Or listen to in your free time. We won’t judge.)

To add music or sound effects to your video: Open YouTube’s Audio Library by clicking here or opening your Creator Studio, clicking “Create” in the menu on the left-hand side, and choosing “Audio Library.”

Now, the fun begins. By default, it’ll start you on the “Sound effects” tab. Here, you can search sounds using the search bar, like I did in the screenshot below for motorcycle sounds.

youtube-audio-library.png

You can also toggle by category (everything from human voices to weather sounds) or scroll through favorites that you’ve starred in the past. For easy access in the future, select the star to add the track to your Favorites. The bars next to the songs show how popular a track is.

If you switch over to the “Music” bar, you can browse through all of its royalty-free music. You won’t find the Beatles in here, but you will find some good stuff — like suspenseful music, uplifting music, holiday music, jazz, and more. Instead of toggling by category, you can toggle by genre, mood, instrument, duration, and so on.

(Note: Some of the music files in there may have additional attribution requirements you have to follow, but those are pretty clearly laid out on a song-by-song-basis. You can learn more on YouTube’s Support page here.)

Once you’ve found a track you like, click the arrow to download it and it’ll download directly to your computer as an MP3 file. Then, you can do whatever you want with it.

If you want to source sounds for your videos outside of YouTube, you’ll just have to make sure to you’re following all the rules for sourcing them. Refer to this YouTube Support page for best practices for sourcing audio, and this one to learn YouTube’s music policies.

10. Add adjustments and creative effects with YouTube Enhancements.

YouTube has faded a number of features it experimented with at one time — including annotations and a not-so-popular slideshow creator — but one editing tool that remains quite handy is Enhancements. Nine effects you’d normally find on third-party video editing software, you can now take advantage of natively through YouTube:

  • Auto-fix lighting and color
  • Stabilize shaky camera motions
  • Apply slow motion
  • Apply time lapse
  • Trim out parts of your video
  • Rotate the view
  • Apply filters
  • Custom blurring
  • Blur faces

To make enhancements to an existing video: Click into your Video Manager and find a video you’d like to edit. Select the drop-down icon next to “Edit” to the right of the video, and select “Enhancements.”

YouTube enhancements and effects feature.

YouTube filters and other enhancements.

Images via filmora

If you’re editing on a computer, this button will open all nine tools to the right of your video, where you can add various fixes, filters, and blurring effects and see how they change the final product in real time.

Note that not all enhancements are available on mobile devices. On Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, you can only trim, add music, and apply filters. Read this article to learn more about YouTube enhancements.

11. Play YouTube videos in the background on mobile devices.

Sometimes, your own music playlist just isn’t cutting it. Or maybe you want to listen to your favorite artist’s performance at an awards show.

Either way, if you’ve tried listening to music on YouTube via your mobile device, you may have noticed one thing: You can’t navigate out of the app. You have to keep YouTube open, and you can’t use your phone for anything else, in order to listen to something on YouTube. Kind of frustrating if you’re trying to multitask on your commute home, right?

Now, there are hacks so you can listen to YouTube content in the background while still using your mobile device. Here’s what you do:

How to Watch YouTube Videos in the Background: iOS

Open Safari on your mobile device, and navigate to a video you want to watch on https://www.youtube.com. Start playing the video you want to listen to, then tap the Home button to close out of Safari. (I chose Katy Perry.)

youtube_katy1.png

Then, swipe up on your home screen to reveal the Action Center.

Then, swipe left to reveal the second screen on your Action Center. The details of the video you selected on YouTube should appear, and from there, simply tap Play to keep jamming.

youtube_katy2.0.png

youtube_katy2.png

How to Watch YouTube Videos in the Background: Android

Launch Firefox or Chrome on your mobile device, and navigate to a video you want to play on https://www.youtube.com. Then, tap the “Settings” menu in the upper right-hand corner (the ellipses) and select “Request Desktop Site.”

turn-to-desktop-android1-1200x800-c.jpg

Image via DigitalTrends

Then, start playing the video on YouTube, and tap the Home button to return to your home screen. The audio will keep playing in the background as you use other apps.

12. You can live stream videos to YouTube.

Live streaming video has been a big topic of conversation for the past few years. It’s seen massive growth, especially in the past few years with the advent of Twitter’s Periscope, Facebook Live, and Instagram live videos.

Learning how to go live on YouTube is a little more complex (and confusing) than live streaming using similar platforms. On YouTube’s easier streaming option, there’s no simple “start” button; instead, you actually have to download encoding software and set it up to use live streaming at all. YouTube has identified 13+ encoders that are Live Verified.

If you’re streaming a live event, though, all you need is a webcam. We’ll get to that in a second.

Live Stream From Your Desktop Computer

Log in to YouTube and click the “Upload” button at the top-right of your screen. Normally, this is where you’d upload a pre-existing video — but instead, you’ll want to find the “Live Streaming” module on the right-hand side of your screen. Click “Get Started” in that module.

youtube_features_live_streaming.png

Before you go live, YouTube will first confirm that your channel is verified and that you have no live stream restrictions in the last 90 days. Once that’s all set, you have two options for streaming: “Stream now” and “Live Events.”

Stream Now

Stream Now is the simpler, quicker option for live streaming, which is why it’s YouTube’s default for live streaming. You’ll see a fancy dashboard like the one below when you choose “Live Streaming” on the left-hand Creator Studio menu:

youtube_livestream dashboard.png

Again, you’ll notice there’s no “start” button on the dashboard. This is where you’ll need to open your encoder and start and stop your streaming from there. Here’s YouTube’s Live Streaming FAQ page for more detailed information.

Live Events

Live Events gives you a lot more control over the live stream. You can preview it before it goes live, it’ll give you backup redundancy streams, and you can start and stop the stream when you want.

Choose “Live Events” from your live streaming dashboard once you’ve enabled it. Here’s what the events dashboard looks like, and you can learn more about it here.

youtube-live-event.png

When you stop streaming, we’ll automatically upload an archive of your live stream to your channel. Note that your completed live stream videos are automatically made public on your channel by default as soon as you’re done recording. To make them disappear from the public eye once you’re done, you can select “Make archive private when complete” in the “Stream Options” section of your live dashboard.

Live Stream From Your Mobile Device

YouTube has also rolled out live streaming from mobile devices for YouTube creators with 10,000 or more subscribers (as of the date of this posting — that will be available to all creators soon, according to YouTube’s blog post).

Live streaming is more intuitive from mobile devices than on desktop computers. Qualified creators can simply open their YouTube app on mobile, tap the camera icon at the top of the screen, and choose “Go Live.”

From there, creators can enter details about the broadcast before immediately recording live for their subscribers, as shown below:

CameoFlow-1.gif

Image via YouTube

For more instruction on how to go live on YouTube across devices, YouTube published a Help article here. Want to see what live videos others are recording on YouTube? You can browse popular YouTube videos that are live right now by clicking here.

13. You can upload and watch 360-degree videos (live and pre-recorded).

YouTube first announced its support for 360-degree videos back in March 2015, and it was a total novelty — not to mention a game-changer. Since then, brands, athletes, and other users have created some awesome 360-degree content, like this video from Samsung:

As you can see, the experience as a viewer is really, really cool. On desktop, you can click around the video to see all the different angles while the video plays. On mobile, it’s even cooler: You can move your camera around to change the angle. You can browse the trending 360-degree and VR videos here.

To actually create a 360-degree video on YouTube yourself, though, you need some serious equipment. Cameras with 360-degree capability that are compatible with YouTube are listed here on YouTube’s Support page, along with how to create and upload a 360-degree video file.

What about live video in 360 degrees? That announcement would come a year after the first one, in April 2016 — the very same week Facebook announced its own design for a 360-degree camera. Luckily for the folks at YouTube, it beat out Facebook by supporting both live video and 360-degree footage all at once.

14. You can use the Cardboard setting on your YouTube mobile app to view any video in VR.

The Verge called 360 live-streamed videos “the gateway drug to virtual reality” for YouTube. Other than the YouTube website or app, you don’t need any fancy equipment to be able to watch a 360-degree live video and feel like you’re basically there.

That doesn’t mean a headset isn’t an option — and an awesome one at that, since YouTube released its Cardboard feature. Cardboard is available on any YouTube video you watch or upload, and works with Google Cardboard (an actual VR headset by Google) and several other VR headsets available today.

To use Cardboard while watching a YouTube video via mobile: Select any video in your YouTube mobile app, then tap the three dots in the upper-right hand corner of the video. In the drop-down, select “View in Cardboard.” You may already see this option visible in the bottom-right of 360-degree videos.

youtube_features_view_cardboard.png

This will prompt you to connect your mobile device to a compatible VR device. Once you do, prepare for a stellar experience, and just imagine what this could mean for the content with which you populate your own YouTube channel.

15. YouTube ads target you based on an algorithm similar to Google and Facebook.

How does the YouTube algorithm decide which ads play on the videos you watch?

Turns out it works a lot like Google and Facebook ads do. Like on other free sites, the advertisers help fund the YouTube experience in return for exposure to ads. You’ll see certain ads over others because of your demographic groups, your interests (which is judged in part by what you search on Google and YouTube) and the content you’ve viewed before, including whether or not you’ve interacted with the advertiser’s videos, ads, or YouTube channel.

YouTube’s algorithms also try to make sure people aren’t overloaded with ads while watching videos — so it actually sometimes won’t show ads on monetizable videos, even when there’s a demographic match.

Here are the five ad formats you can expect to see on YouTube, and how they work:

A. Display ads, which show up next to the video and only appear only on desktop and laptop computers. The advertiser gets paid when you see or click on the ad, depending on their selection.

youtube-display-ads.png

Image via YouTube’s Creator Academy

B. Overlay ads, which appear across the bottom 20% of the video window and currently only appears only on desktop and laptop computers. You can X out of the ad at any time.

youtube-overlay-ads.png

Image via YouTube’s Creator Academy

C. TrueView in-stream, skippable video ads, which are most common ads. These are the ones you can skip after watching for five seconds. Advertisers can put it before, during (yikes!), or after the video plays, and they get paid only if you watch at least 30 seconds of the clip or to the end of the video ad — whichever comes first.

youtube-in-stream-skippable-video-ads.png

Image via YouTube’s Creator Academy

D. Non-skippable video ads, which are those longer, 15-or-more-second ads you see before plays and can’t skip after any period of time, no matter how much you shout at your screen.

youtube-non-skippable-video-ads-2.png

Image via YouTube’s Creator Academy

E. Midroll ads, which are ads that are only available for videos over 15 minutes long that are spaced within the video like TV commercials. You need to watch the ad before continuing through the video. How the advertiser gets paid depends on the type of ad: If the midroll is a TrueView ad, you’d have to watch 30 seconds of the end or the entire ad — whichever is shorter. If it’s a CPM-based ad, you have to watch the entire ad no matter how long it is.

youtube-midroll-ads-1.png

Image Credit: YouTube’s Creator Academy

F. Bumper ads, which are short, non-skippable ads up to six seconds long that play before the video the viewer has selected. Bumper ads are optimized for mobile devices and must be watched in their entirety before viewers can progress to the video they want to view.

bumperad_youtube.png

16. You can remove ads from YouTube videos (and watch videos offline) for 10 bucks a month.

Video ads are the reason you can watch videos for free on YouTube. It’s a fact many of us have come to accept. But with YouTube’s subscription service YouTube Red, that doesn’t necessarily have to be true anymore.

For $9.99 a month, you can watch YouTube videos … without any ads. And, in addition to ad-free videos, you can save videos on your mobile device and watch them in the background and/or offline, and you can use YouTube’s Music App (on iOS and Android) in the background, offline, and/or on audio mode. This is not a drill.

You’d think the lure of ad-free videos would have caused more of an uproar since its launch in late 2015, especially given YouTube’s domination in the music space. Surprisingly, I haven’t heard much noise about it. But YouTube hasn’t disclosed subscriber numbers (the service reportedly has around 1.5 million subscribers) so it’s hard to tell how well it’s doing. Either way, it’s good to know about — especially if you like collecting songs and music videos like I do, but don’t like when they get broken up by ads.

17. You can use Google Trends to explore and compare popular YouTube search terms over time.

You might already use Google Trends to look at the popularity of specific search terms over time. (It can be a great marketing tool for making smarter keyword choices, for instance.) But did you know you can use it to compare the popularity of YouTube search queries, specifically?

All you have to do is open Google Trends and type a search term into the “Explore topics” search bar at the top. Once that page opens up, click on “Web Search” to open a drop-down menu, and choose “YouTube Search” so it filters by YouTube searches specifically.

youtube_googletrends.png

You might find that, for some search terms, the search trends are very different on Google (above) than on YouTube (below).

youtube_googletrends_2.png

18. There’s a “safer” version of YouTube available for your kids.

Any parent will tell you how scary it is for their kids to theoretically have access to everything public on the internet. But for your younger kids, there are ways to curb that access and have more control of what they’re watching and finding — including a kids’ version of YouTube called YouTube Kids.

The folks at YouTube call YouTube Kids “a safer version of YouTube.” It’s not a wide-open library of online videos like YouTube is; instead, it uses filters powered by algorithms to select videos from YouTube that are safe for kids to watch. It’s also totally free, thanks to ads (which are regulated as carefully as possible).

You can either turn the search feature on or off, depending on whether you’re cool with your kids searching for videos themselves — or if you’d rather limit them to a certain set of videos selected by the app, along with those the app recommends based on what they’ve watched already. You can set a timer to limit how much time a child spends on the app, which is music to many parents’ ears.

The algorithm is darn good — remember, Google is YouTube’s parent company — but, as it warns in its parents’ guide, “no algorithm is perfect.”

19. You can now clear your YouTube History.

You might eventually want to delete items from your YouTube search or watch history. YouTube lets you completely clear your history, pause your history so it stops recording what you search for and watch from that point forward, or go through your history and delete certain videos.

To delete your history on your desktop or mobile device: Navigate to the “Watch History” menu. Here’s where it lives on your desktop browser homepage and in your mobile app, respectively:

youtube_history.png

youtube_library.png youtube_history_mobile.png

From there, you can “clear all watch history” (permanently delete the record of everything you’ve watched), “pause watch history” (stop recording the videos you watch going forward), or individually remove videos from your history by tapping the X or ellipses next to videos. Here’s what it looks like on desktop and on mobile, below:

youtube_features_clear_watch_history.png

youtube_delete_history_mobile.png

YouTube published a Help article if you need more instruction for deleting items from your YouTube watch history, too.

20. You can learn about YouTube’s copyrights terms from a cast of ridiculous puppets.

Made it this far? Here’s a little reward: YouTube’s “Copyrights Basics” FAQ page, which is, fittingly a YouTube video — and features a pretty colorful cast of characters. It’s actually super informative, and it looks like YouTube’s video team had a lot of fun making it.

My favorite line is probably, “You know there are links on this webpage, right? You don’t have to watch this.” Although the chorus of gorilla puppets was pretty great, too.

Enjoy.

We hope we’ve opened your eyes to some of the more awesome YouTube hacks, tips, and features out there that you may not have known about. Now log on to YouTube and do some exploring yourself. The platform certainly isn’t going anywhere.

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Free Guide Use Video in Buyer's Journey

How to Handle Negative Emotions at Work [Infographic]

There’s a popular phrase that I’ve heard quite a bit throughout life: “Don’t get mad. Get even.”

Sure, that makes sense — if you’re a character on a major soap opera or teen drama. But at the workplace, this kind of sentiment can be harmful.

Anger, however — now that, surprisingly, can actually benefit you and your colleagues in the workplace. But only when it’s handled correctly.

No matter how much you love your job, chances are, you experience some semblance of negative thoughts and emotions. That’s part of the challenge, right? And without a challenge, well, what a bore that would be.

But what’s the right way to handle these less-than-positive sentiments?

QuickQuid put together the helpful infographic below to answer just that question. Have a look, and bookmark this post for the next time you find yourself experiencing these thoughts and emotions at work.


Design_How-to-Handle-Negative-Thoughts-and-Emotions-at-Work

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Here's What It's Really Like to Ride in a Self-Driving Car

Remember that exciting self-driving car news we broke yesterday?

AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah — largely known for its roadside assistance services — has partnered with Torc Robotics to develop safety criteria for self-driving cars.

It all started when AAA launched its autonomous vehicle shuttle in Las Vegas back in November — which reportedly got into an accident on its first day of operation.

So when I had the opportunity to go for a spin in one at CES, did I accept it anyway?

Absolutely.

And I didn’t stop there. As long as I was in the area, I decided to hop on for a ride in a self-driving Navya taxi, too.

Here’s what it was like — and what I learned.

Here’s What It’s Really Like to Ride in a Self-Driving Car

These Vehicles Aren’t Really Driverless

When I told my friends and colleagues that I would be taking AAA’s driverless shuttle for a spin, it was met with mixed reaction. “I’ll pray for you,” “be safe,” and “that’s exciting” were among the responses.

Regardless, I was excited. Here’s how things started out:

The first thing I discovered was that most of these autonomous vehicles, at this point, are not entirely driverless. On the shuttle, for instance, riders are joined by a human operator who’s required to have a special class of driver’s license for autonomous vehicles.

So why, then, are these vehicles labeled as “self-driving”? Well, they are. The shuttle moves, brakes, and regulates its speed independently.

But the technology is still new enough that, for safety reasons, it helps to have a human present who can override the system in certain cases. That became necessary, for example, when we made a stop a donut shop and the doors closed before I could capture a photo — and the human operator was able to manually open them for me.

But these human operators are really present for safety reasons more than they are for photo ops. While I didn’t feel unsafe during the ride — we stopped for humans, traffic lights, and even birds — the Navya taxi, for its part, had trouble moving forward, even once the pigeon that had been in its path flew away. Our human operator was able to override the system to get us going again, and also had the ability to stop the vehicle in the case of an emergency.

The Biggest Selling Point: What You Can Do in the Car

One thing that continually comes up in the conversations at CES about driverless cars is how much time they give back to commuters. Instead of idly sitting in traffic, for example, riders can spend that time on the road doing something else, like catching up on work.

But when I first wrote about the AAA shuttle yesterday, you might recall that I identified autonomous vehicles as a potential new content distribution channel — an area of opportunity that Navya has seized for its fleet of self-driving taxis.

The service works much like most ride-sharing programs like Lyft and Uber do now: You hail a car from your phone, which you also must use to open the vehicle’s door (this is most likely a security play, since there won’t be a human driver to ask riders to identify themselves).

Once you’re in the car, you can play the music of your choice, and use the many screens built into the vehicle to check on your flight status, buy movie tickets, and more.

But if this technology sounds redundant to you — you’re not alone.

For example, many of us (yours truly included) already do these things during rides on our phones. As someone who doesn’t own a car, for example, I already use the time during rides to the airport, for example, to check my flight status, make restaurant reservations, and — well, many of the other things that are built into the Navya taxi’s capabilities.

However, it is a fairly novel concept to those who are often the ones behind the wheel, and lose that time to watching the road instead of executing tasks on their phones. And to me, that’s one of the biggest upsides to self-driving technology on a macro level: the reduction of car ownership, and the added transportation accessibility it provides for aging populations and persons with disabilities.

It All Feels Remarkably Familiar — and That’s a Good Thing

But for all of this innovation, there’s a problem: Only 38% of Americans are enthusiastic about the idea of riding in self-driving vehicles.

Allow me to put those fears to rest. My broad takeaway from my driverless shuttle and taxi ride is that if you’re used to riding on buses and subways — this is anticlimactic.

Maybe riding in a standard, four-person sedan with no driver would feel a bit weirder — an opportunity that Lyft was providing to a lucky few at CES who weren’t met with this message:

But as far as my experience goes, riding in these autonomous vehicles feels like riding on public transportation. And ultimately, I believe that’s a good thing — the sense of familiarity means less of a “learning curve” for passengers, especially in the urban settings where many of these programs are being piloted. It won’t seem as scary or extremely new.

Instead, I anticipate that most riders will have more of a reaction of, “Well, that’s cool,” and then return to their standard public transportation activities of choice, like listening to music or reading a book. For my part, if I had my earbuds on and was simply staring out the window, I’ll be honest: This wouldn’t have felt like a particularly groundbreaking experience.

Looking Ahead

The human operator element plays a part here, too. Earlier this week, during the LG CES press event, a new feature was announced in which home appliances are able — by way of machine learning, I suspect — to proactively detect and remotely repair mechanical issues, often before the user even knows that there’s a problem.

Self-driving cars, I anticipate, are learning how to do the same thing. But the stakes are much higher for a vehicle than, say, a washing machine — and that’s why, while the machines collect data and learn how to fix themselves, the human presence is both crucial and reassuring.

When it comes to autonomous vehicles, we’re just getting started. The topic dominated much of the dialogue at CES, with several brands announcing their latest innovations and progress within the realm.

And while public fears are not entirely unfounded — no technology is perfect, I would agree — I believe that market permeation of self-driving cars on a large scale will ultimately carry more environmental, social, and accessibility benefits than not.

As always, I’m open to your take on things. Feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts and questions on Twitter — and to see more insights and announcements from CES 2018.

At #CES2018, Lessons Emerge on Brand Loyalty and a Connected Ecosystem

Today marks the second Media Day of CES 2018, and to kick things off, LG debuted a number of new technologies at this morning’s press conference.

As one might expect, the announcements leaned quite heavily toward Smart Home, with LG’s ecosystem boasting a suite of abilities — many of them AI-powered. There’s the “Smart Service” feature, for instance: the technology that detects potential problems with appliances (like your washer or dryer) and proactively notifies the service center, often fixing the issue before the user even knows there is one.

It was reminiscent, for me, of many of the announcements made in October at the Samsung Developer Conference — the idea of a unified ecosystem (LG’s is called ThinQ) that’s powered by machine learning solutions, all on an open platform. One of the differentiating factors announced today, for example, is LG’s connectivity among home, car, and office: the type of technology that allows, for example, your refrigerator to send a message to your car notifying you if you need to go to the grocery store.

But as I was busy live-tweeting and day-dreaming about filling my home with these oh-so-smart devices, I noticed this:

The flaw, Fowler points out, is the thinking that most consumers exclusively equip their homes with appliances from a single brand. It proposes a world, for example, where you don’t have GE appliances in your kitchen and a Samsung TV (such as yours truly) — you have one, single brand filling your home with everything.

LG did note that users will be able to control IoT devices manufactured by other brands from your refrigerator panel. But there enters the concept of practicality — how often are you in standing directly in front of your fridge when you need to, for example, remotely control any other given device in your home?

Which leads me to another question: Just how far will consumers go when it comes to brand loyalty?

When it comes to the marketer’s job, there are two key takeaways here. The first is to determine how — and to begin, if — your brand is equipped to build such an ecosystem, regardless of your industry. Are your products and services connected to complement each other and work in synergy to enhance the customer or user experience? 

But building a branded ecosystem with the customer in mind is a double-edged sword. Is built in a way, for example, that if the products and services are fragmented — for example, the customer has bought into one piece of the ecosystem, but not the whole thing — the user experience is somehow diminished?

As marketers begin to build upon and work to stay ahead of these emerging trends and technologies — the Internet of Things, voice search, and growing AI-powered capabilities — these are crucial questions to ask until they are answered in a way that, without a doubt, only enhances the user experience, even if they don’t or can’t buy into an entire ecosystem.

That’s not to say I discourage this type of connected thinking — in fact, I still recommend at least thinking about the ways brands and marketers can build a suite of products and services with complementary connectivity at this sort. But as I often emphasize: Do so with the user in mind.

As always, I’m open to your take. Feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts and questions on Twitter — and to see more insights and announcements from CES 2018.

Featured image credit: LG

This Facebook Ad Experiment Generated $1.1 Million

We write quite a bit about the most effective ways to use Facebook.

How can you grow your audience? How can you reach the right people? And what’s the best way to use ads?

And in March, when Facebook launched its mobile-only Collection ads feature, marketers responsible for ad spend took note. Now, instead of simply publishing a single image or video, brands could now pair this visual content with something like a product catalog related to it.

One marketer — Digital Spotlight CEO Ash Aryal — decided to test the new feature, investing a $177,843.34 spend to see how Collection ads stacked up against single video ads. 

Even better: The results were compiled into the comprehensive, interactive infographic below. Scroll through to see how the experiment turned out.


Are Google's Featured Snippets Eating Your Blog Traffic?

The HubSpot Marketing Blog has been around since 2006.

Think about that for a moment. It’s been 11 years — with is plenty of time for successes, failures, changes, and growth. And within that tradition, the Marketing Blog has been no exception.

The Marketing Blog has been a key part of HubSpot’s inbound business. The more posts we published, the larger our audience grew. In 2014, we celebrated reaching 1.5 million views a month. And now, we take pride in our 4.5 million monthly visits.

But then, earlier this year, we noticed that our traffic was falling flat. Then, it declined. In such a short period of time, we had gone from impressive growth to stagnation — and what’s worse, we couldn’t figure out why.

Sound familiar?

We have an answer — but the news isn’t exactly, well, good. As it turns out, Google is likely eating your blog traffic — specifically, its featured snippets.

Here’s how we found out.

How We Discovered What Happened

While we spent several months trying to figure out what was going on with our traffic, for the purposes of this post, we’ll be focusing on the data we collected that led to our discovery of featured snippets eating blog traffic. To read about the full methodology, visit our research report.

When we looked at the existing data available on this matter, we discovered that, at the root of the issue was that search is simply changing. The number of featured snippets on search engine results pages (SERPs) has grown 328% since summer 2015. On top of that, just under one-third of Google searches now returns a featured snippet.

That may not sound like a huge amount, but when you also consider that, according to Moz, almost half of today’s searches result in zero clicks, it indicates that people might be getting the answers they need directly on the SERP — no page visits required.

In other words, the trends indicated that we were likely losing traffic to featured snippets, whether that snippet received any clicks or not.

What That Means

To put that into context, consider that on SERPs with no featured snippet, we found that the first result can expect to bring in about 33% of the total clicks. The second result accounts for 18%, and the rest, 11% or under.

But we couldn’t just take their word for it. We had a deeper look to see if this was, in fact, happening with our own blog posts, highlighting a few that particularly stood out to us.

With a featured snippet, position #1 is, well, a losing result. That’s because the featured snippet gets such a high ratio of clicks — about 50%, versus 33% — decreasing clicks on the remaining results below it to the point that some of the top 10 become nearly obsolete.

So, yeah — with featured snippets appearing on a third of all Google SERPs, there’s a good chance that they’re eating your traffic.

We suspected that might be the case with a few of our own blog posts, and picked out three examples for which our page rank on the SERP didn’t fluctuate significantly year-over-year — in fact, in some cases, it remained in position #1 — but we didn’t capture the featured snippet for the highest-volume queries or keywords.

Here’s how much the raw traffic on those posts decreased.

1. “How to Make a Chart or Graph in Excel”

Query: “how to make a graph in excel”

Monthly search volume: over 8,000

How we appeared in the SERP: Position #1 — but didn’t capture the featured snippet

The result: 38% decrease in visits from 2016 to 2017

2. “16 of the Best Job Interview Questions to Ask Candidates”

Query: “best interview questions”

Monthly search volume: over 9,000

How we appeared in the SERP: Position #4 — didn’t capture the featured snippet

The result: 35% decrease in visits from 2016 to 2017

3. “15 Hidden Instagram Hacks and Features”

Query:instagram hacks”

Monthly search volume: over 1,000

How we appeared in the SERP: Position #1 — but didn’t capture the featured snippet

The result: 24% decrease in visits from 2016 to 2017

It boils down to the click-through-rate (CTR) from the SERP. Featured snippets were the primary reason we’ve seen our blog traffic flatten this year — even though we ranked well, someone else accounted for half of the clicks, ultimately bringing down our raw traffic.

What to Do About the Featured Snippet

Moving forward, there are some things that can be done to fight these changes. Here are the two primary ones we’re testing.

1. Capturing the featured snippet.

We’re optimizing existing posts that are currently not capturing the featured snippet, and creating new posts with the featured snippet — as well as other search features — in mind.

2. Finding the green space.

Snippets are not going away — and as long as they’re around, they’ll continue to eat blog traffic — sometimes, despite your best efforts. So even with optimization, we won’t ever completely replenish the traffic we lost. To counter that, we’ll work to identify subject matter gaps that created content and clusters in new topic areas where our audience is seeking answers.

… for now, at least. What’s your plan? Feel free to weigh in on Twitter, or let us know if you have a question about it.

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17 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for the Marketer in Your Life

The days remaining in 2017 are few, and 2018 is just around the corner — things you undoubtedly know already.

But here’s something you may have forgotten about: There’s not much time left to finish up your holiday shopping. (Gasp! We know.)

Maybe you’re a marketer looking to complete your wish list. Or, maybe you’ve got a team of marketers you want to make smile.

To help you out, I’ve searched the internet far and wide (it’s kind of what I do), and found you some of this year’s best gifts for marketers.

Without further ado …

17 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Marketers

1) Send a Starbucks eGift Card

Once upon a time, Starbucks offered a Tweet a Coffee program, which was retired after testing it in beta. I tried it for the first time earlier this season when Emily Maxie, B2B tech marketer at Very said something nice about our social media tool. I was really thrilled and just wanted to do something nice in return. Tweeting a coffee was an easy, hassle-free way to surprise co-marketing partners, customers, or others. Plus, it was almost instantaneous, so it was a savior for last-minute shoppers.

Although that program has been retired, there’s still a good alternative: Send a Starbucks eGift Card. Just add a personal message and the amount you’d like to give, enter an email address, and hit “send.”

Where to get it: Starbucks

Cost: Buyer’s choice

2) Blogging Fuel Mug

As comedic writer Dave Barry once explained, “It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.”

Not only is this mug a good way to keep your favorite marketer sufficiently caffeinated, but its message is also on point. Around here, at least, our marketers love creativity — but we also love precision. And, we love the written word. So when this mug came across our radar …

Source: Amazon

… we knew it had to make this list.

Where to get it: Amazon

Cost: $14.95 + $4.95 shipping

3) “Eat. Sleep. Blog.” T-Shirt

This is a pretty great gig we all have. Sure, there are seemingly unattainable lead goals and endless writing deadlines. But think about it for a moment: Every day, we get to get up and figure out how to capture people’s fascination. It’s an amazing job.

This shirt summarizes that sentiment nicely.

Source: Amazon

Oh, and it’s really comfortable for blogging.

Where to get it: Amazon

Cost: $17.39

4) HubSpot Fleece-Lined Winter Hat

We’re not sure how the weather looks in your neck of the woods, but around the holiday season, it starts to get cold where HubSpot is headquartered, in Boston.

It’s sweater weather. Hat weather. Fleece-lined hat weather, to be specific.

Luckily, HubSpot has a hat for that.

4dc92f34-150c-e611-80cb-0025907fdf4b

And while you’re at it, check out these other last-minute gifts from the HubSpot Shop:

Where to get it: HubSpot Shop

Cost: $15

5) “But First, Coffee.” T-Shirt

It’s best to wear your priorities on your sleeve … er … torso. This cozy T-shirt puts your working style out in the open. In fact, it may double as a signal for the best way to bribe you for extra work.

Don’t work in a jeans-friendly office? Nothing a blazer and nice pants can’t fix (she writes as if she has actual fashion sense.)

Where to get it: Skreened

Cost: $29.99

6) Mophie Smartphone Case

A few years ago, a group of HubSpotters got these cases while working long hours at the INBOUND. But they’re not just any cases — they’re Mophie smartphone cases.

Mophie is a smartphone cover that also doubles as extra battery life.

Source: Mophie

They’re a little clunkier than the standard phone case, but they can extend your phone’s life by 100% or more. If you know a marketer who is often working on the road.

Where to get it: Mophie

Cost: About $100, depending on variety

7) Book Cover Laptop Case

Rumor has it writer Jorge Louis Borges used to sleep surrounded by books. He’d crawl into bed with stacks of them on either side. His last scent before sleep would be that of open pages and intricately worded lines.

Source: Twelve South

This isn’t quite as poetic, but it’s close.

This laptop cover would be a good fit for the bookworm on your team.

Where to get it: TwelveSouth

Cost: About $80

8) Subscription to a Streaming Music Service

Okay, so music may not make you smarter, but it does make you happier. And isn’t delight what we’re really after here?

Many marketers already listen to streaming music while they work, but without a subscription, that streaming music is typically limited or interrupted by commercials.

Buying your marketing friend a subscription to a streaming music can get rid of all the commercial interruptions and just leave them with good working music. We’re inbound marketers — thus, we hate commercial interruptions.

Here are a few options:

9) @TwitterName Necklace

It might be a bit excessive, but it’s also kind of awesome. Here’s a gift for the social media strategist who has single-handedly grown your company’s Twitter following from 15 to 500 and beyond.

Source: Etsy

If jewelry isn’t the right gift, there are also a range of social media coasters.

Where to get it: Etsy

Cost: $43.99

10) 1Password

Welcome to secure accounts on the internet. Your password must be 15 characters long with at least two capital letters, three symbols, two numbers, and at least one variation of the Jabberwocky poem.

Nope, that won’t work. And it can’t be the same as any password you’ve used since junior high school.

If you could spare the marketer in your life this frustration, wouldn’t it be a happier new year? Take a look at the 1Password app. It will create and store all of your passwords securely and enable you to log into your accounts with one click.

Where to get it: 1Password

Cost: Plans start at $2.99/month

11) 99U Essays: Manage Your Day-to-Day

One of my favorite books, this collection of essays from 99U, focuses on how to develop a habit of creativity in your work and personal life. It gives you tips on how to put your creative work first and fend off a stream of endless emails, texts, and other interruptions.

Source: 99U

With an average 4.4-star rating on Amazon, this book offers concrete ideas for getting more out of your daily routine and finding the right moments for creative, complex work.

Where to get it: Amazon

Cost: $10.99

12) Freelancer Tools From WriterAccess or Zerys

While they don’t do gift cards, you could help a freelancer’s life easier with tools from WriterAccess of Zerys. Create a gift certificate yourself and wrap it up in a bow: Good for one day of reprieve from creating content.

Where to get it: Zerys or Writer Access

Cost: Varies

13) Premium Versions of Productivity Apps

Marketers use all sorts of freemium tools to organize their time and plan campaigns. Find out what online apps your marketer uses to make his or her day-to-day easier with access to all the bells and whistles for a year.

Here’s a breakdown of some popular ones:

  • Evernote: Evernote is a repository for just about anything: ideas, articles, documents, photos, marketing examples. You can use the tool on your phone, desktop, and tablet, so it goes where you go. The big benefit of Evernote is how searchable it is. You can search documents or even the words in a picture to quickly retrieve your content again. The premium version gets you more storage, better search, and an interesting presentation mode. Cost: $69.99/year
  • Dropbox or Box: We all could use a little space. Help your marketer out by upgrading their Dropbox or Box accounts to a pro version. Cost: Varies
  • Feedly Pro: When Google Reader closed its doors, Feedly was widely adopted as the replacement RSS reader. Feedly Pro is a more powerful version of Feedly with one-click integrations, custom sharing URLs, and full support. Cost: Plans start at $5.41/month

14) Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Can you really put a price on peace and quiet? Turns out, Bose can: At a minimum, it’s about $180. Yikes.

But if you can get over the price, this is an amazing gift for anyone who needs to focus throughout the day. Noise-cancelling headphones put your marketers in their own cozy and uninterrupted lead-generating world.

Whether they listen to Mozart or Modest Mouse, these headphones give marketers a chance to block out everything but the work ahead of them.

Where to get them: Bose

Cost: Models start at $179.95

15) Class Reimbursement

For intellectually curious marketers, think about giving them the combo-gift of classes plus the time to learn a new skill.

There are a number of low-cost and free online classes and tutorials out there for people looking to code (Codecademy), design (Skillshare), or acquire other relevant skills. The trouble is finding the time.

If you really want to thrill a marketer on your team this season, give them the classes plus an approved block of time each week to dedicate to the lessons. Wrap it up in one package.

Where to get it: Check out Code Academy and Skillshare, plus your local continuing ed classes. Then, help your favorite marketer figure out how to make the class time possible.

Cost: Varies

16) INBOUND Tickets

Surprise! It’s not too early to buy tickets for INBOUND 2018.

INBOUND is an industry event like no other. Of course, I would say that, because as a HubSpotter, it is the center of my life in August and September. But as it turns out, others think so, too.

Darby Tinch of Mohawk Home said, “This was by far the best conference I’ve attended in a very long time. Not only was it the recharge I needed professionally but also on a personal level. It has been a long time since I’ve been this excited about my career. I cannot wait until [the next] INBOUND!”

Where to get it: INBOUND

Cost: Tickets will be available at a special early bird price in January.

17) Donation in the Marketer’s Name or Honor

If none of the above seems like a fit, consider a donation in your marketer’s name or honor. Donations are a personal thing, so be sure you have a sense of the issues your marketer cares about. But once you do, a gift in his or her honor can be really meaningful.

Where to get it: Because the donation should reflect the gift recipient and there are so many nonprofits we care about here at HubSpot, I’m going to leave the door open here and not make any specific suggestions. Talk to the gift recipient and see what they care most about.

Cost: Whatever amount you see fit.

There’s your starter list. There are dozens more ideas out there: subscriptions to magazines or journals, lunch from a local restaurant, or a plethora of other gift certificates anyone would love.

holiday design kit

 
holiday design kit

3 Ways Working a Job You Hate Can Benefit Your Career

“We’ll miss you, Cliff.” said Andy, my manager. His face looked long when he was sad. We were both working for a company that just experienced a major product failure, and, unfortunately, it prompted a massive round of layoffs. Since I was just an intern, Andy left the decision to leave or stay up to me.

I decided to leave.

“I’ll miss you guys, too,” I replied. “Thanks again for the opportunity. Let me know what you end up doing after all this chaos dies down.” We both shook hands. “Will do,” he responded. “Keep in touch, Cliff.”

After I packed up my things and said goodbye to the remaining employees, I headed out the office and into the elevator.

As soon as the doors closed, a feeling of liberation washed over me. I let out a booming “Yes!”, followed by a triumphant fist pump. I was finally out of that place. I had dreaded going to work everyday. At the same time, though, I felt a little regretful.

I realized I had essentially just wasted two months of precious internship experience. The company had fired their entire marketing team a week before I started, so I was the only marketer in the office. There was no one to learn from, and I barely had anything to do. Half my time was dedicated to playing ping pong and watching office drama escalate on Slack. Amusing for sure, but not really beneficial for my skillset.

My colleagues jokingly called me “CMO Intern”, but I didn’t think it was funny. If I was the only marketer at the company, who was going to mentor me? And how was I going to develop my skills? It was one of the most frustrating few months of my life.

But even after the pang of regret I felt walking out, I would do it all over again. I’m glad I accepted that internship. I didn’t gain the valuable marketing experience I was expecting, but I did walk away with some surprising career lessons. And without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now, working a job I love

If you currently have a job you’re not too fond of, don’t beat yourself up. We’ve all been there. It hurts, but your suffering will help you figure out what you actually want from your career.

A lot of times, working a job you hate can actually lead you to the one you love. Read on to find out how.

3 Ways Having a Job You Hate Can Benefit Your Career

1) You’ll figure out what you like to do — and what you don’t like to do.

There are a lot of variables that influence your satisfaction at work. And sometimes, you won’t discover what you actually like doing until you figure out what you really don’t like doing.

If you can identify your favorite and least favorite aspects about your current job, you’ll know exactly what to look for in your next job. Ask yourself the following questions to learn more about your personal work preferences:

Do you like your role/department? If you just jumped into a new role or department and you realize you aren’t really enjoying it, then it might be worth exploring different career path entirely. You should also reflect on your favorite aspects about your previous and current jobs, and pursue opportunities that let you do those things.

Is the company too big or too small? -Do you find solace in the financial stability and stockpile of benefits an enterprise company provides? Or do you prefer the passion and hustle it takes to build a startup? Or maybe you favor a blend of the two, at a medium-sized company? If you feel like your current company doesn’t have enough resources to support your growth, then maybe a bigger company is better for you. If your company isn’t challenging you enough, then you could pursue opportunities at a smaller company, where you’ll get more responsibility.

Are you genuinely interested in your company’s industry? When you write blog posts about your company’s industry all day, it’s a lot more enjoyable if you actually like learning about the subject matter (trust me on this one). Work becomes a chore when these topics don’t pique your interest. Whether you work in marketing, sales, product, engineering, or support, if you’re not excited about your company’s industry, it’s tough to stay engaged and satisfied at work. Try pursuing a job in an industry that you’re passionate about, even if it means taking a lesser role or making a lateral move.

Do you feel supported by the company’s culture? Does work run your life? Is the office cliquey? Do people appreciate your work, or does your manager take all of the credit? If you don’t like these things (most people don’t), then you’re better off at a company that treats their employees well. Use Glassdoor to read a company’s employee reviews and evaluate their culture.

2) You’ll learn to appreciate your worth.

When you work for a sub-optimal company, team, or manager, you’ll notice they either don’t give you fulfilling work or don’t know how to leverage your skill set to its full potential. This makes you feel misunderstood or undervalued, and work becomes incredibly frustrating.

But their neglect also teaches you how to gauge your professional value. It helps you recognize your needs and capabilities. By honing your self-awareness, you can determine whether upcoming job opportunities are worth it or not and trade up for the best fit job in the future.

3) You’ll learn how to persevere through tough times — and appreciate the good times even more.

A lot of times, getting better at your passion requires you to do the challenging things instead of the enjoyable things, like polishing a blog post in lieu of a post-work gathering.

In your career, you’ll encounter times where you absolutely hate your job. But if you can persevere and produce results in a less-than-ideal situation, then you’ll enhance your work ethic and truly crush it when your morale is much higher in an ideal situation.

A couple of years ago, I camped out in Florida’s Everglades for nine days, where I paddled over 100 miles through alligator infested waters and only ate dehydrated food.

When my trip ended, I was so grateful to be back in civilization (and safe from alligators). I almost forgot what living in a city was like. But the thing I looked forward to the most was eating a real meal. My friends and I all agreed we would stop at the first restaurant we saw, so when we spotted a Subway, we immediately halted. I ordered a chicken bacon ranch sub, and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I ate another one later that day too.

Losing access to everyday things like normal food, electricity, and community has made me incredibly grateful for them.And I try not to take them for granted anymore, which makes me happier in life. This phenomenon can also happen when your current job situation is less than ideal. You’ll be grateful for the privileges you might not have anymore, and when you exchange that dreaded job for your dream one, you definitely won’t take its perks for granted, enhancing your gratitude, happiness, and performance at work.

A job you hate doesn’t have to be a waste of time.

It’s inevitable, at some point in our lives, we’ll all have a job that we hate. But if you can view this experience as a life lesson and discover what you actually want out of your career, then there’s a good chance the job you hate will eventually lead you to the one you love.

How to Reclaim an Unproductive Day in 6 Steps

Click. Click. Click.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

That’s the sound of an unproductive day passing by. It’s the sound of any day, Monday through Friday, going to waste — where despite your best intentions, you just can’t seem to get moving, or get stuff done.

It happens to all of us. Seriously.

But what’s an otherwise industrious person to do when these days unexpectedly fall upon us? We’ve got some ideas — six of ’em, in fact.

1) Remember what’s in store when you’re done with your tasks.

Truth time: Sometimes, I bribe myself.

I know how silly it sounds, but it’s true. If there’s a task that I’ve been putting off, but there’s also something else I’ve been looking forward to doing, I’ll bribe myself with the latter to get the former done.

Case in point: I had a rather big piece of writing to complete over the summer, and as the clock was running out on my deadline, I was having trouble getting started. At the same time, my best friend and I were heading to Las Vegas in a few weeks, and I was really looking forward to planning the trip.

“Okay, self,” I thought. “You get a draft done today, and tonight, you can start planning your Vegas trip.”

It doesn’t even have to be something that’s a big deal, like planning a vacation. My colleague, HubSpot Senior Growth Marketing Manager Niti Shah, once told me that she pays herself in cookies and mozzarella sticks for completed tasks.

The point is, it’s okay to reward yourself for progress. Just make sure the reward matches the work completed, and that you’re not treating yourself to a week in Hawaii for sending an email.

2) Take a break.

This one is an oldy-but-goody. According to data collected by DeskTime, the top 10% most productive employees take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work they put in. And during those periods, they use hyperfocus: No work during breaks (that includes email), and no distractions during the work time.

I often liken this tip to boxing training. When I used to box, I had a trainer who would have me throw non-stop punches for three-minute intervals, with one-minute breaks in between. If you haven’t tried it, three minutes is a long time for that kind of exercise, which makes the one-minute rest period especially important for your heart rate and muscle recovery.

In my experience, the mind works in a similar way. An hour spent on a task or a project that requires deep thinking, creativity, or number-crunching is, to me, the equivalent of a three-minute, high-intensity boxing interval. You need the recovery period. So next time you feel like your brain just can’t quite throw that left hook, take a minute, and let your “intellectual heart rate” return to normal.

3) Work on something completely unrelated to your to-do list.

When I was visiting my parents for Thanksgiving — which happened to overlap with the writing of this blog post — my mom asked me if I could help her troubleshoot an issue on her laptop.

It was the last thing I wanted, or thought I had time to do. It was a short week. I was taking a day off. I had a long list of things to do, and I was already taking longer to get through it than I had hoped. But it was my mom, after all, so of course, I helped.

By the time we were done figuring out the problem, for some reason, I felt reinvigorated. I had a new motivation to finish my tasks, and finish them quickly. Sure, I had taken a “break,” in some sense — but I had also redirected my brain to another task. My mind was still being put to use, but for something completely unrelated to my to-do list.

If you’re feeling stuck, use your brain for something else. Maybe there’s a colleague who you’ve been meaning to get back to on an unrelated project, or maybe you just need to do a quick online puzzle. Keeping your mind active while giving it a break from the dredge of your to-do list might leave you feeling re-energized and ready to hit the ground running, wherever you left off.

4) Deny the “delete” key.

Writer’s block, amirite?

If you work in marketing, there’s a chance that, at some point, your job requires you to write something. And we know — that’s not easy, even when you do it every day. And much of the time, it’s getting the words down that’s the hardest part, whether it’s getting a composition started, or getting the sentences to sound right.

STOP. That second part, about getting it to sound right? Forget it.

For way too many of us, our perfectionism is a pitfall to productivity. We write, stop, delete, re-write, and repeat the process until 45 minutes have gone by and we’ve written one sentence.

“I’d even say to ignore the ‘delete’ key on your first draft,” HubSpot Sales Blog Editor Aja Frost once advised

You heard it here: Deleting is not your friend. Just form a sentence — any sentence relevant to your topic — and keep going.

5) Make plans.

Remember what I said about bribing yourself? Well, sometimes, you might have to invent said bribe to get yourself motivated.

Here’s another tale of writing something that I had been putting off. (I’m not a slacker — I swear.) At about 4:00 PM one afternoon, I thought to myself, “I really, really need to get this done before I leave.” So, I texted a friend and asked if she wanted to meet for happy hour at 6:00.

Boom. Instant deadline.

The thing is, it was a self-imposed deadline — one that was established by plans to do something fun. If I had just set a timer for two hours, for example, it may not have been as effective. But because cutoff time was motivated by something recreational, I really wanted to get my task done.

A word of caution, however: Do not — I repeat, do not rush through your work and turn in something with poor quality just for the sake of getting it done. Once your task is complete, let it marinate overnight, then come back to it with a new perspective the next day.

6) Do the thing you dread the most — even if it’s the only thing you accomplish today.

We’ve all had that long list of tasks that contains one, glaring item that seems like moving a boulder up a hill. Except, you dread facing that boulder so much that it causes a bit of “productivity paralysis,” and in the process of putting off that one item, you end up putting off everything else on the list, too.

What? Am I the only one who’s wasted an entire morning looking at real estate listings instead of addressing what I needed to get done?

That’s when you need to face the boulder, because it’s still going to be there, no matter how many homes you fantasize about buying. And once that one, dreaded task is complete, the rest of the items on your list probably pale in comparison — and you might be so energized by getting the biggest one done, that since you’re already on a roll, you feel newly motivated to get everything else done.

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10 of the Best Ads from November: Elves, Llamas, and a Business Cat

If you think November is too early to be dreaming of sugarplum fairies and hanging the stockings with care, then consider this your official warning: this post is heavy on the holiday cheer.

To everyone else, hello. November brought us a delightful crop of festive ads, including the much-anticipated annual Christmas spot from UK retailer John Lewis — which dependably goes viral every year. Other highlights include a modern day #Cinderella story, a pack of friendly llamas, and a snowed-in dinner with strangers. So grab a cup of hot chocolate, crank up Mariah Carey’s timeless 1994 album Merry Christmas, and let’s unapologetically indulge in some much-needed holiday spirit. 

10 of the Best Ads from November

1) Samsung

An apartment building’s thoughtful concierge goes above and beyond to ensure his tennants feel festive when they arrive home — no matter what holiday they’re celebrating.  

Set to Ella Fitzgerald’s “Give a Little, Get a Little,” the 60-second spot was produced by London based agency adam&eveDBB. 

 

2) Waitrose

After getting unexpectedly snowed into a busy pub, a group of strangers make the most of the situation and hold an elaborate holiday feast. The ad for the British supermarket chain was inspired by true events, and produced by adam&eveDDB.

 

3) Volkswagen

Another adam&eveDDB-produced ad, “Born Confident” follows a rebellious (and absolutely adorable) young ram as he intimidates other farm animals. The production team used custom 3D software to develop a character that struck just the right balance of cute and realistic.

 

4) John Lewis

Brits love the annual Christmas spot from John Lewis — like, really love it. The ads always seem to strike the perfect balance of childhood whimsy and heartache (and the adorable animated creatures that usually take on a starring role don’t hurt either).

The 2017 spot follows a similar formula: a little boy befriends the delightful, non-scary monster under his bed, and spends his nights playing with him. Naturally, there’s a lovely twist at the end that just might make you shed a few tears at your desk — I certainly did.

 

5) Heathrow

Last year, Heathrow Airport introduced us to a snuggly pair of traveling teddy bears (they appeared as #6 of our November ad round-up last year). This holiday season, they’re sharing the backstory of how the diminutive bears — named Doris and Edward Bair — first met, and spoiler alert: it’s very adorable.

The two-minute short, produced by Havas London, follows the couple from their first meeting in the 1960s (on a plane, of course).

 

6) Cost Plus World Market

Here’s a pro marketing tip: when in doubt, cute animals and children generally perform well in ads. In this extended spot for Cost Plus World Market, produced by barrettSF, a young boy rehearsing for his big Christmas recital finds a perfect practice audience in the form of a friendly, attentive herd of llamas.

 

7) ZTE Axon M

To promote their new dual-screen smartphone, ZTE worked with Energy BBDO to bring together two inherently incompatible things: productivity and cat videos. To illustrate how cat videos and business simply don’t mix, we’re introduced to Business Cat, a cat who, well, is not very good at business. You get it.

“One screen for business, another for cat videos,” the voiceover declares — right after Business Cat knocks over a fresh coffee and blinks apathetically at the screen.

 

8) BMO

If I told you to picture a startup founder, who do you see?

This ad series from BMO Bank of Montreal gently exposes our unconscious biases when it comes to women in leadership roles traditionally held by men. Using unisex names and some clever twists, the ads play right into our expectations of what a leader looks like, and then show us the women hiding in plain sight. Developed by FCB Canada, the ads were produced by a predominantly female team led by Chief Creative Officer Nancy Crimi-Lamanna.

 

9) Debenhams

Have you ever thought, if Cinderella had a smartphone, that story probably would have been a lot shorter?

That’s pretty much the plot of Debenhams’s Christmas ad, a modern day retelling of the classic fairytale featuring hashtags and a voice-over by Ewan McGregor. Produced by J. Walter Thompson London, the ad follows a pair of star-crossed lovers as they attempt to reconnect after a chance meeting with some help from the internet.

 

10) Argos

In this cinematic ad for Argos, a particularly dedicated elf realizes a toy shipment is missing a special gift — and goes to great lengths to make sure it makes it to the intended child.

 

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12 of the Sassiest Brands on Social Media

Brands use social media for a lot of things: to distribute content, to share news, to provide customer service.

And sometimes, brands use social media for jokes, burns, and unmitigated sass.

When brand accounts share personality and humor on social media, it’s delightful — and it captivates the collective internet. It’s funny when brand accounts use social media like the real people behind the copy, and it breaks up the monotony of the negativity and mistrust that characterizes a lot of people’s feelings about their social feeds.

So we’ve rounded up 12 brand accounts to share the burns, the jokes, and the GIFs that make these sassy profiles some of our favorites online.

12 of the Sassiest Brands on Social Media

1) MoonPie

No list of sassy brand social media accounts is complete without MoonPie — the vintage snack cake that started garnering a lot more attention on Twitter for its quirky insights — and burns — after launching a Twitter beef with Hostess Snacks over whose treat was the official snack of the solar eclipse in the summer of 2017.

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MoonPie is never afraid to wade into hotly contested debates, like the still-raging critique of Twitter doubling its character limit to 280.

But remember, it’s not all fun and games — MoonPie’s witty social media manager has feelings, too.

2) Helper

… as in, Hamburger Helper. Helper likes to wade into the social media muck by savagely burning people back when they try to make fun of the quick and easy meal brand — like so:

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Simply put, Helper tells it like it is — and helps followers confront critical conflicts within their families and their kitchens.

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I don’t eat hamburger, but even I can get on board with this level of hilarity from a brand on social media.

3) Tesco Mobile

Tesco Mobile is a mobile phone provider in the United Kingdom, and from what I can tell from customer complaints on Twitter, its cellular coverage might not be the best in the biz. It makes up for dropped calls, however, by coming back with hilarious takes and jabs in response to the haters.

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Seriously, don’t make fun of Tesco Mobile lightly — be prepared for them to come into your mentions with a fiery reply that mocks everything about you.

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4) Discovery

Normally, Discovery‘s social media content showcases stories about history, geography, and cute animals, like in this tweet:

Which is why it was so unexpectedly hilarious when, after the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team tried making a joke about the average height of a penguin to contradict Discovery’s estimate, Discovery came back with a vengeance:

discoverytweet1.png

For context, the Penguins had just been eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs … ouch. We hope they had some ice on hand for that burn.

5) Brooklinen

Last week, Brooklinen sent this email to HubSpot Marketing Director Debbie Farese. At first glance, it appears to be a test email that Digital Marketing Intern Mark accidentally sent to Brooklinen’s entire list, advertising its upcoming sale on sheets.

brooklinenemail.png

Our team gawked at the email, lamenting what we were sure would be a swift end to Mark’s digital marketing career — until we did some investigation on Twitter and found this incriminating tweet.

We realized we had all been tricked by a clever marketing ruse designed to drum up attention — and give subscribers early access to Brooklinen’s sale.

brooklinentweet.png

Well played, Brooklinen. Well played.

6) Denny’s

Denny’s got in on a popular Twitter meme that tricks the viewer into repeatedly zooming in on spots on a picture to read secret messages — try it for yourself.

But Denny’s also tweets clever remarks commenting on hot topics circulating — like the running joke of 2017, when social media accounts kept creating different ways to copy Snapchat Stories:

But they always find a way to infuse breakfast foods into their sassy tweets and memes — like this one.

7) Merriam-Webster

Merriam-Webster uses Twitter mostly to share interesting trends and articles about unique word definitions — but most tweets are usually accompanied by a very niche GIF or reference to pop culture, like this one:

The dictionary’s social media manager also likes to subtly comment-without-commenting on current events taking over the news by tying it into the context of word definitions — see what I mean?

What’s the definition of the word “shade”?

8) Charmin

Charmin has a hilarious series of tweets called #TweetsfromtheSeat about — you guessed it — sitting on the toilet. Its tongue-in-cheek bathroom humor will definitely make your day — and make you remember Charmin the next time you go to pick up some TP.

But make no mistake, Charmin shares important news stories in its vertical, too.

Who says 💩jokes are just for kids?

9) Wendy’s

Wendy’s became famous this year for starting beefs (get it?) with anyone and everyone it could on social media. It all started with this innocent tweet, advertising its policy of only serving fresh beef.

This Twitter user tried to start a Twitter battle with Wendy’s, and clearly, they had no idea what they were in for:

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Owned.

And while Wendy’s sometimes uses social media for good, old-fashioned Biology 101 jokes …

 

… its social media sass is best reserved for people (and other restaurants) that dare hint its food is anything but #1.

wendystweet2.png

10) Bangor Maine Police Department

I’m from a little town called Portland, Maine, so when I started seeing news stories about Bangor, Maine’s charming Facebook account, I was overjoyed.

Police Sargeant Tom Cotton writes the Bangor PD’s lengthy status updates, featuring long-winded stories that feature jokes, some friendly mockery, and all-around laughs.

You can click to expand this one, or you can just read my favorite line:

“It’s your day on in the comment section of the world’s most marginally famous Police Department Facebook page. We heard that Zuckerberg reads it (that’s a lie).”

Or this one:

“For those of us in Maine? We will soon have the distinct privilege of leaving for work in the dark as well as returning to our homes in the dark. I also turn the analog bathroom scale back 10 pounds this time of year…or only look at it in the dark. Might as well make this enjoyable.”

These updates all contain stories, warnings, and advice for Bangor, Maine residents — all wrapped up in hilariously-written statuses.

“It should be noted that cats tend to come down out of trees when they make a decision to do so. Pleading with a cat to return to terra firma is done purely to please those standing around and looking up. It’s a public relations move which makes people feel warm inside, but cats are cats.”

11) BuzzFeed Books

BuzzFeed has nailed creating different profiles and outlet for its fans’ myriad interests, and BuzzFeed Books focuses on news and stories in the literary world.

For the most part. The account had some words (but only a few) about the expansion of Twitter’s character limit:

12) Pop-Tarts

I love Pop-Tarts. (Did you know the unfrosted ones are vegan?) I also love the way the brand refuses to let anyone disgrace its name with unconscionable food preparation choices — like this one:

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Or this one:

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Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel

 
How to Use Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel