Category: Trends

01
Aug

The End of the Org Chart

There isn’t much to do in Maspeth, NY on a weekday afternoon. Nestled next to an expressway on the outer Brooklyn-Queens border, Maspeth’s defining feature is its warehouse district  — a collection of gritty, similar-looking buildings next to a small creek and set of train tracks. At peak mid-summer heat, with temperatures north of 90F, Maspeth almost feels like a desert — a mix of industrial stone dunes and sandy brown streets. I know all this, because a bad customer experience incident sent me there.

A week before, my phone broke and I ordered an upgrade replacement to my office (it’s easier to get packages at work). Here’s the remaining minimum viable context: I had a busy week of meetings in the city, the phone was incorrectly shipped to my home in Brooklyn (signature required), neither my phone company nor Fedex could change the delivery address, and I was about to leave for a trip. I had a choice to make: (1) either let the phone get returned to sender and wait another week for a second phone unless I go buy a second out of pocket, or (2) go pick up my phone before it got sent back. In Maspeth.

Riding there, I started thinking about the experience, how it could have been prevented, and why ‘customer friction’ happens more with certain business characteristics than others. That thinking led me to a realization I first shared on Twitter: five years from now — at most ten — the best companies won’t have “departments” or “business units” as they exist today. Or if they do, they’ll look very different from the today’s accounting team down the hall that reviews spreadsheets with methodical precision.Continue Reading..

30
Mar

Why I Think Zuckerberg is Trying to Kill Influencer Marketing

I have a new theory — call it a prediction — about the future of influencer marketing.

Recently, Instagram has been meeting with some of its latest advertisers and media partners to council them on the social platform’s latest algorithm update — a transition that will rank newsfeed content by relevance, rather than chronology, similar to its parent Facebook’s own newsfeed algorithm. Instagram’s advice to marketers, succinctly summarized, boils down to this: “Make better content to keep up with the aesthetic expectations of users, and get ready to advertise [even more] to distribute it, because Instagram organic reach will ultimately follow the downward trend as Facebook’s.”

While any marketer caught off guard by this shift couldn’t have been paying attention to the last few years of social media history, what’s interesting to me is how the organic reach race-to-the-bottom keeps reaffirming the same, cyclical social advertising sequence:Continue Reading..

02
Apr

The Year Social Media Moves Beyond Social

This essay originally appeared on the Percolate Blog.

Social is entering a new era in the history of its communications potential. In doing so, ‘social media’ companies like Facebook and LinkedIn are briskly redefining their identities, business models and the boundaries they are able to connect people — or brands to people — within. All told, 2015 looks more and more like the year social will formally move beyond social, and the time when advertisers and technologists stop talking about a company, marketing channel, event or job title as ’social,’ and, instead, simply describe it as something that is.

After all, what is or isn’t social anymore? Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are now closely interwoven throughout all modern media — from live event and TV experiences to journalism to federal government policy awareness — and thanks to mobile are now first screen centers of attention.

How do you define a social company? Today, Facebook generates more annual advertising revenue than Fox News, CNN or MSNBC, with a much faster underlying growth rate fueled by mobile device adoption and budget reallocation to digital.

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As we’ve talked about in the past, Facebook is also distancing itself from its own company pages and contest tabs, becoming a modern media company that connects people and serves ads across a network that extends well beyond Facebook.com. And if the definition of a social company is as open-ended as one that creates or facilitates interactive communities, brands as diverse as Amazon, eBay, Uber, Github, Kickstarter, Venmo, Medium, Pandora, Spotify and a litany of other companies are also intrinsically social businesses. ‘Social’ is where people spend time on the internet, it’s what people intrinsically want to do in their lives and with their phones, and it’s been a central element of human behavior for thousands of years.

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28
Sep

How to Win Anyone’s Attention

The average person now consumes twelve hours of media, checks their phone close to 110 times and sees an estimated 5,000 marketing messages each day. When most of us also regularly put in 8+ hours on the job, it’s no wonder our collective attention span is more taxed than ever.

Data overwhelmingly confirms it too. According to MailChimp 80-85% of marketing emails are never opened, and even in digital video — one of the most promising frontiers for marketers — 56% of viewers regularly skip pre-roll and vocally prefer ads that are fifteen seconds or less. The National Center for Biotechnology Information at the U.S. National Library of Medicine finds average human attention span decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013, no doubt influenced by the influx of real-time content streams available to us 24/7/365 on social at a moments’ notice.

As a marketer or advertiser, all this is also a reality check and constant reminder about how precious attention has become. If you’re thinking about what this means for your marketing efforts, or you’re producing a lot of quality content but struggling to get noticed, here are four principles you can apply to win anyone’s attention.

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15
Mar

Does Honesty Create Better Marketing?

[This post originally appeared on the Percolate Content Marketing Blog]

Over the summer of 2013, David Byttow, a former Google software developer, started building a mobile app to solve a problem he had. Byttow noticed he and the engineers he worked with were bad at giving each other feedback, and he wanted a way they could comment honestly on each other’s work without professional or personal backlash for saying something negative. Byttow wanted a way to tell the truth, without revealing who said it.

Eight months later, the most talked about content at SXSW 2014 wasn’t a flashy new tech launch, sharing economy roll-out or big-budget event activation: it was a SXSW feed from Byttow and co-founder Chrys Bader‘s two month old app, Secret, that aggregated and shared honest, anonymous feedback about the conference. The feed, coming on the back of Secret’s $10 million fundraising announcement, caused the app to jump more than 500 spots in the Apple app store rankings over the weekend, making Secret one of the fifty most downloaded social media apps, ahead of Foursquare and Facebook’s new Paper.

By itself, Secret is a noteworthy example of product design and community-building in an identity-conscious, mobile feature-unbundling world. But Secret isn’t alone. Its largest competitor Whisper also just raised venture funding, another addition to a Snapchat-led ecosystem of apps that help users create, share and consume content that’s genuine, unedited and in the moment. In fact, I see Secret, Whisper and Snapchat as part of a larger content and cultural trend centered around a key brand pillar: honesty.Continue Reading..

01
Mar

What Hubspot’s IPO Announcement Says About the Future of Marketing

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported marketing software company Hubspot has started IPO discussions with Morgan Stanley after achieving 50% year-over-year revenue growth in 2013 to $77 million. As most already know, Hubspot’s central offering is a suite of software that helps companies manage their inbound marketing, a strategy focused on creating quality content to pull people toward your company’s website and products.

At its core, inbound marketing is a structured marriage between content marketing and analytics, centered around an owned content hub: your brand’s website. Hubspot’s own value creation in this space has come from providing agencies and brands — primarily SMBs — with a system of record for website-based marketing content to drive business leads. Although Hubspot and similar SaaS vendors like Marketo are often designated “marketing automation” software, their true focus is about influencing the customer lifecycle with content, then tracking their progress from prospect to customer.

To me, Hubspot’s recent success — and their decision to now go public — highlights three important trends currently happening in marketing, ones that will have significant influence on what inbound becomes.

1. The marketing funnel now extends well beyond the website. Originally, inbound was a marketing system with the website (and its blog) at the center. But several of Hubspot’s recent product releases — in particular social inbox — tie into a broader theme that social (largely due to mobile) has massively broadened the outer reaches of the marketing funnel. Buyers don’t contact brands until the majority of their purchasing decision process is already complete, and 78% of consumer purchasing decisions are influenced by social. Social platforms are the first place buyers learn about and interact with brands, and its not an owned part of the funnel. The shape and size of the content marketing landscape is changing, and it’s driven by social.

Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing Usage Trend Growth

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25
Feb

Understanding Twitter Engagement: The Anatomy of 100,000 Followers

Last year, I launched a social marketing automation app that’s quietly grown to become what I now believe to be the largest third-party “Twitter advertising” platform – I use that term loosely – on the web. To give you a sense of scale, it’s actively generating millions of impressions and hundreds of thousands of engagement events (follows, retweets) across Twitter for users in 41 different countries. Because impressions drive conversions much like a more traditional ad network, this also means it’s spinning off a large amount of data on social engagement and follower interactions. So far I’ve just been letting the data build up, until this past weekend when I decided to dust off my rusty SQL skills and have a look around.

Here are five new things I learned looking at a random data slice of 100,000 Twitter follows.

First, some stats about our overall sample population of followers:

a. The average follower has 3,011 followers of their own on Twitter, although the median follower count is much lower at 388

b. The average follower has a Klout score of 38.9

c. The top 3 most commonly occurring Twitter bio keywords/strings: 1. social (3,857 unique appearances), 2. university (1,940) and 3. media (1,844)

d. The top 3 most common locations (according to their profile): 1. London (2,742 profiles), 2. Boston (2,239) and 3. New York (2,133) (somewhat surprisingly San Francisco came in sixth)

All time for this study is set to Eastern Standard time. Also, with follows being drawn randomly throughout most of the year, our data set shouldn’t need any seasonality adjustments. Nonetheless, if you see any ways to improve this analysis (or any flaws in my methodology, whatever they may be) feel free to shoot me an email.

Lesson #1: Users with Less than 1,000 Followers are Three Times More Likely to Follow You

Trying to get influencers to engage with you on Twitter? The odds aren’t necessarily in your favor, particularly if you’re in the early stages of brand-building for your own account. All other things equal, Twitter accounts with more than 1,000 followers are 62% less likely to follow you than users with <1,000.

Lesson #2: You’re 14% More Likely to Get Followed on a Weekday vs. a Weekend

Twitter Follower Timing

Out of every 100,000 followers distributed throughout a week, this data says the average weekday will see 14,819 follows vs. an average of 12,952 on a weekend day.  That means 14% more follows happen on a typical weekday when people are presumably spending more time on their computers and mobile devices and less time off-line engaging in leisure activities.  Overall, approximately 74% of all follows captured in this data set took place between Monday and Friday. The distribution of follows throughout the week was also fairly consistent: Thursday was the highest days for new follows but still only 5.9% above the weekly average, while Sunday following volume was only 10% below average.

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23
Jan

The Five Cornerstones of Growth Hacking

Growth hacking is currently going through a turbulent adolescence. After being thrust into the public spotlight by opportunistic media pundits and loosely-correlated startup success stories, the innovation community has struggled to define and defend growth hacking as a practice or designation with substance.  To borrow from a thoughtful, recent article by Lincoln Murphy, the growth hacker community has been heavily compromised and co-opted by “…linkbait [name-dropping] people use to get traffic while they rehash the Hotmail and AirBnB ‘hacks’ or talk about SEO or Copywriting or [any generic marketing tactic] and tag it #growthhacking.”

Today, we seem to be past the point of no return, and stuck at two opposite extremes. At one end, doing anything successful at a startup that required more technical acumen than opening a web browser is heralded as “growth hacking.” Yet, at the same time, growth hacking is being increasingly lumped in with spammy, smarmy and coercive promotional tactics used by over-eager startup marketers to try to get an edge.

Can growth hacking rise above all this self-induced backlash? Does growth hacking still have a reputable professional identity that gives it legs to stand on? Am I a growth hacker? Are you? Growth hacking feels like it needs a clearer, nobler definition, and here’s my first attempt to suggest one. Growth hacking achieves a business vision using digital resources (code, content, data) to capitalize on economic or technical opportunities in order to produce sustainable yet rapid growth for a company or cause. If a strategy or tactic doesn’t have a technology-enabled vision, doesn’t identify and expose a market opportunity, isn’t sustainable and/or secure and doesn’t result in helping a company grow faster, bigger or both, it’s not growth hacking.

How is this different from, well, digital marketing? Let’s take search engine optimization (SEO) as an example and break it down:Continue Reading..

18
Jan

How to Not Get Hired at a Tech Startup in 2014

I’ve been doing a lot of interviewing recently (#we’rehiring @Percolate), and have seen a very broad range in overall candidate thoughtfulness and “preparedness” for today’s startup workforce. As a result I thought I’d put together a list of observations and recommendations that might help anyone interested in a job at a tech startup bolster their resume and be better prepared for their first interview. Although I’ve interviewed developers in the past, in my current role I’m interviewing almost exclusively for non-technical (or “soft technical”) marketing and PR roles. Because I think the developer interview track is very different, I’m going to focus this essay on suggestions for non-technical job applicants. If you’re applying for a job at a tech startup in 2014, here’s how you can pretty much guarantee you’re not going to get hired.Continue Reading..

12
Jan

Defining Content Marketing in 2014

There’s no question content marketing is evolving rapidly. In 2009, content marketing meant blogging and writing SEO articles for your website. Fast forward five years, and content marketing is simultaneously both more omnipresent and more challenging to concretely define.  If a brand’s presences across social, mobile and web are defined by the reach and discoverability of their digital assets (apps, photos, videos, etc.), isn’t all marketing technically “content marketing?”Continue Reading..

15
Apr

The 2013 Boston Marathon: Acute, Physical Tragedy, Momentous Digital Response

 

Today’s tragic Boston Marathon bombing was as real, visceral and tangible as the grizzly Newtown, CT school shooting or any other recent rip through our collective sense of safety, priority and moral good. I cannot overstate that. As I sit here now however, trying to reconcile today’s losses, thanking my lucky stars friends and family-members nearby escaped unscathed and searching for more information about what could have motivated such a senseless attack beyond a broad, jaundiced hatred of American freedom, culture and national pride, I can’t help but notice the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing conversation is dominated – and our country as united as ever – by the speed and reach of social media.Continue Reading..