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Monday, March 25, 2013

Top 10 Social Media Conferences For Marketers

by Jason Keath on Mar 25, 2013:
Whenever someone asks me what social media conference they should attend, I turn to my personal list of my can’t miss events.
Clearly I recommend our events first, but sometimes the timing or the type of event someone needs is different. And there are a ton of great conferences out there for marketers throughout the year.
After attending more than 40 social media conferences over the past few years, I have learned that one size does not fit all.
There are big events and small events. Multiple tracks and single tracks. Great networking events and great content events.
So let’s jump in.

1. Social Fresh Conference

April 18-19 | Tampa, Florida
September 12-13 | San Diego, California
Pricing: $400 to $700
social media conference
Social Fresh is two days packed full of top industry content. The conference is a single track of 15 awesome speakers (disclosure: I am biased). The event hosts top industry speakers, has a “no panels” rule, and focuses on actionable content and networking opportunities.
Social Fresh conferences are attended by marketers of all shapes and sizes, from small business and startups to agencies and big brands. And everything in between. The focus is to bring the best speakers available to an audience that craves cutting edge best practices and examples.

2. SXSW Interactive

March TBA 2014 | Austin, Texas
Pricing: $700 to $1,200
As the biggest digital and social media conference there is, SXSWi is an event every marketer should attend at least once. While there are some quality sessions, the work to find them and the crowd that you have to work through may or may not be worth it. However, the networking is often the best you will find. If you are starting a business or looking to grow a business that can benefit from new connections within the SXSWi audience, then this is a hugely valuable event.
“The SXSW 2013 trade show was the best one I’ve attended in many years – and I went back more than once. There were hundreds of exciting companies to discover.”
via Violet Blue

3. SMX Social Media

November 20-21 | Las Vegas, Nevada
Pricing: $900 to $3,300
SMX Social Media Marketing is a two-day conference that covers social marketing from a search marketing and performance marketing perspective.
“As a first time SMX attendee, I found SMX Social Media Marketing 2011 to be a well organized event, packed full of relevant, high-quality information from a variety of dynamic, interesting speakers. I’m already looking forward to the next one!”
via Melissa Smith, Equity Marketing Solutions

4. NMX by Blog World

January TBA 2014, Las Vegas, Nevada
Pricing: $700 to $1,300
blogworld NMX
Great conference for bloggers and social media pros alike. Blogworld is now two separate events, but you can still attend both. The NMX event, or new media expo, is focused on the business side of the industry. Blogworld and NMX provides several track options from those blog monetization to podcasting to a slate of social media marketer focused sessions. This is a great event for bloggers and brands that want to network with each other.
“The show has been really informative and I have learned a lot. I was just at a booth and I had never heard about this particular service before, so the vendors are very interesting to talk to. I have a blog and I do a podcasting, so my goal for attending is to learn how to drive traffic to my sites and to do what I do more efficiently. I’ve learned a lot just in the hour and a half that I have been here on exactly that.”
via Rod Adams, Raw Business Solutions

5. Content Marketing World

September 9-11 | Cleveland, Ohio
Pricing: $1,000 to $2,500
content marketing world
As the only content marketing focused conference on the list, Content Marketing World is focused on brands telling better stories. They host speakers that present hugely actionable content marketing advice.
“I came away from Content Marketing World both inspired and informed – and with a lot of new connections to help grow our business.”
via Brenda Spiering – Editor, Sun Life Canada Web

6. Social Slam

April 5 | Knoxville, Tennessee
Pricing: $100
social slam
Social Slam is an annual one-day conference held each April in Knoxville, TN. Social Slam is one of the best opportunities to stay on top of social media trends and network with some of the top influencers in the space.
“A one-day conference that delivered engaging, interactive and myth-busting information about social media, customer engagement and social intelligence that left everyone inspired.”
via Marisa Peacock

7. Social Brand Forum

October TBA 2013 | Coralville, Iowa
Pricing: $275
social media training
The annual Social Brand Forum brings national-level social media content to Iowa’s Creative Corridor for a day and half of keynotes and interactive sessions. Featuring speakers, authors, and thought leaders from the national stage, the event is designed to help marketers at organizations small and large build stronger brands through social media content, conversations, and community.
“SocialBrand, pound for pound, was one of the most useful, informative and convivial events I’ve attended in quite a while, and without a doubt the most fun I’ve ever had in Iowa.”
via David B. Thomas, Salesforce Marketing Cloud

8. Inbound Marketing Summit

April 3-4 | New York, New York
July 30-31 | Los Angeles, California
October TBA | Boston, Massachusetts
Pricing: $300 to $400
inbound marketing summit
HubSpot produces the Inbound Marketing Summit as a multi-track conference focused on a broad range of digital marketing topics, from social media to email marketing and much more. If you are a HubSpot customer, this event is especially useful.
“I just got back from the Inbound Marketing Summit in San Francisco and I was blown away by the amount of information, the open sharing attitude of every single attendee and the overall atmosphere.”
via Janet Fouts

9. Social Media Week

September 23-27 | New York City, Washington D.C. & Miami
Pricing: Mostly free events
social media week
Social Media Week is not necessarily a conference, but a series of loosely organized community driven events. The week long series includes a large range of event types and topics in the cities where it takes place. Over 90% of events hosted during SMW are free, but when an event session has a fee associated with it, it will be clearly stated. Many of these events will host high quality speakers and include great networking opportunities. Sort through the large number of options and find the best pieces for you.
“Social Media Week does not disappoint. It is a real-world manifestation of some of the best that new technology has to offer – ideas, strategies and insights shared by the people who are shaping the future.”
via Ellen McGirt, Senior Writer, Fast Company

10. MIMA Summit

October 15, 2013 | Minneapolis, MN
Pricing: $450 for members

The biggest annual marketing and technology conference in the Midwest, presented by the oldest interactive marketing association in America. This year MIMA marks the 12th Anniversary of the MIMA Summit.
MIMA Summit covers a broad spectrum of digital marketing topics through multiple tracks.

Monday, March 18, 2013

7 Lessons From the World's Most Captivating Presenters [SlideShare]

iphone launchintermediate
It’s 7:54 on a frigid January morning in San Francisco. You’re waiting outside the Moscone Center, in a queue of several thousand people, many of whom have been camping out in the cold for over 12 hours. The security detail for this event rivals the Democratic National Convention. Another hour passes before you’re comfortably seated in a giant auditorium that’s crackling with anticipation.
Finally, at 9:43 a.m., the moment you’ve been waiting for arrives. The thin, soft-spoken man gracing the stage in his signature turtleneck and jeans, clears his throat, takes a sip from his water bottle, then pauses for a full 12 seconds before uttering these words:
"This is a day I've been looking forward to for two and a half years. Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.”
Such was the scene on January 9, 2007, when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone in one of the most captivating product launches in history. Indeed the iPhone was a revolutionary product, but it wasn’t the iPhone that inspired thousands of people to camp out in the cold over night. It was Jobs’ unique presentation style -- which Apple fans referred to as a “Stevenote” -- that helped make this among the most awe-inspiring, memorable keynotes ever delivered.
As Carmine Gallo puts it in his book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, Steve “transformed the typical, dull, technical, plodding slideshow into a theatrical event complete with heroes, villains, a supporting cast, and stunning backdrops. People who witness a Steve Jobs presentation for the first time describe it as an extraordinary experience.”
At LeWeb Paris in December 2012, I had the opportunity to witness another kind of extraordinary experience. This wasn’t a product launch; it was a keynote delivered by charity: water Founder and CEO Scott Harrison. Scott shared the remarkable and very personal story of how a “spiritually bankrupt” New York City night club promoter found courage, purpose -- and a new mission in life -- on a trip to one of the poorest countries in West Africa.
charity: water ceo scott harrison
Scott’s presentation moved people to tears and drew a standing ovation. And that’s not the sort of thing that typically happens at a tech conference.
Last year at INBOUND, the world’s largest gathering of inbound marketers, before an audience of 2800, Gary Vaynerchuck did the unthinkable. No, it wasn’t “dropping the f-bomb 76 times” (he did, in fact, drop the f-bomb 76 times, but that’s not the “unthinkable” I’m referring to). Gary gave an impassioned, inspiring 45-minute keynote -- at 9 o’clock in the morning -- without a single PowerPoint slide. He had the audience laughing, cheering, and tweeting like mad. He, too, earned his standing ovation.
Gary Vaynerchuk at INBOUND
Steve, Scott, and Gary are three of the world’s most captivating communicators. Their ability to influence, entertain, and inspire an audience is incredible. And yet, their presentation styles are totally different.
What, if anything, do they have in common? What can we learn from them to improve our own presentation skills?
In a word: plenty.
Because even if you’re not the star of a highly anticipated product launch, or the CEO of an organization that is reinventing charity, or a best-selling author/entrepreneur who can say “F**K!” 76 times in 45 minutes and still get a standing ovation -- chances are, you’re going to be standing in front of an audience delivering a presentation of some kind at some point in your career.
So learn from the best. Take these 7 lessons from the world’s most captivating presenters, and apply them to your next presentation. You'll also find them in the SlideShare below, sliced up into 10 lessons.


Think back to the last time you prepared for a presentation. Did you start by outlining the story you would tell on paper? Did you then gradually weave in meaningful data, examples, and supporting points, based on that outline? Did you have a clear unifying message that your audience would remember even without the benefit of a transcript or notes?
Chances are, you answered “no” to those questions. If you’re like most people, you probably “prepared” by opening up PowerPoint the night before your presentation, cobbling together a few dozen slides from decks you or your colleagues have used in the past, peppering in a few stock photos, and counting on your ability to “wing it” in person.
“The single most important thing you can do to dramatically improve your presentations is to have a story to tell before you work on your PowerPoint file.”
—Cliff Atkinson, Beyond Bullet Points
The world’s most captivating communicators know better. They carefully, painstakingly plan, storyboard, script, design, and rehearse their presentations like an Oscar-winning Hollywood director prepares their film for the big screen. They’ve seen the impact that a carefully crafted story can have on influencing an audience, and they know that skipping this crucial first step is what separates average communicators from extraordinary ones.
According to Nancy Duarte, the communications expert behind Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, presenters should dedicate roughly 30 hours to researching, organizing, sketching, storyboarding, scripting, and revising the story for a one-hour presentation. (Later, they’ll invest another 30 hours to building their slides, and a final 30 hours to rehearsing the delivery.)
It takes 90 hours to craft a world-class, 60-minute presentation.


Don’t sell yourself short by jumping head-first into presentation software. Take the time to thoughtfully craft your story on paper before you even think about creating a single slide.


Most presentations follow some variation on the following format:
  1. Who I am
  2. What I do (or what my company does)
  3. How my product/company/idea is different
  4. Why you should buy/invest/support me now
The world’s most captivating communicators typically rely on a three-act structure, more common in modern storytelling than in corporate conference rooms. The narrative is divided into three parts -- the setup, the confrontation, and the resolution -- and comes complete with vivid characters, heroes, and villains.
The following table provides a snapshot of the three-act structure and which critical questions are answered for the audience in each:
3 acts updated resized 600
Notice that this structure turns the typical presentation “flow” on its head.
Instead of following a WHO > WHAT > HOW > WHY flow, master communicators like Steve Jobs prefer a WHY > HOW > WHAT format, because they recognize that the first thing they need to do when standing in front of an audience is get them to care. So they begin by answering the one question everyone in the audience is silently asking: “Why should I care?”
From there, they focus on answering the question, “How will this make my life better?” and finally, they spell out the “WHAT,” as in, “What action do I need to take now?”


By structuring your presentation with a clear and compelling beginning, middle, and end, you’ll take your audience on an exciting journey … the kind that inspires action, sells products, and funds businesses.


There’s a reason why expressions like, “Seeing is believing” and, “A picture is worth 1000 words” are so universally recognized -- and that reason is based in science.
It’s called the Picture Superiority Effect, and it refers to a large body of research, which shows that humans more easily learn and recall information that is presented as pictures than when the same information is presented in words.
In one experiment, for instance, subjects who were presented with information orally could remember about 10% of the content 72 hours later. Those who were presented with information in picture format were able to recall 65% of the content.
Picture Superiority Effect
Not only do we remember visual input better, but we also process visual information 60,000x faster in the brain than we do text.
Which of the following did you comprehend faster, for example?
visuals trump text
Sure, it takes more time to find and select awesome images to replace text, but master communicators know that it’s worth the extra effort to achieve maximum impact and maximum audience retention.


Images are wicked powerful. Use them liberally.


Virtually every presentation relies on some form of data to illustrate or emphasize the core point. Master communicators like Steve Jobs leverage data skillfully -- but they also know that data alone ain’t enough.
Think of it this way: If data were sufficient to truly change the way people think or behave, nobody would smoke. Organized religion would have no followers. And who in their right mind would have unprotected sex with a stranger?
Clearly, humans are creatures guided by more than logic alone.
Science again comes to our aid in explaining how and why this is important. In his book, Brain Rules, molecular biologist John Medina has this to say about the role of emotion on the human brain:
“An emotionally charged event (usually called an ECS, short for emotionally competent stimulus) is the best-processed kind of external stimulus ever measured. Emotionally charged events persist much longer in our memories and are recalled with greater accuracy than neutral memories.”
emotion brain image resized 600
Chip and Dan Heath further elaborate on the impact that emotion can have on persuasive communication in their book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. The authors describe an exercise that Chip does with his students at Stanford University. The students are tasked with giving a one-minute persuasive speech. Everyone must present on the same topic, with half the class arguing for one point of view and the other half arguing for the opposite point of view.
After everyone has given their one-minute speech, the students are invited to rate each other on the effectiveness of the presentations, and then instructed to write down key points made by each speaker.
Here’s the data they collected from this exercise:
  • On average, the students used 2.5 statistics during their one-minute speeches
  • 1/10 of the students used a personal story to make their point
  • 63% of the class remembered details from the speeches that used stories
  • Only 5% remember the statistics that were shared
The Heaths drew this conclusion from the data:
“The stars of stickiness are the students who made their case by telling stories, or by tapping into emotion, or by stressing a single point rather than ten.”
Perhaps nobody more succinctly emphasizes the importance of making your audience feel than Pulitzer Prize-winning author Maya Angelou:
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Make sure your presentation content goes beyond pure “facts.” Triggering audience emotion is a guaranteed way to increase retention and impact of your core message.


When Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPod, he could have said something like this:
“Today we’re introducing a new, portable music player that weighs a mere 6.5 ounces, is about the size of a sardine can, and boasts voluminous capacity, long battery life, and lightning-fast transfer speeds.”
But he didn’t. Instead, he said: “iPod. One thousand songs in your pocket.”
Jobs could have described the MacBook Air as a “smaller, lighter MacBook Pro with a generously-sized 13.3-inch, 1280- by 800-pixel, glossy LED screen and a full-size keyboard.”
Instead, he walked on stage with an office-sized manila envelope, pulled the notebook out and simply said, “What is MacBook Air? In a sentence, it’s the world’s thinnest notebook.”
Steve Jobs introduces the MacBook Air
Unlike most of his contemporaries, Jobs generally avoided complicated stats, technical data, buzzwords, and jargon in his presentations. Instead, he relied on simple, clear, direct language that was easy to understand, easy to remember, and better yet, was extremely “tweetable.” Jobs frequently used metaphors and analogies to bring meaning to numbers -- for instance, when he described the iPod as “a thousand songs in your pocket” instead of “5GB of memory.”
A closer look at some of Jobs’ most famous keynotes reads like a presentation in “headlines” -- powerful, memorable, specific statements that consistently add up to fewer than 140 characters.
Now take a look at one of your recent presentations. Is it buoyant with simple, specific, tweetable headlines? Does the script read like plain English that a 7-year-old could understand? Do you put data and stats in context so their meaning is clear and easy-to-digest? Have you ruthlessly pruned out all of the jargon, including overused, meaningless terms like “integrated,” “platform,” “leading-edge,” “synergy,” and so on?


If you want to improve your ability to persuade an audience, do your best Steve Jobs impression. Use simple language, free of jargon. Make sure your key messages are concrete and consistent. And don’t forget to use vivid metaphors or analogies to provide context and clarity around big numbers and complex ideas.


This may be hard to believe, but Steve Jobs never used a single bullet point. Not once. His presentations were always remarkable spare, relying on a few powerful images and carefully selected words or phrases.
Even during product demos where Jobs explains or demonstrates key benefits of a new product, his slides are refreshingly devoid of bullet points.
no bullets
As Seth Godin explains in a 2007 ebook called Really Bad PowerPoint, “The minute you put bullet points on the screen, you are announcing ‘write this down, but don’t really pay attention to it now.’ People don’t take notes at the opera.”
Seth’s right. Researchers have demonstrated time and time again that text and bullet points are the least effective way to deliver important information. Yet despite clear evidence that wordy, bullet-point-heavy slides don’t work, the average PowerPoint slide has 40 words. No wonder SlideRocket has found that 32% of people fall asleep during PowerPoint presentations, and 20% would rather go to the dentist than sit through another one!
Fact: the human brain has this function called “short-term memory,” which is basically the ability to process and retain a small amount of information at the same time.
Think of short-term memory as your brain’s Post-It note. Like a Post-It note, it doesn’t have huge capacity. On average, our short-term memory can hold onto fewer than 7 items for no longer than 10-15 seconds.
So, imagine you’re introducing the world’s thinnest notebook. Replace the bulleted list of techie product features with a photograph of a large, manila office envelope.
Or perhaps you’re trying to inspire an audience to help your nonprofit end the water crisis? Skip the bulleted list of statistics in favor of a short, powerful video that shows rather than tells why everyone in the room should care.
The next time you’re tempted to cram a dozen facts onto a slide, remind yourself of the Leonardo Da Vinci philosophy that Steve Jobs frequently quoted:
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Or take a page from Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, and ditch the slides altogether!


Guns don’t kill people. Bullets do.


As communications expert Nancy Duarte pointed out in Lesson #1, creating a presentation that informs, entertains, AND inspires an audience takes a lot of time. The first 30 hours will be spent researching, sketching, planning, and revising your story. The next 30 hours will go toward building simple, highly visual slides with very few words and NO BULLETS.
The final 30 hours will go toward rehearsing the delivery.
When was the last time you spent 30 hours rehearsing for a presentation?
Of all of the lessons revealed above, this one is undoubtedly the most often overlooked. Don’t be the person who does everything by the book, only to blow it all at the very end by failing to practice. A lot.


30 hours of rehearsing may be painful. It’s definitely time-consuming. But there are no shortcuts to excellence.


On September 28, 1997, Apple debuted its now infamous “Think Different” ad campaign, which featured a series of black-and-white images of iconic figures like Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., and Amelia Earhart. While their images flashed on the screen, the following words were spoken:
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square hole. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
The goal of the “Think Different” campaign was to sell computers. Notice how the word “computer” didn’t appear even once in the script.
I point this out as a final thought, because it summarizes a crucial, remarkable quality shared by most of the world’s most captivating communicators, including Steve Jobs, Scott Harrison, and Gary Vaynerchuk. They may have wildly different presentation styles, but they all have this in common:
They don’t just provide “information;” they convey meaning -- and they do it with passion.
They don’t simply tell people “what is,” they paint a vivid picture of what could be -- and then they arm their audience with a roadmap to get there.
World-class presenters like Jobs, Harrison, and Vaynerchuk aren’t selling computers, clean water, or wine. They’re selling the dream of a better tomorrow.
By applying the 7 lessons described above, perhaps you can, too.

Read more: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34274/7-Lessons-From-the-World-s-Most-Captivating-Presenters-SlideShare.aspx#ixzz2Nvs9ttP3

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Recovery Time: 3 Big Brands Bounce Back After Social Media Fails (Infographic)

It seems like every day we could report on another PR crisis hitting some unfortunate brand. But what's the real effect of these crises, and how long do they typically last?
Social media monitoring company SDL took a look at three brands that faced a PR crisis since social media has become ubiquitous--United, Nestle, and Dominos--to find out how long it took each to recover.
The results are compiled in the infographic below.
As you can see, it took some (Nestle) longer than others to recover its positive online sentiment. But hey--at least they all recovered.

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225986#ixzz2NkTrVEYK

The Marketer's Guide to Instagram

The Marketer's Guide to Instagram

Despite facing plenty of controversy over its proposed Terms of Service changes, Instagram remains a hot site for both users and the marketers who want to capitalize on its popularity. If you've never used it before, Instagram is one part Flickr and one part Twitter: essentially a community in which users take and share photos with one another.
From a marketing perspective, the community's enthusiastic fan base and built-in social aspects make it an ideal place to connect with potential customers and build brand recognition. Here's how your business can take advantage of Instagram's potential:

Plan your content strategy.
Before you post your first image to Instagram, plan out a content strategy for the types of images you'll share and how these graphics communicate your brand's message. Although plenty of people use Instagram for personal purposes -- posting everything from pictures of their lunches to their pets -- businesses must be more strategic.
Related: How Instagram's New Terms Ignited a PR Debacle
To start, identify potential followers by seeing who's following your competitors on the site. Then, take a look at the images they're liking and sharing and consider their preferences when defining your own content strategy. That way, you should ensure that any image you post to the site will appeal to your new followers.
As you go through this process, continually ask yourself the following questions to help guide the content curation process:
  • What types of content do my potential followers seem to prefer?
  • What types of content will most likely encourage these Instagram users to engage with my brand?
  • How can I share content that will get people talking about my brand?
Post engaging images.
Once you have a feel for the types of content you plan to share on Instagram, you'll find that it's worth brushing up on your photography skills. Users on the site can be extremely picky about the images they "like."
If your photos tend to have red eyes and chopped off heads, either take a class on photo composition or outsource picture taking to more qualified photographers. Working with local art school students, for example, is one way to capture aesthetically pleasing images at a lower cost than hiring professional photographers.
In addition, be aware that Instagram users are accustomed to seeing images that have been enhanced using either the site's built-in photo filters or other manually produced effects. Again, if you don't yet know how to apply filters to your images, you can either read more about using them or outsource it to photo editors using sites like Fiverr or Elance.
Related: 5 Ways Instagram Can Boost Your Marketing Plan
Use brand-specific and generic hashtags on all your images.
As on Twitter, Instagram users search by hashtags to find interesting new content or to follow subjects they're interested in. As a result, it's important that you use both brand-specific and generic hashtags on all the images you upload to the site.
  • Brand-specific hashtags are those that you create based on your company's name, products, services or other defining features. For example, if your company runs an industry conference, using hashtags like #companyname and #our2013event can help Instagram users engage with more of your business's content.
  • At the same time, generic hashtags -- formatted like #ourindustry or #producttype -- can help your company's Instagram account gain traction among people who aren't yet familiar with your brand but use the site to seek information on topics that interest them.
Engage viewers by using geolocation and gamification tools.
Finally, get your brand noticed on Instagram by making interacting with your company's content fun. Ways you can do this:
  • Use Instagram's geolocation feature to tie your images to specific places and provide potential followers with another point of engagement. Turning on this feature -- referred to as "Photo Map" -- helps alert users in your area to your presence and can be used as a jumping off point for connecting with new followers.
  • Turn your activity into a game. On Instagram, you can do much more than just upload a few images and wait for people to follow your brand. You can run contests that encourage followers to submit their own pictures under your company's hashtags, create caption contests, or upload "mystery photos" that encourage users to solve puzzles while learning more about your company.
Certainly, Instagram marketing isn't the right fit for every company. That's why it's important to confirm that your target audience is actually using the site before engaging in the techniques described above. If you do find clear evidence that your user base is active on Instagram, make it a priority to use these techniques to take advantage of this promising new marketing channel.
Related: Is Instagram on the Web Worth It for Your Business?

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226014#ixzz2NkTUi2Gl

10 Questions to Ask When Creating Your Company's Pinterest Page

10 Questions to Ask When Creating Your Company's Pinterest Page

Pinterest has quickly evolved into a social media eye-candy powerhouse. People are now pinning images as often as they tweet, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.
If your business isn't on Pinterest yet, you might want to think seriously about jumping on board. Pinterest can enable you to tell your company's story in visually engaging ways that enhance your brand image and attract potential new customers.
To help you create a Pinterest presence, here are 10 key questions to ask:
1. What does my company want to achieve on Pinterest?
You may simply want to create a strong brand image, or you might hope to use Pinterest to help launch new products. Whatever your goal, defining it can help you decide which types of Pinterest boards to create and how to organize and promote your pins.

If your company wants to publicize its commitment to sustainability, for instance, you might create boards that relate to gardening and recycling, as Whole Foods has done. Or, if you simply want to drive traffic to your business's website, create boards with images that link directly to it. The Travel Channel's 37 boards -- with intriguing titles like "Travel Bucket List" and "We'd Rather Be Here Than Work Right Now"-- feature pins linking to relevant travel destination articles on its main website.

2. What's a Pinterest board and what kind should I create?
A board is where you organize multiple pins by topic or theme. You can customize your boards based on themes that directly or indirectly relate to your products and services. For example, Etsy, a popular online arts and crafts marketplace, curates 61 boards for some 235,000 followers with themes that range from handmade gift ideas to holiday decor to wedding accessories.

Related: 5 Ideas for Pinterest Boards That Can Help Build Your Brand
3. What types of images will best showcase my brand without being spammy?
Choose brightly colored, interesting pictures that show your followers how they can use your products and services in interesting, non-promotional situations.
"Images tell the story of your clientele and their relationship to your brand," says John A. McArthur, an assistant professor of communication at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina, who integrates Pinterest into his curriculum. "Consider how your customers would use your product or service and provide images that would speak to their experience."
Instead of pinning promotional pictures of paint cans, Benjamin Moore highlights its products Pinterest in unexpected ways. For example, the paint maker's popular "chalk it up!" board showcases its Chalkboard Paint in dozens of creative DIY projects, including chalkboard paint-dipped wine glasses and chalkboard-painted motorcycle helmets.
4. How do I upload images to Pinterest and where should I get them?
Add images via the Pin It bookmarklet or by uploading a picture directly from your computer. For businesses, it's generally best to use your own images rather than generic stock photography or other people's images. Your own original pictures can help your brand stand out from the crowd. More importantly, they reduce the risk of photo license infringement liability.
If you have too few of your own pictures or lack the budget for original photography, you can source images for free with appropriate attribution licenses from services like Creative Commons.
5. Will other people be able to contribute to my company's boards?
With Pinterest's "Me + Contributors," you can invite clients, customers, employees and even similar brands, to contribute to a group board. They will be notified via email that you have invited them, and you will receive emails from Pinterest when they add pins to your group board. To be added as a contributor, a person has to be one of your followers already, and you must follow at least one of his or her boards.
Group boards can quickly build an active, engaged community around your brand. The Food Network's "Let's Game Day" recipe group board, which complementary brands like Good Housekeeping magazine and Epicurious.com contribute to, has attracted some 71,000 followers so far. Just be mindful of users posting spammy or inappropriate images.
10 Questions to Ask When Creating Your Companys Pinterest Page
The Food Network's "Let's Game Day" recipe group board
Related: 6 Tips for Being More Visual With Social Media (Infographic)
6. How can I build an active community?
First, create several boards with compelling images. Then, make sure to #hashtag your pins with descriptive keywords that can help people find your images when searching Pinterest.
Whenever you create a new pin or new board, share a direct link to it, using Pinterest's Facebook and Twitter share buttons. Also, alert your web visitors to your Pinterest boards by adding Pinterest's follow button to your company's main website.
You might want to host a "Pinterest party" to encourage others to pin alongside you in real-time. HGTV recently had a Holiday Pinning Party, that let followers pin their favorite holiday decorations, gifts and recipes, while interacting with HGTV editors in pin comment fields.
7. Should my company follow other Pinterest users?
Following other users shows that you are an active Pinterest community participant and that you aren't just there to promote your products and services. So, make a habit of following people, brands and influencers who share similar pinning topics and themes in related industries. You can repin their images and comment on their pins.
8. How can I find and engage influential pinners?
To discover so-called "power pinners" who share your interests and can potentially boost your reach on Pinterest, click on the Popular link at the top of every Pinterest page. It will tell you which pins are trending and who is pinning them.
9. Should I pin videos, too?
A Pinterest gallery of humorous videos that feature well-designed textual infographics, and offer how-to tutorials can be an engaging way to bring your products and services to life.
To add a video pin, select the Add button at the top of Pinterest's main page. Choose the Add a Pin option and enter the URL of the video you wish to upload, either via YouTube or another link. Click the Find Images button to choose a thumbnail image from the video that best sums up your video. Next, select which of your boards to pin your video to. Click Pin It and you're done.
10. What's the most common mistake to avoid?
Don't go for the hard sell by filling your boards only with images of your company's products, projects and services. Pinterest frowns upon purely pushing your brand in its official marketing guidelines.

"Limit self-promotional pins to 10 percent of what you pin at the most, and stagger them when you do," says Kelby Carr, author of Pinterest For Dummies (Wiley, 2012) and Pinterest Marketing For Dummies (Wiley, 2012). "Use Pinterest as an opportunity to humanize your business in unique, fun and creative ways."
Carr also advises businesses to avoid "pin it to win it" contests that encourage "spammy" behavior, including asking followers to comment repeatedly. Running the occasional promotion or sweepstakes is fine, but don't overdo it.

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225936#ixzz2NkSkbnDL

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dissecting the Anatomy of a Five-Star Email [+ 5 Free Templates!]

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If you’re like most marketers, email marketing is one of the most powerful channels at your disposal. Email reaches out to an already engaged audience -- people who have already said yes to your marketing by opting in to your list (right?). It’s also an incredibly cost-effective channel. In fact, Magill research estimated that marketers earned $39 for every $1 they spent on email marketing in 2012. Now that’s a pretty good stat to include in your next presentation about the value of email marketing if I've ever heard one.
But how do you take your email to the next level -- from a white bread campaign to a five-star email experience? Well, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: You don’t have to start from scratch every time you want to craft a new email. Pre-designed templates are a great way to streamline your email development. After all, you know what they say about reinventing the wheel. That's why we decided to help you out by using what we know about email marketing best practices and creating five pre-optimized email templates, free to download for a limited time. These templates, which you even can test out using HubSpot's free software trial, give you everything you need to customize your own email messaging. So rather than fidgeting with column widths or image sizing, all you need to do is insert your email content and … presto! An optimized email in minutes. And to top it off, we've also created a helpful guide to go along with it -- The Anatomy of a Five-Star Email -- which walks you through the 12 components of an effective marketing email. You can download them both here for free.
And in this post, we'll walk you through each of these downloadable email templates, highlight which aspects of their designs address specific email optimization best practices, and talk about the types of email marketing campaigns they can used for. Let's get started!

Template 1: Best for Promoting a Single Offer

This email template takes to heart Da Vinci’s principle that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” In fact, this template is pretty close to the style we use in many of our own HubSpot emails. We've learned -- and optimization proponents agree -- that uncluttering your email messages usually produces the best results. Each email should have a specific goal, and that goal should be immediately evident to the reader. This specific template, for example, is best for promoting a single offer or conversion event.

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In addition to its clean design, this email template epitomizes several noteworthy email optimization best practices:

1) Consistent Company Branding

While your emails don’t need to be identical to your company website, giving all your marketing collateral a consistent look and feel helps improve prospects' overall experience with your brand. In this case, the template echoes the look and feel of the Neambo company website. Because you want the people opening your email to recognize who you are, using complementary brand cues can help your emails stand out from the crowd. In fact, all five of our free templates offer a choice of 33 different colors to enable you to customize elements of your email like its background, headline, and accent colors to mirror your company brand.

2) Clear Value Proposition

To generate clicks instead of confusion, your email should immediately address two important value propositions: 1) who your company is and why you matter, and 2) what your offer is and why it’s valuable to your audience. This template does a good job showcasing both of these.
First, the company's value proposition is clearly displayed in the top right corner of this email template -- in a marquee, “top of the fold” position. According to Neilson, only 20% of people read below the fold, so putting your competitive advantage front and center is vital to improving email conversions.
Beyond a company value prop, you should also address the value of the offer, product, or service you're promoting in the email in brief, clear, and compelling language. In this template, you'll notice the bold headline to draw in readers' attentions, and the copy below it should be used as supporting text that further emphasizes the offer's value.

3) Dominant Call-to-Action (CTA)

As we mentioned above, this email template is best for promoting a single offer or conversion event. To achieve it, the recipient must click on the green call-to-action, which is large and visually prominent.
An optimized CTA is crucial for bolstering the performance of your email marketing. Even for such a small amount of real estate, 41% of marketers report that optimizing their CTAs is extremely valuable, according to MarketingSherpa. And using this template, you can easily swap the placeholders with your own images and CTAs.

4) Relevant Image

According to research by 3M Corporation, our brains process visuals 60,000X faster than text. With that in mind, incorporating compelling images in your emails are another great way to capture readers' attention quickly, engage your audience, and differentiate your emails. At HubSpot, we've learned that matching our emails with relevant images significantly boosts our conversion rates. We've also noticed that for emails promoting a single offer, showing recipients an image of what they'll get when they convert (e.g. the cover of an ebook, a screenshot of tools in our software, etc.) also improves email conversion rates. (Same goes for landing pages, too!)

5) Social Sharing Buttons

Email marketing sounds great for generating reconversions from your existing contacts, but how does it impact new lead generation? For instance, at HubSpot, email marketing is one of our top organic lead drivers, even though we're only emailing people who have already converted into leads. So how does this all add up? It's all about the shares, people! Adding social sharing buttons will help you magnify the reach of your email messages and reach a whole new set of potential leads with very little effort on your part. You spend so much time developing valuable content, so why not make it easy for your audience to share it with their own networks?

6) Visible Unsubscribe Link (And Other Key CAN-SPAM Requirements)

You'll also notice that this email template (as well as all the others in this set) includes a visible unsubscribe link and the physical address for the company's headquarters, both of which are requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act and ensure your emails are compliant. Neglecting these additions can significantly damage your email sender reputation -- and also get you in some trouble with Johnny Law.

7) Mobile Optimized

While it's hard to tell from the image of this template, it's important to note that this template and the four others are all mobile optimized. As tablets and smartphones continue to grow in popularity, keep in mind that more and more people are bypassing their laptop and desktop computers and reading your emails on their mobile devices. In fact, according to research from Litmus, email open rates on smartphones and tablets increased 80% from the beginning to mid-2012 -- in just six months! A five-star email message, first and foremost, needs to be readable on every device, so check to make sure your email provider optimizes for mobile (Hint: HubSpot's email software does ... wink wink).

When Does This Template Come in Handy?

This first template is very multi-purpose. You can use it for just about any email with a single offer or conversion goal -- which will probably be the majority of your email marketing. In the example above, you'll notice the image is product-focused. But if you were to replace this product image with, say, an ebook or whitepaper cover, you'll probably recognize this as something similar to what HubSpot sends to promote our thought leadership content.
This template is less funnel stage-specific. For example, content in emails you might send to promote a single conversion event could range anywhere from an introductory, thought leadership-style content offer such as an ebook, to a middle-of-the-funnel offer like a product webinar, to a bottom-of-the funnel offer like a free trial, to a product upsell/thank you message.
Because this template is the most multi-purpose of the group, we had our designers craft three very similar template styles. Which leads us to ...

Templates 2-3: Variations for Promoting a Single Offer

Template Two is very similar to Template 1, but it gives you the alignment option of the image/CTA on the left, and the text on the right. Try both options to see which generates the best conversion rate with your audiences. You might even consider A/B testing it!

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Template Three increases the featured offers per email to two. This template arms you with the opportunity to provide an additional CTA enabling you to test whether your emails convert better with multiple offers. You never know -- perhaps your audience prefers the option of two offers to choose from. In addition to promoting specific offers or conversion events, this two-tiled email is great for thank-you/confirmation emails or cross-sell nurturing campaigns in which displaying additional offers is beneficial rather than distracting. For example, if someone just bought red boots from you, they might also be interested in seeing the complementary red backpack or red belt you also offer.

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Template 4: Best for Ecommerce Emails or Email Roundups

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Template 4 incorporates a variety of visual elements. This email template is, obviously, designed for email messages that contain more than one possible conversion path or conversion goal.
If you have more than one type of offer, experiment with this template to see if its tiled approach generates any additional conversions. For example, if you're an ecommerce company and your conversion goal is a sale, then any variety of sales from a single email might meet your goals, and giving recipients more choices may actually make sense.
Regardless of why this template appeals to you, it’s important to remember that every additional layer of design and content you add to an email increases the likelihood your readers will get overwhelmed. So if you're trying to get your readers to embark on a very specific conversion path, this template probably isn't for you.

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In addition to the email optimization tactics we already highlighted in the first template, here's how some additional email best practices play out in this template:

1) Primary and Secondary Calls-to-Action

Check out the hierarchical structure of this particular email template. You'll notice the pyramid approach to featuring both content and CTAs. Even in a rich email like this, you should always clearly highlight a primary call-to-action; in other words, your email's main goal, which is usually your top-selling product, top-converting offer, or the most desired action you want recipients to take.
In this template, the primary CTA is featured above the fold of the email in its own column, with double (and quadruple) the real estate of the secondary offers and CTAs. From there, the template uses design cues to present the secondary and third-tier offers, with subsequently less real estate as the reader moves down. These visual cues tell the reader which parts of your email message you're emphasizing as most -- and least -- important. Furthermore, the space at the bottom of the email can be used to emphasize the primary CTA.

2) Real Sender Name

This email template also does a good job of improving the personalization of your emails with its placeholder for the email author's personal signature and headshot. At HubSpot, we've found that emails sent from an actual person generate better open and clickthrough rates than emails sent from just the company name. This template makes it easy to upload your headshot and send out more personalized emails with the click of a button.

When Does This Template Come in Handy?

The most obvious use case for this email template is for ecommerce marketers with multiple products, such as a catalogue store or a photographer’s site. However, this is certainly not the only scenario in which a marketer might want to use this template. For example, a B2B company could use this template to send a year-end roundup of its top thought leadership content like blog articles or ebooks -- or to announce widespread pricing changes across multiple products.

Template 5: The Best of Both Worlds

This email template is a great blend of a single offer email and a more multi-purpose grid layout, and it plays to the strengths of both -- clearly highlighting a primary CTA while offering additional content or offers.

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When Does This Template Come in Handy?

This template would make a terrific email newsletter, with one monthly featured article and a few pieces of supporting evergreen content. You could also use this as a thank-you email, with the primary CTA thanking the user for filling out the form and providing the download or purchase confirmation, and the remainder of the email used to promote related content or products.
Now it’s time for you to get your hands dirty. Download these free optimized email templates now, and get to work!

Read more: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34247/Dissecting-the-Anatomy-of-a-Five-Star-Email-5-Free-Templates.aspx#ixzz2Ne8Dvixi

How to Survive Google's Pending Panda Update

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It appears the Google search spam team has a busy year planned. Matt Cutts recently attended SMX west and gave details on what updates they have planned for 2013. And guess what? There will be an update of both Google Panda and Penguin this year.
Surprised? Probably not. Google's updating their algorithm all the time -- some updates bigger than others, of course. What's the result? An unnerving feeling that your SEO standard operating procedures aren't totally up to date, because you're not sure if you are totally up to date on all the algorithm changes.
So with the Google Panda update expected to happen this weekend -- and if you have any ideas as to what it is, please leave it in the comments -- we thought it was the perfect opportunity to give a recap on all things Panda. That way, you can ensure you're caught up to date, and decrease the chances this pending algorithm update will hit you where it hurts. (In your SEO, that is.)

The Story So Far

The first Google Panda update appeared on February 24th 2011 and if you were unlucky enough to be hit, your traffic probably looked a lot like this:

Google Panda Traffic Drop

Since that first update, Google went on to release a further 23 updates, with the latest happening on January 22nd of this year. The update this weekend is the last manual update of Google Panda, as Google is planning on making it part of its overall continuous algorithm. What the heck does that mean? It means good news for webmasters, as forthcoming refreshes to the update will be less intense, and by extension less noticeable to marketers. So going forward, Panda updates really won't rock your world like they might have been the past couple years.

The Google Panda Victims

Since the first Panda update, a lot of people have tried to figure out what marketing practices the updates affect. Google’s top search engineers, Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal, gave an interview to Wired in 2011 on the purpose of Panda, but instead of making you watch that and try to suss out what you need to know, we're just going to tell you right here what you need to know. If you know all this, good; you're totally prepared for the upcoming Panda update. If you're not caught up on some of this stuff, it's time to permanently update your SEO strategy so Panda doesn't take you down with a big, fuzzy (but adorable) punch. Here's what the major Panda updates have been created to address:

1) Thin Content

One of Panda’s core targets for penalization is websites that have little in the way of original content. Instead, they have lots of pages that are nothing more than advertisements and links, kinda like this (image courtesy of SEOmoz), or content clearly purchased for low cost through what is often called a "content farm."

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Websites with shallow content aren't helpful to searchers, so as a company trying to promote the best search experience possible, it makes sense that Google is trying to ensure only the best content is surfaced in the SERPs.

2) Duplicate Pages to Target Keywords

There are a number of reasons a website can end up with internal duplication of pages. URL parameters like session IDs can result in a site having a lot pages that are identical. Or webmasters may just be trying to win in the SERPs through a little trickery instead of good old fashioned elbow grease. Either way, the internal duplication targeted by Panda was focused on sites that duplicated pages to target multiple keyword variations. For example, consider a site trying to rank for hotels in London. They may create a number of identical pages to target one keyword per page. The below pages, then, may be completely identical, any just target different keyword variations of "london hotels."

Internal dup pages

3) High Ad Ratio

Websites with a high ratio of ads above the fold were another target for Panda. If a user lands on a web page and has to scroll down before they get to read any content, there is a good chance that site may be a candidate for some Panda wrath.

High Ad Ratio

4) Empty Web Pages

There are a number of reasons a website can end up with a lot of empty web pages -- from the internal search functionality to just general housekeeping issues. This is another factor that could put your website at risk for Panda penalties, and one that a dedicated technical SEO specialist, whether in-house or through an agency, can help alleviate.

5) Purchased Links

If you're buying your inbound links, you're a prime target for a Panda punch. This is one of those tactics that rewarded those with the most money, not the best content, in the SERPs. I think most people have given up this practice, or those that haven't are easily identified by Google and duly punished for their shady ways, but if there are any stragglers out there, remember this is decidedly black hat SEO.
These are the major Panda updates it's important marketers are aware of. There are some other ones -- positive ones, like stronger incorporation of social sharing in the algorithm's weight, for instance. These five highlighted here are the updates that are the most likely to negatively affect your SEO if you haven't already remedied these issues.

Getting and Staying Panda Free

Since Panda first raised its ugly head, there has been a lot of data released that can help websites recover from Panda and ensure they're not impacted by future updates. Here are some of the most critical tips to keep in mind to ensure you're as prepared as you can be for the unknowable.

1) Replace Thin Content

To help identify content that may be at risk from Panda, use your current analytics tool to build a custom report that shows all pages that have very few visits -- say, 15 or fewer. (Note: Select a number that's appropriate for your site; high traffic sites, for instance, might up this number to 50 or 100.) These are potentially adding no real value to your site, and could be an indication of poor quality. Go through each of these pages and decide if you want to:
  • Make them more valuable by adding great content that will attract organic visitors and social interactions
  • If they are not required, just 301 redirect them to a better page on a similar subject

2) Get the Ad Ratio Correct

If you're not using ads at all on your site, congratulations, you're all set. Move on to the next tip. If you're using ads on your site, and your site template has a high portion of ads above the fold, consider moving to a design that makes use of ads a little more intelligently. The content on a page is the reason a person has visited your site; make sure it’s easily accessible.

3) Do Regular Clean-Ups

If your site is relatively large and has some complex functionality, there is always a possibility you could end up with some empty pages and issues that could affect the overall quality of your site. Implement a regular SEO audit that will provide a sanity check for your website. Look for things like empty pages, broken links, or internal duplication of pages caused by parameters, and make use of 301 redirects and the canonical tag to cure your website of these problems. If all of this makes your brain hurt or causes you to run for cover in your colleague's cubicle, bring on a technical SEO specialist, whether in-house or through an agency.

4) Create Quality Content

You need to determine if the content you're publishing is actually adding value to your visitors. Remember, hitting a certain keyword density is not the name of the SEO game these days. Measure your content against some key metrics, like number of page views, number of organic visits, number of inbound links, and number of social interactions. If people are finding your content relevant and useful, as indicated by page views, links, and shares, chances are you should be safe from Panda.

5) Avoid Taking Shortcuts

Google is always looking to penalize websites that use shortcuts to attain their rankings. It's not because they're out to get you. It's because usually, those shortcuts compromise the quality of the Google search experience by gaming the rankings in such a manner that low quality sites get ranked above the ones that are 1) actually doing the work, and 2) actually worth reading. Not cool, sketchy webmasters, not cool. Recently, for instance, they just took out a whole Russian link network.
Never put your business at risk by implementing any kind of SEO practice that seems a little too good to be true; because usually, it is. Focus on producing content that your target buyer personas will find useful.

Avoiding the SEO Bumps

Google Panda is a site-wide penalty, which means a few poor quality pages can get your whole site penalized. Although it's possible to recover, it's easier to just avoid the problem in the first place. Make sure you're putting a lot more focus around the content you produce and be completely focused on adding value for your audience. Whatever the last manual update of Google Panda has in store, following the tips above will help you stay clear of any negative impact going forward.
What do you think the Google Panda algorithm update has in store? Is your site Panda-friendly, or are you still trying to catch up with all of the updates?

Read more: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34270/How-to-Survive-Google-s-Pending-Panda-Update.aspx#ixzz2Ne3SB8as