Tag Archives: content

The Unfortunate Necessity: Mediocre Content

In an age where content rules, we’ve reached the point of stagnation. Yes, user generated material is still the lifeblood of the internet as we know it, but no longer is content the refreshing, educational, value creator that it once was.

In a 2010 article, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt noted that “Every two days we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.” While user generated content; tweets, pictures, blogs, etc. all add to the excess, the glut of information has continually driven down the level of quality, ultimately resulting in a flood of mediocre content.

However, this onslaught of pedestrian information isn’t simply an intangible talking point. Nearly three years ago, a McKinsey study valued the surplus at $171B, a number that has surely increased since the article’s publication.  

Initially, the excess material did very little, it remained dormant, languishing on blogs, many of which had failed to properly manipulate Google’s search algorithms, leaving them uncharted and unseen. Yet, as social media evolved, savvy internet users learned to drive site traffic and optimize content for search, opening the floodgates and drowning the internet in content.

Once the dam had broken, an oversupply of redundant information surfaced as a small group of thought leaders consistently innovated and a mass of “internet gurus” regurgitated their ideas as if they were their own, publishing them on blogs, forums, and social networks, while rarely expanding in any meaningful way.  

Today, as internet users frustratedly peruse the web searching for “new” articles, they often find that something published yesterday highlights the exact same information as a piece authored six months prior. Although, this repetition is nothing new, the frequency at which it occurs is unprecedented. Much the same as an influx in the housing market causes property values to plummet, a glut of monotonous content degrades the significance of an original thought.

Since much of this excess comes from people who are far from experts, a majority of user generated material is marginal at best. That being said, the same surplus that erodes innovative thought, is also what makes the social web great. So, as networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn foster open dialogue and act as a forum for unregulated discussion, it is important to remember that in doing so, they are spawning millions of pieces of lackluster content.

It is a viscous cycle. Mediocre content has become an unfortunate necessity. It is unfortunate that the regurgitation of a unique idea by self-proclaimed experts ultimately reduce the worth of an initial notion, but, it is a necessity, as the open, social dialogue created by subpar material, cause the exact same pieces of content to act as springboards, encouraging readers to expand upon their theories. If there is a gap within a hypothesis or an argument is flawed, the uninhibited exchange of ideas will inevitably result in a resolution.

 Three days ago, Allison Benedikt published a provocative manifesto, explaining why parents who send their kids to private institutions are “bad people.” While noting her argument wasn’t “quite as outrageous as it might seem”, John Carney, a senior editor at CNBC had an alternate view of the situation. Among several intelligent rebuttals, in his response, Carney explained that “Benedikt’s premise that creating a public school monopoly would improve education is demonstrably wrong. Monopoly education would, like every monopoly known in the history of humanity, produce a poorer quality product at greater cost. Competition improves education.”  

The example above not only highlights the open exchange of ideas spurred from content (Allison’s piece was far from mediocre), but John’s argument about monopolization can be adapted as well. To his point, competition fuels both innovation and quality. That being said, if we were to eliminate 85% all user generated content, leaving only what is (mostly) unique thought, competition would drastically decrease. As a result, quality would fall, innovation would slow, and stagnation would ensue, leaving us right back where we started, in a vicious cycle fueled by the unfortunate necessity that is mediocre content.

At the end of the day, the timeless adage still holds true. Regardless of whether the chicken came before the egg or the egg before the chicken, both mediocre content and the innovative ideas they spawn and destroy, are integral pieces of the social lifecycle.

 

Don’t forget to subscribe via email and follow me on Twitter: @BrendanBrandt

© 2012 Brendan Brandt. All Rights Reserved.

 

Additional Reading:

Every 2 Days We Create As Much Information As We Did Up To 2003

The Web’s €100 billion surplus

If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person

Sending Your Kids to Private School Doesn’t Make You a Bad Person

The Future of Facebook as a Social Content Farm

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Picture via Ogilvy.

Why Social Thought Leaders Are the Most Important Part of Your Executive Team

Most of us spend a good chunk of our day online in some capacity. We’re constantly absorbing content from various sources, analyzing and building on pieces of information, and learning from thought leaders who consistently push out high quality material.  Genuine thought leaders tend to do the same. They take in new ideas, compile them, and push out an even greater idea, continuing growth and fostering the cycle. This progression, and the development of thought leaders as individual experts, is contingent on the cultivation of new ideas.

In recent years, with the evolution of social networking, this notion has been injected with steroids. Gone are the days when thought leaders attended conferences and chatted behind closed doors with peers, discussing their apparent stranglehold on relevant creative thought. I repeat, those days are gone, and if you’re management teams still think that way, walk in to their offices and fire every single one of them.

Now, successful thought leaders, especially business people in positions of power, have realized the importance of the social web in fostering ideas, developing talent, and ultimately growing their businesses. By utilizing social media, thought leaders can recruit potential employees who demonstrate a complex understanding of a specific piece of subject matter, increase the number of quality ideas they see each day, and bolster their company with innovate thought, keeping them at the forefront of their respective industries.

Here’s a brief personal example – I now work for a Fortune 50, one of the largest companies in the world and a leader in our industry. Prior to coming aboard, I ran my own, rather successful digital marketing firm, Brandt Social. Although my current company has a network of literally thousands of recruiters across the country, I was contacted by a gentleman who is now my boss, and an executive at our company. While at first, I had little desire and certainly did not intend to go work at some giant firm where my talents would go unnoticed, I quickly learned that the gentleman who reached out to me was in fact a thought leader, who clearly used social as tool to stand out amongst his peers, foster talent, and cultivate new ideas. This differentiation was a major draw in my decision to come aboard.

Unfortunately, if your organization is lacking a genuine thought leader, your time frame is finite. Many managers, claiming to be thought leaders, whether they be a business person, an online personality, or an author, have been doing just the opposite, seemingly afraid of both new ideas and the talent that sprouted them.  This oppression not only hinders conceptual progression, but can ultimately burn out and deter top talent from fully developing.

In a business setting, whether you attribute it to jealousy, lack of adaptability, or narrow-mindedness, it is undeniably toxic. When managers, usually, self-described as thought leaders, prevent new ideas from spreading, regardless of their source, they are in a word, crushing the future of your business. New ideas are the foundation of not only the new “startup” business model, but of capitalism as a whole. When ideas get suppressed by a higher-up within your organization they force them one direction, out. As in, out of your entire organization. When this happens repeatedly, more than just ideas run for the hills. Top talent, potential recruits, and cutting edge clients want nothing to do with your business, regardless of your previous success. Remember, ideas are temporary, if you cannot adapt to innovative concepts or develop new ones, your days are numbered.

 

Don’t forget to subscribe and follow on Twitter: @BrendanBrandt

 © 2012 Brendan Brandt. All Rights Reserved.

Additional Reading

Thought Leadership 2.0 – http://www.inc.com/marla-tabaka/how-to-become-a-thought-leader-online.html

True Professionals Don’t Fear Amateurs – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2012/12/index.html

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2 Real World Resolutions and Their Social Applications

We’re officially one week into the New Year and resolutions are in full swing. From weight loss to dietary alterations, we all attempt, regardless of sincerity, to alter our lives for the better. Fortunately for us, these common resolutions are not only practical in the everyday, but digitally applicable and can change our online image, better our reputations, and bolster our brands.

1. Be Punctual

Everybody’s rushed, we all oversleep, and sometimes, possibly often, we run behind. That being said, timing is everything, especially when we’re talking social. In a digital world where a Tweet sent 30 seconds ago is obsolete, business owners and professionals alike must be acutely in tune with the timing of their posts.

So, when is the best time to publish your content? The short answer, weekdays around 4pm. The long answer, it varies greatly between networks and target market. If you’re shooting for the highest number of active users, Monday through Thursday 1pm to 4pm is your go to, but, if like many, you’re shooting to reach educated, employed, professionals or business owners, you’ll need to post with a bit more precision. Professionals utilize social media during the workweek, early (7am-8am), at lunch on their smartphones (11am – 12:30pm), and when they head home (4pm – 5pm). Of course this is by no means an exact science, but by remembering the importance of timing you can significantly increase the visibility of your content.

2. Consume Less

Regardless of the product; alcohol, tobacco, food, etc., many resolutions involve the practice of moderation. While consuming “too much” social content may not have proven adverse health effects, it can certainly be detrimental.

While many talk about a “work / life balance” few actually practice what they preach, and of all professions, social entrepreneurs are they absolute worst. Think about it, I mean actually think about it, how many hours a day are you active on social media? For most, 2, 3, 4 hours, or even more when taking into account mobile usage, is not uncommon. Not only does this leave little time for you to focus on other, probably more important areas of your life, family, friends, etc., but it actually inhibits your ability to differentiate between high quality, important information and the irrelevant opposite.

The people you follow and subscribe to generate a multitude of information, while not all of it is relevant or quality, much of it is. However, after being connected for hours, witnessing a constant stream of information, you begin to monitor for certain keywords or topics, usually extremely niche, that pertain to your immediate goal or problem rather than foster creative thought and enhance logic. Occasionally you may hit the jackpot and read that perfect article or blog that sparks a revelation, but far more often than not, by zoning in for hours on end and unintentionally filtering out content, you risk missing hundreds of pieces of slightly less relevant information that when compiled, could have solved your problem or helped you reach your goal in a fraction of the time. It certainly seems that the old adage holds true, less is more.

 

At the end of the day, any resolution, socially applicable or not, is more than likely a good one and is well worth attempting. I wish you all the best as you strive for personal improvement in 2013!

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and follow on Twitter: @BrendanBrandt

 © 2012 Brendan Brandt. All Rights Reserved.

Additional Reading:

Best Times To Post Social Networks (Infographic) – http://socialtimes.com/best-times-to-post-social-networks-infographic_b104584

Maybe Using Less Social Media Is The Path To Online Success – http://www.businessesgrow.com/2012/05/30/maybe-using-less-social-media-is-the-path-to-online-success/

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Want To Unleash Top Talent? Go Social.

As large, powerful corporations continue seek out and recruit young talent, much of which has grown up on the internet, they are realizing that the demands of today’s top recruits are far different than they were 10 years ago.  While dress codes, flexible work schedules, and gym memberships are easy fixes, the prospect of high level executives joining the social frontier is often a tough change, but is a must have for many top tier prospects.  That being said, leadership “going social” can be good for your business as it increases productivity, sparks collaboration, and attracts talent.

In case you didn’t know, the young recruit with a genius IQ you just hired doesn’t want to be stuck under mediocre, middle management leadership, where in their eyes there is little growth potential, and no place to showcase their talents. Many of them are impatient and the prospect of starting on the ground floor of a company, no matter how prestigious, is frustrating to them, regardless of its inevitability.

Since there is little chance you have the funds or the recruiting prowess to pull a swath of great leaders into your extremely exciting middle management positions, go social to appease the talent that is the future of your business. Doing so breaks down barriers within your organization as employees are given a forum to showcase their talents to both peers and decision makers. In turn, employee productivity increases, collaboration booms, and creativity skyrockets, all because your top young talent feels that they now have a chance to shine on a bigger stage, and you are no longer leaving them “parked” on the ground floor.

If you’re the micro-managing, control-freak of a CEO who is sitting in a stuffy office, thinking how this will open Pandora’s box, create a myriad of management issues, and let loose a floodgate of useless ideas, just remember that you probably won’t be sitting there in 3 years if you don’t adapt to change.

While social media certainly does give ALL of your employees greater exposure, it does not do away with the traditional management progressions or the previous methods of information dissemination within your company, it simply enhances collaboration, creativity, and gives the impression that entry level employees can actually influence C-level execs, regardless of the truth in that statement. 

“The illusion has become real.” – Gordon Gekko

At the end of the day the way your employees, or potential employees view you is all that really matters. Executives going social causes a slight change in perception and can transform seemingly mediocre employees into the creative, productive, superstars you want, and need them to be.

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and follow on Twitter: @brendanbrandt

 

Additional Reading:

Motivating Millennials – http://www.inc.com/eric-v-holtzclaw/motivating-millennials-take-a-cue-from-video-games.html

Harnessing Young Talent In The Age Of Impatience – http://fleishman.co.za/2011/04/harnessing-young-talent-in-the-age-of-impatience/

 © 2012 Brendan Brandt. All Rights Reserved.

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3 Ways To Promote Post Virality

Across the board, influencers are relentlessly attempting to differentiate themselves from the sea of 1,500,000,000 (1.5 billion) combined tweets and posts per day. While everyone wants to be the next Red Bull and blow up with half a million shares, virality is rarely ever achieved. Here are 3 tips to remember as you construct your next campaign and push for social infamy.

1. Want to go viral? Remember the basics.

When constructing a post remember what your audience, in this case anyone who consumes social content, is looking for. Make sure your wording, including a call to action, is interesting and concise. Chances are, if your introductory verbiage is bland, so is your content.

Avoid blocks of text. A few paragraphs are perfectly fine but nobody wants to read a wall of text. Break it up, use bullets, indents, and alter font (bold / italics) to create some visual relief.
Always include media. Let face it, we’re lazy and it’s much easier to glance at a picture or watch a video than it is to read, even if your text is short, say 140 characters, a picture or video brings a missing aesthetic element that will help your post standout.

Post on multiple platforms. Promote your content and make your call to action visible wherever you can. Publishing your information on various different sites will boost cross promotion, that is, a retweet on Twitter could ultimately translate into a comment on LinkedIn. At the end of the day the old adage still holds true, any publicity is good publicity, it doesn’t matter where that comes from. Fortunately, multiplatform integration has made simultaneously publishing one post to multiple sites extraordinarily easy.

2. If you want something, ask for it. Better yet, require it.

Unfortunately, you cannot expect your average social media user to retweet, reblog, or share something just because. While there certainly are some that do, it is important to remember that they are the exception and not the rule. However, by simply including a purposeful call to action within your post, you can often incite social consumers who typically remain on the sidelines into promoting your content. That being said, when aiming for virality, content creators should head in a different direction.
At risk of getting too far into gamificaiton, by hosting a contest, i.e. “Submit an offroad picture of you and your Jeep. The owner of the photo that receives the most likes wins a weekend at Jeep Adventure Camp! Users must share this post to win.” , influencers can directly drive virality.

For instance, the above post, includes not only a call to action “Submit an offroad picture of you and your Jeep”, but promotes sharing on 2 levels. First, and more overtly, the forced share – “Users must share this post to win.” The second tier of sharing or subshares, occur when uploading users (users who posted photos of their offroading Jeeps) ask that their friends, followers, connections, etc. interact on the host page, in this case Jeep’s Facebook, because the uploading user needs something (in this situation likes on their uploaded photo) in order to win the contest. This creates multiple waves of activity that drives traffic, prevents your content from going stagnant, increases total reach, and ultimately gives you a shot at virality.

3. Timing is everything.

Remember, social networks utilize the feed system, until a post starts seeing some activity, the playing field is level – the newer the better. With that in mind, it becomes clear that attracting shares and retweets immediately is the key to your dreams of virality. If you don’t see some activity almost immediately upon posting, there is a good shot your content will plummet into oblivion. In order to avoid this, influencers must time their posts properly. Social networks see a spike in activity early in the morning (8am-9am), late afternoon (3pm-4pm), and late night (10pm-11pm). While posting in these windows by no means guarantees activity, they gives content creators the best shot to attract users.

A word of warning.

The odds of achieving virality are certainly against you. Remember that it takes time, potentially multiple posts, and is much easier if you already have a substantial following. However, it can be done. That being said, if you’re a small business, make sure you can handle the traffic. Just because you can handmake 500 cupcakes a week does not mean you’re ready to handle 5,000 a day, no matter how delicious they are.

Merry Christmas!

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and follow me on Twitter!
@BrendanBrandt

Additional Reading:

37 Viral Post Ideas You Can Use Today – http://www.skelliewag.org/37-viral-post-ideas-you-can-use-today-103.htm

How To Create Facebook Posts That Go Massively Viral – http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-create-a-viral-facebook-post-2012-8?op=1

Viral Digitial Marketing

© 2012 Brendan Brandt. All Rights Reserved.

2 Easy Ways to Measure ROI on Social Campaigns

If you’re familiar with the Rodger’s adoption curve, you understand that the innovators, early adopters, and early majority have already hopped on the social media bandwagon, are marketing online, and are reaping the benefits. Unfortunately, these marketing trends have not yet taken hold with the late majority and laggards. Many of the business owners residing in the latter two groups cite various, valid, reasons for holding out, most commonly, their “inability” to track the return on their social investment.

However, by leveraging tools like SocialBro and Google Analytics, diligently monitoring, and properly tracking your campaigns, you can measure ROI with relative ease. Here are 2 things you should take a look at when considering your return.

1. Have your marketing costs decreased or sales increased?

At the end of the day it’s about dollars and cents. Social media, and digital marketing in general, is far less expensive than traditional means. A Facebook business page and user generated content is free, a month’s worth of billboard advertising is roughly $1,000, you do the math. When working with business owners this is an easy idea to pitch, option 1, we save them money by cutting back, not eliminating (I would never recommend that – a topic for a different day), on traditional advertising and in turn decrease their marketing expenditures, or, option 2 add free digital marketing to their current traditional campaign and increase revenue, either way, we put more money in their pockets.

2. Has web traffic increased?

Not only is this an easily translatable, tangible piece of data that makes sense to business owners, it is by far, the easiest metric to track in the history of metrics. It really is a no brainer, by simply tracking the number of hits month over month, you can easily determine whether your social media campaign has seen some “success” or needs a bit of tweaking.

A side note on this – while increased traffic is great, it can certainly ruffle some feathers. If traffic increases 50% and sales don’t increase at all, you might reveal some underlying issues related to conversion, management, etc. that business owners may shy away from.

One final thought – at the end of the day, it is important to remember and relay, that although it does need to be leveraged correctly, social media is FREE, and any return puts you in the black.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and follow me on Twitter: @brendanbrandt.

Additional Reading:

Calculate the ROI of Social Media – http://www.briansolis.com/2012/10/calculate-the-roi-of-social-media/

5 Simple Steps to Measure Social Media ROI – http://socialmediatoday.com/node/463590

Rodger’s Adoption Curve – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_adoption_lifecycle

Rodger's Adoption Curve

© 2012 Brendan Brandt. All Rights Reserved.

How to Market Like a Drug Dealer

Across the board, marketing efforts are becoming increasingly digital with every business trying to push out the next viral advertisement in hopes garnering millions of likes, shares, and retweets. Unfortunately, not everyone is the creative genius type, and enlisting the help of a Don Draper can break even the biggest of startup budgets. Thankfully, you don’t need to, instead, stick with what you know, generate your own original content, and market like a drug dealer.

Content marketing has grabbed the limelight as of late and has seemingly become digital marketing’s golden goose. In reality, content marketing is not a new idea, for all intents and purposes, a business that participates in “content marketing” is giving away something for free in hopes of hooking the would be customer to their product or service, forcing them to come back for more, at which time they will be forced to pay for the previously free product or service.

So, that coffee shop down the street that is giving away hot chocolate samples for free, is participating in content marketing. The lead aggregator company, that gives you a one month, no risk trial is no different than the digital marketing firm that publishes weekly whitepapers. In every situation, the premise is the same.

The easiest way to understand content marketing, and realize how, why, and where it occurs is to relate it to…a drug dealer. Often, dealers will give a “prospect” the first dosage of a hard drug for free because they know, that the user will quickly become addicted to what the dealer provides and will continuously return, as a repeat buyer, to purchase the drug that had been given to them “just to try”.
If we apply that to content marketing. it’s easy to see why firms invest so much time and money into publishing unique, quality content when a few good articles are no different than bag of meth.

Ready to start?

1. Publish unique, original, addicting content that is related to the product or service that you are selling and leaves your would be customers wanting more.

2. Be consistent, but don’t overdo it. Think supply and demand, if you flood the market with your product, its value goes down. You want your customers to anxiously await your next freebie until they become so hooked on it that they have no choice but to buy what you’re selling.

3. Make it visible. Publishing a good blog post with a few relevant tags is no longer good enough. Post and repost your information on every social network at your disposal.

Additional Reading

10 Content Marketing Tips You Can Employ Now

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/10-content-marketing-tips-you-can-employ-now/

Your Publishing Content Has a 72 Hour Shelf Life

http://mashable.com/2012/09/28/content-shelf-life/

Twitter: @BrendanBrandt

Content Marketing

Content Marketing

© 2012 Brendan Brandt. All Rights Reserved.