What is A/B testing?/ ¿Qué es el test A/B?

Why Twitter Finally Killed The “Auto Follow” For Good

How to Unlock Your Website’s Potential By Tapping Some Else’s Audience

Use the right bait for your readersHow many of you have heard a manager or a marketer try to shoulder someone without a blog or Facebook account with the job of creating content for the organization’s website and/or it’s social media platforms?

How often do you think this happens? Rarely? Regularly?

I encountered it again recently when I was consulting for a business improvement district here in Oakland. But it occurs in education, government, and, I’m finding, especially among small business owners. It’s no wonder with limited funding and, often, a small staff.

“We’ve held several classes for the district’s business owners,” the director explained on a phone call. Ten or 12 business owners attended and learned about Facebook, Yelp, and Twitter. We told them how important it was to have a website. It didn’t make a difference. We’re thinking of holding some more classes.”

Don’t waste time

Two weeks in, I heard the same story from two more directors. Wait! Stop! Don’t do it! I hate to be the one to tell you. But you’re wasting your time. Why?

1) For starters, content marketing (which is what we’re talking about when we refer to website and social media marketing) isn’t about instant conversions. It’s not about cutting out a coupon and showing up at the door.

It’s about building trust that will put your business at the forefront of someone’s mind when they need the service your provide

2) For better or worse, content marketing takes effort, time, creativity, and, to be good at it, some training. Not an hour-long forum.

3) If someone hasn’t established a website and social media channels, a quick how-to course isn’t going to open the door. It’s more likely to confuse them.

Best case scenario

The comparable that comes to mind is networking. What do you do at a networking event? You shake hands, exchange business cards, talk about the challenges of what your new acquaintance does. You don’t expect your acquaintance to go back to the office and buy something from your website the next day. The best case scenario is that they’ll remember you when they need the service or good you offer or, perhaps, when they’re hiring for a position that fits your skill set.

If you threw someone into an event like that unprepared, they might just stand in the corner. Setting someone up with a website and social media channels who doesn’t know how to use them isn’t going to achieve the results they expect. They’ll be deflated and retrench to their past approach.

Find popular content

My advice? Look to who has an active website and social media channels. Start with the low-hanging fruit. Work with those active posters to build a nexus between, say the businesses district and area business, by cross posting events, images, and sales information. Assuming they already have a large readership, you’re organization’s website will benefit from the wider exposure. The businesses will benefit for the same reason.

With four, five, or eight businesses in the district posting, the ones with the most active online presence, of course, regular cross posting will drive the biggest gain with the least effort. You’ll have converts to evangelize the cause to others. Plus, you’ll be able to show improved web and social media traffic because you tracked the analytics.

What about you? Leave a comment, and tell me what content tip or life hack has helped you?


Android TV: It’s what Google TV should have been, but is that enough?


The people tasked with developing Google’s (S GOOG) new Android TV product think that this time, time is on their side.

Four years ago, the company made its first big foray into the living room. Google TV was supposed to combine online video with live TV and become a leading software platform for TV manufacturers. But the failure of Google TV is well documented; why would the company try again, as it did Wednesday with the introduction of its new Android TV platform?

“It’s the UX (user experience), it’s the framework, it’s the timing,” said Android Senior Engineering Director Dave Burke when asked that very question during an interview on the sidelines of Google’s I/O developer conference in San Francisco Wednesday.

A simpler UI, and a better way to build TV apps

He pointed to Android TV’s much simpler and more defined user interface, as well as the integration of…

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All About SEO on WordPress.com

WordPress.com News

We get a lot of questions about SEO here on WordPress.com, and no wonder — you work hard on your site and want to get the word out! SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO recommendations are intended to help your site rank higher and more accurately in search engines, like Google. Say you write a blog about sailboats. When someone Googles “sailboats,” how many pages of results do they have to scroll through before they see a link to your blog? The goal behind having good SEO is to increase your website’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ranking.

many sailboats On the busy internet, it can be tough to make your “sailboat” stand out from all the others.

Ideally, you want your link to be on the first page of results. The best ways to accomplish this are:

  • consistently publish useful, original posts about sailboats; and
  • promote your blog in intelligent ways to people…

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How Your Institution Can Create Awesome Viral Content

There are some creative examples here of info graphics, videos, and more.


Cameron Pegg (@ghostwhowrites) is executive officer for the deputy vice chancellor (engagement) at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.

dont plan to be viral badge

What would happen if you suggested that your institution’s homepage be taken over with kittens or an animated squirrel?

You wouldn’t get far. Or would you?

Oberlin College in Ohio devised a daring homepage heist in time for April Fools Day in 2012—it was so successful in driving traffic and social media interaction that they upped the ante last year (with added kitten cuteness).

Oberlin’s antics display a rare understanding of how our constituents behave online and what we can do to make them click.

In the February edition of CURRENTS, I explore how institutions can do a better job of developing and distributing “share worthy” content (see full article).

The Science of Sharing

Aim to create stronger emotional communion in the content you share Aim to create stronger emotional communion in the content you share

In 2009, University…

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How to Think Like a Brand Journalist

Don’t let your blog bully you. Telling your organization’s story is easy, if you define your objective and map how to get there. Shed your frustration. Start with some basic questions that will get you out of the starting gate every time.

Who is your audience? The first question every writer must ask themselves is “Who am I writing this for?” It might be visitors to your website: potential customers, returning clients, marketers, other businesses, journalists. It might be a combination of these but you should have a primary audience in mind for every piece you publish. Write content for each of your audiences. They’ll thank you for it.

What are the core products or services you provide and how are they improving your client’s lives? What do you know about your customers’ experience with your organization? Ask yourself, What do I do best? What do I do better than my competition?

  • Do you sell the world’s best back scratcher? One that has helped your long-suffering clients avoid awkward moments at work rubbing up against the nearest coatrack?
  • Or maybe it’s your guaranteed 15-minute customer service response to questions that come in day and night by phone, email, and Facebook comments about which back scratcher is right for them.

No organization is good at everything. Again, choose what sets you apart. That’s fertile ground for cultivating brand journalism stories.


Once you know your audience and the topic, answer the journalism 101 questions: who, where, what, why, when, and how.

  1. Who is the story about? The best stories are about people, not organizations.
  2. Where did the story take place?
  3. What is the story about?
  4. Why are you telling this story (What’s your goal: clicks, shares, purchases?) Why should your readers read this story? What do they get out of it?
  5. When did this story take place?
  6. How did the subject of your story accomplish something (hopefully using your product or service)?

Incorporate basic story elements, an introduction, the storyline development, the conflict, and a resolution. In addition to people, the best stories are about conflict or solving a problem. Remember, you want your readers to cheer for the subject of your story so tap into emotion.

Readability & truth-telling

Two traits that set brand journalists apart are their commitment to readability and truth-telling They ruthlessly cut out jargon, qualifiers, and industry acronyms. If you’re grandmother can’t understand what you’ve written, then recycle that digit.al page and toss it in the round file.

Brand journalists are also committed to truth telling. (That’s not “truthiness,” for you Colbert fans). What’s that mean? When someone in your organization tells you they’ve created a new app that scratches backs virtually, be skeptical. Ask hard questions. Find third-party support. Download the app and test it.

Yes, it’s marketing. But customers and the public will launch a digital blitzkrieg of complaints and bad reviews against your organization, if they feel jilted or lied to. All of the trust you’ve built around your organization’s work, products, or services will disappear. In fact, that’s a story — one a journalist might like to write: “Back scratcher maker ‘Itch’ defends itself after allegations that app scratcher scarred customers.”

Your product is an extension of your customers

Once you’re churning out branded stories, pause to think creatively. Imagine in product or service in all its roles. Back scratchers sunning themselves on vacation beach with their families around the world—Jealous much? Decoratively knitted back scratcher grips like tiny socks—The epitome of style. Pitching in to reach the spoon lodged under the refrigerator—Daring rescue!

What about you? Send me a tweet or email a link about how brand journalism helped you?

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

When data journalism meets hyper-local — Oakland Local launches Police Beat

Wow, Susan et al have outdone themselves. Way to go @OaklandLocal!


Most of the attention that gets paid to the growing field of “data journalism” gets focused on ambitious, national-level sites like Ezra Klein’s Vox or Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight — but data exists in all kinds of places, and can be used in different ways. One example of an interesting attempt to use public data to highlight an issue of social importance is Oakland Police Beat, a new project created by the non-profit news outlet Oakland Local in California.

In a nutshell, Oakland Police Beat uses publicly-available statistics and records from court filings to create a database of violence and alleged impropriety involving the police department in the city, a growing metropolis on the east side of the San Francisco bay that has seen a number of high-profile cases in which critics say police violated the civil rights of Oakland citizens.

Abraham Hyatt, a former managing editor at ReadWrite and…

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Is #JJJRH Worth the Money?

A Web Content Insider reader wrote in with a good question. One I thought more of readers might be wondering. Here’s his thoughts.

Too often I find these kinds authors recycle much of their material in subsequent books. How much of this material is original?

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

“Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” is different from @Garyvee’s “The Thank You Economy” and “Crush it!” Those books try to convince readers that marketing has changed and that they have to evolve. #JJJRH is a how-to book for social media

marketers that’s filled with examples from every major platform (just like the one’s I outlined in my Cliff’s Notes, but in even greater detail). Want to see, feel, and sniff the stuff? #JJJRH shows you what to do and what not to do and why. It’s worth the $18.

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

All You Need to Know About Gary Vaynerchuk’s ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook’

Get thee to Instagram

Round 6

Shelfie Comedy Central

#shelfie via Comedy Central

Gary Vaynerchuk goes out of his way to say that early adoption of new social media platforms is in our own interest, in “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.” True, he doesn’t explain how to do that on a shoestring budget or if you’re a team of one, but that’s where strategy and priorities come in. Right? Right.

Marketers should be on new social media platforms determining what works and what doesn’t before the masses arrive. Remember when companies had no interest in Facebook? They didn’t understand that things had changed. “The days of stopping people from what they’re doing to look at your ad are, at best, diminishing …” Marketing 2.0 is about integrating “your content into the stream where people can consumer it along with all their other pop culture,” @Garyvee says.

Instagram is a good example. With 130 million monthly users and 40 million photos uploaded everyday, the platform has taken off.

Upside: Like Pinterest, it’s visually compelling and doesn’t require much time (compared to reading). You can connect Instagram to other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Downside: Unlike Pinterest, you can’t share others’ images i.e. curate. You can’t hyperlink images; all roads lead back to Instagram, which is good for Instagram but not so good for marketers.

http://bit.ly/1mlPQVH@Garyvee includes several suggestions for Instagram in #JJJRH.

  1. Native Instagram content is artistic, not commercial. No ads or stock photos.
  2. Instagram is where the young generation is, even more so than Facebook these days.
  3. Multiple #hashtags are encouraged.
  4. The best content is picked up by Instagram Explorer where it is shared beyond those who follow you.

Comedy Central is not only in the game but shows it’s ahead of most with this simple pic. The image gets the most out of a solo hashtag, “#shelfie”, which plays off the most ubiquitous  Instagram hashtag of all “#selfie”.

Tumblr (because the “e” made it too long? or did it get lost?)

Round 7
If you find Instagram to be too artsy, then you’ll want to weigh whether Tumblr’s for you. It’s dominated by young people and used by artists, photographers, musicians, and graphic designers to showcase their work.

@Garyvee admits to having a soft spot for Tumblr. He’s swears it’s not because he’s an investor. I don’t know, I suppose he’s looking at what it could become for marketers down the road. Tumblr is customizable to a degree few, if any, existing social media platforms are. There are tons of themes to choose from and you can change just about anything and everything to brand your Tumblr your own.

Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Tumblr is about your interests not your network. “Produce the right eye candy for your audience, and they will find you,” @Garyvee says. Curation is also a major part of the platform. But what @Garyvee really likes about Tumblr is that it’s GIF friendly. Those are the 2-3 second looping videos that have started showing up everywhere. The best ones are funny. The lame ones are of some poor sap staring into a pool of water while and animated waterfall does its thing in the background.

On this one, I have to disagree with @Garyvee. I know he’s a marketing god and all but I think he’s screwed the pooch. Even he acknowledges Tumblr is about publishing and not purchasing (at present). It’s not like Pinterest. People don’t go there to shop, and it’s not a platform filled with “storefronts.” This could change, of course. My take, as if you cared, is that the artists who populate the platform would flee if that happened? But it’s a bigger miscalculation by @Garyvee, I’m most concerned about. Google+.

GQ loves Mad Men

GQ loves Mad Men

“Aside from Google+, there is no social media site that allows you to take advantage of this gorgeous, powerful storytelling format the way Tumblr does,” @Garyvee says of GIFs. Overlooking his obsession with GIFs (what GIFs, anyway?), isn’t Google+ a rather large “aside”? Sure it’s only getting its legs but people go to Google to shop millions even billions of times a day. It’s built. And it’s already were you are.

A great post that anyone who’s going get ready to Tumblr (yeah, I did it) should emulate is one by GQ magazine that throws its hands in the air for “Mad Men’s” season six premier. Great photo. Great pop culture reference. Simple yet affective text. An embed link in the text and the photo itself to “The GQ Guide to ‘Mad Men.’” Plenty of appropriate tags: “Don Draper,” “Mad Men,” “television” … Lookin’ good GQ.

Emerging networks

Round 8
When Vaynerchuk looks to the horizon, he sees a social world everywhere. What he says is hard to argue against. “That’s why it’s smart to consider the jab-and-right-hook potential of platforms that aren’t particularly social … Whatever isn’t a social experience now soon will be,” @Garyvee says.

Ed Carpenter's on LinkedInLinkedIn — is on the verge of great leap forward and will soon be a daily check-in for most folks, @Garyvee says. He predicts that different social networks will serve different functions in our lives: Facebook will be the dining room, for entertaining; LinkedIn the library for getting deals done. That’s an interesting way to think about it. (Except that I’ve just summarized a book about how to make Facebook, LinkedIn, and all other social networks the center of your “get the deal done” businesses. Hmmm).

Google+ — doesn’t get any love from @Garyvee. It’s a question mark when it comes to being a marketing tool and it’s numbers, 500 million, according to Google, are inflated because users automatically get an account if they use other Google services like YouTube. He’s right about the latter but, if Google can figure out how to allow people to manage multiple accounts from a single sign-in or tab, then the game will change. Right now, the biggest impediment to using Google + for marketing is that marketers and businesses generally have separate accounts and separate Google + pages. Wrangle those cat into the same barrel and no one will be able to hear over the ensuing cat fight of marketers rushing in.

Vine — Snapped up recently by Twitter, Vine’s promise of six second videos encourages more people to watch video. “This platform could do to YouTube what Twitter did to Facebook,” @Garyvee says.

Snapchat — Oh, snap. It’s too early to say how Snapchat, the photo- and video-sharing network that kills it’s content seconds after it’s created, will fair. Vaynerchuk admits he hasn’t figured it out. How modest of him. But he says he might. Of course, I might too.

E is for effort (I found the ‘e’)

Round 9

Holyfield v Douglas

Holyfield vs. Douglas 1991 (l to r)

This chapter is about boxing and how Buster Douglas beat Evander Holyfield in a famous fight that many people reading the book won’t know or care about. The point is: If you are big or if you are small, putting in the effort to know your client base and jab natively on social media makes all the difference. Also, don’t go into a heavyweight title boxing match looking like you’re smuggling four pounds of meatloaf in your gut.

I’m a media company, you’re a media company, wouldn’t you like to be a media company too?

Round 10
This chapter is two pages. But to my way of thinking, it’s one of the most importaMicheline Guide SFnt. @Garyvee illustrates his point in a way that brings it home. All companies are now media companies. And if all companies produce their own stories, videos, photos, and so on, is there a need for the media? Is there a need for, gasp, marketers?

When Micheline started reviewing restaurants to encourage people to drive more and wear out their tires, there was little hint that the Micheline Guide would become the yardstick of fine dining that it is today. The same can be said of the Guinness Book of World Records, although it doesn’t apply to fine dining so much.

Conclusion, Round 11 & Knockout, Round 12

There’s not a lot to these chapters. @Garyvee mostly wraps things up by recognizing how much time is required to go native on the seven major social media platforms but argues that it’s time well spent in the long run. When he’s turned in the final edit of #JJJRH and is busy pressing the flesh at the Cannes Film Festival, Instagram opens up to 15-second videos. It’s big enough that he’s on it that night for four hours and his team is working to figure out the best way to tell stories on it. Oh, and he added a chapter on it in his latest book.

Next up? Google Glass, @Garyvee says.

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

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