Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #341

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #341

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete Web Monitoring, Managing Bandwidth: Deploying QOS in Enterprise Networks and Lean Analytics), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person "must see".

Check out these six links that we’re recommending to one another: 

  • Coal Is Dying – Coal Country Doesn’t Have To: Creating The Post-Coal Economy In Appalachia – Fast Company. "We need more reporting like this. Done by people who are from the communities in which they report, talking about the future and inevitable changes, and focused on making a transition rather than protesting the inevitable. A good, long, personal read into the heartbreaking circumstances in the Rural East." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Inside Amazon’s clickworker platform: How half a million people are being paid pennies to train AI – TechRepublic. "First, I love the gerrymandering of terminology right there in the title. Proponents call systems where computers put people to work ‘ crowdsourcing’ or ‘ urking’ or ‘the wisdom of the crowds’. Detractors probably use terms like ‘clickworkers’ — what could be more dehumanizing? But the reality is that every time you help a computer, you’re hastening your own demise by teaching it. That’s true whether you’re playing a game with Google‘s AI (and teaching it to better recognize images) or doing clickwork for Amazon‘s Mechanical Turk. This is a fascinating, fact-packed piece that sounds right out of a William Gibson novel." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • What the Octopus Knows – The Atlantic. "The octopus is, I think, the most fascinating animal on the planet. I keep sending links about  octopi, and here is another one." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • ‘Profitable’ Washington Post adding more than five dozen journalists – Politico. "Good news in the world of journalism business models is hard to find, but since Jeff Bezos took over the Washington Post, things are looking up. Readership is growing. The paper is, apparently, profitable. And, it’s adding staff, a remarkable thing these days." (Hugh for Mitch).
  • The Argument Against Terraforming Mars – Nautilus. "These past few years, we’ve heard, read and seen a lot about the planet Mars. ‘We should go there,’ seems to be the general consensus. Everyone from NASA to private industry is trying to figure it out. Tesla‘s Elon Musk really wants us to be the first multi-planetary species (to our knowledge). We can go there and build a better… here, I guess. This is a smart look at why we should think twice about trying to populate Mars. TL;DR: we don’t do these things well and we don’t have the right, apparently." (Mitch for Alistair).
  • 5 Top Designers Own How To Create The Ultimate PowerPoint Presentation – Fast Company. "This article glances over some of the better/more in-depth thinking of people like Nancy Duarte, when it comes to presentations. It happens all too often: professionals pump up slides with everything they’re trying to say, while totally forgetting the whole point of a presentation, in the first place. You’re there – as a presenter – to share content. No one will be able to share this message, if it’s cluttered, unprofessional and not presented well. Seems basic enough, but strong presentation skills are still one of the more rare commodities in offices today." (Mitch for Hugh).

Feel free to share these links and add your picks on Twitter, Facebook, in the comments below or wherever you play.

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6 Bold Predictions for Digital Marketing in 2017

6 Bold Predictions for Digital Marketing in 2017

6 Bold Predictions for Digital Marketing in 2017 | Social Media TodayFor the last five years, I’ve shared my digital marketing predictions for the proceeding twelve months, and while some of my prognostications have been dead on, others – not so much.

We won’t know till this time next year if these estimations are any good or not, but in the vein of tradition, here are my top six bold predictions for digital marketing in 2017.

1. Credentials, training and college courses

Next year will be a banner year for professionals looking for training and credentials in digital marketing.

More and more I’m seeing my industry colleagues being recruited to teach at Universities around the U.S., whether online or in person. Add to that courses being taught by HubSpot, Content Marketing Institute, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com and others – and there are several others in the planning stages of online course creation right now.

More opportunities for training will be available in 2017 than at any other time in history. As a result, breaking into this business should be easier than ever for new graduates and aspiring marketers.

2. Native advertising technology companies will start to cater specifically to content marketers

This is the biggest growth opportunity for native ad tech (as well as the actual publishers themselves). Most are built to cater to the media buyer that’s used to paying for impressions and clicks. If native ad tech wants to tap into its greatest growth opportunity it must cater to content marketers’ KPIs. This is the year they do it en masse.

This is a pretty comfortable prediction after witnessing the growth of the Native Advertising Institute in 2016.

3. Dozens of big brands will invest a lot of money in virtual reality (VR)

This prediction makes it sound like VR could be a mainstream channel for marketers in the not-so-distant future. It’s not meant to be.

The fact of the matter is that the brands that go big in VR next year will only get one benefit out of it – earned media. As long as consumers have to put a contraption over their heads VR will never be mainstream.

The real future is in augmented reality (think Pokémon Go or the movie The Minority Report). Unfortunately, very few brands will pursue augmented reality investments next year.

4. Native advertising technology companies will look to integrate in-feed video 

Facebook has proven that in-feed video works – in fact, it’s gone so far as to train consumers to expect the video to run (on mute) the moment they get to the video in their feed. This makes video integration a no-brainer for the networks and managed services technology companies.

Look for a majority of native ad tech companies to offer this – if they’re not already – next year.

5. Live-streaming will remain in its infancy as a marketing channel 

While it’s true that many folks are personally and professionally striving using this technology, it’s also true that not many major brands have adopted it.

The biggest winners when it comes to live video will be individuals and media companies. I don’t see many brands going live next year.

6. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and natural language processing will become household names for marketers

Some of the biggest names in marketing technology have released (or are about to release) their flavor of AI. Guess what? The big names aren’t the only ones in this space.

Many agile startups backed by venture capital and other investors are all over it, so much so that my friend, Paul Roetzer, founder of PR 2020, launched the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute this year. He sees the writing on the wall – AI has so many applications in marketing, communications, and advertising.

Many of the conversations we marketers have with mature and startup marketing tech vendors next year will include mentions of AI, machine learning or natural language processing, thus, making them household names.

Those are my 2017 marketing pontifications. Will every one of these predictions come true? Possibly, but we’ll have to wait until this time next year to find out. Undoubtedly, digital marketing in 2017 will be even more thrilling than it was this year.

Agree or disagree with any of my predictions? Have any predictions of your own? Feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll discuss.

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How Can a Digital Marketing Consultant Help You Rock Your Digital Marketing Efforts?

How Can a Digital Marketing Consultant Help You Rock Your Digital Marketing Efforts?

Ready to Rock Your Digital Marketing in 2017? | Social Media TodayNo doubt your 2017 marketing goals include generating more traffic, more leads, and ultimately, seeing more sales as a result of your efforts. A digital marketing consultant can assist in many different ways to achieve these goals.

But here’s the thing – a lot of the time, businesses aren’t sure of what it is, exactly, that they need in this arena. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked “How can you help me?” And really, there’s no one size fits all response. It’d be reckless of me to blurt out a specific digital marketing tactic – “YouTube is your answer”, “An email campaign will make rain for you.”  A digital marketing consultant should recommend tactics based on needs identified from a carefully considered audit. 

To help with this, I’ve put together a listing of the many aspects of potential focus, along with the ways in which a digital marketing consultant can help you improve each in 2017. This is by no means a complete list, but it’s a good directional resource to better align your thoughts, and hopefully, direct you on the path towards identifying more precisely what it is you need to improve.

Here they are.

Digital Marketing Basics

1. Marketing strategy

Effective digital marketing relies on strategies to achieve specific outcomes – it’s vital to skillfully blend, balance, and budget for the many initiatives you’ll read about here and integrate them for maximum effect.

2. Brand identity

Branding speaks largely to your company’s visual identity including factors such as your logo, color scheme, fonts, and layout. However, brand identity should also include all media messaging and may include a tagline, headlines and key value propositions. Together, the graphic and verbal elements define your company’s personality.

3. Website

Your website is the hub of your digital marketing activities. Each page should have a purpose and practical buyer paths that compel visitors to take action must be put in place to support your conversion goals. The most effective websites are not only carefully planned and executed, but are perpetually refined to continuously improve results.

Search Marketing

4. Search engine optimization (SEO)

Most buying journeys begin with search. Two-thirds of all searches are conducted with Google. Over three-quarters of the searchers will click only on results presented on the first page. Synthesize all of this and understand that it’s paramount to earn page one Google results for key pages and posts. All serious digital marketers take SEO seriously, and commit resources accordingly.

5. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

Achieving success with SEO generally requires time and persistence. If you need to produce website traffic fast, PPC ad programs offered by Google, the other search engines, and social media channels, create instant visibility to generate traffic, leads and sales.

Content Marketing

6. Content planning

Nearly every digital marketer in the world realizes content marketing is the fabric of their search and social programs and can play a critical role in every phase of the buying cycle. Sadly, a small percentage actually realizes the benefits of content marketing. The competition is fierce and far too many companies dive in without forging a strategic plan and assembling the team needed to sustain the long-term consistency required for success.

7. Business blogging

The blog is the centerpiece of most companies’ content marketing efforts. Effective planning for your business blog includes targeting and editorial planning. Then, to consistently create the great content needed to reap the benefits of blogging, you’ll need an interesting mix of ideas, an uncompromising commitment to quality writing, and clean presentation.

8. Guest blogging

Contributing blog posts to authoritative websites in your industry is one of the best ways to increase your reach, expand your audience, build your credibility, and drive traffic to your website.

9. Curation

Curation is presenting the works and ideas of others – but it’s not cutting and pasting stories from around the web merely to add pages to your website or blog. Done well, curated content expresses a point of view and heightens your authority.

10. Content promotion

Most digital marketers post content and then dispatch a few updates via their social media channels, which is far from a complete promotion and distribution strategy. In this age of content overload, you need take advantage of a combination of owned, earned and paid media channels to amplify the reach of the content you work so hard to produce.

11. Writing

People go to websites to read. Even in the case, where they may go to watch, look or listen, the experience usually includes consuming copy. As such, the majority of tactics on this page (and in your marketing mix) depend on articulate copywriting optimized for online reading. I call it “Clickass Copywring.” If your writing’s weak, you can expect disappointing results.

12. Repurposing

Content marketers often claim their biggest challenges include producing engaging content consistently and with variety. The solution to both is repurposing content to boost its mileage. The process involves creating thematic content that can be efficiently edited to deliver value in new formats and on additional media channels.

Multimedia

13. Visual marketing

Visual marketing online includes images for web pages and social media including photos, illustrations, and diagrams, plus infographics, presentations, webinars, eBook design, and more. A variety of tools are available – and though they’re helpful, design, composition and visual editing skills are even more valuable.

14. Presentations

Slideshows and other types of digital presentations can become a powerful part of your media mix. LinkedIn’s SlideShare gets millions of views each day making it a great channel to reach a larger audience. SlideShare presentations are not only shared, but often embedded in blogs.

15. Video

Video can help boost your success in social media and search, generate leads and increase conversion. And it’s no longer a medium reserved for big budgets. A smartphone or computer is all you need to capture ideas and share them.

16. Podcasting

Podcasting is another great medium you can jump into with minimal equipment and begin making a personal connection with your audience. Appearing on, or hosting interview programs, also presents tremendous opportunities to expand your network.

17. Interactive

As a marketer, you succeed not when your audience consumes content, but when it acts upon it. As such, content marketers can step-up their static content to create interactive content such as quizzes, assessment, calculators, contests and more. An added benefit, interactive content helps marketers collect useful data from prospects.

18. Webinars

Marketers consistently rate webinars as one of their most effective tactics. They can deliver wide reach cost-effectively and remain an asset afterwards. A webinar that is well-researched, planned, and designed can generate leads, convert leads to paying customers, improve customer retention, and grow revenues from existing customers.

Social Media Marketing

19. Social media planning

The arbitrary selection of social media channels and content sharing isn’t bound to produce meaningful results. A digital marketing consultant can help put tools in place and develop strategic processes to guide your social media marketing efforts to achieve specific objectives.

20. Market research

Social media is the ultimate market research tool because it enables you to easily monitor and “listen” to your audience. Through a combination of the right processes and tools you can tune-into your audience’s needs and respond far more effectively.

21. Online advertising

Online advertising can include pay-per-click programs, social media ads, retargeting, display advertising and native advertising.

22. Influencer marketing

Savvy digital marketers cultivate relationships with influential leaders in their field or related fields to increase their reach, expand their network, and build credibility. A smart influencer marketing program involves strategic collaborations and results in a variety of new opportunities.

Marketing Automation

23. Email marketing

Email remains the most pervasive medium and tends to produce the highest ROI. It’s private, personal and permission-based, and therefore, your key to nurturing leads. You need to build an email list, send email your subscribers will find valuable, and continuously test and refined your tactics.

24. Marketing automation

A marketing automation platform will reduce the time and effort required to execute many of the tactics listed here and enable you to better target your contacts with useful content. You’ll increase conversion rates and sales. You’ll also be better equipped to monitor and measure program performance helping you perpetually improve results.

25. Analytics

You need analytical insights to master the science of marketing and improve your ROI. With marketing analytics, you create measurement systems to guide you toward improved profitability. Marketing analytics will enable your company to evolve its mix of tactics based on actual performance to help achieve business goals.

26. Testing

Testing is a vital component of practicing data-driven marketing. A variety of marketing tools make it easy to test key touch points including your web pages, emails, landing pages and offers. Generally, you’ll split test different versions to determine which produces superior results based on actual performance.

Conversion

27. Conversion

While increasing traffic is an important goal, increasing your conversion rate can play a bigger role in improving results. An examination of each touch point in your conversion funnels will reveal where you need to test new approaches for turning visitors into leads and leads into customers.

28. Lead magnets

Lead magnets are free offers you make to inspire the people consuming your content to join your email list and/or provide useful information. There are a huge variety of lead magnets you can develop including eBooks, guides, checklists, mini-courses, templates, tools, and product-based offers. An effective lead magnet not only builds your email list, but also positions you as an expert in your field.

29. Landing pages

Think of a landing page as a “response page” for a specific campaign. Its singular objective is to achieve a conversion. In some campaigns, especially for ecommerce, a landing page’s objective is to get visitors to click-through to a product page. However, for most, the goal of the landing page is to capture a lead via a form. Landing pages have specific creative requirements that differ from homepages or other common pages of a company website.

30. Social proof

You elevate the persuasion powers of your landing pages (or any page) with social proof, which are passages and images you present to prospects to deliver evidence of past success. Social proof can be delivered with testimonials, reviews, customer logos, media mentions, trust seals, statistics that reflect well on your brand, and more.

Skill Building

31. Training and team building

As a marketer, you’ll often outsource to experts to get the resources you need to maintain or expand your output. But in many cases, insourcing may be even more effective. To build internal resources effectively, it’s wise to cultivate the skills of your team with digital marketing training programs and team-building workshops designed to teach best practices and develop specific skills.

32. Personal branding

I’m awfully glad you’ve made it to the final listing, personal branding, the subject of The Road to Recognition, my new book to be released in 2017. The book’s organized as 26 lessons, A-to-Z, to deliver actionable advice for developing your personal brand and accelerating your professional success.

Main image via Pexels

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The Most Important Role Carrie Fisher Ever Played

The Most Important Role Carrie Fisher Ever Played

I hadn’t intended to write about Carrie Fisher’s passing, because so much has been said already, but it’s hard to skip over it. This blog goes through dry spells, when I’m too distracted by online videos of celebrity pet nip slips or the UN Security Council’s most embarrassing bloopers. I know I’m behind in the stories I have to tell about travel and cakes and weird places in which I feel asleep, but I can’t write about any of that until I write about what Ms. Fisher’s influence on my life has been. Right now, there is no other story for me to tell than this one.

Ms. Fisher often lamented her ties to the character of Leia, one that overshadowed other roles she had and eclipsed her writing career, but I need to start there, with this:

This photo is blurry because no one in my family knew how to take a picture in the 80s. Or today.

I am fairly certain this was Halloween 1984, and I have a distinct memory of getting ready, struggling to sit through my mother coiling my hair into massive cinnamon buns on either side of my head. In hindsight, the endeavor did not take long, but as a child, when even a minutes long activity takes up a vast percentage of your life, it felt like an eternity.

My mother dabbed some makeup on me as I squirmed – powder and rouge and a hasty swiping of blue eyeshadow and when I looked in the mirror I was transformed into a tiny little Leia. She sewed a few gathers onto the front of my dress while I whined miserably (finishing a costume while you were wearing it is a hallmark of my mother’s) and eventually she set me free.

It was the most empowered I had ever felt as a four-year-old.

 

It was a harbinger of the sass to come:

Pink hair don’t care.

 

My brother, naturally, was Luke. She’d made him a lightsaber by affixing a piece of green tubing to a flashlight, a  rather remarkable piece of ingenuity, and I remember her scolding him because he kept swinging the damn thing around. Every time it made contact with something a white scar would be left on the green plastic. I stared at it somewhat enviously.

Somewhat enviously, but not entirely. Because my mother had made me my own lightsaber. It was a miniature version of my brother’s, but brilliant white to match my dress. This was the one element of being a Jedi that Leia never touched, but my mom was never one for sticking to the canon. I remember protesting the idea initially; I was four, I had trouble embracing my own light. But there it was: a small white tube attached to a flashlight, sticking out of my plastic pumpkin bucket.

I remember most of that night, but try not to relive it too often. I’ve heard every time that we recall a memory it gets altered slightly, and so I keep mine pristine on the shelf, pulling them out and browsing through them only when I need to. But today I’m flipping through the pages where Carrie appears, again and again.

We feminists have an awakening at some point. A moment in time when we realize that women have been designated to minor roles, and that shit cannot stand. At four, I hadn’t seen the original Star Trek series. I didn’t know about Nichelle Nichols or her groundbreaking role as Uhura. I was too young for an ass-kicking Sigourney Weaver in Alien. I simply understood that most action films didn’t really include girls, unless they were getting kidnapped or rescued. But then Leia came onscreen, wielding a blaster and not taking shit from anyone, and everything changed for me in that instant. In her, I realized that there was a place for me not as someone to be rescued but as a rescuer.

Ask me what my favorite scene in the Star Wars canon is and my answer is unwavering: Leia, at the helm of the Millennium Falcon, saving Luke from the bottom of Cloud City after he’s confronted Vader. She’s lost her planet. She’s lost Han. And there she is at the helm of a ship that isn’t hers, rescuing the movie’s protagonist because she is the only one that can.

Writer Annie Theriault has a brilliant thread on Twitter about Leia’s sheer force of will. The Dark Side never even tried to recruit her. Some will argue it’s because Leia’s relationship to The Force was too weak. I’d argue it’s because she couldn’t be tempted.

She had every realization Luke had about her family and her father. But she never wept. He lost his hand, but she lost everything. And still, she kept going.

Fisher’s relationship with the character she portrayed was not entirely positive. It seemed to haunt her, and she had trouble breaking free from its looming shadow. Her memoir, Wishful Drinking, shows a bunned-haired Leia head down on a bar, drink in hand. Lucas told her she couldn’t wear a bra in A New Hope – a costuming decision that has not gone unnoticed by fanboys. Fisher fought against wearing the damn gold bikini to no avail; Leia still managed to kill Jabba while wearing it.

Indeed, it took me years to understand that Fisher was far more that her Star Wars persona. It wasn’t until I saw her again and again – in The Blues Brothers and in Harry Met Sally that I started to realize it wasn’t simply Leia who I loved – it was Fisher herself.

In the former, she is Joliet Jake’s fiancee, jilted on her wedding day. Whereas Ms. Havisham spent a lifetime in her wedding dress, Fisher dons bell-bottom corduroy pants and picks up a flame thrower. In the latter, as Marie, she ignores her friend’s attempts to set her up with the emotionally stunted disaster that is Billy Crystal’s Harry and makes her intentions clear – she’s interested in Jess, played by Bruno Kirby.

 

Hand down, they are my favorite couple in that film. They are free of the romantic proclamations on rooftops, yes, but they are also free of the drama and the chaos and the fighting. They are the grown-ups. In one scene, after trying to comfort their disastrous friends, the two of them curl up together and Fisher says, “Tell me I’ll never have to be out there again.”

“You’ll never have to be out there again,” Kirby responds, and Marie places her head against his chest. I have this exchange with my husband at least once a month. He never flubs his line. When Kirby died, I felt a misguided pain for Marie. Now that Fisher is gone, I feel misguided solace that they’ll be together.

In each of her characters Fisher imbued sincerity and directness. They were flawed and human and unsinkable. It didn’t begin with Leia – it began with Carrie. This is who she was – open about her mental illness (she was diagnosed as bipolar), her struggles with drug addiction, her relationship troubles.

“I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that.”

Indeed, how can we be ashamed of an illness? Amazingly, Fisher maintained control by occasionally admitting that she had no control over it. She discussed it with Stephen Fry in The Secret Life Of the Manic Depressive (her clip begins here). She does so without fanfare – it is honest and raw and fearless and heartbreaking – like Fisher herself. My friend Celeste wrote a beautiful thread on precisely the power of Fisher’s honesty to those of us suffering from mental illness.

When people critiqued her appearance in The Force Awakens (a disservice that her male counterparts were spared) Fisher’s response wasn’t “I look awesome.” She realized that such a defense would simply feed into the same destructive narrative that maintains looks are important. Instead, she lit a match and burned that entire construct to the ground:

“Youth and beauty are not accomplishments. They’re the temporary happy by-products of time and/or DNA. Don’t hold your breath for either.”

She maintained that her body hadn’t aged as well as her mind, but make no mistake it was her mind that was important. It was the mind that skewered haters, it was the mind that wrote a half dozen books, it was the mind that improved upon movie scripts, a contribution for which she was often uncredited.

The death of a beloved actor hits hard. We remember the characters they played, the roles we loved, the movies we quoted ad nauseum. But with Fisher, the pain feels more acute because we grieve a woman who, through her honesty and openness, we felt like we knew. The most important role she played wasn’t a role at all. We loved her for her.

We quote her characters, sure, but we also quote Carrie just as much, if not more.

I remember how I felt when I was four, with my bunned hair and my tiny lightsaber. I remember how I felt every time I saw Carrie Fisher, dark-eyed and brilliant, wielding words that could cut like knives and gingerly stepping over the corpses of those that messed with her. We are more than our bodies. We are not ashamed of our flaws.

Alderaan has been destroyed before us, and we can only pick up and keep moving because there is more work to do. That’s what she would have done. And if anyone stands in our way, we need to remember her words, and whisper them at our enemies as we knock them down:

“Blow me.”

RIP, dear friend. We’ll do our best to continue your work.

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Ringing in 2017 on Social Media – New Options and Tools for NYE

Ringing in 2017 on Social Media - New Options and Tools for NYE

As the new year nears, social media platforms are preparing for an influx of activity – Twitter, for example, says they’re expecting around 17.9 million tweets related to the 2017 celebrations.

And while the easiest way to tap into the conversation is through hashtags (Twitter recommends #newyear#NYE2017#NYE#NewYearsEve#newyearsresolution#NewYearNewYou#balldrop), there’s now an abundance of ways to express your enthusiasm in more visual ways, with a heap of video and image-enhancing options on offer. Here are some of the tools on offer from the major platforms. 

Facebook

Facebook hasn’t gone all out with their celebratory options for the New Year, though there are a few tools to consider.

First off, there’s the addition of their new text-recognition triggered fireworks graphics on Facebook’s desktop version. 

It’s not much, but it’s interesting in it’s capacity, using text-recognition to trigger an event (note: when testing this last week it worked, but it’s not working for me now – it’s possible that it will be re-enabled after midnight on the 31st). 

Facebook haven’t introduced any new profile frames for the occasion, but you can use the many custom sticker packs and tools available to spruce up your photos.

Ringing in 2017 on Social Media - New Options and Tools for NYE | Social Media Today

Really, there’s not a heap specifically available for New Year’s – but then again, Facebook has put more focus on other options.

Messenger

Facebook has added some more engaging and interesting tools to Messenger, with the addition of a range of new masks and image enhancements within the new Messenger camera option. 

First off, when you open up Messenger you’ll see this notification on the shutter button.

Ringing in 2017 on Social Media - New Options and Tools for NYE | Social Media Today

Tap on it and you’ll be taken to the Snapchat-like Messenger camera, with a range of new options to help mark the occasion.

Facebook’s added a range of new New Year’s masks, each of which is interesting, though similar to Snapchat, if not slightly less interactive. 

Ringing in 2017 on Social Media - New Options and Tools for NYE | Social Media TodaySome also have video elements, but they don’t respond to you opening your mouth or raising your eyebrows, they just roll on application.

Ringing in 2017 on Social Media - New Options and Tools for NYE | Social Media TodayBut more interesting, Facebook’s also added a few examples of their new ‘reactive filters’ which respond to extended actions, like waving your hand across the screen.

Ringing in 2017 on Social Media - New Options and Tools for NYE | Social Media TodayThese newer options are where Facebook will likely make bigger movements in 2017 – as we’ve noted before, copying Snapchat’s features is one thing, but if Facebook can build their own better or more interesting tools along similar lines, that could give them the jump on Snapchat and bring more users across to see what’s on offer, keeping them away from the yellow ghost.

Instagram

Within Facebook’s other big app, they’ve also added some new options to Instagram Stories for the occasion, with image overlays and themed masks. 

Ringing in 2017 on Social Media - New Options and Tools for NYE | Social Media TodayThese are an extension of the Stories holiday update released just before Christmas, and they’re fairly basic image additions – no video altering masks or action-based tools. 

Twitter

Twitter has also added a limited number of NYE-themed sticker to help users share their celebratory efforts.

Ringing in 2017 on Social Media - New Options and Tools for NYE | Social Media TodayThe stickers are location-focused, though they’re not triggered by where you are – as you can see, I can use any of the options available here.

It’s a relatively minor addition, though Twitter has put a call out to prompt users to “Go Live” via the new streaming through Twitter option. 

Snapchat

Snapchat doesn’t appear to have added anything specific for New Year’s (at least in my region), though they did announced the addition of group chats, Scissors and Paintbrush for Memories just before Christmas.

Also, they do have this Lens which enables you to look like a dog.

Ringing in 2017 on Social Media - New Options and Tools for NYE | Social Media TodayThere are a couple of simple Geofilters available to mark the occasion, but nothing standout or over the top.

Really, overall the options on offer for celebrating New Year’s seem much the same as the general feeling about the event this time around – that people are more just looking forward to getting it over with, as opposed to cheering 2016’s end.

That said, there are obviously a heap of ways for you, or your business, to mark the occasion – you could create a Twitter Moment celebrating your best content of 2016, for example, or tag your most engaged community members or customers in a New Year’s post thanking them for their patronage. As an aside, I kind of hoped Facebook might bring back the Your Business Story video option from earlier in the year to help Pages showcase their 2016 achievements, but no sign of it at this stage.

And despite much of the fatigue that’s settled in regarding the many news events of the past 12 months, hopefully you get a chance to take a moment and reflect on where you’re at and what 2017 holds at some stage.

Thumbnail image via Pixabay

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When Technology Knows More Than You

When Technology Knows More Than You

What really gets you excited about technology?

Personally, it’s one simple (yet complex) thing: technology blows my mind when it knows (and does) more than a human ever could. Maybe this is why stuff like YouTube, Twitter, etc… never really blew me away. Streaming videos online or following people in 120 characters or less… not exactly stuff we didn’t see/imagine before. Not exactly transformative technology. Sure, it’s lots of smarts, and it’s two types of online technologies that I love deeply, but it never got me excited. Had either of those platforms not gained traction and an audience, it would not have surprised me. The technology that is "transformative" (as I would define it) is when it does something that no human could do/think/act on. 

That’s the promise of Big Data.

Professionals often confuse lots of data for big data. The promise of big data was this: the ability for technology to take multiple data sets and manipulate them at a rate and pace that would never be humanly possible. If that was all, it would be impressive… but that’s not all. Then, the technology would be able to provide insights and opportunities that no human could have never surmised. To me, that’s mind-blowing. To me, that’s what’s exciting about technology.

The promise of self-driving cars.

Many people tell me that they are very worried about being a passenger is a self-driving car. I used to feel like that. Not anymore. Candidly, I can’t wait for all of you to be off of the road. Seriously. Years ago, I was fortunate enough to be a passenger is one of Google‘s first self-driving cars on a public road with non-Googlers. It was a truly transformative experience. I went from, "there’s no way I trust a computer/Google with driving me anywhere," to, "how soon can we get all humans off of the road?" 

Why did this happen?

Quite simply: the computer removed human emotion and experience from driving. It doesn’t get tired. It’s never "in a mood." Its doesn’t get distracted by things like the radio, a text message, a fight with the kids, or a squirrel. The technology was doing so many things at once, that it was – in a word – overwhelming. Couple that with the fact that the onboard sensors are able to read the world around it, at a much greater distance than the human eye can see (miles/kilometers into the distance) and you can imagine the power. It transforms everything we think we know about getting from one place to another. It transforms everything we think we know about roads, infrastructure, traffic, lights, logistics and so much more. I know… I know… it’s not perfect, and it’s not ready for prime time, but it’s coming. As Futurist Kevin Kelly likes to say, "the future happens very slowly and then all at once."

Watch technology do something miraculous.

There’s a viral video making the rounds now. It shows a Tesla vehicle initiating its front-collision warning alert. This technology not only alerts the driver, but it also brakes the car – a full second before a collision ahead of the vehicle even happens. It’s both terrifying to watch and – at the same time – a miracle of modern technology. Would the driver have braked had the technology not been in place? Maybe yes. Maybe no. Would the technology have hit the brakes in a million other scenarios just like this one? Probably… without fail.

This is what makes technology great. There is a new world of possibilities when technology knows more than you. 

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8 Tips for More Effective Tweets

8 Tips for More Effective Tweets

tweets

Is there an art to effective tweeting? Communicating in 140 characters is not easy. How do online publishers attract, in bite-sized morsels, new visitors? How does one get new visitors to spend more time on your site and encourage them to return frequently?  Here are eight tips you can use to get more from your Twitter presence:

Be yourself

Reflect the personality of your publication, your brand, but also try to reflect something resembling a human personality. “The most important thing about any type of corporate communications is the authenticity of your communicator,” writes Liza Sabater of CultureKitchen, who has been blogging 7 years (Twitter Followers: 27,635), writing and publishing online for over 14.

So many brands come off as robotic on Twitter, the opposite of the intended effect. Even the most serious journals of opinion realize that in 140 characters one cannot make a serious philosophical argument. There is a time and place for serious debate for or against the present administration or financial regulation and can be made via click thrus. There is also a time to be light, to make pithy comments about issues of interest to other followers within ones niche and to generally let ones hair down. Welcome to Twitter.

Don’t be mercenary

People or publications who exclusively tweet links to their sites are boring and, worse, spammy. We tend to avoid these brands. Even if you are consistently linking to the most thoughtful and informative articles in the world it will ultimately come off as link dumping. Yes, getting links to stories you are publishing is vitally important, but it cannot be your whole Twitter persona. Mix things up a little.

Be Informative

Sharing relevant links done by other publications, for example, is informative. “I work diligently to provide real value for my followers on Twitter,” said John Fitt, founder of Healthdaddy “People do not follow me for humor. I’ll leave that up to Steven Colbert. I’d rather be known for thought provoking and useful tweets. Know your audience. Be consistent with the image you are trying to project. But don’t be humorless!”

Be Funny

There is a place for humor on Twitter. “I’d say I’m very 50/50 but as I peek right now, I probably have more propensity to fire the funny ones off ‘more often,'” tweeted Tom Biro (Twitter followers; 5,043), an avid tweeter and PR guy for Allison & Partners. “Though I’m a big fan of information ranging from breaking news and so forth … so I might work both ways.”

While there is definitely something to be said for the direct headline that gets to the heart of the matter, funny tweets tend to get re-tweeted more often. David Carr, the Media Equation columnist at The New York Times, is a very funny tweeter and yet he always manages to slip his link in there. And Felix Salmon (Twitter Followers: 172k), the respected finance blogger at Reuters, recently told me in a tweet that he’d be more likely to retweet something funny than something informative.

Do ask contributors to link from their individual twitter accounts

It is not uncommon nowadays for contributors, many of whom are social media early adopters, to have nearly as many Twitter followers — or even more — than the actual publication to which they contribute. Ana Marie Cox, the Washington Correspondent at GQ, has 1.3 million Twitter Followers while GQ has 900,698. It doesn’t hurt for publishers to gently nudge said contributor and remind them that it is in your mutual self-interest to promote work and stir up some link love, or at least a retweet every so often.

Follow Friday is your friend

Although #FF has lost some of its initial glamour, it is still an effective way to promote your brand. Each Twitter user has, to some degree or other, a reputation among his or her followers. A Follow Friday from a reputable tweeter is a personal or brand recommendation, not unlike “merite un visite’ in the Michelin Guide.

Also: Keeping in mind Tip #2 (Don’t Be Mercenary), it would be best to avoid #FFing only the big dogs in the Twittersphere. Corollary: Do not eschew the hashtag; starting conversation via # is good.

Ask questions

Questioning tweets — like polls — can attract click throughs and conversation — the Holy Grail of Tweets. At the very least well asked questions allow publishers to engage the community and feel out where readers are on particular issues from their answers.

Be Regular

You’d be surprised how quickly a tweeter can be forgotten or rendered irrelevant. Things move fast in social media world. Romenesko (Twitter Followers: 126k) is very good at keeping a steady flow of tweets coming throughout the business hours. That intoxicating steady drip of pertinent information particular to publishing and media is quite addictive. Effective tweets that are regular and targeted to one’s particular niche have real value and are thus addictive (in a good way).

* Adapted lead image: Public Domain Dedication (CC0) Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com

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Google Mobile First, Algorithm Update, 2017 SEO Advice & More

Google Mobile First, Algorithm Update, 2017 SEO Advice & More

http://ift.tt/1sYxUD0 – This week was expected to be slow because of the holiday week but hey, we may have had a small Google algorithm update but I doubt it. Google said the mobile first index is not yet live. Google’s advice to SEOs for 2017 is to focus on their mobile page SEO stuff. Google may be mislabeling pages as not mobile friendly. Google said slow pages might be labeled as not mobile friendly. Although Google’s mobile first index might not measure page speed on launch. Google said they do not throttle or have a quota on how much traffic a site can get in a day. Google said you may notice a link count drop in Google Search Console. Google said CDNs are safe to host with. Google launched a new recipe user interface on mobile and is testing a new mobile search results interface. Google sent out messages about nonsecure login pages. Google’s John Mueller did spend some of his Christmas day helping webmaters. And we have the New Years eve logo from Google already. Happy new years and that is the search news we covered at the Search Engine Roundtable. Google Algorithm Update During Holiday Break? Doubt It. : http://ift.tt/2hQuPoN Google: Mobile First Index Is Not Yet Live : http://ift.tt/2iamk8P Google 2017 SEO Advice: Make Sure You Optimize For Mobile Like You Do For Desktop : http://ift.tt/2ikQNB0 Google Misinforming Webmasters That Their Page Is Not Mobile Friendly : http://ift.tt/2i6T1pJ Google: Slow Pages Might Be Labeled As Not Mobile Friendly : http://ift.tt/2iE4VZo The Google Mobile First Index Won’t Measure Page Speed : http://ift.tt/2ihjnDG Google: We Have No Web Site Page Quota & Do Not Throttle Traffic : http://ift.tt/2id9b1m Google: CDNs Are Safe & Shouldn’t Hurt Your Rankings : http://ift.tt/2iDOaJB Some May See A Drop In Google Link Counts In Search Console : http://ift.tt/2hTxn5l New Google Recipe Search Results Mobile User Interface : http://ift.tt/2hz4OxT Google Tests New Mobile Search Results Interface? : http://ift.tt/2hZgAAU Google Search Console Notifications: Nonsecure Collection Of Passwords In Chrome : http://ift.tt/2iA7dEH John Mueller Of Google Helping Webmasters On Christmas Day Again : http://ift.tt/2i7rt1f Here Is Google’s New Years Eve Day Logo For 2016 : http://ift.tt/2ikERiF

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Top 16 Websites for Finding Perfect GIFs and Memes by @KatyaBovykina

Top 16 Websites for Finding Perfect GIFs and Memes by @KatyaBovykina

Before you proceed, I must warn you. Reading this post may result in loss of productivity and wasted time. On the other hand, it may also make you a better online conversationalist and drastically improve your sense of humor. Reader discretion is advised.

GIF images and memes have become a popular way of expressing one’s emotions and opinions online. Here are 16 websites you can use to find the most relevant, fresh, and on-point images.

This is an obvious one, but if you have been living in a cave for the past few years, your life is about to change. Giphy.com is visited by 100 million people daily and it is by far the largest GIF image repository. You can essentially find any moving image you can imagine.

This vast GIF library offers a number of ways to search. You can browse by categories, look at reactions, search by keyword or by hashtag. Also, Giphy offers over 2800 partner galleries to choose from such as magical Disney and crave-worthy Kit Kat. Even NASA recently created an official channel on Giphy where they regularly post educational and fascinating footage from their collection.

If you want to take your love of GIF to the next level, you must try Tumblr TV. It allows you to stream currently trending GIFs or GIFs on the topic or tag of your choice on full screen. All you have to do is click on the “Next” button and wait for the right GIF image to find you.

Also, Tumblr seems to be a popular platform for sharing GIFs. There are quite a few cool galleries that are dedicated to GIFs only. Some of them you will find below.

This blog was started by two best friends who wanted to share funny GIFs with each other. Their collection portrays life so accurately that you instantly want to befriend them. Especially since all of the images are either created by them or hand picked from other sources. Although there isn’t really a convenient way to search other than going to the archive and scrolling through, if you’re looking for a GIF to express a feeling words cannot, chances are you will find it there.

Although this page hasn’t been updated since September 2012, its author has done a fine job at collecting cute animal GIFs. For easier search, go to the account’s archive page and you will see all the GIF thumbnails. From there, just scroll and pick the ones that melt your heart the fastest.

If you ever want to change things up and look at educational GIFs, there is a place for that. This blog has a collection of GIFs showing how things around us work. Some of them are quite mesmerizing as they show, in a simple way, things that appear to be complex or things that we never really think about. For instance, have you ever thought about how tattoos are removed?

You can go to the archive page to view the thumbnails and see if any particular GIF catches your eye, or you can just scroll to see GIFs and their explanations one by one.

Reaction GIFs are snippets of emotions in a GIF. This website is dedicated only to this type of GIF. What’s cool about it is that you can search by a feeling (such as “Dancey” or “Proud”), by answer ( like “Yes” or “Hell No!”), by keyword, by tag, or by gallery. This way you’ll find the best giphy to express what you’re feeling right now.

Top 16 Websites for Finding Perfect GIFs and Memes | SEJ

Sometimes all you need is the perfect GIF of a cat to prove a point. Or maybe you just need to look at cats for a minute or two… hours. Then this website was made for you. (And let’s be honest, by “you” I mean everyone.) Go there and scroll until you feel fully stress-free. Alternatively, you can search by keyword or by tag to find that purrfect GIF.

The name of this website is pretty clear. This is where you go to make a GIF from pictures or video. But what’s more important is that this website also has a large collection of GIFs you can browse by category or search by keyword. Once you’ve narrowed down your search, you can then sort the results by popularity and date. However, if you don’t feel like searching, you can just go to the “Popular” tab and see what’s trending at the moment.

Sometimes you just don’t have time to sort through hundreds of GIFs to pick the best one. Luckily, Funny or Die puts together a weekly collection of 21 Best GIFs of All Time. So far it has 171 such collections, which means there are over 3,500 hand-picked GIFs for you to choose from.

This website claims to be “the first online meme generator” and has been around since 2009. This website not only makes meme creation super easy, it also acts as a huge library of memes organized by characters. For example, if you want to see all the memes in the “Y U No” category (apparently, the most popular character of all time), you can easily do so:

Top 16 Websites for Finding Perfect GIFs and Memes | SEJ

Once you’re in the category gallery, Meme Generator offers some information about the origins and usage of the character and lets you sort memes by date. Once you’re inspired by all the examples, you can create your own meme and hope it makes it to the top of the list.

If you feel a little adventurous, you can also browse Meme Groups. These are user-generated collections. You can start one of your own or contribute to an existing one.

A popular place for sharing viral content, Reddit will help you stay on top of your meme game. Its meme subreddit has over 25,000 subscribers who make sure the channel is always full of fresh memes. These fans will also predict which memes you will be receiving from your friends over the next few weeks.

Reddit also has a lot of other subreddits dedicated to specific meme topics. To find them you can go to a search engine and use a search operator “:site” along with reddit.com followed by the meme theme you’re trying to find.

Top 16 Websites for Finding Perfect GIFs and Memes | SEJ

In the search results, you will see the most relevant content but only from reddit.com.

Another great website with hundreds of memes to choose from. Browse by “Featured”, “Random”, “Most Popular”, or “Community”. Have a specific meme in mind?  Just use the search bar option. Looking for a specific character? Head over to the “Characters” and search there:

Top 16 Websites for Finding Perfect GIFs and Memes | SEJ

Imgur is one of those websites you go to to find one good meme to illustrate your point and end up finding yourself looking at pictures of cute baby otters two hours later. No wonder this image search engine is visited by 150 million people monthly! It’s perfect for finding any type of image, but especially memes. And here’s why:

  • You can search by titles, tags, users, or image extensions.
  • Once the search results are back, you will know how many images matched your queue.
  • You can also use advanced search to find exactly the meme you’re looking for.
  • You can sort results by relevancy, score, and within different time frames such as today, this week, this month, or this year.

Top 16 Websites for Finding Perfect GIFs and Memes | SEJ

This meme gallery wins an award for being the most time-sucking of all. Some evil genius must have designed this website. Once you go to the homepage, you have a choice of 1) entering a keyword, 2) selecting a broad category such as “sports” or “celebrities”, 3) choosing from one of the trending topics, or 4) infinitely scrolling through either “Popular” or “Latest” memes.

The tricky part is, no matter which option you choose, you will end up seeing some memes AND other relevant or not-so-relevant categories. And you can’t help but keep on clicking.

If you are a Simpsons fan, chances are you already know about this website. But if you don’t, it’s the Simpsons screenshot search engine with nearly 3 million screencaps to search from. Why is it awesome?

  • You must search for the actual quotes. So searching by character name, for example, won’t work.
  • You can search Seasons 1 through 17 as well as The Simpsons movie.
  • You can create both memes & GIFs of your favorite moments.
  • Once you’ve found the quote you’re looking for, Frinkiac will show the episode and the season number the quote appeared in and it will link you to the Wikipedia page dedicated to that episode.

How embarrassing is it when your friend sends you a meme and you just don’t get it? Thanks to Know Your Meme, you never need to worry about that happening to you again. It is a library of 2,700 memes researched and categorized. You can search the database or browse by a meme’s status such as “Confirmed”, “Submissions”, “Researching”, etc.

Once you find the meme, you can learn more about it, its origin, history, usage, cultural references, and examples. The articles Know Your Meme’s team puts together are very detailed and are often 1,000 words or more, so you will never have to guess where popular memes come from.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Ryan McGuire /Gratisography
All screenshots by Katya Bovykina. Taken December 2016.

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