Our Solutions News Blog was envisioned to gather and share information from the very best to help you and your business to become more effective.
"Every company’s biggest problem is communication,” says Scott McGohan." Read on to discover some solutions.
“It really doesn't matter how many times you do it,” says Scott. “If you do any of it, then you have a problem. If you do a lot of it, it's still going to be the number one problem.”
It’s a lesson he learned at an early age from his father, Pat McGohan, who started the business more than 45 years ago. “Growing up in the business and hearing from my father that the number one problem every business has is communication, I believed it,” says Scott. Over the years, he also saw it first-hand.
Here are 4 key ways to become more conscious and mindful about effective workplace communication.
1. Let employees do it on their time
Scott learned the most powerful way to communicate is to deliver content in a way that employees can consume it on their own time. “From a leadership standpoint, it's understanding that we have to recognize that our people aren't available to learn from us on our time. We have to figure out how to do that on their time,” he says.
Envision different channels you can use to deliver stories to employees in a way they will embrace.
For example, McGohan Brabender has a podcast they create in-house and they have a YouTube Channel. McGohan Brabender has learned that the podcasts are popular with employees since they can listen to it on-demand, whenever they have time.
“Some people like to see things, some people like to hear things, some people like to touch things,” says Scott. As a leader, your vision is to get people to feel things.
Right now, Scott focuses on trying to be short, simple, and sweet with content. “We’re embracing the fact that a lot of people today want to learn via their eyes and ears, in probably less than two minute snips. Any longer than that, we lose people's attention.”
2. Stick with it
McGohan Brabender has monthly meetings with all employees. “We look at: Where did we win? Where did we lose? Where are we at? How are we performing?” says Scott. It’s a meeting that encourages transparency and connection between employees.
They also have quarterly employee luncheons. “We'll invite the whole company in, and we'll have lunch. They can bring their kids, they can bring guests, and we've even had parents there.” Over lunch, they also talk about how the organization is doing, how they are performing, and where there is opportunity.
Another way Scott feels the pulse of the organization is through a weekly blog. He’s published the internal blog for more than 5 years.
Whatever a leader decides to do in terms of communication, the most important part is consistency. “If you say to your employees you are going to write a weekly blog, you have to it every week. You can’t miss. Our blog is five years in the running and it shoots out every week,” explains Scott. “Be consistent and be on time.”
3. Use affirmations
“Affirmation is probably the one thing that everybody desires,” says Scott. Scott’s learned to be intentional about how he uses affirmations to his people. In doing so, he’s able to energize and inspire his people.
“ As a leader, when you're telling stories about people in your organization, it affirms the great work they are doing. The magic happens when it inspires other people to want to be a part of a story,” says Scott.
“They hear what others are doing, and they want to be a part of that story. They want to have a chapter written about them. There’s magic in that—that’s what storytelling does.”
4. Show vulnerability
As a leader, have the kind of self-awareness that allows you to show vulnerability through your communication.
“Some may think if you are vulnerable, you’re looked upon as weak,” says Scott. “Vulnerability is a sign of strength. It lets people know they are not alone.”
Find a channel or format of communication that allows you to authentically open up with your people. “For example, for a lot of people, there's an uncanny way for people to be vulnerable in writing versus face-to-face with people. It is an opportunity for leaders to talk about areas in their life where they're vulnerable, or maybe where they're afraid,” says Scott.
“And it lets other people know that you might just be human. You might be just like them.”
When you get vulnerable, your people will respond with trust and openness, too. The result is a culture where employees experiment, take risks, and drive innovation.
Source: Forbes / Written By: Aileron
At Dominion Blue, our story started in 1912 with an ad featured in the city directory. It was one of eight companies involved in blueprints. We were located in the Bank of Hamilton Building at 432 Hamilton Street. Our focus was simple, offer what architects, engineers, contractors, the government and businesses wanted; preeminent quality large format Maps, Blueprints, Brown Line, and Blue Line Prints.
It was not a splashy opening, but it was honest. Our "can-do," "just-works" and our clients soon realized that we were ultimately providing print solutions that helped them to succeed. By hearing our story and knowing why we do what we do, they quickly discovered that we understood their needs.
A lot has changed since then. Of course, our state-of-the-art digital printing equipment and the breadth of our product and services offer is immense in comparison. But one thing has not changed; we've been building trust with our clients ever since that day and won't stop until we either meet or exceed each one’s expectations.
Knowing how to tell your business story needs to be a crucial part of your operations. A brand story has a strategic purpose aimed towards drawing people in. To perfect your story, try the following tips, and when you're ready give us a call because print can help bring it alive in many ways.
To perfect your story, try the following tips:
#1: Set The Parameters
Your business story should be engaging. But if it doesn’t have a clear focus, you’ll quickly lose the attention of consumers. Establish context right off the bat.
To start your brand story, answer the following questions:
Parameters will help you develop an engaging story that makes sense to your audience. Set the scene so that consumers know exactly what you’re talking about. Most importantly, establish why you’re telling them this story. This will guide the audience through the narrative and hook them all the way to the end.
#2: Be Authentic
Authentic storytelling is key to gaining consumer trust. Don’t try to fool your audience with an over-the-top tale. Customers know when you try to pull a fast one on them, and they don’t appreciate it.
Your business’s story doesn’t need to be elaborate. In fact, if your business doesn’t have an earth-shattering history, your story shouldn’t try to create one. A genuine narrative is more likely to connect with consumers than one without a shred of truth.
Transparency celebrates your uniqueness and acknowledges the human aspect of your brand. Recognize that things are not always easy by showing your own challenges and failures. This creates an emotional connection, as well as reveals admiral characteristics, like innovation and resilience.
You might want to take an “open book” approach to communicating with customers. Explain how things are made/done at your business. For example, you might use all local ingredients at your restaurant. Use these details to create an interesting story.
#3: Have A Clear Outcome
A great business story leaves your audience with something. What lesson was learned in the story, and what should consumers learn from hearing it?
Business stories should have a clear outcome. Provide a hopeful, thought-provoking message with actionable points that compel your audience to connect with your brand.
Here’s another story for you: In the late eighties, my partner and I wanted to write software, but we were not sure about the niche we should pursue. After doing tons of research in the phonebook and at the library (there was no internet back then), we learned that employment agencies had a desperate need for a recruiting network solution. Over thirty years after launching our startup, Top Echelon’s recruiting network has hundreds of recruiting firms and millions of candidates, which helps hiring professionals make more placements.
The story gives an idea of who we are and where we come from. The outcome sparks confidence in our offerings and values. You can use your business’s real-life outcomes to convey a message to your customers.
#4: Be Consistent
A disorganized brand story leaves customers confused and uninterested. Make sure your brand is consistent across all communication channels. Use the same colors, logo, and slogan for digital and print marketing materials. The repetition of images and verbiage associated with your business creates brand awareness.
You need to be consistent when speaking about your brand. Business storytelling takes practice. Know the story inside and out before presenting it to customers. This will help you tell the story naturally.
#5: Get Customers Involved
Use business storytelling to strike an emotional connection with customers. Talk about how an event related to your business affected you and what you learned. This creates an immediate response that makes your story memorable and shareable.
People like to be a part of stories. Your customers can be characters in your brand. Come up with ways to get your audience involved.
For example, Patriot Software reached out to some of our customers to hear their startup stories. Black Sheep Boutique and Lamplighter Brewing Co. were among several companies featured in business storytelling examples on our blog. Showcasing these businesses directly linked our customers to a part of our story.
Telling the story of your brand is an ongoing process. Each day, your business grows, shifts, and adds new chapters to its story. Make business storytelling an essential part of your operations to attract and retain customers.
Source: Forbes / Written By: Mike Kappel
Marketing often gets thrown on the back burner because it feels like time away from your business.
You’re happiest when you’re talking to your audience directly.
You’re telling them all about a product, service, or cause that you care about — and there’s a level of connection there that marketing can’t touch.
Or so you think.
It’s true — there’s plenty of yawn-inducing marketing material out there that makes you wonder if the writer herself was asleep at the keyboard.
But your business can do better than that. You can share something with your audience that awakens their attention, evokes emotion, and fosters ironclad loyalty..
Can storytelling really do all that?
Stories are the seeds of connection. They have staying power — think back to all the stories you can still remember from your early childhood.
And they’re more important than ever as a way to stand out from your competition.
Here are a few things storytelling can do for your business:
How can you start incorporating storytelling in your business?
Once you start to see the benefits of storytelling for your business, you’ll start wondering how you can start using it right away.
Luckily, you have plenty of outlets at your disposal. Your website, your signage, brochures, and printed communications, email and direct mail, your blog, social channels, presentation centres, and so much more.
When you're ready to start planning it all out give us a call and through our Print with Insight Program you'll be turning heads your way in no time.
Source: Constant Contact / Written By: Miranda Paquet
Last year was all about taking risks in graphic design. But most of the graphic design trends we predicted last year have become mainstream. Like incorporating a whole new world of colour, and breathing life into print with a rainbow of metallic huges. Click HERE to download the metallic ink design guide.
What are the BIGGEST graphic design trends of 2019 that you should be following?
That’s what this design guide will tell you. For an in-depth guide to the biggest graphic design trends in 2019, check out the full article and infographic HERE.
The blog post contains a ton of examples for each trend, as well as templates that you can use to stay on top of the trends. In the video above, we introduce you to the 8 graphic design trends that we predict are going to take over in 2019. We’ve included examples from some of the biggest brands in tech right now, including Apple, Spotify, MailChimp, Facebook and more.
If you want your branding to be ahead of the curve, try incorporating some of these graphic design trends into your proposals, marketing materials, packaging and internal communications.
Source: Venngage / Written By: Ryan McCready
In a survey conducted by ResearchNow for Adobe, 76 percent of marketers believe marketing has changed more in the last two years than in the previous 50....
Convenience Is the New Currency
Time and money have always been directly correlated, and for the last several years, consumers have been short on both. Even though we’ve made quite a comeback from the dark days of the economic collapse in late 2008, the Great Recession is still fresh on everyone’s mind.
As a reaction to the substandard economy that wrapped up the first decade of the new millennium, buyers have become obsessed with finding unsurpassed value, with competitive sellers bending over backward to come up with new ways to draw in potential customers. Bottom-line pricing, impeccable service, and personalized experiences have all become crucial to staying competitive in the post-recession marketplace, but another customer demand has risen through the ranks, forcing companies to rethink the way they market their products and services.
That demand can be summed up in a single word: CONVENIENCE
Click HERE to Read the Full Article »
Source: Adobe Digital Marketing
Everything Starts With An Idea
Here's a twist on Creativity and The Big Idea. Nothing is original, says Kirby Ferguson, creator of Everything is a Remix. From Bob Dylan to Steve Jobs, he says our most celebrated creators borrow, steal and transform. And how does copyright come into play. Embrace the remix.
Source: TED / Presenter: Kirby Ferguson
One Small Adjustment
What can you learn about perception from a social psychologist and body language expert? If you’re one of the 16 million people who have already watched Cuddy’s compelling TED talk -- you know there’s plenty to learn. Cuddy discuses how body language and even physical posture can affect not only others' perception of you, but your own self-perception as well. Could changing your posture change your life? It just might. Watch Cuddy’s TED talk and decide for yourself if an adjustment could alter your course.
Source: TED / Presenter: Amy Cuddy
“I feel stuck. Where should I go from here?”
It’s not uncommon to feel like there’s no obvious next step in your career. It’s hard work to guide yourself, especially when you’re walking into the unknown.
So what do you do when you feel stuck? Do you jump ship? Apply for a new role within your company? Or just stick it out? In the right context, any of those options could work out just fine. But how do you know which direction is right for you?
If you’re in marketing or a part of a big team, chances are you work with individuals with many different skill sets. Maybe you sit next to a woman named Tracie who’s a jane of all trades. It seems like there’s nothing she can’t do! Your other co-worker, Seth, might be the go-to-guy for all things analytics and reports. Sometimes he even holds team workshops on metrics and reporting tools.
Despite their differences, both Tracie and Seth are most likely equally valued by the company. Their roles represent two common directions an employee might pursue in one’s career, depth and breadth, and both are excellent paths to get yourself unstuck.
Click HERE » to View the Full Article
Source: Hubspot / Written By: Rebecca Corliss
When was the last time YOU listened carefully, reflectively, meaningfully and thoughtfully to a ''world-class", college commencement speech?
If your kids recently graduated, then probably recently - - BUT DID that commencement speaker's message REALLY hit home for YOU - - as well as your child? If YOU graduated from college or grad school a while back, do you even remember what YOUR commencement speaker had to say, share, his or her life-forging reflections, admonishments, hard-won lessons shared?
Each of the 7 speeches here is unique, wildly different than one another, each profound in its message. Each addressed the subject of how to embrace, manage/master or understand the rest of your adult life - - from highly-original vantage points and unexpected, deeply reflective "life-lesson processes" - - that might be relevant to YOU right now - - as YOU grapple with a tumultuous, and massively, changing world. There are a lot of BIG IDEAS left to think up and explore.
When it comes to business, we talk too much about social media and expect too little. It’s like the old joke about sales people: one person says, “I made some valuable contacts today,” and the other responds, “I didn’t get any orders, either.” Companies measure the market results of their sales investments. But few have measures or even have accountable managers in place for their social media investments, and only 7% say their organizations “understand the exact value at stake from digital.” Meanwhile, according to a Gallup survey, 62% of U.S. adults who use social media say these sites have no influence on their purchasing decisions and only 5% say they have a great deal of influence.
Technology changes fast — remember MySpace and Friendster? — but consumer behavior changes more slowly. As a result, people tend to overhype new technologies and misallocate resources, especially marketers.
When banner ads first appeared their CTR was 10%, but that soon fell due to heavy usage by firms, and clutter. Research has long demonstrated that ad elasticities are generally very low, that firms often persist with ineffective ad media (because they have the wrong measures or no measures), and that companies routinely over-spend on ads (due to ad agency incentives, the fact that ad expenses are tax-deductible, and companies’ use-it-or-lose-it budgeting processes). Other research indicates that traditional offline consumer opinion surveys (when they use representative samples) are better at predicting sales than clicks, number of website visits or page views, positive or negative social media conversations, and search (although online behavior is good at tracking the reasons behind week-to-week changes in sales.)
With new media, therefore, great expectations are common and missing the goal is understandable: it takes practice and learning. But changing or dismantling the goal posts is a different story.
It’s now common to say that social media is “really” about awareness, not sales. Companies that “get” social media should be “relentless givers [who] connect instead of promote.” In fact, forget “traditional” ROI (that lovely qualifier), focus on consumer use of social media and, instead of calculating the returns in terms of customer response, measure the number of visits with that social media application. How convenient: to be evaluated with a metric without tangible marketplace outcomes. But it’s wrong, a circular argument, and smart companies should not follow this flawed business logic.
The value of any advertising, online or offline, depends on what effects it has on purchases. As Bill Bernbach, David Ogilvy, and other ad execs have emphasized, “our job is to sell our clients’ merchandise, not ourselves.” Those effects are difficult to measure, because consumers buy (or not) for many different reasons and even good ads in the right media have both carryover and wear-out effects that vary over the product life cycle and an ad campaign. But to justify an investment by activity and not outcomes is a tautology — we advertise because we advertise — not a meaningful business argument.
Even an activity measure, moreover, assumes the consumer can see the ad. Did you know that a display ad is deemed “viewable” if at least half of each ad is visible on your computer or smart phone for a minimum of one second? Data released in 2014 by comScore indicated that more than half of online display ads appear on parts of a web page that are not viewable. In response, the Interactive Advertising Bureau noted that for various reasons 100% viewability is “not yet possible,” but the industry should aim for 70%. In other words, hope that “only” 30% of your intended ads are not seen by anyone for at least a second!
Further, what we now know about shopping and social media activity says that online and offline behavior interact. They’re complements, not substitutes, and you ignore these interactions at your peril. The vast majority of communications on social media sites are between friends who are within 10 miles of each other. The same is true about the available data on buying behavior. As Wharton professor David Bell documents, the way people use the internet is largely shaped by where they live, the presence of stores nearby, their neighbors, and local sales taxes.
For years now, we have heard big talk about the big data behind big investments in social media. Let’s see who is behind the curtain. It’s time to expect more from social media and prove it. The Association of Advertising Agencies has refused to endorse the 70% goal and wants 100% viewability, which means if an advertiser buys 1 million impressions from a site, that site must display that ad as many times as it takes to ensure a million viewable impressions. In 2014, The Economist guaranteed those who buy space on its apps and website that readers will spend a certain amount of time there. For instance, it will guarantee that a site containing an ad appearing for three weeks will receive X hours of readers’ attention — documenting, not assuming, engagement with the medium.
Other companies try to trace the links (or not) between online platforms and sales outcomes. They buy point-of-sale data from retailers and have systems that purport to match Facebook or Twitter IDs, for example, with a given campaign and subsequent retail sales for a product. The validity of these approaches is still to be determined. And the FTC has raised concerns about privacy issues and disclosure practices, and has urged Congress to pass legislation to give consumers the right to opt out. But shining light on what does and doesn’t happen here will be a good thing.
Business success requires linking customer-acquisition efforts with a coherent strategy. You can’t do that if you are not clear about the differences between hype and reality when it comes to buying and selling. And we should care about this distinction for reasons that go far beyond making even more ads more viewable. Companies’ abilities to make better use of their resources are important for society, not only shareholders. It spurs productivity, and productivity — not just tweets and selfies — is what spurs growth.
Source: Harvard Business Review / Written By: Frank Cespedes
Many marketing benchmarks are easy to assess: sales, web traffic, SEO, social engagement and conversion rates. These results are tracked with hard data and as a result success is measurable. If one tactic isn't working, it's easy to try another.
But not so fast. Results are the final outcome of a marketing initiative - but where do these results originate? Let's trace back the steps. Before every successful conversion there is a strategy in place. Before every strategy is a creative idea. And all good creative ideas are fueled by extensive research and insights. This is the purpose of Creative Strategy: to set the foundation for business growth in three simple steps: 1) research 2) creativity 3) strategic planning.
Creative Strategy is essential to any marketing plan or new website, and good Creative Strategy should address the following five foundations that impact business growth:
1) Identify needs / determine goals
The only way to get a clearly defined answer is to ask clearly defined questions. A well thought out Creative Strategy will uncover the most pertinent business/brand needs to address and leverage consumer/industry insights to illustrate a custom solution.
2) Figure out a roadmap
Solutions are a great starting point - but how do we get there? It's the job of a Creative Strategist to determine the most effective way to get from Point A to Point B. What threats stand in the way and how can they be avoided? What mistakes have other businesses made and how can they be learned from? Creating a roadmap that addresses these questions is essential to mobilize your team with a bird's eye view of clear next steps.
3) What's happening?
Simply put, a Creative Strategy must be informed. What's going on in your industry? What is the competition doing? What new technology is on the horizon? What's going on in the digital and social space? A roadmap can't weave through the complexities of the business world without being well informed on what's happening...everywhere.
4) Tell a story
Content drives online success, but what drives content? A brand's point of view - their story - should set the foundation for all communication efforts. What is your brand's unique perspective and position? This will determine your messaging strategy and visual vocabulary. Every audience loves a story. What's yours?
5) Influence behavior
Great - the goals are now determined and the plan is in place. Now, what is the desired action we want the end user (the audience) to take? The more specific the action, the more effective the conversion will be. By establishing direct calls to action and intuitive online pathways for users, the strategy will translate into consumer-focused terms that are both relatable and relevant.
In the interest of long-term brand success, it's important to set a stable foundation and not take short cuts. It's not always directly measurable, but a sharp Creative Strategy is evident along every brand touch point, and can set the tone for messaging, design and marketing for years to come.
Source: Blue Fountain Media / Written By: James McCrae
Color, it can attract, influence, and even increase retention. Color is a powerful tool for any business. The way you present your company’s ideas with the use of color in printed material is becoming an increasingly important issue. Studies find that using color in your documents is both impactful and influential. Xerox recently commissioned a study online by Harris Interactive about why your boss should let you print in color.
Let’s look at a few of the findings. In the study it was found that 25% of the respondents print using color to improve retention but in the survey 69% of the respondents stated that they understand new ideas better when they are presented in color. It would seem to make sense that printing in color will help to get your ideas and messages read, understood and remembered. In the study 21% of the respondents print in color to reduce search time but the study found that 76% of the respondents think they can find information faster if it is printed in color. So wouldn’t it make sense to print things in color so that more people can find the information that you are trying to share with them in less time?
Research has shown that using color in business can dramatically improve communication, enhance productivity, and boost sales. So as color becomes increasingly affordable and easier to control there will be an ever increasing use of color in printed material and CAD plotting. Xerox provides many printers and multifunction printers that provide color printing.
Source: Xerox Blogs / Written By: Cheryl Otstott
I've been a "yes"-sayer most of my life. I'm a bit of an impulse shopper, always down for an adventure, open to meeting new people or switching plans at a moment's notice.
This has opened many doors for me over the years, especially with bosses and colleagues who are happy with my eagerness and "can-do" attitude. But sometimes, the "yes-yes-yes" approach can be exhausting -- it ends up stretching me way too thin. With every new affirmative comes the quiet ritual of reprioritization, where I look at my to-do list and figure out where on earth the new request will fit in.
Sound familiar? Think about the last time you had to rework your to-do list to accommodate piling demands. Was it last week? Yesterday? This morning? There biggest reason this problem is so widespread is: Many of us are concerned about looking like jerks if we don't do everything our colleagues ask of us -- especially if the person asking is our boss.
I think Ed Batista, executive coach and instructor at the Stanford School of Business, said it best: "When faced with potentially overwhelming demands on our time, we’re often advised to 'Prioritize!' as if that’s some sort of spell that will magically solve the problem ... Here’s the problem. After we prioritize, we act as though everything merits our time and attention, and we’ll get to the less-important items 'later.' But later never really arrives. The list remains without end."
It might seem like every incoming request is important -- especially ones from your superiors. But that's not true. Here are a few tips that successful people follow to better prioritize.
Give yourself a minute.
It's easier to say "yes" in the moment, only to realize later that you probably don't have time. Instead of defaulting to "yes," ask questions about the project (steps, due date, etc.) to gauge how long it might take. And then tell your requester, "Let me look at my schedule and see if I can fit it in." That way, you can take a few minutes to analyze the request and see how it can fit in with your current priorities. Which brings me to my next point ...
Analyze incoming requests.
Even ones from your superiors -- they shouldn't be a given! In her book Rise: 3 Practical Steps for Advancing in Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, and Liking Your Life, Patty Azzarello (whom Forbes calls "the original Marissa Mayer") reveals a little-known secret: Your boss needs help thinking through the things she requests of you just as much as you need help prioritizing them.
In other words, your boss doesn't want you to just do everything she asks you to do -- your job is to catch, record, and analyze all those asks, and then make judgments about which ones will have the biggest impact on the business. If you just do the things that will make a big impact on the business, you will be forgiven for the things you don't get done -- and that is a big secret to success.
Say "no" to requests that put your top priorities at risk.
Setting realistic expectations on our time is hard, but we have an even harder time saying "no" to our colleagues for fear of seeming unhelpful, not hardworking, not a team player, and so on. "There’s a fine line between effective triage and being an a**hole, and many of us are so worried about crossing that line that we don’t even get close," says Batista.
But in Rise, Azzarello reminds us that, while we can get away with not getting everything done if we deliver remarkable results on a few key things, we need to deliver those remarkable results -- otherwise, we don't have any success to offset why we didn't do better at everything else.
"Don't lose your nerve. Stick to it," she writes. "If you're tempted to work on everything because it feels less risky, just realize that you will remain unremarkable because you have not given yourself the opportunity to really excel on something that has a big impact on the business."
Your ultimate goal, according to Batista, is to confront the emotional discomfort of prioritizing tasks -- to "expand our comfort with discomfort." Saying "no" isn't easy, but it's incredibly important for career growth.
Source: Hubspot / Written By: Lindsay Kolowich
Sometimes, when I think back to internet trends that came and went, it can put a big smile across my face. Remember the hours you or your friends spent playing Farmville and typing all Facebook statuses in the third person? Sweet memories, right?
But then there are the trends that have kind of faded into the background, only to pop up in your thoughts when you're in the shower or in the middle of devising a new marketing campaign. You think, "Does anyone actually do that anymore?" Googling it doesn't really help -- all the articles are from five years ago, and they all seem to think that trend is all the rage. There's nothing explicitly telling you that this trend is really not that cool anymore.
Well, we figured we'd help you set the record straight. Let's take a moment to look back at six internet marketing trends of the last five years that are really not a thing anymore, and give you alternatives to take advantage of now.
Follow Friday was very, very popular on Twitter back in 2009. Here's how it worked: Every Friday, you'd send a tweet to your followers recommending a Twitter handle you thought was super interesting and others might want to follow. You'd accompany these tweets with the hashtags #FollowFriday or #ff.
Here's what a #FollowFriday tweet was supposed to look like:
It's descriptive, helpful, and personalized. But here's what #FollowFriday tweets actually ended up looking like -- ALL OF THEM:
You can imagine how cluttered your news feed looked when everyone you followed was posting tweets like that at the same time. (Oatmeal said it best.)
Follow Friday started with a single tweet by entrepreneur Micah Baldwin.
One of his followers responded by suggesting the #followfriday hashtag. A few more friends hopped on board, and boom: At the peak of the first ever Follow Friday, the #FollowFriday hashtag saw two tweets per second.
Why did it catch on so fast? Because it was easy, people felt like they were spreading goodwill, and anyone with a free Twitter account could participate. There were great intentions behind its creation and adoption in 2009. If you think someone's tweets are great, why not share that greatness with your followers? But when Twitter feeds became incomprehensible streams of hashtags and Twitter handle recommendations, Follow Friday got old reeeal quick.
It's not clear when Follow Friday started dying, but it's gone.
Have you ever been offered something for free from a brand in exchange for "Liking" their Facebook page? That's called Like-gating, a trend that got really hot in 2011. Here's an example of Like-gating from Sephora:
If you've ever Liked a company's Facebook page so you could get free stuff, think back to how that exchange made you feel about the brand. Did their offer make you feel more loyal to them, or did you suspect they'd spam you in the future?
Most of you would probably say the latter. Offering free stuff for Liking your page is a plea for quantity, not quality, of Facebook Likes. But don't you want the people who Like you on Facebook to have done so without dangling a carrot on a stick? Plus, consumers have been able to "unlike" a company page with the click of a button since 2010.
If your goal is to gain a lot Facebook Likes in a short amount of time, like-gating can be a tempting short-term solution. But ask yourself the business value of all those low-quality Facebook Likes. Is it worth the investment?
For Like-gating to be effective at all, the real work would need to start after a consumer Likes your page. You'd need to convince them to stick around by being helpful, valuable, and providing great content. If you really want more Facebook fans, then you need to make sure you follow up and continue building a strong relationship with consumers long after the Like.
But it's far better in the long term to earn those Facebook likes by providing helpful, engaging content from your website. Before people Like your page, they've probably given it a once-over to see if anything there would interest them. So when people end up Liking your page by choice, they're more likely to want to engage with your website content -- which is your ultimate goal, anyway.
3) LinkedIn Events
The idea behind the LinkedIn Events application, which was shut down in 2012, makes total sense: Professionals want to know where other professionals are networking and what conferences they're going to. Plus, you wouldn't want professional events muddled in with your best friend's housewarming party on Facebook Events -- and at that point, how many of you were connected on Facebook with all of your professional mentors and influencers, anyway?
LinkedIn's Events application let users browse events the people in their networks were organizing or attending. You could see the attendee lists, mark down whether you were attending yourself, and even see a list of "attendees you may want to meet" based on connections, interests, and industry. Here's what it looked like:
When LinkedIn announced they would be shutting down the application, my first reaction was, "LinkedIn had an events application?" Apparently I wasn't alone. LinkedIn's official message said they shut it down because they wanted to invest more time and money in building out other parts of the product. It's unclear whether this meant that too many LinkedIn users didn't use the Events application, or it just didn't support LinkedIn's overall strategy.
Either way, if you're feeling lost without it, try finding and promoting events on Facebook, Eventbrite, or on MeetUp.com. (The first is much more acceptable than it used to be.)
4) QR Codes
Remember when it seemed like QR Codes were everywhere? They were on store windows, napkin holders, walls, in magazines. In short, QR Codes (Quick Response codes) are matrix barcodes that can be read by QR barcode readers, which people could choose to install on their smartphones. Marketers thought of them as a way to bridge offline and online marketing -- kind of like links you could "click on" in real life.
But there was just one problem: The trend never really broke out of the tech-savvy crowd. Although both Apple and Android have QR readers built in to their systems (Apple's is built into Passbook, not the camera itself), that isn't very widely known.
If you're looking for a way to connect the physical and digital world, it's simple: Place URLs in places you want consumers to see them. They can type them in manually. Just make sure the URL is logical to type -- not a random jumble of letters.
Facebook's News Feed algorithm has kept marketers on their toes by evolving numerous times since it launched in September 2006. In 2006, users first saw personalized lists of their friends' posts that updated throughout the day. To figure out what content users wanted to see on their news feeds, Facebook used a pretty unsophisticated algorithm: the pre-cursor to EdgeRank.
In 2007, at the same time Facebook launched Ads and Pages for companies to use, they released a new News Feed algorithm, named "EdgeRank," that determined exactly which Facebook posts would go into other people's News Feeds. For companies, EdgeRank provided statistics of the engagement on your company page so you could analyze your activities.
But the EdgeRank algorithm couldn't keep up with the rapidly increasing number of people using Facebook, now more than a billion people per month, accessing Facebook on all different devices. In August 2013, Facebook announced changes to the algorithm that could accommodate its huge user base.
Since then, the name EdgeRank has been declared dead, but Facebook's algorithm has continued to evolve and improve. The new algorithm has almost 100,000 weight factors to determine which of your friends' posts you see on your feed. With all of these changes that've cropped up, your survival strategy should be simple: continue creating content your fans, leads, and customers enjoy.
6) Facebook Polls
In June 2013, Facebook announced a plan to streamline the number of ad units by cutting out redundancies they found in their advertising platform. This would include the Questions product for Pages (sometimes referred to as "Facebook Polls"), which many marketers used to engage fans in a way other than just posting to their page's wall.
But it turns out that Facebook Questions, originally predicted to be a big threat to Quora, actually never really caught on. Facebook even repackaged and relaunched a more social, watered-down version of the product in 2011 that allowed you to only poll people you were directly connected to on Facebook, rather than the whole Facebook community.
Questions was quietly shut down in July 2013 under the premise that marketers could get the same information from fans by simply asking a question in new post and looking at the comments. LinkedIn also used to have a Group Polling feature, but they too shut it down in May 2014.
At this point, if you want to poll your audience on social media, you'll have to stick with asking questions in regular posts and looking at answers in the comments. And even that tactic is kind of outdated -- Facebook's made some algorithm changes to cut down on "engagementbait" in the News Feed, and that tactic could end up easily falling into that category. So you should probably steer clear of Facebook polling altogether, unless you're posting a link to a survey or poll you're running on your website.
Do you or did you follow any of these trends? What did you find good and bad about them? Post a comment.
Source: Hubspot / Written By: Lisa Toner