Category blogging

Think About What You’re Sharing Online: Is That Statistic Really Accurate?

Fake StatsThere is a lot of information being shared on the Internet.

This is great if it is used to entertain, mobilize people to action, or help people make educated decisions.

The problem is that people often share things online without really thinking about what they’re sharing. This leads to the spread of misinformation, rumors, or even the dreaded fake news.

When evaluating the validity of the information that we share, we need to look at the words that are used and the statistics that are provided as supporting evidence.

This post focuses on the latter—the statistics.

This is a topic that I have written about a few times in the past.

In fact, each of the subheadings listed below is a headline or title of a former blog post.

I feel it’s time to revisit these posts, because the lessons that can be learned are of the utmost importance.

The Importance of Reliable Sources

Maybe the most important thing to do when evaluating the data that you see online is to ask yourself whether or not the source providing the information is credible.

If the source is unknown to you, be skeptical.

If the information is coming from a reliable news outlet, chances are the information was fact-checked.

However, with the increased emphasis to be the first one to report the news, even the experts make mistakes. Typos are inevitable. After all, the writers are human—at least they are most of the time.

Therefore, it is often a good idea to check with the original source before making any major business decisions based on data you find on the Internet.

Mind Your Bases When Analyzing Data

Checking with the original source is also a good idea because percentages can be misleading.

In fact, if we don’t know what population the percentages are based on, then the percentages are virtually useless.

Furthermore, if only part of the data gets shared or data tables get recreated, an incorrect population or subpopulation is often assumed. In this case, the percentages can be extremely misleading.

A similar thing can occur if quotes are taken out of context.

If you have the time, I strongly recommend that you read my original blog post on this topic, as it goes into further detail about the importance of knowing what population or subpopulation percentages are based on.

A Lesson Worth Remembering: Correlation Doesn’t Imply Causation

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it is also one of the things that we’re all guilty of forgetting from time-to-time.

It is therefore not surprising that many college professors try to drive this lesson into the minds of their students.

The key thing to think about here is that when analyzing data, you can’t always assume that just because there is a positive or negative correlation between two variables, that one is causing the other to occur.

In some cases, it might be a third unknown variable that is influencing the change in one or possibly both of the original variables.

Weight – Are Your Survey Results Biased?

This topic might be getting into the weeds a bit, but I feel it is important enough to bring up.

If the data that is being reported is not based on a complete census of a population, then there is inevitably going to be a disproportionate number of respondents from a demographic group that can lead to biased data.

Weighting is basically a way to be sure that the data that you are using to make population estimates actually reflects the true population distribution.

For example, according to the United States Census Bureau, 50.8 percent of the 2010 Census population were female, while 49.2 percent were male.

Now, assume that we conducted a research project in 2010 where two-thirds of the respondents were female. If female respondents are also more likely to respond one way or the other on a particular question, then the estimate for the overall percentage of United States citizens who feel one way or the other for that topic would be biased.

This is something that I think many people who are conducting survey research today often overlook.

While weighting your data might not seem like a big deal, it can potentially have a huge impact on the overall estimates of the averages, ratios, proportions, or percentages for a given population.

Again, if you want to learn more, check out the original blog post that I wrote in 2011.

Final Thoughts

If you spend any time reading information shared on social media, you know that there are a lot of statistics being cited to support opinions about all sorts of topics.

Sometimes the statistics are coming from a reliable source. On the other hand, sometimes it seems like the numbers were just made up. In other words, they are fake statistics.

As I have pointed out in this post, even if the data is coming from a reliable source, it is often a good idea to check with the original source before making any business decision that will have a big impact on your company.

A lot of things can happen when data is passed on from one person to another online.

As I have said before, it is ultimately the responsibility of the consumer to make sure that the information is factual before making decisions based on what he or she read, hears, or sees on the Internet.

Hopefully, this post will help give people some idea of what to look for when deciding what statistics to believe and what ones to dismiss.

Photo credit: craftivist collective on Flickr. (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license – CC BY 2.0.)

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at:

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Some Blog Housecleaning and Blatant Self-Promotion

Photo credit: Christophe BENOIT on Flickr.It has been about a year since I restarted posting content on this blog on a regular basis.

It is therefore a good time to assess what is working and what is not working and make some changes to how I use my time to get my ideas out there.

As we all know, there is only so much time in the day. Therefore, something has to give.

Currently, my time is split between posting here, keeping up with current trends in the marketing, public relations, and retail worlds, training, working, and searching for work.

Lately, I have been thinking about these activities and if they are actually helping me achieve my goals.

Often, if we write down the goals that want to achieve, it makes it more likely that we will accomplish them. That is what this post is intended to do.

Therefore, this post isn’t going to be like the rest of the ones on this blog. I understand that it might not be of interest to everyone. Therefore, it is okay to stop reading. I will see you next week.

For those of you interested in my thought process, I plan to give some quick thoughts on blogging, social media, and where you can find me in other places on the Internet.

The Written Word – HubPages, LinkedIn Pulse, Medium, Guest Blogging, and

There have been many articles written that point out that bloggers are getting a lot more views and engagement on posts published on LinkedIn Pulse and Medium.

This has me thinking about where and how I publish.

In the next few weeks, I plan to start publishing articles on LinkedIn Pulse. It seems like this is a great place to reach people when they are thinking about work.

Some bloggers suggest posting the same content on your own blog and on LinkedIn Pulse and Medium.

I haven’t decided if this is the best way to go yet.

This is a question that I plan to ask other bloggers at the Minnesota Blogger Conference at Concordia University in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on October 15, 2016. If you are going to be at the event, feel free to say hello.

I am also thinking about blogging about different topics. This might be how I use Medium. Or I might try some other blogging site.

I had been using HubPages to post non-marketing content. I plan to give that a try again, too.

If I do start to post elsewhere, I will let people know on Twitter and include links to some of the best content on this site.

I am also open to writing guest blog posts. If you need a content writer, let me know.

Social Media – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, Etc.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I announce new blog posts there.

I haven’t been promoting my blog anywhere else. However, I really should be sharing my post on LinkedIn. It’s on my must-add list.

Facebook would be a good place for non-marketing posts.

Pinterest, maybe.

Also, video is big. I plan to explore that more. I have already started to use Vine for personal posts. However, YouTube might also be in my future.

I have also been thinking about ways to promote the blog on Snapchat, but it doesn’t seem like the right place unless I add more networking into the mix.

Networking in the Twin Cities and Beyond

Great segue, right?

Anyway, I plan to start attending more networking events in the Twin Cities.

In 2011 and 2012, I was attending events hosted by the Minnesota Chapter of the American Marketing Association (MNAMA) and the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA).

I plan to start attending some of their events again.

I also plan to explore other events in the area, too.

If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Final Thoughts

We are all overloaded with information.

Whether at work or in our personal lives, finding the right way to reach people is a must.

With all the rapid changes in the world, we need to constantly adjust what we do. What works today might not work next year or even next week.

That said, I am going to end this post by asking you to connect with me on social media and continue the discussion there. (See the links in the sidebar.)

And, if you know of anyone looking for a marketer with experience and training in mobile marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, market research, project management, inbound sales, and community outreach, feel free to have them contact me. I am actively looking for a marketing job in the Twin Cities.

Thank you again for your time.

Chad Thiele


Photo credit: Christophe BENOIT on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at:

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Don’t Worry, They’re Just Words: Lost in Translation

Communication is often difficult enough when we are all speaking the same language.

It becomes even more difficult when your target audience is more comfortable using a different language.

A report released by the Center for Immigration Studies pointed out that one in five U.S. residents now speak a language other than English at home. Furthermore, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that this percentage is much higher in several major metropolitan areas in the United States. In fact, in Los Angeles and Miami, over half of the population 5 and older speak a language other than English at home.

The Washington Times article that talks about the overall percentage of U.S. residents who now speak a different language at home points out that English might be spoken some of the time.

According to the article, “Although many of those are bilingual, more than 25 million residents say they speak English at levels they would rate as less than “very well,” according to the report, which is based on the latest Census Bureau figures.”

This can be a problem for communications professionals who are trying to inform and influence customers and prospects about a brand’s products or services.

In many cases, in order to reach some of their potential customers, the brand’s messaging will need to be translated from English into another language.

In some cases, specific ad campaigns will need to be created to appeal to customers of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

However, as studies have shown, when translating from one language to another, care needs to be taken as even the structure of another language can change the way the message is received, and thus impact its effectiveness.

Languages Force Us to Think Differently

As a 2010 New York Times article explains, “SINCE THERE IS NO EVIDENCE that any language forbids its speakers to think anything, we must look in an entirely different direction to discover how our mother tongue really does shape our experience of the world. Some 50 years ago, the renowned linguist Roman Jakobson pointed out a crucial fact about differences between languages in a pithy maxim: “Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey.” This maxim offers us the key to unlocking the real force of the mother tongue: if different languages influence our minds in different ways, this is not because of what our language allows us to think but rather because of what it habitually obliges us to think about.”

For example, English requires that we use tenses, thus communicating whether an event happened in the past, present, or future. In comparison, Chinese does not force people to think about when something happened because the same verb is used to describe an event that takes place in the past, the present, or the future.

As the article goes on to point out, “Again, this does not mean that the Chinese are unable to understand the concept of time. But it does mean they are not obliged to think about timing whenever they describe an action.”

On the other hand, English does not force us to conjugate verbs to show the gender of a person who we are talking about each time they are mentioned. However, this is a requirement for people who are speaking in French, German, or Spanish.

It is interesting to note that in many languages, a male or female gender is also assigned to inanimate objects.

Even more interesting is the fact that this influences how people see these objects.

As the New York times article points out, “When speakers were asked to grade various objects on a range of characteristics, Spanish speakers deemed bridges, clocks and violins to have more “manly properties” like strength, but Germans tended to think of them as more slender or elegant. With objects like mountains or chairs, which are “he” in German but “she” in Spanish, the effect was reversed.”

These are just two examples of how language has an effect on the way that people see the world around them.

If you search on Google, you can find many additional examples.

Final Thoughts

Back in 2012, I wrote a few posts about the important role that the words that we choose to use play in communication.

In particular, I pointed out how changing one word can have a huge impact on the message conveyed to the recipient. In some cases, the omission of a word can also completely change the meaning. I also highlighted the fact that social media is often like the telephone game, where the original message changes as it gets passed from person to person.

As I stated in one of the posts, “At times, the ideas that we are trying to convey to others might not be properly communicated because the intended recipients don’t understand the meanings of the words that we use. (In some cases, the words that we use might actually have different meanings among people with different cultural backgrounds.)”

“In other words, what we are trying to say might get lost in translation even if the people who we are trying to reach speak the same language,” I continued.

As I pointed out in this post, it gets even more complicated by the fact that various languages force us to think about different things, and therefore change the way that we experience the world.

Therefore, businesses need to understand that even though they may intend to send the same message to potential customers when their communications are translated into different languages, the message won’t necessarily be received in the same way because of subtle differences in the way each language is structured.

In other words, the message can truly be lost in translation.

What follows is a Ted Talk given by behavioral economist Keith Chen. In the talk, he explains how these subtle differences in languages correlate with our willingness to save for the future.

Video credit: TED on YouTube.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at:

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Using Search Engine Optimization for Online Reputation Management

Photo credit: Danny Sullivan on Flickr.As I post this, we are only a few hours from the start of a new year.

Although the new year brings with it hope of a new beginning, the past is not that easy to escape.

This is truer than ever before given the fact that people can find out about your past transgressions with only a few clicks of a mouse using Google or any of the other search engines.

This means that everyone from potential employers to potential mates can search the Internet to find out more about you.

This is why your online reputation is so important, as it can have an effect on all areas of your life.

The best way make sure that people find positive things about you when they do an online search is to make sure that you live a moral and ethical life and never make any mistakes.

It also helps to make sure that you don’t post things on social media sites that could eventually come back to haunt you in the future.

However, for people who do make mistakes or use bad judgement when posting on social media sites, there is good news.

In fact, there are some basic things that can be done to help make it more difficult for people to find those skeletons in your closet when they do an online search to find more information about you.

The Internet Changed Everything

In their book “Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust,” Chris Brogan and Julien Smith tell the story of a smalltime British con artist named Alan Conway who duped people into believing that he was the famous film director, Stanley Kubrick, in the early 1990s.

This was before the Internet gave people the power to search for almost anything and fact check a person’s story in minutes.

According to the authors of the book, “Conway was able to get away with anything—under Kubrick’s name, he cosigned a loan for a gay club in Soho, for example—and was long gone by the time his victims knew what was going on. Worse, no one wanted to testify against him, because they would expose themselves as having been duped by a con man. They would be ridiculed, they reasoned, so all declined.”

“Conway continued his Stanley Kubrick impersonation for many years,” the authors of the book continue. “Eventually, he dropped it and later joined Alcoholics Anonymous; yet even there he told everyone another whole set of tall tales, involving businesses in the Cayman Islands and an otherwise exciting life, recounted in a diary found after his death in 1998.”

“But by then the world was being transformed,” writes Brogan and Smith. “The Internet was expanding in full force, and Google had just been founded, changing the way we would all interact, and who we would trust, forever.”

Social Media Changed the Rules Again

While the Internet gave people the power to fact check a person’s story in a relatively short amount of time, it was social media that truly gave everyone a voice.

While this has created a way for people to expose con artists for their misdeeds, it also opened a whole new can of worms.

By its very nature, social media gave people the power to spread information quickly.

And, as anyone who has played the telephone game knows, when things spread via word of mouth, information is most likely going to get changed along the way.

What this means is that rumors are likely to spread even after the story is proven to be false.

In his book, “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” Jon Ronson gives examples of people whose lives were destroyed by the social media mob, often after making a relatively small error in judgement.

Although their actions were usually pretty stupid, they often did not deserve the public shaming that they received.

And, as Jon Ronson points out, their story tends to live on.

This is because Google and the other search engines help make it easily accessible for all to see long after the social media storm ends.

The Moral Bias Behind Your Search Results

In his Ted Talk, Andreas Ekström points out some of the biases that are found in the results we get when we search the web using any of the search engines.

In particular, he explains how they can be manipulated to destroy a person’s reputation using some of the same basic principles that businesses use when optimizing their web pages to be found on search engines.

In the talk he explains how people used search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to create a racist campaign designed to insult Michelle Obama in 2009.

He also gave another example of how social activists used the same tactics to insult a terrorist as a way to peacefully protest against terrorism and to prevent the terrorist rhetoric from spreading.

Ekström points out that Google manually cleaned the search results in 2009, thus ending the racist campaign against Michelle Obama. However, they didn’t do the same thing when people used the same tactics to destroy the reputation of a terrorist.

While Ekström does understand and seemingly agrees with Google’s decision, he uses these examples to show the power that Google has in the shaping of public opinion.

Using SEO to Restore Your Online Reputation

The example just discussed points out that the people who control the search engines have the power to influence search results. However, so do everyday users.

For people whose reputation was destroyed, the good news is that you can use SEO tactics to help fix your online reputation, thus making it easier for people to find the good things about you when they do an Internet search.

However, as Jon Ronson points out in his book, it can take a lot of time and effort to influence what shows up in a Google search engine results page (SERP.)

For people who don’t have the technical know-how or the time to do it, there are people out there who will help you. However, their services aren’t cheap.

And, because Google is always trying to get the most current information in its search results, using SEO for online reputation management is an ongoing process. Again, this translates into more time, effort and/or money.

Final Thoughts

While the new year brings with it the opportunity to start again, the past often influences our future.

Although we can’t control what people say about us online, we can help influence what others find out about us by using some of the basic principles of SEO to rebuild our online reputation.

The good news is that anyone can do it.

And, really it all starts with making sure that there is a lot of good things said about you on the Internet to help drown out the bad.

However, as anyone who has studied SEO knows, it takes a lot of effort to influence what shows up on a SERP.

What this means is that you are going to have to skillfully post things on the web to improve what shows up in a SERP or hire someone who knows how to do it.

It can be done.

However, like most things in life, it is going to take a lot of time, effort and/or money.

Photo credit: Danny Sullivan on Flickr.

Video credit: TED on YouTube.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at:

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Content Marketing Basics: It Doesn’t Pay to Plagiarize

Photo credit: David Goehring on Flickr.Many experts agree that having a well-written blog that delivers value to customers is a great way to generate leads and increase traffic to your website, particularly if you work in the B2B world.

In fact, as a HubSpot blog post points out, “B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not.”

The HubSpot post also mentions that blogging helps increase the number of inbound links to your website.

Furthermore, according to the HubSpot post, “Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information.”

With this in mind, it is not surprising that many marketing experts suggests that businesses at least consider adding blogging to their content marketing efforts.

What the problem is is that the person who is most qualified to write about the core business might not be trained in some of the basics of business writing, including how and when to correctly cite a source of information.

Plagiarism Can Destroy Your Reputation

In the world of journalism, plagiarism can destroy a career.

In his latest book, titled “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed,” Jon Ronson describes how Jonah Lehrer was publicly scrutinized for self-plagiarism and, similarly, for including made-up Bob Dylan quotes in one of his books.

Ronson details the agony that Lehrer went through as people gleefully lambasted him for his misdeeds.

Although Lehrer has already started to recover from these incidents, many people will always question the integrity of his future work. Therefore, Lehrer will need to work harder in the future to regain the public’s trust.

While business bloggers might not be scrutinized to the same level as journalists, if the work published on a business blog is found to be someone else’s work and proper attribution is not given, the reputation of the writer and the business can be questioned.

It is therefore important to make sure that business bloggers properly cite the work of others when writing a blog post.

As Emilia Sukhova points out in a post on the Convince and Convert blog, “Regardless of expertise, if someone is worth quoting, then they are worth citing.”

What Exactly Is Plagiarism?

If you do a Google search, you will find several definitions of plagiarism.

According to Merriam-Webster, the word “plagiarize” means: “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own: use (another’s production) without crediting the source” and “to commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.”

A post on the Grammerly blog warns writers to avoid plagiarism in several forms, including direct plagiarism, self-plagiarism, mosaic plagiarism, and accidental plagiarism.

All forms of plagiarism can hurt a brand’s image and break the trust that consumers have in the brand.

For example, a post on the Spin Sucks blog pointed out that the UPS Store was accused of plagiarism in the past. This sends a bad message to potential customers.

The Houston Press also wrote a rant about a real estate broker in Houston, Texas, whom they accused of plagiarizing their content and the content of other online sources. If a potential buyer found this while doing a Google search, do you think they would trust him to help them buy or sell a home?

It’s Been Done Before

In a 2014 blog post, Seth Godin pointed out that no matter what you do, it has most likely been done before.

“Originality is local,” writes Godin. “The internet destroys, at some level, the idea of local, so sure, if we look hard enough we’ll find that turn of a phrase or that unique concept or that app, somewhere else.”

While he was talking about business, in general, the point that he makes can be applied here, as well.

That point being is that we shouldn’t stop blogging because of the fear of being called a plagiarist. If you write something, chances are that someone else has written something similar before.

This happened to Yvette Pistorio in 2013.

In a post on the Spin Sucks blog she states, “In my case, I wasn’t careful. I was in a rush to turn in my next post on time, and I didn’t credit the article I drew my original inspiration from. Although, ironically, it still wasn’t the post that was cited as the plagiarized work. In fact, it was from a huge publication, and most likely would never have been noticed – but still – this is a HUGE no-no. I know that.”

So although she should have cited her source of inspiration, it was someone else who accused her of plagiarizing.

If what she says is true, it illustrates the point that with all the information out there, your work might somehow look like the work of others even if you aren’t guilty of plagiarism.

This issue exists. There is no way around it.

This shouldn’t stop you from blogging.

Common Knowledge

According to the “Harvard Guide to Using Sources,” there is an exception to the rule that you need to cite a source of information.

Photo credit: Christian Schnettelker on Flickr.“The only source material that you can use in an essay without attribution is material that is considered common knowledge and is therefore not attributable to one source,” the author of the publication writes. “Common knowledge is information generally known to an educated reader, such as widely known facts and dates, and, more rarely, ideas or language. Facts, ideas, and language that are distinct and unique products of a particular individual’s work do not count as common knowledge and must always be cited. Figuring out whether something is common knowledge can be tricky, and it’s always better to cite a source if you’re not sure whether the information or idea is common knowledge. If you err on the side of caution, the worst outcome would be that an instructor would tell you that you didn’t need to cite; if you don’t cite, you could end up with a larger problem.”

According to the author of the publication, “If you have encountered the information in multiple sources but still think you should cite it, cite the source you used that you think is most reliable, or the one that has shaped your thinking the most.”

This advice is not only applicable to academic writing, but it would also apply to business blogging, as well.

Final Thoughts

Blogging is a great way to generate leads by showing that your business is a trusted source for information.

In fact, according to HubSpot, blogs are among the most trusted sources for online information.

However, if your business is knowingly posting content from another source without proper attribution, it can break the trust that customers have in your brand, and ultimately damage your brand’s overall reputation.

That said, the fear of plagiarizing content should not deter you from using a blog as part of your content marketing efforts.

The best advice that anyone can give is to make sure that you properly cite your sources of information whenever possible.

As Seth Godin said, “We’re asking you to be generous and brave and to matter. We’re asking you to step up and take responsibility for the work you do, and to add more value than a mere cut and paste.”

Photo credits: David Goehring and Christian Schnettelkeron Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at:

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Content Marketing: The Value of Reruns

The holiday season is fast approaching. With it brings holiday parades, Christmas shopping and gatherings with family and friends.

However, even though there are many additional things that demand your attention, the work still needs to get done.

In fact, chances are that your business has year-end goals that need to be met. This could very well mean many long days (and nights) at the office.

When you combine the daily work responsibilities with the increased activity in your employees’ personal lives, something will have to give.

It is very possible that your business’s content marketing efforts might be the first thing to get pushed aside because it does take time and the return on investment is not always immediately noticeable.

However, while the impact on your business’s bottom line might not be immediately noticeable or even trackable, most experts agree, content marketing often works.

And, now is definitely not the time to let up, particularly if your business can benefit from consumers’ holiday gift-giving traditions. Furthermore, if your business is a B-to-B, now might be the time of year that your customers are making plans for the next fiscal year, particularly if it coincides with the calendar year.

It Pays to Plan Ahead

If your business had the foresight to plan ahead, you might have created a few extra blog posts, white papers or informational videos when your employees had a little extra time on their hands. If so, now would be a great time to add them to your editorial calendar.

However, even if you didn’t think ahead, it doesn’t mean that all is lost.

There is still time to pull in a guest blogger to create some non-branded content that your customers might find useful this time of year. You might even be able to ask employees who aren’t normally involved in your content marketing efforts to submit a blog post. You never know, you might find out that some of your employees have hidden talents that you were unaware of.

Content Marketing Reruns

Another thing to remember is that most people don’t have the time to consume everything that you produce throughout the year.

Therefore, just as television shows air reruns from time-to-time, posting old blog posts or other content on social networking sites might be a great way to keep your customers engaged and informed, with little or no extra effort required. (This is particularly useful if the content isn’t time-sensitive and therefore has a longer shelf life.)

Also keep in mind, people love lists. Therefore, now might be a great time to write a few best-of blog posts that highlight some of your best posts from the past.

Final Thoughts

There are some things that your business can do to keep your customers engaged and informed online, while still accomplishing all the other things that need to get done this time of year.

With the right planning, you won’t have to play role of Ebenezer Scrooge and require employees to work so much that they don’t have time to enjoy the holidays.

This can include posting content that was created ahead of time or pulling in a guest blogger to create non-branded content that your customers might find useful.

Also, keep in mind, just because you posted something a few months ago, doesn’t mean that the information isn’t still valuable to your customers. In fact, your customers probably didn’t see all the content that you created throughout the year.

Therefore, now might be a great time to repost some of your old blog posts on social networking sites or create a few best-of blog posts.

As television shows have demonstrated for years, content that is created might be just as valuable to consumers the second time around.

Photo credit: J.Elliott on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at:

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HubPages, Squidoo and Getting Paid to Use Facebook

Recently, I joined HubPages as a way to help get the word out about my blog and possibly earn a little income by writing.

If you are not familiar with HubPages, it is an online community designed to help writers share their content.

The site allows users (a.k.a. “Hubbers”) to post articles (a.k.a. “Hubs”) on the site.

One of the benefits of using the site to publish Hubs is that it is set up in much the same way as a standard social networking site is.

When you sign up for the site, you can follow other Hubbers and Hubbers can follow you.

To encourage participation within the community, you earn a HubScore and receive accolades for participation (these are similar to the badges that you receive on Foursquare.)

Hubbers can also share another person’s Hubs with their followers, thus making it easier for good content to be spread.

As I alluded to, you can also earn income on HubPages through Google Adsense, the Amazon and eBay affiliate programs, and through the HubPages Ad Program.

It is this aspect of the site that got me thinking.

Monetizing Social Networking Sites

When people talk about monetizing a social networking site, they are talking about finding ways to make money from the site.

As is the case with many social networking sites, HubPages makes money off of display advertising. However, unlike many of those social networking sites, with its Ad Program, HubPages lets the Hubber keep the earnings from 60% of the impressions and HubPages gets the rest. (This encourages Hubbers to post quality content.)

For the record, HubPages is not the only site that lets users earn money. Squidoo, the site that was started by Seth Godin, uses a similar revenue-sharing model.

I wonder if this is something that Facebook could do to earn more money.

While I haven’t fully thought this through, I’m thinking that if Facebook paid users a portion of the revenue that they received from Facebook Ads when their content was viewed by other users either via the timeline or on their profile, it would encourage users to use the site more often and post more valuable content. (It could also help increase the time that users spend on the site.)

Facebook could use a formula similar to EdgeRank to determine how valuable the content is and how much the user should receive.

This definitely would make me want to use the site more often.

However, more importantly, it might get users to actually notice and interact with the advertising on the page.

You see, since I started using HubPages, I have started noticing display ads more often, at least the ones on HubPages. I know that those ads will possibly make me some money, so I at least look to see what ads are showing up based on the content on the page.

If users know that they are going to be making money based on the ads that run on Facebook, they might start noticing the Facebook ads, too. (This would be a great experiment for a neuromarketer to test.)

And, once you get users to notice the ads, there is a good chance that they will start to click them.

Therefore, even though Facebook would be giving away a small portion of the ad revenue, Facebook would still benefit if the total ad revenue increased substantially.

Why Facebook Should Pay You for Your Personal Info

I’m not the only one to suggest that Facebook pay its users.

In an article posted on, David Goldman explains that in order for Facebook to increase its revenue, a pair of New York University business school professors are suggesting that Facebook pay users for the privilege of selling their personal information.

As the article mentions, “Here’s the idea: Facebook would pay its users a nominal fee — say $10 a month — for the right to send their relevant personal information to advertisers. Companies looking to advertise their products or brands to a specific group of people would pay Facebook for that data and for the ability to directly market to those individuals.”

As the author of the article explains, Facebook could add a new revenue stream, and increase the company’s transparency and trustworthiness at the same time, by giving users the ability to make money by opting in to such a program.

Potential Drawbacks of Paying Facebook Users

There is definitely the possibility that paying Facebook users could backfire on the company.

Let’s look at both ideas separately, starting with the idea that I suggested.

First, as I pointed out before, paying Facebook users a portion of the ad revenues will likely make users even more aware of the advertising. This could turn some people off.

Furthermore, users wouldn’t really make all the much money unless they post a lot of content, are connected to a lot of people and those connections interact with the content—a lot.

People might also question whether or not the social media giant was giving them their agreed-to ad revenue, particularly if they used a formula that is difficult for users to understand (i.e., one that is similar to EdgeRank.)

There is also the possibility that people would game the system by creating fake accounts, liking and interacting with their own content and clicking ads just to make money.

If Facebook went the route that the New York University business school professors suggest, it could run into similar issues, including having users game the system by creating fake accounts, losing trust and credibility if users question whether their data is worth more than $10 a month, and possibly losing users because they would be even more aware of the site monetization.


Facebook is going to have to find additional ways to make money with the site to increase revenues in order to satisfy their investors.

Paying users to use the site is an interesting idea that could increase revenues. However, there is the possibility that it could backfire.

As I mentioned, I haven’t thought this through completely, but it is an interesting idea.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you think it would be a good idea for Facebook to pay its users?

Photo credit: tellumo on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at:

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Don’t Worry, They’re Just Words: Part II

In my last post, I pointed out that the words that we choose to use can influence the way that people interpret what we are trying to say.

At times, the ideas that we are trying to convey to others might not be properly communicated because the intended recipients don’t understand the meanings of the words that we use. (In some cases, the words that we use might actually have different meanings among people with different cultural backgrounds.)

In other words, what we are trying to say might get lost in translation even if the people who we are trying to reach speak the same language.

Furthermore, even when the ideas that we are trying to communicate to others are properly received, there might be a more succinct or influential way of wording what we are trying to say.

A Real-World Example of the Power of Words

Not long after I posted the blog post, the point that I was making was illustrated perfectly in an article that was published by the Huffington Post.

However, in this case, it wasn’t an incorrect choice of words that caused the problem; it was the omission of the word “acquisition” that created the confusion.

According to a tweet by Peter Shankman, when the Huffington Post first published their article, it said, “Facebook has said it expects the Instagram to close sometime this year.” (Or, something similar to that—I didn’t see the actual post before the change was made. I am relying on Mr. Shankman as a trusted source.)

This led him to post this tweet with a link to the article:

However, the mistake was spotted and the article was updated. Fortunately, Mr. Shankman found out about it and tweeted this:

However, Mr. Shankman’s original tweet was still out there and not everyone saw his tweet about the typo. Therefore, misinformation continued to spread on Twitter the next day.

For example, his tweet was retweeted by Britton Edwards, and it looks like that is how Emily Binder found out about it. This led her to tweet:

This is how I found out about the post and the typo.

Now, as you can see, the omission of the word “acquision” changed the meaning of the sentence in the article and rumors of Instagram closing started to spread on Twitter. In fact, they continued to spread even after the article was fixed and Mr. Shankman tweeted about the correction.

I’m guessing that a lot of people had the same reaction that Mr. Shankman and Ms. Binder did. Just think about how many other people tweeted this.

Final Thoughts

The example that I gave in this post illustrates the fact that one word can make a huge difference in how people interpret what you are trying to say. (It also illustrates how rumors can easily be started by an innocent mistake.)

Therefore, it makes sense to not only pay attention to what you say, but also how you say it.

This is true when you are writing traditional advertisements and when you are writing blog posts as part of your content marketing efforts.

If you are interested in reading about this further, I’d check out Peter Shankman’s blog in the next few days, as it sounds like he might have a thing or two to say about it. (I will update this post with a link if he does write a post about this in the near future.)

Furthermore, you also might want to check out Emily Binder’s lastest post. She doesn’t address the typo, but she does give her opinion about Instagram and the Facebook Camera app.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at:

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Blogging Like Seth Godin

If you have read Seth Godin’s blog, you know that he is one smart dude.

His blog posts are filled with useful observations and insights from the business world.

And, as you might have noticed, many of his blog posts are short and sweet. They get to the point and then end. He doesn’t use a lot of words to express something that could be said with fewer.

That is part of the beauty of his style of blogging. And, I think that it is very effective.

Therefore, I’m going to give it a try.

On Tuesdays, I plan to blog in my usual style. On Fridays, I’m going to try to blog like Seth Godin.

Photo credit: Peter Bromberg on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at:

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Market Research Is Marketing

Market research is marketing.

This statement might sound completely ludicrous to some people. To them, market research is all about collecting information about their customers, the products that they are selling, the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, economic conditions or anything else that can influence their bottom line. It’s a huge part of developing their marketing strategy. But, it isn’t marketing.

If you are one of those people, you either haven’t embraced inbound marketing as a viable way of generating leads and increasing sales or you don’t understand what market researchers do.

Inbound Marketing

If you look up inbound marketing in Wikipedia, it lists two definitions.

The old definition of inbound marketing is market research.

However, the other definition is more in line with what people often refer to when they currently mention inbound marketing. This definition states that inbound marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on getting found by customers.

HubSpot, a leader in inbound marketing, teaches that in addition to getting found (i.e., creating, optimizing and promoting your content), you also need to find ways to maximize conversions and analyze the results of your efforts in order to be a successful inbound marketer.

In a blog post, titled “Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing,” Brian Halligan, CEO and Founder of HubSpot, writes, “Rather than doing outbound marketing to the masses of people who are trying to block you out, I advocate doing “inbound marketing” where you help yourself “get found” by people already learning about and shopping in your industry.  In order to do this, you need to set your website up like a “hub” for your industry that attracts visitors naturally through search engines, the blogosphere, and social media.  I believe most marketers today spend 90% of their efforts on outbound marketing and 10% on inbound marketing, and I advocate that those ratios flip.”

Market Research

Now that we have a basic understanding about what inbound marketing is, let’s now look at what many market researchers do.

Part of the purpose of doing market research is to uncover information that will help identify what your potential customers need, how your products or services are fulfilling their needs, what your competitors are doing to fulfill their needs and what environmental factors will have an impact on what your potential customers will need in the future.

After collecting the information either through primary research (e.g., surveys, focus groups, observational studies, experiments, etc.) or secondary research, it is usually the job of those in market research to organize the data in an accurate and easily understandable format that can be delivered to the client. The data is often presented in written form (e.g., reports, white papers, blog posts, etc.) However, it could just as easily be delivered in person or via podcasts, webinars, online videos or any other way that people can communicate with each other.

Furthermore, after doing research on specific topics, the market researchers who conduct the research often gain so much knowledge about the topics that they are researching that they become thought leaders or subject matter experts in that particular area of business. This will often give them access to even more people who they can collaborate with.

In other words, market researchers are huge content creators.

In fact, I would argue that most of the content that your potential customers find valuable has some information that was influenced by market research in one form or another. (Note: I am focusing on information that was created to educate consumers about a product, service or industry, not content that was created for entertainment purposes.)

Inbound Marketing and Market Research

We have already established that market researchers are by definition content creators.

But, I would argue that the other areas of inbound marketing also involve a form of market research.

Market research adds value to the content and valuable content helps generate links to your website or blog. Therefore, market research helps with search engine optimization. (It also doesn’t hurt to conduct market research to find out what your potential customers find valuable in the first place.)

I’d even argue that search engine optimization, itself, is a form of market research. It definitely requires many of the same skill sets.

And, when promoting your content, it is always suggested that you measure and test the effectiveness of your efforts. Testing and measuring the effectiveness of your content promotion efforts are forms of market research.

Measuring and testing also play a part in maximizing the conversion process.

And, analyzing the final results of your inbound marketing efforts… yep, that’s market research.

From Market Researcher to Marketer

If you asked me 10 years ago what I did for a living, I would have told you that I was a market researcher.

At that time, even I didn’t really think of myself as a marketer even though I was involved in the marketing of the research products and services that I helped create. (Note: CUNA Research was using inbound marketing techniques to market their products and services before the term was even coined. Need proof? The Research Review articles that are listed in my publication list could very well be described as blog posts. Blog posts, that in my opinion, delivered value to the reader.)

It wasn’t until I started learning about inbound marketing and content marketing that I started to see myself as a marketer, rather than a market researcher.

Final Thoughts

As more marketing campaigns move online, businesses will gain additional access to analytics that will help them better understand the needs of their customers.

Furthermore, with the increased use of smartphones, savvy businesses will make it extremely easy for consumers to find them no matter where they look. Providing relevant and useful information to consumers when they search for their products, services or industry will give these businesses an edge over their competition.

This makes it even more important for businesses to have people on staff who have the knowledge and training to accurately interpret data and present it in a clear and concise way so that it can be effectively communicated to their potential customers.

With that said, the line between marketer and market researcher is being blurred, so much so that they are often one and the same.

Therefore, the next time you are looking to fill a marketing position, don’t overlook job applicants who have a background in market research. Their skill sets may be more valuable than you think.

Photo credit: jeckman on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at:

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