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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: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Reward Customers for Good Behavior to Generate Positive Word of Mouth

Photo credit: leyla.a on Flickr.The world would be a better place if we all treated each other a little nicer.

Maybe if good manners were assigned a monetary value, more people would be on their best behavior.

This is exactly what a few restaurants and coffee shops have done.

In the process, they have received positive coverage from bloggers and other online media outlets.

In the age of where news stories can be found on search engines for years and people can spread the message via social media and online review sites, this kind of coverage can definitely make a positive impact on the business’s bottom line.

Here is a list of some of restaurants and coffee shops that I have heard about lately that have used this tactic to get people talking about their businesses.

Rewarding Parents When Their Kids Are on Their Best Behavior

Back in 2013, a Washington eatery got mentioned on TODAY.com for giving Laura King and her family a $4 discount on their bill to cover a bowl of ice cream that the owners gave the family because their children were so well behaved.

As the article points out, “Rob Scott — who owns Sogno di Vino, the restaurant King visited — said he routinely offers complimentary desserts to customers with well-mannered children, but this was the first time he had actually typed the discount on the receipt.”

“An image of the receipt quickly went viral after one of King’s friends posted it online,” the article continues.

While not all the mentions that the restaurant received were positive, the discount got people to talk about the restaurant on social media sites, which led to some great coverage in the national news media. Furthermore, articles about the post still show up on a Google search engine results page (SERP) over two years after the post went viral.

No Cell Phones at the Dinner Table

As an article on The Huffington Post points out, several restaurants have tried to encourage better dining etiquette by offering a discount to customers when they put their smartphones away while they are at the dinner table.

Other restaurants have even gone so far as to ban the use of cell phones in their restaurants all together. As the Huffington Post article mentions, this policy has sometimes been met with outrage.

Whether people agree with this type of policy or not, it has generated some attention. Furthermore, it has gotten people to talk about whether or not cell phones should be used as much as they are at the dinner table.

Photo credit: Social Media Dinner on Flickr.

On the other hand, it also needs to be noted that this policy does prevent customers from taking photos of their food and sharing them on social media sites.

This, too, can be a great way to get people talking about the restaurant and possibly get them to visit the establishment in the future.

Hummus Diplomacy

In October of this year, NPR featured a story about an Israeli restaurant in Kfar Vitkin, north of Tel Aviv, that is giving a 50 percent discount to Jews and Arabs who eat together.

As reported in the NPR article, a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page stated, “Are you afraid of Arabs? Are you afraid of Jews? By us there are no Arabs, but also no Jews. We have human beings! And real excellent Arab hummus! And great Jewish falafel!”

According to NPR, “His post was shared more than 1,900 times, and news of the deal has made headlines around the world.”

At the time the article was written, the offer had only been redeemed by 10 tables. However, business has increased by 20 percent. The article mentions that a substantial part of the boost was from local and foreign journalists.

Please and Good Morning Saves You Money

Offering customers a discount for good manners can also generate good will and positive mentions online.

For example, a small coffee shop in Australia has a sign in front of the shop that says that the coffee is $5. If you say “please,” the coffee is $4.50 and it’s only $4 if you say, “Good morning, a coffee please.”

According to an article on the Daily Mail, the owners of the coffee shop don’t enforce the policy. However, they said it brings a smile to many of their customers’ faces and many customers go out of their way to be courteous.

Even if it isn’t enforced, the sign has created enough attention to be covered by online media outlets.

It is interesting to note that this idea was copied, with similar results, by a French café.

Free Meal to the Lonely on Thanksgiving

Okay, this one isn’t really about getting customers to change their actions.

In fact, it is actually the restaurant that is going out of its way to be courteous to its customers.

The buzz started when a customer posted a photo of a sign that was hung on the door of George’s Senate Coney Island Restaurant in Michigan that stated that anyone who would be home alone on Thanksgiving could come to the restaurant and get a free meal on November 26, 2015.

Not only did the story go viral on social media, it was covered by many of the traditional media outlets, as well.

And, while the restaurant will probably be giving out more meals than it originally planned, the free publicity that it received is priceless.

Final Thoughts

As I said at the beginning of this post, the world would be a better place if people chose to be nicer to each other.

Businesses often have an opportunity to remind customers of this.

As shown in this post, incentivizing good behavior is not always met with open arms. In fact, sometimes, it is met with outrage.

However, when done correctly, little things that remind us that we need to coexist peacefully and show respect for others can get people talking about the business online. Sometimes, this will lead to further coverage in more traditional media outlets.

Furthermore, social sharing is only part of story. When customers search for information about the restaurant on Google or any of the other search engines, a positive story like this is likely to appear on a SERP well into the future. That might be enough to get potential customers to visit the restaurant long after the deal ends.

And, if nothing else, the business might start a conversation that can make the world a better place.

Photo credits: leyla.a and Social Media Dinner 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: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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The Decrease in Social Sharing, Mobile Websites, and Dark Social

Photo credit: Pixel Addict on Flickr.Content marketing is a great way to generate leads for your business.

Smart businesses know this and have invested a lot of money into creating great content and optimizing it for search so that customers and prospects find their business when it is most important… when the customers and prospects need them.

But search engine optimization is only part of the equation. When it comes to content marketing, getting people to help share your message via social media is also important.

In fact, social sharing is one of four key social media metrics that Avinash Kaushik suggests businesses track. He refers to the social sharing metric as Amplification Rate. (The other three important social media metrics that he suggests that businesses track are: Conversation Rate, Applause Rate, and Economic Value.)

According to a post that Kaushik wrote in 2011, Amplification Rate is measured by tracking the number of times users share a piece of content per post.

In General, Amplification Rate Is Decreasing

In a recent post on the BuzzSumo blog, Steve Rayson points out that although some popular sites have increased the amount of content that they produce, the level of engagement with those posts has been trending downward.

In fact, after analyzing the shares and links of 1 million posts for a research project that BuzzSumo did in conjunction with Moz, they found that 75% of randomly selected posts received 39 shares or less. Furthermore, 50% of these randomly selected posts received 8 shares or less.

In the post, Rayson explains that while content supply has increased at an exponential rate, the fact that demand for content has remained relatively flat partially explains this decrease in content sharing. (Rayson cites Mark Schaeffer in the post. Schaeffer calls this “content shock.”)

In his post, Rayson also identifies three other factors that are compounding the content shock problem.

These three factors, or mistakes that content creators make, include: Lack of research, lack of amplification, and lack of monitoring.

I suggest reading the BuzzSumo post for further details.

Mobile Social Sharing Buttons

Recently, I have noticed that many businesses are not including social sharing buttons on their mobile websites and blogs. Is this by design or something that they have just overlooked? (In WordPress sites, a common social sharing plugin might be the issue, as I have noticed that many blog sites with the “floating” share buttons on their desktop version of their blog don’t have the social share buttons on their mobile sites.)

I wonder if this is another partial explanation for the overall downward trend in the rate of social sharing, given the fact that so many people are consuming content on mobile devices these days.

After doing a quick search on Google, I wasn’t able to find any hard numbers to verify my observation.

However, I was able to find an article on Marketing Land from 2013 that said that consumers were “nearly twice as likely to click and share content on social networks through mobile devices as opposed to desktop.”

This data might be outdated, as these numbers can change extremely quickly based on many different factors.

In fact, according to a post on their blog in May of 2015, Moovweb reported that “Only 0.2% of users ever click on a mobile sharing button. Mobile users click sharing buttons 35% less often that they do on the desktop.”

These numbers also need to be taken with a grain of salt because they based on a subsection of Moovweb customer data. (While Moovweb powers over 250 mobile experiences, these numbers might not reflect the state of social sharing on mobile websites, in general.)

That said, they may have uncovered some valuable insights that businesses can use.

According to the Moovweb blog post, “Just because sharing buttons have been popular on the desktop web does not mean they can be ported over with the same experience on the mobile web. And while 0.2% of mobile users clicking on a social sharing button is a minuscule figure, it does reflect the way social media usage on mobile has evolved: away from the web and toward apps.”

“Most mobile users access social networks via an app, so they are often not logged in to the corresponding social networks on the mobile web,” the blog post continues. “Pinterest, for example, gets 75% of its traffic from apps.”

Moovweb believes that the fact that users need to be logged in in order to share content is the reason for the low percentage of sharing on the mobile web. This creates extra steps that mobile users might not be willing to take.

“For starters you have to thumb type your username and password,” the author of the post writes. “If you’ve been saving your password in-app or in-browser, you might have forgotten it. Resetting a lost password is a huge hassle on mobile.”

Note: I have encountered social sharing buttons on mobile websites that require a user to log in to the mobile web and others that ask if I want to open the correct app, thus bypassing the need to type in a username and password again. This helps fix the problem that Moovweb identified. However, I am not sure if this option is available on every mobile device.

Sharing on Dark Social

To complicate things even further, there is the issue of users sharing links to content via email, SMS, instant messaging or some other way of electronic communication that does not fit neatly into what we usually classify as social media.

In an article for The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal classifies these types of referral sources as “dark social” because they are difficult to measure exactly which sources are driving users to a website.

At the time the article was written, Madrigal stated that dark social was nearly always the top referral source for The Atlantic.

This reflects the ever-changing way that people use social media and other electronic communication methods. And, again, mobile devices are helping drive this trend.

A recent post on the NeimanLab site helps illustrate the prevalence of “dark social” sharing.

As Joshua Benton explains in the post, when asked how often SMS and chat apps are used for sharing posts on BuzzFeed’s site, Stacy-Marie Ishmael stated that SMS was the most used way readers share BuzzFeed’s content, followed by Twitter, email, and Facebook. That means that two of the four most common ways that readers share BuzzFeed’s content on Android and iOS are not on standard social media sites. (It appears that this is only based on traffic received from mobile devices, but it is not clear based on the information provided in the article.)

If the way BuzzFeed’s readers share content is representative of the way all Internet users share content, businesses might need to find alternative ways to track what sources are driving traffic to their websites.

Note: Some of what might be classified as dark social sharing might, in fact, be a form of bookmarking posts so that users can read it later. For example, they might email an article that they find on their smartphone to themselves in order to read it later on a desktop computer.

Final Thoughts

There are many factors that play a role in whether content gets shared or not.

However, sometimes the problem is not the fact that users are not sharing the content, but that they are sharing it in ways that we can’t currently accurately track and measure.

Therefore, identifying the key issues that inhibit social sharing is not always easy to identify and might be even more difficult to fix.

Photo credit: Pixel Addict 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: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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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: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Have You IWalked?

Have you ever walked through a historic part of a city and saw a building and wondered if anyone famous ever lived or worked there?

Well, if you live in or plan to travel to Boston, New York City, or Washington D.C. in the near future, IWalked Audio Tours has you covered.

IWalked Audio Tours is a Boston-based audio tour production company that was founded in 2010 by Scott Woznicki.

In a June 11, 2012 press release, Woznicki explains that the company was born out of a passion to learn more about his new home in Boston, Massachusetts.

“I was inspired from living in London. I found a fantastic series of live audio walking tours that really opened my eyes to the city. I wanted to recreate that experience here,” states Woznicki.

According to the press release, “Each audio tour produced is recorded in real-time and provides step-by-step guidance for its listeners. You can actually hear the traffic passing by, adding to the ambience and experience. In addition, listeners are treated to a comprehensive portrait of sites along their traveled path. This isn’t your ordinary museum audio tour that leaves you hanging between destinations, as listeners are engaged throughout the full-length 1.5 to 3 hour tour.”

For those of you who don’t plan to be in the Boston, New York, or Washington D.C. areas, you can still benefit from Woznicki’s expertise, as he is very active on most social networking sites. If you have a question about the history of a historic building or landmark anywhere in the United States, he’d be a good guy to ask.

For full disclosure, I’ve been friends with Woznicki for about twenty years now, as we both attended the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County (UWMC) our first two years in college.

In the future, I plan to interview him about how effective each of the social networking sites has been in driving people to his business.

In this post, I want to encourage readers to connect with IWalked Audio Tours on Facebook,  Foursquare, Google+, PinterestTumblr, Twitter, or YouTube. IWalked Audio Tours also has a very interesting history/travel blog.

And, of course, if you are going to be in Boston, New York, or Washington D.C., be sure to take an IWalked Audio Tour.

If you are a history buff, you won’t regret it. Trust me.

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: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Social Networking Sites Should Not Replace Your Website or Blog

On Friday, picplz announced that on July 3, 2012, it will shut down permanently.

This is not surprising, given the fact that Instagram recently released an Android version of the Instagram app. Prior to the release of Instagram’s Android app, picplz was one of the best alternatives available to people with Android phones.

What is more noteworthy is that all the photos picplz users have posted on the service will be deleted.

This is a good reminder that many of the services that we use could do the same thing, and all the time and effort that we spent posting photos and other content and building human connections could be for naught.

Home Bases, Passports, and Outposts

Chris Brogan, Darren Rowse, and others have been blogging about the concept of home bases, passports, and outposts for years.

One of the key points from their posts that I want to focus on is the fact that while social networking sites (passports and outposts) are great for connecting to your customers and prospects, they should not replace your blog or website (home base).

To build on that further, if your blog or website is being used for your business, you should spend the money and find a web hosting service for your blog or website. After all, while Tumblr or even WordPress.com might be around for a long time, they could choose to shut down at any time. If that happened, all the posts and relationships that you spent time and effort creating would be gone… forever.

Futhermore, while social networking sites should be a part of your online marketing strategy, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you only post on one social networking site, you are completely at the mercy of that site. For a business, that is not really a good position to be in.

Final Thoughts

Even with all the free social networking sites that are available, you should still invest in a self-hosted blog or website. This will give you complete control over the design, layout and content that you make available to your customers and prospects. And, the site will never go away, unless you want it to.

Don’t get me wrong, you definitely should be using social networking sites to connect to your customers and prospects. The point is, social networking sites (yep, that even includes Facebook) should not replace you website or blog. They should be used in addition to your blog or website. And, whenever possible, you should be using these social networking sites to drive customers and prospects to your blog or website.

Finally, if you have the resources, you should be connecting to customers and prospects on more than one social networking site for two reasons. First, people are fickle (i.e., they might choose to start using another social networking site more frequently.) And second, because social networking sites are run by third parties, there is always the possibility that they could decide to shut the site down.

When a social networking site does choose to shut down, all the content and connections that you spent precious time and effort creating will be lost, unless you find a way to bring your customers and prospects to your website or blog, where you are in control of what they see and how they connect to your business.

With that said, I have to go download a few photos…

Photo credit: odysseygate 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: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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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: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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An Excellent Resource for Information: Podcasts

When people talk about social media, they are usually referring to blogs or social networking sites like Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr, and more recently Pinterest. This is not surprising, given the fact that these are the platforms that most consumers are familiar with, and thus, this is where businesses and traditional media tend to focus.

However, there is a type of social media that I find very useful, almost indispensible, that doesn’t receive the attention that it deserves. From the title of this post, you know the amazing resource that I’m writing about is podcasting.

Merriam-Webster defines a podcast as, “A program (as of music or talk) made available in digital format for automatic download over the Internet.”

The type of podcasts that I am particularly interested in are those that focus on providing information on a specific topic that might be of interest to a particular subset of the population. Often, the best podcasts give users access to insights from experts that were previously only available via lectures in a classroom or a conference, or via summaries in books, blog posts or articles in magazines and newspapers. The great thing about podcasts is that this information is often available for free and on a regular basis. Even better, it is often delivered in the expert’s own voice.

Furthermore, as Todd Schnick points out in a recent blog post, titled “10 Benefits to Podcasting [New Audio!],” there are several ways that businesses can benefit when they add podcasting to their marketing mix.

Podcasts That I’d Recommend

Given that fact that I’m interested in digital marketing, most of the podcasts that I listen to tend to focus on marketing, social media or technology. Here are a few of the podcasts that I recommend:

ADVERVE – Hosted by Angela Natividad and Bill Green, ADVERVE covers design, ad goodness, brand stuff, pop culture and almost anything else that they can think of. Both hosts are extremely knowledgeable and fun to listen to. I’d definitely add this podcast to your RSS feed.

Be a Beacon Show with David Cohen – This podcast is hosted by David Cohen, brand consultant and artist. The podcast focuses on personal branding and small business entrepreneurship in the age of social information. I met David at the “Shine a Light on Others to Build Your Brand” event at Social Media Atlanta (now Digital Atlanta) back in 2010. David is a very smart guy with some interesting insights to share. If you get a chance, you might also want to check out his doodles.

CNN’s Tech Check Podcast As they say, “The weekly podcast offers a roundup of the week’s technology news, with members of CNN.com’s tech team working to make sense of, and sometimes make light of, the top stories from the digital world.” This podcast regularly features Doug Gross, Stephanie GoldbergBrandon Griggs and John Sutter.

Duct Tape Marketing Moderated by John Jantch, this marketing podcast is definitely worth your time. If the podcast only featured his thoughts on marketing, it would still be a very valuable resource. However, the fact that his podcast features some of the most respected names in Internet marketing today makes it a podcast that you definitely should be listening to.

Intrepid Radio – This podcast is hosted by Todd Schnick, owner of Intrepid Group, LLC. Todd was also a panelist at the Social Media Atlanta “Shine a Light on Others to Build Your Brand” event. He’s a very good guy and his podcast has featured some heavyweight guests, including Guy Kawasaki, David Meerman Scott, Julien Smith, Christopher S. Penn, Jay Baer, and C.C. Chapman.

Marketing Over Coffee – This is, by far, is one of my favorite podcasts. Christopher S. Penn and John J. Wall really know their stuff. If your business is doing anything online, you should give them a listen.

NPR’s On the Media – This podcast is a great way to listen to past episodes that you didn’t have a chance to listen to when the show aired locally on NPR. Hosted by Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone, On the Media is a very entertaining podcast that covers journalism, technology and First Amendment issues.

Office Hours – Each week, Vanessa Fox, former Google employee and founder of Nine By Blue, covers questions regarding search engine marketing. If you have a question about SEO, search metrics, social media strategies or just about anything else that you can think of when you think about online marketing, Vanessa Fox can probably give you an answer. (Note: There hasn’t been an episode in a while, but I still wanted to include it on the list).

Social Pros Podcast – This is a relatively new podcast that is being moderated by Jay Baer, author of “The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social” (affiliate link). After listening to the first few episodes, I think this podcast should be on your list, too.

The BeanCast – Each week, host Bob Knorpp and his guests discuss the latest news from the marketing and advertising world. This podcast is always insightful and entertaining. It’s another one of my favorite podcasts.

This Week in Law – I recently added this podcast to my RSS feed. In each episode, Denise Howell and the TWiL panel talk about breaking issues regarding technology law.

There are many other great marketing and technology podcasts out there—all a person has to do is do a Google search to get additional suggestions.

However, if your favorite marketing or technology podcast is not on this list, please let me know about it in the comments section below, as I’m always looking for additional sources of information.

Final Thoughts

Podcasts are a great resource for information.

No matter what you are interested in, I’m sure there is someone out there podcasting about that topic. And, if not, this might be something that you might want to consider doing.

Keep in mind, podcast listeners aren’t the only ones who benefit from podcasts. As Todd Schnick points out in his blog post, podcasting can also be very beneficial to your business.

Photo credit: Colleen AF Venable 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: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Some Thoughts on the 2012 Super Bowl Commercials

Super Bowl XLVI set the record for the most-watched telecast in U.S. history.

The Nielsen Company said on Monday that an estimated 111.3 million people in the U.S. watched the game on television on Sunday night.

People who tuned in to watch the game itself were treated to one of the most exciting endings in recent years.

However, for those viewers who tuned in to watch the commercials…

Releasing the Commercials Early

Last year, Volkswagen released the Darth Vader-themed Super Bowl spot ahead of time and it received a lot of buzz on the Internet. That was a great move for Volkswagen because, at the time, it was a fairly unique idea. (It also didn’t hurt that they had a really great commercial.)

This year, many brands tried to replicate Volkswagen’s success by releasing their commercials on the Internet prior to the game.

For some brands, it was a good move because many people were talking about their commercials online. That’s a good thing, as it helps brands get more out of their investment.

However, as many people tweeted and still others blogged about, the 2012 commercials didn’t seem as distinctive as they have in the past. In other words, in the past, the commercials were an event in and of themselves. In contrast, to many people who watched the commercials ahead of time, some of the 2012 commercials seemed like average, everyday commercials, not Super Bowl-caliber commercials.

In a blog post, Tom Siebert predicts that, “Next year, I’m guessing you’ll see less of it, because releasing an ad early is no longer anything special. Most of the buzz for the early ads for VW, Acura, CR-V, all burned off by game time, and the best ads were the ones that came out of nowhere and surprised.”

Whether or not he is correct will depend on how much brands value the pregame buzz online versus their desire to surprise and delight viewers by premiering their commercials during the game. The decision will also need to be based on how many people are still talking about their commercials a few months from now, or even next year.

Final Thoughts

Several people have pointed out that they don’t feel that any of the 2012 Super Bowl commercials were as memorable as last year’s Chrysler “Made in Detroit” ad that featured Eminem or Volkswagen’s “The Force” commercial.

The early release of the commercials online might have had an impact on the way that some people perceived the 2012 Super Bowl commercials.

It will be interesting to see what brands do in the future… their decision is not going to be as easy as one might think.

On the one hand, they could choose to release their commercials early to get the online buzz. On the other hand, they could choose to wait until the day of the game to unveil their commercials in order to make them something that viewers look forward to.

In the end, it might be a year-to-year decision with the contrarian brand (i.e., the brand that does the opposite of what most of the other brands are doing) getting the best results.

However, for either strategy to work, brands still need to create a really great commercial to air on Super Bowl Sunday.

Photo credit: The Daring Librarian 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: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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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: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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