Christchurch and Creative Commons

I care deeply about the Creative Commons movement – this blog has been licensed for share-alike attribution since it started in 2006.

The Christchurch massacre on Friday has highlighted one of the challenges of modern media. How to stop bad stuff being shared; and the converse, how to preserve good stuff for future use.

The New Zealand ISPs are working hard to take down far right websites and the much-shared live stream video the gunman made.

In contrast, Mike Dickison is working to preserve the positive images from the event for posterity. Read his 7 part twitter thread explaining why this matters.

Mike Dickison's work to store images in the Creative Commons
Mike Dickison’s work to store images in the Creative Commons

Can you contribute?

Images are requested.

If you’re a cartoonist or a press photographer or a media outlet or just someone who has a good eye, we need your images uploaded to @WikiCommons under an open licence, ideally CC BY SA. My goal is to create a gallery that anyone can easily draw from and reuse for free. Images are important. They’ll define these attacks to people around the world, to our descendants, to the history books. Too often the only images repeated after a tragedy are ones of anger and fear and hatred. We need to make sure all the story is told.

Mike Dickison on twitter @adzebill
customer review, 5 star review, happy customer review,

Customer Reviews – what about the bad ones?

Reviews are essential for businesses building brand visibility online.

But bad reviews make my toes curl. Sometimes they are fair, sometimes not. What can the marketing team do about this?

Different pathways for different reviews

Treating different customers differently is a core principle of good CRM. But until the review is published, you won’t know whether the customer is going to give you a good or a bad review.

Take a look at this – an alternative pathway for your “less good” business reviews.

Make every review count

A Mock-up Review Page

Starting from a review page set up within our software, your customer then moves down three possible pathways. If they give you a 4 or 5 star review, they arrive here.

And this is of course, the normal Google Business Reviews page.

If the customer selects a 1,2 or 3 star in the first screen they head off a different path, to this page. Where the review is captured and forwarded to the business. But the crucial difference it’s not on your public Google Business page.

The red square links to the Google Business page, so the customer can post a public review.

Sneaky or “allowable” marketing?

You choose – would you do this for your brand?

I have the contacts to set up this service for any business – get in touch.

PodCon 2 logo

Podcasts for event promotion

PodCon conference logo 2019

Podcasting is going mainstream – it’s the newest part of content marketing and frankly it’s about time!

Many people have been producing independent shows in voice format for years – I started one for my sport in 2013 – but only in the past year have brands started to get on board.

So why podcast in 2019?

There are three reasons – firstly, the pioneers are no longer alone – the mass appeal of storytelling podcasts like “Serial from This American Life” and “Under the Skin with Russell Brand”, Freakonomics and anything to do with Harry Potter has meant mass downloading of podcast listening apps onto devices.

Secondly, niche content marketers got in on the act early (like me) and so if you are a sports fan or a maker or follow politics there are now many different podcasts to choose from – all easily accessible.

And lastly we are short of time.  Yes, even more than before.  The on-demand nature of podcasts means you can listen in the car or while exercising or walking the dog.  It’s easy to play, pause and then pick it up again later.  And for the super-busy person, there’s the 1.5x and 2x speed playback settings!

Events lend themselves to podcasting

When planning the build-up to an event or having regular recurring events, there are already ample ways of communicating with your target audience.

But introducing the prospective attendees to the key themes of the event, the voices of your speakers and ramping up excitement about the day is really easy to do in a podcast format.

The Change Management Institute got its event speakers to answer 3 questions on a video call ahead of the event giving them unique content and a great preview of their international keynote themes to send round to members ahead of time.

And PodCon2 whose logo is on this article went one better – they allowed remote access at a cheaper ticket price by publishing all their event content afterwards in and audio feed as a stand-alone limited time podcast series.

Double down on success

Plus, if you choose to record video you can easily rip the MP3 audio file from the video and you have two birds with one stone.  We then use the video for Instagram and YouTube advertising promotions.

But should YOUR event or brand podcast?

The answer is up to you but we’ve got a quick checklist of 5 questions to answer before making your deacon to move into podcasting for content marketing.

Follower Count , LinkedIn, B2B marketing, social media marketing,

Advance your LinkedIn focus

Many B2B marketers and brands are using LinkedIn intensively as a channel to market, building awareness and interest in your offering.

LinkedIn is NOT EFFECTIVE a direct marketing channel – it’s for brand marketing.

Today I have a challenge for you. Followers.

Follower Count , LinkedIn, B2B marketing, social media marketing,
Follower Count on LinkedIn.

Who follows you?

Go to your LinkedIn page and log in. Then navigate to your followers page. The link is the same for everyone.

  • Following – these are your connections. [Note: it’s not who YOU are following – a bit confusing]
  • Followers – people who follow your updates. This includes all your connections.

Below each person’s profile and job title is a check box showing if you are following then or not; and the number of people who are following them.

This makes it easy to filter. And one click to follow them back.

Check boxes to show if you’re following people on LinkedIn

What to do about LinkedIn Followers

Three things to do:

  1. Browse the list for people who you’d like to connect with and who are following you
  2. Decide on your criteria for following people – everyone, only those with key attributes, people who could be clients; people with high/low followers themselves etc
  3. Make a diary log to check back regularly for new followers

LinkedIn works best as a business development platform if you have a clear client persona; have a clear content writing strategy [topics, frequency, audience]. Targeting the right audience with good content, regularly.

Unlike Twitter, LinkedIn does not have a ratio of following to followers throttle. And remember, following someone is a great way to get their insights, to become acquainted with their perspectives as a precursor to connecting.

Famous people have lots of followers. If you are trying to break into a marketplace and build a solid profile, my recommendation is this.

Follow people whose follower count is low-to-medium. Their news feed won’t be too cluttered and your content stands a better chance of getting noticed and commented.

Key Website Creation Tips You Can Learn From A Graphic Design Course

A website’s success is often dependent on its design flow, cohesiveness and content. This is the reason as to why a lot of User Experience experts (UX) are also adept in graphic design. One of the best ways to create a good user experience is by having a clear grasp of design principles.

Here’s some key website creation tips you can learn just by attending a graphic design course.

Value The Fundamentals

The key to developing a higher understanding of any topic is by understanding its fundamental principles. Nowadays, creating a cool looking graphic is as easy as tapping a couple of buttons on your smartphone. While that may sound simple, these design tools are only part of the process. The more significant piece is understanding what’s visually appealing and what distracts people from your message.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Here’s a list of basic design principles you should know about:

  • Color – Sticking to your favorite color may not always be the best strategy. When appropriate colors are used on a website, it can help dictate the mood of the audience. For instance, using a Green color correlates to the environment and make people think about charity, while the Red color induces a strong emotion.
  • Typography – This is an art form that arranges type to make it readable. Choosing the right font will help convey your message better, it helps show feelings even in written form. If you want to learn more about typography, this graphic design course by HubSpot does the job well.
  • Composition – More than choosing what color and font to use, you should also know how to compose a visually appealing graphic design. Design composition pertains to the alignment of each element, ensuring proper contrast levels, and grouping related elements together.

Leverage The Fold

The term “above the fold” was initially used in graphic design and later on used on web design as well. Above the fold pertains to the topmost area of your webpage that users see without scrolling. There’s still a debate whether this area is still relevant nowadays, but whatever the case is the fact remains the same — 80% of users spend their time above the fold. You need to maximize the use of this space and hook your visitors. Here are some ways on how you can do that:

Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Clear and concise headline – Once a visitor opens your website, they should be able to know what it’s all about. The proper use of typography will help communicate your message better.
  • Call to action – Make sure you design a clear and visible call to action (CTA) button. Increase your chances of conversion by placing your CTA above the fold.
  • Leverage media – Use images, video, and even audios to support your headline and improve CTA click-through rate.

The way you design this area will contribute to how well you communicate your value proposition to your target audience.

Create Your Own Graphics and Images

About 65% of the population are visual learners which means that a lot of people rely on visual cues to help them understand better. When you apply this kind of mindset into website creation, you can expect more people to find your website worthwhile.

Take, for example, infographics. People pay attention when you show them data and statistics backed by research. However, not everyone can digest a 20-page research paper. Through the use of infographics, complex information can be communicated easier. A graphic design course can teach you how to create your graphics, select thought-provoking images, and repurpose old content.

Put Importance On Branding

If you’re wondering why a lot of websites spend time and money on branding, it’s because a properly thought out brand shows a unified business. Graphic design courses should teach you the importance of creating a brand guideline and how to properly implement it not just on your website but in your overall business as well. Here are some of the reason why consistent branding is essential:

  • Value – When website visitors see that you have an organized and visually appealing branding they’ll have a good impression about your business. It helps build your credibility, sets you apart from the competition and establishes your brand value.
  • Recognition – When you use your branding consistently all across platforms and not just on your website, it helps with brand awareness and recognition. While establishing a recognizable brand takes time, strict adherence to branding guidelines can make the hasten the process.
  • Perception – You can control how people perceive your business through branding. Each time you communicate with your customers, business partners and even investors make sure you follow your branding guidelines.

Conclusion

Take time to increase your skills by enrolling in a graphic design course. The lessons you learn from these courses will help you create a website that’s not only user-friendly but also appealing. You don’t need a lot of money to learn how to design. You just need an infinite amount of resources and the inspiration to push you forward.

Adoption curves for MarTech

This past week has seen a “Sweeper Wave” of coinciding reading and researches which tell me one new thing – podcasting for business content marketing is now going mainstream.

First let me explain the sweeper waves – I was on holiday on the Coromandel Coast and a sea swell off the west coast caused occasionally huge waves to come right up the beach nearly to the high tide mark – even when the tide was half out.  These had large volumes of water inside them and so had great forward momentum and a strong undertow when they receded.  While I watched, people paddling knee deep got caught off guard and swept off their feet and the wave also soaked their clothes higher up the beach – one lady broke her hip being tumbled by the wave and the air ambulance was called out.

podcast studio, auckland podcast, podcast for business, NZ podcasts

I reflected on the sweeper waves and see them as a metaphor for change in marketing and business.

Hemingway’s insight into change (or bankruptcy) is that it happens slowly and then all at once.  They key is knowing whether what you are seeing is at the early-adopter or just-going-mainstream stage.  I have followed the rise of electric vehicles assiduously since watching Tony Seba’s illustration of Fifth Avenue, New York.  These two photos are taken 13 years apart.  What happened in between?  Change.  Disruption.

[Side note, Tony is an investor in New Zealand startups]

Like a sweeper wave, some people get caught unawares.  My attempt to avoid this is to watch out for “recurring themes” in tech, marketing, and business.  The rest of this article is about my recent finds.  Some connect, others are remarkable for different reasons.  

I’ve been podcasting since 2013 and during the latter part of 2018 I saw major brands using the medium for their content marketing – McKinsey, The Economist Intelligence Unit and CapGemini.  This tells me that content marketing is expanding into the audio medium.  There are advantages and disadvantages to this.  Few brands have enough to say that doesn’t involve their competitors (which they are probably unwilling to discuss in public forum) compared to independent commentators who can speak more freely.  And this fact alone will deter many brands from podcasting.  There are other opportunities for content marketing using audio which are less ’traditional’ than a weekly radio show which brands can usefully use.

My podcast interview with Bob Weir author of “Why Businesses Fail” was published by Access Granted NZ.  His book is a must-read for founders, investors and board members for the insights into the human psyche and how it contributes to business. Business failures are usually preceded by identifiable problems.  Analysing problems at the macro level was an observation which led to me writing Problem Solving for Marketing. The insight connecting these is that correctly identifying the type of problem first, aides finding the right solution.  Is your business situation a “mess”; a “problem”; or a “puzzle”?

If you use email marketing and CRM in your business, here is a very nicely written summary of how one startup uses funnels, lead nurturing, and incorporating Net Promotor Score too.  I don’t know the team but they are a young venture and so starting from scratch has advantages.  A word of warning; anecdotally, Active Campaign is said to be less user-friendly than other comparable software.  [If you want to compare software user views, always check out Trust Radius run by Vinay Baghat – it’s independent and user-led.] 

And although this case study looks amazing, very few brands that I meet use automation, business process flows or sales funnels to this extent.  How does this reflect on the adoption curve for CRM, which I was working on with Peppers and Rogers back in 1997?  Maybe some firms will never use marketing automation or sales lead scoring.

Writing a presentation for the Penrose Business Association brought me to confront my lack of skill using traditional presentation software.  I have found two alternatives Beautiful and Stun, one American and the other Kiwi.  

Finally – the joke’s on you for the Mars Rover whose batteries may have died after 15 years – Brendan Boughan’s Cartoons by Jim captures it perfectly. and flashes back to 1997 when we first got Mars fever and the creatives at HP had a similar vibe going.  One of my favourite laugh-out-loud adverts of the time.

smcnz19

Ready to learn Social Media in 2019?

Rebecca is going to be at the Social Media Conference NZ #SMCNZ19

March 1-2 – she’s hosting a table talk on podcasting and blogging for business.

This is a fantastic opportunity to invest in your business and for your own professional development. The conference is for Small business to corporates, from beginners to advanced. Imagine the connections you can make?

What will I learn?

There are 25 Speakers for #SMCNZ19 and topics cover everything Social Media.

Some topics include : Facebook advertising, Communities, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Content Strategy, Content Marketing, Branding, Campaigns, Video Marketing and of course Podcasting (with Rebecca).

The two International Speakers are ell worth the ROI alone if you take action on their talks.

You can see the agenda here: https://www.socialmediaconference.co.nz/agenda-for-smcnz19/

If you get a group together, you can get further savings on groups of 4 and 8.

You can book here: https://events.toba.org.nz/events/social-media-conference-2019/

Podcasting is the new Content Marketing

Yes this is true.  Like so many other forms of social that I’ve personally used (Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, G+, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Pinterest, WeChat, Telegram, Vero – yes, I have profiles on ALL these), they start getting used by individuals and then brands get on board.

Podcasts are being started by brands and businesses – I knew they were going mainstream when in 2018 I saw the Economist Intelligence Unit, CapGemini and McKinsey had launched podcasts.  I’ve been podcasting since 2013 on RowingChat.

And so if you are doing content marketing and want to learn the 5 pre-requisites for brand podcasting to be successful, come to SMCNZ19.

See you there!

marketing problem, angry man problem, problem solving marketing,

Problem Solving for Marketing

Solving marketing problems is difficult.  I don’t like doing it – unless I know a solution or have a good, educated guess about what could work.

A client situation emerged which serves to illustrate the challenge.  We reached an impasse.  I had offered advice, our progress was smooth until we got to the point of marketing to new customers who don’t yet know the brand.  And one of the client team was deeply opposed to the tactic I proposed.  I’ll explain how we got through this later.

Solving marketing problems

One of my podcasts summarised three types of problem – messes, problems and puzzles.  These are ‘complex’ problems – ones with multiple factors affecting the situation.  Modern marketing gets more of these – because with omni-channel promotions it’s increasingly hard to isolate a single input-output signal to explain an outcome.

The author paraphrases Gerald Ashley as he describes the different approach needed for each type of problem 

  • Messes are ill-defined in form and structure and so are most like real life.
  • Problems have a defined structure with potential solutions, but none are absolutely clear and right.
  • Puzzles are well defined and have specific solutions that can be worked out.

Marketing problems are frequently perceived to be puzzles, but in actual fact are probably messes.  The big insight is in this quote:

Most of us crave certainty and as much control as possible. Politicians and business leaders are just the same and perhaps even more so. ‘Bring me facts and experts. I want a solution now!’ By implication, those in positions of authority tend to treat most issues as puzzles, sometimes problems and never messes. As a result they tend to seek shortcuts to answers that are probably wrong. The biggest mistake is to carve out part of a mess, treat it as a problem and then solve it as a puzzle. This can lead to very bad decisions.

Back to my client ‘problem’

We reviewed the situation and whether it was a complex problem or not.  It was.  

It wasn’t a puzzle because the structure of marketing activity was reasonably clear-cut.

It wasn’t a mess because there was structure, there was a framework of activity and the desired output was prospects who hadn’t previously known about the brand.  And so we decided this was an actual problem.

I thought hard about what to do.  This was the series of steps

 

  1. I asked the client what they did when they were advising someone and had disagreement
  2. I reviewed the steps we’d taken thus far and gained agreement around the success of the process, method and outcomes to date
  3. I narrowed the discussion to the point where the “leap of faith” sat. What were the inputs we had prepared (there were 2) and these were acknowledged
  4. Then I walked away and left the client team to discuss.

They have not specifically told me what they discussed or what they decided. But it’s clear we are still working together. And so I am presuming the first (tentative) step towards the leap of faith activity has been taken and I’ll hear what the outcomes are in due course.

spam pingl,

Referral traffic from Pingl is spam

I was checking the analytics on a client site and saw a referral from a website I did not recognise.  And so I investigated it.

referral traffic, analytics referral,

New referral site turns out to be spam

After typing in the reach-publisheral website address manually (I always do this in a new browser window), an automatic redirect came into effect and I ended up on Pingl.net [no, don’t follow that link please].

Black Hat SEO tactics

In the SEO world there are goodies and baddies…. and it’s a game of tension between the unscrupulous on one side and those who follow search engine websites’ guidelines on the other – refereed by Google and Bing.

Black Hat is the term given to tactics that are underhand and try to cheat the system.

White Hat is the opposite – those who work within the framework set by search engines.

Updates to search engine algorithms are usually driven by their desire to undermine black hat tactics.

After a quick search I found several other commentators had found referrals in their analytics also coming from Pingl.  This rings alarm bells.

Who is Pingl?

A set of clever Black-Hatters masquerading as authentic “growth hacking” tacticians.

They use a technique called notification referrer service which is basically a spam referral to your website.  By masking their site identity they make the link “appear” to come from another site – reach-publishinglo  in my case (but others report variants on Ali Baba).  This domain is setup with the sole purpose of sending you to pingl’s home page –  it refers you directly to them.

Although you may be getting a lot of referrals from the masked page, it is not real traffic, and it can ruin your SEO – notably your bounce rate.

How to overcome referrer spam

Create filters in your Analytics to remove this traffic from your results in two ways

  1. Campaign Source Filter – will stop all traffic from the source (pingl) site
  2. Campaign Referral Path Filter – will stop single web pages
  3. Languages Setting Filter – stops traffic from named languages (was useful for Russian spam in 2017)