Monday, July 28, 2014

Pop Quiz: Which Facebook Post Did the Best?

A. Close-up of Justice Ginsberg, pretty P.O.ed, asking everyone to Join the Dissent ad

B. Pretty sweet nostalgic I Love Lucy ad

C. The full Supreme Court, being called out for ruling against women ad

Answer here.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

How LinkedIn’s CEO Perfected His LinkedIn Profile

Lessons from Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s Networker-in-Chief [Fortune]

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Weird Al’s Other Talent: He’s a Brilliant Marketer

Two things helped to ensure that Weird Al’s latest album went viral:

1. Instead of releasing the entire album at once, he released his eight best singles one day at a time, thereby sustaining interest over more than a week.

2. He released each single as an exclusive to a targeted, high-profile outlet:

Lame Claim to Fame
Sports Song
Word Crimes
Mission Statement
First World Problems


Saturday, July 19, 2014

How to Transform Your Mission Statement From Selfish Into Selfless

I am an energetic marketing professional who enjoys social media management and developing branding strategies.
I am an energetic marketing professional who wants to help your company build its brand and grow business.

Delete These 9 Things From Your Resume [PR Daily]

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Primer on Google Grants

A cheat sheet from Gott Advertising:

Google Grants is a product offering that looks and smells just like Google AdWords, yet it has special rules, which change on a fairly regular basis.

1. Most Grants are based on a $333 a day spending limit, with no rollover dollars. We prefer that you use it rather than lose it.

2. The bidding limit per keyword has been raised to $2. Surprisingly, it's not always in your best interest to bid the most you can.

3. Paid accounts on AdWords have priority over Grants accounts. We find strategies to work around those competitive limits.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Primer on Twitter Ads

A cheat sheet from Colin Delany:

Your options:

  1. Target people by their metropolitan area.

  2. Target particular people. For example, political reporters and bloggers in your state to keep your messaging at the top of their feeds every time they go to Twitter.

  3. Target people by who they follow. For example, the followers of the aforesaid politicos, under the assumption that they’re the politically minded folks you need to persuade or recruit.

  4. Target people who resemble the people who follow a particular user.

  5. Target people by what they tweet about.

  6. Target people who engage around a particular TV show. For example, the Sunday morning political talk shows.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Use Fun, Conversational Language for Common, Boring Functions on Your Website

Every website contains what’s known as an “error 404” page: it’s what you see when you try to visit a page that doesn’t exist. (Usually the result of a typo or a truncated URL.)

Smart websites use these pages not as a necessary evil, but as an opportunity to brand themselves and deepen their engagement with readers. For example, whatever your politics, you must admit this page is superb.

Even more pregnant with possibility than your error page is your About page. Smart companies use these pages to convey their corporate culture.

And even better than that lies your dreaded donation page. How do you make the appeal for money sexy? Well, at least two companies have figured it out, pairing their writers with their developers so that their solicitations sound less like an ask and more like a badge of honor.

The screen shots:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How Warren Buffet Wants His Finances to Be Managed When He Dies

The world’s most famous investor reveals his explicit instructions for the money he’s bequeathing in a trust for his wife:

“Put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund. (I suggest Vanguard’s.) I believe the trust’s long-term results from this policy will be superior to those attained by most investors—whether pension funds, institutions or individuals—who employ high-fee managers.”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Real Genius Behind BuzzFeed: Data

Beyond the listicles and longreads and animated GIFs, BuzzFeed succeeds because of its data analysis. Here’s one particularly obvious yet often-overlooked example.

People who come to a BuzzFeed article from Pinterest almost never reshare that item on Twitter. Accordingly, for the Pinterest-driven, BuzzFeeds hides the tweet button. Equally important: the social media button in the first position is for Pinterest. Makes sense when you think about it, right?

As BuzzFeed founder, Jonah Peretti, explains, “It’s not enough to get the visit/click/view. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for that one visitor to share with as many others as possible.”

Related: How Upworthy Really Makes Things Go Viral

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The New Way to Measure Web Traffic

Myles Tanzer:

This week the Financial Times announced it would begin exclusively selling display ads off of a new metric: time spent. Medium recently reported it has started paying certain writers based on total time readers spend on articles. Upworthy made waves back in February ditching page views altogether to focus on what they call “attention minutes.” And back in May the traffic analytics company Chartbeat launched its “Attention Web” campaign, in an attempt to move beyond the click.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Biz Stone Does His Best Jonah Peretti

Q: As something that was supposed to change the world, do you find it slightly depressing that Twitter’s most-followed users are Katy Perry and Justin Bieber?

A: Well, no, because, in order for something to succeed, it needs to be fun and goofy—you need to develop a muscle memory for using it. If you build something that’s only serious, people just won’t think to use it.

Biz Stone on the Early Days of Twitter: "You Can Be Nice and Successful at the Same Time"

Related: How Reading Le Monde in a Cafe Next to a Dog Explains Today’s Media

How One Restaurant Is Using Big Data to Promote Servers

Steve Lohr:

When Jim Sullivan began working as a waiter at a Dallas restaurant a few years ago, he was being watched—not by the prying eyes of a human boss, but by intelligent software.

The digital sentinel, he was told, tracked every waiter, every ticket, and every dish and drink, looking for patterns that might suggest employee theft. But that torrent of detailed information, parsed another way, cast a computer-generated spotlight on the most productive workers.

Mr. Sullivan’s data shone brightly. And when his employer opened a fourth restaurant in the Dallas area in 2012, Mr. Sullivan was named the manager—a winner in the increasingly quantified world of work.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Are You a Former Reporter Looking for a Job?

Why not give up journalism per se and start penning native/branded/sponsored content? Big brands are hiring:

1. The Atlantic

2. Gawker

3. The Onion

4. BuzzFeed

5. The New York Times

Addendum (6/30/2014):

6. Slate

Addendum (7/6/2014):

7. The New York Police Department

Addendum (7/9/2014):

8. The Washington Post

Friday, June 20, 2014

It’s the Culture, Stupid

Felix Salmon: How much of HuffPost’s success do you ascribe to tech, you being able to do stuff on the tech side which no one else could do?

Jonah Peretti: People always overestimate their importance to the success of the company. When you talk to the people who are on the sales side, they say, “Well, you know, we drove revenue. That allowed us to invest in all these things. None of the rest of the company would have even been possible if we hadn’t driven that revenue.”

You ask the tech people, the product people, they say, “That’s the competitive advantage of the company. All the other companies had great editors but we had the better tech.” Then you ask people who are on the editorial team and they say, “Well, if you get a scoop, people have to link to it no matter where it is. Great editorial content is really what drives the traffic. The CMS, it can be broken and then stop you from being successful, but if it’s good enough, then editing really is the key and so we really drove a lot of the success.”

When there’s a startup that sells, for example, or there’s a startup that’s super successful and is growing, people’s view of who drove the success is very highly correlated to who they know at the company. Chris Dixon will say, “Oh, HuffPost is really a tech company and Jonah was a big important part of it.” Because he knows me. But then someone who’s friends with Arianna will say, “Arianna’s a force of nature. She is constantly on TV. She was the name and the voice of the site. Her blog posts were constantly in the news cycle. That’s where the site mattered.” If you talk to someone who knows Kenny, they’re like, “Oh, Kenny was behind the scenes, building this whole thing and planning this out. He’s done it before, he’ll do it again.”

That’s true, not just for HuffPost. It’s true with most companies. The thing you’re closest to, you think has the biggest impact. That, I think, is the cognitive bias that makes it hard for me to answer the question. The system as a whole matters so much. Any one of us who thinks that they’re solely responsible for the success of the company is, by definition, wrong, and the relationship between all the different pieces of the company has to be strong.

In some cases, there’s things that aren’t even measurable. Like maybe just having tech, edit, and business teams communicating effectively, is more important. The lines might be more important than the dots.

BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti Goes Long [Medium]

Addendum (6/26/2014): Here’s another example:

“I think the biggest misconception is this belief that the reason Apple products turn out to be designed better, and have a better user experience, or are sexier, or whatever . . . is that they have the best design team in the world, or the best process in the world,” Kawano says. But in his role as user experience evangelist, meeting with design teams from Fortune 500 companies on a daily basis, he absorbed a deeper truth.

“It’s actually the engineering culture, and the way the organization is structured to appreciate and support design. Everybody there is thinking about UX and design, not just the designers. And that’s what makes everything about the product so much better . . . much more than any individual designer or design team.”

It has often been said that good design needs to start at the top—that the CEO needs to care about design as much as the designers themselves. People often observe that Steve Jobs brought this structure to Apple. But the reason that structure works isn’t because of a top-down mandate. It’s an all around mandate. Everyone cares.

“It’s not this thing where you get some special wings or superpowers when you enter Cupertino. It’s that you now have an organization where you can spend your time designing products, instead of having to fight for your seat at the table, or get frustrated when the better design is passed over by an engineering manager who just wants to optimize for bug fixing. All of those things are what other designers at other companies have to spend a majority of their time doing. At Apple, it’s kind of expected that experience is really important.”

Kawano underscores that everyone at Apple—from the engineers to the marketers—is, to some extent, thinking like a designer. In turn, HR hires employees accordingly. Much like Google hires employees that think like Googlers, Apple hires employees that truly take design into consideration in all of their decisions.

“You see companies that have poached Apple designers, and they come up with sexy interfaces or something interesting, but it doesn’t necessarily move the needle for their business or their product. That’s because all the designer did was work on an interface piece, but to have a really well-designed product in the way Steve would say, this ‘holistic’ thing, is everything. It’s not just the interface piece. It’s designing the right business model into it. Designing the right marketing and the copy, and the way to distribute it. All of those pieces are critical.”

Addendum (7/4/2014): Two more:

1. To the extent that the New York Times does anything remarkable, it emerges from collaboration and shared enterprise. It’s worth remembering that its legacy begets an excellence that surpasses the particulars of who produces it.

2. What makes America great isn’t something marvelous in our nature. It’s our rules and our mechanisms of accountability. If I were to shoot and kill you, someone would do something about it.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How the New York Times’s Top Tech Blogger Multitasks

Nikki Usher:

Bilton multitasked constantly and was involved in many kinds of conversations. He was, at any one point, tweeting on his own Twitter stream, tweeting on the Times’s liveblog, IMing with people as far away as San Francisco or as close as the desk behind him, and talking to other staffers. He was also simultaneously tracking Twitter, checking the blogosphere for competing tech blogs, and thinking about new blog posts to write. With these blogs, he wasn’t just posting text but actively using Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Excel, and a number of other programs to enhance the visual aspects of his blogging. Bilton joked about being ADD—but he was exactly the multitasking information seeker and user of social news that he had written about in his book.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What Media Companies Can Learn From Mormons

Mormons spend half their time practicing their religion and half their time spreading it. As a result, their religion has spread around the world.

This is what media companies need to do: spend half their time spreading, or promoting, their work.

Lessons From BuzzFeed [Medium]

Yet Another Reason Today’s Publishers Must Be More Tech Savvy

Derek Thompson:

The shift to digital isn’t benefiting large media corporations so much as it’s enriching search and social media companies that can scale audiences and their data to create targeted advertising that a media company could only dream of replicating. Google and Facebook control 50% (and growing) of the domestic ad market. After you add Microsoft, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Amazon, you’ve accounted 70% of digital advertising.

Some of the largest digital media companies, like the commercially hapless Yahoo and AOL properties, are left fighting over scraps of branding banners and squares. Even lean operations like Gawker Media are victims of digital journalism’s lean margins. It’s not a coincidence that the most successful big digital media property, BuzzFeed, isn’t really in the old-fashioned adjacent advertising business at all. It’s a website where original stories live next to “promoted” ads engineered by an in-house laboratory for building advertising that will go viral. That’s not like Time Inc. going into digital. It’s more like Mad Men going into digital journalism.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Consultant

We’re “fairly hermaphroditic creatures, one minute exhibiting a professor’s passion for the great clarifying concept, the next displaying sales skills worthy of a street hustler.”

Walter Kiechel.