17th of June

YOU DON’T HAVE TO WRITE ABOUT MARKETING TO BE A MARKETER


The other day, I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine who I first met via social media, but has become a close confidante and teacher.

We were talking about the various changes we’ve seen in the time we’ve known each other (close to 10 years now) and how these changes have impacted both our careers and the content we publish on our respective blogs.

While she continues to blog about marketing – but more slanted towards tech and how AI will impact business – I moved away from that a few years ago, to focus on more personal stuff.

I shared my thoughts on that decision in this post from April 2014, and I guess that’s culminated in the recent launch of my Turn Off the Overwhelm project.

As we talked, she asked whether I felt the move away from marketing-specific content had harmed me when it came to career choices, or “putting myself on the map more”.

After all, if I’m a marketer but I don’t blog about marketing, why would anyone hire me for a marketing role in their business?

While this wasn’t her point of view per se – she was simply asking as if from a hiring company viewpoint – it was a fair question, yet one I’ve never worried about.

Words, Like Clothes, Don’t Make the Person

One of the topics I consistently push back on is the “dress code argument”, where you can only be taken seriously in business if you dress for the part.

While I’m not advocating for cargo pants, tee, and sneakers for every job, to me it’s irrelevant what someone wears to do their job – the results come from the action(s) of that person, not their sartorial choice.

I’ve worked at some companies where the smartest dressed and – by association – smartest thinkers have been woefully underqualified, whereas the jeans and shirt wearer has brought home stellar results.

This isn’t the old boy and school tie network economy anymore. That died out a long time ago (except in some industries that seem destined to be stuck in the past).

Much like the presentation of an employee shouldn’t have a huge bearing on their ability to do the work, the words on a marketer’s blog shouldn’t dictate their ability to be a marketer.

I’ve been in marketing for over 20 years now, after gaining my marketing degree back in the UK.

During that time, I’ve been lucky enough to lead marketing initiatives for some of the most well-known B2C and B2B companies around, and privately consulted others on modernizing their marketing strategy and culture.

All this came from what I did for the company versus what I did for my blog. Not once in that time was I hired for writing something on my blog – while it may have helped in awareness of me, it meant squat when it came to the ability to do the job I was being scouted for.

Because, let’s face it, at the end of the day anyone can go Google strategy and tactics and use these results to publish something that makes them sound uber-smart.

Implementation and execution, though? Now that’s a different beast.

Marketing Isn’t Everything, But Everything is Marketing

And this is why, to my friend’s point, I don’t worry about my “prospects” when it comes to mot writing about marketing here on the blog.

My current role didn’t come as a result of the marketing content I was publishing here. If I was to leave that role at some point in the future, my next one wouldn’t be because of the marketing content I write here (probably because there is none these days!).

Instead, it’ll come from results I brought to my current role. It’ll come from references on past results at previous companies. And it’ll come because of the strategic ideas I share for the future of any new role and its place in the hiring company.

Marketing is a means to an end. It’s an important means, and you need to know your shit to be successful at it and bring the results you’re paid to bring.

But it’s just one facet of a far bigger picture.

The people stories that drive marketing, and the behaviours, interests, and intents of these people when it comes to services and products, are the dots that really start to connect everything.

Everything we do is marketing, whether we realize it or not.

The stories we share on our blogs. The behaviours we exhibit when sharing content, or consuming content. The simple act of what we stand for and what we fight against is us “marketing our preferences”.

All of these actions helps connect us with people that have the same outlook, or vision, or belief. Some of these people will be decision makers who want to bring our beliefs and viewpoints to their companies and help market it to their customers.

And none – or at least, very little – of that will come from blogging specifically about marketing.

Which, truth be told, is exactly how it should be.

15th of June

HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE FACEBOOK LIVE?


As social networks continue to try to outdo each other with new features, one of the most popular additions has been that of live video.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are increasingly putting the focus on video content, with reports that Facebook could be video-only by 2020.

It’s understandable that video could become the de-facto method of content consumption due to the simple buy-in for the audience.

A video is visual, quick, snappy. Words require more thought and more investment by the reader (which is why I’m eternally grateful to the readers of this blog and your choice of consumption method).

The success of Facebook Live is a testament to how social network users are adopting video, not just as consumers but as users too.

Yet, as the last 12 months have shown, the instant production and gratification that video offers could also be its downfall.

Facebook Live and the Dangers of Unfiltered

Over the Easter period, Cleveland Police began a manhunt after a video of a murder was uploaded to Facebook.

Steve Stevens shot Robert Godwin, 74, and shared the video of the killing to his Facebook profile (initial reports suggested the murder was streamed via Facebook Live, but this was later corrected).

The video remained on Facebook for at least two hours.

After almost 48 hours on the run, Stevens killed himself when his car was cornered by law enforcement.

Just a few days ago new broke of a Thai father who hanged his 11-month-old baby on Facebook Live before killing himself.

The video was shared on his profile, and according to reports remained online for 24 hours (Facebook has yet to confirm the details of the time).

In March of this year, the rape of a teenage girl by six assailants was filmed and streamed live on Facebook. In January of this year, a special needs man was beaten and tortured by four assailants, and his assault was also streamed on Facebook Live.

Also in January, the gang rape of a woman in Sweden was also streamed via Facebook Live.

These are just some examples amid the growing number of crimes and assaults streamed on Facebook Live and its peers like Periscope and others.

There seems to be little way to combat it, either. As the examples with Steve Stevens and the Thai father show, disturbing content can remain on the site for as much as 24 hours.

While its content team does monitor the site for inappropriate content (and live streams can be pulled immediately), Facebook essentially relies on the public to report such content for its team to review.

Unfortunately, while the review is pending, the videos are live on the site in full view of victims of a crime, or surviving family members of a murder.

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has himself admitted it’s a huge problem and one that’s almost impossible to manage given the amount of content uploaded to Facebook every day.

Given the difficulty of managing the medium, and the damage that can be caused because of that difficulty, is it time to consider how Facebook Live and others like it is approved?

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Facebook Live?

The biggest problem with trying to manage live streaming videos is that they’re used in so many ways that are good, and educational, and – in some cases – can provide vital evidence to a court of law.

Consider the killing of African American Philando Castile by a police officer in St. Paul, Minnesota, in the summer of last year.

Despite calmly obeying the officer’s instructions, and advising that he was in legal possession of a concealed weapon, Castile was killed when the officer opened fire.

Inside the car were Castile’s girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter. As Castile lay dying in the driver’s seat, his girlfriend live-streamed the aftermath, and that helped convict the office in question on manslaughter. That trial is still undergoing today.

Indeed, Facebook Live has been used to broadcast demonstrations against police brutality, government dictatorships, and even examples of corporations treating their customers with disdain.

Then you have the fun aspects of Facebook Live, with vacation moments captured in time. Heck, we even use it for The Friendship Bench launch events.

But do the “normal uses” outweigh the depraved and harmful ones? Do we need to look at how users can access Facebook Live, and should there be some form of delayed broadcast for checks to be made?

I posted a quick poll on Twitter, asking if it was maybe time to only allow news organizations and accredited sources access to Facebook Live, and the opinion was split down the middle.

14th of June

CRAFT BEER AND WORDPRESS? DON’T MIND IF I DO!


So it’s been a little quiet here the last couple of weeks, as I’ve been revamping not only the presentation/design of this blog, but also launching a new project.

As a result, blogging took a little bit of a back seat (at least on here), but I’m done and dusted on getting everything just so, and now it’s back to business as usual (it says here).

So, if you’re interested in craft beer, or revamping your own site (or building a new one) on WordPress, this post might just be for you. 🙂

Introducing The Craft Beer Diaries

If you look at any of my bios online, there’s always a mention of my love for good single malt whisky.

Since my early 30’s, I’ve become quite the aficionado of my homeland’s national drink, and it’s been an enjoyable ride finding new ones to sample.

Hell, I even got my cognac-loving friend Sam Fiorella to essentially switch from cognac to single malt, that’s how good it can be.

However, life needs variation, and I also like a good beer, too. Or, at least I thought I did.

It wasn’t really until Mill Street Brewery’s #BeerDays event last year that really opened my eyes to what good beer actually is, and that’s craft beer.

Since then, I’ve been making up for lost time in understanding the passion and craft (no pun intended) behind this type of brewing, and the people behind it.

To complement this, I created The Craft Beer Diaries, which launched just over two weeks ago.

The goal of The Craft Beer Diaries is simple – bringing together a varied group of craft beer lovers (not snobs) and sharing great craft beers and brewers from across the world.

From reviews of beers (good and bad) to interviews with the brewers, and advising which festivals and events are close by, we aim to help those new to craft beer understand its premise, and which beers they might like.

We’ll also be launching a podcast in the near future, and perhaps even some offline meetups, based on location and opportunity.

So, lots of good stuff to come – make sure to check The Craft Beer Diaries out, and subscribe to the blog for regular updates of all things craft beer!

WordPress + You+ Me = Let’s Make Things!

The second “revamp”, so to speak, is my return to offering WordPress services (for a limited time) – specifically, brand new site builds, or existing site optimizations.

While I’ve helped friends and colleagues with their WordPress sites, I haven’t really offered this as an actual service to anyone that needs it. Now I do. 🙂

If you need a new WordPress site created to help tell whatever story you need to tell (blog, full site, portfolio site, etc), then I’m currently booking projects throughout the summer.

You can see some of my recent projects here.

The same goes for optimizing existing sites, from blog audit to plugin optimization, to adding Facebook Pixel code and helping you understand visitor tracking and insights, lead generation, analytics, and more.

Rates start at $800 per day for new site builds, and $100 per hour for optimization.

Feel free to check out some of the sites I’ve built, and then hit me up if you’re interested in working together.

That’s it for the update – I’m looking forward to getting back to the content here in the coming weeks.

Cheers!

13th of June

A NEW ADVENTURE – JOINING KAYAK ONLINE MARKETING


If you’re in the inbound marketing space, you’ve probably heard of Kayak Online Marketing.

Located in the Canadian city of Calgary, Alberta, Kayak Online Marketing is one of the leading inbound marketing agencies in North America.

Under the leadership of CEO Randy Milanovic, Kayak has consistently been recognized as a leader in the space, with features in Forbes, Inc., CTV News, and more.

As of June 26, I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be joining Randy and his team as Director, Brand Strategy.

About Kayak

Initially starting life as a creative agency, Kayak Online Marketing made the switch to inbound marketing as Randy saw the need for a full optimization service for businesses.

That means looking at where a potential client is now to where they want to be, how their site and lead conversion optimization is driving towards that, and helping internal teams and stakeholders understand what the business needs to do to get the results they seek.

This holistic approach sees Kayak Online Marketing working as true partners with clients, as opposed to “just the agency”. It enables clients to:

  • Have a website that enables true lead generation and conversion from the first visitor touchpoint
  • Benefit from ethical and modern SEO strategies
  • Understand how their offline as well as online actions impact their online marketing results
  • Energize internal stakeholders through discovery workshops and ongoing training

Having watched Randy and his team for a few years now, and respecting the way he not only conducts business, but acts as a mentor for the local business community, I couldn’t be happier to be joining the team.

Randy Milanovic (l), with Friendship bench co-founder Sam Fiorella and myself sampling some fine craft beer.

I’ll be sharing more soon as I get embedded into the team, but for now, if you have any inbound marketing needs and are looking at the fuller, holistic picture when it comes to your online marketing, get in touch today! 🙂

12th of June

3 Studies of Google’s Featured Snippets You Should Read


Googles featured snippets are the new Google authorship, albeit less exciting because featured snippets steal links from publishers in SERPs.

Whether you like them or not, that’s the change we have to deal with because if you are not featured, your competitor will.

Here are three recent studies of Google’s Featured snippets you need to be aware of:

1. Ahrefs Study of Featured Snippets

Read the full study hereAhrefs

Ahrefs have examines 112 million keywords in their US database, almost around 14 million of which had featured snippets in their SERP. In other words, about 12.29% of search queries have featured snippets in their search results

They have found that, surprisingly, featured snippets have lower click-through-rate than the top result (where there’s no featured snippet) but they do steal clicks from the top result:

Key takeaways:

  • All pages which are featured already rank in top 10 for that query, however…
  • Google doesn’t seem to be featuring “the strongest” page in the top10 (in terms of backlinks). Instead, they tend to pick the page that answers the question best
  • If Google likes a page, it would feature it in LOTS of snippets: The top-performing page in the database owns 4,658 featured snippets with Wikipedia being the absolute leader in the amount of featured snippets it owns.
  • The top 30 most frequently met words among the search queries that trigger featured snippets

2. A.J. Ghergich’s Study of Featured Snippets @Moz

Read the full study hereMoz by A.J. Ghergich

Ghergich & Co. teamed up with SEMrush to conduct an in-depth study on featured snippets. SEMrush generously compiled and shared 1,400,000 featured snippets from their database for us to analyze.

The optimal length of a featured snippet paragraph is about 40 to 50 words(~around 300 characters).

What it means is that, for higher chances to get featured, aim at answering teh question within 40-50 words.

There’s no need to limit your lists or tables though:

The average number of items in a list was four, but that number is not what we should focus on. Instead, focus on the maximum number of items in the list. This prompts Google to display the “More Items…” text, which can lead to better engagement.

and:

Same with tables: For longer tables Google will invite the user to click to see more items in a table.

Moreover, tables give you huge competitive advantage because Google loves them but not too many publishers use them. So create more comparison tables!

3. Getstat Study of Featured Snippets

Read the full study hereGetstat

Featured snippet study: Getstat

Between January 16 and January 17, 2016, Getstat gathered the top 100 ranking URLs for one million high-CPC keywords.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Featured snippets are common on commercial SERPs
  • Featured snippets and “People also ask” appear to be connected
  • Featured snippet URLs in our study are less likely to utilize Schema.org
  • Financial queries generate more featured snippets
  • Featured snippet URLs often feature <ol> and <table> (<ul> lists still work but they are not as popular)
  • Featured snippets never overlap with three-pack places results