B2B Content Marketers

9 Incredible Internet of Things Gizmos

The Internet of Things is going to change the way marketers, businesses and people interact with the world. With the rate of things being connected to the internet increasing at an exponential rate, these changes are coming sooner than you might imagine.

Here’s a round up of what we think are some of the coolest, most inspiring and craziest ways IOT will change the face of our world.

As marketers, it’s fun to imagine how we might start to take advantage of these new web based interfaces. From a smart gun, a wireless pill bottle, to the most intimate of body parts, what will the future of marketing look like with this new connected world? Let us know in the comments your bright ideas.

1. K Goal: Vagina tracker

K Goal vagina tracker

It can already stream the internet straight to your face, vibrate around your waist when you’re slouching and track your health using only your wrist. Now, wearable technology is getting even more intimate and attempting to conquer the final frontier: the vagina.

Recently launched on Kickstarter, the KGoal Smart Kegel Trainer, produced by San Fransisco-based sexual health startup Minna Life, describes itself as a “Fitbit for your vagina,” an interactive device to guide, measure and track pelvic floor muscle exercise. It takes the form of a squeezable silicone pillow, connected to a smartphone app, that measures your “clench strength” and feeds the data back to a smartphone app via Bluetooth. It also has an internal motor for “real time vibrational biofeedback.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/architecture-design-blog/2014/jul/04/kgoal-fitness-tracker-vagina-pelvic-floor

2. The iPhone of Guns

Smart Gun

One of California’s largest firearm stores recently added a peculiar new gun to its shelves. It requires an accessory: a black waterproof watch. 

The watch’s primary purpose is not to provide accurate time, though it does. The watch makes the gun think. Electronic chips inside the gun and the watch communicate with each other. If the watch is within close reach of the gun, a light on the grip turns green. Fire away. No watch means no green light. The gun becomes a paperweight.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/we-need-the-iphone-of-guns-will-smart-guns-transform-the-gun-industry/2014/02/17/6ebe76da-8f58-11e3-b227-12a45d109e03_story.html

3. Smart Lighter to quit smoking


A new Internet-connected lighter called Quitbit will light your cigarette, but wean you off a smoking habit too.

 A new Kickstarter campaign called Quitbit takes the same monitoring principles embedded into fitness trackers and helps users track and cutdown on smoking. In a nod to the name, it’s like a Fitbit for smoking.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/05/13/smart-lighter-quitbit/

4. Amazon Dash – home scanner


Let’s be real: Amazon isn’t going to stop until you can go your entire life without setting foot in an actual brick-and-mortar store. Now the company wants to make buying groceries and sundries from its AmazonFresh same-day delivery service even easier, and it’s doing it with a tiny little gadget called the Dash. Yes, move over Fire TV — Amazon’s newest bit of hardware is a free (for now?), WiFi-capable barcode scanner.

Read more: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/04/amazon-dash-amazonfresh/


5. Smart Bike – GPS directions on your handle bars


 While some cars these days are smart enough to drive themselves, the bike industry has remained largely untouched in terms of innovation. But a new company wants to pedal forward with what it’s calling the world’s first smart and connected bicycle.

A Kickstarter campaign for the Vanhawks Valour smart bike connects with a smartphone app and brings tech like GPS directly to the handle bars. The concept is part of a greater effort to help bikers keep their eyes on the road, especially during high-traffic commuting times.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/05/14/smart-bike-vanhawks-valour/


6. Nest Protect – Love your smoke alarm


Everyone by now has heard of Nest’s smart thermostat. But their newest product, Protect, solves another problem at the home: those annoying and sometimes un-safe smoke alarms.  Great design and more proof that the future of smart homes is amazing,

Read more: https://nest.com/ca/smoke-co-alarm/life-with-nest-protect/


7.  Electric Objects – smart art

smart art

There’s more art on the Internet than in every gallery and museum on Earth.

But many of these beautiful objects are trapped. They’re trapped inside of devices like our phones, our tablets, our TVs, our laptops — devices designed for distraction, living between texts, tweets, football games and emails from work. 

So we wanted to make a new way to bring art from the Internet into your home.

Read more: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/electricobjects/electric-objects-a-computer-made-for-art


8.  Pill Bottle


 AdhereTech, a New York City-based startup, released a wireless pill bottle at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show it claims alerts patients when they have to take their medication and keeps track of their usage and dosage.

The pill bottle uses lights, speakers and sensors to track how often the bottle is opened and closed, humidity and how much medication is removed in real-time. Using cellular technology, it then sends the information on to doctors, pharmacists who can monitor it.

If the medication isn’t taken on time, users receive a phone call or text message alert as a reminder.


Read more: http://www.cbronline.com/news/tech/hardware/desktops/5-internet-of-things-devices-for-health-youve-never-heard-of-4317475


9. The FingerReader – for visually impaired


Scientists at MIT are developing a ring-shaped device they claim can read aloud text to people with visual disabilities in real-time.

The FingerReader, worn as a ring on the index finger, has a small camera mounted on top and speech software that converts text from books, newspapers and menues into audio.

The audio device, which took three years to design, connects to a laptop or mobile phone and includes a text extraction algorithm, allowing users to read single lines or whole blocks of text when selected.

Read more: http://www.cbronline.com/news/tech/hardware/desktops/5-internet-of-things-devices-for-health-youve-never-heard-of-4317475

Not another Content Curation list


Or: A Day in the Life of a Content Curator


The idea for this post started out as a list for all the great content tools out there to help you find the stuff that you – a content curator – should be curating.

It started that way. But in a matter of minutes, I’d already dug up a list about 100 long. It was obvious this list wasn’t going to actually ever be read by anyone.

Many people claiming to be a curator, seem to think of their job as simply throwing huge lists your way. Big, unmanageable, indigestible lists… But since the whole point of content curation is to actually make people’s lives easier, to make some sense out of all the noise out there, these lists sometimes defeat the purpose, when done badly. They are simply laziness.

What I decided would be more useful is to highlight how I actually find the stuff I curate, and share that very specific, limited process with you. As a result, hopefully I’d give something tangible to chew on.

1. You do need tools, but you don’t need all the tools

As I continue this journey to figure out the best practices of content curation, I’ve stumbled across dozens of useful tools to dig up material seemingly relevant to my readers. I am sure a lot of them are great, and just as many are terrible. Unfortunately, the day is only 24 hours long, and I can’t simply spend it clicking tabs and bookmarks to all these services, hoping they’ll serve me something new.

My job after all is not just about re-sharing links. It’s about putting them together meaningfully. So even though there’s a million ways to find content and even more actual good pieces of content out there, it’s meaningless unless I actually carve out some time to make sense of it all, like I am doing right now.

So, what I suggest is you find a few services that seem to do the job, and stick with those. If they aren’t working for you, switch it up, tweak the settings, keep at it. But I highly doubt you’ll have any issues finding content. The tools are all very similar, many of them free, and they’ll all do an admirable job of what they’re supposed to do.

Personally, I rely on a few things for discovery. I have TweetDeck set up with curated twitter lists of the influencers in any given topic, for instance, this list of CMO’s for out CMOhub. And I have narrowed that one down even further by filtering for engagement – I only want to see the stuff getting retweeted.
I also have the same filters set up on key hastags, like #iOT for our hub all about marketing in the age of the internet of things, as well as this hub, our content curation best practices collection.

Finally, I’ve landed on a few good aggregation services that I have been going back to regularly. These are free and easy and serve up tons of stuff I am not finding on TweetDeck: BuzzSumo, Feedly, ContentGems. I haven’t yet picked the winner, and eventually I might pick another service. But these are great, for now.

2. Be a journalist, not just a news reader

Part of your job is reading all these articles. But an even more important aspect is to dig deeper, follow hunches, write down angles, and keep track of all these little magical thoughts that bubble up while you’re consuming the primary sources.

I use Evernote for this. Whenever an idea for a story pops up, I’ll give it a tag and start saving those pieces to Evernote. This might be a list of the people in the article, and eventually I’ll interview them to generate some new, fresh content, that you can’t find anywhere else. Or it might be a list of the companies that keep popping up in all the news articles – what are the main players in IOT? And what can I learn by following them directly, that I’d otherwise miss if I was just reading what surfaced on Mashable?

However you choose to order this, the point is to let your mind freely associate new story ideas as you’re exploring the content mountains. It’s this creativity that will inherently bring value to your readers, and it’s exactly what we need to see more of in our content curators. I think it’s probably the only way the pros ever think up something more original than mere list bait.

3. Present it meaningfully, and beautifully

It’s funny, but a majority of the focus of curation tips seems to be about where to find what you are sharing, and very little thought is spent on how to present it in a way that will be more useful to your audience. I think if you’re simply re-tweeting, or rounding up stuff on your WordPress, you’re doing your readers a disservice. Formal elements, and the way content is consumed is equally as important as what is being served up.

The reason is pretty simple, and it goes directly back to the allusion of the art curator. What would be the point of picking the very best paintings and works of art, if your gallery was impossible to walk through, or if the lights were turned off? Similarly, if you’re doing the hard work of curating content, you better make sure you provide your readers an enjoyable, cross-platform, engaging experience. This serves their enjoyment but it also leads to better conversion and higher returns on your efforts, as a marketer. Curation, after all, is often being done by brands and businesses, so it would be a shame to do all that hard work, for it not to pay off.

Obviously, I use Pressly to curate content in beautiful and engaging way. And so do many other major brands and publishers. Once I’ve rounded up my list of good articles to share, I use the boomarklet and then it’s sent right to the hub I want. From there I can customize, feature and edit that article to be even more useful and engaging on my hub.

Final say

I hope this snapshot of the day to day life of a curator helped you out. If you have any amazing services that you can’t live without, or any extra pro tips from your experience, please share in the comments.




5 Great Articles to Get Started as a Content Curator

Five resources for content curators getting started.

Five resources for content curators getting started.

Content curation might be all the rage – but if you’re a marketer trying to break into the practice, where do you begin?

We’ve assembled these keystone content pieces that provide a valuable starting point for anyone hoping to get started as a content curator, or simply wishes to know more.

1. Manifesto For The Content Curator: The Next Big Social Media Job Of The Future ?

Way back in 2009, Rohit Bhargava from the Influential Marketing Blog put his stamp on the Content Curator job title in this seminal manifesto. At the time, the idea was such a novelty that he offered up a free book to anyone who had it has their official role on their business card. Something tells me that today he’d be giving away a lot more books.

A great starting point to see how the need for curation has evolved over time – and what curators are really supposed to be doing, and what their deeper purpose is.

The detached analysis of an algorithm will no longer be enough to find what we are looking for. To satisfy the people’s hunger for great content on any topic imaginable, there will need to be a new category of individual working online.

Read now: http://www.rohitbhargava.com/2009/09/manifesto-for-the-content-curator-the-next-big-social-media-job-of-the-future.html Continue reading “5 Great Articles to Get Started as a Content Curator” »

10 Storytelling Lessons from Google Creative Lab

If you’ve been exposed to Google Creative Lab’s powerful stories, you probably won’t be forgetting them anytime soon. One of their more recent ones, entitled “Reunion”, is so powerful that it brings viewers to tears. Google does more than simply push emotional buttons, though; their stories are not only moving, but also inform viewers about Google products.


Despite primarily focusing on digital content, Google Creative Lab won a print ad award for one of its stories. If you’re looking to tell better stories, have a seat by the fire and get cozy: here are 10 lessons from Google Creative Lab and its leaders.

1. Educational Campaigns: Chrome Shorts

Your product’s benefits over the competition matter little if your customers don’t understand their value. Often, the first step to demonstrating your solution’s value is to inform the customer. As former Google Creative Lab Creative Director Ji Lee said in an interview with Design Taxi:

Most people buy a computer and they simply click the icon that says “internet” to get online. They don’t really see the need of changing that, or downloading a new, better browser because the current way to get online works fine for them.

To spread awareness of the browser and explain Chrome’s benefits, Google explained the alien concept of the browser using a series of videos called Chrome Browser Shorts. These explanatory clips are presented friendly ways: one clip entitled, “You and Your Browser,” humorously illustrates a browser’s functions through the cat’s actions.

2. Build Prototypes

Although the movement of rapid prototyping has gained popularity in the technology space, Google Creative Lab’s Managing Director Ben Malbon and Executive Creative Director Iain Tait explains to Fast Company’s Co.Create that it’s also extremely useful in advertising:

Truth is, the advertising world has been prototyping forever: Sketches. Previsualizations. Storyboarding. Animatics. Treatments. They’ve all been used to bring ideas to life and give a hint of the emotions a fully formed “thing” might evoke–at least enough to convince a client to stump up the cash to go into production.

While storyboards and sketches still play an important part in the creative process, they’re not able to convey the richness of interactive experiences.

Malbon and Tait suggest three types of creation that help tell richer stories: making a video, staging a performance, mocking it up in Powerpoint or Keynote (my own addition: if it’s mobile, try Invision). Once you’re sure the idea is working, or when you need to refine the story further, build a working prototype.

3. Bake a Broccoli Cupcake

Google’s products aren’t inherently interesting. That’s why instead of giving people information about products, Google Creative Lab wraps an emotionally stimulating narrative around each solution. For example, Dear Sophie is a heartwarming story about a father creating a Gmail account for his daughter and storing her memories in the Inbox. Parisian Love is a romantic tale of an American traveller falling in love with a stranger.

While these emotional themes seem unrelated to Google, the videos are filmed in settings such as Gmail, Google Maps, Google Search, Google Translate, and various other Google tools. As the viewer follows the story, they also naturally discover how the tools are used. The emotional content is the cupcake, and the Google solution is the broccoli. As Executive Creative Director Robert Wong suggests in an interview with Communication Arts, put the education into the entertainment by baking a broccoli cupcake.

4. Know the User, Know the Magic, and Connect the Two

Google’s VP of Global Marketing, Lorraine Twohill, boils down Google’s recipe for storytelling in Advertising Age: “Know the user, know the magic, and connect the two.” They use their understanding of Google products to bake their product into their content. They test their content on the web before moving into mainstream media in order to gauge user reception. Then, they buy extra-long advertisement slots in primetime and iconic shows in order to connect the two.

Re-evaluate whether your content team, from the most high-level editor to the most inactive freelancer, truly understands the magic of your product’s technology. In case your content hasn’t been received well, you need to know the user better. If you haven’t been converting well, you need to understand the magic better.

5. Create a Story Pre-Product

Have you seen this first person perspective of Google Glass? Believe it or not, after viewing an early version of a heads-up display unit, Google Creative Lab imagined this product was finished and created video content for it. Because there were no working units, the team filmed the video through cameras on helmets. A design intern helped mockup the user interface. The story was straightforward; how this nonexistent product could fit in a regular person’s life.

This content helped drive product decisions for the future as the Google engineers viewed it. Google co-founder Larry Page even joked that the team should make a film every week, and Google should build products against these stories. As the video was released, this also gave Google an idea of what product demand was and could gauge users’ reactions to the Glass concept.

6. Get in Touch with the Community

One of Google’s most powerful stories started with a community attempting to empower the next generation. In order to prevent young members of the LGBT community from committing suicide because they were being bullied, Dan Savage and Terry Williams started a project in 2010 called It Gets Better. It was comprised of LGBT adults who uploaded videos on YouTube sharing the message that life gets better.

Google Creative Lab recognized this and decided to bring more exposure to this story. Tying in their products, YouTube and Chrome, they created a video documenting the movement’s success and bought advertising space on Monday Night Football to expose it to a wider audience. It paid off in tons of earned media exposure. It can be difficult to recognize initial ROI; instead, tap into the emotional core of consumers by standing up for what you and the community believe in.

7. Connect with Curators to Increase Reach

Google Creative Lab Creative Director Tom Uglow writes in Marketing Magazine that the world is creating more than it can consume. Instead of reaching our readers and consumers directly, we’re being drowned out by noise from all other sources trying to do the same. How can you ensure your story gets in front of users? Whereas previously consumers would only get their information from newspapers and other types of established media companies, the power has shifted online to a few different curators.

It’s now essential to connect with curators through techniques such as surfacing, getting into trusted guides, and building relationships with editors, stylists, and critics in your fields.

8. Be Your Own Case Study

Client case studies often make for great stories. They also show other prospects and consumers the results that you’ve produced. However, if you want to explore new potential benefits of your product or service, you will have to do this by using them in your own content marketing and campaigns before experimenting on clients.

Google Creative Lab demonstrated their live streaming and partnership opportunities with their YouTube Space Lab initiative. They then made a case study sharing the earned media results and the Google products and services used in this campaign. Similarly, you can incorporate this into your communications plan. It’s a relatively straightforward formula: share how you did it, share which products you used, and what the results were from the campaign.

9. Your Byproducts are Stories

Much like how logging companies sold firewood as their main product and profited immensely off byproducts like sawdust, today’s more intellectual byproducts are stories. Unfortunately, they’re often overlooked and discarded. This idea was published by Basecamp founder Jason Fried, who runs a software company and authored a book as a byproduct of the experience. As advertising pioneer Claude Hopkins writes in My Life in Advertising:

“But,” I replied, “others have never told this story. It amazes everyone who goes through your brewery. It will startle everyone in print.”

Google Creative Lab does a great job at this: during the process of creating their HTML5 game, Google Racer, they filmed a set of footage to show viewers what happened behind the scenes. In case you think this sounds obvious, it’s a technique advertisers overlook that companies have been using for years. Enter Hopkins again:

We told just the same story that any rival could have told, but all others thought the story was too commonplace.

Your story is more unique than you think. Share it with the world.

10. Empower Your Consumers

No matter how much creative talent your team has, sometimes the most unexpected stories come directly from consumers and users. Empower them to contribute, curate and aggregate their work, and package it into production quality content.

Google Creative Lab did this a few times: examples include Google Doodle and Androidify. A more powerful and engaging example is their entirely crowdsourced film, called Life in a Day, filmed by users around the world and debuted on YouTube.

Closing Thoughts

There’s the practical scientific solution, and there’s the fiction behind it. Stories often guide the way the world navigates; for example, Tesla and SpaceX co-founder Elon Musk recently built a technology solution he saw in Iron Man. (Coincidentally enough, Elon Musk influenced Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Iron Man protagonist Tony Stark.) Use some of Google’s principles to create and deliver better stories; even though you may not win a print award, you’ll still be potentially changing a client’s life.

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3 Techniques to Make your Content more Shareable

The majority of content does not get the reach it deserves. How is it possible for young media companies like Buzzfeed and Upworthy to regularly serve up millions of pageviews per month? Content marketers can learn a thing or two from these companies to make their content more shareable.


Legendary advertising pioneer Claude C. Hopkins once wrote in his book My Life in Advertising, “‘Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone.’ People want to be told the ways to happiness and cheer.” Being the man who introduced the habit of regularly brushing teeth in the world (for his toothpaste client Pepsodent), Hopkins knows a thing or two about sharing ideas. Why is it that happiness is a more viral emotion?

1. High Arousal (Awe or Anxiety/Anger)

In an analysis across the most shared The New York Times articles, Contagious author and professor Jonah Berger found that high arousal — either awe (positive) or anxiety/anger (negative) — proved to be more viral over a low arousal emotion (like sadness). For example, the gallery of the bankrupt city of Detroit features next to none of the homeless population. Still photos of the environment evoke more awe. Conversely, if members of the homeless population were included, readers may have felt the less viral emotion of sadness and sympathy.

As the photo gallery example illustrates, it’s very possible to build high arousal into the piece. While photography can evoke awe, writing is particularly effective at leveraging anxiety or anger. As the former marketing director for American Apparel, Ryan Holiday, quoted bestselling author Tim Ferriss: “Study the top stories at Digg or MSN.com and you’ll notice a pattern: the top stories all polarize people. If you make it threaten people’s 3Bs—behavior, belief, or belongings—you get a huge virus-like dispersion.”

A prerequisite to creating a viral piece is to craft a great headline. Not all topics are born equal, but it is possible to frame them in ways that raise the potential reader’s eyebrows. Upworthy, one of the fastest growing media companies of all time, gained its momentum by creating viral content. One of the secrets, as shared in this slideshow, is its content creators write 25 headlines for each piece of content. They pick the best few and A/B test them to see which one resonates with audiences more before picking a permanent headline.

2. For “Less Inspiring” Topics: Public Visibility and Environmental Cues

If you have a product that isn’t controversial or remarkable by today’s consumer standards, what other techniques can you employ to ensure more sharing? As it turns out, this report authored by Jonah Berger and assistant professor Eric Schwartz discovered that while high arousal is more effective to drive immediate short-term word of mouth marketing, ongoing long-term word of mouth marketing results when the topic is cued frequently and publicly visible.

Berger and Schwartz suggest that you may simply not remember the boring things you had mentioned to people. For example, if you’re in Toronto, you likely will remember discussing Rob Ford’s alleged drug video a few weeks ago, and not remember talking about how it was almost 17 degrees at the end of October, despite having conversed about both.

The managerial implications of the study showed that certain types of promotional giveaways are effective to public visibility. Within the content, make it inherently easier for people to share: if there’s a sentence or hook you think will draw readers in, embed it in a click to tweet message with a link back to your post.

Another possibility is to tie your content to regularly occurring events so that your brand naturally comes up. Much like the “Weekends were Made for Michelob” campaign, marketers are creating their own routines for publishing content (e.g., Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Fridays). This trend started in pop culture; Grammy-award winning rapper and producer Kanye West led the trend with GOOD Fridays when he used tracks that didn’t fit the record to promote his 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Today, Justin Bieber engages fans with content on Music Mondays. Over time, this association will naturally lead content consumers to associate content release with specific days of the week.

A simple tactic is to spread messages on social media channels on the same days of the week. Social media’s wide reach has created a new potent group of consumers that have a greater reach than traditional media companies such as CNN and Fox.

3. Leverage the “Bored-at-Work” Network

Huffington Post and Buzzfeed co-founder Jonah Peretti explains how he helped these two media companies grow at such an accelerated rate: their content is tailored towards the millions of workers who take short breaks by browsing the Internet and share links through social media. Peretti calls this massive group of people the “Bored-at-Work” network. The beauty of social media is that it keeps the weak ties between people (e.g., acquaintances) alive — as this study demonstrates, weak ties are particularly important in ensuring a wide spread of information.

To take advantage of the “Bored-at-Work” network, try using what Peretti calls the Mullet strategy: business in the front, and party in the back! Ensure that portions of your content have a high probability of going viral, while keeping the other portions more serious and meaningful to readers.

Another strategy is to look at the content that most of your audience is predisposed to share: for general sites like Buzzfeed, the likes of Perez Hilton, animal lovers, and Apple fanboys (amongst quite a few other demographics) rule a large part of the internet. Content designed to help these people convey their identity to their network naturally gets shared. Also, keep in mind that mobile technology has created another network that you should leverage, called the “Bored-in-Line” network. Think lots of scrolling and feeds, short bits of information, and sites optimized for mobile or built with responsive design in mind.

Closing Thoughts

Newspapers used to have entire departments dedicated to circulation: specific employees would be dedicated to securing specific parts of the newsstand and manage distribution through the paper carriers). As Upworthy co-founder Eli Pariser said in this TEDx speech, these circulation departments started disappearing when the internet took over. However, it’s simply not enough for content marketers to hit publish. Today, the key to wide reach is no longer in the hands of the circulation department, but instead is centered around making your content more shareable.

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5 Content Experiments Marketers Should Pay Attention To

As content marketing becomes a more popular method of customer acquisition, it also grows increasingly competitive. Increasing content marketing budgets also means increasing expectations of ROI. Effective content marketing requires constant vigilance: keeping a consistent eye on storytellers around the world, and how the best are doing it.


These exciting experiments can be carried out by journalists, media companies, or other content marketers. If you want to stay competitive, have a look at these five experiments and their implications on content marketing:

1. Multimedia Content Marketing

Much like how traditional print publications are experimenting with all forms of media in order to evolve, content marketers will move from text-heavy content (e.g., blog posts, articles, and eBooks) and get into all types of media (e.g., video, slideshows, infographics).

To give you an idea of how this transition will take place, have a look at one of the most prominent publications to embrace responsive web technology, The Boston Globe. The Boston Globe has an entire team dedicated to creating multimedia content and exploring other avenues of communication. Media analyst Ken Doctor says in an interview with WBUR:

By 2015, 2016, these media companies that survive and prosper will all be multimedia. They may start out as newspapers or TV or radio — it doesn’t matter what the roots are. What readers or listeners or viewers want is what makes the most sense, it could be audio, video or words.

Even newspapers of record, such as The Globe and Mail and The New York Times, are introducing video clips into their content both in order to tell more immersive stories and to create new opportunities to engage readers with advertising. In the case of content marketing, this means more opportunities for various calls to action.

2. Long-form Advertising

A couple of years ago, The New York Times blew up the blogosphere and social media with a new story entitled, “Snow Fall”. The story was formatted like none other in mainstream media at the time; the text was completely integrated with video interviews, animated imagery, and embedded slideshows. It quickly got the attention of readers and journalists.

In response, magazines like Complex have embraced this type of format and explored it with cover stories (here’s one with artist and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams). Complex also took it one step further: they built an interactive long-form piece for their sponsor, shoe manufacturer Converse. They built a story around the shoes and have sections linking to the product page at sportswear retailer Champs, where readers can purchase the shoes.

This type of long-form piece could be the new landing page, or a precursor to a product landing page. Long-form content can tell stories in much more engaging ways, and have opt-in boxes or offers built into different sections of the page.

3. Hacking Charts

A chart can easily explain what passages of text can’t. With all the data out and about on the web, charts could also be an easy method of creating original content based on a source’s raw data. Digital publication Quartz decided to create a Chart Builder for its team’s individual writers and contributors to easily create charts on data they come across online. (Here’s an example of how one of its charts look.)

Quartz uploaded this tool online for all publishers to use. (Here’s The Atlantic using the plugin. Naturally, Quartzz decided to stamp their name on all images produced with the tool.) Now, all designers and writers have the option to use this simple tool to quickly create charts.

4. Adaptive Journalism

Content marketing changes according to the context the content is consumed. The Washington Post’s Cory Haik displays this with his own publication’s attempt at adaptive journalism. He likens this to how “day parting” advertising is done – the practise of displaying different types of advertisements for daytime TV and primetime: “content parting” means displaying different types of content during different times of day.

During the times you know the reader is likely on the commute to work, the story you launch should probably be shorter and snappier, with fewer graphics to prevent a long load time. It should also fit the mobile device screen comfortably. In order to drive this type of shift, Haik collaborated with designer Katie Park and producer Masuma Ahuja.

Much like how adaptive journalism will be how publications engage readers, adaptive content marketing provides new chances to draw readers in, but will also mean a change in the skillset of current content marketers.

5. Brands and Subbrands

Effective marketing requires tailoring your content to more narrow segments of different consumers. This is why microproperties are often more effective than just company blogs. Media companies are also distinguishing between brands and subbrands; for example, The Atlantic separates itself from its subbrand The Wire. Atlantic president M. Scott Havens says in an interview with Digiday, “From a business standpoint to take that next step forward to what we believe can be a definitive news platform, it needs to have its own identity.”

Different types of subbrands, or microproperties, enable companies to deliver different types of content in different types of packaging. While The Washington Post is an extremely credible publication, its young cousin Know More is able to display content that doesn’t exactly meet the editorial standards of the main site. The microproperty also mitigates any collateral damage this experiment could have on the main site.

Closing Thoughts

While firsthand experiments could result in the most lessons, secondhand learning is a much more cost-effective method of acquiring knowledge and understanding the reasons behind certain strategies of tactics. These content experiments being carried out in the world of journalism will be indicators into the future of content marketing, and staying on top will give you opportunities to act proactively and delight your readers and potential clients much more than your competitors could.

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How to Assemble the Ocean’s 11 of Content Marketing

Few teams, fictional and non-fictional, have collaborated as well as the team from Ocean’s 11. For those unfamiliar, the film’s plot starts with the protagonist, Danny Ocean, and his friend Rusty Ryan finding and recruiting nine teammates. Their goal is to pull a heist on one of Las Vegas’ most well-protected casinos. While the film is fictional, the principles behind it aren’t: the team was successful because it was built around well-defined roles and functions.

Image: Copyright Ocean's 11

For instance, since Danny needed to somehow disable the security systems, he recruited Basher to do it. Danny also needed to manipulate the casino’s technology, so he found Livingston. Each team member has a very clear function, whether it’s funding, decoys, inside information, or some other specialty. This principle can similarly be applied to building your content marketing team.

Let’s break down an effective content marketing team’s roles, and where you can recruit teammates:

1. Content Creators

Content creators are generally the writers on the team (although it can also include graphic designers, audio/video producers, etc.). In essence, their work resembles that of the the Malloy brothers (a pair of extremely talented mechanics) or Frank Catton (the inside man): their roles are absolutely crucial, and are very focused on execution. In order to qualify, they must excel at their craft.

That’s one main reason why you should avoid content farms, or outsourcing sites (such as Elance and oDesk) to recruit content creators: while there are a few talented and experienced freelancers amongst the less experienced, budget-friendly options, separating the wheat from the chaff can be a time-consuming (and unrewarding) task.

Conversely, you can find a ton of qualified writers or content marketers by using LinkedIn’s search function. Similarly, many enterprises are hiring journalists from media companies in their niches to contribute on a freelance basis or to work as an editor.

Once you’ve found a journalist or content creator, use this neat hack from Moz to qualify them by looking at their past work. Past work speaks volumes — Danny Ocean already had relationships with most of his team members in the past, or had at least kept his eye on them. Conduct a simple Google Search query with inpostauthor:“Author’s Name”. If they’re regularly contributing their content to websites, or have done so in the past, they are likely more open to writing for your site.

2. Subject Matter Expert

One major goal of all content marketing is to build thought leadership for your organization. Thought leadership helps build the company’s reputation as a group of experts, which puts potential clients’ minds at ease and can generate more inbound leads. Danny Ocean is essentially the subject matter expert of his team; the team wouldn’t have assembled without his credibility, and he is the one who draws much of the mark’s attention.

A subject matter expert is a client-facing representative of the company, such as a company leader (e.g., CEO, CMO, or other executives), a high-ranking salesperson, or an individual who focuses on business development. By building this trust with potential clients and delivering value through content, subject matter experts can build credibility and gain exposure necessary to generate more revenue.

Lastly, content can be the reason for sales teams to get in touch with potential clients and already-existing leads. Sharing an insightful blog post provides more value than simply reaching out and checking in. Your sales team will stand out from the dozens of other sales teams who constantly ask prospects for meetings, without providing anything of value.

3. Content Lead

A content lead needs to take direct responsibility for content marketing results. They will work closely with subject matter experts to create a strategy. They will also be responsible for leading the execution by managing the editorial team and content creators. This is the Rusty Ryan or Linus Caldwell (in a smaller capacity, later in the film trilogy) of the team.

Cisco’s head of digital media solutions for services marketing and communications Heather Meza describes a major part of the content lead’s role as helping to execute strategy and maintain order. (Note: Meza calls the content lead a “content evangelist”.) Introducing a new content marketing strategy could require constant reminding of your purpose for the project, and encouraging teammates to stay focused. It also means keeping an eye out when content creators or subject matter experts are making mistakes, ensuring the team works well together, and updating the stakeholders from various other departments.

In addition to content strategy, content leads also need to develop and refine a workflow that works for content creators. This cadence will contribute significantly to the success of the content marketing initiative and how frequently readers are engaged. The process of finding Rusty Ryan won’t be easy: according to The Next Web, Kinvey CEO Sravish Sridhar calls finding his content lead the hardest startup hire in his city. Sridhar had snagged his content lead from Eloqua. One of Intel’s content marketing initiatives, Enterprise Efficiency, is led by a former senior editor of an industry trade organization. Similarly, in order to find your content lead, get in touch with content leads and marketers from other companies, or editors from media companies and trade organizations.

4. Editorial Staff

While content leads can take charge of the content initiative, they can’t be everywhere at once. When Rusty was executing on his own important projects, he would have Livingston Dell stay behind the monitors and keep an eye on the team via surveillance cameras. Livingston would keep everyone accountable and walk them through their tasks on their earpieces as necessary.

Editorial staff’s roles are to manage strategy, often in the form of an editorial calendar, and to refine the content workflow of the content creators. They can be found under the title of managing editor, content strategist, or something to that nature. To give you an idea of team proportions, iAcquire’s marketing team consists of “four content strategists, three assignment editors, seven writers, six editors and one infographics specialist.”

As a starting point on refining workflows, here are some sample workflows from Content Marketing Institute and Buffer. Much like content leads, you can find editorial staff by finding editors from magazines, online publications, or trade organizations.

5. Distribution Specialist

Remember: you can have the greatest content in the world, and it wouldn’t matter if no one read it. Godfather author Mario Puzo avoided interviews for 20 years. When he finally started doing interviews, as he explained it on Larry King Live on CNN, it was because he realized marketing became more important in building awareness. Similarly, if you want your content marketing initiative to make an impact, ensure that readers consume it. You’re going to need people like Basher (explosive specialist), Saul (experienced con man), and Yen (superb acrobat).

Essentially, distribution specialists are here to help you meet your reach metrics. There are a variety of ways to drive traffic to your content marketing initiative: for example, if you choose to write guest posts, connect with bloggers and divert some of the content creators’ resources into this tactic. (Should you choose this route, here’s a helpful resource from SearchEngineWatch.)

Alternatively, will you use public relations and stunts to get media coverage? Many authors and fast-growth companies have leveraged the press in order to get as much exposure as possible for their dollar. Whichever type of distribution you decide on, find a specialist who will help lead the effort. For example, if it’s PR, then look into senior journalists and editors who have a lot of relationships. If it’s guest posts, find a business development specialist who can secure sponsored posts or a columnist who can easily write for publications in your industry.

Closing Thoughts

Image: Copyright Ocean's 11

If you were counting carefully, that’s ten of Ocean’s 11. I didn’t forget Reuben: he’s the one funding the initiative. From a content marketing standpoint, he is the company. He’s behind the scenes, and he will keep you accountable and make sure you execute, but he isn’t necessarily the most hands-on member of the team.

Danny Ocean made it look easy in his 10-minute hiring montage. Truth be told, hiring for content marketing initiatives can be an extremely tough task. Keep these five roles in mind when you’re looking to build your content marketing Ocean’s 11, and use these guiding principles to find prospective team members.

Images: Copyright Ocean’s 11

How to Scale Content Production: Repurposing 101

It’s an hour after Thanksgiving dinner. Drowsiness is settling in, conversation is still flowing, and there remains half a turkey in all its glory on the serving plate. After putting hours into its preparation, would you make the decision to throw the turkey out?

Turkey Dinner

Heck, no! Half the Thanksgiving fun is the subsequent turkey spinoffs: sandwiches, soup, turkey pot pie, even turkey spring rolls (for those feeling adventurous). Inbound marketer Steven Shattuck advocates applying this mouthwatering metaphor to content marketing: since 64% of marketers are challenged with producing enough content, taking the substance from one content initiative and presenting it in a different way can fill this need. This is known as repurposing content, and it is useful strategy for scaling content creation. For example, you can repurpose the content from your recent webinar to craft a series of blog posts.

Let’s examine some strategies and tactics you can use to scale your content:

1. Webinars and eBooks

In essence, this is taking one whole turkey and splitting it into smaller servings. While a webinar takes resources and preparation to set up, it also presents a plethora of opportunities to repurpose the content into print collateral (e.g., blog posts, whitepapers, eBooks), video collateral (e.g., training material, video recording), and audio collateral (e.g., podcasts).

You can also split other larger content initiatives into smaller dosages: for example, you can write a blog post for each chapter of an eBook to improve search engine optimization and leverage social sharing. You can turn statistics or interesting figures from the eBook into an infographic.

This method provides an additional layer of feedback: you now have the opportunity to use the metrics from the large content initiative to determine whether it’s worth repurposing. For example, if you’re running two webinars per month, examine which has resonated more with each audience in order to determine which was more popular. This data makes it easier for you to prioritize content tasks and allocate your time and effort accordingly.

2. Slideshares, Pinterest, and Videos

Similar to how marketing expert and Vaynermedia founder Gary Vaynerchuk suggests growing your own platform by betting big on a specific social network, you can repurpose your content and maximize reach by sharing pieces of it online. For example, you can host individual chapters of your eBooks as teasers on platforms such as Scribd and Slideshare, and link back to your eBook’s landing page to promote it. Imagine the circulation your teaser would get if it ended up featured on one of these platforms’ homepages.

The challenge is to adapt to each social platform’s users. For example, in Slideshares’ case, it’s about extracting and visualizing: taking the key points of a piece of content and organizing it in an aesthetic way (e.g., creating an engaging infographic out of a whitepaper)

Depending on your target market, you can also bring your visual content to networks such as Pinterest and YouTube. Skeptical? General Electric is engaging consumers with Pinterest in order to tell its story.

Similarly, a simple example of storytelling with YouTube: here’s a Google Hangouts capturing a conversation between business leaders Elon Musk and Richard Branson on webcam. It’s a simple task for you to do the same whenever you want to experiment with YouTube. Whenever one of your team members is hosting a webinar, you can record and share it on YouTube with screen capture software such as Jing or Screenr.

3. Spin off Already-Existing Content into Blog Posts

Practically every piece of content can be repurposed into text because of the wide appeal of blog posts. It’s important to extend the concept of content beyond just digital creations. Whenever subject matter experts from your company speak at conferences, they’re actively creating content. You can take their transcripts and transform them into blog posts or series. Whenever a panel is hosted by your company, take the highlights and turn it into a blog post. Liveblog events your company is sponsoring.

Since you’re likely already reading quite a few articles to stay on top of your industry, you can also curate content with relevant subject matter and do weekly round-up type blog posts. Review new books from experts in your field. Twist Image President Mitch Joel became a thought leader by chatting with leaders from other companies every week and creating a podcast while simultaneously building relationships and figuring out best practises for him and his audiences.

Conversely, you can also find substance for other pieces of collateral from blog posts: as Symantec’s Travis Wright highlights a blog post-turned-Slideshare that received over 128,000 views. Use blog post feedback to gauge which content resonated with viewers, and use that as a compass for the larger content initiative.

Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day, repurposing content is about sharing the same message through different formats that will appeal to different people. Rather than letting an overabundance of bananas spoil, why not work a bit harder and make banana bread? This is often the case with time-sensitive material, such as newsjacking or adapting to industry announcements (e.g., Apple’s iOS 7).

While repurposing, use this hierarchy by Dell’s Rishi Dave to ensure you’re still exposing your audience to a wide variety of content. Meet the challenge of content creation by scaling appropriately through repurposing content. Don’t waste your turkey: give your audience weeks worth of delicious content by repurposing it well.

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5 Style Guides to Help You Craft Better Content

Creating content for a brand, enterprise or publication isn’t easy. What should the voice be? What are the right rules to follow? How should the content be structured? A style guide is a set of standards that describes the style and formatting of content so that it is consistent across an organization.

Economist Style Guide

Style guides can be a valuable resource to train employees on writing for your company. However, if your company doesn’t yet have it’s own style guide, you can take example of other great content creators to learn how they document and organize the writing process.

Here are five style guides from established enterprises that will help you craft better content:

1. Groupon

Groupon’s meteoric rise means it’s not an example to be ignored. As Groupon has gone from being small startup to a public company in less than five years, it has consistently engaged millions of readers to sell its products.

Business Insider published an article containing screenshots from Groupon’s style guide. The Groupon style guide documents how critical copywriting is to a consumer’s purchase decision.

The most interesting sections in the style guide cover strategies to achieve the Groupon voice, how to avoid traditional marketing clichés and crutches, and examples of humor taboos.

2. MailChimp

As this Fast Co.Design article highlights, MailChimp’s style guide itself is evidence of its success. Despite style guides’ objectives to instruct staff on how to create interesting content, many agencies’ style guides are dreary, boring reads that new recruits force themselves to follow through. In contrast, MailChimp’s style guide is its own success story — it is full of content that is interesting and relevant for MailChimpers and non-MailChimpers alike.

One of MailChimps’ strengths is in identifying user emotions as they are faced with content. Their content lead, Kate Kiefer Lee, shares the secret in this slideshow: the MailChimp team uses Plutchik’s Emotion Wheel to identify users’ possible feelings in each situation. Content is then tailored to match the user’s feelings; for example, if the user is feeling apprehensive (e.g., legal), then MailChimp will avoid using humor and write as straightforward as possible.

3. Adobe

Adobe’s editorial guidelines have helped to create a community of digital marketers and sell more than $4 Billion in software annually. Adobe’s style manual serves as a great primer for anyone starting to write — teaching you to avoid syntax or jargon that could confuse your readers and how to write for the web (break things down into short paragraphs, because reading onscreen is more difficult than reading on paper). Adobe makes a great point that will surely resonate with those who receive feedback from editors on their content: “You will be edited. Everyone is eventually edited. Don’t be surprised or offended.”

4. Apple

Unlike Groupon’s more fun-centric style guide and tone, Apple’s style guide suggests making use of humor only in examples and restraining humor on the occasion it could distract from the substance. Overall, Apple’s principle is to err on the side of caution when it comes to its writing.

Similar to Adobe’s style guide, Apple’s also has some practical suggestions for writing in a style that’s suited to international readers:

“Writing in the international style means that you write simply and that you express yourselfusing standard international conventions. These are the basic rules:

  • Write in simple structures.
  • Don’t use idiomatic or colloquial expressions.
  • Avoid shortcuts, symbols, and abbreviations that could easily be spelled out.
  • Express data using the standard international conventions outlined in this chapter. You should vary from these standards only when there’s a truly compelling advantage in using a proprietary or customary style.”

5. The Economist

The Economist’s style guide is an all-encompassing mashup of syntax and higher-level advice. For one thing, asides from the introduction, it’s all sorted according to starting letter, which means advice on “swear words” can be found extremely close to “syntax”.

The style guide starts off with George Orwell’s six timeless rules:

  1. Never use a Metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do (see Short words).
  3. If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out (see Unnecessary words).
  4. Never use the Passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a Jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous (see Iconoclasm).

While it can be a bit troublesome to navigate through, I would highly recommend The Economist style guide’s advice on grammar, journalese, and headlines.

Closing Thoughts

Many of the principles illustrated within these style guides are similar; be empathetic, consider the wide range of readers, and write as simply as possible. Use these tactics to your advantage, and test each piece of advice to see how your readers react to your content. When in doubt, you can turn to these style guides as resources for developing your own tone, voice and structure for your content…and maybe even the foundation for your own brand’s style guide!

The New Army of Two: the CMO and CIO


According to this IBM survey, 70% of CMOs felt unready to handle the explosion of big data. Marketing is no longer just about the traditional tasks of generating creative and public relations. Instead, today’s CMO is very involved with data-centric marketing activities. CMOs use information and data to stay competitive and understand their customers more thoroughly.

Deloitte CMO David Redhill explains why a combination of information technology (IT) and marketing are key to winning business through thought leadership: “…the company’s reputation is enhanced when it is able to deliver a professional service that crosses the gamut of traditional accounting, knowledge-based consulting and strong digital analysis. And that, he says, is down to a strong mix of marketing and IT.”

CMOs now need to work much more closely with CIOs to make use of this data. Building new armies of two, by aligning the CMO and CIO, is viewed as so important that there are entire initiatives designed to advance this process.

CIOs’ Enhanced Responsibilities

CIOs have matched IT solutions with the company’s challenges; this ability is the reason they have seats at the C-level meetings. However, the scope of a CIO’s role is expanding beyond the traditional responsibilities of cost efficiencies and process optimization. CIOs need use their knowledge to influence product development and improving communication to potential customers. These two functions used to primarily be the marketers’ responsibilities; now, the CIO works together with the CMO in order to make smarter, metrics-based marketing decisions.

According to this IBM whitepaper (PDF), an overwhelming majority of CMOs cited market research, analytics, and customer feedback to be sources that influence strategy decisions. Each of these sources are affiliated with the CIO and the organization’s IT team. The buzz around “big data” and its potential applications toward advancing marketing and product decisions puts much weight on the CIO. When it all boils down, the CIO will have to help solve a major problem that CMOs aren’t typically equipped to deal with.

Capturing Marketing ROI

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” – John Wanamaker

While marketing resources and budgets were mysterious and extremely difficult to track in Wanamaker’s era, the advent of analytics solutions make it possible to gauge the success of marketing initiatives.

This type of analytics may seem as though it takes a lot of time and effort for marketers to collect; however, much of it may already be available within the organization’s IT department. As SAP’s Wilson Raj points out in this blog post, “52 percent of marketers and 45 percent of IT executives believe functional silos prevent the enterprise-wide aggregation of big data–thus hindering customer centricity.” In order to create the most precise measurement of marketing ROI, the CMO’s teams will need to collaborate with the CIO’s teams and gain access to the data that is so essential to this measurement’s success.

“We have the data to be able to see whether what we’re doing is resonating and how we can optimize it, but we don’t collect customer data from people who have purchased from us—the IT organization has that information,” writes Adobe’s SVP and CMO Ann Lewnes in eMarketer. “That’s what is drawing the CMO and CIO together more. Technology is very important from a marketing standpoint.”

To assist with the management of information and technology solutions, marketing departments have appointed their own technical roles. Known informally as “the CIO of Marketing,” or the “Chief Marketing Technologist,” this role involves making the final decisions with the marketing team’s IT budget and IT resources. For example, this chief marketing technologist would lead initiatives such as managing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions.

This role usually is a technology-centric marketer, and not a marketing-centric technologist. As Christiane Pütter writes for SAP, “In the Gartner survey, marketers described their IT colleagues as slow, unwilling to change, and fixed on costs. Marketers who made IT decisions found themselves, on the other hand, to be sales-driven, quick, and inspired by challenges.”

The Rise of the Chief Digital Officer

Not specific to the marketing department, technology research firm Gartner predicts the development of alternative role, the Chief Digital Officer, that will either work side-by-side with CMOs and CIOs, or will simply be the evolution of the CIO role.

Gartner predicts that companies’ technology spending outside of IT will increase to 90% of the total by 2015. Comparatively, at the turn of the millenium, technology spending outside of IT was at a mere 20%. 25% of organizations will have CDOs by 2015 in order to help them adapt to this drastic change in spending.

“The Chief Digital Officer plays in the place where the enterprise meets the customer, where the revenue is generated and the mission accomplished. They’re in charge of the digital business strategy. That’s a long way from running back office IT, and it’s full of opportunity,” writes David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

Wall Street Journal guest contributor Irving Wladawsky-Berger agrees with Willis’ perspective, and believes that the rapid development of this new role creates many opportunities attractive to many of today’s current IT leaders and CIOs.

Leadership firm Russell Reynolds’ Rhys Grossman and Jana Rich defines the CDO role more specifically, emphasizing e-commerce and transactional expertise, online marketing and social media expertise, and transformative product and technology capabilities (e.g., making the transition from analog to digital), are keys to finding a CDO to get the job done. As you may have noticed, the first two fields of expertise are marketing-related and the final one is more of an IT-related responsibility.

Closing Thoughts

Whether it’s the CMO and the CIO becoming an army of two, or the rise of a new role like Chief Digital Officer, both fields of expertise are converging to tackle the same problems. (In fact, here’s a recent example of a CIO-turned-CMO.) CIOs’ responsibilities are expanding beyond simply solving IT problems, and CMOs’ abilities to gain insight and data require a hand from CIOs. This new army of two needs to cooperate and work together in order to usher this age of digital change; otherwise, they will fall behind.

Image Source: CIO/CMO Agenda Conference