Content Marketing

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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: Continue reading “5 Great Articles to Get Started as a Content Curator” »

Why Content Curation is the New Black

As content marketing is embraced by more brands, there’s growing discussion about the merits of content curation.

On one hand, there are curation advocates who believe brands can deliver relevant and value-added content from other sources. Not only does curation engage target audiences but, as important, it can be a cost-efficient way to drive content marketing efforts.

content curationOn the other hand, there are people who believe brands are just make more digital noise by curating content. For them, it’s bad enough that brands are creating content, let alone distributing the content of other people and brands.

So who’s right when it comes to content curation?

And why are some people so down on  content curation?

In many ways, it comes down to the value of sharing content – be it content that a brand creates or content it curates.

At the end of the day, created and curated content are designed to drive brand awareness, customer loyalty, community building, and expanding the sales funnel.

In the process, brands thrive when their content marketing activities are thought provoking, information, insightful and interesting. If you’re going to get involved with content, you better offer value at some level.

As much as brands want to create their own content, there is huge value in curating content.

It’s a smart and efficient way to provide target audiences with other ideas, viewpoints and opinions. To not leverage curation is like only talking about your ideas. After awhile, your efforts start to lose steam because there is a lack of variety.

Now let’s be clear; curating content for sake of curating content has its pitfalls. A brand can’t simply go through the motions by curating content that offers no value or insight. That would just be a waste of time.

Instead, brands need to be strategic, agile and opportunistic about content curation. They need to be cognizant of the topics, ideas and trends that are capturing the spotlight. They need to offer up new angles or ideas when curating content, rather than just piling on.

In many ways, content curation is part-science, part-art. It requires intelligence and insight about when to curate content, as well as restraint and discipline. There will be times when curated content can be well received, as well as times when it’s simply white noise.

As brands get more comfortable with the idea of content curation, they will learn how to maximize its value. This will create a win-win proposition for brands and, as important, their target audiences.




Five Important Steps to Great Content Curation

Curating content has become the hottest thing within content marketing as brands look for new and different ways to engage target audiences.

But curating content isn’t simply about sharing content because it’s easy to spread the word. To deliver value when curating content, you need a focus and a plan. There needs to be a core reason for what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and the objectives.

As important, content curation has to be a win-win proposition. You get kudos, recognition and a following for sharing content; your audiences get easier access to content that matters.

content curationGiven this approach, here are five keys to curating great content.

1. Identity your target audiences. It means getting a strong handle on their interests, needs and goals. What is the kind of content that will make their personal or professional lives better, more interesting, productive or profitable? With this insight, you can curate content that really resonates and generates a reaction.

2. Know where your target audiences exist? It’s one thing to curate content but you also need to share it where people can consume it. As important, you need to share it in the right places at the right time. If, for example, Twitter is the place where your target audiences consume content, it makes sense to use it as a curation platform. At the same time, you need to know that many of your users are on Twitter at certain times – say 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

3. Be judiciously about the content being curated. In many ways, content curation is a quality versus quantity game. As much as you want to be seen as a valuable resource, it is important to know how much content you need to share to become valuable. Sharing too much content can overwhelm people. Sharing too little content won’t attract an audience.

4. Measure the reaction to your curated content. How much traffic does it attract? How often is it shared on social media? You need to be all over your analytics to gain valuable insight into what kind of content to curate. You may, for example, be surprised that content you saw as somewhat interests gets the most engagement. In this case, it’s valuable to listen to what your target audiences want rather than feeding them something they don’t want.

5. Take a customer-centric approach. The best curation is all about sharing content that your audiences love. You want to deliver a great experience that people value so much that they become repeat customers. While you have goals and interests to pursue, curation is a success when your content resonates with people.

Bottom line: Curating content is more than selecting content to share. There’s important strategic and tactical considerations involved, as well as knowing what your target audiences want and need.



Did Cheers’ Cliff Clavin Invent Content Curation?

There’s a growing amount of buzz around content curation as brands looking for ways to connect with target audiences.

A key part of the content curation is establishing thought leadership. And when you think about it, Cliff Clavin was the master of content curation.

cliff clavinClavin, a deliveryman for the U.S. Post Office, would happily provide commentary and factoids while hanging out at Cheers (along with Woody, Sam, Diane and Norm).

Regardless of the subject, Cliff was able to provide the bar’s patrons with insight and information. Mind you, much of this discourse was irrelevant and obtuse but Cliff was, nevertheless, a curation machine.

You could argue about his effectiveness in curating content but it wasn’t for a lack of enthusiasm, interest or willingness to share.

In many respects, brands could learn a lot from Cliff Clavin.

For one, he was always willing to share – not only to demonstrate his own insight, but to provide others with insight as well.

He was more than willing to step up to the curation plate to deliver the goods.

This is an important consideration for brands because they have to embrace the idea of sharing content, even content that comes from third-party sources.

As well, Cliff has a target audiences – the patrons of the bar. It was an audience he focused on, mostly because he felt comfortable within that environment.

For brands, content curation is a lot about target audiences. They need to identify who they want serve, and then provide relevant and value-added content to meet their needs and interests.

Finally, Cliff wasn’t afraid of rejection or being criticized. It didn’t deter him from being a content curator.

The same goes for brands. To establish themselves as thought leaders, brands sometimes have to select a topic (aka own a conversation) around something different or unique. It makes for a more interesting discourse and provides more opportunities for engagement and, as important, sharing.

So let’s toast Cliff Clavin, who embraced content curation long before it became a hot marketing trend.


The End of the Static (Boring) Website

It’s easy to dismiss Websites as the workhorses of the Web.

They’re no longer sexy but Websites play important roles to educate, engage and entertain target audiences.

websitesLike anything, however, the Website is evolving to accomodate how people want to consume information.

One of the most interesting trends is the rise of the dynamic Website that displays relevant, fresh and updated content. This stands in stark contrast to most corporate Websites, which are static and, frankly, boring.

For businesses, dynamic Websites are a huge challenge and opportunity.

It means businesses need to constantly nurture and update their Websites rather than giving them some TLC once every few years – usually a fresh coat of paint.

As customers want Websites to be engaging and information, companies need to change how their Websites behave and the content being displayed.

It’s no longer good enough to have a nice design and strong messaging. A Website now needs to have current and relevant content to resonate with visitors.

At a time when there are more marketing options than ever, a new and improved Website is just another thing that a company has to focus on.

So where is the dynamic Website going?

At the extreme, you have Coca-Cola, which overhauled its corporate Website to become more of a storytelling platform. It’s a dramatic departure from the staid approach used by most companies, but it does illustrate different, if not radical, approaches.

So what should companies do to keep their Websites current?

Perhaps the easiest answer is making sure your home page is updated on a regular basis – weekly, for example? This tells target audiences that you’re not trying to live with a one size fits all for a long time approach.

Second, companies should explore different technology options that can inject new content into their Websites. Ideally, this technology can leverage a company’s social media and/or content marketing efforts to automate the process.

At the end of the day, companies need to be more engaged and connected than ever before. Anything they do from a marketing and sales perspective has to reflect current needs and interests. The problem is markets move faster than ever so staying current is a huge challenge.

Anyone who dismisses the Website as an anachronism is probably being overly dramatic because they do serve key marketing and sales roles. But, at the same time, Websites can no longer be static entities. In this day and age, change is not only good but necessary.

The Dangers of Simply Cranking Out Content

In a recent post on Medium, Gary Vaynerchuk offered this advice to small and medium-size businesses looking to drive their marketing:

“You get on Facebook, and Twitter, and Pinterest, and Medium, and YouTube, and start cranking out content on everything that matters to your community.”

This advice has everything to do with the excitement about content marketing. It talks to how brands can engage consumers by delivering value-added content that meets their needs and interests.

In theory, this is a great approach because brands can create interest, transactions and loyalty by leveraging customer-centric content.

The challenge, however, is how to stand out from the crowd as more brands start to embrace content marketing. In other words, how do you stick out when everyone is using the same approach?

One of the most important considerations is recognizing that content for the sake of content is no longer enough. This may have worked a couple of years ago, but the content marketing landscape has evolved.

Today, brands need to be more than publishers using different channels (white papers, infographics, blog, case studies, videos, etc.) to engage audiences.

Along with creation content, brands need to develop smart and efficient ways to curate, distribute and share content.

This doesn’t mean a radical shift in content marketing, but it does reflect the need to keep a competitive edge by exploring new approaches and opportunities.

Let’s break things down:

1. Creating content: Many brands find it challenging to create all their own content. They need to have a team and lots of ideas, and have a plan in place to sustain content.

While creating their own content will still be important brands, they should start looking at the value of curating content from third-party sources to support and enhance their content marketing efforts.

2. Sharing content: While there are plenty of tools to implement a “shotgun” approach to social media (blasting out to multiple platforms), brands should be thinking about where and when to get the most impact on content being shared.

This involves two angles: the platforms used to share content, and how and when content is shared. It’s one thing, example, to share content on Twitter but a different thing to share it at certain times using certain hashtags.

3. Generating insight: At the end of the day, content marketing is another marketing channel. And like any marketing channel, brands need to measure and analyze the impact and results. It means assessing how the engagement and interest around the content being created and shared.

This will let a brand tweak or change its content efforts to better serve the needs of users and drive business metrics.

The key takeaway is that while cranking out content has a role, brands also need to be thinking strategically and tactically to drive ROI.






Content Marketing’s Next Evolution: Content Optimization

The growth and embrace of content marketing has convinced a growing number of brands they need to become publishers.

If a brand isn’t creating lots of value-added content, it’s missing an important part of its marketing and sales arsenal. As a result, many brands are enthusiastically jumping on the content bandwagon.

In many respects, it’s not unlike how brands aggressively embraced social media – partly because it offered opportunities to connect with consumers, and partly because they didn’t want to be outflanked by competitors.

As much as brands creating content is relatively new activity, the content marketing sector is quickly evolving. Publishing is still important but – and this is a huge but – the market is rumbling forward to embrace content marketing optimization.

For brands, there are three key angles to content marketing optimization:

1. Creating better, higher-quality content. Brands can hire top-notch writers and designers to create content, which explains why so many journalists have been snapped up. This can provide brands with a competitive edge but it can also be an expensive proposition.

2. The use of technology that analyzes content so it can be improved. This involves companies such as Atomic Reach, Yoast and Hemingway. The big question facing this marketplace is the effectiveness of technology given content creation is as much art as science.

3. Tools that give brands more effective, efficient and valuable ways to distribute and share content that they create and, as important, curate. This is the sandbox where Pressly is playing.

Whatever route a brand pursues, the reality is creating content isn’t enough. Just because a brand creates content doesn’t mean it will resonate with consumers if, in fact, they are aware it exists.

Many brands are still consumed with the idea of creating content so they’re not even thinking about how the market is starting to move forward.

In some respects, what’s quietly happening in the content market landscape is no different than what happened with social media.

When social media initially emerged, brands were keen to get into the game. They blogged, tweeted, updated, engaged and shared.

Before long, however, the market evolved with the emergence of social media monitoring. This was a huge development because it meant brands could see what was happening and, as important, they could react strategically and tactically.

In the content marketing world, the emergence of content marketing optimization is akin to social media monitoring. It provides brands with new tools and approaches to get more value and a return on investment from the content they create, publish and share.

Brands that fail to understand the importance of content marketing optimization are, frankly, going to be playing with one hand tied behind their backs.

Soon, it won’t be enough to simply create content because everyone else is doing it.

Brands will have to be smarter, more agile and efficient about content so they can attract a bigger audience and ensure their efforts are being rewarded.

Are you into content marketing optimization? If so, what does it mean for your brand?


The Best Stock Photo Sources for Marketers With Small Budgets


We all know the power of visual storytelling – content that contains visuals is more likely to be opened and viewed than content without visuals. As a marketer I’ve been using more visuals over the last 2-3 years in everything from blog posts to SlideShare presentations to my Pressly cover pages.

Once in a while I will purchase photos but unfortunately, I don’t have a huge budget to do this every time I need a visual. While Flickr is still the gold standard for free photos (requiring attribution), it isn’t the only option. Dustin Senos, a product designer at Medium, put together a great list of stock photo sites and I added some others to create a handy resource for marketers who don’t have big budgets.

Little Visuals
Death to the Stock Photo
New Old Stock
Superfamous (requires attribution)
The Pattern Library
IM Free (requires attribution)
Photo Everywhere

I’ll update this list as I find others. If you have any favourites to add please share in the comments.

Image source.