Tag Archives: marketing

Fluid app

Top 7 seven free marketing tools to use in 2015

Fluid app

I get asked by clients all of the time about what new or existing free marketing tools might I recommend? Well, pull up a seat, and begin reviewing what are solid tools that should be part of your marketing suitcase.

  1. Fluid – I learned about this app from a fellow Mac head. I’ve gotten tired of stuffing my Web browser with different types of apps. Sometimes I’ve thought about wanting to use just a standalone, say for accessing my Facebook account. Welcome, Fluid. It lets you create a Mac desktop app out of any Web app or website. Genius!
  2. Hootsuite – This remains the defacto platform for scheduling large social media campaigns. I’ve never run into any client who disliked it. Yes, it’s not perfect, I’ve had trouble with the LinkedIn and Instagram APIs, I’m not sure there is another platform of its class that enables you to post to so many channels at once.
  3. Evernote – With seamless Google Chrome extension and a super mobile app (that gets routinely updated), it’s time you start keeping track of your meetings, thoughts, and errata all within this terrific app. It offers tagging features and cloud syncing. It’s organized and will help you do the same.
  4. Google Chrome Extensions – Who doesn’t get tired of plugging the giant of search? But try as you might, there’s no way of getting around the plethora of free tools and extensions that Google never fails to provide us with. With extensions, you can customize Chrome while keeping your browser free of clutter. You work more efficiently and create a uniquely customizable online workspace for yourself. I
  5. Insightly – I haven’t used Insightly myself but hear good things, in particular its great functionality, and enabling users to follow-up on close marketing projects with new and existing clients.
  6. Google Trends – Hey, if you ever wanted to know what’s being searched for on the Web, you would be shooting yourself in the foot if you chose to ignore Google Trends. Google Correlate is a nifty feature as well and using Trends can help you with ideas for blogging, what’s being discussed on social media platforms and themes for your next website.
  7. Asana – Asana provides everything that Basecamp offers…and it’s free.  From branding updates to large websites, if you don’t want the hastle of a monthly fee, seriously consider giving it a try.
LinkedIn Pro

5 Tips for writing successful LinkedIn articles

 

LinkedIn continues to be all the rage when it comes to publishing your content. Near the start of this year, LinkedIn finally opened up its platform to all users, allowing them to promote content and improve their credibility. While this was something of a bonanza to those who are already professed LinkedIn gurus, many still find it difficult to get their content promoted via LinkedIn and help their content get the views that it needs to thrive. At the end of the day, you need a strategy that helps you realize your goals. You need to discover what types of content work best on LinkedIn.

How to write articles that help you succeed on LinkedIn

Of all the social networking sites on the Web today, Instagram is growing at the fastest rate having increased its active user base by 23% during the last six months of 2013, according to research published by GlobalWebIndex. Now Instagram still falls behind Facebook, YouTube, Google+, but interestingly enough, LinkedIn ranks third in the top 20 platforms used. LinkedIn remains tops when it comes to directing traffic to your website.

I’ve put together these tips to help you generate greater amounts of Web traffic via carefully targeted LinkedIn posts.

1. Consistency is what wins races. Publish regularly and on schedule.

If you want to create and build an audience, the best way to do so is begin by posting at a frequency you’re capable of. If you’re a follower of this blog, you’ll note that I don’t publish frequently, nor do I publish regularly. In this case, do as I write, not as I do.

The general rule of thumb is to post once per week.

2. Select topics that you’re LinkedIn audience will care about

Keep in mind that LinkedIn is filled with professionals. These are people who are using this platform primarily for networking, finding new jobs, and also keeping up to date with latest “water cooler” talk.

If you’re going to post about the passing of Robin Williams, you’ll want to try and see how you can tie it in with what your audience cares to read about. Since Robin’s passing was covered by just about every publication under the sun, you better have something novel to say other than RIP. 

3. Limit the word count of your posts to 900 words or less

Posts that are short and too the point usually win the race when it comes to online publishing. That doesn’t mean you couldn’t post a story that easily surpasses 1,000 words. But who is reading your posts?  Are they working professionals?  Or are they folks “in transition” and currently unemployed? The latter will certainly be willing to spend more time on a post that’s 1,000 words or more IF there is something of concrete value in it. The former, however, won’t afford you that luxury. Hence, if it’s working people you are targeting, keep it short and punchy.

4. Don’t ignore your post. Respond to comments.

When I consult with clients about their social media presence, including the effectiveness of their blog, I always remind them that its important to readers that they know they are interacting with someone human on the other end. This is particular true on LinkedIn.

The more you interact with your readers in your posts, in addition to responding or submitting comments on other people’s LinkedIn posts, the more authority and influence you will gain on the site. LinkedIn admitted in a blog post as much. Over time, you will find yourself building a reputation, and in turn, more people will begin to follow your and your posts. Don’t forget to like and comment on other people’s posts.

 5. Review LinkedIn analytics

From time to time, LinkedIn will email you a snapshot of your analytics. It’s an opportunity for you to review which of your articles and posts are getting the most views, comments, shares, etc…Take advantage of it and review it!

Super extra tip!

Aside from posting your article within LinkedIn, you should be promoting it outside the platform as well. By building traffic to your LinkedIn posts with external links you will gain further visibility on social media channels. Content marketing success is all about where you’re featured and what links can help you send traffic.

Flappy Bird

Dong Nguyen’s Flappy Bird in 2014: Be careful what you wish for

Dong Nguyen
Dong Nguyen, creator of Flappy Bird (on the right)

AppsWorld

I just came back from the recent AppsWorld held at Moscone Center West in San Francisco. I played judge on a big Indie Pitch panel. Developers came up one by one and had three minutes to pitch their latest mobile app. Some came very prepared with a polished product. Others were entirely ill-prepared and came with nothing but the best of intentions. One of the winners our panel of judges selected was Revel, a social networking picture game app that integrates photos taken from your mobile phone. Instantly, every judge got the concept. It’s social, uses your mobile camera, and facilitates socializing between groups of people in any number of urban environments, like bars or clubs. Everyone loved it and quickly understood the branding and marketing opportunities for this game.

The judges listened carefully to each developer wanting to appreciate their hard work. But the final product must answer important questions.  Does your app capitalize on a new idea? Is it traveling down a road less traveled? Is there anything groundbreaking about it? Is the artwork original? Does it captivate?  Does it have that “fun” factor making you want to share it with others? Does it have a story worth telling? Does it feel like it’s not just a complete waste of your time?

Flappy Bird
Flappy Bird

It’s 2014 and fresh out of the mobile app gate is (was) Flappy Bird

Candy Crush took the mobile world by storm in 2013. Its got the fun factor; it’s social; it provides a comfortable escape from your nauseating reality, and it carefully lures you into wanting to purchase more In-app extensions. Now, in 2014, pushing the mobile game envelope even further, we get (got)…Flappy Bird; a Nintendo-era looking piece of mobile graphic garbage that  has surpassed anything its creator could have imagined. Flappy Bird was downloaded more than 50 million times from the iOS App  Store and Google Play Store. It received more than 600,000 reviews, helping it pile up four out of five star ratings. But questions were raised about the authenticity of some of those rankings due to bot activity.

Grinning all the way to the bank was Flappy Bird’s creator, Dong Nguyen, who in an interview let it be known he was hauling in a cool 50K a day from In-app ads. My goodness. I tell all of these mobile app developers that they need to focus on a mesmerizing or clever idea, something that captures the imagination, is fun, thoughtful, social, and what did Dong create?  A game depicting a bird that can only fly if you keep tapping on your mobile phone constantly as you guide it through a maze of pipes.

I tried playing it for about two minutes. I couldn’t take it. I wanted to toss my iPhone into the garbage. Everything I told these dream-filled developers came back with the image of Dong laughing at my face.  Flappy Bird is no more, however. Dong took the game down less than 24 hours ago.

Walk the fine line of game development

When it comes to mobile game virality, what did Dong’s success teach us? You don’t need great artwork. You don’t need a great idea. All you need is to know how to walk that fine line between being horribly obnoxious and addictive at the same time.

You see, Dong, I was both disgusted and in awe with what you created. Flappy Bird was a simple but difficult mobile game that unfortunately catered to the mundanity of everyday life. You made bank (while the game was still publicly available) and you threw back the droplets of insight shared with all those mobile app developers and their dreams of glory at AppsWorld.

Were you content with your preliminary success? Your final tweets (before you took Flappy Bird off the market) suggested otherwise.

I can call ‘Flappy Bird’ is a success of mine. But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.

— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014

 
Message? You reap what you sow.

I’m here to say you got lucky, Dong. You definitely proved there are always exceptions. The mobile millionaire might remain a myth but you are/were an example of reality. What did Flappy Bird’s success prove? It proves that you can never underestimate the desire for simplicity. And you can never underestimate the low barrier for entertainment mobile apps provide. Better yet, the rules for viral mobile gaming success may have just been forever changed because with Flappy Bird, who needed graphics? All you needed was annoying repetition.

Or maybe it’s all one big exercise in futility because there was no pattern here to replicate. If I were to go back and speak to every one of those mobile game app developers at AppsWorld, I would let them know that they should never give up on their dreams. If what matters to you is success at all costs than by all means keep pushing yourself to that finish line. If your game’s secret sauce is dependent on simplicity and poor quality graphics, then by all means continue.

You earned your success, Dong. Nothing to be ashamed about. You could not have known just how widely popular Flappy would become.  I just hope no other developer tries a repeat performance. Games that set the bar for mobile gaming entertainment as low as you did do not deserve to be emulated.

Meanwhile, even it it no longer applies because Dong has taken down Flappy Bird from the iTunes store, this remains a favorite Flappy Birds hack of mine on YouTube.

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Pinterest

Pinterest: How to create a content strategy for Pinners

Pinterest's Tiffany Jones Brown
Content Strategist Tiffany Jones Brown speaks to a captive Pinterest audience

 

I recently had the pleasure of hanging out at Pinterest’s new headquarters in San Francisco. I listened to a presentation by Pinterests’s own “voice strategist,” Tiffani Jones Brown.

Sculpting the Pinning message and brand

In her presentation, Tiffani reviewed a number of qualifying factors that go into determining the company’s content. Voice factors include: personality, vibe, and feeling. According to Tiffani, Pinterest’s voice must have power and resonate in everything the company does. In forging their voice, Tiffani stressed the company’s storyline and how it values Pinners first, above all else. Tiffany described “pinning etiquette” and “Pin with care” as models for crafting a unique voice. Tiffani stressed being “gender neutral” and “to be the voice” when crafting content. With so much of Pinterest’s content being graphical, someone in the audience asked what written content is the Pinterest content strategy team actually creating?  Tiffany responded that content strategy included the creation of traditional company content such as  FAQs, style guides, product descriptions, etc…

Tiffany provided one example of developing the Pinterest voice by comparing two email responses crafted by the company in response to a Pinner who had pinned content that was considered “sexually explicit.” The first Pinterest response used a stiff, generic voice and began with “We removed a pin from your account because it contained nudity…Please remove any other pins you’ve added that contain nudity.” Instead, the Pinterest voice team revised their “corporate speak” and the email response crafted went like this: “We recently removed one of your pins from Pinterest because it may include sexually explicit content. We hate removing pins, but sometimes we have to when they go against our policies. This helps keep Pinterest fun for families, professionals and everyone else who uses it. Please remove any other pins like this from Pinterest. Or, if you think we’ve made a mistake, please let us know!”

Now most brands do spend the time and resources to cultivate a unique voice that speaks to their customer-base. But many corporations still come across  with an icy voice to their audience. But I was surprised at just how banal most of what Tiffani discussed came across to me.  I’m not sure what I expected but it makes sense that Pinterest does not want to be using “corporate speak” when communicating with its users. That warm and fuzzy feeling is critical because Pinners are using their platform, in particular, to post and share about their life passions, like cooking, fashion, travel, etc…Pinners don’t want to dialogue with a “corporation” that doesn’t understand or appreciate their human qualities. Hmmm, wouldn’t everyone like a corporation to communicate in this same fashion?

Pinterest is a start-up. It received 200 million in series D funding earlier this year. The company is valued at more than 2 billion, according to VentureBeat. The company, while not profitable, is flush with cash and can spend the time needed to figure out how it is going to earn a profit.

When VC money comes knockin on your door

So Tiffani and her crew of five writers (yup, this constitutes the core of Pinterest’s current content strategy team) have this golden opportunity to continue refining and developing their voice to maximize Pinner appeal. VCs, however, will one day want their money back. Pinterest will be forced to go public. Now Pinterest continues to experiment with revenue driving models. Founder Ben Silbermann says, “we don’t want to commodify someone’s passions.” Great sentiment. I’d like to see just how far it gets him and the company when it comes time to show a profit to investors.

More importantly, once a company does go public, everything changes. The warm and “viby” voice that Tiffani and her writing crew are busy developing now will most certainly be impacted by the time Pinterest does go public. Think about Facebook. As a public company, it is beholden to its shareholders and must consistently show a profit. Facebook’s stock price is currently nestled in at around $25 a share, thirteen dollars below its IPO price back in May of 2012. In a recent story in U.S. News & World Report, Facebook founder Marc Zuckerberg expressed his own disappointment at the stock’s performance, mirroring the sentiment of the company’s shareholders

Meanwhile, Facebook continues to try new initiatives that piss off its users. Just how popular was the $1 fee Facebook implemented forcing users to pay if they want to send messages to non-friends?  Or what about the hashtag? I haven’t used hashtags yet myself but I’ve read nothing but negative accounts by users in my network and just as important is the spam it has created generating dozens of irrelevant spam posts.

Facebook is a splendid case study for Ben Silberman and I’m sure he and co-founder Evan Sharp are not ignoring that company’s ongoing challenges in its quest to remain profitable and popular among its users.

The warm and fuzzy Pinterest voice

Pinterest has the luxury like any other venture-backed start-up to proceed at a measured pace not beholden to any stockholders. Tiffani and crew can take the time to hone the Pinterest voice, making it warm and congenial for its users. But nothing I heard in Tiffani’s presentation made me think that what the company is doing in developing its voice and branding isn’t terribly unique. Because Pinterest is heavily invested, it has more than a few years to go modifying and shaping its brand voice.  Meanwhile, the VCs still breathe down Silberman’s neck wanting to know sooner, rather than later, just how Pinterest is going to become profitable.

Tiffani left Facebook to work at Pinterest.  Does anybody wonder if Tiffani would leave Pinterest the day it goes public to go work for another start-up?  Well, assuming she’s still working as the company’s chief content strategist she probably won’t have to worry, as she’ll become one of the next SF Bay Area millionaires.

Entrepreneurs generally love the start-up culture. The time before a company is forced to go public is generally considered one of the most exciting periods in a company’s life. Once it does go public and shareholders enter the mix, the fun is diluted.  Pinterest is hiring like crazy, in particular, for more software engineers.

Pinterest will be an interesting company to track. According to Alexa, Pinterest currently ranks 17 on the top websites visited in the U.S. with Google and Facebook ranking 1 and 2, respectively.  While the majority of its users are still women, men are becoming a larger demographic. Tiffany did bring up the important point of how Pinterest’s voice will continue to adapt as its tries to broaden its user-base.