Monday, November 7, 2016

Are You Monitoring Social Mentions? Here's How They Can Influence Your Marketing Strategy – Brittany Berger [SSM015]

In a world where customer service is becoming the new marketing – understanding how to find, monitor and respond to social mentions is a great skill for marketers to develop.

It can help to shape your marketing strategy, too!

Knowing where to listen for important conversations online will allow you to react in real-time to trends in your industry and deliver the content or answer that your audience is looking for.

We had the privilege of speaking with Mention's Head of Content and PR Brittany Berger about the specific ways brands and businesses can leverage monitoring to track social mentions and to shape their marketing strategy moving forward.

A huge thank you to Brittany for packing this episode with great insights and actionable takeaways for social media managers and marketers looking for ways to take their social media monitoring skills to the next level.

How to listen: iTunes | Google Play | SoundCloud | Stitcher | RSS

This episode is available on:

In this episode, here's what you'll learn:

Brittany Berger shares her insights and expertise into how marketers and businesses can use social media monitoring to deliver real-time, marketing results to your audience and potential customers. You'll also learn other great things about social mentions like:

  • The basics of social media monitoring and how to do them right

  • What tools are best for monitoring social media conversations

  • Why listening to peers and competitors is a great way to improve your strategy

  • What platforms are best for monitoring conversations and how it works

  • How social media strategy and social monitoring go hand-in-hand

3 Takeaways for Marketers Looking to Use Social Mentions to Influencer Their Marketing Strategy

In Brittany's Words…

1. Always listen to your audience first

Always listen to your audience first – no one knows them better than themselves. Even though we all like to think that we know them very well. Which I'm sure we all do!

2. Never discount doing the same thing as your competitors

Never discount doing the same things as your competitors, you can still do them differently and get great ideas from them. We've even worked with some people who might be considered a competitor after findings stuff that they've done and realizing the collaboration potential there.

3. Think of your marketing and social media processes as a whole

Always think of your marketing and social media processes as a whole. I like to make sure everything fits together well and that anything we set up as a team with mention or with monitoring in general makes sense with the other processes we have such as publishing.

Mentionable Quotes and Shareable Snippets

In Brittany's Words…

“Monitoring your own brand, monitoring your competitors, and monitoring your industry are the three basics of social mentions that you can use to stay general and learn so much with such a simple effort.”

Brittany Berger Quote, Buffer Podcast, Social Mentions

Show Notes and Other Memorable Moments

Thanks a million for checking out this episode! Below are the websites and other tidbits that were mentioned in today's podcast about personal branding on social media. If you have any questions for us, feel free to drop us a line in the comments and we'll respond right away!

Tools Mentioned by Brittany

  • Mention – Monitor your brand anywhere online

  • Respond by Buffer – Social customer service software for support teams

  • TweetDeck – Your personal browser for staying in touch with what's happening now

  • Zapier – Better together

  • Slack – Be less busy

Other Great Quotes from the Show

  • “When I'm writing content I always try to think of how that will tie into the end result (on social media) because it's not really something that you can just start thinking about once it's already live.”

  • “There's a lot of hidden use-cases for tracking social media mentions online. For example, sales and support people or product development can monitor for insights into their audience or about their product.”

  • “If you're not listening to your audience then you don't know what they really want. And so then how can you give them that?  You can take a good guess, and I know a lot of us do customer interviews and buyer personas, but that doesn't mean you don't actually have to pay attention to them.”

  • “Anything about your own brand should definitely take priority (when it comes to the frequency of monitoring your brand). And it also depends on your goals and what you're using it for. If Influencer Marketing is one of your goals it's important to be on top of the things that you check first.”

How to Say Hello to Brittany (and us)

Brittany Berger is super active on Twitter and would love to say “hello” at thatbberg and you can read more about Brittany and her work at

Thanks for listening! We'd love to connect with you at @buffer on Twitter or with the hashtag #bufferpodcast.

Enjoy the show? It'd mean the world to us if you'd be up for giving us a rating and review on iTunes!


About the Show

The Science of Social Media is a podcast for marketers and social media managers looking for inspiration, ideas, and results for their social media strategies. Each week, we interview one of the very best in social media marketing from brands in every industry. You will learn the latest tactics on social media, the best tools to use, the smartest workflows, and the best goal-setting advice. It is our hope that each episode you'll find one or two gems to use with your social media marketing!

The Science of Social Media is proudly made by the Buffer team. Feel free to get in touch with us for any thoughts, ideas, or feedback.

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Are You Monitoring Social Mentions? Here's How They Can Influence Your Marketing Strategy – Brittany Berger [SSM015]

Why Data Journalism Is the Secret to Engagement


Image via Unsplash

Data is everywhere, and nowadays, it is readily available and easily accessible for marketers to utilize in their content strategy. While many refer to a data-driven content strategy when looking at ways to better understand their audience and leverage influencers, a data-driven approach can also mean creating content based in data journalism.

As the efficacy of outbound marketing and traditional advertising continue to decline (even as their costs remain high), brands are turning to inbound tactics like content marketing as they evolve from advertisers to branded publishers. Data journalism is one of the newer trends among content marketers, which utilizes data analysis to extract compelling stories, often through easy-to-digest visuals like infographics and videos.

Since ideation can be one of the most challenging and intimidating aspects of content marketing, a data-driven, journalistic approach offers a fresh source of inspiration. Helping to satiate the internet's nearly insatiable curiosity, this research-based approach in content creation establishes authority through thought leadership for brands. (highlight to tweet)

Data journalism can fit into any content strategy in any vertical. My team at Fractl utilizes this data-driven approach in nearly every client content marketing campaign we produce. In order to avoid comparing apples to oranges when it came to campaign performance metrics across different industries, we set out to delineate vertical benchmarks by sifting through nearly 350 of our own client campaigns across various industries in a recent study. Besides finding the average media placement and social share count rate for each vertical, we also were able to further pinpoint which verticals saw the most success with various data sources and strategies.


Two Approaches for Content Engagement Across 15 Verticals

Establishing your brand as an industry leader through authoritative content is becoming increasingly important as brands make that switch from advertisers to publishers. Generating high levels of engagement and a loyal following is important regardless of your vertical, but we found two approaches to vertical content strategy exist, depending on campaign goals.

Tangential Strategy and Traditional Virality

Tangential relevance to your brand (but still specific relevance to the brand's vertical) helps with content creation in terms of diversity and frequency. For this approach, consider the details defining the brand and its target audience, then brainstorm topics and ideas that broadly or horizontally relate back to the brand's vertical. When searching for the mass appeal that generates a lot of engagement from general audiences, this tangential approach in content strategy is a great option to consider-especially when working with a vertical that doesn't typically see viral-level engagement.

Ideally, creating broadly relevant content that appeals to a socially-engaged audience's motivations for sharing will help generate those social shares and media mentions. Take, for example, a UK brand in the online pharmacy and healthcare market. With the goal of creating a viral hit, our creative team thought of a highly relatable, highly emotional topic that tied back to the services offered by the brand: body image and eating disorders. By illustrating the “ideal” women in 18 countries around the world, unique visuals grabbed the attention of a broad audience, generating 3.5 million views from a single media placement-plus 900,000 social shares from over 600 other media stories.

Niche Strategy and Perceived Virality

As more and more content floods the internet, it becomes more challenging to get noticed in a sea of mediocrity. Your brand is forced to compete with not only direct competitors but quite literally everyone. A more targeted approach through a niche content strategy allows even the smallest brands to earn exposure through perceived virality, leading to stronger word-of-mouth marketing, growing brand awareness, less competition, and most importantly, more qualified leads.

Creating and promoting content that connects with a specific, niche audience within your brand's vertical involves researching audience personas, including where they seek out information, what publishers they read, and what motivates them to engage with content. Our B2B client Alexa's campaign performance is a prime example of how creating niche content fellow marketers found valuable led to engagement far above the Business & Finance vertical benchmark. While their content calendar wouldn't appeal to someone outside of the industry, it helps brands and marketers take their PR outreach to the next level-and earned Alexa over 150 media mentions in authoritative industry publications.

Insights on Data Sources for Different Verticals

Data journalism is the core of each campaign we analyzed, all utilizing various research methods and sources to help create content geared towards the brand's specific vertical and target audience. Sourcing the data can be broken down into two methods: data curation and original research. But what method is best for your vertical? Here are some insights we've learned along the way.

Data Curation

To avoid bias and establish authority, curating hard data from reputable sources (i.e., open source government databases) or scraping social media networks for specific information allows content marketers to utilize existing data but add value by simplifying the information and pulling key findings. Similar to curation for content like blog or social posts, it's crucial that campaign data curation includes creating new content. Otherwise, it just becomes noise.

With higher-than-average media mentions and social shares, Drugs & Alcohol; Politics, Crime, & Safety; Automotive; and Education verticals successfully utilized data curation more than the other eleven verticals. Here are a couple of our creative team's go-to sources paired with examples of client campaigns demonstrating each source's potential for success.

  • Government Data: One vertical that utilizes official government data sources well is Drugs & Alcohol, as it improves the promotional viability of the campaign. Specifically, publishers covering these topics need authoritative and verifiable sources to protect their own credibility. For example, a campaign examining the drug use in America versus Europe gathered data from several reputable international government sources including SAMHSA and EMCDDA. The authoritative “.gov” data sources mixed with the international scope of this campaign led to a huge amount of national and international press coverage-over 550 media mentions, to be exact.

  • Social Media: On the other end of the spectrum, scraping social media networks for data is another source geared towards entertainment. It's worth noting that campaigns for 10 out of 14 verticals specifically using curated social media data saw higher-than-vertical-average media placements. Most notably, more than half of the top performing campaigns falling under the Automotive vertical curated data from the social networks. A scrape of four years worth of Instagram posts with hashtags of various car brands revealed the most-selfied cars on the internet. By appealing to a very broad audience and curating data from a widely used platform, this campaign earned over 150 media mentions plus nearly 9,000 social shares.

Original Data

A second method requires additional resources by creating content based on original data, usually taken from proprietary brand internal data or from primary research. The latter allows for a lot of creativity; research methods range from surveys to surface swabs, leading to a plethora of new data for a campaign.

Business & Finance; Fashion; Home & Garden; Travel; and Technology verticals saw success with original data more than the other verticals with higher-than-average levels of engagement. Here are two examples of our creative team's favorites research methods for acquiring this original data:

  • Field Research: Some of the best data requires a field trip to find it. Going out into the field to collect data ranging from video footage to bacteria swabs offers a proprietary edge, especially when it comes to media promotions. For example, to demonstrate the severity of distracted drivers on one of the country's busiest highways, 20 minutes of original footage was broken down into stills to pinpoint the number of distracted drivers. This time-consuming analysis paid off by earning nearly 200 media mentions. In another example, collecting and comparing surface swabs of bacteria in different hotel classes to reveal the truth about hotel hygiene led to some interesting discoveries that made headlines across the internet with close to 700 media mentions.

  • Surveys and interviews offer insights not only for brands looking to better understand their consumers, but also for curious internet browsers. Nowadays, running a massive survey with participants fitting specific requirements (demographic, geographic, etc.) has never been easier with tools like SurveyMonkey and MTurk. For example, by surveying smartphone users performing a list of specific commands, then ranking the three most popular smartphone assistants on accuracy and satisfaction, Comparing Cortana earned over 340 media mentions thanks to the tech pride and brand loyalty of smartphone users.

A data-driven, research-based approach requires content strategists to do their due diligence to correctly source and analyze the data. Presenting key findings from huge data sets must be done without an agenda to avoid bias. Transparency in the methodology while scrutinizing fact-checking are crucial aspects of ethical journalism.

Whether it's through a tangential or niche vertical strategy, content should ultimately provide value to an audience through education or entertainment to break through the noise. Data journalism is quickly gaining popularity, becoming an invaluable resource to content marketers in every vertical, thanks in part to its ability to educate and entertain.

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Why Data Journalism Is the Secret to Engagement

from Convince and Convert Blog: Social Media Strategy and Social Media Consulting


Shopping on Instagram: Get the Complete Details and What it Means for Businesses Like Yours

This year alone, Instagram has released business profiles and features like Stories and Zoom. Lucky for us, Instagram has something new to share again:

Shopping is coming to Instagram!

Starting this week, Instagram is testing a new way for users to learn more about products they discover in the app and to purchase those products if they wish to. The entire e-commerce flow from discovery to purchase is contained within Instagram, which may potentially help solve one of the biggest Instagram questions (and social media questions) for businesses everywhere: How can I get ROI and sales from what I share?

Fresh on the heels of the announcement, I'd love to share more details on what Instagram shopping might look like and what it means for you and your business. It'd be great to have your thoughts in the comments, too!


Why is Instagram building a shopping experience in the app?

The potential opportunity for businesses on Instagram is huge. According to Instagram's announcement:

More than 84% of smartphone users in the U.S. browse, research, or compare products via a web browser or mobile app.

That is in line with the behavior Instagram users exhibit in the app. While speaking to James Quarles, Instagram's VP of monetization, TechCrunch found that:

According to a study run by Instagram, 60% of Instagrammers say they learn about products and services on the app, while 75% say they take actions like visiting sites, searching, or telling a friend after being influenced by a post on Instagram.

While Instagram is a great platform for discovering new products, it can be a little challenging at the moment to find out more information or to find and purchase those products online, particularly with the limited use of links within updates and on profile pages. With the Instagram shopping announcement, it feels like Instagram is looking to make the experience much smoother.

With that, let's take a look at this upcoming feature!

Overview: How Instagram is building shopping into the app

As shopping is introduced into the app, the primary feed experience won't change at all. Shopping will simply be an added function to individual updates.

Instagrammed photos that include products or e-commerce experiences will have a tiny “Tap to view products” label at the bottom left corner of the photo. It's possible that Instagram might simplify this into a symbol once users are used to this interface, just like they did for photos tagged with users.


Once the “Tap to view products” label is tapped, it brings up a tag for each product that has been tagged in the photo, showcasing up to five tags and the respective prices. It appears the tags for the products are initially hidden to not clutter up the photo, maintaining the clean and beautiful user experience.


When a tag is selected, more information about the product will be shown within the Instagram app itself so that users do not have to leave the app. From the video demo, it seems that users will also be able to scroll between the tagged products by swiping left and right.

instagram-shopping-product-details   instagram-shopping-view-multiple-products


If the user wishes to purchase the product, tapping the “Shop Now” link brings up the product on the business's website. From there, the user will be able to place an order for the product.


This will also be within the Instagram app itself. A key advantage I see is a much faster shopping experience. Having all these steps happen within the app itself would likely make the experience much faster than the traditional approach of switching to a browser and letting the page load (and switching back to Instagram to continue browsing).

Here's a short video of how this feature looks like:

What will it cost businesses? Incredibly, nothing

According to TechCrunch's report, Instagram isn't taking a cut from the transactions:

Instagram won't take a cut of purchases, and instead plans to monetize the product by later allowing brands to pay to show their shoppable photos to people who don't follow them, says Instagram's VP of monetization James Quarles.

Instagram has teamed up with 20 U.S.-based retail brands including Kate Spade, JackThreads, and Warby Parker for this test feature. For its initial testing phase, Instagram will be rolling this out to only a group of iOS users in the U.S.

Future plans for shopping on Instagram

While it looks really impressive already, Instagram has more ambitious plans for this feature:

As we roll out further, we'll explore product recommendations, ways products are showcased to shoppers, global expansion and the ability to save content so Instagrammers can take an action later. We want to understand how to deliver the most seamless shopping experience for consumers and businesses on Instagram, and ultimately mobile.

Instagram's VP of monetization, James Quarles, also shared with TechCrunch how they are looking to expand on the shoppable tags:

Quarles tells me shoppable tags will eventually expand to video posts, photo carousels, and other countries.

How exciting!

Shopping on Instagram: What Opportunities Are There for Businesses?

To me, this feels like a huge leap for the Instagram experience and a very attractive proposition to businesses. Here are some opportunities I think this feature will bring to businesses:

1. Higher retail sales and tracking ability

As URLs in captions are not linked, businesses are currently resorting to using the link in their bio or platforms like Like2Buy and to direct their followers to their product pages. With this feature, businesses can provide a more direct option for their followers - yay!

I believe this feature will help to boost sales for businesses - maybe more for those with physical products than those offering services or digital products. Businesses will be able to better track sales from Instagram and perhaps even track referrals as it's common for Instagram users to tag their friends in their comments to share about a product.

2. Enhanced influencer marketing

While I'm not sure if this feature will be available to non-business Instagram users, this feels like a great opportunity for influencer marketing, which is already very prevalent on Instagram. Influencers can tag the sponsored products, allowing their followers to learn more and even buy those products immediately within the Instagram app.

3. More sales through user-generated content

Another opportunity I see for this feature is through user-generated content. It is a common strategy used by businesses on Instagram nowadays. We used it to increase our Instagram following by 60% and are still using it today.

User-generated photos help to add social proof to the products and feel more authentic than photos by businesses themselves. By tagging the user-generated photos, businesses could possibly drive more sales through Instagram.

4. Additional layer of engagement

Having more options of action to take means more opportunities for engagement. I imagine a business could ask a question about the product such as “How many colors do you think this bag comes in?” As it's easier to find the answer with this feature, followers might be more inclined to search for it. This could be a way to encourage followers to click through and check out the product too.

5. More creative captions

With the additional product information page in Instagram, businesses can choose not to describe the products in the photo caption. This will allow for more creativity for the captions, without having to worry that followers might not understand what the product is about.

How will you use this feature?

I imagine many of you are as excited as I am about this potential feature. I'd love to hear from you what opportunities this might present to you and your business.

P.S. If you are thinking of diving into Instagram marketing for your business now, here's our complete guide to Instagram marketing!

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Shopping on Instagram: Get the Complete Details and What it Means for Businesses Like Yours

Friday, November 4, 2016

Are You Paying Enough Attention to Content Design?

The best content marketing initiatives in the world won't convert if not deployed alongside a strategic content design.


Are You Paying Enough Attention to Content Design?

from Convince and Convert Blog: Social Media Strategy and Social Media Consulting


The Big Secret: All Entrepreneurs are a Little Bit Crazy

Entrepreneurs are a little crazy

I remember the first time I found out that I wasn't the only crazy one.  I thought that other entrepreneurs had everything all together and that once I “made it”, I would also have it together and know exactly what to do next.

But I was talking to Johnny B Truant at SXSW about 7 years ago and he told me that even the successful ones were a little crazy.  And I was so relieved.

Because I didn't have to try to get rid of the crazy thoughts in order to be successful.  I didn't have to not be afraid and not doubt myself.  I just had to keep moving.

When I first started my blog over 8 years ago, I was excited and on fire and ready to take over the world.

But along the way doubt creeps in.  Comparison rears it's ugly head and you look at others and think that they are doing so much better and you don't really know what you are doing.

Everyone seems so sure and the voices in your head are saying mean things to you.

But it's freeing to find out that everyone has those thoughts (ok maybe I can't speak for every successful entrepreneur but I know for a fact that a LOT of them do – and who knows, maybe it is just me – maybe it's the voice in my head again telling me that I'm not normal and I'm going to make this the longest parenthetical out there).

Seth Godin answers the question “How do I get rid of the fear?” with this:  Alas this is the wrong question. The right question is “How do I dance with the fear?” 

Andrea Vahl Speaking at Digital Commerce Summit

Here's a picture of me speaking at the Paramount Theater in Denver in front of 500 people at the Digital Commerce Summit – dancing with my fear.

I think it's important to have a practice that grounds you, manages your mindset, and gives you an outlet for the fear.  For me, that's running or performing quite badly in triathlons and then getting back up and trying another triathlon.

I run to burn off the crazy

This is one of my running shirts (I don't iron).

And it's also important for me to remember that I have a gift to share.  A passion for helping other entrepreneurs grow their business.  And I will make mistakes.  Things won't always go right.

But this entrepreneurial journey is a marathon, it's not a sprint.

So much of your success depends on just continuing to show up, share your gift, and get better along the way.

Give yourself permission to fail because when you are allowed to fail, you have so much room to be great.

Smart enough


Being an entrepreneur is not always easy but it's worth it.  Even when we feel a little crazy.

And yes, that picture at the top is me.  Sometimes I'm crazier than normal.




The post The Big Secret: All Entrepreneurs are a Little Bit Crazy appeared first on Andrea Vahl.

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Is This The Future of Infographics?


You've probably noticed a massive shift in the online world from text-based content to visual content.

There's no denying the power that visuals have on the Internet, as well as in our everyday lives. YouTube and Instagram dominate the visual landscape, with YouTube the 3rd most visited site on the web and Instagram boasting about 80 million photos shared everyday.

Blog posts and articles are 80% more “consumable” when they have a colorful image, header, or thumbnail, and people will only spend about 15 seconds on a website if a visual doesn't catch their attention first.

And infographics, the favorite among audiences and marketers alike, have been searched for 800% more today than in 2012.


Image Source

On top of all that, content is being created at an alarming rate – 60% of marketers create at least one piece of new content each and every day!

As more and more people begin creating, one thing becomes clear: To be seen, you have to stand out.

Naturally, content marketers are already looking to the future of visual content, seeing what they can play with now, what they can implement, and what new technologies are just on the horizon. This forward thinking is what can make or break your content marketing efforts; you have to adapt or you'll be drowned out.

With visual content like infographics, marketers have the unique position of seeing the future as it approaches. Businesses, graphic designers, and marketers are all starting to play with infographics – update them to make them even more appealing to audiences. Even if you “just got the hang of” regular infographics, it's never too early to see which trends are starting to develop, nor is it too early to learn how to implement them in your own content marketing strategies.

If you want to get a glimpse into the future, and maybe even learn a few tricks before everyone else jumps on the bandwagon, now is the time!

Here are three types of infographics that are going to be most common in the (very near) future.

If you're looking for a great tool for creating infographics, I recommend checking out VismeThey offer a free account to get you started and have some amazing features for non-designers. Get your free account now.

1. Interactive Infographics

While we've seen the beauty of interactive websites and user-friendly games, interactive infographics are still fairly new on the block. As infographics, they obviously contain some sort of information and are visually dynamic, but throwing the interactive element allows users to connect with the information and make it their own.

Regardless of your business, product, service, or message, you can create an interactive infographic that allows people to evaluate themselves (like the “Calculate your own BMI here” link in the image below). Users can also click on relevant information that sends them to more in-depth sources or back to your landing page, thus generating traffic. This is a highly adaptable and fun way to engage your audience.

A number of marketers have already adapted to this style of infographic, and it's catching on quickly. But while other people have focused on simple interactions:


See the full interactive infogaphic here.

….think about what else you could do with an interactive infographic.

You might try:

  • Including scroll-over tactics that make images or figures stand out larger than the background

  • Building in “pop-ups” that expand sections of text

  • Connecting images or statistics when they get clicked on

  • Making your infographic into multiple pages that users can click through

For a great example of an interactive infographic, check out this one:


To make an infographic highly interactive (with scroll-overs, pop-ups, etc.) you will need to learn a little bit of coding in HTML5 or CSS, or hire someone else to manage that aspect of it for you.

Despite that additional effort, you'll be rewarded with a unique, engaging, and effective piece of content.

Why should you try to incorporate interactive infographics in the near future?

  • It encourages your audience to engage with and share your content

  • It generates traffic (through links)

  • It proves to your audience that you are innovative, resourceful, and intent on providing content that is relevant and intriguing

  • There are levels of interactive infographics, which make this a manageable progression of resources and effort

2. Embedded video and GIFs

This is another type of infographic we are seeing more and more today. Infographics that possess short video clips or even GIFs (which means Graphics Interchange Format) are a great way to attract attention and to separate your infographic from the crowd. While it limits the platforms you can currently share your infographic on, it makes up for it in ROI.

A number of simple infographic creation tools, like, offer an “Embed video from YouTube” option, or you can add video to an infographic you create in Photoshop with a video layer. You can even add video to a Powerpoint slide, which you can design into an infographic.

You can also find virtually millions of GIFs and insert them in a similar fashion. The key here is that you now have to share your infographic as a URL, or make sure it is properly embedded into your website. You can't save or share these infographics as .jpeg or PDFs.

Undoubtedly, as this becomes more popular, other tools will pop up allowing video and GIF insertion to be an even easier process. But if you'd like to use this style of infographic before everyone and their dog has the ability to do so, start now with the tools that are already out there.

If you want to take it to the next level, though, you can even make a video out of an infographic you already have. This is a great way to get seen on YouTube, Instagram, and even other video platforms like Vimeo, Snapchat, and more. The video below is a great example of how to turn your infographic into a video.

Why should you embed video or GIFs into your infographics?

  • It gives you the element of surprise – people don't expect images to move!

  • It is highly entertaining and novel, which increases the odds that people will interact and share your infographic

  • It's a great way to establish brand identity

3. Animated Infographics

Animated infographics have an extreme amount of visual appeal and demand a lot of attention. When a user is viewing an image, they don't usually expect it to move – this is the beauty of learning these techniques before everyone else does.

While animated infographics are slightly more complex, and may require some graphic design, coding, and/or editing software knowledge, they are highly valuable.

Here is an example of what I am talking about:


If you'd like to learn exactly how to make animated infographics, check out this infographic from Tabletop Whale. You can also find a graphic design service that caters to this type of creation. Either way, this is one of the most involved processes in the evolution of infographics.

Why should you invest your time, energy, and/or money into creating animated infographics?

  • This is going to truly set you apart from the crowd because not everyone has access to this sort of software or content

  • It will be commonplace in just a few years – you want a head start!

  • The animation will make the information within the infographic more memorable

  • It will encourage your audience to engage with your Call to Action

This isn't science fiction

While this may all sound fairly technical and maybe even out of your range of abilities right now, odds are that these types of infographics are going to be commonplace in barely 2 to 3 years from now. We're already seeing a massive push towards animated and GIF-style infographics, especially as the popularity of GIFs continues to rise.

Infographics are becoming one of the most consumable and most created types of content on the Web right now. Why? Because it only takes about 250 milliseconds for a brain to process and assign value to an image or symbol.

If the average person spends about 15 seconds on a website before getting bored, it stands to reason that you'll want to pull out all the stops to make them stay – or at least get the message across in 15 seconds or less. Some studies even find that humans have 8 second attention spans, and it's decreasing every year.

This is the reason for, and possibly a byproduct of, our consistent need to consume content. We are in the Age of Information, and we have everything accessible to us. But that also means, as more people try to share their message and to answer as many questions as possible, that most of the content produced is becoming background noise.

If the direction of infographics today is any indication, they will soon be everywhere. This means that your job is to innovate. No marketing campaign in history has succeeded by doing the same thing forever.

The idea here is to see infographics as more than just a .jpeg image. They can be adapted to many different mediums and used on a variety of platforms. Entrepreneurs and marketers are already starting to see the potential here. Do you?

Guest Author: Latasha Doyle, discusses all things “infographic” on's blog. If you are looking for more information on creating infographics, you can also check out's free ebook, “Infographic Crash Course.”

If you're looking for a great tool for creating infographics, I recommend checking out VismeThey offer a free account to get you started and have some amazing features for non-designers. Get your free account now.

The post Is This The Future of Infographics? appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

How To Make Complete Strangers Fall in Love With Your Blog


Whether you're having a face-to-face meeting with prospective clients, or trying to market your brand with blog content, first impressions count.

In fact, in the digital world brands often don't get a second chance, because online consumers have short attention spans and they're already bombarded with hundreds of blog posts, emails, social media posts and advertisements every day.

According to research published in Psychological Science, it takes an average person a tenth of a second to form an impression about a stranger based on appearance and looks.

However, as a blogger, it's not just about making a strong first impression. Keeping your readers engaged and converting them into subscribers and customers is equally important.

Which is why, the moment a new visitor comes to your blog, you need to take them from one level of excitement to another.

Sounds difficult right? Let me simplify this for you.

Here are a few ways you can make complete strangers immediately fall in love with your blog and come to you every time they need help.

1. Make a strong first impression with powerful branding

Excuse me for using this word repeatedly, but first impressions are just so important.

What's the first thing that shapes your blog's perception when a stranger lands on your homepage?

Your website design, logo, the color theme – in short, the look and feel of your blog.

According to Reboot Online, 65% of people are primarily visual learners who perceive things by looks before exploring them any further.

So make sure your blog has a modern outlook and is compatible across different devices and platforms. You can use a premium responsive WordPress theme or hire a freelance designer from UpWork or 99Designs (especially for logo design) to get started.

Here's what a good, clean and professional design looks like.


“But Jawad, why should I listen to you? Seth Godin, Google and so many other influencers and brands have ugly blogs and they still get millions of readers”.

I know that voice in your head.


Seth Godin is a well-known celebrity author and an authority marketer. He doesn't need a good looking blog to make an impression on his followers. They already know what he has to offer.

You're no Seth Godin and in this post, I'm talking about making an impression on complete strangers not people who already know you.

But one thing that shapes your brand image, even before a visitor looks at your design, is your domain name. If you're trying to build a long-term business, choose a URL that resonates with your brand name.

You can use this really useful business name generator tool by FreshBooks or go through different domains listed on a branded domain marketplace to find ideas for your URL.


An ugly design can quickly turn away visitors from your blog, even before they hear what you have to say.

Here are some fabulous blog designs to give you more inspiration.

2. Offer premium content for free to win people over

Do you know the secret to winning the hearts of your readers?

Let me say this loud and clear: offer unbelievably useful content for free.

Yes, I said free.

And I'm not talking about good content. I'm talking about insanely useful and jaw dropping content.

“Why the hell would I do that?”

Because doing that even once can give you dozens, if not even hundreds of loyal subscribers.

Your content can be an eBook, a video series, a blog post, a knowledge base or anything useful really.

Shopify is a brilliant example to follow.

They not only create mind blowing blog content regularly, they've set up a huge encyclopedia for small businesses which contains everything a small business owner needs to know about doing business online.


Neil Patel, another great example, creates 5000-6000 word blog posts every other day. Every one of his blog posts can be sold as a premium eBook, but he gives them away for free.

Why wouldn't people love him for doing this?

But just because a piece of content has 5000-6000 words doesn't mean it has quality as well. As a blogging consultant, I regularly see business blogs with really in-depth blog posts that fail to generate any engagement.

Why? Because they write about the wrong things.

You can't write a billion words praising your own products and expect people to take you seriously. Blogging isn't about directly promoting your own products or business.

It's about solving the problems of your ideal customers and offering them free actionable advice.

Here's a really good example of a conventional business, a medical supplies company to be exact, using its blog the right way.


Image Source: Vive Health

Instead of writing about their products, they're blogging about the problems of their ideal customers and offering free solutions in their content.

If this piece of content helps a blood pressure patient find relief, guess the first company they'll contact when they need medical supplies or instruments?

That's how you win people with great content.

3. Win the trust of your readers with social proof

You land on the blog of a digital marketing consultant and the first thing you notice of their blog is the “Featured In” section that mentions names like HubSpot, MarketingProfs, Search Engine Journal and Moz.

What's your first impression?

Must be an expert, right?

That's what social proof does to your blog visitors.

Even if they've never heard your name before, a testimonial from a leading industry figure or a publication will force them to take you seriously. They'd assume you're an expert and give your content much more respect.

You'll find this strategy in action on almost every influencer's blog (including Jeff).


If you look closely, however, you'll notice another subtle social proof used on Jeff's blog


16 million readers! What else does a stranger need to take him seriously?

There are several ways to get your name on other authority sites.

The most common, and the most effective one, is guest blogging. Simply identify the top blogs in your niche, study their content style, create an epic blog post and offer it to your target blogs for free.

Easy, right? Not really.

Top-tier blogs receive hundreds of guest post pitches every single day, but they accept only the best ones. So to make it through to their editorial calendar, you need to create a high quality article – which of course requires a lot of time and effort.

An alternate approach is to connect with influential bloggers who are already writing for these authority sites and ask them to feature you in their articles. You can do this on platforms like Get Reviewed, which connects advertisers with influential bloggers.

MyBlogU and HARO are also great platforms to connect with brands and influencers who can help you feature on the top blogs and get the word out about your brand.

4. Create more infographics and video content to differentiate yourself

More than 2 million blog posts are published on the web every day.

You're not competing with all of them, of course, but that still gives you an idea of the amount of content, mostly useless, being published on the web.

So even if your blog post has lots of value, a random visitor might never read that far to find the hidden gems in your content.

Which is why you need to use more visual content to get noticed and get your message across quicker.

Research shows that content with visual gets almost 95% more views.


Infographics and videos, however, are two visual content forms that not only receive the highest engagement but also go viral more frequently than plain text based posts. However, creating viral infographics and videos is a science that involves lots of different factors. Thankfully, though, with so many free design tools like Canva, Visme etc. creating a high quality infographic isn't very difficult.

The same, however, can't be said about video content which still requires significantly more time, budget and effort.

But even if you don't have a large budget, even simple smartphone videos are good enough as long as you have something valuable to say.

In short, visual content could immediately put you ahead of your competitors and help you make a stronger impression on your audience.

5. Grow your own Facebook Group to create brand advocates

Ever since Facebook changed its algorithms and limited the organic reach of Facebook Pages, marketers have started focusing more on starting and growing their own Facebook Groups.

According to the recently released Facebook community updates, more than 1 billion people are now using Facebook Groups every month.


This approach has several advantages.

  • You can create a Facebook group and use it to position yourself as an expert.

  • You have complete control over the content and discussions in the group.

  • There's no limit on the organic reach of your posts – all group members see them.

  • You get a much better opportunity to directly engage with your readers, answer their questions and convert them into loyal followers.

But above all, a Facebook Group is a great place to build a tribe of raving fans for your brand. They're the brand advocates who will spread the word about your content and bring in more people to your Facebook Group and blog.

According to research, more than 82% of Americans seek recommendations from friends and family when making a purchase, making referrals and word of mouth one of the most influential forms of marketing.


The referral traffic generated from your Facebook Group already considers you an expert so there's a much higher probability of them taking action after reading your blog content.

You should also make a conscious effort to promote your Facebook Group on your blog. This will allow you to route the visitors coming from search engines to your group and engage them more regularly.

And, of course, a thriving Facebook Group adds to the social proof of your brand (which I mentioned earlier in the post).

Managing a Facebook Group requires time and effort so you'd need to use different social media automation tools to minimize manual work as much as possible.

Wrapping up

With so many new blogs popping up on the web every day, your target users are already overwhelmed with the content that's being thrown at them from every angle.

To stand any chance of catching their eyeballs, you need to convert your blog into a strong brand that not only contains supreme quality content, but also looks pleasing to the eye and is backed by tons of social proof.

That's the only way to stand out in this overcrowded blogosphere.

Guest Author: Jawad Khan is a content marketing consultant, a certified inbound marketer and a freelance blogger for hire. You can follow him on his blog, WritingMyDestiny and Twitter.

The post How To Make Complete Strangers Fall in Love With Your Blog appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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How To Make Complete Strangers Fall in Love With Your Blog