I don’t have it out for contracting businesses on Cape Cod – In fact I am friends with a few contractors and they’re amazing people – but I want to say that what’s in today will be very “out” tomorrow. Stop remodeling, redoing, tearing down, gutting or otherwise; think about it. Trends don’t last long – case in point – my very stylish architect friend said two words: “white paint” when she first saw my house 10 years ago. Last year she looked at the same features and said: “This dark wood is in now.”
My Cape Cod house did look a little like Holly Hobbie’s country farm when we first saw the place, complete with a wood stove, lots of wooden beams and the pseudo Colonial style furniture and decorations the previous owners had. But it was move-in ready, it was clean.
We didn’t have a budget to remodel, and frankly we didn’t see the need. I took the Holly Hobbie vibe and added bright local art and some colorful furniture and viola – the house looks gorgeous. I once read that homes built in the 1970s are the most difficult to sell. Sure lots of them are ugly or have some scary color combinations in the bathroom, for example. But I caution people who are really into appearances for appearances sake.
I have a friend who lost her home – yes you read that correctly – lost her home because she went into serious debt after a $30K bathroom remodel which she could not pay for. As Americans we live outside our means; we also like new, new, new. What is the dark underbelly of new, new, new? Well my friend losing her home and being homeless, for one. And landfills.
“According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) study, an estimated 8,000 lbs of waste is created from the construction of a 2,000 square foot home.” And wait for this stat – did you know that 30% of our landfills – 30% – are home renovation debris? Thats 30% of 250 million tons which was what the US had in landfills 10 years ago (probably lots more now). The environment, and ultimately our health and our children’s health, is paying for those glistening white kitchens. Homeadvisor.com where I got that stat also tells us that “buildings make up 40% of the energy and materials around the world”. I’ve linked to their site, if you are wealthy enough to do a massive remodel, or build a new home (why, why, why?) please for the sake of the rest of us who need clean drinking water, etc try to spend the extra bucks and make it a green remodel. The contractor will make more, and you may even save money. You will save the environment and get brownie points from Mother Nature. Please go green or don’t remodel your home.
When I talk about sustainability in this blog, I am not talking about rich people sustainability. Sure who wouldn’t love to have a three thousand dollar recycled wood dining room table, and a state of the art green home. I sure would. But I will let you in on a secret. I have bought furniture at Target. I am not concerned about dirty looks. Because it was what I could afford. I have bought rugs at discount stores. But those rugs have lasted for years. The thing about sustainability, it’s not about impressing someone, it’s about trying to be the best you can to save money and respect the environment. And sometimes even support local businesses if you can.
So for my Holly Hobbie house, I bought a gorgeous original art from these artists: John Tunney,Charles Harden, Sarah Holl. It wasn’t cheap. But damn it was worth it. I look at my original art every day. It’s like I live in an art gallery. I definitely have lots of cheap pieces though. I love kitschy stuff too. Sarah Holl had been working on pieces for Cape Cod Hospital maternity ward; they’re incredible huge, beautiful pieces. One had a tiny blemish, not noticeable really, and she gave it to me for a discount. I transformed my house from a 70s, brown wood, fake colonial style to a chic, modern, colorful home with art and color.
The house has great bones, in fact people often think it was built in the 1700s; it was built in 1979. It has wonderful high ceilings in some areas. Sure it has somewhat dated kitchen cabinets, but they’re real wood. I don’t need a $30,000 kitchen. The kitchen is fine. It works. I don’t want to add to our landfills, and honestly I don’t have the money for a new kitchen, or new bathrooms. I live with a few blemishes, a few scrapes, a few nicks. My house is kind of like me.
I live on Cape Cod, whose attributes, such as its environmental history and its current population, are misunderstood by many. This blog is going to be me learning, sharing and connecting with others about sustainability on Cape Cod, so I think it’s important to start with a clear view of what life on Cape Cod is like. Or at least my experience here so far. So here’s my spiel about Cape Cod’s people and nature.
Many friends of mine who don’t live here assume Cape Cod is a wealthy area. In fact 13.5% of children under age 18 live in poverty. The economy is largely a service economy, feeding and otherwise taking care of the people who might spend a few months or even just a few weeks or days here in the summer. Many – perhaps most – young people leave to find work elsewhere, our year round population is decreasing. I have contractor friends who want to grow their businesses but cannot due to lack of available labor, and have heard of many stores and restaurants who cannot find workers. Some of those friends say we have unemployed young people on Cape Cod, but they don’t want to work. You hear anecdotes about people who were let go of jobs due to drug problems, or who had new employees abruptly leave because they didn’t want to work – but I don’t have any real stats of how many Cape Cod kids are living in their parents’ basements eschewing work and playing video games. That would be an interesting study. We have a major opioid abuse and overdose problem, (Barnstable County is one of the 2 worst counties in the state of Massachusetts) which primarily affects working class people here according to a 2018 study by CACCI.
There are jobs on Cape Cod, maybe just not in your industry
Barnstable has been named the city with the second lowest poverty rate in the U.S. But 50% of the students in the Barnstable Public School District receive free or reduced-rate lunches. Like our US unemployment rate that – if you dig deep is actually meaningless but every President likes to brag about – this simply doesn’t add up. 27.8% – almost a third – of the population of Barnstable County is 65 or older. Spend some time with some of these folks, you’ll find out that many of them are snow birds who spend fall or winter through late spring in Florida or elsewhere. So when we take a deeper look we begin to see the real (or at least the year-round) Cape Codders. The people who don’t have a second home, but who struggle to pay the rent or mortgage for their first one.
I’ll give a couple examples. Say you’re a marketer, I know from Mass Employment data that there are two marketing jobs here each year. If you’re a software developer, my guess from scouring LinkedIn many times for a friend, there are probably maybe 10 jobs, at most. So if you do the math, there are 177K residents (not counting MV or Nantucket) over the age of 18 fighting for those 12 jobs. Now my math is a bit wacky I am no social sciences professional, but just trying to give an idea of what we’re looking at. Yes you might remind me that there are over 60K people, give or take, over 65 on CC – but if you’ve been reading the headlines lately something called “unretirement” has been growing where people return to work. 20% of Americans over retirement age are either working or looking for work. 1 in 5 workers will be 55 or older in 2020 – next year!! So there’s a lot of people and very few of certain types of jobs.
So I am one of those people fighting for those 2 marketing jobs. Spoiler alert – I haven’t had the luxury of getting one here on Cape Cod, and I tried off and on for about 8 years. Not surprisingly, Cape Cod is well known for (wink wink) hiring friends and family. I am a washashore – the name given to people who live full time on Cape Cod but who weren’t born here – so I won’t benefit from that nepotism. But it’s ok, it’s a tradeoff. I trade not being able to get a job in my field within 90 miles for the beauty and the nature, the peace and quiet.
Cape Cod is Heaven, At Least for Me
Yes, peace and quiet. I benefit from that. With all the ranting and raving about how Cape Cod is losing our young people – you won’t hear me complaining – I enjoy the quiet. I lived in a college town when I was way past college age. It had a great nightlife, was affordable and close to public transport (which honestly sucked 99% of the time so not sure why I am even including that as a benefit…). But that’s where the benefits ended. There was barf on the sidewalks, graffiti and trespassers in and on my building any given day, loud weeknight parties until 4 am (and my house had paper thin walls to boot), vandalism, decaying old apartment buildings that required thousands of dollars of maintenance, break-ins – yeah Cape Cod is a nice change of pace. The young people here – and this is not something I pulled out of the Cape Cod Times or some study – they are simply more respectful than any young people I have ever met. Many of them serve in the military, those kids are extremely polite. After dealing with the upper middle college kids in Boston who would sooner start a fight or urinate on my building than greet me with a ‘hello’, it’s a nice change of pace. All of the ones I have met work extremely hard, in landscaping, nursing, sales, fishing, offshore oil rigs, energy conservation, environmentalism, bartenders, servers, shopkeepers, retail clerks, grocery store clerks and entrepreneurs. These people – including me – are Cape Cod. We find a way to make a living – somehow. We love it here, we stay here year round and we especially love the fall, winter and spring. Something everyone seems to share, that feeling of your shoulders lowering as you breathe a sigh of relief when you drive over the Sagamore Bridge, that wink the bartender gives when she sees that the regulars are back at the bar (we hide in the summer.) Not all of us are treehuggers (like me), some of us really hate seals (definitely not me), but one thing we all agree on – we love Cape Cod passionately and wouldn’t trade it for the world.
A Wild, Rank Place
Picture beautiful wooded Cape Cod, it wasn’t always the paradise it is today – it was as desolate as an abandoned mall parking lot in the 1800s. Cape Cod was clear cut, for farming, homes and ship building, but mostly for wood to “boil seawater and extract salt that could be used to preserve cod for the Cape’s booming fishing industry”. This clear cutting radically changed the landscape, perhaps most notably on the Outer Cape. The book Cape Cod Modern describes the dunes of the Province Lands “they were woodlands just a few hundred years ago. Humanity’s appetite for lumber scraped them into bare dunes, which had to be manually replanted to keep the drifting sand from smothering Provincetown.” Cape Cod was industrial, it was made up of fishermen, people who worked the saltworks; the type of people who flock here now wouldn’t have been caught dead there. If you’re ever read Thoreau’s description of Cape Cod as a “wild, rank place” – he might have loved it – but most people avoided the marshy, mosquito infested Cape Cod like the plague. If you are familiar with the way artists started the rejuvenation of mostly abandoned neighborhoods in Boston and NYC and ultimately found themselves priced out – you would recognize the stories in “Cape Cod Modern” by Peter McMahon and Christine Cipriani – really interesting stuff about famous European architects and artists escaping persecution and finding a home in 1930s Cape Cod, places like Wellfleet and Truro. They made Cape Cod fashionable, and the trees growing back – beautiful nature recovering where it had been ravaged and destroyed – helped too. You might be surprised to know that New England and The Pacific Northwest are the most wooded areas left in the US. It’s no wonder we have seen the Black Bear, Coyotes (or coywolves) and all manner of wildlife never seen here since they (or their habitats) were all killed off and made extinct in the 1700 or 1800s. Everyone wants to be here!
So now we have all of these people who want to retire here. And of course the people who have 2nd, 3rd or 4th homes here. I ride by these homes on my bike, there are hundreds, thousands of homes that go unoccupied for months. It’s eerily quiet in these neighborhoods, in the one I ride my bike through it’s just me and the properties’ caretakers enjoying the gorgeous views and solitude.
I don’t mind people who live here just for a week or a couple months, without them we wouldn’t have the wonderful restaurants, and many people wouldn’t have jobs as Cape Cod is, after all, a service economy. I guess my main concern is that I hope we don’t remake the mistakes of the past. Overuse, misuse of land. There are some ponds that are toxic to humans and animals here. Our tap water is not safe to drink due to all the pollutants we have put in the water. I now buy spring water where I used to drink filtered water. My cat won’t drink the water, he has a better nose than I do. I plan on writing a few blogs about the water issue. It’s super complicated, but I want to know more. I am sure there are things we can do on a small scale to make a big difference.
People escape cities and even the burbs to live here, but then they try to make it into what they left, widening roads, cutting trees, pouring all manner of poisons into their lawns, overusing water by planting trees and flowers that aren’t naturally grown here, that don’t benefit birds or insects. Even sadder is those developers who want to destroy marshes. The more I learn about marshes, the more I realize that our loss of them is literally killing us – all for more development, more profits and more boring green lawns. The US Fish and Wildlife says: “Alarmingly, 22 states have lost 50 percent or more of their original wetland areas. California leads the nation, with an estimated 91 percent wetlands loss since the 1780s, while Florida has lost the most wetland acres of any slate-approximately 9.3 million acres-or 46 percent of its 1780s total.” Forget plant and animal diversity, you might not give two hoots about that – but think about all of the billions of dollars we will ultimately lose because we don’t have marshes to filter pollutants and improve water quality, absorb excess nutrients that lower oxygen levels in the sea or absorb heavy rainfall and reduce the magnitude of flooding from storms. Maybe all the destruction of marshes, mostly made into urban sprawl and farmland have something to do with the horrible wildfires, I don’t know but it dawned on me when I saw how badly we’ve destroyed them in California. Cape Cod is a wild, rank place, let’s try keep it that way if at all possible. I am going to try my best to show how one can live sustainably on Cape Cod with this blog.
As digital marketers, and particularly as content marketers, benchmarks are a necessary strategic tool. There are two main reasons why this is the case. Without knowing what people and organizations have been capable of achieving before you, there’s really no way to detect if the work you’re doing is on the mark. For example, take the question of whether social media marketing should be a priority or a ‘nice to have’. By getting information on what others have done in similar industries, you’ll get ideas on what might work for your company.The second reason for keeping up with industry benchmarks is to see – once you have put time into marketing efforts – what to expect for results. Ideally one is looking for marketing benchmarks BEFORE you do your marketing plans – however if you’ve dropped the ball on that – benchmarks can still be useful after marketing campaigns are over. Explanations of why something has done well or has bombed are much more credible when you can quote statistics.
For the purposes of this article I am going to focus on content marketing benchmarks, but the same ideas above are true for any sort of endeavor. Benchmark statistics in business are a great foundation on which to grow innovation, because when others have answered crucial questions before you, there’s no need to waste time on reinventing the wheel.
Content marketing benchmarks are difficult to find. You might think that they would be bountiful, as the world’s been doing “content marketing” for a while. But in fact, most marketers have not been able to measure their content marketing effectively, even multimillion dollar corporations. 88% of B2B marketers use content marketing, but only eight percent of marketers consider themselves “very successful” or “extremely successful” at tracking content marketing ROI. With these statistics in mind it’s not surprising that there aren’t a lot of examples out there.
Marketing agencies often have some great benchmarking stats, but unfortunately those statistics are often based on campaigns that market to marketers – who are a completely different type of consumer than say a CIO of a tech company or a CEO of a logistics firm.
What I have done for my own content and social media marketing campaigns is to piece together benchmarks – all related to content marketing – to try to get a good idea of what my goals and expectations should be, and what sort of marketing mix I should use. These benchmarks have helped me innovate and create some very successful content marketing and engagement over the past couple of years. They can be applied to any sort of B2B content marketing, from software to product sponsorships.
How long should my blog posts be? Depending on the topic of course 2500 words is recommended. No complex analysis needed here. If it’s relevant, people will read it – even 3500 words if those words are necessary and relevant. And my own experience backs up SerpIQ’s data.
When someone comes to my blog, should I expect them to behave the same way as when they come to my ecommerce site? Definitely not, the average bounce rates for blogs are – 70-98%. (Hubspot explains)
What channels should my site traffic be coming from? Check out these B2B Traffic sources (note this is for B2B websites, not blogs) (Hubspot)
How many visitors should I expect to my B2B blog? You can get an idea of how many site visitors to expect from Network Intellect (these stats aren’t for blogs unfortunately, and they’re based on fairly small companies):
B2B companies with
11-25 employees should generate approximately 270 visitors per week (1080 per month)
How many people should I expect to convert from my company’s blog? In-content links pointing to a signup page convert at about 1%-2%. This does not mean 1-2% of people will buy, it means 1-2% of people will click and sign up for – typically – an email list or whatever you have on offer. Here are more specific stats at Grow and Convert.
How are my competitors doing with their digital marketing and website traffic? You can type in any competitor and check out their stats here: https://www.similarweb.com/
Note: While some B2B companies have their blog as a section of their site, others have them as a completely separate site. So one needs to take that factor into consideration when using these stats.
In my second post about B2B Influencer Marketing for CMS Connected, I dive into what tools are available for both hands on and strategic B2B marketers to use for finding and utilizing influencers. A great deal of the information I came across in my search and discussions with software sales team members actually reminded me that one of the most important tools in the B2B influencer marketing arsenal has less to do with the ability to process raw digital data and more to do with the skillset required to utilize and transform that data to actual real results.
The content marketer
Several blogs I have read on the topic of B2B influencer marketing mention how great certain softwares are for saving time. What I might ask these bloggers is: “Just what is MORE important than connecting with customers when it comes to content marketing”? What we should be thinking about saving is not time, but our social reputation – which is maintained by authoritative and relevant engagement. Gone are the days when doing the “social media” was a task saved for the intern, and I must say the same about leaving your social engagement to a software tool. Best practices in content marketing, or really any successful marketing now, call for a real person at the other end of the Tweet; someone who is as much invested in their customers and what their customers are interested in as they are in the sale. That’s why I chose “marketers” as the #1 tool for B2B influencer marketing. The content marketer is ultimately the top tool in finding and nurturing influencers – software is of course necessary and can help but it should never be a substitute for real human interaction.
I have used some very expensive tools and some not-so-expensive tools for social media, and what I have found is good ol’ Twitter pretty much has you covered when you want to learn about your audience, engage with them and monitor if your efforts are working. While LinkedIn has taken away the ability to monitor the response of posts in LinkedIn groups, which used to be a very valuable tool for B2B content marketers, Twitter has consistently remained a valuable tool for B2B marketers over the past several years. The simple plugging in of a hashtag or keyword will give you volumes of information – from who the influencers are in that industry to what today’s breaking news is on the topic – something Google alerts or your inbox full of newsletters may miss – and that same hashtag will let you can see what your content marketing competitors are up to as well. The only thing you really can’t do in Twitter is set up future posts – this can easily be taken care of by a tool such as Hootsuite. More and more we are finding that setting up future Twitter posts is not necessarily the best way to do marketing, and there are some famous documented marketing fails on this point – so essentially using Twitter – not any elaborate or expensive tools may be the way to go, especially for smaller scale B2B marketing.
Little Bird is a tool that works – kind of like a Klout but in my opinion much
better – to find influencers on Twitter. Little Bird’s software created, before my eyes, what had taken me three weeks to do for one particular topic area. It honed in on just the right influencers – for a very sophisticated topic I will add – and gave me a great deal of information on each one. Pretty much all of the other information and analytics that their tool offered was relevant as well. For B2B industries where you have a new content marketer who doesn’t know much about the industry, I can see Little Bird as an invaluable tool. A note to marketing directors and CMOs out there – Little Bird won’t do the marketing for your team. It’s a portion of what a B2B content marketer needs in their toolkit to be successful. It’s the first tool I have come across that successfully did in moments what I did in three weeks.
The complete article can be found here (including some of the tools I researched that did not make the cut).
I haven’t written much for this marketing blog, it’s been fairly abandoned, since I have been so busy marketing. Honestly nothing has compelled me to try to add anything to the blogosphere in quite some time, until now.
I have been plugging along, coming up with my own ideas on how to create engagement on social media through trial and error for about two years. A recent Google search on the topic showed how little data and training there is out there to teach people how to effectively use social media. There are basic guides from 2 years ago like “what is a hashtag”. Perhaps everything is moving so fast, by the time someone writes a guide about it it has changed. Or perhaps people are just not using social media effectively for B2B. Either way, I have compiled a brief quide with a rather basic looking Powerpoint here at Slideshare. And what follows is a step by step guide on how to effectively use hashtags to promote your business on Twitter.
HASHTAGS ARE AN EFFECTIVE WAY TO EACH BEYOND YOUR FOLLOWERS, WHICH IS THE POINT OF MARKETING ON SOCIAL MEDIA, RIGHT? People are 55% more likely to RT posts with hashtags AND You can track which content is most popular much more easily when you use hashtags.
WHEN NOT TO USE A HASHTAG:
Do not cut short a really good quote or fact in your Tweet to put in a hashtag. The content of the Tweet should take priority. Think about it, the hashtag is there to promote your content – not the other way around. Do not use hashtags that no one else is using. Just putting a hashtag on a word, without knowing its relevance, is not effective. Not only will it not help promote your content, it could have the added effect of making you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Let me show you what I mean:
Here’s a Tweet from an article in Forbes: “These DARPA Darlings Just Raised $20M To Build A Super-Powered Google For The Internet Of Things via @forbes”.
Think about your audience in particular, but let’s say our audience is people who have the power to purchase your company’s software. These are some ideas – which of these tags would you choose? #DARPA, #Google, #DOD #seriesafunding?
NONE, IS THE ANSWER
One of the first things you should do, before you use a hashtag, is see if others, especially those you follow or are in your industry, are using it. This can be done with a 2 second search on Twitter. These tags are not incorrect, but they are way too broad to reach a very specific audience who, in this case – are CIOs, CTOs or Innovation Executives in large organizations. How, then, can you find the right hashtags?
COMMON SENSE AND CREATIVITY GO A LONG WAY.
Be specific. If you use #DARPA, you are going to reach people and businesses who Tweet about the military or the broad topic of tech. Try searching that tag on social, you’ll see how broad the audience is. The first thing you can do is put a hashtag right on that word #internetofthings or even better #iot. You’ve seen it before, it’s a popular hashtag in your industry. You do a search for #iot – people you follow– and see #bigdata and #datasecurity which are topics in the article. You could use #Google #DOD or #seriesafunding but again, you’d be reaching a very broad audience. The point of all this is selling a product to your known audience, so you really want to stay inside your customer base.
Once you’ve got #iot #bigdata and #datasecurity in there, you still have room for more text. How else can you promote this? Why not tell a little more of the story instead of using the stock Tweet that Forbes provides. You’re more likely to be ReTweeted. And make sure to use the writer’s handle. Add him to your list of #iot influencers, and he may even RT it to his followers! He’s certainly more likely to RT than Forbes will, although if your Tweet is really great there is always a chance a publication will RT. I can’t tell you right now which hashtag will work for your business – but you need to start somewhere. See which hashtags resonate the most with your audience, and use them accordingly.
WHEN TO USE A HASHTAG:
Any Tweet can benefit from a hashtag. Statistically, you are more likely to get ReTweeted with a hashtag. However the opposite proves true with overuse, misuse or misspelling of hashtags so be careful. When you load a Tweet with multiple hashtags, the rate of ReTweeting actually goes down. And if you use hashtags outside of your industry base, you will get impressions and engagement from non-relevant parties. Again, check to see if members of your community use the hashtag before you try out a new one. You will add no value, and if anything look unprofessional by using a completely random hashtag. Hashtags are a language, you wouldn’t walk up to someone with a word you invented, and expect them to understand you – don’t do the same with a hashtag! Try this exercise – sign into your account – think about a hashtag you’ve used that you don’t think others have used – and search for it.
USING A HASHTAG NO ONE ELSE USES.
This is my pet peeve, it really makes me cringe. You’re using a hashtag no one else is using to promote your blog or brand (not conference)? And you’ve been using it since 2014? Time to clean house. Think about why you’re using it: The marketing manager before me used it, we thought it was a cool way to promote the brand, we thought it was a cool way to promote the blog… The thing about a hashtag is that it’s a conversation, and if you’re having it alone – it’s less of a conversation than a broadcast that no one is listening to. Give it a break for now, you could be utilizing more effective characters in your Tweets.
NEW TO YOUR JOB AND NOT SURE WHAT YOUR INDUSTRY HASHTAGS ARE?
Ask your team for relevant keywords, and type them into Twitter. If you have industry lists in your Twitter account, see if any of influencers use particular hashtags and start to test them out. If you don’t have lists, jump in and read a bunch of industry articles and if the writers or the people in the articles are on Twitter, see what hashtags they use. Keywords will lead you to relevant accounts on Twitter as well. Check out a few to see what hashtags they use. Test and see which hashtags resonate with your audience. Identify 5 relevant hashtags to keep in your arsenal that will always or usually work with your content. These are usually synonymous with your website keywords. Don’t forget to be open to use others when appropriate, say you’re posting content which is slightly different from your norm but still of interest to your audience. Note: A hashtag that is popular now will change as the industry changes.
WHEN TO USE OTHER PEOPLES’ HASHTAGS?ALL THE TIME!
The content you create – whether it’s a white paper or a Tweet – needs to be crowd sourced to be effective. That means you’re using keyword and social research to figure out what your personas’ in your industry want and need. The same thing goes for a hashtag. You want to be joining the conversation as often as possible and an easy way to do so is using hashtags. So that means taking the journey we just did to optimize Tweets with hashtags – PLUS keeping an eye open to new hashtags too. Hashtags can lead you to new people to follow, new content and eventually new customers. If you’re ever unsure about a word’s meaning NEVER use it. Wikipedia and dictionaries are great – but best practices would entail you should check in with your product team or seasoned sales team member. They may have insight that can help. Using hashtag that only those “in the know” use can be powerful as only very relevant people will be using it.
WHEN TO USE YOUR OWN HASHTAG
Best Practices are that you should really only “make up” hashtags for conferences or contests. Hashtags have been around since the late 2000s so I think we all know some ground rules about creating them:
Not too long, not more than 2 words strung together is a good rule
For conference hashtags, using the commonly used acronym for it makes sense.
For new conference hashtags, if you can actually have a word or what sounds like a word, this is more effective than multiple consonants strung together
Using the year in the hashtag – SXSW16 – heightens excitement and interest
Make sure you’re not using an offensive word. The surprising thing though is that most of us seem to forget one of the most important things about creating our own conference hashtags – checking to make sure no one else is using them. If you absolutely need to, it’s probably ok to use a hashtag that a very small, one person company uses for an event 5 months after yours. If a huge company like Salesforce or Cisco is using it, don’t use their hashtag – no matter when their event is held.
HOW TO PROMOTE HASHTAGS
Live Tweeting updates from live sessions at company events can increase hashtag use by 40%. ReTweeting all mentions of your conference or brand hashtag both says a big “Thank You” to those who support you, and creates an awesome buzz in your Twitter feed.
Making sure the hashtag is readily available to everyone on all channels iscrucial. Get partners to commit to promoting with you: Work with your team to ask partners – especially Media partners – for Tweeting commitments as part of their contracts.
There is nothing sadder than a hashtag campaign that never gets promoted or used. How can we make sure our hashtags get their due? Hashtag contests (with the goal of simply getting that hashtag used) are a great way to promote events, and ultimately promote your brand. Here’s a way you can get really creative and have fun. Here are several ideas to promote your hashtag, whether it’s a contest or a hashtag you really want to make your own. SO, YOU REALLY WANT A UNIQUE HASHTAG? WELL YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO PROMOTE IT! HERE ARE 3 WAYS TO PROMOTE YOUR UNIQUE HASHTAG:
Prizes: Be unique and relevant to your audience. If you’re asking someone to use a hashtag, give something in return. Offer a prize that is relevant to your products or services in some way. A free iPad is unlikely to generate long term gains or brand engagement unless your company offers iPad related products or services! Partner with a company, product or service that has a buzz or some relevance to your audience for your prize. The more creative, unusual and interesting your contest is, the more likely you can cross promote to your media list for more promotion. For example, an industry publication will not write about a Free iPad you’re giving away, but if we create a cool infographic and have an interesting prize with a contest no one else has ever done before in the biotech space– they, and others, may take notice.
Give them a compelling reason to use it! You need to curate conversations on social, they don’t just “happen”. Just Tweeting one Tweet (or sending out one email): “Tell us your story” is unlikely to get much traction, even with a really good prize. Buzz usually doesn’t just happen, it needs to be crafted.
Brainstorm an interesting, very specific angle, create graphics and quotable social posts around your hashtag contest. Commission (or otherwise acquire) 3 social media influencers in your industry to tell their story to set up the buzz and begin use of the hashtag to entice others. Others will follow, as they will want to be part of the group and not miss out on the conversation. And as always, make sure you’re promoting the hashtag in emails, on all social channels and in signage.
Is your hashtag using you instead of the other way around?
So you’ve been Tweeting a unique hashtag for your blog or your brand and adding it to your Twitter posts for a while – it hasn’t quite caught on. #awsmsoftware What were your original intentions in using this tag? Did you want to have a unique brand imprint on Twitter besides your handle? Unfortunately it’s kind of chicken and egg – the hashtag no one uses will not help promote your blog or your brand like a commonly used hashtag will. You will have to use your blog or your brand to promote the hashtag – not the other way around – and then possibly it can become a “household word” at least among your audience. Optimize your posts, and once you get more impressions, mentions and ReTweets people will be excited to spread the word about your blog or your brand, and use those specific hashtags. Make sure you’re heavily promoting the hashtag on your blog and other channels. In the short term, it is much more effective to keep to using common industry hashtags and your conference hashtag. However, if you have the time and inspiration to create your own unique hashtag and promote it – in the long term it has potential for branding.
3 THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT HASHTAGS#
Use your followers, those you follow and influencers to source the correct hashtags for your industry.
A hashtag will only help promote your content if it is commonly used by those in your industry. Creating a new hashtag has no immediate effect to helping your Tweet, takes up valuable Twitter real estate, and in fact will require you to promote the hashtag outside Twitter to be at all effective.
Hashtags are very powerful. People are 55% more likely to RT your post if it uses a hashtag. By the same token, using hashtags incorrectly – ie. just slapping a pound sign on a word without thinking it through and proper research – may actually decrease your chance of getting engagement.
See a few more tips on using hashtags for Instagram, Facebook and other channels here.
Hot on the heels of Harvard Business Review trying to answer the question as to why B2B marketers say they’re even less effective at content marketing than they were in 2014, industry analyst and founder of Digital Clarity Scott Liewehr and marketing director Tyler Pyburn – hosts of the CMS Connected show – sat down with me to share ideas about the current state of digital transformation, specifically marketing’s role.
Without undergoing a digital transformation, you simply won’t make it
Daniel Newman wrote for Forbes late last year: “Your business may hang on to a core group of customers for a while, but without undergoing a digital transformation, you simply won’t make it.”
My take is that companies need to transform two major ways – looking outward in how they seek out technologies to utilize to be more productive – and inward how they adapt to the usage of technology – whether it’s their employees or their customers using that technology. Suddenly we have these amazing technologies that can save millions of dollars for large companies. I’ll give the example of say, a construction worker. Labor is 40% of construction costs and 29% of a worker’s day is spent idle waiting for permits. You get a mobile app you save the costs of about one day a week for every employee. It’s amazing people are still using paper.
In the case of say marketing it’s looking inward. Our customers are using technology in new ways all the time, and many of us are still marketing like it’s 2005. So we’re losing opportunities and our customers.
The third stage of embracing digital technologies
Some say what’s going on right now it actually a third stage of embracing digital technologies. The first two were: digital competence and digital literacy. Digital is not new, we’ve been using email and websites since the 1990s and 2000s. However, the key here is that now digital is a two-way conversation. With social media the consumer now demands to be part of the conversation. Most of us are still doing “old school” marketing, just using digital means. We’re sending emails and Tweets out, we’re showing consumers ads, just like we used to send brochures and buy newspaper ads. But digital transformation, this is a whole new ball game. It requires new ways of thinking and doing marketing, rather than simply enhancing and supporting the traditional methods.
1% of millennials trust the products in ads. They see them as not authentic. That’s why everywhere you go you hear about content marketing. You have content, and you have marketing. But when you put those two words together it transforms the meaning of both words. Content actually needs to be relevant to your customers (that’s where the marketing strategy comes in), and marketing actually becomes less about marketing and more about providing valuable information for your audience so they can do their jobs and make the right purchasing decisions, whether it’s your product, or someone else’s. It’s also about providing places they can get together and learn from their colleagues. We need to curate and nurture conversations now, be where the action is.
A truly disruptive time in marketing
We can tie back into this being the third stage of embracing digital technologies – it makes the whole idea of what “digital transformation” is fairly confusing. I think a lot of CEOs, companies think we have already done the “digital transformation” because we’re using email, blogs, paid digital media. It goes back to that two-way conversation. People overuse the term disruption but this really is disruptive. It’s not as clear as telling your team – ok we need to phase out flyers and mailings or telemarketing to focus on digital. Now we’re telling them – they need to completely rethink HOW they are Tweeting. The way they Tweeted in 2013, or even 2015 is not going to work. It can be frustrating on both ends, like those who are evangelizing cannot understand those who want to keep things the way they are and the other way around.
There are some positives around these challenges though. In a McKinsey and Company article last month James Bilefield called digital transformation a Trojan horse for a much broader business transformation, “a time to review many aspects of a business’s operations from top to bottom—the talent, the organizational structure, the operating model, even products and services” and this rings true to my experience. Digital transformation is like the ultimate desiloization process for organizations, it gets everyone talking to each other and sharing ideas and resources and that is invaluable.
Technology needs to keep up with the new ways we’re marketing
It’s actually shocking how quickly you can see results of it when you apply best practices such as Joe Pulizzi’s (founder of the Content Marketing Institute) 4-1-1- rule – however the flip side of this is that again we are still trying to figure out how to use technology to measure some of these fairly new practices and prove that they eventually become leads. If you think about it, software that measures marketing KPIs has been completely designed for very traditional “push marketing” such as tracking visits back to product websites. It is not surprising that it is not easy to measure say – the free sharing of third party content or engagement marketing – because those technologies simply weren’t set up to!
Adaptability is key in the current workplace
You need have a lot of humility. What you see as best practices can vary – or certainly needs to bend on occasion – and you need to be open to listening to teams. Even as the expert in content marketing, if you don’t listen to the traditional marketing and product teams you will lose out.
You need to constantly be educating yourself about the newest trends and be agile – again there’s the humility – being aware that things are constantly changing and what you thought you knew about your audience, or certain marketing channels, it’s probably changed radically in the past six months!
James Bilefield talks about “putting a designer on your executive team, like we have at Apple now, or even making a designer your CEO, as Burberry has recently done.” We’re going to see more organizations hire journalists as marketers. Nontraditional skill sets – or a mix of disciplines – are becoming more valuable there’s a kind of a multidisciplinary approach that’s becoming valuable to employers.
McKinsey says that building a culture of constant change – and getting outside your comfort zone – is key to success. Getting that type of entrepreneurial employee, who has a real desire to make things work and is driven to combat challenges by coming up with original solutions– because right now we’re in such early stages with content marketing you’ve got to be inventive – this is the type of person you want to think about hiring.
A Forrester report last year said that only 5% of organizations feel they have mastered digital to a point of differentiation from their competitors. It’s really a whole new language for marketers to learn. When we transitioned from ads in the newspaper or mailings to email, we used the same methods just with new media. Now we really are turning everything completely on its head. Suddenly, it’s not about putting yourself in front of the competitor, it’s acknowledging your competitor exists, and even, in some cases, providing information about your competitor to educate your audience. This sort of thinking is really a complete 180, but we don’t really have a choice if we want to compete as organizations.
If you’re not growth hacking, you’re not marketing
If you haven’t growth hacked, it’s not because you’re missing some secret recipe – it’s because you either lack faith in your strategy or the desire to work long hours on largely untested methods. Growth hacking is about pushing forward, with little or no budget and lots of data – data you’ve compiled about your customers, competitors and your product. Where do you get this data? It’s out there, for free, but takes those long hours I mentioned above and lots of determination to find. When you take this data and create relevant content, it creates a valuable trail of information for potential searchers to find you, and gives you a very robust online presence.
Most growth hackers, or at least the ones who you hear about, are guys. I think however that girls make great growth hackers. We often have to work harder to be respected, so the hard work comes naturally. We also often handle budgets at home, and make a small amount of money go a long way – whether it’s with groceries, clothing and other stuff. Science tells us that women are more intuitive than men, and growth hackers often have to make split decisions based largely on intuition about which strategy or paid advertising channel you can spend your limited budget and time on. Some industries, for example, simply don’t have benchmarking data on which marketing methods work…here’s where the educated guesses come in. If a certain strategy works for B2B marketing for example and has not been proven in B2C – should you try it – and how should it be adapted?
One trait that all growth hackers need to possess is “guts”. You need to be pretty positive and pushy when it comes to growth hacking, as tested methods – however expensive and ineffective – are just easier for most boards of directors of companies to digest. If you’re lucky, your VPs are on board with your strategies – if not it pays to educate others on your team in order to convert them. There are lots of benchmarking facts and figures out there on inbound and content you can use as ammunition for your cause. Once people learn about the effectiveness of content marketing, they are usually pretty excited.
Ready to get growth hacking in 2015? Here are the top online marketing growth hacking tools I’ve used in 2014. They are all free or cheap.
Google: Whether you’re collecting information about your competitors or creating content in order to be competitive – you’d be surprised at what you can find on Google. The right keyword combinations have given me access to major studies (Gartner, Forrester and more) when I worked in the consumer packaged goods space that some organizations had purchased for thousands of dollars and posted online. Instant free research!
Google Analytics: If you don’t have Google Analytics on your site you’re missing out on valuable data. With free training that can both help your skills and look good on your resume, Google Analytics is an invaluable tool. They have begun adding tools that mimic marketing automation – for example there is the link tracking tool that can give you a way to A/B test and optimize based on call to actions.
Google AdWords: Google AdWords is not free per se – you need to bid on keywords and pay for clicks – however it is a great way to learn about the audience for your product. Additionally, branded keywords for small brands are often quite cheap. More visibility, whether it is organic or paid advertising, means more credibility for your brand.
Free Graphics tools (Photoscape, Microsoft Paint, Adobe PDF creator in Microsoft Office): You don’t need to hire a graphic designer, unless your product is related to graphic design or your audience is uber sophisticated and expects high level graphic design. Marketing agencies like Hubspot even have free templates to create infographics. If you can write good copy, you can create quick cheap graphics for free. Tip: stay away from trying to look “modern” or polished as it will definitely look bad if you’re not a real designer. Embrace the cheese – use “vintage” looking graphics such as stock images in Microsoft Word inventively and consistently. See how I have taken this advice with my infographics here. I would also recommend turning all of your graphics into an Adobe PDF – it just looks more polished.
Free Social Tools: TrueSocialMetrics, Hootsuite, Social Mention, Meltwater, Enjoygram (for Instagram), Twitter search. From my experience, paid marketing automation tools often lack a good way to track social media (at least the cheaper ones do) so B2C companies with a small budget actually don’t miss much by foregoing paid marketing automation tools for free social media tracking tools. Practice makes perfect, and you’ll learn by doing. Combine Google Analytics link tracking with your social media promotion to get a good picture of how your calls to action and other strategies are working.
Lastly why did I call this post “Growth Hacking for Girls” – well why not. This article is really about growth hacking for anyone, but I have noticed there isn’t much out there for the ladies who growth hack or want to growth hack, so I thought it might be nice to create a post specifically for us. Also, the title itself is a growth hack – I am testing the effectiveness of a keyword “growth hacking for girls” in a very uncrowded space.
Recently I came across a discussion on LinkedIn regarding online grocery shopping that really got my goat. The individual in question was actually an analyst for a very well respected research firm, making a sweeping statement about people that had no basis in truth. In fact, the statement was that women in India – where he is from – will never shop online for groceries because they would miss out on the social aspect, plus, he added, they are not web savvy. A quick Google search brought up the interesting statistic that, in fact, housewives and college students are the top mobile users in India according to Telecom Watch. Add to this the phenomenon of mobile creating a need for new goods not readily available at small rural shops and you have a perfect recipe for online grocery’s success. While my idea of the inevitability of online grocery may seem like a stretch – at least my ideas have some basis in real research – not pure opinion.
I was very curious, having read about online grocery, at how much people were actually spending on online grocery and at what online grocery sites they were spending their money. Only a handful of global grocery retailers have released their annual figures – for most online grocery is fairly new. Also, a handful of the top 25 grocery retailers in the world do not offer eCommerce to their customers. So I took Boston Consulting Group’s $36 billion figure and the estimate (3%) of online grocery’s contribution to revenue and deciphered this chart, showing how big a piece of the pie each grocery retailer has of the online space. It is by no means perfect, but since actual figures for most have not been released – it provides a rough idea of who the top online grocers are. You can read more details about the top online grocery trends happening Globally here in my new Slideshare.
The findings of Kantar’s Worldpanel Brand Footprint Ranking surprised me last year, when I was just starting to learn about Global Consumer Packaged Goods brands. In my blog for Clavis Insight I described my experience learning about the significance of the brand Maggi for the first time. I wrote in June 2013: “The #1 status of Maggi reflects the world economy, where China is the world’s most populous country with the fastest growing economy. China’s ecommerce sales grew 65% between 2011 and 2012 and it is set to overtake America’s according to a recent report by the China Internet Information Center (reported in TechCrunch).”
These were foreboding statements. First of all, China has overtaken the US in eCommerce sales; secondly populations in China and the continent of Asia are indeed growing, and increasing their spending both offline and online – but they’re actually spending more on regional brands than ever before.
Kantar Worldpanel’s Brand Footprint Ranking 2014 report states: “For global food and drink brands…achieving …local domination in Asia is difficult. Local Asian brands in the Brand Footprint ranking grew at 3.1%, faster than the growth for global brands in the region (2.6%) and ahead of Latin America (1.2%). Globally, the world’s most chosen FMCG brands grew their footprint by 1.7%.”
The 10 Most Chosen Brands in Asia revealed by Kantar Worldpanel’s Brand Footprint study, followed by their consumer reach points in millions, are:
1. Colgate 2,111
2 Mi Sedaap 1,902
3 Indomie 1,820
4 Lifebuoy 1,652
5 Nescafé 1,328
6 Pantene 1,022
7 Kapal Api 944
8 Maggi 940
9 Surf 922
10 Lux 913
The Kantar study continues: “In China, foreign brands lost share in 15 out of 26 categories, notably in oral care, cosmetics and juice. As Chinese businesses become more market-oriented they are leveraging their extensive knowledge of consumers’ lives and acting boldly in response to local trends to establish a strong brand affinity.”
What I speculate here is that eCommerce could be a factor in this loss of market share. Kantar briefly discusses digital in its report, predicting that online consumer packaged goods sales will rise to 5.2% of the market by 2016 in the UK, France, US, China, Spain, Taiwan and South Korea. There is simply no research – or at least egrocers and eCommerce sites have not released it yet – on exactly what percentage of their consumer packaged goods sales are online Globally. (Note: Tesco is an exception, they are one of the first egrocers to have released their online grocery sales.) If Kantar had those numbers they might learn that eCommerce may be disrupting the growth of Global consumer packaged goods brands. Why?
Take a look at my brief report “Online Grocery Shopping in Asia” – on slide 14 in bold print I write “Most eCommerce occurs on digital marketplaces.” Consumers are buying consumer packaged goods at those digital marketplaces, and this is most likely aiding in the 3.1% growth of local Asian brands. No one has the exact numbers right now, but the evidence is right there. John Fang of the China market research group describes the current scenario: “Worries about pollution may be making consumers shift to online shopping even faster. So brands absolutely need an online presence to reach their customers where they are looking to buy.”
A quick walk through the business section of a fairly reputable bookstore left me empty handed this past week. (Yes, I still read books, it’s a nice break from the screen I look at most of my waking hours.) I was looking for a book or books on China or Asia, specifically on the way people in China interact with the web (specifically digital presentation) and how it differs from Americans or Europeans. I found lots of books about digital marketing, but nothing specifically about China or Asia. Just like writing about online grocery, ecommerce in emerging markets is still a relatively new field.
A quick Google search brought up a few statistics and case studies about online grocery in Asia – which I have compiled into a short presentation. You can see the presentation at my Slideshare page here.