Best Algorithm Wins

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The age of AI is upon us. As marketers, we must embrace it. If we do, and if we can find the opportunities to use artificial intelligence to our company’s advantage, there will be nothing but success in our future.

Those who don’t, those who fight back against the changing tide, who insist on doing things the old way, are going to quickly find themselves out of a job. They will be passed over for promotions, will lose existing responsibilities to machines and those who realize their power, and will either go down with the sinking ship that is their company or will be shown the door as their company moves into the future without them.

It’s no longer a question of IF, it’s a question of WHEN. How soon will the algorithms come for your job? Or, put in a more optimistic way, how soon will the algorithms make you better at your job?

First Mover Advantage and AI

The algorithms that will help us become better marketers will help us in a number of ways – from targeting new users to optimizing our offers and pricing. But regardless of what they will do for us, there is one thing that bonds them all. They need data to function. They need data to learn, to grow, and to succeed. That is why there is such a large first-mover advantage in AI.

Those companies with the greatest capabilities at the end of the day will be the ones that are investing in those capabilities right now. If you come late to the party, you may be permanently at a disadvantage. That is because your competitors will have better algorithms than you do, trained on more data, over a longer period of time.

When We All Have AI

When all companies in a place are using artificial intelligence to their advantage, it becomes a question of whose algorithm is best. And there are a number of factors that will come into play:

  • Who has the larger data set?

  • Whose algorithm has been around longer?

  • Who has trained out the initial bugs best?

These are still early days of implementation of machine learning and other technologies in the marketing space. It’s not too late to claim that first-mover advantage.

But what should you do now to set your company up for success in the future?

How to Move Your Company Forward with AI

There are a number of things you can do today that will help your company succeed in an AI-driven future:

  1. Do your research. Find out what other companies are already doing. Talk to experts, attend conferences, and network. There is a lot to learn, and people will spend their whole lives learning the intricacies of this new science. So don’t expect to pick it all up or become an expert overnight. But you can become the go-to source for information and innovation in your organization.

  2. Make the case. Once you have a basic understanding of how companies are going to be using these new technologies to improve their marketing, it’s time to loop in the decision makers. To get them on board, give them real-life examples. How will your company save money? Grow revenue?

  3. Partner with early-adopters. There are a lot of big companies out there that are already making gains with these new technologies, and they are willing to collaborate if it makes good business sense. A great way to get started is to take advantage of the tools that these first-movers produce, and partner with them to expand your own capabilities.

5 Ways to Tell Your Brand’s Stories on Social Media

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The following is a guest post by Al Gomez. Al is a digital marketing consultant. He is the President of Dlinkers, and he specializes in SEO, PPC, & web development since 2008. Al has over 10 years’ client digital marketing experience and has helped businesses such as Dr. Berg, Patexia, Panel Wall Art, the Ritz Carlton, and countless others use the web to drive online visibility and generate leads.

Storytelling on social media is all the rage nowadays…

As consumers and target audiences trust sales pitches and product descriptions less and less, there is a greater need for brands to up the ante when it comes to engagement. Technology has evolved so much that interacting with brands have never been easier. But horrible experiences also abound. (Need I mention what they are?)

There is a solution to this kind of predicament, and it comes in the form of storytelling.

Storytelling and Human Nature

We’ll discuss storytelling and psychology in just a minute…

But first, and foremost, let me ask this question.

As a child, how fond of storytelling were you? In any shape, method, or form, any child would have been fascinated with the stories that they heard (or read; or seen). And even as an adult, that love for hearing stories hasn’t diminished. Although it’s morphed into a different form, the affinity that we have for hearing an introduction, a climax, and a resolution hasn’t changed at all.

Now, let’s step back from the modern era for a bit…

Imagine how people of the old days lived their lives. Without technology, how did people entertain themselves?

They played games, listened to music, and yes, they told stories. Lots of them.

In the words of Psychology Today's Pamela B. Rutledge Ph.D., M.B.A., "Our brains still respond to content by looking for the story to make sense out of the experience. No matter what the technology, the meaning starts in the brain."

Why, you might ask? Simply put, stories are the perfect example of authentic human experiences.

Stories are so powerful because:

  • It is a form of communication. It's very primitive, and yet, it has transcended the generations.

  • Stories represent a larger self and universal truths.

  • They are all about connection and collaboration.

  • Stories are how people think. It's how we make sense of life, isn't it?

  • It's how, we, as humans are wired.

  • ●       They trigger our imagination by engaging the right brain.

Is it such a big wonder why a lot of brands take to storytelling on social media?

Storytelling Formats on Social Media

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Thanks to technology evolving above more than what we had hoped for, brands and marketers no longer have an excuse to create stories that are bland and unappealing…

There are so many methods to tell stories nowadays, that it’s just up to us to delve deeper and come up with creative methods to indulge our viewers and audiences in our storytelling.

Besides technology (ranging from smartphones to virtual reality headsets), the number of platforms to share these stories have also increased in number (from print to stories on search engines to ones on social media networks).

Telling your brand’s stories on social media can be done through:

  • Videos: It’s how people prefer to consume content nowadays.

  • Images: A nod to visual content once again.

  • Posts: Something motivational or inspirational. Even captions do excellent work and pack a punch when combined with visual content.

  • Podcasts: Audio appeal, and a good way for people to entertain themselves while doing other things.

How to Tell Your Brand’s Stories on Social Media

The formats and the method of distributing your compelling stories matter, of course. But none are as important as the message you wish to convey to your target audience. What do you want your target audience to know? How do you want them to feel? What do you want them to do afterwards?

To evoke certain responses from your chosen audience, here are five methods to tell your brand’s stories on social media.

#1 Show real people

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In today's mode of storytelling, it's best to show real people working behind the company -- not just the brand logo or the company name (though that’s important too). From the first to the last link of the business.

Showing what goes on behind-the-scenes is no longer breakthrough news -- by any means. But showing what happens within the company walls, and how products are made -- or how services operate conveys more than authenticity. It fosters transparency and honesty.

Do you know how you can make it even better?

You can spice up your storytelling by letting members of team tell a story from their point-of-view. That's how you show different perspectives, and display your brand in a bright light, at the same time.

With full discretion, don't hesitate to show the big life-changing events happening in your company. From something as simple as an office renovation to events as grand as a product launch.

Tell your audience all about it!

#2 Uncover Your Origins

Another classic method of doing your storytelling -- or a good material you should use, is your company's complete background information. History isn't always the most interesting to a lot of people. But in this case, it's safe to say that it's an exception.

It's especially beneficial if your brand has been around a while, and it's been gradually gaining a lot of engagement. That's a perfect time to share company history with an audience who's interested in learning the company's beginnings.

Company histories are authenticity and encouragement rolled into one. It's you telling your audience that reaching your dreams is perfectly possible.

It's the business version of a Disney fairytale…

#3 Encourage User-generated Content

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Do you know what's more valuable and engaging than your own stories? Your audiences'.

User-generated content comes in three different forms:

  • Customer feedback: That's the most common type of user-generated content. It fosters engagement as your customers ask questions and get answers in return -- either from you or your other clients.

  • Reviews and ratings: These are more straightforward. And they come in either positive or negative. Numerous studies show that peer reviews go a very long way to up your business' credibility.

  • Pictures and screenshots: Pictures for B2C; screenshots for B2B. Image-proof goes a long way and is as powerful as the first two UGCs mentioned. It complements the other two, and adds another level of trust and transparency to the brand.

Encouraging and magnifying user-generated content tells a story all its own. And the best part? It's a story from your customers or clients that tells others how they feel about your business and your product; how they see it, and how they interpret the message that your business advocates.

#4 Highlight Your Corporate Social Responsibility or Advocacy

There's a thin line between tooting your own horn to look good, and sharing company resources with others while genuinely caring for the people and living things who need special assistance. When you're involved in doing social responsibilities, tell your audience about it.

Only do it, however, if you truly do care about a particular cause. Don't do it for the wrong reasons...

However, showing your target audience and the world that you have a stand on a particular issue shows everyone that you have values and advocacy that you uphold. Consequently, it’s a message that reflects in the products that you sell as well.

#5 Get Meme-ing

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There's an underdog among social media marketing methods. I won't ask people to hazard a guess, because I'll come right out and say it anyway...

Ladies and gents, we are living in an age of memes -- the most popular form of expression online and an integral part of pop culture. We'd be fools to ignore this marketing tactic any longer.

There's no long list of reasons for companies to start using memes. In fact, there's probably only two that will sum it up completely.

First, and foremost, memes fit seamlessly into social media platforms so well. They spread like a wildfire -- as a result. Second, humans these days are characterized with short attention spans. A meme's upfront nature makes it the perfect medium for quick consumption.

Memes are like inside jokes everybody wants to be in on. Why is it so popular among brands? The answer is simple; because they drive traffic and engage the target audiences simultaneously.

Make references to popular culture (The Avengers, ridiculous social issues, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, music stars, etc.) tastefully and tactfully, and you'll be surprised at how much people like it -- as long as its really funny and it's something everybody relates to, of course...

There's also inside memes. Jokes that revolve around your niche are a good way to catch your audience's attention.

Just Take It from Influencers

And when you go back to the root of it all, just take the time to learn from the experts of social media influencing and the basics of marketing…

A lot of mega influencers know how to play their marketing games, and how to engage the audience so flawlessly.

  • By 2019, there will approximately be 2.77 billion social media users worldwide.

  • 84% of consumers make purchases after reading about it (Scrunch).

  • 83% of consumers trust peer recommendations over branded advertising (Nielsen).

They’re not exactly influencers for nothing!

What kind of story do they tell, you ask?

They tell stories of their lives with every social media post. With every life update… In every vlog they do, they tell stories. In some cases, they even stir up drama. And what does the internet do? It consumes it and everybody participates.

I’m not saying you should start a brand scandal or drag an opposing brand to start drama to generate engagement and attention.

The main point I want to drive home is the importance of storytelling…

In Conclusion

Telling your brand's stories on social media is commonplace, and it's everywhere! Storytelling is that kind of entertainment format that hasn't diminished in quality (only increased). Moreover, it's transcended time, and will continued to do so in the generations to come.

A lot of brands nowadays understand that a lot, and everyone is called to constantly adapt. So what's the key?

For 2019 and beyond, storytelling on social networks is the thing. And doing it effectively comes with audience research, creativity, and clever strategizing.

5 Ways Social Media Can Wreak Havoc on Your Business

The following is a guest post by Diana Smith. Diana is a full time mom of two beautiful girls covering the good and the bad of today's business and marketing. When she is not being to serious and busy she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

It’s not until a brand starts experiencing customer wrath on social media that it would even consider this godsend of a marketing tool to be a potential risk to your business. Unfortunately, as with many things in life as well as business, it’s a double-edged sword; one with the potential to help you conquer the realms of your industry, and one to gloriously self-destruct in the effort to succeed.

The potential benefits and profit that your brand can earn from a solid social media approach most certainly trump the potential poor outcomes, but knowing how to handle or preferably prevent some of the issues may actually be the key to help your brand thrive.

Before one of your novice social media managers causes a company-wide fiasco, or you come across a particularly feisty customer publicly ruining your reputation one post at a time, read on and learn about the best ways to prevent disasters in the world of social media and what to look out for.

Negative reviews

Mind the plural, because a single poor comment on your Facebook post, or a customer with a mildly dissatisfied tone will not truly be any cause for alarm. These simple, somewhat common situations are relatively easy to handle if you have a contingency plan in place, and a way to repay and apologize to the customers in question. More often than not, such a gesture is enough to make things right; even if they might not be a return buyer for your brand, at least there is no permanent damage to your image.

On the other hand, if negative posts, tags, comments and reviews start getting disseminated quickly, this can turn into a wildfire that may just be the one to turn your brand to dust. An ignored complaint can transform into a rant in an instant, while a single unhappy client may cause an uprising in social un-follows for your company. You need to be prepared and your social teams educated to handle complaints and negative reviews, otherwise they are bound to backfire.

Poor branding

With the rise of memes, animations such as gifs, and the relaxed tone of voice that is prevalent on many social networks (sometimes even LinkedIn), there is a time and a place for everything. Depending on your company’s list of services or products, your own language and types of posts can vary from slightly quirky to completely informal, but they should still retain the essence of your brand.

Your business social profiles are not the appropriate channels for expressing personal beliefs, as that will most likely lead to alienating your customers. A great (or terrible is more like it) example would be the KitchenAid tweet during a presidential debate, which was mistakenly posted from the brand’s page, not the personal one of the employee. While they mitigated the crisis quickly, it’s a valuable lesson for many brands out there to keep their professional and their personal thoughts separate.

Ignoring social mentions

It’s commendable that a brand should spend ample time on crafting, fine-tuning, and delivering a slew of consistent, well-branded posts, and make sure that the company is posting such content on relevant networks for their audience. Providing value should be the first and foremost goal of any social media strategy, but even the most experienced of companies should embrace the learning curve and hear what their customers and users have to say. Not doing so can actually result in missed opportunities, mishandled issues, or ones not handled at all.

The fact that approximately 60% of Australia’s population is on Facebook caused brands Down Under to begin implementing their social listening strategies more wisely, and the rest of the world follows suit. The sheer volume of active individuals using social mention monitoring tools can prevent full-scale crises and make the most of any brand mentions across the social realm.

Timing can be everything

While there’s no indication that an institution such as the NRA can get shut down after a poor social media move, there is so much any other commercial brand can learn from them when it comes to social blunders.

With a whole record of poorly-constructed tweets, some of them posted right after another mass shooting, or in an equally sensitive moment for the nation and the world, they are the perfect example of when not to post self-promotional, insensitive posts. It’s not just about following trends and taking care of being up to date with the latest events, but also delivering a brand image that will resonate with your values.

While there is a multitude of “dos” to utilize social media to do good, support your brand’s growth, and help your customers discover your business, it’s equally vital to know the “don’ts” imposed by common sense, as well as best practices on social media. Master them, and you’ll be able to prevent numerous crises, ensure long-term relationships and inspire loyalty.

How People Read Content Online - Statistics and Trends

The following post was written by Asad Ali. Asad Asad Ali is a digital marketing expert having more than 8 years of experience. Currently he is working at GO-Gulf – a website development company based in Dubai, where he has worked on numerous eCommerce SEO projects & successfully run digital marketing campaigns.

Now people don’t read the online content in the way they do years before. Knowing about the behaviors and interests of your online readers is significant in order to optimize the digital content accordingly. Eventually you have put so much effort in generating top quality content but still, you are complaining about low user's engagement, the main reason is the changes that occur in the reading habits. Now, most of the people only emphasize scanning the content rather than reading through the whole web page.

After creating the content it is significant to share it on social media platforms, as without much exposure no one will get aware with the presence of the content.

Users communicate with the content in the form of skimming, scanning, and reading. People also get attracted to the content of their interest. A relevant and context-based content that resonates with the user's area of expertise appeals more, as people tend to read about the things they love the most.

From the year 2000 to 2018, it is estimated that the rate of reader’s attention towards the content has gradually decreased from 12 seconds to 8 seconds.

In the presence of huge information in the form of web pages, only 55% of the web pages get noticed for 15 seconds.

It is also observed that the left half of the web page gets more concentration by the users than the right half, as 69% of them get prompted towards left half and only 30% towards the right.

80% of the reader’s attention is towards the information present above the fold and only 20% get interested in the information present below the fold.

The readers who keep on reading the content from a web page for three minutes are likely to return back as compared to those who only bother to read it for just a minute.

For an individual post, a reader only conceive 20% of the whole information present on the web page, however, only 10% to 20% make it to the bottom of the page.

When it comes to the brand identity, 25% of the users who get engaged with a web page that is related to any brand for more than 15 seconds, the chances are they can remember its name for long, as compared to those who only spend 10 or less number of seconds.

The stories on the web pages that are more elaborate, having more than 1000 of word count; get more users’ retention than those with less number of words.

You can find more facts and statistics in the infographic below that is composed by Go-Gulf.

The 5 Most Important Things You Can Do for Your Business Before January 1st


The end of the year looms. And after it, the start of a brand new year.

This is a time of year when many retail and B2C companies are watching the holiday orders come in, fretting about inventories and shipping obstacles, and measuring to figure out the ROI on sales and promotions they ran in the fourth quarter.

But someone has to also be thinking about the future. Holiday sales are all but locked in by now. And your first quarter sales must be earned.

With that in mind, here are five things marketers and small business managers should do before the new year starts:

1. Review performance from last January

Whether it was a great year, or a not so great year, it’s important to understand performance in order to set strategy. You need to know what you did, and what impact it had. What was the ROI on certain campaigns? How has pricing changed? How has the website changed?

To help set expectations, as well as meet next year’s goal, you need to have a solid understanding of what happened this year.

2. Finalize a promotions calendar

What products are going to be on sale? How are you going to promote them on your website? What special offers are going out to existing customers?

Planning all your promotions at least a month at a time is critical to ensuring your strategies don’t conflict, you have enough time to get everything done, and everyone in the company is on the same page from a messaging standpoint.

3. Develop a testing plan

If you have never run A/B testing before, it’s time to start. If you have, it’s time to continue. Either way, it is important to develop a plan.

How will you determine what to test? Who will be involved in the process? How will you measure results and implement changes?

Developing a clear plan takes time, so start now.

4. Assign out content deliverables

Whether its feeding your social media, posting to your blog, or updating the product pages on your website, you have content to create.

A surefire way to miss deadlines is to wait until the last minute to assign tasks. Take advantage of the end of the year to make sure everyone knows what is needed and when in Q1.

5. Schedule all mailings

Emails and direct mail, text messages and push notifications – they all serve a purpose. For marketers, these are the messaging channels we use to reach customers and grow sales.

And though it is obvious that postal mail needs to be sent in advance to allow time for mailing, digital messaging should be planned in advance despite the immediacy of delivery. It allows you to map out all communications in advance to ensure the right frequency, provides ample time for content development, and testing.

Here’s to a successful New Year!