Late last night -- at least, here on the East Coast -- a formal announcement was made that, if you're as obsessed with the business of mobile as we are, didn't exactly come as a surprise.
The word: Google had acquired a team from mobile electronics company HTC in a $1.1 billion deal.
When the Taiwan Stock Exchange opened at 9:00 AM local time, where HTC is headquartered, many suspected the announcement was coming. The company, which has been struggling with its valuation for quite a few years now, had already planned to freeze trading on Thursday, sparking rumors that some sort of major organizational move would take place.
Finally, at 10:00 PM EDT, the announcement came on Google's blog: The search giant had signed an "agreement with HTC, continuing our big bet on hardware."
The announcement, penned by Google's SVP of Hardware Rick Osterloh, explained that the acquired team would be joining primarily to work on the company's Pixel devices. It's just one of many announcements, confirmed or not, leading up to the major October 4 event where several products, including the Pixel 2, are slated to be announced.
Google's relationship with HTC isn't new, nor is its move to acquire a mobile electronics manufacturer -- in 2012, it acquired Motorola, only to amass several financial losses and eventually sell the company to Lenovo for $9.6 billion less than it bought it for. As Osterloh said, representatives from both companies have been collaborating for 10 years, a partnership which in its earliest days resulted in the first-ever Android phone: the HTC Dream. While Google builds and owns the Android operating system technology, it's largely used by non-Google mobile manufacturers, like Samsung and LG, where the search giant has very little, if any, creative license over how those companies use it.
Which is part of what makes this deal so interesting.
It's been a long time since HTC was considered a leader in the world of mobile devices. It hit the market with flashy TV commercials and a "fresh face" in 2008, but since then has faced numerous operating losses resulting in budget cuts that caused a blow to its research and development. In 2016, it managed to catch up a bit in the VR market with its Vive headset, over which HTC will retain control even with the Google deal.
It's an interesting move on the heels of Apple's many product announcements earlier this month, notably the launch of the latest generations of iPhones, including the iPhone X priced at $999. While the feedback on the first Pixel edition was largely positive, it hasn't exactly garnered quite as much buzz as Apple or Samsung devices since its release. That raises the stakes for Google -- will it be able to beat Apple's latest mobile photography, user recognition, and AR features, and at a more competitive price?
Aha -- note that last part about AR. Well, that's where things really get twisted.
Despite the fact that HTC will retain control of its Vive VR properties, keep in mind that, as per the deal's terms, Google will gain some non-exclusive licensing of HTC’s IP. It begs the question of whether this team acquisition will somehow play into Google's potential attempts to compete with Apple on the mobile VR/AR front.
Google has already been manufacturing its own VR headsets for quite some time now, with products ranging from the extremely affordable Cardboard to the $79 Daydream View. In fact, on the morning leading up to the official HTC deal announcement, Google published a design-focused post on its blog regarding the "best practices [of] creating art assets for VR."
But both of these devices require VR-ready phones for a full experience -- compare that to the $599 Vive, which comes with built-in hardware. The whole thing leaves us wondering if Google will "pull an Apple," and create standalone AR experiences that don't require additional gear.
In the weeks following Google's October 4th event, we'll be heading to both Oculus Connect and the Samsung Developer Conference, where we predict there will be talk -- and perhaps even contention over -- various VR and AR platforms. Where Google's headsets and the Vive will specifically come into play is yet to be determined, and it will be nothing if not intriguing to hear developers' perspectives on the deal's implications and chain reaction.
Whatever they are -- we'll keep you posted.
Featured image source: Google
via Blogger Google Acquired a Team From HTC and It Surprised No One
When it comes to business blogging, how much time do people put into creating posts? How long are their articles? What goes into them? How often do they publish new content? How do they promote their posts? Do they measure the results?
The answers to any and all of the questions deliver interesting insights on the state of digital marketing. And thanks to the work of Orbit Media Studios, this data has been collected, made available and fun to consume.
For three years running, Andy Crestodina -- the web design and development company's co-founder -- and his team have surveyed 1,000+ bloggers about how they create content and compiled their findings into blog posts, infographics, and SlideShares.
And now, behold: We have new data on how marketers view blogging in 2017. Let's take a look at some of the trends over the years.
Fundamental Blogging Tips
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of blogging ROI, we should establish the basics. When it comes to general, fundamental blogging tips, here are three key ones that we like to follow.
Now, let's dive into those trends we promised you.
Business Blogging: A Look at Trends From 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017
In the 2014 research, Orbit Media established some baselines and concluded:
Andy told us that, for bloggers, blogging isn’t a job; it’s a lifestyle. His research indicated bloggers were writing and producing posts everywhere, all the time.
In 2015, Crestodina and I collaborated on an infographic to present the key findings, which reported:
The research indicated more blogging was done during normal work hours. The findings at large inspired Andy to conclude, “Blogging is becoming a more serious, formal discipline.” He also said best practices were emerging.
The 2016 results came together in November, and you can find a detailed analysis of the findings here. Once again, we have created an infographic, making its debut below.
I’ll allow it to reveal the findings, which have evolved to include the tactics that business bloggers believe produce the strongest results.
Blogging was at the center of data revealed in the State of Inbound 2017 reports. What we found here is that blogging, when approached and executed with the right tactics and strategy -- works. For that reason, it remains a focus of marketing activities and plans.
Specifically, blogging was the second-highest-cited top priority identified by marketers, with 53% identifying "blog content creation" as one of the most important areas of inbound marketing for their companies.
Plus, they know it works. A mere 5% of marketers identified blogging as an "overrated marketing tactic" -- for the sake of comparison, 32% said that paid advertising is.
So, there you have it. Curious to see what 2018 has in store? So are we, and we'll be keeping an eye out.
via Blogger Which Blogging Tips Get Results? [New Survey Data]
If you're a human with internet access in 2017, you've probably talked to a bot recently -- even if you weren't fully aware of it.
With over five billion monthly active users on messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, the current tech landscape is set for a veritable explosion of chatbots and AI-based assistants over the next few years. And marketers should be racing to explore the potential power of this exciting new space -- with some thoughtful restraint, of course.
This isn't the first time we're talking about the importance of investing early in bots on the HubSpot Marketing Blog, but it's one thing to recognize the potential of a new technology and quite another to start incorporating it into your exisiting business model.
Especially for businesses on the smaller side, pivoting towards a new strategy can feel like a terrifying leap. You've probably asked yourself: should I even bother with bots?
To learn more about practical use cases for bots, we turned to Vedant Misra, the founder and CEO of Kemvi (an AI and machine learning startup recently aquired by HubSpot), and current artificial intelligence tech lead here at HubSpot.
Check out the interview above, and decide for yourself: are bots the right next move for your business?
via Blogger Should You Even Bother With Bots? An Expert Weighs In [Video]
This post originally published on July 16, 2014. We’ve updated it here with new research and stats and a cool new infographic.
When I went rock climbing for the first time, I had no idea what I was doing. My friends and I were complete newbies about ropes and rappelling and every other bit of jargon and technique that goes with climbing. We saw others doing it spectacularly well. We were thrilled at the thought of reaching the top of the climbing wall; we had no idea how to get there.
I’d imagine that a social media marketing strategy could feel the same way.
If you’re starting from square one, it might feel equal parts thrilling and overwhelming. You know what you want to do and why. You can see that others have climbed the social media mountain; you’ve got few ideas how to get there yourself.
It’d help to have a plan.
Now we’re pleased to put it all into a cohesive, step-by-step blueprint that you can use to get started. If you need a social media marketing plan, start here.
Social Media Marketing Plan
Starting at the ground floor and building up, here is our overview of how to create a social media marketing plan from scratch.
I like to think of this plan like a road trip. Start out by pointing yourself in the right direction, then choose the way you’re going to get there, check in regularly to make sure you’re on track, and have some fun along the way.
Step 1: Choose your social networks
Step 3: Find your voice and tone
Step 4: Pick your posting strategy
Step 5: Analyze and test
Step 6: Automate and engage
Step 1: Which social media sites you should use
Social media is as homogenous from network to network as soda pop is from brand to brand. Sure, it’s all social media, but Google+ and Twitter might as well be Mountain Dew and Pepsi. Each network is unique, with its own best practices, own style, and own audience.
You should choose the social networks that best fit your strategy and the goals you want to achieve on social media.
You don’t have to be on them all—just the ones that matter to you and your audience.
Some things to consider that can help you choose not only which social networks to try but also how many to try.
Audience – Where do your potential customers hang out? Which social network has the right demographics?
Time – How much time can you devote to a social network? Plan on at least an hour per day per social network, at least at the start. (Once you get going, tools like Buffer can help you save a bit of time.)
Resources – What personnel and skills do you have to work with? Social networks like Facebook emphasize quality content. Visual social networks like Pinterest and Instagram require images and videos. Do you have the resources to create what’s needed?
For the first part of this decision, you can reference the audience research and demographics from surveys like those conducted by Pew Research. For instance, Pew has complete data, collected last year, of the demographics for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the major social media platforms’ user demographics.
For Snapchat’s user demographics, you can check out this “Who’s on Snapchat, anyway?” blog post by Snapchat.
Step 2: Fill out your profiles completely
One of our monthly checks here at Buffer is to visit each of our social media profiles and make sure that our profile photos, cover photos, bio, and profile info are up-to-date and complete. It’s a key part to our social media audit. A completed profile shows professionalism, cohesive branding, and a signal to visitors that you’re serious about engaging.
Profiles will require two parts: visuals and text.
For visuals, we aim for consistency and familiarity with the visuals we use on social media. Our profile photo on Instagram matches our profile photo on Facebook. Our cover photo on Twitter is similar to our cover on LinkedIn.
To create these images, you can consult a social media image size chart that will show you the exact breakdown of dimensions for each photo on each network. For an even easier time of it, you can use a tool like Crello or Canva, which comes with prebuilt templates that set the proper sizes for you.
For text, your main area to customize is the bio/info section. Creating a professional social media bio can be broken down into six simple rules.
Step 3: Find your marketing voice and tone
The temptation at this point might be to jump right in and start sharing. Just one more step before you do. Your foray into social media will be more focused and more on point if you come up with a voice and tone for your content right off the bat.
To do so, you could spend time coming up with marketing personas and debating the finer points of your mission statement and customer base. These are all well and good. But for a social media marketing plan just getting off the ground, you can make this process a bit easier.
Start with questions like these:
At the end of this exercise, you should end up with a handful of adjectives that describe the voice and tone of your marketing. Consider this to keep you on track:
Voice is the mission statement; tone is the implementation of that mission.
MailChimp has created a standalone website simply for its voice and tone. Here’s an example of how they implement these qualities into their communication:
Cultivate a voice that delights your customers, then your customers will be thrilled to spread the love about you.
Step 4: Pick your posting strategy
So much of the social media experience is about your individual audience and niche. What works for you might not work for me, and you never know until you try (we’ll get to trying in step five).
That being said, there is some pretty good data and insight about where to start. Here’s what we’ve found to be good jumping off points.
What should you be posting?
Videos are ideal for engagement.
The push toward video content has plenty of anecdotal evidence—as you browse your Facebook News Feed and Twitter timeline, you’re likely to see videos all over. There’s data to back up this trend: Videos posts get more views, shares, and Likes than any other type of post. And it’s not even close.
On Facebook, video posts get higher average engagement than link posts or image posts, according to BuzzSumo who analyzed 68 million Facebook posts.
If you want to get started on creating social videos, here’s our video marketing guide on creating epic content on Facebook, Twitter, and more.
The 4:1 Strategy
Now that you know what works, you can place these different types of updates into a consistent strategy. One of my favorite systems is the one used by Buffer’s co-founder Joel Gascoigne. It works like this:
This way your followers know what to expect from you, and you can hone your sharing to a specific type, making it easier to perfect and to experiment.
(Note: You might not want to post the exact same updates across each of your social networks. Consider composing your updates in a unique way to complement each network’s own best practices, culture, and language.)
How often should you be posting?
There’s been a lot of interesting data out there about how often to post to social media. Some of the factors that might impact your specific sharing frequency may include your industry, your reach, your resources, and the quality of your updates. The social network you’re using will have its own best practices, too.
If people love your updates, you can typically always get away with posting more.
For a specific number, here’re some guidelines we’ve put together based on some really helpful research into how often to post to social media.
When should you be posting?
There are many neat tools to show you the best time of day to post to Facebook, Twitter, and more. These tools look at your followers and your history of posts to see when your audience is online and when historically have been your best times to share.
So what’s someone to do who’s just starting out on these social networks, with no audience and no history?
Again, this is where best practices come in. Perhaps the most helpful (and adorable) infographic I’ve seen about timing comes from SumAll, which compiled timing research from sites like Visual.ly, Search Engine Watch, and Social Media Today to create its awesome visual. Here’s an overview of what they found in terms of timing (all times are Eastern Time).
I would recommend experimenting with these times (in your local time) and a few randomly-picked times as you’re starting out.
Once you have been posting a while, you can use your own data and tools like Facebook Insights, Instagram Insights, and Followerwonk to find your brand’s best time to post and refine your posting strategy.
Step 5: Analyze, test, and iterate
Remember how we talked about social media sharing being a very individual, specific endeavor? Your stats will likely start to bear this out.
The more you post, the more you’ll discover which content, timing, and frequency is right for you.
How will you know? It’s best to get a social media analytics tool. Most major social networks will have basic analytics built into the site; it’s just a little easier to seek and find this information from an all-encompassing dashboard.
These tools (I’ll use Buffer’s analytics as an example) can show you a breakdown of how each post performed in the important areas of views, clicks, shares, Likes, and comments.
Which social media stats are best? We’ve gained some insight from looking at each of these main statistics and the composite engagement statistic on a per-post basis. The resulting stat gives us a great look, over time, of how our social media content tends to perform, and we can then test and iterate from there.
Here’s one way to analyze your performance.
Set a benchmark. After two weeks or a month of sharing, you can go back through your stats and find the average number of clicks, shares, likes, and comments per post. This’ll be your benchmark going forward. You can come back and update this number at any time as your following and influence grow.
Test something new. We’re open to testing just about anything at Buffer. We’re in the midst of some tests right now on our Facebook account. Do Facebook Live videos get more views than non-live videos? Does the video length matter? We’ll often hear about someone’s new strategy or get a new idea and then test right away.
Did it work? Check the stats from your test versus the stats of your benchmark. If your test performed well, then you can implement the changes into your regular strategy. And once your test is over, test something new!
Step 6: Automate, engage, and listen
The final piece of a social media marketing plan involves having a system you can follow to help you stay on top of updates and engage with your community.
To start with, automate posting of your social media content.
Tools like Buffer allow you to create all the content that you want to, all at once, and then place everything into a queue to be sent out according to whatever schedule you choose. Automation is the secret weapon for consistently excellent sharing, day after day.
Your plan doesn’t end with automation, though. Social media requires engagement, too.
When people talk to you, talk back. Set aside time during your day to follow up with conversations that are happening on social media. These are conversations with potential customers, references, friends, and colleagues. They’re too important to ignore.
One way to stay up on all the conversations that are happening around you and your company is to create a system for listening and engaging. Tools like Buffer Reply and Mention will collect all social media mentions and comments on your posts in a single place, where you can quickly reply your followers.
What would you share with someone new to social media?
Coming up with a social media marketing plan is a great step toward diving in to social. If social media looks thrilling and overwhelming all at once, start with a plan. Once you see the blueprint in front of you, it’s a little easier to see what lies ahead.
How did you develop your social media strategy? I’d love to keep the conversation going in the comments. If you know someone who could use this, feel free to pass this along. If you can use it yourself, let me know how it goes!
This post originally published on July 16, 2014. We’ve updated it with new research, statistics, and a cool new infographic on September 2017.
via Blogger How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy From Scratch
Automation is a funny thing. Too little is the enemy of efficiency. Too much kills engagement.
Think about email. Automated email nurturing campaigns were the answer to individually following up with every single person who downloaded a piece of content from your website. In the name of efficiency, marketers queued up a series of emails via workflows to automatically deliver ever-more-helpful content and insights, gradually increasing the person’s trust in the company and stoking the flames of their buying intent. If at any time they had a question, they could respond to the email and get routed to a person who could help.
But as the number of inbound leads skyrocketed, this system became untenable. The dreaded firstname.lastname@example.org address was the solution for scalability. Over time, this set the expectation with buyers that marketers didn’t want to have a conversation with them via email.
Automation made us more efficient, but at the cost of relationships -- ultimately defeating the purpose.
Then came live chat, and it felt like a revelation. Buyers were empowered to get answers to their questions in real time from a real person. Better yet, this interaction took place directly on the company’s website -- where they were already doing their research.
We started using website chat at HubSpot in 2013. Over the past four years, live chat has facilitated countless conversations between curious prospects and our business. We even created our own live chat product -- Messages -- to help our customers adopt this model and serve their own prospects better, faster, and directly on the website.
But, just like what happened with email nurturing, at a certain point the system started to strain. According to our usage data, one in every 30 website visits results in a chat. For companies that receive thousands of website visits a day, trying to keep up is daunting.
And similar to how “email@example.com” frustrated buyers looking for information via email, customers are again the ones suffering when companies can’t manage the demands of live chat. Recent research found that 21% of live chat support requests go completely unanswered. Even if the buyer gets a response, they can expect to wait an average of 2 minutes and 40 seconds for it. I wouldn’t call this “live” -- would you?
Responding slowly (or failing to respond at all) on a channel advertised as “live” is a contradiction in terms. Forcing customers to wait after we’ve set the expectation of immediacy is unacceptable. We can do better.
Today, we’re at the same inflection point we came to with email. What should companies do to accommodate the tidal wave of live chat conversations? Hiring an increasing number of chat coordinators clearly isn’t a scalable answer. But more importantly, apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Slack have changed consumers’ definition of a real time conversation (and also created the infrastructure to support them). If marketers are going to advertise “live” channels -- and we must if we want to stay relevant -- we need to step up and deliver.
It’s with this in mind that I assert the era of live chat is over. “Conversations” were once synonymous with website chat and incoming phone calls, but in the world of messaging apps and bots, the website is only one small piece of the puzzle. Buyers are thinking beyond the website, but most businesses aren’t.
Buyers’ New Expectations for Business Conversations
Website chat enabled buyers to have conversations with businesses like never before. It was a good start, but just that -- a start. Similar to how inbound changed marketing, social changed content discovery and consumption, and conversational search changed SEO, messaging apps have changed how buyers expect to interact with businesses.
Think your buyers wouldn’t want to interact with your company via a messaging app? Actually, 71% of consumers globally are willing to use messaging apps to get customer assistance.
Even if your prospects fall in the “none of the above” bucket today, they won’t forever. Cutting the data by age foretells the inevitability of messaging apps in a business context over time: The majority of consumers currently between the ages 18 and 34 are willing to use Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to contact companies for assistance.
When communicating with a business, today’s buyer expects that:
We need new technology paired with automation to live up to our buyers’ expectations and make these types of conversations a reality. On the technology side, live website chat is part of a conversation strategy, sure, but it can’t be the whole strategy. As for automation, marketers got it wrong with email, but we have the opportunity to get it right with chat.
Stop Chatting, Start Having Conversations
At HubSpot, we’ve always been about helping marketers and salespeople adapt to the ever-changing modern buyer. It’s time, once again, to step up and serve our prospects and customers the way they expect -- and deserve -- to be served.
Fortunately, this is possible today with the right strategy. Businesses need to do the following three things to enable truly valuable conversations at scale:
1) Make it possible for buyers to have conversations with your business where they are.
Create a presence on website chat, messaging apps, social media -- wherever your prospects might want to talk.
2) Add an automation layer with chatbots.
Set up bots that immediately respond on each channel (or even proactively kick off the conversation) and are equipped to answer common questions. This eliminates customers’ wait time and provides immediate responses for the majority of queries. Bots put the “live” in “live chat.”
3) Adopt technology that helps bots and human service reps to “tag team.”
When a complex question arises, the right technology can loop in a human chat coordinator, and provide a unified record of everything that’s happened in this interaction as well as the customer’s entire history. This way, the context never gets left behind in the handoff between bot and human, or the switch from one communication channel to another.
Marketing automation used to solely refer to workflows + drip email campaigns. Today, it’s much more than that. The new marketing automation is conversational technology + bots. This is automation that makes us more efficient, but more importantly, more effective for our customers. This is automation that creates relationships instead of frustration.
Today, we announced HubSpot’s acquisition of motion.ai -- a platform that enables anyone to build and deploy bots across any messaging channel. With this acquisition, we not only hope to enable marketers, salespeople, and service folks to serve their customers better, faster, and with more context than ever before, but we also intend to create the “all in one” experience our customers have come to rely on.
The only constant in business and consumer behavior today is change -- which I know firsthand can feel overwhelming. But you’re not in it alone. As your customers change, HubSpot empowers you to adapt to and surpass their expectations. As your business grows, we grow with you. And when new technology emerges, we build it into the growth stack so you can stay ahead of the curve without the headache of wrangling countless disparate apps.
Live chat is the standard today, but I think we should aspire to do better for our buyers. Now I want to hear from you. Do you think live chat in its current manifestation is dead? Is your company prepared to meet the expectations of today’s buyers, and the buyers of tomorrow?
Send HubSpot a note on Facebook Messenger. Tell me what you think the future of communication between buyers and businesses should be.
Let’s have a conversation.
via Blogger Thanks Live Chat, Messaging Will Take It From Here
Last year, my colleagues launched a tool called The Next Five to help people navigate through those times in their career where they're feeling kind of stuck. You know -- when you're just not sure what the next step is on your career path.
And while many of us think about this stuff from time to time -- and maybe even practice the speeches to go with them in the shower or in the car -- I don't think we often verbalize our thoughts on where we want our career paths to go, if we even know ourselves.
So, we did a little research to see how often people are actually asking for promotions, or talking with their managers about the next steps in their career paths. It's pretty hard to find a ton of hard data on it -- if you know of any, please send it our way -- but we did find this: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average tenure for today's worker is 4.4 years. If you focus on just younger employees, that number halves.
What's more, 91% of workers born between 1977 and 1997 report going into new jobs with the intent of staying less than three years.
While it sure seems like a jumpy career path is normal, there's more to be said about the importance of these career discussions. After all, if your manager or employer yourself, which would you prefer: helping your team progress internally, or having them leave for what seems like a better opportunity elsewhere?
And if you're looking to have this conversation with your boss, keep that question in mind. To help you get the conversation started, let's take a closer look at why they matter and how you can get the most out of them.
Why Ask for a Promotion? Do Career Path Conversations Even Matter?
Some workplaces look at job-hopping as a phenomenon we just need to accept in this day and age. And they're probably right ... to an extent. I don't think many industries should expect to return to a time when people stayed at companies for decades. But we might be able to find more longevity out of our roles than we do right now.
Quite frankly, job-hopping sucks for more than just the organization that has to rehire and retrain someone every couple years -- it sucks for the employee, too. Yes, maybe they get promotions and raises -- in fact, it's not an uncommon way to make your way up the career ladder. But it also means taking a risk, adjusting to a new team and a new manager -- possibly finding out one or both of those are a poor fit -- and figuring out the nuances of a workplace and job that you could end up hating.
Worst case scenario? You end up out of work at the end of all that, and you're back on the interview circuit.
So I think it behooves of all of us to have these conversations about what we want our career paths to look like with ourselves, and our managers. It helps us get closer to the work and life we want, and it helps clue our managers in on how to give it to us.
A Few Helpful Guidelines
Before we jump into the nitty-gritty of these conversations, let's set some ground rules for how these conversations go. Keep these in mind before you launch a large-scale discussion about your career path.
What Elements Make Up an Effective Career Path Conversation?
I'm gonna put my money where my mouth is and talk about my own experiences with these conversations.
I've had career path conversations with many bosses -- the last formal one was around March -- but I've also held them with people on my team. Both have been awkward ... sometimes. But both have been totally normal and non-cringe-inducing just as often.
When I look back at all those conversations at a macro-level, the good ones (whether they were about my career or my teammates') all came down to three elements:
Technically, this shouldn't matter. You should be able to have productive career path conversations no matter the manager-employee relationship. But it would be naive to think the relationship you have with your boss doesn't play into how well these conversations go. That's not to say the closer you two are, the better the conversations go -- sometimes the closer you are, the harder it is to have frank conversations.
But the better you know each other, and the more ease you have talking with one another, the more likely you'll have already sorted out communication styles that work. You'll just know how to get from point A to point B with less pain and awkwardness, because you've done it before.
It also gives you the ability to "read the room," so to speak. You can tell if something you said is being poorly received or misunderstood. Those soft skills matter when you're talking about career paths because they can accidentally veer into uncomfortable territory and leave people feeling insecure if the communication is off.
If you don't already have a strong working relationship, it doesn't preclude you from pulling off a successful conversation. It just makes the next two items -- timing and forethought -- all the more important.
It also might help to run a few practice rounds with someone so you can make sure you're clearly verbalizing what you intend. Former HubSpotter Katherine Boyarsky does this and can't recommend it enough: "Have a mantra that you can repeat in your head during the conversation that helps center you if you go off on a tangent," she explains.
Aim to be very clear, direct, and forthright with what you're looking to do without putting the other party on the defensive.
There have been a few career conversations I've had in the past that were ill-timed. It didn't turn them into an utter disaster, but they just didn't seem to stick. The most common instances where the timing has been off in my experience have been:
A lot of this post so far has been a 50/50 thing -- managers and employees should both be held accountable for this career path stuff. But when it comes to forethought, this lies largely on the employees' shoulders. We need to think about what we want to do in our career. No one can tell us the answer to: "What do you want to do in five years?"
Sure, your manager, a mentor, or your family and friends can all talk you through that stuff, but it does come down to you to take ownership over the direction in which you want your career to go.
So, put some forethought into the ways your career path could take shape before broaching the subject with your manager. Some people tend to have really clear career goals, while others are a little more ... floaty. That's fine. If you find yourself in the "floaty" camp, here's are a couple things to think about to get your brain going:
First, it's okay to not know what you want from your career at all times. I tend to bucket my life in quadrants:
Typically, not all of those areas of my life are banging on all cylinders at once. When life is going great, usually three -- maybe only two -- are rocking and rolling while the rest are in stasis for a bit. Sometimes, that thing that's in stasis is your career. And that's fine. You don't need to be thinking about your career path all the time. But if you feel a general ennui, it might be that too many of those areas of your life are lagging -- and one could very possibly be your career.
If that's the case, ask yourself this ...
What does the team look like today, versus a year from now?
First, think about this question hypothetically -- assessing gaps that will need to be filled down the line, and aligning them with company goals. Then, talk to other leaders in the company and on your team about where they see the team going in a year, and what kinds of goals people might focus on in the future.
This is where your manager can help you, and where I have seen really successful (and non-awkward) career path conversations begin. If you can get a sense of what the organization's needs will be over the next 12 months, you can start to see which of those needs you're interested in helping fulfill -- because even if your dream job is X, there's not much anyone can do for you if the company's investments are in Y.
Finally, remember that career progress comes from a lot of different places, and that progress is indicated by a lot of different things. It comes from skill development, networking, and aligning with projects that advance both personal and company goals. And all of that takes time.
If we want to benchmark our progress, we need to look at more than just promotions. Instead, we need to focus on whether we're developing new skills, being given more responsibility and autonomy, putting ourselves in mildly uncomfortable situations that help us get better at stuff (hello, public speaking), working with new people in the organization, being asked for our opinion more often, or being pulled into meetings with people we respect and admire.
These are all really good signs of progress that are hard to formalize, but indicate you're taking the right steps to get your career on the path you're aiming for.
What Would an Expert Say About All of This?
I'm glad you asked.
That was all based on my experience -- holding career path conversations with team members, and with my own manager. But let's ask an actual HR professional who has spent a lot of time thinking about this stuff.
I talked to our Senior HR Business Partner Brianna Manning, and asked her for the advice she would give someone who was struggling to hold productive conversations about career advancement. She echoed two of the sentiments we've already talked about -- preparation, and giving a heads up that you want to have this conversation. One point in particular Manning shared regarding preparation is the importance of establishing career trajectory dialogue from the beginning of your relationship together:
If you feel unsure of how to start that conversation because you don't have that solid relationship yet, she provided some sample language that helps make it less intimidating:
But Pierce hit on one other important point in initiating these conversations I would be remiss to gloss over: You have to build trust and credibility to have productive career conversations.
It's really difficult for your manager to focus on your career path if you aren't succeeding in your current role. Make sure you've got a handle on your responsibilities before setting your sights on the next thing. In some cases, it might be wiser to focus on the "now" of your career path rather than the next turn down the road. As Pierce put it:
She emphasized that credibility also comes from owning the follow-through on those career conversations. If your manager has opened up some doors for you, make sure you own your progression by nailing those stretch assignments, introductions, or whatever it is you've been given an opportunity to shine doing.
What Should You Expect to Get From These Career Path Conversations?
If you're expecting a specific result out of one conversation, you're setting yourself up for failure. You wouldn't expect your manager to come in and dump a promotion on your lap, so you shouldn't expect to solve your career destiny in one swoop.
In order for those doors to open, all relevant parties must be envisioning you in a certain role for a few months, at least.
I would say the best results typically come from people that think about their career path often, and have frequent -- whether formal or informal -- conversations about it.
Most of all, those with the most interesting paths tend to just keep an open mind about the different, jagged, very weird ways we all make our way through our careers.
Need help doing a little soul-searching? Take a few minutes to check out The Next Five.
via Blogger How to Ask for a Promotion (and Have Other Tough Conversations With Your Boss)
Despite what you might have come to beleive after sorting through the internet's seemingly bottomless slew of articles on the subject, emotional intelligence is more than just a buzzword.
The ability to empathize with others, build lasting relationships, and manage emotions in a healthy way has been proven time and time again to be one of the biggest indicators of workplace and interpersonal success.
Emotionally intelligent individuals can more easily adapt to new environments and relate to new colleagues and clients -- crucial skills for anyone working at a marketing agency. People with low levels of emotional intelligence might have difficulty managing relationships and dealing with stress, which could lead to burnout or bigger conflicts down the line.
Among employees who fail to meet expectations during their first 18 months on the job, 23% fail due to low emotional intelligence. That's the second most prevalent reason new hires fail, following only general lack of coachability.
We know gauging a candidate's emotional intelligence is pivotal when it comes to hiring the best new talent -- but can something so complex be sufficiently evaluated in a brief interview setting?
Some candidates have mastered the ability of seeming emotionally intelligent -- responding instantaneously with practiced, too-good-to-be-true responses to classic interview questions, e.g.:
What's your greatest weakness?
To help you sift through the rehearsed responses and dig deeper into a candidate's real level of emotional intelligence, we've put together the following list of interview questions. Learn what to ask below and how to identify an emotionally intelligent response.
6 Interview Questions to Assess Emotional Intelligence
1) Can you tell me about a time you tried to do something and failed?
Asking a candidate to explain a failed project is not only a great way to see how they cope when things don't go as planned, it's also an opportunity to see whether or not they're comfortable taking full responsibility for their actions.
Look for a candidate who can straightforwardly describe a recent failure without shirking the bulk of the blame on other parties or unfortunate circumstances. Even if some external factors played a hand in the mishap, you want a candidate who is comfortable being held fully accountable, and can discuss even the nitty-gritty details of a failed project with fair-minded focus.
Does the candidate seem like they were able to fully bounce back from the issue without getting defensive? Emotionally intelligent individuals possess an inherent self-confidence that can buoy them through setbacks and lets them assess troubling situations objectively, without harsh self-judgment or resorting to outward frustration.
Be wary of candidates who fixate too much on who or what they blame for the failure. When a project doesn't work out, the key takeaway shouldn't be based on blame. Emotionally intelligent people know how to move on and examine a situation without bitterness or resentment clouding their judgment.
2) Tell me about a time you received negative feedback from your boss. How did that make you feel?
One of the most easily recognizable qualities of an emotionally intelligent person is their ability to deal with criticism. People with high emotional intelligence are well-equipped to handle negative feedback without losing stride. They can process even unexpected feedback without letting it damage their self-worth.
That's not to say negative feedback has no emotional impact on emotionally intelligent employees. People with high emotional intelligence experience emotions like everyone else -- they just know how to fully process those emotions with a level head and a clear focus on the facts.
Look for a candidate who can specifically describe the feelings they experienced upon receiving negative feedback, e.g.: "At first I was surprised and a little frustrated by my manager's comments on the project, but when I looked deeper into the reasoning behind her comments, I realized that I could have definitely given more attention to several key areas. On my next project, I was able to use her feedback to develop a more well-rounded approach."
A response that acknowledges the specific emotions they experienced and shows an empathic understanding of their manager's point of view indicates a high level of emotional awareness.
Candidates who say they felt "bad" or can't really express why the feedback affected them might be less emotionally intelligent. Similarly, if a candidate thinks the feedback was wholly undeserved and doesn't attempt to understand their manager's point of view, they might have difficulty stepping outside of their own perspective.
3) Can you tell me about a conflict at work that made you feel frustrated?
Everyone gets frustrated sometimes. It's how you handle that frustration that really matters.
Hearing how a candidate explains a work conflict can offer some valuable clues into their level of emotional intelligence. Conflicts can stir up a lot of difficult emotions, and asking a candidate to describe a dispute and how they dealt with it can give you meaningful insight into how they manage their emotions and empathize with others.
According to psychologist and author Daniel Goleman, emotionally intelligent people have four distinguishing characteristics:
All four of these characteristics are put to the test in conflicts situations. Emotionally intelligent people will be able to explain a conflict situation clearly and objectively, giving a specific run down of how they felt at the time, how they managed those feelings, and how they used social cues from those around them to inform their decisions.
As they explain the conflict situation, consider the following four areas:
4) Tell me about a hobby you like to do outside of work. Can you teach me about it?
Ask the candidate to explain one of their hobbies to you as if you know nothing about it. It can be anything -- golf, horseback riding, cookie jar collecting -- anything they're interested in and willing to share details about.
As they explain the hobby, prompt them with questions that force them to simplify, re-explain, and change their communication style to suit your clear lack of understanding. See how they react. Are they getting flustered or frustrated? Are they quick to adapt their communication style to meet your needs?
Emotionally intelligent people remain patient and calm when faced with a communication challenge. They can easily read social cues when their message isn't clearly getting across, and will deftly pivot their approach to meet the needs of their audience.
5) What would your co-workers say is the most rewarding thing about working with you? What about the most challenging thing?
It takes a deep, well-developed sense of self-awareness (and humility) to recognize what really makes you tick. To gauge how well candidates understand their own strengths and limitations in the workplace, ask them to explain how they think others perceive their positive and not-so-positive qualities.
6) Can you tell me about a time you needed to ask for help on a project?
Emotionally intelligent people are self-confident without being overconfident. They have a realistic understanding of their own strengths and limitations, and they aren't afraid to admit what they don't know. They know that asking for help and collaborating with others is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Be wary of candidates who seem hesitant or embarrassed to admit they need help sometimes. Look for someone who can confidently discuss a time when they sought the help of a colleague due to a gap in their knowledge of a subject.
Emotionally intelligent people will be transparent about their weak points, and will show a real drive to better themselves by collaborating and using all the resources available to them.
via Blogger 6 Interview Questions to Assess Emotional Intelligence
Engagement on Facebook Pages has fallen by 70 percent since the start of 2017, according to BuzzSumo who analyzed over 880 million Facebook posts by brands and publishers.
As a social media marketer, it is worrying to see these trends.
But we feel there are ways we can combat this organic reach decline on Facebook and we’d love to share some strategies with you.
In this post, we’ll share 14 straightforward ways to increase your Facebook Page engagement — many of which are proven and have worked for us.
14 ways to increase your Facebook engagement
Starting a Facebook Page might be easy but with the falling organic reach and engagement, growing a Facebook Page can be challenging.
Here are the 14 tactics you can try today to increase your Facebook Page engagement:
1. Post less
But the main reason for the growth wasn’t just because we were posting less. It’s because posting less allowed us to…
focus on quality instead of quantity.
We were able to share the best content every day when we post only once or twice a day. When we were posting four to five times a day, we struggled to consistently find so much great content to share.
If you are a solo social media manager or a small business owner who handles your own social media, you might have experienced this before. Finding great content takes time, and you don’t always have the time to do that.
That said, if you are able to maintain the quality of your content while posting many times a day, don’t feel that you have to change your strategy. A few of our readers post more than 10 times a day to their Facebook Page and have found great success.
2. Post when your fans are online
We used to believe that there’s a universal best time to post on Facebook: early afternoon.
But not anymore.
We now believe that every brand has its own perfect time(s) to post. That’s because the best time to post depends on several factors that are specific to each brand: What industry are you in? Where is your audience based? When do your followers use Facebook?
A scientific way to find your best time to post is to look at your own data.
In your Facebook Page Insights, under the Post tab, you get data about when your Facebook Page fans are online for each day of the week.
Using your data, you can make educated guesses of your best posting time. I would recommend experimenting with times during both the peak and non-peak hours to see which works better for your brand.
3. Create specifically for Facebook
What works on Instagram or Twitter might not always work on Facebook. For example, hashtags are great on Instagram and GIFs are great on Twitter but both less so on Facebook.
It’s best to create your Facebook posts specifically for your Facebook Page.
With Buffer, you can easily customize your social media post for each platform when sharing to multiple platforms at once. You can even go one step further by customizing your article headline for your Facebook post.
If you would like to give this a go, we would love for you to try Buffer for Business and experience the difference.
4. Try videos
If you’re wondering how to craft your Facebook posts, we think you should try videos.
From what we have seen this year, videos perform best on Facebook in terms of reach and engagement.
The BuzzSumo study mentioned above also found that “videos now gain twice the level of engagement of other post formats on average”.
Here are three more tips to help you get the most out of your videos:
5. Go live
They tweaked their algorithm to rank live videos higher when they are live than when they are no longer live. Facebook reported that “People spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live” and “people comment more than 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos”.
Here’s a bonus: Your followers might be more likely to check out your content.
Social Media Examiner noticed that when they went live more often, their non-live content received more exposure. Their founder and CEO, Michael Stelzner, believes that when they go live, their fans are exposed to their brand even if they don’t watch the live video. That might have subtly encouraged them to check out Social Media Examiner’s Facebook Page.
To help you get started with Facebook Live videos, here are some ideas you can try:
6. Share curated content
By sharing top-performing posts from sites like Techcrunch, Inc., and Quartz, we were able to reach a much bigger audience. For example, our recent 10 curated content reached 113,000 people on average.
We had less than 100,000 Facebook Page Likes until recently.
This helped us grow our Facebook Page, allowing us to share our own content with more people. Since the start of this year, our Facebook Page Likes have grown from about 79,000 to 100,000.
There are two types of curated content you can share:
We mostly share content from other brands on our Facebook Page as that type of content resonates with our Facebook Page followers. Once in a while, we also share user-generated content from our community (which works amazingly on our Instagram account) on our Facebook Page. They tend to perform well, too.
7. Ask for opinions
It might be obvious that people comment when they have something to say. But sometimes, we don’t offer them a chance to say anything!
Asking questions is a good way to offer our followers a chance to share their thoughts.
A practice I like is to share relevant news or blog post and ask our followers for their opinions. What to share might vary depending on your audience. If you have a professional audience, you might want to share industry news or articles. If you are a lifestyle brand, you might choose to share lifestyle news instead.
Here’s a recent example where we asked our followers for their thoughts on a thought-leadership blog post:
8. Boost your top posts
If you have a budget for Facebook advertising, consider boosting your top-performing posts. Your top-performing posts are proven content — content that is proven to engage your audience. This makes them suitable for a boost. With the right ad targeting, these posts would continue to engage more people, reach even more people.
And you don’t need a lot of money for this.
With a $40 daily budget, our boosted posts get up to roughly four times more paid reach than organic reach. As reach increased, engagement on the posts also went up.
Here are some recent examples:
9. Recycle your top posts
Besides boosting your top posts, you can also recycle them.
This will help you get more value out of your content. When you re-post a piece of high-quality content, it can often generate as much reach and engagement as the original post (sometimes, more) — essentially doubling the value of that content.
As our followers loved it, we (boosted it and) re-posted it with a video. This time, it reached almost twice as many people and generated a little more engagement, with roughly the same ad spend.
Instead of reposting the top-performing post as it is, change the post a little. There are several ways you can make it look fresh again:
Generally, for Facebook, you would want to wait several weeks before reposting the same post if you are posting only once or two a day. This will prevent your followers from seeing the same post too often and getting bored of your Facebook posts.
10. Watch other Facebook Pages
The social media landscape is ever-changing. What’s working today might not work tomorrow. It can be helpful to learn from other Facebook Pages and see what has been working for them.
Facebook provides an excellent feature for this: Pages to Watch.
Pages to Watch allows you to compare the performance of your Facebook Page and posts with similar Pages at a glance. You can also easily check out each Page’s top posts by clicking on their Page name.
11. Experiment with new content
Another way to keep up with the ever-changing social media landscape is to constantly experiment with new content.
Just a while back, images were the best type of content to drive engagement. Now, videos are taking the lead. Brands who started on video early before it became the norm were able to benefit from the trend the most.
Testing new types of content keeps you at the edge of the latest trends.
A technique we like to use was inspired by Coca-Cola’s 70/20/10 marketing budget rule.
You can use this rule in many ways. Here’s how I like to think of it when it comes to testing new Facebook content:
12. Reply comments
This would make them feel heard and be more willing to comment on your Facebook posts in the future.
There’s a psychological explanation for this, too. Moira Burke, who studied 1,200 Facebook users, found that personalized messages are more satisfying to the receiver than a simple Like.
Something we do at Buffer is to sign off each reply with our first name. This adds a personal touch to our replies. I like to think that many of our followers know that when they comment on our posts, they will be chatting with someone from Buffer and not simply commenting on a brand’s post.
We use Buffer Reply to reply our followers on Facebook (and also Twitter and Instagram). Having all the comments in one single place makes it more efficient as we don’t have to jump from post to post.
13. Host giveaways (occasionally)
Our contest and giveaway posts generally get the most amount of engagement.
Here’s an example from last year:
There are two things we keep in mind while hosting such giveaways:
14. Create a linked Facebook Group
A Facebook Group with your most engaged followers would likely generate more discussions than your Facebook Page. My hunch is that the discussions in your Facebook Group will benefit your Facebook Page in several ways:
If you are considering starting a Facebook Group, here’s our complete guide to starting and managing a Facebook Group.
What have you been trying on Facebook?
If driving engagement on your Facebook Page has been challenging for you, I hope you’ve found one or two (or 14) tactics that might be useful to you.
One thing I would keep in mind when using these tactics is that it might take a while for the results to show. It took us some time to figure out what works for our Facebook Page. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t see an increase in engagement immediately.
Okay, that’s enough from me. I would love to hear about your Facebook Page strategy. What are some tactics you have tried and have been working (or not) for you? What are some of the tactics you would like to try going forward?
(If you liked this blog post, you might also like our blog post on the Facebook marketing tips that we had tested.)
Image credit: Unsplash
via Blogger Post Less, Boost Top Posts, and More: 14 Ways to Increase Your Facebook Page Engagement
Like the magnificent architectural wonders that hold up The Pantheon in Rome, pillars will help you hold up your blog's architecture, too.
You have to build them yourself -- but we promise it takes less time and effort than building them from marble or concrete.
In this blog post, we'll dive into everything you need to know about pillar pages -- how they fit into the new topic cluster strategy we're advocating, what they can achieve for your blog's results, and how to actually create one.
What Is a Pillar Page?
Pillar pages help organize your website and blog content architecture according to the changing ways people are now searching for information.
These unique blog posts or site pages are comprehensive guides to a particular topic you're trying to rank for in search. So, where you might have 20 different blog posts about different aspects of using Instagram in your marketing, a pillar page is an overview guide to all aspects of a particular topic. Then, all of the different blog posts about different aspects of Instagram marketing link back to the pillar page to show readers a route to learn everything they need to know.
By creating pillar pages, you can organize your site architecture to help visitors get answers to their questions and quickly and easily as possible. And that's more important than ever -- because the way people are searching for content is changing.
(But before we dive into why creating pillar pages is so important, learn more about how to define a pillar page in this blog post.)
Why Create Pillar Pages
Like we said before, the way people search for information has changed, and pillar pages are part of the topic cluster model that help your content strategy adapt to this change -- and, hopefully, rank higher in search.
Thanks to voice search devices like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa, search queries are becoming longer and more conversational.In fact, 64% of searches are made up of four words or more, and 20% of Google searches are now conducted via voice. So instead of typing into a search bar "how to use Instagram," you might instead ask your device, "what's the best way to use hashtags on Instagram?"
Additionally, Google's search algorithm is doing a better job at providing the exact information searchers are looking for through the mountains of content out there, thanks to advances in machine-learning and semantic search. Google is even better at understanding exactly what you mean when you type in a query and serving results that best answer that question.
And due to these changes, it's important to organize your blog according to topic clusters -- where one topic is anchored by a comprehensive pillar page that links to more in-depth blog posts about specific aspects of that topic.
That way, your pillar page will start ranking in search for the particular topic you're focusing on, which will help other blog posts rank as well -- the expression "the rising tide lifts all ships" applies here. Instead of writing blog post after blog post focusing on different keyword variations of the same topic, you'll have an organized site infrastructure made up of one pillar page and specific, in-depth blog posts that address content gaps about the topics.
In this model, your blog content is more organized for the reader to jump from post to post learning more about a topic, and your URLs don't compete with each other for the same long-tail keyword -- because they're all ranking for the same broader topic.
To visualize what this new model looks like, here's what HubSpot's blog infrastructure used to look like:
And here's what our blog looks like now, using the topic cluster strategy:
We know it's tough to think about keywords differently -- after years of creating blog content dedicated to ranking for specific long-tail keywords, we feel your pain. This strategy doesn't advocate for the abandonment of keywords as a strategy -- it just calls for focus on topics so you can choose the keywords you base blog posts on more effectively.
(Psst -- you can read more about this in our in-depth research report about topic clusters.)
How to Create a Pillar Page
Now that you understand all about pillar pages -- and why you should be creating them -- here are the key steps to creating a successful one.
1) Choose a topic.
The first step in this process is focusing on topics, and not keywords. At least at first.
Determine who your audience is using buyer persona research, and figure out what they're searching for, which will determine how broad to make your pillar page. You want the topic of a pillar page to be broad enough to write a pillar page and come up with several more specific keywords related to the broader topic.
In our case using the earlier example, "social media" was too broad of a topic, but "Instagram marketing" is sufficient to create a pillar page and 20-30 related blog posts -- HubSpot's gut-check number for determining if a topic is broad enough.
2) Write (or designate) a pillar page.
Now, it's time to make your pillar page. You might already have a comprehensive blog post that you can adapt into a pillar page, or you might need to write a comprehensive guide to your topic from scratch. Either way, there are a few key elements HubSpot Staff Writer Aja Frost suggests you include:
3) Choose keywords.
Once you've nailed down your pillar page, it's time to do some good old-fashioned keyword research -- within the bigger umbrella of the specific topic you're targeting. Choose keywords with a lot of search volume that cover different aspects of the topic, and use those to build your working titles.
4) Start writing.
You already know how to do this -- so you can breathe a sigh of relief. Now it's time to write blog posts based on specific keywords within your topic cluster -- making sure to link them to your pillar page to create a streamlined reader experience and help all of your content rank higher in search engine results pages.
via Blogger How to Create a Pillar Page