Farewell, Funnel: The Rotating Lifecycle of Demand Generation

Like it or not, everything around you is in constant flux. Change and evolution are inevitable—they touch every aspect of our lives, and there is no better example than the ever-evolving world of marketing. 

Today, your phone knows when you’re near a Starbucks and it lets you know. Once it piques your interest, you can order and pay for your drink without ever interacting with a human.  Then, they keep you coming back for more with offers via email.

Marketing in 2015 is automated, personalized, and omni-channel, and when done well, creates for a seamless experience that keeps a brand top of mind. It’s an endless cycle with continual possibilities, and it’s all a part of demand generation.

As highlighted in our recent report, The Integrated Marketing & Sales Machine: 2015 Demand Generation Report, today’s reality is no longer sales and marketing, it’s marketing and sales. In order to reach, engage and sell to prospective buys, marketers must employ sophisticated campaigns full of tactics that work together on a variety of mediums.

Though marketers are undoubtedly reaching prospects on a variety of mediums, very few grasp how to engineer their efforts so that they all work together. The sales funnel, as we once knew it, is dead and gone. The current reality is the demand generation lifecycle.

Demand generation encompasses brand awareness and engagement, lead generation, lead nurturing and customer retention tactics—the touchstones that keep you top of mind, build customer trust and loyalty and create for long-lasting relationships that are mutually beneficial.

The Integrated Marketing & Sales Machine: 2015 Demand Generation Report outlines the trends we are seeing in demand generation, as well as the tactics marketers are employing to engage the users.  

Some key takeaways include:

  • Content Marketing is emerging as the dominant platform for business marketing and includes blogs, whitepapers, infographics, webinars and increasingly, video content.
  • Cross-channel attribution continues to be a challenge. With so many touch points in the marketing cycle, how is revenue being attributed, and for how long?
  • Marketers are looking to set and measure realistic KPIs for their content marketing initiatives, which reflect the still early stage for content marketing as a marketing medium.
  • Marketing automation adoption is accelerating, but technology is complicated, resulting in marketers wrestling with related people, product, and process issues.

Download the report to learn key insights on the state demand generation, as represented by more than 150 marketers. 

#SocialMediaGoals: Our Favorite Social Media Accounts for Inspiration

If you want to gain the awareness and trust of the consumer, you have to be active on social media, however, knowing how to successfully manage a social media account does not come naturally. No worries, we all need role models to look up to and learn from now and then.

Up your social media game and gain some inspiration by looking at the pros to see what you can immediately implement on your platforms.

The following companies have all the social media basics down: consistency, high-quality imagery and knowledge of their audience.

Twitter Champion: Taco Bell

Taco Bell reigns supreme on multiple social channels, but their Twitter handle truly stands out.

What are they doing right?

  • They never sleep. Taco Bell is always tweeting and always engaging. The shelf life for a tweet is nonexistent. In order to reach your followers that are always online, you must also be tweeting at all times of the day. Set up alerts on your phone and be prepared to engage whenever possible. Customers not only appreciate the timely responses, but it’s also a great way to show value and build trust.
  • They turned themselves into teenagers. Creating content that is relevant to your audience is a given, but if you want to be relevant on social media you need to take it a step further. Taco Bell consistently skews their content to go hand in hand with their largest customer base—teens. Milestones such as prom or graduation are consistently part of their promotion tactics. They post videos and photos surrounding these events while also retweeting and engaging similar content from followers. Most recently Taco Bell retweeted @MOGirlProbs senior photos at their restaurant, starting a nationwide trend for professional, fast food-eating photos. Get in the mind of your customers a peer.
  • They are fun. Don’t forget that this is social media, and people want to be entertained. Following the coveted 80/20 rule, Taco Bells balances having fun with their audience and pushing product sales. A mix of visual graphics and creative videos is the best way to keep your audience interested, engaged and ready for more tacos.

Taco Bell Twitter

Image via Taco Bell

Facebook: L.L. Bean

What is L.L. Bean doing right?

  • They have all the right gear. This page has everything you could want and more when it comes to content. Between breathtaking landscape photos by customers, fun promotions, events and inspiration they still have time for contests. You can’t successfully climb Mt. Everest with just a few pieces of gear; you need every piece of the puzzle to be successful.
  • They created a hub. Their page has become a place you can go for anything L.L. Bean. You can easily sign up for emails, take a look at all the upcoming events or even follow the account of a store near you for local updates. Creating a community of loyal and engaging followers.

L.L. Bean Facebook

Image via Facebook

Related Article: Post Like a Pro: Social Media Tips for Every Small Business

Instagram: General Electric

I know what you’re thinking, “General Electric has an Instagram account, and people actually follow it?” First, let me explain.

What are they doing right?

  • They have attitude. When you think of GE and social media the first thing that comes to mind: boring. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Besides naming all of their Instagram follower’s #AVGeeks they also sprinkle a little bit of humor into almost every post. From their tongue-in-cheek language to their slightly inappropriate hashtagging they have turned a boring windmill into a laugh-worthy occasion. Bottom line, it’s all about the delivery. You can make anything interesting on Instagram with the right combination of graphic and verbiage. On Instagram never be afraid to step outside the box to gain a little attention.
  • They have balance. GE has mastered the art of balance in their stream. From beautiful landscape photos with giant windmills to behind the scene employee photos. You never know quite what you are going to get with them, and that’s exciting for followers. Instagram is the place where creativity shines. Take a photo from a unique angle, shoot a hyperlapse video or share employees behind the scene. Whatever your do, don’t be dull.

General Electric Instagram

Image via Instagram

Pinterest: Lauren Conrad

I know, somewhat of an obvious choice but, as the queen of all bloggers Lauren Conrad’s Company Pinterest account is any girls dream.

What are they doing right?

  • Branding. The second you enter into the account you can see the consistent branding throughout. All boards are clean, organized and visually consistent creating an experience for the follower.
  • Pinning is winning. Pinterest is not about just sharing your personal content. It’s also about pinning other content that your followers will also be interested in seeing. Lauren Conrad knows exactly what content her followers are looking for and is consistently pinning from all sorts of similar handles creating a well-rounded and exciting feed.

Lauren Conrad Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

Related Article: The 10-Minute Social Media Workday

LinkedIn: L’Oréal

What are they doing right?

  • They skew their content. Although L’Oréal is a cosmetic brand, they have made sure to skew their content to fit into what their LinkedIn followers are interested in reading. Instead of teaching the audience how to create the perfect smoky eye, they are teaching them to how to take control of their career or showing the science behind a certain product. They prove that any company can make the most of their professional network by taking the right angle
  • They spark conversation. LinkedIn is the perfect place to get professional feedback and start great conversations. L’Oréal is consistently asking questions and engaging with their followers. Keeping the conversation and their brand relevant. 

L'Oréal LinkedIn

Image via LinkedIn

When looking at these platforms it’s not always easy to see who is doing it right or wrong. Follow the path these experts are taking and you’re sure to find success.

What are some of your favorite social media handles? Tweet us your answer @businessdotcom.

What’s Really Going On With Google+?

Last week was not a great one for Google+. In case you haven’t heard, Google announced that it was separating one of the most contested features of the social network—that you must use a Google+ account for logging into their other products, like YouTube—among other changes.

So why is that a big deal? One of the main things Google+ has going for it is sheer numbers, and that’s the one thing people focus on when talking about the good of the network. Social Media Examiner recently shared that just two weeks after its June 2011 launch, Google+ hit 10 million users. By the end of the year, 90 million users had Google+ accounts.

But those numbers are in vain, at best, because Google effectively forced users to create accounts on the platform to be used in conjunction with their more popular products. Though they have accounts, Google+’s large user base is not using the platform to engage with their circles, discover content or share their thoughts in the way they use some of the other major networks. It was recently revealed by Stone Temple Consulting that only 1 percent of Google+’s 2.2 billion users are actively posting content. Though a similar report claimed that number was 9 percent, it’s clear that compared to Facebook’s 1.49 billion active monthly users, Google+ is no longer in the big leagues. 

Related Article: Getting Candid About Google+: The Platform’s Evolving Identity Crisis

Google plus via webmetrics.esImage via Social Media Impact

Failure to Launch

Since it’s launch, Google+ has been plagued by bad (and often contradicting) press. Mashable’s write up on Google+’s “sad history” says it best: “It bet on a charismatic leader with a flawed vision, ignored troubling indications about the social network’s traction (or lack thereof) with users and continued throwing features at the wall long after many had written Google+ off for dead.” 

Even now, with Google+’s latest move, which product manager Bradley Horowitz describes as a “focus on doing what it’s already doing quite well: helping millions of users around the world connect around the interest they love,” the press is proclaiming Google+ dead in the water.

The Future Looks Fuzzy

So what is the real deal? Is Google+ dead or alive, or somewhere in between? Should we keep fostering our communities within the platform, or forget it and focus our efforts elsewhere? In my opinion, the answer is simple: keep doing what works.

For us here at Business.com, our continuously growing Google+ following is smaller than Facebook and LinkedIn, but larger than that of our main Twitter account (though @B2BOnlineMktg far surpasses it). But even though our main Twitter account following is smaller, it drives more site traffic by a long shot, and similarly, the engagement blows Google+ out of the water. Because we still have engagement and traffic from it, we continue to use Google+, though it’s no longer a network of focus. 

That being said, it’s possible that the refocus on Google+ and its new features will be the dawn of a new era for the network and its users. A post on Slate puts a positive spin on the change: 

The social network will shift emphasis to what might be its only genuine constituency: interest-based communities who use the platform to share news and comments about niche topics like photography, electric cars, and outer space. Google Plus’s new “Collections” feature will let people group their posts by topic and follow topics rather than just other users. Think of it as a sort of male-dominated mini-Pinterest.

Related Article: Social Media Marketing World: 8 Key Social Media Trends for 2015

Bringing It Back to You

Though none of Google+’s seemingly sudden changes come as a surprise to anyone that’s been familiar with social media for a while, it should affect your social strategy in the way any other network change does. 

A solid social media strategy is never ironclad, but agile and ever shifting. Because we deal with networks and platforms that are constantly changing and evolving, so should our approach to them. Keep a constant eye on the KPIs you’ve set for your social goals, and when something stops working, it’s time to change the strategy and tactics.

Don’t abandon a network of actively engaged brand advocates just because your newsfeed is filled with talk of demise. The best rule of thumb for social media is to first and foremost make sure that your audience is there. And if they are, then be a good guest at the party and be genuinely interested in the people around you. If you have target audience and engagement, the rest will fall into place, depending on your goals. But if they aren’t there, you shouldn’t be either.


Building Content Marketing’s Most Valuable Tool: The Style Guide

“We don’t need more content. We need better content, and we need to focus on creating better content.” – Ann Handley, MarketingProfs

Amen, sister. These days, content is everywhere you look. It consumes your Facebook newsfeed, Twitter feed, LinkedIn, email inbox—you name it, content is front and center.

I had the pleasure of hearing Ann Handley speak about this issue earlier this year at Social Media Marketing World.

She shared two stats that struck me: 

  • 75 percent of marketers want to create more engaging content
  • 69 percent want to be better storytellers

The reason why I find this impactful is because we’re in the same boat here at Business.com. Is our content good at engaging the reader and storytelling? Yes. Could it be better? Yes. 

These stats represent practioners in the field that are tapping content marketing, but think they could be doing it better. Very few are the examples of “what to do” and even those could use improvements. We’re all learning as we go, and we have to help each other in the journey to creating better content.

The secret sauce to content that moves mountains, according to Ann Handley, is a content style guide.  

Related Article: Streaming Happiness: Lessons From Netflix About Content Marketing

Why You Need It

If you don’t take a step back and think about your business as a whole when it comes to creating content, your content will be a lost cause from the get go. The reason, according to Handley, is that who you are, what you do and what you’re like to deal with is your tone.

The very culture of your business is your tone—it is the voice that becomes your brand ambassador to the outside world. In every piece you publish and share with the public, this voice not only communicates your mission, but also builds your brand image, empathy and story.

First Things First: Find Your Words

As the first part of the exercise, Handley recommends finding your “words”—three words that define your company. She says to steer clear of words like “friendly, reliable and honest” because those are things you should be regardless. 

Put your customer/client in it. Tufts University, for example, uses content marketing to appeal to applicants. Their three words were:

  1. Reassuring
  2. Helpful
  3. Humorous

Depending on who you ask in the company, you might get different responses, which is why this is a good exercise in branding in addition to content. To me, our three here at Business.com are:

  1. Data-driven
  2. Thought-provoking
  3. Actionable

Beyond your three words, it’s important to develop other brand specific “words.” This should be a list of words that you specifically employ to convey your tone of voice. Within this list, include jargon to use and to avoid.

Regardless of if you have just one person doing the writing on your team or if you have hundreds of contributors, this list will help you more clearly define a voice that contributes to your tone.

Related Article: Developing a Content Marketing Strategy…That Actually Works

Next Steps: Putting It Down on Paper 

Now that you have found your words, it’s time to put them into action—well, on paper that is.

Creating your own brand style guide might sound daunting, but thanks to the Internet, there are plenty of great templates and examples that exist to aid in your development.

Here are some we’ve found in our research, and that we’re currently using to develop our own Business.com Style Guide. It’s a work in progress that we’re looking forward to sharing with you when it’s complete.

Hubspot Internet Marketing Written Style Guide


Hubspot has established themselves as one of the go-to examples of content marketing. One of the things that this comprehensive style guide how-to helps you achieve is consistency, which is vital to your brand voice and tone. 

An added bonus is the section on how to implement your style guide and get buy in from those in and outside of your organization.


I currently have this template on my desktop. It is an easy-to-use template that includes all the style guide essentials. Depending on the needs of your organization, you can pick and choose what to keep, toss or expand upon. 

Or, if you’d rather, just place your logo on it and call it a day—it’s that good as is.

Buzzfeed Word ListA Glimpse of BuzzFeed’s word list


Buzzfeed has such a stellar example of a style guide that really captures tone. With hundreds of on-staff writers, plus a contributing community, it’s clear why keeping everyone aligned on tone and voice is of utmost importance. A glance at their word list and it’s clear—yep, this is Buzzfeed. 


Handley called MailChimp the “poster child for B2B” style guides, and once you see it, you’ll understand why.

In their intro, MailChimp shares what their style guide will accomplish: “This guide will cover some grammar basics, explain the types of articles we publish, and give you a sense of MailChimp’s personality.” This should be your goal, too.

They go on to share their unofficial tagline and what they are. It’s also worth a sharing:

MailChimp’s unofficial tagline is “Love what you do,” and that spirit should come through in every piece of content we produce.

MailChimp is:

  • Fun but not childish
  • Clever but not silly
  • Confident but not cocky
  • Smart but not stodgy
  • Cool but not alienating
  • Informal but not sloppy
  • Helpful but not overbearing
  • Expert but not bossy
  • Weird but not inappropriate

In Conclusion

A style guide is really much more than that. It is your brand, wrapped up in a beautiful package, that’s ready to be shared with the world through the power of words. A style guide will allow you to share the vision of your brand and it’s content with others, so that they can be a part of creating that content. 

Don’t Believe the Hype: Why Live Streaming Isn’t For Everyone

Periscope this, Meerkat that. Twitch this, YouTube that.  

Though livestreaming services have been around for years, the recent explosion of the two apps has brought it back to the forefront of our minds.

Yes, it’s incredible that modern technology has provided us the opportunities to broadcast our businesses and ourselves with the tap of a screen or the click of a button. The opportunity is great—it’s practically face-to-face communication with a very captive target audience. Your brand is on a podium, and your viewer is an attentive listener that’s plugged in socially. In short, a marketer’s dream.

But as anyone who’s ever created a webinar or a video knows, live events and video production take a lot of time, money and preparation, and live streaming is the paramount of such. On top of that, optimizing production value with a smartphone is not an easy feat.

So I’m here to say: don’t believe the hype. And if you don’t believe me, here’s what AJ Dellinger had to say in the The Daily Dot,  “Even though live streaming isn’t new, it’s never been this easy. But does anyone outside of the obsessive tech community truly even care? Probably not!”

Related Article: 5 Tools for Leveraging Your Next Networking Event AFTER It’s Over

When Live Streaming Works & Who It’s Best For

In a former life, I worked for one of the top live streaming video services. We saw plenty of great uses of the technology, most of which were B2C and consumer. The power of live streaming allowed for pop stars to do live Q&A’s, millions watched as eagles raised their young and political debates were streamed as virtual drinking games.

B2B was a bigger challenge. Live streaming worked especially well for conferences and events, and even threatened to challenge the webinar business. But in order for a brand or business to really do it well and reach their audience, they had to have the proper technology, technical skill level and marketing budgets. 

This obviously narrowed the playing field quite a bit. Which is where Periscope and Meerkat come in.

The two apps have taken the tech world by storm, and have great use cases. As displayed in Ian Adams’ Slideshare presentation, the following events are perfect for the apps: 

Live streaming usesImage via Slideshare

Related Article: 4 Ways to Lower the Cost of Making a Business Video

The Latest and “Greatest”

I’m not denying that Meerkat and Periscope greatly lower the barrier to entry to live streaming, which is something we constantly dealt with at my previous employer. It was simply too hard and too expensive for many businesses to incorporate into their marketing efforts.

For this reason alone, I think the apps are exciting for business. But here’s the reality: for the time and effort you take to prepare and even market your stream, the viewership might not be what you’re hoping for. Let’s look at the numbers. 

As reported by AdWeek, “Periscope users shared their livestreams on Twitter 1.5 million times through May 22 (1,510,709, to be exact) since… March, according to Nuvi.”

Meerkat streaming looks to be along the same lines, but is actually outperforming Periscope. Via AdWeek: “Meerkat livestream URLs were shared on Twitter 1,521,424 times during the same period.”

These figures sound impressive, but the bigger picture is that viewership and streams are not the same. Viewership numbers are hard to come by, but let’s say that every stream had an average of 100 viewers, which is extremely generous (most I’ve seen hover around 25 simultaneous viewers). That would be about 151 million and 152 million views for each network over a three-month period, respectively. 

Now consider these stats (via the Daily Dot): 

Facebook claims to have 745 million daily active users on mobile alone. 70 million pictures are posted on Instagram a day. The somewhat still in existence social network Path has 5 million daily users. Myspace manages 50 million monthly users who bother to log in and watch a digital tumbleweed roll across their screen. 

In comparison, when you think about the Periscope and Meerkat streaming figures above, they are just a blip of activity compared to other networks. And not only that, there is the challenging quality component of live streaming.

In Conclusion 

My point is not to say that these apps aren’t worth anyone’s time. I think there are people and brands using them in inventive ways, and that’s bound to continue. Meerkat and Periscope are great advancements in streaming technology, and bring about a new age in social media and it’s capabilities. 

That said, I would not recommend dedicating a portion of your marketing budget to your Periscope or Meerkat efforts. As marketers, it’s our job to tinker with the latest and greatest, but we are also charged with the task of evaluating ROI before spending a dime. Until we see that our time and money are met with the potential of a network, anything beyond experimentation should wait. 

What do you think?

Article image via Ian Adams

B2B Marketing: Focus on the Big Picture

Marketing business products and services to other businesses used to be relatively simple. You developed a series of ads touting the features and benefits of your product or service, and you ran those ads in leading trade journals and exhibited at leading trade and association shows. This straightforward approach existed for well over 100 years until the Internet came along, irrevocably changing how marketers reach, engage and sell to business decision makers.  

Today, B2B marketers have a dizzying array of brands, platforms, services and technologies being pitched to them, each touting to be more powerful than the next.

Our industry is also awash in data and analysis, fueling an endless number of silly debates like whether the average B2B purchase is 55%, 67% or more than 70% through before the buyer engages with a sales rep. Whether the average B2B buyer reads 11 or 12 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. Or whether there are 5.4 or 8.5 decision makers involved in the average B2B purchase decision. Here’s the reality; all data and analysis is directional. At best. Also bear in mind, analysts are selling you analysis.

It is easy for B2B marketers to get lost in data and analysis and have their marketing get stuck in incrementalism as a result. It’s important to understand the big trends, especially the major market transitions and how they impact your marketing. But don’t get caught up in the increasing avalanche of minutia around the lack of alignment between sales and marketing, or the buyers journey, whether content marketing works or the role of marketing automation. Focus instead on the big picture, and then match your tactics to your strategy. 

Related Article: 6 B2B Marketing Tips to Stay Ahead in 2015

There are 4 key elements to success in business marketing today:

  1. Brand Engagement: Reaching and engaging your target audience.
  2. Demand Generation: Generating prospects as they are working through their purchase process
  3. Nurturing: Qualifying and nurturing prospects into customers
  4. Retention: Renewing and growing customers and developing customers as advocates

Engineering your marketing so that these critical steps work together is the key. To be successful in these four marketing disciplines you need several things:


All successful marketing today is fueled by high quality data. Preferably 1st party data. Your target audiences rely on digital brands they trust for knowledge and insights. As they do so they leave digital footprints that reflect their intentions around the purchase of related products and services. This data is invaluable in targeting your marketing as well as for use to fuel programmatic advertising.

TIP: Make sure that your advertising is running on high quality sites that can capture audience data and provide a more compelling experience and more targeted advertising. At Business.com, we built our own data platform to capture and analyze every visit, which allows us to tailor the experience for our audience as well as increase advertising performance by contextually integrating advertising. We have also added several data platforms and services into our platform, like Krux, 6Sense and BoomTrain to provide even more value from the ongoing 1st party data we gather on our audience of business decision makers.

Multi-Channel Approach 

It used to be that multi-channel referred to on and off line. Today successful marketing is about harnessing the power of multiple online advertising products, performing in a coordinated fashion, to drive performance. Brand engagement fuels successful demand generation and successful nurturing moves a prospect into a customer.

Content Marketing

Advertising is dead. Long live content marketing. Do not waste another second debating or wondering about whether content marketing works. Invest that time and energy into getting it right.

Download our Whitepaper on Content Marketing strategy and tactics in order to navigate around the obstacles and learn how to maximize your content marketing ROI.

Related Article: Content Marketing Metrics: Write, Measure, Repeat

Brand Trust

Regardless of what you’ve been told, significant business decision makers are brand conscious for the simple reason that their jobs are on the line.

Where and how your digital marketing reaches and engages business decision makers matters far more than you might imagine. Hammering prospects via lists, unbranded emails and content syndication networks is no longer an effective model. Where you advertise, how you advertise and how you follow up once prospects engage with your advertising all contribute to your prospects understanding of your brand and the value they place on it. If they don’t trust the source, your advertising or your follow up, they won’t trust your brand. There are two key things to focus on in developing brand trust:


Consistency and continuity are the hallmarks of a trusted brand. Erratic behaviors and disjointed experiences can indicate instability or a lack of focus that will scare away your audience. 

TIP: Make sure your marketing materials share a common message, tone and esthetic. This unity of design will promote confidence and elevate your brand’s perception. 


Transparency is key for building relationships based on trust. If your audience doesn’t get the whole story, they might assume the worst. 

TIP: Quickly address mistakes or errors rather than attempting to cover them up. Treating your audience like good friends, showing respect will build a loyal following of brand advocates.

Know your buyer

Regularly analyzing customer data; renewal percentages, win/loss reports, top customers by region, category and price point, and defining clear KPI’s for customer success are important. It’s critical however to add a qualitative analysis on top of this data. Ask yourself:

  • Who is your optimal customer?
  • Which people within your target accounts influence the decision?
  • What are their motivations?
  • Are they aware of your brand?
  • How does their purchase process work?

Yes developing “buyer persona’s” is a good idea. This isn’t some mystical art however. When in doubt go meet with your prospects and ask them about their company, themselves, how they make decisions and how they feel about your brand. 

Stay focused on the big picture in your marketing strategy and don’t get distracted with the analysis paralysis that can result in your playing small ball. For more information on B2B marketing best practices, learn from our Market Experts at Business.com.


Native Video: The Major Players & Why YouTube Should Be Scared

Every day, people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views. Every minute, 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. Every month, 1 billion unique visitors are watching content on the site.  

Marketers are well aware of video’s impact. In fact, 72% of them used YouTube to market their business in 2014. But, has YouTube’s fame phased out with the evolution of native video launched by Twitter and Facebook? As brands and companies evolve their content marketing strategy, YouTube may have a reason to be scared.

The Impact of Facebook and Twitter Video

It’s too early to know what the economic impact of Facebook and Twitter’s video product means to video, but it’s clear that these new products give marketers new choices in which to distribute their videos. Now, instead of embedding the YouTube code on your site to play video natively within your content, marketers can use Facebook’s code as well.

Why Does It Matter?

Why does it matter where you publish your video?  As the second largest search engine in the world with 3 billion searches per month, it’s clear why YouTube has been the video network of choice for quite some time.  Even so, brands and marketers climb an uphill battle to get their video content viewed, and more importantly, shared.

Facebook’s native video means one very important thing: more eyeballs.

Related Article: Play It Right: Keys to a Successful Online Video Launch

Facebook’s Power Play

Though the option to share video via the social network has been available for some time, Facebook has recently put more of their eggs into the video basket. First, they made algorithm changes that gave more visibility to videos published on Facebook. This change not only gave preferential reach to videos on Facebook, it also downgraded the reach of videos from third-party platforms (i.e. YouTube).

Brands and publishers immediately glommed onto this reach-enhancing shift; Buzzfeed even published their video featuring President Obama on Facebook instead of YouTube. Digiday shared the insight that “as of November [2014], native Facebook videos accrued 80 percent of total interactions on the platform’s video posts, leaving just 20 percent for YouTube and other video formats, according to social media analytics startup Socialbakers.”

native Facebook videos accrued 80 percent of total interactions on the platform’s video posts, leaving just 20 percent for YouTube and other video formats

On March 25, Facebook used their F8 developer conference to announce that videos published within their platform would now have the ability to be embedded elsewhere on the web.

With the one-two punch of increased organic reach and embeddable video, Facebook is now a threat to YouTube’s monopoly on the video game.

Twitter: Not to Be Outdone

Twitter has long supported the sharing of video. Their 6-second, viral video-making machine, Vine, still has a strong foothold in the market, and their newest addition, Periscope, allows users to live broadcast to their Twitter feed. On top of these efforts, Twitter will soon be expanding its video capabilities to native.

As reported in TechCrunch, “The Twitter Video Player will host videos of up to 10 minutes with no limit on file size, initially supporting mp4 and mov files. There will be no ability to edit videos or schedule them within the player; at least in its first iteration. And, pointedly, the Twitter Video Player will not support videos hosted on YouTube or anywhere else, just those on its own service.”

Twitter continues to look for ways to reach new users and re-engage current users as their numbers have begun to decline. Beyond that, the focus is on expanding their advertising product suite.

Related Article: Seeing is Believing: How to Use Web Videos to Improve Your Bottom Line

What Does It All Mean for YouTube?

To be clear, the assumption that native video on Facebook or Twitter will kill YouTube is incorrect. YouTube is a destination for video, and the engaged users within the platform are not going to jump ship to Facebook or Twitter anytime soon, if not for any reason other than discovery.

What’s most important to note, though, is that views and metrics are looked at differently on each platform and therefore cannot be compared side-by-side.

As reported in Digiday, “Facebook, which autoplays videos in the news feed, counts three seconds of viewership as a view. And if you go back and watch that video again, that’s another view. For YouTube to register a view, you need to actively click (or tap) play on a video. And if you return to it later (on the same connection), YouTube won’t add to the video’s total view count.”

For marketers, this seemingly subtle difference is actually glaring, and will aid in maintaining YouTube’s value and relevance.

The Key to Opening Content’s Lock? Content Distribution

As editor in chief at Business.com, paid distribution of our content is equally as important as the production of content. With Facebook’s constant algorithm changes, and Google promoting their own content over others, content distribution requires an aspect of paid promotion in order to reach earned media.

As a rule, we don’t pay to distribute all content-our approach is to only promote stories that have proven successful organically first. It’s very similar to the approach that brands like Kraft take when using Pinterest as a sounding board for choosing the most popular images before they use them in their magazine or in commercials. For us, after an article reaches a certain organic threshold, we weave it into our paid distribution plan.

So while content is king, distribution is like parliament-it holds all the power. Here are some of the top platforms that we have found successful, and others you may want to consider. (more…)

The Key to Opening Content’s Lock? Content Distribution

the key to content success is distributionAs editor in chief at Business.com, paid distribution of our content is equally as important as the production of content. With Facebook’s constant algorithm changes, and Google promoting their own content over others, content distribution requires an aspect of paid promotion in order to reach earned media.

As a rule, we don’t pay to distribute all content—our approach is to only promote stories that have proven successful organically first. It’s very similar to the approach that brands like Kraft take when using Pinterest as a sounding board for choosing the most popular images before they use them in their magazine or in commercials. For us, after an article reaches a certain organic threshold, we weave it into our paid distribution plan.

So while content is king, distribution is like parliament—it holds all the power. Here are some of the top platforms that we have found successful, and others you may want to consider.

Content Distribution for Page Views

If your goal is just to drive page views and nothing more, Facebook, Outbrain and Taboola have worked for us. But, here’s the catch: if you have a smaller team and want a managed solution, SimpleReach is that solution. They work with 100+ publishers and have a predictive algorithm to determine how many social referrals an article will drive based on the acceleration of social sharing and resulting page views. Though we’ve occasionally seen bugs in the interface and discrepancies in the data, overall they are very customer-facing and a perfect managed solution if you are trying to drive page views and determine which pieces of content are resonating with the social audience.

According to Kent Krekorian, VP of Operations, they are “the only platform with code on-page, giving them the ability to close the loop between what’s happening on distribution channels and your site, optimizing paid distribution for content that maximizes organic traffic. To me, focusing on prediction and real-time adjustment is much more effective than looking in the past and determining what worked.

If you have internal resources available, Facebook, Outbrain and Taboola interfaces are all very user-friendly, targeted and allow you to optimize bids and content based off audience.

Content Distribution for Brand Credibility and Direct Visits

If you are looking for ways to increase your brand awareness, drive direct visits, increase demand generation inquiries, and build direct traffic to the site, Nativo and Flipboard have solutions for all three.

Flipboard aggregates content through links culled from users’ social media accounts and has 150 million users digesting content. Up until recently, Flipboard was only designed for tablets and smartphones, but just announced a new application tailored for desktop. In November, they reported that their readers were flipping about 8 billion pages per month. That’s a lot of pages. For more on publishing and advertising with Flipboard, they have a nice, clean Q & A section here.

Nativo is a straight native placement play. You won’t get traffic back to your site as the content resides natively within the publisher’s site. This one that, in theory, is really interesting, here’s the problem I have with it.: native ads can’t be the same piece of content and a mechanical distribution. Native placements must be placed and crafted specifically for the audience that it’s serving.

Producing unique creative for each placement is expensive. If other companies are successfully using the same creative placed natively in various publishers, I want to know how they’re doing it, and replicate it quick.

Content Syndication Only

If you are looking for true syndication only, Newscred and a handful of others do this well. The problem is that most sites don’t handle syndication properly and doesn’t adhere to Google’s guidelines and recommendations around syndication, which are:

  • Use the rel=canonical tag to help consolidate the PageRank of the stories and avoid any issues with Google (source: Search Engine Land)
  • Link back to the original article and provide attribution back to the original source

If you are not concerned about which site will rank for a piece of content than Newscred is a platform you should consider, if you qualify. Characterized as a content marketing platform, they have a syndication solution allowing brands to add content to their system, which is then hand-picked by their editorial staff.

If you get accepted into their publisher platform, you can show up on sites like Visa, Hartford or even Pepsi. In the Visa example, you can see that Gigaom, The Next Web, etc. all get exposure through their content, but there are no links or canonical back to the original article. There’s just one line that says “This article was written by Kevin Fitchard from GigaOm and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.”

Other Tools You May Want to Rethink

Other tools like Zemanta and PRNewswire are often mentioned as another distribution channel. Zemanta claims that they place links back to your site on credible sites in your arena. If you really manage it daily, this is probably true. If you don’t, it’s a disaster. We started showing up on Chinese language sites (which we only operate in the U.S.), X-rated sites and mom and pop sites about raising kids (we are strictly B2B), so it wasn’t valuable for the audience or for us.

PR Newswire and other PR distribution sites are also not a great option if you are trying to drive links or traffic. If, and only if, your content is of value to the media should you use these channels. I may be old school, but my background in public relations still holds true—don’t make it all about you when pitching to the media, make it about them.

Native Advertising: What Is It Exactly?

Native advertising this, programmatic that. The buzzwords fly freely, but does anyone ever take a moment to really explain what the heck is going on in plain English? The reality is that new “trends” are really old ones, re-packaged or spun a bit, and that is definitely the case with native advertising. So what is it, how does it work, and how can you get in on the action? Keep reading.

What Is It?

Simply put, native advertising is a form of sponsored content. Wherever it is, be it Twitter, Facebook or your website, it looks like it’s supposed to be there. It is the definition of contextual. Let’s take a promoted pin, for instance: (more…)