Teens, you deserve a life free from phones and social media. Here's how to get it.
Anyone with a smartphone lives in fear of missing out at some point.
I've personally watched my Boomer parents' eyes glaze over as they sit at the dinner table and scroll through Facebook. As a Gen X/Millennial Cusper (a Xennial, if you will), I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone, but still compulsively update Apple News.
The truth is, we feel drawn to our mobile devices because they deliver an exciting emotional rush every time we hold those shiny little computers in our hands and reveal what's new in the world.
Yet my parents and I — and everyone else who became a teenager before high-speed internet hit most American households — have something that today's youth don't: the luxury of knowing what it's like to be still.
If you keep a phone or mobile device close by, then you know it's always beeping, buzzing, or begging for your attention. When new technology comes out (think: radio, television, video games), it tends to draw us away from our innermost selves. But constant access to the internet is something else altogether because it can obliterate the solitude humans have known for millennia — downtime that studies show is essential for thriving.
Now, new research suggests this relentless background noise may take a disturbing toll on teen mental health and emotional well-being.
This is the upsetting premise of Jean Twenge's new book iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us. Twenge defines iGen, otherwise known as Generation Z, as beginning in 1995 — "the year the internet was born." That's when eBay, Amazon, and GeoCities all launched, and when Microsoft released the first version of Internet Explorer.
Twenge, a San Diego State University psychology professor, argues that certain studies and large-scale mental health surveys of adolescents and teens indicate their emotional well-being began deteriorating in the last 10 years. The downward trend looks particularly startling in 2012 — the year, Twenge notes, that more than 50 percent of American households owned a smartphone.
The prevalence of depression for adolescents and teens increased between 2005 and 2014. The suicide rate also rose sharply between 2007 and 2015 while the number of children and teens admitted to hospitals for suicidal thoughts or self-harm doubled during roughly the same time period. Twenge's analysis of national survey data indicates that teens started feeling more lonely in 2013, after declining modestly in previous years. While historical data show that emotional well-being ebbs and flows from generation to generation, Twenge has been shocked by how abruptly and starkly iGen began showing signs of distress.
Plenty of teens in the mid-'90s were also struggling, and the stigma surrounding mental health treatment was far greater then. Yet you could often count on moments of silence to provide refuge from the chaos of adolescence. Even on my busiest days, playing in weekend soccer tournaments, trying to catch up on the never-ending homework, and going out with friends, my free time wasn't broken into a random collection of minutes defined by pings and clicks.
I could spend hours making mix tapes, listening to Loveline on the radio, watching Buffy, and even going online via a painfully slow dial-up modem. I routinely immersed myself in a single activity without much disruption. And when all of that ceased to entertain, what followed next was often a reverie of daydreaming, overwrought journaling, or jags of creativity.
To be sure, mine was a privileged existence, even if it didn't always feel that way in comparison to my wealthy classmates. Many teens — then and now — don't experience that quiet because they must work, watch siblings, or have no privacy of their own. Those without that calm now also have to contend with the exhausting demands of living a digital life.
While I may have feared missing out on social outings organized by the cool kids on the weekends, I wouldn't hear about those till Monday, if ever. I didn't have to relive the exclusion in perpetuity thanks to social media. And when I was invited to hang out with the cool kids, I never worried about capturing the perfect selfie to share online.
More importantly, in those moments of boredom, silence, and yes, anxiousness, there were only so many ways I could avoid being alone with myself. Crossing the threshold into your own mind and spirit — getting lost in a world that is of your making — can be a rite of passage for the young. But today's teens may not understand that experience; they've been thrust into the world with social media and a smartphone as their constant companions — for better and worse.
The adults in their lives may worry about "screen time," cyberbullying, and porn, but no one is necessarily teaching teens how to be alone with their thoughts, or why that's important in the first place. Parents probably take that skill and knowledge for granted and may not want to admit that it's difficult for them to unplug, too.
If this sounds like an Old Person Rant about how the kids today have got it all wrong, rest assured this isn't a lecture. I know that each generation is successively worried about the next, convinced that technological innovation keeps removing us, inch by inch, from our humanity.
This isn't moral panic, either. I don't believe that social media and smartphones are boogeymen out to snatch children's souls. Both aspects of technology have transformed our ability to communicate and connect in undeniably positive ways. Still, I'm troubled by the research featured in iGen suggesting that today's youth are on the brink of an alarming mental health crisis. Numerous signs point to phones and social media as potential culprits.
"What is most worrying about these trends is how pervasive they are," Twenge told me. "They show up in the most serious outcomes like suicide, but also in symptoms of depression, anxiety, loneliness, happiness, and life satisfaction."
Twenge acknowledges that she can't prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the widespread use of smartphones and worsening mental health for teens. But she does persuasively argue against possible explanations like homework load and the Great Recession by looking at the onset of mental health trends, the timing of external events, and whether those are linked to negative effects on a person's well-being.
Sleep deprivation, which can lead to symptoms related to anxiety, depression, and suicidal behavior, is on the rise. That might explain heightened feelings of despair, but guess why teens may not be sleeping as much? Nighttime use of electronic media looks partly to blame, according to research.
Twenge has her share of critics who argue that she's cherry-picked data to prove her thesis. Some research indicates that social media and smartphones can help people develop positive connections and traits, but other studies reveal a potentially negative effect on mental health and happiness.
It's essential that future research answer, as conclusively as possible, whether moderate or obsessive social media and smartphone use leads to negative mental health outcomes. In the meantime, we must find a middle ground between condescending to teens about their use of technology and dismissing concern about that trend as alarmist.
When I recently spoke to Gabby Frost, a 19-year-old who founded the Buddy Project, a suicide and self-harm prevention initiative, about her experience with smartphones and social media, she shared a bittersweet perspective.
The internet helped a shy and anxious Frost form relationships as an adolescent and teenager. She even founded an influential nonprofit organization that relies on digital technology. But at the same time, she looked back on the years she's spent tethered to her phone and recalled how it separated her from family, subjected her to painful online harassment, and weakened her attention span.
"I feel like being alone is definitely a hard thing to kind of grasp," she said. "We were given technology and grew up with it. We learned the phone culture from our siblings and parents. I feel like we need help from the older generation, or people our age who get it, that we should not be on the phone 24/7."
Frost makes an effort to put her phone away for long stretches of time so she can paint, craft, or listen to music while traveling. These "tangents" often bring new ideas or revelations, a sensation Frost is still learning to appreciate.
Teens can come up with their own strategies, but ignoring their phones for a few hours at a time is a good start. Talking to a parent or trusted adult about ways to create and experience solitude is also smart. For some people, especially those coping with anxiety and depression, being alone with your thoughts isn't always pleasant, so exploring therapy or yoga and meditation practices could help manage those fears. Writing about how you feel on days with and without your phone and social media could help articulate feelings you didn't even know you had — and provide convincing evidence about the emotional effects of both habits.
Teens have forever to spend on the internet but only a relatively short period during adolescence and young adulthood to be unapologetically immersed in understanding who they are and who they want to become. When they think of FOMO, I hope what comes to mind aren't the Insta posts, Snapchat stories, and viral Twitter threads. Those have value, but they also produce a never-ending stream of notifications and updates that distract teens from something irreplaceable: the chance to reflect, create, and dream.
If you take one message from this Old, let it be to never surrender those quiet moments to the banality of the internet. Trust me: That's a skill you're going to need for the rest of your life.
If you want to talk to someone about what you're feeling, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Here is a list of international resources.
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August 31, 2017 at 01:56PM
The Future of AI and Chatbots: What Comes Next?
The world has Siri.
The world embraces Alexa.
Cars are driving themselves, sort of.
So, what’s next for artificial intelligence? What about chatbots and customer service?
One person that has a handle on the future of this industry is that of Tim Hayden.
Tim Hayden has had more than his fair share of experiences in artificial intelligence. As an avid investor in tech startups, and a trusted consultant for the leading brands in the country, Tim shows companies how to embrace technology and improve their brand.
Just a few brands Tim has helped include Dell, Bacardi, AMD, and ExxonMobil. As the founder of NION Interactive, GamePlan, and 44Doors, Tim works as a catalyst for change. Today, he sits down to share his insights on the future of artificial intelligence – including what companies and consumers can expect to see in the form of brand communication.
Artificial Intelligence Has Been Around for Decades
While only recently have consumers started to interact with AI and use AI in their homes, it is a form of technology that has been around for decades.
Tim highlights how applications like Siri, Google Now, Alexa, Cortana, and other similar applications use AI to generate answers and perform tasks for users.
Some exciting changes are coming for AI. A few of these technologies are already engaging in real world testing, while others are mere theories.
What Does the Future Hold for AI?
During his interview, Tim shared some of the emerging technologies and how they benefit consumers and brands alike.
Applications that Automate Customer Care Tasks
Big retailers with local and online stores find that simple tasks take up a majority of their human customer service representatives’ time. Companies like Victoria’s Secret, who have over 60,000 packages shipped daily, utilize artificial intelligence to manage those simple interactions. For example, if a customer wants to return an item that doesn’t fit, they can chat with a bot to facilitate the return and find a replacement item from that same catalog without waiting for a customer service representative to become available.
Geotagging for Location-Based Marketing
Another technology emerging is location-based marketing through geotagging. When companies program their chat bots or apps to recognize specific locations on smartphones, their Messenger or app bot can then pop up when a consumer is close to a retail location.
Time highlights the Apple Wallet. Consumers who have Apple Wallet co-op cards stored in their account will receive notifications about locations nearby for that particular retailer.
These chatbots are conversational, can share current sales, and even learn the products that the consumer likes to buy so that they can upsell those products when they are in proximity to the store.
It is a prime opportunity for local retailers to utilize passive traffic and increase conversions, too.
The Smart Refrigerator
The smart refrigerator is already a fixture in some modern homes. However, it is the start of smart appliances making life more convenient. For example, the current smart refrigerators tell homeowners what they have in their inventory, and some units already re-order when items are low or depleted.
Technology Eventually Replaces the Mundane Simple Tasks of Life
Tim predicts that one of the biggest changes artificial intelligence will bring is that it can replace the mundane, simple tasks that humans must do. From ordering a car to re-ordering groceries, machines can learn how to perform these tasks and replace the human element. However, he points out they are there for convenience.
Naturally, some forms of AI require human intervention – like self-driving vehicles.
Tim does predict that in the next five years, AI will be advanced enough to make life more convenient, including reordering and fulfilling orders to lighten the load of the average consumer or small business.
While technology will replace certain aspects, Tim warns small businesses and large brands from replacing customer service entirely with chatbots and AI. After all, consumers demand that human touch when they interact with a brand. Replacing all customer service representatives with chatbots would do more harm for a brand than good.
Instead, there must be a balance between the automation and the human element. Furthermore, Tim encourages every business to ask why they are implementing AI, and how it would affect their business model if they were to replace all human workers with AI completely.
As an innovator and fan of utilizing technology to benefit business, Tim is the leading expert to follow if you want to learn more about AI. Follow him on LinkedIn or Twitter @TheTimHayden or visit his website at Brand+Trust Partners to see their weekly blog updates, research, and insight.
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August 31, 2017 at 10:01AM
5 Social Sharing Tools for Teams
Looking for tools to manage the content people share on social?
In this article, you’ll discover five tools that will help you coordinate the content your team posts on social media.
#1: Leverage Employee Advocacy With Smarp
If you’re looking for ways to increase social shares of your content, investing in an employee advocacy tool like Smarp may be a good option for you. Smarp makes it easy to encourage employees to share your content, as well as curated third-party content that’s relevant to your niche.
If your employees are already using social media to increase lead capture or boost their personal brands, they’re surely always on the lookout for good on-topic content to share. Smarp can help them share the right content, benefiting your business in turn.
Smarp offers a 14-day free trial, after which you’ll need to upgrade to one of the paid plans, which start at $3.98/month. As an admin, you can use the browser extension to push content to your team’s Smarp feed, where employees can see your suggestions. You can also integrate your company’s social media accounts and RSS feeds so content gets posted automatically.
Employees can share content from your team’s feed to the social networks they’ve connected to their Smarp profiles. The app makes it easy to share content via copied URLs too.
Smarp also lets employees suggest and comment on content, which helps build a sense of camaraderie. To encourage sharing, you can award points when employees share a post or invite more users. They can then exchange these points for rewards or a charitable donation.
Employees are ranked on a gamified leaderboard based on performance, which helps foster competition and boost sharing.
Smarp has built-in analytics that let admins track post, employee, and team performance. In addition to standard social media metrics like post engagement and reach, Smarp tracks earned media value (EMV), which is what you would have paid to drive similar impact using native promoted posts. It’s a handy way to track the ROI of your employee advocacy efforts.
Admin analytics also make it easy to identify in-house influencers and make adjustments to your bounty point modeling to incentivize the types of activity that serve your business best.
Make sure you integrate your RSS feed with your dashboard so content will automatically appear. You’ll need to manually post links to lead magnets and similar content. Smarp lets you reorder items so your most important content appears at the top.
For manually posted content, you can schedule set times for the content to appear and be archived (disappear).
Along with links to content, be sure to post photos of employees at work and photos from events. Employees are more likely to share photos, especially if they appear in them. These photos can unify your company and strengthen work culture, and help with social recruiting.
Takeaway: The main benefit of using an employee advocacy tool like Smarp is that it can increase shares, traffic, and hopefully sales. Along with this, you can get a slew of other benefits like a stronger work culture and credibility.
#2: Streamline Content Distribution With Anders Pink
Anders Pink is a content curation platform designed by the people behind BuzzSumo. It helps you and your team find and share the most popular niche-relevant content on the web so you can build authority, gain followers, and increase engagement.
With the free account, you’ll get access to basic features. If you want to use Anders Pink with your team, you’ll need to upgrade to one of the team plans, which start at $39/month.
You can sign up with either your Twitter account or your email account. Be sure to link your Anders Pink and Twitter accounts to see the top-engaged content shared by people in your network.
After you log in, choose some topics of interest.
The app will then show you the best content related to those topics from around the web. Click See More to discover more and filter articles on a specific topic.
In the left menu, click Discover to see even more content or click Latest News to see the freshest posts from top news sites.
One of Anders Pink’s best features is briefings, which help you quickly find high-quality, topic-specific content. To set up a briefing, click Briefings > Create Briefings in the left menu. Then pick some topics or source options.
After adding your topics, you can filter your search by adding or excluding certain words and limiting sites. If you’d like, one of these sites can be your own.
Once you’ve created your briefing, click Save and give it a name and description. You can even choose to make it publicly available. Some people have created publicly available briefings that you can follow in the Discover section.
Briefings are updated every few hours so you’ll see the latest content available. You can adjust the settings to see content published up to three months back.
If you have a team plan, you can share your briefings with your team. To set up a team, click your profile name in the top-right corner and select Create Team.
Give your team a name, invite users to join your team, and adjust the team settings. Save your settings when you’re finished.
Now when you set up new briefings, everyone on your team will be able to view the content.
Team members can recommend content by clicking the thumbs up icon, save articles they like, and even leave comments. When you leave comments, you can tag other team members. These discussions may help you decide what content to post, when to post it, and what descriptions/hashtags to add.
To share an article, click Share and choose your social network or schedule your share with Buffer.
Takeaway: Anders Pink can help your team stay organized and develop a system to consistently distribute content published by you or anyone else.
#3: Manage Content Curation With Inoreader
While Anders Pink is great for discovering trending content on social media, it’s not the best solution for automating content curation from sites you already know and trust. For this, you need a sophisticated newsreader like Inoreader.
With a free account, Inoreader lets you subscribe to the RSS feeds of blogs you follow or search for specific topics to find blogs to follow. For instance, a search for “science” reveals the following results in the feeds filter. To subscribe to a feed, click the + sign.
When you follow a feed, you have the option to add the feed to a folder to make it easy to find later on. You can create as many folders as you like.
For example, you might create folders based on specific topics or people with whom you want to build relationships. This makes it easy to curate the right content at the right times.
The feeds are updated every 10 minutes. If you upgrade to a paid plan, you can set rules to update your team via email, push out desktop alerts, or even automate shares when fresh content appears. Paid plans start at $14.99/year; free trials are available.
To set up a rule, right-click on a folder or subscription and select Create Rule.
In the pop-up window, give the rule a name and choose a trigger. I like to use the trigger New Article in Folder so I’m updated as soon as the article appears. You can also set filters to receive updates only for certain posts.
Finally, choose if you prefer to be updated by email, desktop alert, or push to a third-party service. Then save your rule. Now you and your team will be among the first to share fresh content from that particular site, author, or social presence.
To share content, just open the article and click one of the share icons below the post.
To reveal additional sharing options, click the down-arrow to the right of the Google+ icon. Among the share options are Hootsuite and Buffer, which make it easy to schedule content.
Inoreader lets you view which of your teammates have shared your content and lets teammates leave comments.
Takeaway: Inoreader is a great tool for automatically suggesting shareworthy content from sites you want to build relationships with, as well as content sources your ideal audience likely trusts. It can help you discover new sites too, but Anders Pink is better for that. Set up workflows that combine these two tools, and you and your team of co-advocates will have plenty of content to share.
#4: Coordinate Social Content Delivery With Buffer for Business
You might have noticed that Anders Pink and Inoreader make it easy to share content with Buffer, which is free to use and has one of the best interfaces for social scheduling. You probably already have an account.
To get the most out of Buffer as a team, though, you need a Buffer for Business account. It lets you set up access for a higher volume of logins (from 5 to 25, depending on the tier you select) and even more social profiles (5 per “seat”). Your account will also get access to detailed analytics that show how well your posts perform over time.
Buffer offers a 14-day free trial of its business account, after which you’ll pay $10/month.
To add team members to your account, click on Admin in the top-right corner and select Team Members.
Click Invite a New Team Member and then add the names and email addresses of the people you want to join your team. Choose which of your business’s social networks they can access.
You can also assign a membership level. Your two options are Approval Required, which lets team members only suggest content, and Full Posting Access, which lets them schedule posts on behalf of others. Suggested content will be scheduled only after you approve each post.
If team members want to suggest or schedule content, they can use the Buffer browser extension to add any URL to the queue.
Team users can also add content directly from the Content Inbox. This Buffer feature lets you connect blog feeds. When posts go live, Buffer gives you the option to schedule them quickly, as you can see below.
Because it’s easy to manually adjust posting schedules, you can be confident that your team’s posts will go out at optimal times.
To be certain that your team is coordinating and posting like a well-oiled machine, you can analyze their performance with Buffer for Business’s detailed analytics.
Takeaway: While Anders Pink and Inoreader are great for finding content to share, they don’t offer all of the advanced scheduling features that Buffer provides. Therefore, it’s a good idea to combine their strengths with Buffer’s to increase engagement.
#5: Simplify Social Sharing With Triberr
One of the best ways for blogs to grow is by taking part in “tribes,” where different members of a like-minded community support each other by discussing and sharing one another’s content.
Triberr simplifies the social sharing aspect of this type of activity. On Triberr, people can create tribes and invite others to join them. The tribe members can connect their RSS feeds for automated pushes that yield a high volume of shares, assuming the tribe is highly engaged and vigilant about helping each other out.
Triberr’s free plan lets you create three tribes and connect two blogs. For additional features, you’ll need to upgrade to a premium plan, starting at $8.50/month.
When you publish a new blog post, it appears in your tribe and members of the tribe can share the content directly from their Triberr dashboards.
Once they do so, you’ll see an “Affinity” label next to the post and the post will bump to the top of your feed. When people are informed of co-shares, it encourages reciprocity. After all, the idea is to build a mutually beneficial relationship among all members of your tribe.
Tribe owners can also see who is active and inactive, which makes it easy to boot people who aren’t pulling their weight.
In addition to getting shares of your content, Triberr is a useful tool for finding great content to share and building relationships with relevant micro-influencers.
To find tribes to join, you’ll need to get an invitation from the tribe owner. Just head to the Tribes section on the menu bar.
To search for Tribes, filter by category, number of users, and reach. When you’re first starting out here, look for tribes with fewer users so it’s easier to remember who’s who and build relationships attentively.
Browse through the results and click through to the tribes most likely to match. Follow the tribes you’re interested in and contact the owners on the Members tab, where they’ll be listed as chief.
If you check out these user profiles, you’ll find a link to their website and social media accounts. This makes it easy to reach out to relevant chiefs so you can ask them to invite you to their tribes.
Takeaway: Join and build as many small tribes as you can and begin sharing a lot of content from here so you can build your Triberr authority. Once you build a presence on smaller Tribes, you can shoot for bigger ones. Sometimes just regular sharing will lead to receiving invitations to more tribes.
With algorithm-powered news feeds making it increasingly hard for businesses to get posts seen by their followers, promoting content on social media has started to feel like a pay-to-play shakedown. Peer-to-peer sharing, however, continues to thrive, with micro-influencers and niche thought leaders now relishing their roles as hubs of useful information.
This is where strong relationships with a lot of people come in handy. Having a strategy that gets people to share will naturally help you reach more people because the sum of their audiences will likely be greater than your own.
It isn’t just about the number of people reached, though. Your content also reaches different people who may not have seen your content before. These newer visitors will be more likely to convert to social media followers, subscribers, and customers.
Of course, developing a reputation for thought leadership and driving qualified traffic requires finding the right mix of content by you, content about you, and content that’s simply relevant to you and interesting to your audience. That’s why curating content is likewise a key element to a successful team posting strategy.
But going about this manually can take a colossal amount of time, and the larger your army of social media advocates gets, the harder it’ll be to coordinate with everyone without making any mistakes. The five tools above can help you and your allies synchronize for maximum impact.
What do you think? Do you use any of the above tools to post content as a team at your company? Would you like to add any to the list? Please leave your comments below.
August 31, 2017 at 05:03AM
Oops: An Instagram bug let a hacker access phone numbers and email addresses
Oops: An Instagram bug let a hacker access phone numbers and email addresses"I'll take that one, and that one, oh and that one too."
Image: Ambar Del Moral/mashable
By Jack Morse2017-08-31 00:09:32 UTC
What's shady, possibly wearing a hoodie, and is currently sitting on the stolen personal information of an untold number of high-profile Instagram users?
That would be — SURPRISE! — a random hacker. Or several of them.
"We recently discovered that one or more individuals obtained unlawful access to a number of high-profile Instagram users’ contact information — specifically email address and phone number — by exploiting a bug in an Instagram API," an Instagram spokesperson told Mashable via email. "No account passwords were exposed. We fixed the bug swiftly and are running a thorough investigation."
Instagram isn't saying much more than that, and declined to provide details like just how many accounts were targeted and who specifically may have fallen victim. However, the fact that the company is notifying every single verified user of the breach suggests the number is high. Overall, the service boasts more than 700 million monthly active users.
“At this point we believe this effort was targeted at high-profile users so, out of an abundance of caution, we are notifying our verified account holders of this issue," the Instagram spokesperson explained.
And just how many verified users are there? When asked, the spokesperson declined to comment. The spokesperson did confirm, however, that the company is aware of one specific person who had breached the system — so at least there's that.
Notably, news of this hack comes on the heels of an embarrassing moment for the company. Selena Gomez, who with 125 million followers has one of the most popular accounts on Instagram, had her account hacked just a few days ago. Whoever took control of that account used the opportunity to post nude pics of Justin Bieber, so you know this is some serious shit.
And while all the non-verified account holders can, for now, breathe a sigh of relief that they apparently weren't targeted this time around, they shouldn't mistake that luck for security. Rather, they should take this as an opportunity to enable two-factor authentication and make sure they have a unique password for each online account.
Oh, and while they're at it, maybe cross their fingers and hope that Instagram doesn't again fall prey to a solitary hacker with an apparent grudge against the verifieds of the social media world.
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August 30, 2017 at 07:30PM
How to Turn Non-Marketers into Awesome Social Sellers
It’s not strictly marketing and it’s not strictly sales. We’re talking about social selling; that new hybrid discipline that is becoming increasingly important for so many brands. At the bottom of this trend is a simple truth: Your marketing team and your sales team are both trying to connect with the same people. They just happen to be doing so at different stages of the funnel…hopefully. And in each of those stages, your prospects are looking to their own social networks for input, long before they formally engage with your organization.
Taking a look at the key differences between social selling and the traditional sales model, we can clearly see that our professional networks—both online and off—play a big role.
Why Your Company Needs More Social Sellers
For social selling to be truly effective, teams need to leverage input from across the company—from marketers, salespeople and beyond. This is where the marketing team has a mandate to help empower the sales team. To do this, they must engage subject matter experts in their overall social strategy, to help inform and create content. Then they must enable and encourage team members across the company to help promote the brand on their own social networks, a practice called “employee advocacy.”
According to research by Hinge, employee advocacy brings a number of important benefits to an organization, including KPIs like higher inbound traffic, more content downloads, shortened sales cycles and improved conversion rates. Social selling, when done well, works!
Now, asking non-marketers and non-salespeople to help engage in social selling can be tricky. Everyone’s got their own work to do, and you might get some pushback about “doing your job for you.” It’s important to understand that this is a not a one-sided ask. Aside from the proven benefits to the company, employee advocates themselves see some distinct advantages to participating. The same research from Hinge, mentioned above, shows that brand advocates enjoyed an expanded professional network, improved ability to keep up on industry news and trends, more career opportunities, and greater recognition as thought leaders in their niches.
For marketers, the challenge of bringing in “outsiders” to your carefully curated social media processes can be daunting, if not downright scary. Your employee advocates will need training and support from the marketing team, on everything from creating solid social profiles to understanding what content to share, when and where to share it, and why.
Tools for Getting Everyone On Board With Social Selling
Fortunately, as employee advocacy and social selling grow in importance, so do the tools that make it possible to implement these functions successfully. Let’s look at some apps you can use to get the folks on your team working toward social selling success.
1. Smarp: This employee advocacy app helps bring company news and sales enablement content to your employees across the board. From the advocate’s perspective, it makes it easy to know what to share and why. And from the marketing point of view, it provides powerful analytics that can help you visualize your entire team’s social engagement. It can also be used as a company intranet, easing information flow and making collaboration fun and easy.
2. OfficeVibe: Want to check the pulse of your company’s various departments so you can build out resources to help with social selling? This tool makes it easy to take quick employee surveys, find the hot-button issues, and create strategic content to meet the need. For example, checking in with the product development department, you might learn that a new feature that many sales prospects have been requesting for months is about to drop.
3. Evernote: As people on your team become active brand advocates, they’ll start to generate new ideas for content and social campaigns. Evernote makes it easy to jot down ideas, turn them into PDFs for presentations, and share those notes with other team members. It’s a great way to encourage staff to bring their subject matter expertise to the table.
4. Point: Ever run across an article and wonder if it could help solve a problem for another team member, customer, or department? Point makes it easy to share this kind of information. Highlight the relevant text, add a comment, and send it off to the people you think would find it useful. This can be especially effective for sharing industry news from, say, the accounting department, that might have an impact on your customers. It’s also a great way of soliciting quotes from your subject matter experts (SMEs) on specific topics.
5. Slack: It’s basically a powerful chat platform for teams, offering instant messaging, file sharing and other productivity functionalities. Consider using it to encourage sharing of interesting links, articles, documents, etc. that might make good social content. It’s an easy way to engage and get input from your SMEs, too.
Reaping the Benefits of Your Social Selling Army
The organic reach of company Facebook Pages continues to decline, in favor of pay-to-play promotional campaigns. This means your brand content is not as effective as it used to be in reaching your audience, and marketers are increasingly looking to social selling, a peer-to-peer strategy, to help close that gap. Each of your employees has a network, and leveraging it to help promote your brand can result in exponentially greater exposure. Smarp estimates that the average employee has a 400-person network on LinkedIn alone. Do the math for your organization and see what kind of immediate exposure this could bring.
Clearly, social selling can have a huge impact on your brand. Engage your entire company in the process of social selling, give them the tools and the training they need to have fun with it and to be successful, and introduce your army of social sellers to the world!
The post How to Turn Non-Marketers into Awesome Social Sellers appeared first on Social Media Explorer.
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August 30, 2017 at 09:42AM
How to Improve Your LinkedIn Engagement
Wondering how to increase views and shares of your LinkedIn content?
In this article, you’ll discover five simple tactics to improve engagement on your LinkedIn posts.
#1: Write Text-Only Posts
You’ve probably heard that people engage more when a social media post shows an image or video. Although that might be true on platforms like Twitter, this tactic doesn’t seem to work on LinkedIn.
In fact, my preferred LinkedIn posting strategy used to be linking to useful content that I’d found or written. Sometimes, these updates included an image and a link, or an image without a link. Pretty typical stuff, right?
The problem was that this strategy didn’t work. Over time, viewing figures for my updates were going down. However, engagement figures for my text-only posts (those without links, images, or tags) weren’t going down. These text-only posts were performing much better than every other kind of update.
Think about your own experience with LinkedIn. Every so often, you’ll see a short text-only post in your stream that has a stack of likes and comments. How often do you see an update get that sort of engagement when it contains a link to a blog or some other third-party site? That’s rare.
For the past two months, my text-only posts have received on average three times more views than posts that contain links to external sites. Posts with images perform better than posts with links, but neither performs anywhere near as well as short text-only posts.
LinkedIn lets you include up to 1,300 characters in a post, which is roughly 250 words. Although that’s barely the equivalent of a very short blog post, you still have enough space to include some detail. For example, this post about applying for a job is about 240 words.
If you need more space than that, you could always publish an article on Publisher, LinkedIn’s built-in blogging platform.
Why Do Text-Only Posts Work?
It makes sense that LinkedIn doesn’t want to display too many posts containing links to third-party sites. Each time someone clicks one of those links, they leave the LinkedIn platform. That means they spend less time on LinkedIn.
This gives LinkedIn a smaller window of opportunity to show ads or upsell services such as LinkedIn Premium. Therefore, LinkedIn doesn’t prefer anything that potentially will push users away from the platform. LinkedIn isn’t alone though; the same thing happens on every other social network too.
How to Write Effective Text-Only Posts
Here are a few tips for writing text-only posts on LinkedIn:
Keep it short. No one wants to read walls of text. Also, on LinkedIn mobile, a See More link appears on text updates longer than five lines. On the desktop version, your post is cut off after only three lines. With these limits in mind, if you use a storytelling approach, put a compelling hook in the first line to encourage people to read the whole post.
Ask a question. Anything that elicits a response will increase engagement. Make your question easy to answer and relevant to your field.
Take a stand. If you have an opinion on a relevant topic, share it and invite comments. If you can back up your stance with solid reasoning and evidence, people may begin to see you as a thought leader in your field.
Include links in the comments. Make your initial post text only, but then post a reply that includes the link that you wanted to share (if there is one). The same goes for images: post them as replies.
Beware of inflammatory or sensationalist opinions and rhetoric. Such posts are rarely justified on social media or anywhere else. Also, be careful about posting moans and mini-rants, which often draw a lot of comments and can result in thousands of views but work only when they’re authentic. You don’t want your stance to do long-term damage to your credibility.
#2: Like Your Own Posts
Why does a Like button appear next to your own social media posts? Is it really okay to give yourself a thumbs-up, heart, or whatever is the latest symbol of approval? It almost feels like a trick: “Here’s a button that you really shouldn’t click.” However, ignoring this button is a mistake, because liking your own posts and status updates will increase engagement with the post.
The same goes for liking your own comments. This tactic is especially powerful if others have commented on your post because they’ll continue to see notifications about new likes and comments on the post, and that might encourage them to contribute again in some way.
Liking your own posts helps because people are more likely to interact with content if others have interacted first. Put another way, if the dance floor is empty, it takes guts to be the first person to hop up and start busting a move. But if others are there already, it’s much easier to join the party.
#3: Engage With Comments
Pay attention to anyone who takes time out of their day to leave a comment on one of your posts or status updates. Like user comments and post replies to continue the discussion.
People who have commented will see a notification and that could drive further engagement, ideally leading them to share your post with their network.
#4: Record and Share Native Video
With LinkedIn native video in the mobile app, you can record a video inside the app or upload a pre-made video from your camera roll. To find the video feature in the most current version of the app, look for the video camera icon in the top-right corner.
Just as with Facebook, native video on LinkedIn autoplays on mute. Because the LinkedIn video feature currently doesn’t add captions for you, share videos that have captions “burned in” (that is, the captions are part of the video file) to help catch people’s attention and increase engagement.
There are various ways to add captions to video. If you’re on iOS, you can use a tool like Apple Clips. Similarly, you need to use a separate video editing application to edit your video or stitch multiple videos into one.
When you post an engaging video, your followers will watch it. And LinkedIn will favor native video because it doesn’t tempt people to click a link that sends them to YouTube, Vimeo, or any other video platform.
In the short-term, native video on LinkedIn is still a novelty and presents an opportunity for you to stand out. It makes sense for LinkedIn to promote this sort of content above other types of update. Give LinkedIn native video a try and see what happens to your engagement.
#5: Make Your Updates Public
Since July 2017, LinkedIn lets you make status updates visible to the public. To do so, you need to check your settings and then you can choose to make any post public.
Check Your Settings
You can’t change the relevant settings via the LinkedIn mobile app, but you can via a desktop browser. To begin, click the Me icon at the top of the LinkedIn homepage, click Settings & Privacy, and then click the Privacy tab at the top of the page.
Under the Blocking and Hiding section is the Followers option. Click Change, and then from the drop-down list, select Everyone on LinkedIn.
Next, click Profile Privacy in the sidebar on the left. Where the Edit Your Public Profile option appears, click the Change link. You’ll see a page with your LinkedIn profile and a column of settings on the right.
Make sure the Make My Public Profile Visible to Everyone radio button is selected. Under the radio button, make sure that the Posts & Activities box is checked.
Make and Share a Public Post
After you check that your privacy settings allow public posts, you can make any post visible online. First, when you create your post, use the drop-down list at the bottom to set your post to Public.
After you post your content on LinkedIn, you can share the public post via your other social media profiles. Use the ellipsis (three dots) menu to copy the link to your LinkedIn post. Then simply paste that link into a Facebook post, tweet, Instagram post, and so forth.
The ability to share posts publicly is great for promotion on other social networks, helping you increase engagement and improve profile discovery. For instance, if someone in a Facebook group has asked a question that’s discussed in one of your LinkedIn updates, share the public link in the group and you’ll drive more people to view your content.
Track Engagement Rates for Your Posts
As you make changes to your LinkedIn posts to improve engagement, you can check a few stats to see what tactics are working. To find stats for views, click your profile avatar in the top-left corner. Then on mobile, tap the See More option in the Activity section, or on desktop, click See All Activity in the Your Articles & Activity section.
The Posts tab lists all of your recent status updates, with the newest updates at the top of the screen. Beneath each update is a view count. There’s also a count shown for updates that contain native videos. (Watching a video for more than 3 seconds counts as a view.)
You can keep scrolling down to see all of your past activity, but the view counts are displayed for only the past month of status updates. You can see older posts in your history, but viewing figures aren’t displayed for them.
On the desktop version of LinkedIn, you can also find data about shares. View your post stats and click the Reshare tab to see a list of shares for a post. You can then dive in to comment on and like those posts.
Make sure you interact positively with the people who’ve shared your content. These people are usually your most engaged readers and are most likely to amplify your message. Recognizing and celebrating them are great ways to build more engagement over time.
Remember that LinkedIn wants to keep users on the platform, and posting third-party links encourages users to go somewhere else. Text-only updates, on the other hand, keep users on the platform so LinkedIn will be much more likely to show that sort of content in the feed.
Keep your updates short and relevant, invite comments, and make sure you react positively to everyone who takes the time to engage with your content.
What do you think? Do you think any of these tactics will work for you? What ideas do you plan to try? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
August 30, 2017 at 05:05AM
Instagram is finally making albums less awkward
Instagram is finally fixing one of the most frustrating parts about posting multiple photos at once. The app now allows you to add both portrait and landscape photos to albums.
Previously, the app only allowed you to upload multiple photos as square images. This severely limited the usability of Instagram's albums feature, as it forced you to choose between awkwardly cropping photos into squares or posting your photos one-by-one.
Today's update doesn't address all of the awkwardness of Instagram's albums, tough. Frustratingly, Instagram still requires that all the photos in an album are cropped the same way. So you can't upload a portrait and landscape image to the same album.
The company says this limitation is "to keep the experience smooth and consistent" across the app.
Still, Instagram is slowly improving other aspects of its clunky albums. The app now lets you go back and edit tags within albums after the fact, which for some reason previously existed for normal posts but not for albums.
And the iOS version of Instagram lets users save albums as drafts, which will be coming "soon" to Android, according to Instagram.
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August 29, 2017 at 03:08PM
4 Insightful Social Media Marketing Resources for Newbies
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade and a half, you probably know that social media is a big deal. These sites will help you reach your largest potential audience and give you better insights on prospect behavior. The stats speak for themselves. Although most of these platforms are free to use, there are still many entrepreneurs out there who don’t utilize their golden potential.
If you’re worried that you’re not tech-savvy enough to promote a killer social media campaign, don’t be. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are so user-friendly that even Granny from Looney Tunes could use them. And it’s okay if you don’t know where to start. Countless others are making their maiden voyage on the social media marketing journey as we speak, so you’re not alone. Happily, there is a great community of professionals out there to help you. Here are four social media marketing resources that can kickstart your platform presence:
1. Social Media Marketing Workbook (Jason McDonald)
This book covers the blueprints for marketing on each of the major social media platforms. Ph.D. Jason McDonald dedicates one chapter for each platform and discusses the essentials of its advertising structure. The resource’s easy-to-read format breaks things down into easily comprehendible terms, so you won’t feel like you’re in the dark about anything. McDonals illuminates a bright path from start to finish.
McDonald doesn’t just teach you how to do social media marketing; he teaches you how to do it well. You’ll learn how to tailor content specifically to your audience’s needs and separate yourself from marketers who are just trying to wing it. This book was last updated in June 2017, so it’s advice reflects the latest social media trends and innovations.
If you want to understand the mechanics of all the social media channels you’ll be sure to use, Social Media Marketing Workbook is worth a read.
2. Social Media Marketing All-in-One For Dummies (Jan Zimmerman and Deborah Ng)
This is another tremendous how-to guide in the For Dummies publication series. The all-in-one guide offers advice on all of the social media marketing basics. Although you won’t learn too much about sophisticated advertising techniques, you will learn how to approach social media from a business perspective. As it’s title suggests, the book teaches you how work from square one.
Published in May 2017, this guide covers most of the recent changes to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other main platforms. Zimmerman and Ng address everything you need to know before starting a campaign.
If you have no idea where to start with your social media strategy, Social Media Marketing All-in-One For Dummies can help you plant your feet.
Our own Don Power sets out to change how you think about Twitter in this concise publication. Even if you don’t know the first thing about Twitter marketing, you’ll learn how to leverage the competition through creative execution. For example, did you know tweeting about your breakfast could actually be good for business? Power teaches the power of thinking outside the box, while offering a logical and simple approach to Twitter marketing.
Although the book was published in 2013, its advice is evergreen. Part I debunks common objections and misconceptions about Twitter, so you’ll get a handle about what Twitter marketing is really about. In Part II, Power shows how you can build an electric campaign from scratch.
Give Twitter for Skeptics a read if you’d like to launch a custom Twitter campaign with confidence.
4. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World (Gary Vaynerchuk)
Understanding the principles of social media marketing is one thing. Crafting a one-of-a-kind message is another ballgame. Acclaimed marketing genius Gary Vaynerchuk explains how to pack your campaign with a punch. Hint: it’s all about storytelling. The master of contemporary marketing explains how you can use platform-specific communication techniques to plant an idea in your prospect’s mind.
This is another evergreen resource that demonstrates a strong understanding of human interaction. Vaynerchuk shows that pumping out boring social media content on a daily basis won’t help a company achieve it’s goals. In order to get people to care about your brand, you have to care about them first.
Once you get a grip on social media functionality, read Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook to create and deliver the perfect message across each channel.
Bonus Social Media Marketing Resource: 500 Social Media Marketing Tips (Andrew Macarthy)
I didn’t count this one as a main resource because it doesn’t go quite as in-depth about marketing basics as the other books on this list do. However, it provides a wealth of useful tips to consider as you cruise down the social media road. The book covers a ton of platforms, so you’ll get advice that covers the broad spectrum of social marketing.
When your campaign is in a rut, 500 Social Media Marketing Tips can give you the spark you need to get moving.
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August 29, 2017 at 01:40PM
The NFL’s new live streamed Twitter show kicks off tonight
Twitter lost streaming rights NFL Thursday Night Football games to Amazon this season, in a deal valued at around $50 million – up from the $10 million Twitter had paid previously. However, the social network is still working with the NFL to bring exclusive streaming sports content to its site. Starting tonight at 7 PM ET, the NFL will debut its new, 30-minute live show, called #NFLBlitz, on Twitter.
After tonight, the show will stream again on Wednesday and Thursday (August 30-21), then Monday through Thursday (September 4-7). Beginning on September 10, #NFLBlitz will run Monday through Thursdays at 7 PM ET throughout the 2017 NFL Season, wrapping with the Super Bowl.
In addition, Twitter will simulcast live coverage of NFL Media’s Fantasy Gameday airing at 11 AM ET on Sundays during the regular season on NFL.com, the company says.
News of Twitter’s renewed partnership with the NFL was previously announced at the Digital Newfronts this May. The two organizations said then they had signed a multi-year agreement that would bring live sports programming to Twitter’s service. This would include things like breaking news, highlights, fantasy projections, pre-game updates, key storylines, team power rankings, and more, Twitter said.
The deal also includes plans to bring official NFL videos to Twitter users worldwide, year-round, Twitter notes.
The new #NFLBlitz program will be hosted by Marc Istook (@MarcIstook) and Erin Coscarelli (@erincoscarelli), and is produced by NFL Network from its L.A.-based studios. It will air on Twitter via NFL.twitter.coma and via the @NFL Twitter account.
The show’s format will leverage Twitter’s social and conversational medium to drive its programming, as well.
For example, hosts Istook and Coscarelli will talk about the top NFL trends based on social metrics, data and buzz, and they’ll incorporate fan reaction and opinion as voiced through Twitter.
The program will also include guest appearances by other NFL Network talent and current NFL stars.
Twitter’s live streaming property Periscope will be integrated, too, bringing live, pre-game access and other interviews to the social network.
Twitter may not have been the best place for the NFL to live stream its games in the first place, especially when the NFL had the option to reach more fans via a site like Amazon, where games are a perk for Amazon Prime members.
Twitter’s audience is still small, compared with TV. The NFL had said last season that over 2 million watched the debut game on Twitter, but 48 million watched on TV. (Twitter today has 328 million users, but is losing U.S. users.) Some fans also felt that having tweets display alongside the game was distracting.
An NFL-themed show where fan conversations is encouraged, however, may make more sense.
While Twitter didn’t win the deal for the games, it aims to make at least some money from the NFL’s programming – the show will be ad-supported, with Twitter and the NFL splitting the revenue. (The companies did not detail the split).
The NFL’s show was one of several new programs announced at May’s Newfronts, alongside those from the WNBA, BuzzFeed, Viacom, Bloomberg and others.
via Twitter – TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com
August 29, 2017 at 11:21AM
How to Choose the Perfect Niche When Starting a Blog
How do you decide on a blog when you have money-making on your mind? That’s one of the many questions that I had when I began blogging for the first time and so did many of you, I’m sure.
While few have a clear vision as to what they want to write about, others continue to lurk in confusion. Because it’s very difficult to understand what’s trending and what’s not online.
Writing on a topic you love may not always work
It’s unlikely that what you love would be loved by someone else. Building a successful blog requires making an informed and logical decision. However, it takes time though for which you need immense patience and courage.
Exceptions are there of course. A good example is Martin Lewis, the founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, who started writing newsletter blogs in the year 2003 and sold the entire website to MoneySavingExpert.com for £87m.
Denise Wallin on the other hand, started a travel/childcare blog that she could not make money from successfully. She agrees that brands have become savvier than ever before and that kick starting a blogging website is just not going to work anymore.
In that case, how do you start writing your first blog and find success overnight?
Have You Considered writing Niche Blogs?
What are niche blogs? These are blogs that fall under certain specific categories, which have higher search value than the rest. If your customers want to stay up-to-date when it comes to fashion, they will follow fashion blog pages. It’s as simple as that.
Take Neil Patel for instance. When he shares a tip or two on how you can begin your blogging journey, he is actually talking about blogs and blog marketing. That’s a niche and you will find more topics on this written by him as well as many other digital writers.
When reputed business consultant Sam Ovens talks, he is always giving out some of the best tips on how to grow a business and start making money.
These writers, they don’t deviate from their topic of discussion, which always pivots around one center of interest. This is called niche blogging, where you pick a particular genre to start writing.
Niche blogging is an excellent technique to hold on to your customer experience. It narrows down audience reach and helps to build brand identity. When customers know your brand, they will return to your page again and again.
Since you would like to get started earning something while you blog, work on a proper strategy and plan first. Note down all the pros and cons when you choose a topic so that you remain prepared for the advantages and the disadvantages.
Picking the Wrong Niche is a Common Mistake
Choosing the wrong niche happens in either of the two scenarios, which are as follows –
Scenario 1 – Writing something that you love
You may start writing on a topic that you will soon realize will not reap you any gold. People don’t realize this and when they do, it’s already too late.
Scenario 2 – Thinking only about profitability
When bloggers do these, it becomes evident in their writing. Because writing is all about passion and you cannot express in words if you are not born with that labour of love. As a blogger, you may try hiding those things behind your ornamental words, but when lack of drive and motivation kicks in, you will realize that one day it all falls apart.
Tools to Research Your Niche
Deciding on a niche is one thing. Doing some background research on the niche is time-consuming but can be your north star when you someone or something to help you guide through. Here are some tools that can help you out –
The tools helps you not just for researching your niche but you can use it to dig out new blog ideas, learn more about your competitors, how do they rank on the search engine and which keywords do they use for being searched for.
You can use this Google Adwords to research your niche even when you are on the fly. The tool is completely free and is a good replacement for keyword External Tool.
With the Long Tail Pro tool, you can add many seed keywords and then filter them to pull out the best ones.
Create a Mind Map
You would be surprised to find out what you had never considered before. A mind map will also give you a clear overview as to how you can begin writing your blog. Pick out the ones that you think are more profitable and when you have done that, time to consider the next point –
Where Do You See Your Blog in the Future?
Do you see it being read by people in the next three to five years? Can you see yourself writing over 50 to 200 blogs on the same topic and never find yourself getting bored?
If yes, then you have found yourself something that opens your doors that will keep the presence of your niche visible in the search engine for a long time.
Need More Ideas about Finding the Right Niche?
There are plenty of other resources that you can try out to find out the right niche. These are as follows –
Ebay is an ecommerce site where people consistently visit to purchase products that are 80 percent cheaper. Why not visit the category section for more inspiration
From new releases to top-rated and the sub-sections, Amazon Best Sellers covers everything. One of the reasons why people keep on visiting the site to purchase products is that other than being the most trusted retailers’ platform in the world, the site keeps on recommending products that can lead people to purchase them.
It is one of the best places where you can invest your time to find out more about the niche where the products are being sold.
Moral of the Story – A Professional Blogger is not born in a Day
Link to one more from blogging tips
No one is born with a magic pen. But with years of planning and understanding the market, even an ordinary writer can pen down words and convert it into gold.
Want to learn it from the best? Then find someone who is already a pro. Zac Johnson, the founder of Blogging Tips is the perfect example of a person who can inspire and guide you on how to start earning money by writing blogs.
Picking out the right niche can boost up your content’s validity and it can expand for a lifetime.
So what are you waiting for? Cut out all the disappointing blogs that did not succeed and start writing a blog that will set you on the right track.
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August 29, 2017 at 09:25AM