New Facebook Group Management Tools
On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore new Facebook group management tools with special guest, Bella Vasta.
Watch the Social Media Marketing Talk Show
If you’re new to the show, click below to watch our latest episode from Friday, February 22, 2019. You can also listen to the show as an audio podcast, found on iTunes/Apple Podcast, Android, Google Play, Stitcher, and RSS.
For this week’s top stories, you’ll find timestamps below that allow you to fast-forward in the replay above.
Facebook Introduces New Formatting and Management Tools for Groups: At the Facebook Communities Summit, Facebook announced a number of new tools and improvements that will make it easier for admins to maintain, manage, and engage with their communities. (2:38)
Also, Facebook is launching a pilot program that allows groups and brands to collaborate, expands Subscription Groups to more partners, and allows relevant pages to participate in groups as a representative of their business or organization.
Facebook Page Admins Can Now Respond to Instagram Direct Messages From Page Inbox: Last month, The New York Times reported that Facebook is planning to integrate its top messaging products—Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram Direct—into one underlying interface. While Facebook set a goal of completion at the earliest by late 2019 or the beginning of 2020, Facebook is taking the first small step toward this change by allowing Facebook page admins to receive and respond to Instagram direct messages from their Facebook page inbox. (35:03)
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This functionality is currently rolling out to businesses in Brazil and the U.S. over the next few weeks. It will be available on desktop and mobile through the Pages Manager app.
Instagram Tests Direct Messaging on the Web: Instagram appears to be testing the ability to receive and respond to direct messages from the web. Instagram confirmed to TechCrunch that this product isn’t ready for public testing, which suggests it’s still in internal development. (36:12)
Instagram Tests Donate Sticker for Stories: Instagram is testing a new fundraising sticker that would allow users to add a Donate button to their stories in the same way as adding a GIF, @mention, or hashtag. From there, their followers can click through to contribute to the cause. Code found within Instagram’s Android app suggests that users will be able to search for non-profits by either browsing a collection of suggested charities or selecting ones they already follow on Instagram. (40:17)
Other News Mentioned
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February 23, 2019 at 05:03AM
Twitter co-founder Ev Williams to step down from the company’s board
Ev Wiliams, a co-founder of Twitter and the social media business’s former chief executive officer, is stepping down from its board of directors effective at the end of the month, according to documents submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, first reported by CNBC.
In a series of tweets, Williams addressed the news.
“I’m very lucky to have served on the
Wiliams, the founder and CEO of online publishing platform Medium and co-founder and partner at Obvious Ventures, served as Twitter’s chief executive from 2008 to 2010 following Jack Dorsey’s, Twitter’s current CEO, original stint as CEO. Williams was succeeded by Dick Costolo, who after a five-year stint at the helm, relinquished the throne back to Dorsey.
Twitter’s stock closed up 3 percent Friday, trading at nearly $32 a piece for a market cap of north of $24 billion.
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February 22, 2019 at 04:23PM
You’re Overpaying Thousands in Taxes by Not Claiming the R&D Tax Credit
Over the last decade we have seen some monumental changes in the digital world. We rely on the internet for entertainment, to conduct business, to market our business, to search for goods and services, and so much more. As society becomes more dependent on technology, there are more and more opportunities to develop and improve the processes and procedures we use daily. New technology and innovations drive the market these days. In order to remain relevant and competitive one must constantly seek new ways to improve the process, develop new applications, and bring on the next big thing. Which brings us to research and development and the R&D tax credit.
What Is The R&D Tax Credit
The R&D tax credit was first introduced in 1981. While initially it was intended as a 2 year incentive, it has been apart of our tax code ever since. It is used as a way to reward companies who invest in research and development for current tax year. It is available to any business who seek to develop new, improve, or technologically advanced products or procedures. Advances in technology are deemed as economic stimulates to the US economy. However, research and development is not without risk and it can be costly and time consuming. The R&D tax credit was designed to offset some of the risk and financial burden of research and development.
Prior to 2015, there were some limitations to the R&D tax credit, which the PATH Act addressed. The PATH Act made the R&D tax credit a permanent addition to the tax code, and paved the way for small businesses, startups, and other industries including digital marketers, to take advantage of the benefits the R&D tax credit has to offer.
Who Is Eligible For The R&D Tax Credit
With advances in technology and provisions made by the PATH Act, many industries that were previously prevented from taking the R&D tax credit can now partake. However, there are some income restrictions that do apply; to qualify companies must have gross receipts of less than $5 million per year, and gross receipts for no more than 5 years.
How Can Digital Marketers Benefit From The R&D Tax Credit
Under the recent changes to the R&D tax credit, many new industries are able to take advantage of its benefits, digital marketers included. Due the dynamic nature of digital marketing, there are plenty of areas that are in need of new and improved procedures, and technological advances. Part of digital marketing is adapting to change and embracing new an innovative ways to create brand awareness. Over the course of developing new or improved apps, programs, or procedures, you may incur certain costs that can be offset by the R&D tax credit.
In order to considered a qualified research expense the research activities must involve experimenting, development, and testing of procedures that have an impact on the work you do. Activities must be technological or scientific in nature, and eliminate any uncertainties. Research activities that qualify include:
Qualified Research Expenses
Qualified research expenses include the research, development, testing, and certain processes. Some expenses that qualify for the tax credit include:
With the R&D tax credits availability to digital marketers there is a lot of potential for marketers to devote more time and resources to developing new apps and improving procedures that could help them remain relevant and competitive. At the end of the day it all boils down to numbers, and the ability to drive results for clients. For example, with the R&D tax credit, you may be more incentivized to spend the money to develop a new app that might revolutionize the way your clients reach their customers.
Tax credits are great because they help reduce the amount of tax owed dollar per dollar. The R&D tax credit is a great option for digital marketers because it encourages innovation, which in turn could have a positive economic effect. The R&D tax credit may also be available to you on previous years taxes. If you missed the credit in prior years, you can amend the tax return to get back taxes you’ve already paid. In many cases, this means getting a refund for thousands of dollars. For more information about the R&D credit, check out our partner’s page here or reach out to one of the R&D tax experts at Tax Hack Accounting Group, who specialize in digital marketing tax strategies
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February 22, 2019 at 12:41PM
Are you about to build an ecommerce website?
Build it on Shopify.
I kind of wish the answer had more nuance to it, so I could write a more engaging review. But it really is that simple.
Ecommerce site = Shopify. End of story.
Out of all the decisions you need to make building your online store, the decision of which ecommerce tool to use is not a hard one.
If you want, you can stop reading this review and go sign up. You won’t miss out on much.
In-Depth Shopify Review and Methodology
To show you that I do know what I’m talking about, I have broken down all the core ecommerce site features and rated Shopify by each.
I’ve used a simple 5-point scoring system on each ecommerce feature below: 5 for “amazing,” 1 for “it sucks.”
I’m not a complete Shopify fanboy. There are a few areas where Shopify could do better. And one category Shopify completely fails. But these aren’t a big deal. The gaps are either minor or can be completely covered by other tools.
If you’re building an enterprise ecommerce site and evaluating new tools, it’s worth having the Magento and Shopify Plus (Shopify’s enterprise version) teams do a bake-off for your business. Otherwise, go sign up for Shopify and build your site there.
Big Brands Choose Shopify
Before jumping into the Shopify review and feature-by-feature ratings, who else uses Shopify?
Here are a few Shopify customers you might recognize:
You’re in good company — world-class brands and massive ecommerce sites have been built on Shopify.
Ease of Use: 5/5
Shopify is not only considered the easiest of the ecommerce tools, it’s also considered one of the easiest tools across all business apps. It’s true — lots of other business tools use Shopify as inspiration for how to build their apps.
If you’re looking for an ecommerce tool to get all those annoying tasks out of your way, Shopify is your best option.
Site Customization: 5/5
Shopify managed to do something that’s exceptionally rare in software: build a tool that’s both extremely easy to use and has all the flexibility that you’d ever need.
Most tools only achieve one of these. They’re either easy to use and limited, or they’re flexible and complicated.
As you grow your business, you’ll have the ability to evolve your store however you like. While you’ll most likely start with one of the pre-built themes, you can build a theme from scratch. At some point, you’ll need a theme that embodies your brand and has a unique feel. When you’re ready, find a ecommerce site design agency that has experience with Shopify. They’ll be able to build the entire thing for you.
When you’re ready for the big leagues and need a tool that has complete flexibility, Shopify has an enterprise version called Shopify Plus. So it’ll scale with you no matter how big you get.
Shopify charges you in four ways:
All of these prices are in sync with the rest of the industry. They’re exactly what you’d expect.
Some ecommerce site builders advertise the fact that they charge 0% transaction fees. This isn’t entirely true. Yes, they don’t charge anything. But you also have to set up your own payment provider and that payment provider will charge you a payment fee.
In other words, Shopify is your site builder and your payment provider. All payment providers charge a standard fee, including Shopify. That’s why Shopify charges you a monthly subscription and a payment processing fee.
The one fee that’s a little annoying is the fee to use other payment processes. This is the fee that starts at 2.0% on the lowest plan and comes down to 0.5% on the advanced plan. This fee applies to payments accepted through Paypal and Amazon Payments, among others.
I totally understand why Shopify charges a processing fee when they’re handling the payments. That’s completely normal for the industry. But the fee on top of other processing fees is a bit of an overreach in my opinion.
The vast majority of your payments will come in through Shopify Payments anyway so it’s a minor annoyance. This mainly impacts transactions that will come in through Paypal. You’ll have the Paypal processing fees and Shopify’s fees on each transaction.
That said, the extra cost is still worth all the extra value that you get from Shopify.
Shopify has removed all the friction from shipping. It’s as easy as it gets.
Core integrations with all major shipping companies are built right into your store. You get discounted rates and you have multiple options for how to handle shipping during the checkout (flat rate shipping vs individual quotes).
Simply print shipping labels at your home or office for each order. That’s it.
Shopify Themes: 5/5
Shopify has dozens of themes to choose from. Some of them are paid, ranging from $140–180.
But there are a lot of amazing free themes, too. Even the free Shopify themes look like they were built by top-tier website designers.
When you build your site on Shopify, you’ll look through the theme store to find one you like. If you choose a paid theme, you get a professional-looking site for a nominal fee that will easily support your business until you’re large enough to have the budget for a customer-built theme that conveys your brand perfectly.
With the Shopify theme store and how easy it is to set up a site on Shopify, you can build your entire site on your own without needing a site designer and developer. Cutting those costs goes a long way for a new ecommerce site.
App Store: 5/5
The Shopify App Store is amazing.
You’ll find an app for just about every extra feature you could ever want for your store: email abandonment, Facebook Messenger, recurring billing — it’s all there.
This is what really sets Shopify apart from other ecommerce tools.
I know several CEOs of Shopify app businesses that are doing extremely well. They’ve built businesses with hundreds of employees.
What this means is that with a few clicks in the App Store, you can add an extremely advanced app on top of your Shopify store. It’s like buying an entirely new tool for your business that’s integrated perfectly with Shopify.
No other ecommerce tool has an app store with as many apps or as high quality as Shopify.
Expert Directory: 5/5
Sooner or later, you’re going to want some help with your site.
Maybe you want to tweak the layout of your product pages. Or maybe it’s time to do a complete brand revamp and you want your Shopify theme built from scratch.
Whatever it is, you’re covered.
Shopify has been the top ecommerce tool for long enough that there’s now an extensive network of professionals to help you with your site. Any ecommerce agency will have deep experience with Shopify at this point.
Shopify also has an entire directory of experts for you to search. Designers, developers, photographers, marketers, all categorized by city. It’s super easy to find the help that you need.
Marketplace Integrations: 5/5
There are a few ways to build an online store.
Quite a few ecommerce companies choose to focus exclusively on Amazon for example; they don’t have their own website at all.
But what if you want both?
Shopify has made this much easier than it used to be. Instead of having to build out all your product listings by hand multiple times — on your own website, Amazon, and eBay — Shopify will handle it for you. Build your products in Shopify first, then add integrations for Amazon and eBay:
Once you’ve connected Shopify to your Amazon and eBay accounts, Shopify will automatically add your products to those platforms.
It saves a ton of time.
Product SEO: 5/5
Out of the box, Shopify has great SEO for your product pages.
Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still have to do a bunch of work to get your product pages to rank for any keyword that’s even somewhat competitive. But Shopify gives you everything that you could possibly expect from an ecommerce tool.
You’ll be able to optimize your product pages, photos, and descriptions for keywords just like you’d expect. All the standard “on-page SEO” items are right where you’d expect them to be. In other words, Shopify’s on-page and technical SEO won’t slow you down at all. It’s everything that you need to rank.
That doesn’t mean you’ll automatically rank for the keywords you want. You’ll still need to create a ton of great content to increase your site’s authority and do a bunch of link building. In my opinion, that’s outside the scope of an ecommerce tool.
Content and Blog SEO: 1/5
This is the one category where Shopify completely fails.
Yes, Shopify technically has a blog feature. They built it out just enough so they can say that they have it. In reality, there’s no real reason that you’d ever want to use Shopify for your blog. Shopify lacks the management features and SEO that you’ll need.
If I’m using a blog to grow my business and traffic, I get the blog on WordPress. End of story.
If you’re going to get serious about blogging, you need to use WordPress. It is possible to have Shopify and WordPress on the same domain. So you’ll use Shopify for your online store and WordPress for your blog.
I break all of this down in my guide on WordPress ecommerce.
Point of Sale (POS): 3/5
I don’t know anyone who uses Shopify as their POS system. Nor have I ever seen one in the wild as a customer.
I consider that a… bad sign.
Nearly every POS I run into is Square, tailed by Clover and Revel. I’ve even seen Shopkeep a few times.
But I’ve never seen Shopify, not once.
Following my rule of using business tools for the one thing that they’re best at, if I needed a POS, I’d go get the best POS tool. For a small business, the most popular choice is Square. I’d only use the Shopify POS if the majority of my business was an online store, I occasionally did some in-person retail like at a farmer’s market, and I wanted to keep everything as simple as possible by using a single tool.
But if I had a brick-and-mortar location, I’d look into one of the dedicated POS tools instead of using the Shopify POS.
I give Shopify a rating of 3/5 since I consider their POS to be a neutral benefit. It’s a nice to have but not a huge benefit.
The Final Choice: Shopify vs BigCommerce vs Magento
For small and medium-size ecommerce business, the choice really comes down to options: Shopify or BigCommerce.
Shopify gives you the better tool and ecosystem. The tool itself is better, the apps are better, the agencies are better — all of it.
What this costs you is an extra fee on payment providers on top of what the payment providers charge. Now if you use Shopify payments, you skip all that entirely. The extra fee also comes down from 2% to 0.5% as you upgrade plans. So as soon as you start to feel the impact of the extra fee, you’ll upgrade and the fee will be lowered.
The extra payment fee is kind of annoying for folks who want to use another payment provider and give their customers as many options to pay as possible. But it’s a cost that’s worth enduring to get on the best ecommerce tool.
At the end of the day, this is an extremely easy choice for me. For any ecommerce store, I automatically pick Shopify to build my site and don’t think twice about it.
We put together an entire guide on how to create your store once you’re ready to build with Shopify.
Our recommendation only changes for true enterprise ecommerce businesses. If that’s you, check out Shopify Enterprise and Magento. Contact both companies and have them fight for your business.
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February 22, 2019 at 11:00AM
How to Create Long-Form Videos That Sell
To explore how to create long-form video that sells, I interview Daniel Harmon. Daniel is the chief creative officer at Harmon Brothers, a business that specializes in using video to brand and sell with humor. Their work can be seen in videos for Squatty Potty, Poo-Pourri, Chatbooks, and Purple Mattress. Daniel also founded Harmon Brothers University, an online course designed to help people master video marketing.
Daniel explains why his company builds campaigns around a single character and shares the process for creating a successful marketing video that works across various platforms.
Read a summary of the interview below. To listen to the interview, scroll to the end of this article.
Creating Video That Brands and Sells
Daniel’s entry into video actually starts with his brothers, Jeffrey and Neil. In 2009, Jeffrey was studying at a university. Dr. Bob Wagstaff, the guy who invented the Orabrush, visited Jeffrey’s class for some help because he was struggling to sell his product and get it into stores.
Dr. Bob liked what Jeffrey had to say during class and asked him to help sell the Orabrush.
Jeffrey ended up making a video for Orabrush called Bad Breath Test – How to Tell When Your Breath Stinks. Essentially, the video shows a guy scraping a spoon on his tongue and smelling it to see if he has bad breath. This was right around the same time that YouTube introduced their advertising platform and the video was very successful.
Neil, who was a programmer, began building out what we now call a funnel with a landing page and a checkout process.
The video was running up millions of views and so many people were calling their local Walgreens and CVS stores asking for Orabrush that the product found distribution all over the United States and then into international markets. The video became a poster child for YouTube success and the brothers were very much riding that wave when they brought Daniel in to help them with branding and writing.
Then, Harmon Brothers did the Poo-Pourri campaign, which led to Squatty Potty wanting a similar campaign for their brand. When the brothers pitched a pooping unicorn with ice cream, there was some resistance from the stakeholders but after 3 months, they were on board with the pitch.
The Squatty Potty video launched on both YouTube and Facebook, and within a week had over 25 million views.
Squatty Potty started running their factories 24/7 to keep up with the demand because sales in Bed, Bath & Beyond jumped approximately 400% and sales from the company’s own website rose 600%.
One thing led to another and Harmon Brothers ended up doing video ads for Purple, FiberFix, Chatbooks, Camp Chef, BedJet, and Lume.
Listen to the show to learn how Harmon Brothers became an agency.
Why Is Online Video so Powerful?
While the cost to create video has dropped dramatically in the last 10 years thanks to the technology revolution we’re in, Daniel thinks there’s still a little bit of prestige carryover from the old media days when video was almost an untouchable medium for most businesses.
More importantly, Daniel believes video is a great storytelling medium. Partially, he says, because it engages more than one sense at a time. It’s not just what you hear but what you see. When those two components are grounded in a relatable and emotionally charged story, the video comes alive.
When I suggest that another aspect of online video’s power lies in how easy it is for people to access, watch, and share thanks to social media and mobile devices, Daniel agrees.
Harmon Brothers often compares the results that their online video campaigns drive to Super Bowl–type results, but without the massive ad spend. He estimates they would have had to spend tens of millions of dollars to deliver the same results for Squatty Potty without online video.
A lot of that success, he says, is due to social media sharing, which is a natural extension of what people already do in real life.
Listen to the show to hear more of Daniel’s thoughts on social media and social sharing.
Modeling the Harmon Brothers Process
The starting point for any Harmon Brothers campaign is always the product or service; it has to be something the team members believe in and are passionate about. When the team is passionate about a product or service, they put their hearts and souls into the video and people feel that in their work.
Then, everyone goes through their own customer journey. The entire team experiences the product for themselves, which reveals unique insights that make it easier for each person to think like a customer interested in the product.
Next comes the concept. Daniel ensures the writing team represents the customer base and includes a diverse perspective. Because one of their primary weapons of choice is comedy, he often involves several funny people (some of whom are comedic copywriters) in this part of the process.
The goal is for each writer to come up with a distinct concept that addresses the problem the product solves; each person writes independently so they don’t cross-pollute each other’s ideas.
To test, polish, and refine their scripts before they pitch to clients, the writers go through an iterative process that involves reading their script to several people. They may even screen it before a creative director before they bring it to the client.
Finally, the team sits down with the client and each writer presents their concept to help find the one that puts the brand’s best foot forward for a sale.
Once a single concept is chosen, egos are checked at the door. In an exercise that Harmon Brothers calls “Frankensteining,” the team works to integrate the best portions from all of the scripts into a single approach.
There’s occasionally a concept that’s so off the wall, there’s nothing that will integrate with other concepts. Most of the time, though, sales copy, individual jokes, and small conceptual or demonstration moments from all of the writers can be used.
Everybody collaborates on the final piece, which is presented to multiple audiences, with the understanding that no joke is left in the script unless it makes people laugh. If at any time, the team feels a customer demographic was underrepresented in the creation process, they make a point to involve that demographic further.
They continue to write and read and watch for reactions until they have something really great.
Listen to the show to hear more about how and why the writers pitch their own scripts.
Why Harmon Brothers Creates Character-Focused Stories
Daniel says there are two polar opposites of advertising.
On the one side there are traditional branding campaigns such as Nike, Red Bull, VW, Apple, and so on. They don’t deliver a hard sell and they want you to feel something positive about their brand. Daniel, though, feels these campaigns can run the risk of being interchangeable.
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To visualize this, Nike’s ads are beautiful. A scene of someone running down perfectly lit streets at night or football practice in a field can feel really gritty and pump you up with awesome music. At the end of the ad, however, one could easily substitute a Reebok, Under Armour, or Adidas logo for the Nike logo.
On the other side are infomercials that deliver a hard sell. These ads explain the problem you face, present the solution, and tell you to buy now and you’ll get all this… The problem is that people often feel turned off or disgusted with the aggressive tactics of infomercials.
Harmon Brothers aims to create the perfect mixture of these two by selling to and educating people, while making a positive impression on everyone who sees the video, even people who don’t buy the product. And that’s where a character-focused story comes in—this is what Harmon Brothers call a “hero video.”
To illustrate, odds are that anyone who sees a Squatty Potty in a store will remember that a prince and a unicorn pooping ice cream made them laugh.
Other companies have used the same approach successfully; Geico has the gecko and a caveman, and Allstate has Mayhem. A similar tack has been taken by athletic brands that align themselves with notable athletes; Under Armour and Stephen Curry, for example.
The takeaway is that when you’ve got a distinct character, it’s much harder for another brand to run around and copy what you’ve done.
What Makes a Successful Harmon Brothers Sales Video
A Harmon Brothers video typically ranges anywhere from 2-5 minutes. At a very high level, the videos follow a simple structure.
First, they start with an attention-grabbing hook that will stop people (think bored customers) as they scroll through the social feed, and give them a reason to pay attention. The hook is often humorous but can just as easily be something that’s really relatable.
Next, they address the problem people deal with that the product or service is going to solve in a very real way. They really want people to feel the pain of the problem. In the case of Squatty Potty, they addressed hemorrhoids and constipation. For Purple, they presented people dealing with beds that were too hard or too soft and not providing the right support.
Then they show how the product solves the pain of the problem. If you use a Squatty Potty, it’s going to make you squat so you’ll have healthier bowel movements. A Purple mattress both cushions your pressure points in softness and provides stable back support.
The whole point of a long-form sales video is to take a customer from zero to sold in 2-3 minutes so they resolve any doubts people have around the purchase. If the product has a really powerful claim backed by scientific evidence—such as it will make you 45% less sleepy during the day—they lean into that and make it a big part of the story.
Finally, they call people to action. Daniel knows a lot of people feel weird asking others to buy something, but he counters, “At the end of the day… What’s advertising for if it’s not to sell stuff, right?” Ask for the sale, the website visit, the email signup, the purchase at Walgreens, the Facebook page follow, a donation; whatever you’re after, ask for it.
After a long-form video has been successfully produced, it can be uploaded to a landing page or to YouTube and other platforms that work for long-form video. Then, working from the long-form footage, they isolate 15-, 30-, or 60-second clips that focus on a specific feature or claim in a powerful way.
These short-form video clips can then be used for prospecting and retargeting campaigns, and Daniel has found they sometimes work better for reaching new customers than the long-form video.
Listen to the show to hear Daniel and me discuss how and why the purchase path for high-dollar products affects the end goal of a video.
Discovery of the Week
Airstory is a browser-based clipping tool for intuitively creating content. It allows you to highlight, then drag and drop whatever content you want to use from one source right into your Google Docs. It also works with Office 365, HemingwayApp, Dropbox Paper, and Hermit.
Similar to Evernote, Airstory helps you save content you need for the moment you need it, without having to take down the actual link.
Originally, Airstory was an all-in-one content writing tool, but after studying how their customers really used the tool, they’ve redesigned it to work as the “clipping” tool we see today. Content marketers who work with lots of different content for articles may find this one essential.
Airstory is free to install and is compatible with Chrome and Firefox.
Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how Airstory works for you.
Key Takeaways in This Episode
Listen to the Interview Now
The Social Media Marketing podcast is designed to help busy marketers, business owners, and creators discover what works with social media marketing.Where to subscribe
What are your thoughts about marketing with long-form video? Have you had success selling with humor? Let us know in the comments!
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February 22, 2019 at 05:08AM
How to Create Long-Form Videos That Sell - 342
Want to improve your video marketing? Wondering how to make marketing videos that people enjoy watching? To explore how to create long-form video that sells, I interview Daniel Harmon, the chief creative officer at Harmon Brothers, a business that specializes in using video to brand and sell with humor.
Sponsored by Social Media Marketing World: http://www.socialmediaworld19.com
Show notes: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/342
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February 22, 2019 at 04:57AM
Twitter’s latest test changes ‘Retweet with Comment’ so it looks more like a Reply
Twitter’s new prototype testing program isn’t the only way it’s working to fix conversations on its site. The company confirmed it’s currently running another public-facing test focused on making Twitter “more conversational” – but this time with Retweets instead of Replies. The test involves using a thin line to connect a quote-style retweet to the person commenting on the tweet, instead of placing the quoted tweet in a box as before.
Here are some visual aids.
Today, when you comment on a tweet you’re reposting, the original tweet is boxed in like this:
The new test sees Twitter eliminating the box entirely, and connecting the comment to the tweet using the same sort of line that is used today with Replies.
For example, here is a before and after of the change. (Click through to the tweet to view the images larger). You can see the original look on the left, and the update using the line on the right:
We asked Twitter if this was a permanent change or just a test, and a spokesperson confirmed it was the latter.
The test was available on Android on Tuesday of this week, but began rolling out to iOS users yesterday.
Despite the launch of the new testing program, the company said it would continue to A/B test various conversational features and other changes within its public app.
“The fact that we’re doing this [Twitter prototype testing program] doesn’t mean that we don’t do regular testing – like we do with all our development processes in our regular app all the time,” Sara Haider, Twitter’s director of product management, had noted in an interview at CES in January.
The prototype program, meanwhile, serves as more of an experimental testing grounds where Twitter users are able to directly influence the development process with their feedback and opinions.
Twitter had learned over the years that some of the best ideas come from the community itself. Many of its products – including @ Replies, the hashtag (#), tweetstorms (now “threads”), and Retweets (originally “RT”) – were developed in response to how people were already using Twitter. Now, Twitter hopes to tap into the hive mind to build whatever else in coming next.
But not all of Twitter’s changes are community-driven. (After all, I’m not sure anyone was really all that concerned about how Retweets were displayed.)
That means you’ll still see Twitter testing smaller changes like this one in the public app.
Whether or not the lines will eventually come to replace the box for Retweets still remains to be seen, however. While it does make the comment seem more like someone is continuing a conversation, the update arguably makes it easier to confuse a Retweet with a Reply, too.
“We’re working on updates to Retweet with Comment as part of our efforts to make Twitter more conversational,” a spokesperson for Twitter confirmed to TechCrunch. They also hinted we’d see more tests of this nature in the future, as well.
via Twitter – TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com
February 21, 2019 at 03:30PM
Best WordPress Directory Plugin – (Review Updated For Winter of 2019)
The Internet is full of directories. In fact, your website might already be listed on some directories right now.
Depending on the scenario, directories have multiple applications and use cases. For example, Yelp is a popular option for consumers to find a restaurant or service in a specified area based on their search parameters, while a directory like Angie’s List connects people with contractors for things like electrical work, landscaping, and plumbing.
Both of these websites are very different, yet, they are both directories.
Essentially, directories are databases. They serve as an easy way for users to find more information about a particular subject or business.
Regardless of your business type or industry, there’s a good chance you can find a way to implement a directory on your website. Law firms use website directories to list their lawyers and employees. Real estate companies have directories for their listings as well as their agents. A retail chain probably has an online directory for its store locations.
If you’re using WordPress, adding a directory to your website is simple. You just need to install a plugin.
Key features of a WordPress directory plugin
Since the word “directory” is so vague and has tons of potential applications, it can be a bit challenging at times to find the best WordPress directory plugin for your website. So before I go through my list of the top options for you to consider, I want to briefly explain what to look for in a directory plugin.
You won’t necessarily need every feature on this list. It really depends on your company, your website’s purpose, and the type of directory you’re trying to create. As we continue through this guide, you’ll see these features and many more offered by the directory plugins I’ve listed. So use this list as a reference to help you find the best WordPress directory plugin for your site.
GeoDirectory has one of my favorite search interfaces of all the directory plugins on the market. With GeoDirectory, you’re able to create a massive global directory on your website. This is a great option for those of you who are looking for a free WordPress directory plugin as well.
They make it easy for website visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for without sacrificing the look and visual appeal of your website.
This plugin offers a front-end form that allows other businesses and users to submit listings, so scaling your directory is limitless.
When someone searches for a business on your website, the listings are displayed by proximity, so users can see the closest and most relevant options to them first.
As the name implies, GeoDirectory is integrated with Google Maps. There is a large and clickable map next to every listing in the directory. Users can find directions to the location directly from that map without having to leave your website.
While most of the features are free, you can buy add-ons for things like:
GeoDirectory is also multi-site compatible, so I recommend it to developers who will add it to their clients’ sites or to those of you who plan to build a network of directories.
If you’re building your directory website from scratch, you could also consider purchasing the directory themes from GeoDirectory as well. But, this plugin will work with any theme, so you’re not obligated.
Merchants with listings on your directory will have access to Google Analytics data. This feature will show them how much your site is helping their company. You can use that to potentially justify your pricing if you plan to charge for listings.
Overall, GeoDirectory is a top option for anyone who wants to build a large and scalable business directory.
2. Advanced Classifieds & Directory Pro
Advanced Classifieds & Directory Pro made my list is because its potential applications are seemingly endless. You can use it as a platform for classifieds, similar to Craigslist, or go a completely different direction and use this plugin for something like a directory of movie ratings. Maybe you want to add a travel guide directory, wedding directory, restaurant guide, or real estate portal to your website. All of these options are possible with the Advanced Classifieds & Directory Pro plugin for WordPress.
Similar to other plugins on our list, Advanced Classifieds & Directory Pro is free to install. But it offers premium add-on features that you can purchase. One of my favorite add-on features is the listings slider.
The plugin has a user-friendly interface for businesses to manage their listings on your website. This area also lets those businesses see their payment history and renew their listings directly from the platform. This plugin can integrate with Stripe, PayPal, and WooCommerce for payment processing, and even supports offline payments, meaning you can accept checks from local businesses that don’t want to pay online. This can be a way for you to save some money by avoiding a payment processing add-on. Merchants will automatically be notified via email when their listings expire. They will also receive a confirmation message when payments have been received.
Advanced Classifieds & Directory Pro lets you organize listings by category, which is something you should take advantage of. An advanced search widget is also available from Advanced Classifieds and Directory Pro, so users can narrow their options by category, location, keywords, and more. All of these flexible features make this one of the best WordPress directory plugins you’ll come across.
3. Business Directory Plugin
The Business Directory Plugin is an all-in-one option for WordPress directories. It offers some of the key features that I look for in a directory plugin:
You can also purchase add-ons to enhance your directory with the Business Directory Plugin. If you’re going to use these add-ons, I’d recommend buying the package. The combo pack is $199.99 for a single site and $399.99 for multiple sites. It may sound pricey initially, but considering the price for each add-on starts at $69.99 and $139.98 (for a single site and multiple sites, respectively), it’s actually a great deal.
They have add-ons for premium features like:
Even though you’ll have the option for premium add-ons, you can install and use this plugin right out of the box for free. The plugin also comes with a built-in reCAPTCHA tool to avoid spam listings on your directory.
The Business Directory Plugin also has a featured-levels module. This is perfect for those of you who are using this directory to generate recurring sales by implementing subscriptions. Here’s how it works: You can set up your site to offer specific features for paid listings. For example, a business that pays to be listed can have unlimited character counts, images, and maps, whereas a free listing wouldn’t get these features. Business Directory Plugin even lets you specify between payment tiers based on the features you offer.
This plugin really gives you all of the tools that you need to compete with the giant names in the directory industry. I’m not saying that all of you should try to be the next Yelp or TripAdvisor, but if that’s your goal, you should definitely consider trying the Business Directory Plugin. I think it’d be super smart to create a directory in a very niche area that’s not well-represented or easily searched for in an existing directory.
4. LDD Directory Lite
LDD Directory Lite is extremely easy to install, which means you can get a directory up and running on your site in just minutes.
It’s another free WordPress directory plugin with add-on options available for purchase. Compared to some of the other plugins out there, these premium upgrades are fairly inexpensive, ranging around $10 to $20.
The LDD Directory Lite shortcode makes it possible for you to add a directory to any page or post on your WordPress site. Once the shortcode is added, the directory gets generated automatically. This solution makes it one of the most lightweight (hence the name) directory plugins available.
Once the plugin is installed, you have seemingly endless customization options. You completely control how the directory looks and feels on your site. Some of the top add-ons include social media and Google Maps integrations.
By using this plugin, you’ll benefit from a modern design. It’s ideal for WordPress users who aren’t too tech-savvy and don’t want to play around with confusing features, but still want a good looking result.
LDD Directory Lite is compatible for front-end submissions. It’s easy for website visitors to view your listings and navigate without any trouble as well.
You can set up email notifications related to listings. Businesses that have listings on your site have the power to customize and make edits from the front end as well.
I recommend it to anyone who wants a simple directory plugin that’s powerful and won’t weigh down your website.
5. Directories Pro
Last, but not least, is the Directories Pro WordPress plugin. It’s extremely responsive and uses caching to optimize the performance of the directories from both desktop and mobile devices.
The plugin offers an advanced search and filter for your visitors. You can even enable an auto-suggest feature in the search forms.
All of the fields are completely customizable. Each listing can have fields like tags, locations, reviews, and categories.
One of the best features of Directories Pro is the content display editor. It’s easy for you to use the drag and drop editing options to customize the directory without having to use any code. Some of the other top features include:
With Directories Pro, customers can rate and review the listings on your directory without having to register, login, or create an account. So you’ll likely get more reviews that will improve your directory.
It’s easy to build multiple directories with this plugin as well. You also have the option to clone or migrate your directories from one site to another. All of these features make Directories Pro one of the best WordPress directory plugins for developers and average users alike.
There are so many different ways to add a directory to your website.
Some of you might be trying to create giant business directories that will compete with the big players in this industry. Other websites will create local directories in niche categories. You might even just want a directory for something simple, like your staff.
Regardless of your situation, you can add a directory to your WordPress site with ease by installing a plugin. So use this guide to narrow your search. Look for the option that has the specific features you need to help you find the best WordPress directory plugin for your website.
via Quick Sprout https://ift.tt/UU7LJr
February 21, 2019 at 11:00AM
Stop shaming recipe bloggers for writing a lot
Every so often, someone will act very angry online because a recipe they clicked on has "too much text." They wanted to make mushroom ravioli, but instead had to scroll through a bunch of words about what mushroom ravioli means to a blogger's family. Boring!
It's true that many (if not most) food bloggers write long narratives preceding their recipes. Sometimes, they explain how they developed the recipe. Other times, they share why they chose to post this particular food, or explain the modifications they've made to accommodate family members with dietary restrictions. They might share a story about the dish providing them comfort in a difficult time, or how cooking the dish with a loved one healed a broken relationship. Food is personal, after all; it comes with stories.
So why do so many people rush to mock them?
Cadry Nelson, a food blogger who runs the vegan website Cadry's Kitchen, includes narratives with her recipes regularly. (She's also written an essay about recipe narratives.) This is partially because she wanted to document her transition to veganism, the context in which she developed much of her work. In doing so, she'd create a reference point for readers curious about going vegan themselves.
"I was trying a lot of produce I’d never had before, as well as re-creating old familiar flavors but without meat, dairy, and eggs," she explained in an interview. "I didn’t have many other friends who were vegan at that point."
Sharing this information doesn't just benefit her readers, either. It also helps her secure a place in the saturated food blog realm. "Through these posts, I’ve gotten to know bloggers’ flavor preferences too," Nelson said. By sharing stories on blogs, people get to know the types of foods [and] flavors that specific recipe creators enjoy. You figure out who is a good match for your own palate."
So why do people have such an issue with people writing about their own food? It seems to come down to convenience. Generally, perturbed readers complain that it takes too long for them to scroll down to the recipe itself.
Historian Kevin Kruse, for example, tweeted his disdain for recipe narratives last weekend: "Hey, cooking websites?" he wrote. "I don't really need a thousand words about how you discovered the recipe or the feelings it evoked for you ... I'm trying to feed my family. No need to curate the experience for me."
"GIMME THE RECIPE HON MY SCROLL FINGER HURTS," tweeted Chelsea Peretti last November.
Admittedly, it is irritating when anything is difficult to find on the internet, especially when we've come to expect an easy-as-pie user experience from every app and every website. It can feel like a slog to scroll through paragraphs of text when all you want is a list of ingredients.
But the thing to interrogate here isn't necessarily whether blocks of text are annoying — it's why people think these particular blocks of text don't deserve to exist.
Nelson thinks there's an element of sexism to the critiques she sees about recipe writing. Home cooking is still a deeply gendered pursuit, and writers whose work centers on home cooking are still perceived as less professional, less valuable, and less worthy voices. "The feeling seems to be that they don't think these writers have something of value to offer," Nelson said.
There's been high-profile backlash to the backlash against recipe narratives. After Kruse's tweet, Smitten Kitchen creator Deb Perelman tweeted a thread on the matter, encouraging recipe writers to "write as long and as in-depth as your heart desires about recipes and anything else they drum up in your mind and ignore anyone who says you shouldn't."
Like Nelson, she also called out detractors' casual sexism. "Congratulations, you've found a new, not particularly original, way to say 'shut up and cook,'" she tweeted. "I just don't see don't see the same pushback when male chefs write about their wild days or basically anything. Do you?"
"I wish more people who cooked got to tell their stories," she added.
There's also a more technical element at play where recipe narratives are concerned: search engine optimization (SEO). Recipe bloggers want to catch the attention of the illusive Google algorithm — and, ideally, land their recipe on the coveted first page — so they must demonstrate "authority" in their field. This means more comprehensive content, which is really hard to pull off with a concise recipe alone. (Tons of people will be using the phrase "apple crumble," for example, but only you can write your own story about it.)
"When I’m writing, I try to tell a story that has a hook as well as please[s] the Google algorithm," Nelson said. "I do keyword research ... I see what kinds of questions people have around the topic, and look for ways to anticipate their problems, and answer their questions, so that they will have a successful cooking experience. Lately, I’ve been adding more step-by-step pictures of how to make dishes, as well as videos, because Google says that readers want that."
Even though she's noticed people criticizing lengthy posts, Nelson maintains that writing a lot — authoritatively, of course — is what's going to get eyes on her recipes. "People say they want shorter posts, but Google values information," she said. "It’s hard to give information without using some words along the way."
SEO and marketing experts agree that Nelson's approach is a smart one, especially in such a saturated landscape. "Because a recipe usually consists of a listing of ingredients and steps, it’s often very difficult for a search engine to discern what this article is trying to convey," Pete Herrnreiter, who is the VP of digital strategy at The Motion Agency, explained via email. "By developing a richer upfront with background on the dish ... it [helps to] define the post."
Content strategist Abby Sanders, who works for Von Mack Agency, also emphasized the advantages of differentiating one's recipe from the pack. "These days, search engines are pretty effective at determining whether a page can serve as an 'expert source' on a specific query," she said. "So any additional content that includes certain keywords, as long as it's coherent and well-written, will improve that page's ranking."
As a caveat, Sanders mentioned, there are "plenty of other factors that play a role in rankings, such as domain authority, links to that page, and the list goes on. But from a sheer content standpoint, it does make good sense for a food blogger to write some extra, interesting copy around their subject."
So, fine. Finding a list of chili ingredients would be easier if we didn't have to scroll. But recipe bloggers are writers, and they have stories to share that are poignant, funny, and valuable — even if you (and I) don't love every single one you read. And if you really don't like the narratives? There are plenty of places for you to find story-free recipes online, though you might have to pay for a subscription to see some of them. Also, cookbooks exist.
"My food blog is my own. It’s my creative space. I spend a lot of time testing the recipes, taking photographs, making videos, and writing my stories," Nelson said. "If people aren’t interested in any aspect, so be it."
"My blog is Cadry’s Kitchen. It’s literally the place where I cook," she added. "I don’t know why I would write myself out of it."
via Mashable https://ift.tt/2DCFv97
February 21, 2019 at 10:46AM
Twitter opens applications for its beta program, first tests to focus on fixing conversations
Twitter today is opening up applications for its new testing program, first announced at CES in January. The program potentially can cover any and every aspect of the Twitter experience, but the first set of tests will focus on how interactions between people, and specifically replies, appear on Twitter. They will include a new design for replies to make it easier to follow a conversation; rounded shapes on reply tweets; indents to follow responses; hiding engagement and sharing behind a tap to bring out the content of replies; and introducing colors to add more context.
We got an early look at the these features when we saw the beta app in January; read on for more on all the features below.
Improving the look and feel of how Twitter works is a tall order, to say the least. Many have pointed out, and the company now admits, that back-and-forth tweets are too hard to follow. Given that Twitter’s core premise is that of a platform for conversations, that not only limits the product’s usefulness, but it potentially puts off newcomers as well.
These issues recently came to a head when Twitter’s own CEO Jack Dorsey attempted to participate in a tweet-based interview with journalist Kara Swisher. As their conversation continued, Twitter’s failings on this front were on clear display. Despite the use of a public hashtag, people were confused as to how to track the reporter’s questions and @jack’s answers.
“This thread was hard,” Dorsey tweeted at the end of the interview. “Need to make this feel a lot more cohesive and easier to follow.”
While interviews with major tech execs aren’t an everyday occurrence on Twitter (yet?), longer conversations with threaded replies are, and they’ve perhaps become even more prevalent after Twitter doubled its character count from 140 to 280 in late 2017. That change allowed people to share their expanded thoughts with more nuance, which in turn prompted more thoughtful replies.
Around the same time, Twitter turned “tweetstorms” into an official product, allowing people to tweet out a series of connected thoughts, each which invite their own related series of responses.
With all these changes, tracking the growing amount of back-and-forth has become overly complex, especially when a conversation has a lot of participants.
That’s the problem the new testing program aims better understand and eventually solve.
“It’s kind of a new take on our thinking about product development,” Sara Haider, Twitter’s director of product management, said in an interview in January. “One of the reasons why this is so critical for this particular feature is because we know we’re making changes that are pretty significant.”
Within a separate, standalone app, the company will roll out experiments that allow the Twitter community to more directly participate in the early development process. At launch, that means fixing conversations. But over time, Twitter aims to use this platform to try out new ideas before they make their way to the public product.
Fixing conversations could be one of the biggest changes to Twitter to date, she noted, which is why it’s critical for the company to get it right.
“We need you to be part of this process, so that we know we’re building the right experience,” Haider said.
Above: the development build at CES; the new product will look different, we’re told
Like the build TechCrunch previewed in January, the soon-to-launch Twitter prototype will feature an entirely new design for Replies where the conversations themselves have a rounded, more chat-like shape and are indented so they’re easier to follow. It won’t be the first time it has tried this out, but softer edges, it seems, are thought to look more human.
The company isn’t yet sharing images, but says you can imagine the Replies look more like the chats you see in Direct Messages – that is, they’re more rounded, but not exactly speech bubbles.
Engagements, sharing options, and other tweet details, meanwhile, will also get hidden from view to further simplify things. You will have to tap on the tweets in order to view them, Twitter says. Again, the aim here will be to put the focus more on what’s being said, not to act on it. This is actually an interesting shift, since so much in social media has been focused around engagement. Now, Twitter’s going to see if taking away some of those engagement nudges will, essentially, keep people around longer.
Above: Engagements are hidden on the development build seen at CES
Making conversations color-coded to highlight the tweets from the original poster as well as those tweets from people you follow is a straight play at giving more visual cues to the reader of a conversation. “Reader,” we think, might be the operative word here.
One of Twitter’s big issues with conversations is that they can be too noisy when too many people get involved. One solution to that might also be to try to think of how that might get limited, not just so that only certain replies are seen, or perhaps not all people can reply. This turns Twitter into a reading-first, not engagement-first experience, which is why making those replies easier to read is so important.
In the development build we saw last month, those colors were overly saturated for testing purposes. In the prototype, they’ve been dialed down. Now, people you follow will be in blue and the responses from the original poster are gray.
The reply highlighting is now just a shadow line along the reply, as opposed to the entire reply being colored, Twitter tells us.
The company says it will only accept a couple thousand of testers into the beta program. But unlike prior beta programs, testers aren’t under NDA. Instead, they’re encouraged to tweet about the test and discuss the changes with the broader Twitter community so more people can weigh in with their thoughts.
In addition, testers will be able to submit feedback through a closed form or they can just tweet to Twitter’s teams.
The tweet-and-reply system has been a thorn in Twitter’s side for years. Because Twitter was originally designed a short-form, SMS-like platform, it never anticipated how it would evolve into the discussion platform it has become today.
The company has tried in vain to figure out how to simplify things for users for years. For example, it added connecting lines between tweets and responses, made @usernames in replies a part of the tweet’s metadata, and even changed the Reply icon itself. Recently, it added an “original tweeter” badge to conversation threads, too.
The company says it will mostly invite English and Japanese speakers to the testing program. Participants must follow the Twitter Rules to be invited. However, they don’t necessarily need to be longtime Twitter users. In fact, the company tells TechCrunch it aims to have a range of people involved, from those who don’t use Twitter often to those who use it consistently.
Those interested in applying to the beta can do so from the tweet posted by the @TwitterSupport account or can use this link. If accepted, users will receive an email informing them of the next steps.
via Twitter – TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com
February 20, 2019 at 04:17PM