Monday, 29 February 2016

7 Horrible Mistakes Marketers Make for User Engagement

How many times do you ask yourself, “Is my content valuable and enjoyable enough to capture the attention of my users, and will it keep them engaged?”
User engagement is all about motivating and encouraging your users to interact and share your content so they become attached to your business or brand. In simple terms, more user engagement leads to more growth and loyalty for your business.
However, in today’s technology-dominated world, marketers tend to forget the most important variable in their marketing strategies: the people! It’s all about how your content adds value to them so they take the next step of interacting and sharing it. Engage people, entertain them, and delight them with your content if you want your business to grow. Provide real value to them with your content and they will love your business.
As marketers, we make a good number of mistakes, but the key is to learn from them and make our content and product incrementally better for users. Here are some of the awful mistakes that marketers make when they create content for high user engagement:
  1. No emotional connection: One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is that their content does not emotionally connect with their users. It is important to know what your customers really need, what will attract them the most, and how you can deeply connect with them on an emotional level. In the recent years, Coca-Cola has done an incredible job in connecting with their users through understanding user motivations and creating nostalgic feelings in their campaigns. Take a look at the following campaign by Coca-Cola to see how they make an emotional connection with their users.
  2. Your content is not visual: Let’s be frank, nowadays users do not have enough time to read every long-form post and article that’s being produced, and thus marketers need to find new ways to attract their attention. That is why your content needs to be more visual. In recent times, this has led to higher user engagement and the ability to drive conversions, and consequentially the huge popularity of platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. Even if you are creating content on other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or your own web page, make sure it is visually engaging for your users and share it out in all networks.
  3. No incentives or benefits: There has to be some incentive or benefit for your users to engage with your content. This is a great way to motivate and encourage them to take part in your experience. Pearl Jam created a bracket voting contest called Pearl Jam Madness for their users where they could vote for their favorite Pearl Jam songs and had a chance to win prizes along the way. This campaign had an emotional benefit to the users (songs they love) and a tangible benefit of winning a prize (the incentive). This led to high social sharing and commenting by users and nearly a million votes.

  4. Failing to build relationships: Many marketers simply fail to build relationships with their users. Your content should be focused on building a strong bond with them. Make it fun, valuable and allow users to communicate with you about the content. When writing, think about your community. The best campaign I can think of is Toms Shoes‘ One Day Without Shoes Instagram campaign, where users could upload pictures of their bare feet and use the #withoutshoes hashtag. The company would then give away a pair of shoes to someone in need. As a result, the company was able to give away a million pairs of shoes and generate high user engagement.

    toms-instagramNot capturing feedback: Feedback not only helps you make necessary changes to your content, but also helps in building credibility and loyalty towards your brand. Make your users feel important and know that you value their input and they will in turn have more positive connections with your brand. Some of the ways marketers can get feedback is through surveys, a comment/feedback box on their website, through in-app messaging, or by reaching out directly to their users.
  5. Your content is cluttered: This is a major mistake that marketers overlook when they are trying to create engaging content. Either there is too much text, information is hard to find, or there is a cluster of social icons and calls to action and users don’t know what to click on. Make your content easy to understand and actionable and you’ll see better results. Take a look at the website below. Do you think your users will easily find information or take action on something? I bet not.

  6. Not being transparent: The last mistake is not being transparent with your users. In this digital age where consumers have access to so much information, they have become highly sensitive to the feeling of being exploited. Being transparent with your content – the goals you have behind it, what actions you are looking for, etc. – is the key to achieve their trust and loyalty. If you are not being transparent in your content, user engagement and brand loyalty will surely drop.
  7. Takeaways Content marketing ROI is based on successfully reaching your audience and generating high user engagement to fulfill your goals. Keep your content simple, actionable and be transparent. Look to not just satisfy your users, but to delight them with your content. And avoid these 7 horrible mistakes at any cost!

Sunday, 28 February 2016

49 Noteworthy Social Networking Stats and Facts

Though new social networks continue to be launched (e.g. SnapChat, Blab) and some disappear (anyone remember Pownce or Friendster?), the “big three” among both consumers and marketers continue to thrive and dominate.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

How to Edit Instagram Photos: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Instagram Filters & More

Have you ever looked through your Instagram feed and wondered how some people make their photos look so darn good?
Whether I'm looking at drool-worthy photos posted by food brands or crisp, gorgeous shots of full-time Instagrammers (yes, that's a real job), I've had my fair share of photo envy.
When it comes to posting on Instagram, photo quality is everything. How good your photos are will make or break your presence. If you take great photos and edit them exquisitely, I promise you will be much closer to amassing the thousands of followers you're hoping for.
But don't be intimidated -- in fact, we have good news for you: Editing photos well on Instagram doesn't take a whole lot of time. It's all about taking great photos, using the right photo editing apps, learning which filters work for which types of photos, and getting the routine down.
Let's learn how to edit photos for Instagram so you can garner more followers and more engagement on your Instagram page. In this post, I'll help you turn unedited photos -- like the one on the left of Fenway Park at dawn -- into ones that are much more compelling, like the one on the right.
fenway-park-before.jpg fenway-park-after.jpg

A Step-by-Step Guide to Editing Your Instagram Photos

Step 1: Start with a great photo.

No amount of editing is going to fix a photo that was poorly taken in the first place. When it comes to posting something awesome on Instagram, it's all about photo quality -- and that starts with a photo that's great even before you tweak it.
You don't need to be a photographer or take classes to take great photos for Instagram. All you really need is a smartphone and the willingness to learn some key tips for how to use it to take great photos. Start by reading through these 17 tips for taking great photos with your smartphone. This post will teach you how to line up your shots, find interesting perspectives, and take advantage of symmetry, patterns, "leading lines," and more.

Step 2: Edit it using apps other than Instagram.

This step is optional but highly recommended. Before I even start editing a photo on Instagram, I edit it using one or two of the other great photo editing apps out there. Click here for a list of 11 of the best photo and video editing apps for mobile. Each of the apps on the list have different strengths, so it's beneficial to use more than one on each photo.
For this particular photo, I used two apps: Afterlight and Snapseed.
Afterlight is available for $0.99 on both iOS and Android -- and in my opinion, it's well worth the dollar. I use it on almost every photo I post to Instagram. It's not the fanciest app in the world, but it has all the features you need to do a basic photo edit -- from controlling the color tones and adjusting exposure and brightness, to rotating and straightening the photo. While the Instagram app itself has some of these capabilities, Afterlight does have a few important features that Instagram doesn't, like its Highlight Tool that brings the blue hues up. I find this gives photos a cleaner, fresher look.
For this particular photo, I did some basic editing tweaks on things like brightness, contrast, and highlights.
Next, I uploaded the photo into Snapseed, a free app on both iOS and Android that's also great for basic image enhancements.
While Snapseed has all the classic adjustment tools, such as tuning, cropping, and straightening, its main selling point is its "selective" editing tool. This lets you pinpoint an area in a photo and adjust the brightness, contrast, and saturation of that single point in the photo. So if you want viewers to focus on a certain part of your photo -- say, the clouds reflecting the beautiful colors of sunrise -- then you can make those clouds more vivid.
Snapseed also has a plethora of cool filters, like the "Drama" one below. Although I didn't use any filters for this particular photo, there are some cool ones in there you can play around with.
Once you're done editing a photo in Snapseed, you can click "Save" and then "Export" to save it to your phone's photo album.
Boom. With a few tweaks using apps outside of Instagram, I've adjusted the original photo (left) to make it a little more striking (right).
fenway-park-before.jpg fenway-park-after-external-editing.jpg

Step 3: Upload your photo to Instagram.

Now that we have a photo we're ready to work with in Instagram, it's time to upload your photo to the Instagram app. To do this, open the Instagram app and click the camera icon at the bottom center of your screen.
From there, select the photo you'd like to edit from your photo album. By default, it'll go into "All Photos," but you can click the downward arrow next to "All Photos" at the top of your screen to open a particular album if your photo is located somewhere specific.
Pro Tip: Instagram will crop your photo as a square by default, but if you want to change it to its original width, simply press the "Expand" icon (two outward facing arrows) in the bottom left-hand corner of the photo once you've selected it.
Click "Next" to begin editing the photo.

Step 4: Pick a filter.

Here's where it gets fun. Now that you're in editing mode in the Instagram app, the first thing you should do is pick a filter. Usually, I click through onto each and every filter, in order, and take note of which ones I like. Then, I'll go back and forth between the ones I like until I settle on one of them. How's that for scientific?
While slapping on a filter because it looks good is one way to do it, it is helpful to play around with each filter and get an idea of its specific purpose. From Lark to Crema to Valencia to Ginza, each filter has its own personality and hues that drastically changes the photo -- not only how it looks, but how it feels. Take a look at these examples to see what I mean:
instagram-lark-filter.png instagram-x-pro-ii-filter.png instagram-brannan-filter.png
instagram-moon-filter.png instagram-skyline-filter.png instagram-ginza-filter.png
Here are a few of my favorite Instagram filters and how they change the look and feel of a photo:
  • Lark: A filter that desaturates reds while pulling out the blues and greens in your photos, thereby intensifying it. Great for landscapes.
  • Moon: A black-and-white filter with intense shadows that'll give your photos a vivid, vintage look.
  • Crema: A desaturated filter that gives your photos a creamy, vintage look.
  • Valencia: A filter that warms the colors of your photo, giving it kind of an antique look without washing out color completely.
  • X Pro II: A high contrast filter that makes colors pop and adds vignette edges, giving photos sort of a dramatic affect.
  • Lo-Fi: This filter adds high saturation, rich colors, and strong shadows to your photo. Great for photos of food.
  • Brannan: A filter with a metallic, grey-ish feel that richens deep colors while softening neutrals. Warning: It always makes your photos look highly edited.
Everyone has their favorites, so as you use Instagram more and more, keep experimenting and learning about your own filter preferences for every type of photo you take, whether they're landscapes, close-ups, portraits, or something else.
For this particular photo, I chose the Skyline filter because I like how it gave the whole photo a glowing, surreal look, and how it made the rich purples and pinks of the sunrise pop.
Pro Tip: As you begin learning your filter preferences, you can reorder your filters and even hide the ones you don't use. To do either of these things, scroll to the very far right of your filters options and click "Manage."
To reorder your filters, simply hold your finger down on the three grey lines on the far right of the filter you'd like to move, and drag it to reorder.
To hide filters you don't use, deselect them by tapping on the white check mark to the right of the filter.

Step 5: Adjust the lux.

The what? If you've ever edited a photo on Instagram, you've likely used the lux feature before, even if you weren't sure what it's called. Lux is a feature that makes your photos more vibrant and brings out the smaller details.
Once you've selected a filter, turn lux on by tapping the sun symbol below your photo and above your filter options.
Then, use the slider to adjust the lux, which will adjust the contrast and saturation of your photo. I usually slide it up and down until I settle on what looks best. Tap the check mark when you're done and it'll take you back to the filters page.

Step 6: Use the simple editing tools.

Next, open up Instagram's simple editing tools by tapping the wrench icon below your photo on the right-hand side.
From here, you can adjust a number of settings, including alignment, brightness, contrast, structure, warmth, saturation, highlights, shadows, and sharpness. I usually go through each setting one by one until I've adjusted the photo to my liking.
To adjust each of these settings, click on the icon at the bottom of your screen, use the slider to find a "sweet spot," and then tap the check mark when you're done. If you adjust the slider and realize you don't want to make any changes, simply tap the "X" and it'll exit from that setting without saving any changes.
instagram-adjust-brightness.png instagram-adjust-contrast.png
Once you've made all the changes in Instagram's tools that you'd like, click "Next" in the top right-hand corner of your screen.

Step 7: Either post your photo immediately, or save it to post later.

Alright -- at this point, you have two options.

Option 1: Post your photo immediately.

If you're ready to post your photo now, then go ahead and post it by adding a caption, a geotag, tagging any relevant Instagram users, and clicking "Share."

Option 2: Save it to post later.

If you're not ready to post it now, but you wanted to get a head start on editing it so you could post it in a pinch, then you can save the photo with the edits you made in Instagram without posting it -- thanks to a little hack.
Ready? To use Instagram as a photo editor without posting anything, all you need to do is publish a picture while your phone is on airplane mode.
First, you'll have to be sure you have "Save Original Photo" turned on in your settings.
Then, turn on airplane mode. Here's how to do that:
  • To turn on airplane mode on an Android device: Swipe down from the top of the screen. Then, swipe from right to left until you see "Settings," and then touch it. Touch "Airplane Mode" to turn it on.
  • To turn on airplane mode on an iPhone/iPad: Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and click the airplane icon. Or, go to "Settings" and then "Wi-Fi," and switch "Airplane Mode" on.
Then, go back to your editing screen and press the "Share" button at the bottom. An error message will appear saying the upload failed, but rest assured the photo will be saved automatically to your phone's photo gallery.
Pro tip: Want to edit a whole bunch of photos ahead of time so you can upload them later without much effort? If you have an iOS device, one way to organize your edited photos so you can find them easily later is to add them to your "Favorites" folder on your iPhone.
To add photos to "Favorites," you'll need to "heart" the photo. Here's how it works: When you're scrolling through your photos, tap the heart icon at the bottom of your screen.
The photo will be added to a photo album called "Favorites" in your iPhone's folders, which you can access easily and at any time. Since Instagram doesn't let you schedule posts in advance, this is a great place to store edited photos so you can upload them when you need them.
And there you have it! By now, you should be able to edit your Instagram photos on a pretty basic level.


Friday, 26 February 2016

How to master the art of content curation

How to master the art of content curation
Image source:
Content curation is not a new concept, but what’s impressive is the fact that it still remains important, despite all the changes in content marketing.
Content curation is all about discovering, optimising and sharing interesting and relevant content for your audience and despite its quite simple definition, it still needs to be treated as part of your wider content strategy.  

Why content curation?

There is an increasing need for content nowadays, with time and budget affecting the quantity of content a brand may create. Even if it manages to find both, the audience won’t necessarily appreciate content leading only to the brand’s owned media.
That’s when content curation is needed, as a way to mix the brand’s written content with what can be found throughout the web, with both matching the audience’s interests.
As we are all becoming addicted to content consumption and always seek for more of it, content curation is the ideal solution for the “hungry” readers who keep expecting new content from the brands that try hard to stay on top of their field.
Thus, content curation serves as an integral part of the content strategy, using the experts’ wisdom as an opportunity to boost a brand’s value.
After all, it’s not just about the creation of the content that you’re judged, but also about your critical thinking and your ability to discover (and share) the right content for your target audience.

Think before you share

There is a thought process involved in content curation and it has to do with the factors that make you pick the content you’ll share.
Curation aims to help you:
  • Add value
  • Be relevant
  • Serve as an expert
  • Find influencers
  • Reach a wider audience
There’s no need to curate content if it doesn’t contribute to your brand’s authority, value, or relevance, as curation is still part of your content strategy.

How to excel in content curation

Optimise the content

Curation is not just about the automatic sharing of content, as it is important to optimise the curated content in a way that it is appealing, properly formatted, by also focusing on properly attributing the original source.
What’s more, a post may be more effective when shared at the best format and the right time for your audience, so never skip this step during curation.

Engage with your audience

A topic that your audience will appreciate may be a great opportunity to spark further discussion, exchange opinions and start an interesting conversation.
After all, a brand should always seek for new ways to interact with its followers.

Find opportunities to interact with influencers

What if the content you curated allowed you to network with important influencers in your niche?
Think of it, all you have to do is share their content, mention them, and (hopefully) you’re minutes away from a highly prestigious reply!

Keep a balance

Yes, content is everywhere and it’s certainly easier to curate rather than create, but you still need to find a balance between these two, in order to show that you’re able to master both of them.
Your audience will appreciate and your brand will serve as an industry expert in its particular field.

Tools to organise curation

There are many tools to help you organise your content curation and I’ve personally tried:

Twitter Liststwitter lists



Paper.lipaperli (1)



However, if you feel that you need to consider more options, then this list is what you’re looking for.

Where to curate content


How about compiling a list of the most important news of the week in your niche and turn them into a highly informative post?
By creating an appealing post, which also provides the right attribution the original sources, you are proving that you are able to discover (and present) the best content for your audience.

Social Media

Your content on social media is never enough, so curation is ideal, especially for social networks like Twitter, where the feed keeps updating and engagement may be instant. And of course, you can also use hashtags, which may turn out really effective.
Twitter lists, Buzzsumo, Klout, and Postplanner are some of the options you have when looking for new content, depending on your interests, the people you’re following, the topics you’re reading, etc. Invest time to use and organise any of them and you might be surprised with the results!
greatist content hub

Content Hub

If your business heavily relies on content, then you know how challenging it may be to organise it and even more, to share it with your readers.
That’s when you need to consider the idea of a content hub, a special page, which will help your audience find your content in a creative and structured form.
Thus, the promotion of your content hub could lead to increased clicks towards your posts and could attract an even wider audience.

Ready to curate?

Content curation offers numerous benefits for your brand, providing that you’re ready to include it as an integral part of your content strategy, by investing both in time and resources that would help you find the best available content! And this is an accomplishment on its own!