10 Examples of Amazing Viral Marketing Videos

93 million. This number is the combined total of views for the 10 videos listed in the post below. That is nearly the number of people who watch the Super Bowl!

These 10 videos provide great examples of what it takes to make a video that can capture the attention of millions and market your product in the process. Take a look at each of these videos. They are all very different and invoke different emotions in order to capture attention. These videos prove that it doesn’t matter if your company is B2B or B2C; anyone can create a video that goes viral .

1. THE NEW DORK – Entrepreneur State of Mind (Jay-Z ft Alicia Keys Spoof) | grasshopper.com

2. 2010 Kia Soul Hamster Commercial | Black Sheep Kia Hamsters Video

3. Herding Cats – Ikea

4. Tea Partay – Smirnoff

5. Will It Blend? – iPhone – BlendTec

6. Dove Evolution – Dove

7. Evian Roller Babies – Evian

8. The T-Mobile Dance – T-Mobile

9. YouTube HD Camera Trick Challenge- Samsung

10. United Breaks Guitars – Sons of Maxwell

What other viral marketing videos have you enjoyed?

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Author: Jeanne Hopkins

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The Future of Social Media Is Here: These Are the Trends You Need to Know

It’s time we talked about how you’re using social media. That’s right, this is an intervention.

We’re concerned about what you’re doing, and more importantly what you’re not doing. Your lack of adoption of new channels. Your total disrespect of mobile first users. Your reluctance to try video. Your fear of spending money on social ads. Your results. We’re concerned.

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We bring up these concerns out of love for you and modern marketing. You see, social media marketing has changed, but most social media marketers haven’t. A modern social strategy is light-years away from the definition we used in 2012 and it’s time to adapt. Adapt to a mobile first, video obsessed audience. Adapt to new tactics that take advantage of new tools. Adapt how we measure success and what we’re trying to achieve.

This isn’t a matter of making tweaks, we need to start over.

We know this because it’s something our own marketing team has gone through here at HubSpot. Over the last few years we’ve had to constantly reinvent ourselves. We’ve learned the hard way so you don’t have have to.

Why do we need a new start?

Things have changed — and that all starts with Facebook.

Flash back to 2012 with me for a moment. It was an eventful year: we were all watching Gangnam Style on our iPad 3’s, mourning the loss of Whitney Houston, and eagerly awaiting the Facebook IPO. An IPO that we were excited but unsure about.

It wasn’t clear at all in 2012 that Facebook had a viable business model. Investors were concerned if they could actually monetize. After the first few months of their IPO their stock was down and the future looked grim.

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The fact that this was only 5 years ago Facebook seems ludicrous. Today Facebook is one of the fastest growing, most well known, most trusted, and most valuable companies in the world. Its only rivals may be Apple and Google.

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Facebook’s success as a business is directly related to their success in mobile. In 2012 Mobile represented only 10% of Facebook’s revenue, today it accounts for 82%. They were able to move with users from desktop to mobile and create a totally new stream of revenue that corresponded with a big shift in consumer behavior.

This success has allowed Facebook to expand, given them the means to buy Instagram and WhatsApp, and spend time developing new products like Messenger.

The average person globally now spends 50 minutes a day with Facebook.

…there are only 24 hours in a day, and the average person sleeps for 8.8 of them. That means more than one-sixteenth of the average user’s waking time is spent on Facebook.  – New York Times

These new products are big bets that they hope will have the same impact on their business as their shift to mobile did for them back in 2012. Below is Facebook’s ten year road map. An astonishingly ambitious plan to create multiple new products and revenue streams, most notably around messaging, video, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.

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Facebook has never been more important than now. They are innovating incredibly fast and changing the meaning of social media. It’s critical to figure out how your audience lives in Facebook (Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp) because they are there, everyone on the planet is. Once you do figure out how you can use the tools Facebook offers to connect with them.

The Trends: New Channels, Video, Mobile, Ads, AI

There are five major trends that are defining this next wave of social media.

1) New Channels

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One of Facebook’s most recent hits is Facebook Messenger. It’s one of a handful of new channels, along with Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat that’s dominating time spent on social.

In 2012 Social Media was the big three: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. That’s it. Your goal was to engage and grow communities on these channels via desktop. The idea was to gain enough likes and followers so that you had a reliable distribution channel for your content.

Today, your audience may still be there, but there are many other places as well. Social media usage hasn’t slowed down one bit since 2012, it’s grown and diversified. You must know your audience and you must focus your efforts on the networks that are most relevant for them.

To make this happen, the role of the social media manager / marketer needs expand. They need to understand your target market, and whatever social channel they spend time in. That probably includes Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, but it’s now expanded to new networks like SnapChat, Reddit, YouTube, WhatsApp, and more.

They should know how those networks work and be able to create the content that does best in those channels. This means that social media marketers need to be experts in ads, creating video, stories, messaging bots, and more.

Furthermore, their goal shouldn’t be to try to turn these places into a distribution channel. Instagram for instance isn’t interested in having users leave their app. They’ve made it hard for marketers to drive people from their app to a landing page without an ad.

A modern social media marketing strategy doesn’t try to drive people out of these sites, they turn these sites into a conversion funnel in and of themselves. They create amazing content that brings attention and use ads and technology to convert those users in network. No landing pages, no emails. This is true for all networks now, not just Instagram. More on this later.

2) Video

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Instagram was one of the first totally visually focused social networks, at first it was almost all pictures. Its massive success served as a spark for the rest of the industry. Quickly other social networks started leaning away from text into images, and that trend continued to evolve towards video.

We all now have super computers in our pockets with strong wifi and cellular networks. This makes hosting, sharing, and serving video a fast, enjoyable experience. The result is that video has become the currency of social media. People want video. You may have noticed how much more video you’re seeing in your Facebook and LinkedIn feeds — expect more.

This may have impacted you, but for even younger audiences social has totally replaced TV. They still want to consume video and now these cord-cutters turn directly to YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook to get it.

All of this has already happened. It’s not new. This means if you haven’t figured out how your company or brand can produce relevant video you must act now or risk becoming irrelevant. Producing video should be something you add to your personal repertoire, but isn’t easy, and unlike blogging a bad product can hurt your brand and image. If you can’t do it yourself, get help. Lean on good freelancers or hire folks with experience to guide the way and help you build your video strategy and production arm.

Video should be part of all your marketing campaigns. It can be live, pre-produced, casual, or polished. You’ll figure out what works for your audience, but you have to get started now if you haven’t already. An easy way to figure out what to create is to always ask, “What’s the video element?” about every single marketing campaign your team creates. Once you get started start reviewing the data. Focus on metrics like watch time over views, and let that be your guide to decide what’s working.

3) Mobile

You, me, and everyone else in the world have relatively cheap, extremely powerful, mobile phones in our pockets. Wifi is now everywhere, and 4G networks can be found in all corners of the globe. This has made accessing the internet and consuming content on mobile much easier. And it turns out that as long as the experience is good, people prefer using their mobile device for everything.

A result of this is that social media is now almost all mobile. 80% of social usage now comes from mobile devices. Social media is growing like crazy and almost all of it is coming from mobile first or mobile only users. That’s right: some users in some regions only access the internet from their mobile device. How are you going to reach those users?

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Obviously it’s important to know your own audiences trends, but the short story is your marketing should now also be mobile first. Assume that the majority of people you engage with or want to reach in social are coming from their mobile phone.

For most B2B marketers this is a hard pill to swallow. The school of thought is that mobile marketing doesn’t work for B2B. That mobile users on the go aren’t interested in a long white paper like someone accessing it from a desktop would be. And that forms with several fields turn off mobile users.

Those concerns are valid and true, but it doesn’t mean mobile marketing doesn’t work for B2B, it just means we need to change our tactics — and Facebook is eager to help.

Recently Facebook introduced Lead Ads, and they can become your mobile marketing strategy. There aren’t many shortcuts in marketing or life, but Facebook’s created a big one with Lead Ads.

The ad unit brings your content to users on the Facebook mobile app and Instagram. Its format allows you to feature your lead gen content, and a strong call to action. This is all great, but the magic comes after a user clicks on the ads CTA, they are served a form that is auto populated with their information by Facebook.

This dramatically increases conversion rates. We’ve seen this totally flip the script for some marketers. They are now actually getting a better cost-per0lead at a higher conversion rate from their mobile campaigns vs. desktop.

Another great option for converting mobile users is Facebook Messenger. HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar recently wrote, “Facebook Messenger will be the next great marketing channel, and it is arguably the best way to engage with the Facebook community as a marketer.”

Step one is encouraging users to start conversations via messenger. There are lots of reasons why a customer or prospect would want to chat with you via Messenger. Maybe it’s to aid communications at an event you’re hosting, or perhaps to deal with a customer service question.

Whatever the reason, it’s a good idea to start doing it. Having access to people via messaging means have a direct, mobile first channel to people. In a world where people are ignoring email and spending the majority of their time on their phone in a Facebook property, this will be important. Start building a plan for how you can start messenger conversations now.

4) Social Ads

Most people would agree that a modern social media marketing strategy has to incorporate video and mobile, but do you have to use ads? The answer now is yes.

You don’t have to always be running ads or use them for every campaign. But if you can’t effectively use paid media to amplify your inbound marketing strategy, you’re going to lose to the competition.

Earlier I mentioned we are now in a world where pushing people off of social to your site to convert no longer works. That means ads are your main path to conversion in social now. Before you grab your pitchfork and start chanting “pay to play is wrong” let me say this: a good social ad strategy will make you way more money than it will ever cost you, and will help you compete with much larger businesses.

You also don’t need to have a massive budget to be successful. Ads can be easily scaled up and down, so when you figure out the right conversion path and reach profitability, dial things up.

All of the major social networks are aggressively trying to monetize their audiences. Most of them have been for awhile. Those monetization efforts started with exciting marketing solutions for big consumer focused brands, and they work.

Now Facebook and the others are looking for new audiences to build for. If you’re reading this you’re probably a B2B marketer who doesn’t work at a Fortune 500 company. That’s a great place to be if you want to start using ads.

Facebook and LinkedIn both now have great lead generation solutions built for a mobile audience. This is a big opportunity — and one you don’t want to miss out on. It’s important to build a strong social media advertising muscle now. Ads don’t have to be part of every campaign, but you should always consider it.

When you do decide to use ads, use them in conjunction with inbound. An ad that is only an ad is boring and disruptive. But an ad powered by great content that is part of a well targeted inbound campaign is something your audience will welcome.  

5) Artificial Intelligence 

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are ideas that marketers are chomping at the bit to put to work. But the question that hasn’t been answered is how? Social Media and Social Ads are the answer.

No other marketing channel has grasped AI like social. It defines what content you see, what ads you’re served, and how you engage with your friends. In many ways AI defines social, and it’s important to keep this in mind when creating content. There is no more optimizing for time of day or keywords in social, everything is defined by a machine learning algorithm specific to individuals. When you’re thinking about content try to think like the machines.

Facebook and others have now made the same AI that powers what content is shown to whom, available to better target your ads. When you run Facebook ads for instance, you have a powerful tool set of AI at your fingertips, even if they don’t make that obvious. Leaning on Facebook to target and optimize your ads is a very good idea.

Upload lists of your most valuable customers or highest priority prospect to Facebook and then implement Lookalike Audiences. With this data Facebook will put its AI to work by combining with their global user data to serve your ads to only the most valuable people.

At HubSpot our own ads experts used to manually test and optimize combinations of creative and targeting to get the best results. But over the course of 2017 simply decided to stop. They couldn’t beat Facebook’s AI. We’ve decided at this point it’s just best to get out of your own way and let Facebook do its thing.

Look, things are different. Facebook has changed the world, mobile and video are here to stay, ads are they way forward, and it’s time to leverage AI. But for all the change that has happened, inbound is still the way forward.

The best marketing will always be remarkable and focused on attracting people with the quality of its substance. And for all the advanced technology we have, the best marketing will still always be about people and personal connections.

No technology can replace the feeling someone gets when they feel like you’re talking only to them. It’s important to root everything you do in those concepts. It’s time to grasp these new concepts, tools, and tactics. If you can combine them with the fundamentals of inbound marketing, there is no stopping you.

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6 Predictions for the Convergence of IoT and Digital Marketing

We’re on the cusp of a tectonic shift in digital marketing.

The boom in IoT (Internet of Things) technology will soon allow us to analyze, predict, and respond to consumer behavior in almost every market possible.

That sounds amazing … but what’s the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is the connection of everyday products like cars, alarm clocks, and lights to computing devices via the internet. It allows them to exchange data with each other, providing marketers with more context about their customers’ product usage. This enables marketers to deliver more relevant messages and leads to greater customer engagement. 

For example, if you run out of milk or it spoils, a refrigerator connected to the internet could recognize your need and display a message on its screen or your phone about the best milk deals in town. You could even order a carton through one of those devices if the refrigerator company partnered with a grocery store.  

Since IoT technology connects the internet with objects that are ubiquitous in our daily lives, marketers in almost every industry will be able to engage consumers throughout every phase of the customer journey.

The term “Big Data” is an understatement for the amount of data IoT devices will produce. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, IoT devices and sensors will exceed mobile phones as the largest category of connected devices in 2018 and generate a staggering 400 zettabytes of data per year.

IoT’s surge will overjoy marketers because they can leverage these massive data sets to integrate consumer behavioral signals into their marketing stack. This will allow them to capture interactions, conversion metrics, and consumer behavior predictions and link them to purchase-intent data.

Access to this data is exciting, but it could also lead to confusion. Marketers might not know how to interpret this unprecedented influx of information. Changes to the digital marketing landscape are clearly on the horizon. So check out these six predictions of how IoT will influence digital marketing’s growth and evolution and how you can prepare for it.

1) New digital devices will emerge.

Since anything connected to the internet could be an avenue for consumer engagement, marketers will move beyond today’s digital devices like laptops, mobile, and tablets.

For instance, we could use things like car and refrigerator monitors as possible touch points. Amazon already leverages IoT with their Dash buttons, allowing consumers to order a product with the push of a wifi-connected button.

2) IoT data, attribution, and analytics will revolutionize contextual marketing.

IoT devices generate unprecedented amounts of data, so every customer interaction allows marketers to capture consumer intent, behavior, needs, and desires. This makes it possible to serve contextually relevant marketing messages at the most optimal place and time.

Understanding a consumer’s behavior, purchase patterns, and location also provides a level of attribution, analytics, and predictive capabilities that were previously unavailable. Based on signals from IoT devices, we’ll be able to push timely notifications to consumers when they need to purchase something rather than waiting for them to show interest.

These insights and the ability to accurately attribute every interaction throughout the customer journey will be groundbreaking.

3) Marketing technology platforms will treat IoT data like their first born.

Marketing platforms and technologies will be able to ingest and use IoT data similarly to how cookies and unique IDs (UIDs) are used today. These platforms will also use IoT signals to further evolve our current cross-device technologies.

Developing platforms and technologies capable of ingesting, analyzing, and acting on these vast data sets will be a very complex undertaking. But evolution in digital marketing AI and machine learning applications will produce marketing technology platforms that can process, interpret, and evaluate these data sets in near real-time.

In other words, expect many new entrants in the marketing technology space to tackle this challenge.

4) The agency’s role will evolve.

Along with the traditional responsibilities of agencies, they will start playing an increasingly technical, data-centric role as technology partners. Agencies will help build their client’s platforms, develop their internal systems, and manage the implementation of tagging elements.

The agency staff’s skill set must adapt to the evolution of their role, though. They’ll need to develop an agile approach to managing campaigns, marketing initiatives, pricing, and product development.

Keen understanding of the data packets IoT devices can produce will become commonplace, as well as knowing what the actionable endpoints within a customer journey are.

5) Marketers will be able to deliver timely, personalized messages that align with their customer’s lifecycle stage

The ability to deliver timely, personalized messages at the precise moment to the optimal device will transform digital marketing. For example, using data collected from a fitness wearable and proximity data collected from beacons, digital marketers could deliver fitness product messaging or emails when the user is near a relevant advertiser’s store, like a smoothie joint.

The possibilities for using a combination of these signals to provide highly relevant messaging at the optimal moment are unlimited.

IoT could also provide marketers with the information to improve customer experience and determine when they should send acquisition or retention marketing messages. One example is using offline purchases coupled with proximity data from IoT devices in a brick and mortar store to target recent purchasers with an upsell email or social campaigns asking for product feedback to send to their peers.

6) There will be increased scrutiny of privacy and security.

With great data, comes great responsibility. We can expect more privacy and security regulations and technologies focused on protecting both consumer and enterprise data.

Methods such as network segmentation, device-to-device authentication, and bolstered encryption techniques will likely emerge to prevent IoT devices from being compromised.

The data created by the Internet of Things will unleash considerable digital marketing potential. Predicting exactly how these changes will play out is not exact, but the evolution is already underway.

The only question is: will you be prepared for it?

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6 of the Best Professional Bio Examples We’ve Ever Seen

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A short, professional bio is one of those things most people don’t think about until, all of a sudden, we’ve been asked to “shoot one over via email” and have approximately one afternoon to come up with it.

That’s when we scramble.

And when we scramble, our bio ends up reading like this:

Rodney Erickson is a content marketing professional at HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers. Previously, Rodney worked as a marketing manager for a tech software startup. He graduated with honors from Columbia University with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing.”

… Woof, that was dull. Are you still with me? I swear, not even adding a tidbit about his cats would liven that bio up.

Click here to download our free guide on how to succeed in your new marketing  job.

To be fair, in certain contexts, your professional bio does need to be more formal, like Mr. Erickson’s up there. But in many cases, writing a bio that’s readable — even conversational — is actually a really good thing. That means dropping that traditional format of listing your accomplishments like a robot and cramming as much professional-sounding jargon in there as you can.

Remember: The people reading your bio are suffering from information fatigue. If you don’t hook ’em in the first line, you’ll lose them quickly.

Alright, I know what you may be thinking … So what? It’s just a bio.

(P.S. Want to give your professional brand a boost? Take one of HubSpot Academy’s free certification courses. In just one weekend, you can add a line to your resume and bio that’s coveted by over 60,000 marketers.)

Why Does Your Professional Bio Matter?

I mean, how many people actually read those things, anyway?

The answer: A lot of people. More importantly, though, there’s no way to tell exactly who is reading it — and you always want it to be ready for when the right people to come across it. And when they do, you want it to catch their eye. In a good way.

You see, while your resume is only useful for when you’re actively applying for specific positions, your professional bio is much more visible. It can live on your LinkedIn profile, your company’s website, your guest blog posts, your speaker profiles, your Twitter bio, and many other places.

And, most importantly, it’s the tool that you can leverage most when you’re networking.

Bottom line? People will read your professional bio. Whether they remember it, and whether it makes them actually care about you, is a matter of how well you present yourself to your intended audience.

So, what does a top-notch professional bio look like?

Let’s take a look at some great examples. We’ve curated some of the best real professional bio examples we’ve ever seen online. Check ’em out, and use them as inspiration when crafting your own.

6 of the Best Professional Bio Examples We’ve Ever Seen

1) Phil Gutowski

Phil is a real estate broker for the East Boston neighborhood, and he’s mastered the art of adding a warm personality to the professional bio on his website.

First, check out the header of his bio: “Promoting positive community and economic growth in our neighborhood.”

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The header isn’t all about him, nor is it a hard sell about his business. Instead, he’s chosen to start with a value proposition. Why? Because Phil knows that his value proposition is the core of his competitive advantage. In header text that stands out on the page, he clearly articulates why someone would want to hire him instead of a competitor: This guy doesn’t just sell houses to make money; he promotes community and economic growth in the area.

The rest of his bio includes personal touches that make him more human. He does talk about his business history and accomplishments, but he does so while including personal details that invite readers to relate to him as a person.

For instance, he talks about where he’s from (a relevant detail for a real estate broker), his love of the water, why he started his business, and how he’s committed to the local community. His bio indicates he’s friendly and probably a pleasure to work with, which is important for a real estate broker someone would be working with one-on-one.

2) Ann Handley

If you’re a marketer, you’ve likely heard of Ann Handley. Her list of credentials is lengthy, and if she really wanted to, she could go on and on and on about her accomplishments.

But when people list out all their accomplishments in their bios, they risk sounding a little egotistical. Sure, you might impress a handful of people with all those laurels, but many people who read your bio will end up feeling either intimidated or annoyed. Think about it: Is that how you want the majority of your readers to feel when they read your bio?

To minimize the egoism that comes with talking about yourself, think about how you can list out your accomplishments without sounding like you’re bragging. Ann does this really well, choosing a tone in her bio that’s more approachable.

It starts with the excerpt in the footer of her personal website. Give it a quick read, paying close attention to the opening and closing lines:

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“This is Ann Handley’s website, and this is a bit of copy about her … That’s not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So read more here.” This is the kind of simple, friendly language that invites the reader in rather than shutting them out.

Follow the link and you’ll be led to a page dedicated to a fuller bio, which she’s divided into two parts: a “short version” (literally a bulleted list of key facts) and a “long version,” which includes traditional paragraphs. There’s something in there for everyone.

3) Mark Gallion

As a venture capitalist and an executive at several start-ups, Mark Gallion has different versions of his bio all over the internet. You can imagine some are more formal than others. But when it comes to his Twitter bio, he carefully phrased his information in a way that helps him connect with his audience — specifically, through the use of humor.

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Why would he choose humor when he runs four start-ups and constantly seeks funding for them? Well, Mark’s tactic is totally intentional: it’s a lever he pulls to refresh his brand while maintaining his already impressive and established identity as an entrepreneur.

Mark leverages his Twitter bio because it’s place where he can be human. And it helps him relate to his followers and potential investors.

When crafting your own Twitter bio, consider your audience and the personal brand you’re trying to create for yourself. Use it as an opportunity to be relatable. (And check out this list of amusing Twitter bios for inspiration.)

4) Lena Axelsson

When it all comes down to it, your professional bio is no different than any other piece of persuasive copy — no matter where it lives. One of the most common mistakes people make is thinking of it as its own beast, separate from other pieces of writing. If you think about it that way, you’re far more likely to write something painfully uninteresting.

When you sit down to write your professional bio and you’re watching that cursor blinking on the screen, think about how you would introduce a blog post. You don’t just dive right into the meat of the thing, now, do you? No. You start with an introduction.

The best bios are often concise (around 200–300 words), so you don’t have a lot of room to play around. But a single sentence that tees your reader up and provides context for the accomplishments that follow could make the rest of your bio that much more persuasive.

Take Lena Axelsson’s bio, for instance. She’s a marriage and family therapist — a job where empathy and compassion are a big part of the job description. That’s why she chooses to open her bio with a great introductory sentence: “When human beings experience trauma or severe life stressors, it is not uncommon for their lives to unravel.”

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Then, she goes into why she’s passionate about her job, how she helps her clients, and how she caters her approach to each individual patient. The necessary educational information is left for the end, after the reader has been hooked.

Your bio doesn’t have to be super serious, nor does it have to start with a joke. This bio shows how you can capture your reader’s attention by being empathetic or telling a brief story.

5) Mark Levy

Mark Levy is a small business owner who’s taken a more traditional approach to the professional bio on his website — but in a way that takes care to speak to his intended audience.

What we love about his bio is the way he’s set it up: On his business’ “About” page, he’s listed two biographies, which he’s labeled “Mark Levy’s Biography #1” and “Mark Levy’s Biography #2.”

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Click here to see the full version.

Like Ann, Mark’s given his readers two different options. The first biography is a “short version,” which includes a combination of bullet points listing his credentials and a few short paragraphs.

The second is the “long version,” which is actually even more interesting than the first one. Why? Because it reads like a story — a compelling one, at that. In fact, it gets really funny at parts.

The second sentence of the bio reads: “He was frightened of public school, loved playing baseball and football, ran home to watch ape films on the 4:30 Movie, listened to The Jam and The Buzzcocks, and read magic trick books.”

Here’s another excerpt from the middle:

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Of course, the fantastic copywriting isn’t a surprise, given that this guy wrote several books. But the conversational tone and entertaining copy let his quirky personality (and great writing skills) shine.

6) Corey Wainwright

Finally, we have Corey Wainwright, who’s the director of content here at HubSpot. She’s written content for HubSpot’s Marketing Blog for years, and her blog author bio has caught my eye since before I ever started working for HubSpot. (Back then, it started with, “Corey just took a cool vacation.”)

What I love most about Corey’s bio is that it’s a great example of how to deliver information about yourself without taking things too seriously. And in this context, that’s totally appropriate.

Despite having a number of impressive accomplishments under her belt, she simply doesn’t like displaying them publicly. So, she prefers making her author bio a little more “light.”

Her bio (pictured below) reads, “Corey is a Bruce Springsteen fan who does content marketing, in that order.”

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It works in this particular context because, at HubSpot, our blog authors often prefer to make themselves as friendly and approachable as possible — while letting the content speak for itself.

It helps that authors’ social media accounts are located right below our names and above our pictures. For folks who really do want a list of Corey’s credentials, they can click the LinkedIn button to go to her LinkedIn page. (You can read this blog post to learn how to create social media buttons and add them to your website.)

What are your favorite professional bio examples? Share with us in the comments.

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Avoid the Summer Slump: 3 Tips from Growth Marketing Experts

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What was the last great idea you had for growth? 

No matter how skilled a marketer you are, sometimes we all get into flat-growth slumps. Even a year that started out strong can devolve into a mediocre one, especially during the summer. It can be tough to keep coming up with new ideas that lead to sustained growth over time.

To help you avoid the dreaded summer slump, we asked three growth marketing experts to share their proven tips on how to jump-start growth and keep up momentum through the rest of 2017. Check them all out below, and start incorporating these strategies into your team’s growth marketing approach.

3 Growth Tips to Avoid the Summer Slump

1) Seek Out New Voices for Your Content

If you want to grow your content reach, try using Help a Reporter Out to source expert influencers & partners. You can quote them in your piece, and they’ll share it to their own audiences.

— Blaise Lucey, Director of Product & Content Marketing at Bitly

2) Make Your Content Extremely Easy to Share

Create content with sharing in mind, and give your audience a way to easily share it. People share content that they want to represent them, so make sure the piece will make them look smart when they share it. Then, build in sharing mechanisms like social media share links, and mailto links directly into the content.

— Eric Peters, Growth Marketer at HubSpot Academy

3) Engage With Key Influencers

Be the first to comment on an influencer/journalist’s content, and make sure the content adds value to the discussion. That’s a better way to start a relationship (and drive more interaction with your own brand) than following them on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

— David Ly Khim, Growth Marketing Manager, Sales Products at HubSpot

Get more tips on how to drive sustained growth at in our upcoming live session, 10 Growth Hacks To Help You Crush The Rest of 2017.

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July Social Media News: Snapchat Links, Instagram Photo Replies & More

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In the age of the 24-hour news cycle, it’s tough — scratch that — it’s impossible to keep up with every single story that comes out.

And that’s especially true of social media, where new features and apps are launched at a speed that leaves social media marketers wondering, “So … where should I post today?”

That’s why we’ve written this monthly news roundup — to help you keep up and start testing out new features, new products, and stay up on trends. Manage and plan your social media content with the help of this free calendar  template.

From Facebook to Snapchat, from new product launches to small tweaks, here’s a list of what’s new in social media this month. The list isn’t exhaustive, but you can expect to learn the major highlights — what was launched, what changed, and what these stories could mean for marketers.

9 of the Biggest Social Media News Stories This Month

1) Snapchat adds links to posts.

One of Instagram’s biggest competitive advantages over Snapchat was the ability to drive traffic: Brands and verified users could add links to Instagram Stories to drive followers to landing pages, blog posts, and purchase pages. This feature made Instagram a more formidable traffic and lead generation tool — and social media marketers could tie social media efforts directly to traffic generated.

But now, Snapchat offers the same capability — and it’s available to all users, not just a select few.

Users can add links by filming a Snap and tapping the paper clip to add a link, like so:

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(HubSpot customers: We recommend creating a tracking URL when adding links to Instagram and Snapchat Stories so you can calculate direct traffic numbers from the post. Learn how to set one up here.)

2) Snapchat users can add voice filters, change colors, and film multiple Snaps at once.

Another big rollout from Snapchat this month came in the form of expanded filming and editing capabilities.

Now, users can record up to six 10-second Snaps at the same time by holding down the recording button (so as not to interrupt filming) and can quickly and easily post the Snaps all at once. Try this feature out by holding down the record button for as long as you’d like and you’ll see the recording turn over after each 10-second video. Then, the snaps you’ve filmed will show up on the side of your screen that you can pick and choose from when it comes time to post. If you don’t like a Snap, you can click and drag it into the trashcan:

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Other new features include the Tint Brush, which lets users change the color of elements of a Snap, and backdrops, which let users choose a fun background, and then highlight a part of their Snap they want to be in the foreground. To access these fun editing tools, tap the scissors icon once you’ve recorded a Snap:

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Finally, you can now change the way you sound in Snaps with voice filters, too. Once you record a video, tap the volume icon to choose a squeaky animal voice, a robotic monotone, or an alien accent:

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3) Instagram users can now reply to Stories with photos and videos.

In an effort to keep up with Snapchat, on the other hand, Instagram launched the capability to reply to Instagram Stories and direct messages with photos or videos.

This feature has been in place for a while on Snapchat, so it’s a smart (and competitive) move to roll out a comparable camera feature. This will allow users to connect with friends and brands in the way they please — whether that’s with text, photos, or videos. Neater still — users can add a sticker of the story they’re replying to in order to make it extra meta:

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Source: Instagram

4) Facebook is rolling out custom audiences based on interaction with Instagram Business pages.

Facebook has started the rollout of targeting audiences on Facebook based on their prior interactions with Instagram Business profiles. Advertising on Facebook and Instagram was already advantageous, because advertisers could analyze user interactions with different topics and types of content — but soon, Facebook advertisers will be able to see which business pages specifically convert well. Then, advertisers can target users — and curate ad content — accordingly.

FacebookCustomAudiencesInstagramBusinessProfile-1.jpgSource: Adweek

5) Users can broadcast on Facebook Live in Spaces, Facebook’s VR communities.

Remember when we announced the launch of Spaces earlier this year? Facebook launched a new capability with Oculus that lets friends connect 1:1 or in groups of friends — in full virtual reality (VR).

Depending on your opinion of social media eroding in-person relationships, Spaces is a unique way to connect and engage in a high-tech way. And now, users can broadcast from Facebook Spaces using Facebook Live, so their entire Facebook audiences can see what they’re up to.

For brands and individuals who’ve seen success and engagement using Facebook Live, this could be a cool way to stand out in the busy News Feed. Check it out in action below:

6) Facebook may begin testing a subscription service with publishers this fall.

facebook instant articles bee-1.pngSource: Facebook

The Street reported this month that Facebook would be launching a subscription service with publishers later this year.

Tests will begin in October, and the service will involve Facebook’s Instant Articles — the already successful and popular publishing platform on the social network. Facebook and publishers will create a paywall after users read 10 articles per month, at which point they’ll be directed to a landing page encouraging them to subscribe.

This announcement is part of Facebook’s ongoing partnership with publishers as part of the Facebook Journalism Project, a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. This move will be sure to make publishers happy — especially considering 66% of Facebook users get their news from the site.

7) Twitter users can mute new accounts and people they don’t know.

In another step toward improving user safety and preventing harassment, Twitter added a capability that lets users mute newly registered accounts, or accounts that don’t follow you. If an abusive user is blocked or suspended from tweeting, they might simply open a new account to continue harassing other Twitter users, and this measure lessens their visibility and prevents targeted users from seeing abusive content.

8) LinkedIn launches native video.

LinkedIn started rolling out a native video feature in a nod to the growing popularity of this content format across platforms. My colleague, Ryan Bonnici, noticed this on his LinkedIn feed recently, and once it rolls out to all users (it’s currently being tested among a few users and brands), we’ll give you a full rundown of how to use it.

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9) Amazon launches Spark, the shoppable social network for Prime users.

In a nod to the popularity of shoppable Instagram posts and lifestyle content on Pinterest, Amazon launched a social sharing platform for Amazon Prime subscribers. It’s available within the Amazon mobile app, where users can share visual content and tag different products available for purchase — where else? — on Amazon.

Download the Amazon mobile app and check it out:

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Did we miss any news this month? Start a discussion in the comments below.

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How to Decide What to Blog About: 6 Data-Driven Tactics for Choosing Blog Topics

blog-topics.pngHave you ever written a blog post you were sure was destined to go viral? You spent hours crafting each sentence — positive that your audience would devour each word, shared it on every possible social platform, and knew it would propel to internet fame in a matter of mere hours.

You even thought about changing your LinkedIn headline to “Marketing Guru” — because why not? You were about to become one.

Sadly, your digital utopia was just a fantasy. The post — as some inexplicably tend to do — tanked. But while you wrote it, you would’ve bet your life it would break the internet. So what the heck happened?

As marketers, we often succumb to a cognitive bias called the overconfidence effect. Since we’re technically experts, we tend to overestimate our industry knowledge and our ability to predict content performance.

This can lead us to rely on our intuition more than data when we brainstorm new blog ideas. Since we like our own ideas, we think our audience will too.

But just because we like our own post, doesn’t mean our audience wants to read it.

Instead of relying on our own personal taste, we need to let our audience’s behaviors and preferences drive our new blog ideas — or else we risk publishing irrelevant content.

Analyzing audience data before ideation is crucial for crafting desirable content. Let’s read on to learn six data-driven tactics for choosing the topics your audience actually desires.

6 Data-driven Tactics for Choosing Blog Topics

1) Find Out What Already Works for You

The most accessible data source that can inform your blog strategy are your own metrics. You just need to tag each of your blog posts with their respective topic first. By categorizing your blog posts, you can measure each topic’s performance with data analysis tools like excel or HubSpot’s Content Strategy tool.

The performance metrics you decide to track depend on your marketing goals. At HubSpot, page views largely determine a topic’s success, but other metrics like time on page, subscribers gained, or leads generated can also indicate whether a topic resonates with your audience or not. It’s crucial to select a key business objective you want your blog to serve and monitor the metrics that represent its success.

It’s also valuable to take into account how many posts you publish on each topic. You want to make sure you serve your audience’s true interests and don’t overlook potentialy fruitful topics.

For instance, let’s say HubSpot’s blog posts about display advertising and video marketing generate the same amount of total traffic. On the surface, it seems like our audience enjoys these topics equally, right?

But a particular topic’s total traffic might not tell the full story. What if we publish display advertising posts three times more often than video marketing posts?

This means publishing 30 display advertising posts produces the same total traffic that 10 video marketing posts produce. In other words, video marketing posts are three times more effective than display advertising posts.

By cutting display advertising out of our content mix and writing more video marketing posts, we’d serve our audience’s interests better and generate more traffic with less content.

Here’s a concrete example of what I’m talking about:

Old Blog Strategy

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New Blog Strategy

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When you analyze your blog topics, use the average or median views per post to paint the clearest picture of your audience’s preferences. Looking at a topic’s total traffic without accounting for post quantity could make you prioritize a topic that your audience doesn’t really care about.

2) See What Works For Your Competitors

Odds are, you and your competitors have a very similar audience. This means their most popular content could potentially be your most popular content too.

Consider using a tool like BuzzSumo or EpicBeat to analyze your competitor’s most shared topics. Are they writing about something that would interest your own audience?

Once you discover their top performing content, ask yourself how you can improve upon their work. It’s fine to cover the same overarching topics as a competitor, but you should offer your own unique perspective and provide new insights to your audience.

3) Read Your Audience’s Conversations Online

As a writer who blogs about inbound marketing, I constantly comb through Inbound.org and the Content Marketing Institute LinkedIn group because they’re full of fodder for my best blog ideas.

Marketers post questions to these sites every day. And since they publicly display their professional information, you can tie their inquiries to your buyer personas. This helps clarify your personas’ needs and makes it easier to personalize content for them.

On Inbound.org, I like to scan the Discussions section where the top marketing questions of the week live. When someone posts a question about a topic we want to cover, I check to see if that person’s role aligns with one of our buyer personas. If so, I write down a blog post idea that answers their question and pitch it at our monthly brainstorm.

If you don’t blog about marketing, then you can search for your audience’s questions on Quora. Just type in your topic and you’ll find loads of relevant questions. If an overwhelming pile of questions presents itself, then just check out your topic’s top followers and read the questions they’ve answered about your topic.

Check out the tutorial below if you need more clarification.

4) Leverage Google’s People Also Ask Box

If one of your chosen topics resonates particularly well with your audience, and you want to keep leveraging its popularity, Google it to discover related search terms. When you search for a term in Google, you’ll see a “People Also Ask” box pop up beneath your entry, like this:

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Think of these queries as high-demand topics that branch off of your main topic. If your audience loves consuming content about your main topic, then they’ll likely devour content about its related topics.

5) Survey Your Blog Subscribers

Is there a better way to capture your audience’s reading preferences than surveying your own audience?

Before you send out your surveys, though, you should know that not all your subscribers will pounce at the chance to provide feedback. But that’s where incentives come in. Consider offering respondents the chance to win a prize, like a gift certificate, to encourage feedback.

Every time we incentivize subscribers to complete our blog surveys, we see much more participation than when we don’t dangle any carrots.

6) Ask Sales and Success About Your Customers’ Pain Points

Sales and customer success help consult your prospects and customers everyday, so they have the firmest grasp of your audience’s actual needs and pain points. Collaborating with these teams is the best way to pinpoint your readers’ most pressing issues.

To better understand your prospects and customers’ struggles, you could set up a monthly meeting with sales and success or ask them to jot down the most common problems and the content recommendations that would likely solve them.

How do you research new blog ideas? Tell us in the comments below!

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AI in Marketing: 10 Early Use Cases

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Just a short while ago, robots were the stuff of fiction.

Sure, artificially intelligent beings graced movie screens and the pages of novels, but the robot revolution hadn’t arrived yet. Maybe in another few decades, along with flying cars.

But the truth is, artificial intelligence is already here, and you probably engage with it more than you think.

As it turns out, you’re not alone. We surveyed more than 1,000 consumers and determined that 63% of respondents were already using AI technologies — they just didn’t realize it.

And that’s because AI technologies are being developed, in part, to help make humans’ lives easier by independently — and intelligently — completing tasks for them.

AI is already in use in a myriad of marketing use cases. From content curation, to SEO, to email marketing, different tools are already being used by brands — not only to make human marketers’ lives easier, but to make them better at their jobs. When processes are optimized and made faster by technology, not only can businesses achieve better outcomes, but humans also have more time freed up for critical thinking, data analysis, and long-term planning when they aren’t bogged down with more rote tasks.

Here’s a rundown of how forward-thinking brands are already using AI in marketing.

10 Marketing Use Cases for AI

1) Website Design

AI can assist marketers in a variety of use cases — even from the very beginning of the marketing process — including the building of the website.

The Grid uses AI named Molly to design websites, and a few creators are already using platforms “she” has built.

The Grid’s value proposition? Molly can build websites at a fraction of the time — and cost — it would require hiring a team of developers and software engineers to complete the same task. The Grid starts at less than $100 per year for one website — a bargain compared to a salary.

Creators can input content into The Grid — like images, text, and calls-to-action — and Molly builds the site using the power of AI. Check out the demonstration below:

2) Content Creation

Content writers might think jobs are safe from being replaced by AI, and for now, that’s mostly true. But tools like Wordsmith and Quill are already being used by the likes of The Associated Press and Forbes to create clickable news content. Using templates and fill-in-the-blanks to enter relevant data and keywords, these tools can generate unique written content that actually reads like it was written by a human. (Maybe not a Pulitzer Prize-winning human, but the sentences and stories make sense.)

Here’s an example from The Associated Press:

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Then, marketers can edit AI-generated content using Hemingway App, a simple AI that makes prose bolder, clearer, and more concise by highlighting complex sentences and suggesting different word choices, as shown below:

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3) Content Curation

There’s nothing worse than the moment when you finish an amazing new series on Netflix. But luckily, you can usually start binge-watching another show right away — thanks to the power of AI.

Brands like Netflix and Amazon are already using AI to curate recommendations to keep customers engaged and consuming and continuing to subscribe. Using AIs like IBM Watson, brands can learn more and more about consumers by analyzing their behavior — and providing curated content and recommendations for them.

Under Armour uses data from Watson to customize emails it sends to its app users, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art uses an “artbot” that answers requests to see specific types of art with curated photographs and paintings. I tried out the artbot below — send it a request at 572-51:

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4) Search

AI has already had a tremendous impact on the way users conduct online searches, and, in turn, that’s changing the way marketers create and optimize content.

Two big AI advances have changed online searches — and search engine optimization: voice search, and Google’s RankBrain.

Innovations like the Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana make it easier for people to conduct searches with just the press of a button and voice command. That means the terms they’re searching for are changing, too — now, instead of typing in “restaurants in Boston,” users can ask a device, “where should I go to dinner tonight?” 

RankBrain is Google’s machine-learning algorithm that was created to deliver more relevant search results. It interprets queries and, using the power of AI, serves up the best possible results according to what it interprets from the language. For example, if you searched for “president” on Google in the United States, RankBrain might interpret that you wanted information about the current president and would serve you information about the individual — and not just the office of government. 

Conversational search queries and algorithms are changing thanks to AI — and, in turn, these changes are forcing search engine marketers and content creators to adapt. Long-tail keywords have been replaced by conversational keywords, and writing blog post after blog post about every topic imaginable has been replaced by the topic cluster keyword strategy, as outlined in the video below. In fact, we’re adapting our blogging strategy to this new model here at HubSpot — and that’s partly because of AI.

5) Marketing Automation

Brands are using the power of AI to customize marketing emails based on customer preferences and behavior to engage them more and — hopefully — prompt them to convert or make a purchase. 

Using tools like Boomtrain, brands can send out customized email newsletters based on previous interactions recipients have had with content. AI helps send customized, personalized content recipients might be more likely to interact with — and click through.

Online lingerie brand Adore Me used Optimove‘s AI to segment its customer list into different types of prospects and customers to increase purchases and subscribers to its membership pricing program. The AI automated the segmentation process and started sending customized content based on each recipient’s lifecycle stage via email, text messages, and in-app notifications. Segmenting customers and contacting them on different platforms helped Adore Me increase its monthly recurring revenue (MRR), average sales price (ASP), along with doubling its active customer base.

When it comes to marketing automation, AI can free up valuable human marketers’ time — and quickly create more targeted marketing materials that convert better among customers.

6) Social Media

What’s wonderful about social media is its ability to connect people from around the world to talk about and share topics or stories they care about. It’s something users have clearly gleaned to — considering that global social media users number in the billions.

Of course, that also means advertisers want to capitalize on social media’s popularity — and not all advertisers are good advertisers.

So platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have made it easier for social media users to hide ad content they don’t like or derive value from — and this information helps customize the user experience for them while providing advertisers and publishers with more audience insights on the platforms.

Here’s an example of an ad I can hide on Facebook — and I can even choose a reason why I don’t want to see it:

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Platforms use these insights to algorithmically curate a news feed better suited to user preferences, and ad buyers don’t have to waste money serving ads users have already indicated they don’t like.

Facebook is using AI to mitigate and prevent websites from sharing content that provides a bad user experience. It’s training artificial intelligence to identify and recognize patterns in low-quality sites — things like little original content, clickbait headlines, and multiple disruptive ads. These low-quality links — and the original domain — will be penalized in the News Feed and likely result in significant decreases in traffic for the publisher.

7) Images

Do you like playing around with neat filters and facial lenses that turn you into a dog, a bumblebee, or a cat on Snapchat? These augmented reality capabilities are powered by AI image recognition.

Using neural networks to recognize and identify shapes and faces, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram have made it possible for you to barf rainbows, turn into a cute animal, or swap faces with your friend — to horrifyingly funny results.

cat-snapchat-faceswap.jpgSource: BoredPanda

These disappearing messaging platforms are used by millions of people worldwide — not only for private communication with friends, but also by brands trying to connect with audiences on a more authentic and personal level. Through the power of AI, brands can connect with people in unique and personal ways where audiences are spending time online — namely, on social media.

8) Advertising

If you’ve purchased keyword ad space using GoogleAdWords lately, you’ve already used AI — in the form of its automated bidding system. Advertisers can automatically bid for the lowest possible cost per click (CPC) to efficiently and effectively capture traffic from Google results.

And now, Adgorithms has AI that they want to take over entire advertising campaigns — named Albert. Programming advertising will make up the majority of ad buying going forward, but Albert will handle the bidding, integration, management, and execution of ad campaigns across platforms — from email, to search engines. to social media.

Human marketers and business leaders tell Albert about a campaign’s desired outcome, target audience, and geographic area, and “he” handles the rest. And because Albert is AI, he works a lot faster than people, and he can identify different audience niches and buying patterns by analyzing data, too.

Harley-Davidson of NYC started using Albert, and “he” made triple the sales the in-person dealership typically made in a single week. The brand credits Albert for its 40% motorcycle sales growth and 566% growth in website visits.

9) Chatbots

Lots of brands have started communicating with customers using messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Slack. It’s fast, customers are already using these tools to communicate with friends and coworkers, and let’s face it — sometimes, you just don’t want to hop on a phone call to get an answer.

And chatbots seek to make that process even easier. GrowthBot seeks to provide answers to commonly-asked questions about marketing and sales professionals — without them having to hunt down the information themselves. 

Here’s how GrowthBot works in action on Slack: Users can ask specific questions about different industries and brands, and the highly technical answers are served up quickly without having to track them down:

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Chatbots’ wealth of information — like GrowthBot’s — helps marketers and salespeople quickly find and analyze information about their industries and competitors to get their jobs done more efficiently. Neat, huh?

10) Sales Handoff

And finally, once marketers have successfully created content that’s generated leads ready to work with a salesperson, AI can assist with the handoff process.

Conversica created AI named “Angie” to work for CenturyLink, one of the world’s largest telecommunications providers. CenturyLink needed help identifying hot leads among the thousands of leads it generates every day from its large presence online and in media. Angie sends initial emails to new leads to determine if they’re ready to talk to a human sales representative — which saves reps time and effort, more efficiently segments leads, and saves CenturyLink money on hiring another human being.

At CenturyLink, Angie can identify 40 hot leads per week, and for every dollar spent on “her,” she brings in $20 in revenue. The AI can understand 99% of email replies sent when “she” reaches out to leads — which saves the company time and helps leads communicate on their desired platform.

What About Me?

At this point, learning about all of the use cases for AI in marketing might be giving you a bit of anxiety about your own job security. If that’s the case, you’re not alone.

While it’s true that part of the appeal of using AI is its low cost and high levels of efficiency, there are only so many things AIs can replicate. In fact, some of the best use cases for AI in this blog post involve AIs and humans working together to solve problems and achieve goals faster and more efficiently. So don’t think of AI like a robot trying to steal your job — think of AI like technology that will make your job easier, much like computers and internet did over the last century.

If anything, the growth of AI in marketing might make you excited about a future where you have more time freed up for higher-level projects, and more rote tasks are taken off your plate. Learn more about how AI is used and the future of artificial intelligence from new HubSpot research.

Which AI technologies will you consider implementing? Share with us in the comments below.

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AI and Big Data Are Changing Our Attention Spans

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What catches your attention?

The business of answering that question attracts hundreds of billions of dollars every year. As long as there have been things to buy, there’s been a market for human attention.

Long ago, capitalizing on human attention consisted of little more than the call of a street vendor over the din of a crowded village market.

Much later, the first one cent copies of The Sun hit the streets of New York, inspired by the realization of its editor that it was much more valuable to sell each reader’s attention to advertisers than to make money off newspaper sales directly.

Today, that concept has been taken to an extreme. Thousands of algorithms on millions of servers auction off your every click and tap, anticipating which emails you’ll open, which search results you’ll read, even how your eye might dart around the page.

Google and Facebook rely almost exclusively on directly reselling human attention. Machines are starting to help optimize email subject lines and article titles based on what might catch your eye. The playbook is simple: attract human attention with cheap or free stuff — cheap newspapers, Google search, interesting reading material — and optionally resell that attention to the highest bidder.

Where are we headed? In the face of this transformation, what can we expect? Answering these questions is hard. To go any further, it’s important to understand how attention works.

How Attention Works

Your attention is like a spotlight cast on a stage. You’re the spotlight operator. You can point the spotlight at specific things on stage, but you can’t control what actually appears on the stage.

The stage is your awareness, and it contains the sum total of information accessible to your mind at this moment. That includes the words on your screen, the sensation of pressure from your chair, and background noises in your environment, as well as the never-ending stream of random thoughts that pop up in your head.

As you read this, you are volitionally casting your spotlight on the words you’re reading. You’ll keep this up for a little while, but inevitably, the spotlight will move without your permission, attracted by an unexpected noise behind you, or someone walking into your field of view, or a stray thought about what you want for lunch.

This is the nature of attention. It darts around, scanning continuously for what’s interesting. This was an invaluable benefit in our ancestral environment. It was rare we might need to focus on one thing for more than a few moments at a time, but essential not to miss that snarling predator lurking in the bush.

As a result, if you try really hard to pay attention to only one thing, you’ll quickly find your attention elsewhere. In fact, usually, your brain decides to change the subject of your attention without your conscious input, much less your permission. You might have already drifted off into a different thought a few times as you read this. Your brain expects a little hit of feel-good neurotransmitter every time your attention jumps to something interesting. Novelty feels good.

This is precisely what makes it hard to reliably capture people’s attention. Generally, people themselves don’t understand what catches their attention or why. Most shifts in attention are unconscious, so it’s impossible for people to articulate why their attention does what it does. They only notice what it does after it has happened. Certain colors of call-to-action buttons work better on a landing page than others not due to any conscious decision by anyone, but due to the unconscious preferences of billions of brains.

Certainly, there are some things that work very well on all of us: bright colors, flashing objects, and attractive scantily clad people are all widely used to great effect. For a new parent, there’s nothing better than an iPad to quell a tantrum from a cranky toddler, and that’s because looking at colorful moving images feels good.

But beyond the obvious, the target of your attention is largely determined by neural mechanisms cultivated over decades of interacting with the world and anticipating the reward from different stimuli. Your brain is constantly moving about the spotlight of attention on the lookout for potential sources of pleasure and pain.

Attention in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

The best approach we’ve developed for understanding what captures people’s attention is empirical. We record as much as we can about what’s in their awareness — or what’s on stage. We then try to record where the spotlight is cast  — by recording a clicked link or opened email. Then, we look for patterns.

Each of those components is going to evolve dramatically over the next few years. The environments where we spend our time increasingly facilitate data collection. Algorithms for working with language, audio, and video are rapidly becoming more sophisticated. Hardware and cloud service improvements are accelerating research and discovery in artificial intelligence. There are several implications:

1) We’ll have more data on both attention and awareness.

Eye-tracking has long been used in psychology, marketing, and consumer research, in both academia and business. It works great for studying cognitive development in infants and can even be used to A/B test their preferences.

Shops already use realtime facial expression APIs to track ad viewers’ age, gender, mood, and interest level. Google’s Project Soli is a miniature solid state radar that can detect the movement of your hand and other objects near your phone. We appear comfortable with inviting Amazon Echo’s Orwellian always-on microphone into our homes.

How long before we see Amazon announce Prime Plus, requesting permission to occasionally activate your front-facing camera, Echo microphone, and motion tracker in exchange for free 30-minute drone delivery?

2) The arms race for attention will expand.

Attention is zero-sum, because every click your competitor gains, you lose. This accelerates competition. That’s why your email inbox is a battleground of people vying for your attention. So is the results page for every Google search. This will be increasingly true of everywhere you spend your attention.

3) Screens will remain the primary conduit of human attention.

Screens are everywhere. Not only did our glossy paranormal hand rectangles become globally ubiquitous in just 10 years, they’ve fundamentally transformed how humans interact with the world. While technology often advances unpredictably, screens are probably likely to persist for a while. That’s because out of the five senses you have — the five ways of putting information into awareness — vision has the highest throughput to the brain. We are multiple breakthroughs away from anything faster.

4) Humans will spend huge amounts of time in virtual worlds.

The $100 billion video game industry continues to boom. Games will become dramatically more immersive as virtual and augmented reality go mainstream. People will routinely spend time in deep and engaging virtual environments with limitless content to explore and hundreds of millions of other real and simulated people to interact with. That could transform how we spend our leisure time, how we learn, and how we meet other people.

Content in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Think of “content” as all things that attract human attention that can be represented as data. That includes almost anything online that humans make, from blog posts and dance music to short stories, video game livestreams, entertaining social media posts, and more. The more quality content you can produce, the more attention you can scoop up, continuing to sate our limitless thirst for customization and novelty.

1) Generative algorithms for text, images, sound, and video will improve dramatically.

Machine vision, automatic speech recognition, and natural language processing have made tremendous advancements in the past five years. Algorithms can already generate extremely convincing content from scratch.

The next generation of photo and video editing tools will make it trivial to rewrite any record of reality, replacing pixels using algorithms that are aware of what they’re looking at.

Adobe claims to be working on a Photoshop for audio, making it easy to generate an audio clip of anybody’s voice saying anything at all.

Today, you can ask a neural network to hallucinate arbitrarily many images of bedrooms or cats or sailboats, most of which look real enough to fool people. Or you could use a neural network to create a language snippet to insert into an email by reading a company’s website.

Eventually, you might ask a machine to produce a fantasy novel. Say you theme it similar to Harry Potter … but with a Game of Thrones flair. And let’s maybe have the bad guy win this time.

This is a very a long way off, past multiple breakthroughs in semantics and discourse, but current techniques can already generalize well enough to spit out a cohesive and useful paragraph of text.

2) Machines will help us produce content.

Machines will play a much bigger role in helping us produce the content that captures human attention. We’ll see a proliferation of collaborative agents in products that assist us in our workflows. Machines will suggest assets to include in the content you’re making, or subsets of content to include. Executive control will remain with creators, but the ideation and production process will become increasingly automated. Think Clippy the Microsoft Office Assistant, but with a much bigger brain. 

3) To cut through greater noise, humans will keep innovating.

Demonstrating that content was created by a human will become much harder. There’s no way you can imagine this article having been written by a machine, but one day, that won’t seem so ridiculous.

Machines are cheap, so as machines contribute more to creating content, the places where we consume content will be flooded. Early adopters of those techniques will benefits, but the late adopters will find that to stand out, they’ll have to produce content that is demonstrably beyond machines’ capabilities in an effort to keep attracting interest.

4) Machines will help us allocate our attention.

Work will become increasingly symbiotic. You’ll spend more of your time deciding among things and less collecting and preparing things. Machines will find relevant documents and emails, do Google searches in the background, and perform other functions that can be defined as a semi-structured set of tasks. As the deluge of content on our screens grows, tools will emerge to stem the flood. 

Broader Implications

Attention is an essential currency in the global transaction ecosystem. Understanding it is critical for anybody in sales and marketing. Despite the fact that attention is zero-sum in any given transaction, it’s important to remember that the pie is growing dramatically.

Leisure time has grown by seven hours per week since the 1960s, and we will unlock much more free time as we shift toward self-driving vehicles. Economists from the National Bureau of Economic Research published a paper suggesting that high-quality video games are contributing to an increase in unemployment among young men.

Uber, Upwork, and Crowdflower support the emergence of a global market for part-time, on-demand work at a variety of price points. Y Combinator and Elon Musk are calling for a universal basic income plan.

To connect these dots, it’s not hard to imagine a future in which wealthy corporations and governments support a basic minimum wage, and in return, people spend their time and attention generating training data and validating models. It would generally be simple tasks, easily performed on a phone, and would involve only skills or data that machines don’t have yet.

Data on human attention exposes the unconscious information locked away in our minds. That information is valuable and important, because in the aggregate, it is an encoding of everything humans want — not just of our buying preferences and creature comforts, but also of our ethics and values as a species. We want machines to understand us, and monitoring human attention may be a good way to collect the necessary data.

With the curtain pulled back on how powerless we are to control our attention and how valuable it is to everyone, perhaps we’ll all find ourselves being a bit more careful with how we spend our attention.

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The Best Time to Post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+ [Infographic]

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Social media is one of the best ways to amplify your brand and the great content you’re creating. But it isn’t enough to just post content to social whenever you feel like it. Some times are better than others.

So, which one is best?

Unfortunately, there’s no perfect answer. Different businesses may find different days and times work best for them. In fact, timing often depends on the platform you’re using, how your target audience interacts with that platform, the regions and corresponding time zones you’re targeting, and your goals (e.g., clicks versus shares).

Learn how to use social media to amplify your content marketing by taking  HubSpot's free Inbound Certification course here. 

That said, there is ample data out there on the best times to post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Earlier this year, the great folks at CoSchedule looked at a combination of its own original data and more than a dozen studies on this very topic — from the likes of Buffer and Quintly, just to name a couple — and compiled it into the infographic below.

Bookmark this post as a go-to set of guidelines, and refer to it next time you need to find the optimal posting times for your business.

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The Best Times to Post on Social Media

With many businesses facing a growing global audience, varying time zones have become a growing concern, especially when it comes to the best times to post.

To start, let’s take a look at the U.S. About half of the country’s population is in the Eastern Time Zone, and combined with the Central Time Zone, that accounts for over 75% of the total U.S population.

Given that sizable share, if you’re targeting a U.S. audience, try alternating posting times in Eastern and Central Time Zones — we’ll get into those specific times in a bit.

If you’re targeting users outside of the U.S., conduct some research to find out where they live and which social media channels they’re using. That kind of data is available through studies like Smart Insights’ Global Social Media Research Summary, or We Are Social’s annual Digital Global Overview.

1) Best Time to Post on Instagram

Instagram is meant for use on mobile devices. Half of its U.S. users use the app daily, though it would appear that many engage with content more during off-work hours than during the workday.

  • In general, the best times to post on Instagram are on Monday and Thursday, at any time other than 3-4 p.m.
  • The best time to post videos is 9 p.m.-8 a.m., on any day.
  • Some outlets have reported success on Mondays between 8-9 a.m., correlating with the first morning commute of the week for many.

2) Best Times to Post on Facebook

People log in to Facebook on both mobile devices and desktop computers, both at work and at home. How it’s used depends heavily on the audience.

  • On average, the best time to post is 1-4 p.m., when clickthrough rates have shown to be at their highest.
  • Specifically, 12-1 p.m. is prime time on Saturday and Sunday.
  • During the week, the same goes for Wednesday at 3 p.m., as well as Thursday and Friday between 1-4 p.m.
  • The worst times are weekends before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m.

3) Best Times to Post on Twitter

Like Facebook, people use Twitter on both mobile devices and desktop computers, both at work and at home. How it’s used also depends heavily on audience — but people often treat it like an RSS feed, and something to read during down times like commutes, breaks, and so on.

  • Good times to tweet average around 12–3 p.m., with an apex at 5 p.m. — which makes sense, given that it correlates with the evening commute.
  • Weekdays tend to show a stronger performance, though some niches might have more active audiences on the weekend.
  • If your goal is to maximize retweets and clickthroughs, aim for noon, 3 p.m., or 5–6 p.m.

4) Best Times to Post on LinkedIn

Roughly 25% of U.S. adults use LinkedIn, largely for professional purposes, during weekdays and the work hours. It’s used with slighly less frequency than some of the other channels on this list, with more than half of users visiting less than once a week

  • Aim to post toward the middle of the week, between Tuesday-Thursday.

  • When aiming for a high clickthrough rate, post on these days during times that correspond with the morning and evening commute — roughly 7:30-8:30 a.m. and 5-6 p.m. — as well as the lunch hour, around 12 p.m. 

  • Some have also seen a positive performance on Tuesdays, between 10–11 a.m.

5) Best Times to Post on Pinterest

Pinterest users skew heavily female, and 25% of users are active on this channel daily.

  • Interestingly enough, Saturday evenings are said to be the best time to reach users, especially between 8-11 p.m.
  • Some have also seen a strong performance on the later side of Friday afternoon, around 3 p.m. 
  • Contrasting many of the other channels we’ve listed here, evening commutes tend to be some of the worst times to post to Pinterest. That could be due to the fact that it’s not as “browseable,” with many pins requiring navigation away from the channel.

6) Best Time to Post on Google+

People love to debate whether or not Google+ is a social media channel worth investing in — though according to my colleague Chris Wilson, some marketers have experienced success with it.

But if you’re going to use it, you might as well do so effectively — which includes posting at the optimal times.

  • People seem to be most active on Google+ during the start of the workday, between 9-11 a.m.
  • That’s especially the case on Wednesdays, around 9 a.m.
  • Some marketers have also seen success during the lunch hour, posting between 12-1 p.m.

There you have it, folks. Happy posting, tweeting, and pinning.

What days and times have proven to be the most successful for your business? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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