June Social Media News: Snap Map, Twitter Revamped & More

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June is typically a time when people start booking vacations and travel, but in the world of social media, the work on innovation never stops.

In fact, just last Friday, June 30th was #SocialMediaDay.

So in honor of Social Media Day, we’ve rounded up the latest launches and announcements from different social media apps over the last month.

(Just kidding, we write this roundup every month, but hey, it’s fun to celebrate holidays.) 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

Snapchat

1) Snapchat launched Snap Map.

In late May, Snapchat acquired Zenly, a French social mapping app that shows users where their friends are on a map so they can message and make plans to connect.

And sure enough, in June, a similar map showed up in Snapchat: a heatmap showing where users were posting Snapchat stories dotted with Actionmojis — or more detailed versions of Snapchat Bitmojis that update in real-time. Actionmojis also show if users are traveling in cars, listening to music, shopping, traveling to an airport, flying in a plane, and more activities. Check out the demo video below:

The Snap Map is another move by Snapchat to make content more discoverable and to keep users engaged in the app for longer periods of time. Snapchat is locked in a battle with Instagram that it seems to be losing — its user numbers are increasing slowly, so growth is decreasing, but increased engagement and more ways for content to be discovered could convince more people to share — and advertise — in the app.

If you’re getting creeped out by the thought of the Snap Map, don’t worry — users have to elect to be visible on the map to friends, and they can operate in Ghost Mode, where nobody else can see their locations.

If you swipe down on your Snapchat camera and tap the gear in the upper right-hand corner, scroll down to the “Who Can” section, tap “See My Location,” and choose if you want Friends to find you on the map — you can even choose a select group — or if you want to be in Ghost Mode.

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2) Time Warner Inc. invested $100 million in Snapchat TV shows and ads.

In an effort to reach younger audiences on the platform, Time Warner has reportedly invested $100 million to create Snapchat shows and ads over the next two years. Time Warner and its various properties — including HBO and Warner Brothers — will produce three to five-minute shows, and Snapchat will “air” three shows per day in its vertical video format within the app.

Bloomberg reported that Warner Brothers will advertise upcoming movies within the app, too — and will split the revenues with Snap Inc, according to The Wall Street Journal.

So, will HBO’s “Game of Thrones” now live on Snapchat next? I’ll be eagerly following these “shows” and if they take off on Snapchat. Almost 90% of viewers use a second screen while watching TV in the United States, so I’m curious to see if people will forego other smartphone capabilities to watch a three-to-five-minute Snapchat show or not. Either way, we’ll keep you posted.

3) Users can now create Snapchat Geofilters without leaving the app.

Before this month, Snapchat users could create custom Geofilter designs and submit them to Snapchat for approval — for parties, weddings, and other events.

Now, users can create custom Geofilters using the creative tools they already use to decorate their Snaps — like emojis, the drawing tool, Bitmojis, and more.

mobile-odg.jpgSource: Snap Inc.

Using the mobile creative studio, users can create Geofilters, decide when and where they want the filters to appear on Snapchat (for a one-day event, for example, or for a weeklong conference), and submit the filters for approval and payment, which starts at $5.99. The studio can be easily accessed by tapping the Settings gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of the Snapchat app.

Twitter

4) Twitter redesigned its website and mobile app.

Twitter has completely revamped its desktop site and app to make Twitter feel “lighter, faster, and easier to use.” Here’s a quick rundown of what’s new and improved:

  • More organized UI: Twitter now offers a sidebar where users can quickly and easily navigate to their profiles, lists, and personal settings.
  • Clear typography: Twitter changed the in-app font, made some headlines bolder to attract attention in the busy feed, and changed the “Reply” button to a conversation bubble (so it didn’t look like a back arrow anymore).
  • Real-time reply, retweet, and like counts: Users can watch the numbers roll in within the app, instead of having to refresh and reload tweets to see how they’re performing.
  • Rounded avatars: Profile images are now rounded instead of square.

And here’s what these changes look like on the platform today:

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Source: Twitter

Many of the changes were mocked relentlessly by users — where else, but on Twitter — and this tweet is possibly my favorite among them:

We’ll see if a slicker interface attracts new users and keep existing Twitter users engaged.

Instagram

5) Instagram launched the Archive feature.

Instagram has launched an Archive feature to give users the flexibility to hide — but not permanently delete — photos and videos they’ve posted on the platform. This feature gives users the flexibility to customize their page and hide posts — or reintroduce old content at a later point. Simply tap the ellipses at the top of a post to try it out:

instagram-archive-feature.png

Source: Instagram

The Archive option was likely introduced in response to younger users permanently deleting pictures that didn’t garner enough likes — many of whom think having more than 25 posts on an Instagram account isn’t cool. With the Archive feature, users will have the option to come back to old pictures — and Instagram won’t lose its engagement numbers. Sounds like a win-win, if you ask me.

6) Users can replay Instagram Live videos for 24 hours as an Instagram Story.

When Instagram Live was launched last November, users had to be very strategic about when they broadcast. Why? Because people could only watch a live broadcast while it was happening — the videos would disappear from Instagram once the creator was no longer live-streaming (unlike Facebook Lives, which automatically exist as posts on a user’s timeline).

But now, users can choose to post their Instagram Live broadcasts as Instagram Stories, which are viewable for 24 hours, or discard them so they disappear from the Instagram feed as normal. It’s as easy as toggling a button:

instagram-live-story-option.pngSource: Instagram

Facebook

7) Facebook reached 2 billion global users.

Yes, you read that right — that’s billion, spelled with a “b.”

Facebook is now used by 2 billion people around the world — and that’s just Facebook, and doesn’t include the other apps it owns. Between Facebook itself, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, Facebook is responsible for the social media networking of close to half of the earth’s population. Here’s what the global spread of Facebook friendships looks like:

friendsmap_2017-06-27.pngSource: Facebook

Considering the fact that Facebook was created less than 15 years ago, that’s mind-boggling.

8) Facebook changed its mission statement.

Facebook’s new mission statement is fitting, given the announcement of just how far the platform has penetrated around the world.

CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook’s new mission statement last month:

Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

Zuckerberg only just revamped the mission statement back in February from the previous mission statement: “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” But in February, he acknowledged the role his social network had played in the 2016 U.S. election and other geopolitical events that involved constant, real-time global communication.

Zuckerberg published a letter in February noting the social network’s new purpose: “develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.”

So it makes sense that this new mission statement still echoes similar themes — with the emphasis on community, globalization, and bringing people closer together. We’ll keep you posted if it changes again — as well as keep you up-to-date on new changes related to the new mission.

9) Friends can create group Spotify playlists within Messenger.

Facebook users can now create collaborative Spotify playlists in group Messenger chats. You can set it up by adding the Spotify extension for Messenger and going through the process below:

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Source: Messenger

Friends don’t need a Spotify account to add songs to the playlist, so it’s a fun way for users to spend more time in Messenger. Plus, it’s an easy way for Spotify to attract new users from the vast Facebook and Messenger audiences and get them to spend more time streaming tunes.

Did we miss any big social media stories? Share with us in the comments below.

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7 New Twitter Features (and 4 Others You May Have Missed)

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In an industry fixated on rapid growth, any slowdown in user acquisition or monetization sounds alarms. And Twitter, whether it likes it or not, has been sounding a lot of them lately.

After a few years of stagnant monthly active user growth and disappointing the market, Twitter has been on an upswing thus far in 2017 — beating investor projections by generating more money and adding more new users than initially anticipated.

In the face of a negative narrative, the company has been quick to take action and focused predominantly on changes geared toward the user — and it seems to be working. New Call-to-action

Over the last year, Twitter has made a number of changes, small and big, to drive user engagement and improve the overall onboarding and experience of the platform. But we know how tough it can be to keep up with these types of updates, which is why we put together a list of the more notable features and changes below. Marketers, take note.

7 New Twitter Features

1) The End of Vine … and the End of Periscope?

When technology companies are struggling to grow, as was Twitter for much of 2016, they will usually do one of two things — cut staff to make financial ends meet, or develop new innovations to attract and engage users.

In Twitter’s case, it did both — Twitter sunsetted Vine and launched an in-app live video streaming feature — thereby eliminating the need to stream from Periscope for many users.

Vine paved the way for the popular short-form and infinitely-looping videos we see on Snapchat and Instagram today (like this one), and in the fall of 2016, it was ultimately shuttered as Twitter shifted its focus to live video content.

Vines are still available to share and watch (and rewatch), but now, six-second looping videos must be recorded and shared directly to Twitter or saved to the creator’s camera roll.

Then, in December 2016, Twitter launched its own in-app live video streaming and recording function — effectively eliminating the need to live-stream from within the Periscope app.

Twitter hasn’t discontinued Periscope the way it did so with Vine, so users can still download the app and live-stream videos to their audience there. But these changes in such rapid succession disappointed a lot of avid fans and users — and reflected Twitter’s growing need to keep users within its app.

It’s no secret that video is no longer just popular — it’s also a requisite element of any successful social media platform. Twitter is trying to innovate its video creation, broadcasting, and sharing tools to give users the types of content they want — short-form, looping, and live broadcasts — to compete with other platforms, attract new users, and keep existing users engaged.

We haven’t seen Twitter jump on the bandwagon of creating an ephemeral video stories feature like most of the major social media platforms — yet. But we should expect more features and announcements — like Twitter’s deals to live-stream professional sports and breaking news — that signal its continued emphasis on video content in the future.

2) A New Layout

In June 2017, Twitter completely redesigned its desktop site and mobile app to make Twitter feel “lighter, faster, and easier to use” in response to user feedback:

Twitter’s user base has been slowly growing — and sometimes dipping — over the past few years, and these UI and UX innovations could help attract people to Twitter, while also preventing users from leaving it.

how-many-users-does-twitter-have_large.pngSource: The Motley Fool

Here’s a rundown of the changes:

  • Decluttered UI: Twitter now offers a sidebar menu where users can more easily navigate to their profiles, lists, and personal settings — instead of having to tap through the app more than once.
  • Real-time reply, retweet, and like counts: Users can now watch the engagement numbers with tweets increase in realtime within the app, instead of refreshing and reloading tweets.
  • Clearer typography and iconography: Twitter changed the in-app font, made some headlines bolder to attract attention in the busy feed, and changed the “Reply” button to a conversation bubble (so it didn’t look like a back arrow anymore).
  • Round avatars: Profile images are now round instead of square.

And here’s what these changes look like in action:

Check-new-look-iOS Refresh Full Walkthrough.gifSource: Twitter

Most of the changes were widely panned by users, but this is the internet, after all — and Twitter will never make everyone happy. Some users pointed out that cosmetic UI changes are not nearly as important as improving users’ abilities to report and challenge abusive language on the platform — and that’s next on our list.

3) More Comprehensive Anti-Harassment and Cyberbullying Features

One of the biggest complaints against Twitter is how easily harassment can spread and exacerbate on the network — and there was no better test of this hypothesis than political rhetoric surrounding recent global elections. Historically, tweets aimed at threatening or scaring individuals on Twitter have gone unfettered and caused a number of users to delete their accounts or even fear for their safety — as blogger Ariel Waldman has chronicled.

Twitter Rules prohibit the kind of abuse we mean here — threats, hate speech, bullying, and harassment on the basis of users’ race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, ability, disease, or nationality. However, until as recently as March 1, 2017, there haven’t been a lot of options for users report and stop abuse they were experiencing in real-time. Twitter has begun to respond to harassment and threats on the network with a series of features and services aimed a keeping people safe. These additions include:

  • Notification filtering: Users can specify which accounts they don’t want to receive notifications from. For example, you can filter out notifications from accounts without profile photos and with unverified email addresses.
  • Mute option: Users can mute specific keywords and phrases, and they can choose how long they don’t want to see that type of content.
  • Reporting transparency: Users now receive notifications when — and if — Twitter intervenes on an abuse report the user files.
  • Time-out: Users who are reported are sometimes temporarily put in “time-out” while Twitter investigates the report to prevent the further dissemination of abusive content.
  • Safe search: Machine-learning technology will prevent users from being served potentially abusive content when they search for tweets on the platform.
  • Hiding abusive tweets: Twitter has started identifying low-quality tweets from potentially abusive accounts so users see high-quality content first. The tweets will still be on Twitter — they’ll just be harder to find.
  • Preventing new abuse: Twitter has started preventing reported and flagged users from creating new accounts with the same contact information in an effort to prevent repeat offenders on the platform.

These updates are critical to ensuring Twitter stays a welcoming place for all users. In a leaked memo last year, former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo underscored the importance of this move, saying:

I’m frankly ashamed of how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It’s absurd. There’s no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing.

We’re going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them. Everybody on the leadership team knows this is vital.”

4) Moments for Everyone

Twitter introduced Moments — curated tweets about a single topic or story, all in one place — back in 2015. Moments allowed publishers and brands to pull together their tweets and tweets from other users about a topic to tell a story in one story collage — and in August 2016, Twitter opened up Moments to any user who wanted to create them. Here’s what they look like:

Now, whether you want to feature your own tweetstorm, content from other people on the platform, or both, anyone can easily make a shareable Moment to tell a story. You can go into the Explore tab (or the Moments tab on Twitter’s desktop site), and create a new Moment there. Or, you can find a tweet you want to feature and create a Moment while you’re scrolling or on your own profile:

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Moments present another opportunity for users to get discovered and shared on Twitter, so opening this publishing capability up to everyone was a smart move.

5) Explore Twitter

In January 2017, Twitter axed the Moments tab and created the Explore tab on the mobile app, which combined Twitter trends, Moments, and search — all in one place.

It was a simple new feature that combined features already in existence, but by putting these all in one tab, Twitter made it easier for users to find and engage with new content on the platform — and hopefully, stay in the app longer.

Here’s what it looks like (if you haven’t already noticed it):

Explore-Screenshot1.jpg.img.fullhd.medium.jpgExplore-Screenshot2.jpg.img.fullhd.medium.jpgSource: Twitter

6) More Characters to Reply

Twitter made a big change to the way users can directly reply to one another. Whereas before, users had to @mention the account they wanted to reply to, the mention is now built directly into the reply button. This gives users more characters with which to reply, because they don’t have to type in the username and cut into their precious 140 characters. Check it out:

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This change has been met with some criticism, though — because users can’t specifically one-off reply to particular people. So if you’re included in a tweet with multiple other users, everyone will get a reply notification — even if the reply isn’t specified for them. To specify who you want to reply to, you can click the hyperlinked Twitter handles and check or uncheck the users you wish to send a notification to, like so:

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So while Twitter is giving users more room to express themselves, it might also give them the ability to communicate with too many other users if they don’t choose the feature above — especially if bullies and abusers are replying-all to tweets.

7) Safer DMs

If you receive private Direct Messages from users you don’t follow, users now have the option to approve or deny the request to connect — and report the message if it’s inappropriate.

This feature is a win on a couple of levels. It helps users better screen for and identify abusive content — and choose if or when they want to engage. It also prevents the need for a tweet back-and-forth of asking someone to follow you before you reach out to them via DM. Instead, you can simply shoot them a message — and they’ll approve it if they wish.

4 More Twitter Features You May Have Missed

I wrote the original version of this blog post back in 2016 with a different set of new features, and wanted to make sure you still knew about those neat new(-ish) capabilities, too.

1) The 140-Character Count Loophole

As far as debates go, Twitter’s 140-character limit is about as contentious as the Oxford comma. Some say the character limit on tweets is essential to Twitter’s identity. It secures Twitter in place as one of the fastest available ways for ideas to spread. Others are ready to see it lifted, arguing that removing the 140-character cap would open Twitter up to a new and engaging range of content and possibly new users. One area where the pain of the character cap is particularly sharp is in adding media to your tweets.

By default, media links used to take up 23 characters in a tweet, which is about 16% of your allotted characters — no small portion. That said, images are a boon for interactivity on your tweets: HubSpot conducted a study and found that tweets with images resulted in 18% more clickthroughs and 150% more retweets.

Tweets_With_Images_Stats.png

Last year, Twitter announced that media (e.g., images, polls, videos) attached to tweets would soon no longer count against your 140-character count. The same rule would apply to the @handle when replying to someone else’s tweet.

This update makes a couple of changes to the way replies and retweets are handled. Users will no longer have to add a character prior to a reply — for example, “.@meghkeaney” — to ensure their reply is seen by all followers. Not to mention, users will be able to retweet their own content if they want to add a thought to a previous post.

2) Accessible Images

Back in October of 2015, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made a public appeal to developers to submit ideas for product enhancements:

One of the ideas generated out of that invitation focused on making Twitter more accessible to users who are visually impaired. In other words, people using Twitter’s iOS and Android apps can now add alt text descriptions to images within tweets. Websites have long used alt text to help visually impaired visitors understand the messages conveyed by images, using assistive technology like a screen reader or Braille display.

The accessible images feature has to be set up at the user level, a drawback for it gaining mass adoption, but it’s easy enough to set up. In an Android or iOS device, go to your Twitter settings (the gear icon) and follow these steps:

  1. Tap Accessibility.
  2. Next to Compose image descriptions, turn that feature on.
  3. From there, when you add an image to your tweet just tap Add description to insert descriptive text.

Adding accessibility may seem like a smaller win, but it’s a best practice across the board for businesses and organizations looking to grow their audiences and do the right thing.

3) Native GIF Search

Even though this list isn’t weighted for significance, it took real willpower not to place this at number one. As someone whose reliance on GIFs is beyond description, this feature release was a big one for me. In 2015, people shared more than 100 million GIFs on Twitter. When you think about the steps it previously took to share an animated image on Twitter, that number is even more impressive.

Previously, you had to leave Twitter, search for the appropriate GIF on any number of GIF search engines, save that image, go back to Twitter, recompose your tweet, and finally, upload the image. Today, with Twitter’s new GIF feature, you just click a button and conduct the search there — no saving or uploading needed.

Gif Search on TwitterSource: Twitter

(By the way, if you like GIFs, I highly recommend this post by my colleague. It’s a fascinating history and analysis on why exactly GIFs became so popular.)

4) The Switch to Uncropped Photos

Twitter may have started as a text-based platform, but images are a source of some of its top engagement. That’s why the news that Twitter had adjusted its image size requirements to not force-crop most images came with such praise. The resulting experience means that Twitter is more visual and engaging right off the bat. See the before and after shots provided by Twitter below:

Source: 
Twitter

Along with the uncropped photo update, Twitter also introduced a new view for multi-photo displays. This update allows users to see even more of the individual photos included in a collage.

new_look_for_twitter.com_photos_2.jpgSource: Twitter

In all the punditry on the current and future state of Twitter, most of the narrative to this point has focused on the competition. Twitter’s response, however, has been largely focused on its users. While some of these updates may seem small, in aggregate, they signal a move to a much more intuitive user experience fed largely by user feedback. Time will tell if this focus on fan-favorite features amounts to a measurable increase in usage and revenue.

What do you think about Twitter’s latest features? What else would you like to see? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2016 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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17 Examples of Fabulous Explainer Videos

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Feel intimidated by the notion of creating an explainer video? There’s no need to be — they just represent another excellent way to get your content out to your target audience.

Besides the really big brands that we are all familiar with, a lot of lesser-known companies and even small startups are using them.

Even if you believe your product isn’t “cool” enough to become a fancy, interesting explainer video, there’s probably someone out there with a problem that can be solved by what you have to offer.

Sometimes a quick, easy, explanation is just what someone needs to help clearly understand how your product solves a problem.

Download this free ebook for more examples of effective product videos.

Think you need a professional production team to create a worthwhile explainer video? Think again. Compiling an explainer video doesn’t have to be more complicated than putting together a slide deck in a Powerpoint presentation. You decide what to say, find some relevant graphics to jazz things up, and record a voiceover. 

Explainer videos should generally be 30-90 seconds in length, which translates into a written script of around 200 words or less in most cases. To get a good feel for crafting your own video, start by gathering some inspiration from brands doing it right. You’re bound to find something that resonates with you as a good example for brainstorming your own.

Here are 17 fabulous explainer videos across a wide variety of industries, media outlets, and publications to jumpstart your own project. You should have no trouble getting inspired to make an explainer video part of your marketing strategy.

17 Examples of Fabulous Explainer Videos

1) Unroll.Me

 

2) What is AI? (HubSpot)

 

3) PandaDoc

 

4) Yum Yum Videos

 

5) Dollar Shave Club

 

6) What is an API? (MuleSoft)

 

7) Mint.com

 

8) Spotify

 

9) How Deep is the Ocean? (Tech Insider)

 

10) SafeDrive

 

11) Final

 

12) Ethical Coffee Chain

 

13) Pinterest

 

14) BriefMe

 

15) Munzit

 

16) Stitch Fix

 

17) Water Mark

 

Seen any great explainer videos lately? Let us know in the comments.

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20 of the Worst Typos, Grammatical Errors & Spelling Mistakes We’ve Ever Seen

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“How long did you take to revise this?” “A couple of sec, I mean minutes … ”

“Did you use any editing tools?” “Yes … the red and green squiggly lines in Word.”

“Please tell me spell check is somehow broken. ” “ … I haven’t used that since 2008 … ”

Whenever the internet devours brands for making typos more cringeworthy than my parents’ joint Facebook account, I picture these conversations ensuing between writers and supervisors.

Because even though they have access to a stockpile of grammar and spelling tools, they still let typos or poor grammar creep into their copy.

Download our free writing style guide here to eliminate typos and grammatical errors from your own writing.

I empathize with these unlucky writers, though. Typos are inevitable. Sometimes, they tiptoe into my blog posts, and there’s nothing I can do about the embarrassment except lock myself in the nap room and wail into a pillow.

But the 20 pen slips below were so hilarious and shocking that my laughter pierced through all my colleagues’ noise-canceling headphones. I couldn’t stop chuckling at these editing blunders.

So, although our hearts sting for these writers, we decided to share their hysterical typos and grammatical errors. Hopefully, they’ll forget the pain and laugh with us too.

20 Funny Typos, Grammatical Errors & Spelling Mistakes

1) We’re having a little trouble imagining this.

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Image Credit: 11 Points

2) Just found out The Purge actually happened.

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Image credit: ViralNova

3) “When I grow up, I want to be a technincian!”

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Image Credit: WCPO

4) If you think about it, it is original.

Orignal.jpg

Image Credit: Slice

5) Best headline since “Headless Body in Topless Bar”.

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Image credit: The Guardian

6) Ironic Twitter shaming: a dish best served cold.

7) The few and the proud.

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Image credit: ViralNova

8) The one-two typo punch …

First, the poster:

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Image credit: JimRomensko.com

Then, the apology tweet:

lbj_tweet

Image credit: The Chronicle of Higher Education

9) We wouldn’t take one.

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Image credit: Cheezburger

10) Did someone actually name their kid Sport?

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Image credit: Flickr

11) Well, at least they admit to their mistakes.

SpelMistk14

Image credit: Jazarah!

12) Did they edit this ad in a New York minute?

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Image credit: Engrish and Funny Typos

13) The ultimate silver lining.

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Image credit: ViralNova

14) Apparently, floor cloth won him seven Tour de Frances.

Rugs.jpg

Image Credit: Slice

15) Is it proper grammar?

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Image Credit: The Huffington Post

16) We’d buy it.

brid.jpg

Image Credit: Pleated Jeans

17) What would happen if you pressed no?

Exist.jpg

Image Credit: Pleated Jeans

18) She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s talking about herself.

their.png

Image Credit: ViralNova

19) We hear he’s a little dramatic under water.

scubadiva.jpg

Image Credit: Pleated Jeans

20) Throwback to Googing things.

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 4.11.37 PM.png

Image Credit: Flickr

What’s the worst typo or grammatical error you’ve ever seen? Share your stories in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Is Facebook Messenger the New Email? 3 Experiments to Find Out

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Let’s just come out with it: Email is becoming less effective for marketers. It might not be dead yet, but it’s not exactly the shiny new channel it used to be. Just think about your own inbox — how many marketing emails are you subscribed to that you delete without opening? We thought so.

It was with this in mind that we started experimenting with messenger apps. Facebook Messenger boasts 1.2 billion monthly users — clearly there’s appetite for the channel. Could this be a replacement for email? We decided to find out.

Here are three ways we’ve experimented with using Facebook Messenger instead of email in our marketing, along with early results (Spoiler: Get excited).

#1: Using Facebook Messenger as a Content Delivery Channel

Our demand gen team sends out emails on a regular basis featuring new content offers our audience might be interested in. These content offers are typically gated behind a lead form. After completing the form, the prospect is able to access the content immediately, and we also send an email with a PDF copy attached for easy reference later on.

For those keeping track, email is used twice here: first to promote the offer, second to deliver the content. We wanted to cut out one of these email touchpoints, so we decided to send the following offer promotion email as a test:

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We gave readers two options: to submit the form and receive the content immediately and via email — the traditional way — or to skip the form and get immediate access to the content in Facebook Messenger instead. Approximately 20% chose this latter option.

We then sent regular Messenger broadcasts to the people who had opted in, suppressed them from email sends, and studied their behavior.

After four weeks, the engagement metrics of the two channels showed a clear winner.

Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 2.48.50 PM.png

The Facebook Messenger broadcasts had an average open rate of 80% and average CTR of 13%. That was 242% and 609% better than our email controls, respectively.

Takeaway for marketers: As a content delivery and consumption channel, Facebook Messenger delivers in terms of engagement.

#2: Getting Event Attendees to Participate Through Facebook Messenger

Have you ever tried to send an email to event attendees with important information? If so, I’m guessing you didn’t see great open or clickthrough rates. When people attend a conference or another type of in-person event, they’re typically off email and in learning and networking mode.

But they do have their phones on them — to check the agenda, answer texts and calls from other people on site, and follow live social streams. We hypothesized that Facebook Messenger might be a better way to get event attendees’ attention during our Grow With HubSpot Melbourne event. We decided to include a link to Facebook Messenger in our attendance confirmation emails, as well as place physical Facebook Messenger scan codes on seats at the event. Attendees could simply scan to start receiving real-time information and updates via the app instead of email.

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We tried two primary use cases:

1) Sales bot. If attendees confirmed their attendance inside Messenger, we set up a bot that would send an automated message on behalf of their local sales rep. The message contained a HubSpot Meetings tool link to the rep’s calendar in case the attendee wanted to set up time onsite.

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The results for this use case on the day of the event:

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The raw number of meetings booked isn’t astronomical, but the percentage by enrolled attendees is significantly higher than similar messaging via email. That percentage increases when we add in the number of meetings booked before the day of the event as well as afterwards. It’s also worth considering that these meetings — with highly qualified prospects — wouldn’t have happened if not for our Messenger usage.

2) Real time NPS. We asked attendees to rate their experience at GwH Melbourne via Messenger.

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The response rate was significantly higher than email controls.

Some other event use cases we’ve been trying out and that you might consider taking for a test drive:

  • View the event agenda in Messenger
  • Submit questions to a panel
  • Access the slides once the conference is over

Takeaway for marketers: Instead of using email to communicate with attendees onsite or direct them to take a specific action, try Facebook Messenger instead. One of Messenger’s greatest strengths is how it seamlessly connects offline and online engagement.

#3: Using Facebook Messenger in Place of Forms

Our team has a set budget for Facebook ads every month, which we typically use for lead generation. Our ads generally feature a piece of content interesting to our target audience. When someone clicks, they are taken to a landing page with a form. Filling out the form gives them access to the content immediately, and also triggers a follow up email with a PDF version attached.

This experience is less than ideal since the person has to leave Facebook to receive their content. We started thinking — what if the entire process, click to content delivery, happened in Facebook?

We tested out a path that used Facebook Messenger for the “form,” as well as the delivery mechanism. When someone clicked the ad, a bot would ask them the questions usually contained in our form:

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Once the questions had all been answered, the bot then provided a link to the content within the message.

The results here were even better than we anticipated. We saw a staggering 477% reduction in our cost per lead, while lead quality only slightly decreased.

Takeaway for marketers: It might take a little muscle to build a Facebook Messenger bot to collect lead information, but the effort is well worth it. Use Facebook ads plus Messenger as a powerful one-two punch.

We’re big believers in the power of Facebook Messenger and other messaging apps. Next up for us is a similar content delivery test in our North American market, studying how the order of questions impacts Facebook Messenger “form” completion rate, and creating a more seamless sync between the app and our HubSpot portal.

Have you been testing Facebook Messenger in your marketing? If so, what results have you seen? Share your experiments and insights with us in the comments below.

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16 Video Marketing Statistics to Inform Your Q4 Strategy [Infographic]

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As marketers find more innovative ways to attract audiences, video has become a meaningful part of the strategic conversation.

Video is long past the status of an “up-and-coming” marketing tactic. It’s here, and it’s an increasingly powerful way to communicate your brand story, explain your value proposition, and build relationships with your customers and prospects. 

The most recent statistics show that video content isn’t just effective — the demand for it is growing at an impressively rapid pace. Did you know, for example, that 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers? Or that 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI?

To learn more about how video marketing can help convert customers and increase engagement with your brand, check out the infographic below from Vidyard (and for even more information, check out its Video in Business Benchmark Report). It breaks down 16 compelling video marketing statistics in the context of viewing platforms, distribution channels, business video consumption habits, and more.


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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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The Best New Type of Content to Support a Product Launch: A HubSpot Experiment

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Here at HubSpot, we obsess over our product — how it’s built, where it’s headed, and how we talk about it. Every update, from minor feature tweaks to major product launches, are pored over by a team. Developers and product managers handle the creation and vision of individual products. Product marketers own the story of the product, with the goal of creating the narrative that defines the product.

That story should explain why the product is important, who it was made for, how it can be used, and the value it adds. It’s these stories that bring to life campaigns across marketing and sales, and help us grow. Download our free planner to learn how to step up your SEO traffic in just 30  days.

To execute that well, we’ve had to build a well-established promotion playbook — a guide that outlines what to do, and when, for each type of launch. But a playbook alone doesn’t tell a compelling story: one that not only explains what the product is, but also contains valuable information that can help marketers in the long-term. That content is evergreen, and we thought, “Hey, maybe we should focus on that when we launch something new.”

One of those launches was for our Ads add-on. This is the story of that product — and how we shifted our content strategy playbook for it.

A Test of Evergreen Product Marketing Content and Organic Traffic

The Hypothesis

Content with an evergreen appeal will have more impact on a product launch than our standard, short-term traffic launch posts — even if the evergreen posts take more time and energy to create.”

A piece of content that stays relevant over time is more likely to perform better in organic search and continue to support a product launch for months without decay. In our previous experiments, for example, we’ve found that 92% of our monthly blog leads — not to mention, 76% of monthly blog views — came from posts of this nature.

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That contrasts with our typical product launch playbook, which generally includes a few short-term promotional blog posts and other content, the relevance of which has a briefer shelf life, and tends to receive the highest amount of traffic from email subscribers. For example, when we launched new Sales products at INBOUND 2016, we supported the announcement with this blog post, which receives 59% of its traffic from email — versus only 9.9% from organic searches. This month it’s received a grand total of seven views.

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It was the prospect of longer-term impact — which is often accompanied by a high organic search volume — that informed our objective: to build an amazing piece of evergreen content around a product launch that would continue to be useful to marketers (our target audience) for years, while also conveying the key messages of the product’s story. It would not only introduce readers to the value of the new tools, but might also engage our core audience by providing longer-term actionable insights and takeaways.

What We Did

Key Methods

First, we looked at what some of our favorite content creators were producing. One thing that particularly stood out to us was The New York Times “Rent or Buy” calculator: a half-content, half-web-app property that allowed readers to manipulate different quantitative properties on a sliding scale — like home prices or length of stay — but also contained accompanying copy to add context to the resulting calculations.

We needed something like that: a piece of written content that also served as a free tool, and could help people obtain the data they needed before getting the most out of our product. In this case, that product was our Ads add-on.

We knew from conversations with customers that marketers often longed for a seamless way to figure out how much to spend on ads before actually using a product that would measure and display the ROI of that spend. Sure, a free online ad spend calculator wasn’t exactly a new idea, but we wanted to build something different: a piece of content with sliders that allowed marketers to manipulate different inputs.

The Framework

This wasn’t going to be easy. It would require development work, prototyping, and content composition. It would be a considerable investment of time and effort — we estimated about 5X that of typical launch content. If it worked, the experiment would be valuable. But if it didn’t, there was the possibility that, considering the aforementioned resources, it might be a long time before we had the opportunity to test something like this again. It was a big bet — but it was one we were willing to place.

Ultimately, our plan was to launch a central site page that the ads calculator “lived” on, with other supporting initiatives around it. This included:

  • A small email campaign
  • Social media promotion
  • A blog campaign

Success — or the lack thereof — would be measured by the amount of traffic to the central ads calculator page. It launched in July 2016.

Ad Spend Calculator

The Results

Initially, we saw a big spike in the post’s overall page impressions, as well as requests for product demos that were driven by a call to action (CTA) placed at the bottom of the page: 

Ad Spend Calculator

But, there was a catch: It appeared that this spike was largely driven only by the supporting pieces — the email, social media, and accompanying blog promotions.

In the month following the launch, when those pieces were no longer timely, only 673 people visited the page, which was far below our projections and a number that could have been easily achieved from a “normal” blog post. Plus, only 200 of those views came from organic searches, which were generating less traffic than social referrals and direct visits. To say the least, it wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for.

But here’s the thing about evergreen content, and the organic search traffic that you hope will come with it: It’s called long-term traffic for a reason.

For that reason, we didn’t draw any conclusions after the post-launch month, and instead, continued to observe its organic traffic performance month over month. We had faith that our experiment would work, and with the tool working as it should, just left it alone. And sure enough — month over month — organic traffic began to grow.

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Each month, the tool continues to see more traffic. Organic search is now our second-highest source of visits, comprising about half of our best-performing month’s traffic — which was May 2017, close to a year after the launch. As of writing this post, we’ve seen 19,851 total views, over 30% of which are driven from organic searches. What’s more, the end-of-page CTA has generated close to 300 requests for demos of the Ads add-on.

In other words, people are finding the tool useful, coming back, and spending a significant amount of time with it. Each month, organic and referral traffic is growing, signaling that the tool — and the overarching content that accompanies it — can continue to serve a purpose to marketers in the long-term.

What We Learned

This approach to content can absolutely be followed. It is worth mentioning that we have access to front-end developers who were able to build this free tool — if you have those kinds of resources, we encourage you to consider which similar tools you can build that are relevant to your products and services.

But if you’re short on that kind of staffing, we also encourage you to take inventory of your current content, blog posts included, and determine if any of them can be repurposed to serve these same long-term goals. It’s an important question to ask as you create new content, as well as, “Will this still be relevant in a year?”

Often, taking this approach to what you create can extend its shelf life. Can your blog post about a current trend, for example, be broadened or repurposed to cover a larger, more macro trend that will maintain relevance beyond the immediate timeframe?

And while we don’t take this approach for all content, after the success of the Ads Calculator, we do actively seek more opportunities to build something evergreen. We feel strongly that our hypothesis was proven true: that sometimes, producing less, higher-impact, evergreen content works better than one-off posts. We also believe that could indicate a larger trend around different types of media consolidating, like embedded audio within blog posts, or more posts that combine applications with written copy. It’s interactive — and, it provides engaging value for the reader.

Have you used evergreen content in a similar way? Let us know about your best experiments in the comments –and hey, we might even feature it on our blog.

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The 7 Best Office Music Playlists for Productivity

office-music-compressor.jpgNot long after I first started at HubSpot, I was welcomed with a fresh pair of orange, noise-canceling headphones. At the time, I had no clue that these headphones would carry me through many long work days and some of the deepest, darkest levels of writer’s block.

Over two years later, they are truly the gift that keeps on giving.

You see, for me, listening to music while working is the secret to my productivity. All it takes is the right Beyoncé track, and I go from idle to uber productive. (Seriously, it works like a charm.)

The trouble is, finding the perfect playlist isn’t always easy. With endless streaming music possibilities at my fingertips, it can be hard to nail down just the right tunes to get the wheels turning. So, I did what we do best around here — a little research. New Call-to-action

As it turns out, there are a ton of studies that explore the influence of specific types of music as they relate to your productivity levels. To help you find just the right mix, we’ve sourced and curated seven Spotify playlists designed with specific studies in mind. Whether you’re into Mozart or Chance The Rapper, we’re confident that there’s something on this list that will do the trick.

Note: Some of the playlists contain tracks with explicit language that might not be suitable for the office.

7 Science-Backed Office Music Playlists for Productivity

1) Classical Music

One of the most frequently cited studies related to music and productivity is the “Mozart Effect,” which concluded that listening to Mozart for even a brief period each day can boost “abstract reasoning ability.” The study — led by researchers Gordon Shaw, Frances Rauscher, and Katherine Ky — employed 36 Cal-Irvine students who were divided into three groups. Group one listen to a Mozart selection, while group two listened to a relaxation tape, and group three endured 10 minutes of silence. After the listening activity, all 36 students were issued the same test, in which the Mozart group averaged an eight-to-nine point increase in their IQs, compared to the remaining groups.

Since then, the “Mozart Effect” has been hotly contested, but many researchers have gone on to explore the mental benefits of learning and listening to classical music. One recent study, for example, found that elementary-school-aged children who participated in music composition education outperformed students in a control group on reading comprehension.

Think classical music might work for you? Check out this classical-influenced playlist to find out for yourself:

2) Video Game Soundtracks

“Choosing the right video game soundtrack to work to is all about understanding what type of music motivates vs. distracts you when you need to concentrate,” says HubSpot’s Director of Marketing Acquisition (and former video game marketing consultant) Emmy Jonassen.

“For example, if you’re the type who gets amped and focused listening to high-energy music, rhythm game soundtracks, like those from Thumper or Klang, could work well. Conversely, if you need calm to concentrate, the serene soundtracks from exploration games, like ABZÛ and Journey, may do the trick. With thousands of games releasing every year, including many independent titles, there is a soundtrack to suit everyone’s ear,” she went on to explain.

Think about it: Playing a video game requires a lot of focus. To make it to the next level, players commonly have to avoid traps, dodge obstacles, and discover secret tools that will help them progress to the next level. As a result, the music selection for video games is often very strategic, in that modern soundtracks tend to reflect epic, inspiring cinematic scores rather than just basic sound effects.

And while studies have revealed mixed results, there is evidence to support that gamers can experience improved performance by playing a game with the volume on. For example, when psychology professor Siu-Lan Tan and her colleagues John Baxa and Matt Spackman specifically honed in on the game “Twilight Princess (Legend of Zelda),” they found that participants who played with both music and sound effects off performed worse than those who played with it on.

Want to try it on for size? Check out the playlist below:

3) Nature Sounds

According to psychophysical data and sound-field analysis published in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, listening to “natural” sounds could enhance cognitive functioning, optimize your ability to concentrate, and increase your level of satisfaction.

Think: Waves crashing, birds chirping, streams trickling, and the like.

That could explain why more consumer-facing brands — from Google Home to the newer Noisli — are introducing such ambient sound features to help listeners relax or focus. It might also be behind Spotify’s multiple nature-themed playlists, like this soothing one:

4) Pump Up Songs

After observing that many athletes arrive at the stadium wearing headphones, Kellogg School of Management professor Derek Rucker and three of his colleagues — Loran Nordgren, Li Huang, and Adam Galinsky — set out to answer the question: Does listening to the right kind of music make us feel more powerful or in control?

So, back in 2014, the group of researchers set up a study to gauge how music might influence motivation and subsequent behavior. First, they played several songs for participants in a lab, and asked them — on a scale of one to seven — how powerful, dominant, and determined they felt after listening to each song. There were three “high power” winners: Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” 2 Unlimited’s “Get Ready for This,” and 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.”

Then, to gauge how the music would influence their behavior, they asked participants to listen to the music and then determine whether or not they’d like to go first or second in a debate. As it turned out, those who listened to the high-power playlist volunteered to go first almost twice as often as those who listened to a less powerful playlist.

The lesson? “Just as professional athletes might put on empowering music before they take the field to get them in a powerful state of mind,” Rucker explained, “you might try [this] in certain situations where you want to be empowered.”

Next time you’re looking to feel empowered before a big presentation, interview, or salary review, check out this roundup:

Want more? Check out my colleague Amanda Zantal-Wiener’s picks here.

5) Instrumental Songs

In 2015, Middle Tennessee State University researchers Carol A. Smith and Larry W. Morris discovered that students who listened to “sedative” music during a test scored higher than those who listened to lyrical music. (That somewhat contrasts their initial findings 39 years earlier, which showed that while music didn’t reveal an impact on test scores, those who listened to “stimulative music” showed a significant increase in worry and highly emotional reactions.)

That isn’t to say that it’s entirely impossible to cross things off your list while listening to songs with words — I actually prefer lyrical music, but my colleague, Amanda Zantal-Wiener, has joked about hip hop verses accidentally slipping into her first drafts when she listens to songs with words. If you’re like she is and find that lyrics are too distracting, you may want to experiment with some instrumental options.

For those times, check out these lyric-less tunes — we promise they won’t put you to sleep:

6) “Feel Good” Songs

Buried in deadlines? Trying to unearth yourself from an email mountain after some time out of the office? Regretting that you came back? Whatever’s bugging you, sometimes, the best remedy for productivity loss is a solid dose of “feel good” tunes — you know, the kind that make you spontaneously use a pen as a pantomimed microphone.

But scientifically speaking, music can stimulate the same part of the brain as delicious food and other physical pleasures. Researchers at McGill University, for example, discovered that when participants received the opiod-production-blocking drug naltrexone, they didn’t respond as positively to their favorite tunes as they might normally. The verdict? Our brains are trained to naturally produce these chemicals when we hear our preferred playlist.

And while “feel good” songs vary from person to person, a search for Spotify playlists with those very keywords yields dozens of results. That said, here’s one of our favorites:

Can’t get enough? Here are a few more suggestions from my colleague Amanda.

7) White Noise

According to the BBC, about 70% of us work in open-concept work spaces — myself included. And while it’s great to be able to turn our colleagues next door and ask, “Hey, what’s another word for … ?”, many find background chatter distracting.

If that’s the case, you’re certainly not alone — according to a study led by Yamaguchi University, “When carrying out intellectual activities involving memory or arithmetic tasks, it is a common experience for noise to cause an increased psychological impression of ‘annoyance,’ leading to a decline in performance.”

But without an office to call your own, what’s a writer or number-cruncher to do? Neutral, non-verbal background sounds like white noise, which is not the same as nature sounds, can help to block out these distractions — things like the din of a restaurant or shopping mall, an electric fan, or even laundry machines.

And in case you’re wondering — yes. Like all of the above, there is a playlist for that:

So go forth — focus, get pumped, feel good, and rock out.

What are your favorite songs for getting work done? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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6 Digital Storytelling Lessons from Pottermore

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As technology continues to lower the cost of content production, today’s end user is asked to digest more stories than ever before — in conversation, in written text, at the movies, in advertisements, and even through web design. With so much to absorb, it’s essential for digital marketers to differentiate their content and deliver an incredible experience.

To better understand recent advancements and best practices in digital storytelling, look no further than the creative writing greats. J.K. Rowling, the famous author of the Harry Potter book series, has sold 450 million Harry Potter books in print, worldwide. Though the first book in the series was published nearly 20 years ago, the content continues to take new shapes through her site, Pottermore.

Launched in 2012, Pottermore is the global digital publisher of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, “dedicated to unlocking the power of imagination.”

In this post, I’ll discuss six ways Pottermore pushes the digital storytelling envelope. Apply them to your own strategy to deliver content that strengthens relationships with your community.

6 Lessons in Digital Storytelling from J.K. Rowling

1) Offer Unique, Exclusive Content

Pottermore is the host and primary retailer of the enhanced editions of the Harry Potter books, but its unique content doesn’t stop there. Visitors also gain access to new writing released by J.K. Rowling, free of charge. Her pieces flesh out existing plot points and provide further context to the original stories. To the delight of many fans, the site additionally posts sanctioned articles on all things Harry Potter that dive into niche topics and plot points.

In short, Pottermore is the destination for Harry Potter content.

This is a primary goal for digital storytellers: to develop a lauded reputation for a certain content type. This is achieved through time, consistency, and promotion. To build hype for the first release of Pottermore in 2012, a restricted number of early birds were granted access to help put the finishing touches on the site. This layer of exclusivity drove press coverage, ensuring the larger release gained significant attention.

Takeaway for Marketers: As you build your own digital storytelling world, commit to a specific angle and consider how you can present it in a way that showcases what makes it valuable and original. Perhaps it’s a noteworthy writer, the fact you stay up to date on a specific trend, or that you leverage someone’s distinct professional experience.

On Pottermore, it’s J.K. Rowling’s words that draw fans in, but the most popular features of the site aren’t about the author — they’re about the user.

2) Develop a Custom Experience

As J.K. Rowling describes in this original introductory trailer, “It’s the same story, with a few crucial editions. The most important one is you.”

In keeping with this vision, Pottermore asks visitors to create an account in order to access certain information. This allows Pottermore to learn and save information about each individual, and create a personalized experience.

To drive signups, Pottermore gates one of their most popular features — quizzes. In order for visitors to assess their Hogwarts house, Patronus, or wand type, they must create a login.

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After creating an account, quiz results are saved, and users can return to read more about their results and view any purchases made to their personal account. With the information gained through the quizzes, Pottermore creates a user profile that reflects each unique individual and allows them to learn more about themselves in the context of this world.

Takeaway for Marketers: Information-gathering is the key to creating a custom experience. When you learn more about each individual user, you’re able to deliver digital stories in a way that resonates.

Pottermore uses quizzes, but you can also use less direct means to learn more about your readers, such as through Google Analytics’ suite of tools. You can always, however, ask for information directly. Users are often happy to submit information when they know the output will be an experience suited entirely to their tastes.

3) Create a Sense of Belonging

After completing Pottermore’s sorting quizzes, users are assigned to respective “houses.” This house, similar to the membership signup, creates a sense of belonging within the larger Pottermore community.

Ironically, this might be the single thing Harry Potter fans crave most from the original content: to finally join the book’s secret wizarding society that allegedly lives right under the reader’s nose.

To further foster this sense of community, Pottermore is also launching a new book club that will encourage discussion among users through a Twitter chat.

Takeaway for Marketers: To create a sense of belonging among your own community, you need to give your audience a way to identify as a part of the larger whole and participate. It helps to pay special attention to the language you use in your marketing efforts. J.K. Rowling placed heavy emphasis on the reader in her introductory trailer, referring to her fans as a “wonderful, diverse, and loyal.” Digital storytellers, too, must invite their audiences to enjoy content in a way that lets them know their perspectives and experiences are understood and appreciated.

Pay careful attention to the language you use in your invitation to resonate with your target audience. Use identifying phrases that help your readers understand that your content is especially for them.

4) Build a World

Your visitors will more likely feel a sense of belonging if you go so far as to create a digital “world.”

Luckily, you don’t need to be a fantasy author to create a content universe — but it can be helpful to take a few cues from them. Part of what turns a fiction fan into a fanatic is that they’re invited into a unique world that is so fleshed out, it seems real. This augmented sense of reality makes it easier to forge a connection with the content, and imagine yourself inside of the story.

How, then, can you make your story, brand, or idea so well-fleshed out, that a user feels connected and a part of your universe?

Takeaway for Marketers: Like Pottermore, your “world” should be branded to have its own identity that attracts people to become a part of it. Another brand that pulls this off is REI. Its award-winning marketing campaign #OptOutside is an example of how consumers can attach themselves to the qualities associated with a company. By making it extremely clear what their brand represents, REI grew their community by throngs not for their products — but for their ideals.

5) Provide Regular Updates and News

Another way you can continue to build the world of your story or brand is to regularly provide new content.

On Pottermore, in honor of the fact that the first book in the Harry Potter series was published nearly 20 years ago, posts that explore and celebrate the first book’s themes, moments, and characters are released every Friday.

The site also includes an entire page dedicated to official information and news around latest happenings related to the content. Several newsworthy pieces are released each month. This content keeps visitors informed, and also protects the brand from speculation, rumors, and incorrect reporting on other sites.

Takeaway for Marketers: When you take control of the news that’s shared about your organization, you develop a reputation as a trusted and transparent resource. You also appear more active and responsive to relevant current events. Establish a cadence for content creation, and stick to it to build an expectation and trust with your community members.

6) Reimagine Existing Content

Perhaps most trendsetting of all, Pottermore sells enhanced editions of the original books that reimagine the stories. In the spirit of magic, the new editions are complete with animations and interactive artwork. Their goal is to engage your imagination and create a new reading experience that brings you closer to the content than ever before.

The enhanced editions, and the site in general, are shining examples of how storytellers are taking it to the next level to create incredible experiences for their readers.

Takeaway for Marketers: When you work hard to publish valuable content regularly, it can feel disheartening to consider its digital shelf life. To make the most of your evergreen content, and avoid reinventing the wheel, think through what improvements you might make to the experience to wow and delight your readers. Whether you update key facts and statistics, add a video message, or reimagine the page’s design, you can add components that elevate existing pieces of information in new and exciting ways.

At its heart, Pottermore exists to create a phenomenal storytelling experience. You, too, can send a message to your community and the industry at-large when you focus on the end user.

The Magic of Digital Storytelling

When you create a unique experience for your community that centers around delight, you invite your readers to feel as if they are a part of something. This, in turn, increases their loyalty, and makes them more likely to consume your content again and again, and refer your brand to others. Case in point: the brilliance of even the name of J.K. Rowling’s site, Pottermore.

What marketing lessons have your favorite books taught you? Let us know in the comments.

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5 Key Traits of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs

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Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook as a simple “hot-or-not” site to get back at classmates. Nike founder Phil Knight called the now ubiquitious shoe company his “crazy idea.” Instagram began with a single photo filter to make turn its users into less-crappy photographers.

You probably couldn’t have predicted their success at the time, but today, all of these ideas have turned into global titans worth billions of dollars.

Since it all starts so simply, I’ll pose this question: Do you have a “crazy idea” of your own, and have you ever considered turning it into a full-fledged business?

While I can’t answer that question for you, I can tell you what makes Mark Zuckerberg and his ilk such effective and successful founders and entrepreneurs. And who knows — if you see some of these traits in yourself, it might be time to dust off that “crazy idea” and get to work building a business of your own!

(Side note: If you want some help getting started, HubSpot’s giving away $100,000, free HubSpot software, and 1:1 facetime with industry experts to help one lucky winner found the business of their dreams. Check out our #SummerStartup competition before it’s too late!)

5 Traits of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs

1) Entrepreneurs are resilient.

At LinkedIn (and HubSpot, too), there’s a saying that CEO Jeff Weiner throws around frequently, borrowed from the legendary “Coach K” at Duke University: “Next Play”. 

The thought is, if you miss a wide-open shot, don’t stop to wallow or whine — you haven’t got the time. Instead, pick yourself up, get on the defense, and move on to the next play. 

In the startup world, if you want to keep the lights on, you need to be able to hustle under pressure. Whether a big deal has just fallen through, or you’re staring down a massive and unforeseen cost, you have to be able to hit the reset button and attack the next play at 100%. 

2) Entrepreneurs are ready to take risks.

Elon Musk is one of my personal heroes. Whether it’s SpaceX, Tesla, or SolarCity, his goal is the same: to save the human race. He’s completely mission-driven, and he’s willing to take crazy risks to make it happen. 

For instance, in order to get SpaceX and Tesla off the ground, Musk took nearly his entire fortune from the sale of PayPal ($165M) and invested it into these two businesses — even though it was entirely possible both would fail. He went from millionaire to penniless (and ultimately back again) because he was willing to take a calculated risk to see his dream come to fruition. 

While I’m not advising you to take out another mortgage on the house to support your business, very few entrepreneurs make it to the top without facing a few “make-or-break” moments — and you should be ready to do the same.

HubSpot’s #SummerStartup Competition

THE #COMPETITION IS ON: Pitch your business idea in 25 words or less in the comments below for the chance to win: 💰 $100,000 👩‍🏫 1:1 executive mentorship 🖥 3 years of HubSpot Apply to #SummerStartup by July 23 for the chance to kickstart your dream business! Wish you could quit your job and change your life? Comment below to enter. Get the resources you need to start your business and view Terms & Conditions at http://bit.ly/HubSpotSummerStartup Brief overview of main Terms & Conditions: ✅ Entry is only by direct reply to this Facebook post within the Phase 1 Contest Period. See Official Rules for more details on the Contest phases. ✅ You must be a UK, IE, US, AUS or SG resident to be eligible. Must be 18 or over. Must not be a HubSpot employee or relation of. See Official Rules for more details. ✅ This Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook or any of their affiliates. Facebook is not liable for this Contest. ✅ You should read the Official Rules prior to entering. The Official Rules can be found here: http://bit.ly/HubSpotSummerStartup

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HubSpot on Monday, June 26, 2017

3) Entrepreneurs volunteer for the hard jobs.

If you want to be successful in a startup, you should be ready to raise your hand, roll up your sleeves, and tackle the work that no one else is willing to do. A perfect example of this comes from HubSpot’s history, not from a founder but from an integral member of the leadership team. 

In 2014, HubSpot was a pre-IPO company in serious need of an overhaul of much of its sales operations plan. It was clear that tons of hard work and analysis would need to go into the process, and there were numerous stakeholders with varying opinions on how to proceed. 

Nevertheless, Alison Elworthy, VP of Operations at HubSpot, raised her hand to do the messy work. The resulting plan was a massive success upon rollout — and it’s still called “The Elworthy Plan” to this day. 

Here’s the lesson: whether you want to start your own company, you want a better title, or you’re just interested in a bigger paycheck, the best way to raise some eyebrows and boost your career is to volunteer for the hard stuff. 

They’re definitely not afraid of failure. In fact, many successful and innovative companies (like Google) encourage people to fail, the mindset being that if you’re not failing, you’re not trying. They embrace the mantra of “failing fast”, because the faster you fail, the more things you’re able to try and the more proof you have that you’re pushing your limits. This reliance on failure has kept companies like Google on the forefront of innovation for years.

Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx (and the youngest self-made female billionaire in America) is the perfect manifestation of this mantra. Working as a door-to-door fax salesperson at the time, Sara (unsuccessfully) sought pantyhose that would work with the modern woman’s lifestyle. At 27, Sara invested her life savings, $5,000, into a hosiery concept of her own designs.

The rest is history. Sara founded Spanx, and in the process earned a fortune worth more than $1 billion.

On the subject of failure, Sara has one piece of advice: “It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable.”

4) Most importantly, they never lose passion, and they never stop dreaming.

Passion is everything when it comes to planning for success. The Zuckerbergs of the world didn’t get to the top by chasing a paycheck – they got there by feeding their passion and hustling to make it happen. 

Passion shouldn’t be limited to the product, though — it should tie into the mission. Steve Jobs wasn’t passionate about computers, he was passionate about how Apple could disrupt the stodgy and established industry of computers and empower everyone to be their most creative selves

As Zuckerberg himself puts it, “If you just work on stuff that you like and you’re passionate about, you don’t have to have a master plan with how things will play out.” 

There’s no way to know for sure whether your “crazy idea” will be a success. That said, the only surefire way to know it won’t be a success is to let it gather dust in the back of your mind.

Interested in $100,000, free HubSpot software, and 1:1 mentoring to start the business of your dreams? Check out our #SummerStartup competition today.

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