Blog Posted In Business, Internet

Should You Build a Mobile App or Mobile Website?


By | source: Jul 2nd, 2012

There’s no doubt that mobile has gone mainstream with consumers increasingly on the move and companies seeking more ways to stay in front of their eyes and right at their fingertips. As a result, businesses are realizing the importance of maintaining a mobile presence, yet many are uncertain whether a mobile application or mobile website is the best way to go to reach consumers on the go. To outline the basics and benefits of a mobile website vs. mobile app, MDG Advertising developed the following informative infographic. It outlines the options and opportunities behind both mobile methods, along with the facts and figures regarding reach and response to help companies make the right move to mobile. [MDGAdvertising]

Click to enlarge
Mobile app or website?

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Blog Posted In

The Future Of Online Learning


By | source: Dec 8th, 2019

With the advent of computers, digital learning transformed from a futuristic ideal into a realistic possibility of daily life, changing our ideas about education. The technologies offered new ways to look at the educational process and improve it in unprecedented ways. By the end of the 1990s, the concept of e-learning had been already coined, opening the doors to the ever-growing field of digital education.

Top Facts About Online Learning

Although everyone realized the potential of digital education from its early days, nobody suspected the massive growth of over 900% that occurred between 2001 and 2017. Surpassing everyone’s expectations, e-learning become an industry with a huge impact and an exponential growth that still continues today.

What E-Learning Means in 2019-2020     

         Although the changes in the e-learning industry are only limited by our imagination, there are predictions that suggest that 2019 and 2020 are a favorable period for the expansion and development of online courses. A trend of rapid growth has already been noticed. From getting a degree remotely to learning practical skills with the help of AI or gamification, the options are endless.

E-Learning Statistics – Benefits for Students

  • Using digital tools to study takes up 60% less time than traditional classroom learning.
  • E-learning increases the retention rate to between 25% and 60%. This is a huge increase compared to the 8% to 10% retention rate of classroom environments.

E-Learning Statistics – Benefits for Companies

  • Businesses that provide e-learning courses registered a 42% rise in profits.
  • E-learning is environmentally friendly with the Open University reporting a 90% energy saving rate when switching to digital education outlets.
  • Companies reported an 18% in employee engagement.
  • US businesses reported a 42% increase in income from switching to digital learning.
  • Various predictions suggest that by 2025, the e-learning industry will be worth $325 billion.
  • 2,500 companies experienced an increase of 24% in profits by using online training programs for their employees.

Key Developments in E-Learning

  • 8% more students around the world enrolled in online courses in 2014.
  • In just two years, between 2013 and 2015, there was an increase of 46% in the number of students who took online courses.
  • 80% of American students believe they could improve their grades with the help of virtual learning.

How E-Learning Changed Higher Education

Higher education is the domain that has known the greatest progress due to technology. In fact, e-learning has not only brought new ways of learning, but it has also improved traditional learning. Using online tools, a student enrolled at a traditional college or university can vastly improve his experience. Online courses, online tutors, custom writing services, and electronic books are there to help students learn easier and better.

A Popular Trend in Online Learning Among College Students

The reality is that custom writing services have become an important facet of higher education. Despite the fact that the Earth changes quite frequently and in most of the cases it is hard to stay up to date, something hardly ever changes. Whether student is learning online or studying in the university or college, he or she always thinks “Maybe it is better to pay someone to write my paper?”. It depends on what answer is the best but almost always it is preferred to say “yes”. A student exploring e-learning will inevitably come across these online offers that can improve his studying methods significantly.

Current Trends in Online Learning

  • VR or Virtual Reality – promotes immersive and stimulating learning by allowing users to have real-life experiences in the virtual world
  • Gamification – promotes the blending of the gaming experience with educational content
  • Webinars – a new learning format where an expert shares insights with a community using video and chat
  • E-learning – establishes a massive library of information online
  • Adaptive learning – promotes the incorporation of e-learning market statistics to achieve personal goals

Main Benefits of E-Learning

E-learning has opened the doors to better education, improving people’s chances of learning in a convenient and stimulating way that was hard to come by before. Although the statistics are impressive, typical students who want quality education are attracted to the benefits presented below:

  • Digital learning and digital tools allow anyone to study from anywhere with the help of a day-to-day tool like their smartphone. This leads to an increased ability to balance study, work, personal life, and hobbies.
  • 24/7 Accessibility. With digital learning, your schedule depends exclusively on you as the courses and resources are available at any moment of the day.
  • Accelerated Learning. Digital learning allows anyone to study at their pace, finding their own personal rhythm of retention. Some people learn faster and get bored easily, which is why for them e-learning is a constant cause of renewed enthusiasm.
  • Inexpensive resources. Although e-learning resources are not always free, they come at affordable prices and can seem incredibly cheap when compared to the tuition fees at a regular college or university.
  • The number of available online courses, webinars, online journals, and online libraries is astounding and continues to grow.

 

Best E-Learning Resources for College and University Students

MOOCs are massive open online courses that allow students to enroll in online courses provided by world-class universities. Computer access can thus give anyone from anywhere in the world access to the latest information and the experts in their field. MOOCs have gradually become the greatest promotors of e-learning, bringing together millions of users. These are the most popular platforms in 2019:

  • EdX
  • Coursera
  • Udemy
  • Canvas
  • Udacity
  • The Open University

Together, these websites host tens of thousands of courses, covering any possible field of human knowledge from art to science, technology, and even practical skills.

Popular Webinar Platforms for Online Learning

  • WebinarJam
  • GoToWebinar
  • Zoom

Top College Majors that Benefit from E-Learning

There are fields of study where e-learning has almost a transformative power, and many students couldn’t even how to study without digital tools. In these fields, e-learning statistics and facts reveal great progress:

  • Accounting
  • Computer science
  • Engineering
  • Business
  • Criminal justice
  • Nursing

 

Considering the rapid growth of e-learning, the future of this innovative industry looks bright. In college or university or outside of it, students from across the world can benefit from digital tools for a rewarding and efficient learning experience.

 

 

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Blog Posted In Education, Lifestyle

How To Learn Something New Everyday In 15 Minutes (Or Less)


By | source: Apr 29th, 2019
*This post contains affiliate links.  Signing up for some of these services may send commissions to us at no extra cost to you.  It helps to sustain the time,effort, and love we put into this site.  Thanks!

As children we were encouraged to learn something new every day.  We did experiments at school, took part in extra-curricular activities, and joined cultural and activist groups during our college years.

Then something happened:

Adulthood.

We went from being curious children to adults dedicated to a 9-5 job (which the majority of us find unrewarding), adopting routines that rarely ever change.

Benedict Carey, author of the book How We Learn, says that routine limits our brain’s ability to learn new skills and knowledge.  This is worrisome because learning new things is important for our happiness.

 

Why Learning New Things Is Crucial for Happiness

Image of Embroidered brain art as an example of how learning makes us happier

You may have heard that the “brain is like a muscle.”  Just like other muscles, you have to exercise the brain by learning new things.  Yes, there is ample research which shows that learning helps build neuron connections and can stave off diseases like Parkinson’s. But there is a lot more to learning new things than just making the brain stronger.  The act of learning actually makes us happier.

As Belle Beth Cooper writes about in her post on “Why New Things Make Us Feel So Good”, there is a section in the brain known as the SN/VTA.

The SN/VTA part of the brain is linked to the learning and memory parts, but it is best known as the “novelty center” because it lights up when exposed to new stimuli.  You experience a rush of dopamine, which is one of the chemicals that motivates us towards rewards.

Here is what happens:

  • You experience something new.
  • The “novelty center” of your brain is activated.
  • You get a rush of dopamine.
  • Dopamine motivates you to follow through with the new thing.
  • You get another rush of dopamine when you finish the activity.

It is no surprise then that research has found dopamine is closely linked to the learning process. In short, learning new things stimulates happiness chemicals brain.

 

Other Benefits of Learning Something New

relief sculpture of people floating on brain balloons

  • Learning Makes You More Interesting to Others: You’ll always have something to talk about at parties.
  • Can Relate to More People: The more you know, the more likely you are to find something in common with others.  Empathy also helps bridge gaps in communication.
  • Builds Self-Esteem: Practice makes perfect, and when we see ourselves mastering new knowledge and skills, we build self-efficacy.   Self efficacy is our own faith that we can succeed at a given task, which closely overlaps with self-esteem and confidence.
  • You’ll Make More Friends: Because of the benefits of learning listed above, you’ll find it easier to meet people and make friends. Social interactions are essential for our happiness, so learning really does pay off in the long run!
  • Sets a Good Example: If you want your kids and loved ones to reap the same benefits of learning, lead by example!
  • Earn More Money: Depending on what you learn, you might build both technical or soft skills to advance your career.

lady jumping between mountains to reach job

  • Find a More Rewarding Career: It isn’t money which motivates us –having a sense of purpose motivates. Learning new skills makes you better-rounded so you can more easily find what you love to do.
  • Empowering: Learning gives you the information you need to make better informed decisions in life.
  • You’ll Learn Easier and Faster: The more you practice learning, the denser the myelin white matter of your brain becomes and the stronger your neural pathways become.
  • Learning Fuels Creativity: As Positive Psychology champion Vanessa King says, ideas come from seemingly unrelated things. Learning new things can trigger ideas in other areas.

How to Learn Something New Right Now

Learning can be broken down into short-term and long-term learning.  If you don’t necessarily want to embark on a big endeavor (such as learning to play an instrument), your brain can still benefit from learning smaller bits of information on a daily basis.  Here are some ways to do that.

1. Watch Ted ED

Ted Talks are famous for bringing a huge amount of topics by innovative thinkers.  Ted Ed takes learning a step further with engaging video lessons.  Topics range from “the scientific way to cut a cake” to “how money laundering works.”

2. Play GeoGuessr

Americans are notoriously bad at geography, but the rest of the world probably isn’t too much better.  The game GeoGuessr takes a unique approach to learning geography.   You are shown a Google Maps photo and have to guess where it is.  You might just find yourself saying things like, “Huh, I didn’t know that Afghanistan has such green forests!”  It’s free to play.

3. Train Your Brain at Lumosity

Brought to you by scientists and game developers, Lumosity has a great collection of cognitive games you can play. You might not learn a concrete fact, but your brain will be challenged and grow!

Learning game screenshot from Lumosity website

4. Follow Curiosity

Curiosity is a website which inspires people to get smarter.  They do it by finding the most interesting news on a variety of topics.  Just click what topic you are interested in learning about and you’ll find fascinating articles and videos.

5. Build Your Vocabulary

A large vocabulary is not only impressive, but it allows you to express yourself better.  Remember the book 1984 and how they started cutting words from the language as a form of mind control?  Well, that’s the power of vocab!  The website Vocabulary.com has come up with an adaptive learning game to help you learn more words easily.

Image of lightbulb - how to learn something new every day

 

6. Follow Daily Infographic

No brainer right? Humans process visuals quickly: It takes less than 1/10 of a second for your brain to get a sense of a visual.  Absorbing new information using infographics is a quick and easy way to learn.  Visual learning not only decreases comprehension time, but sticks around longer in our memories.   On Daily Infographic you can spend 15 minutes per day perusing an infographic on a topic of your choice.

Screenshot of Daily Infographic where you can learn something new

Ways to Learn Long Term Skills

Ready to take on a bigger challenge? Learning new skills that require a longer-term commitment can be even more rewarding and stimulating for the brain.  Every day, you build on what you learned the day before until you reach a level of mastery.  Here are just some ideas of things you can start learning and where to start.


Online courses have the benefit of being comprehensive, guided learning experiences set at your own pace.  One of the biggest hurdles of signing up for online courses is completion.  Instead of finding larger blocks of time to power through courses, try to set aside a minimum of 15 minutes a day to work through courses.  Steady wins the race!

7. Hone Creativity with Creative Live

Art, photography, creativity get a boost with classes on Creative Live.  Whether you’re a beginner or an established artist looking to refine your skills and even build a business with them, this platform provides courses in a simulated live format.

The approach focuses on learning via interaction, which means that the online classroom also features a studio audience that appears on camera. The in-studio students, usually ranging from three to 15 people, interact with the instructor the way a live classroom would, creating a rich virtual experience.

Browse Daily Free On-Air Classes!

8. Pick Up Career Skills With Skillshare

A January 2018 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that on average a person changes jobs 10-15 times, and that number is only increasing with increasing job mobility.  Better job mobility also comes from more opportunities to learn new skills.

Skillshare features personalized, on demand classes in categories like animation, graphic design, web development, business analytics, entrepreneurship, and marketing, to name a few.  Productivity and lifestyle classes help you to make those skills go even further.

Personal Development Category (English)234x60

9. Master New Skills at Udemy

On Udemy, you can find over 55,000 online courses on topics ranging from web development to music training.  Many basic level classes are free but there are paid courses as well.

10.  Learn Coding at Udacity

Udacity is one of the most popular places to learn coding for free.  They have videos, quizzes, and instructions so you can earn a “Nanodegree.”  The courses are made by expert programmers and big companies like Google so they are definitely relevant to today’s job market and tech trends.

11. Take Interactive Online Courses At BitDegree  

BitDegree differentiates itself through offering interactive & gamified courses, especially in the blockchain space.  Universities are already embracing blockchain courses on campuses, based on growing interest from students.  The cryptocurrency phenomenon is a global one, powered by bitcoin’s meteoric rise.   Courses offered cover skills ranging from programming, marketing, machine learning to blockchain and cryptocurrencies.  

12. Learn Digital Marketing with Primer

All small business owners and entrepreneurs need to know digital marketing techniques if they are going to stay relevant.  Created by Google, Primer teaches marketing skills and delivers them in digestible 5-minute segments.

13. Take Online Courses at Coursera

Coursera is one of the best places to find free online courses in higher education on just about any topic.  The courses are offered by top universities in the US, helping you to extend your education from the comforts of your own home.  Certificates are available for a fee.  As an alternative, Iversity.org provides development courses from experts all over Europe. usually on very specific topics.

14. Learn Leadership Skills at MindTools

Today’s top companies aren’t just looking for skills like coding.  They want people with soft skills like leadership, team management, creativity, and decision-making.  MindTools has a great collection of mini courses which teach you these skills.

Screenshot of Mind Tools website where you can learn something new

15. View Instructables

Not sure what you want to learn today? Just visit Instructables and view any one of the great DIY tutorials to learn a new skill.

16. Learn First Aid from the Red Cross App

First aid is something that everyone should know and refresh regularly.  The American Red Cross has come up with a great app to help.  It isn’t a substitute for an in-person course, but it does have bite-size courses on basics accompanied by videos and instructions.

17. Learn a New Language with Duolingo

Duolingo is an app which makes it easy to learn a new language thanks to its interactive method and how it breaks down lessons into small chunks. There are dozens of languages to choose from and the app is free to use!

Screenshot from Duolingo app where you can learn a new language

 

18. Become a Better Writer with 750 Words

Writing is fundamental cornerstone of communication and remains one of the most in-demand skills that employers look for. The app 750 Words helps you become a better writer by having you write a minimum of 750 words of stream of conscious writing per day – a practice which is said to improve writing fluency and also help you learn about yourself in the process.

 

19.  Learn Gratitude with Mojo

Gratitude is key for happiness in life.  What a lot of people don’t realize is that gratitude actually has to be learned and worked on.  The app Mojo helps you rewire your brain to be more grateful by encouraging you to write at least five good things per day, rate the day, and add photos.

 

Why 15 Minutes a Day?

Drawing of a person reading underneath of a brain tree

It doesn’t have to be 15 minutes a day that you dedicate to learning something new.  It could be 30 minutes, one hour, or even as little as 5 minutes per day.  What matters is that you:

  1. Dedicate a specific amount of time daily for learning new things.
  2. Hold yourself accountable.

The reason the time-frame unit is so important is because people are more likely to stay motivated and succeed if they break goals into smaller units.

 

Implement What You’ve Learned!

jigsaw pieces - putting what you've learned to use in everyday life

Using these tools to learn something new every day is a great start.  But the reality is that we are already bombarded with information on a daily basis.

How much?

According to Niklas Goeke, we consume 74.92 gigabytes of data every day. That’s enough to fill 9 DVDs with data – or 74 pickup trucks filled with paper!

All of the information we consume isn’t helping us achieve happiness or wellbeing in life.  Instead, excessive info consumption drains us and fries our brains.

Of course, most of this info consumption is done during our (brain-killing) routines.  Simply by breaking routine and making a point to learn new things is going to help you retain and utilize the info better.

But, to really reap the life-changing benefits of learning new things, follow this one important tip:

Share what you’ve learned with others.

Using what you've learned to grow

It can be on a daily learning blog.  Or on social media. Or just make a point to tell your spouse what you’ve learned that day while you eat dinner together.

To reinforce your skills, utilizing specific techniques can help you learn faster.  These include testing yourself regularly, finding ways to gain practical experience, rewarding yourself, and teaching others.

It may be difficult to find all that time.  But the simple act of sharing your new knowledge and insight will help it stick and make the benefits of learning even more life changing.

 

Image credits:
Grow” (CC BY 2.0) by crdotx
Blue Denim and Pink Brain Anatomy Mini H” (CC BY 2.0) by Hey Paul Studios
Post contains affiliate link to send a few pennies to support us, thanks!
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Blog Posted In Business, Internet

Landing Page Security Tips To Protect Your Business


By | source: Dec 12th, 2018

Building a website is already challenging enough without having to worry about all the security features you’ll need. Research security firm Panda Security published a study revealing that 230,000 new malware samples are being launched daily. By 2021, the cost of cybercrime damage will hit the $6 trillion mark.

Big businesses aren’t the only ones susceptible to cyber-crime. In fact, small businesses prove to be perfect targets for hackers, simply because they tend to be lackluster with security and therefore easier to penetrate. One study found that 60% of small businesses experience some type of hacking issue annually.

“The fact is, every company is vulnerable to being hacked,” Kevin Kerridge of Inc. explained. “The large breaches make the news, but smaller breaches are being perpetrated every day. They may not make headlines, but they can turn a company’s world upside down.”

The types of cyber attacks on small businesses vary :

cyber attacks

Photo via Small Business Trends

If you want your lead generating landing pages just be just as secure as they are well-designed, there are certain precautions you can take. Here are a few landing page security tips to help your business.

Use a Content Delivery Network

Content delivery networks (CDNs) make it easy for users around the world to access your site. Once a webmaster signs up for a CDN, they’ll have access to servers all across the globe.

This means a person visiting your website on another continent does not have to wait long for information to be relayed from your origin server to their own local server.

However, a CDN does much more than just increase relay speed; it also helps improve your website security. A CDN network comes equipped with dozens of edge servers, which can absorb a potential DoS attack from getting through.

Therefore, the ability for a DoS attempt to reach a single point of failure is greatly diminished. This is important, since 57 percent of DDoS attacks were from multiple types.

Delivery Network

Photo via Verisign

Research Your Hosting Company

Some hosting companies are able to reel customers in with false promises and absurdly low prices. The fact is, hosting itself is already a pretty manageable expense. Choosing to shave a few dollars off a monthly fee can mean the difference between a safe site and an unsecure one.

Consider some of the worst hosting horror stories: Crazy Domains, a website hosting company, tanked hundreds of business after it lost thousands of website data and offered only a $100 credit for the mistake.

Claire Broadley, a website designer with over 20 years experience creating websites, detailed her many website hosting issues in this blog post. In it, she described how after one day of being with her first host, her site went down after a blizzard hit the hosts’ data centers.

A great hosting company is protected across the board, regardless of any weather emergencies that might occur.

Poor hosting companies don’t have the level of protection that your business needs. Always do your due diligence when choosing a host; read reviews, discuss your concerns with customer service, and pay close attention the way support teams handle your hesitation.

Don’t Forget Your SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate helps you secure your servers, and you should always purchase that extra layer of security from your host. You’ll notice the difference between sites that do have a certificate and those that don’t by taking a glance at the URL: those SSL-certified show a web address beginning with “HTTPS,” while others begin with just “HTTP.”

The difference between HTTP vs. HTTPS is important . . .

Hosting CompanyPhoto via SEOPressor

With that extra layer of security, data that’s transferred from the server to the website can be easily intercepted and stolen. With an SSL certificate, all in-transit data is properly encrypted to prevent this from happening.

Furthermore, Google announced earlier this year that they would begin warning search users which websites weren’t properly secured, which could dramatically impact website traffic and SEO.

Leverage Security Plugins

If you’re using a platform like WordPress, you’re in luck. WordPress has a variety of security plugins that extend the security functionality provided by your host and other forms of security. Here are some of the best WordPress security plugins when creating a landing page.

WordFence

WordFence is one of the more popular WordPress plugins. It continuously checks your website for any malware infections by scanning every single file on your site, on the back and front ends, including plugins, your theme, and the WordPress core. It also allows you to add two-factor authentication via SMS.

WordFence security features include:

  • Firewall rule and malware signature updates
  • IP blacklist blocks
  • Integrated malware scanner
  • Web application firewall

Sucuri Security

There are several security features offered with Sucuri Security. Features include security activity auditing, malware scanning, blacklist auditing, and an advanced website firewall. Overall, it protects your site from brute force attacks, DoS attacks, and Zero Day Disclosure patches.

Sucuri Security features include:

  • File integrity monitoring
  • Security auditing
  • Post-hack security options
  • Security notifications
  • Blacklist monitoring

iThemes Security

According to iThemes, there are over 30 ways the plugin can protect your website. To start, it will scan your entire sure to be certain there are currently no vulnerabilities that would expose it to an attack. This preventative approach can help you out in the long-run. Like some of the other available plugins, it forces users to create ultra-strong passwords and has 24/7 security monitoring.

iThemes Security features include:

  • Two-factor authentication
  • Malware scan automated scheduling
  • Google reCAPTCHA
  • Online file comparison
  • WP salts and security keys

It is important to note that the type of plugins you download and use on WordPress is important. In fact, many WP attacks happen through plugins.

PluginsPhoto via Wordfence

Wrapping Up . . .

Making landing page security part of your business process is critical. The increased number of hacks and cyber attacks happening year-over-year is staggering, and protecting your business, whether enterprise or small business needs to be a must. There are a number of ways to make this a priority! Is site security on your mind?

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Blog Posted In Marketing

Content Marketing vs. Native Advertising: What’s the Difference?


By | source: Jun 12th, 2018

The world of digital marketing is rapidly changing. If you’re a performance marketer, you may sometimes feel as if you’re drowning in an alphabet soup of buzzwords, marketing speak, and confusing acronyms.

If you’ve ever tripped your tongue on the differences between content marketing and native advertising, well, you’re not the only one. Content marketing and native advertising have certain characteristics in common – but they are not the same. As digital marketing becomes more advanced, and new tools and platforms unfold, it’s important to stay on top of your game. To do that, let’s take a separate look at content marketing and native advertising, and see exactly how – and why – they’re different.

Content Marketing – The Entire Kit and Caboodle, Plus the Kitchen Sink

If content marketing seems to be a modern, internet-based phenomenon, think again. Content marketing has a long and impressive history. The earliest content marketing had the same goal as it does today – to drive brand awareness and customer engagement by promoting informative or entertaining content that gives value to existing and potential customers.

You’ve probably heard of John Deere, the farming equipment company, but you may not know that John Deere is actually regarded by many as the grandfather of content marketing. This is because, in the late 1800s, the company began producing a magazine called The Furrow. The magazine provided farmers with information and advice from the world of agriculture. It was also a great way to get the John Deere brand out there to customers, not via advertising, but by marketing through relevant, valuable content. Over a century later, the magazine is still in circulation – in 14 languages!

Image courtesy of eBay

Much later, in the internet age, content marketing entered a whole new world of possibility. The ability to produce and publish content digitally and cost effectively, in a wide range of forms, has massively expanded the content marketing industry. So has the proliferation of computers, and especially mobile devices, which means that customers can access online content anywhere, anytime. Blogs, ebooks, videos, infographics, and interactive content, such as quizzes, surveys and more, are leveraged by brands to strengthen their image and message.

A classic example is the famous “Will It Blend?” YouTube video series by Blendtec, which has been ongoing since 2006. With over 200,000,000 views to date, the Blendtec video series is an ingenious piece of content marketing. The company founder stars in quirky short videos in which he attempts to blend objects in the Blendtec blender, demonstrating the product’s incredible power. Items such as iPads, marbles, diamonds and magnets have all been thrown in the Blendtec blender to answer the question, “will it blend?” The fascinating video series incorporates some of the most important aspects of content marketing, such as customer engagement. Many of the ideas about which objects to test in the blender come from popular requests sent in by the audience.

Screenshot from “Will It Blend?” video. Courtesy of YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pnonj_84Ju4

Check out this infographic that gives a visual summary of the story of content marketing, from John Deere, to “Will It Blend?”, to today.

To sum up, content marketing is the entire strategy of content-based promotional activities via the creation and publication of educational or entertaining content to drive customer engagement. It’s not one item in the performance marketer’s repertoire; it’s the whole kit and caboodle – and the kitchen sink!

Native Advertising – Half the Content Marketing Cake

Native ads are paid advertisements that blend in with the format and feel of the channel or publication in which they appear. The beauty and power of native ads are that they are nonintrusive; they don’t engage in hard selling, such as a TV commercial or magazine ad might. Rather, native ads intend to inform, educate or entertain the reader, providing them with a value-added experience that creates a positive and memorable association with the brand.

Native advertising, like content marketing, has a long and illustrious history, dating back to the 1800s. Then and now, native ads work on the same principles:

  1. Not to stand out as an ad
  2. Not obviously selling a specific product
  3. Has the look and feel of editorial content

Here’s an early example of a native ad, for Quaker puffed wheat. Answer this question: does it look like a comic strip, or an ad?

It definitely looks and feel like a comic strip, and that’s what makes it a native ad, rather than just a regular advertisement. Native ads are usually marked as such, so readers are aware they are viewing an ad, not an editorial piece. Notice how the word “Advertisement” appears at the top of the Quaker native ad.

Another type of native advertising is the advertorial, which first appeared in the early 20th century. Advertorials are paid ads designed to look like an article, rather than an ad, based on editorial-style content that informs or entertains the audience.

Here’s an oft-cited example of one of the best advertorials ever published. In 1915, the Cadillac car company, which was facing tough times, published an advertorial about “The Penalty of Leadership”. The native ad, which was only published once, is widely credited for turning around the company’s fortunes, as it so successfully associated the notions of prestige and quality with the Cadillac brand.

Today, native ads are published in a few different ways – on social media platforms, in search results of search engines such as Google or Bing, and on content recommendation platforms.

In the pre-computer age, native ads were just ads. They stood on their own feet.

In today’s internet-based world, native ads are in fact, a means to an end – to get the reader to complete an online action (download an ebook, request a demo, watch a video, etc) that will take them down the sales and marketing funnel, with the intention of getting them to convert to a customer further down the road. Native ads are not just a form of advertising. They are a vital link in the chain of content marketing – but they are not content marketing itself.

Think of it this way: native advertising is a few slices of the larger content marketing pie. In fact, it may surprise you to know that native advertising already accounts for over half of online advertising. In 2017, native ads overtook display ads in terms of dollar spend. And, some 43% of content marketers are using native advertising as part of their marketing strategy.

Here’s an infographic to give you a visual overview of how native advertising has evolved over time.

 

 

So, what’s the difference?

If you cut back on all the performance marketing noise, you’ll notice a key differentiator between content marketing and native advertising – and it comes down to cost.

The content marketing examples cited above revolve around ‘owned media’ – that is, content created and distributed by the brand itself, on its own media channels and platforms, such as the company website and social media pages. The “Will It Blend?” videos are produced by Blendtec and promoted on their own YouTube channel. The Furrow magazine is produced, published and distributed by the John Deere company. Content marketing generally doesn’t include paid media, although a well-rounded content marketing strategy may also include paid advertising (such as PPC ads).

Native advertising, on the other hand, is always paid for. The advertiser (or brand) pays a third-party publisher to feature its native ads on the publisher’s site or channel. Quaker paid the newspaper to publish its native cartoon ad. And Cadillac bought the advertising space in the Saturday Evening Post for its native advertorial. In the online space, advertisers typically pay the host website for every click-through of their native ad.

Let’s conclude with an analogy that gives a nicely rounded overview of the difference between content marketing and native advertising, in a comfortably digestible morsel:

“If native advertising is on the menu, then content marketing is the whole kitchen.”

That’s right – native advertising is one method that you can implement into your whole content marketing strategy. But it’s also much more than just a method. Native advertising is perhaps an entire world of content marketing all its own because it works to drive customer engagement along the entire sales funnel. But remember, if you’re a performance marketer, native advertising – no matter how effective – can never be content marketing. So get back to the kitchen and start cooking your full course content marketing strategy!

 

Written by Guest Author Liraz Postan, from Outbrain

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Blog Posted In Business, Marketing

Visual Content: Types That Work Best On Social Networks


By | source: May 8th, 2018

Consider the fact that, according to a study conducted by We Are Social, there were about 2.8 billion social media users around the world in 2017 – equivalent to a roughly 37% penetration rate. What are the odds that they’re all using the same social networks? That they’re all looking for the same things for the same reason? That the same piece of content will strike a chord with all 2.8 billion of them in the exact same way?

The answer to all of those questions is clear: slim to none.

Because when someone logs into Twitter to check their feed, they’re doing so for a different reason than when they log into Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat. They’re probably doing so from a different environment and they have a different end goal in mind.

Therefore, it becomes of paramount importance that you understand what these goals are so that you can make sure you have the right type of visual content for the right moment on the right channel moving forward.

person holding cell phone

Breaking Down the Major Social Networks

We’ve talked at great length in the past about what goes into creating a high quality, compelling piece of visual content – so we’re not going to retread all that here. For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that you’re sitting in front of a terrific piece of collateral that you can’t wait to get out to the widest possible audience.

So where, exactly, should you post it?

According to experts, these are the types of content that perform best on specific social networks:

  • Facebook users tend to spend more time on page than a lot of other sites, so the visual content that tends to work best here includes as much video as you can post. Along the same lines, Facebook is also a perfect outlet for curated content – so if you see a particularly helpful article in your travels around the web, don’t be afraid to share it.
  • Instagram is a visual-based social network, so it stands to reason that content that is heavily visual works best. High resolution images, quotes and other types of content that essentially stand on their own and require as little explanation as possible are really going to strike a chord.
  • Twitter users are in it for the short bursts of critical information, so this would be a great outlet for your visual collateral based on news items or other highly relevant topics. GIFs also work great on Twitter.
  • Since this is a professional network, it stands to reason that the content you create should be professional driven as well. This would be a great place to post all your visual content about your actual business and its employees, for example.
  • Pinterest users tend to love content like infographics, step-by-step guides (complete with as many photos as possible) and much more.

So when you sit down with a tool like Visme (which I founded to help people communicate visually) to work on that next big infographic, you’re probably going to want to start with Pinterest and Twitter when it comes to publishing because it’s right in the wheelhouse of what those users are already looking for.

When you come to something that is a little more long form like a flyer, Facebook would probably be the way to go – because it’s users still love visuals but seem to be willing to take a little more time to really digest something should the need arise.

Note that you can also use Visme to create terrific social media graphics, which is another opportunity to really help sell the visual aspect of your social media presence. You’ll still want to keep the specific audience on a network in mind before you pull the trigger, however.

In essence, don’t create social media graphics for social networks in general – really break things down and take a different approach to creating something for Pinterest than you would for something like LinkedIn. The former lets you be a little more fun and exciting while the latter does not – you don’t want to put off a huge portion of your audience with the right type of graphics as that will only put you farther away from your goal, not closer to it.

Likewise, let’s say for the sake of example that you really want to appeal to a younger audience so you want to start incorporating memes and similar types of fun materials into your messaging. Facebook would be a really great place to do something like that and memes in general even work wonders on Twitter… but keep it off of a site like LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is decidedly more professional that Facebook or Twitter (probably combined) and you really want to put your best foot forward in that regard. Nobody is saying that your entire online presence has to be “all business, all the time” – but you have to know how and when to pick your spots, so to speak.

image of someone picking stuff

Really, what you’re doing is pairing the content you’re creating, the audience you’ve created it for and the goals you hope to achieve with the right platform on which to excel in those areas. If you’re able to do that on a regular basis, you won’t have to worry about finding success – you’d better believe that success is going to find your.

Other Essential Considerations

Along the same lines, you’ll also want to work hard to maintain the proper ratio of helpful, engaging and inspiring posts to direct sales posts regardless of which social networking site you choose.

As a rule of thumb, try to stick to making roughly 80% of your posts inspiring, engaging, or thought provoking in some way. Then, you’re free to use the other 20% to focus more on selling your products and services.

The key is that you want to be more helpful than salesy, because “sales driven” has a habit of turning into “pushy and overbearing” before you even realize that you have a problem.

 

But again, all of this is staying within the lines of the social network-specific guidelines that we were discussing earlier. A lengthier, more thorough inspiring post should probably be targeted at Facebook and the same is true of a longer, more detailed sales post. Just like your Infographics – both those that aim to inform and those that are trying to sell – would probably be more at home on a site like Twitter.

Another thing to consider is that absolutely none of this means that you suddenly have to come up with double or even triple the ideas for content depending on how many different social networking sites you’re working with. The story at the heart of a piece of content can stay the same and be re-used on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. How that story is framed, packaged and presented is all that needs to change. So you can easily take a single idea about community contributions your company has made and:

  • Turn it into a 500 or so blog post that winds up on your Facebook feed.
  • Pull out all of the stats that highlight the impact you’re making and turn it into an Infographic for Twitter.
  • Take all of those photos that you took during a specific community outing and post them to your Instagram account.
  • Highlight the community organizations that you’re working with and turn it into a blog post for LinkedIn and highlight why this all matters.

Suddenly, you’re talking about four high quality pieces of content that all came from the same core idea. They all tell the same story, just in totally different ways depending on where they will eventually wind up. Any one of your customers could encounter only one of the four pieces and get a complete story, but by diving into all of them they have a much more complete picture from a variety of angles.

The Key to Engagement is Specificity

In the end, the most important thing to understand about social media marketing in the modern age is that engagement should always be your number one goal. Raising awareness is great and all those followers may or may not translate into a sale, but making your top priority anything less than engagement essentially means looking a digital gift horse square in the mouth.

Every social networking site has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, which means that users are already engaging with those platforms in very different ways. By understanding WHY people use Facebook over Twitter and HOW they engage with those platforms, the answer to WHAT type of content you should post becomes overwhelmingly clear.

None of that is to say that the same piece of content won’t work equally well on two separate networks, but by creating content for a specific audience for a specific network you’re putting yourself and your campaigns in a much better position to succeed than they would be otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.

 

 

 

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